Options Aerial View: Playlist from May 5, 2015 Options

Aerial View was WFMU’s first regularly-scheduled phone-in talk show. Hosted by Chris T. and on the air since 1989, the show features topical conversation, interviews and many trips down the rabbit hole. Until further notice, Aerial View is only available as a podcast, available every Tuesday morning. Subscribe to the newsletter “See You Next Tuesday!” and find tons of archives at aerialview.me. (Visit homepage.)

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Options May 5, 2015: Dear Jurisprudence

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Tonight: Dear Jurisprudence
I was out last week due to a stint of Jury Duty in Hudson County (extra special thanks to Pseu Braun for filling in). This is my second call up in three years. I somehow made it into my late 40's before my number came due (or did I just ignore the notices previously?).

A friend of mine once said, "Just throw them out. There's no way to track them and no one will ever know." Yes, forget all that harsh language about bench warrants being issued for your arrest. Just ignore your civic duty.

It sounds quaint, I know, but Jury Duty is one of the things we do to secure our rights and priviledges as citizens. That's the kind of talk that compelled me to snake my way down to Jersey City last Tuesday at 7 AM, paying $14 to park in a lot until 5 PM. After standing outside in the cold for twenty minutes they led us through a metal detector and I eventually found myself in the southeast corner of the Jury Assembly room on the fourth floor of the municipal building next to the Hudson County Courthouse. I was Juror #0092 in Group #18.

The room filled up quickly, with what looked like two hundred fellow citizens. I managed to snag a cubicle so I could work on my laptop while being subjected to the inane accents (“You should rip OOT that old tub as soon as possible!”) on the apparently Canadian TV show Income Property on the HGTV channel. There’s also the incessant jabbering and phone conversations of my fellow potential jurors. The worst, though, is the chiming “new text” sounds coming out of the phone of the woman behind me (Really? You can’t figure out how to turn that down?) I don’t dare put in headphones for fear of missing some important announcement.

I sat there for hours, listening to names being called by the jury coordinator to head upstairs to one of the courtrooms for a little voire dire. That's the process of winnowing down a pool of potential jurors to an actual jury. The "pool" in this case contained one hundred people. They kept piling us into this small courtroom in which one of the benches had been thoughtfully removed (was that someone's idea of making it ADA compliant?). I heard one Sheriff's Deputy muttering under her breath "One hundred?! Where are we supposed to put them all?"

They put us everywhere. We kept sliding down on these long benches until it was like a ride on the L train. Then they lined the walls with standees. The judge said "I know the Sheriff is going to kill me but let's also get you some seats in the jury box and at the Prosecutor's table." Every available seat (except those near the defendant) was eventually filled. Then the judge told us why we were there. The trial was a criminal case and the complaint was murder. A member of the Latin Kings allegedly shot and killed a sixteen year-old girl in Kearny, New Jersey. Something about a street altercation, a machete and "later on that day" was mentioned but the details became blurry after the main narrative was laid out. The defendant, who was standing, turned and looked us all over as his name was read into the record. A chill ran through me to be so close to someone accused of murder and the words "HE DID IT!" echoed through my mind over and over.

We were each handed a multi-page survey with many questions to answer - including one about our TV viewing habits - but the only question that mattered was number three: "Is there any reason why you cannot commit to a trial of this length?" The judge mentioned this thing could take five to six weeks, if not more. I wrote out several reasons - I'm covering for a co-worker in the next few weeks, my wife and I have travel plans out of town for her birthday, I purchased tables at the WFMU Record Fair and the Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market and the fees are non-refundable, etc. - and waited my turn to explain why I needed to get the hell out of there. 

When the judge asked who had reasons why they couldn't sit in judgement of a gang member accused of murder, almost every hand went up. We turned in our surveys and the grand exodus began. Quickly, efficiently, the judge called us future shirkers to an area by the witness box and asked us to explain why we couldn't serve. I leaned on a wall, exhausted from lack of sleep and too little caffeine, and when I thought the judge was about to pass me over to choose another batch of balkers, I let the momentary annoyance flash over my features. I may have also audibly groaned. The judge looked right at me and said, "Don't worry, sir. I said 'After this gentleman' didn't I?" I said "Sorry" and a moment later she called me forward. She ribbed me some more about my reaction and I said, "Good morning, your honor. Sorry about that."

In the presence of the judge, the prosecuting attorney, the defense attorney and three or four microphones, I explained my reasons. When I was done, the judge piped up: "You are a very busy man in the month of May, aren't you Mr. Tsakis?"

"Yes, your honor. I am."

"And if you skip your wife's birthday she'll kill you."

"Yes, she will, your Honor."

"Does anyone object to me releasing Mr. Tsakis?"



"You're free to go, Mr. Tsakis."

