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The New American Dream

For a long time the neighborhood in which I am currently occupying was ran by a board of directors consisting of annoying and bothersome old people who felt the need to intervene on everyone’s decisions as to the appearance of the property that they, most of the time, actually owned. It’s a fascinating thing, the American Dream, you search for it and when you finally obtain the very thing that you had been seeking you immediately find ways and excuses to project your ‘sensible’ notions on why every house should be a boring gray with white curtains and fretting over cats walking across your lawn.   Now, when I refer to the American Dream, I’m talking about a family, a retirement, a nice house or condo in a quiet neighborhood and, with any luck, a white picket fence.   Maybe a chance to grow old and sit on your lawn and lazily yell at young people to get the hell off said lawn and quit drawing penises on your lawn gnomes with a sharpie.  These notions of the ideal existence were what was shoved down the throats of suckers during the, what I lovingly call, the ‘old days,’ which roughly consists of all the time prior to the date I was born.  The thing was, in chasing the American Dream, most people were broken, or didn’t like what they had built up to turning into a royal hassle, or didn’t like what they became in the process.

This article is about those people, because, somehow, this neighborhood is a net for those kinds of people.   Those from the older generations that may have tasted the American Dream, and then… lost it.   This neighborhood, with it’s ugly gray condos stacked uniformly with it’s ugly bushes and ugly walls that reek of plainness as it seems to me, has always looked like the kind of place place that the old go… not to retire, but to linger through the last of their days till they keel over and die.   I know, I know… that sounds terrible.   Think about it this way, most of these people are already dead on the inside!  You say that doesn’t make you feel better?   Well, I guess you can’t please everyone. My point is that they very boring, very old, and very nosy people have managed to keep this neighborhood safe from most of the problems of the Orlando sprawl simply by it’s intrinsic nature.   The moment some kinds wandered in the cops were tipped off right away, the moment someone yelled, cops called.  Pretty much if you were making more noise than it takes to knit, you had the cops called on you.   This is good for me, in a way, because I make hardly any noise at all.   This bad for, say, any college kids that want to throw a party or anyone selling drugs out of their houses.

Over the past say, fifteen years, that I’ve been in and out of this neighborhood, things gradually have degenerated to the now current levels suckitude.  The reason for this is that, well, this place was designed for the old to die in, and they did it.  Without the annoying nosy old bastards the place has slowly but surely been turning into a sort of catch-all for drug dealers, college fratboys, stoners, and whores.  When I was in high school this place was so nosy that if you dared skip school at least seven people would see you through their blinds and call your parents.  Which actually happened to me, and though I used some deft lies to diffuse the slanderous rumor that I would dare skip school. (  I told them they forgot to set their clocks to daylight savings time, a lie, it should be noted, that you should not attempt twice in the same month. )  The thing is that while that was annoying in it’s own way… is it really preferable to the alternative now?   This is one of those places that never could find a proper balance.

In your standard suburban environment everything looks good on the surface and beneath it all simmers all the rage and crap that families at least have the decency to keep off the streets.  Ol’ Bob down the road may beat his kids and slap his wife, but he’s always so happy and nice to the paperboy.   Uncle Jimmy up the road touches himself while looking at little kids that he invites over to play, but he always shows up at church and makes a big donation in the collection plate! Whereas with a ghetto all the ugliness and violence comes to the surface and all the decency is hidden.   This place has both, rotting inside and out.

Last time I was here, before I left for a while, there was a shooting across the street.   I was staying on the porch temporarily.   Let me clarify something about that before I continue, it was one of those windowed porches that you see in most southern places, it wasn’t like an open porch and I slept in a sleeping bag like a dog.   Anyway, I was sitting at the computer and I heard some shouting.   To put things in perspective my computer was near the door to the outside (it was dead bolted and never used while I was staying).   I could look out the window on the door if I turned my head 90 degrees.   Out the window, and this was at night, I saw two people.  One was walking out the back door of a condo holding, quite clearly even in the dark, a pistol.   The other was running with, what looked like plastic bags, that, from the rumors I heard, I’m fairly sure contained drugs.   Not weed… drugs.  The man at the back door shot the fleeing person about three times, hitting him twice in the back.   The fleeing man got in a car which proceeded to peel out quite loudly and then tear ass down the street and out to the highway.  The police came of course and did their arrests.

