Sep 28, 2007

Three pairs of shoes and a name

A 36-year-old man was arrested in April after walking out of The Sports Authority, 1987 Mt. Zion Road, in Morrow, with three pairs of shoes stuffed in his pants. The man told police his name was Nolan J. Reeves.

He gave them a driver's license and social security number, and was arrested under that name.

He was charged with stealing the shoes, valued at a total of $190, and possessing a three-inch glass pipe, believed to be used for smoking crack cocaine.

The man was booked in the Clayton County Jail as "Reeves," went to court as "Reeves," and pleaded guilty to the two charges under that name.

In July, while out on probation, the 36-year-old man was arrested again. He was charged with selling false identifies.

One of the false identities for sale was the name, license and social security number of "Reeves."

Read the full story, Grand jury: Man pleaded guilty using fake name, at the Clayton News Daily

Sep 27, 2007

Wendell Berry

Most people, one hopes, would not consider themselves improved by having killed someone, though, having done so, they would know more about it than before. There is no culture I know of that has not held that good people must refuse to know some things. -- Wendell Berry, in a debate about space colonies

As digital-storage capacities reach seemingly boundless proportions, however, some thinkers are becoming nervous about the unintended consequences of memory technology... New forms of memory are permanent and accessible from anywhere. As their reach grows, scholars are asking if now - perhaps for the first time in human history - we need to find ways to forget. -- Jessica Winter, in Advantages of Amnesia

To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details. The equivocal clarity of dawn penetrated along the earthen patio. -- Jorge Luis Borge, in Funes, the Memorious

As a form of parapraxis, forgetting combines partial failure with partial success and must be distinguished from the customary psychological form of forgetting, a successful act of repression. The dreamer who has forgotten his dream tries to reconstruct it, but in doing so, constructs it anew: "It is indeed possible that while trying to retell it, we fill in the blanks created by forgetting using new material arbitrarily chosen." -- on Sigmund Freud and forgetting in psychoanalysis

Sep 26, 2007

Pop, goes the murderer: A Problem. A Question.

"An interest in murder is absolutely central to our pop culture, and it has been from the beginning. It's so obvious and ubiquitous, and we've grown so used to it, that it never even strikes us how much programming on any given page of the TV Guide is devoted in one way or another to violence or homicide."

                - David Schmid
                Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture

Sep 24, 2007

Attempt to establish remorse

Standing in the courtroom with a heavy mustache drooping over his mouth, and a red, jail jumpsuit sagging around his small body, Martin Flores was visibly disgusted.

The 20-year-old stood there, five-foot, six-inches tall, facing a judge in Clayton County Superior Court and listened to a court interpreter translate in Spanish the possible sentence for his conviction on attempted rape, molestation, kidnapping and aggravated assault.

A Clayton County jury found Flores guilty Tuesday of jumping out of the bushes in a mobile home park, grabbing a 12-year-old girl, pulling her to the ground and trying to rape her.

Judge Matthew Simmons asked Flores if he wanted to say anything before he was sentenced Friday morning.

“No,” he replied, “They just don’t have any evidence against me. What kind of evidence do they have against me? If she was really hurt, why didn’t they take her to the doctor?”

The court-appointed translator, standing next to the now-empty jury box, wearing a tan pant suit and a translators’ headset, repeated the words in English as the prosecutor, defense attorney, judge and court recorders looked at the defiant defendant.

“Judge,” said Lloyd Matthews, Flores’ attorney, “that’s our attempt to establish remorse.”

Read the full story, 20-year-old gets 20 years for attack on pre-teen, @ the Clayton News Daily.

Sep 22, 2007

Gene Savoy, who explored Peru for Incan and pre-Incan ruins, who sought the fountain of youth and the city of gold, who was flamboyant and known for self-promotion, hunch and chuzpah, who founded his own religion based on the Essenes, died on Sept. 11 at the age of 80.

May he rest in peace.

Rex Humbard, who was a pentacostal evangelist, who was the son of an evangelist and started out as an itenerant revivalist, who build the 'Cathedral of Tomorrow' and was, at one point, the most widely syndicated televangelist, whose ministry suffered from financial overreaching, died on Friday at the age of 88.

May he rest in peace.

Sep 21, 2007

He wasn’t known by that name

When Kevin Jean-Jacques was wheeled into the hospital, his skin was cold to the touch, his eyes were dilated and he had a bullet in his side.

The cause of death was homicide, but everything else about the 20-year-old’s death remains a mystery a day after he was pronounced dead at Southern Regional Medical Center.

Police responded to the hospital on Upper Riverdale Road at about 9:30 p.m., Wednesday, to a 911 call reporting a person shot and dead, according to a police report. Jean-Jacques was brought to the hospital by Alfred Wheeler, a 20-year-old who worked with him at Frito Lay.

