Welcome One and All

Welcome new vistors and thank you for returning dedicated fans. For more information about me please dig into my "About me section" or look at my G+. This was my first blog. I have rebuilt and specialized since this blog's inception. It now serves as a "hub" for the three blogs I write. Below this banner is "Welcome to the Club" which is my comics blog, "The Silver Screen" which is my Cinema blog, and "All the World's a Stage" which is my theatre blog. Read at your leisure!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 10: Relationships and Police Brutality


So I have been thinking about relationships a lot recently. Let me start by saying my philosophy on relationships. All of my life I have believed there is no point in being in a relationship, unless you see it growing into something that is forever, true love, marriage and kids. I have said "I love you" to everyone I have been in a relationship with and I have only stayed with someone as long as I see a future. My past relationships have been full of lots of drama, passion, and fighting. I have recently started thinking that maybe this model isn't working.

One of the things I like about all of my relationships of the past is I have been challenged and grown as a person from all of them. It would be idealistic and dishonest to say that I don't have regrets from past relationships. I also wouldn't go back and change anything about any of them. I grew from all of these relationships. I learned things about myself and about others, and about relationships.

I say maybe the model isn't working because my entire idea of what a relationship should be is based off an idea created by Hollywood. I am a huge Rom-Com (Romantic Comedy) fan. I love, love LOVE them.  As fun as Rom-Com's are they aren't based in reality. People don't hold radio's up in the rain. They don't run through airports and buy plane tickets to stop the love of their life from leaving. Another problem with rom-com's is they almost always end with the couple in question getting together. That isn't happily ever after though. It's not even close.

So here is what I have been thinking recently. Does there have to be love and passion in a relationship? When I use the term "love" I mean the passionate romantic movie love. I want someone to be with someone who unconditionally accepts me for who I am and will be there and support me when I need them. That's love to me, but that isn't necessarily romantic love. That unconditional bond is something I share with a some very close friends.

So here is my proposal: why can't friends be together? If you have someone in your life that loves you unconditionally, that you enjoy spending time with, that has good sexual chemistry with you and can fill those needs, why not? Maybe you aren't passionately, romantically in love with them, but is that something a relationship needs? When people are married for 40, 50, 60 years a very common response when they are asked "How did you do it?" is "S/he is my best friend."

I have realized this is always the type of relationship I have secretly wanted anyways. I a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother and Scrubs. In both of those shows I want Robin and Ted to get together. I want   Elliot and JD to be together. I want this because they complete each other. They are there for each other no matter what. Do they work romantically? Maybe not, but why does that have to be a qualification?

Building a life-time relationship on passion and romance, is starting to see sillier and sillier to me. If you build a house, start a family, and buy grave plots with someone you are passionately in love with, what happens when the passion dies? That's how kids end up in broken homes. How things end in messy violent divorces. Instead of all of that, why not build those things in life around a friend? Friends are there for always. You have that bond and connection regardless of passion or romance. You don't get bored of each other, because you entertain each other.

I want to be with someone who will sit and TV marathons for hours with me on netflix:

I want to be with someone who isn't afraid to tell me I am completely wrong. I want to be with someone who isn't afraid to call me out on my bullshit. I want to be with someone who I can stay up talking until 5 am. But I also want to be with someone who I can not see for a week or month and our relationship isn't threatened.

Maybe this idea is completely dumb and stupid, but that is the way life works. This is the mental state I am in right now. Maybe five years from now I will look back on this post and be like "How could I ever think that?" All I know is the old Hollywood model is broken for me right now. It has left me, at times, sad, lonely, and depressed. I am ready to buck the system and try something new.

I hope others found this section interesting. To be honest this section is mainly for me to get my views and ideas on this written on paper and out to the world. If I truly believe in something, I think it should be strong enough to stand public scrutiny. We will see. If you have thoughts or ideas on this I would love to discuss more. Comment away!

and now for something a little more serious....

Police Brutality

We have a systemic institutional racism problem in this country. I firmly believe that crime has nothing to do with the color of your skin. That in mind, it would be dishonestly to say that certain ethnic groups don't appear to commit crime more frequently than others. This is where racial stereotypes start to play a role. A black person in a hoodie is suspicious. A Latino is an illegal immigrant and a gangbanger. If you equalize the playing field though I think the pattern is much less racially driven. The common factor among people committed crime isn't one of skin color, but of economic status. If you are poor and living in the ghettos than you are incredibly more likely to commit crime. Look at these statistics of Youth From Low-Income Families. The one thing this document doesn't clarify is race.

Minority groups are significantly more part of the lower class because the system is stacked against them. Because of that it appears they commit more crime. I wanted to establish my stances on these facts before I move into more hot button issues such as police brutality and racial profiling.

