Friday, April 30, 2010

Told You It'd Get Weirder

Los Angeles, CA

So, that guy with all the fake passports and counterfeit cash? Yeah, seems he's big on tile work, too. Made himself a mosaic on the floor of his apartment.

Of the CIA logo.

"Other details in the apartment paint a curious if difficult to interpret portrait of Alexik. Inlaid on the floor was a handmade tile mosaic replica of the Central Intelligence Agency seal; it was about five feet in diameter. Hovering over the CIA emblem was a large, framed portrait of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez."
Chavez? Really? Is this some nefarious South American plot or is he just a nutjob? A disturbingly high functioning nutjob.

I can't wait to see what happens next. I need to get me some popcorn.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Don't Even Know My Real Name

Los Angeles, CA

The LAPD is looking for Brian Alexik, 33. At least, they think they are.

Brian Alexik rented a downtown apartment. $3400 a month. Paid cash.

So, 11 days ago his neighbors smell something funny. Kind of like gasoline. They call the fire department. Fire department knocks, Mr. Alexik won't open up. Fire calls police. Police break down door.

Alexik is last seen heading down the fire escape with several duffel bags. The police didn't catch him. Maybe they didn't even go after him right away.

Understandable, really. All that counterfeiting equipment, stacks of money, the camera tripod and the AK-47 sitting in the corner would give anyone pause.

Seems Mr. Alexik was making fake hundreds. Really good fake hundreds. $15K worth. And he had passports. Same guy, different names.

Oh yeah, and his apartment had a great view of the U.S. Federal Reserve building on Grand Avenue.

What the fuck was this guy up to?

And what was in the duffel bags he took with him? Considering what he left behind they must have been pretty fucking important.

They've got one lead, at least. Guy name of Greg Koller. Seems to be a buddy of Alexik's. They're holding him on narcotics possession, but I expect they'll be tacking on something for all that equipment to make weapons that they found in his home.

Just wait, this one's just gonna get a whole lot weirder. This shit always does.

Go Read The Deputy

Just finished Victor Gischler's latest, The Deputy.
Coyote Crossing is a dusty little shithole town in western Oklahoma. A sleepy little pit stop for truckers, not a lot going on. So a dead body in the middle of the street at midnight is quite an event. The chief of police wants all hands on deck, so he calls Toby Sawyer to come babysit the body.

Toby doesn’t have a lot going for him. Twenty-five, a couple of years of junior college, married to a girl he got pregnant and living in a trailer on the edge of town. He’s working part time for the police department, hoping the budget comes through and they can put him on full time, so he can get health benefits. His wife is a waitress at a little crap diner near the railroad tracks. When he gets the call about the dead body, he pins his tin star to his Weezer t-shirt, slips into a pair of sweatpants and grabs his revolver.
It's fun and violent. Go read this book.

NOW.

You can get a signed copy at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood. Or, if you're lazy, you can get it at Amazon in hardback, paperback or on the Kindle.

Go on, do it.

DO IT.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Pasadena, CA

Guns and knives are so passe. These days the discerning mugger knows that the only way to really grab someone's attention is to use something more impressive. Like a machete. Large, intimidating. It's no katana, but still.

But when you're done with a little armed robbery, where do you put it?

A hint: Not your pants.

A teenage boy with a machete threatened a man walking down the street in Pasadena last Thursday. The guy handed over his money and no one got hurt.

The police caught the young mugger a short time later. Yes, he had the machete on him. Yes, it was stuck in his pants.

I can't think of many places I'd rather NOT have a machete.

They're sharp. They don't bend. Did they catch him by the way he was limping and wincing? What if he had to sit? Did he at least put it in point first?

Or did he put it down the front of his pants and he's singing soprano?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

That's One Pissed Off Geezer

Hollywood, CA

Last month an Armenian woman was found shot to death in her car in Hollywood. Not long after police realized she was related to a man and their 8-year-old daughter who'd been gunned down in 2008 in their apartment.

Both times they were discovered by the eldest daughter, who is now the last surviving member of the family. I suspect she's been awfully nervous for a while now.

