Friday, August 31, 2007

Great, But They'll Probably Just Go To Jail

El Centro, CA

First the good news. A 20 month investigation in San Diego has pulled in 31 members of La Eme, the Mexican Mafia, on 46 counts including kidnapping, torture, drug and firearms sales and a whole slew of conspiracy charges.

Now the bad news.

La Eme started as a prison gang in the '50's in Los Angeles. Now they control pretty much every serious Latino criminal enterprise from drug trafficking to prostitution and extortion. One of the problems with getting rid of them is that most of the shot callers are already in prison. Some of these guys will get picked up and thrown into the can just to get into the power circle or relay messages to the higher ups.

So, yeah, jail's not really a deterrent.

Granted, it fucks their distribution, throws their organization into disarray, and is going to take time to recover. But they will recover. Because all that will happen is that the shot callers will find new people to carry on the tradition.

I'm a big fan of the Chicago Way, as Sean Connery so eloquently put it in The Untouchables. "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue." Because anything short of that is just sticking guys in a closet until they can start it all up again.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Don't Think That's What She Meant By "Burn For You"

Valley Village, CA

Jayni Antonio Walters is a passionate man. So passionate that he's been arrested for allegedly threatening to kill his last girlfriend's new boyfriend and setting fire to her new beau's apartment.

He's being charged on five counts of making criminal threats, arson, and burglary in connection with a June 23rd fire that took out an apartment unit that, fortunately, no one was in at the time. I suppose it's not a big leap for a guy previously convicted of robbery and battery with a restraining order on him that he seems to have violated.

He's a keeper, that one. So, ladies, if you've really lowered your standards, give him a call. He's sitting in the Twin Towers lockup, and unless he can come up with the 650K in bail money, he ain't goin' anywhere soon.

If You Can Read This You Are Too Close

Riverside, CA

So, you've just had a motorcycle slam through your rear window at 80MPH, and the guy's head and torso are shoved through the glass and sitting in your back seat. Whatta ya do? Drive home, of course.

Tony Martinez, 55, while pulling out of a parking lot, didn't see Nicholas Campbell, 20, coming at him on his motorcycle. The bike, doing about 80, slammed into the back of the Saturn Sedan. Mr. Martinez then drove a mile home with Mr. Campbell sticking out the back of his car before figuring, hey, maybe I should get some help, and headed off to a fire station. By that time, of course Mr. Campbell was dead. Considering how fast he was going, he was probably dead the minute he hit the car.

Let's see. A driver under the influence and a motorcyclist doing 80 on a highway with cross traffic. That's fucking brilliant all the way around. Of course, this would be in Riverside.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Maybe He Just Really Had To Pee

Buena Park, CA

Two men, wanted on suspicion of armed robbery at a dairy in La Mirada were followed by police to a Denny's, where one of them decided it would be a great idea to run inside and try to somehow blend into the crowd with his Leet Ninja Skillz. Yeah, I don't get it, either.  Anyway, he got popped in the bathroom.

There's a reason they say crime doesn't pay.  It's because criminals are fucking stupid.  What, did he think he was going to fade into the vinyl upholstery like a chameleon?  Hide himself in a stall holding his breath until the cops came in and said, "Nope, Vern, guess there ain't nobody here," and walked off?

Seems he tried snaking his way out with a customer when the cops evacuated the restaurant. Yeah, they always fall for that one.  Maybe it was the massive bulge in his pants from the gun he was carrying tipped 'em off. You know, the bulge that you can pass off as your johnson?  Provided you're some kind of gay porn mutant and it's up by your waistband?

Come on guys.  Show some goddamn brains next time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wouldn't It Just Be Easier To Shoot Him?

Pasadena, CA

Johnl Dvon Reynolds... hang on. Huh. Yeah, that's really his name. Johnl. Dvon. Guess they didn't have any vowels at the 99 cent store when he got squeezed out. Anyway, Johnl is being held in the shooting death of 16-year-old Ebony Huel outside a party a couple weeks ago.

Johnl... How the fuck do you pronounce that? John-el? Johnell? Jo-Henel? Your parents must have fucking hated you. Johnl seems a real piece of work. Probably because of the name. He's 19 years old, and just got out of the can three weeks ago on a stint for armed robbery before deciding to take a shot to help his standing in a gang. Not sure which one, though I know the Pasadena Raymond Avenue Crips are in the area.

So, he's being arraigned today for the murder. As well as possession of a firearm by a felon and attempted murder. Seems Ebony wasn't the intended target. I'm sure that makes her parents feel so much better.

Boy's going to be sitting in the can for a long time. Not that that matters, of course. That's like fucking going home.

What's wrong with the death penalty, again? Aside from the fact that it takes too long to implement?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Guess You Shouldn't Have Super-sized That Last One, Huh?

West Covina, CA

When considering burglary, one must take into account a number of factors. Occupancy, alarms, dogs, and, apparently, the size of one's ass.

Seems a gentleman attempted to gain entrance to a home in West Covina by shimmying down the chimney.  And got stuck.

