Monday, February 27, 2006

Favorite Hooker Haunts - Santa Monica Boulevard

On Friday, the Times reported on a seedy stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard around Gower that's popular with gay, straight and transgendered prostitutes like it's a new thing. Their hook?

According to the LAPD, Lee Tamahori — the New Zealand-born director of "Mulholland Falls," "Once Were Warriors" and the James Bond movie "Die Another Day" — was wearing an off-the-shoulder dress, a long black wig and full makeup when he propositioned an undercover vice officer for oral sex near Santa Monica Boulevard and Lodi Place.

No word yet on whether this will actually be a setback to his career or a boost. Or if the undercover officer has a screenplay he'd like to talk to the director about. Alternate sexuality, after all, is the new black. This may just be the year that two gay cowboys and a trannie grab an Oscar.

"That area is blatant," Garza said. "The seedy part of Hollywood would be the best way to describe it."

And boy is it. Sure, it's cleaned up some, but it's still pretty fascinating. Hang out at the Yukon Mining Company over on Santa Monica and Fuller some night around 2 a.m. and you'll see what I mean.

It's a big problem, but discouraging it by increased patrols and better lighting is just going to move it out of the area. Just like last time.

Longtime residents said there was a time, years ago, when LAPD officers pushed the prostitution problem west into the city of West Hollywood, only to have L.A. County sheriff's deputies push it back east into Hollywood.

Great. Prostitute ping-pong. No, not that kind of ping pong. Fuck, people, this is a family show.

Look, people like to fuck. Some people are wiling to pay for it. Some people are willing to sell it. In the words of George Carlin, "Selling is legal, fucking is legal. Why isn't selling fucking legal?" You want to get the criminal element out of it? You want to slow down the spread of disease? Legalize it, and tax the hell out of it. Enforce medical tests, require condoms.

But we all know that's not going to happen. So, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, where will all the hookers go? Suggestions?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Author Events This Weekend

The Mystery Bookstore

Saturday, February 25, 5:00 p.m.

Robert Ferrigno (no relation to the Incredible Hulk as far as I know) signs Prayers For The Assassin

In 2040, the United States has been split by a nuclear attack into the Islamic States of America, headquartered in Seattle, and the Bible Belt, a Christian republic in the South. Historian Sarah Dougan, niece of the moderate Islamic States leader Redbeard, investigates the cataclysmic attack for a book to be called The Zionist Betrayal – and becomes the target of an assassin, hired by the leader of a rival faction. PRAYERS FOR THE ASSASSIN is a thriller sure to stir controversy, and likely to make you look at the world a little differently.

I've heard a few things about this book. Less about the quality and more about the controversy of an Islamic United States. I'm not sure what that says about the novel. Probably nothing, but I always wonder about books like this. Is the marketing more important than the book? Is it just a shell of a story with a sharp enough hook that it got the deal? Hey, it worked for the Da Vinci Code.

If anyone reads this one, please let me know.


Mysteries To Die For

Saturday, February 25, 11:30 a.m. (Actually they say it's p.m., but I'm gonna take a shot here and say probably not)

Robert Eversz signs Zero To The Bone

Ex-con and tabloid photographer Nina Zero is back, surrounded by sex, drugs, and guns but it’s all in the name of art-at least at first. On the opening night of her first gallery show, Nina’s staged Hollywood photos are attracting actual art connoisseurs but her excitement turns to alarm when she receives an anonymous package containing a snuff film whose victim is one of Nina’s models. Who sent the tape? Who murdered the girl? Nina’s investigation sends her into the sordid world of S&M dating websites, past life regression therapy, and movie industry money - attracting death threats and the attention of the L.A.P.D. Don’t miss this “feverishly hip” thriller - a steamy tale of sex, lies, videotape, and murder.

Ya know, I'm a lot like that Far Side cartoon about what people say and what dogs hear. I see every word up there, but the only thing registering is "sex", "drugs", "guns" and "S&M". Beyond that it's all just blah blah blah.

That probably says more about me than I'm entirely comfortable with.


Book 'Em Mysteries

Saturday, February 25, 1:00 p.m.

