Monday, August 17, 2009

Not From Around Here, Are Ya?

After a mostly cloudy day, with periods of rain here and there (There was a dramatic thunderstorm about 6 AM, and Babs didn't have to attend Boot Camp this morning.) the sun is attempting to peek through. Streeterville Bay is relatively quiet this afternoon. The running and biking path, likewise. The Streeterville Weather Service tells us that it's 80 degrees under partly cloudy skies at the moment. I find myself wondering, "Are the skies half cloudy or half clear?"

All of the News of the Weird seems to be focusing on New Jersey today. Apparently a Bollywood star, Shah Rukh Khan, was detained at the Newark Airport in customs because he has a common Muslim name. The news tells us that this set off protests over racial profiling, in India. It seems the gentleman in question was on his way to Chicago to attend an Indian Independence Day parade. U.S. customs said they detained him for 66 minutes and then only for that long because his luggage didn't arrive on the same airplane as he did. He downplayed the whole incident, but Indian citizens burned American flags.

Call me suspicious. Call me paranoid. Just don't call me late to dinner. However, it seems a wee bit suspicious that the gentleman in question is currently promoting a movie called My Name is Khan about a Muslim gentleman who becomes the victim of racial profiling in the U.S. after 9/11. Was he strip-searched? Nope. Was he actually arrested? Nope. They asked him some questions. Terribly sorry that most U.S. citizens have no idea who Shah Rukh Khan, SRK to his fans, is. A wee bit of suspicion of Islamic guys from the other side of the planet exists, and sometimes it gets a little ugly. Was this orchestrated to make a point? Who knows? I do wonder why a rich actor from Bollywood is going through customs in Newark, though, when he was on his way to Chicago.

Meanwhile in another part of New Jersey, Bob Dylan was preparing to do a concert with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp at a local baseball stadium. It seems Mr. Dylan needed to kill some time before the concert and went for a walk. Some woman called the police and told them that some eccentric looking old man was standing on her lawn, and she would like the police to check out what he was up to.

A 24 year old policeman showed up and asked the lawn-stander who he was. Said lawn-stander replied "Bob Dylan." No reaction from the young policeman who apparently didn't know who Bob Dylan was. The policeman asked, "What are you doing here?" Mr. Dylan replied, "I'm on tour." The policeman insisted on knowing exactly what Mr. Dylan was doing standing in front of houses on a public street and Mr. Dylan said, "I was just looking at houses."

At any rate Mr. Dylan, unaccustomed to having to prove his identification, had no I.D. card on him. The policeman escorted Mr. Dylan back to the hotel where he was staying and did not leave until it was verified that he was indeed Bob Dylan, a reasonably famous singer/songwriter and considered by some to be the voice of a generation. Where is the outrage for police harassment of Bob Dylan, I ask you. Why is it not OK for eccentric looking men in their 60's to walk down the street looking at houses, even if you aren't Bob Dylan? What if I had been walking around the neighborhood looking at houses? I might have been locked up. I'm not famous. Who knows what kind of reaction it would have created if Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp had opted to go walking around the neighborhood with him. "There was a whole gang of them. I had to lock the kids in the basement." Better yet, what kind of reaction would it elicit if Mick Jagger and Keith Richards went walking around in small town America just to see what they could see? That might get really ugly.

What we're talking about, whether it's a guy named Khan, or just some funny-looking old guy walking around the neighborhood, for no apparent reason in small-town America, is the "Not from around here, are ya syndrome." People are suspicous of those who do not look like themselves, of those whose names do not sound like theirs. Out come the prejudices and the ill-treatment that result. As for myself, I'm quite accustomed to seeing people with funny names and eccentric looking old men. A great many of them are my friends.


  1. hmmm, I smell a PR stunt with the movie, and I'm just thankful our aging rocker was not cuffed and arrested after taunting police with a "Your Mama coment. Ah, "declining irrelavence stings, part II."

  2. I guess that should have been "declining relevance stings..." too fast on the keyboard apparently.