Jul 30, 2008

Straw buyers, fake rehab jobs and false documents

In 18 months, with 88 houses, three people stole about $7 million, using "straw buyers," fake rehab jobs and falsified documents to drive up property values and bring in mortgage loans.

According to United States Attorney David Nahmias, the large-scale, mortgage-fraud scheme hurt a handful of lending companies and devastated some neighborhoods in Atlanta's West End, unduly inflating area prices until foreclosures brought them back down.

... According to the grand jury indictment, the three "willfully, knowingly and unlawfully" "conspired" and "confederated" "to defraud insured depository financial institutions."

Prosecutors said Kevin G. Wiggins organized the large-scale scam, Lydia Wiggins Christopher managed it and made up paperwork and Frank W. Astwood helped it along.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Three area individuals sentenced for mortgage fraud

Jul 29, 2008

Canary yellow car

He painted the car a bright, canary yellow.

Like a regular canary yellow wouldn't be bright enough -- this thing was going to attract attention.

When Danny Karr was 15, something like that, he and his stepfather bought a 1970s Volkswagen Fastback, and he still remembers that paint job.

That was the first one -- the car that turned him into a "Tuner."

It was nine different colors and botched up with bondo when they bought it, but Karr fixed it up, modified it, loved it, and painted it that bold, bright, unavoidable color.

He took it to NOPI, a convention for modified cars, and he was hooked on the whole scene of Tuners. He loved the way each car was different, not just modified, but custom and individual -- unique. He loved the mechanical challenges, the way these men, and boys (and occasionally women and girls), would take their technical skills and do all sorts of things to make cars go faster, perform better, and make them pretty-near perfect.

Eventually, he wrecked the Fastback -- "broke the crankshaft in it, drag racing a Corvette" -- but that didn't damper his new lifestyle.

"It was one car after another, after that," said Karr.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily: Faster than the other guy
The Internet did this

When we write the history of the Internet, we will talk about child predators as if they were accidentally aided by the technology, as if they're on a short list of downsides. We will say child predators are part of the "dark side" of a development that has been overwhelmingly worthwhile.

Then, we will move on.

For child predators, though, the Internet changed everything.

Read the full column at the Clayton News Daily: The end of socialization

Jul 25, 2008

Jul 24, 2008

A no-bill

A grand jury cleared three Clayton County police officers in a fatal, prostitution-sting shooting.

The grand jury heard testimony and reviewed evidence -- including a patrol car's dashboard video of the March 2007 death -- for about four hours, before returning a no-bill, rejecting all possible charges, from murder to reckless conduct.

"They did not find them guilty," said Keith Martin, an attorney representing one of the officers. "They did not find any probable cause to charge them with anything, whatsoever."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:

Cops not charged in fatal shooting

Jul 23, 2008

The cop & the Bigfoot corpse

A Clayton County Police officer, and his friend, claim to have the body of a Bigfoot.

The animal -- a legendary, hairy hominid that supposedly lives in remote forests -- is said to be dead, frozen, and "shocking."

Matthew Whitton, a 28-year-old, who has been with the department for six years, and Rick Dyer, a 31-year-old former correctional officer, posted a video on youtube.com, last week, claiming to have the male Bigfoot corpse, alleged evidence that the much-hunted and often hoaxed monster, is a real, living species.

The video shows black garbage bags draped over a formless hulk, and promises revelations are coming soon.

"It's not a mythological creature that there's just one of," Whitton says on the Internet video. "It's a species that may be really rare, but they're actually out there breeding."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Cop claims to have body of 'Bigfoot'

Jul 22, 2008

It's all shit

The clerk's instructions were to keep out riff-raff: The homeless, hookers, heroin addicts and all suspected undesirables, laborers, landscapers, minorities, and anybody acting too desperate.

That realization, that people are being refused restrooms, shocked me. I understood the owners owned the toilets, just like they owned the rest of the place, and they could do whatever they wanted. But the cold-heartedness of locking the door, of telling people who have to go, "Tough -- that's your problem," shocked me a much as having to clean up the awful messes people left behind in gas station bathrooms years later.

