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The Calendar Of A Killer?

Gsofficecalendar.jpg

Photo of my friend's boyfriend's office wall

A friend's very sweet boyfriend (a guy who buys my dog clothes!) was just falsely accused of threatening to kill his next-door neighbor, a woman who'd just cemented over several feet of his girlfriends' property, and was given a cease-and-desist order from the board of their association (to rip out the cement on my friend's land).

The woman had begun to put plants on my friend's now-cement-covered land, right up against the window of my friend's boyfriend's ground-floor office, blocking the light (from what he told me). When he tried to move one of the plants (with his hand, from his window) she was there with her camera (hmm, rather suspicious -- as if she'd tried to provoke him by putting the plant there). He gave her the finger. She then called the police and said he'd threatened to kill her with garden shears.

The police came, and told my friend it'd go better for them if he and she let them search her house. They acquiesced, and, of course, the police found no shears, because there never was a threat (and I've known him for about 10 years, and frankly, he's just not that kind of guy).

The cops talked to the neighbors up and down her street, and all said there was no history of violence from my friend and her boyfriend. Yet, it seems, yet again, anybody can take out a restraining order, for any reason. No matter whether it's true. And that's just what my friend's land-grabbing next-door neighbor did. Yesterday, at 5:45 a.m. the marshalls came to deliver a restraining order against my friend's boyfriend. Yes, the guy with the fluffy doggie calendar who buys tiny dresses for my dog, and basically just wants to do his day job and write songs and play his guitar.

And then, there's the since-dismissed restraining order against me (for which I still have to take up a friend's offer to assess the likelihood of winning a SLAPP case against the people who maliciously filed it):

Now, I’m no delicate flower in the way I speak to people. In fact, a sound looping business near me that refused to stop using our limited residential parking (despite the 12 mostly perpetually empty spaces in their gated lot) once took a restraining order out on me for calling the snippy blonde manager a name. The first time, I asked the manager nicely, explaining that we have a drug problem in our neighborhood, and need to park reasonably close to our homes and apartments. She said they’d use their lot in the future (pure lip service, apparently, since their parking habits changed not an iota).

The second time I went over there, after one of their guys took the last spot in the neighborhood the day my neighbor was coming with her infant and toddler from Costco, the manager responded with a sneer, “It’s a public street.” Um, no, it’s not. It’s zoned residential, and their building was required to provide the parking spaces in their lot because there wasn’t room for their employees and clients to park in our neighborhood. Then she said, “If you don’t like it, why don’t you get permit parking?” Well, we can’t, because of complicated issues with availability of spaces for non-residents and Coastal Commission issues. At that point, I knew we (residents) were simply screwed, so I expressed my displeasure in the way most likely to disturb a disagreeable little blonde woman about my age. I said, in a low, calm tone, “You know, you’re really a cunt.”

Her jaw dropped. I said, “Oh, did that make your head roll off your shoulders and fall on the floor? I don’t think so.” The owner of the business came over. She told him what I’d called her. He said I should apologize. I explained that they were being very bad neighbors and I wouldn’t apologize, “Because…she kind of is.” Two weeks later, there was a temporary restraining order summoning me to court in my neighbor's mailbox. (Amazing how people supposedly living in fear of you and watching your every move thinks you, an extremely white woman who lives in a white house, reside in a purple house occupied by three women who are the color of dark chocolate.) Besides, this is known as a SLAPP violation -- A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation -- since I went over there not as a general looney, but as a neighborhood activist complaining about a neighborhood issue. (I call myself "the block bitch" -- I'm the one with the community policing team on speed-dial.)

Anyway, the idiots didn't know I was a newspaper columnist, or they probably wouldn't have brought what was clearly a malicious nuisance suit. Being me, I responded, point-by-point, to their sloppy, hand-scrawled, libelous application for a restraining order against me with a 26-page typed response on legal pleading paper. Since they'd intimated in their document that I was nuts, I tucked in a few words Albert Ellis said about me at a lunch we had a few years back, and later confirmed in writing on his stationery so I could send it out with my column samples:

"I have spoken and corresponded with Amy Alkon and find her to be saner than most of the therapists I know."

(If you know any therapists, you'll discount this a great deal. Nevertheless, I still consider it quite a compliment.)