Well, the cops have made an arrest, picking up a 70-year-old man they believe is connected with the killings. No name released, yet.

So, if he's the guy, and in cases like this I don't see the LAPD tossing this kind of news around unless they think they've got something, gets embarrassing when they don't, I have to wonder why. And just how pissed off this guy has to be.

Think about it. He's taken out almost the entire family. Waited two years and picked up where he left off.

That's some serious rage there. Dude's got some issues.

For the surviving daughter's sake I hope this is the guy and he can be put away and not be a threat, anymore. And I hope he's not a relative. This thing is fucked up enough as it is.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hittin' The Big Time, Hittin' Hemet

Hemet, CA

Hemet's this... town, I suppose you could call it, in Southern California. Tiny place. Twenty-seven square miles. Blink and, if you're lucky, you'll miss it.

Well, they've been having some problems lately. Gang violence targeting police and city property. You know, exploding trucks, booby traps, that sort of thing.

Last month they thought it was the Vagos motorcycle group, grabbing about 30 people in a multi-state sweep. Their lawyer says none of them are Vagos, but who's gonna believe a lawyer?

Anyway, they're onto thinking it's a white supremacist group. Which would kind of rule out Vagos, since they're a mix of whites and Hispanics.

So they went and grabbed another 23 people yesterday. Not saying who they were or what gangs they're involved in, so we'll have to wait and see. Presumably, they're all white.

Personally, from what little I've read it sounds more and more like a replay of The Wild One. All we need now is for Brando to drive up in those Village People leathers he wears and fall in love with the Sheriff's daughter.

When I think podunk, I think Hemet. Hemet's the kind of place your car breaks down as you're screaming through. Not the kind of place you park and admire the hot desert air.

So, I have to wonder. The fuck are they doing out in Hemet? This is not exactly going for the gold, here. The world's a lot bigger than Hemet. I get the whole work your way up thing, but seriously. Why not Barstow? Or really push yourselves and hit Palm Springs.

Is it performance anxiety? Is that it? Come on White Supremacists. You can tell me.

I get it. You're a bunch of brainless drones with no chins and a family tree that doesn't exactly branch. The Nazis got their asses handed to them in, of all places, France, and you're still feeling a little skittish.

It's okay. Let it out. Go ahead and cry.

Of course you're feeling a little hesitant. Don't want to push too hard. Hemet's a decent place to start, I suppose. I mean, come on, you're trying to live down lederhosen and the Chicken Dance. Not exactly the best cultural examples of The Master Race, if you know what I mean.

So, go ahead, hang out in Hemet. For a long time. Because you stick around long enough and even the Hemet police will find you. Eventually.

Maybe.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

In Which I Am A Pretentious Ass

Like that's a stretch.

There's a series of interviews over at Spinetingler Magazine with writers who haven't gotten a book deal, yet, called Conversations With The Bookless.

And today's my turn.

Note I say, "yet", because everyone in that series is going to do it.  Guaranteed.  These people are fucking amazing and I hope they all get deals soon.

Entirely selfish reasons, of course.  I want to read their books.

You can read the other ladies' and gentlemen's words here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A To B To C To X

Los Angeles, CA

Conclusions. Those are those things that people like to leap to. Like mountain goats and the Alps. It uses that bizarre form of calculus where 1+1 = 18,374.

Take restaurateur Joshua Woodward, owner of Table 8 on Melrose. The LAPD is accusing him of giving his pregnant girlfriend doses of Misoprostol, which is used to control bleeding during childbirth, to induce a miscarriage of her 13-week-old fetus. They're looking at murder charges. They've confirmed the substance on him and they're testing some white powder at the woman's home as well.

And here's where things get freaky.

According to police he allegedly rubbed it on her.

Yes, that's right. Rubbed it.

Now, I'm not saying that wouldn't work. Lots of things soak in through the skin. But still. Rubbed it.

He didn't slip it into her food, which presumably he could have had a hand in preparing at one point, seeing as she's probably eaten at his restaurant. He didn't slip it into her drink, which he could have done as well. Table 8's got a bar, after all. I hear they make a mean Greyhound.

