Monday, April 30, 2007

A PSA From L.A. Noir

Playa Del Rey, CA

We have a lot of shootings here in L.A. What surprises me, though, is that this doesn't happen more often.
The man, who had the gun in his waistband, shot himself in the leg about 7:40 p.m. at Culver Boulevard and Pacific Avenue near Del Rey Lagoon Park, said Los Angeles police Sgt. Tim Walters of the Pacific Station.
I knew a guy once who legally was not supposed to have guns (he was insane, like clinically insane), who had a pair of Ruger Blackhawks. Nice guns. Anyway, he and a buddy are out in the middle of nowhere doing fast draw moves and they switch guns cause he wants to try his friend's Colt Pythons.

So he's practicing his Clint Eastwood crap and sort of misjudges. Clears leather on the right, snags on the left. A .357 hollow-point goes in right behind his knee, miraculously, doesn't mushroom, hits his tibia and digs a furrow in the bone all the way down to his ankle.

There is much screaming.

So his buddy tosses him in the back of the truck, blood welling over the top of his all too tight (remember that fact) cowboy boot and tears out to the nearest payphone, which happens to be at a landing strip half an hour away.

They get there, his buddy makes the phone call and they tell him they'll be right there... in half an hour.

Something you have to understand about these two. They're men. Men's men. Suck it up and walk it off, soldier. You know the type. Macho isn't something they do, it's embedded in their very bones, dug deep in their DNA. They ARE their balls. These aren't just men, they're MEN.

So, the guy with the GSW looks his buddy in the eye. Serious. Woozy eyed, sure, but serious. This is serious shit, after all. He could die. He could lose a limb, probably already has. Yeah, okay, not exactly a John Wayne / Green Beret moment since it was his own goddamn fault, but still.

So, he looks his buddy in the eye, grabs him by the shoulders and says, "Dude. I gotta know. Help me get my boot off."

And his buddy, the rational one, the one who isn't suffering from shock and blood loss, and did I mention he was a CHP officer? He looks him right back in the eye, just as serious.

And says, "Okay."

Now, remember that these boots are too tight. Not only are they too tight, but his entire lower leg has swollen up like an overstuffed sausage. Situations like this, you cut the boot off.

He doesn't want to cut the boot off. He paid two hundred dollars for the damn things, he's not cutting the boot off.

Plan B. He's standing on one side of the truck, arms linked over the edge fingers stuffed into the hitch holes, foot raised in the air like a can-can girl as his buddy proceeds to yank on the boot. They tried it first with him on the ground, but the boot was so tight, it just dragged him around screaming like a twenty dollar whore paid extra to make it sound good.

Fifteen minutes of yanking, whimpering and screaming and they finally get the boot off. He takes one look at his mangled, but still intact, foot and passes out just as the ambulance is pulling in.

Somehow he managed to miss the artery and the bullet lodged right next to it. He was in the hospital three weeks before he was healed enough to pull the slug out. Last I heard, he was walking.

So, remember kids, don't do stupid shit with guns. You'll just get mocked for it, later, especially if you blow your own head off.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Song Is You by Megan Abbott

I just finished reading Megan Abbott's second novel, The Song Is You, the other night. It takes the real life disappearance of Jean Spangler, an actress who left her home in 1949 and never came back, and puts a fictional spin around it that paints a picture of a Los Angeles that is beautifully seedy and incredibly vivid, all through the lens of another of Hollywood's digested cast-offs.

The story follows studio publicity man Gil "Hop" Hopkins, who owes his position of hiding Hollywood's indiscretions after covering up the whereabouts of the two golden boys Jean was last seen with.

It's amazingly well written and Abbott really nails the sense of post-war Hollywood, where everything's for sale for the price of a touch of fame. Hop is not a simple man. His yearning for that touch of fame, himself, the desire to be The Fixer, always with a glamorous girl on his arm has eaten away at the things he thought he was and now he's just starting to realize it.

In a scene where he's considering forcibly taking a clue to Spangler's disappearance from a young, entirely too young, prostitute, he comes to his senses and backs away muttering, "I'm not that man." Like all good noir, though, the lesson doesn't entirely stick, and he has to wonder again and again just who he really is.

Just as strong are the supporting characters. Iolene, Jean's friend who was there the night she disappeared, Frannie Adair, the reporter Hop wants but knows he'd just poison by who he is, Hop's ex-wife, Midge, recently shacked up with Hop's best friend. Jean, herself.

