Thursday, January 21, 2010

White Settlement, Grapevine... and then a good ole rant...

Well, a what I saw driving around post... followed by a what happened while driving around post... We'll start with pics that are (hopefully) interesting and why I found them so... and end with a long winded rant in which the city of Grapevine catches hell... be warned...

We'll start with White Settlement... a township that is more or less considered part of Ft. Worth... I delivered there and I brought my brown bag lunch into this city park.

This isn't, by most peoples standards a great park... the only reason it exists is because there's nothing else that can be done with this land. Essentially, it's spillway... a low area with a creak running through it that allows water to drain away during our torrential summer rain storms. Since it's there, it's mowed, and they've put in a picnic table in concrete and call it a park.

They're a decent enough place to eat your lunch, and you're usually alone unless some of the local factory workers decide to join you... but this creek is why I liked it... (BTW - That's my white truck parked up there at the top left of the pic)
These creeks tend to cut through the topsoil and sedimentary rock, so you end up with this... (BTW... that's my red mini cooler with lunch in it at the top of the pic...)
And if you look close... you can find fossils. That gray round thing in the middle is the underside of a clam shell... I didn't bring this one home... they're dead common...

And that ridged thing in the middle of this pic is, I think, an oyster shell... I did bring this one home... after I clean it up, I'll take a pic for you... and the complete clam I found... Both halves, fused together, uncracked... not common to find at all!

This park also has some stands of native yuccas... but I got a sudden call and had to run. Next time I'm there, I'll try to get some shots... hopefully in the spring when they're blooming...
Then I delivered to Grapevine... I've posted about Grapevine TX before. They have a pretty downtown, complete with an antique hearse on public display... But this time I visited their botanic garden. It's a small garden, But Grapevine is a small, albeit prosperous, township. This isn't the time of year to be visiting the garden though. What with bare trees and planting beds in winter mode, the only thing worth seeing is the water features, and even they are full of winter killed aquatic plants... I took a couple of shots of the koi though... just to take a pic of something...

I'm sure that come spring the bulbs will put on a show, and in summer and fall it would be wonderful... but right now... not so much...
So, I walk out of the Botanic Garden Gate, past the playground, put the camera in my truck, then walk over to a lonely park bench at the end of the park where I can sit with my little notebook and maybe make some notes for a blog. (Yes, despite the quality of my posts, there's usually some planning that has gone into them. I really have to start working on my writing...)
Suddenly, there's a cop in front of me...
"Yes officer? Is there a problem ma'am?" I ask?
"Well, someone called and said there was a single man here with a camera... and they were concerned about sexual predators..."
Now, I'm not used to being accused of being a sexual predator. So I'm afraid that my first thought was something along the lines of "WHAT THE FUCK?" You will all be proud to know, that it didn't come out of my mouth. Actually, I'm glad that it didn't come out of my mouth, because it probably would have made any further communication with the police officer difficult...
After explaining that I was a delivery driver and was simply waiting here between deliveries, and that the only thing I took pics of were the goldfish, I went back to the truck and showed her the pics and then I showed her my ID... and she kept harping on about how I had to 'understand' that as a single male in the park I was suspicious...
Now, I have to point out that I don't like scentences that start out with telling me I have to understand. Primarily because I don't. Have to understand, that is... in this particular situation, I do not have to understand every paranoid delusion some nuerotic housewife with too much time on her hands comes up with.
As for being a single man in the park... well, it's a public park. I'm allowed to be there. And I've certainly, as a single man, been in and photographed hundreds of public parks, gardens and streets without ever being accused of perversion.

Now, I'd like to make a few points...
1) I used to work for a magazine. I am more than aware of the laws surrounding photographing people in public. If it is in public, it is public domain, and you can take pictures of it. Otherwise, every photo-journalist in the United States would be in prison. So taking pics of children in a public park is not illegal. And considering that Photography professors used to give out assignments for students where they were to photograph children at play, or illustrate the word "Happiness" it's not always even particularly creepy.
2) There is a sign at the entrance of the Garden that says "Photographers Welcome" although requiring Commercial photographers to get a permit. This is pretty much the case at most Botanical Gardens... if you're going to haul in a Wedding dress and light stands and such, you need a permit... OK. The sign does not say "Photographers Welcome... unless you're one of those icky MALES" Because that would be illegal.
3) The fact that I'm a male does not make me a pervert. I did some quick checking, and while the numbers of female child molestors were higher than I thought they'd be... it's flawed logic to say that since most child molestors are male, all males are child molestors. It's like saying most prostitutes are female, so every woman you see on the street is a whore. It's just not the case. And, as an aside, there are far more prostitutes in the world than child molestors. But, as crimes go, child molestation is far, far more heinous.
4) While I did show the cop my pics on my digital... I was technically not required to. Of course we all know that if I hadn't, I would have been hand-cuffed and detained... but not arrested... until they got a search warrant. That's because even though I'm innocent until proven guilty, I'm not, in the eyes of the police, innocent.
5) Usually I am, technically, required to show my ID when it's asked for. However, in this situation, where absolutely no crime has been committed, the cops don't really have a right to ask for it. I didn't worry about that, because quite frankly, I do government deliveries, My ID is checked all the time, and it's quite possible my security clearance is higher that the cop who was calling it in... but that doesn't really matter.
So that's how my day went... accused of perversion and still home in time to feed the cats... Oh I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow...
Now, I'm off to post those goldfish pictures on the "KOI PORN" site...

And... just for the record... the entire city of Grapevine can kiss my ass...