Paula L. Woods signs Strange Bedfellows

Two violent cases threaten to collide, with African-American LAPD detective Charlotte Justice caught in the middle, in this fourth crime thriller by the bestselling, award-winning author of "Dirty Laundry."

Oh, Paula. Charlotte Justice? Well, it sells, so I guess that grants you a pass, but, still. Justice?

What If They Held A Robbery And Nobody Came?

Tujunga, CA

Well, except the SWAT team, that is.

After a 5 hour stand-off with a home invasion suspect and his girlfriend at a house in Tujunga, the police finally rushed in.

And found nobody there.

Really, if you're going to start a stand-off, be polite enough to finish it. None of this sneaking out the back while the SWAT team finishes their coffee and gets the bettering ram ready.

Not very sporting, I must say.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Who Knew Sudafed Could Be So Explosive?

Paramount, CA

I know there's something wrong with me when I read about a meth lab going up in Paramount and start dancing and cackling in my office.

The apartment building, over on Richfield & Texaco blew out around nine last night.

No one may have been hurt, but there's gonna be a lot of sad tweakers in Long Beach, today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

When You're Homeless They Don't Even Notice When You're Dead

Ah, Venice, where one crazy man's canal dream has spawned more California stereotypes, hack artists and hippie coffee houses than anywhere outside of Santa Cruz. It also seems to be a good place to hunt the homeless.

West L.A. Online makes mention of the fact that over twelve homeless women have been murdered there and nobody seems to be saying anything. Aside from a small spot of news, and some posts around the blogosphere, there's been nary a peep over a woman who was found bludgeoned to death on Speedway last week.

The news is, by and large, based on sensationalism. Of course when you hear about a pig and an antelope living together at the L.A. Zoo, it makes you wonder what exactly sensationalism means. The point is that there's only so much room to report the news and so many reporters to do it. You can't have a news stringer on every street corner, you can't have a budding young journaist behind every trash can.

A dead homeless person isn't nearly sensational enough. Twelve might be. At least it is for me. By and large, though, most people only care about the homeless in a vague and obligatory manner. And that's why you don't get a lot of coverage on the homeless. They just don't grab the news like a dead banker will.

Unless they're dismembered, of course.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Rough Patch Of The Valley - Four Dead In Two Weeks

Panorama City, CA

Sofia Gomez was beaten to death, Ernesta Avena died in a gang related shooting, Adin Godoy was shot in the head. Some random guy turned up in a shopping cart missing his head and hands. Christ, it's been a harsh couple of weeks for the North Hills area, hasn't it?

I can't say I've spent much time in North Hills, but I have to say, it's pretty manky. It exudes that depressing slumlord vibe that you get in places where, well, where people turn up in shopping carts missing their head and hands.

"Still, Panorama City is one of the undiscovered gems in the San Fernando Valley. You go down the street and people smile at you. You come to an intersection and people stop and wave at you."

Yeah. Right before they shoot you in the head.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Author Events This Weekend

Mysteries To Die For

Saturday, February 18, 1:00 p.m.
Paula Woods signs Strange Bedfellows

Characters in noir novels have it rough. Hell, even the guy the movies always call "Second Man In Restaurant" gets it. Mowed down in a hail of bullets, glass shattering and patrons screaming. Blood. Blood everywhere.

And the main characters. Jesus. Family brutally murdered. Haunted by nightmares. Your buddies get hauled up on charges and, invariably, some past dirty deed comes back from the grave to haunt you. Don't even try dating, because you know it just won't work out. And there's the drinking. Always drinking. Rough life in the pages of a novel.

But it sure is fun to read, ain't it?

I don't know about the drinking angle, but it sounds like Paula Woods latest fits the bill nicely.

In this newest L.A. noir novel from Macavity-award-winner Paula Woods, L.A.P.D. homicide detective Charlotte Justice returns to an investigation she once had to leave behind. Thirteen years earlier CharlotteÂ’s husband and child were murdered in their own driveway. Now, Charlotte is on the edge again, haunted by bloody memories, a violent incident involving a fellow officer, and a cold case that turns red hot. This is a fast-paced gripping entry in an authentic series you should be reading - come meet the delightful author.

See what I mean? Rough.

