Thursday, July 28, 2005

He still has the nickname

New York -- Matty the Horse and more than twenty other Genovese family members were arrested today. What do you want to bet that someone will write a "death of the mafia" story sometime soon ... just like they do every time a bust like this happens?

Of course, with yesterday's Gotti trial ending, it certainly isn't a good week for the mob.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The further adventures of Racially Ambiguous Man


For those of you who have not met the Bookhouse Boy, I am extremely racially ambiguous. There is a point in every friendship I have had, usually a few months in, when my new pal will finally get around to asking, "what are you, anyway?" Sometimes they hint at it, sometimes they just blurt it out. I usually make them guess. I've heard Greek, Hispanic, Italian, Native American, Spanish ... once a junior high bully called me a "gook," but that dude was a dipshit. Then, after I've heard their guess, I have to tell them that, alas, I am just a rather dark-hued white-boy.

Today, I combed my hair straight back (don't worry, I'm going somewhere with this). I usually do this every morning, and then let my hair form whatever hairstyle it chooses. But today, it stayed combed back. The result? Two seperate times today I've had people speak Spanish to me with no provocation. They just assumed I knew it.

The first time, I have no idea what the people were saying, but it was obviously a joke, so I laughed. Well, I hope it was a joke, and "puta" does mean "whore" and not "my grandmother died." The second time, I was in the West Village, waiting for a train back to Brooklyn when a woman approched me and began jabbering in Spanish. I eventually figured out that she wanted to know if the train went to Manhattan. But we were in Manhattan.

"Norte?" I asked her?
"No," I said, and motioned to the other platform. "Norte."

What does this have to do with crime, you might ask? Well, the only reason I know the word "norte" is because of the hispanic Cali gangs.

Too strange to be true

I'm having a hard time believing this Post story. Osma meets Tony Montana? Osama planning to kill every cokehead in America? Does that fall under the description of terrorism?

Let's pretend that Osama pulled it off, and thousands of American coke users dropped dead one day. What kind of speech would Bush make that night?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The pleasures of false crime

From the David Mamet film Heist:

Danny DeVito: This other thing? This Swiss thing? If I was a publisher, I'd publish the plans.

Joe: So why don't you publish the plans?

Danny DeVito: Yeah, no, that's what I said I would do if I was a publisher. Unfortunately I'm a thief, so I have to do that thing.

Well, I do love Mamet ("Yeah, no" ... Love that construction). What I really like about that exchange is that while DeVito is a thief, and so has to do that thing, I (and if I may presume, Mamet himself as well) am the exact opposite: I have to do that other thing. I spend my days reading and thinking about crimes, even planning them in my head (I live about two blocks from Montague Street's bankers row, so my mind is in overdrive right now). But I will never commit one. Hopefully, I will publish the plans some day.

Which is a long way of saying I'm edging around restarting the long dead (and so, so bad) crime novel that I've been neglecting for a long time. But I'm also thinking of the gulf between me and most of the crime bloggers I talked about below. They study crimes they find horrible, and rightfully so. They focus on victims, rightfully so. I do find the "classic" true crime of horrible crime, innocent victim, justice hopefully served to be interesting. But you won't read much about it here.

I still find many aspects of crime romantic, and I think that's fine. I certainly don't romanticize serial killers or anyone like that. But I (and once again, I think Mamet as well) find people that walk that line, who commit themselves to being (nonviolent) robbers and con men who live beyond the lines of society, to be fascinating (Once again, I'm aware of this being mythical). Mamet and I (see how I've worked us to be old chums) watch from the sidelines and study and laugh, but we'll never join in. No, we have to do our thing instead.

(I kept watching my DVD of Heist while I was writing the above. Some other choice lines:

Jimmy Silk: How long has he been with her?
Pinky: How long is a Chinaman's name?
Silk: What?
Joe: You ever notice that? How Long is a Chinaman's name.

Silk: Is your man cool?
Pinky: My motherfucker's so cool when he goes to sleep, sheep count him.)

Crime Blog Roundup

Does Steve Huff not sleep? Does he have a family fortune that allows him to fight crime, a Bruce Wayne of crimeblogging? Aside from his personal blog and the legendary (and voluminous) Dark Side, he has started the Twilight Kingdom (a blog dedicated to missing persons). Not only are Steve's posts huge, they are also heavily researched and insightful. I think I hate him.

Meanwhile, the clever CLEWS has a story about the fate of the Unabomber's autobiography, now lingering in limbo. It's a bit outside the normal CLEWS range. in fact, it seems more a story for Extreme Politics. If you don't read that blog, start. Tracking the many threads of extremists in our country, Extreme Politics is headed for a wide audience once it gets discovered. Most websites tracking these folks will go after the racists but leave PETA alone, or vice versa. But Henry over at EP knows they are all nuts.

