Monday, July 09, 2007

Greetings from Hooligan Central

We watched some very old episodes of Dragnet last night, all in black and white with stationery cameras and very earnest people standing awkwardly and uttering long speeches without affect or interruption, and of course all that dramatic music--quite a bizarre viewing experience. The resident 17-year-old retired to his room to read his way through a pile of Patrick O'Brian novels, so he missed out on the episode that explains why 17-year-olds are such hooligans.

It went like this: Joe Friday and his loyal partner Frank are working in the juvenile division. No one knows why; in the previous episode, they answered the phone by saying "Accident Division," but this week they're saying "Juvenile Division." It's the same phone and the same office, so apparently it's a moveable division.

They get word of a fracas at a movie theater, where unruly teenagers have disrupted the movie, started a fight, knocked an usher into a plate-glass display case, and dropped a box containing (duh-duh-duh-duuuuh!) marijuana. Friday and Frank spend the rest of the episode investigating a narcotics ring that has infiltrated a very nice neighborhood full of stable two-parent households and nice furniture. Frank comments on the nice furniture, as if he's shocked that youngsters could get involved in drugs when they're surrounded by such classic lines.

Anyway: the "narcotics ring" turns out to be six teen boys, each with an upstanding father dumbfounded to discover that sweet little Johnny hasn't been spending his evenings at the library. But Sergeant Friday isn't satisfied: he must find the supplier, another 17-year-old whose father abandoned him at a young age. The mother does the old "I tried my best but a boy needs a father" routine, and Friday and Frank move on to trace the miscreant through his girlfriend. They have to find him because he has beaten up his supplier and stolen a large quantity of high-grade heroin, much stronger than the stuff he normally peddles, and Friday is afraid that if the inexperienced and naive teenaged customers get hold of this stuff, they'll all (duh-duh-duh-duuuuuuh!) overdose.

Sure enough, Joe Friday proves a prophet, but this time it's not the customers who overdose but the 17-year-old pusher. As he stands on a dark path over the body of the dead teen, Friday tries his best to comfort the pusher's distraught girlfriend, although Friday isn't exactly a fount of compassion. Frank wonders why it happened: why would a young person from a good neighborhood stoop to selling drugs? And Friday delivers the sermon: "He didn't need a reason. He's 17."

So there you have it: 17-year-olds are just natural hooligans. If Sergeant Friday says it, it's got to be true.


Joy said...

by Cross Canadian Ragweed

Sirens wail and a flashing light
Nothin' better to do on a Tuesday night
But give me hell
Where you headed, what are you out for
Don't see much of you 'round here anymore
I guess it's just as well
Once upon a time you had it all
You let everybody down
You're always seventeen in your hometown

Runnin' from your folks, runnin' from the law
Runnin' from love, runnin' from your fears, runnin' from it all
You keep on runnin' boy
You'll run yourself in the ground
You're always seventeen in your hometown

Her porch swing still looks the same
She probably won't even remember my name
Just like she didn't back then
Is she married, is she doin' fine
Does she know about all the nights
I laid awake cryin'
Just to know her hand
The door opens and I run away
Just like the same old clown
You're always seventeen in your hometown

(Repeat Chorus)

Nobody's gonna miss me
No tears will fall, no one's gonna weep
When I hit that road
My boots are broken, my brain is sore
From keeping up with their little world
I got a heavy load
Gonna leave 'em all just like before
I'm big city bound
You're always seventeen in your hometown

(Repeat Chorus)

Anonymous said...

Better keep them stationery cameras out of the water, Prof. Hogue.

Your former student,

Cleanthes Bray