That was on the north side of the neighborhood.   For some reason that seems to be the place where a lot of these drug dealers and younger people were moving into.   Now, I’m not one of the old crones of this neighborhood, and I do not assume that anyone who is young is a criminal drug dealer.   It just seems that most of the young people that move into this neighborhood are.  This is coming from someone who is twenty six years old.  I barely interact with anyone that lives here as I prefer to be more of an observer, the reason behind this is that when the shit hits the fan it’s usually the people that have no stake in what happens that seem to avoid what happens.   The younger types just don’t have much sense, I mostly blame the culture.   A lot of these younger people (younger than me even, I’m talking around 18-19 years old… kids of the early 90s not early 80s) seem to idolize hip-hop and rap artists who promote you know, selling drugs and that sort of thing.   Going on and on about money and bling and telling people how much they have over you, even though in most cases their record companies own all that stuff, and about how you just should do whatever to make a quick buck.   Don’t get me wrong now, I respect rappers that can be intelligent and talk about stuff other than money, drugs, and whores.   My little brothers and the kids from thier generation don’t. When rap first became big it was stuff that was mostly positive and decent.   Excluding of course, the hard rap groups like NWO.  Now they are all obsessed with acquiring wealth and preaching stupidity and ignorance.   Well, they got their wish, kids are dying over dumb shit that shouldn’t matter nearly as much as the culture tells people it does.

Case in point, the neighbor behind us was this stoner named Jon.   Jon had a hippy van, you know an old Volkswagon.   The fucking thing was so loud and shitty it sounded like the world was ending every time he turned the ignition.   Jon hung out with the drug dealers, and I did not like Jon.   Jon is the type of person that’s stupid, but the selfish kind of stupid where he’ll just come into your house and start taking things like food and alcohol without asking if he should then just laugh and say ‘my bad’ when you inevitably get pissed about it.   I really did not like Jon at all, and I like him even less now.    Jon hung out with gangstas, you know real bad tough thugz.   Or as I saw it stupid kids who in spite of being merely 5-6 years younger than me had mentalities like they were still ten years old playing Cops n Robbers with their school friends on the playground.  Generally the stupid kids left me the hell alone because I’m a fairly big guy, and can be really intimidating when I want to be.   That and everyone knew, as an unspoken rule, not to fuck around near my porch because I had a few guns that no one could seem to find.   That’s mostly because I didn’t have my guns there at all, but it paid to let stupid and, here’s the key, cowardly little kids playing ‘thugz’ think I did.

Of course some kids don’t know not to fuck around my porch and that’s because they didn’t live in the neighborhood.   This is something to note when say, Jon brings his stoner drug dealer pals over and another rival drug dealer is waiting in the parking lot near my window.   I was awoken to the sound of a really violent fight, lots of banging and general screaming and so forth.   At first I just assumed they were getting rowdy because Jon and his stoner friends tended to drink in the parking lot and generally, being stupid and rude, not giving a shit who they woke up or bothered because they lacked respect for other people.  Did I mention I hate this Jon kid yet?  Anyway, the sounds died down and then, out of nowhere…

 

KA-BOOM!

 

That sound was the sound of a certain person, one Robert Pinos, firing a shotgun into the stomach of one of Jon’s friends.   Then for the next 10 minutes I got to listen to, no less than ten feet from where I sit most nights, someone dying slowly on the street.   I wish I could say that I took out my gun when I heard the initial fighting and put a stop to the fighting.   I wish I could say that I went out and saw to the guy who was dying and ran to call 911.   What I did was I laid in bed and stayed there while my brothers called the police.   I didn’t get up, I didn’t even look outside.   I could hear the guy dying though, and let me tell you, that was just a fucking party. Basically it was a lot of ‘ow!’  ‘someone help me!’ and crying.  I’m not going to mock the dead by saying anything further on this subject.   The guy has already paid the ultimate price for being stupid, what more could I add to that injury?   The thing about listening to someone die, was that I felt nothing.   I didn’t feel bad for the kid, in a way I kind of hated him for bringing this level of violence ten feet from where I slept.

In the morning I went outside and with a bucket of bleach and a hose, cleaned up the massive bloodstain that was left in the wake.   The cops did a poor job cleaning it up once they got all their evidence.   Jon the stoner came over to hang out with my brothers later, with great satisfaction I politely informed him to leave.   Thanks to his friends my house was now called ‘the crack house.’  The old people left blamed us for the shooting, even though no one in our family was involved what-so-ever.   Detectives even called me and asked me to answer some questions about me being a drug dealer.   I had to explain to them that this is fallout from the shooting and that, if they don’t believe me, they could test me for drugs but I told them, truthfully, that I’ve never done any drugs in my entire life spare the single time I smoked pot three years ago.  They didn’t press it since I had a clean record and that I was able to give some good accounting of the people involved in the crime and what I heard and didn’t get upset and some of the more pointed questions they asked me.   In the end, though, rumor is what usually rules the day, and as far as I’m aware the old people think I’m a drug dealer.   I find this somewhat upsetting because when I was younger in the neighborhood I helped old people do odd-jobs all the time for really low rates (a few bucks or a good life story).

