Frank the Practitioner

Zappa testifies before the US Senate, 1985

Image via Wikipedia

Frank Zappa proved that the First Amendment is best explained by those who practice it, not those who study or cheerlead it.

Before Congress and in opposition to the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC):

The PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years dealing with the interpretational and enforcemental problems inherent in the proposal’s design. It is my understanding that, in law, First Amendment issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC’s demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation … The establishment of a rating system, voluntary or otherwise, opens the door to an endless parade of moral quality control programs based on things certain Christians do not like. What if the next bunch of Washington wives demands a large yellow “J” on all material written or performed by Jews, in order to save helpless children from exposure to concealed Zionist doctrine?


They Call Him G

Random thought…

Suppose I give you a one-question test.

Also suppose that the question is “Name one former CIA Director.”

If you answer “G. Gordon Liddy,” I’ll probably give you partial credit.

Tuck that away in case the opportunity presents itself.

Funerals: An Update

A few days ago, I posted an abridged list of various things said to me at funerals. Some were funny, some were troubling, and some were downright macabre.

In memory of that post (as if it were dead and subject to a funeral), click on this link to an article by Pat Forde. Scroll about 6 inches down until you see the subheading “Roy Miracle.” You’ll see a picture next to it. Click on the picture (or click here if you are too lazy to check out the article).

Here is part of what Pat Forde said about Mr. Miracle’s last act as an Ohio State fan.

The deceased 80-year-old Ohio State fan’s final act above ground was to be the letter “I” in this macabre “O-H-I-O” cheer from Roy’s funeral (see photo). According to media reports, this was the brainstorm of Miracle’s daughter, Juli. Her mother and brother were creeped out enough that they refused to participate, so Juli Miracle recruited some other family members to fill out the spelling bee.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.

George Carlin – Indian Sergeant

I might have already shown this. If you have a problem with that, please consider performing various uncomfortable and unsavory acts upon yourself.

It’s George in his pre-edgy years. Still trying to enter the mainstream, he developed several routines for network television shows such as Sullivan and the Smother’s Brothers. This one gained widespread recognition and serves as a premonition for his 1970s transformation.

Even today, I think most servicemembers relate to his take on Noncommissioned Officers.


Public School Lunches – Where’s the Beef?

I’m highly unimpressed by the state of today’s public school lunches.

When I attended public school, we received the bun AND the hot dog.

Also can’t wait to get some “Tiger Tots” next week. I wonder how many Tiger Tots you can harvest from a single tiger. Does the tiger die in the process of harvesting its tots? Or, does the tiger produce an abundance of tots when given a high-fiber diet? Where’s “Jackass Letters” when we need him…

And Then There Was Shel

Signature of Shel Silverstein.

Image via Wikipedia

Most of us have a bit of Willy Loman in us. I know I do. I fight him every day.

The truly extraordinary ones of us don’t. Shel Silverstein was one.

Kurt Vonnegut was one, too. So was George Carlin and Leonard Schneider (the one who gave the 1st Amendment a voice) and Buck O’Neil and two guys with the initials HST.

A lot of folks wax romantic about laws and systems and institutions and buildings and policies. That ain’t really possible. If anything is romantic, it’s the people, and sometimes you have to dig to find them. Always, they have flaws. That’s what makes them so damn romantic.

I saw this 1968 interview with Shel Silverstein today via Radley Balko. It was in the “Stars and Stripes,” a newspaper designed to be read by service members stationed overseas.

Today, it inspired me to do something extraordinary, even if only something small and for one person. I hope it does the same for you. Or, I hope it pisses you off.

Either way, I get the same satisfaction.

Adoptions and Funerals

If it wasn’t for the fine folks at Popehat, I’d have lost my sanity long ago. They mix law, social disdain, irreverence, reverence, compassion, and adoption all into one blog. It’s fun. Really.

Ken at Popehat adopted several kids from Korea. I, for one, think that’s great. All of my kids have a significant amount of Korean ancestry, and they each exhibit differing degrees of Korean features. Some significant, some slight. It made for good fun, what with anticipating the level of  Korean appearance when they popped-out and skidded across the hospital floor.

