Weekly Download Vol. II No. 28

Do You Really Want to Know by Papercuts – I make random 18 (or so) song mixes on my iTunes then burn to CDs.  Normally, I just give them dates as names or choose something witty like “Memorial Weekend Mix.”  These CDs serve dual purposes.  First, the stuff I burn are songs I have recently “acquired” and not yet fully accessed or stuff I felt I’ve never given its full due.  Second, the CDs essentially soundtrack road trips I take in the course of my profession.  Sometimes I “discover” really great stuff on these.  They’re were I met Wolf Parade, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver.  They’re where I became soul mates with Tom Waits. Sometimes they’re full of junk. But the one I named “4.20.11” (pot reference, ahem) has been a home run. There could be four maybe five WDs on it.  The first was Bass Drum of Death.  This unbelievable jam by Papercuts is next.  Props to LH for introducing me to Papercuts, in particular a song titled Future Primative which is sureal. This tune is fantasic also from their new album Fading Parade and is just the type of song that ends up on mix CDs.

When I was a younger attorney (five full years this fall. This still qualifies me as a “young” attorney just not so young that my name alone at the bottom of a letter or a brief immediately induces an acute superiority complex from opposing counsel, but still young enough that I can sheepishly blame my “superious” when I have to be extremely dicky) part of my job was undertaking fairly lengthy road trips to the outlying counties of my fine state to conduct not-as-important affairs in various county courthouses (N.B. Common legal parlance for this is “windshield time” indicating that it’s time for which one (watch it) can bill but is spent solely staring at the windshield.  However, as some of you are aware, I prefer the Wheels of Justice).  I’ve been on the road alot.  I counted last month and of the 77 counties in Oklahoma, I’ve been to the courthouse in front of a judge in 39 of them.  So I’m half-way home.

Washita County Courthouse in Cordell

When I was younger and the profession seemed freakishly soul-sucking, windshield time was a great respite from my despair.  I burnt a lot of CDs and took a lot of music with me out there (N.B. as a county kid, I can’t tell you how weird it feels to refer to it as “out there.”).  But I learned there’s much beauty (or maybe truth, or maybe a combination, suggestions?) in those small county courthouses (actually in the entire towns).  (N.B. Interestingly, I’ve discovered I have a preternatural ability to divine my way to the courthouses in these communities.  I can enter a Hugo or an Okemah and get a premonition, simply by the layout, the ascending age of structures and “feel” my way to the courthouse.  I don’t know if this is because I’m from a small town or because my mother ate asbestos when she was pregnant, but it’s a skill that the next (hopefully never) time I fashion a resume, will be listed under the “Other Skills” sub-heading.)  Often these courthouses seem the last vestige of a non-computer/internet connected world.  If you need to review a mineral deed executed in Major County in 1965, you actually have to drive to the courthouse where it was recorded, look up its book and page number up in huge book called the “Index.”  The Index (and each county has one) contains a log of hand-written entires from times when people’s penmanship was both legible and beautiful (I’m talking Declaration of Independence beautiful).  Then sort through literally every conveyance of property that’s been executed in that county regarding a particular parcel since the land patent from the president (for Oklahoma normally Teddy Roosevelt).  It’s a tangible history lesson for this history dork.  I’ve touched the deed from by grandfather to my father for land on which my childhood home was built.  I think about my grandfather, whom I never knew, handing that document to my dad and it makes me feel more “connected” than the internet ever could.  I understand this will all eventually go away and it should.  I’m no curmudgeon. When you really need something, it’s inconvenient as hell to have to drive to Fairview for it.  But still, just to explore, it’s kinda cool.

However, the courthouses themselves are my favorite part. Each of them have their own charm. I love the old regal ones like Washita County (supra) that fulfill the picture in my mind when the word “courthouse” enters.

I love the new oil money ones like Craig County.  These are invaribly red brick and look to easily become “wired” and efficient but still I know of the grinding bureaucracy occurring inside.

Craig County Courthouse in Vinita

I even love the hopelessly depressing bureaucratic bunkers and Kingfisher may be the worst.  I walk into it and can feel the ceiling on my shoulders.  This is where small county justice is done, not with Atticus Finch striding out below the balcony filled with the black community standing in respect, but in poorly lit low ceilinged rooms with stamps and seals and arbitrary but inviolate rulings.

Kingfisher County Courthouse in Kingfisher

But my favorite of all time is in Ellis County – Arnett, Oklahoma, population 524.

Ellis County Courthouse in Arnett

I know nothing about archeticture, but isn’t it magnificent? The trees…everything.  It’s the tallest building in town.  It was built in 1912. I love how it first stood as a “fuck you” to the Dust Bowl and now it stands as a “fuck you” to the death of small town Oklahoma.  It’s a great building.

I don’t get to travel to these fine structures as much any more.  It’s been delegated to “younger” attorneys and frankly the road wears on me now.  But every once and awhile (prolly once a month) I get to make a trip to Wewoka or Hobart or even my home county in dirty Anadarko and I relish it.  A great time to be alone with your thoughts (WD ideas), some jams (Papercuts) and to detach for bit.  Enjoy

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