bert burykill

Prisons I’ve Known and Yelped 

I was kicked off Yelp probably about 15 times. Some folks got excited about Yelp reviews for prisons this week, but I’m the ORIGINAL prison reviewer, along with some guy named Craig who did a nice review of Rikers four years ago and who probably got kicked off too. I still love Yelp, but they did Bert B., Barry B., Bobby B., Bertha B., and all my other names dirty back then. I guess it was a combination of my incendiary reviews and sex-trollish behavior in the talk forums that did me in.

The prisons I’ve visited in my time include Saratoga, Clinton, Washington, Downstate, Ulster, Elmira, Lakeview, Auburn, Moriah, Clinton Annex, Lyon Mountain, Hale Creek, Edgecombe, Lincoln, Fulton, Queensboro, Oneida, Watertown, Riverview, Riker’s, and Valhalla. I only spent a day at a few, and a couple years at others, but I got to savor all their flavors, some more than others, so I figure I’ll give an honest review to a few.

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Prisons Punish Families Too

When I read articles like this one in the New York Times about how prison makes people poor and destroys families, I have mixed emotions. I think it’s admirable that this high-and-mighty mainstream paper is examining the effects of the nation’s prison population explosion over the past 40 years. The author, John Tierney, tells the story of Carl Harris, a guy from DC who used to sell crack until he beat up some of his customers who robbed him and got 20 years on a trumped-up charge because the cops thought he was some big-time drug dealer. Sounds like Carl is doing better now, and I’m real happy he’s gotten to the point where he can enjoy life. Sadly, I ain’t exactly there yet—the drug statutes of New York State are continuing to butt pump my unlucky rump, even though I’m out of prison.

I could repeatedly point out injustices I believe I’ve incurred over the past eight years, however, I’m trying to stop that train of thought and get back to basics. I’ve been beating off to my old Susan Powter videos like it’s ’94 again and thanking whatever there is to thank up there that I didn’t get 20 years for beating up crackheads. As that Times article demonstrates through Carl and his family’s story, some prison terms are WAY too long, and excessive sentences unnecessarily handicap communities already in dire straits. Basically, prison is responsible for more chaos than anything else. But if it took the Times writing about it for you to get that, you’re probably a simpleton who needs some help eating solid food.

I didn’t go to Harvard or Yale and by many peoples’ accounts I’m dumber than dookie-dipped dewdrops drying on a dildo, yet I know prisons better than the front of my dick. While the clink-clink blows balls on a number of levels, the one aspect of doing time that, at least in my experience, isn’t that bad is the one the media plays up the most, and that’s the actual physical doing-time part. Movies and shows depict prisons as full of bloody dicks and shivs, and no doubt, dirt gets done in prison. But actually, most motherfuzzies in jail deal with a lot iller shit in the streets. The prisons I’ve been to were all pretty much chillin’. It’s basically summer camp minus the baby beavers. Lots of us bitch and moan, but we play cards and sports, watch TV, eat free food, have people clean up after us, lift weights, listen to music all day, take profucive naps, read and write a lot, and get money (masturbate) till the cows come home. The best part is you taxpayers pay for it all!

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Don’t Get Caught: I’ve Spent 8+ Years in the System for a Nonviolent Felony

I’d been involved in selling drugs since I first smoked weed when I was 13. It just made sense to me that in order to have the money to use drugs, I’d have to sell some, too. I never thought I was doing anything wrong—my entrepreneurship put smiles on a lot of faces, and I did it better than most people ’cause I showed up on time and wasn’t a greedy, lying scumbag. I did abuse my stash pretty frequently, but I had enough self-control to avoid going off the deep end. 

As a kid, I attended elite prep schools, played hockey year-round, and wound up getting accepted into Skidmore College, where, smooth as silk, I kept selling narcotics, mostly to my fellow students. Soon, I was HOOKED, living lovely off all that drug loot. I drove all around the Northeast like a madman, bartering and hustling coke, weed, X, shrooms, and whatever else seemed like a good flip. (I stayed away from dope and crack, though—you have to draw the line somewhere.) 

I was so cocky—I never actually thought the pork-chop patrol would come after me. I ignored the illegality of what I was doing and didn’t care about my well-being enough to investigate or even pay attention to the laws. But as I soon learned, the law was paying lots of attention to me. 

On a seemingly normal Friday night in February 2004, I was outside a Barnes & Noble with my older brother and his son when I got tagged by an undercover cop who looked like an upstate trailer-park stick-up kid. In retrospect, I wish he had robbed me for all my money instead of cuffing me in front of my six-year-old nephew. At that moment, my brain was spiraling through a million made-up explanations for my arrest instead of accepting the nightmarish reality of what was about to happen next. The pigs had a search warrant, and they took me back to my crib to rifle through my head stash, which was substantial enough to get me charged with five felonies and, potentially, 12 to 25 years in prison. I was 23 years old. 

