Friday, November 28, 2008


It is rather spooky to take this drive again after being away for nearly 8 months. I can practically feel the hot slightly exhaust-flavored breeze in my face when I watch this clip.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

She Even Told Her Hairdresser

Feds: MySpace hoaxer let friends know about plot against late teen

SEPTEMBER 23--The Missouri woman charged with orchestrating a cruel online hoax that led to the suicide of a teenage girl was once so pleased with her prank that she shared details of the ongoing scheme with her hairdresser and other acquaintances, according to prosecutors. During conversations with several individuals, Lori Drew explained how she and others were"playing a joke on" Megan Meier, a 13-year-girl who was a rival of Drew's daughter. That joke involved Drew's creation of a MySpace page for a "Josh Evans," a nonexistent boy who took an online liking to Meier, but then abruptly turned on the girl, telling her on October 16, 2006 that the world would be a better place without her. A distraught Meier committed suicide later that day. In May, Drew was named in a four-count federal indictment charging her with conspiracy and computer fraud in connection with the MySpace scheme. In a court filing yesterday, prosecutors revealed how Drew spoke of the hoax as it was underway, and "denied any untoward purpose and dismissed concerns over her 'prank." 

While Drew appeared proud of her MySpace gambit while it was active, after Meier's suicide she sought to cover her tracks and mask her involvement in the plot. When questioned by FBI agents, Drew said that while she knew of the MySpace hoax, she was not involved in the creation of the phony "Josh Evans" account. Additionally, when agents surreptitiously recorded a conversation between Drew and Meier's mother, Drew "again disclaimed involvement in the scheme." Drew, pictured above, is scheduled for trial next month in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

If you would like to read more about this case:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One Joke, Three Languages


Kartais po Sidnėjaus mirė, jo našlė, Tillie, pagaliau buvo galima kalbėti apie tai, kokie pateikiami apgalvoti ir nuostabus žmogus savo vėlai vyru buvo.
"Sidnėjaus pagalvojote apie viską", jis pasakė jiems. "Tiesiog prieš mirtį, vadinamas Sidney pašaukė mane į savo spintas. Jis man įteikė tris vokus." Tillie ", jis pasakė man:" Aš turiu pateikti visi mano paskutinio pageidauja į šias tris vokus. Kai aš miręs, prašome atidaryti ir juos padaryti tiksliai taip, kaip aš nurodė. Tada, aš galiu pailsėti taiką "."
"Kas buvo į vokus?" jos draugai prašė.
"Dėl pirmojo voko yra $ 5000 ir pastaba, 'Prašome naudoti šį pinigus nusipirkti gražią karstas." Ir aš nusipirkau gražaus raudonmedžio karstą su tokia patogus pamušalas, kad aš žinau kaip Sidney ilsisi labai patogiai. "
"Antrasis paketas yra $ 10.000 su pastaba, 'Prašome naudoti šį už puikią laidotuves" I išdėstomi Sidnėjaus labai padorus, laidotuvių ir nupirko visas savo mėgstamus maisto produktus visiems dalyvauti. "
"Ir trečiasis paketas?" paklausė jos draugai.
"Trečiuoju paketu yra $ 25.000 su pastaba, 'Prašome naudoti šį pirkti gražus akmuo".
Holdingas savo ranką į orą, Tillie pasakė ... "Taigi, ar jums patiko mano akmuo?" rodoma nuo jos 10 karatų deimantų žiedą.


Někdy po Sidney zemřel, jeho vdova, Tillie, byl konečně mohli mluvit o tom, co promyšlené a nádherné muž jí byl manžel pozdě.
"Sidney mysleli na všechno," řekla jim. "Těsně před umřel, Sidney mě zavolal do svého lůžka. Hand On mi tři obálky. 'Tillie,' řekl mi: 'jsem vložil všechny své poslední přání v těchto třech obálek. Poté, co jsem mrtvá, prosím, otevřít a udělat přesně tak, jak jsem poučen. Potom můžu odpočívat v pokoji '. "
"Co bylo v obálkách?" Její přátelé požádal.
"První obálka obsažené $ 5000 s poznámkou, ', prosím, použijte tyto peníze koupit pěknou rakev'. Takže jsem koupil krásný mahagon rakev s takovou pohodlnou podšívkou, že vím, Sidney turistika je velmi příjemně. "
"Druhá obálku obsažené $ 10000 s poznámkou, 'Použijte prosím tento pohřeb pro anice' I uspořádány Sidney velmi důstojný pohřeb a koupil všechny své oblíbené potraviny pro všechny jeho funkce."
"A třetí obálku?" požádal její přátelé.
"Ve třetí obálku obsažené $ 25000 s poznámkou, 'Použijte prosím tento koupit pěkný kámen'."
S její ruku ve vzduchu, Tillie řekl ... "Takže, co se vám líbí můj kámen?" naparování se jí 10 karátový diamantový prsten.