Residents awoke to sounds coming from the fireplace and called 911. Unfortunately for the homeowners they couldn't pull him back out again and had to dismantle the chimney.

Me, I'd have gotten onto the roof and dropped shit on him 'til the extra weight popped him out the bottom.  Bowling balls are good for that sort of thing.  Hey, they're gonna take apart my chimney, might as well have some fun.

Friday, August 24, 2007

82 Minutes

Los Angeles, CA

Okay, I normally don't talk about the latest celebrity bullshit, but the news that Nicole Richie has served 82 minutes of her 4 day stay in the County lockup pisses me off.

I'm not bothered by it being her. I'm not bothered by what appears to be celebrity favoritism. I'm bothered because she shouldn't have been in there in the first place.

Yes, she committed a crime. Yes, it's a jailable offense. But the problem here isn't her.

The Los Angeles jail system is dangerously overcrowded. To the point where anyone who isn't in on some dangerously serious felony charges probably shouldn't even be there. If things are so bad that you're going to lock them up for just over an hour either change the offenses that they're in there for or change the punishments. An hour in the slammer is useless. I spend more time at the fucking DMV.

I understand that she got sentenced to 4 days on a plea deal. Fine. But 4 days was stupid. 800 hours community service at a drug rehab center, or helping the homeless. Or wearing an orange vest picking up trash on the 134. But sticking her in for 4 days, sorry, 82 minutes, not only doesn't get the idea across that she did something wrong, but costs too goddamn much money.

Think about it. You had to transport her, process her, get her in a jumpsuit, assign her a cell, get all your paperwork in order, add one more distraction for the Sheriff's deputies to pay attention to, process her out, collect her jumpsuit, release her and hold the obligatory press conference that Sheriff Lee Baca will have to do in order to explain, yet again, that the jails are too fucking crowded to keep some pregnant, bratty debutante locked up when she could be doing something more productive.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Learning Is Fun

Los Angeles, CA

Everything about being a child is a learning experience. Reading, Sharing, shooting random strangers on bicycles. Boys and girls at the Para Los Ninos Daycare Center got an extended lesson in man's inhumanity to man yesterday when someone was confronted and shot right outside their door.

Now, I'm not so naive as to think that some of these kids don't already have an education in the harsher lessons of life. But goddamnit, can't we just let them stay kids a little bit longer?

As If The DEA Wasn't Bad Enough

Tarzana, CA

Ah, Tarzana. That chunk of Valley real estate once owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan. Tarzana. Get it?). Not a bad place as places in the Valley go, which is kind of like saying that hole's not so bad for a sucking chest wound.

Anyway, as in many places in Los Angeles, they've got a medical marijuana dispensary. And, as in many places, they have robberies.

Four or five black men, all apparently armed, entered the business near Ventura Boulevard and Tampa Avenue about 7:15 p.m. and demanded marijuana...
Seems nobody got hurt, which is good. The robbers took off in a black BMW SUV.

Devil's in the details, ain't it? A black BMW SUV. Was it stolen? Or was it owned by one of the gentlemen? Certainly plausible. These days gangbangers are making bank on drugs and BMW seems to be taking over the Escalade as the banger SUV of choice. But if they're doing so well they can own the BMW (which may really not be all that well - lots of folks 'round here pay more for their ride and clothes than they do for their apartment) why hit the dispensary?

Have their sources dried up? With the recent crackdown on gangs that's certainly possible. Or are they new to the game and looking for a quick stake to get into the market? Either way, they're going to need to establish some supply lines. They can't go hitting dispensaries every time their stash gets low.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fewest Homicides In Twenty Years. Slackers.

Los Angeles, CA

In 2005 the city of Los Angeles had 488 homicides. The year before that, 480. So far this year we're down to 249.

Compare this to 1995, where we had 849. It dropped substantially (Isn't that when the truce between Grape Street and Nickerson Gardens went into effect?) and then shot back up in the late 90's to 2004. It's been dropping steadily since then.

If we keep up this trend we could see fewer than 400 murders in the city this year.  Somebody must be doing something right.

Because Pit Bulls Just Aren't Enough For Our Town

Glendale, CA

Ever set up dominoes and tipped them over? L.A.'s like that. We build to the edges, displace the wildlife. It comes into our backyards. And little Fluffy gets eaten by cougars.

Stop buying yappy dogs, folks. They're only good for bait.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oh, And Go Buy This Book

Wherever Fine Books Are Sold

Agnes And The Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer is out today. There's blood, gunfire, a government hitman, a fortune, the Mob, an RPG, a dog, a crazy woman with a frying pan, explosions, shady dealings, sex. Oh yeah, and it's a romance.

Huh. I think this may be the first time I've ever plugged a romance novel here. I mean, you can't call Wild Beach Thai Trampoline Babes IV, V and VIII, romances, can you? Besides, those were all video.

Anyway, what's interesting to me about this, and their previous book, Don't Look Down, is that you have two successful authors from completely different genres collaborating on a book that brings in their collective experience and makes it work. Very well, I might add. Aside from being excellent novels, it's an education on what makes a collaboration successful.

