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30th November 2012

I had to go to the kitchen this morning to see a man about an onion and when I walked into the chow hall I saw two of my slope-headed amici sitting at a table. I was hoping that they didn't see me because I was on a mission and had a sauce on simmer in the microwave back in the cell block. But just as soon as I had that thought, that they yelled my name like we hadn't seen each other in years and waved me over to their table. Being in prison is like swimming around a fish bowl where you see and say hello to the same people at least a dozen times a day. If by chance you see someone who you've said hello to twenty times that day and neglect to say hello the 21st time, you can expect several people to stop by your cell to "See if you're okay" simply because you missed the last hello. So having been spotted, I had no choice but to put in an appearance and go sit with my friends for a minute. When I sat down they were both hunched over with their bottom jaws out, chewing on a cinnamon roll. They looked like two gorillas chewing on a fresh tuft of bamboo. They were discussing the best way to dispose of a body. The conversation went something like this:

Gorilla #1: "I like the water and I love my boat. You take 'em out a mile or so and just wrap a chain around em and run a cinder block through it and give 'em a toss. I'll take the water over the land any day of the week. I buried this scumbag up in Westchester county one time and a bear dug him up and it took me three days to get the head back from this big cocksucker. The fucken bear was all hairy and looked like my ex-wife Carlotta. Fuhgettaboutit."

Gorilla #2: "Fuck the water. I sunk these two Armenian bastards in the Hudson years ago and they popped up like bobbers the next day. I told my cousin Sal that the cocksuckers must've had cork up their asses. I prefer breaking 'em down into multiple trash bags and laying 'em off in lotsa dumpsters."

Having never had to retrieve a head from a bear, or dropped arms in separate dumpsters, I didn't really have anything to contribute to the conversation. But I wanted to fit in, so I said, "I like wood chippers like they used in the movie Fargo. When you feed the legs in it makes a cool sound." Apparently my friends were old woodsman because they nodded their agreement and grunted as they chewed. I took the opportunity to leave and after we grunted goodbye to each other I headed back into the kitchen.

The kitchen here is huge and comprised of tunnels and passageways that lead to various spaces. The floors are all red tile and the walls are all stone block that's painted white. I shot through one tunnel and blew by a cop like I was Gordon Ramsey. Knowing that I wasn't assigned to the kitchen he yelled, "Hey! What are you doing?" I yelled back, "Twenty years! What are YOU doing?" and kept going. I passed two black convicts in kitchen whites that were maneuvering two big ladles and stirring something in a large stainless steel vats that had steam coming off of them. I nodded to them and kept going. I cut left through another tunnel, went down an incline and popped up in the space my Onion Man was in. He was sitting at on old wooden desk and he was grinning as he read a piece of paper. I asked him, "What's got you looking so stupid?"

He said, "I joined this pen pal website and I just got a letter from this hot chick. Look, here's her picture. Her name is Tonya and she lives in Coon Holler, Tennessee."
Being skeptical of all girls named Tonya from Coon Holler, and basically of all things in prison, I said, "Let me see that."
He handed me a picture of a girl that looked like she was about 18 and just got done modeling for Playboy. Then he handed me the letter and the first thing I noticed was that the script on it looked very masculine. Hot girls have a certain care-free scrawl, just like fat girls have a certain robust penmanship that identifies their nutritionally-challenged status. It's kind of like the Fat Girl/Pretty Face syndrome except on paper. But the script on my friend's letter didn't look like either of these.

I said to him, "Did you ever consider that you're actually writing some guy named Bob that's an auto mechanic who lives in Sandusky, Ohio?"
Obviously having never considered this, my friend just stared at me as he felt his bubble pop. I got my onion and left. When I got back to the block I started thinking about the pen pal thing. Lots of these guys back here write and email girls that they met on these sites. They pay fifty bucks or so and post their picture and write up a profile that is supposed to describe themselves. I've never tried it, but after I stirred my sauce and spun the dial on the microwave to another six minutes I went back to my cell and decided to write a profile that I thought might get me some hotties. This is what I came up with:

"My name is Jeffrey and I work for the federal government and live in a gated community in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I have black hair and brown eyes, all of my original teeth, and verifiable testosterone. Some of my interests include working out, writing children's poetry, quantum physics, armored cars, and currency trading. I am seeking a woman with large breasts and low self-esteem who also has all of her original teeth, and who takes her Prozac as prescribed. You should like to travel, enjoy vending food, not be opposed to phone sex, and have a minimum of thirty days of sobriety and no pending restraining orders. I have a lot to offer the right girl. I have a good sense of humor, I'm attentive, and I am a captive audience. I am not lazy and I am always willing to go to work (see attached surveillance photo)."