Since In the Hat came back from a bit of a hiatus, it seems than more of the gang members he writes about have discovered the site. Check out this history of hispanic gangs someone left in his comments section. No other blogger is closer to the front lines than In the Hat.

On the other side of the crime spectrum, White Collar Crime Prof has an op-ed written by someone close to the Bernard Ebbers case. Does the guy deserve to die in jail? Um, I really don't know. Better ask the prof.

A recent post from the Trenchcoat Chronicles has a bit more on the "zombie terrorist." You might not remember the case, but a high-schooler in Kentucky got busted for planning an attack on his school. He claimed it was just a zombie story, and a bunch of dipshits on the web started crowing about how stupid Kentucky cops were for thinking zombies were going to attack the school. Of course the cops didn't think that, but just watch: we could have the next WM3-lite here. I was planning on following this case myself, but, well, you know me and my lack of focus.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

V for Vendetta trailer online

Well, he's still a terrorist. I wonder how they are going to pull this off?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Grindhouse Delight

They don't make 'em like this anymore ... except they just did. I had the real pleasure of seeing The Devil's Rejects, a real grindhouse shocker from, um, Rob Zombie. Totally immoral, disgusting ... a barrel of electrified guts squirming like eels. If blood, humor, atmosphere and classic rock appeal to you, check it out. The final scene, set to "Freebird," is going to be legendary. I'll be seeing it again.

The press sucks: The West Memphis 3 and lazy reporters

(Or: The Bookhouse Boy Loses His Shit)

I can't stand it, people! What is wrong with the fucking press? My interest in the West Memphis 3 has taught me how easy it is for people to lie to the media. Is everybody fucking lazy? Does no one fucking fact check? Doesn't anybody have even a tiny smudge of guilt about not checking the back story of convicted child killers?

I pitched an article on the West Memphis 3 to a major web site, and was shot down. Now, I'll admit that my pitch could have been lacking. I'm not yelling "whitewash" for not getting my own stuff published. But, when story after story after story after ... you get the idea ... comes out that only use sources from one side of the story, you'd think one news outlet would have one reporter on staff who asks him/herself "wow, this seems too horrible to be true? I wonder if maybe there just might be any reasons at all why this terrible miscarriage of justice has been upheld in appeal after appeal after appeal?" You know, maybe just, I don't know, do some fucking reporting?

Do I sound pissed? It's because I find the whole thing insane. Do all these people think that little of the justice system? "Well, sure, you know, Arkansas ... those people voted for Bush, they must be locking up Goths for no reason at all. Nope, i don't think I'll need to do any research on this one."

I'm tilting at windmills here, but let's review a few things:

1). By 1993, the state of Arkansas had more than three metal heads.

I mean, have you ever been to fucking Arkansas, you silly, stupid people? Do you really think that long hair and black t-shirts could get you convicted of murder? Do you think that the 19 million copies of Back in Black were bought by ironic New York hipsters?

Maybe, just maybe, Damien Echols was more than some "darkly charismatic" loner who liked Slayer. Maybe (and by maybe I mean if you'd done any fucking research you'd know) that he was the type of person who had been thrown into mental hospitals for raging outbursts. Perhaps (again, yes), he was the kind of person who told doctors that he felt like he could become another Ted Bundy. Maybe (you get the idea) after the murders multiple people came forward to tell the story of Damien mutilating a dog.

Again and again and again in these stories some dipshit will say, "if it happened to him, it could happen to me." Now I know you think your funny hair and Cure tapes make you a giant threat to the established order (I mean, you guys are subverting the dominant paradigm to Bethlehem and back), but perhaps you and Damien Echols don't really have that much in common. Maybe, just maybe, Damien as a peaceful, poetic oppressed genius is a romantic myth constructed after he was arrested? Oh, and his poetry sucks.

2). Jessie Miskelly's confession wasn't illegally obtained.
Oh, look, a Miranda waiver. But they didn't get a parent's consent! Well, they told his father what was going on twice! Oh, and take another look at that timeline. Speaking of lies that tells on their front page, they make it sound as if Jessie confessed after twelve hours of questioning. He admitted in after four hours. The rest of the questioning ... well, what the fuck do you think cops do when someone confesses? "Aw, we'll just wrap this up later."

Oh, and he confessed again after he was found guilty. With his lawyer present. Did they use invisible hoses?

3). At the very least, they deserve a fair trial!

