Thursday, June 09, 2005

Lunch. Check. Bloody Chainsaw. Check.

Hidden on page 17 of today's Chronicle was this little tidbit. Explaining it almost sounds like the setup for a joke: A guy walks into U.S. Customs with a bloody chainsaw (and other weapons!), claiming to work for the president, and acting just a little weird...

He was a U.S. citizen, and after they took away the chainsaw, he was allowed to enter the country. "He certainly did demonstrate bizarre behavior, but that's not illegal," said Jayson Ahern, of the Bureau of Customs and Border Immigration. It was only some hours later that the bodies of his neighbors (and the source of all that blood on the chainsaw) in Canada were discovered, and this guy, Gregory Despres, was wanted by the Canadian authorities. Immediately an alert went out, and Despres was picked up Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, where he was wandering around and, again, acting weird.

There is the predictable hue and cry about how Customs did their job in this instance. A guy shows up at the border with a chainsaw and you wave him through, calling "Have a nice time!" and "The forest is over this way!" Well, perhaps not, especially at a time when border security is such a hot button topic (don't forget, I live in a state where the Governator wants to shut down the California-Mexico border entirely). But from the news story it appears that while the border guards were disquieted enough to hold Despres for several hours while they ran his name and fingerprints through every database known to man and law enforcement. What they came up with was that Despres was due in court that day to be sentenced for threatening the nephew of his neighbors in Canada.

Sounds like enough to hold him on, right? Because while he wasn't a career criminal, nor a suspected terrorist, he was loony with "the chainsaw, a homemade sword, a hatchet, brass knuckles and pepper spray." But the Canadian police said that they couldn't take action against Despres because he wasn't yet guilty of failure to appear, and therefore they couldn't ask U.S. Customs to hold him, and therefore and so on.

Customs had to let him go. This is, I suppose, where common sense and law run up against each other. Legally, there was no way to hold the man. Common sense would suggest that a guy who clearly had psychological problems, with an armload of weapons, might pose a threat to himself or others. For what it's worth, I think the Customs people did the right thing. And yet...

It's fortunate that when Despres was picked up in Massachusetts he was acting weird but had not acted out in any violent fashion. This whole thing has me humming "Lizzie Borden" as I go about my day: 'Cause you can't chop your mother up in Massachusetts...


Blogger C. F. Blog said...

Wow, that is what the guy looked like? Even though they could not detain him, I would have at least planted a tracking device on him.

Another note:
I thought Lizzie Borden got off.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

She did.

Yes, this guy looks like that chap from Laverne and Shirley, gone hideously wrong...

10:57 AM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

Ooh! Whose song is that? I think I need it.

You would think that a bloody chainsaw would be grounds to call the local police, who would almost certainly be able to claim probable cause for arrest.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Sarcasm Girl said...

Wow! Cool! So I can just, like, go an kill someone in Canada and then come back here and not go to juvy? Hmm, death options: ear of corn in the back, spork in the eye (leave it in there long enough and you might be able to do some brain damage and get a little blood loss going)... or I could just stick with the classics: chainsaw, knife, candlestick, woodchipper...

But how would I get a woodchipper all the way to the airport? And causing that whole upset is, of course, the whole point... ; )

(Back to reality:)
Who in their right mind would BRING a chainsaw on a plane?!?!?! I mean, no, it's DEFINATELY not gonna attract ANY attention WHATSOEVER.

Then again, I suppose one has to be a tad bit insane to use a chainsaw in the first place. Whatever's handy, right?

11:10 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I think the chap was driving; I agree that getting an array of weapons on to a plane would be problematical.

I have sung the "Lizzie Borden" song since I was a kid--not sure exactly who wrote it, but the lyrics are (approximately) like this:

There's something in Fall River, Mass
I think is mighty odd.
In Mr. Andrew Borden's house
Miss Lizzie's killed her Pa.
Now some folk say she didn't
Others say, of course she did
But they all agree Miss Lizzie B was a problem sorta kid

Cause you can't chop your mother up in Massachusetts
And then blame all the damage on the mice
You can't chop your father up in Massachusetts
Cause chopping up your parents isn't nice...

there are more verses, but I will restrain myself, except to note that my favorite couplet comes late in the song as an interjection:

"Shut the door, lock and latch it.
Here comes Lizzie with a brand new hatchet!"

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Sarcasm Girl said...

... I give you the look of death. *gives her the look of death* Now you are dead.

Why do I give you this look, you may ask? Well, simply because I've never heard that song before in my entire life. How could you hold out on me like that?! I need to hear that song...