It ain't easy. Most don't make it. Hell, I can barely cook in the same kitchen with another person. Write a book? Jesus.

Jenny has a long career writing New York Times Bestselling romance novels. Bob has a number of successful thrillers under various pen names. Each of them has brought what they do best to the collaboration and written a couple of excellent novels.

They also collaborate on a blog on the craft and business of writing called He Wrote, She Wrote. Excellent advice from two professionals who have been there and done that.

Go pick up a copy. And go read their blog.

Writing Events This Week

Los Angeles, CA

I had a long afternoon yesterday walking around Little Tokyo and being a shopping pack mule for three wonderful and lovely ladies, so don't expect much more than grunts and those words that only have one... thingie... syl..mon... monosylabusesseses... es. Or something. I'm pooped.

Sisters In Crime

Saturday, August 25th

Bill Fitzhugh, Laura Lavine and Sue Ann Jaffarian at 2:00pm

Talkin' about their books. Panel. Signing.

Culver City Library. 4975 Overland Avenue, Culver City, CA 90230

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The Mystery Bookstore - Westwood, CA

Tuesday, August 21st

Robert Fate and Bruce Cook Signing Baby Shark's Beaumonst Blues and Philippine Fever at 6:30pm

The Mystery Bookstore is hosting a signing over at the Rancho Park Library (2920 Overland Avenue), where Robert Fate signs Baby Shark's Beaumonet Blues and Bruce Cook signs Philippine Fever.

Baby Shark has gotten a lot of attention and I keep hearing I need to read it (along with the other five thousand books on my TBR pile). The sequel looks like it could be just as fun.

Phillippine Fever is about a BATF agent who goes to Manila to help in the investigation of an Oklahoma gun smuggler. One more for my distended TBR pile.

Saturday, August 25th

Launch Party for D.P. Lyle's Forensics and Fiction at 11:00am

Dr. Lyle is awesome. Not just in his useful forensic advice for writers, but also just because he's an incredible speaker and fun to hang in the same room with. Go see him and buy his book.

Lee Goldberg signs his latest Mr. Monk And The Two Assistants at 2:00pm

If you like Monk you'll dig this.

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Dark Delicacies - Burbank, CA

Saturday August 25th

A.W. Hill signs The Last Days of Madame Ray at 2:00pm

The Ghastly Ones play and sign copies of their new CD, The Ghastly Ones Unearthed at 7:30pm

Monday, August 20, 2007

Is That A Chinese Type-69 40mm RPG, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Laguna Niguel, CA

Bad News: Guy has van stolen. Good News: Guy gets van back. Bad News: Finds an RPG round stuck in the overhead rack.

The OC Sheriff's Bomb Squad decided it was best not to fuck with military ordnance, so they called in some marines from Pendleton to blow it up.

What's A Seven Letter Word For Alcoholic, Incestuous, Pedophile, Rapist?

Riverside, CA

Dentist.

Albert Cabrera, 48, a dentist in Riverside, has been charged with incest and raping a person under the influence of a controlled substance. Seems he, his teenage daughter and the girl's stepmother had gone out for dinner, came back home and started drinking. A lot. Until the young lady became ill and went to the bathroom to be sick.

She states that she remembers seeing her father in the bathroom with her, and then waking up in her bedroom with her father having sex with her. She later confronted Al in a telephone call taped by the Riverside Sheriff's Department where not only did he not deny any of it, he threw out this little gem:
The defendant instead alleged the girl had been sending him signals and "perhaps wanted to have sex with him as a way of father-daughter bonding," documents said.
Your own daughter? Talk about rationalization.

Yeah, this is just the guy you want knocking you out for a root canal.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Good News

I ain't got none.

Strangulation, car accident, shooting, more shooting, and the ever popular West Nile Virus.

Well, there is the Pomona police department nailing 32 people last night in a variety of sting operations targeting prostitution, drug sales and parole violations. That's something, I suppose.

So sound off, folks. You've got to have some good news out there. Somewhere. Anyone? Bueller? Make me feel better. I'm feelin' mighty weary.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

David Jaime Del Toro One Year On

Los Angeles, CA

Last year, to the day, Jennifer Flores' body was found in Eagle Rock with a quarter mile trail of blood and tissue leading from her resting place to the door of one David Jaime Del Toro, a fire captain with the LAFD.

Earlier today, I got this comment on a previous entry:

So, this has nothing to do with your current post, but do you have any idea what ever happened with the murder case against David Jaime Del Toro, the firefighter who was charged with murdering a woman in Eagle Rock? (you blogged about it a while ago.) Just curious. I live in the neighborhood and am interested in knowing what's going on with the case.
Well, that's a damn good question Anonymous.

In fact, I've been wondering that myself. I usually get some hits on Mr. Del Toro, but the last couple of months has seen a surge (such a powerful, manly word) in Google queries coming to the site.

And with a little help I was able to find out a few things.