"シドニーすべてのことを考えた"と彼女は語った。 "とにかく前に亡くなったが、彼の枕元にシドニーメインと呼ばれる。彼は私の3つの封筒を渡した。 'ティリー、 '彼が私に語った、 '私はこれら3つの封筒内のすべての私の最後の願いをしている。後に死んだ時、彼らはオープンしてください。正確に私に指示している。そして、私の中で眠ることができます平和' 。 "
"これは何の封筒に入れてはどうだった? "彼女の友達に聞いてみた。
"最初の封筒をメモに5000ドルが含まれ、すてきなお棺を買って、このお金を使用しています。 'だから私はこのような快適な裏地には私は非常に快適な休息さを知っているシドニーの美しいマホガニーの棺を買った。 "
" 2番目の封筒をメモに含ま万ドル、 '私は非常に威厳のある葬儀に出席のためシドニー配置と誰もが自分の好きな食べ物を買ったanice葬儀'については、この使用しています。 "
"そして3番目の封筒ですか? "彼女の友達に聞いてみた。
" 3番目の封筒をメモで25000ドルが含まれ、 'してくださいすてきな石を買うために使っています。 ' "
空気中の彼女の手により、ティリー氏... "だから、私の石好きですか? "彼女の10カラットのダイヤの指輪を見せている。

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Aunt Mabel

  Whenever I look back upon my earliest memories of my aunt Mabel  and Uncle Ernest, I can hardly comprehend how poor they were at that time. Although they would later improve their conditions considerably, when I was about 5 or 7, they lived as close to the ground as possible. There was a hand pump in their kitchen which only sometimes worked. It seems you had to pour water into the top of the hand pump to get anything out of it all. (This is where I learned the phrase, “to prime the pump” which means to invest a bit of time or money or energy to obtain greater rewards in the future. )

I never used to enjoy any prolonged stays at my aunt and uncle's home. You see, I was a rather spoilt child of the suburb, comfortable with all the conveniences of modern living, such as indoor toilets, central heating and ready to eat meals. My brother and sister would always tease me about being so extremely pampered and being a cry-baby. They had only three reactions as far as I was concerned. Sneering amusement, head-shaking disgust, or silent evil-eyed resentment.

As far as toilet facilities, my aunt and uncle used a falling-down outhouse behind the chicken coop. Needless perhaps  to say,  it was no great treat to have to venture out in the tall grass surrounded by the glowing (and probably imaginary) eyes of coyotes and wolves, possums and the curious raccoon or feral cat. I recall returning from one trip to Arkansas clearly sick as a result of trying not to use the toilet for three days.

There was a stove in the living room upon which my aunt roasted peanuts for later peanut brittle. Unlike my mother's mother, my aunt was a proud and exceptional cook. She would wake before sunrise every morning, and make biscuits. “Go look in the fridge.” She would tell us from her rocking chair with a sly grin, as we three children came barging into her home.

My aunt was a round and short woman with sagging jowls and a quick wit. She had this wonderful way of pointing out the most ridiculous aspects of the human behavior with the minimum of words. But then, when one least expected it she would turn that critical sardonic eye back upon herself. That quality, the ability not to take one's self too seriously was something I always admired her for and tried my best to emulate. It is a wonderfully disarming trait which seems to become harder and harder to find as the years go by.

When I was about 10, with a loan from my parents, my aunt and uncle were able to move from that hovel to a newly built house on the hill. The house was quite a step up, two indoor toilets, a large kitchen and porch with an expansive vista of the crossroads, where absolutely no one could come without an advanced warning. Just before the move, my uncle laid down the law: The cats would not be allowed in the house. In fact, if my aunt wished to keep the cats at all, she was, from that time on, obliged to feed them at the old house. Of course, that was a clear misreading of the natures of both my aunt and felines in general. Within a week, Snootsy the Siamese was sitting on a my aunt lap. And when she told us this story, she told it very very gently for my uncle had an easily bruised ego and  eruptive temper.

