Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jumping On The FOB Bandwagon

Westwood, CA

As others have mentioned, the L.A. Times today released their schedule for the 2007 Festival of Books at UCLA.

Aside from the excellent lineup of mystery and crime authors doing panels, like Laura Lippman, George Pelecanos, Will Beall, T. Jefferson Parker, Jan Burke and lots more, there are also the signings and booths on the grounds.

Mysterious Galaxy and The Mystery Bookstore are always there. The Sisters In Crime LA and the Southern California Chapter of the MWA have a booth.

I hear rumours (so don't quote me) that Naomi Hirahara, Christa Faust, and Duane Swierczynski are going to be there. So bring your books and get 'em signed.

I'll be going on about this again, believe me, but if you're planning on attending make sure you know what panels you want to see and get tickets early. They go on sale at noon on April 22nd at area Ticketmaster outlets.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

That's One Way To Say "Bugfuck Crazy"

Riverside, CA

An unidentified man broke into an elderly couple's home this morning around 4:30am. He was, in the words of the residents, "naked and agitated". The man of the house, a stalwart 69-year-old, beat the man with a baseball bat, but it didn't stick. Instead, the suspect hit him in the head with a vase as the couple were running out. Took about 3 hours but eventually a SWAT team got him out.

Naked and Agitated. What a great band name. Maybe my next novel. I think we should all try to find somewhere to use that at least once a day.

"How are you doing, Bob?"

"Naked and agitated, Frank. How about yourself?"

"Uh..."

Yeah. Naked and agitated. Damn straight.

Notice How You Never Hear This About The Buddhists?

Thousand Oaks, CA

Baptist Pastor, William Alan Malgren, was sentenced to 6 years and 4 months in prison for molesting an underage girl in 1988 and 89 at a church run school. It could have been more, but as it turns out statutes keep him from being nailed on all the times he got her before she was 14. Seems them 8-year-olds really turn the padre's crank.

Yeah, I don't get it, either.

If I'd Know It Was This Easy

Garden Grove, CA

A 44-year-old woman was arrested after attacking several people in Garden Grove; children, old ladies, couple of guys. Seems she's riding a bike and starts pounding on people. Nobody takes her down. Why?
...wore a polo shirt that read "Police."
And here's me thinking I needed a badge to fool people.

She was finally picked up by a plainclothes cop and is being held on the attacks, felony robbery, impersonating a police officer and criminal threats.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get me a shirt that reads "POPE". Can't work worse than "Beaver Inspector".

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Drummer

I just finished Anthony Neil Smith's novel, The Drummer, over the weekend. I'm late to this one. Came out last September.

It's the story of Cal Christopher, drummer for the heavy metal band Savage Night, who, after faking his death fourteen years before and living in New Orleans as Merle Johnson, has to deal with his old life again when Savage Night's has-been lead singer, Todd, tracks him down and tries to blackmail him into a reunion tour. The next morning Cal finds Todd slowly kicking off from too much booze with a suicide note spilling "Merle Johnson's" dirty little secret.

Cal's life pretty much goes to shit from there on in.

The writing's tight, the characters are great. Nobody is just painted in broad strokes. From Merle's gay bartender buddy, to the pregnant wife of the stolen car broker, everyone comes alive on the page.

Cal's a geat narcissistic personality. You can see how everything turns to shit all because he doesn't have the balls to just stand up and face life. It's not that he wants to be an asshole, he's just really good at rationalizing his way into it. He's true to himself all the way through to the end.

The pacing works well with the story. Smith pops back and forth from Cal's time in Savage Night to the present day. Giving glimpses of how he and everyone else in the band got here from there. With all the requisite rock cliches, booze, groupies and prima donna power trips, he's taken what could have turned into a VH1 has been story and makes all those things fresh.

If there's anything I had a problem with it was some of the pacing toward the end. I liked the wrap-up but it seemed a little hurried.

Yeah, the worst thing I can say is that I wanted the book to last. Like that's a bad thing.

Many thanks to Patrick Bagley for sending me the copy and Mr. Smith for signing it for me.

When It Comes Down To It, It's All About The Cock

Riverside, CA

Cockfighting is big in the Land of The Dirt People. Big money. Got Magazines devoted to the sport. Only problem is that it's, surprise, illegal. Doesn't stop people from really going to town on it, though.

Alex Cardenas was arrested for cruelty to animals, possession of implements used in cockfighting and possession of cocks for fighting. Two hundred of them, in fact. All of which had to be euthanized.

Two hundred cocks for fighting. Goddamn. You could poke somebody's out with one of those. And they have blades you can attach?! The fuck?