Trayvon Martin has opened a can of worms for this country. It has started a dialogue discussing racial profiling. Since the shooting a slew of other examples have come in from around the country. There have been a mixture of private citizens acting like Zimmerman, and police having direct action. The one thing that is a constant in these cases is racism. They all operate in the concept of if you are black you are a criminal. I will provide three examples of cases from around the country. Then I will propose a list of clear demands that we can put in place to prevent these abuses from happening.

New York

The first story deals brings to the question of the police practice of "Stop and Frisk." A stop and frisk gives a police officer to the legal right to go pat down anyone acting "suspicious." If they find illegal materials such as Marijuana or a gun then they have the right to arrest and book this "suspicious" person. It was originally intended to be use to prevent crime from being committed (here is a full legal history of stop and frisk). However police have used this policy has an excuse to go into low income neighborhoods and disproportionally stop and frisk minority populations.

NYPD is just one example, but they are a very egregious one. Go here to see full statistics on the the NYPD's use of of stop and frisk policy from 2002-2011. To breakdown the stats though there are commonalities even as the number arrest rise each year:

  • 83-90% of people "stopped and frisked" were innocent (in other words the practice has a 10-17% success rate)
  • 53-55% of those stopped were Black
  • 31%-34% of those stopped were Latino
  • Only 9%-12% of those stopped were white          
  • 685,328 people were stopped and frisked in 2011 88% totally innocent and 87% of them black or Latino                                                                                
This has serious racial profiling implications. This practice reared is ugliest head when Ramarley Graham was shot dead by police. The police caught Graham flushing Marijuana down the toilet. They then chased Graham into his home, kicked his door down and shot him dead in front of his grandmother and six-year-old brother (read the full story here).


Now I have a friend who works for the bus system in the cities. This entire story is from his account so take that for what you will, but I have been in Minneapolis long enough to have seen similar stories like this one.

So my friend was driving his route late at night. A cop car was cruising in front of his bus. They pass a group of 10-15 black teenagers just together. The cop car makes a U-turn and then another U-turn,pulls up onto the sidewalk where these teens are. They get out of their car guns pulled and instantly start arresting them. If you are black you are not allowed to group together late at night because that instantly makes you part of a "gang" and "suspicious."

New York (again...)

This is the by far the most troubling example tonight. I wont go into a lot of details with this case because Democracy Now has excellent coverage on this issue. If you don't want to dedicate the time to the video here is the skinny:

A 68-year old black veteran accidentally sends off his medical emergency alerter. Cops show up and ask him if he is okay. He says he is fine and ask the police to go away. They insist he has to open the door and for the next hour proceed to dismantle the door to illegally getting access into this man's home. During this hour police ask if there is a family member who can come talk to him. A niece lives in the building and a sister is on the phone with the niece. Both offer assistance to the police and are ignored. 

The veteran while he is locked in his home states to the Life Aid device recording: "This is my legally sworn statement: these police officers are illegally coming into my home to kill me." the police get into the   house and tazer the 68-year-old black man with a heart condition. Their report claims he was armed with a knife and approached them. However the camera on the tazer shows the veteran when they open the door clearly standing in just boxers with his hands at his sides no weapons.

Next the police turn off that camera on the tazer, acknowledging they were about to do something illegal. They then pull out their guns and shoot the veteran in the chest killing him.

The new angle Democracy Now broke today is the name of the shooter. Officer Carelli who shot and killed this veteran is currently on trail in federal court for a different federal police brutality charge.

CORRECTION: a previous version of this story said the veteran's cousin was here. It was his niece. life alert was changed to Life Alert and it was the niece on the phone with the veteran's sister not the veteran.

Anthony Carelli:

His previous work:

here is Democracy Now's full coverage on this story:

All of these cases should raise some serious concerns about police brutality and racial profiling in this country. These are just a few of many. How can we solve these problems? I have some very easy fixes for these serious problems:

  • Make "stop and frisk" and other racial profiling practices (such as the Arizona immigration law) illegal
  • Police Officers should be a community officer. They should legally have to come from the areas and neighborhoods they are policing so they know the people they protect.
  • A community should have the right to recall a Police Officer who abuses their power. 
  • Once an officer is charged with brutality they need to be taken out of service and have their weapon and badge taken away until the trial reaches a verdict
  • An Internet network should be set up to track officers with consistent charges of brutality and racial profiling brought against them (similar to the national sex offender registry Family Watchdog). This will help protect people and make them aware of whose precinct they are in
I am not saying these reforms would solve the institutional racism in our country, but it would be a good first step. 

