July 15, 2016

"The cop tries to solve his violence by blanketing it with a uniform. That is virtually a commonplace..."

"... but it explains why cops will put up with poor salary, public dislike, uncomfortable working conditions and a general sense of bad conscience. They know they are lucky; they know they are getting away with a successful solution to the criminality they can taste in their blood. This taste is practically in the forefront of a cop’s brain; he is in a stink of perspiration whenever he goes into action; he can tolerate little in the way of insult, and virtually no contradiction; he lies with a simplicity and quick confidence which will stifle the breath of any upright citizen who encounters it innocently for the first time. The difference between a good cop and a bad cop is that the good cop will at least do no more than give his own salted version of events— the bad cop will make up his version."

Norman Mailer, "Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968" (pages 181-182).

"Miami and the Siege of Chicago" was the book Meade and I listened to as we drove to Vail, Colorado and back over the past week. We're preparing for the present-day conventions coming up, and I wanted to get some grounding in the events that I remember from when I was 17, finishing high school, and thinking what a radical I would need to be when I got to college.

Althouse in 1970, age 19

That's the 5th time I've put that picture on the blog. (Previously: "The 51st State," "Norman Mailer died," "Althouse in 1970," and "It would be obscene to pine for the urban agony that fomented [Norman] Mailer’s run [for Mayor of NYC].")

PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Cohen.

51 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

Anticipated comments:

1. What have you got in your hand?

Answer: I don't know.

2. You look like a member of the Manson Family.

Answer: I know.

rcocean said...

Did you ever think of dyeing your hair blond when you were young?

Bob R said...

Considering how cocooned and cut off from the life of cops (and most working class people) Mailer was, it's impressive that he got some things right. He had a good eye. He could write some. But he was a fool. (Made a lot of money, got laid a lot, and died famous, so I think he was happy with his choices in life.)

rcocean said...

The Mailer quote is a reason I'm not a big fan.

He's drunk on words and he doesn't really know or care what actually saying. He's trying to say - i suppose - that cops are cops because they can be violent with the sanction of the state. But its obvious that's just Mailer projecting his own values onto Cops. I doubt Mailer knew a single one.

Mailer stabbed his wife in the stomach with a knife, and helped get Murderer Jack Abbott out of jail - cause he wrote a cool book about being macho killer.

Projection.

Bob R said...

I should say that Mailer's cocoon was much thinner than the equivalent cocoon today. Does Lena Dunham know anyone who is not a millionaire?

pm317 said...

wow, what a cynical view!

madAsHell said...

You look like a member of the Manson Family.

It's the whole hiding-behind-the-hair thing. Most women grow out of it, others go helter-skelter.

Chuck said...

Fit right in, in the Ann Arbor of 1968.

http://www.annarbor.com/assets_c/2012/02/021612_anti-war_protest5-thumb-590x402-103128.jpg

You missed Bill Ayers by about 12 weeks.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm sure there are some cops like that, but cops in general? Not the ones I know.

Mailer was as right about cops as he was about Protestants.

Quaestor said...

...he lies with a simplicity and quick confidence which will stifle the breath of any upright citizen who encounters it innocently for the first time. The difference between a good cop and a bad cop is that the good cop will at least do no more than give his own salted version of events— the bad cop will make up his version.

Writer's cramp.

shiloh said...

Glancing quickly a your pic, you have a Katharine Ross The Graduate vibe going on. Was your boyfriend ever seduced by your mom? j/k

1968, as bad as it was, looks better with each passing year. RFK was assassinated the night before my 8th grade graduation party.

1968 w/today's 24/7 cable/internet/smart phones, etc. would have seemed like armageddon. There's a lot to be said for being totally detached from reality in suburbia!

And speaking of semi-detached, Cronkite showing the daily Vietnam casualty #s and sitting down at the dinner table to eat your spaghetti.

btw, Vietcong always had wayyy more casualties than U.S. military and one thought hmm, how are we losing this war?