Well, thank you for your ruling, Justice Dipshit. Here in America, we have an appeals process. This process is especially thorough for people on Death Row. You see, higher courts decide when we have a new trial, not Margaret Cho. This case has been up and down the ladder, and yet the three are still in jail. I guess the whole judicial system hates Metallica, huh? Or maybe the rule of law is a little more important than whether or not Eddie Vedder and "Blessed Be" people have their panties in a bunch. Oh, and those of you moaning about an unfair trial: Maybe defense attorneys want their clients to get off!

"Their defense was so incompetent they had to have a hearing about it."
What else do appeals lawyers do? Of course they say that the judge was incompetent, the defense was incompetent and the prosecutors were shady and underhanded. That is their fucking job. So, maybe, just maybe, if you aren't a lawyer and you haven't read the files, you might want to take the appeals lawyers’ claims of an unfair trial with a spoonful of salt.

You know, let the supporters think whatever they want. I personally find it distasteful to give money to support convicted child killers. At the very least, you should give your money instead to a judicial watchdog group instead of people who have made a living off this single case. But do whatever the fuck you want.

I’m pissed at the press. Don't you understand when you lazily and incorrectly foster stories about the justice system being evil, it hurts our culture? You are filling people's heads with bullshit that makes (or, perhaps, helps them) think that the legal system commits grave injustices because of musical tastes. That is morally wrong, you lazy, biased cocksuckers. I don't understand how you could be a reporter and take everything a defense claims without it ever crossing your mind that perhaps they have a vested interest in lying to you?

(end rant)

Well, that's what happens when I drink too much coffee. But please, if you hear or read something in the next few days about the West Memphis 3, please keep all this in mind. And the first person to send me an example of recent unbiased reporting on the case will win a prize from the Bookhouse.

For general reference, here are a few other rants on the WM3 that I've done.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Whatta douche ...

Thanks to a quick bribe to the cable guy, I've got basic cable for the first time in eight years. But I'm talking basic. No Court TV, MTV, Comedy Central. No, pretty much just TBS, Spike and a bunch of boring public access.

So I'm watching Wildest Police Videos while doing some writing. And man, is host John Bunnell a douche or what? I don't know about you, but I usually find video of a car going 150 mph thrilling enough without some over-tanned blowdried fellas blathering, "The man rams the guardrail. and thats when the police decide to do a little RAMMING of their own." Hoo-ha, buddy. Bunnell hasn't met a hard consonant he doesn't like: CoPS fighT CRooKs in KUH-ars when Johnnie comes to town.

If a murder can be cool ...

Then this one is a doozy. I'm reading Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld right now. During the 19th century, a paramilitary/gangster organization called the Dark Ocean Society [Genyosha] sprung up, ultra-nationalistic and right wing. They meddled in politics and busted up liberals. So far, yawn. But then:

"In 1895, a squad of of Genyosha agents, trained as assassin-spies in the martial arts of the ninja, infiltrated the Korean National Palace and murdered the queen."

Let's translate that into bad-ass: Goddamn ninja gangsters snuck into a palace and assassanated a head of state. Are you kidding me? No wonder people like history so much ... you couldn't make this shit up and get away with it. Ninja-gangsters steering the course of world politics!

I always knew ninjas were cool. I just didn't know how cool.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Odd, indeed ...

I just got finished catching up on some of the other true crime bloggers when I noticed an odd coincidence between a post from me and one from CLEWS. A few days before I posted my "I Hate CSI" diatribe, CLEWS had an I Hate Court TV post. I feel like I ripped Laura James off without knowing it.

Anyway, small world.

Crime isn't everything ...

As I prepare to spend tomorrow doing nothing but breathing, eating, going to the bathroom and reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I give you this little tidbit on folks trying to steal that long awaited book.

Have a good weekend, even those of you who won't be spending it finding out if Harry is going to get over Cho and who is going to die this time (in crime news I was too depressed at the time to post, gamblers from England have already let that one leak. Don't click on the fucking post unless you want to know in advance who it is. I didn't want to know when the fucking New York Daily News fucking printed the story with a big fucking graphic, goddamn it).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I wanna play

New Zeland's collective undies (they only wear them collectively) are in a bunch over a new game that lets players grow and manage drug crops (pot or opium, thanks for asking) and lets players shoot it out with the cops instead of going quietly.

Remember that craze of mushroom stomping back when we were all playing Super Mario? Remember the way we were jumping on all the iron girders we could find, hoping they would take us to the big Level Up rooms in the sky. How turtles became an endangered species when we kept kicking them down sidewalks, hoping to clear traffic?

I remember my two favorite games when I was a very young child were Elevator Action and Karate Champ. I did end up taking a few Tae Kwon Do classes, but I never did shot anyone coming out of an elevator.

Maybe, just maybe, games are games. Does chess lead to a strong respect for monarchy? Hmm ...

