Monday, August 24, 2015

For the past six months or so, one of my daily activities has been to check the Somerset County Sheriff's booking log. Every arrest is listed by name, birthday, height, weight, body type, and crime and includes a mug shot: for example, Harli Davidson Jones, 11/2/92, 5' 2", 280 lbs., obese, burglary. (She's fictional.) I've been trying to figure out why I find this booking log so compelling, though I do know it goes beyond a prurient gossipy interest in looking at people I know in a bad situation. The mug shots in particular are fascinating. There are the sad, worn, drug-addled faces, and the mean wife-beater faces. There are the young girls who pose for the camera like they'd pose for a selfie. There are the confused, humiliated faces and the resigned faces and the impassive faces. But I've slowly discovered that a key element of my interest, and a key opening into figuring out how to write about this log, involves the t-shirts that people are wearing.

Every day I write down the words on the t-shirts. I include only the words I can see, even if I can guess what the rest of the shirt might say. I now have a longish running list, maybe a fifty different t-shirt quotations. Here's a sample, in the order in which I wrote them . . . which is to say: not purposefully composed into any narrative arc.
Out of the darkness
It’s tricky
Save the drama for your
This guy
 Now do you see why I can't stop looking?


Ruth said...

Snippets of poetry, belief statements or what fit, or rummage sale/thrift shop bargains

Sheila said...

What an interesting project! Can you check on-line or do you visit the police station each day?

Dawn Potter said...

The country sheriff's dept has an online booking log. It's a compelling narrative, and very sad and frightening also.

Sheila said...

I'm sure, one of my brother-in-laws is a small-town cop.