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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I'm back, baby!

Sorry, that was just me channeling Frank Costanza.

Mrs B. is home resting now. She's in pain, but is otherwise healthy and has good (doctor-issued) drugs. Meanwhile, I'm learning to be a nurse. Ladies, I have taken your suggestions under advisement and will be picking up the ice cream when I make my first grocery run.

Anyway, glad to be back and to offer a new post.

My brain is still a little scrambled, so I'll just share a few random thoughts.
  • Humility is a lost emotion. A graying sex offender moved into the neighborhood recently, and cops - as is their civic and legal duty - have been alerting residents. The guy may no longer be a threat. But his neighbors should still know about his history. One officer with whom I've built a friendly acquaintanceship says that when he stopped by the guy's house to "welcome" him to the neighborhood, the offender copped attitude. He blustered defiantly and told the officer that anyone who crossed him or messed with him would get dealt with. It seems as though it never occurred to this man to say to the cop "I did what I did. And I served my time, but I completely understand my neighbors' concerns. I brought it on myself. That was in the past. And I hope they'll let me be. But if they make an issue of my being here, I'll let you guys (the police) handle it." I know it's wishful thinking. He'll never do that. It's a sign of the times. Being humble is hard enough when you're just Average Joe, but when you've been proven wrong it shouldn't be quite as hard to lose the attitude.
  • In keeping with my New Year's resolutions I thanked a caller to the newspaper who didn't like something in an article I wrote a few months ago. His complaint wasn't about the facts of my article. He just didn't like it. And his comments bordered on being annoyingly personal. When I first got into this business after college I had a really tough time biting my tongue when people made their complaints personal - like when a reader would call and insult my mother, or something, or when another reader assumed by my name that I was white and would call me about a homicide story I'd written and go on a rant about how "we" should let all those black people just kill each other off. I actually got scolded by my very first editor for responding to a couple of callers with a few barbs of my own. I was young and stupid. And I wanted every reader to like me and to enjoy every article I wrote. In recent years, it's rolled off my back a little easier. Today I thanked the guy for taking the time to read my story, even if he didn't like everything he read. He was so taken aback he said he was gonna keep reading the paper regularly. Reverse psychology. It works.
  • I have a buddy from back home who recently entered his 12th year of trying to become a star music producer. It hasn't worked. He gripes about not making it big time yet. I feel his pain. He's put in a lot of hours. Maybe it's in the cards. Maybe not. But how long should he sacrifice quality of life to pursue his "creative" dream? Unless he gets a hint soon that he's on the verge of a big break, I'm thinking that 9-to-5 is gonna start looking more and more attractive. The ability to upgrade from basic cable and get the Meat Lover's instead of the single topping should not be underrated.



  • Oddly, I actually "heard" Frank's voice when I saw the title, even before I read the byline.

    Good to know the authorities are alerting the people -- I wish more cities did that. Here, you can look it up online by address... but otherwise, there's no alert (and I only found the website with the advice of a friend).

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 9:27 PM  

  • Prayers and healing energy to you both, Mr. James Burnett. No swaggly comments--that's it. Let us know if you need anything.

    By Blogger 123Valerie, at 11:52 PM  

  • I need to go archive diving to read more about the issue of ill health.

    Hope recovery is speedy .... and you all have grace to smooth the way.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 11:56 PM  

  • Glad to have you back. I agree dude should have been more acceptable of the way people will look at him. Granted he may very well have 'changed' but the fact remains he did what he did no ifs ands, or buts about it. AS for the readers, you can't please all the people all the time that is just the way it is. Have a great day.


    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 12:22 AM  

  • The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 38.6% of released sex offenders were reincarcerated within 3 years of release.

    More than humility, sex offender should be just grateful that their horrendous crimes are not considered a capital offense.

    By Anonymous Damon Z, at 12:30 AM  

  • Your last point about coming to terms with no achieving a dream and getting on with a better quality of life is a great one, plus it hits home. When you look at it that way, maybe a full-time 'real' job isn't really settling after all. At least that's what I keep telling myself ;-)

    By Blogger Michael C, at 2:24 AM  

  • I hope your wife feels better James.

    I hate to be off topic here, but I'm curious to see your answers to your 1/19/2007 post.

    By Blogger captain corky, at 4:37 AM  

  • Your buddy's trying too hard. Successful music producers don't set that as their initial goal. They may become that way, eventually, by pursuing their passion. Think of all your musician friends who "decided" they will become the next great rock star. Where are they now?

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 6:49 AM  

  • Hope Mrs B continues to regain her good health. All the best with being Nurse Burnett!

    By Anonymous bronchitikat, at 7:10 AM  

  • You're not wearing a skirt and a nurse's cap, are you? ;)

    Here's to her fast recovery and your enduring patience.

    Have a great weekend!

    By Blogger Christina_the_wench, at 7:30 AM  

  • Humble? I got mad at some fat slob in a crappy car this morning for going too slow. Hmmmmm.

    By Blogger Matt, at 9:52 AM  

  • If you are wearing a skirt and nurse's cap, please post pictures.


    By Blogger SWF41, at 10:36 AM  

  • Love a good Seinfeld reference. Especially an obscure one!

    I stopped short!

    Take care of Mrs. B ... Get well soon!

    By Blogger The Dude, at 11:15 AM  

  • ThirdWorst, they really should do it in every city. How much time can it take to blanket the neighborhood with fliers alerting folks?

    123Valerie, thanks. She's on her way to getting better, and my energy's coming back.

    Pamela, thank you. Interesting that you use "grace." My mother said the same thing.

    Briliant, glad to be back. And you're right. Honestly, the offender had to know he wasn't gonna be greeted with open arms. And I've accepted that I can't please 'em all. I think covering crime back in the day really helped me come to that conclusion. I could write a basic, straightforward story about a murder: details, victim background, suspect background, official police statement, neighbor's insights, family members' comments, statistical relevance. And inevitably, the calls and emails I received were always split down the middle - half thought the story was too harsh, half thought it was too soft.

    Damon, I'm with you. He should have been grateful he wasn't greeted with a house-burning.

    Michael, I tell myself the same thing every day.

    Captain, thank you. And I'll address the political survey in a post either Sunday evening or Monday.

    Sarc, very good point. I can't say I know or know of one person whose goal it was to be a star who actually is a star today. Maybe NBC New anchor Brian Williams is an exception. It was no secret that his news career goal was not to be a reporter. He wanted to be an anchorman - not just any anchorman but the anchorman. He got it.

    Bronchitikat, thank you. And I'll do my best to be a good nurse.

    Christina, no skirts or nurses caps for me. Maybe at Halloween. And SWF41, I'd have to be toasty like Matt to post those pictures;>)

    Matt, I'm kidding. Oh, and road rage doesn't count. We all get a mulligan for that one.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:01 PM  

  • Hey Dude, I missed you there. Even though I'm still pissed off at the Meltdown Kramer action figure, I admit I still slip Seinfeld-isms into a lot of goofy stuff I write.

    Thanks for the well wishes. I'll pass 'em on to the missus.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:03 PM  

  • I've found people just want to be heard. Sometimes it's just the acknowledgment that they're frustrated is the very trick to turning them into your ally. Great story about turning a complainer into a supporter.

    Hope the Mrs. makes a fast recovery.

    Are there any numbers I can put up for you for the roll call this week? I totally understand if you're on a bye week.

    By Blogger The Dummy, at 12:42 PM  

  • Boy,I hope Mrs. Burnettiquette feels better soon. And her caregiver. Get sleep.

    By Anonymous Kim, at 9:18 PM  

  • You are right. Humility no longer exists. I have relatives that were caught stealing from me that call me up pissed off because they weren't invited to my house for Thanksgiving.

    As far as your friend goes, unless the dream is really stupid keep trying. If you can survive the small time doing something you love, it beats the 9 to 5 all to pieces.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 8:11 AM  

  • Hey Dummy, thanks for coming by. And you're right. I'm doing a bye week. As far as fitness goes, back in the saddle next week.

    Thanks Kim. She's starting to feel better and I'm starting to catch up on sleep.

    Hammer, that is pretty ballsy of the relative. And I like your advice for my friend. It's glass-half-full.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:25 AM  

  • One quick about the registered sex offender--not everyone who gets convicted of a sex offense is dangerous or a threat to others, esp. children. Many 19 year old guys who slept with their 16 year old girlfriends get convicted of sex offenses after the girl's parents find out and get pissed. They then get that tag for the rest of their lives, even though we all (meaning those of us who lost our virginity before turning 18) have been sex offenders under that definition.

    So don't concentrate on the label, focus on the charge and facts. A woman who only likes to molest corpses would be a perfectly fine neighbor unless you died, at which point it wouldn't matter anyway.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 3:28 PM  

  • "The ability to upgrade from basic cable and get the Meat Lover's instead of the single topping should not be underrated." That sums it up nicely!

    "Many 19 year old guys who slept with their 16 year old girlfriends get convicted of sex offenses after the girl's parents find out and get pissed. They then get that tag for the rest of their lives, even though we all (meaning those of us who lost our virginity before turning 18) have been sex offenders under that definition."

    Big Daddy, not everyone who lost their virginity before turning 18 is a sex offender. Some people don't have sex with people under the age of 18.

    By Blogger Dayngr, at 5:21 PM  

  • BD, this guy was convicted of aggravated sexual assault. you don't need me to tell you that aggravated usually suggests armed force, as in he likely menaced his victim with a weapon to get her/him to comply. I assure you, I'm focusing on the charge.

    And Dayngr, good point. When two minors have sex w/one another do they both get charged w/a crime for violating the other? I doubt it.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:11 AM  

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