What does this say about us? What does this say about our civilization?

With the two images, these two obscenities to decency, I think I'm staunchly cynical on every economic system, political solution and puffed-up pronouncement about the innate goodness of humanity. I hear them and I say, "Oh yeah? What about public restrooms?"

Read the full column @ the Clayton News Daily:
The unsolvable problems of public toilets

Jul 21, 2008

But there are no absolutes in human misery and things can always get worse, only Suttree didnt say so.

                    - Cormac McCarthy, Suttree.

Jul 18, 2008

Unattended tangle of bramble

Sometimes, surveying the neatly trimmed and evenly edged grass at Forest Hills Memorial Gardens, people see the grave stones on the other side of the fence, and are curious.

Almost lost in an unattended tangle of bramble bushes, overgrown grass and weeds, the headstones on the other side of the fence look as if they have been forgotten.

"People ask all the time," said Tina Horne, at Forest Hill, a cemetery on Conley Road, in Forest Park. "It's a private cemetery and we don't know anything about it."

Although to Horne, the question is old, and she has an official answer, there's still something sad and unanswered about the cemetery. She paused, after giving the rehearsed answer, and added her own comment. "It's very small," she said. "I don't know why people don't take care of it."

The little lot, shrouded in shade and studded with stones dating from 1905 to 1985, is actually, according to county tax records, three separate cemeteries.

The first one, near the corner of Conley Road and Jonesboro Road, is called Macedonia, and it's only about 200 feet square, with a county water tower looming over its back corner. The second one is called Lodge Cemetery, and is the widest, running along Conley Road for 321 feet. The third one, just a sliver of land, is called Rock Springs.

Tax records refer to all three cemeteries as "(colored)."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Overgrown graveyard raises questions

Jul 15, 2008

No, we're stupid

It's hard to muster any confidence in masses. It's hard to contradict the picture of people, the faceless electorate, as infantile, impulsive and fickle. What evidence do we have of the wisdom of majorities?

We always complain about pandering, but surely politicians and would-be politicians pander because it works. Fact-free attack ads must make some difference, in elections, or they wouldn't be mailed out, every time, in expensive, colorful mass mailings.

It's tempting to just say this is local politics, like somehow small-town campaigns are expected to be cheap, gaudy, classless affairs. But it's not just small towns. On CNN, on Monday afternoon, a panel's debate about presidential candidates' economic theory turned into 30 seconds of just saying "stupid."

The one professional talking head said that anyone who agrees with his opponent's point is stupid, and then the other guy said, "No, you're stupid."

What's making me worry is that maybe we all are.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily: Doubting democracy on election day

Jul 14, 2008


Note from Saturday morning:

Mud and sky. Garbage cans turned to bogged-down boats and cranes, overhead, stand stark like skeltal one-armed birds. Behind the airport, at the construction site, while the noir-fog burns off, the men in fluorescent vests scurry-scurry with straps and hoists, chains, train cars and cranes, and they look like little yellow lilliputians.
Turning of the tide

Two congressional resolutions, passed by veto-proof margins, supporting and expanding Amtrak with billions of dollars, signal unprecedented support for trains and public transportation.

Steve Vogel, president of the Georgia Association of Railroad Passengers, sees the two House resolutions passed in June as part of a great, "turning of the tide."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Railroads receive unprecedended support

Jul 11, 2008

In-a-big-way readings

faulkner @ the beach

The most interesting thing in nature is that two species exist, only two species, which are expansionist: mankind and insects. All other species are territorial. The insect is a devourer, an expander, it keeps on expanding so much and it doesn’t even care. And mankind is like that, as well… The two species which are going to end up fighting over the world are going to be insects and human beings.
                - Guillermo del Toro

The last sound on the worthless earth will be two human beings trying to launch a homemade spaceship and already quarreling about where they are going next.
                - Williman Faulkner