For years, it was my aunt's obligation to be my grandmother's nurse when the older woman became bed-fast. It could not have been an easy mission in life but she took it as her duty. Grandma loved her grandchildren and loved to probe their minds, ask them what they were feeling and thinking, what they hoped to be in the future- a future she knew she would never see.

Oh, of course, there were good things about our visits. My aunt made a wonderful dewberry pie and one of the best examples of pecan pie. My uncle on the other hand was a strapping monster of a man, copper tanned arms and a white forehead, a booming voice with a tendency to become wild and angry unexpectedly. He would cause the house to bounce when he stomped about in a tantrum. My aunt found some way to handle him- usually by keeping quiet and not taking anything he said very seriously. They never had children, no reason was ever given but we were clearly her surrogate children that she loved in a unspoken and private way.

A memory: it is very early Spring. Easter. The grass is so new it is a whitish green. There is the smell of wet soil. Buttercups line the path to my uncle's porch. They have hidden the painted eggs all over. My grandmother, for me always invalid, watches from the window. My aunt is standing on the porch in her flour-dusted apron. My uncle in his faded blue overalls shyly walks to my father and they walk off in the wrong direction to discuss the things men normally do: the recent weather, the hunting season- though my father never hunted- that long trip from St. Louis and which highways we had taken. abandonedHouse

They are all gone now, my grandmother, my father, my mother, my aunt and lastly, my uncle. And their first house has fallen in, abandoned for nearly 30 years now.

Today marks the seventh year since her passing. There is something ghostly about memory, for example, how my aunt is still making sage-scented pork sausage in the very early morning- if, now, only in my mind. I am thankful that as a child, perhaps more sensitive that your typical child of that age and background, I studied them all very carefully. They have a place where they can still exist in their purest- quintessential form. She is gone, cannot defend herself against revision and accusation, but I think my memory is charitable and fair. I hope it is because I owe her that much, at least.

In fact, of all my father's brother's and sisters, she was the last to leave, burying her little brother, my father, whom she had practically raised. How devastating that must have been for her.

One time, I recall asking my aunt what my father was like when he was growing up and she leaned close and whispered in a conspiratorial tone, “Spoilt.” Then, she flashed a smile that lingered there for a moment and then, she returned to her sewing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Joe the Plumber!


Furry Happy-o-Meter


courtesy of our friends at

Let’s Clone Lyon!

lyon January 18, 2008

A businessman in the desert Arab emirate of Dubai has launched plans to faithfully reconstruct the French city of Lyon, right down to its cafes, cinemas and schools, officials from the southwestern city have announced.

The project, due to be completed in 2012, is being driven by businessman Saeed Al Gandhi who fell in love with France’s third biggest city after a visit to draw up plans for a French-language university in Dubai in partnership with the Lyon-2 campus.

He is due to sign a draft deal for the 500 million euro project next week with the city of Lyon.

Lyon-Dubai City, as the new area will be known, will contain public squares, restaurants, outdoor cafes and museums.

All the original Lyon’s gastronomic, cultural, sporting and economic institutions will be painstakingly replicated.

"The city will be organized on European lines so that in a bistrot there you will find the same atmosphere as in a bistrot in Lyon,” said urban specialist Jean-Paul Lebas, who is working on the project.

It is not clear whether the French smoking ban, in force since Jan 2, will be extended to the Dubai bistrots.

Photo: Emiliano Calero on Flickr

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wish me Luck..

I am getting all excited about starting my CELTA course. If you don't know what CELTA means, it stands for: Certificate for English Language Teaching for Adults. Basically a course to get your English teaching certificate.  The 4-week course certainly seems thorough and, despite having centuries of experience in the classroom and a fairly intelligent answer to any grammar question, I am holding tight to my sphincters.

1955For one thing, I know for a fact that I am a far better teacher than a student. ( That isn't saying all that much, trust me.) Either the pace is mind-blurringly slow and I find my eyes crossing- or it is “Lucy at the chocolate factory”. Also, I used to hate having guests in the classroom watching me while I taught because you can’t ignore them and you aren't supposed to acknowledge them either.  So they sit there in silent judgment like disapproving ghosts.

