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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Dentist -- November 4, 2011

This morning I read until the chow line was run for lunch. Lately I have been skipping many meals to have some peace away from my cellmate's almost ceaseless chatter and yelling. I was determined today he was not going to bother me, and I wrapped my headphone wire outside my bars so I could get better radio reception. I was successful in getting a few classic rock stations including Chicago's "The Loop." As my cellmate rambled, I listened to Led Zeppelin, Heart, AC/DC's "Hells Bells," and others. I even caught a vintage Metallica cut from the 1980's. I could hear my cellmate on occasion talking louder to get my attention, but I only turned up the volume on my Walkman. He began talking instead to a gallery worker.

When I saw the upper galleries going out for chow, I finally took my headphones off. Immediately, my cellmate began to address me. He asked me if I was going out for that fillet-o-fish. He repeated this as though he was a McDonald's commercial and until I told him I was going. Ely has done heroin and other drugs before. He may even be partially insane. He has told me a brother of his is crazy, and another is retarded. It probably does not help that he drinks coffee throughout the day. Many black people in prison are former drug addicts, mildly insane, greatly obnoxious morons with prison or ghetto etiquette. I wish I did not have to live among them.

Chow lines are particularly annoying. Numerous men are talking loudly to one another from the cell house to the dining room and back. It is enough that I wish I was deaf. I do not care to hear their screaming or most base and unintelligent conversation. Other than Zirko and Mertz, I did not speak to anyone at lunch. If I could wear earplugs all day, I would. Not only must I deal with all the noise but with the incredible aggravating behavior of convicts. A lieutenant this morning was threatening to take people to Seg. He may have not been serious, but I was thinking of volunteering so I could have room service again and get another cellmate, or better yet, be alone.

When I returned from chow, I had to take a nap. Despite tuning out my cellmate for most of the morning, I was very tired. I knew if I was to make my pass to see the dentist, I was going to need some rest. My appointment was for 2 p.m., and that left me a couple of hours for a nap. I told my cellmate I was laying down and to wake me up at 1:30, if I fell out. It seemed like I was only asleep for a few minutes when I heard Ely banging on the bunk. I thought about skipping my pass, however, dental appointments were few and far between.

At Stateville it is very difficult seeing a dentist. Men will have chipped teeth, fillings falling out, and be in enormous pain from cavities or infections, and will not be seen for months. The only reason I was being seen was because it was my bi-annual check up. Every two years, the Health Care Unit gives inmates a blood test and checks their vitals to see if they are not dying. Also included with this limited physical is a dental exam. I missed my pass to the lab last week. I doubt there is anything horribly wrong with my blood, and even if there was, it is questionable if it would be noticed.

After checking in at the front door, I went into the holding cage across from my cell. The guards were letting out all of the remaining Health Care Unit passes in the cell house to escort us all out together. Guards were also letting out evening kitchen workers to attend their detail. Those men are given a white uniform to wear, and I watched as they and the men going to the prison hospital slowly made their way down the flights of stairs. The cell house has five floors that extend upward about 70 feet. From the cell house wall in the holding cage, I could see all of the galleries except the one at the very top. I do not know why I was eager to leave because at the HCU I would only be put in another cage.

The prison hospital's holding cage was so full that when I and the other inmates from C House arrived, we were put in a cage outside. In the hallway that leads to the exit of the prison are two black cages. I usually see men who are being released or are from the Northern Receiving Unit in them. However, occasionally they are used to hold an excess of prisoners waiting to go on a visit or waiting to see a doctor in the hospital. After we were placed in one of the cages, men from other cell houses were also put in there with us and the cage adjacent. I was glad on the wall were two notices in bright red paint stating "Maximum Capacity of 10," although guards often dismissed the rule.

The prisoners seemed glad to be in the cages in the hallway despite how small and uncomfortable they were. Inmates watched all the female staff walk by and said greetings to them or tried to strike up conversations. Mostly they just stared and talked about them. Black men tend to like women that they describe as "thick," which I believe means overweight. A few spoke about how various women who passed by had a "big bootie," which apparently is appealing to them. A Mexican who stood beside me stared almost with his tongue out. It was all very odd to me how they spoke openly about their sexual desires and tastes. I also found their opinion of the women peculiar. These were very ugly women, and yet it seemed like they were surrounded by supermodels.