I spent the night in county jail and then, thankfully, was released on bail to await my trial. At the time, I was in my last semester of college and had been as excited as a nip-sucking piglet to finally graduate with all of my peoples. The future was so bright, and unlike most of my fellow students, I was in the black: I had a ton of money saved. I had already booked my plane tickets and hotel reservations to go to Italy with my girlfriend. But not anymore. Whatever the outcome of the trial, I knew my parents would be devastated (way more than I was), and I’d probably be kicked out of school. 

I ended up taking a plea bargain. I was sentenced to three to nine years in state prison. My lengthy sentence was at least partially a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time—’04 was an election year, and the politicians in Saratoga Springs, where I was living and dealing, thought the town had a drug problem. The district attorney who prosecuted me probably figured nabbing a college student “involved in a drug-trafficking ring from New York City” (as the local paper referred to me) was a good demonstration that the city was tough on crime. They made an example out of me. 

I took the plea deal in August, and they told me I was going to jail in October. Because I was at home, living in my own apartment, I spent that summer in an awkward sort of hell—I was technically free, but soon not to be. Every day that passed inched me closer to The End. It was such an awful countdown—never before or since in my life have I wanted time to stand still. 

When the morning of that loathsome day arrived I was already running late, stumbling out of my girl’s apartment, hungover and sleep-deprived. I left my bonerabelle sobbing uncontrollably in the bed. She couldn’t handle going to court and watching the police take me away. We’d been together a couple years, and this was the most horrible way imaginable to say good-bye. Only death would’ve been worse. 

I found my parents parked on the street, waiting, already lockjawed with tears in their eyes. They were so caring that they had even temporarily moved to Saratoga Springs, renting an apartment for a few months to watch over me while I was out on bail, making sure I didn’t do anything stupid before I was sent away, which I probably would have if they weren’t there. I still cringe over the pain I put my father and mother through. I felt like the Human Turd. 

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Just Close Down California’s Prisons Already

I point out as often as possible that I think my incarcerated experience differed greatly from the average locked-up cracker. First and foremost, New York State, where I was behind bars, has one of the more efficient and regulated prison systems around—you never see its prisons on any of those trashy Shit Is So Crazy in Jail reality TV shows that are everywhere these days. And while most states are dealing with overcrowding in their prisons, New York is closing facilities, which is probably why I’ve been at a lot of sports where most of the guys were in a single bunk. I’ve seen these poor bastards on TV who are TRIPLE BUNKING about ten inches away from the next triplet of stinky anuses, and the cubicles are in a medium-sized room stuffed with 300 dudes, some of whom are bound to be real undesirables. A big dorm in New York prisons only had around 60 guys and that was like hell on earth to me, so relatively speaking I was lucky.

Meanwhile, in California they’ve been desperately trying to figure out what to do with theirfucked-up, overfull prisons—they’re even letting some old guys out early, I heard. FYI, this is what inmates fantasize about… I’ve had many dreams where I’m chillin’ with no pants on and bags of shit weaved into my hair so I don’t lose them and then the CO yells, “BURYKILL! ON THE RELEASE! YOU GOIN HOME, CRACKA!”

What happens to the men and women who get released when the system spits ‘em out? I bet the grant writers are getting fuckin’ busy trying to get the government to shell out ducats for halfway houses and rehabs, and maybe they’ll start putting some of the zanier heads in hospitals for the mentally handicapped, where they shoulda been in the first place.

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Dying of a Dirty Mouth

I’ve got an announcement: I’m finishing up a survival guide for how to survive in prison to be published as an as-real book. This book is for any man or woman in search of the answers before they even know the questions. Most people don’t plan on going to jail, but when you do get sent up clink-clink creek without a paddle, it’s important to be informed, just in case. Prior preparation prevents poor performance.

First off, it’s essential that you learn the art of “fronting” in prison. I remember early on in my first bid I read Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full and some young white-kid character gets thrown in jail and an OG OT (old-timer) advises this kid to “use de mouf,” or something along those lines, which basically means talk a big game and act like you run shit. You will be able to get respect if you appear confident. Even an ugly motherfuzzy can survive if he’s got a mean mouth game.

Jail culture is also all about physical appearances. Lots of dudes spend hours every day grooming or hitting the weights. It’s just human nature to give a guy who’s clearly in good shape a little more respect, and an ugly, unkempt bum will have a serious disadvantage from the jump. At least wash your ass and brush your teeth.

Don’t think appearance matters? I once saw an old man get killed in prison for having bad breath.

He was Puerto Rican, but we called him Miyagi ‘cause he had a very Asian look and resembled Pat Morita. Unfortunately, his mouth was completely decayed and smelled like sweltering garbage. He was the type of dude who would stink up a whole dorm with his breath when he went to sleep, even if he brushed his teeth. Poor guy had some serious halitosis. We were in a bullshit box in the Bronx for work-release violators; quarters were tight, and none of us appreciated the funk emanating from Miagi’s mouth.

