JJ155 - The Perp Walk

This program is hosted by judge John Hodgman.

Welcome to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I’m your guest Bailiff, John Roderick. This week: The Perp Walk. Lisa brings the case against her jaywalking boyfriend Mitch. She says that his method of crossing the streets is irritating to her and dangerous, too. Mitch says that sometimes jaywalking is appropriate and even safer than crossing at a crosswalk. Who is right? Who is wrong? Only one man can decide! Please rise as judge John Hodgman enters the courtroom!

As John Hodgman entered the court room, he was singing the song ”In the middle, in the middle, in the middle” from the children’s album ”No!” by They Might Be Giants.

Lisa and Mitch (JJ155)

Lisa and Mitch live together in Olympia, Washington for 5 years. They study at the Evergreen College. Lisa originates from Des Moines, Iowa and Mitch from Marysville, a suburb of Seattle.

Mitch is a very confident jaywalker who is sometimes too confident. The law says to cross the street only at a crosswalk, but it is not enforced. Mitch probably jaywalks 80% of the time because jaywalking is very easy in Olympia. John confirms that Olympia is a small-ish town with a great number of one-way streets and a very slow pace, bording on hippie-paralysis. Although jaywalking is illegal, Washington has a culture of incredible passive-aggressive driving, meaning that drivers will stop and let you pass when you step out on the street, while in New York they would just honk at you or run you over.

Mitch might have a cultural case because his home is very close to the Indian reservation and jaywalking might be in his genes. He has always been jaywalking and there have been some close calls, the closest being this one time when they were walking out of a movie theater during the yearly home-made porn film festival by The Stranger. There were lots of cars and lots of people, but Mitch cut across 5th avenue instead of walking 20 feet to the crosswalk, leading a group of friends by his confidence. He claimed that he has the right of way.

Lisa is afraid that Mitch might get in an accident and be the one causing it and not getting any compensation because he is jaywalking. Mitch also does back-country snowboarding, which is not allowed and extremely dangerous, just as John’s sister does. John sympathizes very much with Mitch’s estimation of his own agility and capability to make it across the street without either interrupting traffic or putting himself at risk, but if every young person acted that way, we would truly be living in a youth-oriented utopia, which Mitch aspired Olympia to be. Lisa is 25 and studies Marine Chemistry, while Mitch is 30 and has just graduated with a masters in Environmental Policy.

Lisa wants Mitch to never jaywalk in her presence again and always use the crosswalk hold her hands, while Mitch wants Lisa to learn the skill of jaywalking, because not all cities abroad do have crosswalks. Mitch describes his process of safe jaywalking. John Hodgman admits that he frequently jaywalks as well. He crosses 7th Avenue or Park Slope in the middle of the street because it is the quickest way from Grumpy Coffee to The Bad Wife where you get your organic lettuces.

Where Mitch was growing up, he was crossing the street in the middle all the time and you would hardly find any crosswalks. It is a matter of balancing society against your own desire to get that cheese steak over there and your own intuitive knowledge that it is perfectly safe for you to cross right there, society be damned. Jaywalking is a victimless crime until there is a victim and Mitch is risking his life and the moaning of his family and girlfriend by jaywalking or snowboarding alone in the back forest.

The ruling (JJ155)

John Hodgman orders Mitch that when he is with Lisa, he will walk the extra 20 feet to the crosswalk and he will hold her hand when he crosses the street, not because it is moral, ethical or legal, but because it is adorable. It is too adorable to not rule in her favor! Being in a relationship is all about seeding to the adorableness of another person, just like being in society is balancing your individual needs against those of the people you wish to keep in your lives.

John promises to come down to Olympia, driving really slow and with his seat all the way back so they can just see his eyes above the window sill, driving around that stupid loop downtown, looking for Mitch and Lisa.

Clearing the Docket, Listener mail (JJ155)

Raymond and Danielle, Oakland, California

Raymond lives with his girlfriend Danielle in a very small apartment in Oakland, California. She is obsessed with her collection of about 20 mugs that range from slightly attractive to somewhat ugly. Their apartment can’t entertain 20 people and even if it could, it is unfathomable that they would need to make 20 cups of tea. She says they need them all, not only because she likes them, but even in case one of them breaks.

John Hodgman’s wife Catherine is nuts for the beautiful pottery of the Blue Hill peninsula and she even converted John’s lady friend who now also has a small collection of them. John Hodgman finds them beautiful, but they have so many of them that they can’t close the cupboard. John has at least 20 vintage coffee mugs from various small airports and Sheriff’s offices from around the country in addition to another collection of beer steins that he uses for coffee in addition to so many other collections of glasses. John took the doors off his cupboards so that he could see his coffee mugs, because they bring him so much pleasure and it takes the insanity back around to sanity.

John says that there are people who want all their pottery, crockery, glassware and dish-ware to match. There should be 4 matching glasses, plates and cups, which is how they bring order to the world. In Raymond’s home there are not only 20 coffee cups, but 20 non-matching coffee cups.

Raymond and his girlfriend need to have a conversation as to whether or not these coffee mugs are to function as mugs or whether they transition into being a collection. If they are a collection, then she has to take responsibility and find a place to keep those parts of her collection that are not in active rotation use.

John is a fan of useful objects. He has more than 20 coffee cups, more than 20 globes, more than 20 cowboy boots, and more than 20 switchblades, but he lives alone and perhaps that is why he lives alone. All those things are in active rotation. If Raymond's girlfriend moves her coffee cup over to some menagerie shelving, she doesn’t have use of them anymore and she is deprived of something.

Dan Pasternack

Dan was on the podcast back in 2012, the episode called the Golden State Debate. His two best friends Sammy and Harry were trying to convince him to move out of his parent’s house either to Los Angeles or New York City. John Hodgman injuncted him to move to the Brooklyn of Brooklyn: The Bronx, where he was to enter a new and creative period. He has met a person confirming his and Sammy’s determination to not be a couple, he moved to an alternate Borough in West Philadelphia where living is even cheaper. He even started his own podcast called ”Never Forget Radio”.


John is now doing a weekly live show called Roderick’s Rendezvous at The Rendezvous in Seattle. A couple of years ago they had a healthy brainstorming session where they arrived at the idea that a weekly show would be an excellent creative sandbox and proofing ground. John Hodgman once spent a year doing a weekly show called Secret Society. John spent the last year not doing anything but wistfully gazing across the United States at all of John Hodgman’s mythical fun times. So far, John's weekly show proved to be exceedingly valuable and exceptionally fun. Hopefully the ideas generated there will be available elsewhere soon. John and John Hodgman will do a show on June 2nd in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a command performance for George RR Martin.

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