(By the way, the appropriate cunt-calling defense, for all you law buffs out there, was Cohen v. California, 1971 -- the "Fuck The Draft" case. I discovered this -- and a lot of other interested law stuff -- after constitutional scholar and UCLA law prof Eugene Volokh gave me a copy of his book, The First Amendment: Problems, Cases And Policy Arguments, autographed "To Amy Alkon -- Hope you find this interesting. But stay out of trouble! --Eugene Volokh.") Naturally, the restraining order against me was dismissed. While I am, of course, "hostile and unpredictable," as the manager charged in court, I am not violent. The "cunt," by the way, has left the company.

Oh, by the way, the company is Ravenswork, and the phony baloney restraining order was filed by Robert Feist, who should be ashamed of himself, and his shamelessly vengeful then-office manager Katherine Morgan.

The day before we were scheduled to go to court, Feist called me to try to make peace. He talked about how silly the restraining order was. If only I'd apologize to Morgan, he said, they wouldn't go through with the court case. Oh, I see, I'm terribly dangerous, but eating crow will make me undangerous? Right. Pretty disgusting, huh?

Here's a photo of Ravenswork's mostly car-free parking lot from the days just before they took me to court.

Ravenswork.jpg

Their employees, by the way, still park in our neighborhood. I'm still too afraid to speak up again. (I believe this is called "a chill on free speech," but I can't afford to take more time out of my writing to chance fighting these creeps another time).

In their defense, as they said in their case, they have to leave these spaces open and park up our neighborhood because, well, what if Tom Arnold comes over with an entourage?

Wow, I feel for them, don't you? And maybe he will, but why should that be my problem? Or that of the other residents on my residentially zoned block?

P.S. Feist never responded to my e-mailed letter from last year asking for compensation for the time I put into defending their false accusations, and asking them to remove them from the public record. What a stand-up guy.

Posted by aalkon at September 28, 2006 1:05 PM

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Comments

I love the word cunt. It's possibly the last 4-letter word in the language that still has the capacity to shock. (My friends and I like to use it completely inappropriately, like when someone refuses to pass the salt or something.)

I hope your neighbors appreciate your standing up on their behalf. It's not easy to be the bitch, but someone has to, or else we'd soon have no rights to stand up for.

I wish there were more bitches (of either sex) in Congress right now, instead of all these cunts.

Posted by: Melissa at September 28, 2006 7:51 AM

Melissa, I have a girl-crush on you.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 28, 2006 7:54 AM

PS If one of my favorite lawyer/commenters will let me know the legality, I could post a recording of Feist's answering machine message to me from before we went to court. I suspect there's no presumption of privacy in an answering machine message, but I don't know if I can post his voice on my site.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 28, 2006 7:56 AM

Perhaps I'm missing something here, but, if Tom Arnold and entourage show up, can't they just move their cars?

Posted by: Janet C at September 28, 2006 8:30 AM

Girl-crush reciprocated-- just say you'll call me Sugartits!

Posted by: Melissa at September 28, 2006 9:01 AM

Sisters in sugary boobs!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 28, 2006 9:12 AM

I remember an old magazine interview with the British singer Lisa Stanfield that started off like this:

"Hi, Lisa. Oh, by the way, is it all right if I call you Lisa?"

"You can call me 'cunt' if you want."

"Okay, Cunt. How did you break into music?"

Posted by: Lena at September 28, 2006 1:55 PM

Amy/Melissa:

I have a big birthday coming soon. Just to remind you....

Posted by: eric at September 28, 2006 2:56 PM

I'd say your solution is an icepick. Tires are expensive, and you do have a little drug problem in your neighborhood...

Things like this sure take the shine off allegations that California is the land of personal freedoms...

Posted by: Radwaste at September 28, 2006 7:09 PM

Regarding the ice pick (I know you're kidding, but) as I told the judge, I'm a libertarian, and I don't believe I have the right to touch anybody or their property.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 28, 2006 8:00 PM

Oh, I know that, Amy, but there are an awful lot of people willing to let you go rot while the legal system ignores you, no matter how right you are. There are a lot of situations in which this principle applies.

Meanwhile, your state looks more and more like the land of busybody politics. I think that's called "polypragmatism" by the inventive.

Posted by: Radwaste at September 29, 2006 11:22 AM

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