Del Toro's cinematic angels and insects
movie writing has never been worse
Abraham Obama
illegal billboards
the man who shepherded the new journalists
Time Mag does Twain
Salman Rushdie in LA
Hunter S. Thompson: so addled and so lucid
"He'd known for a long time that he was no longer a really good writer."
interview with Ralph Steadman
Steadman's recent art
writer's suicide followed fire, flood, abandonment, sickness, eviction
saving Michael Vick's dogs
death row perdictions
pro-life dem's push abortion reduction
deckle edges
typograhper's handwriting
bog triathlon
FBI releases report on serial killers
keeping the devil down: The Wire, The Sheild, Dexter

Jul 10, 2008

Weapons mentioned in this week's grand jury indictments:

Bottle (armed robbery)
Broom handle (agravated assault)
Hammer (armed robbery)
Oldsmobile Cutlass (aggravated assault on a police officer)

Jul 9, 2008

Hanging on and yelling

The police officer had his hand on the gun, the armed robbery suspect had his hand on the same gun, and both of them were hanging on and yelling, "Let go!"

"We were in the woods fighting for a long time," said Clayton County Police Officer Matthew Whitton, recalling the struggle five days after it happened. "He wanted to kill me, but I was going to take him into custody, whatever it took."

Whitton suffered a gunshot to his left wrist, during the 2 a.m., fight in the Stockbridge woods, July 3. The bullet broke his bone, severed four tendons, severed an artery and damaged a lot of nerves.

Whitton said when he was taken to the hospital, he could only move two of the fingers on his hand. Doctors say the six-and-a-half year veteran of the police force is going to recover, though, and will eventually, with therapy, regain 100 percent use of his hand.

Whitton is now at home, taking pain medication and waiting for things to heal.

"I'm just lying here in pain," he said, speaking by phone from his Jonesboro home. "It has kind of a burn to it."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
'I knew he was trying to kill me,' wounded officer says

Jul 8, 2008

We have always wanted magic machines

I knew this guy who had a little light box, a predecessor of the motion picture projector. He bought it, I think he said, at a junk shop, where the proprietor didn't know what it was.

I didn't know what it was, either. He told me it was a magic lantern.

He didn't just have the one, though. After that first one, he'd become obsessed with early movie-showing equipment, and he started buying and collecting every sort of antique projector: Kinesigraphs and Kinetoscopes, Chronophotograpics, Eidoloscopes, Theatre Optiques, Zoopraxiscopes.

He kept them all in a shed behind his house, in Washington state. There were rows and rows of these things, little light boxes in the little shop in his backyard. We could barely get into the shop. To move around, we had to move some of the projectors into the yard.

Read the full column: Gods in little boxes
Folded underneath her

Chaudhry Rashid allegedly told police he killed his 25-year-old daughter as a "matter of honor."

Rashid, a 56-year-old Pakistani Muslim, who co-owns Pizza Valley in Atlanta, allegedly strangled Sandeela Kunwal to death with a bungee cord on Sunday morning.

According to Clayton County Police, he killed Kunwal because he didn't want to let her end her arranged marriage.

"The offender advised that he is a Muslim," Detective Michael Christian wrote in an arrest warrant application. "[D]ivorce and extra-marital affairs are against his religion and would disgrace the family and that's why he killed Ms. Kunwal."

Rashid is in the Clayton County Jail, facing a single charge of murder.

Police arrested him at about 2 a.m., Sunday, finding him sitting cross-legged in the driveway of his 9654 Utah Drive home in Jonesboro, smoking his seventh cigarette in a row.

Kunwal was upstairs, in a bedroom above the garage, "lying on her back with [her] right leg folded underneath her. Her arms are outstretched. Around her neck is a line of bruising," according to Christian's report.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily

See also:
ABC News
Fox 5
Chicago Tribune
World Mag.
Free Republic

Jul 4, 2008

Leaving the scene

In the woods behind a Stockbridge grocery store, police allege, a 22-year-old armed robbery suspect stuck a gun in a police officer's face and pulled the trigger.

