22 June 2007

In Most Cases, I'd Sink

What's that smell? Is it peaches in autumn? Is it burning hair?

No... it's my civic duty!

That's right: I'm coming to you live from jury duty. I've never been called to do this before, but so far it seems like most government-related experiences I've had. Same waiting. Same uncomfortable chairs. Same person behind me with the loud, nasally voice.

To those of you who have been jurors, let me ask: Did you see the same video that I did? Because when I first arrived--at 8:30, having gone to bed at 3:30--I got to watch this amazing film about the history of the jury system. It starred Diane Sawyer and Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes." Even better, it also starred a group of actors who were recreating a Medieval "Trial By Ordeal."

The scene: In a perfectly ancient forest by a perfectly ancient stream, a group of peasants carry a bound and gagged man to the water's edge. Bradley's voice over tells us he's been accused of a crime, so he's being tossed into the drink. If he's guilty, he floats. If he's innocent, he sinks.

(Side note: Whoa! They just called another round of jurors to the empaneling room! I swear, my heart races every time they do that. It's like they're calling out the names of the people who have to kickbox with the grizzly bear.)

Anyway, they chuck the guy into the stream, and then there's a tense pause. We see the surface of the water, followed by extreme close-ups of nervous villagers.


And still, the guy stays submerged.

Then the head villager--the one in the three-cornered hat--gives an affirmative jerk of his head and... rejoice! Two chaps splash into the drink and rescue our innocent hero.

"Was this fair and impartial justice?" Bradley asks. "They thought so."

Aside from the word "awesome," here are some things I thought while watching this movie:

(1) I bet at least half of those villagers have M.F.A.s in acting

(2) Where was this filmed? Is that water clean?

(3) I wonder if they made the actor stay underwater for a really long time, just to see if he really was innocent.

(Side note: Man! Eric Quinones really needs to get to room 285. They've paged him a thousand times.)

Well, the battery on my laptop is running a little low, and in my rush out of the house at an unaccustomed hour, I forgot to bring the charger. I also forgot to bring a book. Hope that issue of "Wired" sitting on the radiator over there is a page-turner!

(Side note: Excellent. The beefy guy behind me is on his cell phone, and he just said, "That is so gay! That's the gayest thing I've ever heard!" He seems like just the type of sophisticate I'll want to befriend. By "gayest thing I've ever heard," I'm sure he's talking about an audio book of a mid-career novel by Gore Vidal. I'll chat with this gentleman and get back to you about his offerings to the culture.)

Anyway, I know I haven't really written about music in this post, but what can you do? Sometimes Medieval barbarism and Gore Vidal take precedence.



At 11:39 AM, Blogger urbnredhed said...

Nice one, Mark. Glad to hear that your civic duty is going well. I'd like you to be in a jury of my peers.

At 8:56 PM, Anonymous AdamH said...

I loved jury duty the first time I served.

The second time I served, the courthouse's A/C was borked, so the judge dismissed us. I was actually bummed. :(


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