Also of discussion in the two cages was a couple of former Stateville inmates who had been in the news lately. A black man who lived in C House and went by the name "Baby Stone," was released from prison yesterday. Baby Stone was so named because he was in the Black Stones gang and also because when he was arrested he was only 14 years old. Baby Stone and his co-defendants were convicted over 20 years ago for a gang rape and murder in Chicago. Years ago, DNA excluded all of them and identified yet another man who was in prison. Despite this, the prosecutor did not want to release them and admit fault. However, a major reason for this was that they gave confessions. Their lawyers fought for years and just this week, Baby Stone, now in his mid-30's, was let go. Baby Stone's real name is Robert Taylor, and my attorney Jennifer Blagg helped the Innocence Project at Northwestern University work on the case. I do not feel any sense of optimism because of this, however. DNA cases are the easiest to overturn, and my case is not similar.

The other former Stateville prisoner of discussion was John Wilson, Jr. Wilson was the man who was recently arrested for stabbing to death a 14-year-old girl in the town of Indian Head Park. According to police, Wilson stabbed Kelli O'Laughlin when she returned home from school and interrupted him burglarizing her house. After the murder, the man used the girl's smart phone to text her mother a number of taunting messages. Wilson, Jr. had spent the last 17 of 20 years in prison and was paroled about this time last year. Many of the inmates in the two holding cages remembered him. They spoke about the case that has been in the Chicago area news alot this week.

One man in the cage defended Wilson Jr. and said he could be innocent. The others, however, quickly ridiculed this contention. Wilson Jr. used the gold coins he had just stolen to pay a taxi cab driver. His blood was also reported to be on the victim's clothing. Police also had traced the phone he had taken from the girl, and it was recovered when he was arrested. Finally, Wilson had put a rock in a skull cap to throw through a window to gain entry to the house. DNA from hair or skin takes time to match, but the police seemed confident they would soon have this evidence as well. I tend to be skeptical of media reports of suspects in high profile crimes, but in this case it seemed there was no doubt he was the killer and police had arrested the correct man.

Some of the men I was caged with expressed how Wilson Jr. should not have killed the girl. Rather, they said she should have been knocked out with a blow to the head or just tied up. I suppose this is the typical convict's perspective. No one said how he should have not been burglarizing the home in the first place, and there was little sympathy for the 14-year-old girl who was stabbed to death. Most of the talk focused on how the burglary should have been done better and how Wilson Jr., if he was not so dumb or high on drugs, could have gotten away with the crime. One man said he was just crazy.

Eventually the men in the hallway cages, including me, were let out to sit in the Health Care Unit's holding cage. I was not there long until my name was called for the dentist. The dentist area was part office and part working area. Like the rest of the hospital, it had painted white cinder block walls and gray tiled floors. There were four dentist reclining chairs, and after I gave my name, I was told to sit at one of them.

I did not like seeing the prison dentist. I assumed the people who worked at Stateville were not good enough to work in private practice. I also figured they cared little about their patients. Furthermore, I have read articles and seen televised programs about how unclean the utensils and hoses were in dentist offices. If private dentist equipment was so unsanitary, I reasoned the equipment here had to be much worse. Looking at the old equipment and chairs that were in poor repair, my perception was even more negative. I noticed there were even wires exposed underneath the chairs and much of what I saw looked dingy and unclean underneath the bright fluorescent lights.

I was sitting in a chair for about 10 minutes before I was attended to. During this time, I not only observed my environment but listened to the dentists working on other men. One man had seven cavities requiring the pulling of a few teeth and fillings in the others. From my vantage point, I could see how the man's teeth had already been drilled and been given numerous fillings. Many of his teeth were black, and I was disgusted by this. Another man had several cavities from various sides of his teeth including one that grew underneath a previous filling somehow. The dentist pointed these out to the inmate in a hand held mirror, along with the severe gum disease he had. The man's only comment was that she had a real mirror. Prisoners only have access to little rectangular pieces of clear plastic which have a reflective coating on the backside.