I hightailed it out of there back to the fourth floor. For the next day and a half I sat around trying to keep me mind occupied and off the horrid "Realty Reality" shows on HGTV (the only channel sure not to offend anyone, though I was getting mighty pissed at that one Brooklyn couple looking for the dream vacation home in "paradise". Seriously, fuck the both of you.). Now I'm good for three years. Maybe I'll just rip up the next notice.

Tonight, I'd like to hear about your Jury Duty or how you ducked it. And if you've ever been stopped by the cops or otherwise tangled up with the law.

II'll also be joined by "New York's Dirtiest Cop" Michael Dowd, of the infamous 75th Precinct. There's a new documentary out - The Seven Five - about Michael Dowd and the stunning police corruption that scandalized New York in the 1980's. Click on the image below to see the trailer and look for a book and feature film down the road as well.
Click the image above to see the trailer for The Seven Five.
"My Pen!" sketch by The Kids In The Hall
Last Week: So Pseu Me, "My Pen! Edition
What are you looking at me for? Didn't I say Pseu was in for me last week?! There was lots of talk about how Pseu should be on the radio every week and... pens. Witness playlist comments, below:
  • Pseu! You're back! I miss you SO Much.
  • I don't think i appreciated the earnest, charming sarcasm when you were on full time.
  • Really miss 'Thing With A Hook' hope it finds it way back on the schedule.
  • The pen machine at my DMV looks like a pachinko game.
  • I know the pens with chains, but the whole concept of pen dispensing machines bewilders me.
  • The pointy pens were at banks.
  • Wait, where are these mysterious pen dispensing machines? I missed that part over the noise of the resurrection of an old bread machine.
  • Here are the pen dispensing machines at the NYC DMV. All of them have these machines. They all work and are all fully stocked.
  • OMG, in my wildest dreams, that is not what I imagined a pen dispensing machine would look like! Why aren't there more of those around?!?
  • I usually carry my own pen. I can usually go about 6 weeks before I lose it and then carry a new one.
  • Ike, you are not familiar with endless NYC bureaucratic contracts that last forever and result in pens being sold out of machines in 2015.
Janet Aiello
It was around 10:30 on an unseasonably warm Sunday evening in October of ‘97 when a commotion began outside my Hoboken apartment that would eventually lead to one of my stranger nights in New Jersey.
I was on the couch, watching a movie, when the noise level outside got louder and angier than usual. I went to the front window, pulled back the curtains and saw flashing lights coming down the block. Curious, I stepped outside just in time to see an upstairs neighbor corralling a young kid against a fence next door. The neighbor is a powerful guy and the kid – no older than fourteen – looked scared, like a trapped animal.
The cops were soon out of their cars, grabbing the kid and getting some details from my neighbor. When he was through, he came over to where I was standing with some other neighbors and explained that the kid – and some accomplices – were breaking into cars on the block. “I think you better go check your Jeep. I saw them down there.” he said to me, pointing to where my Wrangler was parked.
Fearing the worst, I walked fast up the block and got a sinking feeling when I noticed the Jeep's convertible top unsnapped. I checked inside and (luckily) nothing was missing but a crappy old umbrella. The thieves were scared off before they had time to do any real damage.
I walked back to my building and thanked the neighbor for grabbing the kid. The cops asked me if anything was missing. I told them about the umbrella, said it was no big deal, and was surprised when they asked me to come downtown and swear out a complaint anyway (without complaints they had no case). I hemmed and hawed but then they offered me a ride (I was mostly concerned about losing my hard-won parking space).
When I got in the front seat of the police car I was surprised to see the three budding car thieves in the back. I was forced to listen while the three of them loudly, obscenely and simultaneously protested their innocence. When we got to the station, the kids were led into a small room and I went to a payphone to call home for messages.
As I was finishing up my phone call I noticed something strange about the Lieutenant on desk duty: he had a purple ribbon in his hair. I thought maybe it was some kind of a gag, what cops do when they lose a bet or something. But that wasn’t all: the Lieutenant  also wore eyeliner, mascara, blush and lipstick. Putting it mildly, I was puzzled.  Here’s this cop – who otherwise looks like Harvey Keitel – and he’s got a ribbon in his hair and makeup on his face.
Then I noticed the breasts.
They were small but they were definitely breasts. Everything clicked and I remembered what I’d read in the papers months earlier, something about a cop named Janet Aiello filing a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Hoboken.
Aiello, a 24-year decorated veteran of the Hoboken Police, was a husband and father to two kids. In 1994 he decides he’s been living a lie, gender-wise. He begins the procedure that will eventually turn him from John into Janet. This obviously doesn’t go over too big with the Hoboken Police. That they’d accept, much less tolerate, a transgender cop in their midst was about as possible as Ol’ Blue Eyes coming back to Hoboken (and he wasn't even dead yet). They made the Lieutenant 's life miserable in an effort to get him to quit. He responded by hiring a lawyer and pressing a harrasment suit. The story was picked up by the national press and the Lieutenant  was soon billed as “The Nation’s First Transgender Cop.” After fifty-one weeks of sick leave, the Lieutenant returned to her job rather than lose it and any pension (Hoboken releases officers after a year of sick leave). Hence the desk duty on the night we met.
We didn’t say much to each other. She wanted to know what I was doing there. I think she noticed me watching her and – in a gruff Jersey accent said,  “Do you have business here?” I told her about the kids breaking into my car and said I was just waiting to make a statement. “Don’t wait over here. There’s a waiting area over there.” she said, waving toward some chairs off in the corner.
I wanted to say something more. I wanted to ask her how she could possibly put up with the torment they must’ve put her through. I wanted to ask her why she didn’t just wait until retirement for the sex change. But I couldn’t bring myself to say a thing.
Probably the strangest part was watching the other cops interact with her. They did so in a completely professional manner, like John had always been Janet. Like the Lieutenant had always been a woman. Like they were afraid of being sued otherwise.
I got a cup of coffee, went outside and surreptitiously watched the Lieutenant through the glass doors. It was a fairly mundane scene: cops coming in, cops going out, paperwork, coffee cups, etc. And this purple ribbon bobbing around in the midst of it all. I finished up my business and got the hell out of there.
Months later, while riding to the train station, I got into a conversation with a cabbie. I mentioned the transgender Lieutenant and the cabbie told me she’d settled her lawsuit with Hoboken, retired and moved away. The cabbie said he knew the Lieutenant when she was still a man. Then he added, “That guy was the most macho guy you ever met! I mean he got more ass than anyone I knew!”
Upcoming Chris T. Stuff
Saturday, May 30
I return to the Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market.