Saturday, February 18, 2:30 p.m.
Steve Hockensmith signs Holmes On The Range

Okay, cheesy title aside, I'm actually kind of digging this one. See, here's the setup. There's these two cowboys. Brothers, not gay lovers. Who ever would have thought I'd have to qualify that? What's next, gay astronauts? Gay mailmen? I hear somebody's doing a movie of Frank Miller's Spartan epic 300, so I'm sure you'll be able to find lots of manly bonding and whatnot going on in it. It's the gay year in movie making, apparently.

But no gay cowboys here. So there's these two cowboys (BROTHERS), Big Red and Old Red (let's just ignore that, shall we?). And they really like Sherlock Holmes. Not, you know, that way. Remember NOT gay cowboys. So, anyway, they use their deductive reasoning skills inspired by the great detective to solve mysteries while they drive herds of cattle across the range, chaps flapping in the wind.

Okay, that sounded dirty.

Look, just check out the guy's website and read the short story that introduces the characters. It's really good.

And it's not about gay cowboys.


The Mystery Bookstore

Saturday, February 18, 11:30 a.m.

Paul Levine signs The Deep Blue Alibi

The second in the Solomon and Lord series, which I've heard some really good things about. And this one sounds like fun.

A dying real estate developer crashes his speedboat onto a crowded beach. The speedboat is home to a man with a spear in his chest, and lobsters with hundred-dollar bills in their claws. The firm of Solomon and Lord must prove the magnateÂ’s innocence while facing off against Conrad-quoting barge owners, well-endowed cliff divers, and parrothead sheriffs.

I've heard this described as Moonlighting but with lawyers.

Saturday, February 18, 12:30 p.m.

Steve Hockensmith signs Brokeback Mountain Holmes On The Range

Hey! More NOT gay cowboys. Who solve mysteries. I bet they could kick the shit out of the Hardy Boys.


Book'em Mysteries

Saturday, Feb 18, We Assume Some Time During The Day

Yep, you guessed it. Steve Hockensmith shows up to informally sign "Holmes on the Range". I'm thinking "informally" means that they have no idea when he'll get there. And considering he's coming up through West L.A. and then into Thousand Oaks, it's a pretty good bet he'll hit Pasadena some time around 2016. (Ha! Traffic joke! Yeah, I'm all hip and L.A. and shit... okay, not really)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Following Up On Stephanie Creech

Canyon Lake, CA

This may be the most interesting thing I've run into all day.

I got an anonymous comment this evening on this January 27th post about Stephanie Creech's abduction from Canyon Lake in Riverside County.

Gee, I was at the house when the "ASSHOLE" took Stephanie. It took two attempts. The first time he didn't expecte to see me there. I have personal issues with the fuckin' informant(that is how he got his early release) like half the population of Canyon Lake. Needless to say the weak ass left empty handed. The second attempt he came with a Large pipe...take her. That may sound bad, but listen to what Stephanie told me two hors prior to this. I asked her why she gave up her young daughter and goes with this punk every time. She answered..."THE EXCITEMENT." They deserve each other.

I haven't dug much into Ms Creech's abduction since I first heard about it, but I just now took another look at it via Google and found this article from Channel 3 News in Palm Springs.

Apparently, Channel 3 got an interview with her current boyfriend, Steve Whisler, who's house it was that Richard Gurzi allegedly set on fire. After the fire, according to the article, they went to a friend's house, where Mr. Gurzi found them again, smashed several house and car windows, and bailed before police could grab him.

The next morning, Mr. Gurzi showed up with a metal pipe, and abducted Ms Creech.

So, here's my question. Who are you, O Anonymous poster? Are you Mr. Whisler? The friend whose house they went to? A random pal who happened to be there the morning he showed up with a pipe? Now I respect the desire for anonymity as much as the next guy. More so, in fact, if the next guy happens to lean toward the right. But, damn, I'm curious.

My hope is that, ultimately, Ms Creech will be found safe, and unharmed. As to the state of their relationship, I can't even begin to conjecture. I wouldn't know where to start.

I think that a lot of this situation, though can be summed up with a description of Mr. Gurzi.

Richard Gurzi is 37-years-old, 6 feet tall. He has a “Gurzi” tattoo on his back, and the names Justin and Julia tattooed on his arms.