Wheeler told police that Jean-Jacques was shot outside a convenience store after being mistaken for his brother.

Read the full story, Shooting victim mistaken for his brother, witness says, @ the Clayton News Daily.

Sep 20, 2007

A problem. A question.

"Right-wing order fantasy may be legitimately identified as a constant theme in crime reporting. It appears to generate the everyday predispositions and interpretative conventions of the genre, the tone of shocked indignation and the undertones of vicarious salacity or celebration apparent in so much crime journalism. This is presumably because fantasy, lies at the root of sensationalism. It is a latent presence in routine stories of robbery and rape just as it manifests itself in headline news of crime waves, menace, bombs, and butchery. It links crime reporting firmly to the related genres of thriller and detective fiction. "

                - Steve Chibnall
                Law-and-Order News: An Analysis of Crime Reporting

Sep 19, 2007

Building the victimology

Detectives are considering everyone as a “person of interest,” in the murder of a 17-year-old Jonesboro girl, and are investigating every theory -- from an angry boyfriend to the possibility of a serial killer.

Clayton County Police identified the 17-year-old, who had been killed, badly burned and dumped in a wooded area near Shamrock Lake, as Jennifer Lee Chambers. Her body was found there, partially covered by a multi-colored poncho, on Sept. 5. She was reported missing by her mother nine days later.

Chambers’ mother, Betty Jean May, filed a missing persons report with the Jonesboro Police Department on Sept. 14, saying she had seen the news about the dead girl and was afraid it was her daughter.

Read the full story, Detectives looking at murdered girl's troubled past, @ the Clayton News Daily.

Sep 18, 2007

mugs by angusmcdiarmid
By angus mcdiarmid, based on photos from Least Wanted.

Sep 17, 2007


The evening breeze blew out the 4-year-old boy’s candle.

Avaun Rucker looked down at it, watching the last puff of smoke come off the white, tapered wax as the wick turned from orange to a brittle black.

He looked up at his father, Anthony Rucker Sr., and the boy, saying nothing, raised up his candle for help.

They stood in front of the Rucker house, 920 Canary Court in Riverdale, on Saturday. They stood with about 50 people, in the street by the mailbox, all of them holding candles in a vigil on the one-year anniversary of 34-year-old Rhonda Rucker’s death.

Anthony Rucker Sr. leaned his lit candle down to his son’s extinguished one, placing his other hand firmly on the boy’s shoulder.

“It’s still hard, without their mother being around,” the older Rucker said. “It’s encouraging to know that she’s still remembered and loved by everyone.”

A year ago, on Sept. 15, 2006, Rhonda and Anthony Rucker Sr. played with their youngest son, Avaun, in the early morning. The father prepared to leave for work, and told his wife he loved her.

“Those were the last words we ever said to each other,” he said Saturday. “We both said we loved each other.”

That afternoon, Rhonda Rucker was shot in the back of the head with a .45-caliber bullet and Avaun was locked in an upstairs closet, with a dresser holding the door closed.

Read the story, Friends, family mourn slain women, hope for justice, @ the Clayton News Daily.

Sep 14, 2007

The Medina Drive Break-in
One one of them said, in Spanish, 'Open up'

People told him not to bother. A Hispanic who doesn’t speak English, in this country at this time? They said Dionicio Pelcastre wouldn’t get justice.

But on Wednesday, with a year-old bullet scar on his chest, 35-year-old Pelcastre looked at the teenager who broke into his home, terrorized his family and shot him with a .380-caliber pistol. He saw the 17-year-old convicted by a jury and sentenced by a judge, and he said, in Spanish, “There is justice for everyone.”

Jamal Cymmone Johnson was found guilty of aggravated assault, burglary and a felony weapons charge. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Johnson was one of six who kicked down the front door of a Jonesboro house, at 2987 Medina Drive, a little before 11 p.m., on June 12, 2006. Johnson carried the .380, into the home, intending to rob the 10 residents, believing they carried large amounts of cash because they were Hispanic and drove nice cars.

The six, ranging in age from a 12-year-old, who was carrying an unloaded, .45-caliber handgun, to a 20-year-old man, knocked on the door. One one of them said, in Spanish, “Open up.”

Three of the boys are brothers: a 12-year-old, who is not being named because he was charged as a juvenile; Jerrod Terrill Bush, who was 15; and Jarvis Jamal Bush, who was 13. A fourth boy, John Carlos Andrades, who was 14, was a best friend of the Bush brothers. Andrades spoke Spanish and introduced the Bushes to the two older men involved in the home invasion: Jamal Rashaad Brown, who as 20, and Jamal Cymmone Johnson, who was 16 and owned a handgun.

