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America, When Will You Be Angelic?

August 14, 2009

Gonna walk down that dirt road, until my eyes begin to bleed.  Till some piggy from New Jersey pats me down like I got weed.Bob Dylan was walking down the street one day – this is not the setup to a joke – Bob Dylan was walking down the street one day in Long Branch, New Jersey. Looking around, killing time before a concert.

Someone called the cops to report that a guy was walking down the street.

Someone called the cops to report that a guy was walking down the street.

Someone called the cops to report that a guy was walking down the street.

A young peace officer swooped in to the rescue. She asked him to identify himself.

“I’m Bob Dylan,” said Bob Dylan. The officer blinked.

“Ok. What are you doing here?”

“I’m on tour.”

That’s when backup arrived. The second police officer was also unfamiliar with Bob Dylan. They brought him back to his hotel, where he produced sufficient identification. They left him alone.

A word to the wise: don’t walk down the street.

I know Bob Dylan’s work very, very well. I can recite lyrics to unused takes of songs he wrote 45 years ago. I have devoted several academic papers to explanation and analysis of his work. I have seen him in concert maybe 2 dozen times. I can pick up a guitar and play you songs from his evangelical Christian records. Bob Dylan is very, very important to me.

But for the moment, let’s put aside that the cops are shamefully ignorant troglodytes insofar as the nexus of popular culture and high art is concerned. Let’s pretend that the greatest lyricist of the 20th century wasn’t the person who got stopped, that it was just some random jerk.

A man of nearly 70 was walking down the street, and had to do something different from what he wanted to do in order to satisfy the inquiry of two cops.

That man should have shoved the Fourth Amendment down their fucking throats until they succumbed to asphyxiation or tracheal paper cuts.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

As far as I know, in America, you are allowed to walk down the street. If you haven’t done anything wrong – haven’t even been accused of doing anything wrong – it is none of the cops’ fucking business who you are or what you’re doing.

Bob Dylan could have behaved like Henry Louis Gates, and cursed out the cops. And if he had, boo-fucking-hoo for them. Gates was arrested in his own home for not doing anything wrong and being emphatic about it.

The police need to know their place, and they need to stay in it.

Update: Additional articles contend that Dylan was poorly-dressed, and looking in the window of a house that was for sale. If it were illegal for weird-looking old men to contemplate real estate transactions, why hasn’t the law made an example of Donald Trump yet?

Also – I know my point of view sounds pretty extreme and nutty, but the Constitution is extreme and nutty; it tells us we can be free

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Dan permalink
    August 15, 2009 10:54 pm

    The article I read said he was walking around a house, in the pouring rain, and the people inside THAT house called the police. That is VERY different from someone seeing a person walking down the street and calling the police on him.

    • Barry permalink*
      August 15, 2009 10:57 pm

      No doubt about that, Dan (if that is your real name). Different articles all have slightly different accounts, but the sketchiest behavior I have seen him accused of was looking at a house with a “for sale” sign on the lawn.

      I have not heard that the person who called the cops was in that house.

  2. Dan permalink
    August 15, 2009 10:55 pm

    and by “walking around a house” I mean walking on the lawn, not inside the house walking around.

  3. David permalink
    August 18, 2009 9:34 am

    I noticed in one of the other posts that you are looking for a job. Well based on this quote,

    “That man should have shoved the Fourth Amendment down their fucking throats until they succumbed to asphyxiation or tracheal paper cuts.”

    I thought of a business idea for you. Drum roll…

    Bite sized 4th Amendments!! You can have little vending machines on street corners all over the country. Whenever anyone feels like the fuzz is breathing down their necks that guy or gal can go over to one of your machines, plunk in a buck, .25 and get a bite sized 4th Amendment to ram down some piggie throat. You’ll be raking it in by Hanukkah.

    As for me, I have two words for you, “finders fee.”

    • Barry permalink*
      August 18, 2009 12:18 pm

      I like where your head’s at, David.

      Oh! And maybe this same business could manufacture Establishment Clause stickers that are exactly the right size to conceal the “In God We Trust” on US currency.

  4. Other Dan permalink
    August 26, 2009 4:55 pm

    Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.
    If my encyclopedic knowledge of american folk music is correct, which it always is, it was in fact Bob Dylan who wrote those very words in 1962 to commemorate the end of the vietnam war during his “pro-real-america” phase.

    Also lets face if most of the greatest artists, thinkers, and authors were or became creepy old men(even the women). And no one likes a creepy old dude on their lawn.

    If socrates, bob dylan, and van gogh were sketching it up on my lawn I’d tell them to leave my hemlocks alone, that I don’t have any frikkin string beans in my house, and that straight razors are dangerous and you can not have one. Then I would go out and buy some hounds to release on them. Thats freedom america style.

    • Barry permalink*
      August 26, 2009 4:59 pm

      Holy Christ. Other Dan (if that is your real name), will you please run for president?

  5. Barry permalink*
    June 11, 2010 9:06 am

    Vigilance by The Theme Foundry with some modifications by our crackerjack art department.

  6. October 30, 2010 9:28 pm

    vending machines are great pieces of technology that we enjoy today, they are made for the purpose of giving us convenience “”


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