I am sure I will learn a lot. If nothing else, I can learn to be pretentious and talk down convincingly to other teachers. Lord knows, I have had to endure THAT often enough. If I throw out a couple of juicy phrases like, “intrinsic motivation” or “the lexical or semantic meanings of the vocabulary” it tends to shut people up like disturbed clams!

No matter it will be good to get back into the classroom- there is a whole lot of classroom practice involved in this intensive course. 

Wish me luck and I will keep you posted on my adventures in learning.

Okay So I Freaked..

I would like to be all New York about being here but last night, I confess I freaked out while watching Ugly Betty. I guess if you live – and I mean all your life- in NYC, you would never get excited when you see a familiar place on TV. I however am not used to it.  Here are some screen caps of a place I was at last week ( sans movie stars of course)


In the background, on the corner, you can see the place where I bought my glasses. In fact, I made a fool of myself there by stumbling on a rug and falling into the shop, proving how urgently I needed new glasses. (Also I was looking soooo unfashionable. How did I know that, if you wear glasses in New York, they should be very noticeable. My old ones, besides being scratched into milkiness, were just too subtle for New York.)

029Uglybetty2 Like.. Oh My God!!! I even took a photo here. I was obviously about 4 months too late-(as usual.) No Ugly Betty when I was there but a few slightly delusional guys mumbling to themselves and some  totally unsophisticated out-of-towners posing in from of the fountain to tell the world..  “I was here!!!”  (Just like I am doing now!)

Who knows? Maybe I can get my mug on the show like Pee Wee Herman, trying to look “natural” in the background. Looking natural was never my strongest suit however. I would be giggling like a 11 year old girl and desperately NOT looking at the camera.

Los Altos Fragrant Beauty


Very dreamlike..

by christinebm

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another Joke in Three Languages


Джордж Буш и его veep работает мат, Дик Чейни говорил, , когда Джордж сказал: "Я ненавижу все немые Джордж шутки люди говорят обо мне".
Мудрый старый Чейни, чувствуя, простите за старый босс парень, сказал мудрец типа, "Ах, они лишь шутки. Есть много глупых людей там. Здесь, я буду доказывать это на тебя".
Теперь Чейни, чтобы покровительствовать Джордж W, взял его на улицу и приветствовали водитель такси.
"Пожалуйста, мне до 29 Никель улице видеть, если я дома", сказал Чейни.
Кабина водителя, не сказав ни слова вынудили их Никель улице, и когда они наконец вышли, Чейни посмотрел на Джорджа и сказал: "Смотрите! Этот парень был действительно глупо!"
"Не шутите", ответил Джордж "Был телефоны просто за углом ...Вы могли бы призвали вместо этого? "


George W. Bush e sua veep vice, Dick Cheney estavam conversando, George W. quando disse: "Eu odeio todas as mudos George W. cidadãos dizer piadas sobre mim."
Wise Old Cheney, sentindo pena de seu antigo chefe criança, salva-como disse, "Oh, eles são só brincadeiras. Verifica são um monte de gente estúpida por aí. Aqui, eu vou provar isso a você."
Agora Cheney, para amparar George W, levou-o fora e aclamada um taxista.
"Por favor, pegue-me Nickel para 29 Street para ver se estou casa", disse Cheney.
O motorista de táxi sem dizer uma palavra conduzi-los ao níquel Street, e quando finalmente saiu, George W. Cheney olhou e disse: "Veja! Aquele cara era realmente estúpido!"
"Não me digas," respondeu George W. "Havia um telefone público mesmo ao virar da esquina ...Você poderia ter chamado vez? "


George W. Bush et de son candidat à la vice-veep, Dick Cheney était question, lorsque George W. dit, "Je hais tous les muets George W. gens racontent des blagues sur moi."
Wise Old Cheney, le sentiment désolé pour son ancien patron enfant, dit-sage comme: «Oh, ils ne sont que des blagues. Il ya beaucoup de gens stupides là-bas. Ici, je vais le prouver à vous."
Maintenant, Cheney, à fréquenter George W, a lui salué l'extérieur et un chauffeur de taxi.
"S'il vous plaît prenez-moi au 29, rue de nickel pour voir si je suis», a déclaré Cheney.
Le chauffeur de taxi sans dire un mot conduit à la rue de nickel, et quand ils sont sortis finalement, Cheney a examiné et George W. dit, "Voyez! Ce mec est vraiment stupide!"
"Sans blague", a répondu George W. «Il y avait un téléphone juste au coin de la rue ...Vous pourriez avoir lieu appelé? "

At the Bank….