Mr. Del Toro (Booking Number 9278178) is currently residing in the Men's Central Jail at 441 Bauchet Street awaiting a preliminary hearing on September 7th at the LA Superior Court, Department 110. He is being held without bail and, if I understand correctly, isn't allowed visitors.

So, there's the fast spinning wheels of justice for ya, Anonymous.  Hey, at least he's not on the street.

Hat tip to Jason Kandel at the Daily News and Darleene Powells at CBS.

Don't Drink The Water

La Quinta, CA

The Coachella Valley. It's hot, dry and has pretty much nothing of interest beyond the Coachella music festival held every year and golf courses. Lots of golf courses. Oh, and floaters in the canal.

One corpse was pulled out of the canal yesterday near the Arnold Palmer golf course and then another near Madison and Miles. No word on the cause of death, though they're thinking accident, and no idea if the two are related.

Does The Coke In The Trunk Come Standard?

Los Angeles, CA

DEA agents raided Brooklyn Auto Sales in East LA yesterday, confiscating 147 cars and arresting 3 people. Seems they may have been transporting cocaine and methamphetamine into Los Angeles through the dealership and then out to other parts of the country. The cars were outfitted with secret compartments.

The three gentlemen arrested, Santos Robledo, 45, Pedro Partida, 34, and Jose Escobar, Jr., 24, were nabbed on conspiracy to distribute narcotics and money laundering.

Hmm. Nationwide narcotics distribution point in Los Angeles. Run by Hispanics. Is it just me, or is the stink La Eme all over this one?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In Real Life That Courtroom Drama Shit Just Don't Work

Los Angeles, CA

I have refrained on commenting on Phil Spector, inventor of the Wall of Sound and all around crazy motherfucker, and his current troubles. Mostly, because everyone else has.

On the odd chance you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of this, Phil has been accused of shooting Lana Clarkson in the head at his home. Blood was found speckled on his jacket, and the prosecution's theory is that it could only have gotten there if he'd pulled the trigger.

Not so fast. Turns out that defense attorneys got one of their expert witnesses to testify that in fact, no, Mr. Spector didn't need to be the one to pull the trigger as Ms Clarkson's spine hadn't been severed by the bullet, allowing her to possibly continue coughing up blood, potentially spattering Mr. Spector's clothes. Seems he was at the autopsy and went over all of the forensics reports.

Great move, defense. Only problem is that they didn't tell the prosecution they were going to do it.

See, there's this little thing called "Discovery" where everyone's supposed to be on the same page and know what the other people know. No surprises, no last minute witnesses, new evidence, nothing. Unless both sides know about it first.

Needless to say, the judge is not happy, but that's a moot point if it puts some doubt into the minds of the jurors.

If You Can't Trust The Guards, Who Can You Trust?

Westminster, CA

This has got to be one of the more well executed, ballsy, and just plain brilliant plans I've heard in a while. Nobody got shot. Nobody got hurt. In fact, nobody'd even known they'd been robbed for at least half an hour.

Two men from Dunbar Security showed up at the Anh Minh Money Transfer in Little Saigon yesterday to pick up the money they pick up every day. Only, they weren't from Dunbar.

The fake duo arrived on the same day that money pickups are normally scheduled -- although 30 minutes earlier than usual -- and they were clad in the typical black uniforms that Dunbar employees wear, Woodson said.

They left in a red stretch Ford Econoline van with the words "Dunbar Security" emblazoned on the sides, Woodson said.

The duo made off with $405K. Wasn't until the real Dunbar guards showed up that they realized they'd been duped.

Smart guys. If they're really smart, they won't try this again for a veeeeeery long time. And they'll have gotten the van painted by now and parked in an underground garage far, far away.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Writing Events This Week

Los Angeles, CA

Sisters In Crime

Tuesday, August 14th at... I have no idea what time this one is

Murder Abroad

Sisters In Crime is having a panel on which I can find next nothing. I'm assuming it's something to do with murders in foreign lands, as opposed to murders of very wide people or mob women. It's at the Los Feliz Library (1874 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles) and includes Aileen Baron, Gay Toltl Kinman, Eric Stone, Patricia Wynn and moderated by Bruce Cook.

Sunday, August 19th at 3:00pm

DP Lyle Workshop on Forensics and Fiction

DP Lyle, doctor and author of many a forensics book for writers, plugs his new one, Forensics and Fiction at the Sisters In Crime meeting at the Fullerton Library. Dr. Lyle is an engaging speaker, knows his shit and is always fun to listen to. If you get a chance go check him out.

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The Mystery Bookstore - Westwood, CA

Saturday August 18th (busy day)

S.L. Linnea signs Chasing Eden at 1:00pm

A debut novel! Woohoo! Always good to see somebody get that going. This one looks like it could be fun. Army Chaplain gets kidnapped as she heads out for a stint in the Sandbox, a good friend is murdered and there are apparently lots of "ancient mysteries".

Michelle Gagnon signs The Tunnels at 3:00pm

Another debut. And this one is Bobby's August Favorite. Trust Bobby. If he says it's good, it's good. Ritual murders of college students, Norse mythology, the FBI, old tunnels. What's not to love?

