Vices we love: Still a step ahead of the authorities

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Still a step ahead of the authorities

Many moons ago, when I was a senior at Memphis State, I worked in the Tennessee state legislature as an intern. This was in the Monica-era so we got stern lectures about keeping our oversexed selves from the legislative body, or bodies as the case may be. I was assigned to a man-no worries there. The gent was called Ulysses Jones Jr. and he was perhaps best known as Elvis's paramedic back in the day when the King had his last peanut buttery treat.
Anyhow, me and Ulysses got along famously and if Nashville itself wasn't such a hellhole, I might have fished around there for a job after graduation. And if I had done that, chances are pretty good I would be blogging from the penitentary right now.

Nashville was "the buckle of the Bible Belt". Whoo-hoo. Fun. To start things off, I couldn't rent an apartment in town, no matter how annoying I became. A sample conversation:

Me: Hello, I saw in the blue book (the city real estate guide) that you have apartments available?
Cracker Bob: Not for for'ners we don't.

It became clear that, in spite of my every instinct, I would need a roomie. Not just any roomie, but one that spoke the Middle Tennessee lingo- the kind who could create vacancies where there had previously been none. I cast my net far and wide, trapping the biggest redneck in Tennessee. Naturally, we secured an apartment in a single hour. There were downsides of course. One fine day, I came home to find that he had shaved his head. He turned, smiled sweetly, and said:

"HELLOOO JEWBOY!"

Ahhh, memories. I also got to experience country hospitality from his aunt out near Jackson, TN. Old as dirt, she scrounched up her nose and said: "Jonathan told me you were some kind of foreigner." Whoo, lady you have no idea.
Somewhere between my rural outings, I managed to squeeze in a minimum amount of work as Ulysses lorded over the state and local government committee, a chairmanship he got by basically intimidating the Democrats into it, claiming that all the nice church-going people from North Memphis would sit on their hands on election day otherwise. Ulysses is a pragmatic lad and I imagine he has noticed that quite a few of those involved look like they came from North Memphis. (Roscoe Dixon, who, as fate would have it, employed my roomie, was from South Memphis, an even more delightful place to be.) On a side note, I knew most of the fellas getting mentioned here and with John Ford's chemically-induced exception I would have assumed that they would keep their noses relatively clean. You never know, right? Here are a couple of guys making 18K a year for a part time job that's really a full time hassle. They spend their days being surrounded by other guys who make easily six times that, being on the payroll of Government Shoppers Inc. and those are the guys issuing orders. No wonder that at some time you might want a slice of the moolah pie for yourself. I am sure, dear reader, that you are wondering "Who is the most wretched scum among them all?" Whoo...this is a tough one but in my experience, this guy is the boss hog of them all.

I just perused the legislative site and came upon a few more worthy contenders whom I did not have the good fortune to meet. Mr. Mumpower on the other hand was kind enough to make his presence known as far back as 1999.

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