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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for almost two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.
Jury duty via Richmondph.com
Dear Brooklyn Pushers,
All y'all think you know Brooklyn. Cool this, hipster that—nose to tail butchers and artisanal jewelry and organic skincare. GQ's Coolest City on the Planet Brooklyn; the Brooklyn of coal-fired pizza, Sufjan Stevens and perfectly fitting flannel shirts.
And, yeah, to be sure, there's a lot of that—but you mostly need to be within spitting distance of one of the parks (McCarren, Prospect or Fort Greene) and/or pretty close to the Ikea for those amenities. And, frankly, if those amenities are of interest to you—where else would you be?
That said, for a cold, hard look at the Real Brooklyn: Spend a day at jury duty.
First, head to that mixed up Downtown Brooklyn/Cobble Hill area where those government buildings (and the soul-crushing Fulton Street Mall) reside.
Dodge lines of less fortunate lining up for various government services; men wearing Cash4Gold sandwich boards; borderline homeless crazies singing gibberish at the top of their lungs; and screaming teen hawkers selling mobile phones from unauthorized dealers.
Proceed to the courthouse and shuffle—beltless and stripped of your belongings—through security. Enter the juror holding room and just soak it all in. There's a middle-aged man who has his shoes off; he's lying across several chairs. There's a morbidly obese teenager freestyling (middlingly) over his blaring MP3 player. There's a woman wearing a sweatsuit and a Scrunchie. There's an elderly Chinese couple with a breakfast picnic laid-out—complete with a Thermos of tea. There's a roving, glowering alpha male—Eastern European—in 7 For All Mankind jeans, an acid green Lacoste polo and loafers and a brown leather jacket from Macy's.
There are two gentleman who just have to be drag queens—one in Union Jack suspenders, a Bakelite cross pendant and a Chinatown knock-off of those Margiela shield sunglasses except the lenses are clear. The other sounds like he could be John Leguizamo's sister—I know this because he answered his phone at least 15 times. The ringtone: Rihanna.
From there, enjoy the American Legal System video presentation, production value exactly zero. There's a re-enactment of Dark Age Middle Europeans drowning a dude; a little Diane Sawyer; man-on-the-street interviews ("Jury duty is a pain in the you-know-what" got a big laugh—a very highbrow crowd); shots of various New York State courthouses; and a narrated breakdown of why you're there and exactly how the whole process works.
Thirsty? Enjoy a frosty Pepsi from the vending machines, because apparently, there are people who drink Pepsi.
Next, an exasperated, slug-like woman will spend 45 minutes trying to explain to the seated cavalcade of morons exactly how to fill out a card with the hard questions. You know: What's your name? What's your address? Are you white or are you not white? When, where were you born? Our question: Why? Why were you all born?
Finally, exemptions begin—there you'll meet the woman whose time is so not valuable that she feels the need to argue with exasperated slug woman over whether or not a 12-year-old is able to get himself home after school. Who cares, lady—you're exempt! Also, look for at least three dozen people who, after being told that they could move to a secondary holding room and possibly get exempted as English isn't their native language, had to bum rush Sluggy and re-ask whether or not they should go into the secondary holding room to possibly get exempted as English isn't their native language.
Cleared of aliens, non-English speakers, those saddled with childcare; look around. Or don't, because it sucks. Besides all the sad and all the gross and the fat and the poor and the faceless there are the Coolest City on the Planet clichés: The athleto-hippie, mustachioed, reading a magazine about organic cookery, and clod in those bike shoes that click right into your single speed and become bike pedals. The fashion girl in 93 prints and a stacked heel; she's poking a PowerBook she pulled out of a Surface to Air totebag. The fashion bear—head-shaved, beard full, wearing Shipley & Halmos and Sol Moscot and carrying two books—one on photography, the other on philosophy.
And the hipster: Vans, jeans so tight, can't afford to do laundry but he has an iPad—and his ears? Swinging, gaping shreds of skin flapping in the breeze—the result of those horrible ear plug gauge things stretching the ear larger and larger before being removed expressly to gross out all who come in contact.
Then: Get vetted. Get called in to the courtroom. Get questioned. Learn that the overweight woman who just housed a bag of Planters and has the shakes is a nutritionist. Notice that the middle-aged man from Marine Park is carrying a "Jesus is My Boss" baseball cap. Listen as the athleto-hippie exempts himself by citing unfair treatment after a relative's cocaine arrest; as the fashion girl describes her hobbies as "painting" and "hanging out with my friends;" as the Hasidic woman declares that she has no hobbies because her days are filled by a husband, seven children, two family business and "helping sick people at the hospital."
Try to stop rolling your eyes and gagging over how yuck everyone is when you finally get called on—you'll need to pull it together so you can say something obliquely racist or anti-lawyer and against cops. How else are you going to get excused? How else are you going to get the hell out of the worst building in the worst neighborhood (two Modell's sporting goods; nowhere to get a salad) of the Coolest City on the Planet? Swallow your pride; be a dick; and get the shit out.
Now you know.
· Love, Frank [Racked]