Hailey Lind signs Brush With Death at 3:00pm

Signing alongside Ms Gagnon, Hailey Lind (pen name of Julie Goodson-Lawes) signs her third novel in a series with art forger Annie Kincaid. Art and murder.

Aileen Baron signs God of Thrace at 4:00pm

And here we have archaeology and murder. How come no one ever does Armadillo Breeding and murder? Oh, well. This one has murder, archaeology, murder, international intrigue, murder and Thracian gold.

William Kent Krueger signs Thunder Bay at 5:00pm

And to finish it all off there's Thunder Bay, the latest in Mr. Krueger's Cork O'Connor series.

Former sheriff Cork O'Connor agrees to help his old friend Henry Meloux find Henry's long-lost son. Henry fathered the boy 73 years ago, with a white woman he never saw again. Armed only with a gold watch and a photograph of Maria Lima, the boy's mother, Cork manages to track Henry's son to the Canadian city of Thunder Bay, Ontario. When someone tries to kill Henry Meloux, evidence points toward the long-missing son – but why?

Blame The Rum Raisin

Lennox, CA

Have you ever noticed how some sentences make perfect sense until you get to the end? Where did you put the elephant? I would like a side order of carburetors. A man was picked up on a DUI this morning after crashing his ice cream truck.

The gentleman, whose name was withheld, was driving an ice cream truck he claims to have recently purchased, though it wasn't registered to him. He says he swerved to miss a cat and hit a parked car instead. Police found several empty beer cans in the truck.

The thing I love about this, which says a lot more about Los Angeles than it does about the crash, is this:

The ice cream truck suffered significant front-end damage, according to a camera crew at the scene...
A camera crew.

Los Angeles is loaded with video stringers. Some work for the networks, but most don't. These are guys who listen in on half a dozen different police bands and run to where the money shot is. If they're lucky, they can sell the footage to a network or two. If not, they've blown ten gallons of gas running from place to place. Exciting work. Like being in the middle of gunfire exciting. On an NPR story on L.A. stringers last year a guy who'd been covering South Central decided to give it up and go work for Halliburton in Iraq because it was safer. Paid more, too.

If it wasn't for these guys, I wouldn't have anything to write about. The networks don't have a full complement of news vans running around at 2am, so they depend on the stringers for their morning news. They put themselves in the middle of the shit to get the shot. Or sometimes to get shot. Last year in Compton stringers covered a shooting between Sheriff's deputies and a suspect where over 120 round were fired by the police. The stringers got the story, the suspect got away.

So when you hear about some drunk moron embarassing himself at 2am for bouncing his ice cream truck off a pickup, thank the unsung video stringer. If it wasn't for him putting his life in mortal danger, possibly getting in the way of the police, or tearing through crime scenes, you wouldn't get your morning's entertainment.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Homicide Map

I've added a link to the sidebar for the L.A. Times Homicide Map, showing stats and locations for county homicides.

You can filter the data by age, ethnicity, gender, cause of death, day of week, and whether it was a killing by police or a suspected domestic incident. It also gives you a snapshot of all the information on the page so you don't need to go digging around for it. Each person's name is listed and has a link to the Times' Homicide Report.

Just off the main page, for example, you can see that of the 515 County murders this year, 452 were male, 420 were from gunshots and 284 were Hispanic. You can drill down and see just how many Asian women were killed in domestic incidents, for instance. One, in case you're wondering. Her name is Chun Wang. She was 63 years old and her husband is currently in custody.

It's nice to see the kind of data Jill Leovy digs up for the Homicide Report shown in such a striking manner.

Friday, August 10, 2007

MLK Blows The Inspection

Los Angeles, CA

Anyone not see this one coming? No? I thought not.

Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital has fallen on troubled times. The only hospital in a violent and underserved area of Watts, the hospital has been on the chopping block for some time, desperately trying to get its shit together to stay open. They already had their trauma ward shut down, had their affiliated King-Drew school come under fire, have lots of preventable deaths, and managed to lose a radioactive diaper.

In July a federal inspection from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was conducted. Announced today were the findings that the hospital failed 8 of 23 points needed to maintain compliance with federal standards. Think about that for a second. The hospital went below Medicaid's standards. Considering that we have one of the shoddiest public health systems in the entire world, that's pretty fucking sad.

So what does this all mean?

Well, first of all, the hospital will be getting no Federal funding. Half the hospital's budget has come from the Feds to the tune of about $200 million. Buh-bye. Wave to the money folks. It's going away.

And that's actually a good thing. This place is a shithole. It is offering sub-standard care to a segment of the population that desperately needs help. These people are the uninsured and the uninsurable. They come to the hospital because it's their last shot. They don't see a doctor until things are so bad simply because they can't afford it. Emergency room visits have been known to last days.

Then there's the community infighting between the black and Latino population of Watts. They can't seem to see eye to eye with each other enough to help turn the hospital into a fucking hospital and not a political bullet point. I honestly wonder some times if people want a hospital or just something else huge to bitch about.

