Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Day twenty-three..."All rise..."

Hello, my name is Alex and I'm an alcoholic.

I also seem to be one of the only people left in Hampshire County who consider dirty jeans and a Red Sox t-shirt unacceptable attire for a court appearance. Oh, and I forgot about the sneakers and construction boots covered with duct tape. Very classy.

I feel that if you're there with somebody then you can dress how you want and it probably won't make a hell of a difference. If however, you are waiting to stand before the judge, you stand a bit more to lose than a carelessly sewn on EZ Wider patch. If you haven't just been brought up from the holding cell, I believe dressing like a homeless house painter is an egregious error. But that's just me.

OK, I know I have a tendency to go off on tangents like this at times. But this is important. And this is one of those times. This is a sign of the decline of civilization in a world on the verge of self destruction. This is bad taste. This is shocking. This apparently, is America. And I dare say, it is in dire need of a slap in the head.

Speaking of slaps in the head, let me tell you how my day began.

It all started with a massive panic attack. My alarm went off at 7 am. I couldn't understand why I would have set it so early. Then I remembered I had to go to court. Then I thought I had missed it altogether. Then I jumped out of my bed and started slapping my face with my hands while banging my head on my mattress yelling "Fuuuuuuccccckkkkkk!" Then I realized everything was alright.

And I calmed down.

I put on some tea water and jumped in the shower. I completed my morning routine and ate breakfast with my computer as always. I picked out a nice ensemble to show my respect for the judicial system. It included: a sharp pair of Italian dress shoes, pinstriped Pierre Cardin socks, a fitted pair of dark slacks, my new Fermi and Telsa leather belt, a simple cotton collared shirt, a black silk tie, and a stunning black sports jacket. The jacket has been one of my favorite articles of clothing since I found it in London two years ago on tour. It makes me feel confident.

I looked, for lack of a better word, bitchin'. Not necessarily a rich man, just a man who has looked bad enough for so long that he can admit he has a problem. A man who when he gets a chance to dress up, even for an unfortunate reason, confidently knows what to wear.

Like I said, bitchin'.

I put an apple in my pocket along with my passport, camera, and letters of affirmation and I headed downtown.

I entered the courthouse and emptied myself of any and all metal. I got patted down and scanned with the metal detector, and they confiscated my camera.

Why bring a camera to the courthouse you might ask? Well I hadn't planned on it, but a family member suggested it might be nice to have a picture of me looking sharp up on the stand. It was early enough in the morning that I thought it was a good idea and put it in my pocket. It was a nice thought, but ultimately I found out only local news crews are allowed to bring in cameras. Which they did.

But back up a sec. I walked up the stairs and tried to find the courtroom and I got lost.

This is a good thing.

This means I have not been there enough times to be able to find the courtroom blindfolded with my hands behind my back. For a change I welcomed the unfamiliar.

Then I came upon the huddled masses.

This next statement is, I think, a very misunderstood maxim in fashion.

Blue jeans which are a color other than blue are still jeans.
Seems simple enough, right?

But no. It was a sea of denim. Some blue, some black, some white (for formal softball games) some maroon, some acid washed, some bedazzled, and some inexplicably written on all over in marker.

People, unless it is the last day of High School, you shouldn't wear jeans which declare, "Carlos 'n' Debbie 4 eva TLA." First off, your in court. Secondly, Carlos is cheating on you and everyone knows it. Lastly, we get that it's 4 eva. You don't need to redundantly hammer home that true love will prevail always. It usually doesn't. And soon you'll be looking for a guy named Scarlos to hook up with so you don't have to buy new jeans.

And I know it's a great time to be a Patriots fan but for Christ sakes, leave the damn hoodie at home.

Where are these people's parents?

Oh right. They're standing right next to them. I should have noticed the matching Sean John outfits.

Back to the events at hand.

My lawyer, David Mintz showed up and we discussed my options. We decided not to seek a trial so I could hopefully dispose of the case today and begin repaying my debt to society. Due to my first OUI being so long ago (1989) we angled for the "Second Chance 24D" disposition. This is where a judge, if he so chooses, may treat the offense as if it were the first one and give a more lenient sentence. I was looking at a possible 2 year loss of license, 2 years probation, and more.
I must make note at this point that Mr. Steve Sanderson and Atty. Peter Irvine were with me throughout the proceedings in a show of solidarity. Peter probably could have found the courtroom blindfolded with his hands tied behind his back but he didn't have to. He was there for me. With me. So was Steve. It was nice. A big thank you to both for getting up earlier than you had to, to hang out with a delinquent like me. I hope it is a very long time before I have to return the favor.

I mentioned the TV cameras earlier. They were there to film "Flag Burning Guy" who I shared a cell with on 12/27. He's been on the news a bunch because of alleged burning of the stars and stripes around Amherst. He was the second best dressed guy in the room; Steve, Peter, and the other lawyers excluded.

His trial was continued.