Like I said, I wouldn't know where to start.

The Biter's Got A Name

Wilmington, CA

Esteban G. Ramos, 23. He's the guy who was shot yesterday after biting a couple of officers. Apparently, though, he did a little more than just that.

When officers looked over a fence, they heard a woman screaming and saw Ramos beating her... The officers jumped the fence and Ramos pulled the woman into one of the recreational vehicles and closed the door. Through the window, the officers could see the man choking the woman.

Christ, Esteban, who pissed in your Cheerios? Hell, I'd have shot you, too. Just on general principle.

Nobody Said Justice Was Fast

Burbank, CA

Back in 1992, Kimberly Pandelios was found dead in Angeles Crest. After being arrested in 2004 for the murder, David Al Rademaker was finally found guilty of kidnapping and killing her.

Mr. Rademaker isn't exactly an all around stand-up guy. Back in 1998, he was sentenced to 12 years for some charges surrounding a relationship he was having with a girl fifteen years younger than he (she was 14 when they started dating. He was 29), got out after 6 and was promptly arrested for the murder.

I don't know what it was that got him a 12 year sentence. Maybe it was for banging a 14 year old, maybe it was for something else. Couldn't tell you.

Funny thing is, the prosecution's main witness, Manya Ksendov, is that same, spunky 14 year old, now, what, 26?

"I don't think any one of you think you should be convicted of a crime on the basis an ex- said you did something."

Boy, I'll say. But that doesn't explain away the witnesses (that the defense brought in, mind you. I'm sure there's some cryptic lawyerly strategy here somewhere) who testified that "...he had admitted setting fire to the victim's car in the Angeles National Forest but that he had denied killing Pandelios."

Did he do it? Fuck if I know. Either way, he can get the death penalty, which means he'll be taking the dirt nap sometime in, say, 2032.

I Suppose The Can's As Good A Place To Burn A Body As Any

La Cañada, CA

Phrases like, "charred remains", "burned beyond recognition", and "serial killer" grab my attention pretty fast. Not as quickly as, say, "Honey, I'm pregnant," but still.

The burned body of an adult male was found in a bathroom at the Colby Canyon Campground in Angeles Crest Forest, north of La Cañada. Whatever happened to just dumping the body over the side of a cliff?

The campground was closed Monday, but reopened to the public on Tuesday. So, if you ever wanted to relive those bad Eighties slasher flicks, now's your chance. I'm not saying that there's a murderer on the loose... well, actually, I am. They haven't caught the him and have no idea who phoned it in.

Yeah, just like Friday the 13th. Maybe there's a chance we'll see boobies.

Schaedenfreude, Thy Name Is Ovitz

Looks like the Pellicano extortion case is starting to spread its grubby little fingers across more of Hollywood. Not that anyone thought it wouldn't.

Michael Ovitz, he of Walt Disney infamy, has been called before a grand jury to discuss his ties with private investigator Anthony Pellicano. Not that he hasn't been looked at before. It's just that now, they're looking a little more closely.

He was involved in disputes with several people who were listed among the victims of Mr. Pellicano in the Feb. 1 indictment.

What? You mean Pellicano didn't do all of this undirected? He's not just a lone stalker handing ill will out like it's crack cocaine on Halloween? The hell you say!

No major Hollywood figure is among the seven individuals indicted so far. But investigators and lawyers in the case have indicated that further charges are expected, possibly as early as this week.

I wonder who they might be thinking of.

I love it when movie moguls get raked through the mud. Arrogant bastards. How do you think they got where they are? Hollywood's a goddamn shark tank, and every once in a while it's nice to see the money men sweat. Not that I think anything will ultimately happen to them. After all, money talks. And in this town it talks very loud, indeed.

I got a twenty here says Ovitz and everybody in this worth over half a mil walks. Who wants to start a pool?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Well That's One Way To Solve The Rioting In Jails

'Hulk' Actor Lou Ferrigno To Be Sworn In As New Reserve Sheriff

This is an ideal candidate? The man's 53 years old, deaf as a post. Okay, so he's going to be focusing on recruitment and community outreach. Hmm. I'm still not sure that's such a hot idea.

I'm just hoping we hear more "Hulk SMASH!" out at Pitchess.

