Thursday, April 30, 2009

This Is How The Apocalypse Starts

Corona, CA

When we finally elected a black man to the White House, rednecks, bigots and assorted conspiracy freaks started buying guns. Lots of guns. And not just guns, but ammunition. So much ammunition, in fact, that the Corona Gun Fair can't be held this year because there isn't enough available.

I don't know about you, but that scares the living shit out of me.

One of the things about the Fair is that you can buy ammo to run through various guns that are being sold. Over the course of a weekend they go through a LOT of ammo.

And goddamn is it fun.

But you see a lot of die-hard Ted Nugent fans out there, too. Not exactly known for their restraint or rationality. And these are the people who are stockpiling ammunition.

So I recommend everyone else do the same before there's none left.  Balances things out.  Yes, even you pacifists.  At the very least you can justify it by saying you're keeping bullets out of the hands of psychos.

In fact, since tomorrow is Buy Indie Day go down to your local independently owned gun store and pick up a piece, whatever rounds are available and a spare magazine or two.

Because Otherwise Wal-mart Will Eat Your Soul

Wherever Fine Books Are Sold... Except Wal-Mart

Tomorrow is Buy Indie Day. That means instead of dumping $24.95 for a hardcover over at your local three story Barnes & Noble or at that burnt out husk of a Borders where the staff is huddling in a corner because they're all about to lose their jobs, or the brand spanking new Wal-Mart where the bovine hordes of Middle-America(tm) wander the aisles in search of crates of Crunch & Munch, go buy one at an Indie store.

Just think, you could be contributing to a shiny new future away from the terrors of over-marketed mediocrity, away from the giant, soulless chains of corporate gluttony. After all, isn't that what got us into this mess in the first place?

"But," I hear you cry, "where shall I find a venue untouched by the ravages of these terrifying behemoths?! Where can I help bolster the Working Man, the Working Woman and the Working Children, Domestic Pets And Assorted Farm Animals that make up our great national landscape!?"

And I cry back,"Stop shouting, goddammit, I'm only deaf in one ear, and I'll tell you."

Right here at the Indie Store Finder. Plug in your zip code and it'll throw back a list of all the nearby bookstores owned by real people and not mindless, overcensoring, shareholders.

And might I suggest going out and picking up one of this year's Edgar nominated novels?

Best Novel Nominees

* Missing by Karin Alvtegen (Felony & Mayhem Press)

* Blue Heaven by C.J. Box (St. Martin’s Minotaur)

* Sins of the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)

* The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

* The Night Following by Morag Joss (Random House – Delacorte Press)

* Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)


Best First Novel By An American Author

* The Kind One by Tom Epperson (Five Star, div of Cengage)

* Sweetsmoke by David Fuller (Hyperion)

* The Foreigner by Francie Lin (Picador)

* Calumet City by Charlie Newton (Simon & Schuster - Touchstone)

* A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock (Random House - Doubleday)


Best Paperback Original

* The Prince of Bagram Prison by Alex Carr (Random House Trade)

* Money Shot by Christa Faust (Hard Case Crime)

* Enemy Combatant by Ed Gaffney (Random House - Dell)

* China Lake by Meg Gardiner (New American Library – Obsidian Mysteries)

* The Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli (Random House - Bantam)


Best Critical/Biographical

* African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey (McFarland & Company)

* Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories by Leonard Cassuto (Columbia University Press)

* Scene of the Crime: The Importance of Place in Crime and Mystery Fiction by David Geherin (McFarland & Company)

* The Rise of True Crime by Jean Murley (Greenwood Publishing – Praeger)

* Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories by Dr. Harry Lee Poe (Sterling Publishing – Metro Books)


So go buy Indie tomorrow. Hell, why wait until tomorrow? Buy today. AND tomorrow. And all through the weekend. Make each day an orgy of book buying. Because, you know, we're getting older and those other kinds of orgies are getting a little harder to come by. At least for more than the cost of a cheap bottle of vodka and a few hits of ecsatsy.

Buy Indie And Take Back America!!!1!11!!!!!

Or something.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Retirement Is For Pussies

Costa Mesa, CA

Richard James Feeney, still working at 72, is trying to relax with a drink at his local watering hole when the cops show up and bust his ass. Something about a bank and an armed robbery.

