Raise your hands. How many people remember Allen Funt? No one?
In the 1960s, his Candid Camera television program was quite the rage. A Renault Dauphine (an automobile that for a brief time sold better than the VW bug) would pull up to the gas station and the camera would zero in on the (OLD FOGEY ALERT!) attendant's look of astonishment as the pump meter registered 10, 20, 30 gallons. Allen Funt had fitted the tiny import with extra tanks just for the purpose.
"People caught in the act of being themselves." That was his slogan, and his program was never mean, never crass, it never showed up the "victims."
His program, begun as "Candid Microphone" in the pre-T.V. age, is considered the start of reality television.
Here's today's reality video. A bus driver trying to keep order in a neighborhood not known for civility -- I'm talking Allied Drive here, O.K.? -- is being prosecuted for a felony that could land him in prison for 10 years while the scofflaw walks -- and let us presume, pisses -- free. I am, of course, referring to the infamous bus pisser of July 29.
Former Metro Bus Driver Kris Burke had his first day in court Friday. He is "former" because he has been fired and charged with reckless endangerment.
Why? Because he refused to allow back on his bus a passenger who pissed in the backseat and admitted doing so. Said passenger, betraying that particular Madison entitlement, then hung onto the right rear-view mirror for a matter of less than one minute while the bus driver drove at residential speeds. (To hear the libs defend the misanthrope, the bus driver was airborne over the Atlantic.)
The driver's attorney Friday argued that his client did not stop driving because he was concerned about his safety, the safety of his passengers, and even the (ahem) "passenger's" safety.
Judge for yourself. The Wisconsin State Journal has the video
I'll be your tour guide:
You see a man in obvious distress enter the bus and take a seat stage left. Hey, been there. Remember Alan Shepherd in movie The Right Stuff, or Peter Sellers in The Party?
Wait till the very end of the first tape, when he finally switches over to the right side of the bus. Wait a minute! Why does he put up that box in front of him? What is he doing with his hands? Is he doing what I think he's doing?
Now he leaves the bus. Hey, lookie. The Pisser is talking on a cell phone. So much for the "poverty theory."
A passenger notifies bus driver Kris Burke of the crime against civil order. But our man is on it. "I pressed the button already, he's already on camera."
After another stop, the pisser tries to board, but driver Burke is alert. He closes the door. The Pisser is hanging on, to the general laughter of the passengers. Burke calls in the situation to Metro ... "My 1020 ... he just jumped off ... but we do have him on camera."
Yeah, Burke used some street language. I'm so offended. Maybe he is a little traumatized, too.
Here is a clean cut guy who is trying to make a living by providing a service. (Photo of Kris Burke and article by the Wisconsin State Journal.)
The bottom line from the tapes, for my money, is Kris Burke saying: "Don't mess with my occupation! ... This is my occupation!" Our Founding Fathers said the same thing: "Don't Tread on Me." And the Blaska Blog will put it this way: "Don't piss on my city, it's a good city!"
Finally, take a look at all three screens and notice the empty seats. One or more of which has been pissed on. Now, tell me you are going to take the Metro when Kris Burke stands accused in the dock and Mr. Bus Pisserman walks and you-know-whats, free!
Candid Blaska Blog focuses his camera...
Here's a copy of an email sent to the three most common sense alders on the Common Council:
Subject: Bust the Bus Pisser
Date: November 9, 2007 6:43:06 PM CST
To: Zach Brandon, Thuy Pham-Remmele, Jed Sanborn
O.K., alders, I am putting this challenge to you: Why is the Madison Police Department arresting and charging bus driver Kris Burke but not the bus pisser, Michael Cooper, who just as certainly endangered safety by hanging onto the outside right rear-view mirror of the bus? Not to mention violated city ordinance by urinating in public. (A city bus is a public place, right?)
If the bus driver gets charged and the pissers don't, who is going to take the bus? Much less any trolley?
Bust the Bus Pisser: http://www.isthmus.com/daily/article.php?article=12791
If you read my blog you will know that I asked Joel Despain of MPD the same question.
I want all three of you to raise this issue on the Common Council. Use your powers to squeeze the budget.
This is an issue Mayor Dave Cieslewicz should get on ... hold a press conference on a Metro bus ... and say, "No pissers permitted to board."
With frequent rest stops, of course.