But, but, but the music:

Hey Jude
Revolution
Jumpin' Jack Flash
White Room
Sittin on the Dock of the Bay
Sunshine of Your Love
Mrs. Robinson :-P
Mony Mony
Hello, I Love You
Angel of the Morning
Those Were the Days
Born To Be Wild
Yummy Yummy Yummy

ok, nevermind ...

Robert Cook said...

"He's trying to say - i suppose - that cops are cops because they can be violent with the sanction of the state. But its obvious that's just Mailer projecting his own values onto Cops. I doubt Mailer knew a single one."

My younger brother still lives in the small-town community where we grew up. He told me that several of the "bad kids" he knew going all the way back to grade school--the kids always getting into trouble, into fights, bullying others--are now local police officers. I know someone myself, a boy in my graduating high school class, who, although not a "bad kid," per se, was known to get into fights and was not someone to antagonize, who became a Sheriff in a larger community near the small town where we grew up.

I think it's natural to assume (and seems born out by real-life), that at least some people drawn to police work are persons with tendencies toward violence. Police work allows them a socially and financially rewarded opportunity to express their violent tendencies.

Do I think this is true of all police officers? No. I know some presently active and retired police officers who are very mellow guys, (though I do not know how they performed on the job). Do I think too many police officers adopt an a priori antagonistic and aggressive attitude toward citizens they interact with? Yes.

In the end, the reasons for this are probably varied, but the problem remains, and it will get worse as it goes unaddressed by those in position to address it.

Robert Cook said...

"btw, Vietcong always had wayyy more casualties than U.S. military and one thought hmm, how are we losing this war?"

For one, it was their country. They were born there, grew up there, and lived there. There were many more of them than us. We were never going to win.

Second, while we killed many more Vietnamese than they killed Americans, VC casualties were exaggerated and reported on the evening news for PR purposes to maintain confidence by the American public that we were "winning." We counted any dead Vietnamese as VC, where many were non-combatants killed accidentally, incidentally, or purposely by our troops. We do the same thing today: in order to pump up the numbers of "terrorists" we're killing with our drone strikes, (and to minimize statistics on innocents we kill), we define any males above a certain age in certain areas as "terrorists," without evidence or regard for the truth.

shiloh said...

And there are many policemen who are former military and dealing with after affects of combat and the rigid military structure where everything is black and white ie no grey area, no pun intended.

Many vets have trouble adjusting back into the "real world" let alone the ones who become police officers.

shiloh said...

"For one, it was their country. They were born there, grew up there, and lived there. There were many more of them than us. We were never going to win."

There was N. Vietnam and also S. Vietnam IIRC. And yes, the casualty #s were exaggerated. Go figure!

The first casualty of war ~ the truth!

gpm said...

Getting a strong Katharine Ross vibe. After having just seen Stepford Wives on TCM last night.

--gpm

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gpm said...

Posted before seeing Shiloh's post. Plus, Stepford Wives, not Love Story.

--gpm

surfed said...

No headband?

Terry said...

"For one, it was their country. They were born there, grew up there, and lived there."
Cook, who do you think we were fighting for? ARVN had five KIA for every American KIA.

The Bergall said...

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We'd hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen

When I was twenty-one, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stairs
With all that perfumed hair
That came undone
When I was twenty-one

When I was thirty-five, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means
We'd ride in limousines
Their chauffeurs would drive
When I was thirty-five

But now the days are short, I'm in the autumn of the years
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
It poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year

gadfly said...

"... cops will put up with poor salary ..."

Since when do public safety officers have poor salaries? Perhaps compared to Norman Mailer's haul, yeah. But compared to private business salaries, these Fraternal Order of Police union members have higher salaries averaging at least 15% better than comparable professions in the private sector, with more comprehensive medical benefits, often at no cost to the member and guaranteed fixed pension payouts that just are not available to most of us anymore. This was true in 1968 and there is likely a bigger gap today in Chicago, anywhere in California and in all large metropolitan areas.

Oh, and Ann, please do not attempt to mimic Mailer's writing style - just reading short quotations that you present makes me want to gnash my teeth.

Terry said...


