Nov 30, 2007

Evel Knieval, who was an iconic stuntman, pop culture phenomenon, and American motorcycle daredevil, who broke more than 40 bones in 15 years of stunts, whose early life was marked by hellrasing and last days included a religious converstion, died on Friday at the age of 69.

May he rest in peace.

by Cathy

Where boys grow up to be jihadis
Executed today
Anti-crusader fights evanglicals' evangalism in military
Fairy tale generator
Discipline & design. Architecture & authority.
Altered photos v. altered reality (or, there is no 'objective view')
How to move a 100-year-old church (youtube)
Signs of life in TV
The legacy of Henry Hyde & the GOP
Oswald's Ghost
Blake's Bible: reimagining the face of faith
Is modern art a left-wing conspiracy?
'Compleat,' defined as 'Ron Silliman'
We used to build cathedrals. Now we build warehouses: Are libraries still possible?
Nostalgia loses for the Lost Gernation, decade
Germany's book market flooded with great dead males
Rudy 08 = the end of a pro-life party
Interview w/ Tiabbi, Rolling Stone political reporter, 1 and 2
Kissinger: foil for neo-cons?
Obama at the Apollo
Robertson: A prophetic highway and homosexuality (youtube)
Is Libertarianism a religion?
Why the world went hippie-dayglow in '68
Building a 'global intelligence paradigm'
Google, evil & govt.
What sci-fi says about truth and lies
Writers don't make up myths, they make them up again
Reaffirming American Liberalism
'Good morning and please listen to me: Denis Johnson is a true American artist'

"She had nothing in this world but her two hands and her crazy love for Jesus, who seemed, for his part, never to have heard of her."
        - Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke

Nov 29, 2007

Second trip

When the hazel-eyed man got out of the police car, it was the second time he had made the 2,120 mile round trip, a trip spanning the East Coast and connected by two murders.

Jerry W. Still, a 62-year-old Jonesboro felon, stood up, supported by a cane, and pointed to an abandoned well, near some woods on the west side of Coweta County. He pointed to a concrete slab, according to sheriff's deputies. He said the body was buried about 30 feet back in the woods.

The first time he was here, almost two decades ago, the body was in the trunk of a Cadillac Coup DeVille, wrapped in a motel blanket, riddled with 9 mm bullets, four days dead, and stinking.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
19 years after murder, Jonesboro felon leads authorities to shallow grave

Nov 28, 2007

Still sleeping

They left their two sons -- ages 5 and 9 -- sleeping in the back of the 2005, black, GMC Yukon. The car was running, and the 39-year-old father and 37-year-old mother were inside the home "for about two minutes," Sturgiss Burns told police.

When the adults came outside, carrying suitcases, the GMC was gone.

Read the full story, Two boys sleep through kidnapping, @ the Clayton News Daily

Nov 26, 2007

The gave of Donald Ray Skinner

The solar-powered cross is supposed to light up over the grave, at night. But it doesn't.

Donald Ray Skinner's grave is shadowed, all day, and the small solar panel doesn't get the sunlight needed to light the cross. The dead man's mother and sister visit him every day, and they move the cross to a lighted patch of yard, and return again, in the evening, to replace the grave ornament for the night.

The two women visit the grave every day, and every day Donald Skinner's mother cries, sobbing like a child.

"That was her only son," said Robin McPherson, Donald Skinner's sister. "He was like the pick of the litter. I'm his baby sister, and me and him look alike, and I used to be his sidekick when I was little. He's just really going to be missed."

There is a stone bench over Donald Skinner's grave in Douglasville. There is a picture of a tractor trailer on one side, and a picture of a man fishing on the other, because those are things he loved.

It says "In Loving Memory," on the bench and it has his nicknames inscribed: "Bubba," and "Donnie Ray Skinner." It doesn't have his real, full name. His mother, Carol C. Skinner, is trying to get that changed. It's hard, though, because the burial arrangements are legally controlled by Donald Skinner's wife, who is in jail on charges she conspired to murder him.

Read the full story, Family struggles with knowledge of murder, @ the Clayton News Daily

Nov 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving: 2007

Nov 21, 2007

Parking lot transaction

The woman leans on the door of the truck. Letting her long hair fall over her bare shoulder, she talks to the driver through the window.

