December 19, 2009

Glastonbury Kids

Popped over to Cinestudio this afternoon for the premiere of a local film, glastonburykids, by Justin Donais.

Was not really planning to go, but I heard a small piece on Colin McEnroe's show, and drove up that way to check my PO Box and get out of the house before the snow came. When all my likely places to hang out for a few hours came up empty, I remembered the film, and headed over to the Trinity campus.

Pretty interesting and resonant on a few counts.

First, I too was one of those kids who got into trouble young. Not quite so egregious or destructive, but my posse went out on what we called "maneuvers" which was typically some form of minor vandalism with a social, political, or arts purpose. So we (for example) drove in to Boston to spray paint rolling stones lips on a Kiss 108 billboard (the local disco station back in the late 70's) with the words CARS REVENGE, ostensibly a protest of Taste of Honey winning the Best new Artist Grammy over our beloved Cars. That the billboard was three stories up, clearly visible from the Mass Pike, and we needed to scale the building on the outside (through various sub roofs and levels) added to the charm / mystique. For the record, I think I got about two floors up my friend Jim and Kevin did the dirty work.

Another "maneuver" involved breaking in to the local state college gym, stealing the plywood sign that hung over the student section "The Pit" and placing it on the roof of the outside smoking area (also called The Pit) of our high school.

Our final maneuver came the summer following senior year. After a night of sign stealing (mostly road signs with our names) we took a "Now Entering Framingham" sign. En route back from that little escapade we noticed an A-frame sign outside a local (as opposed to national) fast food place; since several of us worked at McD's, we decided it would be funny to grab the sign and put it in front of our restaurant. Unfortunately the police were staking out an adjacent bank watched us (What the heck are those kids doing?) and we were busted.

We spent a night in jail, got booked (the booking officer was all excited I was going to WPI and told me to look up his brother if I needed help there), bailed ourselves out. One of our number that night had a lawyer dad who got the case Nolo'd and closed - we ended up with a few months probation and a fine. Somewhere in the bowels of Framingham Police files there is a mug shot of me with a red "I survived three mile island" tee-shirt. It was written up in the paper - "Burger Prank Foiled" was the headline - and we were damned lucky the cops did not search the car and find the beer or other signs we had pilfered that evening. Stupid kids.

I just remember standing beside my mom's bed that morning to let her know what happened as I headed off to court. My dad had passed away just a few months before and already her worst fears were coming true as her eldest (the smart one) was headed to court. Poor mom!

So, glastonburykids kind of resonated on that line. But in addition, I spent a long year ferrying my mentee back and forth to the same courthouse that the kids in the film went to - as she struggled with an arrest and probation related to a stupid answering machine threat (I believe the exact words were "I'll stab you with a fork in your throat, b*tch") she made to a drag queen from the Polo Club; the DQ's ex boyfriend (who lived in Glastonbury, coincidentally) was dating my mentee. This 19 year old called the cops on a 16 year old high school kid who lived 20 miles away and had no way to even get to Hartford, and the cops arrested her. What a joke.

So I trucked her back and forth to court - first for the initial charge, and later when they picked her up for violating parole (she assumed parole officers could be ignored the same way the school guidance counselors could - she assumed wrong). She spent a night in jail - and I went and bailed her out. So I get where these parents are coming from. I must have spent more than 20 hours in that courthouse over a year.

Back to glastonburykids - good documentary. Interesting to see how these kids of privilege (cell phones, cars, little supervision) were left to roam and get into trouble. Interesting to see how "jackass" style stunts went from stupid to dangerous to criminal. And the film-maker did a nice job of slowly revealing the scope (and criminal nature) of the kids stunts.

The film-maker and 4 of the subjects were there this afternoon. The kids (for the most part) seem like they've got their lives back on track, although interestingly one of the kids NOT busted at the time of the documentary sounded (from his statements after the film) to have gottne in trouble later. So perhaps it was just a matter of time for all of them.

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