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Showing posts from June, 2012

Circle Jerk City by Mark Anthony Given

 My father carries around the picture of the kid who came with his wallet. -Rodney Dangerfield
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I BUSTED OUT OF every juvenile home they placed me in when I was a kid.  Industry, The New York State School for Boys, fifteen miles south of Rochester, New York where my parents were, was the largest juvenile reformatory in the Empire State. I thought of this escape hundreds of times throughout the years as the seminal moment I became bad. Not real bad mind you, but bad none the less. Still thinking I was Matt Helm or James Bond, I plotted my daring escape from the moment they brought me there from a local juvenile detention facility which I also broke out of. To be honest with you I thought it was my duty to escape. I don’t know really why like I said I was a bad kid. Rolling thru the beautiful upstate New York countryside in the back of state car in the early morning hours to the famous “Industry,” the place you didn’t want to be, I considered for a few minutes the possibilit…

Parchman's Farm by Mark Anthony Given

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Oh listen you men, I don't mean no harm If you wanna do good,
you better stay off old Parchman Farm We got to work in the mornin', just at dawn of day
Just at the settin' of the sun, that's when the work is done.
 -Bukka White, Parchman Farm Blues
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TURNING OFF HISTORIC Highway 49, which runs from Memphis to the foot of the Gulf of Mexico at Gulfport, Mississippi, you immediately cross a set of railroad tracks and pass under a big sign over a guard shack that says’s "MISSISSIPPI STATE PENITENTIARY," and going under it felt like passing the threshold back in time. I was in a van full of felons from various detention centers throughout the Great State of Mississippi and we never even slowed for the guard standing outside the shack looking at us with a look of “You poor bastards!” That’s exactly what it felt like to except I felt quite lucky. In another time…