Mr. Feeney is accused of showing a gun at a Wachovia branch in Costa Mesa and asking to make a withdrawal.  No word on how much he got away with. 

A little while later police found him at a nearby bar having a drink, which I'm assuming he paid for.

Now if he'd bought the whole bar a round they might have given him a better alibi.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

If You're Into Books

Los Angeles, CA

The L.A. Times Festival of Books is this weekend at UCLA. And this time the temperature might actually be below the boiling point of lead.

First, some perspective from someone much smarter and funnier than I. Probably better looking, too.


Anyway, schedule for Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are 75 cents a pop from Ticketmaster or you can show up at a panel, wait in the stand-by line and maybe get in for free. Some are more packed than others.

The MWA is a sponsor so there are lots of mystery/crime panels over at Dodd.

Author signings over at the Mystery Bookstore booth among other places, of course. Here's their signing schedule for Saturday and Sunday.

Speaking of the Mystery Bookstore, tomorrow night is their annual Pre-Festival Shindig where they liquor up as many authors as they can to see if they do something inappropriate.

Considering that they're crime writers that gives them a lot of latitude. Even I'm hoping to make it, but don't let that keep you from showing up.

There's a .PDF of the event map here, but they'll be handing out bigger ones at the Festival.

So come down, wander among books and overpriced lemonades.  Parking's gone up to $9.00, but the bus will get you there cheaper. 

And there's always hitchhiking if you're into blowing strangers for rides.




Tuesday, April 21, 2009

No Harm, No Foul

Los Angeles, CA

Few years ago, when Compton was having its worst homicide epidemic ever, the city started doing a Gifts For Guns program. Turn in a gun, get a gift certificate. Worked pretty well. Then the economy tanked and it started working better. When you're out of work, living off food stamps, a couple hundred dollars in groceries for a beat up old Tec-9's a pretty good deal.

So they've started farming it out.

LA County Sheriffs did one this last weekend in Hawaiian Gardens, pulling 347 guns off the streets. Couple weeks ago they got 244 in Rowland Heights.

In fact they've got events all over the Southland this month and next.

At this rate they should have a few thousand off the streets, or out of people's closets, garages and sheds, by summer.  And wouldn't it be nice to go into a hot LA summer with fewer guns on the streets?

So, yeah.  Great idea.  Love it.  But.

Authorities did not run ballistics tests on any of the collected firearms to match them up to unsolved crimes, in hopes that it would encourage Angelenos to participate in the program.
When you're collecting a few hundred guns at a time what do you think the chances are that at least one of those has been used to commit a murder?

Now me, I wouldn't trust them. They could always be *gasp!* lying. And I can think of better ways to dispose of a gun, most involving a hacksaw and a couple dozen dumpsters. However, they're not taking names. So if you've just finished up a tri-state killing spree and you're looking to unload that .45 you used to take out everyone in a Mojave motel last month, these are the guys for you.

And you might get some snacks out of the deal.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

And She Fell For It?

San Diego, CA Christopher Tyrone Young goes by the name Staydown. Should have taken that as advice. Though a better name might have been, Don't Pimp A Minor You Picked Up In Another State After Having Sex With Her And Giving Her Drugs. Might be a bit long. Put DPAMYPUIASAHSWHAGHD on the business cards, maybe?

So it appears that Mr. Young, a resident of Florida, promised to take a young lady out west and make her a "star". Seriously? And she bought it? What is this, Schwab's Drugstore in 1949?

I shouldn't be surprised.  We get load of young ladies stepping off the bus hoping to make it big in them moving pictures only to end up stripping or turning tricks. It's a fucking cottage industry out here.

The things people do for the promise of celebrity.

So anyway, Young sticks her on a bus to Vegas, takes some tastefully artistic shots of her, you know, the kind you only get on those exclusive websites, and then hauls her ass out to California where he has her walking the streets in Anaheim, Pomona, Montclair and Vegas. Like any self respecting entrepreneur he uses the internet. Craigslist and MySpace in particular.

That is one classy guy.

Right now he up for one count of sex trafficking of children. Suspect some things like kidnapping, rape, and child endangerment will get thrown on the pile.

