What is this? Links to various pieces that caught my attention and that I enjoyed reading. I will not be posting many (if any) crime fiction links. David Nemeth already does that and you should be reading him. This truly is shit that Brian found found interesting. After I started the blog, I was posting interesting things as I found them. That was too much. Look for these posts infrequently.
When a Nashville man named Matthew Charles was released from prison early in 2016 after a sentence reduction, he’d spent almost half his life behind bars. But in a rare move, a federal court ruled his term was reduced in error and ordered him back behind bars to finish his sentence.
It’s 4 o’clock on a Saturday in late April, and over a dozen people have gathered for a surprise party in honor of Matthew Charles at his girlfriend Naomi Tharpe’s home.
Charles is a little late, which is good, because guests are still making their way in through a side door when a friend who’s been entertaining him sends Tharpe a text announcing their arrival.
The guests — an assorted bunch including members of his church congregation, coworkers, volunteers from a local food pantry and even a former cellmate — are bursting with laughter. Tharpe has just passed out tiny, colorful water guns so they can spray Charles.
A hush passes over the crowd as they spot him approaching through the narrow slats of the tall wooden gate.
As the door swings open, Charles is greeted by a loud “surprise!”
Some shoot the water guns, at him, then at each other. Everyone’s whooping and clapping.
Charles stands quietly for a moment. Finally, he says, “alright.”
Charles is a man of few words. But his eyes are filled with tears.
People clap and hug him. Eventually he retreats back inside the house. One by one, his guests find him in the kitchen — they embrace him and share some laughs until the next person saunters over. Everyone wants a moment with Charles.
Outside, there are chips and salsa on the tables and cold beers in a cooler. Tharpe’s son, Isaac, is grilling ribs and burgers. His wife, Christina, has laid out a buffet of side dishes and colorful toppings.
It looks like a party — but Charles isn’t leaving for a big new job, or trying his luck in a new city.
He’s going to prison. To finish out a 35-year term for selling crack to an informant in the 90’s.
It is true that every print is unique to every finger, even for identical twins, who share the same genetic code. Fingerprints are formed by friction from touching the walls of our mother’s womb. Sometimes they are called “chanced impressions.” By Week 19, about four months before we are issued into the world, they are set.
Grueling hours and strained relationships aren’t unique to trucking. What’s most remarkable about “Awful Lot to Learn” and its ilk is hearing these realities depicted in a mass-market radio hit. Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, popular music has studiously ignored the time its listeners spend working for a paycheck. Even the rawest of country music typically takes place in homes, hollers and honky-tonks. The trucker subgenre stands out as unique for being set in a workplace—the cab of a truck. During the decade and a half that trucker music made its mark on the country-western airwaves, it offered listeners a portrait, albeit romanticized, of the perils, frustrations, and petty triumphs of life on the job.
Do you remember the night we each dropped two hits of acid, Tulley, and climbed up Falling Run Road to the Discount Den at dusk to get a box of whippets and four 40s of Mickey’s Ice for the comedown? Shadows were breathing by the time we got back to my apt over the Papa John’s on Beechurst so we turned on all the lights and started The Downward Spiral and we laughed at how purple our faces looked lit by cheap fluorescent bulbs.
When Dick Rowland, a young black man, was accused of assaulting a young white woman in an elevator in May 1921, things escalated quickly. He was arrested and word spread that white mobs were headed to the courthouse, intending to lynch him.
The mobs were met by a group of armed black men, many of whom were World War I veterans. After a confrontation, shots were fired, and thus began a day-long assault on Greenwood. In less than 24 hours, the white mobs destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses. They set fire to schools, churches, libraries, and movie theaters, leveling entire city blocks.
The prescience of Goodis, Himes and Thompson, or the likes of Cornell Woolrich and Horace McCoy, wasn’t just that they tended to look on the dark side of things. After all, these were literary workers, churning out copy by the word or pulp paperback original for readers who scrambled in the reality of the everyday world. Those limitations and that audience defined their style and gave them the courage to stare into the abyss. As was their style, so was their attitude. Readers expected as much. What those writers saw when they delved deep into the culture wasn’t pretty, but it was a recognisable representation of the world in which their readers lived. It’s no coincidence that such writing reached its peak in the1950s, the very era to which El Rey would like to return. But contrary to what many pundits claim, stories composed by noirists are not simply about how fate conspires against us, but how society works against ordinary people, complacent and unconscious regarding the past, and unaware of what the future will bring.