Photo of the Week



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Victorian Gay Marriage

Untitled-1 I wonder how much the objection to gay marriage is based on tradition ? If we had these wedding pictures on our walls of the long-dead Uncle Harold and Uncle Clive and grew up not paying much attention to it, would it be anything to get worked up over?



Tell me what you think.. leave a comment. I'd love to hear your ideas!

Caught in the Act..




Saturday, November 15, 2008

"The Madwoman of Chaillot"

Untitled-1 copy"I remember a time when a cabbage could sell itself by being a cabbage. Nowadays it's no good being a cabbage - unless you have an agent and pay him a commission. Nothing is free anymore to sell itself or give itself away. These days, ... every cabbage has its pimp."



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True stories from the Newspapers

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Journey down Broadway

 Manhattan New York Black and White Photography Manhattan New York Church Black and White PhotographyManhattan  New York City Museum Black and White  PhotographyNew York Autumn Photography


I took all of these photographs today while I was making errands. New York is such a beautiful city but some reason, all of my photos seem to come from the same general area of lower Manhattan. I really have to explore further out next time. Hope you like them.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The People's War on Terrorism

At the moment, I am reading “The Unthinkable” a fascinating book by Amanda Ripley, examining who survives disasters and why, and how we can improve our chances. It certainly a good read, the author’s style makes what might be a gruesome subject into a really interesting study. I would like to quote now a passage:

Terrorism is another hazard like any other except that it demands even more initiative from regular people. Civilians are the involuntary draftees after all. We should not forget this after 9/11, says Stephen Flynn, a homeland security expert and former US Coast Guard officer. “There were two narratives after 9/11. One narrative was, :There are bad people coming to kill us and we have to take the battle to them.”

That was the narrative deployed by President Bush as sent American soldiers to fight overseas and told the American people to stay calm and keep shopping.

“The other narrative,”says Flynn, is the United Flight 93 narrative.” There was one plane on 9/11 on which regular people were well informed. The passengers on Flight 93 had time to learn that the plane would be used as a missile if they did nothing. And what did they do? They pushed past the denial stage fast. Then they deliberated, whispering behind their seat backs and gathering information over the phone. They acted as group. Then, in the decisive moment, they charged into the cockpit and changed history.

If regular people got into as panic-stricken in a crisis as most of us think they do, Flight 93 would have almost certainly destroyed the White House or the US Capitol. “It is highly ironic,”says Flynn, “that our elected representatives were protected on 9/11 by everyday people.” Latent resilience is everywhere, and it is the only certain defense against terrorism. Not every attack can be prevented, but just enrolling regular people in the everyday counter attack is in itself a victory. Because terrorism is not the same as the Cold War: it is a psychology war more than a physical war and in that distinction lies great opportunity. “Fear require two things,”Flynn says,”An awareness of a threat, and a sense of powerlessness to deal with that threat.” Without the powerlessness, terrorism is far less destructive. If we understand dread, we can starve it.

Terrorism as a Disaster

It seems to make a lot more sense to treat terrorism as not only a criminal act- which makes every law abiding member of society a potential suspect- but also as a disaster. Too much money has been spend on the prevention of a type of crime that, in reality, is probably beyond the capability of a free society. If, in the war on terrorism, the citizens who are most at risk lose all sense of liberty and freedom, when a normal life without fear or threat becomes impossible, and when suspicion and distrust of one’s neighbors is the norm, then what have we gained? We play into the hands of the terrorist if we lose our values attempting to defend them.

Government officials and policy makers must reach out to the citizens, teach them proper ways to deal with disasters, which includes terrorism, such as mandatory evacuation drills for all skyscrapers, mandatory first aid training for all teachers at all levels of public schools, paid classes for all citizen wishing to learn any emergency skill . A citizen’s network to provide logistical support should be developed to be used in times of crisis.

Regular citizens must be given the tools to protect or at least prepare themselves in case of attack. Extending this further, it could be possible to devise a neighbor civil defense program, in which a system for locally-arranged evacuation and emergency response training. The public must be given access to information, encourage to train and drill regularly- with feedback loops to continually improve our reactions. Local communities must be involved in the war on terrorism, at least, in terms of disaster preparedness training.

