Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cheesy Videos IV

Or… “There and Back… A Short Journey Through Portales.” There’s no other kind, actually.
Some notes on the video…
First: What you see is one of two videos I shot yesterday; there were issues with the outbound video (MUCH more about which below) and I didn’t upload it. I apologize for the shakiness of the video. I tried to stabilize the camera by holding it firmly against the steering wheel and was only moderately successful. It’s somewhat exciting to steer, shift a manual transmission, and film at the same time. I’m thinking I should include a “don’t try this at home” disclaimer but it ain’t all THAT hard, especially in a town the size of P-Ville.
Second: You just experienced a one-way trip from Wally-World (on the north side of Portales) through the totality of P-Ville… southbound on Second Street, the main drag… also known as US 70. On a good day I can drive all the way through town without stopping even once. This happens about two or three times a week.
Third: The soundtrack is selected cuts from Collective Soul’s “Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid” (1993), a favorite album from Former Happy Days.
Fourth: I’m surprised the cop (briefly visible in the vid, on the right as we come into town proper) didn’t pull me over. I didn’t see him until I was nearly past him, but I was only going about ten-over… my usual, customary and reasonable speed. One of these days, tho…
Fifth: It was a beautiful day (in the low 70s) and the top was most definitely down. Today was the first day where I felt like I might actually recover from last week’s Adventures In Modern Dentistry… and I briefly, oh-SO-briefly… considered doing a lightweight version of Happy Hour on my return. But I didn’t; we’ll hold off for another few days. I’m Jonesing in the worst way for a beer and a cigar, given it’s been a week today that I’ve been both alcohol- and tobacco-free.
Last: I added titles and credits to the video but decided not to use that version, as the aforementioned additions added well over 300 MB to the final file size (!!), an increase that also is probably associated with converting mp4 files to wmv format. So… what you see is raw, unedited video… the file sizes are MUCH smaller that way (but they are in HD; that’s something). FWIW… it takes FOR-FRICKIN’-EVER to upload a 600+ MB file to YouTube.
Be advised: this is long. I thought long and hard about (a) writing about this at all and (b) posting the piece if I DO write about it. The issues I mentioned about the first of the two videos I shot yesterday weren’t technical in nature, they were social. And terrifying on at least two levels… so much so that I’m still shaken today, more than 18 hours after the events I’m about to relate transpired.
I got back from Wal-Mart around 1630 hrs and set to transferring the two videos I shot to the computer, played around with the Mino FlipShare movie-maker software, and began to upload the raw files to YouTube after the movie-maker thing proved unworkable. Around 1800 hrs there was a knock at my door and I got up to answer it. I opened the door and saw two guys standing there, one in his mid-40s or so and the other considerably younger. Both men had a sort of Aryan Nation look about them… powerfully built, short hair, black Harley tee shirts and that “I’ll kill you” look on their faces that Victor Davis Hanson was on about in that piece I posted yesterday… except the looks on their faces were “I’ll kill you,” meaning me... in frickin’ spades.
I said “hello” and asked how I could help them. The older of the two men said “My name is John (Something). You took some pictures today of some kids in a (vehicle). I want to see the pictures AND the camera.” This wasn’t a request, it was a demand, and in no uncertain terms. The younger man stood next to the older guy, silent with his arms folded over his chest, glaring at me. My first thought was “WTF?” And then I replied: “There are no pictures. I used a video camera today and I’ll show you the video, if you like.”
“Show me” was the reply.
I let the two of them into the RV and we went to the computer, whereupon I brought up the video. I began shooting the first video in the trailer park yesterday to give all y’all a bit of a flavor of my environment. I turned the camera on after I dropped off my trash at the dumpster, turned around, and proceeded towards the highway. In so doing I passed the mail kiosk, where there was a vehicle parked. A young girl of perhaps six or eight years of age was in the back seat, hanging out the window. She was smiling and waving so I pointed the camera at her as I passed and smiled back. The elapsed time couldn’t have been more than three seconds, if that, and given the shakiness of my videography skills… compounded by the fact I was in a moving car… her face was barely on-screen at all.
Older Aryan Guy growls: “I want you to put that video in my hand.”
“I can’t do that,” I replied.
“Do it or I’ll take the whole computer.” This was getting uglier by the minute, if not the second.
“What’s the problem here?” I asked.
“I don’t want pictures of my kids on the internet for perverts to look at. I spent 15 years in (some military organization) and I KNOW anyone can identify the exact place this video was shot.”