According to the Bush brothers’ stepfather, James Robinson, they had gone from normal boys, doing normal boy things, such as playing PlayStation and talking about girls, to defendants in a felony case in eight months. Robinson said he didn’t know what happened.

Standing outside the Medina Drive house, about four miles from their apartment, Robinson’s youngest stepson held a .45, and another one carried a shotgun. They listened to their friend, Andrades, speaking Spanish and trying to coax the residents into opening the door.

Pelcastre, a stone mason, and the nine others living at the Medina Drive residence didn’t know the voice or the faces outside their door, and called 911. When they heard the kicking, and saw the front door giving way, they armed themselves with what Clayton County Police called “household weapons” — a metal sprinkler head and a small, baseball bat.

Read the full stories about 'The Medina Drive Break-in' @ the Clayton News Daily:
Three wounded in Jonesboro break-in
Stepfather: Teenage suspects got 'with the wrong crowd'
Juvenile pleads guilty in home invasion case
Five indicted on assault, robbery, burglary
Three teens, man plead guilty to home invasion charges
'There is justice for everyone'

Sep 13, 2007

The pressing questions

It’s not the details that are missing. Dr. Rick Snow has a lot of specific details.

At the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Forensics lab, Snow is drowning in details about the girl who was found murdered and burned in some woods in Clayton County.

What he doesn’t have is the sum of those details, the answer to the pressing questions: Who is she? What’s her name? Who killed her, dumped her in the woods and set her on fire?

“I can tell you what her weight is, within a gram,” said Snow, a forensic anthropologist. “I can tell you her height. I can give you her DNA, her fingerprints. I can get a retinal scan, if you want it. I can tell you every mark, scar or tattoo on the body. I can tell you the length of hair, the color of hair, if it’s ever been bleached and what style it’s worn in. I can tell you every mole on a body. I can tell you if [she’s] ever worn braces, every filling and cavity and any dental work that’s been done. Essentially, a complete biological profile, everything we need to identify her many times over. The problem comes in the comparison, because you have all this stuff, but if we have nothing to compare it to, it doesn’t do us a bit of good.”

One week after an off-duty Clayton County Police officer smelled and then found a girl’s body decaying in the woods off of Freeman Road, near the intersection of Shamrock Road, the GBI medical examiners have given the police a lot of information about the body, but authorities are still searching for the answer to the questions: Who is she and who killed her?

The girl was found the evening of Sept. 5. Her body was laying on the ground, about 30 feet from the busy road and about four or five feet off of an access road used by utility trucks.

Read the full story, Police, GBI working to identify girl found dead, at the Clayton News Daily.
Brief thoughts on watching

1. In the genre of "Americans Abroad," we have turned the "innocent" into "sweetly retarded," played by Forest Gump, and understood "abroad" to mean influencing the events of history. This has been pointed out before. We see ourselves as well meaning, and as doing good, even if we are fundamentally ignorant of world events and have no clear idea of what we've done in the past, how we got here or who we are. This is what makes the twist ending of the Jason Bourne triology so fascinating. The amnesiac who has been fighting bad guys for three movies, who, as the symbolic, stand-in American, has been fighting the evil, secret-assassin-making-machine that created him, discovers that he, of his own free will, chose this. The "people who did this to you," Jason/America, is you. You weren't Bo(u)rn(e) this way. (Wha, wah).

2. Though Westerns are always about violence, the difference/similarty between Good and Evil, the preservation of peace and the possibility of redemption, 3:10 to Yuma is interesting because the bad guy gets redeemed. It's the bad guy who is religious, and not in the "this-makes-it-extra-creepy" way, but in a way that seems to indicate he takes the book seriously, even if he doesn't know why it's called good. The film is also peculiar in that redemption is linked to confession and admissions of failure, inadequecy, etc., rather than being linked to doing the right thing. In a very "total depravity" mode, the hero says that he can't do the right thing, the manly thing, and has never done the right thing. Die, John Wayne, die. This really is sort of the inverse of High Noon's domino theory and justificaiton for the American-led Iraq war.

3. There's something forehead-slappingly obvious about Dexter, bringing the law enforcer/law violater into a single person. It's brilliant, but more so because it's obvious, both from a psychological stand point - don't the id and the super-ego coexist? - and from the stand point of plot, as per Poe's letter. Add in the over inflated interest in serial killers and scientific ways of solving crime, and you think that Dexter had to exist.

Sep 12, 2007

Lumper, n.:
1. A day laborer who loads or unloads cargo from a vessle. Synonyms: dock worker, dock-walloper, docker, dockhand, loader, longshoreman, stevedore, manual laborer, jack. Also used to mean theives who lurk on wharfs. In a newer prejudice, "lumper" is used to mean unaccountable and possibly illegal.

