ASSUME THE POSITION: The World Police and Fire Games

Book Features
ASSUME THE POSITION: The World Police and Fire Games
Mar 1, 2007, 04:37

Blame it on Bobby Blake. I was still wearing knee socks and selling Girl Scout cookies when Baretta hit the air. He reminded me of my father. Or how I wanted my father to be. Only dad and Baretta were on opposite sides of the law. Baretta went after bad guys. My dad was a bad guy. But Baretta didn't save me. And in an attempt to reverse the verdict, I've been looking for someone who could “protect and serve” ever since. Not to keep me safe, but to in turn, penalize them for their inability to do so.

My first face-to-face with the police jump-started a decades long obsession with testing just how far I could twist the long arm of the law to satisfy my criminal intent. I was babysitting for 50-cents an hour. Chump change needed to keep an already overheated and horny 13 year old stoned on lousy Mexican weed. I had just finished blowing a skinny joint. Went outside to check on the ghetto rats I was supposed to play mommy to. Found them rolling around on the ground screaming “if that's all you got, keep it in your shorts, shithead,” at a dirty chartreuse Pontiac speeding left around the corner. The freak behind the wheel had snaked alongside the back fence, which bordered the alley and beckoned the girls over to ask for directions; Cindy said he had a funny look in his eye. “Maybe it was because he was squirting dick juice all over the steering wheel,” Kathy, the younger one screeched, jerking on the handle of her dirty jump rope. I admired her potential as mouthpiece for future S.C.U.M. Manifesto fundraisers, however this was serious. They were obviously too young to fully comprehend the offensive maneuvers of a drive by jack-off artist. I had no choice. They were in my care. I called the cops.

Officer Connolly was a 21 year-old rookie. Blond, blue eyed, built. Been on the force only 6 months. We hit the backyard to investigate the crime scene. Tire tracks and a spent Chesterfield. He pocketed the butt. Pulled out pen and pad, chicken scratching notes. Looking real official. Claimed he'd investigate. I plopped down on a lawn chair across from him, making sure to spread my legs just wide enough for him to notice the crotch of my tight jeans disappearing. Investigate this! officer, sir. I can assure you, I was not suffering from arrested development.

© Lydia Lunch

My baby blues were glued to his equipment:




Couldn't help it. Had to milk it. I confessed I was withholding evidence. I had failed to report that a similar make car had pulled the same stunt on me three weeks before. Obviously a perv was lurking. I was sure I'd recognize the creep. He suggested cruising the neighborhood to search for the perpetrator once my babysitting shift was done. Looking nervously over his shoulder, he adjusted his gun holster. “Are you flirting with me, Officer Connolly” I demurred. “Typical police procedure” he assured me. HA!

I hate to play snitch, but I penned my own version of FUCK THA POLICE four hours later. The back of the squad car stunk of vomit, urine and Old Spice. I was frisked, read my rights, interrogated and strip-searched. But only after threatening to report the rookie to the station chief if he wouldn't play Bad Lieutenant. My career in black mailing, public indecency, criminal misconduct, disturbing the peace, and assaulting an officer of the law just for kicks had just begun.

I've never had a beef with the police. Never been hassled, harassed or assaulted by the cops. They however can't say the same thing about me. Poor saps. I was arrested only once. Helsinki, Finland, 1982. The shifty musician I was traveling with was busted for smuggling illegal substances into the country. I was innocent, but taken into custody. The twin Tom of Finland customs officers guarding my cell allowed me to keep my bag. Big mistake. I slipped into a peach satin slip, pulled out a pint of Smirnoff Red, nibbled on a piece of Godiva chocolate, and began seducing both of them by reading chapters of Jerzy Kosinki's Cockpit. Needless to say the charges were dropped.

© Lydia Lunch

I love cops and the cops love me. Got the evidence to prove it. I've shot dozens of photographs of police officers. Just ask literary outlaw Jerry Stahl.

March 2003 we rampaged through Florida, terrorizing the locals. Hit-and-Run spoken word spree. We hijacked a 747 to Orlando, made a public nuisance of ourselves, verbally battered the audience, ripped off the promoter, committed grievous bodily harm to a couple of unwitting victims and split town before bothering to clean the blood off our hands. We knocked off a rental joint and started tooling north in an air conditioned 2003 Neon. A perfectly anonymous getaway car.