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Pen Pals: Shit Dudes in Prison Say

Some wild shit popped off this week. We had some sassy black broad CO working, and us unruly inmates butted heads with her. She shut off our TV and the the microwave, ‘cause dudes were being rude to her—they were hassling her, admittedly, but she also she sucks dick and has definitely been the recipient of many a Cleveland steampile to the face. My crazy schizo neighbor from cube 12 wasn’t feeling her attitude so he decided to get butt nekkid in front of her before scampering into the shower. Once he got out of the shower, he was cuffed and taken out with animalistic shouts ringing out from the other inmates: “How you like that LONNG DICK?” “See what you made him do?” “You goin’ learn TODAY!” I guess the guy’s name is Henry, because everyone kept chanting, “Henry, Henry, Henry!” Just like he’s a jailhouse Rudy. I shed a tear… out of my dick.

Dudes say the most stupefying things in jail. I don’t know what it is—maybe in certain communities this is everyday shit, and I’m just really not accustomed to this way of life. Maybe it’s the fact that we have 46 dudes stuffed in a room and we’re simply fuckin’ bored. There is a breed of dude who just makes shit up about the Prada shoes, the Mercedes, the gold-plated condom, the bad bitch with two pussies and no butthole… just outlandishness. Some circles of people call this “Hummer-stuntin’” but I don’t think people even brag about Hummers anymore—it’s all Maybachs and Lambos or whatever else the newest brainwash-face rapper propagates. The irony is that it’s usually the clowns that brag about all this lavishness that have zilch on their books and beg you for a Ramen soup (aka crackhead soup).

This same breed of jerkoff will be missing his two front teeth looking like an anorexic crack baby survivor but vehemently deny any involvement in drugs. In some cultures, it is looked down upon to use any drugs besides weed and alcohol. It’s high comedy to hear these retards deny using drugs and only admit being addicted to the lifestyle. They only dig on fast money, fast cars, and fast women. One toothless toothpick fiend explained to me that he was only addicted to Barcardi and “dead white men on green paper.” I guess your teeth must have smoked themselves, huh champ?

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After reading articles like “Don’t Stick Dominoes in Your Dick” and “'Ruff Buttlove’ and Other Prison Raps,” we knew that Bert Burykill, our prison correspondent, would translate well to video. Drugs remain a problem for Bert, and he consistently fails urine tests which send him back to jail over and over again. In this two-part series, we examine Bert in his most vulnerable state as he tries to stay on the straight and narrow.

Part two will air Monday, April 22.

Watch Jailbert – Part 1

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Jailbert – Part 2

Bert has been in and out of prison his entire adult life for petty drug offenses. While trying to live inside the law, Bert finds that he might not be able to overcome his self-diagnosed disease: the disease of dumbness. In part two of Jailbert, we watch as Bert tries to move on with his life after his latest incarceration.

There are approximately 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, and yet hardly anyone is attending to the fashion needs of the prison-industrial complex! To remedy this injustice, we asked Bert Burykill, our recently-paroled penitentiary correspondent, to give us some inmate style tips. If you’re reading this in jail, take heed lest you become a human fifi towel.

GLASSES
One of the few luxury items you’re allowed in jail is eyeglasses—the government would rather not pay for your specs so they let you wear your own. So ball the fuck out and get some $400 Oliver Peoples glasses. Just watch out for guys with names like “Big D from Brownsville,” ’cause they might break your ass wide open and yoink your fancy frames.

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Pen Pals: Reporting from Jail

Con las mueblas en la mama bicho boca… I’ve taken to speaking jibber-jabber Spanglish about 50 percent of the time in here. I’m getting pretty good at it. This dorm environment is wearing me down. Non-stop noise and nonsense, which makes sense, because county jails are designed to make people go crazy and cop unwise pleas to end the madness. Just this morning, my bunky was unexpectedly woken at 4:30 AM for a court date he had no idea about. They made him wait in a holding cell for a couple hours, shackled him, made him wait a few more hours, stuck him in another holding pen, and then brought him back here without saying sorry. He didn’t even see the judge. This is an awful thing called a “dry run,” and I’ve seen it happen countless times in the past month. They’re doing it to my bunky because he put in for a bail reduction—he’s currently being held on a $750,000 bond for a Burg 3 (aka breaking and entering), despite never having a felony or a violent crime conviction.

It’s really hard to believe that this shit is true. We are such slaves to incompetency it would be laughable except our freedom is on the line and lots of us really didn’t do shit. I was supposed to have my parole hearing to decide my fate next week, but they inexplicably woke me up a couple mornings ago and told me to get ready for my hearing. I guess it’s better to be early than late, but all of my letters of support and paperwork were in the mail and they were necessary to ensure a fair hearing.

In court, first they claimed I was arrested with drugs on a date when I was in jail already. They wanted to send me upstate for three more months for that, but I finally convinced them I couldn’t have gotten arrested when I was incarcerated, and that I was simply here for a curfew violation. The evil-fuck prosecutor lady said, “Fine,” didn’t apologize for trying to put me in a cage for something I didn’t do, and asked me to come back in two weeks once I had my paperwork. I said, “Whoa, whoa… I don’t want to be here for a few more weeks.” Unbelievably, the judge said, “OK, I’ll let him go right now,” but I was brought back down to Earth when the prosecutor lady told me that the jail wouldn’t let me out until I had paperwork for a re-entry program stating I had an appointment upon release.

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