Ken has the patience of a saint, and he puts-up with a vast amount of shit from people trying to be smart, cute, funny, or a horrifying mix of the three. The comments are astounding, and he blesses us all with a comprehensive list. While mine aren’t adopted, I still get a few of the dumbass comments.

All the same, Ken has clearly absorbed infinitely more crap than I have in this respect.

Yet, his post actually jumpstarted some memories for me, and I am reminded of equally-inappropriate comments at my favorite of events–funerals. All degrees of assholery exhibit themselves at funerals, and I’ve got some serious, championship-level experience having buried two parents along with spectator status at a score of others.

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It’s Not A Coronation

Frank Lloyd Wright, head-and-shoulders portrai...

If Frank Lloyd Wright held entry-level jobs upon his entry into architecture, what makes you think lawyers should do otherwise upon entry into the legal profession? Image via Wikipedia

Upon graduation from Medical School, not a single newly-minted doctor is competent to perform a heart transplant (or remove a wart, for that matter).

After graduation from engineering school and passing the FE exam, no single civil engineer is capable of competently building a bridge over a bay.

After architecture school, none of the recent grads are capable of designing on a Frank Lloyd Wright or HOK scale.

Each of these professions perform important services that, if done wrong, result in disaster. Each requires a baseline education and, more importantly, entry level job experience that assists in understanding the craft and how to practice it competently, all in the relative safety of a supervised environment.

Knowing that the legal profession also performs important services that, when done wrong, result in disasters of epic proportions, what on earth would make anyone think that Law School could ever mint lawyers capable of immediate, unsupervised, competent, and independent practice?

Wake up, shut up, get back to work, and remember that law school is only an introduction to the legal profession, not a coronation.

Those Cute Idealistic Crusaders

Today, Scott Greenfield writes a bit about  a lawyer-turned-crusader who finally outted himself on the tubes. He’s gone by a few different names on the internet, such as “Atticus” and “John R.” I never knew him, nor was I an avid reader of his blog(s). Frankly, the whole story confuses me and makes my head hurt–especially the part about fleeing to Canada because the NY Bar would not allow him to resign.

I don’t get it, but I also don’t feel a need to get it.

What I do get is that a lot of folks in and out of our profession see themselves as crusaders–fighting for a higher good and calling.

For all those crusaders and wannabe-Vietnamese-monks out there, I have news for you.

There is no higher calling. There is no perfect law or set of laws, and the societal rules that we love (or hate) are imagined by a bunch of folks who, like you and I, fart and take dumps.

If that is too much for you, I invite your attention to the most popular of bumper sticker slogans, “Shit Happens.”

In order to see my perspective, please note a few key factors:

  • Each of us, individually, is statistically insignificant to humanity as a whole.
  • Our society, as much as we may love it, is also statistically insignificant insofar as societies have ever existed on the Earth.
  • Our system of laws has failed on a massive scale on several occasions. If you need examples, please feel free to Google “Japanese Americans during World War II,” “Segregation in the United States 1865-1970,” “Wars against Native Americans,” or “Causes of the American Civil War,” just to name a few. Our venerable Constitution really worked wonders during those events.
  • Our Constitution (and all other laws) are subject to the interpretation and enforcement by human beings. Don’t believe me? Do some research about “De Facto Segregation.” It’s a truly heartwarming read.
  • Everyone loves their interpretation of the Constitution and laws. They are always right, from their point of view.
  • Groups of people love to talk about higher callings. Of course, interpretations of “higher callings” vary widely, and they are usually tied to religious observations. Everyone wants a “higher calling” or “higher duty” to control a system of laws (and, consequently, the public morality), so long as it conforms with their faith and belief. After all, everyone else’s religion is bullshit. Don’t believe me? Go have coffee at the local diner, and you’ll hear no less than 5 people suggest the same within the first 1/2 hour. God-given rights vary widely depending on your god, and those same gods love creating exceptions.