Good luck in the can, DPAMYPUIASAHSWHAGHD. I'm sure there's somebody inside just waiting to do the same to you.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

All He Wanted Was His Two Dollars

Norwalk, CA

Cell phones are easy targets for thieves. They're small enough to grab and the victims are usually too shocked by the crime to go after them. Unless they're really determined.

A 17-year-old boy was dragged a block behind a car in Norwalk Friday after thieves snagged his phone and he went after them. Not clear if he somehow got caught in a door or if he just hung the fuck on. I like to think he clawed his way up the car with murder in his eyes, foaming at the mouth. Like the paperboy in Better Off Dead.

I have to wonder who was more frightened. The kid or the guys in the car watching this screaming death machine chewing a hole through the door.

Eventually they lost him. Left him with the mother of all road rashes.

The car was described as a black, 4-door American sedan from the late 1980s or early 1990s. That's helpful. No make? Model? All that work and you didn't even get a plate? Thing was three inches from your face.

Kids these days. No sense of priorities.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Pair Of Kneepads For The LAT

Los Angeles, CA

Remember when the L.A. Times wasn't Sam Zell's bukkake whore?

The Los Angeles Times ran an ad after the fold of their front page yesterday for the new NBC cop show Southland. It was made up to look reasonably legit (.PDF here). They surrounded it with a bold outline and plastered "NBC Advertisement" on the top and had it next to a banner for the new show. Only an idiot would mistake this for a real story.

But they put it on the front page. Seems to have pissed off a few people. The paper got 50 emails complaining.

Shocking. Didn't know they even had 50 subscribers left.

Twenty years ago if this had happened a few hundred would have written letters. Paper letters. Plastered with postage stamps and walked to the mailbox. In the snow. Both ways.

Fistfights would have broken out in the newsroom instead of petitions.

This is the paper that MADE Los Angeles. It defined its politics, its geography, its people. It's won 38 Pulitzers for fuck's sake. And now Zell and Company are pissing away its reputation away for a few bucks. This is like watching your mom give blowjobs to pay the rent.

Sure, the paper needs money. It needs to adapt. Digital is the future. But embracing the future doesn't mean throwing away your dignity.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Career Limiting Move

Fountain Valley, CA

Many jobs require similar skill sets.  Accountants can cross-over into banking, dry-wallers often do carpentry.  And butchers, it seems, can become hitmen.

Frank Sharpski was attacked last month by a guy with a machete. Cut off his fingers, fractured his skull, did a neat little Chinatown number on his nose. Survived, which I gather was not the point of the exercise.

As it turns out, Mary Sharpski, Frank's wife, appears to have been sleeping with Michael Shores, Frank's roommate.  Seeing as how Frank was cramping their style the next step was obvious if you happen to be into cemetery love.

Enter one Antonio Ortega, butcher and would be murderer.  If you're going to hire a hatchetman who better qualified than somebody who uses a knife all day?  Sure he only uses it on cuts of beef, maybe butterflies some chicken breasts, but meat's meat, right?

Except for that whole running, screaming, fighting back bit.

Might want to rethink those career options, Antonio.  Something more along the lines of kitchen work in Corcoran.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Just Holding It For A Friend

Anaheim, CA

Ninety-five pounds doesn't sound like a lot until you put it into context.  My dog, for example, a four year old Labrador retriever, weighs about that much.   That's nine and a half bags of potatoes, about half a Shetland Pony, or roughly 4,300,000 10mg doses of heroin.

That's a lot of smack.

Agents from the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement showed up at the home of Gerardo Medina Hernandez, 25, with a warrant and found him unloading 95 pounds of black tar heroin from his car.

Nice timing, guys.

Mr. Hernandez is now in the county lockup.  Seems they think he was planning on selling it.  That's just crazy talk.  Maybe he's got a buddy or... fifty, who all have really big habits.  You think of that, Mr. BNE Agent?

I didn't think so.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Your Morning Dose Of High Culture

Mira Loma, CA

Swan Lake is a tragic ballet wherein two lovers kill themselves rather than be kept apart by a powerful sorcerer, causing the magician to lose his powers and die.  The Swan Lake Mobile Home Park, on the other hand, appears to be a seedy little meth haven where two lovers (I'm assuming here) are stabbed to death by a dumpy looking estranged husband, causing him to go on the lam and be pursued by Sheriff's deputies.