There were 127 injured and an estimated 86 dead. A mass grave was dug in a 750-plot section of Woodlawn Cemetery recently purchased by the Showmen’s League of America. Many of the remains were unidentifiable, or known only by their stage names, so headstones at Showmen’s Rest are marked with names like “Baldy,” “Smiley,” and “Unknown Female #43.”
Nowhere in modern culture does this tenuous relationship play out more tellingly than in hip-hop. From Nicki Minaj’s recent “Chun-Li” single to Korean hip-hop group BTS to Migos’ “Stir Fry” hit to Indonesian rapper Rich Brian, cultural exchange is being whipped in both directions, across continents, at increasingly rapid digital speeds. And while some efforts have resulted in groundbreaking collaborative artistry, some of it veers into cultural tourism as artists rely on superficial signposting (the guns, slang, and booze that permeate Asian hip-hop) to claim exoticism (the fake Chinese, hair chopsticks, and ninjas in Black hip-hop) or coolness at the expense of the actual people. Black and Asian artists too often use hip-hop to reduce each other into stereotypes at a time when genuine solidarity is needed more than ever.
But instead of faltering under the criticism, the plastic flamingo’s popularity thrived on its reputation as a symbol of kitsch. Featherstone himself admitted this was an important ingredient of the lawn ornament’s success. “We sold people tropical elegance in a box for less than $10,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2007, when asked why he thought his flamingos flew off the shelves. “Before that, only the wealthy could afford to have bad taste.”
It had been like this all month. CBS went from its silliest show to its most satirical — “All in the Family” talked about race and sex, “Hee Haw” had rubber chickens. But this time, there would be no next week for “Hee Haw.” It was canceled, along with two shows that had aired earlier that night, “Green Acres” and “The Beverly Hillbillies.” By 1971, all the other rural-themed CBS shows were headed for cancellation or already off the air: “Mayberry RFD,” “The Jim Nabors Hour,” “The New Andy Griffith Show,” “Petticoat Junction” and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” In their place, CBS would put more shows like “All in the Family,” and “Mary Tyler Moore.” The ’70s were to be a decade of realism and relevance on TV the same way the ’50s had been a decade of Cold War suburban idealism.
In between, television went South.
–The Treatment for True Detective season 1 is an interesting glimpse into Pizzolatto’s process and what he was thinking with these characters and the story.
At around 2 P.M., just 600 feet shy of the top, Chhewang was hammering in a picket with his ice tool when the ground split like a firewood round and gave way beneath him. He’d been standing on a cornice, a fragile dollop of wind-hardened snow curling out over the ridgeline into space. In less than the time it takes to register panic or resolve, Chhewang Nima was gone.
One of France’s most well-known criminal lawyers, Christian Etelin, was sitting at his desk late at night last November contemplating retirement, when he received a phone call that stunned him. First of all, because the caller had been declared dead years ago – and secondly, because it involved a brash armed robbery that occurred nearly 30 years ago.
The voice on the other end of the phone was that of Gilles Bertin – a one-time nihilist punk singer with a Bordeaux Group called Camera Silens with a heavy following amongst anarchists and extreme left-wing youths who thought there was no future, for them at least. Britain had Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols – Gilles Bertin was France’s equivalent.
I lived then in Hollywood, in the dark streets below the foothills of Griffith Park, in one of the pastel-colored apartment buildings which were built in the 1940s and 50s and had names like The Franklinaire or The Regency. It was the part of town where Raymond Chandler’s character Philip Marlowe had lived, coming home late at night with a bottle of scotch to find strange women lying in his bed. That never happened to me, though. When I was there, Chandler was long gone, and the streets smelled of fried rice, lawn clippings, and dog excrement. Rotting sofas lined the sidewalks. The streets, grid-like in daytime, at night seemed twisted and confusing, lined on each side with beaten old cars, running this way and that, but always downhill into the city, and the sodium streetlights illuminated the fog with a weird glow.