Sensationalism in the News

Another key ingredient in the terror dynamic is the news media and how it reports terror attacks. Terrorism effectively plays upon the sensational quality of modern new reporting- especially when shocking and dramatic news translates directly into profits. The Media Corporations must, therefore, report the news responsibly and must not be used indirectly by terrorist organizations simply to promote more fear and dread. But, in a free society, how can this be possible? Do we suppress the news of the terrorist events?

Of course not. But level-heads must also prevail. Risks to terrorist attack-while purposefully dramatic- must be put into their proper perspective. Your chance of being killed in a car accident are far higher than being a victim of terrorism, Your chance of being struck by lightning is higher. All of us have a far greater risk of dying of heart disease than by a bomb on a plane. Banal forms of death- no matter how common- are naturally less interesting. It is only human nature that a fiery explosion, a dramatic rescues and images of suffering should grab more attention than an obese man choking on an olive pit. And yet, it is in fact a distortion of reality for us to live in constant fear and dread.

I am not suggesting relaxing our guard at all. But, when our representatives give such mixed messages as raising and lowering security alerts without explanation and then telling us to carry on as normal, it serves no purpose to the common welfare. At best, it leads to confusion, at worse it leads to indifference and hopelessness.

The War Effort

Civilians in World War II were asked to participate in the war effort, collecting scrap metals and rubber goods, buying war bonds and blackout patrols. It was a wise move. It harnessed a source of energy that Americans, perhaps more than any other nation, give and keep giving in an apparent endless supply- its sense of community. And, mind you, they had a lot less to give than most of us do.

The people were able to contribute voluntarily to protection of the society . Patriotism was more than waving flags and singing anthems. This was something that Bush and his friends never quite understood. The American people waited to be asked to contribute and they were merely told not to panic and keep shopping. In the war on terrorism, however, we must all become trained defenders and organizers in defense of our homeland because, after all, the citizens are terrorism’s primary target.

Constructive Idea

world-biggest-hole-5 copy

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Shooting

I open this particular story as a scene from a imaginary film, but the story is true.

An elderly woman wakes up with a start, shocked by some distant noise. It is about seven or eight in the morning, She gets out bed slowly, and makes her way down the steps and into her kitchen. She makes her breakfast and all the while she is drinking her coffee, she has the most peculiar feeling. At that moment, she notices  from the corner of her eye, a strange shape moving past the picture window in the living room. As she creeps around the corner, she can clearly make out a tall man peering into her home.  Bravely, she unlocks the door, leaving the chain on, and asks the man what he wants.

It is a policeman and he is trying to speak to her but suddenly, she realizes that she has forgotten to attach her hearing aid. A bit later, the officer is telling her very slowly and very gently, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, lady, but a car has run into the side of your house.”

She notices , over his shoulder, a gathering of curious neighbors in her front yard, a pair of muddy tears across the grass and a greenish Impala improbably parked in her lawn. Somebody is taking photographs. Then, the policeman takes her elbow and says,”And, there’s a dead man in the car.”

All this occurred in the summer when I turned nine. My  subdivision in St. Louis county was an extremely quiet place to live normally. Summers in humid August and it felt like Time itself was slowly rolling to a stop. Tract homes of the same design and  families with striking similarities. At that time, crime, especially murder was something that belonged in the city. There was, of course, the occasional act of vandalism- usually as a kind of revenge to a crank. But murder? It had seemed unthinkable.  This wasn’t the Bronx, for goodness sakes. And most surprising of all was the confessed murderer was none other than my own neighbor, Mr. Staten.

George Staten was a heavy white haired (a crew-cut) Texan. He was so shy that, to us children, he often seemed gruff. On the other hand, his exhuberant wife, Fay, with her hair dyed jet black and spun like confection, was like a sister to my mother and George was a good friend to my dad.

They would spend hours taking apart things and putting things back together, from lawn-mowers to carburators, in some kind of hope of improvement. Like my father, George had traveled up from the backwaters -of Texas, in his case- in search of work in the city. After the Korean War, as the Cold War really took off and the airline industry developed, McDonnell Douglas, , created a kind of  hiring vacuum, sucking up all the undereducated veterans returning home.

