Turkey season is over. Church is over. Cider Andy's barn is built. What to do? Well there's the county auction. Every year Sullivan County auctions off properties that have been repossessed by the county for the non-payment of taxes. Over the years I've picked up a few. I bought a cemetery for $300, some river front for not much more, and a farm house that turned into WSSP for $30k. It's bargain basement shopping for those of us artists that use real estate as material.
I had my eye on a little salt box on 2 acres down in Wurtsboro. My limit was $5,000. Crazy you say? It went for $6,500, the price of a cheap used car. After I bowed out, I felt bad....for a minute. If I was just a little more solvent, I thought. But then I remembered I already had multiple buildings that needed my attention. Another wreck of a house was just going to drag me down further. So I went to work stripping plaster and rug, and cleaning out the shul. Down on my hands and knees, breathing the dust, working day after day, was the only way i knew how to clear my head, and figure out what my next move (artistically speaking) would be. So far I have no answer.
In the meantime I had been called to jury duty. My civic duty comes first. The last time I had been called I was excused after the DA realized I was the only one in the pool with an advanced college degree and a misdemeanor arrest record. Somehow the crazy woman that kept getting out of her seat, and wandering around the court room, was more desirable than I. Go figure. This time I was called for Grand Jury duty.
Yesterday I went to court. A Grand Jury seats 23 individuals. About 50 of us were met at the door by a smiling, white haired, old duffer who thanked us for coming. Once seated we were treated to a half-hour's civic lesson on the Grand Jury by this old guy. He was a natural. The way he told the story he almost had me believing that we had the best, most impartial system in the world. Then I looked around the room at the sea of white faces. Of the 50 there was one black woman. I know it's a white county........but wtf? At first I was was actually hoping to be selected. I was willing to give up 8 weeks of Weds. to lend my intellect to the system. But as the morning ground forward in bureaucratic machinations I began to backtrack. My attention span was fraying at the seams.
Unlike a trial jury, the Grand Jury is picked totally at random. The names and jury numbers go in a bingo jar, a woman spins it and reaches in. By the time 23 were picked and Juror 69 was not picked I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. I was off the hook. Maybe it is a great, impartial system. But then I think of all the cops that are not indicted and all the poor people that are. I saw the look on the 23 seated. They were already bored. The chips were being stacked. The judge and the DA and the gentile old gentlemen jury wrangler ran the show. You could see it in "the people's" eyes. They would do anything to please the voice of authority. I was free to leave. But, I'm afraid the next accused meth-head, oxy-freak, crackwhore, child molester may not fare as well. God Bless Ameriklan. I'm going back on my knees in the shul, until I figure out my next move.