Thank god the trauma center was already closed. Don't get me wrong, I think the trauma ward was the only good thing about the place. But gangbangers would just kick their buddies out of the car when they got shot up too much to just get a couple stitches. The trauma center was a nightmare factory for the doctor's and nurses, patching up the same kids over and over again, losing too many people to multiple GSW's and stab wounds. Let Harbor handle it. At least there they've shown that they can handle the after care with something resembling competence.

MLK needs to be shuttered. It has proven, time and again, that it can't keep itself in order, its patients safe, or deliver even the lowest standard of quality care. It needs to be replaced from the ground up. Close the hospital, fire the staff, hire new doctors and nurses. Enough of them this time. And ones that have been trained somewhere else than at MLK. Sink some money into competent security. Take the control away from the fucking County Health Department and give it to someone who knows how to handle a hospital and treat patients.

This farce has gone on for too many years. It needs to change. The people deserve it, the city deserves it. Close the place down.

Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Horror, Oh My

Los Angeles, CA

I'm a little late on this one. By, like, a week. Anyway, the American Cinematheque is running their annual Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Horror series at the Egyptian and Aero Theatres (Hollywood and Santa Monica, respectively) throughout the month of August.

There's not a whole lot here I'm interested in. There's really only so much Peters Lorre and Cushing one can take in a lifetime, but occasionally they'll bring in something new. Eli Roth's Cabin Fever held its L.A. Premiere in the series, as did Dog Soldiers (a fucking awesome movie, which, if you haven't seen it, you need to go out and get right the fuck now), for example. For the most part, though, they stick with a lot of the old Hammer Horror, or some sci-fi classics.

This year, and I'm a little bummed I'm going to miss it (It's tonight and I wasn't paying attention), they're showing Frostbite, a Swedish vampire flick that seems to have shades of Thirty Days of Night at the Spielberg Theatre. Billed as horror and comedy this one looks like it could be fun.

As to classics (and I use the terms loosely) there's two Planet of The Apes films playing at the Aero tonight, they just did Slaughterhouse 5, and if you're really into the British 60's scene there's Quatermass And The Pit.

What strikes me about these films is how so many of them are from the 50's and 60's (The Black Scorpion, The Beast With Five Fingers, Fiend Without A Face), only 5 from 70's and none from the 80's.

Where are the Nightmare on Elm Streets, the Hellraisers? What about The Thing? Granted they don't want to do repeats and this is an annual series, but I have to wonder, did horror dry up a little after studio consolidations and an increase in audience sophistication? You couldn't do Mad Love ("Dead hands that live...and love...and kill!") today. Audiences just wouldn't go for it. Budgets are expected to be big, unless you're an indie. And indies don't always get distribution. Sometimes they're actively bought just to be shelved.

Today's horror seems light on plot and heavy on discomfort. Hostel or Saw, for example. Used to be you could shock audiences with an off-stage scream and a thin rivulet of blood running under the door (Cat People). But now you've got extreme torture scenes and only the thinnest justifications for them. Sure there's a lot of blood, but there's always been a lot of blood. Now, though, it seems to all be about the pain.

Am I missing something? I have a hard time getting into stories like that. It feels like there's no there there. Like it's an empty shell that someone used to fill up with a lot of "You know what would be fucking harsh?" kinds of events. I know that's an oversimplification of horror today. Rob Zombie's redone Halloween looks fucking awesome and I can't wait to see All The Boys Love Mandy Lane.

And here's one that I'm really looking forward to, for a few reasons. It's a little indie movie called The Double Born based (loosely) on a Bram Stoker story. It's being directed by Tony Randell (who directed Hellraiser II, and has worked on a lot of other horror projects, particularly all the Hellraisers) and written by him and Peter Atkins (who wrote the Wishmaster series, Hellraisers II, III, IV and Hellraiser: Prophecy).

The reason I'm so interested in this is that my brother is the producer and he's been busting his balls trying to get this thing made for years now. He's really gone to the mat to get this thing going. I'm really proud of the work he's done on it, and the effort he's put into it. I've seen the script and it's pretty fucked up in a nice psycho-sexually manipulative way. They're in post right now, and I'm hoping they get a good distribution deal.

And there's a rough trailer for it up on You Tube.  Enjoy.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Land Grab I Can Get Behind

Venice, CA

Venice is a weird place. A combination of the funky rich and the dismally poor rub elbows from block to block. Architectural art and gangland killings. It's where the Shoreline Crips make their home, living in an uneasy truce with the Latino Venice 13 gang since their mid-90's war that left twenty or so dead. Rumor is that La Eme is pushing the Venice 13 to break the truce. And won't that be fun when it happens.

Probably don't need to, though. The city is already making things a little more inhospitable for the Crips.

Irvin Campbell, a landlord with alleged gang ties, has had a lawsuit filed against him by L.A. prosecutors seeking to close his apartment building for a year. It's home to five alleged Shoreline Crip drug dealers and is reputed to be a homebase of sorts for the gang. The LAPD has responded to almost 30 narcotics related incidents at the address.

