Monday, September 26, 2005

Johhny Cash is Dead

Here's a link to my alter-ego's short story "Johnny Cash is Dead," appearing in issue two of Thug Lit. It comes in a downloadable PDF format, which is not my favorite, but I'm thankful to Thug Lit for accepting it.

*

Yeah, I forgot to get to the asterik on the post below. "Crimeblogging" is an ugly word. "Crime-blogging" is ungainly. "Crogging" is stupid. "Cribbing" ... well, I like the double meaning of that one.

Anything better? And what about starting a crimeblog webring? (Okay, just look at that sentence ... we're turning German with all this cramming words together. Pretty soon it will be a crimeblogwebring.)

Oh, and I've fixed the comments so anyone can leave them as long as they answer the question one.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Big Up Huff

Allow me to come out of my movie-watching fit to give a big ups to Steve Huff for spreading from the world of crimeblogging* to writing for the Crime Library itself. Nice work, Steve ... I expect to hear about your book within the year. Seriously.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Popcorn for Dinner, Too! To Catch a Thief

Man, my life is good. After catching the excellent A History of Violence for lunch, I talked E into heading over to the BAM Rose Cinema about a mile from our place in Brooklyn to catch a showing of To Catch a Thief, the classic Grace Kelly/ Cary Grant Alfred Hitchcock film. Tomorrow night they're playing North By Northwest, which I may watch as well, as these two Grant/Hitchcock collaborations are the two great Hitchcock films missing from this incredible box set I got in the mail ... I'm reviewing it, so it was gratis. I rule.

Friday Popcorn Lunch: A History of Violence

Today's popcorn lunch, served at the lovely Loews multiplex near the Lincoln Center: David Cronenberg's A History of Violence (based on the graphic novel of the same name). This is a terrific film, full of both blood-pumping violence (literally) and meditations on the same. The less you know of the story, the better. Enough to say the Viggo Mortensen is pretty good as a small-town family man, Maria Bello is both effective and horribly sexy as his wife, and that Ed Harris and William Hurt are top-notch as very bad men. Both emotions and bodies are torn open in the film.

In classic Cronenberg style, the movie is that rarest of things: an intelligent potboiler. Which might just be the best kind of movie on earth.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Best Bad Movies: The Boondock Saints

There are some movies that are so bad, they are good, although their numbers are not as great as we think. This GQ list is interesting, but they put Purple Rain on the list. Sure, Morris Day can't act, but that's some of the best "concert" footage of all time, man! Actually, that GQ list confirms that I love bad movies. Rocky III? Hells, yes. Point Break? Of course. Legend? Okay, that movie is truly bad, but Tim Curry is tits as the devil. Flash Gordon? Are they kidding me? "Flash! Aaaah-ah! He'll save every one of us!" New Jack City? How dare they. Road House, the best bad movie of all time? Brother, I own that film.

One of the best B-movies I've ever seen is the 2000 ode to vigilantism The Boondock Saints. Featuring two Boston Irish brothers with commando skills and proficiency in enough languages to work as UN interpreters, who start the movie working in a meat packing plant, the film is truly bad in many ways. It's ludicrous from start to finish, it's got some bad writing and worse acting (the guy who plays the Mafia don is hilariously bad). It features a performance from Wilem Defoe that bounces from brilliant to pure camp ... as does the movie as a whole. It features a few truly innovative action scenes (such as when Defoe, as an FBI agent hunting the brothers, explains how the gunfight took place as it rages around him ... a contemporaneous flashback. And the whole film exists in such a manic, fevered state that its practically punk rock. Basically, writer/director Troy Duffy made the exact movie I thought I would have made if someone had given me 10 million dollars when I was 13. If you've any interest in B-action, and you haven't seen it ... well, go see it.

Get inked, holmes


A tip of the hat to Will L., who hipped me to this list of popular inmate tattoos. Before you get too shocked at some of the entries, remember that women go to prison too.

It's all weak tea compared to the stuff in this book I picked up in the Village the other day on Russian prison tattoos. Russian people are crazy. Just frickin' nuts. I mean, they sit around and drink beet soup and vodka and kill millions of their countrymen and turn Tsarist and Communist and super-capitalist mafia and freeze to death in gulags while watching long, boring movies by Tarkovsky and watch their women turn from ravishing sex goddesses to malformed hags in two days and it makes them go out and get pornographic tattoos on their faces.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Crime, crime everywhere, but not a drop of blood ...

