Monthly Archives: April 2012

The “courtesy” cup

In East Naples, Florida, on the Tamiami Trail portion of US 41:

police arrested a local man who refused to pay for his soft drink at McDonald’s.

Due to his preexisting record (combined with Florida’s version of the three-strikes law) his misdemeanor charge was upgraded to a felony, and what started as a $1 menu item could cost him up to 5 years incarceration.

All I know about this case is in the link posted above, but I have a feeling that some of the following might be true:

  • he comes in frequently?
  • he had no money?
  • workers were fed up with him?
  • whoever called the cops didn’t know about the three-strikes provisions?
  • he has a history of mental illness or mental imbalance?
  • Florida taxpayers don’t want to pay thousands of dollars to convict and incarcerate anyone over a $1 charge?
  • the difference between plain water and Water+Soft Drink Syrup is probably about $0.05, or less than the cost of the cup?

A judge with common sense might throw this out of court, but in some cases the three-strikes laws tie the hands of the judiciary.


Author event in Milwaukee

On April 16 I drove up 41 to Milwuakee to see author Cheryl Strayed:

 I was early and strolled around Boswell Book Co. searching out their poetry section, not because I usually buy poetry, but because I wanted to make a purchase at the store, and I already had a copy of the featured author’s book. What I hoped to find was a volume from feminist poet Adrienne Rich who I happened to know is a favorite writer of Cheryl Strayed. Rich had died March 27, so it seemed meaningful to ask Cheryl to sign a copy. Unfortunately their poetry section consisted of a single shelf-unit that had been rolled aside to make room for seating, and they didn’t stock any Adrienne Rich at all. So I bought a magazine. Which I learned later (after opening it) contained a lengthy interview with: Cheryl Strayed.


I had saved myself a seat near the front which turned out to be good. Over a hundred chairs were set up, but more people sat on the floor and stood in the back. Author Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild, is a memoir about her solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail when she was 26 and floundering, and it’s a glorious read: moving, and funny, and descriptive, and tense, and suspenseful, and glowing, and triumphant, and real.

I happened to know, because I had looked it up, that it was sitting at Number 6 on the New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction hardcover titles, and her website had announced that film rights to her story had already been purchased (Reese Witherspoon’s company). For an author in her 40s who has spent her adult years as a “starving artist” this is what success looks like.

After a few opening comments about her life and her writing, she read aloud an excerpt: a funny piece in which she is standing along a road in California hoping to pick up a ride back to the trail. She’s a single girl in her 20s, hitchhiking; a vehicle stops, but its occupant only wants to interview her because she looks to him like a female hobo. The audience laughs aloud at her recounting the strange misunderstandings that are preventing her from getting the ride she needs.

The event ended with a signing, and she was kind enough to sign the map page at the front of my copy. It shows California, Oregon, and Washington with a thin dotted line representing her hike: a long tortuous path filled with ups and downs that eventually got her to where she is now.

Milwaukee’s Boswell Book Co.

Made a short excursion to Wisconsin to take in bookstore event for Wild author Cheryl Strayed. She spoke briefly about her book, read a 10-min. excerpt from one of the funniest passages (the book itself is both funny and serious, very serious in fact), and signed books for patrons. She was warm, engaging, honest, and open: exactly what you’d expect from reading her.



Next expedition to the land of US 41 will be Milwaukee, WI, to hear a book author discuss her work  Monday evening at Boswell Book Company.

Author is Cheryl Strayed whose book is Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Knopf, NY, 2012).

She is at: 

It’s been a while since I’ve read a nonfiction book this compelling.

Home again!

Back in Illinois after quite a 41 trip to Florida:

  • Tornado volunteering
  • Manatee swimming
  • Everglade canoeing
  • South Beach wading
  • Cafe con leche sipping
  • Ft. Lauderdale exploring
  • Alligator biting
  • Bird photoing
  • Chattanooga chewing
  • Miles driving