Abbott creates intensely strong women characters who carry their scenes as more than just set pieces for Hop to bounce lines off of. Their dialog is sharp, a snappy patter reminiscent of the best Howard Hawk's films. One second charming and playful, the next ominous and deceiving. Oftentimes all with the same word.

Watching Hop's verbal dances is heady, like watching a tight-rope walker who knows that one mis-step and he goes to the crocodiles beneath him. His exhaustion as the story wears on is palpable, and makes him all the more real.

Not a book to miss.

Redefining Terrorist Threat

La Quinta, CA

Break out the duct tape and plastic sheeting, folks. We're on a Fuschia Alert, or is it Puce? Periwinkle? Fuck, I can never remember. Whatever. The terrorists are out there, and if we don't do out part locking up the terrorists then the terrorists have won whatever it is the terrorists are winning. A piece of goat shit encrusted dirt in the Middle East, last I heard. Not sure.

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is we have to root the terrorists out and lock 'em up. Every single one of 'em. Like this 14-year-old boy who "had only made verbal threats, and no weapons were found".

Seems a student at La Quinta High School threatened some other students so the cops came by, locked him up and have booked him on suspicion of making terrorist threats.

Jesus H monkeyfucking Christ, people. Yes, we've had Columbine. Yes, Virginia Tech was a tragedy beyond measure. But why is it, when something happens, that we always have twisted kneejerk reactions that go beyond the absurd?

Terrorist Threats? The other day I started a tag for that because of a USC kid who got busted for meth, an illegal weapons charge and, you guessed it, terrorist threats. I didn't think I'd get a chance to use it again so quickly.

I get the whole keeping the peace thing, but I just have to ask the school administrators one thing. What the fuck are you people smoking?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Annual (Admittedly Short) Book Pilgrimage

Westwood, CA

As you probably know, The Los Angeles Times 12th Annual Festival of Books is this weekend at the UCLA campus in Westwood.

I'll be there. Probably not both days because, well, there are only so many cooking shows blared through loudspeakers, indie publishers shoving their latest "Free Random Tibetan Prisoner" tract into my hands, and clueless parents running demolition ballet with their kids' strollers that I can handle.

Really, the place is a fucking zoo.

Every year the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood hosts writers to sign at their booth. They've got quite the crowd. They're also holding a pre-festival shindig at their store from 5 to 9 on Friday, the 27th, where you can catch some of the authors they're going to be hosting over the weekend.

The Los Angeles chapter of Sisters In Crime will be there, too.

Anyway, if you're too lazy to click the links, the signing schedules are below.

And if you're looking for me at the festival (yeah, right), just start waving twenty dollar bills in the air and calling my name. Or just wave the money. Trust me, I'll find you.

The Mystery Bookstore - Booth #411


10:00 a.m.
Michele Dominguez Greene signs CHASING THE JAGUAR
Charlie Huston signs NO DOMINION
Dana Reinhardt signs HARMLESS
Nathan Walpow signs THE MANIPULATED: A Joe Portugal

11:00 a.m.
Jane Cleland signs DEADLY APPRAISAL
Robert Crais signs THE WATCHMAN: A Joe Pike Novel
Dianne Emley signs THE FIRST CUT
Jerrilyn Farmer signs THE FLAMING LUAU OF DEATH
Ken Kuhlken signs THE DO-RE-MI
Jeff Shelby signs WICKED BREAK

12:00 noon
Reed Farrel Coleman signs SOUL PATCH
Jim Fusilli signs HARD, HARD CITY
Tod Goldberg signs SIMPLIFY
Laura Lippman signs WHAT THE DEAD KNOW
T. Jefferson Parker signs STORM RUNNERS
Peter Spiegelman signs RED CAT

1:00 p.m.
Stephen Cannell signs WHITE SISTER: A Shane Scully Novel
Carol Higgins Clark signs LACED: A Regan Reilly Mystery
Mary Higgins Clark signs I HEARD THAT SONG BEFORE
Lee Goldberg signs MR. MONK AND THE BLUE FLU
Christopher Moore signs YOU SUCK: A Love Story

2:00 p.m.
Robert Gregory Browne signs KISS HER GOODBYE
Larry Karp signs THE RAGTIME KID
Sheila Lowe signs POISON PEN
George Pelecanos signs THE NIGHT GARDENER
Keith Raffel signs DOT DEAD: A Silicon Valley Mystery
Stuart Woods signs FRESH DISASTERS