Officer Figoski had been on the force for 22 years and had made 209 arrests, half of them for felonies, yet he did not choose to retire and was working the midnight shift in one of the city’s highest-crime areas. He could have quit two years ago with a pension equal to at least 50 percent of his salary, an amount that can be substantially augmented with overtime. The average annual police officer pension in 2009 was $58,563, which does not include an annual supplement of about $12,000.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/nyregion/most-police-officers-retire-after-20-years-or-move-up-the-ranks.html?mtrref=undefined&gwh=F4ABEC56C30750F27E08537689754FDE&gwt=pay

William said...

Althouse looks intense and intensely alienated. It was by no means overdetermined that she would become a law professor. There are so many variables in any life. You never know what are the fulcrum moments until years later, if even then.

William said...

Here are some of the ideas that Mailer put forth during his mayoral campaign: NYC should be encircled by a monorail. Local communities should have charge of the schools, sanitation, fire, and police services in their community. There should be a sabbath once a week when all businesses would be closed. He debated whether to also shut down public transportation and even electricity on those days. Most intellectuals hailed these ideas as visionary.....,,,Gloria Steinem worked on his campaign. They had a one nighter. She claimed it was a pity fuck. Many people claim that Ms. Steinem is some kind of doctrinaire feminist, but this clearly demonstrates that she is willing to see the big picture in male/female relations and not form rigid opinions about wife stabbers.

William said...

The cops are like the guys I knew who joined the Marines when I was young. Some were disciplined, Eagle Scout types, and others were pugnacious types who tried to bull their way through situations. It takes all kinds....... Part of a cop's job is to use coercive force. They're a blunt instrument. Don't expect too much subtlety and nuance from them in a confrontation. The up side is they're easier to work around than the corner drug dealer.......There used to be things called "police riots". The cops would clear away demonstrators with free swinging nightsticks. That's all changed since advent of phone cameras. They generally have to absorb more abuse than they dish out.

vanessa jackson said...

http://ReferDone.com/?share=6512

David said...

Shiloh: "And there are many policemen who are former military and dealing with after affects of combat and the rigid military structure where everything is black and white ie no grey area, no pun intended"

Cops who were military tend to have been MPs. It's a well worn path. They don't see combat.

Hard to see why you believe that in military structure everything is black and white. There is a hierarchy and accountability, but the nature of military problems is dealing with uncertainty and rapid change in situation. The goal of military training is to foster initiative at all levels. You are greatly mistaken about the military mentality.

Valentine Smith said...

Projection is most certainly correct.

Mailer was a canny prick, gave a copy of Fred Exley's "A Fan's Notes" to a bartender (late) friend of mine and wrote "To Forrest one of the original voices of Brooklyn" and signed it simply Norman. And my pal actually was but he was also a drunken gambler with 7 kids and a penchant for taking off for Florida every few years for rather extended stays when the loan sharks came a lookin'. Did it twice that I can recall. He also suttered so Norm might've intended irony, after all he really was a prick.

Althouse looking all smoky and anticipating her next toke or some such.

I was mourning a lot of the dead in 1970 that's what I remember most, same for 68 and 69 and it wasn't all war either.

Bruce Hayden said...

Traditionally, cops were the ones just this side of the line growing up. One step away from enough of a juvenile record that would have kept them from being cops. Which seemed to make them more willing and better at mixing it up a bit to draw the line. Now days though, I think a lot of them are either in it to save the world, or doing their time as civil servants, not that different from DMV employees. The borderline cases have mostly been weeded out. The problem, for me, is that they see the worst in life. Death. Violence. Loss. Etc. And their lives on the job can go from intense boredom to life-and-death in an instant. Not the type of job that I could do, but absolutely necessary for our ordered society. So, I am always willing to cut them slack. (I wasn't when I was in my late adolescence and early adulthood, but most guys that age aren't either).

shiloh said...

"The goal of military training is to foster initiative at all levels. You are greatly mistaken about the military mentality."

Foster initiative ie individuality ie bs. The military is very structured ie a chain of command ie you get an order and you follow it as per military er Army/Navy regulations.

Initiative er creativity er deviation will likely get you court-martialed.

Few exceptions ie special forces who march to the beat of their own drummer, but again their main theme is teamwork and still have strict rules of engagement. Everyone answers to someone higher up the chain.