I realize that this post is already pretty long so I am not going to have a third section today. Things to look forward to: I will be at the re-occupation of Loring Park and the People's Plaza all day Saturday so probably some thoughts on that. I also will hopefully be participating in an action against US Bank CEO Richard Davis to protest the foreclosure crisis in Minneapolis. 

Goodnight (morning?)



  1. I think that you’ve got some interesting revelations here in terms of the relationships section of your blog post. However, I don’t think that you’ve quite gone far enough in really understanding the actual meaning i.e. the true condition of love here. I will posit a more thorough, ontologically based assessment here. See, you have this sense that the “Hollywood model” is bankrupt. And it is. But I don’t think that is for the reasons that you give. Let’s consider the true nature of love.

    You acknowledge that your notion of love is informed by movies. Culture in general has been informing notion of style, romance, emotion and so forth for all of human history. Thus it is reasonable to say that there is no notion of love external of culture. Be that culture Hollywood, Bollywood, or a Venus statuette carved from ivory 20,000 years ago, it is items and systems such as these that have developed over time and inform our notions of love.

    All this really goes to say, though, that there really isn’t a concept of love outside of these constructions. Love is not a priori in the sense that it is some thing that we access that exists without us or the world we live in. There is no universal concept of love. Love isn’t a thing. But for that matter happiness isn’t a thing, sadness isn’t a thing, anger isn’t a thing. Nevertheless, despite the fact that love doesn’t exist the way, say, I exist or the table I’m sitting at exists, there seems to be this insistence that it has some kind of value.

    Basically love, emotion in general, is highly subjective. It’s a serious problem that these things are so radically subjective. Simply said, even if I could measure or predict the parameters under which people experience love, I cannot really assess the effect or understanding of that feeling for any or all people. That is to say that the feeling of love is a highly subjective state. So love, happiness, whatever, only has as much value as it has to you.

  2. Based on this analysis it is clear that no one can love another, no one has loved another, no one will love another. People are basically incapable of love, we have this irrational notion of it’s existence and we consistently try to validate for whatever reason. It is my belief, thus, that relationships are inherently what we might term damaging or at least unequal. A relationship removes the capacity for one to be judged on his own. Invariably we have arbitrary metrics to determine the success of an individual or a relationship that are as meaningless as whatever ludicrous motivation inspired it’s endeavor.

    So further it worries me that you posit a different definition of what you want love to be. This is just replacing one metric for another equally meaningless or equally unrealistic one. There is no love. It isn’t out there.

    All this being said, I’m not trying to pontificate either of these two things; 1) that all people are selfishly motivated and are willfully exploitative by nature in a relationship, or 2) that there is no reason to place stock, however irrational, or value, however unreal, in your notion of love

    The fact of the matter is that people are usually motivated for a variety of reasons. Even if the result is that all people are selfishly motivated, or behave as if they were selfishly motivated, or even if it is the case that all people are in fact selfishly motivated, it doesn’t seem reasonable to make that generalization considering the amount of people anyone knows, can know, and how well everyone really knows everyone. I guess you might take this point to mean that there are good people out there that you may find suitable for a relationship even if the nature of that relationship by nature of all relationships is either valueless or unequal depending on your frame of reference (one actually being probably more correct than the other).

    And finally, even if there is no love that doesn’t mean that, once we’ve examined and accepted the meaninglessness of our lives, we can’t reevaluate what it behooves us to have a totally irrational value in. You can place value in anything be it love, your dreams, or the meaning of existence itself. Your evaluation is kind of all that matters even if it is incorrect.

    That is all.

  3. Mr. Sullivan,

    I am stepping onto the soap box...here we go.

    I would like to say, that I strongly disagree with your assessment of what a relationship should be. First, I agree with your definition of love that someone who accepts you and cares about what happens to you and will be there for you. However, isn't that what friendship is? In that case, do all friends love each other? I say yes and to me, friendship is not something that should be compromised if the "relationship" fails. From my experience, friendships that turn into relationships rarely happen. The love a true relationship requires is not about the other half accepting who you are but rather accepting that you are two people working together sacrificing your wants and needs for the needs of the collective; it means using your own talents and possessions to make both of your lives work, not having someone do it for you.

    Next, as I'm sure you know, love is a two way street. Just because you have feelings for someone does not mean that they have the same. They might not look at you as someone with whom they can spend every day of their life whereas you do. That distinction, to me is what makes a relationship work. Moreover, if they don't want to do everything with you, it is probably a sign that they do not want to be with you in a relationship. That is something that I learned at an early age. While the needs of the collective are there, each person needs to be left alone from time to time. Look at Robin and Ted, we want them to be together, sure but Ted's constant desire to do things with her is what keeps him firmly in the Friend Zone.

