Monday, July 25, 2011

Battle: Oak Park, Michigan.

Just look at all of those vegetables... disgusting.

It's time to look at America under the microscope.  I'll warn you: it's going to get pretty goddamn ugly.  Think about your idea of germs.  They're nasty, sure, but since you can't see them, they just kind of become a (figurative) figment of your imagination.  Put some germs under a high powered electromagnetic microscope, and they suddenly become very real.  You'll be having nightmares for weeks.  

America is like that.  Vaguely sputtering off concerning issues isn't attracting as much attention as I'd like it to.  It's like explaining the concept of germs to an adult who has never heard about them.  It's a bit unbelievable without proof.  So here.  Take this fucking microscope with the map of the U.S. where the slide should be, and let's zoom in on Oak Park, Michigan for a moment.

In Oak Park, there is a woman named Julie Bass who's front yard (seen above) was torn up when a sewer line deep underground had to be replaced.  When everything was fixed and settled, a huge bald spot of dirt sat where beautiful green grass once flourished.  Julie saw it as an opportunity to not only eat healthier, but to grown her own vegetables as well!  And I say good for her!

She and her husband built five large planter boxes, and subsequently went about planting cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, basil, etc.  Nothing wrong about that, right?  Wrong.  Apparently a neighbor saw the vegetables as an affront to their eyes (presumably said neighbor is either a strict carnivore or an avid fan of Willy-Wonka), and called the city government to report it.  The city sent out code enforcement.

"Uh, excuse me, bitch, but how dare you build a vegetable garden
across the street from the Oak Park Wonka Factory!"

According to Julie, "They warned us at first that we had to move the vegetables from the front, that no vegetables were allowed in the front yard.  We didn't move them because we didn't think we were doing anything wrong, even according to city code we didn't think we were doing anything wrong.  So they ticketed us and charged me with a misdemeanor."  

The city code of Oak Park states that "front lawns must be planted with grass or ground cover or shrubbery or other suitable live plant material."  What do the Basses think is suitable?  Vegetables.  And most of the neighborhood (save for the carnivore that has nothing better to do but mull over someone else's use of their lawn) loves it.  Kids walk up and down the street, and are free to take a fresh veggie.  They also contributed to the garden by helping Julie and her husband build it.  The Basses didn't just build a garden.  They brought the community together.

But that's not okay, says the city government.  Oak Park's Planning and Technology Director Kevin Rulkowski says, "If you look at the dictionary, 'suitable' means 'common'.  You can look all throughout the city and you'll never find another vegetable garden that consumes the entire front yard... what's common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers."

Uh oh.  Looks like someone didn't learn how to use a dictionary.  See, Mr. Rulkowski is wrong on several counts, the first being that "suitable" doesn't mean "common."  In fact, you couldn't even make the former be synonymous with the latter no matter how much of a wordsmith you were.  The definition of "suitable" is actually: Right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation.  In other words, what is right for the Basses is that they have a fucking vegetable garden on their front lawn.  

In the beautiful words of "The Agitator", "God forbid your yard doesn't include beautiful trees, bushes and flowers.  It's your job, Oak Park citizens, to give Kevin Rulkowski pretty things to look at."  

But the whole misdemeanor thing isn't even the worst part about this story.  The worst part is that the cash-strapped city is ready to waste taxpayer money bringing Julie Bass to court over a garden.  If the city wins the case, Julie will be faced with 93 days in jail.  For planting a fucking garden.  That sound you hear is Bill Hicks rolling over in his grave.  

This is government at it's worst - adhering to bullshit laws and codes that infringe on people's rights.  It's also people at their worst.  Who in their right goddamn mind would call the city to complain about someone's front yard having a garden in it?  It's not a pile of dead bodies, for fuck's sake.  It's.  Just.  Vegetables.  

Let's pull back from the microscope for now and reflect on what it is that you just read about.  A woman used an opportunity to pursue a hobby - gardening - and that hobby brought her little neighborhood together.  The city says, "Fuck you, Julie, we have to look at your lawn too, and vegetables are icky!" and then charges her with a misdemeanor.  Julie says that she'll take the misdemeanor, but her garden isn't moving.  The city says, "You want to go, bitch?  Respect my authori-tay... see you in court."  

Can you imagine?  "I killed an entire family.  What are you in for?" "...Planting a garden."

Whew.  That's some hardcore shit right there.  Maybe I'm just a little crazy, but unless you're planting those giant, child-eating piranha plants from the Mario games in your garden, then you probably shouldn't be going to jail for 93 days.  

It feasts on the children of Oaks Park...

Also, someone should explain to Mr. Rulkowski that everything about Julie's garden is "plant material", right down to the wooden boxes.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need to go lie down for a bit.  Between the small scale shit like this, and the horrific nightmare that is the Norway tragedy, I am losing faith in humanity each and everyday.  And I gotta tell ya, readers... it's starting to get to me.



Anonymous said...

People who live in suburbs and small towns like that are crazy. Sometimes developments have their own police departments to enforce "Laws" just like that.

A Sane Break said...

I'm just not sure who is crazier in this story - the people at the government level that are trying to enforce it, or the ass that got upset and reported it to the city.