More conversation went down… him demanding, me refusing, Younger Guy standing by looking menacing. I don’t remember all that was said verbatim but it finally came down to “Let’s call the police.” Which was fine with me, as any fool could plainly see there was ZERO evil intent in play here, especially in the context of the rest of the video, which was me providing running commentary as I drove through Portales towards Wal-Mart. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 411, asking the operator for the Portales police department’s number. My two friends said they would wait outside, and I went to the door with them, cell phone to my ear.
I proceeded to wait to be connected after assuring the 411 operator this wasn’t an emergency. A couple of minutes passed and no connection. I told the older man I had no idea what was going on; he replied “Call 911.” I refused, saying this wasn’t an emergency and there are laws about using 911 inappropriately. It was about this time I made a suggestion.
Me: “Look, that video doesn’t mean a damned thing to me and I can always re-shoot it, anyway. It obviously bothers you, so let’s go back inside and I’ll delete it. You can watch me do it.”
Him: “OK.”
So… we go back to the computer, which has Windows Explorer open from when I first showed them the video, and I do the shift-delete thing, which deletes the file rather than sending it to the trash. “Bong” goes the computer… “cannot delete file as it’s in use by another program.” I’d forgotten I was uploading to YouTube. I explained the issue to my two friends, canceled the YouTube upload… making damned sure they saw me do just that… and deleted the file.
Older Guy sez “You sure you deleted it? It’s gone?”
“Yes. It’s gone”
“I better not see that video anywhere,” sez he. And then they left.
I closed the door, relieved they were gone. I was pretty shaken up by this time, so I took one of those Acid C-Note cigarillos out of my humidor and fired it up… stitches be damned. I stood in the kitchen for about 20 minutes and smoked that cigarillo down to a nub, replaying the events of the last hour in my mind. I calmed down enough to return to the computer and began uploading the vid you see above.
Fast forward an hour… to around 2000 hrs; there’s another knock on the door. I open the door and there’s a police officer standing there. He says “I’d like to talk to you for a few minutes.” “OK, sez I… “Would you like to come in?” “Please,” he says.
This is where I’ll make a long story short. The police officer identified himself and why he was there… and it was all about the video. He asked me for identification. I gave him my drivers license, he called it in, I came back clean (Wow. Surprise!). I then I spent about 15 minutes explaining myself in great detail, answering his questions fully, accurately, and as simply as possible. It was about that time I wished I hadn’t deleted the damned video because I was now in a position of having to defend myself without incontrovertible proof of my innocence. And I told the officer that. He replied he thought the video wasn’t really gone and it could be recovered, if need be. I acknowledged that and told him that was certainly true but that I was no forensic PC specialist.
Fifteen more minutes had elapsed by that time and it appeared I had successfully convinced the officer that I was NOT a pervert, all this crap went down innocently enough, and my two Aryan Friends had grossly over-reacted. He agreed somewhat but allowed as how there are a lot of perverts in the world. I replied that I was offended at being accused of being one of them, when I’m clearly not. He simply nodded.
But wait… there’s more.
“Is there any marijuana in here?”
“I smell marijuana smoke.”
“What you smell is the remnants of that cigarillo in the ashtray at your elbow.”
“Is there any marijuana in that?”
“No… let me show you.” I reached into the cabinet behind me, pulled out my humidor, and took the package of C-Notes out, handing them to the officer. He examined them closely.
“Is there any marijuana in these?”
“No” is what I said… “Do you think for a frickin’ minute I’d hand those to you if there was?” is what I thought.
The officer sniffed the cigarillo and handed it back to me.
“That could be what I smelled. Thank you and have a nice evening.”
And with that he left. It was now nearly 2100 hrs and I’m a complete frickin’ wreck. I remained a frickin’ wreck for the rest of the night. I couldn’t sleep. I tried, but I just kept replaying these events in my mind’s eye… they would NOT go away. I finally got up around 0330 after watching a LOT of teevee, made a half-pot of coffee and finished messing around with the YouTube video. I went back to bed around 0830 and finally fell asleep just after 1000 hrs. I slept exactly three hours.
So. All’s well that ends well, I suppose. But it’s a sorry state of affairs when a guy is accused of being a pedophile… and that’s what this was ALL about… for just pointing a video camera at a laughing, smiling little girl sitting in the back of a car. I’m still shaking as I type this, because there are VERY few things that are worse than what I went through yesterday. But, yeah… it COULD have been worse.