2. A taxonomist who classifies into large groups, based on major characteristics. Antonyms: divider, splitter. A lumper, in this definition, is on one side of a taxonomical debate.

Sep 7, 2007

Autopsy description

She is five-feet, four-inches tall.

She weighs about 100 pounds. She has straight, brown hair, is either black or Hispanic and is about 13 years old.

She was wearing a red tank top and a pair of size-three jeans when she was killed.

Clayton County Police Detectives were combing reports of missing persons, reports of runaways matching the autopsy description of a 13-year-old girl found dead, dumped and burned in the woods near Shamrock Lake.

Read the full story, Girl found burned, dead, @ the Clayton News Daily.

Sep 6, 2007

Fighting at Wal-Mart

The two women were fighting in the doorway, said Christopher Todd, a Jonesboro resident who was shopping at the time of the incident.

“I was shopping,” Todd said, “and a cashier said over the P.A. system that a Aisha is needed in front of the store by the grocery doors.”

Then the same voice came over the system and repeated the request. Then, Todd said, the cashier asked for a manager or security. Then he heard: “A manager and security is needed at the front door. There is a fight. I repeat, there is a fight.”

Todd said everyone ran to the front doors, and saw two women “clawing at each other.”

According to Bennett, they gathered around her and the other woman, where they were fighting on the floor, and she said she was a police officer and asked for help.

She didn’t get any help, though.

The woman bit Bennett’s arm and grabbed her hair. A man grabbed Bennett by her hair. Another woman held her down.

“Several people in the crowd that had gathered then grabbed onto me by my hair, arms and clothing, pulled me off of [the woman] and allowed her to escape,” Bennett reported.

Todd said he called 911, but got a busy signal. He called a second time, and when he couldn’t get through, he then left the scene and continued shopping.

“At this time,” Bennett said, “my badge was in plain view on the ground next to where [the woman] and myself had been. Several Wal-Mart employees were yelling that I was a police officer and for them to let me go.”

Read Off-duty officer involved in Wal-Mart fight @ the Clayton News Daily.

Sep 5, 2007

After Fifty Years of Heroizing Neal

Neal Cassady

Dear Jack:
I am sitting in a bar on Market St. I'm drunk, well, not quite, but I soon will be. I am here for 2 reasons; I must wait 5 hours for the bus to Denver & lastly but, most importantly, I'm here (drinking) because, of course, because of a woman & what a woman! To be chronological about it:

I was sitting on the bus when it took on more passengers at Indianapolis, Indiana -- a perfectly proportioned beautiful, intellectual, passionate, personification of Venus De Milo asked me if the seat beside me was taken!!! I gulped, (I'm drunk) gargled & stammered NO! (Paradox of expression, after all, how can one stammer No!!?) She sat -- I sweated -- She started to speak, I knew it would be generalities, so to tempt her I remained silent.
Looking for the dead cat

And the Boss said, "There is always something."
And I said, "Maybe not the Judge."
And he said, "Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something."

I lighted a fresh cigarette from the butt of the last and asked myself the following question: "For what reason, barring Original Sin, is a man most likely to step over the line?"
And I answered: "Ambition, love, fear, money."

            - Robert Penn Warren, in All the Kings Men.

When you start investigating, turning over rocks and logs and looking at the things that scurry away and at the empty spaces left by rot, you wonder what you're looking for. You're researching, of course, the specifics: dates, events, chronologies, connections, places, names & names. You go about investigating by going hunting for one particular running bug and one particular piece of rot-ridden wood. You're looking for the substance of a rumor, something someone told you about and you think might be under there.

But what are you looking for?

Jack Burden calls it, colorfully, "the dead cat." The dead cat is specific, but maybe there's a general, metaphysical or anthropoligical thing too. A la, what is the nature of the dead cat?

Beyond the specific research project, the particular enterprise reporting, the case at hand, what are we looking for? The state of humanity? The nature of power? The reality of the fall from grace?

It takes a cynic, to look. It takes a naif to be surprised at what's there. There's a crack line in the composition of naivety and cynicism, in investigative journalism, that's troubling me. There's a question - something like "So what have we learned?" - that I don't know how to answer.

Sep 4, 2007


As is probably already obvious, I am adjusting the purpose of this blog. I'm not longer going to be putting the fiction and creative writing here -- I'll be pursuing other options with those writings -- and will be using this as a) an online presence and a portal to me publish writings, b) notes on journalism, and c) cultural criticism and thoughts in process.

For the three of you who read this, thanks.

Someone has spray painted the word "Jesus" on the curb behind the dumpster in red, outside the newspaper. They have added a stick-figure crucifix.