Hard Times, Come Again No More: the tragic story of Oak Hill Country Club

Note: for maximum effect, please scroll to the bottom of this post and start the YouTube video. This story requires a soundtrack.

It is a story of faith dashed and a legacy forsaken. It is a story of trust betrayed and democracy torn asunder in the name of convenience. It is a story, most shockingly, of frightfully-bad front of house restaurant management and the real human cost of such delinquencies.

Oh! and its also a story about unsubstantiated allegations of illegal use of surveillance equipment to film peep-show kiddie porn. But I’ll save that for an addendum paragraph at the end. First, the important things.

The gentleman’s rules of democratic country club governance are, I think we can safely say, the kind of ubiquitous cornerstone of all our lives that we sometimes take for granted. We go about our ordinary, work-a-day lives, checking our golf clubs at our $270/month storage lockers and throwing our Perry-Ellis golf pants into our $160/month lockers without the slightest notion that it could all come crashing down. We pay our $580 a month membership fees to our respective country clubs, safe in the presumption that this buys us our democracy, fair and square.

But in reality, we see at Oak Hill that with the flick of a finger, the jack-booted powers that be can bring the tanks rolling onto the green and just start expanding restaurants and moving maintenance sheds without our consent.

Pictured: shell-shocked natives attempt to fill the void in their lives with drugs and vice.

I mean, seriously! Everybody knows that you can’t increase the floor space of a restaurant without knowing for sure that you have the clientele to fill the extra tables! That’s just basic economics.

Pictured: Basic economics

One man decided to take a stand. One man – oh, I won’t call him a hero. Because what’s a hero? – but one man stood up against the authoritarian madness. That man is a 40-year veteran of the Oak Hill country club, State Supreme Court Justice Alex Renzi. His resignation letter (PDF) tells the harrowing tale of a refugee, escaping just ahead of the guns and tanks, from his native ghetto of Brighton.

He tells the tale of an immigrant boy – first-generation Italian Oak Hill – coming to the glimmering greens of the country club he regards as the “best on the planet,” filled with promise. And he tells of how his wondering eyes were deceived in later years by the sheer monomaniacal madness of the present-day power structure.

In the end, while others insist on taking the fight to the leadership, he is too broken by the experience and must – with deep regret – resign his membership. There but for the grace of god go we all.

Oh, yes. The kiddie porn. Apparently, some cameras were installed in the locker rooms and word got out that someone might be using those cameras to film girls peeing in the bathrooms. Seems like a perfectly-provable crime to me and definitely the kind of thing you’d want to go to authorities with. But like all of us small people in a faceless authoritarian regime this Supreme Court Justice simply had no power to do anything about it.