The story behind this peculiar event was fairly straightforward. Fay, unable to sleep, was watching TV late into the night. She heard a strange noise and when she went to the window to look, she was surprised to find a unidentified car parked in their own driveway. Still more worrying, in the darkness, she saw two strangers moving about in the shadows.

She woke her husband and told him this news. He, being a Texan, unlocked the firearm cabinet and withdrew a rifle. As he left the house, the two men tried to flee, one ran off down the street and the other (presumably the owner of the car) hopped into the driver’s seat and pulled back out of the driveway. What happened next can only be verified by the witness and murderer. George had his rifle up on his shoulder targeting the driver, as a threat only. However, at that moment, the driver gambled that it was a bluff and aimed his revolver at Mr. Staten. In self-defense, he fired his rifle, the bullet entering the right temple and exiting under his arm. The car rolled down the street lazily, flopping over the curb and bumped into the side of a home at the end of the street.

There was only one problem. When the police later searched the car, they found no weapon at all. It was theorized that the driver had pointed his finger at my neighbor, attempting to frighten him. Obviously, he had never met a man from Texas.

When the police located the dead man’s partner, they learned that the pair had spent most of the night breaking into homes and cars and removing as much as possible. When Fay had looked out the window, they had just begun loading it into the back seat of their Impala. Police also told our families that this pair were quite familiar to the authorities, having committed similar crimes in other neighborhoods.

So began the worst year of living for the Statens. Law suits were immediately filed by grieving relatives of the victim. George lost so much time from his work that nearly lost his job and his house. He certainly lost his privacy with news crews all over the neighborhood. Worst of all, the victim had had a lot of friends whose characters were apparently no better. And for many months, they would take turn throwing bottles through the Staten’s front windows.

I recall one day, as summer was coming to a close, Fay had just left our home and her son dashed back to our home and told us to come quick. We all darted outside and saw poor Fay rolling about on the ground, crying and senselessly clutching at herself. I stood there with my eyes as wide as possible, trying to take in every detail. So, I noted to myself,  this is what a nervous breakdown actually looks like.

There was one thing I could never understand about the shooting. How was it possible that I could have slept through this high drama? After all, murder, as regrettable as it was, was something that people liked discussing and watching on TV and in the cinema. Almost every episode of McMillan and Wife had at least one murder. And this was an event- my own event- that I could have shared in great detail with my friends when school opened. And the murderer was my own next door neighborhood. Somebody I knew.

And yet, somehow, it all happened while I was calmly sleeping, dreaming my happy dreams of swimming and high diving, of GI Joes, and Gilligan's Island, and daring exploits on bicycles. We later figured the sound of the rifle was drowned out by our air conditioner running at full blast.  August nights are usually quite unbearable in St. Louis so in the end, I decided the trade-off was probably worth it.

London from Above




Dazzling photos! Looks like SimCity 4 to me. If you would like to see all 19 photographs go to:

… Not Go Directly to Jail??


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Buy This Dad a Beer

Boy, 10, crashes drunk passenger's van after hitting 90 mph

OCTOBER 7--Meet Randy Lewis. The Tennessee man was so plastered Sunday afternoon that he directed a 10-year-old boy to drive his van, which eventually crashed after the child hit speeds of upwards of 90 mph. Lewis, 43, was charged with drunk driving, reckless endangerment, and child abuse.

A female friend, Paula Evans, was hit with reckless endangerment and child abuse charges. According to a Sullivan County Sheriffs Office affidavit, when officers responded to the vehicle crash site, they discovered that the totaled 1995 Ford Windstar van (which had flipped on its roof) had been driven by the 10-year-old. The boy was one of three children in the auto; all five of the van's inhabitants were treated for injuries at a local hospital. 

Lewis, pictured in the below mug shot, had cocaine in his system and a blood alcohol content of .26, more than three1007081beer1 times the state limit, according to the sheriff's affidavit. He admitted drinking "at least 15 beers, along with some liquor," cops reported. For her part, Evans was spotted by sheriff's deputies shoving pills in her mouth while seated near the overturned van. In a subsequent hospital interview with police, Evans recalled having told Lewis that "the boy was too young to be driving." Lewis is being held on $50,000 bond in the Sullivan County jail, where he has presumably changed out of his unfortunate "Buy This Dad a Beer" t-shirt.

Obama’s To Do List



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