Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Trapped In The Latin Quarter Club

I was recently perusing one of my favorite websites—babynology.com—a site exclusively dedicated to the discussion of baby names. During the course of my browsing, I happened to stumble upon the name Plaxico. Such a coincidence. Given, you know, whatever. Anyway, the name is apparently of African origins. As for it’s meaning: peaceful.

I know. You can’t make this stuff up, right?

And, well, that’s not the only thing about all this madness that you couldn’t make up. The cover-ups, the secret transportation of guns from clubs to Escalades to somewhere in New Jersey, the false accusations, the denials without an alibis, the mysterious emergence of Tiki Barber as hero to the wrongly accused. It’s like, well, it’s like it could be the newest installment of “Trapped in the Closet.”

Because, see, if there is anyone alive who actually could make this stuff up, it’s R. Kelly. And if you’re anything like me, then you are obsessed with Kelly’s Magnum opus to the point where the discovery of it almost tore your life apart. When it was initially released you found it hard to think or talk about anything else. You found yourself watching it again and again, addicted almost, to the insanity. Wanting desperately to wrap your brain around how something could be so simultaneously hilarious, outrageous, and strangely full of depth. You got in fights with friends who claimed that it was stupid, secretly judged them for being too dim-witted to understand its genius. You felt ashamed because you wanted the charges against Kelly to be dropped because, from jail, how could he provide us with more? For those of you who have not had the good fortune to watch this crazy display of epic brilliance, stop reading, click on this link immediately, and behold the magic. Then watch it again, with commentary. Three of the best hours you’ll ever spend.

To me, one of the most appealing aspects of “Trapped in the Closet” is how ridiculously implausible it all is. How little it bears resemblance to anything like life as we know it. And then Burress happened. For those of you who are familiar with the TITC, let me talk you through the events of last Friday night, and you tell me if it doesn’t seem like a reality that only a visionary like Kelly could have concocted.

Burress sets off a metal detector at a club called Latin Quarter, is pulled aside, searched and then ultimately allowed into the club with his gun on account of his famousness. Later in the evening, this same gun goes off in his pants and shoots him in the leg. He remains at the club for an hour and a half while figuring out what hospital will treat him on the sly. His friend and teammate Antonio Pierce sneaks the gun to the Burress family home in New Jersey. (Via the glove compartment of the Burress family Escalade.) Burress arrives at the hospital, says his name is Harris Smith, and purports to have been shot at Applebee’s. That’s right, he said Applebee’s. The hospital staff recognizes him but agrees to keep his secret.

Seriously? This all happened? In real life?

Meanwhile, in another part of town (R. Kelly loves a meanwhile), Derrick Ward is off somewhere having drinks. So he claims. He won’t actually reveal to us his exact location. I am sure in Kelly’s world, Ward would probably be off shtooping someone else’s wife. All he knows is that he insists he wasn’t at the scene of the crime, which is where he is supposed to have been according to a number of sources. And people don’t just claim to have seen him at the club—one witness goes so far as to say that he saw someone approach Ward to inform him that his boy had been shot. Ward, undisturbed, was alleged to have remained on his cell phone.

Then, for our grand finale, we have Tiki Barber swooping onto the scene to reveal the true identity of the third player at the club that night—Ahmad Bradshaw. And Ward is absolved.

To quote R. Kelly, “Who the hell is Roxanne?”

If there’s anyone who can appreciate the outrageously absurd nature of this tale, it’s me. Yet, still, I take issue with all the media coverage. I get that it’s been a slow time for news agencies--given how well everything is going in the world, given how two nuclear neighbors are not potentially on the verge of a standoff, given the stability of the economy, given that no one has made any announcements of import lately. But seriously. This story made the cover of the Times yesterday. From the Post, I expect this kind of inability to discern between real news and celebrity gossip. But et tu, paper of record?

And Bloomberg? I mean, I got nothing but love for his greenification of the city, but his approach to the administration of justice in this particular instance? Meh. Not so much.

Did Burress eff up? Yeah. A lot? Yeah. Do I think the Giants, who have reason to be annoyed with him anyway, would be acting reasonably if they penalize him in whatever manner they see fit? Yeah. Do I think the people of the State of New York need to demand that he get prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law”—fifteen years in this case?

No. Not really.

When Plax first purchased his gun in Florida, he registered it and got a permit—indicative of the fact that it was not his intention to subvert the law. He was stupid enough to let the permit expire, stupid enough to bring it out of state, stupid enough to bring it to the club with him. But this isn’t exactly the second coming of OJ. This is just an idiot who decided like an idiot that he ought to serve as his own security detail. And guess what? He got shot. I would rather repeat junior high than suffer through a day of the kind of this kind of public scrutiny and humiliation. Not to mention the physical pain. If all of this doesn’t teach him his lesson about trying to provide himself with his own security, I don’t know what will.

Bloomberg’s biggest concern here is that Plaxico be made an example of because he’s a public figure. Here's the problem with that. All men are supposedly equal in the eyes of justice, which means that to come down harder on a celebrity in order to teach society a lesson is basically a perversion of justice. Nothing against Bloomberg, who I’ve always liked, but stop perving out on justice.

Plaxico Burress has a kid at home who's a year and a half old. Call me crazy, but I don’t see how it could possibly be better for society to deprive that kid of a father for fifteen years so that we can use our city’s resources in order to punish someone for criminal idiocy.

Yeah,that’s what society needs—more kids with dads in jail.

Want to know what I consider to be the more troublesome issues here? For starters, what in tarnation were the people at Latin Quarter thinking by allowing him into the club with a gun in the first place? I get that certain courtesies are extended to famous people on account of their famousness—free drinks, VIP seating. But illegal concealed weapon privileges? And what of the people at the hospital—an actual hospital with doctors and codes of ethics—to contribute to this insanity with a willingness to cover it up? Here’s the thing; maybe if we all stopped treating celebrities like the rules don’t apply to them, they’d stop acting like it. No, I’m not saying that personal accountability shouldn’t exist for these guys—that they aren’t ultimately responsible for their own actions. But the bottom line is that this is a societal illness. We make spoiled, entitled monsters out of our professional athletes by indulging their every whim and treating them like gods, and then we act surprised and vilify them when they act like, well, spoiled, entitled monsters.

Does part of my plea for Plax have to do with the fact that I am a softy for him ever since I saw that NFL special about how much he loves his momma? Probably. At least a little. But that doesn’t change the fact that the right thing to do is to treat Burress like any other idiot who brought a gun into a club for his own protection and then accidentally shot himself. Because if he was any other idiot, I don’t see him rotting in jail over this for the next fifteen years.

Well, R. Kelly said it first, and he said it best: "This is some deep shit."


Anonymous said...

R Kelley is a genius.

JJ said...

From The Week:
Retired cop awarded $4.5 million for defective chair
A New York jury has awarded $4.5 million to a city detective who fell off his chair and shot himself in the knee. Detective Anderson Alexander, 49, retired on a disability pension, but his lawyer said he deserved extra compensation for pain and the end of his career as an amateur “weekend warrior” athlete because the chair he sat down in was “defective.” Alexander is “not a klutz,” said his lawyer, Matthew Maiorana. “He’s a guy who just leaned back in a chair.”

Maybe Burress can use this in his defense case.