Sorry for the sporatic posting, but my attention is being dragged in about a dozen directions right now. Between my paying work as a DVD and film critic and my own lust for cinema, I'm averaging about two movies a day right now. And I'm averaging two books a week. (Speaking of both, I've got over 50 entries now at the Bookhouse. Which has only made me realize how many entries its going to take before the thing is even halfway worthwhile ... it might be a year before I'm really proud of it. But here are some new entries: The Italian Job, How to Stop Time, The Staircase, The Run of His Life.)

And I'm working on my fiction. I got "Johhny Cash is Dead" accepted at a crim fic website, I'll post the link when its up. Now I'm working on a story called "Canary in a Bosnian Bar." Fun titles. I start a mystery-writing class at the Gotham Writer's Workshop on Monday.

Blah, blah, blah ... none of this is bringing you the crime culture you crave. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Nope, nothing fishy here

John Gotti Junior trial ends with a hung jury. Yup. Well, I guess that happens. Move along.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

More on co-ed heroin

I can't find it on their on-line edition, but today's New York Post (whom my alter-ego writes for occasionally, I should mention) publishes some nasty innuendo from a parent of heroin OD victim Maria Pesantez. Juan Carlos, the father of the deceased, has taken it upon himself to blame Maria's friend Mellie Carballo for both of the teens' fatal drug usage.

Carlos insists, with no evidence, that Carballo was paid in narcotics to hook other teens, and that Maria was murdered by drug dealers to hide the fact of Carballo's overdose. This is obviously the words of a grieving person in denial, and it seems odd that the Post would find fit to publish totally unsubstantiated attacks against a dead person. Well, okay, maybe it isn't odd, but it doesn't sit right either.

(Note: I get a lot of hits for the name "Mellie Carballo," some I suspect from people in the same scene. I'm interested in learning more about the New York party scene for a possible story. If you're a part of the scene, please drop me a line at crime-spree "at" jordan.harper.com)

Not much to do with crime, but in more New York tabloid news, check out this story from the New York Daily News about a lawsuit filed against the producers of Extreme Makeover.

Monday, September 12, 2005

On the Lam

I'm going to take a one-week blogging break to work on some other stuff and to recharge. Check out the links on the side, I bet you'll find something you like. See you on Monday (although I might allow myself to pop in Friday after my popcorn lunch).

More Housekeeping

Man, I'll do anything to keep from working on my fiction. That's a great sign. Anyway, I added Junky Life to the sidebar since most of the Google searches these days are looking for info on Mellie Carballo and Maria Persantez. It's a collection of Livejournal-esque sites maintained by active and recovering junkies. Not a happy crowd, kids.

Also, new to the bookhouse: Crimes and Misdemeanors, Twin Peaks Season One, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, A Perfect Husband, Fresh Blood, A Rip in Heaven.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Housekeeping

I haven't updated the sidebar for a while, so today I added several new websites to the sidebar and updated the list of what I'm reading and watching. I've added some crime fiction websites, and several true crime sites I picked up from CLEWS.

Let's Hear it for the Headbutt!


I happened to catch Green Street Hooligans twice this weekend (some friends were going on Saturday, and I figured, why not). The second time I paid more attention to the details, and one thing I noticed was that the fistfight moments that got the biggest crowd reactions were the headbutts.

The reason for this is obvious: the headbutt is nature's greatest weapon. Like the fierce spikes of the Stegosaurus, a headbutt transforms the purely defensive evolutionary trait of a thick skull and turns it into your own personal cudgel. Your fists and those carrot-stick finger bones weren't meant to take hard blows. Your skull was.

I remember many years ago I was sitting at home watching one of those (lower case) after-school specials, this one about a girl who was raped and her family's attempts to deal with the aftermath when the assailant (another student) isn't prosecuted. I was only half-watching it with a friend, mostly making fun of how poorly the movie was done. We were having particular fun mocking the girl's boyfriend, a total wuss. Then came a scene when the girl and her boyfriend meet up with the evil date raper, who openly jokes about the rape. The boyfriend did nothing, until ...