3:00 p.m.
David Corbett signs BLOOD OF PARADISE
Hakan Nesser signs THE RETURN: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery
Cornelia Read signs A FIELD OF DARKNESS
Helene Tursten signs THE GLASS DEVIL

4:00 p.m.
Megan Abbott signs THE SONG IS YOU
Will Beall signs L. A. REX
James Ellroy signs THE BLACK DAHLIA
Theresa Schwegel signs PROBABLE CAUSE
Jason Starr signs LIGHTS OUT

5:00 p.m.
Bill Bryan signs KEEP IT REAL
Sean Doolittle signs THE CLEANUP
Victor Gischler signs SHOTGUN OPERA
John Shannon signs THE DARK STREETS: A Jack Liffey Mystery
Duane Swierczynski signs THE BLONDE
Robert Ward signs FOUR KINDS OF RAIN

The Mystery Bookstore - Booth #411


10:00 a.m.
Rhys Bowen signs IN DUBLIN’S FAIR CITY: A Molly Murphy Mystery
Cornelia Funke signs PRINCESS PIGSTY
Leslie Klinger signs THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES: The Novels
Priscilla Masters signs SLIP KNOT
Danuta Reah signs BLEAK WATER
Eric Van Lustbader signs THE TESTAMENT

11:00 a.m.
Harlan Coben signs THE WOODS
Jesse Kellerman signs TROUBLE
David Morrell signs SCAVENGER
Thomas Perry signs NIGHTLIFE
Edward Wright signs RED SKY LAMENT

12:00 p.m.
Joanne Fluke signs KEY LIME PIE MURDER
Chris Grabenstein signs SLAY RIDE
Sue Ann Jaffarian signs CURSE OF THE HOLY PAIL
Laura Levine signs THE PMS MURDER
Robert Levinson signs WHERE THE LIES BEGIN

1:00 p.m. – The L. A. NOIR Panel
Michael Connelly
Denise Hamilton
Naomi Hirahara
Jim Pascoe
Gary Phillips
Christopher Rice

2:00 p.m.
Russell Andrews signs HADES
Lisa Jones-Johnson signs A DEAD MAN SPEAKS
Dick Lochte signs CROAKED!
Mark Haskell Smith signs SALTY
John Morgan Wilson signs RHAPSODY IN BLOOD: A Benjamin Justice Novel

3:00 p.m.
Sheryl Anderson signs KILLER DEAL
Brett Ellen Block signs THE LIGHTNING RULE
Pamela Samuels-Young signs EVERY REASONABLE DOUBT
Alexandra Sokoloff signs THE HARROWING

Sisters In Crime Los Angeles - Booth #355


10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Denise Hamilton

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Arthur Coburn
André Coleman
Gay Toltl Kinman
Clare Langley-Hawthorne
Jeff Sherratt
Mari Sloan
Keith Raffel

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Aileen Baron
Diane Emley
Robert Fate
Linda O. Johnston
Tekla Dennison Miller
Twist Phelan
Pam Samuels-Young
Alice Zogg

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Joanne Fluke

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Cara Black

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Joan Del Monte
Thomas H. Griffith
Sue Ann Jaffarian
Rita Lakin
Laura Levine
A.H. Ream
Simon Wood

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
John Shannon

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Cara Black

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Gay Degani
Jane Dilucchio
Victoria Heckman
Zack Heckman
Naomi Hirahara
Renee Morgan-Hampton
Romina Wilcox

Sisters In Crime Los Angeles - Booth #355


10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Carol Amato
Jennifer Colt
Darrell James
Clare Langley-Hawthorne
Robert S. Levinson
Keith Raffel
Jeff Sherratt
Morgan St. James

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Gene Cartwright
Bruce Cook
Gay Toltl Kinman
Michael Mallory
Barbara Reed
Eric Stone
Patricia Wynn

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Joanne Fluke

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Alexandra Sokoloff

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Joan Blacher
Cara Black
Genie Davis
Darrell James
Lois Hendricks-Klass
Marion McNair
Robert Weibezahl

3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Denise Hamilton

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Jennifer Colt
André Coleman
Lois Hendricks-Klass
Jeff Sherratt
Alexandra Sokoloff

School Days

Los Angeles, CA

Bolstering my theory that this shit hits the media more when unrelated school disasters strike, we have two education related (by an extreme stretch of imagination, so work with me here) stories today.

Back on the 19th a student at Salesian High found a letter threatening violence against students and faculty that would take place on April 24th.

