Friday, July 25, 2008

Apparently, No, We Can't All Get Along

Los Angeles, CA

According to a report by the county's human relations commission, hate crimes in L.A. County hit a five year high in 2007. 763 hate crimes, 310 against blacks and 125 against Latinos. Not sure what the other 328 were all about, but I suspect it's women, gays, guys on cell phones in the movie theater. You know, the usual.

Sixteen percent, 120, were gang related, 116 non-gang related were of Latinos against blacks and 26 were blacks against Latinos. 131 were from white supremacists, a group I've never understood. Dude, Aryan does not mean white. Pull your heads out of your asses and get a fucking education.

Now, I'll be honest, I've never quite understood the point of a hate crime category. Yes, I get the whole stamping out racism thing. Yes, continuing to allow certain activities and language during a crime against a particular group helps perpetuate it. I get all that. I see the reasons.

However. What is it that makes a white man killing a black man worse than a white man killing a white man? Murder's murder regardless of the gender, race, sexual orientation, fashion sense, penchant for silly hats, body odor, or any of another thousand things that might define a particular victim.

And, yes, if everything were equal and everyone was on the same footing we wouldn't need it. Maybe I'm just an idealist... Ha! Yeah, that one cracked me up, too.

We don't have to like each other, we just have to not kill each other. Tolerance. For example, I don't like the French (which considering my background is rich in irony, believe me). I think they're stinky. But I'm not going to go shoot a Frenchman just because he's French. Or deny him basic human dignity, or keep him down, or try to stimy his advancement in the world or any other asshat thing a person could do.

Because I believe on one basic commandment, which admittedly, I sometimes have trouble following: Don't Be A Dick.

Seems L.A. has some problems with that one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Anger, Vengeance And The Peach Queen

Banning, CA

The city of Banning likes peaches. So much so that they have a Peach Queen, a beauty contest winner who gets to represent the city and its peaches. Some people, apparently, don't like the Peach Queen. And on July 11th, they cut her.

According to reports, Shanice Wilson, 20, who was crowned Banning's Peach Queen in 2005, said some flirtatious remark that angered three other women, Labrea Clayonda Steward, 27, Erica Michelle Bastidas, 21, and Azia Jene Aldred, 24.

What followed was a pretty typical girlfight, which is to say vicious, hyper-violent and full of that pure crystalline rage that only women seem to be capable of. Some time during the pummeling Wilson passed out, only to wake up and find that her face had been sliced apart with a razor blade.

One cut along her back took 32 staples, but the ones on her face were too deep to close up that easily. One of the women was heard saying, "Now every time she sees her face in the mirror, she will remember me," as they walked away.

The last of the three women, Azia Aldred, was arrested yesterday. The other two were taken into custody last Thursday and Saturday.

Why'd they do it? I mean why'd they really do it? Is it just one more example of a stray remark and rage going wildly out of control? Is it jealousy? Did this woman threaten their carefully scripted social order? Shit like this doesn't happen "just because". There's always a reason. A trivial, psycho, meaningless reason, maybe, but it's still a reason.

I just can't see how any reason could be good enough to do it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Breaking News For Breaking Cover

Somewhere In The Sultry Back Roads Of North Carolina

Author J.D. Rhoades' new novel, Breaking Cover, is out today.

He was the most talented undercover agent in FBI history, until he dropped completely off the grid, and hasn't been heard from in years. Did he go native, or was he discovered and killed? When Tony Wolf is finally driven out into the open, torn from deep cover during the rescue of two kidnapped children, he becomes the number one target of both the vicious biker gang he double-crossed and a massive Federal manhunt.

But Tony?s tired of being the hunted, and as both the gang and a traitorous FBI agent converge on a small southern town, they?re all about to learn a hard lesson: When the Wolf breaks cover, he doesn?t always run away.

Sometimes he comes straight at your throat.

Damn. And if that doesn't grab you, check out Dusty reading the first chapter here.

You hear that voice? Boy's got some talent there. Give, oh I dunno, James Earl Jones a run for his money, maybe.