This may seem a bit extreme, and some people may not believe me so I invite you to take a gander that these two links:

The Initial Report

A man was shot and killed in Casselberry early Saturday morning. Robert Pinos, 18, called 911 claiming he had shot a man who had attacked him, police said. Gary Hopkins, 22, was found by police. He was lying on the ground and bleeding from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Witnesses said Pinos and Hopkins were fighting when Pinos retrieved a shotgun from a nearby car. He confronted Hopkins and shot him one time, police said. Hopkins was taken to the Florida North Hospital, where he reportedly died of his wound. His autopsy is pending. Pinos returned to the scene and was taken into custody. He is charged with murder and is being held at the Seminole County Jail on a no bond status.

The Aftermath

Some Casselberry residents are outraged (Myself included) because a teenager accused of killing a man with a shotgun last month is already out of jail on a $50,000 bond. He should’ve had no bail.Eyewitnesses said 18-year-old Robert Pinos got into a fistfight a month ago with a man who lived at Summit Village off State Road 436. Instead of leaving when it was over, several eyewitnesses told Casselberry police Pinos went to his car in the parking lot, got a shotgun and fired at 22-year-old Gary Hopkins.Police arrested Pinos for first-degree premeditated murder. By law, he shouldn’t have been eligible for bail, but a judge let him out on $50,000 bail three weeks after it happened and Seminole County prosecutors didn’t fight it.Prosecutors said they didn’t have enough evidence to prove it was premeditated or that Pinos intentionally killed Hopkins. They say, at this point, he’s only looking at second-degree murder or maybe manslaughter, despite eyewitness reports.One neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified, said he’s afraid Pinos is out on jail and police said he shouldn’t be, because he should’ve just walked away after the fight was over.”It seems like our court system can say, ‘Oh, you can kill somebody and just get back out on the streets that easy,'” said Lt. Scott Pleasants, Casselberry Police Department. “If you the ability to walk to your vehicle and retrieve a gun, that’s not imminent danger. Because if you have the ability to walk to your vehicle, retrieve the gun and then walk back, you had the ability to get into your car and drive away.”Police said they feel the first-degree murder charge fits, but it will be up to the State Attorney’s Office to make that decision. Pinos is expected to be in court Tuesday to be arraigned and find out what charge he will ultimately face.

Keep in mind I know nothing about what happened to Robert after this.   No one we know has told us anything.  If you follow the link and watch the video you can see, one, my little brother walking in the background while the reporter is talking, and two, when the camera zooms in you can see my old porch kingdom.

It’s been getting worse too, last night there was a police raid across the street and they decided to paitently wait out the drug dealer inside by telling him that they did not have a warrent yet, but that he’d have to leave his house eventually.  Of course, after a few hours the guy weighed his options and decided to surrender himself peacefully.

Now, I would have taken pictures for you guys but here’s where the comedy comes in this article… during my brief foray into investigative reporting.   At first I tried to take some pictures, since the cop cars were five feet from my window, but the stupid cell phone camera didn’t get any light so the pictures came out all dark and made it impossible to see anything.   So I moved to another window and got a nice shot of a bush and black smudges outside.   Realizing this was not working I decided to let my cat out  the front door then ‘chase’ him.   When I was walking back I tried to sneak a couple of pictures with my cell camera, because I don’t think the cops would like some asshole standing in the middle of the street staring at them and taking pictures.  Of course, the pictures all came out blurry, then to make matters worse as I was walking in the sprinklers came on, spraying me with rotten-egg smelling well water, and getting my cat wet.   Now cats hate getting wet.   Well Bobo doesn’t hate getting wet, he gets unbelievably pissed when he gets wet.  Bobo doesn’t hate getting wet, Bobo loathes it.  So out of my attempts at amateur photography all I got was the chance to smell like rotten eggs, get the shit clawed out of my arm and upper chest by my psychotic and wet cat, and blurry pictures that are totally useless.

The American Dream guys.   That’s it right there.  They sold people on nice quiet nieghborhoods and property ownership and it broke some people and in the end when they finally left the new generation came in and its dream isn’t one of white picket fences and ruling the board of dirrectors like some kind of Nazi.  This new dream is all about money, drugs, and selfishness.   In seeking it, instead of finding a dull old building to die in, they choose to die looking down the barrel of a gun.  In the end, both of them seeking happiness based on a lie perpetuated by certain members of the status quo.


This delightful nugget of information was brought to you by:  Dr. Repose: The site's wanna-be author, professional jerk, monster who's dead on the inside, and semi-proud owner. More from this author


1 comment to The New American Dream

  • Grimmy McGrimgrim

    …Wow. This is an incredibly moving piece. You’ve talked before about how the neighborhood you live in sucks, but I’d never any idea that it’s this bad.
    I’ve read this four times now- it’s an immaculately written essay- your message is clear and pithy, and your pathos is absolutely incredible. Publish this.

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