Trouble with the Man

Great stories are everywhere! (courtesy of Storify)

As I normally do whenever I have some spare time—which is increasingly rare since I became a parent—I sat down with my laptop and started scouring the news sites for interesting stories, updates and, most importantly, trends. I always find it fascinating when themes emerge among unrelated stories from various sources. And you can always count on human beings to form patterns and express similarity even though they are thousands of miles apart.

Just look at religion.

People often wonder how civilizations that were separated—sometimes by vast expanses of impassable seas—managed to develop religions that were nearly identical to one another. Major players and nitpicky details may have differed here and there, but for the most part, beliefs here easily correlated to beliefs there. It’s uncanny unless you believe as I do that all humans are one race. Commonalities like these exist because we are connected by a common thread, one that binds us regardless of age, culture, generation, gender and any other measure, including geographical location.

Of course, this isn’t intended to be some kind of New Age treatise on the brotherhood of man, so I’ll move on.

Weekend news is rarely very exciting. And after a while, the headlines all started to look the same to me: “Man in dress bites dog;” “Man with knife threatens drive-thru employee;” “Man connected to death of former Playmate.” Then something occurred to me.

Whoever this “man” is, he sure gets around!

I mean, I knew a little about The Man already, but little more than the next guy. Growing up in 1970s America first introduced me to him, but not in a very positive way. When some of my black friends mentioned The Man, they likely meant white folks like me—or at least the ones in power, like every President by that time—but always told me they meant the cops. And when my white friends used the term, it was always in this context and almost exclusively at parties: “Hide the kegs! Here comes The Man!”

The Pixies (courtesy of The Guardian UK)

There was also the song “Here Comes Your Man” by the Pixies, which I loved even though it never referenced The Man. I just felt like mentioning it. Great tune.

More recently, The Man has been used in a complimentary—albeit slightly dated—way: “You got me a lap dance, too! You the man!” Fortunately, you don’t hear this as often anymore, which is fine with me. It had run its course as much as “you go girl” before it. Fun while it lasted, though.

In an effort to better understand The Man and his role in the local news of arguably every station in the U.S., I decided to focus my attention only on stories that began with that mundane moniker: Man. If I were to reproduce them all here, this would be the longest blog post ever written. And believe me… I’m not trying to break any records.

Instead, I want to provide you with a glimpse into what The Man has been doing recently. Though randomly selected and seemingly unrelated, the common thread again is The Man and all he has done or experienced, as these stories attest. Tomorrow will bring new exploits, to be sure, but here is a snapshot of The Man in all his glory… or not.

HORSE HOSTAGE

A man from Henryville, Pennsylvania—18-year-old Xavier Papo Liciaga-DeJesus (try saying that three times fast)—just pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and gun theft stemming from two incidents last April. In the first, Papo (the obvious way to refer to him given his long, unpronounceable name) stole cash, a gun and other items from a property in nearby Mountainhome—even returning to rob the place a second time. But that is not what sets Papo’s story apart.

It’s what happened during the second incident.

On this particular occasion, a woman who lived at the targeted property walked out to her car and found a note on it. It read “come naked to the orange truck… or your horse will die.” You read that correctly. Papo was holding the woman’s horse hostage and planned to trade its life for sex. Needless to say, the police were called, Papo was arrested and he immediately confessed to all the crimes I mentioned.

In other words, no one will ever call Papo a criminal mastermind. And even if they do, they won’t really mean it. Poor Papo!

Hampton fights for gay rights (courtesy of WNEM-5)

GAY BLOOD

A gay man in Midland County, Michigan—Shane Hampton—is protesting the Federal Drug Administration’s policy of prohibiting gay men who are sexually active from donating blood. To spread the word—not “The Word”—he set up on the sidewalk outside the  Messiah Lutheran Church, the site of a local blood drive.

“Let gays give blood!” Hampton yelled at passersby, but his demonstration was completely peaceful. And he holds no ill will toward the FDA, understanding that sexually-active gay men make up roughly 2% of the US population, but account for more than 60% of all new HIV infections—this came from a 2010 FDA study, but Hampton knows the odds. He just disagrees with the ban on gay blood donors.

“There are a lot of gay men that practice safe sex that are not infected and have good blood that would be going to save people’s lives,” Hampton pointed out. “When they say I can’t just because I choose to love differently than a straight person does, it makes no sense to me. It’s an outdated law.”

I couldn’t agree more, Shane. And don’t they test all the blood anyway? I won’t do the math—mostly because I suck at math—but even 1% of the population with good blood sounds like a lot to me. Seems like a wasted opportunity.