Well, the 24th came and went and nothing happened. Possibly because a suspect was arrested the day before.

See, this is what happens when you send your kids to private school. They learn how to read and write threatening letters. Drop 'em back into the LAUSD where they can get a more useful education in, say, meth dealing.

Speaking of which, Zao Xing Yang, a 19-year-old USC student, was at a party near campus Saturday night when he started making threats toward a young lady, after which he was asked to leave. Could have been the end of it, except that Yang had a gun.

A load of students dropped him and kept him under wraps until the cops could show up. The next day LAPD hit his apartment and found a safe with meth ready for sale, several hundred in cash, and a pretty .44 magnum revolver.

Mr. Yang is being held without bail on a firearms charge, and the DA's office is looking to nail him on possession of unregistered firearms, possession of illegal narcotics for sale and, get this, making terrorist threats.

Okay, I'm having trouble with this last one. What exactly qualifies as a terrorist threat and what the hell did he say?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Forty-Six Down, Three To Go

Los Angeles, CA

Last year, 49 members of the Vineland Boys street gang based out of the San Fernando Valley, were indicted on RICO charges. Of those, 27 pled guilty before trial, and 19 more were convicted.

Of those 46, the last one was sentenced Monday to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Rafael Yepiz, 35, of Reseda, was convicted of racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering. There are three left from that original indictment to go on trial; Jose Ledesma, Raul Robledo and Javier Covarrubias. They've been charged with the murder of a 16-year-old girl who had testified against a fellow member.

With any luck they'll get the death penalty and we'll have moved onto something a little more brutal than a series of sleepy time dugs. Fuck humane. Is it humane to gun down children? Know why the death penalty's not a deterrent? It's not fucked up enough. Feed them their own intestines while they're being slowly run through a wood-chipper and you might be onto something.

Anyway, this is good news. Hopefully this will hobble the gang enough that they can be kept fragmented and swept up more easily by the police. But will it get rid of them? Please. The Vineland Boys have gone nation-wide. They're an institutionalized business. All the Feds did was nail the corporate headquarters. The franchises are moving along just fine, thank you very much.

Monday, April 23, 2007

You Want Fries With That?

Palm Springs, CA

So, it's night time, you're hungry and you got no cash? What do you do? Knock over a drive-thru, of course.

A white male in a green mini-van with a yellow strip along its side robbed a Jack In The Box drive-thru Saturday night. Later that same evening a McDonalds drive-thru was hit by a man fitting the same description. He drove up, demanded the money and apologized with, "Sorry, I have a gun."

So be on the lookout for him. He's considered armed, polite and has really high cholesterol.

'Cause That's Where The Coffee Is

Murietta, CA

Sunday morning, 6am, a Starbucks in Murietta was robbed by an African-American, late teens-early twenties. Five foot ten, 180 pounds. Black pants and sweatshirt. Mole near his right eye.

You sure he wasn't asking for a non-fat, half caf/decaf, no foam double shot latte with a squirt of caramel and it just came out, "Gimme the money bitch?" Happens to me all the time.

You've Got Bigger Balls Than I Do, Gunga-Din

Pacoima, CA

So this guy, see, he walks into the police station and there's this cop and the cop looks at him and says, "What seems to be the trouble, sir?" and the guy says, "Sucking chest wound".

Hey, it killed 'em in the Catskills.

Revitalizing The River

Los Angeles, CA

There's this plan floating about to revitalize the Los Angeles River, that thin ribbon of water through concrete that swells like a porn star's latest tit job every time it rains. The idea is to make it greener, nicer, more accessible.

I wonder if there's a plan for getting rid of all the bodies?

The Crimson Kimono

Hollywood, CA

My wife (who some refuse to believe actually exists) and I hit the Egyptian Theater Friday night to see one of the films in the American Cinematheque's latest Noir festival.

The Crimson Kimono, directed by Sam Fuller, is an interesting film. Made in 1959 it's the first to actually deal with Japanese American race relations in the U.S. in a believable manner. Two LAPD detectives, one Caucasian, on Japanese American, fall for the same girl, who happens to be white. Guess which one she wants?

Less film noir than a movie with a message (it has a happy ending... sort of), the search for a stripper's murderer(the stripper is named "Sugar Torch" played by Gloria Pall, who showed up and regaled the audience with stories of her and Elvis Presley. Ad infinitum) is more of a McGuffin to get the two cops to meet the same girl than any kind of real plot point.