Also, when you join the military you no longer fall under the Constitution, rather you abide by the UCMJ.

>

Initiative = inventiveness, imagination, ingenuity, originality, creativity, spunk, moxie in a military setting will likely get you killed or court-martialed.

>

An army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, and fights as a team. This individual hero stuff is bullshit. The bilious bastards who write that stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don't know any more about real battle than they do about fucking. ~ Patton

wholelottasplainin' said...

Robert Cook said...
"btw, Vietcong always had wayyy more casualties than U.S. military and one thought hmm, how are we losing this war?"

For one, it was their country. They were born there, grew up there, and lived there. There were many more of them than us. We were never going to win.

*******

Pls explain Germany and Japan.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Shiloh, you know shit about the modern American military.

If the "individual hero is bullshit", explain the individual heroes.

Put down the fucking bong!

shiloh said...

"Pls explain Germany and Japan."

The U.S. carpet bombed Germany back to the stone age ie the firebombing of Dresden, etc. and dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima and when that didn't work dropped a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki. And only then did Japan reluctantly surrender

Whereas it was guerrilla warfare in Vietnam, no nukes allowed.

>

Yes, there are individual hero's who go above and beyond the call of duty, but they are rare and still fighting as part of a team. More often than not acting like a hero will get you foolishly killed. And are quite anonymous ie just another statistic.

>

And speaking of bongs, comparing Germany/Japan to Vietnam. Indeed, the rules of engagement might have differed slightly.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

I call that picture "Sexy Sadie".

An observation on a paradox raised Mailer's quote: routinely holding the police to a very high standard may be just the thing that makes the cop's ability to bend the truth such an important survival skill.

grackle said...

Mailer was a good self-promoter, a good essayist and a bad novelist. His novel, “The Naked and the Dead,” a novel of WW2 in the Pacific, was celebrated when it was published. I read it. It was crap but it got the nod from the intelligentsia because it portrays the military and America as sick entities. It fitted in perfectly with two of their favorite themes: America is bad and America’s military is bad.

Four years later, James Jones’s “From Here to Eternity,” the definitive novel of America’s military, was published. It did what Mailer attempted to do and failed, a believable, well-written novel about America’s military. It put Mailer’s poor effort to shame.

“From Here to Eternity” gets my vote as the best American novel ever written about military life. It could be the best American novel, period. See the movie if you haven’t already and then read the novel because the novel is even better. Jones was too patriotic; he loved America too much. The Left won’t stand for that sort of thing.

At first they respected Jones for the great artist he was but by the time of his second novel, “Some Came Running,” they had realized that he was definitely not one of them and the novel was panned.

Later on Mailer, imitating Truman Capote’s chilling “In Cold Blood,” published “The Executioner’s Song,” and won a Pulitzer for it. Both books wrote about real killers as if they were characters in a novel. Mailer tried to take credit for inventing the genre, the “non-fiction novel,” but Capote was the real creator of this genre and in my opinion a much better writer.

Perhaps our hostess can remember when Mailer was in a panel discussion and offered the opinion that homosexuality was “unnatural.” The NYC intelligentsia froze him out and made him grovel for awhile, then allowed him a conditional membership back into Lefty circles. Having learned his lesson, Mailer never transgressed again.

I think the best that can be said of Mailer is that he was a mildly interesting essayist, writing essays which tended to be too tortured to firmly establish any salient point and which featured a needlessly complex, contradiction-filled fawning toward the cherished memes of the Left.

tim maguire said...

Bob R gets it right early. Mailer has a lot to answer for in life but he was a good writer and he got a lot right about cops. Most cops come from environments like Staten Island, where all the kids were hoodlums. Violent little delinquents. If they got away with it long enough, they became cops and firemen when they grew up. If they got caught, their police record kept them out of those services and they became lifelong criminals.

That was the difference between the jailed and the jailor--whether they got lucky when young.

chrisnavin.com said...

The e-Mailer project still ongoing...

I've been around enough very bright people to see how the 'intelligentsia' comes about.