    Next, while healthy dialogue is necessarily in a relationship claiming that someone that tells you that you or wrong or calls what you say bullshit, to me, is the idea that opposites attract in a relationship which is (to quote John Cleese in his appearance on Cheers) "The Cry of the truly desperate". If you have one or two things in common with the person, whether that be you both like acting and government or what ever else, the disagreement on the other issues will cause problems. It won't be long before you get into an argument that will end up with you on the couch.

    Lastly (on the issue of relationships), passion has been an effective start to good relationships in the past. As time goes on and they grow in their love for each other the passion, in good relationships, will turn into that friendship that you talk about in a long (40+ Year) relationship. If a relationship is built based on passion alone and no attempts at friendship are made during this then you have divorce, broken families and so on. Friendship though is something that between successful couples is built over time and is usually not there at the start.

    I have more to say but am over the character limit

  4. Continuing from above, if someone has only viewed another as a friend it's difficult to get that image out of their minds and turn a friend into a lover. This is doubly hard for someone in the "Best-Friend Zone" or even worse, the Family Member Zone. If stupid things were done while friends, it is also tough to get those things out of the head of the person with whom the relationship is desired.

    There is one last thing I want to say on the idea of all relationships; friendships, romantic relationships, couples, etc. Saying that you will hurt someone in anyway regardless of the context is unacceptable in a good relationship. Physical violence leads to abuse and even jokingly saying "I'm going to punch you in the face if you say that" is wrong. I don't care if it was meant as a joke; the fact that it was said in the first place means you would consider doing it and for a healthy relationship is wrong. Also, controlling what someone may or may not do in a relationship
    is also wrong. As I said before, each member is allowed some sense of individuality of lives, meaning they can do whatever they want when they want to. Restricting this is wrong, if someone wants to do something with someone else, they should be damn well allowed to. Even worse, bullshitting some reason as to why they shouldn't go so as to cause them to back out of it hurts not only the person but also the one who invited them in the first place; creating something last minute to force the significant other to do that activity instead of the one they knew about first is also just as wrong. Fighting for control in a relationship leads to hate where friendship once was; The cold remains of what began with a blazing friendship.

    I am now stepping off of the soap box and I look forward to your letters.

    1. Mr Kristainsen (I will be formal because you were),

      First of all I don't think we disagree as much as you think we do, but I will attempt to address some of the points you made. I will go graph by graph.

      1) Firstly, my most successful, rewarding, and long lasting relationships started from friendships. I think it can happen and should happen. We put so much trust, love, and time into our friendships and our friends get to see all sides of us. If someone is there for you on your worse day, wouldn't that be someone you want to spend your life with?

      2)I do reject the idea that I was arguing that for a one-way street in love. In good friendships and good relationships it needs to be a two-way street with positive give and take. I have been in one-sided relationships where I cared a lot more than the other person and it is aweful.

      3) Are couples that never argue healthy? I make bad decision just like everyone because I am human. I hope the people I love and that are in my life are there to support me, but also there to tell me I am making a bad decision. My closest friends love me and support me, but they will also tell me when I am being unreasonable and silly. I think disagreements are healthy and a part of relationships. If a couple fights all the time over everything, obviously that is not that healthy, but neither is a couple that works to appease each other no matter what allowing their opinions to passive aggressively be swept under the rug.

      4) We agree on relationships based entirely on passion. I do disagree and think that the friendship can and should be there from the start.

      5) Of coarse the relationship has to be mutually agreed upon. I'm not advocating ruining friendships by attempting to force friends to levels they don't want to go to.

      6) I totally agree with you on violence. I read this comment about a dozen times and read through my post a few more times. The only part I guessed to which you are referring to is my comment about how things end in "violent messy divorces." I am in no way saying that should happen or condoning those actions. My comment was not a joke either. I do know real couples that ended things this way and I would argue a reason things led to that unacceptable path is they had a relationship based entirely in passion and then eventually grew to resent each other because the passion died. I do not under any circumstances condone violence.

      7) I agree with you on this point entirely. Fighting for control in a relationship is wrong. Dan Savage refers to as emotionally terrorism, which in some cases can be more damaging and long-lasting that physical abuse ( not attempting to belittle domestic violence victims in the slightest). As for destroying a good friendship. Of my relationships started as friendships I can proudly say that I am still very close with all of those people today. We saw past the things that broke us apart and were able to see the value and time we put into our friendship. Was it easy? Not at all, but being mature adults about it we were able to see past what didn't work and focus on what did work.

      I am really happy you engaged me in this dialogue and I hope to hear your responses to my responses (redundency...?) This is the kind of dialogue I hope to have with every post no matter what the topic.