Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The State of the Union, According to Colby Buzzell

From the February 2008 edition of Esquire, not yet online:

[In California], I met a Jesuit priest who works as a chaplain at San Quentin. We were standing outside the prison. It was painted beige. Birds were chirping, you could hear the water, it was all very peaceful. We talked a bit about what he does--he basically goes around and if the inmates want to talk to him, cool, if not, that's cool too. But he also told me that inside the prison there are about fifty or so houses where the guards and staff can live. "You saw those schoolchildren?" he asked. "They were going home inside. The school bus drops them off at school outside, but their moms and dads and families live on the grounds. It's a great deal.... They're safe, secure, it's Marin County, for six hundred bucks a month. That's a good deal. Mom and Dad walk to work, not bad."

No, not bad at all. But I got to thinking that it was kind of sad that for most Americans, the only way they could afford to live in Marin County was behind the fence at San Quentin. I wondered if I was looking too deep, so I asked him what he thought of this.

"Enclaves," he said. Then he pointed out to me an an old brick house that's directly across the street and told me that it's the same vintage as the prison, 1855 or so. "So we've come from that"--the old brick building with an inviting porch outside of it so that people could socialize--and then he pointed over to the condos, which to me looked very similar to the prison, rooms like boxes, stacked one right on top of the other, but with perhaps a good Internet connection--"to that."
Note to Mr Buzzell: That is the worst writing we've quoted on this site. The sentiment gets you one free pass only.

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