Youthful idealism and 'enlightened' ambition easily outstrips actual experience, wisdom, and understanding, especially in movements offering a chance to be something different and a little spot to observe yourself being something different.

Especially the bright ones...the clearer-thinking and more deeply-seeing can be easily flattered, especially those morally serious ones...

JCC said...

Oh, geez.

First, Military Police and civilian police actually have very little in common. MP's are in most applications responsible for facility & personnel security. Criminal responsibility lies with CID or whatever the branch designation is. Much of the military policing as we are talking has been civilianized, such as NCIS, CGIS, etc. And most cops who are veterans are not, in my experience, MP's. They tend to Airborne or Marines mostly, guys with that background in volunteering, excitement junkies. That was also true back in late '60's and early '70's as well.

Mailer's assertion that cops take the job because they want to be criminals and also to abuse people, and the position allows them to continue their bullying ways? I think there is a very small minority of cops that this may be accurate for, albeit in separate categories. There are surely criminals who become cops with the sole idea that it represents a money-making opportunity and a continuation of a lifestyle that never involved observing society's norms. There are also those who (probably subconsciously) are attracted to position which allow them to assume positions of authority over others. But this is true for high school football coaches and the local fast food joint manager as well.

But Mailer's overheated description of "...they can taste in their blood. This taste is practically in the forefront of a cop’s brain...a stink of perspiration whenever he goes into action..." Please.

Yes, some of the best cops were wild and troublesome kids who grew up. Or maybe didn't grow up but gained respect for convention and the rules. The occupation doesn't appeal to nerds and bookworms, or maybe the Junior Achievement guys. If the idea of a fistfight now and then is really upsetting, then you are not likely to apply.

Mailer was a POS. He thought artists - you know, people like him - were the only ones able to see clearly and make decisions for the the rest of us drones. He sort of assumed this air of the combat vet while actually serving as a cook. He was violent to women, helped Abbott get parole so he could kill someone, disparaged the establishment but didn't mind living high on the hog with the establishment benefits, and so on. He left children scattered across the landscape like empty beer bottles. He made DeCaprio's hypocrisy, harping about the climate while jetting and yachting around the world, look minor. So who cares what the trash thought or wrote?

AA was in the photo and self-described at the time, like so many then and now, an air-headed, easily influenced believed what you read because you haven't seen anything yet, liberal/radical wanna-be, sure in the knowledge you are wise in your years and your parents and grown-ups were idiots blah blah blah. Reality and life has a way of changing all that though.

I hated the '70's, the attitudes, the music, the hair, the clothes, the hippies, the arrogance, Norman Mailer...all of it.

Bill Peschel said...

rcocean got to my point first. Clearly a case of projection. Or maybe NYC cops are just shits.

I've known two cops personally, neither of which fits NM's template. One of them my FIL. From a Dakota farming family, served in Germany after the war (married a German woman and brought her back to raise a family). Worked the streets of Dover, Del. (all right, not the Mean Streets, but still). About as mellow and laconic as can be. He is also so skinny he could shower in a shotgun barrel, so his authority had to come from somewhere other than his nightstick.

(He also has said that "inside every police force is the seed of a Gestapo," and that back in the day, black criminals preferred being arrested by the white cops, because the black ones would give them holy hell.)

As for Vietnam, the unpalatable answer is that China was supporting the NVA, just like the Saudis and Iran are backing the radical Muslims. To end both wars, you have to cut the support off at the source. Always, always, follow the money. Without it, armies can't fight.

Our U.S. pols didn't / couldn't figure out a way to pressure China to stop, so we lost Vietnam (with help from the Dems). Bush didn't / couldn't figure out a way to contain Iran and the Saudis, and Obama won't. So we're losing there.

Our military has become a mercenary army fighting and dying not to win wars anymore. Have been doing it since Vietnam. It's getting to the point where they shouldn't be thanked / praised anymore for "their service to their country." They're being used as bloody tools. They deserve pity.

Anglelyne said...

Robert Cook: Do I think this is true of all police officers? No. I know some presently active and retired police officers who are very mellow guys, (though I do not know how they performed on the job). Do I think too many police officers adopt an a priori antagonistic and aggressive attitude toward citizens they interact with? Yes.