Wait. What? Chickens? Oh.

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

Los Angeles, CA

un·der·cov·er
Pronunciation[uhn-der-kuhv-er, uhn-der-kuhv-]
–adjective
1. working or done out of public sight; secret: an undercover investigation.
2. engaged in spying or securing confidential information: an undercover agent.

Presumably, the LAPD has read a dictionary.

In the last two months, There have been three news reports about gangbangers taking potshots at plainclothes police. End of February, beginning of March (okay, fine, just an unmarked car, but still), and now yesterday.
"It's hard to say whether the gunman knew his targets were police," LAPD spokesman Lt. Paul Vernon said. "What it demonstrates is the propensity for gang members to attack perceived ‘outsiders' who venture into claimed territory. Such is the nature of the gang mentality."
Yeah, I'd buy that. As Chief Bratton said in an interview in January, "Most of them are sociopaths. Most of them are semi-literate. And almost none of them have graduated from high school."

Doesn't exactly paint the picture of intellectual rigor, does it?

So, stupid is as stupid does. But still, are you guys sure you're cover hasn't been blown?

And They Said Punk Was Dead

Studio City, CA

Anthony Lovato, former singer of the punk band Mest, which broke up last year, is being held on a million bucks bail for allegedly stabbing Wayne Hughes, who it seems was dating Lovato's ex-girlfriend.

According to Lieutenant Andrew Neiman
"He did in fact call the police, call 911, after the incident and remained on the scene (to) surrender himself," he said.
Surrendered? Oh. Maybe punk's dead, after all.

Is It Me, Or Is 18 Months Too Young For Your First Bullet?

Los Angeles, CA

Gotta love those drive-bys, don't ya? Indiscriminate spraying of bullets, no regard to whether or not you hit your target, or if you take out an innocent bystander. They're not real, anyway. Might as well be cardboard cut-outs, Star Wars stormtroopers, old ladies in GTA.

You can tell yourself that that news report of the bullet that took out the toddler wasn't yours. So goddamn many shooters out there every day. Provided you even care enough to watch the news. Or know what the news is.

I've been wondering a lot about what you do when a pack of dogs goes feral. Not drawing any conclusions here. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Well, At Least He Wasn't Moving Bibles

Pomona, CA

Sales is rough. I mean, I've seen Glengarry Glen Ross. A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Rondie Lamont Walz, 22, seems to have taken that to heart. Go door to door selling magazine subscriptions, talk to the lady of the house and sell.

I'm sorry, did I say sell? I meant rape.

Rondie was found guilty of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and sexual penetration with a foreign object after gaining entry to a woman's home in Claremont in December under the guise of selling magazine subscriptions. One charge of kidnapping for the purpose of rape was dropped.

Turns out he also beat a woman in San Pedro back in November while trying to sell subscriptions. Guess she didn't want a year's worth of Redbook.

He gets sentenced Thursday. I wonder if his cellmates like Highlights.

Where The Wild Things Are - Compstat For February

Los Angeles, CA

Yep, you guessed it. 77th Street wins it again (warning: .PDF) with 90 robberies, 99 aggravated assaults, seven rapes and one homicide. They're up 15% in violent crimes over last month, but down 18% from last year.

I haven't done this in a while. Why? Because it's fucking depressing. Year to date there have been 500 violent crimes in that area, and 2096 arrests, of which 315 have been for violent crimes.

The area is 12 miles square and has 175,000 people in it. That breaks down to 1 violent crime for every 350 people, and 1 arrest for every 83 people. That's a fuckload of crime for such a small space.

Reminds me of that zombie line from Night of The Living Dead 4. "Send more cops."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Speaker For The Dead

Los Angeles, CA

I know I've mentioned thsi before, but I can't help but being struck by L.A. Times reporter, Jill Leovy's Homicide Report again and again. At times controversial, but, not only fascinating, necessary. How many others have been brave enough to place a face and a history to a victim? How many have been willing to pursue these people's lives and last moments, or the banal details of their killings without a judgment on who they were?

Certainly not me. I mean, come on, I presume you've read some of my rants by now, right?

Most killings in Los Angeles have few names and fewer faces. Every death leaves a gaping hole in someone else's life. As it should leave a hole in all our lives. If you live in this town, please, take a good, long look. We can't fix a problem until we truly understand the extent of it. The Homicide Report is a good start.

Me, I'd Take A Good Long Look At The Foreman

Pomona, CA

Three construction workers on break near their work site in Pomona were shot multiple times while driving to a grocery store. They're in critical condition and so far there's no word on the shooter.