And yes, he most likely was driving dear, but I can't drive yet. And I doubt anyone would be willing to pick up a teenage hitchhiker with a few bloody weapons. That course of action has led to far too many teenage-homicidal-maniac movies. I know I can't get my license yet…


P.S. Don't we just have the weirdest mother/daughter relationship humanly possible? Yeesh...

11:24 AM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

Naah, I have you beat. My daughter and I make slash jokes to each other.

The therapy bills are going to be *immense*.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Margaret said...

The Lizzie Borden song (a favorite of mine) is by the Chad Mitchell Trio, from their "Mighty Day on Campus" album. :)

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Sarcasm Girl said...

*giggles like mad*

Well hey, do you and you daughter spontaneously burst into song, usally somehting from Sweeny Todd, another Sondheim show, or the Fantasticks? Or randomly dance around the kitchen together... and manage to keep a straight face? It's pretty weird and oh my God how off topic is this?

Shutting up now.


11:46 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

My mantra in re: screwing up my kids is this: New and Different Damage! Don't replicate the errors of your own parents, make new and different errors. And start a therapy slush fund early.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

SG, I sang her *lullabyes* from Sweeney Todd. (You two would get along very well, I think. She's a big *Assassins* fan.) Have you discovered *Avenue Q*, by the way? Dirty Muppets. V. funny.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

"Demons are prowling everywhere
I'll send 'em howling, I don't care,
I got ways..."

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Sarcasm Girl said...

"No one's gonna hurt you,
No one's gonna dare.
Others may desert you.
Not to worry, whistle, I'll be there.

Demons'll charm you with a smile,
for a while
but in time..."

2:40 PM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

Actually, I was singing "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd". It'd been a very long night...

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Sarcasm Girl said...

That's what... I don't remember what Mad-person calls her... Emphatic Girl or something? Well, that's what she was siging for about a year and a half when she was 6. Our whole family's sick.

Then there was also my brief fixation with nursery rhymes and spongs when I was about 11. t started with learning what "Ring Around the Rosies" was really about, and it led to the fact that the parents from "Rock-A-Bye Baby" could be charged with reckless endagerment, neglect, and possibly manslaughter. I was a very special 11-year-old. ;)

Jeez... I really should get my own blog. But it's just so much more fun to bother my mom and her friends...

4:10 PM  
Anonymous L.N. Hammer said...

Except, of course, the "real meaning" of "Ring Around the Rosie" probably wasn't. (Unlike many nursery rhymes, there's no evidence, not even chance allusion, that it existed much before 1850, and the sneeze-like chorus didn't become standard till 30 years after its first appearance.)


5:58 PM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

You haven't seen creepy until you've seen your children singing cheerfully along to "Everybody's got a right to be happy".

C'mon and shoot a President!

There was an excellent production of *Assassins* in San Jose last year; my husband insisted that the kids would, too, enjoy it. They did.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

Super secret message to SG: Get a LiveJournal. There are Broadway communities, and I can get my daughter to give you a list of the best snark locations.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Gods, Jonquil, don't give the girl another way to procrastinate! "Gee, I didn't get my homework done because I was blogging..."

1:03 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I was bitten by Candide and The Fantasticks at an early, early age. Imagine little five year old tiny Madeleine walking around during a party of her parents, singing "Why should I wed? Marriage is awful, you know. Passion is dead, once it is lawful you know. No, I'll not wed, that would be the worst thing. After the first fling women are awful, you know..."

God knows what anyone thought. I was deeply oblivious.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

Hee! Did your parents' album have "Dear Boy", the song about syphilis?

1:51 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

No "Dear Boy." Who was the artist. We did have a lot of Tom Lehrer. And Flanders and Swann, a British music hall duo most famous for "Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud." I love them for "The Song of the Reluctant Cannibal:"

"I won't let another man pass my lips!"

3:56 PM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

"Dear Boy" is a cut song from "Candide", all about syphilis.

Dear boy:
All bitter things conduce to sweet,
As this example shows;
Without the little spirochete,
We'd have no chocolate to eat
Nor would tobacco's fragrance greet
The European nose.

I haven't heard it since my drama-major friends sang it for me in college. They sang me Flanders and Swann, too. Somewhat later I discovered Lou and Peter Barryman:

There are pirates in their fetid galleons
Daggers in their skivvies
With infected tattooed fingers
On a blunderbuss or two
Signs of scurvy in their eyes
And only mermaids on their minds
It's from them I would expect to hear
The F-word, not from you

4:30 PM  

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