Then I heard my name. I also heard a bunch of legal hooey directly after it. I got up and cautiously maneuvered my way past the drunk lady sitting next to me. I stood my fly self up in front of the podium and waited with my lawyer.

It was the first time I can recall where I was directly in front of a live mic and did not want to speak, sing, or utter anything into it. No need for a sound check. We'll just play it by ear.

The police report was read aloud to the judge. It was interesting to watch his eyes furtively scanning his desk for something. I don't know if it was a ladybug crawling around or what, but he eventually stopped and listened.

I was asked if these statements were true and I said "Yes, your Honor." Just like on the TV.

I was asked a bunch of other simple questions not worthy of printing. I believe I said yes and no to most of them. And I'm almost certain I understood what he was asking.

Sobriety, what a rush.

Then Mintz sprang into action and made mention of the letters I had brought as supporting evidence for me not being a total jerk. The bailiff came around and brought them up to the judge just like on the TV.

And he read them thoroughly. And then he yawned.

On the advice of Atty. Mintz, I sweetened the deal by suggesting I complete the 2 week inpatient program in Pewksbury, MA around the corner from the Olde County Piggery: see "Day fifteen." Atty. Mintz also made the judge aware of all the other things I had been doing to battle my disease. This included the outpatient program which I just finished yesterday, and the multiple AA meetings I go to every week. And in a matter of a few minutes he had a decision.

He said OK.

He said he'd treat it as a 1st offense and gave me probation for a year.
I lost my license for forty-five days. My immediate court fines total $600 (plus $65 a mo. for 1 year for probation) And I have to get the ignition interlock device installed and maintained for 2 years which I knew before I came in.

And yes, I will have to complete the two week rehab program.

Starting Sunday.

Yes folks, they had a bed open and I'm going to take it. And I'm more than happy about it. Because I know that I need it. I know that it will reinforce what I've been trying to convince myself of all along. Booze is ruining my life and I don't have room for it anymore. Apparently they have room for a television at the program and I hopefully will be able to watch Superbowl XLII wit' my homies.
I'm sure it will be one I will never forget. On many levels.
I'd like to thank my Aunt for showing love, compassion, and patience during this rough portion in my life. I'd like to thank all my friends for calling or emailing me with wishes of hope and luck. I'd like to thank Ina and her girls for bringing me a lovely handmade card and gift; a new calligraphy pen and a journal. It was more than a sweet thing to do. The journal is currently blank but this will soon change. Boot camp is around the corner and I plan on documenting the whole mess. I am in the process of enlisting transcribers and plan to update my blog on a regular basis. The man can't stop the presses. The man will only provide details of a world which I have only gotten a taste of. And I'll be under careful supervision so nobody send me a cake with a nip and a file in it OK? I'll let you know how it's going. I'll keep you posted on whether or not I've had to get all up in some mutha's grill and then have to watch my back for a quick shiv to the neck.

Just like on the TV.

Four more posts from the free world. And then all hell breaks loose. I can hardly wait.

Thanks for reading.



Anonymous said...


I'm so glad the judge recognized that you are taking responsibility for your actions and moving forward. I'm sure he appreciated your sartorial salute.

Thanks for the shout out -- I just thought you'd need a little portable mistress while you're away from your girlfriend(computer) for two weeks! And if words fail you, you can draw pictures. Watching ink flow out of a nice pen on good paper is magic.

Here's hoping the Piggery is more like a spa, and perhaps they even serve bacon and/or prosciutto!

And now I'm off to my major & minor pentatonic scales, my major & relative minor movable shapes, why, it's a feast!


Anonymous said...

Funny, I was at an open mic tonight at the Grog in Newburyport, sitting with a local musician and telling him how anxious I was to read tonight's entry, hoping, hoping, hoping that your results would be exactly what they are.

While listening to the music (and longing for the Drunk Stuntmen instead), I observed a table of youts next to mine. Two had on hideous hats worn backwards. One had a hoodie pulled over his ball cap. The fourth had just his hood over his head. I wondered whether their mothers had ever told them to take their hats off indoors and whether they looked at themselves in the mirror and thought, "Damn! I look so bitchin'!" (And there you are, commenting on the fashion faux pas that you should know not to commit in court). The backwards hats just weren't bad enough. In walks their bud with his brimmed knit hat, the brim cocked to the side and bent in the middle. Now, that's what I call stylin'!

Alex, I am so glad that you are doing so well. If they allow visitors in Tewksbury, let me know because that's not that far from me. I'll bring you the cake without the file or nip. Or I'll just bring the conversation and a little normalcy. If they don't allow visitors, know I am there for you anyway.

By the way, I think that Steve Sanderson is wonderful. He truly has a heart of gold to go with all that talent. You are, indeed, fortunate to have him as a friend.

Good night.

Libby Spencer said...

Such good news. Considering the Commonwealth's stiff DUI laws, this is a fabulous outcome. Congrats and good luck in Pewksbury. I know a few grads from there. I hear it isn't all that bad and two weeks isn't that long.
I'm sure you'll impress them so much they'll probably offer you a job as a permanent counselor.