Why I Went to Prison, and Other Things I Blame on Landon Donovan
by Vandal-prone · October 6, 2008
Thanks to everyone who wrote in last week to say things like, “I’m sorry you went to prison,” “Why did you go to prison?”, and “You’re a disgrace to this country, you greasy, freeloading scofflaw.” Actually, only one person sent in that last one, and my mom and I have had some productive talks since then. The point is, your words of support made a real difference while I was trying to get reacquainted with life on the “outside.”
So why did I end up in prison. I’ve been asking myself that same question, and I think it boils down to the fact that while I was waiting in the security line at LAX, I started pointing at the guy ahead of me and screaming “He’s got bombs in his shoes! He’s got bombs in his shoes!” like my head was surrounded by one of those jagged purple-and-white background panels that comic books use to signify mental distress. For obvious reasons, I blame this on Landon Donovan.
It’s Landon Donovan’s fault because I hadn’t slept for about three days after flying in to cover an LA Galaxy game, and the guy ahead of me in line and I were having an argument about Landon Donovan. Honestly, that’s all it was. However, the phalanx of helmeted obsidian death turtles that descended upon me seemed cool to my explanation that I was trying to make a point through metaphor.
You might ask why they didn’t arrest the other guy, since to the casual observer I might have seemed to be performing a valuable warning service. Well, apparently, when it comes to what they call “accusations of this nature”, they’re basically trained to take a very inclusive approach about who they accept into the criminal process. They did, initially, arrest the other guy, before it then emerged that he was a California state senator. I’m not going to say which one. If you’re a political junkie, you’ll probably understand what I mean when I say: The one with the completely asinine opinions about Landon Donovan. Anyway, the senator knew I wasn’t a terrorist, but he was so pissed off about the honor of his beloved LA Galaxy that he was willing to let me rot.
My God, I hate the Galaxy.
I wound up in a “personal handling room,” where various searches were administered to me before a deeply embarrassed plastic ficus tree and a sheet of mirrored glass. A guy with a real straight cop straw mustache gave me a cold “tell us where the bomb is” interrogation that included a bunch of moments like this:
ME: It has nothing to do with being “homesick”! What nobody ever admits is that his technique is overrated…
OFFICER FURTHDROVER: So this is some kind of religious grievance?
ME: I mean, if you break down those goals he scored for the USMNT you can put it back together with like six kinds of conspiracy theory but basically it always comes back to wasting so much possession, I mean…
OFFICER FURTHDROVER: Son, I think it’s time for you to tell us who you’re working for.
“I’m gonna ask you a question here,” Officer Furthdrover said, “and I’m gonna be real clear with you. Boy, the Cold War is over. You are speaking to me in a language that is making me think, this man is either seriously askew, or this man is intent on bringing harm to the Republic. Son, why don’t you come out of this code language you got built up here and tell me why you accused Sen. _______ of being a shoe bomber.”
My response—”Look, I know you’ve heard of the Columbus Crew”—caused him to lean forward in a kind of sweating-in-slow-motion fury and ask if that was my “cell.”
It was at that moment that I realized I have a defective sense of context.
Anyway, prison was a weird experience. I think they must have known deep down that hating Landon Donovan didn’t make me threat-level fuschia or whatever, because it was a pretty minimum security detail. They let me keep my iPod, so basically I just used the time to catch up on Lost. I got in good with one of the Hispanic gangs (mostly like rogue accountants and guys who repurposed dealer parts for supposedly custom-built gaming PCs) when I correctly recognized Antonio Carbajal on their back tattoos. That put me in bad shape with the white supremacists, but the white supremacists essentially consisted of this one guy named Rick who liked to corner you at lunch and talk about “doing whatever it takes” to get ahead in real estate.
Anyway, it wasn’t long before Brian sent in a lawyer, this natty tie-pin character called Deacon Plover who plotted out an elaborate defense for me based on NFL analogies and repeated invocations of Tiger Woods. It was amazing. There were Hail Marys and onside kicks and springtimes at Augusta. You have never heard Joe Montana factor so heavily into the concept of the Bill of Rights. I would just watch him work and picture like huge meanings of America surging up all around the room.
It turned out not to matter, in the end. The judge who got my case was so conservative that he rejected the entire judicial branch as constitutionally illegitimate, so he tended to just let everyone go free as a way of taking revenge on the system for not letting him give them all the death penalty. He explained this in a speech that was half a reconstruction of the 1919 Black Sox scandal and half a sustained personal attack on the character of William Marbury. I’d try to tell you what it all meant, but to be honest I don’t really follow baseball.
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