Thursday, March 12, 2009

Final Word on the DTSS "Melee"

I don't know about on yours, but the locals on my neighborhood message board are mad as hell about the "melee" in DTSS this past Saturday and they aren't going to take it anymore! Also present on the listserv are the apologists who show up on this blog and others. Yes, not every kid in DTSS is out to make trouble, etc., etc., but the regularly expressed opinion that "it's just like that in Bethesda" is total bullshit. Anyone who says this has clearly never been to Bethesda. There aren't police manning the barriers, the theaters don't need their own detachment of MoCo's finest and kids aren't standing around screaming profanities all night with impunity. Yes, Bethesda is far more boring, but we don't have to be at the opposite extreme in Silver Spring to have "character".

Also, while people certainly have every right to be upset, some use this as an excuse to prop up their bogus theories about how these miscreants will invade Silver Spring throughout the week once the Fillmore is open. Yes, because those Seal (actual Fillmore performer) crowds can get completely out of hand.

Let's face it, though - until the weekend concert series feature Baroque music, the Chick-fil-A becomes Couscous-fil-A, and the Majestic starts showing Merchant Ivory movies exclusively, the Ellsworth crowd on summer weekends isn't going to change. Even if kids are wearing gang colors, what can the cops do? Arrest them for wearing red?

I suppose an increased police presence would deter crime, but the more officers you put down there, the worse the perception of danger might be. If you have a platoon of cops stationed on a single block, what does that say to visitors? We think violence could pop off any second here? If anything, I'd like the cops to tell kids to STFU when they start yelling obscenities or harassing people. Not that it offends me personally, but it makes me uncomfortable when there are little kids and babies around. That and it's just embarrassing for Silver Spring. The security guards don't seem to do anything, but I don't really blame them as they don't have the authority that the cops do. I mean, look what happened to the security guard on The Wire who talked back to Marlo Stansfield. He got put in a vacant. Security does certainly make an effort when someone's taking a photograph, however.

I'm waiting for a police substation trailer (or would it be a "safety cottage"?) to go up. Then we would have really come full circle since the days of the old Silver Spring Shopping Center.If nothing else, it sounds to me like a good opportunity to schedule some more charettes.


Dan Reed said...

Feels weird saying this, but I agree. Kids can and will get in trouble anywhere, though I'll admit I've seen less in Bethesda than I have in Silver Spring (save the strung-out twelve-year-olds I saw in Bethesda three summers ago). Working with kids in the Rockville-Bethesda-Potomac nexus I'm aware of the very, very messed-up things teenagers can do on a Saturday night, but they have the money and the means to do it far, far away from home. (You don't shit where you eat, as they say.) I don't know if that props up the argument that it's kids from outside Silver Spring who make trouble here, but I don't think that's the point.

Don't rag on charrettes, though. (This is my career you're talking about here.) Like many things in Silver Spring, the charrette has never been correctly executed here, and can produce very good results if done right. (The Kentlands in Gaithersburg were designed by charrette, don't you know.)

Anonymous said...

"If anything, I'd like the cops to tell kids to STFU when they start yelling obscenities or harassing people."

Damn right.

Mortis Olaf said...

Is that Falling Down I see? Anyway, as much as people are afraid to say it, I think the troubles in SS are race related. Sure, not every white person is an angel, and not every non-white person is a problem, but aren't most, if not all the gangs cited "radical" black gangs? I don't think it's fair to say white people are equally responsible for the misbehavior, because I've never even seen a white person misbehave in SS. Unless sneaking food into the movies, or filming in City Place are misbehaving.

Anonymous said...

Then you aren't looking. Teenage language, behaviors and attitudes are colorblind. Yes, the lily white boys and girls misbehave too, just like some of the black and latino kids behave like angels.

Some of the blond haired, blue eyed kids are in gangs too, just like some of the black and latino kids are on the honor roll and obey their parents.

I don't think the troubles are race related. I think they are attitude related. And if some of these kids got a good ass whipping at home, they'd behave better out in the streets.

Anonymous said...

Oh bullshit, people! Gang violence is primarily a problem composed of poor kids, and in this particular area the poor are primarily black and latino. That's not racism, that's the plain truth. It's not skin color that is the culprit, but poverty.

Anonymous said...

My black daughter's best friend is white and she lives in a trailer and gets food stamps. She's not in a gang.

Anonymous said...

A white boy running a fencing ring stole my bike last year.

A white boy robbed my house 2 years ago.

A white girl tried to beat up my daughter.

A black boy came and shoveled my walk last winter when I broke my leg. I didn't even know him.

Anonymous said...

From the MD Code Sec. 10-201(c)

(1) A person may not willfully and without lawful purpose obstruct or hinder the free passage of another in a public place or on a public conveyance.

