Friday, June 18, 2010

Club Clements

" Si non caste tamen cante.(If you can't be good, be careful.)"
_St. Paul

Welcome to Club Clements! Don't want to work? -- Or pay rent? -- Bills? Want zero responsibilities? Then this is the place for you! Homosexual? Sadomasochist? Perfect, you'll never want to leave! To qualify for membership, simply smoke a joint in church, date a cop's wife, or steal a car (preferably with the owner inside). For deluxe accommodations at one of our facilities, just rob a bank.
Whether you're your a real-life "gangsta" or the average thug from the hood, you'll find plenty to do here. Hustlin's still the name of the game. Weed,tobacco, pills and cell phones are big sellers -- with an even bigger profit margin! And you pimps will find all the punks you can handle. For those of you riding solo(unaffiliated), we have a charming protective custody wing. Chess sets and dominoes are available at the commissary, and day room televisions are pre-tuned to all day Jerry Springer.

When packing for your visit, don't forget to leave everything behind.You won't need it here,- whatever it is. Remember: we take care of everything! All guests receive a pair of black, ass-kicking army boots, and each day you'll be issued a freshly laundered white shirt, white pants, white boxers, and a great pair of socks, along with a towel and sliver of soap. Fresh sheets are provided every week, as well as your very own roll of toilet paper, tooth powder, and razor. Then during the winter months, enjoy the comforts of a thin, scratchy faux-wool blanket and green nylon jacket. What more could you ask for?

And for the gourmet, we offer a plethora of tasty nutritious dishes to satisfy even the most discerning palate. Are you currently starving on the streets? Get your fill here at Club Clements! Eating too much of that rich restaurant fare? The Clements Unit Diet will get you lean and mean! We have three scrumptious meals a day: for breakfast (3 AM), it's pancakes or eggs with oatmeal or grits: then for lunch and dinner, it's a magical combination of beans and rice or potatoes, corn and collard greens or squash, and either an all-purpose meat patty, hot dogs, chicken patty, pork patty, pork chop, pork loaf, shredded pork, pork and noodles, beef and noodles, baloney, tuna or peanut butter sandwich. Special desserts are offered twice! each week. No salads or fresh fruit. You get an apple or orange at Christmas. And guess who does the dishes? That's right, not you!

Reserve your suite today! Just imagine living in your bathroom, only smaller. But there will be an extra bunk, because we'll be matching you with the perfect roommate! Someone who's sure to drive you absolutely crazy, because after all, it's all about building character, right?

And Clements is such a wonderful place to make friends! Come to learn and grow with your peers. If you don't already know how to hotwire a car or cook up a batch of methamphetamine, you will before you leave. Never been in a fist fight? Practice daily! And for the majority of our guests who can't read or write, our " Gangsta Sign and Scribble"course is very popular. Plus, a shout out to all the future rap stars out there: here is where reps get made,ya dig? Develop and add beatbox skills 24/7! Holla-holla all night long! Learn from the pros!

Our caring and conscientious staff are waiting to greet you. Let us treat you with the respect you deserve. All our employees are specially trained to teach you lessons in humility, patience, and anger management -- because your personal growth is our greatest concern.

Special needs? No problem, we're here to please! Our medical facilities are state of the art, so we've got you covered. Stab wounds and staph infections are our specialties. No insurance necessary! Are you a bit loony? Criminally insane? Welcome to the Club! Create your own exotic medley of psych drugs and join our elite corps of walking zombies.

Registration is easy: simply confess your crime to a "friend" or neighbor who will receive $1000 for helping you enroll in the system. A friendly squad of uniform professionals will come to collect you. Your stay can be for as little or as long as you like. Our lucky winner may receive five years while another gets 99 years, for exactly the same crime! ( Texas residents only, see details). Regardless, extended stays are easily arranged.

So, say goodbye to all your worries and cares, to all those annoying friends and family members. Choose a future with Club Clements! After all, isn't it time you, too, live off the taxpayer's dime for change?

{This ad brought to you by the prison industry and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of this blog -- E.R.}

"They say the best men are molded out of faults, and, for the most, become much more the better for being a little bad."