It's an interesting tactic. Take out the home bases of gangs. Kind of like pouring gasoline into a gopher hole and setting it alight. If it doesn't get the gophers they're at least going to be out of commission for a while. It's a program called TOUGH (Taking Out Urban Gang Headquarters), and it seems to be gaining some ground. Interesting to see how far they cab go with it.

Writin' Stuff

My Wonderful Wife(tm), who is a genius in all things (except perhaps her choice in life partner), has sent me this, a link to Duotrope's Digest, a searchable database of print and electronic markets that you can search through based on some simple criteria. Certainly easier to use than that crap from Writer's Digest.

You may already know about it and are probably saying right now, "Stephen (because you'd use my first name, us being on such intimate terms - after all, don't you remember that week in Paris or the times running guns in Algiers? Tell me you haven't forgotten, baby.), I've known about this for years. Why are you telling us this now?"

To which I'd reply, "Shut the hell up or I'll take out your other knee. Now where the fuck's the heroin? Don't make me break out the bolt cutters."

And it comes at an excellent time, as I've just had two short stories accepted for publication in the last week and am trying to unload my backlog find a home for some more of my stuff.

Check it out. Doing a search on print and electronic markets for mystery yields 77 results, some closed (but they tell you that) and some I recognize and have even been lucky enough to have my work in. Some of them even pay.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Whatever You Do, Don't Kill The Dog

Los Angeles, CA

There's an axiom in writing that you don't kill a dog. You can murder children, rape nuns and nail budgies to trees, but you never fuck with the dog. Makes readers go rabid. Almost as much as screwing up details on guns.

Real life, however, doesn't work that way.

Keith Chung, 41, was arrested after police found a schnauser in his freezer. He was hit on suspicion of felony animal cruelty in the beatings of two dogs, and felony possession of an opiate. I wonder if his being a pharmacist might have something to do with that last one.

Regardless of whether this one is true or not, it has some political overtones. The arrest was announced at the same time District Attorney Steve Cooley announced a crackdown on animal related crimes. With dogfighting in the news and recent reports of pit bulls mauling ground-skeet poodles and such, I'm sure there's a lot of public noise on this sort of thing. Nobody (well, okay, maybe me) wants to see Fluffy's tail dangling from a pit-bull's mouth. Or a 41-year-old pharmacist's for that matter.

I mean, the freezer? What, was he saving it for a snack? Dude's got some issues.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Things We Do For Family

Los Angeles, CA

Bobby Lee Thompson cares about his brother, Leonard, an aspiring chemist. Cares so much in fact, that he let Lenny use his backyard to throw together a little molecule called phenylcyclohexylpiperidine. Pity it's a Schedule I drug. Bobby Lee just got 30 years for his trouble.

The kicker is that Leonard, who got nailed for 30 pounds of PCP in 2003, only got 17 years. It probably didn't help that Bobby Lee was also convicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of PCP with intent to distribute and possession of equipment for manufacturing a controlled substance.

Sometimes it just didn't pay to help out family.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Tooting My Own Horn

Hey, if I could do that, I'd never leave the house.

Jason Evans over at The Clarity of Night held a flash fiction contest. 250 words or less based on an amazing photo Jason took of a forest scene. He's a one hell of a photographer. Anyway, I submitted this.

I'm told I won. Unfortunately, the Corporate Overlords who control my internet access for the next few hours have deemed such pesky things as blogs as not worthy of access (thank god for email posting). So I can't check. But if you get a chance to read it, let me know what you think. I'm rather proud of it myself.

Writing Events This Week

Los Angeles, CA

I'll admit, I've been slacking. I haven't posted much in the way of author / writing stuff. It's been a bitch of a last few months, but that's no excuse. So...

Sisters In Crime - Burbank, CA

Saturday, August 11 at 2:00 p.m.

STOP! You're Killing Me

Sisters In Crime is holding a panel at the Burbank Library (300 N. Buena Vista, Burbank) with Harley Jane Kozak (Dead Ex), Sue Ann Jaffarian (The Curse of the Holy Pail) and Patricia Smiley (Short Change), three amazing and talented writers to discuss... well, I have no idea what they're discussing, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say "something to do with writing", and leave it at that. With the energy that these three can bring to a discussion god only knows what they'll come up with, but it'll be a fun time no matter what.

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The Mystery Bookstore - Westwood, CA

Thursday, August 9 at 7:00 p.m.

Harley Jane Kozak signs Dead Ex

This is, what number 3 in her series? Dating Dead Men, Dating Is Murder, and now Dead Ex. Yep, number 3. A very cool writer and a cool person to boot. Go buy. Go read.

Friday, August 10 at 7:00 p.m.

Gregg Hurwitz signs The Crime Writer

A standalone by the author of the Tim Rackley series, this one looks fun. Man with seizures and memory loss is maybe going around killing people. And then again, maybe not.

Saturday, August 11 at 1:00 p.m.