  1. Oh man, that sounds just awful, Buck. I'm so sorry to hear you had to go through all that crap. It would have shaken me up, too.

    Can you just see those two guys at a theme park or the zoo - they'd go berserk with all the video being recorded. Instead of worrying about harmless photographers, they might want to focus on family members, teachers and priests - you know, those people who actually do molest our children with disturbing frequency.

  2. Yikes.

    Keep a "roscoe" near your person over the next few weeks. These guys may get hopped up on something and pay another visit to straighten you out.

    Scares me, and I'm all the way East.

  3. Now I am upset and it didn't even happen to me. I keep running through the scenarios of what I might have said or done if it were me. I think you probably did what was best. Although, being accused of being a pervert and a druggie would have made me so mad, I would have done or said something stupid. I guess the cops in Portales must be bored out of their minds to let some paranoid red-necks threaten you. And that was the real crime commited in this story.

  4. OK, so I'm delighted that you're experimenting with vidcasting, but freaking horrified at the reaction that your experiment got from the Skinhead Twins and from the local gendarmes to boot.

    About a million years ago I had occasion to work with a lot of law enforcement officers (town police, county deputies, state troopers) when I volunteered on a rural rescue squad in North Carolina. I liked most of them a lot, but I did also grok something about the way their occupation would lead most of us to divide the world (mentally) into two groups: Solid Citizens and Dirtbags.

    And you don't ever want to get into that second category with them, regardless of whether you've done anything or not.

    I think you demonstrated that you're a Solid Citizen to the local authorities.

    But I can understand why an experience like that would shake you up. I'm a little shaken up on your behalf.

  5. Good grief!!! I'm shook just reading it.

    There is a huge fear by some of internet photos and exposure - particularly of children. It is no more justifiable than the idea that family or any profession or persuasion are potentially guilty.

    But, there are respectful ways of expressing concern and asking about intent. Certainly the Police Officer should have known better. As I read, I expected to read that he apologized for the other's behavior.

    Scary. And Sad.

  6. Thank you all for your support. I'm not exaggerating a whit when I say I'm still shaken.

    Daphne: I hear you, but I don't think my friends would be all that concerned at an amusement park, as they don't LIVE there.

    DC: The thought of "follow-ups" does concern me. I'm watching Site Meter like a hawk.

    Lou: I was aghast at the fact the officer took these guys so very seriously. But there's this: we had a pedophile episode here in town a few months back where some guy was filming kids in a local park. It turned out he WAS a bad guy... but I believe he also had multiple "priors." It doesn't take too much investigating to reveal I am what I am... which is why the officer ran my license.

    Barry: I hear you, too. I'm thinking the officer had me in the "dirt bag" category, at least initially. I'm tempted to equate "trailer park" with dirt bag, but the complainants are trailer park denizens, too. But they have kids... I'm a single guy, living alone. I hope you're right about the "solid citizen" thing. If push comes to shove I also hope my blog gets read... coz I have a three-year track record of writing about my values, history, philosophy, and all that.

    Ann: The officer asked me to "understand" the concerns expressed by the other. Being falsely accused didn't seem to cut much ice... at least that's the way it seemed at the time.

    Once again: thank you ALL.

  7. Oh, hey, I DID watch the video :)!

    Still impressed by the color and focus on that Mino - equally by the timing on the end of the song and arrival at "home".

    And thank you for saying WPA! I was trying to explain that to someone recently and could NOT come up with the acronym.

  8. I think I'M shook up just reading about the episode. The world is such a different place from when my kids were growing up..you never even heard the word "pervert" then..neighbors were trusted to look after each other. Just be careful.. I think I would have imbibed something REALLY STRONG!!

  9. The video: first a minor correction. The road you were on was 1st street, not 2nd. 2nd is northbound.

    But oh the happy memories it brought from way back...wait, I did that exact trip about 12:30 this afternoon! LOL! Made a trip to Wallyworld, library, gas station and McDs. I used to work at the Ford house once upon a time.