The acting and the story are somewhat ham-handed and really more of a vehicle to examine the Japanese experience in Los Angeles, replete with scenes in Little Tokyo, a Kendo match, and lots of Japanese dialog that had the bravery to not hide behind subtitles. Not a great film, but a good one, and one that dared to actually deal with a delicate subject with intelligence.

Missed the second film, Pickup On South Street, which I hear is more noir than Kimono.

Also had the pleasure of meeting Christa Faust, author of Hoodtown, the novelization of Snakes On A Plane and soon to have her novel Money Shot out by hard Case Crime who's doing the marathon run and hitting every single film, and Naomi Hirahara, author of the Mas Arai mysteries.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Not The Homecoming He Was Expecting

Compton, CA

I remember a story on Los Angeles video stringers, guys who drive around city hot spots grabbing video to sell to the evening news, where one guy had just quit and signed up with Halliburton because, "Iraq's safer."

In some cases, I think he might be right.

Raul Damian Martinez, 24-years-old, was convicted of the first degree murder of 20-year-old Osiel Hipolito, home from a stint in Iraq, and was sentenced to 155 years in state prison.

Martinez was also convicted of premeditated attempted murder for shooting Hipolito's wife, his 16-year-old brother, and the couple's unborn daughter, who was delivered premature via emergency C-Section with a bullet wound through her leg.

This is fucked up on so many levels, and it's a tragedy that plays out far too often throughout the Southland. The ubiquitous, "Where you from?", the gunfire, the inevitable death. Martinez should get out some time around 2160. Or, if things pan out right, he gets butt raped in the shower and shivved in the exercise yard.

One can only hope.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Well, At Least It's Not Imported

Diamond Bar, CA & Phelan, CA

In this day of E Coli infections from bad spinach, spring freezes destroying farms throughout the nation, and infected food shipped in from foreign lands, it's nice to know that at least some crops are doing fantastic business right here in the Southland.

Now if only the cops would stop finding them.

In the last few months, several indoor marijuana farms have been discovered in suburban homes. Two seemingly connected ones in the town of Phelan near Victorville and one in Diamond Bar, are the latest in this string of arrests.

Now, I'm all for legalizing certain drugs. Most of them, in fact. Making something illegal doesn't stem the demand, and as Prohibition showed us, that just makes it more lucrative. Lucrative + illegal = St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

I'm waiting for the day they outlaw cigarettes. Anybody want to be a Tobacco Kingpin?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Multiple Traumas

Los Angeles, CA

Some of the problems with data gathering and analysis is the sheer volume of information and the time and effort required to sift through it. It takes time and an incredible amount of effort.

Case in point, new studies being released today by the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, show a marked increase in childhood fatalities at the hands of a family member (33 up from 30), adolescent suicides (15 up from 13) and infant deaths (25 up from 20 - 13 accidents, 3 homicides) from 2004 to 2005.

Of the children killed by a family member, the bulk of the deaths were due to "Multiple Traumas". The bulk of these children (79%) were under 5 years old.

Now, sadly, this doesn't paint the whole picture. Check out the report (.PDF - available here).
There were 60,409 total cases filed during Calendar Year 2005 by the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. Of this number, 784 defendants (or 1.29% of the total filed cases) had ICAN category offenses of child abuse, neglect or exploitation alleged against them.

...based on the ICAN established criteria, of the total child deaths reported, 297 were referred to the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect for tracking and follow-up. Last year calendar 2004 the total child deaths referred to the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect for tracking and follow-up was 275, a increase of 22 cases.

A total of 5143 cases were submitted for filing consideration against adult defendants. Of these, charges were filed in 48% (2462) of the cases reviewed. Felony charges were filed in 58% (1432) of these matters.
In summary, that's a fuckload of children being beaten.

Now there's a lot of data in this report. It's 419 pages long, and not all of it is entirely bad news. The agencies comprising the ICAN are doing what they can in the face of an enormous caseload, 156,831 for the Department of Children & Family Services alone. There are a number of programs being put to good use. The Safe Surrender program has seen an increase in children given up for adoption, rather than being left in dumpsters, for example.

But there's an underlying message of tragedy, and a simple fact that the problem is enormous. It sometimes seems that the simple act of examining it makes it even larger. I doubt we'll ever be able to do enough, but at least there are people out there trying.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Naomi Hirahara's "Number 19" In The L.A. Weekly

Los Angeles, CA

Just picked up this week's L.A. Weekly and found Naomi Hiarahara's darkly wonderful story from Los Angeles Noir, Number 19, gracing its pages.