HEADBUTT!

and suddenly my friend and I cheered and took back everything mean we'd said about the boyfriend. The entire two hour film was redeemed by that headbutt. I tried to find the film on the Internet, but "high school headbutt rape" was the best search term I could come up with, and that didn't work)

The headbutt:
A). Looks really cool.
B). Is best when it comes out of the blue like the one described above, or even better when the headbutter is being held by the arms by the headbuttee so that you think he's unable to fight until THWAP!
C). Can make a wet end like the dude described above come out looking like Vinnie fucking Jones. (side note: Jones has been cast to play the Juggernaut in the new X-Men flick, which is excellent casting) Jones delivers an excellent headbutt in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The headbutt is sort of a Brit phenomenon (it even showed up at the Leeds festival last week), as you can tell from the film references above. My theory: soccer teaches it to you.

But is doesn't have to be that way. Folks, if you're looking for a way to drop some pure bad-ass into your fiction or film, have a headbutt. You're welcome.

(ps --I racked my brain for some other great headbutts in film, but came up dry. What's your favorite headbutt?)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Friday Popcorn Lunch: Green Street Hooligans

After having such a good time playing hooky last Friday with my trip to see Transporter 2, I decided to make my own tradition of the Friday Popcorn Lunch. This week, a movie I've been looking forward to for a while: Green Street Hooligans. Starring Elijah Woods as a down-on-his-luck Yank who stumbles into the West Ham football firm, Green Street is refreshingly sympathetic to the idea of brawling as a hobby. The film owes a certain debt to Fight Club, but where Fincher's film felt the need to condemn the violence by making a transitive step to fascism, Green Street keeps it simple. Violence is hardwired into men, we sublimate it (um, look at what I'm interested in) and at the right time a fistfight can be a re-affirming thing. Even at the inevitable downturn of the third act, the film refuses to totally repudiate the lads. Oh, and as every critic feels the need to point out, there is a certain tinge of homoeroticism involved in the whole thing (there's exactly one female character in the film). Okay, fine,we've mentioned it. Let's move on.

Oh, and to my soccer fan readers: yeah, about three minutes of film is set in the stadium. So don't get your hopes up.

Marvel Goes Too Far


As a geek, I've been really happy with all the superhero movies getting made. Even if The Hulk was horrible, and Daredevil and The Fantastic Four looked too bad to be seen, there've been enough good popcorn flicks to satisfy the nerd in me. But Marvel is going to blow it one way or another. Now that they've secured funds to produce films in-house, they're going nutzoid with it. From Ain't It Cool:

The home to such superheroes as Spider-Man and The Hulk has tweaked its name and raised the $525 million it needs to become a producer of movies based on some of its 5,000 characters. Marvel Entertainment -- previously Marvel Enterprises -- is set to announce Tuesday its name change and completion of its loan package, and also will divulge that superheroes Captain America, the Avengers, Nick Fury, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Cloak & Dagger, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Power Pack and Shang-Chi will get the feature-film treatment.

Okay, let's break this down. Captain America, Black Panther, Nick Cage: Could be good, but probably won't be (Captain America should be a period piece, period).

Dr. Strange, The Avengers & Hawkeye: Good comic book stuff, but no frickin' way.

Cloak & Dagger, Power Pack, Ant Man and Shang Chi: Saywhut? Huh? Power Pack? Why not just produce a Speedball flick, huh?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ninja Dude

This really doesn't have anything to do with crime, but I just started goofing on blogger and ran into this site from Ninja Dude, a sixth grader from Canada who likes ninjas, Legos and the Matrix (which makes us %66 alike). I wonder what kind of blogs I would have had when I was a little kid.

Go say hi to Ninja Dude. He just got his own room, so life is pretty sweet.

Busy, busy, busy


I sit in an odd place in the blogosphere. Since I enjoy thinking about crime as a cultural item, I am attracted to sites about both the true crime that shapes our world and the false crime (or crime fiction) that it inspires. To my knowledge, there is no other blog like mine out there. This isn't always a good thing ... it probably keeps my readership down compared to a tightly focused blog like CLEWS.

But I simply cannot focus any tighter than I am, or I would have to run five or six blogs (instead of one with an annex). For instance, here are all of the things I have done this week relating to crime culture:

1). Re-watched the awesome crime film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

2). Followed up watching the enthralling true crime documentary The Staircase with reading the not-so-awesome but more honest Perfect Husband about the same case (more on this later).