Seems like a bit of a leap.

But.

They did find the stuff on him. On his hands even. As he was grinding up the tablets.

So maybe they're right. Stranger things have happened in this town.

Like, say, Angelyne. If that can happen here, anything can.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

You'd Think By Now They'd Know

Pasadena, CA

Dye packs. The bane of the bank robber. Every bank uses them. EVERY bank.

Which begs the question, how do they still fall for it?

Josh J. Lettiera, 34, was picked up yesterday for a robbery at a Pasadena City National Bank branch. Walked out and, surprise! the dye pack went off. Disperse Red 9 everywhere.

So flustered he dropped his fake gun.

Seems police had him ID'd pretty quickly because they nailed him by staking out his car that night. Talk about being red in the face.

Sorry.

Sounds Like A Craigslist Ad

Manhattan Beach, CA

Personal ads get lumped into generic groups. Men Seeking Women, Women Seeking Men, that sort of thing.

So where do you put Police Seek Man Exposing Himself?

Manhattan Beach police are looking for a guy they say dropped his shorts in a local Target store and whacked off in front of a woman in the laundry detergent aisle.

At least he kept it clean.

Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week. Don't forget to tip your waitress.

Anyway, he's white, 38 to 40 years old. 5'7" to 5'8". Heavy build. Medium-length brown hair and a mustache. Has an unfortunate resemblance to Ron Jeremy.

Whatta ya think, ladies? Is that one fiiine lookin' specimen o' manhood, there, or what? Fashionable, too. Check out that ensemble.

Yep, that there's a catch, all right.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Things We Do For Love

Corona, CA

Like lie. Badly.

Fernando Castillo, 46, was stabbed to death last year at his home in Corona. At the time his 15-year-old step-daughter claimed that two men broke in and killed him, even though there was no sign of a break-in.

Then her boyfriend, Brian Aranda, 21, was fingered for it. Confessed and everything. Well, not everything. Seems he couldn't explain why he did it.

Looks like the head-scratching of the Corona police finally got them looking in a different direction. At the step-daughter.

She was picked up Tuesday.

Now, I understand that the boyfriend's going to be your first suspect. And chances are he was part of it. Hell, he might have actually done it.

But it took a year to figure out she might be in on it? Come on. There are damn few things more scarily ruthless than a 15-year-old girl. Gitmo torturers, maybe. Wall Street brokers. Toddlers.

Think about it. You ever seen teenage girls fight? And what it takes to get them to fight? The only reason any of them survive is because nobody thinks to bring a straight razor.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

This Is Where A Neighborly Hello Pays Off

El Monte, CA

Most of us don't know our neighbors. It's one of the tragedies of living in a city. Or maybe a benefit. Even if you know your neighbors, you never really know your neighbors. They could be serial killers, child molesters, pot growers.

Alexander Moy, 34, was arrested Monday afternoon on a tip from his neighbors. Suspicious Activity, don'tcha know. Turns out they were right. Moy had rented a house and was using it as a pot farm. Seven hundred plants.

Now, it seems to me that if you're going to go into a neighborhood and set up shop, you really should do your best to avoid suspicion. Get to know your neighbors. Go knock on doors and introduce yourself. Remember, the ones they don't suspect are the ones they say were all 'nice, young men'.

Just ask Dahmer.

So try leaving them baskets of brownies or cookies. Regular brownies and cookies. You might want to forego the special ones. At least until you get to know them better.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Bad Week For Alhambra

Alhambra. Not as monied as San Marino to the north, but decent. Tree-lined streets, California bungalows, manicured lawns.

And a really bad week.

Last Thursday, Angel Berrios Jr., 25, shot and killed his wife and infant son before turning the gun on himself. Who knows why. Quite possibly not even Berrios. Not in any sane, rational way, at least.

Shi Donglei, 31, of San Gabriel, was found murdered last night near Story Park. No cause of death, yet, but they found her Prius nearby. With a purse and a couple of coffee thermos' in the front of the car. Hopefully that'll give them something to go on.

