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There Are No Coincidences–A Statement on Charlottesville

“If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him”

In the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, on last Saturday, I think it is necessary to say something.

I am not a person of any notable influence, but I am a human being, and this is my responsibility to prevent.

I am also a white American. The ugly history of racism in this country, which inspired the “Unite the Right” rally last weekend and the murder of a peaceful counter-protester, is my responsibility to acknowledge and face.

I committed no crime on Saturday.

And the LORD said unto Cain “Where is Abel thy brother?” And he said “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”

But I abet that crime if I do not decry it. I admit my shame and guilt that it has taken me these last few days to find my words.

And the LORD said, “What hast thou done? Thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”

It is no coincidence that actual Nazis had rallied to protect a public display of support for the Confederacy, which was formed to protect the rights of slave owners.

It is no coincidence that Klansmen showed up with the actual Nazis.

It is no coincidence that a rally in support of genocidal views ends in murder.

“And now thou art cursed from the ground, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand.”

It is no coincidence that an American president refuses to condemn Nazis and other white supremacists by name on the day of the attack, and instead blames many “sides”.

There is only one side at fault here.

It is no coincidence the aforementioned president only condemned the Nazis and the KKK on Monday after people of goodwill, including many elected officials of his own party, called on him to do so.

It is no coincidence that, Monday night, the Boston Holocaust Memorial was vandalized–for the second time in a season.

It is no coincidence that, today, unable to restrain even his basest and most politically self-destructive desires, the American president reverted to his previous statement, blaming the counter-protesters for being run over.

It is no coincidence that far-right groups are loving his response.

“Then shall they also answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?’

And if, after all this, you still think these are coincidences–

I invite you to take a long look in the mirror.

-L

 “Then shall He answer them, saying, ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.'”

 

Verses adapted from the KJV translation

 

Kidnapping, Wedding Crashing, and Plenty of Jumping to Conclusions: My Adventures in July

Dear Readers,

I can explain.

The broken promises. The long silences. The unannounced trips.

Okay, I think I advised the other day about the trip. I certainly did give warning that I was preparing for a move. Said move went well, by the way, and I am settling into my new apartment quite nicely. It did take me a week to get my internet up and running, which is another reason I have been incommunicado.

July has been a busy month for me, but I bring back from my adventures not one, not two, but THREE new reviews coming out this week. The first two are of audiobooks I enjoyed on my Boston-D.C.; the third is of a hardback book I have been working since Christmas and finally finished after my electronics had been packed away.

Some tales from the trail:

I Think I’m Getting Kidnapped

It is the day before my drive to D.C. I am already wound up. While standing in line, waiting for whatever I need to complete yet another pre-trip frantic errand, a voice behind me announces “Hey, do you like novels?”

Why would he know that?

Perhaps because “stranger danger” was drilled into me as a kid, more likely because of the things I read and watch, I am a little wary of overly interested strangers. The person I encountered was nice enough, and was promoting a new e-book. No harm done.

I leave the store and begin to walk back to my car, not being followed. When I arrive at my car, there is an idling vehicle pulled up alongside mine. With cars parked in front of and behind mine, I am effectively stuck. Somewhat inconvenient, but again, no harm done.

Then the driver of the idling car looks up and calls me by my first name. My blood runs cold.

“Yes?” I say.

“I’m your ride.”

“No you’re not.”

He is silent. I move to the back of my car. He is not moving.

“This is my car,” I say.

He looks at me, puzzled.

“I need you to move,” I say.

He rolls forward and I hop into my car, not sure why this person knows my name. Then, in my rear-view mirror, I see a woman my age, of similar appearance, coming out of the apartment building I parked in front of. She got into the car that had been boxing mine in.

I had not fended off a kidnapping. I had only managed to scare the living daylights out of myself and an unsuspecting Uber driver.

I Crash a Wedding

The next day, I dropped True-Crime Cat off at the vet for boarding, fought back tears at seeing her little green eyes disappear behind the counter, and set off driving for D.C. From Boston to the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, I enjoyed the audiobook of Ann Rule’s Small Sacrifices.

This was my first road trip and, as is to be expected, newbie mistakes began piling up.

I grew up in Texas, where toll booths are few and far between. As such, it did not occur to me to prepare for all the tolls, and I did not have cash to pay the toll booth attendant as I drove south from I-84 to the Jersey Turnpike. Consequently, with plenty of July-Fourth-Weekend traffic piling up behind me, the very patient toll attendant filled out an invoice for me to pay NY State by mail. (Which I did, of course)

I then promptly got lost in New Jersey, because I unintentionally set my navigating app to to avoid tolls, which led me parallel to the Turnpike, down a country road full of stop lights. This was probably why I had trouble focusing on the first three hours of Robert Graysmith’s hefty true-crime classic Zodiac.

After finally pulling over somewhere south of Princeton and re-calibrating Siri, I had only lost two hours to waiting at traffic lights. The sun was beginning to sink low as I headed south to Delaware, surrounded by trees.

“The young couple were alone in their car, surrounded by trees,” crooned the narrator of Zodiac, “It was already evening.”

Not an actual quote, but close enough. And that is when I began hitting myself for my choice of audiobooks. I had promised myself I wouldn’t do Zodiac books on my solo drive. I promised myself.

Somewhere south of Baltimore, I realized it was time to find a ladies’ room. Seeing an exit up ahead, I prepare to get off I-95. The “NSA-EMPLOYEES ONLY” sign and the cop with the rifle blockading the exit tipped me off that I would not be making a pit stop here.

So I drove on. The next exit is “NASA-EMPLOYEES ONLY.”

I am beginning to get desperate.

Why didn’t I stop in Baltimore? I ask myself.

Then, finally “NASA Greenbelt-State Park.” Where there’s a park, there’s a park ranger. Where there’s a ranger, there’s a HQ.

I pull off the highway at last. Right at the exit is a rustic structure  set in a wooded area, surrounded by cars.

Oh, good, they must have lots of services here if it’s this crowded. 

I find a parking spot and look up. It is a veterans’ association lodge, and there is obviously a party going on. But I am desperate.

I run to a couple taking a smoke break outside and explain the emergency.

“Is there any chance I could use the ladies’ room?”

“Oh sure, go on in, sweetie. We won’t tell anyone.”

I enter. There is a wedding cake. I wouldn’t dream of doing this on any other day. By some miracle, though, it was a casual wedding, and I came wearing the dress code.

On my way out, thanking God and the American Legion, the couple I met at the door invite me to stay for drinks. I politely decline.

I make it back to my car and close the door. Between putting the key in the ignition and turning it, I begin laughing and put my forehead against the wheel. I am ready to be done driving. After another hour, and twelve in total, I make it to my hotel.

And that is the story of how I became a wedding crasher.

P.S. Wherever you are, happy newlyweds, I wish you every happiness in the world.

P.S.S.: Come back tomorrow for my review of Small Sacrifices. Reviews of the Graysmith Zodiac audiobook coming Friday. Next week, I address the hard-copy book I finished this month, Kenneth D. Ackerman’s Trotsky in New York 1917: A Radical on the Eve of Revolution, a tale of spies, suspicious Russian political operatives, and sassy backtalk.

 

Where Ya Been, Librarian?

Dear Readers,

I am sorry to keep you in silence for so long. My reasons are, in chronological order:

  1. Not having A/C and it has been too d–n hot in Boston to write
  2. Helping my friends move
  3. Preparing for my own move to an apartment with A/C, as to mitigate #1.
  4. Preparing for a road trip.

And it is for help with #4 that I come to you.

I have already downloaded the audiobook of Ann Rule’s Small Sacrifices,  read by the author, which has been on my queue for the last year, on the recommendation of a former teacher. Round-trip, I will have sixteen hours of driving in total.

So, any other true crime books you would recommend I listen to? I have to admit I’ve been on a Zodiac documentary binge, but I am wary of the “I finally solved it” claims of the audiobooks available on iTunes.