And I wonder why I always pull the crazy ones. Maybe I need to rethink this pen pal thing; or better yet, stick to making sauce. I never was too good at writing anyway. The best thing I ever wrote was a note that got me about thirty grand...and a long-term lease in a gated community.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

25th November 2012

God cut me some slack today and I woke up feeling good. So when they cracked my bars at 5:25 a.m. I took a shower and got all scrubbed up and put on a clean pair of gray sweat pants and picked out a crisp white tee shirt that was one size too small so that my muscles would look that much bigger.

Julio introduced me to his tailor a couple of weeks ago and I gave him a new sweat-shirt and pair of sweat-pants and he returned to me a custom made sweat-jacket w/ pockets and a zipper in the front. The inside is lined with a thermal underwear top. It's pretty snazzy and it goes with my sweats; I call it my "Cartel Cardigan" because I look like Julio when I wear it. Finally, to complete the ensemble I draped my blue, white and orange beads around my neck in support of the Bears who were playing at Tennessee today.

I came across some chicken that fell off a truck and I made my cats a little recipe I call "I'ma Jerk Chicken" because I rub olive oil on it and shred it for them as I feel like a jerk because I don't have anything nearly as good to eat. After feeding them, I strapped on my MP3 and went up into the TV room for the game. Everyone started whistling and hating on me because I looked so much more well dressed then they did and saying things like "Look at him, he wore his London Fog to the game" and "You're gonna need rosary beads instead of those Bear beads." I sat down and cracked open a bag of Doritos and watched the Bears punish Tennessee.

Watching Da Bears in my cartel cardigan. Just another Sunday in The Big House.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

16th November 2012

My friend died last night. At 2 pm he was sitting on the tier in front of my house talking to me and clicking through my MP3 and laughing at some of the old Motown jams I have on my player, and by 6 pm he no longer existed. He was 40 years old and had the physique of a body builder and after playing a pick-up game of basketball upstairs in the gym he went down on one knee and put his head in the crook of his elbow. They rolled him onto his back and he left this earth via a massive heart attack. That was last night and it's now the next day and I still haven't slept. His name was Bruce Pierce.

The world gives us lots of labels throughout our lives. Everything from hero and patriot, to alcoholic, whore, and thief. But "What" we do is not necessarily "Who" we are. And none of us are the sum total of our mistakes. A few of Bruce's labels were son and brother, and also criminal and killer.

He came to prison when he was 16 for killing somebody and ended up killing somebody else in a pen back here and spent seven years in ADX Supermax for it. I don't know about the circumstances that brought him to prison, but I don't judge him for the murder that got him sent to Supermax because some days it's kill or be killed back here. I've learned that prisons are one place that the world corrals it's violent and truly stupid, and sometimes the only way to safeguard your own life when dealing with this demographic is to kill someone.

With some people there is no talking or reasoning; there is no hug. If you think this premise is harsh, consider your that tax dollars that are spent every day to fund remote control drones that kill violent people thousands of miles away. Violent people who can't be reasoned with and who only want to kill you and take away your way of life. All of the money, education, and religion in the world can't change the fact that sometimes it's kill or be killed.

I didn't want to like Bruce. He was aggressive and sometimes aggravating, and he had his ways. He was black and from the inner-city, and I'm not; he was a gang member, and I'm not; he had a special love for, and even practiced the Rastafarian culture, and I'm not Rastafarian. But those are all just labels because in the end Bruce was just a man like I am. And he was definitely a man. He spoke his mind and stood up for the underdog and would stand and fight with his friends no matter what the odds were.

Bruce was a good friend to have. Take away your guns, your comfortable home, your iPads and your creature comforts and get dropped into a world where you have to survive on your wits and nuts and you'd want a friend like Bruce.

One of the hardest things for me about doing time is trying to continue to see the good in people. So many people are so full of crap and it desensitizes you to even trying to look for the good in someone. I did this with Bruce when I met him. But when I stopped looking at what Bruce wasn't, and started looking at what he was, I saw the good things about him. Things like he was kind and would give you his last if you needed it and he had it. He was also funny, a lot of times without meaning to be. And he loved his sisters and used to talk about them all the time to me and the men here.

I considered that I didn't know what it was like to be Bruce and come from where he came from and what it was like to come to prison with a life sentence at 16 years old. Or as the Indians say, "I'd never walked a mile in his moccasins." I ultimately determined that like the rest of us, Bruce was just doing the best he could to play the hand he'd been dealt. He'd been down 24 years and had just recently been denied parole again. The Board had asked him to do the one thing he couldn't do: Obtain a GED. Bruce had a learning disability that precluded him from recognizing and reading words like average people do. This was one of the cards he'd been dealt and it frustrated him. The parole board didn't seem to care about his learning disability, or more likely they just used it as an excuse to keep him in prison. But in spite of the fact that he couldn't read well, he still took classes and learned different trades and continued to try and become a better man. He didn't do this for the parole board, he did it for himself.

