A Tale of Christmas Woe
Some guys still don't get it, except at Commonwealth Ave.
I recently got back in touch with an old partner from the old neighborhood, something I seem to be blessed with recently, as my generation steps gracefully & attractively into grandparenthood. (That's right!...all of you over 50 who know what I'm talking about, gimme a high five! I never said ANYTHING about geting old!)
Published on LatinoLA: December 15, 2006
Anyways, we got to gabbing away about where life has taken us, what we've been doing over the years, and some of the dumb stuff that happens around this time of the year that made us giggle, yet, reminding us of the reality of life in the Land of 1000 Dances.
Over the years, my friend has worked as a bartender and night club manager. He told me a story about a well-known band in L.A. who, just minutes before going on stage to a packed house, had one of their lead singers arrested backstage for not paying his child support. (I won't mention the band or the singer, but we had a good laugh about this one, because it's the kind of stuff legends are made of, and this guy still has breakfast at the Twin Towers in L.A. occasionally for the same beef!!)
I thought about that conversation a couple of weeks ago, when I accompanied my Lady to the Child Support Court in Downtown Los Angeles. The cost of living, and the cost of raising 2 teenaged boys in a reasonable fashion outside of poverty, especially in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley...costs!
After a year of not receiving a cent from "Daddy," who has a good gig, parties regularly, and expects all the perks of Fatherhood like respect, visits and updates on his children's and granchldren's lives, and still shows up uninvited to family functions as "Daddy" (usually embarassingly intoxicated), "Momma" finally said "Enough shit!" and took home~boy to court.
Everyone was glad a happy and quick ending ensued, as homie saw the error of his ways, and quickly agreed to almost everything, and we shall now live happily ever after...
...it's the rest of the stuff I saw and heard at this court that motivated this piece!
I've spoken with my agent, my editor, and my Lady...and, satisfied that I won't be sued or thrown out of the "pad"...here's another LatinoLA exclusive report from the Land of 1000 Dances that is my beloved Los Angeles:
Ever since a shooting at the Los Angeles Downtown Superior Court in the Civic Center by an irate husband a few years ago, the Los Angeles family court has been moved to a heavily fortified, and well-armed fortress location on Commonwealth Avenue just west of the "Miracle Mile" in Downtown L.A.
I must warn you all of the male persuasion...this is NOT friendly territory, and no matter what business you have there, unless you're an attorney in a suit, or wearing a uniform, you are not welcomed, trusted, or given much courtesy, and nobody gives a damn about what you have you have to say...just pay the cashier or make arrangements, and get out!
Just as an observer, I felt very uncomfortable...but I still had a few laughs that I have to share with you. I know there's a few of you who were there that felt you got screwed & mistreated...but some of you deserved it! Here goes my account:
First, starting off, you are going to fight some of the worst traffic in the nation, at the worst possible hour, in one of the worst congested areas on Earth, so give yourself at least two hours. Since everybody and their neighbor is given an 8 AM court check in time, expect longer lines than Disneyland on a holiday Sunday.
Then, be prepared to be scalped for parking. Anywhere from $8 to $10, with rude parking attendants who don't give a damn if your car is safe or not. They remind you to "read the contract" on the back of your reciept which excludes them from "all liability," right after taking your money. You can try the parking meters at $.50 an hour, but you're going to be in court at least 6 hours, and it takes you at least 20 minutes to leave & check back in, and at $70.00 a parking ticket for an expired meter, it just isn't worth the gamble. The parking/traffic cops in L.A. have no heart, no soul, and don't care about you or anyone else on the planet except them, and meeting their quota that supports their salary.
And they are well armed!
Then, checking into court, you are scrutinized by a small army of large, muscular (even the females), and well armed private security guards who see you as guilty just walking in the building. If you are a male minority of the dark skinned persuasion, expect to be called to the side and have an electronic wand passed around your body a couple of times, and possibly patted down.
The walls and the floor are depressingly, institutional black & grey tile, with armed, angry looking, rude, Sherriff's deputies in pairs at every corner of every hallway, and security cameras every 20 feet on the ceilings of every hallway. It appears they hire the heaviest, and most hostile looking, unattractive, female court employees who must practice the same scowl together (and the nerdiest male employes who make Pee Wee Herman seen manly).
They also must have special, custom made, low heeled shoes that are the World's loudest "clompers". You can hear them coming a block away, I swear, and the heaviest and loudest must get paid extra to walk the halls, 'cause they made at least 20 trips to the restroom and snack bar while I was there, loudly echoing their footsteps for everybody's annoyance.
And if you're hungry after getting up before the roosters, and expect something palatable, forget it! There isn't a decent food establishment around for blocks, so you're "sentenced" to the court snack bar, which seems to be manned by large, dangerous looking, prison trustees, who don't give a damn how you want your breakfast burrito cooked, you're getting it their way, and soaked in cheap salsa, whether you wanted salsa or not!
The courtroom hallway is another circus, as I, along with a guy I met named Danilo (who also acompanied his divorced-from-another man Lady), soon discovered.
There were so many stereotypes, I wonder how those ex-wives, court employees, and big, musclular, well armed cops keep a straight face. They must have busted me & Danilo laughing our butts off at least three times, 'cause one even came over & asked us to "Keep it down". (After asking us our business, he managed to give us a smile, and stopped scrutinizing us out of the corner of his eye).
First of all, to my Brown brothers: walking into court in cut off shorts, sports jerseys, shaved heads & baseball hats, tennis shoes or baggy work clothes: YOU ARE GUILTY!! Pay the Lady.
To my brothers of the Black persuasion: Where on Earth do you get those outrageous outfits? Walking into court like a Jamaican Superfly, with 5 inch plaform shoes, rainbow dashekes, 10 color outfits, braided beards, dredlocks, or this year's prison fashion (complete with what else?---a baseball hat!), stacks of paper and and a briefcase, YOU ARE GUILTY! Pay the Lady.
To my brothers of the European, Middle-Eastern, and Asian persuasian, and the well to do, Southern California Caucasian businessmen who are in shock that your ex wives have DARED exercise their equal rights in this Country: Don't be so shocked, and whatever you do, don't make an angry scene in court, or they WILL handcuff you! YOU ARE GUILTY! Pay the Lady.
Don't get me wrong. If you're a Lady, you are respected to the max! You are called "ma'am" and offered assisance NO MATTER WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE at every opportunity! You are not hasseled, scrutinized, or questioned for just walking the hallways or using the public telephones. You are smiled at by everybody, given the utmost courtesy, and the biggest, deadliest looking Sherrif's deputies will escort you anywhere in the building you want, even to your car if you ask!
(My mouth waters as I think about my divorced daughter, and her upcoming day in this court! ?íOrale! Justice at last!))
Just for us fellas...it's not a nice place to be, I assure you!
Pay your bills, guys! As I've said many a time on my radio show "To all you unwed & divorced fathers...help us fight poverty: GET A JOB!"
...or take your chances on Commonwealth Avenue in downtown L.A., and heaven help you if there's a child that is doing without.... because of you!
Frankie Firme is happy his children are adults! Check out his new, 24 hr, 7 day a week program on www.eastLArevue.com