I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died.

We tried to comfort them, explaining how our owner had ensured that our collection would soon be available at the public library — for free, even! It didn’t help much. Almost to a man they had the same reply: “But you won’t be there to help us.”

I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died.

Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans?

The block had become so rough in recent months that, as Cavett later explained, ‘‘I wouldn’t take out my garbage without a gun.’’

In the United States, private police officers currently outnumber their publicly funded counterparts by a ratio of roughly three to one. Whereas in past decades the distinction was often clear — the rent-a-cop vs. the real cop — today the boundary between the two has become ‘‘messy and complex,’’ according to a study last year by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

One of the largest private security forces in the nation today is the University of Chicago Police, which has full jurisdiction over 65,000 residents, only 15,000 of whom are students.

Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans?

The Ghosts of Pickering Trail

Fascinating article from The Atavist: What happens when you move your children 3000 miles across country to escape the trauma of losing their father, only to later discover your new home has it’s own deathly secrets?

Milliken noticed that the house attracted a strange sort of attention. On Halloween night, she was standing on her front steps when she spotted a group of girls in costumes rounding the sidewalk outside her house.
“That’s where that thing happened,” one girl giggled. The group moved on without stopping for candy.

The story prompts an interesting question: should sellers of property be legally obliged to mention bad things that have happened there?

The Ghosts of Pickering Trail via The Atavist Magazine

You Just Got Out of Prison. Now What?

Carlos and Roby are two ex-convicts with a simple mission: picking up inmates on the day they’re released from prison and guiding them through a changed world:

Eventually, Dale Hammock appeared. Hammock was 65, white, his head shaved completely bald, both arms wrapped in black tattoos. He wore sweat shorts, a white T-shirt, canvas slip-ons and white socks pulled up near his knees. All his clothes were bright and brand-new. As he approached Carlos and Roby, he thrust his chest toward them as far as it would go. Inside, this might have signaled strength and authority, but out here, it looked bizarre, as if he had some kind of back deformity.

You can’t help but feel for the ex-convicts, suddenly cast adrift in the outside world. Having lived a life on the inside for decades, this new reality seems overwhelming, confusing and terrifying:

Roby took a picture on his phone, showed it to Hammock, then zapped it off to the team at Stanford. Hammock was amazed. ‘‘Everything now, you just touch it, and it shows you things?’’ he asked. It was like having breakfast with a time traveler. Was he correct in noticing that men didn’t wear their hair long anymore? Was it true that everyone had stopped using cash? Later, in the restroom, he wrenched the front of the automatic soap dispenser off its base instead of waving his hand under it.

The accompanying New York Times Magazine article is here.

Rent-a-Cop vs Real Cop

Fascinating article from the New York Times about the private police force in New Orleans’ French Quarter:

The block had become so rough in recent months that, as Cavett later explained, ‘‘I wouldn’t take out my garbage without a gun.

I find it staggering that in the United States private police officers currently outnumber their publicly funded counterparts by a ratio of roughly three to one. Apparently, one of the largest private security forces in the US is the University of Chicago Police, ‘which has full jurisdiction over 65,000 residents, only 15,000 of whom are students.’

Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans?