Friday, May 29, 2009

Because I'm Not Too Proud To Stoop To A Boob Joke

Laguna Beach, CA

Back in March I mentioned Yvonne Jean Pampellonne, who was accused of stealing someone's identity and using it to rack up some $12,000.00 in cosmetic surgery charges for breast implants and liposuction. Well, she's in court now facing 3 felony charges.

What I hadn't realized at the time is what the police used to track her down.

Pampellone surrendered to police in March after detectives caught up with her using breast implant tracking numbers.

and in a related article:

Breast implants are medical devices with tracking numbers that helped confirm Pampellonne's identity. When implants are inserted or removed, the numbers are recorded by medical staff and associated with the patient in case of problems. The numbers can also be used by coroners to help identify bodies.

Reading that I have only one question.

How?

"When implants are inserted or removed..."

What, they took them out to see? It's not like they have RFID. Do they? That would be more than a little disturbing. Chip a boob like they chipped my dog? Cyberboobs?

I think I saw that movie.

If she was stupid enough to give her real address then they didn't need the serial numbers, right? The only way I can think this worked is if she gave one address for the surgery and another address for the... warranty card? Did she have to register her boobs to get free upgrades? Does she get email like, "Hi Yvonne! New Boob 3.5 (beta) is now available! Rounder! Fuller! Faster!"

I'm picturing cops roaming Orange County with handheld parabolic tracking devices that beep as they pass the fake boobs of Laguna Niguel. The damn things would never shut up.

Okay, cheap jokes aside... HA! Like that's ever gonna happen. The medical center staff ID'd her in a line-up... Which is another image that just opens itself up for frat boy comedy. Did they look at her or her boobs? And who'd they get to be in the line-up with her? And how do I get that job?

Anyway, as I was saying, the staff ID'd her in the line-up and they used the recorded serial numbers to confirm her identity. Which I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around. They've got her. They've got witnesses. Which really is all you need, right? The boobs are just superfluous.

I can't believe I just said that.

If it was so important that the boobs were used to confirm her ID, it's going to come up in court. Sure, they've got the recorded serial numbers. But how do they know that her boobs are the stolen boobs? How are they going to prove it?

And you thought jury duty was boring.

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Great, Now Even The Gods Are Homeless

Mount Olympus

Some guy lit a fire off of Laurel Canyon in the Mount Olympus area Sunday. Cops grabbed a homeless suspect Monday morning who I think we can all agree has a pretty solid case against him. His name? Pro Me Theaus. I think he's Greek.

What's next? Aphrodite turning tricks on Santa Monica Boulevard? Dionysus picked up in a gutter with a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20? I don't even want to know what Hades is doing down at the morgue.

I knew the economy was bad, but damn.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Uncaged



Got a gander at the proofs for Uncage Me coming out in July by Bleak House Books and edited by the inimitable Jen Jordan.

Been reading the stories. Can't stop. Finish reading and I read them again.

My short "Like That Japanese Chick What Broke Up Van Halen" is in there.

How the hell did that happen?

I mean, look at the playlist here.

Scott Phillips, Declan Burke, Bryon Quertermous, Steven Torres, Brian Azzarello, Gregg Hurwitz, Tim Maleeny, Nick Stone, Marytn Waites, J.D. Rhoades, Simon Kernick, Patrick Shawn Bagley, Victor Gischler, Greg Bardsley, J.A. Konrath, Stuart MacBride, Allan Guthrie, Christa Faust, Blake Crouch, Simon Wood, Talia Berliner, and Maxim Jakubowski.

Foreword by John Connolly.

This is some serious shit.

And I'm between Konrath and MacBride.

Which might be the most disturbing sentence I've ever written regardless of context.

Point is. I'm in some fucking incredible company. I kind of feel like the guy they let into the clubhouse because he brought the beer and hope they don't figure out just how not cool he is. Low man on the totem pole?

Take a look at that list again.

Yeah. Low man on the totem pole.

And the editing. And the layout. And the whole fucking thing.

Jen is a goddess. Seriously. She's in some dark pantheon pulling together blood and bone, sex and death and laying it all out onto a page where if you read it too close you'll go insane.

And demand more.

Yes. She's that good.

The whole magilla drops in July, but you can preorder it if you want. Or go to your local Indie and buy a copy when it comes out.

Hell, buy two and scare your mom with a copy.

This Is Not Your Father's Ray Gun

The latest Plots With Guns is up. Plots With Ray Guns this one is. Noir in the future.

Holy fucking shit is this good.

Kieran Shea, Garnett Elliott, Kyle Minor, Richie Narvaez, Pinckney Benedict, Cameron Ashley, Fred Zackel.

Ray guns, robots and romance in Toronto. A father trying to save his daughter in an orbital sea of irradiated hulks. A trigger happy bar owner on a really bad day. Guys whose jobs it is to get killed. Over and over and over again.

Might be the best issue ever.

So go read it. This thing rocks.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Problem With Diversity

Hawaiian Gardens, CA

Southern California is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the nation. Pretty much every racial group is represented here. This is a good thing. People get exposed to other cultures, have their minds expanded to other possibilities, learn to work and live with people who have a different frame of reference.

Unless they're assholes.

A hundred and fifty members of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang has been hit with a racketeering charge that covers drugs, guns, kidnapping, shooting, intimidation and hate crimes against African Americans. Seems they don't like them. Apparently they have been suggesting for some time that they leave the area.

Forcefully. With guns and knives and, in one instance, a rake.

We're seeing RICO being used more and more against gangs. The Mongols, Vineland Boyz, these guys. But only a few times have they asserted that the crimes are racially motivated.

Locally not a lot of government types seem to want to come out and say that Latino gangs are targeting African Americans. Understandable. Nobody wants more noise. But it's not like it's news. Whether it's true or not, a lot of people believe it. This is why we have things like Jamiel's Law floating around and attempts to kill SO 40.

It's one of those topics that hits almost every hot button issue out there; immigration, gun control, gang violence, racism. It's not going away any time soon and if cities don't start dealing with this issue more openly instead of having the Feds do the heavy lifting, it's not going to go away at all.

So I ask you, assorted freaks who wander by and read my ramblings, what do you think? Got any ideas?

 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fashionably Poor Judgment

El Monte, CA

There's this video from the other day of an El Monte police officer kicking a suspect in the head after a high speed car chase. Apparently the suspect, after being run down, flops to the ground with his arms and legs out and the officer runs up and punts his head like a football. Just so you know, this isn't about the kick.

No, this is about fashion.

See, besides being the officer in the video, George Fierro also owns Torcido Clothing in El Monte. They sell t-shirts with logos, pictures, witty sayings. Things like LA County Jail: 1750 High Power Module, which is the section they stick the shot callers for the Mexican Mafia to keep them isolated. Or 186.22, which is the penal code for a sentence extension for a crime committed in prison for the benefit of a gang. And the ever popular 11550, the California Health and Safety Code for being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Starting to see a pattern here?

Yes, it would appear that officer Fierro is the owner of a clothing store that glorifies gang life.

This is either a conflict of interest, chutzpah or just plain stupidity. I honestly don't know which. Maybe he's using it to conduct his own sting operations? Keep tabs on the bangers who come into his store? Keep your friends close but your enemies closer?

In which case, bravo, officer Fierro. Good luck with that.

Officer Fierro also appears to have had some issues with the higher ups, having filed a civil suit last year alleging that he has been passed over for promotion time and again due to having reported on the unethical behavior of his fellow officers. The case goes to court in September.

I wonder if he's aware of the irony.

 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Is Just Me Thinking Out Loud

I've been doing L.A. Noir for over four years now. It will be five in November. I've been going over some of my old blog entries, lately, mostly because I still get comments on posts from years back.

Fun stuff. New comments on old posts mostly fall into three broad categories: Someone hates the subject (Like the Israeli hatchet man dying of stomach cancer right now - Hoo boy, do people want to see him dead), someone hates the previous commenter (Assorted baby mommas of guys doing three to five for assault - Like watching a cage match between rabid wolverines), someone hates me (An unsurprisingly long list - one guy even put up a website specifically to enumerate the ways in which I am an idiot. Apparently, I have arrived. I'd feel better if he'd had more than the one entry, though. I think he lost count)

Reading these has gotten me thinking about a couple of things. One, do I want to do anything different around here and two, what has this taught me?

The second one's easier, so I'll start with that.

 

People Are Assholes

The more I've done this blog the more I've come to realize that the biggest problems people face are other people. Yes, I already knew this, but trawling through the wasteland of human misery that is the evening news has just hammered that point home.

Seriously, human beings are fucking animals. Child torture, forced prostitution, domestic violence, murder, rape, assault, extortion, fraud, identity theft, carjacking, cannibalism, dismemberment, drive-bys, people set on fire, kids caught in crossfires, dogfighting, cockfighting, bumfighting, drug dealing, murder-suicides, drunken rampages, corpses dragged through the streets, nursing students stuffed in trashcans, men with shotguns, women with kitchen knives, children with pistols, rabid dogs, pissed off monkeys, political corruption, police corruption, judicial corruption, health fraud, bank fraud, bank robbery, and the ever popular shooting of a random stranger after uttering the phrase, "Where you from?"

And the reasons. Jesus. Except for the psychotic breaks and sociopaths (and there might be an argument for those, too) I think most of them boil down to fear. Something gets labeled a threat and people go apeshit. Threat to authority, threat to confidence, threat to livelihood, threat to identity, threat to manhood. Looked at that way it all becomes rather banal.

I don't think you can discount the cultural aspect, either. We have a culture that not only says it's okay for men to be violent, but that violence is a currency in its own right. It's how we settle disputes, right wrongs, maintain balance.

And when you mix up different nationalities that all have their own particular cultural boundaries, well, shit's bound to happen. One of the strengths of L.A., it's ethnic and national diversity, can also be its weakness. But that's for another post entirely.

 

So Am I

I have never pissed off more people, from more walks of life than during my time writing L.A. Noir.

I am well acquainted with the inappropriate comment. It really is kind of surprising I haven't gotten into more fist fights. It's a defense mechanism. Shit happens and I can't not joke about it. I'm a riot in the emergency room. Not so much at a funeral. Important note: DO NOT HAVE ME GIVE A EULOGY. Just sayin'.

Many of my posts haven't exactly been sensitive to the victims of the crimes I'm writing about. And people have pointed this out to me. Many times. Sometimes eloquently, sometimes in apoplectic rage, sometimes with the grammar skills of a three-year-old. Some threats, a few rants, more than a couple screaming rages.

To my mind it's really a matter of perspective. These are usually from people who are in the middle of it. Someone demanding sensitivity, someone wanting to set the record straight. More often than not that second gets contradicted by someone else who also knows the situation.

Guy I know put it this way. When it happens to someone else, it's pathos. When it happens to you it just sucks. Word.

I've tried to keep the asshole quotient down to a dull roar, but I don't think I'm very good at it. It's like smoking. There is no quitting, just longer peiods of abstinence.

 

Except When I'm Not

I am nothing more than an asshat with a bullhorn. Occasionally, though, I've been mistaken for something else. Two things, actually: a journalist or a private investigator.

And though I think both of those occupations are pretty goddamn cool, I'm neither. Journalist? Please. I don't write news. I make snarky comments on it. Journalists are out there digging this shit up. At best I'm riding on their coattails.

A PI? Besides serving court papers on an ex-girlfriend so her current boyfriend could get partial custody of their kid (loooong story), I've never done a single PI-like thing in my life. I mean, besides getting beat up.

And no, stalking doesn't count.

But I've gotten emails a few times from strangers looking for help. I'm the only guy they can find who has even mentioned something that's happened to a relative, an ex-husband, a friend. One woman couldn't comprehend how her ex could have been attacked and killed by one guy. Until I dug into it a little and found out that the attacker outweighed him by a hundred and fifty pounds.

Don't know why but that seemed to help her. And that made me feel pretty good about what I've done here.

There are other things, but these are the ones that have been forefront in my mind, lately.

 

The Point?

I've been wondering if maybe it's time to make some changes around here. To what I don't know.

The crime stuff I write about is staying. No question about that. That was the whole point of this site in the first place. Well, actually, the point was to stroke my own ego and see how many page hits I can get. That defines one's existence these days, after all.

But what else? I've also been using this as a marketing tool from time to time. Talk about my other writing.

Should I do more of that? Less?

What about rants? Stuff that isn't about a crime or a news story, just me rambling on? You know, like what you're reading now?

More stuff on other writers? More on book signings? Writing about writing? Not that I really know anything about that.

Thoughts, comments? I'll assume that silence means no one really gives a damn and I'll just put up pictures of clowns fucking circus bears or something.

Or the other way around.  I mean, whatever floats your boat.

 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Passes The Doesn't Suck Test

Publisher's Weekly has a review of Jen Jordan's noir anthology Uncage Me due out in July here (about 2/3 of the way down).

While John Connolly (The Reapers) rightly notes in his introduction that this all-original anthology isn't for the fainthearted, noir lovers will find plenty to savor among the 22 stories from both familiar and unfamiliar names.