I brush my teeth after every meal and floss once a day. I am very meticulous about keeping my teeth healthy in part because I know how seldom prisoners have access to dental care. I also find cavities, missing teeth, and gum disease disgusting. Many people these days I notice have very white front teeth, but their molars will be filled with many dark or black fillings. I also have heard about people using not only whitening strips but having veneers put on their teeth. These practices make me think how superficial society has become. Their molars can be all black, but so long as their front teeth are shiny white, that is fine. It is not fine, in my opinion, and black molars are just as ugly as black incisors.

It is very difficult keeping my teeth healthy while at Stateville. Prisoners are only supplied with 3" toothbrushes. To reach the back molars, I must put my fingers in my mouth. If I am not careful, I will have toothpaste and drool over myself by the time I finish. Prisoners here are not allowed dental floss because the administration believes it could be a security issue. Purportedly, an inmate, after a few months or years, may be able to saw through a couple of bars in their cell. Instead, prisoners are sold "dental loops," which are small plastic bands that easily break. For $2, we can buy a package of 10 bands that are good for about 10 flossings unless you knot the bands back together after breaking.

Finally, a white woman came to my chair to take x-rays. When she asked me to put on a lead protector, I asked her if she was preparing to zap me with radiation. She dismissed my concerns and said there was more radiation emitted from a microwave and enormously more if I were to fly. If this was so, I asked her, then why is there a need for this vest? She did not have an answer and hid behind a wall to take the x-ray. After having this done four times, I was told to go to another seat.

While sitting at this chair, I listened to the Mexican who was in the cage with me earlier. He was trying to chat and flirt with all the female dentists in the room. These women, I noticed, all had a specific job, and the men were rotated between the four chairs. The older white woman seemed to do nothing but x-rays. A young black woman was mostly a receptionist and an older one with dyed frizzy hair looked at the prisoners' teeth. The women who worked in the dental office were friendly, and this seemed to make the Mexican inmate's day.

All dentist offices have background music. In the prison room was a small radio playing the pop music station "The Star," 96.7 FM. It was a station that I could get in clearly from my cell because it is broadcast from New Lenox, a suburb close to the prison. I hate pop music, and as I thought about this, Lady Gaga was introduced. I did not want to be at the dentist -- and now I had to listen to Lady Gaga. I do not know what is worse: the cacophonous yelling of numerous prisoners in the cell house, in movement lines, and holding cages, or her vile songs. At least the radio was on low, and her song was definitely the lesser of evils.

Moving to another chair, my teeth were examined. The woman picked around with a bright light and mirror. She eventually asked me if I grind my teeth, and I said no, but I tend to clench them when I work out. She told me a couple of my molars were worn down and eventually they may become sensitive. This was something I have been told many years ago, and I was unconcerned. What did concern me is when she gave me the hand held mirror and pointed out a molar that had a white discoloration on the top of it. She told me this meant there was a cavity underneath that could not be seen. I asked her if it could be seen on the x-rays, and she told me no, but she has been a dentist for 30 years and knew this was the case. I did not feel any pain, and I have noticed that blemish for years. When she asked me if I wanted an appointment to have it drilled and a filling put in, I hesitated but eventually said yes because I could always change my mind. It would not be for at least half a year before the procedure would be done. She asked me when I last had my teeth cleaned, and I told her not in numerous years. She said she would also make me an appointment for this as well. In prison, dentists do not polish teeth but simply pick tartar off.

While putting my jacket on by the door of the office, an inmate made the sound of Daffy Duck before entering. The young woman working the counter asked me if I heard that, and then she asked the man who entered. It was silly how the men in prison would do almost anything to get the attention of female staff. After the prisoner sat down in a reclining chair, he made the noise again to get all of the women's attention. The other inmate also vying for their attention was not happy, and as I left, I could hear them both talking.

I did not have to wait long before I was returned to my cell house. Close to 3 p.m. a long line is run back to the quarter units. These men all came from the visiting room. Visitation ends at 2:30 and the prisoners are sent to another large room in the basement to be strip searched in mass. There will sometimes be 30 or more men lined up naked having their clothes and bodies searched. From the strip search room, they will be taken down the hallway that the prisons' Health Care Unit is connected to.

My cellmate had just completed his workout when I returned and was going to wash up in the sink. I stayed at the table reading a paper until the local news came on. I was interested to see if I could hear more about the murder of Kelli O'Laughlin. The first story was about her murder and funeral. Many people came out to give their condolences in the small suburban town that has never had a homicide. On TV, a number of photos of the girl were shown including a high school freshman picture where she is wearing braces. The States Attorney of Cook County said that she would have sought the death penalty if Illinois still had capital punishment. In my opinion, lethal injection was too lenient. I also thought of the irony that this man will receive the same sentence as I, if not less.