Note To Self: Fix Ejector Seat

Homeland, CA

26-year-old Paul Flores Reyes of Pico Rivera was driving Monday on Gunther Road in Homeland, CA, east of the 215, when his Chevy Blazer flipped and he was launched out of the driver's seat to, inexplicably, land underneath the vehicle.

Yeah, he's dead.

Now, I can understand the flipping. I can even understand the launching. But how in the hell did he end up beneath the car?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Diversions In The Land Of The Dirt People

Riverside, CA

I remember watching some spy movie, I forget what it was. In Like Flint? Thunderball? The Nude Bomb? I don't remember. Anyway, the spy needs to get to the Super Evil Death Ray and so, as a distraction, he blows up some conveniently placed drums of kerosene.

But what to do when you don't have an entire secret, underground nuclear reator to explode? Why, set a nearby mountain on fire, of course.

Raymond Lee Oyler, now there's a name, was charged in setting a wildfire near Banning last October that killed 5 firefighters to, according to a prosecutor's witness, free his dog from the pound. Yep, Oyler's pit-bull was quarantined after attacking a woman, so, in an effort to spring his canine buddy out of lock-up, he went the James Bond route and tried to blow up something real big.

Five counts of first degree murder, 11 counts of arson, 10 counts of using an incendiary device.

And he didn't even get his dog back.

Like The Little Rascals - But With Heroin

Los Angeles, CA

There's a gang downtown, Fifth And Hill, that's been around since the Seventies. With nicknames like "El Morro", "Archie" and "Barbas", they read kind of like Our Gang. You know, Spanky, Buckwheat, Alfalfa? Do they at least have a dog that performs cute antics named Petey? If he is, he's probably a half starved pitbull.

Anyway, the LAPD brought the hammer down yesterday, arresting 31 people, including the top brass, and pulling in almost a dozen guns, $250,000.00 in cash and over a million dollars worth of narcotics.

They've been responsible for a chunk of the downtown heroin trade and this arrest should put at least a temporary kink in the supply lines. But crime, like nature, abhors a vacuum, so I'm sure someone will slide in and take their place soon enough. Heroin's like oil. The demand's high and the people will pay. Someone will find a way to get the pipeline flowing again.

But in the meantime, congratulations to the LAPD on a job well done.

Odds Of Being Arrested: 1 in 3,000

Los Angeles, CA

Back in February, two men knocked over a liquor store walking off with $400 bucks and 3,000 Lotto tickets.

Say, did you know that they've got serial numbers on those things? Yeah, they didn't, either.

Criminal Tip #12,897: Don't Bring A Knife To A Gunfight

Los Angeles, CA

Don't you just love domestic violence calls? Yeah, that's always fun. Getting in the way of a screaming couple going at each other with table legs and frying pans. Or, as in the case of one 34-year-old David Weisman, a knife.
After obtaining a key from the apartment manager, Officer's Beck and Tajii entered the apartment and encountered Weisman who was armed with a large knife. Weisman refused to comply with the Officers commands to drop the knife and instead lunged toward Officer Beck holding the knife. Officer Beck fired two shots striking Weisman in the upper torso.
Yeah, didn't see that one coming.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Body On Mulholland Has An ID

Los Angeles, CA

And his name is Akop Akopyan, a 24-year-old Glendale resident.

Now, I'm having some trouble with this one. What language is his name? Vietnamese? Tagalog? Thai? Ancient Hittite? I'm thinking Southeast Asia for some reason. Maybe it's the repetitive nature of the first and second names.

Anybody know?

But How Long Before Someone Makes Him His Prison Bitch?

Santa Ana, CA

Jonathan Phong Khankh Tran, 22, was convicted of the 1st degree of 15-year-old runaway Hanna Denise Montessori, as well two counts of rape and one count of oral copulation under the color of authority. Seems he has a thing for underage prostitutes and had three young ladies, ahem, service him after telling them he was a cop.

He faces 55 years in prison. Enjoy the butt sex, Tran and make sure you lube up that truncheon first.

And The Revolving Door Of Justice Keeps On Spinning


West Covina, CA

Steven Michael Conklin served nine years of an 18-year sentence for sexually assaulting a six-year old girl back in 1993. After being missing for eight hours she was found in a cardboard box in Conklin's apartment. He was paroled in 2005.

Well, he's back in trouble with the law.

He was charged this week with sexually assaulting a minor, assault with a deadly weapon and a host of other felonies for an incident in December. Police are also looking into his possible involvement in the assault of a 24-year old last Wednesday.

Once a con, always a con?