  1. OMG! The beginning of your post made me laugh because I am always waiting for your rants because they are usually very entertaining and fun to read...but this was absolutely horrible! I am so sorry you had this experience! I have to second that where the whole city of Grapevine can kiss my ass too!!!

    I loved your koi photos...the one really shows that ultra-clear water...which I was surprised over (why? I have no idea)! They are such beautiful fish to watch, are they not???

    You will have to find a different towns botanical garden to visit in the spring...cause Grapevine can just kiss all our asses!

  2. *sighs* I was sitting in an odd park area a few years ago in Austin with my son who was probably 6 months old in his stroller when Ia police officer actually had the gall to come over and ask me if it were MY baby because he was so white and I was so dark. And because I was alone in an odd area of the park. (I was watching a family of black squirrels)

    People , with stupid assumption , are just that. Stupid.
    Your a man i a park and your suspicious because you have a camera ?
    SO much BS
    The sheer amount of stupid people in the world is somewhat frightening lately.

  3. CelticRose10:36 AM

    That's horrible!

    Unfortunately, this is getting to be more and more of a problem. Did you hear that British Airways won't let a man sit next to a child even if the child's parents are present? And I've known male teachers who had to watch everything they did for fear of being accused of child molestation. Some are even leaving the profession.

    That cop was a b***h! Just because you're a single male doesn't mean you're a pervert. Were there even any children around? Anyway, like you said, taking pictures of children in public park, albeit creepy, isn't illegal -- it's none of the cop's business.

    But, having been to Texas frequently (my mother's from Abilene), I'd say stay out of Grapevine if possible, or at least spend the absolute minimum of time there.

  4. The part I find myself wondering about here is: is there even any evidence that sexual predators try to photograph children before molesting them? I mean, the UK has recently been doing a lot of random harassment of photographers on the grounds that photography is obviously and inherently terrorism-related, never mind that there's no evidence that the first step in blowing up a building is to send someone out to take pictures of it (and this becomes especially silly once you consider that the places in question are mostly highly-photographed tourist destinations, for which hundreds of photos already exist on-line). It mostly appears to be an excuse for cops to harass people they don't want around.

    In your case, it doesn't even sound like there were any children present, making the whole thing sound more like the City of Grapevine going out of its way to let you know that you're not welcome there, for whatever reason. Or something. More likely there's someone in a nearby house with binoculars and too much time on his/r hands. Possibly expecting this story to make sense is asking for too much. But point taken. I wasn't likely to be visiting Texas anyway, but if I ever have to, I'll remember to stay clear of Grapevine.

    Oh, and --

    The other thing this signals to me is that Grapevine must be having a serious pervert crisis. I mean, I have to assume that at least 2 out of every 3 adult males in Grapevine is a child molester, for the city to be so vigilant about it. I mean, I hear there's a guy by the Botanical Gardens there who just sits in front of his window with a pair of binoculars, watching the kids come and go. (Cuh-reepy!) Which is even more reason never to set foot in Grapevine. Probably not the message they intend to send, but I think it's a message that needs to be more widely disseminated.

  5. Thanks for the comments...

    to clarify... There were children in the park... There is a playground by the entrance of the botanic garden and there were quite a few children there with mothers and nannies and such. I had my camera in the garden, put the camera back in the truck when I left the garden and was sitting at a bench beside the playground, but as far away from it as possible, as I was trying to write in my notebook and children are noisy. I seem to recall some other people walking around the garden, and a few women with stollers on the paths... and I did have to wait to take the koi pics while a woman was taking pics of her daughter with the koi... but while I was waiting I went over to check out some of the signs on the trees. I certainly didn't hover over her...

    As a single man in a park, I must say that I usually pretty much don't pay attention to children... unless a ball comes hurtling towards me, or avoiding driving over them in the parking lot when I'm coming in or leaving, kids are a blip on the radar but not much else. Generally, Other peoples kids are other peoples problems as far as I'm concerned.

    I'd also like to point out that the cop in question wasn't particularly rude... other than implying that I was a pervert... sexual predator was the term she used... you could pretty much tell she was just there because someone called. Whoever called was a total bitch, but the cop required to check me out no matter what... The male cop that showed up in another car wasn't particularly anything. He was one of those shorter guys who stand around glaring with that "I'm in charge" look they get.

  6. I forgot to respond to something else... I can't avoid Grapevine... It's on the northern edge of DFW airport, and I'm afraid I do a lot of deliveries and pick-ups there... some of them are high security, and high pay... and I will continue to visit the city parks to eat my lunch on the road, or stretch my legs after I've driven 6 hours.

    In the future, I will just make sure I collect any police officers names and badge numbers. If any of the cops go over the line... I will have a lawyer file complaints. I'm not the kind of person who believes I have to sacrifice my civil liberties to other peoples paranoia.

  7. Claude, incredible occurrence. I just told my husband the story (he's across the hall in his office) and his response, "THAT IS SICK"! and then he added something like... well, you don't want me to write down what he said about the female policeman. ;)

    You won't like this: several weeks ago a female policeman gave a fella a ticket for "harassment" and "obstructing justice" to the tune of $800 1) for putting money in a parking meter for someone else (his car was parked next to it)as the meter had expired, and 2) for telling her that she was full of crap for giving him a ticket for being a good samaritan. Other police were called and he was handcuffed and taken away. So this is done to our local citizens while terrorists get Miranda Rights. (sorry for taking up so much space)

  8. I was holding my kid's hand and gawking at the interiors of one of Vegas's posh hotels when I was stopped by a staff....she wanted to see proof I am the dad, but let me go when I told her I stayed at another hotel... !!!