February 18, 2012

I was finally given a pass to see the dentist about the cavity I purportedly have on one of my molars. I did not go because I have learned there is nothing wrong with the tooth, as I suspected. It is great to know there is such competent medical staff at Stateville.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The End of October -- October 27, 2011

It is close to noon as I begin this journal entry. My cellmate, Ely, has just went out to the small yard. I hope guards do not bring in the recreation lines until after 2 p.m. to give me some time alone in the cell. My cellmate is extremely hyper and talkative, despite being 55 years old. It has been difficult to avoid his incessant chatter and disruptions. I typically enjoy this time of year, however, it has been rather unpleasant. I try to think of times before my arrest, but the monotonous misery of being a prisoner for nearly two decades weighs on me. It is the end of October and I wish it was the end of my captivity or even existence.

I like the cool weather of autumn along with its gray or dark blue skies that contrast with the foliage of deciduous trees. I am also glad that the days have grown shorter and I no longer have daylight streaming into my cell in the morning. Unfortunately, my new cellmate on occasion uses the bright overhead fluorescent light. He has a small lamp but because his eyesight is poor, it is not sufficient for him to shave his head or do other things. There is always fluorescent light coming into the cell from the gallery, and I wish there were times I could be in complete darkness. There are no trees inside the walls of Stateville, just shrubs and small hedges that do not obscure lines of sight. If I was still on the 4th floor of the Roundhouse, I could see over the wall from my cell window. In general population, however, I will not see any of the gold, orange, or red leaves of late October.

A couple of weeks ago temperatures dropped from daytime highs in the 80s to the 60s. At night, lows are currently near freezing. This week, maintenance workers finally turned on the hot water pipes along the outer cell house wall which feed the blowers. There are two hot water blowers in this cell house. One is near the showers. The other is by the front door, not far from my cell. Before these were turned on, I was wearing thermal underwear, sweat pants and a sweat shirt. I even put on a skull cap occasionally because I was still cold. I slept with all this clothing on and under a wool prison issued blanket.

This week, I was finally given a jacket to wear. I have submitted at least five clothing slips since last year, and complained to the counselor as well. The supervisor in charge of the issuance of clothing does not want to give any of it out. Increasingly, the Illinois Dept. of Corrections wants prisoners to pay for everything including essentials like clothing, food, and hygienic items. On Tuesday, a guard told inmate workers to only give one roll of toilet paper to a cell, forcing cellmates to split a roll. The inmates refused, however, and two rolls were passed out as is customary. At the Cook County Jail, I heard on the news the sheriff wants detainees to pay for the meals served. IDOC has not proposed this yet, but the quality and portion sizes of food has decreased significantly while prices on commissary have been increased.

The jacket I was given is basically a blue wind breaker. It is very thin and has little to no insulation. The coat is made with prison labor from Dwight Correctional Center. Most of the clothing given prisoners in Illinois are made at the women's maximum security institution. My cellmate tells me there is still a tailor shop at Menard, but I do not believe they supply much of the clothes amongst Illinois' nearly 50 prisons. I am told the clothing supervisor has written numerous disciplinary tickets for prisoners who were given a coat last year and have requested a new one this year. The accusation is "destruction of state property." Prisoners do not usually keep these cheap jackets from year to year, but throw them out or give them away after winter. Many jackets are also lost when prisoners are moved, sent to Segregation, or in the laundry which is not very reliable.

As with my former cellmate, I rarely ever get any peace. Ely continues to talk and yell to numerous prisoners outside the cell bars. When there are no prisoners to talk to, he will talk to guards or try to engage me. I have no time and care less for his banter. I thought I was fortunate he had no radio, but at times he sings to himself. I cannot fathom how anyone can ramble on the way he does. He is an old man, but is very hyper and obnoxious. Whenever I can, I have tried to get away from his presence. I have skipped numerous meals this week, although this has not been much of a sacrifice. I care not for much of the food served and the crowds of other obnoxious people that go to chow. I think the only way I have been able to keep my sanity recently is holing up in my cage and keeping my headphones on or earplugs in my ears.