Yeah. Shoulda been Darth Vader or somethin'. That Southern drawl saying, "No, Luke, I'm your pa. Shoot, you an' me, we could run this here galaxy. It'll be a hoot."

I'd pay money to see that.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You Might Want To Work On Those Screening Tests

Santa Ana, CA

I went to school with this guy who Had A Plan. Graduate with honors, go on to law school, join the FBI. Was on his way, too. Until he hit their psych tests. Whole thing disintegrated right there.

So, it makes me wonder, how did this guy get in?

Vo Duong Tran, a former FBI agent out of Chicago, was picked up in Fountain Valley after driving cross-country to rob a drug house in Orange County. Allegedly, which is a word I use to fool people into thinking that what I do here is journalism.

He's had a rocky history with the Bureau. Hired in '92, suspended for bribing a Vietnamese official nine years later, fired in '03 after being charged for impersonating a peace officer while he was suspended, indicted in '04 on weapons charges, though all charges were dropped after the courts ruled that evidence seized at his apartment was inadmissible.

Almost seems like the Feds don't much like this man.

Anyway, the Fibbies conducted an 18-month investigation, saying that they've got him on tape conspiring to commit murder for hire and home invasion robberies.

Now the FBI doesn't look like they've handled this guy very well in the past. Trying to push in inadmissible evidence is sloppy work. I also have to wonder about their informant, who they've admitted to paying. Yeah, that stuff never comes back to bit you in the ass.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Schroedinger's Bomb

All Through The Southland, CA

Bombs aren't just for terrorists, anymore. Seems they work really well for robbing banks, too.

Two men have knocked over six different banks from Santa Monica to Fountain Valley since June armed with a black bag in which they claim is a bomb. Is there? Maybe. Maybe not. Unless someone calls their bluff and they either run away or set it off we don't know. And nobody seems in much of a hurry to find out.

Interestingly, they haven't done it together, but have traded off, one hitting four banks and the other hitting three, one of which was the same as the first guy.

Now they could be working together, but I like to think it's some meth addled bet to see who can go the longest without getting caught. With any luck they'll shoot each other over bottles of Stoli in a Motel 6 in Lancaster and we can just pick up the pieces later. More likely the cops will find these guys at a gas station on an anonymous tip. Or better yet, if a dye pack goes off in their car.

Either way, the Feds would like a hand. So if you know the gentlemen and want to rat them out because you owe them money, call the FBI at (888) CANT HIDE (Can't hide? Really? You couldn't come up with anything better than that?), or (310) 477-6565.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Folks Are Just Nicer Up North

Modesto, CA

Chalk up one more point for the Bay Area. Unlike here, they have standards. They have values. You stab the wrong guy, well dammit, you apologize.

A group of men broke into a home the other night, beat and stabbed a man living there and then, realizing they had the wrong guy, said they were sorry. Awww. Heartwarming, isn't it?

"The one guy that stabbed him, he says, 'You know what, I'm sorry, ma'am.' And he hugs me and said 'Please, we made a mistake,'" the woman said.

The woman said the men offered to give the victim a ride to the hospital and to his mother's home, but the man refused because he was so scared.

Ungrateful bastard. They said they were sorry. Jesus. What do you want? A new kidney? A guy offers to take you the hospital in his car, knowing full well that you're gonna bleed out all over his leather seat cushions, and you don't take him up on it?  That's just rude.

Monday, July 14, 2008

This Is Why Pushpins Were Made

Torrance, CA

Drug investigations are rough. Not just in terms of the long nights, and the hard work, but also in terms of just keeping all your houses straight.

Torrance police recently concluded an 18-month investigation into the South Bay dug trade hitting several distribution routes and arresting over 200 people. "Operation Accountability" they're calling it. Should be "Operation Visio". I swear I need a map and a flowchart just to keep track.

Here's a high level list of the network. The article goes into a lot more detail, stopping just short of giving us actual addresses. This thing was huge and organized. Locations cross over between routes, too. Some of the same places show up throughout different routes. Nice to see such a large disruption of the trade.