The woman steps back, standing in the motel parking lot, letting him see her tight, pink pants and the low-cut top, showing off her cleavage. She turns around, slowly, in a circle, and returns to the window.

The man -- small and scruffy in a large white truck -- is unsure. He asks about the room. He bickers about her price. He wonders if she's a for-real prostitute. He apparently decides sex is worth the risk. He offers the woman $20.

Across the street from the Hotel Magnolia parking lot, three police officers sit in a green, unmarked car. Their tinted windows are rolled up and the engine idles. The nose of the car is pointed at the 6326 Old Dixie Highway parking lot transaction. They watch the woman work, and listen to the man's $20 offer through a microphone hidden in her skimpy clothes.

The woman, an undercover officer posing as a street-walking prostitute during the Clayton County Police Department's sting operation, on Tuesday, walks off toward an imaginary room.

She raises both her hands, as a signal, and the police rev the car across the road, screeching up to the would-be "John," arresting him on charges of soliciting a prostitute.

Read the full story, Police posing as prostitutes sting would-be 'Johns,' @ the Clayton News Daily.
Ghosts watching the machine

You use the word “Satan” to describe the structural principle of human existence in which both disorder and order are built upon untruth and violence: disorder created by mimetic conflict and order restored and established by persecution and destruction of scapegoats.
          -- Brian McDonald, in an interview with Rene Girard

Contemporary television drama could be graphed on an axis of outrage. Perhaps usefully.

On one end, we would have the original Law & Order, where the assistant district attorney Jack McCoy keeps up an impossibly heightened and blustery sense of outrage which seems totally oblivious to the normal compromises required by the job. At the same emotional range, we have Jack Bauer, in 24, who takes on terrorism with an emotion so angry that it can only be translated, in the plot, as torture.

On the other end of the scale is House's Dr. House, where what would usually be a quirky secondary character who totally lacks concern (cf: Dr. Cox, in Scrubs) is moved to the center, so the core is total acceptance of the compromises required by the job, and the dissonance that lack of outrage causes with the surrounding world. In that direction, but not to that extreme, attempt to sort of self-couter its own emotion, we have CSI: Las Vegas, where some character (taking his or her turn) is always shocked and appalled, during an episode, and all the other characters repeat that they are bound, by science, to be unshockable.

At both ends, there's an internal tension -- sensed in bad acting & too-easy plot solutions -- between the shows and their material. The shows seem to be imagining radically polarized viewers, in the sense that they endorse a certain sort of viewing by arguing against another sort of viewing, arguing that it's impossible, unthinkable, and unimaginable to view the material that other way. In doing this, they elevate those who disagree to a sort of specialized status,* while denying those viewers exist. Thus, the shows with the strongest emotional content are actually those designed around nonexistent "ghost viewers," who are simultaneously hypothesized and denied.

Cf: Rush Limbaugh's continued references to listeners in "Rio Linda" and "seminar callers," or, in a very different case, the fake, rabid groundswell of aggressive and applauding conservative youth watching The Colbert Report,** or the so-called backlash against Janet Jackson's exposed breast during the half time of a Superbowl game. It's not that the cultural wars are actually faked, but that both sides have to constantly act like the opposition is faked, in order to maintain their own certain rightness, i.e., their emotional content.

This is also the basic method of political argument, in contemporary political entertainment. So that global warming could only be rejected by cave dwellers (who couldn't exist), and opposition to the American detainment camps could only be held by one who wants to be terrorized (which would insane).

Interestingly, maybe, American politics in the late 20th and early 21st century can be construed along the lines of emotional content. The public discourse seems to be such that "liberal" equals "concern," especially "excessive and whiney concern," and "conservative" equals "outrage," especially "loud and paranoid outrage." (Concern, of course, is understood as "motherly," while outrage is thought to be "fatherly," as if we were all raised by thoughtful but over-worried mothers and morally upright but sometimes violent fathers.) For this reason, the good-natured, weight-loss poster boy, Mike Huckabee, and the young, big-eared Hawaiian, Barak Obama, seem starkly out of sorts with the 2008 presidential race.

*There's probably an insightful point to be made here about the way this explains the great social orders, ideologies and massacres of the 20th century.