    About the other incident. Sorry it happened to you. Yes, the cop could have apologized. And the redneck dudes could have as well. It's the world we live in, not trusting anybody when it comes to our kids. These days you don't know WHO to trust. Case in point: a pervert arrested some time last year was someone my husband grew up with (actually, his little sister did). Someone you would have NEVER suspected of being such a pervert. Had a nice wife, baby just a few months old. Good hard working parents, and a grandfather who loved my children like they were his own grandchildren (would bake them cookies, his wife said he NEVER did that!). I can imagine how shook up you were, and sure am sorry it happened.

    For future reference (write it down somewhere), the police's number is 575-356-4404. The sheriff's office is 575-356-4408 (and fire is 575-356-4406).

  10. Hey Buck,

    I've been thinking about you all day. There you were, finally having a really nice day after your surgery and all - and then a nasty shock like that. Pure innocence and fun in greeting a fellow innocent creature being turned into something so awful.

    I'm hoping the episode is fading
    away at least a little bit for you. It takes time sometimes, I know and it isn't something you can just laugh off.

    Jenny and others are right, too. This kind of guy is usually the one you least suspect. But in the meantime, your character was called into question and there is nothing more important to good people than their character.

    If you need any character witnesses, you've got loads, y'know.

    Hope you sleep okay tonight.


  11. And that old friend is why I seldom open the door for strangers with out the Taurus at hand...those bastards would have been gone or gone. I know easy for me to say sitting here, but guys like those need a ass kicking(which at our ages is a mite hard to accomplish) or a cap busted in the nutsack.

    Best of luck you don't see them again....

  12. Shit, Buck, that's a load of crap you went through for no good reason. Sorry to hear it.

    If I had some good advice I'd offer it, but most of my reactions to a similar situation would probably end up worsening it. Calm and cool is best, and that's you. Me? I would have broken out a collection of "fuck yous" long before the end of either situation.

    The vid is a treat, though. Always fun to get a glimpse of someone else's territory. And, Collective Soul? Good taste.

  13. GadZukes Buck, I don't know what to say. I can understand the desire to retrieve the video of my daughter if she had been the focus of such attention however, they had to have seen you simply pass by and assumed the worst. That's what is troublesome to me and that they came directly to your door, two of them, kinda like how ACORN works the intimidation angle. If they were going to go to the Police anyway they should have stayed out of it altogether.

    Well, you were the cool head of the lot and I hope it is all behind you. Pray that it is.

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  14. Dang, Buck. That's just downright hand-wringingly frightening. And I thought the New Orleans cops are somewhat "pushy." (N.O.P.D. -- "Not Our Problem, Dude")

    I'm with SuzidQ -- I think I'd break out the single malt!

    Stay safe -- and sleep better.

  15. Your story bothered me so much, I talked to my husband about it last night after we tucked the kids in. His bottom line, it was a damn shame that happened to you, but it's the times we live in and we're so influenced to be scared of the boogie man, we stop making rational decisions and go with gut fear. He told me he worries about having our kid's friends over when I'm not home, a small nugget of fear over false accusations.

    As you may know, I had a child who was raped and I have had to fight my natural instincts to close my children off from the world every single day since that happened. I'm afraid to let them go to other people's houses to play, have relatives spend the night, let them go spend the night, let them leave the front yard or go into a public bathroom, for Christ's sake

    But I do. I don't want them to be afraid of every man they meet, I want them to be normal. Most men aren't perverts. Most men protect children. I'm raising men and I don't want them warped because of my fear of the few bad ones out there or the media's overblown hype.

    I do fight against having the same sort of reactions your neighbors had, it's a bad way to live and it kills the common bonds between decent people who should stand together as protectors of our children.

    This irrational fear against men has crossed the boundaries of common sense - it has got to stop.

  16. Ann sez: Oh, hey, I DID watch the video :)!

    Thanks for those remarks, Ann. The video WAS the primary purpose of the post yet it got "overcome by events," no? I'm still in learning mode with the Mino but, like you, I'm impressed with that lil thing.

    SuzidQ: Thank ya, Ma'am... and I agree with your thoughts about the past. I only WISH I could have indulged in a "wee nip" but I'm glad I didn't, in retrospect.

    Jenny: Thanks for setting me straight on my street names, and I've written down the numbers you so thoughtfully provided.

    As to your other points... my issue was the PRESUMPTION of guilt, for lack of a better term, on the part of my two "friends" and to a much lesser extent the officer who paid me a call (the officer WAS professional in all regards, however). Simple arithmetic tells you that perverts are a very small minority of our population and most people are honest, non-threatening types. And then there's the specifics of the incident, wherein there was absolutely NO harm done, in any regard. THAT should have been obvious to my two "friends" after they watched the flippin' video, no?

