June 24th, 2011

Just One More Thing

Peter Falk, Rest In Peace

Peter Falk has died.  He was 83.

Falk has done lots of parts, including a great turn in the epically hilarious The In-Laws (the one with Alan Arkin, not the bullshit remake with Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas).  But he is best known as Columbo, one of the greatest crime fiction creations ever.

I love mysteries.  Mysteries are probably the greatest medium for examining human nature.  You see people pushed to the brink, doing things they would never do, or fighting temptation they didn't know they had the strength to resist.  Everybody has SOMETHING they would rather not have the world know, and mysteries push that anxiety right to the surface.  Because of their access to the human psyche, mysteries can teach people about how others live, how they think.  In the right hands, mysteries can be that mile in another's shoes most people normally wouldn't bother to make.

There were two things that made Columbo unique.  The first was the structure, which spun the popular whodunnit on its head.  From the beginning, you knew who did it and how.  The question was, how was Columbo going to catch him?  He was actually more of a secondary character to the villain, trying desperately to keep everything from unraveling on him.  But the second thing that made Columbo unique was his regular person quality.  Columbo shared a lot in common with Jim Rockford, the working man detective.  But while Rockford was the detective as Everyman, Columbo was the detective as Anyman.  No flashy car, no big promotions in the department, stain on his tie, villains would dismiss him as some clown until they realized the amazing mind lurking beneath the surface.  By then, it was too late.

Columbo was all of us.  Even Peter Falk, who was once dismissed from an audition because of his glass eye.  The producer supposedly said, "For that price, I can get an actor with two good eyes!"  We are all excluded by someone, and harbor the fantasy of our real worth not only showing through, but showing why we shouldn't have been dismissed.  That's Columbo.

Rest well, Detective.  Rest well.

Baggy Pants And The Nitwits

If you don't get the header, you're too young.

On June 9th, a passenger boarded US Airways to fly from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to Phoenix, AZ.  The man was dressed rather interestingly.  Shield your eyes.

...ooooOOOOOkay.  Several passengers complained, but US Airways let the man fly anyway.  Valerie Wunder, a US Airways spokesperson, said, "We don’t have a dress code policy. Obviously, if their private parts are exposed, that’s not appropriate. … So if they’re not exposing their private parts, they’re allowed to fly."

Now, there's a reason I bring this up.

Six days later, a person boarded US Airways in San Francisco to go to Albuquerque, NM.  This fellow was wearing saggy pants.  Oh, and he was black.  KRQE reports:

A University of New Mexico football player was arrested at San Francisco International Airport because he would not pull up his pants Wednesday.  Defensive back Deshon Marman, 20, was boarding a flight to Albuquerque, when a US Airways employee told him to pull up his pants because, she said, they were “below his butt and his boxer shorts were showing.”

Police said when Marman refused, he was asked to leave the plane and 15 minutes later he was cited for trespassing.  Marman’s mother said her son had attended a friend’s funeral and he was still emotional.  “He said, they said, they arrested me because I wouldn’t pull up my pants,” Deshon’s mother Donna Doyle said. “These types of charges…my baby could lose his scholarship.”  A US Airways spokesperson said the airline’s dress code forbids “indecent exposure or inappropriate” attire.

Oh, yeah.  A passenger caught some of the confrontation on video.  You tell me if this is an appropriate response to someone lookin' like a fool with his pants on the ground....

Okay, yes, I don't like the baggy pants look.  But that's beside the point.  The point is the white guy dressed as a crossdresser, no problem, but the black guy with saggy pants?  We get what we see above.

If you want to deny hypocrisy, you have to do better than that.