Vail Daily column: Old friends and dirty crimes
Vail, CO Colorado
Billy Fish, along with his brothers, Pauly and Mike, went to prison. The press described them as “a close-knit family of criminals.” They were three brothers who grew up very poor and became very successful through their efforts in the import/export industry; their crimes were not violent.
Artie O’Brien’s crime, on the other hand, was violent – he stabbed a rival four times in the buttocks (twice in each cheek). Artie also went to prison.
Artie’s lawyer argued that his client should be charged with assault and not attempted murder since, by attacking the buttocks, he obviously wasn’t trying to end his rival’s life, but only to take the fun out of motorcycle riding.
In Artie’s defense, the man he stabbed had, a few days prior, burned down his garage. That being the case, I should issue this warning to anyone out there in a similar circumstance – if someone burns down your garage, alert the authorities rather than stab their buttocks.
Along with Artie and the Fish family, I have known more than a few people who have gotten crossways with the law.
Many of their crimes, in my opinion, should not be considered crimes while many were misdeeds of which I could never condone. But even if I cannot excuse some of those felonies, I can at least understand the motivation and reasoning behind them.
Take Artie’s transgression, for example. Though I don’t believe that stabbing – even if it is only in the bottom – is any way to settle a dispute, I can see why Artie, after watching his garage burn, might be angry.
Living within the law is often a matter of good circumstance. There are some old friends of mine who did things I would never do in my current condition, but had I been in their situation, who knows? I contend that, given certain circumstances, anyone is capable of almost anything. But all that aside – if you break the law you should be subject to the repercussions.
One thing I will say about any of the mentioned or unmentioned miscreants who I once called my friends: I don’t believe any of them have been guilty of littering.
In my minds eye, there are people in jail right now who committed crimes less egregious than littering.
We recently had a town clean-up day, and by walking the streets within a half mile of my home I picked about a 100 pounds of trash. When you multiply that by the hundreds of others who were doing the same thing as I, we’re talking truck loads of filth. Bottles, cans, diapers, food containers, box springs, an engine block. Someone left an old couch the middle of a beautiful creek – my God who are these people?
I would much rather hang with someone who is capable of stabbing me in the butt had I burnt down their garage than someone who would throw a dirty diaper out their car window.
I can understand how the Fish family, after a lifetime of poverty, decided to take the chance and break the law for profit. I also can appreciate how Artie, blind with rage over the loss of his prize possessions, might lash out against the arsonist. But I just don’t think I could ever associate with a litterer.
Perhaps, because unlike Artie and the Fish brothers, I have never put myself in a polluter’s shoes.
So bearing that in mind – here goes.
I’m envisioning myself getting a brand new couch. I’m very excited and enjoying the lushness and comfort of my new furniture when it dawns on me that I have an old couch I need to be rid of. I contemplate calling around to find my old couch a good home or perhaps bringing it to a landfill, when a much easier solution comes to mind. Inspired, I load my old couch in my truck drive to a nearest river and throw it in …
Nah – I just could not do that. I’d rather stab someone in the butt.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from http://www.webersbooks.com