**Fantastically, the rabidness of Colbert's character is taken to the next logical step when the fake news show host is referred to, in the captioning for the deaf, as "Col. Bert," printing the man's name like he's some sort of rouge military colonel. He's like Mr. Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, except that, where Mr. Kurtz was dead, Col. Bert doesn't exist.

Nov 20, 2007

It was cold that year

It seemed like an awful lot of people were lost that Thanksgiving. I looked up the home addresses of mothers and grandmothers, aunts and other relatives. I let one kid use the phone to say he was late, but would be there.

I sold a woman a winning, $100 lottery ticket and she promised to bring me some turkey and cranberry sauce. She asked me if I wanted white meat, or dark. She didn't come back, though.

It seemed like a lot of people were lost. Maybe, though, they just felt that way, because there's nothing like visions of stuffing and green bean casserole, while you're doing 80 on the interstate, to make you feel like you don't know the way home.

Read the rest of Lost, found, and Thanksgiving dinner @ the Clayton News Daily

Nov 16, 2007

Cockroach robot

Nov 14, 2007

Christmas Day molestation trial

A jury member stood up to see the 17-month-old girl in the wheelchair. A few jurors smiled.

Eligio Chia-Duran, the Mexican man accused of assaulting, battering and molesting the child last Christmas Day, made no sign that he saw the baby. Sitting next to his defense attorney with his black hair slicked back, Chia-Duran's face remained impassive throughout the trial, Tuesday. The illegal immigrant speaks only broken English. An older man whispered translations to him as the trial proceeded.

The prosecutions' final witness, on the second day of trial, Tuesday, was the girl's foster mother. The woman told the jury the girl, who is not being named, is paralyzed from the abdomen down, and will have to use specialized wheelchairs her entire life.

"She feels from the belly button up," said the woman, who is adopting the girl, and asked not to be named because it is a closed adoption. "From the belly down, [the girl] feels nothing," the adoptive mother said. "Right now, she's little and she doesn't know that she's disabled. She's happy. When she's older, it will be a lot harder."

When the 17-month-old girl wheeled out of the courtroom, she looked at the jury and said, "Bye bye."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily

Nov 13, 2007

Reasons I haven't read and don't plan on reading Norman Mailer:

1) I don't think authorial lifestyle is more important than writing.
2) If I did think authorial lifestyle was more important than writing, I would ignore Norman Mailer as an ass.
3) Mailer's sbujects seem to be:
            a) himself
            b) his ego
            c) how other writers aren't that great
            d) the type of over-done, boomer-loved recent history that comes with
            exclamation marks, like Marilyn Monroe!, Vietnam! the Death Penalty!,
            Hitler!, CIA!
4) People who proclaim themselves the "concious of the nation" are bores.
5) People who hate women, stab women, worship sex, philander and shout, "look at me, I'm a tough guy," are bores.
6) Every part of his author-character seems over done. When Norman Mailer's writing is described, he always, to me, sounds just like someone else. Like everything he has done was done by someone else.
7) His fans describe him in ways that make him sound like a politician, or an east coast Hugh Hefner, or a boxer, or a clebrity, but not like a writer. (cf:
            - "He was anticipating attacks like an aging boxer who could sense a punch before it's thrown."
            -The mouth always looked to be in mid-twist, ready to snarl a profanity. Other people keep fire extinguishers handy; Mailer, you figured, kept a cold beefsteak within reach: In Case of Pummeling, Break Glass."
            - Probably more than anything, Mailer was a libertarian and a foe of any system or mind-set that involved the censorious (feminism) or the overweening and the grandiose (imperialism/communism).
8) I read The White Negro, and, honestly?, it left me cold.
9) Fundamentally, I don't think writing makes you cool, and I distrust writers who seem to write to make themselves cool. It's crap. It's fake. It's bad writing.
10) His fans say that, personality aside, his writing will remain. That's pretty unconvincing.

It's quite possible that I'm completly wrong. Maybe he really is the great American writer. Or maybe he's a tragic, overblown, self-exaggerated and over-compensating figure who's going to fade, fade, fade and is only really worthwhile as a warning. The thing is, I'll probably never know, and I'm okay with that.

Nevertheless, Norman Mailer's dead. He was 84. May he rest in peace.

Nov 12, 2007

Standing outside the bar, smoking a cigarette, Eduardo Diaz Gutierrez made a decision.