Held in the historic Asbury Park Convention Center, the Punk Rock Flea Market features a live DJ spinning actual 45s and lots of comic books, T-shirts, collectibles, antiques, vintage clothing and - of course - vinyl. Find me in the entry way, off to the right. Look for the golden tablecloth!

The Asbury Park boardwalk is a short stroll away, with great food and shopping. And if you keep walking south you'll hit the huge Ocean Grove Flea Market on Ocean Pathway!

Saturday, June 20
The Mermaid Parade is now a longstanding Coney Island tradition and last year was my twenty-fifth as its MC. A raucous good time "By the Sea in Brooklyn", there is nothing quite like the Mermaid Parade anywhere in this country.

The parade kicks off at 1 PM and all the info can be found at coneyisland.com. My advice: get there early, the best viewing spots go quick!

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Obligatory Throwback Pic
Tsakis Family Siblings, 1962
L - R: Diana, Mario Jr. (RIP), Joanie (RIP), Marc in front of our VW bus.
Circa 1962, the year I was born.
How To Hear Aerial View
OVER THE AIR: Every Tuesday night, 6 PM Eastern time on WFMU in the metro NY/NJ area at 91.1 FM and on WMFU at 90.1 in the lower Catskills, Hudson Valley, western New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

ON THE WEB: Streaming audio in several formats is available at wfmu.org.
ON DEMAND ARCHIVES: The Aerial View Archive page features archives going back to nearly the beginning of the show in RealAudio and MP3 format.
PODCAST: Aerial View is available on iTunes as a podcast.
WFMU MOBILE: Listen live via the mobile app or browse the archives. Get the iOS app here and the Android version here. Amazon Kindle users can use the TuneIn Radio app. Info for other platforms, including Blackberry, etc. can be found here.

AUDIOBOOM: The newest way to hear Aerial View and share it on social media can be found here. Mobile apps are here.
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Listener comments!

  Tue. 5/5/15 6:02pm Marcel M:

Hello Chris! Welcome back my son.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:07pm dale:

i was on a murder trial once. guy killed the neighbor woman, stuffed her body into a closet and sold her tv and vcr and anything else he could to buy crack. he was found asleep on her couch. the nail in his coffin came when a lawyer asked the arresting officer a question and she said she didn't remember. he yelled out 'yeah, you don't remember nothin', do ya bitch?' we were impaneled and spent a night at a motel out by jfk and got to eat at a chinese restaurant. it was the night lucille ball died. when i got back to work my boss wanted me to give him the $14 a day i was being paid. life is cold.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:07pm Marcel M:

By the way Chris, my wife adopted Frangry, so that makes yous twos siblings.
  Tue. 5/5/15 6:08pm P-90:

Hi Chris. Sony MBR7506, an "audio pro"s recommendation for good affordable phones. Noted.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:10pm Mike East:

MDR, P90
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:10pm Mike East:

industry standard
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:11pm chris:

i've been lucky enough to have jobs that keep paying me when i serve on jury duty. so far i've served on two juries. i actually really enjoy it. and i hope to get to serve again. the cases themselves aren't too interesting, but i love being a reasonable mind in the justice system.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:11pm JakeGould:

@dale: “…my boss wanted me to give him the $14 a day i was being paid. life is cold.” Under what right would your boss be entitled to this?
  Tue. 5/5/15 6:12pm P-90:

Sorry, a typo, I've heard of these, they're famous as the "cheap but good" Sonys seen in studios far and wide.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:12pm chris:

i've given a jury duty check to my employer before, its weird, but the boss is already paying my salary, so what the hell...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:12pm dale:

i didn't give it to him jake. he was just a cheap asshat.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:12pm Marcel M:

The windows were a nice contrast to the usual stuffiness of such events. Venue was great.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:14pm Marcel M:

Chris I made that comment not really meaning that you should have been at FMU for your show, but in fear of my impending jury duty. I was afraid I'd be there till late.
  Tue. 5/5/15 6:14pm LES:

Ha! Only Chris T could detect a loud eye roll. Welcome back dude.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:14pm -andrew-:

I served on a jury about 9 years ago. I was working two part time jobs at the time and I lost out an entire week's pay and had to pay for a sitter for my 9 month old son. It was really hard to be impartial when all I wanted was to get the damn thing over with.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:15pm dale:

ooh, michael dowd has 'people'
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:17pm Carmichael:

I just served on a jury. 3 strikes for some druggie and his girlfriend, screwing around next to the State Capitol. Possession of drugs and fighting with the arresting officer. He gave me the stare of death all through the trial.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:21pm dale:

'3 strikes yer out' laws cost us too much as a society, especially when it's petty crap.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:24pm JakeGould:

@Carmichael: “…screwing around next to the State Capitol.” So they were having sex, third strike and now in jail? That sounds like bullshit.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:26pm chris:

3 strikes laws are about building and privatizing prisons, and employing more correctional officers... they are not about "justice"
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:27pm Carmichael:

Jake, they were acting the way semi-homeless druggies act on the streets, except they chose the epi-center of the police security state. The resulting overwhelming force seemed to offend them.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:29pm JakeGould:

@Carmichael: Still seems like bullshit. Downtown Brooklyn near the Courts has some really shifty scumbags hanging out there and nobody bothers them.
  Tue. 5/5/15 6:33pm Brian in New Orleans:

Really Chris? you let him get away with " police don't see color they seem crime"???? so black men are never treated unfairly.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:33pm Carmichael:

What can I say? California must be different than NY.
  Tue. 5/5/15 6:34pm Old Dave:

My jury duty last week ended after about a hundred of us checked in, sat around in the courthouse basement for 2 hours having heard the judge's welcome and watched a video (sponsored by Comcast,)
and then the accused criminal gave a guilty plea in some kind of deal to avoid trial. We never heard any details, but one and all felt very good being released from the basement into a beautiful, warm Spring day. If our being there helped bring the accused get real about the situation and the victims get some kind of closure or hopefully justice, I'm glad I went.
They give you the option of donating your paltry payment to charity in our county and my employer doesn't care where I am most days, so this 3rd callup in 10 years was the best one so far! Nothing is worse than a boring civil trial. Wife and I have each suffered though one apiece.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:34pm JakeGould:

@Carmichael: 3 strikes, you’re locked up is just bullshit.
  Tue. 5/5/15 6:35pm LES:

Seriously Chris this was a damn good interview. But yeah cops see color so that is bull
  Tue. 5/5/15 6:36pm Marcel M:

I'm gonna watch this tonight!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:41pm dale:

don't wanna be the naysayer, but when there's five shootings in one night, all black on black in the bronx like there was a couple of weeks ago, it's hard not to let that cloud your judgment.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:51pm Mike East:

ha...I just got why you opened the show with Dear Prudence. duh.
  Tue. 5/5/15 6:53pm Billy:

A lot of black people live in the Bronx so obviously crimes involve black people. Is Bernie Madoff a Jew on Jew crime? Is Robert Chambers a white on white crime? Don't be a bigot with this black on black shit.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:53pm steve:

if every person saying what you're saying right now about Bernie Sanders gets involved in some great or small way, maybe he could actually have a chance. he's already been doing extremely well with fundraising since he announced.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:58pm -andrew-:

Social change is a marathon, not a sprint.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:58pm dale:

uh -- okay.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:58pm SeanG:

smoke pot!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:59pm chris:

word, Billy and SeanG
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 6:59pm chris:

Thanks, Chris T!
  Tue. 5/5/15 7:00pm Old Dave:

Excellent show.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 5/5/15 7:00pm Marcel M:

Great show! Thanks Chris enjoyed it.
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