And then there's Ryan Carlson, 29, who was found in his car Thursday night in the parking lot of Story Park. Naked. With a 15-year-old boy. In flagrante delicto, as it were.

Three counts of child molestation and soliciting a child for sex over the Internet. That damned Internet. Full of psychopaths and pedophiles, I tell ya. On the plus side, at least they've got him.

Here's hoping Alhambra doesn't make it into the news as much this next week. Gotta spread all that sunny cheer around, don'tcha know.

Friday, April 09, 2010

So NOT The Headline You Want To See

Murietta, CA

There are irresponsible parents and there are irresponsible dog owners. Sometimes they come together.

And sometimes words like irresponsible, criminally negligent, cruel, stupid, hell I could go on all day, don't even BEGIN to cover it.
Dogs Chew Off Baby's Testicles, Mom Loses Custody
And you thought you had it rough growing up.

And before one jumps to "Oh my god, what a tragic accident, what must the mother be going through?" bear in mind that this is the third child she has lost custody of.

The THIRD.

Holy Jesus monkey fucking Christ, this is what it takes to get CPS involved? I'm afraid to ask why they took the other two. Or why they just didn't grab all three. As soon as she was done popping them out.

God, I love people.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Maybe We're All Just Really Pissed Off

Los Angeles, CA

The housing market might be down, but at least dead people are up.

We've had a rise in the homicide rate. Twenty-five killings last week. That's a lot of dead people in one shot. Or multiple shots (and one blunt force trauma) as the case may be. Now it's not a trend, yet, but only a spike.

Either way, it begs the question, why?

My money's on the economy, personally, but I got nothing to back that up.

Anyway, over at Witness LA Celeste Fremon's asking the same question.

The LAPD Union is blaming the early release of prisoners this year. Some violent offenders were in the mix.

Okay. But then what about New York, which has seen their own surge in homicides? One hundred-and-three so far this year compared to eighty-six in 2009. New York didn't have an early prisoner release.

Is that even relevant? One thing is not like the other. New York is not L.A. We have different issues, different populations, different criminals, different police.

The only way I can see the early release of prisoners being the cause of this is if it turns out that some of those murders were caused by the prisoners released.

And I don't mean one or two. Disturbing though it is, that's to be expected. I'm talking about most of them.

Maybe the police are right. Maybe it is because we let out a bunch of crazies who should be locked up. But then again, maybe not.

God forbid we should have reasoned, intelligent debate with facts instead of knee jerk reactions from both sides of the issue.

Reasoned debate. With facts. On this blog.

HA! I crack myself up.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Random Thinking

Sometimes I hate this fucking town.

Met a kid got jumped into a gang a few weeks ago. Football player, hard worker, naive as all fuck. Spent a couple weeks playing gangbanger until he realized, dimly, how much it was going to fuck up his life. Still doesn't get it.

Even after they beat him senseless, gave him a concussion, loosened some teeth. He still can't grasp it. "You wouldn't understand," he tells his mother, a woman who cleans houses for a living, who skimps and saves to bring up her children right. She's such a fucking saint, she's a cliche.

"You wouldn't understand. It's man's business. Men do what they have to do."

And he believes it. Doesn't know what it means, but he sure as fuck believes it.

He's been fed this line of bullshit over and over throughout school. He's a mama's boy, he's a pussy. Maybe he's a faggot, they say. He's sixteen and changing identities the way the French change mistresses. The way we all did when we were sixteen.

Trying to figure out what being a man is. What it means to be male and a teenager in Los Angeles. And the only guides he gets are a long distance trucker father who doesn't want him and some guy named Julio who "just wants to be his friend."

Gives him a bit of manhood to try on for himself. It smells like Tecate and pot. Tastes like heroin. Stings like a black eye so severe he needs a good cutman in his corner.

But these people understand him.

And that's worth its weight in fucking gold.

Sure, kid, here's some cash. Give it to your mom. This is what men do. They provide. Nah, there's nothing wrong. It's money, right? Get some dinner on the table.

All you gotta do is run this package down to Palms for me and bring back a fat envelope full of twenties.