3). Continued watching DVDs of the BBC crime drama Cracker. Have you watched this? Robbie Coltrane (above) is a damn fine actor.

4). Started and immediately stopped watching DVDs of the awful gambling drama Las Vegas.

5). Finished up a piece of short crime fiction, "Johnny Cash is Dead."

6). Scoured the web for places to submit said story, in other words crime fiction sites.

7). Worked on this damn blog.

8). Bought a t-shirt with Pablo Escobar on it, then wondered if it was in really bad taste.

9). Looked into signing up for a mystery writing class at the Gotham Writer's Workshop

10). Tried to decide if my long awaited next video game purchase would be Scarface, 25 to Life or something else

11). Wondered if maybe I shouldn't spend so much time thinking about crime.

12). Found myself exploring a lot of crime fiction writers' websites.

The Killer Inside of Me

The recent murder of two sex offenders by an apparent vigilante got me thinking of one of the most interesting pieces of writing I've ever seen. This article by David Holthouse (who used to be my boss), about planning the murder of the man who molested him as a child, will blow your mind.
Go read it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Nobel Crime

The Swedish government is forming a "Nobel Prize"-type award for criminologists. It will be interesting to see the type of studies they approve. My guess: anti-death penalty arguments will receive the first award. I'm basing it off this statement in the story: "It encourages developing more effective and humane policies for dealing with victims and offenders. "

That's all well and good, but that's really only one type of criminology, isn't it?

More on nasty blog-rings ...

Steve Huff took my advice (and my mixed metaphor, which he helpfully corrected) and put out some links to the pedophile sites on Livejournal and Xanga, as did Trench. I invited Henry Garfield to respond to my last post, which he did in the comments section. Read the whole thing, but he really makes some intersting points here ...

Should we (bloggers) publish links to these sites? Ah, the big question. My answer is no. On my blog, there are links to several white power sites, which some people would find offensive. The difference is that, no matter how twisted they are, the neo-Nazis are in fact putting forth a legitimate political ideology worthy of discussion. The pedophiles, as I have mentioned, are not. As for the shining light on cockroaches theory, I’ve never really bought it. The feds are already aware of all of these sites. They don’t need a heads-up from us. And most people already know that pedophiles are scumbags. They don’t need to see a site to reaffirm it. As a final note, it’s possible that the authorities have implanted spyware on these sites to record the identifying numbers of computers who log on. Even if it’s a long shot, we shouldn’t be sending people to a site that could put their name on a government watch list.
So, consider yourself warned. I understand Garfield's point, although it is still my opinion that if you're going to discuss something, link to it so I can see for myself. However, I still only went to two of the sites that Steve linked to before I wanted to upchuck.

I'm suspecting the mainstream media will be jumping on this story soon enough, which should be really interesting.

EDIT: 11:43 pm September 6

Steve and Trench have pulled their links for very good reasons. Please ignore my arguments.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Let the Sun Shine In


Or The World Wide Fucked-Up Web

(a note: I link to some pretty strange stuff this time. Don't click on things that you can't handle)

Steve Huff
and Trench are two of my favorite crimebloggers, as any reader of this crimeblog knows. Recently, they've been double-teaming the scary fact that there are pedophile webrings on Xenga and Livejournal. Steve's spearheading the investigation, and Trench is writing letters and calling for a boycott.

I'm not sure this is the right tack to take. First, a few points that should be obvious: One: Child molesters are scum. Given. I totally understand the revulsion Steve and Trench feel.

Two: Public pedophile webrings provides means for increased communication between pedophiles, which can spread foster the spread of child pornography, give the molesters a sense of community that could encourage them to commit more crimes, and theoretically even create a type of "underground railroad." These are all bad things.

Three: As Alyric, a frequent commenter on Trench's board, points out in an open letter to Livejournal, "I cannot speak for your Terms of Service, of course, but the ideal of free speech applies only to censorship by the government. As a private entity, it is entirely within your discretion to terminate these accounts. " It is true that you can't cry censorship unless the government shuts you up (but I don't agree with the way Alyric puts it here. There is more to the ideal of free speech than simply preventing censorship). If Livejournal wanted to kick any user they felt like, that's their business.

But isn't it better to have these people out in the open where they can be monitored? In truly scary cases (such as the man Steve Huff points to who has had a lifelong affair with his mother (his own, not Steve's) and speaks of starting one with his daughter) ..Well, that might be something that should be pointed out to the FBI. In which case good has come from the perv being online and in the open, right?

While Steve's mentioned not linking to these people because he doesn't want to foster the communication, I say that light kills cockroaches. Let folks read the shit they write. What's better: widely publicized and scrutinized webrings or the harder-to-find sites that will replace them? Child molesters have been setting up secret communication for decades to spread pornography. Sure, Steve is doing a public service by alerting parents that these sites exist. But is it not better to let parents see these sites? Is it not better for people to monitor the sites, looking for clues to the identities of these people (surely, clues will slip out) and to try and determine members who are actually committing abuse?

The truly dangerous predators have pages on Livejournal or Xenga that you will never root out, because they are posing as teens or tweens. Those are the bastards to watch out for, and the kind you'll never find like this. There's always the fine sport of baiting, right? And I am not a parent, so maybe this is easy for me to say, but parents: you've got to monitor your children's Internet use, and monitor it constantly. There's just no Nerf padding online.

The truth is that the Internet has helped create a lot of support groups for evil or sick ideas. There are pro-beastiality sites. There are places where anorexic girls can get together and plan how to better slowly kill themselves. Satanic Parenting. That Fred Phelps asshole. You could argue that child molesters are the most evil people alive. But Nazis are pretty bad too.

Of course, you could argue that child molesters just have to walk out the door to start their molesting, which makes them in a practical sense more dangerous than people who want to kill all the black people. I'm not sure.

And another ugly truth is that the politicized "childlove" movement isn't going to just go away. Everyone from conservative Christians to gays to atheists have learned how to speak the language of the oppressed, and child molesters are learning it too. When I was a "radical" teen I subscribed to an anarchism magazine that published occasional articles in this vein. So I've heard the argument. And it is bullshit. Unfortunately, I do not think that is is worthwhile to attempt to rationally discuss the issue with these people, as I see most of their arguments as pure rationalization of their urges.

But where do you draw the line? I would say, exactly where you would for any other serious crime: when someone speaks of the commission or planning of a crime.

I do not know what percentage of these people actually commit child abuse (Steve seems to think it is very high). But, again: is it not better to have public forums where these people can be monitored? I imagine that at least one of the people Huff or Trench have noticed is an undercover cop trying to set up their own contacts.

Again, I'm all for shining the light on these sites, and as always I'm impressed by Steve's researching ability (and prolific nature ... Steve, do you know how quickly you could write a book? What are you waiting for? You've got Ann Rule's thumbs up). But I still am a fanatic when it comes to freedom of thought. If these guys are just talk, then it's just talk. If they're doing more than talking, keeping them in the open where they are likely to get caught is better than driving them underground.

I'd like to get Henry Garfield's take on this. He spends his life researching stupid, bad and evil thought.

Friday, September 02, 2005

So Stupid, So Fun

I was going to see The Constant Gardener, I swear. But I got the time wrong and when i walked to the art house on Court street, I had another three hours until the next showing. So I walked up the street to the multiplex and realized I could grab a slice of pizza and then go see Transporter 2, if that's what I wanted to do. So I did. And I had a ton of fun. What's not to like about a movie with a girl who shoots double machine pistols while wearing a sheer bra and garters, and she's soaking wet to boot (see above)? Jason Stratham is great at his passionless hero bit, and some of the martial arts scenes are top notch. Sure, the twisty plot makes almost no sense (the villian admits as much as one point: when the transporter asks him if the plot will really work, he says "That's not my concern. I'm being paid to do this." Classic.) I've been avoiding the big summer action films this year (I guess we all have), but I'm glad I closed out the summer with a bang. I'll go see The Constant Gardener soon.

Thantatourism


That mouthful of a word means traveling and sightseeing of a darker vein. You can call it "dark tourism" if you prefer. Visiting a concentration camp, touring a prison, doing a true crime tour of a city or visiting celebrity gravesights are all options. This website gives you the lowdown on this lesser known tourist trap.

Thanks to Joe for the tip.

Light posting

I've got a spate of paying writing that's kept me busy recently, and I expect posting will be light for another couple of days (hey, it's Labor Day anyway). Have fun.