Jim Pascoe signs Undertown

From the creator of Ugly Town and writer of some really twisted shit (check out his story in Akashic's Los Angeles Noir) comes a children's graphic novel, Undertow. The boy's no stranger to these sorts of things. He's penned some Kim Possible books for Disney and Buffy The Vampire Slayer stuff for Dark Horse.

Saturday, August 11 at 2:30 p.m.

Bob Truluck signs The Art of Redemption

This is the story of 98-year-old Joe Ready, ex-cop, PI and general ass-kicker who's still got his game on. Even if he is kind of long in the tooth.

Jim Nisbet signs The Octopus On My Head

That might be the best title I've seen in weeks. I have no idea what this one's about. Can't find anything on it. But his previous book, Dark Companion, looks like classic noir with a 21st century spin and was nominated for a Hammett Award by the International Crime Writers Association. You'd think I know what that was, but I'm drawing a blank. Sounds impressive, though.

Saturday, August 11 at 4:00 p.m.

Rupert Thomson signs Death of A Murderer

This one sounds... odd. Odd, but interesting. I know I'm intrigued.

Policeman Billy Tyler keeps vigil over the dead body of the U.K.'s most notorious serial sex murderer (based on the real-life murderer Myra Hindley, though she's never mentioned by name). Over the course of 12 hours, Tyler contemplates his own troubles – a difficult marriage, a disabled child – and communes with the ghost of the dead woman. Critics are already calling this book a masterpiece.

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Mysteries To Die For - Thousand Oaks, CA

Wednesday, August 8 at 1:00 p.m.

Faye Kellerman signs The Burnt House

An electrifying thriller, the story begins when a routine commuter flight crashes into an apartment building in L.A. Was it terrorism or mechanical failure? Working overtime to calm the nerves of his community while sifting through the wreckage, LAPD detective Peter Decker finds no easy answers. Things become even more mysterious when all the bodies aboard the ill-fated plane are recovered except one – flight attendant Roseanne Dresden whom her parents suspect was murdered. As probes into the crash and Roseanne's fate converge, the investigation leads Decker and Rina down dangerous paths filled with dead ends and deadly consequences.
Oooh. Sounds fun.

Friday, August 03, 2007

If You Think Santa Monica Pissed Him Off

Chatsworth, CA

Admitted pedophile Jack McClellan has been in the news a lot lately. After being spotted in the Santa Monica Library the police SMPD put a bulletin out on him warning parents that he was in the area. Now, considering that he hasn't done anything illegal (note I did not say wrong), he was a tad upset. Today, a judge in Chatsworth has jumped onto the bandwagon and issued a statewide restraining order banning McClellan from coming within 10 yards of a child.

Thing is, he needs to be served with the order before it takes effect. So, go get your Cali LG pics in now, Jack. The party's almost over.

He was originally in Washington before effectively being driven out of the state. With luck this will push him somewhere else. Reminds me of that garbage scow that nobody wanted to deal with. New York, New Jersey. Nobody wanted it. Went down south and the Gulf states refused to let them dock and unload. For all I know, it's still sitting out there, on the water, with a bitter, angry captain confused as to why everyone hates his ship so much.

Jack McClellan, pedophile garbage scow for the 21st Century.

For The Weed Giveth And The State Taketh Away

Los Angeles, CA

Drugs have always played a part in religion. Peyote, wine, Xanax. Their advocates claim their substance of choice as a sacrament.

Take the Reverend Craig X Rubin, an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church (just like everyone else), of the Hollywood based 420 Temple. He and his parishioners light up during services. The state seems to take a dim view of this, however, and have smacked The Right Reverend with the charge of distributing marijuana for sale. He's been in court since, what, February?

Fighting the good fight and lighting a spliff for God, Mr. Rubin has finally lost. He faces up to four years and eight months in prison.

With any luck, his church members will rally around him, turn a staff into a snake and demand of Pharaoh that he be released. Right after they, you know, chill a bit and maybe take a nap.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Some Guys Just Don't Like Lapdances

Los Angeles, CA

There's always some asshat trying to tell us what is and isn't okay. And that's fine. Opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one.

But when they try to run your ass over for being at a strip club, that's going a bit far.

An unidentified man crashed into the Valley Hall Cabaret on Sepulveda north of Roscoe this morning around 12:30. After that he aimed the car at pedestrians and folks coming out of the club. He then took cops on a fun little romp through north L.A., running red lights, driving the wrong way on the 118 Freeway and, in a display of tactical genius, rammed into two police cruisers.

It's not clear why he did it. Maybe he got kicked out of the club, maybe he thought that one dancer was really, really into him and got upset when she wouldn't follow him home. Maybe he's just got a problem with boobies.

Either way, he's not going anywhere anytime soon. He's cooling his heels in the Mission Hills lockup.

***UPDATE***

Turns out the gentleman in question is one Jimmy Giron. The LAPD Blog has this to say about it.

Jimmy Giron, a 26 year-old, male, Hispanic from Panorama City went to visit his ex-girlfriend in the 8500 block of Sepulveda Boulevard, in North Hills. After a heated exchange of words, he left the establishment, got into a white 1996 Dodge panel van and attempted to run over seven pedestrians.