So, if you haven't yet picked up Los Angeles Noir, at least check out the Weekly. It's a great story and, like everything else she does, captures a picture that is uniquely Los Angeles.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Naked Is As Naked Does

Los Angeles, CA

Was there a full moon a few days ago? Naked, crazy gas pumped into Los Angeles? I mean, I wouldn't mind if it were at a Victoria's Secret runway show, but this.

In Van Nuys on Monday police were called to a house on Runnymeade and told that a woman was being held inside by her estranged husband, John Goudeaux. After knocking on the door and trying unsuccessfully to get Mr. Goudeaux to open the door, police broke it down.

Mr. Goudeaux was standing there, naked, threatening officers with a 3-foot metal bar (insert Freudian comment here).
After officers repeatedly ordered the man to drop the metal bar, Goudeaux advanced towards Officer Timothy Hope, 27. Officer Hope fired, striking the man. Goudeaux was taken to Holy Cross Hospital where he later died.
Naked doesn't stop a bullet, folks.

Naked does, however, apparently stop tasers and frontal assaults, as demonstrated by one Jaime Parra, who, wearing only a towel (at least he had some decency) was confronted by police for threatening a woman in Westlake.

Police ordered him to put his hands up, a move I really have to wonder about. I mean, he's wearing a towel. If he puts his hands up, the towel goes down, right? Of course, Mr. Parra's choice is, however, more baffling. He charged the police.
A TASER, front kick, and baton strikes were used in an effort to repel the suspect without success. Parra, now nude, ran to Occidental and Hyans Street pursued by the officers. Parra turned to confront the officers again, but ultimately was taken into custody.
What is this guy, Rasputin? Jesus.

It took four officers to take him down and one of them, Officer Matthew Vocke, had his right arm broken. Mr. Parra was taken to County USC to for a possible arm fracture.

I think we need a new PSA program on the scourge of naked crime. "Naked, drunk and stupid's no way to go through life, son. Stay safe. Stay clothed."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Après SO 40, Le Deluge

Los Angeles, CA

Special Order 40 was a policy put in about 30 years ago by then-police chief Darryl Gates that prevents the LAPD from ascertaining the immigration status of arrestees. The rationale for this was to create a level of trust between the LAPD and the immigration population who are preyed upon the most. It's a common problem for crimes in immigrant communities to go unreported because the residents simply don't trust the police.

For good or ill, depending on where you stand in the whole immigration debate, SO 40 has been adopted by police agencies across the nation and has managed to endure for decades.

Last year, the Orange County Sheriff's Department enacted a different policy, allowing its deputies to be trained in immigration law and issues and begin operations to assist in arrests for immigration violations. The LAPD and the LASD haven't been too keen on this, feeling that SO 40 has helped them prevent more crimes, reduce load on its staff and already overcrowded jail system, and generally allow them to do their job, not the Federal government's.

With immigration issues gaining more visibility, the LAPD is already getting ready to deal with one challenge on SO 40. Now they've got another.
The suit, which is endorsed by the Federal Immigration Reform Enforcement Coalition and is scheduled to be filed as early as today, cites an obscure state code that appears to require local police to report to federal authorities the names of any illegal immigrant arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking or possession.
Looked at one way, revoking SO 40 could be a good thing. It's clear that illegal immigration is a problem. Aside from being against the law, it's not like criminals coming into the country are going to walk in on an H1B visa. The lack of effective immigration enforcement has turned into a revolving door for deported criminals and gang members. The infamous Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) is noted for having their members sent back to El Salvador only to sneak back across the border in record numbers, spreading the gang across the nation. If the LAPD is required to inquire as to an arrestee's immigration status, they're far more likely to get people out of the city.

And on the other hand this could be a disastrous thing. The LAPD's stretched thinner than a Trojan on John Holmes' distended cock. Our jails are so overcrowded, repeat offenders are getting early release just to make room.

Where will people be detained as they're waiting for deportation hearings? The Terminal Island Federal Correctional Facility that deportees are held in can't hold that many people. Stick 'em in Pitchess? Considering the recent race riots between blacks and Latinos we've had there and in other county facilities you might as well wall the whole thing off and turn it into one giant cage match.

I'm not necessarily for or against SO 40. But I think that revoking it without having some things in place, like enough police, enough money, a viable plan for housing deportees, an actual Federal immigration policy, is a disaster waiting to happen. Just pulling the plug while the LAPD is still digging itself out from under the weight of Federal oversight left over from all that Rampart crap is going to put a strain on them they're not going to be able to handle.

