Global warming: What a scam! For years this region of the country hasn't experienced steady winter temperatures until, well, winter. Sure, there'd be a nightly frost and even a flurry or two before Old Man Winter finally made himself official on 12/21. But generally a person could conceivably walk around in a T-shirt well past Thanksgiving without immediately seizing up in convulsive shivers from the bitter cold.
What's the deal this year? It's been so god damn freezing outside that the one hour a day I'm allowed to leave my cell for fresh air 5 days a week suddenly seems not-so-appealing. Of course if I had some more seasonable clothes to wear out there instead of my issued orange shorts and slip-on "shoes" (which are really more closely related to paper slippers than cloth shoes), perhaps the 19 degree chill might be a tad more bearable.
But I go most days. One of the only truly productive results of the drama in Attica was the creation of a federal law mandating that every inmate in segregation be allowed out of their cell for at least 5 hours a week. So if I have a constitutional right to go out there and freeze my ass off, you better believe I'm taking every second I can get, paper slippers or not.
There are some who don't share my passion for exploiting one's civil rights in inclement weather. A short survey of inmates in my wing of the hole concerning who's going out to recreation will generally yield responses ranging from "It's too damn cold out there" to "We don't have weather like this in Mexico, you white boys are crazy."
A little frostbite doesn't stop the likes of Brian Doliboa and Whit Smith though. We laugh in the face of pneumonia. And so do a few other brave souls as well.
The recreation area is ... um ... it's a little hard to explain. Imagine an empty room of a warehouse with the top half of one of the walls cut away to allow fresh air in. Now imagine ten 20 ft. x 20 ft. empty chicken pens lined up inside. That's pretty much what the recreation area is. As I said, the concept is difficult to explain, but if the image in your mind is excessively bare and depressing, then you've got the right idea.
Five men can be in a cage a time so, in theory, 50 people could be out each session. But individual cages are segregated primarily by race and then further segregated by gang affiliation. It's not an easy task for the guards, figuring out who can be put in a cage with whom. Every so often a mistake is made which results in some poor outnumbered guy having a really bad day.
Anyway, Brian and I went out this morning. There were probably only 15 or 20 guys in the other pens; a light crowd. They paced or exercised or did whatever it is that grown men in chicken pens can do. Things are always rowdy and boisterous. Today, for example, a black guy in the cage to the left of ours got into a shouting match with another black guy a few cages down to our right, leaving the two of us right in the line of fire.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to catch either of their names, but the guy on the left was by far a superior shit-talker. Righty basically just echoed Lefty.
Not all of Lefty's taunts were gems. Some were obviously inspired by the stock of 5th grade yo-momma jokes. "That's why yo black-ass, crackhead momma sleep in Section 8, bitch!" was a prime example.
But when Lefty told Righty that "Lincoln must have been crazy to go against Congress for your black ass, nig-guh," I was stunned. I've heard some wild things said in the heat of vituperation, but never anything remotely like that. If there isn't yet an award for creativity in slander, there should be. And Lefty deserves the honor.
Apart from one black guy telling another black guy his very existence calls into question the judiciousness of the Emancipation Proclamation, the recreation period was uneventful. An hour passed quickly and we soon returned to our relatively warm cells where there was coffee to be drunk and leftover bran flakes to be eaten. Tomorrow is Friday, which is always a crowded rec day. Who knows, maybe some more excitement.