I grew up in Melrose Park. Many of the people whom others feared when they saw them on the front cover of the Sun Times or Daily News were our neighbors. While nothing was ever said directly you had to be brain dead not to know that “Uncle Tony” (a fictitious name) lived a different life than your dad or uncle or whoever. He had a little more free time and ready cash, waiters and waitresses snapped to when he walked into the room and so on. And while he never flaunted it, bling would have been alien to him, he managed to always get what he wanted. When I was a little Big Bad I mentioned that living like Uncle Tony, no real job, lots of cash, would be a great way to go. My grandmother snapped a broomstick off the back of my head as her subtle way of letting me know that I may, just may, wish to consider other career options. One of my friends from back in the day had an Italian grandmother. This made sense since he had an Italian family as well. Anyway he, too, mentioned that Uncle Tony’s lifestyle might be the bee’s knees. I won’t bore you with the details and will simply say that an Italian grandmother with a wooden ladle is deadlier than any ninja assassin you could find.
Of course when I was a kid people were proving that Hillary Clinton was right. It does take a village to raise a kid. It took my teachers, our priest, the nuns, my mom, my grandparents, my uncles and aunts, my cousins and other kin all who worked to keep me on the straight and narrow. And the effort that was put into me I was encouraged to put into others.
Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn’t. I was still a kid after all.
But the point here is that those who chose to live outside the law would also live outside their families. Families wanted nothing to do with the life. They wanted their children and their children’s children to have a life, not the life.
Things are different now. For a lot of reasons that can’t be fixed retroactively we live in times where we are coming up on having three generations of, mostly male, people who have no hope of participating in society. Nor is there any viable incentive for them to do so. That truth leads them to have no respect for life of any kind. Not their own, not anyone else’s. They don’t hope they’ll die before they get old, they know they will.
I write all this today because I have buried the children of friends and am tired of it.
That being said I know a few young men who went through Tom Dart’s boot camp. They are busting their asses to make sure they get an education, a job and make themselves proud of themselves. The pride of others will follow. The underlying theme is that they screwed up but are redeemable. I even had the pleasure of working side by side with one young graduate for a couple of months.
I bring these young men up to remind us that hope, like a flower in the desert, grows in the unlikeliest places and it is up to us to nurture it.
All of this leads to a series of conversations I have had with some of my friends. We represent a veritable rainbow of skin colors and truly cover the financial spectrum.
We have been talking about our lives. The kind of commiserating that men tend to do when they see the end is closer than the start. The one thing that we all had in common is that we once wanted to do something really stupid with our lives and there was a grandmother, it was always a grandmother, there to subtly remind us that bad choices had bad consequences.
Usually with something connecting – subtly – wit the back of our heads.
That was when I said that, instead of T-shirts, balloons, cheesy memorials, candle lit marches and so on, what people should do is unleash their local grandmothers in a Million Grandmothers’ March. Let them walk the streets every night and call the cops when they see something illegal going on. They will know who is who on their street, who has a gun and who doesn’t.
It took about a nano second for us to realize that even a former druggie like me could stumble across a good idea.
I can’t go. A six and a half foot tall white guy, tatted or not, is only going to increase his personal collection of 9mm shells. Mostly via body shots. No, it has to be the people who live there. It has to be those with a vested interest in the outcome.
Too often outside forces, some well meaning, have tried to impose solutions. I feel very safe in saying that none of them have worked.
Thousands of years of history have shown that every solution imposed on a society without their input has led to worse problems and revolt.
If we keep trying to do what keeps being done in the inner cities of our country we will prove the white supremacists right and there will be a race war.
We need a different solution and we need it now.
So let’s let the grandmothers loose. With a couple of rules:
- (1) They need a cell phone.
- (2) When they say a crime taking place they call it in to 911 with the following format; (a) Hello, my name is _________________ and I am seeing such and such happening at ___________________ and there’s neighbor kid 1 packing a 38, neighbor kid 2 is holding baggies of _____________ …. and so on.
I mention that they should start by telling the operator their name for a simple, if morbid, pragmatic reason; if the caller gets killed at least the cops will know who she was.
I never said this was going to be easy or safe. I just said there was no one left to do it.
We need to get the killers off the street and do what we can to save the rest. But that can’t happen if everyone is in hiding. And, yes, I know that strong fathers and so on will do a world of good. We’re light-years from that.
I also know from personal experience, having dated an African American lady once (or more), that the ire of an African-American grandmother is a fury that would give hell pause.
I wasn’t that bad of a boyfriend but I got her point.
My sex life aside, right now people are scared. Realistically so. What truly needs to happen is that they need to get pissed off. They need to get mad. Mad at the small number of losers who are destroying their, and everyone’s, lives. Mad at the unending sanctimonious bullshit that makes them seem like lesser people. Mad at the ticky tack politicized solutions that keep getting trotted out while they bury their families. Mad at the shitty schools that get dumped in their neighborhoods because they aren’t connected to any political machine. Mad at the poverty tax imposed on them every time they buy food and try not to get mutant vegetables which cause 9 year old girls to menstruate and grow tits. Mad at the fucking pat on the head they get every time they mention something sucks and it only seems to suck when black or Latin people are around.
They need to be mad at it all and they need to be the front line on the streets. There is no one else.
Even so, that anger needs to be tempered with forgiveness. When Jesus came to Saul who became Paul on the road to Damascus, Saul’s job was killing Christians. And, since he went from young rock thrower to leader of men, he was obviously really good at it. Nevertheless, all Jesus asked was for him to go forward in life and do good. That is what we must, and all we can truly expect to, ask of those who are saved.
Save the world, piss off a granny.
Yeah, this is truly where we’re at.
Shinehead “The Real Rock” from Andrew Doucette on Vimeo.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG (FOX! Sports) every Friday around 9:10 AM.