Maybe He Was Just Hungry

Wilmington, CA

Dog bites man, man bites dog. But how often do you hear man bites cop? Probably happens a lot, actually. It says something about how slow a news week it is when I heard this story five times from different sources yesterday.

Guess we blew our wad on the dismembered body in Panorama City.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Because Cop Rock Did So Well

Okay, who really thought this was a good idea?

Members of LAPD Perform in C'OPERA, a Dance Opera at the Historic Los Angeles Police Academy

Am I the only one getting images of Chief Bratton belting out Memories? Darryl Gates trying to broker peace in the community with The Farmer And The Cowman? What's next? Black Dahlia 2: Electric Boogaloo?

Look, I'm sure everyone needs a creative outlet. But a bunch of the LAPD's finest prancing on stage in black leotards to a Phillip Glass inspired soundtrack?

No. Just... just no.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Author Events This Weekend

Mysteries To Die For

Friday, February 10, 7:00 p.m.

Robert B. Parker signs Sea Change

Parker signs the latest of his Jesse Stone books tonight. It's got sex and violence and yachts, apparently. Go check it out, if not for Parker, at least for the wine and cheese. I mean, come on. Wine and cheese, man.

Saturday, February 11, 1:00 p.m.

Walter Satterthwait signs Perfection

Sarasota police detectives Sophia Tregaskis and Jim Fallon track down a serial killer who goes after obese women in an attempt to make them "perfect". I assume that means thin. A serial Weight Watchers coach probably wouldn't be nearly as exciting. Death: check. Violence: check. Obsessive/compulsive eating disorders: check. Sounds like another winner from the Shamus and Agatha-nominated autor.


The Mystery Bookstore

Saturday, February 11th, 11:00 a.m.

It's a pretty safe bet that if an author is showing up at one of these stores, they'll be at the other some time that weekend. Such is the case with Walter Satterthwait signing Perfection.

Saturday, February 11, 12:00 noon (is that p.m. or a.m.? I can never remember)

Robert B. Parker yet again. If you couldn't catch him the night before in Thousand Oaks, or you just can't get enough of the man (in which case you should probably seek profesional help) he'll be in Westwood signing Sea Change.

No wine or cheese, though.

On The Fourth Day Of Riots My True Love Gave To Me...

Castaic, CA

Okay, this is getting ridiculous.

For the past four days there have been race riots between black and Latino inmates at two of the jails at the Pitchess Detention Center jail complex in Castaic. Now, it's spread to a third.

Now, I could talk here about the problems of an understaffed Sheriff's department trying to handle thousands of inmates with one guard per hundred or so prisoners, or go on about the Constitutional landmine that segregating prisoners will cause. Or possibly I could make a comment about the ambiguity of race relations and bigotry in a diverse and ever shifting city like Los Angeles.

But let's be honest, we're all just glad these fuckers are in jail and not running naked down the streets with baseball bats.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Well, This Explains My Morning Drive

Venice, CA

Being a commuter town, it's easy to miss things in Los Angeles. A million little dramas go on around the corner, or under the freeway, just out of sight. Of course, when you're being diverted off Abbot Kinney by cop cars and traffic cones, it gives you a hint that something's going down.

Santa Monica police, responding to shots fired, pursued a suspect in the Oakwood area of Venice this morning around 5-ish (That's what we strive for here at L.A. Noir, accuracy in reporting), and then shot him after he crashed his car into a building near the intersection of Electric and Santa Clara.

Other than that, I know squat. Anyone know more?


Well, I figured they weren't just popping off at random passers-by. Glad to see I was right.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Car Chase Porn On Channel 2

I'm not sure what I find more disturbing, the fact that CBS has an archive of all their L.A. car chase footage going back to April of 2003, or that I'm so jazzed about it.

With headlines like "69 Year Old Grandma Nabbed After Low Speed", and "Honda Driver Loses Clothes In Pursuit", how can you possibly go wrong? How have I managed to live this long without knowing about this? I am shamed. Shamed, I tell you.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Speaking Of Dismembered Bodies...

Just out of curiosity, I did a Google News search for "dismembered body".