Okay, not exactly a strict parallel but work with me here.  It's not every day I get to tie Tchaikovsky to a trailer park.

Juan Jesus Perez, 42, is wanted by Sheriff's deputies for the stabbing deaths of his wife and another man Sunday morning at the trailer park. Seems there was an ongoing "domestic dispute".  What a great euphemism that is.  It's so good at hiding just how fucked up things can get between two people.

Anyway, Juan is 5 foot 9, 230 pounds. Drives a gray 2006 Camry. California plates 5SPB227. You know where he is, y'all might want to step back and just call the cops. (951) 776-1099. 

I wonder if Juan will do a little dance before the cops take him out.

Friday, April 03, 2009

616 Years PLUS Nine Life Sentences

Long Beach, CA

Daniel Sanchez, 29, was convicted in February of 58 felony counts of rape, burglary and whatever else they could squeeze in there for brutalizing and raping three girls and five women in Paramount, Long Beach, Compton, Lynwood, Bell and Bell Gardens.

Busy guy. Called him "The Long Beach Freeway Rapist".  Not as exciting as the Night Stalker, but you work with what you got.

So Sparky here gets 616 years in prison AND an additional 9 life sentences. Let's see 70 year lifespan, a 9, a 6, carry the 5...

Mr. Sanchez gets out of the can in 3255.  By that time we'll have flying cars, the robot revolution will have come and gone, and Mr. Sanchez will be sitting in his cell.

Okay, yeah, he'll be dead but they can, like, encase him in Lucite, right? Dislay his moldering bones in the entry hall along with all the other guys who've kicked in prison?  Better yet, embed the block with nice, museum lighting into a wall in each cell and a little sign that says, "THIS WILL BE YOU".

Bet ya a ten spot that cuts recidivism in half overnight.


It's Easier When You're Not Stupid

Laguna Beach, CA

If you're going to fake your death there are a few things that you need to do.  Leave the area.  Get a new name.  Get a new bank account.  Don't get caught.

Last September John Sung Park, 29, disappeared while diving in Laguna Beach. Police didn't really buy it.  Figured he had faked his own death because he was just about to be sentenced on burglary, theft, forgery and drug charges in Orange County and had an open drug warrant in Los Angeles.

Once this was done, Mr. park did the smart thing.  He laid low, stayed out of trouble and didn't...

Oh, sorry.  He was caught cheating at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  They frown on that sort of thing. I 'm thinking either he caved and told them his name, or they ran his prints.  Considering the stupid factor here I'm going to go with option 1. 

Extradition to the OC is in the cards for Mr. Park.  Hah!  See, I made a funny.  I'm a giver.  Give, give, give.  Never take.  This is what I do for you people.  Because I love you.

So now he's looking at all those other charges plus faking an emergency and gambling fraud.

Good luck, Mr. Park.  Next time be more convincing.  If you leave a smoking corpse after crashing your car into a transformer cops are more likely to believe you're dead.  No, I don't know how you survive it.  What, you want me to think of everything?


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

This Is Why It's Been So Quiet Over Here

Los Angeles, CA

While the economy is disintegrating and L.A.'s unemployment rate hovers around 12%, crime has gone... down?

Yep. Property crimes, like burglary, are down 6.4%. Violent crimes are down 4.9% The only rise? Robberies at 1.6% over last year.

Hell, even the Sheriff's department's seeing it. A 10% drop County-wide in violent crimes.

This isn't all wine and roses, of course. Yeah, we're seeing a steady decline, but it doesn't mean we still don't have a fuckload of problems. We've still had almost 6000 violent crimes this year, including homicides, rapes and assaults. Also, these numbers are a city-wide average. We've got double digit increases in Hollywood, for example.

Common wisdom says that as unemployment goes up so does crime. And I think it's still going to.

This is the calm before the storm. March 08 to January 09 was the biggest jump in unemployment from just over 5% to 12%. It's happened too fast. Folks haven't run out of all of their options, yet. The pressure cooker's still coming to a boil.

I'm hoping we pull ourselves out of this mess soon, but I don't think we will. I think it will be a couple of years before we see the unemployment rate get back to something more normal.

Give this six months to a year before the shit hits the fan. If things don't get better soon see these numbers go the other direction. My money is on a big spike around the holidays.

Please, everybody, prove me wrong.