(2) A person may not willfully act in a disorderly manner that disturbs the public peace.

(3) A person may not willfully fail to obey a reasonable and lawful order that a law enforcement officer makes to prevent a disturbance to the public peace.

Let them dress in all the colors of the rainbow, of whatever race/class/ethnicity they want to claim or be

If the police took the time and effort to cite them for their language (disturbing the peace) cat-calls and harassment (disturbing the peace) blocking the sidewalk (obstruction of free passage)refusal to disperse (failure to obey) then they would go elsewhere to have their fun little thuggish lives and allow me to enjoy DTSS

The answer is not more concerts, or youth support, or what have you. If the county doesnt start cracking down on the petty crime I've got $5 on a shooting at the Majestic by the end of the summer.

Then thats all she wrote.....

Anonymous said...

Not all poor kids are in gangs.

Skin color does not determine behavior, and neither does family income.

In the D.C. area, most members of street gangs are black or latino. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

What the hell does the color of someones skin have to do with whether they commit crimes or not? You think you sound all real and poop by pointing out the obvious but the only reason you brush away the exeptions is simplistic and lazy thinking. This type of thing happens because of lousy or non existent parenting.

Anonymous said...

Do people here even read comments to the end before leaping to conclusions? Please read things carefully.

I have written repeatedly that skin color does not lead to crime, and that economic status does not lead to crime, but that there is an undeniable correlation between gang membership and impoverished communities, and that in the D.C. area, the impoverished communities are primarily black and latino, as are our gangs.

After that, people took pains to point out that they know a white girl who is poor, or a poor black boy who is a great kid, or a wealthy white boy who is a scumbag. I am not denying any of that or suggesting the opposite. Instead of immediately thinking, "Oh, what a racist!," think instead of who lives in D.C.'s poor neighborhoods, who comprises most of the kids in youth lock-up or halfway houses, and who comprises most of the kids and adults in local jails and prisons. Then think about who comprises most of our local gang populations.

The scariest person I ever met was a young white man in a very poor part of Pennsylvania, and I was damn glad that there were iron bars separating him from me. Some of the most loathsome gang members in this nation are white supremacist skinheads. Russian mobsters are a plague in Brighton Beach.

But that's there. Here around D.C., the gang members are mostly black and latino. It's not racist to point that out, but it is ridiculous to deny it.

Sligo said...

Amen. Let's just end the never ending "Black kids did this/white kids are bad too" cycle of comments. It gets so old.

The fact is we can't go in and fix a broken home and suddenly make people good parents. We have to settle for enforcement in DTSS and not allowing there to be a permissive environment for bad behavior that leads to violence.

Susan said...

I have to make one more comment, though.

The scariest incident in DTSS I've ever had was being confronted by a group of teenagers skateboarding on a mostly-empty floor of the Wayne Avenue garage on Friday night. They were all white and my guess is that they were not economically disadvantaged.

I think a lot of the point is that almost any group of teenagers that's unsupervised and gets a feeling of ownership over a place can fall into a pattern of harrassing other people. It can start because they are trying to be funny or show off. This is different from any gang violence that's been discussed, but frankly I think it's a bigger part of the quality-of-life issue of downtown Silver Spring. It speaks to the skateboarders in the parking garage and the foul-mouthed kids in front of the Majestic.

I don't think any of those kids are bad kids, and I don't think we have to talk about gangs to address behavior of teenagers in public.

And it leads to a question -- how do communities deal with supervising large groups of teenagers in public areas? Do they break the groups up? Increase security guards and instruct them to interact with the kids when they see this kind of behavior, rather than ignoring it? A public information campaign? A "broken window" approach?

I'm genuinely curious as to how other communities have successfully dealt with this issue.

Thayer Avenue said...

How did you gain such a penchant for drawing in the crazy people to the comment board? I never cease to be amazed.

Sligo said...

The secret is that I actually write all the "anonymous" comments myself...

Thomas Hardman said...

Anonymous of March 13, 2009 7:09:00 AM writes, in-part:

[ ... ]

The scariest person I ever met was a young white man in a very poor part of Pennsylvania, and I was damn glad that there were iron bars separating him from me. Some of the most loathsome gang members in this nation are white supremacist skinheads. Russian mobsters are a plague in Brighton Beach.

But that's there. Here around D.C., the gang members are mostly black and latino. It's not racist to point that out, but it is ridiculous to deny it.

Yes, statistics are statistics and it's useless to deny it.

But let's take a trip through the past into Twinbrook and Aspen Hill neighborhoods of "East Rockville".