Giddy as a pair of short-shrift grifters on the run from L.A., cranking tunes and laughing like lunatics, the first heist went off without a hitch. We owned the fucking road, man. Until the short stabs of a police siren sounded, we got blasted in the back of the head with red lights and were instructed to pull over just outside of St Pete. The bull sauntered over to the driver's seat, smiling. “Is there a problem Officer?” quipped Stahl deadpan. Deputy Sheriff R. Sammons assured us we weren't speeding and that he was just checking us out because “we looked too cool for Alligator Alley.” I invited him to the show later that night. Told him we played tag-team to the themes of power and submission, crime and punishment, retribution and restitution. Publicly confessed our own crimes and punished the audience by making them pay to hear the grisly details. He chuckled but politely declined. Duty called.

Jerry knew what was coming next. I'd be forced to shoot. I'd already been showing off a stash of photos from our last tour. Cops on bikes, cops drinking coffee at a pastry stand, geriatric cops, and Jerry's favorite, a Baywatch blonde law enforcement agent in tight blue spandex shorts bending over the front seat of her squad car to retrieve her card so I could send her duplicate prints.

© Lydia Lunch

I waited until Sammons was behind the wheel. I jumped out of the Neon. Flagged him over. Used my trademark ”Excuse me sir. I'm doing a series entitled “People who help People. Would you mind if I take a shot or two?” Faking an innocent smile, I'd point to my camera, stare them straight in the eye and hypnotize them with a sociopathic ability to divorce the guilty party from the crimes committed. Not a single cop has ever refused me.

I've got mug shots, telephone numbers, job offers, and propositions for dates, drinks or a drive-along. I've had police escorts through long lines at the airport. I once bribed a Russian cop with a French kiss to steal another officer's cap, convincing him I'd only impersonate an officer in the privacy of my own home. In public I'm usually found screaming bloody murder and implicating myself in crimes too numerous to mention to ever cast doubt upon this career criminal's twisted convictions.

The benchmark of a good crim is to avoid getting caught. Keep it under the radar. I've successfully avoided detection, prosecution and imprisonment, while continuing to perpetrate my felonious behavior, so I couldn't help but question whether or not the e-mail that arrives in June of 2003 is a set-up, a fraud or an invitation to commit the ultimate con. I roll the dice and decide to up the ante. Two high-stake gamblers sporting backgrounds in art crimes sucker me into their latest scam: Play infiltrator and interrogator for “Where are they when we don't need them?” a mockumentary they're filming on The 10th World Police and Fire Games. A bi-annual sports event held that year in Barcelona, Spain, which like the rest of Europe is suffering under the worst heat wave in 200 years.

Over the course of two weeks, 10,000 law enforcement agents and firefighters compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in sixty different sporting disciplines. Wrestling, weight lifting, soccer, archery, darts, tug of war, pistol combat, bowling. Think Olympics.

© Lydia Lunch

Only with crime stoppers and firefighters.

The World Police and Fire Games originated in Los Angeles in 1985, in part to boost flagging police morale, encourage camaraderie among cops and firefighters and to improve public relations between the police and civilians. I can't imagine a more intoxicating way to spend my summer vacation.

I arrive at LAX at 2:40 pm, what I believe to be a safe two hours in advance of British Airways flight 422. So sick of traveling I'm nearly comatose with boredom.

The traffic en-route to the airport. The failure of electronic check-ins. The gaudy spectacle of out of shape American families dressed in matching pastel tracksuits. And now, the latest insult: British Airways has instituted a new and highly invasive procedure. Passengers form a long line before reaching the check-in desk. Bags are screened first, and then an over-age bag boy personally escorts you to the next long line. Usually I wouldn't have a problem with this. But how to explain the small red bag inside the larger black bag, which contains 50 feet of black 1/4-inch rope, pliers, nipple clamps, 2 wigs, and 6 corsets? Don't ask. Fortunately sex toys have not yet been ruled a terrorist threat and I slide by without being strip-searched.