I did go to the gym on Tuesday to use the few machine weights that are in working order. While working out, I spoke with Anthony Mertz. Mertz, as people call him, is a white man about my age. He was recently sent to C House after spending half a year in the Roundhouse. Mertz did not come from Segregation but Pontiac's death row. Governor Quinn signed legislation earlier this year abolishing the state's death penalty and the approximately 15 people on death row here in Illinois have been sent elsewhere. Mertz is a former Marine and was attending Eastern Illinois University when he was arrested. He is a person I can have an intelligent conversation with which is scarce at Stateville. Most of the men here are ignorant, obnoxious hoodlums like my cellmate. Although Mertz was convicted of strangling a woman, I think half the population of Stateville should be executed before him.

My cellmate played basketball with his other "brothers" at the gym. For an old man, he is in good shape. Throughout the week, he will exercise in the cell with his workout bags. He does not work out as intensely as I do, but his workouts last two to three hours. I will sit at the table by the bars and try not to look his way. Having a person exercise feet from you is not only uncomfortable but distracting if you are trying to focus on something. At least Ely is more respectful of my space and will not reach over or crowd me. I am very claustrophobic and hate being confined closely with other people. Any time the administrators want to send me to Tamms Supermax and give me my own cell, I am willing to go. I have listened to Damien Echols, one of the West Memphis 3 who were recently released, complain of the isolation on death row. However, in my opinion, he was fortunate to do that time there than in general population, although I am not certain what it is like in Arkansas' prisons. The prison system there may be very different than what exists in Illinois. Mertz tells me he would prefer to be back on death row.

I do not wish to bother a cellmate while they are working out or focused on some other task. Therefore, while Ely is exercising, washing clothes, shaving, or whatever, I will wait until he is done to move over to the other side of the cell. In a tiny cage, cellmates are continually moving around each other. Playing twister with a man is not a game I will play. This week, instead of interrupting my cellmate, I ate raw chicken and an uncooked package of Ramen noodles at the table. I wanted to make chicken soup, but this is not possible at the cell bars. Despite this, it was still better than the tamales and beans served in the chow hall.

On Wednesday, I left the cell to get a haircut at the prison's barbershop school. The men who cut hair at the school are terrible at cutting straight hair, but I thought I would get away from my cellmate for awhile. I would prefer to sit in the waiting room a couple of hours than listen to my cellmate. Plus, I thought I may be able to get one of the few white barbers to cut my hair. One of them is my former cellmate from Joliet Correctional Center, and he is the only man proficient at cutting straight hair since Jon, aka "Cracker," transferred to a medium security prison.

While Randy was cutting my hair, a tour came through. The tour was composed of men and women I assumed were from a college taking a criminal justice course. Tours are popular in October and especially around Halloween. Sometimes, I think people are interested in visiting some place scary around this time of year. Stateville may beat the haunted houses that I hear are popular, although I doubt visitors get any idea of what it is like to live here.

The black man who runs the barber school gave a long spiel to the students. He told them about the history of barbershops and the great value of this program. I thought even if I had an out date, cutting hair is not an aspiring career. I told Randy what a promising future he has. He, like myself, has natural life without the possibility of parole.

Not long after the tour left, I was told by a guard that I had a visit. I thought this was good because I could spend even more time away from my cellmate, but soon remembered how crowded and loud the visiting room was. My mother came to see me this week. She had disappointing news about my prospects of appeal. Possibly I will never get out, I thought, and seemingly because I have no future or present, our conversation led to the past. My mother began to condemn me for my past associations. I did regret some of my past friendships, but if I could do it all over again, I would have asked out more girls. My mother noted that the only steady girlfriend I have ever had was while in prison. However, I put an end to her critique when I asked her if she was happy I have not had sex in two decades.

On the news recently has been a female teacher who had sex with a few 17-year-old boys in her class. She was convicted of statutory rape and sentenced to four years in prison. I happened to see Bob on the way back to the cell house. Robert Mueller was convicted of having sex with two of his Hinsdale High School students, and sentenced to 38 years. Bob went on and on about how incredibly harsh his sentence was and that there was a double standard. I do not believe women and men are equal or should be judged the same. However, I did fully agree with Bob that his sentence was outrageous, and I hope he is able to gain a new trial so he can make a deal with the prosecutor for time served.