The kind of man we turn out to be depends on what we do here. At this moment. Because it's not just temptation. It's a turning point. It's a deal with a devil who offers salvation.

'Cause Christ sure as shit ain't handing out Benjamins.

So he thinks about it. And eventually he makes a right choice. Because he's a good kid, if not all that bright, who listens to his mother and his sister and his little brother, too, who are all telling him the same thing.

Get out. Get out now. Get out while you still have legs to walk out on. Before the gunfire starts and the razor blades come out. Before you spend a night, then a weekend, then a year in County. Before you end up with a habit you can't break, or a bullet in your leg, or shitting in a bag instead of out your colon.

So he makes that right choice. And those boys who think they're men, who think they know what that means, who only see possibilities through their tiny, violent windows on the world where everything's painted in streaks of Krylon and blood and twisted ideas of honor?

They hurt him for it.

Hurt him more going out than coming in. Make him bleed. Make him burn. His face swoll up like a goddamn clown balloon. All purple, red, twisted.

But he's out.

Until the next time they call him a mama's boy, a pussy, or maybe a faggot. And they wheedle at him and fill his head with more of that same tired line. When he feels alone and scared and no one understands him. When he's angry. The kind of visceral anger that only teenage boys can pull together.

He'll wonder.

I only hope he makes the right choice then, too.

Maybe He Didn't Like The Hummus

Valley Village, CA

The Hot Spot Cafe over on Riverside Drive in Valley Village. Little place. Mediterranean food. Reviews aren't great. They're getting worse.

Something to do with a quadruple murder yesterday afternoon.

Guy walks into the restaurant and opens up. Six people get tagged, four die. The other two are in the hospital.

So far no suspects, few details. Sources, those shady in-the-know types, tell the Times it has something to do with Armenian gangs.

Oh no! That'd be a shocker! Note the ironic use of exclamation points. Or is that sarcastic use?

Anyway, this is more like a scene from the Sopranos than it is some crazy with a shotgun wandering the streets. So, if you're not an Armenian mobster with a target on your forehead, you should be fine.

Just stay out of the line of fire.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Bookish Events Today

The Mystery Bookstore, Westwood, CA

I'm sure regular readers, all three of you, will notice that posting has been a bit spotty of late. I'm working on that. Mostly because I keep missing shit like this.

Cornelia Read signs her new book in the Madeline Dare series, Invisible Boy, at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood at 3:30pm today. If you haven't read her others, A Field of Darkness and The Crazy School, you are missing the fuck out.

Go to the signing and grab all three.

And though I don't see it on their website (Shame on you, Linda! Shame!), I have it on good authority that they will also be holding the official launch for the new Los Angeles Noir 2 (edited by Denise Hamilton) and Orange County Noir (edited by Gary Phillips) anthologies today at 5:00pm.

The Mystery Bookstore is at 036-C Broxton Avenue in Westwood.

So you'll go there. And like it. Why? Because I told you to.

Besides, they might have cake.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Thuglit #36

Looks like it's a weekend for fiction.

Thuglit #36 is alive and kicking.

Stories by Brett Williams, Lee Robertson, Matthew C. Funk, Stephen D. Rogers, Rob Loughran, Hugh Lessig, Dan Warthman and Colin O'Sullivan.

Good stuff, as always.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Plots With Guns #8

A new PWG Is online.

Another ass-kicker. Go read. Now.

Back In, If Not Black, Then At Least Several Shades of Gray

Hollywood, CA

Noir City 2010 starts tomorrow night over at The Egyptian.

Every year I say I'm going to see all of the twenty-five films. Invariably I see, maybe, two. What can I say, I'm lazy.

And broke.

Anyway, this year's got some whoppers. A double feature of the restored 35mm print of Cry Danger with Dick Powell and Rhonda Fleming and Tight Spot with Ginger Rogers and Edward G. Robinson kicks it off tomorrow night.

A few William Castle films, a couple of The Whistler movies and a whole slew that aren't on DVD.

Worth checking out. It runs from April 2nd to April 18th.