Los Angeles Noir Gets Rave Reviews - No, Not This Place, Stupid

Los Angels, CA

The L.A. Times, our esteemed and troubled local rag, has a review of the latest in the Akashic Books Noir Series, Los Angeles Noir. Not surprisingly, they like it. A lot.

I picked up my copy last week. Amazingly well done. The thing I like the most about Akashic's Noir series is the locality of it. And this one's no exception. Each story is tagged by a place; Belmont Shore, Mar Vista, K-Town. Disturbingly, my neighborhood's in it, too.

With authors like Naomi Hirahara and Gary Phillips, and edited by writer and ex-L.A. Times reporter Denise Hamilton, you know the city's going to be treated right; like the rabid and unwieldy beast that it is.

Go pick up a copy.

Now, dammit.

Monday, April 09, 2007

What Do You Expect If You Leave The Door Open?

Santa Ana, CA

David Olmedo, 22, was arrested and in the middle of serving a 120 day sentence for stealing a car and receiving stolen property. He was put in the Central Jail in Santa Ana in minimal security.

Then he went on walkabout.

I can understand not wanting to be cooped up in the can for 4 months, but son, you're gonna find yourself in a much larger world of hurt, now.

What Would Jesus Do? Return Fire, Of Course

East Los Angeles, CA

The owner of the Alvarez Market in East L.A. is coming back from Easter Mass on Sunday along with his family when a man walks into the store and holds him up.

On Easter. No respect for religion. No respect for the King of Kings. Some people.

Anyway, so, Mr. Alvarez (I'm assuming it's Alvarez, it doesn't say) goes after the guy to get the license plate of the car he jumps into. That's when the robber pops off a shot.

And like any morally upright, turn the other cheek Christian would do, Mr. Alvarez opens up.

Nobody was hurt in the shootout and subsequently resurrected.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Zombie Jesus Day!

As a good friend of mine just reminded me, it's Zombie Jesus Day. Also known as "Yeaster (so-called because Jebus is Risen)."

Yeah, that one hurt me, too.

Anyway, go forth and eat lots of chocolate brains, hard-boiled chicken ova, and slay your sacrificial bunny to the pagan gods and goddesses on this Spring Fertility Rite Festival Whatchamacallit.

And remember, if Jesus comes out of his cave and sees his shadow there will be 6 more weeks of... something. Debauchery? Guilt? Fuck if I know, I'm an atheist.

You Christians are wacky.

Plea Bargains - Freeing The Guilty Since 1633

Murrieta, CA

Plea bargains are great things, aren't they? Galileo got off for spouting Copernican heresies on a plea bargain, for instance. They reduce court workloads by keeping some cases from going to trial, they reduce jail time or penalties for criminals. They're a win for everybody.

Oh, except for the victims.

Take John Wayne Leseberg, 43. He was a Riverside Sheriff's Deputy facing 17 years for a slew of offenses. Burglary, indecent exposure, sexual battery, sexual assault under color of authority, and others after being charged with willfully committing an act of sexual penetration, sexual battery and assault by a public officer. One of the victims was in jail, the other was at an abandoned apartment.

In short, he's a rapist with a badge.

So he pleads guilty in a plea bargain to two felony counts of burglary and three misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure, taking 2 years instead of 17. The judge drops 10 other counts. Little things. Not even worth mentioning, really. Like the sexual battery and assault under color of authority charges.

Due to a delay in sentencing, pushed to July 31st, he'll get time served, walking out a free, registered sex offender.

He was arrested last April 26th and was released on bail. He was then arrested a second time a week later on suspicion of intimidating a witness, burglary, sexual assault with intent to commit rape and elder abuse. He's been held in lieu of $2,000,000.00 bail since then.

Can somebody check my math, please? April 26th, 2006 to July 31st 2007. That's 1 year and 3 months, right? Fifteen months? Two years is still 24 months? Or is this some wacky leap year, Gregorian calendar shit I was previously unaware of?

Hell Hath No Fury

North Hollywood, CA

On the one hand, it's disturbing to know that a woman shot her boyfriend several times Saturday a little after midnight. On the other, it's heartening in a feminist even out the injustices sort of way to know that more women are packing. I think more should. It would certainly reduce the number of rapes and assaults.

In situations like these, I always wonder what did this guy do to piss her off? And did he know she was carrying? If you did you probably deserved it simply because you don't go pissing off a woman with a gun. Ever.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Can We Do This For Children, Now?