It's kind of funny how in Aspen Hill, when I was growing up I never ever heard the phrase "poor white trash", mostly because if anyone had said it they'd have been saying it about most of the community and most of the community would have piled right on. Despite the exceptional lily-whiteness of these communities up until fairly recently, a surprisingly large percentage of the people with whom I attended highschool went on to live most of their lives either behind the bars of the jailhouse or prison, or behind the bars of approbation and outright shunning. At least a lot of the illegal aliens aren't predisposed to burglary as seemed to be almost universal in the community in which I grew up, I have to give them that much.

As time has gone on, and civilization has crowded in and has left the barbarians no place to hide, the sociopaths have tended to kill each other off or get themselves put into their graves mostly in ways that the coroner calls "death by misadventure".

Sociopathy knows no race nor class nor culture, other than the parody of culture they always evolve among themselves. PWT are mostly weeding themselves out, caught between the low birth rate and the high standards for getting ahead and raising a child to reproductive age.

It's not as if the police aren't trying to help the sociopaths help themselves right into lifelong institutionalization. As much as some people like to trot out statistics about how the crime rate is higher for this or that ethnic group, it's a lot more on point to trot out statistics about how many people wind up behind bars (or in the ground) because they belong to a pan-ethnic group of people suffering from profound disorders of conscience, or lack thereof.

The problem is, it's almost impossible to distinguish between the natural and normal mental processes of teenagers and the profoundly disturbing incapacities of adult sociopaths. This explains, in part, some of the institutions we see in cultures from all around the planet. Certain trials, as it were, are left for the young adults, and as they pass through these trials we find out who is going to emerge from the glib sense of entitlement of teenagers into the more cooperative and considerate status of adult, and we also see who will never grow up and will always need to have someone watching them because they'll never comprehend limits or boundaries.

So, in that sense, this concert was a deep success and the crowds of kids you see on Ellsworth or 10,000 comparable "scenes" around the planet are there for your study.

Be on the scene and be in it. But know why you are there, and why the scene is there.

I see a lot of people posting and they're talking about "the kids" or they're talking about blacks and latinos and whites and who knows, eventually someone's going to bring up native-americans or pacific-islanders. I see a lot of anger and probably people see a lot of mine. But coming from me, it's just that I grew up in an all-white neighborhood mostly notable for the high percentage of psychopaths and sociopaths and the most important lesson learned -- although few ever learned how to articulate it or that there was even a simple word and concept to describe it -- was that you can't usually tell a sociopath just by giving them a quick look up and down. You've got to see them operate. And then once you see them operate, you never take your eyes off of them for even a second.

One of the reasons for the enduring popularity of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" among young adults of a certain age is that it deals with that final clicking into place of the awareness that some people -- most of them, thankfully -- are what you call "dynamic characters" in the terms of literature. As they move through the events of the story, they change, usually growing "for the better". But some people just never change, they never grow up, and this final realization in Kerouac is one of the most compelling passages in modern English literature.

And that's what you -- and the cops -- are looking for down on Ellsworth. You're looking for the people who never change. Every kid steals candy, but most of us grow up out of it. The ones you want down at Ellsworth are the ones who stop stealing candy because they stopped stealing. The ones you don't want down there are the ones who stopped stealing candy because they found better things to steal.

Stealing, of course, is just an illustrative metaphor, for behavior that violates, that doesn't recognize boundaries and rights.

Kids of the age that folks are complaining about are kids of the age that are just a hair too young to understand what Kerouac was saying. But pick out a few of those kids and watch them for a few years, and almost all of them will feel Kerouac in their bones... and you'll know who they are. You'll also know who are the ones who will never "get" Kerouac:

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"

But will that flame settle down to the sort of steady burning that you want in your hearth, or will it flare up into dynamite and knock things over? Only time and observation will tell..

In the meanwhile, the sparks are struck and the match is lit down on Ellsworth, in Adams Morgan, and in 10,000 scenes around the world. For most of the kids, they'll flare and sputter a bit like any candle does when you light it, and settle down into the steady burning light upon the darkness that is the basis of society.

Some won't.

But let's not deny the spark to all.

Springvale Roader said...

"And if some of these kids got a good ass whipping at home, they'd behave better out in the streets."

Many of the young thugs probably have been the recipient of "ass whippings" at home, and they take that anger and pain and resentment and warped lessons out to the streets, where you accidentally bump into them and they smash you in the face.

Anonymous said...

The REAL final word. The Solution.

(not savvy enough to turn it into a hyperlink)

Sleepless in Slumburbia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sleepless in Slumburbia said...

“And if some of these kids got a good ass whipping at home, they'd behave better out in the streets.”—Anonymous 3/12 7:44AM

Yeah, someone should put you in charge of a juvie reformatory, not.

