The Prowler and the Cello Player/Aurora/ Sat Nov 11/5:12 pm: On the listed date and time, Officer Sharp and his partner responded to a report of a prowler in the yard of a house on 140th St. The man was described as a white male adult wearing a plaid shirt, blue sweat pants, and tennis shoes. When the police arrived in the area, they spotted a man matching that description emerge from a yard. "What are you doing?" the cops asked the suspect. "I'm just a man who had to go to the bathroom," he answered. "[My] home is in Shoreline and as I was driving home I suddenly developed an urgent need to urinate." The cops asked him where he urinated, and the suspect walked back into the yard and indicated the exact spot. "Although the day was dry," reports perceptive Officer Sharp, "we could discern no visible signs of moisture on the ground." Officer Sharp and his partner then located the suspect's car and searched it: They found a pair of binoculars on the passenger seat and a pornographic magazine under the driver's seat. When the neighbors were interviewed by the cops, they said the suspect was not urinating in anybody's yard but was secretly watching their neighbor, a 52-year-old woman, play her cello. "The house has no curtains on the front windows, [so] she was visible from outside the house as she sat inside and played her cello," they explained. The poetic prowler, whose name is Shepard, was then transported to the North Precinct and booked by Sgt. Dixon.

A Madman Knows No Weather/University District and First Hill/Sun Nov 12/1:49 am and 4:03 am: In Madness and Civilization (a book that has exerted enormous influence on this column), the French philosopher Michel Foucault claims that until the end of the 18th century, it was common knowledge "that the insane could support the miseries of existence indefinitely." "There was no need to protect them; they had no need to be covered or warmed," he writes. And then to prove his point, he produces this quote from an observer of an 18th-century mental institution: "The insane of both sexes [can] bear the most rigorous and prolonged cold.... On certain days when the thermometer indicated 10, 11, and as many as 16 degrees below freezing, a madman in the hospital of Bicetre could not endure his wool blanket and remained sitting on the icy floor of his cell. In the morning, one no sooner opened his door than he ran in [only] his shirt into the inner court, taking ice and snow by the fistful, applying it to his breast and letting it melt with a sort of delectation."

At the start of the 21st century, our police department still associates madness with an "ability to endure, like animals, the worst inclemencies." For example, Officer Clark wrote this about a madwoman who entered the Safeway on Brooklyn Ave NE and began asking the employees for hugs, cigarettes, and phone numbers: "When we arrived, the [madwoman] was on the phone. I trespassed the [madwoman] from the store while Officer Grossman talked to the [madwoman's] father on the phone. [The madwoman] talked in a disjointed stream-of-consciousness manner. She could not focus on a single thought for even a brief moment. She was wearing a light T-shirt and jeans in very cold (about 35 to 40 degrees) weather." Another example is this report by Officer Williams: "A hospital security officer called [us] after a [madman] entered Virginia Mason Hospital and began to yell and threaten hospital employees. Upon arrival, [the madman] was standing outside with no shirt on, despite the fact that the temperature outside was below 30 degrees." So, the "common knowledge" of a madman's indifference to cold weather did not die with the 18th century, but is alive and well at the dawn of this new era of power and control.

Day In • Day Out returns this summer, August 12th thru 14th!
Featuring The National, Mitski, Mac DeMarco and more! Full lineup and tickets at