I got 310 hits. Iowa, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Gambia, London, Bulgaria. The list goes on.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Where are L.A.'s hacked up corpses? I mean, we've got a reputation to uphold. We've got the goddamn Black Dahlia. Sadly, L.A.'s just not the place for dismemberment anymore. Tack on "Los Angeles" to that search, and you'll get a whopping 4 hits. One of them's actually a Daly City story and another one is for The 1947 Project's Crime Bus.

L.A. doesn't get a whole lot of hacked up corpses. Too much trouble, I suppose. Easier just to roll them up in some cast-off carpeting and chuck them in a ditch off Piuma. No creativity.

So I've got a question for you, dear readers. If you're going to off somebody in L.A., how would you hide the body?

Nothing Like A Headless Corpse To Brighten Up Your Tuesday

Panorama City, CA

A dismembered body was found stuffed into a shopping cart in the 8600 block of Langdon Avenue in the North Hills / Panorama City area this morning, between Roscoe and Nordhoff.

Looks like there are some pretty big vacant lots in that block, next to some light industrial. Not a bad choice. A covered shopping cart in a vacant lot isn't going to grab too much attention. Police are thinking it may have been there for about a week.

Not much in details, yet, but I'll be watching this one.

Thanks for the heads up on this one, Mack

Monday, February 06, 2006

Pellicano Charged - Hollywood Sweats

Los Angeles, CA

Anthony Pellicano, private eye to the stars, was released Friday after serving a 30 month sentence for a felony weapons charge.

And then he went right back in.

He's been arraigned today on wiretapping and racketeering charges, digging up dirt on a whole slew of people for his clients.
Pellicano and his associates, including former LAPD Officer Mark Arneson, 52, allegedly tapped Stallone and accessed confidential police records to learn about prominent people, including comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon, New York Times reporter Bernard Weinraub and former Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch, according to the 60-page indictment.

And it looks like he'll be taking a few folks down with him.

The indictment also named Los Angeles Police Sgt. Mark Arneson; former Pacific Bell employee Rayford Turner; Pellicano client Robert Pfeifer; software designer Kevin Kachikian; and Las Vegas businessmen brothers Abner and Daniel Nicherie.

Thing is, Pellicano worked for a lot of Hollywood heavies. Tom Cruise, John Travlota, Arnold Schwarzenegger, just to name a few. Huh. You don't think that the 110 counts against him are going to spread out to anybody else, do you? I mean, nobody ever gets tagged by association in this town.

Check out The Smoking Gun. They've got the whole thing on-line.

Sit back and watch the carnage, ladies and gentlemen. Lots of people going away for this one.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Pebbles In The Pool - Shooting In Silverlake

Los Angeles (Silver Lake), CA

On Tuesday evening, police responded to an ambulance shooting call in Silver Lake. A young hispanic man was found with several gunshot wounds and died at the scene. The name's being withheld until the family has been notified. Unsurprisingly, the police think it's gang related.

It's made a bit of a stink in the local blogosphere. Mack Reed over at LA Voice covered it, as did Blogging.LA.

It's nothing new. Same shit happens every day in this city. As Will Campbell points out, there have been two others within only a few blocks of each other in the last year and a half.

So what is it about this one that warrants the attention? Well, basically, it happened around people who blog.

It's easy to forget, in the torrent of sound bites and news feeds, that these events don't exist in a vacuum. There are the obvious victims: some guy with a bullet in his head, a girl in the ER with a detective and a rape kit, the cop in the morgue. But there are other victims, too. Families, friends, the ER nurses, the neighbors across the street.

Interesting statistic. The most hits this site gets are Google searches for names. Stephanie Creech, Richard Gurzi. Traffic doubled after Mary Dasaro was murdered by her boyfriend. Of course, I also get a fair number of people looking for "Breiaane: The Ultimate Courtesan" (FYI guys, she's out of business). Morbid curiosity? Family and friends looking for answers? Couldn't tell you.

But every one of these events has had an impact throughout their community. Like stones skipping across a pond, each hit has sent ripples, spinning and bounding back into each other. This one just happened to occur where it impacted some people with a forum to speak about it.

They're victims, too. They have to walk down the street and know, when they see the bloodstains on the sidewalk, that they're walking through a killzone. That someone died there. Scared, in pain, and very much alone.