One potential outcome of the “a** whipping” school of parenting goes a bit like this:

After you get enough thorough humiliating a** whippings at home, you take this same mind-f***ed attitude first to any younger/smaller siblings conveniently within reach, then to the kids in the neighborhood & schoolyard, and then beyond, if you still haven’t gotten it out of your system.

“Many of the young thugs probably have been the recipient of ‘ass whippings’ at home, and they take that anger and pain and resentment and warped lessons out to the streets, where you accidentally bump into them and they smash you in the face.”—Springvale Roader 3/13 9:23AM

Glad to see that somebody gets it.

And, by the way, some middle-class parents push around their kids, too.  But middle-class kids really aren’t allowed to act out like the poor kids are.  Liberal public educators / officials who put all the mental health funding / focus on poor youths make sure of that.

Instead, targets of middle-class parental bullying often seem more likely to take up quieter hobbies (cutting, drugging, suicide attempts, anorexia, etc.) that don’t bother the citizenry too much.

—a former incorrigible brat

Anonymous said...

This weekend's concert to benefit the victims of last weekend's benefit concert has been cancelled due to concerns that the benefit concert might result in more victims and hence more concerts.

Sleepless in Slumburbia said...

“How did you gain such a penchant for drawing in the crazy people to the comment board? I never cease to be amazed.”—Thayer Avenue 3/13 8:00AM

“Thayer Avenue”?  Perhaps this proud member of the Nouveau Silver Spring gentry should try on the address and blogger moniker “Woodmont Avenue.”  It appears that Thayer doesn’t much care for the untidy opinings of us “crazy” east-county riff-raff.

Springular, how did you gain such a penchant for drawing in the downcounty gentry to act as such wet blankets on the comment board?  I never cease to be crazed, er, amazed.

Oh yeah, and speaking of “Historicizing,” TA, “X-Files” was an overrated show with cardboard acting by airbrushed mannequins and some of the worst-written, most tortured dialogue in American television history.

It’s a good thing I never joined a bunch of hooligan ne’er-do-wells as a teen.  This trash-talking is just way too much fun.

—just another SSINO crazy person

Springvale Roader said...

Well folks, this is timely. This coming Sunday and Monday, AFI will be screening the documentary, "Crips and Bloods: Made in America."

I plan on wearing my red bandanna...or should I go with blue?

Thomas Hardman said...

I was more hoping for a screening of "Lord of the Flies".

Thayer Avenue said...

Wow, Sleepless. I make an off-handed, generalized comment and you end up attacking me, The X-Files, *and* linking to classic Bernstein all in one fell swoop? Very impressive.

I think my work here is done!

Pershing Road Neighbor said...

I have to agree on the ass whippings thing. If it is done in love and discipline before it's too late, these kids wouldn't be acting out like this as teens.

I am not a child abuser. There are those who think any time you touch a child it's abuse. I disagree. When my kids were young and needed more than a time out or a countdown because they weren't getting the message, there might have been a butt swatt.

This is not the same thing as an extreme beatdown, which I DIDN'T do.

I don't necessarily agree that "ass whippings" wouldn't be effective in this case, particularly on the parents. But alas, it's too late for ass whippings to work for kids that are nearly adults.

I still think their parents need their asses whipped, though.

Thayer Avenue said...

And for the record, there are some very sane comments here (like Dan Reed's). It's off-handed anonymous ones tinged with racism and other generalizations I was talking about.

Oh - and yours, Sleepless. Wouldn't want to leave you out.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Hardman should meet twitter

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 1:56:00 PM:

Best. Idea. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Not possible - Twitter limits updates to 140 characters.

Thomas Hardman said...

Hah, Anonymi.

They say that minds expand -- and contract -- to fit the limits of their medium.

Clearly twitter is too expansive for you.


Anonymous said...

And you are WAY too expansine for twitter.

Thomas Hardman said...

I excel at concision.

And I write short stories and novels, too.

I am becoming fond of writing fables. Try reading this one, you will assuredly discover how to yank my chain and really make me unhappy!

But enough about me.

When's the next STOP THE VIOLENCE concert in DTSS, and will all of the restaurants be open?

Mortis Olaf said...

I wonder if I'm considered one of the crazy posters. I prefer the term eccentric.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that, in my opinion, some of the non-anom posters are the most idiot, limp biscuit posters here... Rest easy Sligo

Anonymous said...

So anybody know what was up with the 5 cop cars at McDonalds by the Metro 1/2 hour ago?

Anonymous said...

No clue, but they were still there at 10:30 PM. That McDonalds needs to go -- there are always cop cars there on weekends. Seems like a favorite hangout of the trouble-makers. It would be on my list of the top two places in DTSS to avoid, along with the Majestic.

Thomas Hardman said...

Anonymous purveyors of Crab Mentality aren't crazy?

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