Life Imitates Bad B-Movie

Pico-Rivera, CA

EXT. STREET - LATE EVENING

A black Escalade careens around the corner, hubcap popping off and skittering across the street, a lone driver at the wheel. A Toyota quickly following.

FOLLOWING CAR

Close in on three men, heads and arms frantic out the windows. Guns in hand, firing blindly at the Escalade as they close the distance.

ESCALADE

One shot punches through the side window, hitting the driver in the chest. He slumps over the wheel, sending the Escalade across the curb and into a MAROON MINIVAN.

INT. MAROON MINIVAN

An OLD WOMAN and a YOUNGER WOMAN screaming as the ESCALADE comes at them head-on. There's a thundering crash as the ESCALADE slams into the MAROON MINIVAN. Glass shatters, bodies slam into the dashboard as the airbags blow out.

BLACKOUT

Monday, March 12, 2007

Two Dead, One Just Sleeping

Los Angeles, Hawthorne, & Costa Mesa, CA

It's been a busy day for stumbling upon the prone.

An unidentified man was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds off Mulholland Drive near Barham Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills. Police have after the fact witnesses, so they've got a rough time fram. They're looking for anyone who might have been in the area within the two hours before the body was discovered this morning around 6am.

Over in Hawthorne a woman was found dead off of Manor Drive around midnight. Even fewer details. No released identity, cause of death, or even if it's a murder, though L.A. Sheriff homicide is involved, so signs point to yes.

And lastly, we have one Michael Bonnie down in Costa Mesa, who was found sleeping naked on the couch of the woman whose house he allegedly broke into. He's been arrested on suspicion of residential burglary and indecent exposure. I'm not quite sure why on that second part. Seems he was covered in a blanket. Maybe it was a particularly small blanket? or one of those afghans and he was poking out?

Whatever. At least he's not dead.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Overstating The Obvious

Los Angeles, CA

Oh, come on. You're not even trying, anymore.
Boy Critical After Being Shot In The Head
The hell you say! Critical? After a head shot? Why, back in my day, my old man woulda smacked me and said, "Walk it off, son. Walk it off."

There's this problem with professionalism. It shows up in news reports, police repots. Hell, it shows up in yearly corporate personnel reviews. Essentially, you have to euphemise everything. It's not quite political correctness per se, but it often has the same effect. It keep people from saying how they really view things. Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Chaos is held at bay by our infinite capacity to whitewash how we really feel in favor of minimal drama. But I think sometimes it goes a little too far.

For example, "A boy is in grave condition after being shot in the head on Thursday night in the Exposition Park area of Los Angeles. Police arrested two suspects and a third is sought, police said."

Seriously, is that what goes through a copywriter's head when they put this together? Where's the outrage? Where's the anger? Yeah, I know, Who/What/Where/When/How/Why. I took journalism, too. Not that you could tell from this crap.

What about, "Three fucking cowardly assmonkey sonsofbitches popped some kid in the head last night around Exposition. The fuck is wrong with you people? Oh, yeah, you've got a bad mommy. Your daddy beats you. Your home life sucks. Well, news flash for you, Jesse James, that shit's for goddamn animals. Should we throw you in a fucking pen where you can shit on newspaper the rest of your life? You know the only high point here? Your life expectancy is just that above a gnat. You're gonna be lucky to get out of adolescence. A thirty year old gangbanger's fucking ancient. Good luck, ass wipe. Enjoy it while you can, because some fucker's gonna gun your ass down one night, too. Now, if the rest of us can just steer clear long enough to let you all exterminate yourselves, we'll all be much happier."

Or maybe I'm just projecting.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

You Always Stab The Ones You Love

Pomona, CA

Ah, relationships. Have you ever noticed how much drama can be created simply because love is involved? I've always wondered why it's a truism that you always hurt the ones you love. How is it that violence is supposed to be some indication of affection? I love you, so let me beat your face in with this tire iron. I mean, if you loved someone, wouldn't you want was best for them? Wouldn't you want them to be happy?

If 48-year-old Richard Hawkins is any indication, I'd say no.

He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after allegedly stabbing his ex-boyfriend multiple times. Jesus, what do you have to do to piss off someone that much? I mean, sure I've wanted to shoot ex's before. But I've never actually shot any of them.

So far as you know.

Parts Is Parts

Los Angeles, CA

UCLA police grabbed Henry Reid, 57, of Anaheim, and Ernest Nelson, 49, of Rancho Cucamonga, on Wednesday in connection with an alleged body parts-for-profit scheme.

