April 20th, 2007

Coffee Squirrel

25th Hour,

I watched 25th Hour the other day.  I found this to be, along with Crooklyn, the most fully realized of Spike Lee's films that I've seen (I have to check out his documentaries now).  It's so perfect, I think. It's beautiful and sad as it documents a man's last day before being incarcerated for seven years. I made me think of relatives who have gone to prison. I just can't imagine. I know: in this country when laws are broken someone pays, right? The severity and lightness of the 'punishment' can seem so arbitrary, though. And then you have men -- and women -- who come out (having rightly paid their debt) and pay taxes but can't vote, can't get work. Regardless of how you feel about the nature of the prison system, once you've paid your debt, it doesn't seem right to have to pay it again and again because you don't have money.  Anyway: It made me wonder about freedom what that exchange of freedom for a crime and what that means. The ending just made me want to weep. Edward Norton gave Monty just the right amount of silent fear, raging anger and heavy sadness.

There are so many different lives we could have. I could have stayed in Chicago, living with my mom.  I could be there, going drinking now and again with T and parasthesia.  I could be there watching my nephew, helping my grandmother yet feeling dead and useless. I could. I could have chosen to stay there and live without Eric. I could have stayed in Nashville TN and hung out with Leroy and carved out some life in the South. I could still be in Minnesota, marking time yet slowly gaining depth to those connections I had there. I could have gone overseas to teach English. I could have chosen Albuquerque and be staring out into the desert right now. So many different lives.

What if any of those lives landed me somewhere I didn't want to be and I couldn't easily get out? Am I addicted to being able to get out? Don't we all pay for our choices? Is what you pay for your life more than you want to pay? Do you have a choice in what that payment is? What's the price of that freedom? I understand prisons aren't going anywhere at this point. But =could= there be alternatives? What would they be? What would they look like? I've got no issues if your life, livelihood or property is immediately threatened -- self-defense is anyone's right. What of the laws that don't work the same for everyone? As a child, my brothers were friends with a kid who gave them a plant. They brought it home, watered it and took care of it. My mom found the marijuana plant and hit the roof. They were 10 and 12, my brothers and their response was: "He said if we grew it we could make money". She went to the school, she talked to that kid's parents. This is the same rich, entitled kid who was later (years later) arrested, released and the whole situation was kept from the local papers because of his money. My mother volunteers in the courts, so she SAW him. He was not marked for life for his legal infraction the way some of my relatives are.

Anyway, just musing. The many parallel lives that could be. What they cost....