This morning I spoke to three high school classes in Brooklyn about civil liberties and related issues joining the ranks of Mr. Holland, John Keating, Dewey Finn and Dana Marschz (Hamlet 2 – an underrated gem of a comedy). At least that was the plan. As a former prosecutor and person who now currently makes a “living” at speaking/entertaining strangers, a law school classmate recommended me to a friend of his who is a teacher in Brooklyn. In other words I would finally be given an opportunity to crash and burn at the three professions that have ever crossed my mind in one morning(law – former profession, teaching – thought about seriously and comedy, the one that has made me turn to Crumbs cupcakes the way Nicholas Cage turned to booze in Leaving Las Vegas).
When I woke up this morning at 620 am I had flashbacks to what it was like to be a normal human being and I did not like it. Then I started to feel anxiety with the knowledge that I would be doing law related stuff. It genuinely made me tense and uncomfortable, which would manifest itself on the stairs down to the V train.
As I walked down the stairs, a narrow stairway, I was blocked from going down as quickly as I wanted because of a father who thought 815 am in midtown Manhattan was the perfect time to teach his 3 year old son how to walk down approximately 50 stairs. I felt tension build up, but then eventually it began to recede. Just at that moment, like two-thirds of the way through a science fiction or horror movie where the villain appears dead, but you look at your watch and go, “but that is so soon, uh oh…” a twenty-something bitch basically shoved me out of the way with about ten stairs to go (and no train in sight since the platform was visible at that point). Although I wanted to send her the way of the Priest in The Exorcist down the rest of the stairs I settled for “Excuse you cu-t!” Not my finest moment, but a truthful moment nonetheless. Naturally I blame morning and the law for my poor attitude.
When I arrived at the school I was greeted by the following sign:
I then went through the metal detectors and waited to speak to kids about the 4th Amendment.
They say that when a lawyer speaks before the Supreme Court he/she is lucky to speak for a minute before being interrupted incessantly by questions from the Justices on the Court. Well, the same is true for speaking in front of 11th grade classes in Brooklyn, NY. But overall, they were a great bunch of kids (it is amazing how childlike 17 year olds look to me now, which makes LeBron James’ old mug when he came into the league at 18 even more astounding) and here are the highlights of the experience:
- These kids have a really bad perception of the police. Not unanimously, but for most it seemed as ingrained as religious or sports team affiliations. But many were very thoughtful and open to new points of view with respect to what constitutes a reasonable versus unreasonable search.
- Reviewing the 4th Amendment for three hours led me to say the word reasonable more than that short, bald guy had to say inconceivable for The Princess Bride.
- I got into a friendly argument about Kobe Bryant in the elevtor with two young men. All was resolved when one of them told me he thought Utah’s Deron Williams was the best point guard in the NBA.
- Kids find it as funny as comedy audiences when you refer to them by articles of clothing. Which is very funny.
- I am now being offered a movie deal called Reasonably Safe Minds.
- And here’s a photo of the bathroom at the school – the bathroom was really the only thing that reminded me of the Welcome to The Jungle montage from Lean on Me (the school was quite safe in Park Slope, but the concentration of minority students is, I am sure, what generated the metal detector need that is miraculously not present at other Park Slope area high schools, something which the kids were quite aware of):
A very worthwhile time in Brooklyn. Hopefully the kids got something out of it since I only addressed about 5 of 14 points I wanted. Time flies when you are having fun I guess.