Okay, let's break that down. We have bodies. You know, dead ones. Nobody's using them, right? So, they get willed to UCLA for medical research. And this is where it kind of falls apart.

Turns out the guy who was running the show, Henry Reid, was selling parts to his buddy Nelson, who ran Empire Anatomical, a company that sold parts to hospitals and research groups. Turns out that's illegal.

Seems they had a pretty good thing going, actually. Until, of course, people got greedy.
Authorities said the scheme began to unravel in the spring of 2003 when Reid asked Nelson to return some body parts. In November of that year, Nelson notified UCLA that he was going to sue for money he claimed Reid owed him for the returned body parts.
Essentially, he stole stuff, gave it back, and then sued for the money he didn't get for selling the stuff he stole in the first place.

Chutzpah. It'll get you every time.

What, He Was Blocking Your View?

Canoga Park, CA

So, last Monday night, there's this guy. And he's chatting up this stripper, and, you know, mentally counting his twenties, when this other guy steps up and slashes him a nice, new chin grin from ear to ear.

Yeah, so the attacker, Zachary Todd Balonick, had his ID scanned when he showed up, so it didn't take the cops long to grab him. Yeah, they grow 'em smart in the Valley.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Curse You, Influenza

Bryon Quertermous and Dave White put this thing together a while back where a bunch of people would all write a short story based on a particular theme and post them on their blogs all on the same day.

This year is the third Blog Project and they have brought together a whole slew of excellent writers to contribute.

You'll notice, I'm not one of them.

I had planned on doing one. Had it mostly worked out. I mean, come on, this year it was flash fiction. I can do less than a thousand words standing on my head. I apparently, however, can't do more than a couple when I'm running a 102 degree fever for two days straight. Who'da thunk?

So as I pull myself up from this NyQuil induced slumber and claw my way to consciousness (the pain. The PAIN!) I realize that I've missed the boat. Seriously, I feel like I've been shit through a rhino. Spent a chunk of Saturday night packed in ice. Fun times.

So, if I can't join 'em, I can at least support 'em. Here's the list that Mr. Quertermous was kind enough to send out of all the Blog Project links he's gotten so far:Enjoy the stories folks. I'm going back to bed.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Congratulations, Graduates

Los Angeles, CA

Today, the LAPD is gaining 44 new graduates from the police academy.
First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell will preside over tomorrow’s graduation of 39 men and 5 women from the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park. The officers have completed 1,035 hours of instruction and practical application, and they will spend the remaining ten months completing their training in the field at one of the nineteen police stations.

Among the graduates were 11 Caucasians, 23 Hispanics, 2 African Americans, 2 Filipinos, and one Korean. The class also graduated two officers for the Department of Generals Services, which provides security for city facilities.
Congratulations, folks. Ya done good.

This is a small glimmer of positive news in light of the fact that L.A. will be losing 255 veteran officers to deferred retirement this year.

And that's what leads me to the disturbing part.

I heard about this on KPCC this morning at 6am. The only online reference I could find to it was at the LAPD's official online site, as a news release. Nothing at the Daily News or the L.A. Times, so far as I can tell. LAPDBlog? Nope. The L.A. Police Protective League Surely, they would want to congratulate... Huh. Guess not.

I've been seeing the stories bouncing around about the loss of senior officers. Don't get me wrong, this is a serious problem, and it needed to be addressed more vigorously a long time ago.

Yes, I know this isn't big news and it isn't sensational news. But it is good news. But then, that doesn't make good copy.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

At Least He's Got The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Want to make a lot of money in real estate? Want to take this downturn in the housing market and turn it to your advantage? No cash, no credit, no problem. Just rent out houses that you don't own.
Kenneth Colvin, 28, who advertised rentals on the "craigslist" Web site, was arrested Tuesday after showing a house to two undercover detectives, the Daily Breeze reported.

Colvin received payments ranging from $1,800 to $4,000 from five victims, and police were seeking additional victims.
And it looks like he was a one stop shop, too. His roommate, Ryan Leake, was arrested on suspicion of identity theft, after police found that the apartment they were living in had been rented out under false names.

So, if you think you've been taken in by Mr. Colvin, the Redondo Beach police would like to speak with you at (310) 379-2477, ext. 2714.

Is It Just Me, Or Is This Hubris?

Santa Monica, CA

So, what do you if you have $300,000.00 burning a hole in your pocket? Why, go out and crash yourself a Lamborghini.
A Lamborghini crashed into five parked cars in Santa Monica Thursday, and the driver was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, police said.
Nah, I'm sure the driver was stone cold sober and completely in his right mind when he hammered that V-12 into the curb.