Mine would be one of those "unfamiliar names".

I haven't gotten my hands on a copy yet, but I have read Connolly's intro.  It's a hell of a piece of writing on the point of and need for transgressive fiction.   And then some.   I'd buy the book for the intro alone.  The man is clearly more intelligent, eloquent and thought provoking than I will ever be.   I want this man's brain. Like, in my head, not in a jar.

I hear "Why don't you write happy stories?" one more time and I'm whipping that intro out.   And then I'm beating the person who asked with the book.   Wrapped around a 2x4.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Behind The Times - Writerly Stuff

Yeah, I know. I'm a slacker. Blame, I dunno, let's go with swine flu. Maybe California on fire again? Rickets? Something.

Anyway, as usual I'm a day late and a buck short, but here are some things I've been meaning to yammer on about for a while now.

Seth Harwood's novel, Jack Wakes Up came out. Go buy it. Or give it a listen.

Oh, and check out these reviews on the N.Y. Times and Boston Globe. Good stuff.

Then we have The Lineup: Poems on Crime 2, edited by Gerald So, Patrick Shawn Bagley, R. Narvaez, and Anthony Rainone, on sale now through Lulu.com and wherever fine indie bookstores get off their slacker asses and agree to carry it.

Incidentally, the aforementioned Mr. Harwood also runs Crimewav.com, where you can listen to some of the best crime fiction out there, including selected poems from The Lineup, starting tomorrow.

Let's see. What else? Oh, right.

Switchblade. New noir imprint from PM Press. Debut novels are a reprint of Gary Phillips' The Jook (Great book) and Summer Brenner's I-5 (which I can't wait to get my hands on).

I know there's more, but my brain is fucking cottage cheese these days. It's a wonder I remember to wear pants when I leave the house.

Oh, go pre-order Hogdoggin', out June 1st. Anthony Neil Smith's follow-up to last year's Yellow Medicine.

That it? Think that's it.

Dammit. Where are my pants?

Friday, May 08, 2009

My New Favorite Site

Did you know that of the $809.55 billion dollars in contraband throughout the world, marijuana accounts for $141.80 billion or that counterfeit tech is a close second at $100 billion? Or that diamond smuggling nets only $280 million? Neither did I.

But thanks to writer Kieran Shea, who links to the Havocscope Black Market Indexes, now I do.

Havocscope is a wealth of fun facts. Like that 25% of child sex tourists are from the U.S., or that the Italian Mafia makes $17 billion a year from loansharking.

Next time you're at a cocktail party make sure to bring up that you can make upwards of $400K on just two pounds of illegal bear bile.

Trust me, you'll be a big hit.

 

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

After You

Anaheim, CA

I have hope that the world is getting better. It's little things. Cars edging out of the way to let a motorcycle lane split. Random strangers holding doors open. Robbers letting customers cut in line.

An unidentified man robbed a pharmacy in Anaheim last night. Put a gun to an employee's head, demanded Xanax and Oxycotin. A customer shows up in the middle of this so he has the pharmacist help him before continuing the robbery.

Awful neighborly of him. Must have been a Boy Scout.

If you're going to rob someone there's no reason you can't be polite about it. As my favorite syphilitic gangster, Al Capone once said, "You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone."

It's nice to see that the kind word isn't being left out.

 

Monday, May 04, 2009

Won't Be Hitting The Pawn Shop With This One

San Bernardino, CA

"Okay, here's the plan. We break in, tie everybody up, grab the cash, tv, and the three-year-old."

"Right, we... Wait, what?"

Two unidentified men, between 18 and 25 years old, broke into the home of three-year-old Briant Rodriguez, tied up his mother and four siblings, ransacked the place, and took him with them. The father was off at work.

Briant is 3 feet tall and weighs 40 pounds, with brown eyes and long, curly brown hair. One of his abductors is described as approximately 18-years-old, thin and 5 foot, 8 inches tall wearing a black ball cap, blue jeans and a green t-shirt and the other as a skinny male, 24-years-old, 5-foot ten-inches wearing all black except for a white bandanna. No one saw their car.

The last time I recall this sort of thing happening was in Vegas last October. All kinds of messed up, that one. Drug money, custody battles, Federal investigations. Fun stuff.

These things are never as simple as they look. Could be money, could be drugs, could be a custody thing. In the Vegas case the kid was found unharmed.

Let's hope the same holds true for this one.