Rock ‘n’ Roll is Lying When He Tells You Crime Pays

To me, those “crimes” are just part of a daily routine. Wake up, brush teeth, break dance fight, put on pants.


If you are a true rock ’n’ roll fan, to some extent, you also have to be a fan of lawlessness and carnage. In the heyday of rock ’n’ roll, guitars burned, amps exploded, and authority got sprayed with pigeon blood.

And it was good.

Maybe you’ve grown up since then. You bought a tie rack and decided on a Corolla. You drink Fresca on a Friday night and hit the sack after Wheel of Fortune. Now your Saturdays are devoted to lawn maintenance and kids’ sporting events. But every once in a while, you think you can hear the bass pedal from your old drum set thumping slightly in the garage underneath a stack of old newspapers; your hair doesn’t feel as thin, and your gut isn’t hanging over your belt so much; and gosh darn it all to heck, you know you just gotta rock!

(But—shhhhh, the kids are sleeping.)

Whisper it: If this is you, then you are still a fan of rock ’n’ roll. And if you are a fan of rock ’n’ roll, regardless of your “My daughter is an honor student at Ronald Reagan Junior High School” bumper sticker, you are, by the transitive property of something I should know, a true fan of lawlessness and carnage. And if you are a fan of lawlessness and carnage, then sooner or later, if it hasn’t happened already, John Law is going to catch you for something you didn’t even know was a crime. For example: Public urination: crime. Break dance fighting: crime. Hit and run: crime.

You see, you may have thought this article was about rocking into middle age. I mean, clearly it’s set up that way. But rock ’n’ roll isn’t about introductory paragraphs taking you exactly where you want them to or expect them to go. Sometimes, you get in a cab with a guy with an eye patch, and you say, “Take me to the airport,” and he takes you to a cockfight in an abandoned warehouse that used to store coffins. And sometimes you start to read an article about REO Speedwagon rocking out with toupees on, and it turns out that the idiotic writer is actually writing about the American justice system, from a shallow and stilted perspective. That’s the way the world works. And my world is built on break dance fighting and public urination.

To me, those “crimes” are just part of a daily routine. Wake up, brush teeth, break dance fight, put on pants. And it’s funny how things work out, because right as you’ve got a great thing going, a routine that really seems to work for you, the long arm of the law has to come along and pester you into maintaining the status quo. The reason I know this is because, as any highly credible, groundbreaking journalist would do, I went undercover to investigate our country’s penal system—by getting arrested, completely on purpose. Not only did I outsmart law enforcement into doing exactly what I wanted them to do, I came back alive, a little wiser, not bleeding from the seat of my pants.

How did I do it? Continue reading this article and shower in your underpants. It just might save you your life—or, at the very least, some mild discomfort.

On a brief detour, the hero of this article (me) was pulled over and arrested by Kentucky’s finest, in the town that inspired Footloose. In the handful of hellacious hours I spent in Boss Hogg’s custody, wearing the county orange and playing the jaw harp, I saw absolutely no dancing. My associates, who were trying to post my bail, confirmed that neither one of them had seen any dancing, either. With dancing outlawed, I knew my totally intentional investigation had bitten off more than it could chew—you know, hypothetically, if my investigation had teeth and jaw muscles. But that’s neither here nor there.

I have read enough inmate literature to know that most people don’t really care about your story or your stupid article. What they really want to know is what crime you committed. So to avoid delaying the suspense any longer, I’ll tell you what I was arrested for: murder. I killed someone. Boo!

In actuality, it wasn’t so much a someone as it was a panda, and it wasn’t so much of a killing as it was a kidnapping, but it was still rock ’n’ roll. Let me explain.

You see, there is this gorgeous girl named Sugarpants whom I plan on honeymooning with in St. Thomas, eventually, after I talk to her for the first time. As any logical person who wants to get the attention of a beautiful someone would do, I broke into her house and read her diary. Not only is Sugarpants a Gemini, like me—I know, I can’t get over it. It’s totally a sign; we are perfect for each other—but her favorite animal is the panda. I decided to kill two birds with one stone: Show my love to Sugarpants by trying to kidnap her favorite animal from the zoo, while at the same time doing something I knew I couldn’t get away with as a way to accomplish some serious investigative reporting…in addition to promoting the lawlessness of rock ’n’ roll. (There, you see? Now everything is perfectly tied uppanda.jpg.)

As a conscientious American and journalist, I had to know once and for all how the American penal system worked, if it was effective, and most importantly, what it was. Now, I’m no beret-wearing naysayer. I eat freedom fries, got me? I just wanted a firsthand look at jail to discover, once and for all, how much crime really did pay. Sadly, for me, it didn’t pay. In fact, my bail was five times the average. I didn’t get a phone call or my rights read, because gentle country folks don’t like a stinking, long-haired Yankee, stealing pandas all willy-nilly. I tell you this not to complain or feel sorry for myself, but to demonstrate that the penal system works. My uncle Cornelius—who has done some hard time, rather than an easy few hours like me—might disagree. But I would have to disagree with my Uncle Cornelius, especially considering the fact that he once took me to a cockfight in an abandoned warehouse where they used to store dead bodies.

Laws make doing some fun things (stealing pandas) such a hassle, that even if you don’t agree with the law on principle (I believe pandas should be allowed to be stolen, in cases of love only), it is not worth the annoyance of fingerprinting, group holding cells, and old baloney to commit that crime again. Rock ’n’ roll gave me the courage to show my love and investigate the legal system, but in the end, going to jail rehabilitated me. I am no longer a panda-stealing Peter Pan with love in his heart and a flaming guitar in his hands; now I am a man wearing a tie, considering a Corolla.

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