Los Angeles, CA

Isaak Gowhari, 34, was arrested in November for animal abuse after he surrendered a 7-month-old doberman pinscher that he had been regularly beating.  The dog had broken ribs, evidence of healed ribs and injuries to her leg, snout and head.

Now, he's getting jail time.
"Gowhari told the animal shelter workers that he was surrendering the dog because his hands hurt from hitting the animal," said Los Angeles Animal Control Officer Ernesto Poblano, a member of the Los Angeles Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF).
Yeah, he's a real winner, that Isaak. He's getting 45 days in County, 45 days of community service, 48 hours counseling and 36 months of probation.

Oh, and he can't own a pet for three years. That'll show him.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Can't Imagine How She Lost Custody

I'm sure that Sue Porchia, 23, cares about her kids. After all, she drove all the way out from Nevada and repeatedly kicked a pregnant woman in the stomach for them.

Seems Sue came out with her 18-year-old boyfriend to snag her two children, 4 and 5 years old, currently in the custody of their father, from the Montessori school they were attending.

One of the administrators, who happens to be two months pregnant, stopped her, telling her she couldn't take the children. So Sue kneed her in the stomach a few times and took off.

Police were able to catch up with her at her motel after the school administrator got some shots off with her camera. She had dropped the kids off at her parents' place in Monrovia.

Somthing tells me she's not getting them back.

Wait, They Didn't Shoot Him?

Mira Loma, CA

Riverside County Sheriffs responded to an assault in Mira Loma about 6:30 last night. Turns out one Ryan Colbert, 19-years-old, had left the scene with two knives on him. The cops scoured the area... well, okay, they bumped into him about a block away.

Anyway, the cops see him, he sees the cops. And in a display of amazingly bad judgment, or possibly just an old inner ear problem, he charges them with both knives drawn. Probably saw too many Kurosawa movies, or something.
One of the deputies deployed a non-lethal weapon to subdue him, sheriff's officials said.
Subdue him. That must've hurt.

I saw this nature show one time on Komodo dragons or some other giant monster lizard. This thing runs up to a slow moving deer just munching on some grass, leaps up and shears the fucking thing's head clean off. Seriously. Like bolt cutters on a Gitmo inmate's nutsack.

And right after this some Masterpiece Theater voice over says, "After subduing the antelope..." Wonder if they both mean the same thing.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Identifying The Dead In A Sea Of Diversity

Los Angeles, CA

Jill Leovy, LA Times reporter and creator of The Homicide Report has an article on the problems of identifying victims with non-English names.
But in Spanish-speaking countries, there are relatively few surnames to choose from and spellings don't vary much. Names like Rodriguez, Garcia, Hernandez, Perez, Sanchez, Aguilar, Diaz, Gonzalez, Martinez, Morales, etc., are so common that used alone, they do little to pinpoint any one individual. A Jose Rodriguez vanishes amid throngs of Jose Rodriguezes.
It's a big problem. Los Angeles has one of the highest Latino populations in the nation. We're an incredibly diverse city with cultures that smear across the landscape.

Part of the problem is in the LAPD's 5.10, the basic arrest form. It's designed with the first, middle and last name in mind, and doesn't take into account the convention of Spanish names to use two last names.
Without two properly recorded last names, coroner's investigators are sometimes left with the unenviable task of trying to find the relatives of a "Garcia" or "Rodriguez" in one of a dozen Spanish-speaking countries where tens of thousands of people bear the same name.
And when remains can't be identified or remain unclaimed, they sit in the morgue for a year and then are cremated. The cremains get mixed up with the rest of the unidentified slated for that day and dumped en masse into a single grave with a numbered marker. Names and photos are kept of the people who are in each of those numbered plots (and "plot" is being generous).

And that's just the victims. Extrapolate that out to the perpetrators. If you look at the LAPD's most wanted list, the vast majority of suspects are Latino. Are those names being accurately recorded? Our system is so huge and we have so many people, how many of them get lost in the shuffle?

As A Matter Of Fact, We Do Have A Vacancy

Los Angeles, CA

Ever get to a motel after a long day's drive and find they're full up? You're tired, frustrated. You've had a long day.

Maybe, you snap right there.

33-year-old Gerald Anthony Jones was killed in the parking lot of the Cornett Motel in South Los Angeles by a man who had just been turned away from the motel because one of Gerald's buddies got the last room.

I'll have to remember that when the next conference hotel I hit is booked.