Here's a high level:

  • A West Torrance route allegedly run by Downey resident Noe Martinez, 33, received methamphetamine from Mexico through an importer in Riverside and delivered it to lower level dealers in the South Bay.
  • A downtown Torrance route brought Mexican methamphetamine into Wilmington for distribution in the Harbor Area and to Torrance's La Rana Street gang and its spinoff Wicked Riders for sales to addicts in Torrance.
  • A downtown Torrance route that brought Mexican methamphetamine to an alleged importer identified as Steve Grageda, 39, of San Pedro and to a suspected "crash pad" in the 2300 block of Apple Avenue, four other Torrance addresses and locations in Lomita, Harbor Gateway and Carson.
  • A south Torrance route that brought Mexican methamphetamine to the Wilmington residence of alleged regional distributor Julio Cesar Angel, 23, suspected of supplying the drug to addresses in the 2800 and 3200 blocks of Winlock Road in Torrance.
  • A west and north Torrance route that brought methamphetamine from Sinaloa, Mexico, delivered it to distributors at two locations in Paramount and distributed it to alleged supplier Mirco Rodriguez, 39, through locations in Bellflower and Lawndale.

The final tally?

  • Total arrests: 208
  • Search warrants served: 83
  • Parole and probation searches: 42
  • Felons facing deportation: 14
  • Kids removed from drug trafficking homes: 15
  • Narcotics seizures: 118
  • Pounds of meth worth $1.1 million: 15
  • Heroin found, worth $9,120: 1/4 lb.
  • Pounds of cocaine found, worth $1.9 million: 52
  • Pounds of marijuana found, worth $456,000: 40
  • Marijuana plants from indoor growers: 65

Damn. Folks, y'all need a vacation after pulling in that haul. Good on ya.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Have You Seen This Level 28 Warrior?

Lancaster, CA

Guns don't kill people. Swords do.

Jesus Humberto Canales, 28, is wanted on suspicion of stabbing his live in girlfriend, Lucy Preciado, 26, to death with a sword in front of their four children.

Great, like renfair freaks aren't already a dime a dozen, now they're getting competition from Salvadoran psychopaths with anger issues.

Seems he left the kids to call 911 and took off in a bronze 2002 GMC Safari van with a California license plate 6CBY663.

So if you happen to come across a wacko in full plate and swinging a claymore, call the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau detectives at (323) 890-5500.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Guess They Missed That In The Inspection

Devore, CA

There are a lot of things that are supposed to be disclosed when you buy a house. Termites, plumbing problems, dead bodies.

Somebody in Devore dug up some bones in their backyard. They've been living there for 15 years and, well, they didn't put them there. Supposedly.

Coroner's got the pieces and the clothing they were found with. Kind of a drag they had to take them. Could have been fun at the next barbeque. "Food's ready! Who wants a femur?"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Killin' Folks In Iambic Pentameter

The debut issue of The Lineup: Poems On Crime edited by Gerald So, Patrick Shawn Bailey and Anthony Rainone is out today.

Featuring the work of Patrick Shawn Bagley, Ken Bruen, Sarah Cortez, Graham Everett, Daniel Hatadi, Daniel Thomas Moran, R. Narvaez, Robert Plath, Misti Rainwater-Lites, Stephen D. Rogers, A.E. Roman, Sandra Seamans, Gerald So and KC Trommer.

Fourteen poets, lots of crime.  Go grab yourself a copy.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Everything Goes Better With Go-Go Girls

Victor Gischler's latest novel, Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse hits stores today.
Mortimer Tate was a recently divorced insurance salesman when he holed up in a cave on top of a mountain in Tennessee and rode out the end of the world. Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse begins nine years later, when he emerges into a bizarre landscape filled with hollow reminders of an America that no longer exists. The highways are lined with abandoned automobiles; electricity is generated by indentured servants pedaling stationary bicycles. What little civilization remains revolves around Joey Armageddon's Sassy A-Go-Go strip clubs, where the beer is cold, the lap dancers are hot, and the bouncers are armed with M16s.

Accompanied by his cowboy sidekick Buffalo Bill, the gorgeous stripper Sheila, and the mountain man Ted, Mortimer journeys to the lost city of Atlanta -- and a showdown that might determine the fate of humanity.