Knowing this, you can go on a crusade, set yourself on fire, or otherwise martyr yourself for a higher calling. You’ll find your self-consuming conflagration rewarding prior to the intense pain your body will feel, and afterward you’ll not be there to help anyone.

Or, you can continue to battle, often to no avail, but with the knowledge that you were able to stand next to someone, hand on their shoulder, at their hour of need. You actions won’t be statistically significant to anyone but your client, but to them it is the greatest act of kindness and humanity in the history of this god-damned planet. For it to happen, you just have to be here, and put up with loads of crap in the process.

Welcome to the human invention.

Avvo Love For My Wall

Avvo gives me a “D” grade for my legal practice. I say this because my rating is 6.8 (out of a possible 10.0) (having grown from 6.7, something many men wish they could do). Why it increased to 6.8, I can’t say. It just did. According to them, my professional conduct is superb, my experience is so-so, and my industry recognition is decidedly subpar.

Avvo is a lawyer referral/resume’/bragging site that provides one wonderful service to consumers–checking bar standings and disciplinary reports. After providing this wonderful service, they appear to work hard at making money.

I checked-in today to see if anything changed, and, much to my surprise, Avvo afforded me a wonderful chance to add some art to my wall. This way, I, too, can display my pride at being an “Avvo Rated Attorney” and “Has been widely recognized by the legal community for professional conduct and experience.” Am I special? You bet.

All for the low, low price of $179. They even extend the courtesy of showing me a preview of my potential honor:

Now that I’ve locked the honor for 2011, I need to work hard to maintain it in 2012. Cross your fingers.

As long as I have this, it plus $5.25 gets me coffee at Starbucks.

How Social Media Helped My Case In Baghdad

I’ve received a lot of questions regarding my latest trip to Iraq (my second in 3 months).

So, here are answers to a few important ones.

How did I get the case? An old friend referred it to me. He called me on the phone.

How did Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. help me to prepare for the case? They didn’t. I also don’t talk about the particulars on any SM, email, or internet forum. That’s stupid. All anyone else knew is that I was traveling to Baghdad for a case. I did have some questions, and I discussed those will colleagues via telephone.

How did I utilize the cloud for my legal needs? Aside from a few sparse clouds in the sky over Baghdad, I have no other knowledge of clouds involved in this case.

Did my client utilize SM to his advantage? If so, how? This two-part question deserves a two-part answer. First, to my knowledge, my client did not use SM. Second, had I knowledge that he utilized SM for case purposes, I would’ve kicked the shit out of him.

How did I incorporate technology during the case? In court, I had a MacBook Air and iPad. They sat on counsel table. They were never used. They were never necessary. Why? I did this thing called case preparation. Crazy, I know. However, at night, I did attempt to check scores on ESPN via a cruddy wireless connection.

Aside from this, SM was absolutely critical to the case.

The Drizzlemaker

Lately, I’ve noticed several attorneys who, in their online bio, tout themselves as “Rainmakers.”

Now, maybe I have this wrong, but I thought this term referred to attorneys who, through years, skill, intelligence, and luck, achieved some legendary status in the local or national bar. The term, generally, is a compliment paid in third party fashion, and never in a first person reference (unless one wanted to appear as an uppity prick). I suspect many self-classified “Rainmakers” may see as much precipitation as the Sahara.

Previously, I characterized my law practice as “Fun Sized” relative to my BigLaw counterparts. Perhaps I should classify myself similarly. Perhaps the Internet has made the status of Rainmaker more accessible. Maybe now the compliment can be earned and referenced through correspondence, and $99 to a company in Dubai gets me a certificate.

Great! I’m game.

But, you know, I just don’t see myself at the “Rain” level yet. Nope. Can’t do it. 7 years of practice and less than 100 contested trials simply won’t do. The numbers just aren’t there. An alternative is needed.

Showermaker? No, showers imply rain.

Sprinklemaker? No. I’ll leave that for folks with urinary tract problems.

Light precipitation maker? Too many syllables, and too scientific sounding.

Sleetmaker? Too chilly for someone as en fuego as me.

Wait. I’ve got it.


Or, perhaps it would be easier if we all got over ourselves and left the weather to mother nature.