Saturday, August 18, 2007

Voice of the People

Have you seen the site Overheard in New York? ( It’s actual comments made by people around town, offered for distribution on this site by the eavesdropping passersby who overheard them. These people are hilarious, often coarse, and frequently shockingly stupid. It’s quite a commentary on how people think and the surprising openness they bring to public conversation these days. I guess private is out and uncensored is the new status quo. If you’re in the mood for Metropolitan Diary on acid, check it out!

For more real-life humor, enjoy the two lists posted below (courtesy of friends who share via e-mail).

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These are real notes written by parents in a Tennessee school district. (Spellings have been left intact.) Most of them are funny, but some are just sad…

1- My son is under a doctor’s care and should not take pe today. Please execute him.
2 Please exkuce Lisa for being absent she was sick and i had her shot.
3- Dear school: please ecsc’s John being absent on jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 and also 33.
4- Please excuse Gloria from jim today. She is administrating.
5- Please excuse Roland from p.e. for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip.
6- John has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his face.
7- Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hurt in the growing part.
8- Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins.
9- Chris will not be in school cus he has an acre in his side.
10- Please excuse Ray Friday from school. He has very loose vowels.
11- please excuse Pedro from being absent yesterday. He had (diahre, dyrea, direathe), the shits. [Note: words in parentheses were crossed out.]
12- Please excuse Tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea, and his boots leak.
13- Irving was absent yesterday because he missed his bust.
14- Please excuse Jimmy for being. It was his father’s fault.
15—I kept Billie home because she had to go christmas shopping because I don’t know what size she wear.
16- Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday we thought it was Sunday.
17- My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. She spent a weekend with the marines.
18- Please excuse Jason for being absent yesterday. He had a cold and could not breed well.
19- Please excuse Mary for being absent yesterday. She was in bed with gramps.
20- Gloria was absent yesterday as she was having a gangover.
21- Please excuse Brenda. She has been sick and under the doctor.
22- Maryann was absent December 11-16, because she had a fever, sore throat, headache and upset stomach. Her sister was also sick, fever an sore throat, her brother had a low grade fever and ached all over. I wasn’t the best either sore throat and fever. There must be something going around, her father even got hot last night.

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These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of keeping a straight face while these exchanges were taking place.

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, “Where am I, Cathy?”
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!

ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-one-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he’s twenty-one.
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shittin' me?

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception [of the baby] was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Uh... I was getting laid!

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Are you shittin' me? Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Now whose death do you suppose terminated it?

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?

ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people. Would you like to rephrase that?

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Huh... are you qualified to ask that question?

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

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I think the popularity of all this real-life dialogue is an extension of the popularity of reality TV, which has helped the culture realize Andy Warhol’s sage prediction that eventually, everyone would have their 15 minutes of fame. These blogs are an extension of that idea as well, although almost all reality television is less than mediocre, while the blogs, at least some of them, represent a revolution in intelligent, articulate self-expression and what used to be called “vanity” publishing. I feel that all these trends are a response to the need people have to see themselves reflected in the mirror of society, an image that has grown dimmer and less familiar in the ever-brightening glare of celebrity worship. Well, mirror, mirror in the media, who’s gonna make it into Wikipedia?!