Back in my cage, my cellmate was waiting for someone to talk to. After being in social settings most of the day, I just wanted to be left alone. I told Ely I was taking a nap, and he quit talking. I pulled a blanket over me and thought about a time when I was free, including girls I dated or wish I had. The only escape I have from prison is when I shut my eyes and my cellmate shuts his mouth. I can then think about the past or a future I may have had. Late October settings filled my daydreams before I drifted off to sleep for a brief time. I was awakened by a man screaming outside my cell, and when I rose from my bunk my cellmate had plenty to say. From daydreams to dreams to Stateville was an abrupt and ugly transition. I can understand now why Michael Jackson took a lethal dose of propofol.

Ely told me how the queer Franky, who on occasion brings me commissary in an attempt to befriend me, was convicted for attempted murder. He is doing 40 years for beating his father almost to death. Ely said I should use Frank not for commissary but legal advice or to actually write my successive post conviction appeal. I told Ely I wanted to keep my distance from Frank and not give him any encouragement.

Ely, on occasion, likes to talk to the black female guards. He told me how he was mad two guards were recently set up by prisoners. The female guards were said to be bringing into the institution various things for inmates, and may have even been involved with them sexually. Years ago, sex between female staff and inmates was common, especially at Stateville. In the six years I have been here, however, there is only one or two women I may have considered just asking out.

Ely tells me female staff a couple decades ago even engaged in prostitution. I have heard this from many other sources before and it did not surprise me. In the 1980s, Stateville had more drugs and sex for sale than the streets of Chicago's ghettos. I asked Ely how the prisoners set up the guards last month. I was told that one was told to bring in a cell phone and then Internal Affairs grabbed her while she was working. The cell phone was allegedly found in her panties. Neither of the guards will be charged with a crime, but they were immediately fired.

Throughout this week, whether I am reading, writing, analyzing stocks, or listening to the radio or watching TV, Ely has bothered me with talk. Sometimes I will have the volume turned up on my Walkman too high to hear him and at the end of a song, I will hear him continuing to ramble. He does not even need interchange to talk. On Sunday, I was trying to watch the new ABC show "Once Upon A Time" to see if it was worth following, but his distractions left me undecided. Even during the World Series, Ely was talking, although the St. Louis Cardinals are his favorite baseball team. He would go from talking about the game to various other topics. He yelled out "Red Birds!", cheered, and cussed about game play of his team or the Texans. Then he would talk about his escapes, commissary, a former girlfriend, gang wars, or just about anything. Tonight is game 6 of the World Series and a must win for St. Louis. I am not betting on the game, but I will wager my cellmate will be geeked up on coffee and talking, shouting, and cheering to the last out.

I do not mind his excitement during the game as much as I did when he could not be quiet when an unusual October thunderstorm passed by Stateville. I very much like to listen to the thunder and watch the lightening without disruption. I suppose spending vast amounts of time in concrete and steel prisons has made me ever more so appreciative of nature, particularly impressive displays. In the past, I have made fun of Amanda Knox's desire to lay in the grass. However, in some way I can understand how she felt. While in the Roundhouse, I would spend time by the window to see out beyond the wall and feel the breeze of the wind. Thunderstorms were something I also looked forward to.

I am listening to WLS AM talk radio as I write, and I heard the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up over 300 points. This October is set to have the largest percentage gain than any other. The Dow was at a low early this month, even dropping below 10,500, but now it is over 12,200. Although I do not think it was a bad idea selectively buying stocks on the 4th and 5th, investors are clearly misguided to believe the U.S. is on the way to recovery and a bull market. The problems in Europe have by no means been resolved nor have they in the U.S., despite reports the country's 3rd quarter gross domestic product growth was 2-1/2%.

The Rush Limbaugh show is being played on the radio, and the talk show host is criticizing the occupation of Wall Street protesters. I cannot agree more with him and other critics. This loose assembly of divergent people and causes are very misguided and have little sense of individual responsibility. Paraphrasing Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, "If you are poor, you only have yourself to blame." I was surprised that even the current socialist President Barack Obama not long ago told the National Black Caucus to "Quit complaining! Quit whining! Take off your house slippers and put on your marching boots!" Possibly, some protesters took this in context of his usual class warfare and Marxist rhetoric to march against the rich and demand a handout. Many of these clueless, unemployed, uneducated dope smokers need to get a job, go to school, or better themselves in some way. Americans have become spoiled, soft, weak, and degenerate. They are dependent on social subsidies and government egalitarianism. They do not know what being truly disenfranchised is. Being disenfranchised is being put in prison for the rest of your life for something you did not do.