Go read. Read now.

Another Case For Public Transit

Los Angeles, CA

So you're sitting in the back seat of a car and the driver's yammering on about how maybe he shouldn't have drunk all that codeine and where the fuck did all these bats come from and then there are lights and sirens and screaming and you're wondering if maybe you should have taken the bus to the party instead of riding with this asshole and suddenly there's this ding-ding-ding of the door-is-ajar variety, a blast of cold air from the front and- wait, did that fucker just jump?

And then you hit the tree.

Five people were arrested after a high speed chase last night. Seems the driver was doing that sort of weavy drifty thing drunks do and when the Sheriff's deputies tried to pull them over the driver opted for a merry jaunt instead. Seems he and the front seat passenger decided at some point that the car, with the other three folks stuck in the back, was a liability and jumped out, sending the car to not so gently crumple against a tree.

That driver is so not getting a tip.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Criminal Tip #78,654,223: The Easier Victims Are The Ones Without Badges

Santa Ana, CA

The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate this great nation of ours with fireworks, alcohol and the occasional carjacking.  Of course, it helps when the car you're trying to rip off isn't full of cops.

It appears that Eleazar Lopez, 22, and an unidentified driver tried to carjack an unmarked police car on Friday, pulling in front of them and took, as the officers put it, "an aggressive approach toward the officers".  Who knows, maybe they really just wanted to wish them a happy Independence Day.  With guns.

Might have worked better without the car chase.  Mr. Lopez has been booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Exactly How Many Serial Killers Do We Have, Anyway?

Los Angeles, CA

The LAPD has cracked another one. Well, they have a suspect at least.

Michael Hubert Hughes, 51, and currently serving a life sentence for murder has been connected to the murders of four woman between 1986 and 1993 in Los Angeles and Inglewood.

Huh. This sounds an awful lot like another supposed crack in a serial murder case that came about a couple years ago. Same one?

Back in 2006 there was a break in the murders of several prostitutes in Los Angeles and Inglewood. Ten women had been murdered between 1986 and 2004 with no suspects until DNA testing pointed the finger at one Robert Hausmann, who turned out to be a less than stellar suspect. A lot of he said / she said sort of jailhouse blabber. From what I understand, though I could be wrong because I can't find the reference, he was dropped as a possibility.

Are these some of the same women? Or are the women that Hughes is suspected of killing not these women? Exactly how many serial killers so we have? Anyone? Bueller?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Just Shoot The Goddamn Monkey, Already

San Bernardino, CA

Moe, the chimp, has escaped. This is the kind of shit that makes the news out here.

Thing is, Moe's not just a chimp. He's a symbol. For hubris, stupidity, the denial that comes from unfailing optimism. Pretty much Los Angeles in a nutshell right there. Yep, like Reagan, L.A. can be defined by a monkey.

His owners, St. James and La Donna Davis, brought him home from Kenya in the Sixties and raised him at their West Covina home. Thirty years later he goes bugfuck, goes on a neighborhood rampage and bites a cop. Unsurprisingly, they were forced to put him into an animal sanctuary. A halfway house for chimp offenders.

Then in 2005, when the Davises went to visit Moe for his birthday, they were attacked by two other chimps that had gotten free of their cages. They tore through St. James' nutsack and chewed his nose off. Yeah, chimpanzees make great pets, don't they?

Nevertheless, the Davises still love them some Moe.  It's understandable, really.  He might as well be their boy.  If their boy had two inch fangs and could tear your arms out of their sockets.

The Davises and Moe have acquired that peculiar sort of celebrity where the weird and tragic intersect. Hell of a thing to be known for. "Yeah, I got my johnson chawed on by a pissed off ape. Mind holding my fake nose for a minute?"

This is why no one takes this town seriously.

There's a 150 pound freaked out monkey with teeth that could puncture a cow's head hiding out in the woods trying to avoid a dragnet. Lancelot Link does The Fugitive.

It's time for all that to be over. Shoot the monkey and let's go home.