In the end, the reasons for this are probably varied, but the problem remains, and it will get worse as it goes unaddressed by those in position to address it.


Are some cops assholes? Yes. Are people with aggressive temperaments going to be drawn to police work? Makes sense to me. There's probably not going to be much overlap between people drawn to police work and people drawn to being a Unitarian youth minister. But you seem to be implying that this greater aggressiveness is an inherently pathological characteristic, instead of something within the normal range of human personalities that can be channeled for good or ill. (God knows that people with the temperamental profile of Unitarian ministers can be menaces to society, too, but those traits aren't inherently pathological.)

No aggressive personalities, no functioning police force. You need aggressive agents of law-enforcement to deal with aggressive criminals. That means the (inevitable) asshole cop problem can't be solved by selecting against aggressive people attracted to violence.

Hey Skipper said...

[Shilo:] Foster initiative ie individuality ie bs. The military is very structured ie a chain of command ie you get an order and you follow it as per military er Army/Navy regulations.

Initiative er creativity er deviation will likely get you court-martialed.


Having spent 20 years in the military, I can confidently say you are wrong.

William said...

Taiwan and South Korea are now democracies with comfortable living standards. Walter Lippmann, Theodore White, and the liberal intellects of that era claimed that the Kuomintang and the South Korean generals were fascists who did not deserve our support. My guess is that South Vietnam would have evolved along the lines of South Korea and Taiwan. Instead, it is a remarkably corrupt regime that combines the worst features of crony capitalism with Communist work camps......There are thousands of Americans who died in Vietnam for no good reason, but there are millions of Vietnamese who died for even worse reasons.........The police have their flaws but they are better people than the street criminals. The South Vietnamese who supported us were better people than their Communist opponents.

Fernandinande said...

Anglelyne said...
No aggressive personalities, no functioning police force.


Maybe. More important is the fact that most cops will lie at the drop of a hat.

Carol said...

Eh, I finished this last Monday. His third-person thing so off putting, especially since he actually inserts himself into the story by speechifying and promising to lead a march of 300 oops make it 200 delegates to protest Humphrey Dumpty or something, but is too drunk to do any damn thing. Half the time I'm think who the hell is he talking about - oh, himself again.. Got it.

The "this reporter" style finally ended up on the ash heap though it may yet live out in the rural weeklies somewhere.

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

I knew kids with "violent tendencies" who grew up to be peaceful, gentle adults. All you Freud fans are peddling nonsense, repeating garbage you've been bludgeoned with so often, you repeat it as fact. Kinda like Norman Mailer.

Ann Althouse said...

"Eh, I finished this last Monday. His third-person thing so off putting, especially since he actually inserts himself into the story by speechifying and promising to lead a march of 300 oops make it 200 delegates to protest Humphrey Dumpty or something, but is too drunk to do any damn thing. Half the time I'm think who the hell is he talking about - oh, himself again.. Got it."

Ha ha. Yes. But he's self-effacing about it.

For us, we were saying, here's this guy who was our parents' age, at a time when we were the protesters' age (or a few years younger). And he's interested in them but also dubious, and frankly afraid. He's on assignment and needs to get his article done quickly, but he's mostly watching the convention on TV and afraid to get hurt out in the crowds -- or arrested. He really can't GET to the story. And he admits he's drinking way too much.

Carol said...

he's interested in them

I think he idealizes them too much. "That should be me - I was born too late - " etc. Michener did the same with one of his worst, The Drifters. No doubt checking out the girls, but too impotent from alcohol. LOL.

Yes at least is was appropriately afraid and uncertain where it was all going. That's his only saving grace. I hate all the loose talk promoting anarchy and revolution - they deserve to get it good and hard but unfortunately it hurt the rest of us too.

Unknown said...

shiloh said...

Many vets have trouble adjusting back into the "real world" let alone the ones who become police officers.
7/15/16, 9:09 PM

You don't say!

Carl the Groundskeeper said...

I am pretty sure that is a gopher you are holding.

But then I have a thing for gophers.