Despite of incredibly long odds, Bruce became a better man. He did the one thing that only one in a million can do back here. He didn't just survive...he prospered. Bruce lived and died as a Gangster. One definition of a Gangster is somebody who will rise to the occasion and do whatever a situation calls for without apologizing for it. Although they may have had different labels, history is filled with people like this. People like Jesus, Moses, Gandhi, and the Prophet Mohamed. All of these men rose to the occasion and did the best they could to play the hand that they'd been dealt. And like my friend Bruce, none of them had an easy life.

I wish Bruce eternal peace on his journey. And although I'm sorry that he's gone, I'm glad that he no longer has to be in prison. All of this is over for him and he's square with the house. His debt is paid in full. After reading this you may think that I'm trying to rewrite history and turn a sinner into a saint, but I'm not doing that; we're all part sinner and all part saint.

I'm just eulogizing my friend.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

9th November 2012

That would be my kitty Ms. Farrakhan. They served meatloaf here yesterday and I made a deal with a guy in the kitchen to get a nice big slab for Whitey and the crew. So today I prepared it for them by putting it in the microwave and heating it and then pouring olive oil on it and rubbing it in. The olive oil makes it yummier, but I also do it because i think it probably helps with their digestion. I also picked the onions out of it (which took 20 minutes).

So I prepare The Meal and go down into the main corridor and look down through the bars to the grass where they normally sit and Ms. Farrakhan is the only one sitting there. She looks at me with an attitude and I ask, "Where's the rest of the gang?"
She responds, "Do you see 411 tattooed on my forehead?"
I come back with, "If you knew what I have this dish you'd be a whole lot nicer to me" and I toss down a piece of warm meatloaf.
With her tail straight up, she runs to it and takes a couple of bites and turns and looks up at me and just stares like, "This is ab-so-loute-ly delicious!" and then proceeded to ignore me as she devoured the meal. She got all of it.

Too bad for Whitey. He shouldn't of been off catting around.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

5th November 2012

I'm a lot of things in this world, and I've determined that one of the things that I am is Workie Workie's own personal hustle.

In the prison vernacular the word "hustle" means goods or services offered for payment rendered. A guy could wash clothes for people, or run a football ticket, sew, clean cells, or make homemade chocolate chip cookies at his job in the kitchen then offer them for sale back in the block. These are all hustles. I pay Workie Workie eight Ramen noodle soups (retail value $2.00) to sweep my cell, clean my toilet, and change the linens and fluff my pillows every couple of weeks (I'm not trying to do this twenty with unfluffy pillows). If he cleans my fan (that I leave on 24/7) I pay him a bottle of dishwashing detergent (that he uses to wash people's shoes with...another one of his hustles).

I employ Workie Workie on a pretty regular bi-weekly schedule but he's always showing up off schedule and pointing to something and going, "Porquita bobita lolita" or something like that. I'll tell him, "This is an American prison. Speak friggin English." When I say this he'll smile and then keep talking all that taco loco stuff. But when Workie Workie's really down to his last fajita and beating the bushes he'll show up looking for work with an interpreter. I'll say this for him, He doesn't mind working. His name sure fits him.

So this morning he shows up and he's wearing one of his gray Sean-Jose sweat suits that's two sizes too big and he's gelled his Mohawk to a point that you could cut your finger on. Around his neck he's wearing a huge picture of the Virgin Mary in a leather frame that's hanging from Black rosary beads. He looks like a Catholic gang member that's on his way to a Shakira concert. And he's got this dude Dave with him that speaks Spanish. When they walk up Dave says, "Workie Workie wants to know where you're from?"
I know that Workie Workie could care less where I'm from and only loves me for my soups, but I bite and say, "I was born and raised in Chicago, but I moved to South Carolina because they don't have guards in the banks down there."
Apparently the punchline didn't translate well because after Dave told him in Spanish what I'd said, Workie Workie looked serious and said something that sounded like, "I juggle Chihuahuas."
Dave then said, "He said his cousin Guillermo picks tomatoes in South Carolina."
I replied, "Tell him that I've eaten Guillermo's tomatoes and they're absolutely wonderful. Now can we come to the point here?"
Dave then says, "Workie Workie has some gray paint and wants to know if he can paint your floor?"
I ask, "How much?" Dave and Workie Workie commence to talking in rapid-fire Spanish and then Dave finally says, "Five dollars."
I just stare at them until they feel uncomfortable and start to squirm. Finally, I say, "Are you serious? That's outrageous! This is prison. Do you know how much five dollars is worth back here? It would take me two months to save five dollars. On top of that, there's NO WAY in hell I'd ever pay someone to paint the floor of this old dank-ass cell."
Workie Workie holds up two fingers and says, "Two dollar, Senor."
I reply, "Deal. Go get your paint."

So now Workie Workie's painting my floor. I'm gonna miss him when they deport him.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog