Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last Supper!

If ‘the world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page’ sometimes it is best to remain in ignorance!

Page turner #3

Two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions
Triple-patty bacon cheeseburger
Cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapeños
Fried okra with ketchup
One pound of barbecued meat with half a loaf of white bread
Three fajitas
A meat-lover’s pizza
One pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream
Slab of peanut-butter fudge with crushed peanuts
Three root beers*

Roll up roll up! Doesn’t happen often but it happens more often in Texas than anywhere else in the states (with maybe the exception of Virginia). Happened twice as many times in Texas last year than any other state! Last year there were 318 possible opportunities (but on average it doesn’t happen more than 40 times in a year…) No, it is not cases of buggery, sodomy or incest in the trailer trash community (hell no! those figures are way higher and perfectly legal!)

I’ve been to Southfork, I’ve been to the Book Depository in Dallas, I’ve been to the Alamo, the Rodeo nad the Space Centre. There is only one thing left for me to do that is bigger in Texas than anywhere else. I could go to Huntsville, just 93 miles away and home to the gold medallist of state executions, and witness an execution!
Trust me to arrive just as they run out of lethal injection drugs. Apparently, last month they only had enough to do six more! The Danish company that supply the drug have gone off the idea. Apparently it is dangerous and can kill innocent people… in the wrong hands! Pity Georgia didn’t run out before putting Troy Davis to death last September! The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has presided over 238 executions. He proudly announced, during his recent failed attempt to get the presidential nomination, that that he had never struggled to sleep at night by the idea that anyone might have been innocent. He also famously drove 100’s of miles with his dog in a cage on the roof of his car, while the dog was so distressed its crap ran down the car windows. I doubt anything keeps him awake at night!
I continually read inane debates about the right to bear arms and defend oneself in the USA. Only last month a neighbourhood watch Nazi in Florida killed an unarmed boy because he looked suspicious and the gun slinger had a ‘right’ to carry a gun and a ‘right’ to ‘stand his ground’. Those rights seem more precious to hold on to than human life here. It depresses me so much! The comments posted on face book in relation to NPR (national public radio) running the story were shocking. People were still defending a law made during the wild west! America needs to move into the 21st Century!
Still, look on the bright side, as a tourist looking for a unique experience – gun crime is in no short supply and neither is the willingness to put ‘perps’ on death row, although observing one still has some rarity value to it. The last one in Texas was on 7th March and the next is scheduled for 28th. Until 1995, they used to hold them at midnight to allow for any last minute hitches. (I'm wondering what would be considered a hitch? Compelling evidence of innocence? nah!)  Interestingly they can hold more than one in a night and if they do they use fresh needles and tubes. Why? Infection? Hygiene? It would save some money to reuse as it costs more to kill ‘em than keep ‘em for life imprisonment! No- I dont get why either but all evidence suggests it does. One money saver would be to not but expensive drugs and let the gun toting, law abiding citizens of the USA put their guns to good use! I feel sure it would be a real money spinner. Americans would pay a lot of money to do that!
In North Carolina, where I endured life before Texas, state executions were at 2am to limit the number of protesters who would turn up for the candle lit vigil. You have to feel fairly committed to wave a candle around at 2am. In Texas they are now at the more considerate time of 6pm to allow friends and relatives to attend. They don’t have to worry about protesters in Texas.
I googled ‘can I witness an execution in Texas’. Apart from triggering FBI and KKK interest, my search didn’t yield very much. I don’t think they sell tickets. You have to be religious, related or really important to attend… or a journalist. 5 seats are given to the media with priority to Texans. I wonder if I can apply? I’m sort of journalistic and I was offered a place on a journalist course in London in 1987. I wonder if I would qualify?! I’m published FFS!
Even if they would allow me I have decided I would abstain on human rights grounds: In 2011 Texas ended the iconic ‘last meal rights’ based on the ridiculous and uneaten order from a death row inmate*. They now have to eat cold comfort and gruel! Although given the amount of fried chicken and burgers and generally unhealthy food of previous requests I can appreciate that Texas may have the well-being of the condemned individual at heart! Even if they could still have a last meal request, as alcohol was never allowed as a last request, I feel sure I could not sit thought such a spectacle sober!
In the metaphorical book of travel I guess this shouldn’t really feature on my radar as a 'must see' tourist attraction but sadly I am reminded of its grim reality on an almost daily basis and I really wish I could rip out this particular page…

* The last meal request of Lawrence Brewer before being executed in Texas for state and federal hate crimes! He didn’t eat any of it before his execution in September 2011. Bastard!


  1. That lot may well have finished him off before old sparky got a chance if he managed to down it all.
    P.S This blog was on general show to all, showing you as the author of stranger in a strange land blogs. Be careful out there x

  2. Thank you! Armed and dangerous and God on their side! :/ can't be too careful!