    Bec: Well said, as always. I DID sleep well last night, albeit in shifts. But we'll be back to normal... whatever THAT is... in short order.

    Katy: "Nuts" doesn't even begin to describe this... but it's close enough for gub'mint work, LOL!

    Pat: Yeah, kickin' ass at 64 ain't what it used to be.

    Jim: Keeping the emotions in check was VERY damned difficult in those situations, but self-preservation demanded it.

    I'm glad you liked the vid, as well!

    Jimmy: I believe those guys were ALL about intimidation... that was their purpose.

    Moogie: Thanks... as noted above, I did sleep well last evening and WELL past mid-morning, too. :D

  17. Daphne: Well said, yet again, and MOST especially when one considers the experiences you went through with your son. Your points are especially well-taken concerning the general hysteria in this space. Like you, I'm of the opinion most people are good. It's one thing to be careful and a little bit wary, it's quite another to become paranoid. I most certainly relate to the thoughts your husband has on this subject, too.

    (We were commenting together but separately just now, LOL!)

  18. My favorite part of the video is being able to hear your voice again, Buck!

    As for your visitors ... remember, you have wheels on your home. Might be time to consider using them.

    (Is that Texas I hear, calling you?)

  19. I've been doing some thinking in this space, Lori. But I am sorta tethered in place until the implant saga is over. Add in the fact that this lil event is the first such in nearly seven years, coupled with the crapshoot involved in moving to a new and unknown space... well, there's a LOT to think about.

    Thanks for the vid comment... that made my day!

  20. Fair enough. Plan B: concealed weapon permit, concealed holster, weapon, bullets.

    Just sayin'.

    : )

  21. And ... Plan C: my backyard, complete with water and electrical hookups. (Yeah, I know it's NorCal, but ours is the neighborhood that had all those McCain/Palin signs in the yards.)

    ; )

  22. Geez, Buck, I'm out of touch for a couple days and everything goes to crap. I'm truly sorry you went through this.

    It's a sad commentary to the world we live in, that some innocent videoing turns into an experience like this.

    Like Barco said, if you have a "roscoe" (wait, that's my middle name), you might want to keep it handy. Your new found "friends" are clearly not rational human beings, and they now know where you live.

    With all that said, I hope this episode passes without event.

  23. Lori: I like Plan C. Sounds like a nice neighborhood! :D

    Buckskins: I have the same hopes as you where this whole thing is concerned. I'm thinking they'll come to pass in that manner, i.e., without further ado.

  24. Buck, sheesh, I don't know what to say. This was absolutely horrible, and it must have been so frustrating, because how do you prove a negative?!
    I can't help worrying about you, with those thugs living in the same park as you. Keep your eyes open and your phone ready!

  25. After watching the video, I have to say...that didn't take very long, did it?! Zoom, you were home.
    Oh, and your traffic signals are sideways, that's weird...;)
    Thanks for sharing, and I too find it appropriate and funny that the song finished as you were pulling up!

  26. "Lori: I like Plan C. Sounds like a nice neighborhood! :D"

    'Tis. And if you moved into the 'hood, you wouldn't have to activate Plan B, because we'd all have you covered. ; )

  27. Wow. That's insane. I'm a bit of an amateur photographer myself, and I've taken pictures of all kinds of kids in public over the years, some beautiful faces and interesting expressions. Kids can be beautiful, just like flowers and mountains and birds and ... well, you get the picture.

    Besides, if someone can get off on a little girl smiling out a car window... I guess life must be really easy for them.

    Just wierd.

  28. Christina: Thanks for the vid comments! The first time I saw sideways traffic signals was in Dallas, I think... in the long ago and faraway. I thought "how odd!" Nowadays it just seems natural to me.

    Lori: We never discuss Plan B in these parts. Ever. It's just a personal habit of mine.

    Phil: "Weird" is an entirely appropriate term to use for this whole damned experience. Thanks for dropping by... see ya at Morgan's!

  29. I guess what concerns me most here is that the skinheads followed you home or knew how to find you.

    Sheesh, haven't seen any of that nonsense here - feel free to move the CMdP up here if you like. If anyone gave you grief about being a perv/perp, I would set them right REAL quick.

  30. Lin: It's my car... it's pretty distinctive here in P-Ville. That and we live in the same park.


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