THE CONNECTICUT CHAINSAW MASSACRE

The man in this next story was not killed by a psychopath wearing a mask made from human skin and wielding a chainsaw, but a chainsaw was involved. And what happened to him may have been an accident, but I assure you it was no less gruesome than a low-budget horror film.

His name was not released, but this poor guy was apparently up a tree in suburban Hartford—using a chainsaw to trim branches or something—when he slipped and nearly severed his arm completely. The official word is that is was partially severed, but all that means is that it was dangling there, all bloody and nasty.

Actually, that’s how the man looked once the fire department arrived to rescue him from his 50-foot perch. Fortunately, he was safely extracted and now resides in St. Francis Hospital. No word yet on whether he will keep his arm or not, but one can hope.

Even The Man deserves some good luck from time to time.

Don’t kick the hearse that carries you once you kick off! (courtesy of Wikipedia)

KICKING DEATH

A man in Oklahoma City—25-year-old Dontrell Shaw—was busted Saturday for doing something truly bizarre and damn near unexplainable. He was walking along Northeast 50th Street when he noticed the last car many of us ever ride in—a hearse—approaching him.

As the morbid vehicle passed by, Shaw suddenly kicked the door and kept kicking it until the police arrived. As he was being arrested—claiming to be some kind of gangster the entire time (he actually had a pretty extensive criminal record)—the cops asked why he started to kick the hearse in the first place. His reason?

“Cause [the hearse] was running up on me!”

Someone should tell Dontrell about roads and how cars run up and down them. After all, even The Man has a right to education.

HAVING GAS

A 19-year-old Detroit man was arrested Friday morning in connection with a failed gas heist at a local Clark station. He and an unknown friend allegedly tried to rob a fuel tanker driver who was filling the station’s underground tanks. Their efforts failed when one of them grabbed the hose from the driver and spilled hundreds of gallons of gas, which had to be cleared later by a hazmat team.

Oddly enough, the gas station was located across the street from the home of the man just arrested for the crime. When police apprehended him—dragging him out in only his underwear—they discovered his gas-soaked clothes piled up in the basement and knew they had their man. His partner, however, remains at large, but he poses little danger to the public.

One look at the failed gas heist he helped plan should be enough to make any law-abiding citizen feel safe!

FLY THE UNFRIENDLY SKIES

A man in Sarasota, Florida just pleaded guilty to flying his carrier plane drunk, if you can believe that. Apparently, he was the only person aboard Flight 840, a cargo flight from my neck of the woods—North Carolina—back to Tampa. And he used his time unwisely, I’m sorry to say.

Air traffic controllers thought something was up when the man—28-year-old Philip Lavoie—started losing contact with them periodically during his flight. Even worse, he started changing his altitude and altering his flight plan, both of which are huge aviation “no-no’s” when you consider that other planes could have accidentally ended up in his path.

FAA controllers immediately radioed Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, which dispatched two jet fighters to investigate. Before they could reach Lavoie’s plane, however, he suddenly re-established contact with controllers and eventually landed at his destination. There he was greeted with a field sobriety test—which he failed—and was asked to take a breathalyzer test—which he also failed. Lavoie’s blood alcohol level was roughly 0.27, far exceeding the legal levels in Florida.

If convicted, Lavoie could face up to 15 years in a federal prison. Quite an expensive price to pay for drinks he could have enjoyed in the airport bar once he landed!

Beer cans and more beer cans (courtesy of WGAL-8)

THE HOUSE OF SUDS

A man in York Haven, Pennsylvania takes his hobby collecting beer cans very seriously. In fact, Jeff Lebo claims he has the largest collection of its kind in the world. And he might be right because to store his many aluminum treasures—which at last count numbered around 83,000—he had to build a completely separate house!

The 6,500 square-foot structure lies in a wooded area next door to Lebo’s true home and has housed his collection for more than 15 years. His interest in can collecting began when he was a teenager. His father worked for the American Can Company and the rest, as they say, is history.

“It’s really not the kind of thing you see every day, that’s for sure,” Lebo explained. “And it’s a lot more fun if you can display it.”

And that is precisely what Lebo did. Almost every wall in the 5-bedroom home is filled with cans from different countries, companies and time periods. Some rooms are even devoted to a particular country, the most notable of which is Germany—great beer comes from the Motherland, after all. And Lebo encourages visitors, but only if they can appreciate how much beer he had to consume to build his collection.

Personally, I’m surprised his liver made it this far. And for that, he deserves to be commended.

The Man is easy to find and, as you can see, keeps pretty busy. I wonder what he’ll be up to tomorrow…

Posted on June 17, 2013, in Perspectives, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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