Monday, July 11, 2005

I hate CSI

In the 7th grade, all the students in my English class were required to give a speech on some topic that interested them. I was at the time terrified by the idea of public speaking, which isn’t that odd: hormone-crazed and greasy as a wheel of cheese in the sun, I would have been more at home in a windowless cell than in any type of public display (this is why I think all middle schools should just be transformed into concentration camps).

But at least I didn’t have to wonder about the topic: I was going to speak about forensic science. This would have been around 1989, before DNA testing and advanced computers gave forensics the sheen they have now. I was into forensics when forensics wasn’t cool. This was between my Bigfoot & spies crazes of elementary school and my serial killers and Hunter S. Thompson phases, I guess.

I used as a primary source the one book that John J. Pershing Junior High’s library had on forensics. I couldn’t tell you the name today, but during my two years at Pershing I must have read the book ten times (then, as today, I was a inveterate re-reader). So I put together a few note cards on doctors who had identified robbers from bitten-off fingertips and detectives who caught a killer conman by using the acid levels of blood to determine the difference between an accidental and forced drowning. Good stuff. So good, in fact, that after a few minutes in front of the class my hands stopped shaking and I stopped looking at the cards and just talked to the class. And they stopped whispering about how my hands were shaking and they actually listened.

Forensic science is fascinating. Which is why I feel so bad about dissing the glut of fictional science shows clogging up valuable crime-time on TV. But I must. So, here is a list of reasons why CSI (and all of its ilk) sucks.

#1. Science with computers is boring.

A man stares at a screen. He types. He stares at a screen some more. He stares and types. Types and stares. Checks his email on the sly. More typing.

Yowie! Watch the ratings shoot up! But, no. The actual life of a forensic scientist would make for shitty, shitty TV. Not to mention the enormous backlog most crime labs have: a recent book on the LAPD estimates a six-month wait on lab results for murder cases.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with sexing up something for dramatic purposes. Don’t cast real scientists in these roles. But the lengths that these shows go to in order to add spice make them simply stupid. On one of the few episodes of CSI that I actually did watch involved two men drag racing in the desert, one of them ending up shot dead at the end of the race. Could the other racer have done the shooting?

Well, these can-do scientists just got a couple of Vipers, took ‘em to the same spot in the desert, and strapped on some laser tag gear and got to racing.

Riiiiight. Why not just have little robots travel back in time to solve the crime.

#2. Real police work makes better drama

80% of solved felonies were put to rest through confessions. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important to crime fighting than police talking to people. And, what do you know, that’s drama, too! Compare a vastly superior show like The Shield, or Law & Order. Talking, talking, talking (okay, and sometimes burning a guy’s face off on a stove). Maybe that isn’t as tin-foil flashy as dueling Vipers, but it sure is a hell of a lot more interesting.

And yes, I know the amount of gun battles in The Shield is also way out of whack with reality. My response: fuck off, gun battles are way cooler than sci-fi, and you know it.

#3. We don’t need anything that makes jurors stupider

Jurors are idiots. As Henry Garfield often quotes to me in these discussions, “Juries are made up of people too stupid to get out of jury duty.” It’s true. Look at the people who let off Michael Jackson because they didn’t like the kid’s murder, or read the post-trial comments of jurors in any popular trial (most famously the OJ case’s “DNA, Schme N. A. Stupid people do not understand the idea of reasonable doubt, confusing it with “no doubt,” and cannot understand circumstantial evidence. And now we have the CSI effect letting the jurors be even dumber than they were before. Thanks, TV!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Famous NYC Crimes

I'm trying to put together a big list of the most famous crime scenes and historical spots in New York. And hey, you can help. Here are most of the spots I have so far. Please add your own. (no, really, you can think of some). I'm hoping to be able to put together a good true crime guide to NYC. Help me out.

The 5 points
Sparks (where John Gotti had Paul Castellano whacked)
John Lennon's assassination
Kitty Geonvese (sp) murder
The Tombs
The 596 Club in Hell's Kitchen (Westies hangout/murder site)
The Limelight (drug den/home of murdering club kid)

Um, you get the idea. Pass along ideas, ok?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Da-dum, da-dum ...

Okay, now my Brooklyn apartment is loaded with cable Internet, so I'm going to get this blog up and running again. Just a few days, and I'll be back to normal. Well, as normal as I get. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Thanks, lefties

This is some lazy blogging, but Henry Garfield over at extreme politics beat me to this story, and he says just about what I would. So go read.

Friday, July 01, 2005

I still live

Again, sorry for no posting ... there's no Internet connection at my house, and I'm busy as heck. I'll have a connection next week, at which time I'll either pick up writing or cut bait. (One of my two blogs is gonna die, I'm pretty sure).