The Clayton County Police Department was called to a drive-through Krystal, at 3562 Ga. Highway 138, at about 1:50 a.m. Thursday. There were reports of an armed robbery in progress.

Officers arrived to find employees locked in a walk-in cooler. The cash register and safe had been emptied, and the suspect was leaving the scene in a red, Pontiac Sunfire.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Police, manager shot in Krystal hold-up: 22-year-old arrested aftedr life-threatening assaults
Independence Day

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

            - Lenord Cohen

Under a red-and-white tent in a parking lot near the intersection of Ga. Highway 138 and Tara Boulevard, the Jonesboro Church of God is selling a selection of all-legal fireworks, and using the proceeds to support a sick child, according to pastor Danny Henderson.

The displays shows how each firework rates for loudness and variety of colors.

Henderson said his favorite firework is a fat, multi-colored fountain, which is shaped like a bullet and labeled, "44 MAGNUM."

"It's rated four," he said. "So it's got the most colors. It's got all the colors. It goes up" -- the pastor shot his hands up into the air, like he would dive into the deep end of a pool -- "and then it comes down."

Henderson arched his hands down, showing how the fountain of sparks would look by wiggling his fingers.

He mimed the explosion in the middle of his tent, full of Fourth of July fireworks, in the middle of a mostly-empty parking lot, and it was like you could almost hear someone singing off-key about red rockets and bursting bombs.

Jul 3, 2008

Inkblot readings


Weegee's output isn't, in the end, a humanist essay; it's a B movie. With all the mortality and pain, there is no sense of tragedy, no grappling with evil.

He deals with evil the way Americans usually deal with it: as entertainment, a bad-guy cartoon. Because Americans don't know how to take evil, their own or anyone else's, seriously, they can't see its power shaping their world.
          -- Holland Cotter

Weegee's new york noir
Weegee 1, 2, & 3
Tom Waits sings Jesus
how the internet changes how we write
musician most cited in supreme court decisions: Bob Dylan
Godard: remade narrative
who's left to biography?
google knows obscenity, google knows community standards
most loathed books
newspaper coverage of Geneva Hilliker Ellroy's death
when poets write crime
July 4 photos
the disappearance of semi colons
good riddance to copy editors
profile of Peggy Noonan
X-RAY photos
Cy Twombly's scatter dreams
the keepers of the list
God arrested for selling cocaine
everything you know about the blues is wrong
branding youth in the totalitarian state
man wanted for squirrel shooting
secret world of Serge Gainsbourg
how to analyze classic lit
morality is a luxury good
why do you applaud 'iron & wine'?
the Un-American Tree?
the machines beneath the toys
the flip flop brothers
abandoned offices
the highest popping toaster in the world
white supremicists divided on obama
review of Vonnegut's first posthumous book
how strong are capitalism's internal contradictions?
fight terror with youtube
what black people call white people
manly macho actors in tears
average film length
how we deal with the dead
the rev. rust & his 18-wheel chapel
information overload in the the survelliance state
communist jokes and the fall of the wall
politics as brand management
girls w/o heads
Hitchcock's architeture
shooting bubbles, 1 & 2
native americans' poetry: colonialism, heritage and guilt
Mid-sized city's crime mystery, or, What happened to Memphis?
the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonness

Jul 2, 2008

Merrill Elam, talking to the Clayton News Daily on Tuesday about the architecture of the library, said it was important, in the design, to have a building with personality -- "pizzazz" -- that was also open, accessible to everyone, and like "a K-Mart for information."

"The idea," Elam said, "was that it would be where you could walk right in and get what you need at the library, and anybody would feel welcome. That was the philosophy, and still is, I think, of the Clayton County Library System.

"It's a totally open, public building. It is interesting and important that public libraries are really, probably, the only totally public buildings in our country anymore. If you go to city hall, or a courthouse, or any of those places, you have to go through security. In our libraries, you can just open the front door and walk in."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
Library's avant garde architecture stands test of time
See also: Scogin and Elam's libraries
& Time Magazine's mention of the Clayton County Headquarters Library