I land a mind-numbing 15 hours later. Exhausted. Sleep deprived, hot and starving. But duty calls. My partner in crime meets me at the airport, offers me a Coke, sticks a pill in my mouth and instructs me to swallow. Time to face the firing squad. Or at least pick up my press pass. Arriving just in time for the last few events means we'll have to work fast.

Nearly every cop I've ever talked to, when asked why he opted to go into law enforcement responds, “To help people.”

Can you imagine actually calling the cops if you ever really needed help in Los Angeles? What if Officer Jeremy Morse, Mark Fuhrman, or Rafael “Rampart Scandal” Perez answered the call?

© Lydia Lunch

Were these testosterone fueled Dirty Harry's just freaks with short fuses or indicative of the corruption of the abuse of power within law enforcement agencies the world over? Was a competitive sporting event really a good idea for macho men whose motto was supposed to be “To Protect and Serve,” yet, whose presence more often than not causes fear and dread?

According to the officers I spoke with in Barcelona, an event like WPFG has a positive effect on the individual, who through the discipline of their chosen sport helps them return to the field with more stamina and patience because they have found a place to focus their aggressions.

Cops and firefighters from Siberia, Korea, Thailand, Denmark, Poland, China, South Africa, North America, Canada and just about every other country on the map, had paid their own way to honor the homeland. Hunky, hard working men as far as the eye can see, sweating, grunting, fighting, shooting, all pumped up to just be there, participating in these events like thousands of well-lubed gladiators. Win or lose, they'd already proven they were tough enough to make the grade. They were there to throw down, have a good time, hang out with the brotherhood, and represent. I couldn't think of a more deliciously perverse event to have been in the thick of.

The video crew and I hit the billiards competition, Taekwondo, tug of war, pistol shooting and weight lifting events all in one day. What bliss! Surrounded by modern day warriors, slapping each other on the ass, kissing and hugging, cracking jokes and more than happy to submit to my fanatical interrogations concerning marijuana reform laws in Canada, mandatory minimum sentencing, the stress of being underpaid over worked and feared, the negative image of the Los Angeles Police Department, and of course how they were planning to celebrate at the closing ceremony. The Australian Beer Blast, being the singular unanimous response.

Being jacked up after witnessing so many high impact sports, and wilting in the 102-degree swelter, although not high on my list of priorities, we head over to investigate the bowling alley.

Expecting a gang of retired gentlemen quietly polishing their balls, I stumble in to a lager and Red Bull bash where howling madmen are congratulating each other by tossing back pints of the evil brew, insisting I join them in making merry.

“Pinkie,” a pit bull of a man, at 6-foot-2 and a solid 270 pounds is not to be denied. Sporting a Simpson's Springfield Police shirt, whose insignia bears a patch of Chief Wiggums, he has just won a silver medal. Squashing me with a bone crushing bear hug, he waltzes me around the bar introducing me to The British Metropolitan Police Force as the next Ruby Wax.

His drunken glee is contagious. He throws me into the arms of gold medal winner in singles bowling, Officer John Greengrass. Who has a fetching scar running halfway from elbow to wrist.

I ask if it's a bowling injury. He chuckles, winks and struts, “In a manner of speaking, yes.” Greengrass and a fellow officer were returning to London after the last WPFG held in Indianapolis. Heading home from Heathrow, a car chase breaks out. They get stuck between a stolen car and a speeding paddy wagon. Unable to just sit idly by, Greengrass instructs his pal, the driver to “Do something… we're police officers!” They pull over. The carjacker is careening toward them. Greengrass fueled on by the smell of burning rubber and adrenaline, jumps from the car grabbing his bowling bag which is loaded with two deadly 18-pounders. Raising the bag high overhead he aims for the windshield, smashing it to slivers. The surprise attack stops the vehicle, but not before chewing a chunk out of his right forearm. They arrest the thief. I ask if he showed him ‘the what for?' “Of course not” he smirked. “The kid was only 13.” I volunteered that I would have spanked him myself given half the chance. “Best leave the punishment to the professionals” he chuckled, winked and fingered his gold medal. I couldn't agree more.

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