The terrible state of the U.S. economy cannot be laid entirely at the feet of underachieving people, of course. However, if the country's financial problems are not to be found in the mirror, they are found in the government. Instead of occupying Wall Street, protesters should be occupying the national capital. It is the government-owned Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that propelled the housing bubble along with incentives from the Federal Reserve. It is the White House and legislature that have spent trillions of dollars growing big government and supporting both corporate and social welfare. It is these politicians who have taken away the American Dream based on meritocracy and replaced it with socialism. It is also these same politicians in both parties that have pushed free trade deals that have decimated the wealth, employment, and living standards of Americans. Many people blame outsourcing jobs and the illegal immigrant invasion on corporate America, but this could not have occurred without the blessing of government. When the capitalist system had been properly directed, it made the U.S. the most powerful nation in the world.

October has not only been a month of whining about the rich, but also bullies. Somehow, someway, the liberal media has made October anti-bully month. If it was not bad enough to watch pro football players wearing pink clothes for breast cancer awareness, I now see numerous news groups focusing on the purported villainy of school bullying. Liberals are always seeking some Marxist Utopian crusade, but this cause is almost laughable. Bullying is not a crime and is a part of life, whether in school, on the job, in prison or anywhere. It will always be a dog-eat-dog world. These kids do not need to be taught to snitch on each other or have universal love for everyone but how not to be a sniveling victim. I suggest children read "The Lord of the Flies" and not about flower power.

Recently, I saw Jenny McCarthy on a couple of news programs talking about how to combat bullying. She told stories of how she was bullied on the south side of Chicago and maybe she should have changed that goofy, hairsprayed teased hairdo. McCarthy also spoke about one of her kids that has aspergers, and how these type of children need to be protected. I have aspergers and I was in many fights, but never did I whine to mommy or tell my teacher when I lost. No, I grew tougher, stronger, and smarter. My favorite movie as a child was "Conan the Barbarian," and at the beginning of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film was a quote from Friedrich Nietsche: "What does not kill me only makes me stronger." When I was arrested, many nerds, stoners, and other students complained to the newsmedia that I was a vicious bully. However, my philosophy has served me well and I do not think I would have survived all these years in prison had I not learned "The Riddle of Steel." When I see society complaining that someone has more money than them, more power than them, and every minority or special interest group deserves more rights and privileges, that is when I know Western civilization is precariously close to falling into the abyss. Pat Buchanan and his predecessor, Oswald Spangler, are certainly correct to predict its demise. Hopefully, the end of this month will be the end of the Wall Street and bully protestors, as well as muscular 300-pound pro football players wearing pink shoes and gloves.

The Roe and Roeper talk radio show is now coming on and they are advertising their presence at "CD and Me," a club or bar in Frankfort, Illinois, tomorrow. Despite having lived in the area before my arrest, I never heard of the place. It must not have existed then. So much has changed in the nearly two decades I have been incarcerated that I doubt I would even recognize my home town anymore. I wonder if I will even be able to fit in a world so changed. I may be like Brendan Frasier in the movie "A Blast from the Past," but hopefully I am more like Buck Rodgers or Sylvester Stalone in "Time Cop." I know one thing is certain. A man who has spent over half his life and all of his adult life in prison is not going to easily adapt. However, I would rather die a fish out of water than as a captive. Unlike Buck Rodgers or Stalone, I am not in suspended animation but slowing rotting away like an old Jack-o-lantern left out after Halloween.

The end of October was once the end of the year for most Europeans before the reign of Roman Ceasar Augustus had it changed to December 31st. I always like to believe change is imminent during autumn, but other than the weather, rarely is there anything that alters the ceaseless misery in prison. Change is something for those living beyond this wall, and not the walking dead behind it. Yes, I know what I will be for Halloween this year. It is the same I have been every year since I died in 1993: the tortured soul of the live undead, a zombie.