We got busted by an undercover policeman in Frederick, MD!
But first a pit stop: After Annapolis my wife Emily and I went to Georgetown to visit my good friend Piers Lewis. Piers stars in my movie, Power Trip, about corruption, assassination and street rioting caused by the energy crisis in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Nowadays, Piers is back in the States, working on breakthrough electricity storage for renewable energy sources. We met his new daughter Veronica, for the first time!
Back to the bust: In so many ways Frederick, Maryland it is a lovely town – lots of history, the Weinberg Center is thriving with culture and we had fun spending our money at the many antique shops. But during an excellent meal at the hopping Firestone Grill, a local man gave us an ominous warning: DO NOT get pulled over by police here.
Funny, at first we hadn’t noticed much police presence at all. We witnessed a drunken screaming match between an older couple at the scenic creek, and two local drunks ejected from the Public Library by security. Later a woman claiming to be a schizophrenic in need of medication harassed us once on the street and then again in our parked car. Police nowhere in sight.
Later we discovered where they were. Three undercover cops were detaining pedestrians walking across one of the main intersections. Violators had a choice – ticket or pamphlet. Apparently the lecture was mandatory. We’re talking small town, get across in a few steps and cars moving very slowly. Was this really a safety issue, or are police here just incredibly paternalistic?
Or maybe the motivation is simply revenue: When we were leaving town, I made a right at this intersection. I waited for the two pedestrians in the crosswalk to pass by and continued my turn. Apparently, another pedestrian stepped off the curb as I was doing so. The undercover officer unholstered his walky-talky, and within seconds we were pulled over by a waiting police car.
The uniformed officer explained that I had not waited for the first two pedestrians to get both feet back on the curb. The undercover officer insisted that he and his 2 undercover colleagues had seen the other pedestrian step off the curb before I made my turn. Contradiction notwithstanding, the result was an $80 ticket. No pamphlet option for us.
Such a shame that this experience permanently interrupted our discussion to return to Frederick with Piers and his family for more antique shopping. It also overshadowed another excellent screening of BLAST!, this time at the Cultural Arts Center. The audience members were super engaged and enthusiastic about the film. One teacher expressed great admiration for the on-screen tenacity of my brother Mark and his team. She was excited to use the film in her science class to demonstrate the payoff of perseverance despite initial failure. Perfect! She and her husband brought along their boys, ages thirteen and (almost) ten. Always fun to have kids in the audience.
The universe is cool!
Great press in Frederick
Onward to the beach in Rehoboth, with our $80 souvenir summons in the glove compartment. (Luckily we sold lots of DVDs to cover it!)
Post by Paul Devlin, OSIP touring filmmaker
To read all posts by this filmmaker, please click here!