-- Shakespeare,"Measure for Measure "

When I first came to prison, I wished a bomb would drop to wipe the whole place off the face of the earth -- one for every unit in the System. I'd gladly make the sacrifice. The world would be a much better place, I thought, without such trash -- such horrible, horrible people -- every being let out of here again to pollute society.

But now I know that hopeless cases are the exception rather than the rule. In fact, I truly believe that each and every person is salvageable. However, some are just so instantly unlikable and obviously evil that it seems impossible and certainly not worth the effort to change them.

Then again,"bad" and "evil" are relative terms. For the most part, it's simply a matter of ignorance and selfishness -- or insanity. Or it could just be a difference in culture and upbringing. For many of these guys, being a gangster or street thug is what everybody aspires to in their neighborhood. Seriously.

This gangster culture is a plague on society, and one reason why our prisons are busting at the seams. Drug and alcohol abuse, wanton sex and criminal behavior is glorified. Education and morality take a far back seat to being cool and tough and "respected". Goodness is associated with weakness. Violence in words or deeds, is part of everyday life. "Survival of the fittest" is the ruling philosophy and to hell with anyone else, especially those outside their pack. Racism is a given.

I've shared prison cells with Bloods, Crips, White Knights, Mandingo Warriors, Tongo Blasts, Banditos, Mexican Mafia, Texas Syndicate, Aryan Brotherhood, and others; and they all boast about making easy money, doing drugs, getting laid, and raising hell; but when it comes to the deeper reasons for joining their gangs, it's always the same: they want friends and "family", they want to feel needed and appreciated, they want security and protection, they want to be part of something greater than themselves, and they all want meaning in their lives.

There will always be gangs, because there were always be youngsters and those of all ages who seek to belong and have purpose in their lives. And of course some will always have the desire to raise hell and make a fast buck.

Individual counseling has some success, but to really solve the problems of gang violence and crime there needs to be a huge change in ideology in their neighborhoods and culture. And that has to happen from within: they need to do something about it themselves, as any overt outside influence is seen as an insult or threat, or typically, "square". So it's up to the leaders of their own communities to effect the change needed.

As long as the gangsta life is promoted and glorified in popular music and the media, our prisons will continue to be inundated him and with ass holes and fools. As long as kids grow up believing that society holds them a living, that government exists to be taken advantage of and that an honest days work is for chumps, then generation after generation will continue to fuel the prison industry. As long as these" tough guys" remain clueless as to what life is really about, as long as they put a priority on "bling"and "ho's" and the material possessions, they'll continue down the same sorry road they think leads to riches.

More than anything else, they're ignorant(not necessarily stupid), which is the ultimate factor in their being" bad". For many, the "thug life" is all they know. They're either not aware of anything better, or they've been conditioned not to strive for anything better. They have an extremely limited worldview. However, although it is a reason, ignorance can't be excused, because as human beings(actually a spiritual beings), we all have an innate sense of right and wrong built-in.

It's selfishness -- self-centeredness -- that really corrupts us, that goes to the very core of being a bad person. And this, of course, is prevalent at every level of society. Having a total disregard for anyone but oneself is the hallmark of a criminal, whether in the hood or on Wall Street. In every drug addict and alcoholic is just as guilty of selfishness, if not the worst offender.

As obvious as this may seem to you, the concept of selfishness being the root of all evil, totally blew my mind when I was first introduced to it in Alcoholics Anonymous in my first year in prison. I had been a self-centered jerk for years without realizing it. I had the same attitude of "looking out for number one" and "every man for himself" as a typical street thug. But I was ignorant of my selfishness, as I think many people are. I had no idea what a problem I really had.

But why should anyone care whether they are selfish or not? That's the big question. And it's the ignorance of the answer to this that is the big problem. For too many people, there is the unanswered and unasked question: "why be good"?. And I believe it's our obligation, as those who know the answer, to share it with as many other people as possible, especially those in prison or in danger of going there someday.

Food for thought. Discuss it amongst yourselves, and drop me a line, please. Thanks again for listening and caring. Bye for now.

-- Eric

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