He had been at Coronas Bar & Billiards, 6640 Tara Blvd., for more than four hours, drinking beer and watching the bikini competition.

He had grabbed a waitress and asked her if she was a prostitute, had fought with a man who found him offensive, and had walked outside to smoke and think.

Gutierrez made a decision, at 11 p.m., that Saturday, and he untucked his shirt. He put out his cigarette. He took a 9 mm pistol and put it in his waistband. The matte-black Hi-Point Ruger cost him $250. He had owned if for four days, and now, he decided, he was going to use it.

"He was good and drunk and he was ready to fight," said Holly Veal, a Clayton County prosecutor. "Apparently, that was the kind of guy he was."

The 29-year-old would later tell detectives, "It was a pride thing."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily

Nov 8, 2007

Rough sketch

One day after a 68-year-old Jonesboro murder victim was buried, investigators released sketches of two men wanted for questioning in her death.

The Jonesboro Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation released the witness-based sketches, Wednesday, and asked for help identifying the two men seen leaving Geneva Strickland's home, before it was found in flames and she was found murdered.

The two were reportedly seen together, leaving 614 Fayetteville Road, a little before the Oct. 31 fire was reported at 11 p.m.

"Right now, we're taking the sketches back into the neighborhood," said GBI Spokesman John Bankhead, "to see if anybody recognizes them or knows them."

Sketch 1
Sketch 2

Nov 7, 2007

The sirens coming

Jhony Orralleana lay down behind the pool table, thinking he would be safe there. People were screaming in the Jonesboro bar as they ran away from the gunfire.

Shot once in the side, with a 9 mm bullet, Orralleana was losing blood and his vision was going blurry, he testified, through a court-approved translator, in Clayton County Superior Court on Tuesday morning.

All he could hear was the sirens coming, he said, and the song, "The Last Goodbye," playing on the juke box.

He didn't see that Jorge Ochoa-Alvaraz was lying next to him, bleeding to death on the barroom floor.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily

Nov 5, 2007

Broken ends

Warned by the blinking emergency flashers on the parked truck, motorists slowed to look at the burned-out house, the scene of a murder, and the people quietly moving out.

A second truck was backed into the driveway of 614 Fayetteville Road, Friday afternoon. The yellow crime scene tape was still wrapped around the trees, but a section was torn down to allow family members to pick up the remaining belongings.

Two days after 68-year-old Geneva Strickland was murdered in her home, and it was burned down around her, the broken ends of the police tape lay in the grass with a few fallen leaves.

"She was murdered," said Jack William Ivey, Strickland's 51-year-old son. "She worked all her life and then, in the end, she was robbed and killed."

Jack Wade Ivey, Strickland's first husband, said the family was waiting to hear the autopsy results from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. They had been told by police to pick up what hadn't been stolen, or destroyed by the fire, before the little that remained was ruined by vandals and weather.

Read the full story, Family picks up what's left after murder, arson, @ the Clayton News Daily

Nov 2, 2007

Sold sepearately

Nancy Morris got a fresh pack of white, circle stickers. She peeled a new one off, held it on her thumb, and stuck it on the corner of a brown, hardback book.

"Should these be sold separately, or as a set?" she asked.

Grant Wainscott, the book expert in the rare-book room of the annual Friends of the Georgia Archive's book sale, was flipping through a children's book about gnomes.

"Uhhhhhhh," he said. "I'm thinking separately. I don't think it's a complete set, so ... let's mark them separately."

Morris shook her ball point pen, like maybe it was running out of ink, and wrote "$25" on the sticker.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily
Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., who flew the plane dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, whose father wanted him to be a doctor, who asked that his grave be kept secret for fear of protestors, died on Thursday, at the age of 92.

May he rest in peace.

Are the best columnists the least exciting?
Interview of A. Conan Doyle's daughter
Modern art is shit 1: TP wedding dress
Killing sections of used bookstores
American manners and anonymity
Modern art is shit 2: TP oragami
Historic murder map of NYC
Modern murder map of Philly
Harper Lee awarded and honored
Expret witness - misleading
Hand-drawing news graphics
Commune documentary
Commuinists and design
NC sheriff documentary
Short history of sphere
It's name was Lego
Persistance of paper