Also, not sure I want to listen to eerie narration of a stranger killing people in cars while I’m driving along.

Make that no Zodiac for this trip.

To my fellow Americans, I wish you all a happy and safe Fourth of July. Don’t drink and drive; leave the fireworks to the professionals; and don’t fire guns into the air.

-L

Upcoming Features–9 June 2017

Happy Friday,

Some upcoming features for you to look forward to:

  1. Yesterday, James Comey testified before Congress about his interactions with President Donald Trump and possible interference by the President in criminal investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election that elected the President.

    Confused by that sentence? Yep, I am, too.

    I’ve been reading other people’s analysis of Comey’s testimony and need to watch the video myself. My take on yesterday’s hearing will come out Monday.

  2. While I should have been catching up on the Comey hearing after work, I instead finally got around watching (and finishing) Making a Murderer, the layman’s true crime sensation. I need some time to process it.

    First assessment: I am horrified…yet strangely underwhelmed…

  3. I am going to see Wonder Woman this weekend. I know it is way, way out of my usual genre, but I’m considering reviewing it…because I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a movie.
  4. On the other hand, I am finishing up a true-life tale of WWI-era intrigue and spies. Coming full circle to Comey, this also involves suspicious Russians. Hints in the linked article’s picture.

 

In other news, I am always open to suggestions for watching and reading. If you have written a book or made a movie, I would be happy to consider your work for review on this blog.

As always, I invite you to subscribe for updates through WordPress and follow Sassy on Twitter @truecrimecat.

Have a safe weekend, folks,

-L

Happy Memorial Day–Belatedly

Memorial Day is more than the unofficial beginning of summer. With roots going back to the Reconstruction period, the holiday honors all those who have given their lives for the United States in the armed forces.

I must agree with the Poet:

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
“Sweet and proper it is to die on behalf of one’s homeland”
-Horace, Odes

To all who sacrificed, thank you.

Announcing a Visiting Author Interview: John David Bethel

I am pleased to announce that True Crime Librarian will be hosting its first interview with a visiting author: John David Bethel!

After a long political communications career in Washington, D.C., Mr. Bethel has settled in Miami, Florida. His time inside the Beltway was undoubtedly rich, as his first book, Evil Town, a tale of murder, intrigue, and corruption at the heart of American government, has received praise from fellow civil servants for its accurate, stinging portrayal of Washington. While grounded in the real world, the events of Evil Town are Mr. Bethel’s creation (One hopes…)

On the other hand, Mr. Bethel’s new novel, Blood Moon, is based on a series of crimes ,committed by “the Sun Gym gang,” that took place in Miami in the 1990s. This orgy of violence featured just about every truly horrible thing human beings can do to each other. These evil acts were previously fictionalized in the 2013 movie Pain and Gain, which, strangely enough, despite sharing its title with a survivor’s memoirs, is billed as a comedy.

I’ve spent the weekend enjoying Blood Moon and will be sharing my thoughts with you on Monday morning. Monday evening I’ll sit down with Mr. Bethel to discuss Blood Moon, his time in Washington, his writing life, and how that career transition came about.

Until then,

L

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Week From Hell: An Obituary, An Apology, A Meditation on Free Will, and a Plea for Mercy/Pity/Views

Dear Readers,

I apologize for not publishing a review this week.

I can explain.

This week was supposed to be the beginning of a relaxing week visiting my hometown and family, including the surviving pets from my childhood . My plans were to eat good Tex-Mex (rather than the sorry excuse for “Mexican” they serve at Chipotle) and produce a lot of good content for you, preferably surrounded by fuzzy things.

Instead, my trip home began with putting down the cat I, myself, convinced my mom to let me bring home from the shelter ten years ago. While I am glad to report that True-Crime Cat, Sassy, is doing well in the care of my significant other and neighbor, this childhood cat of mine, Max, suddenly and inexplicably developed lung cancer. This was after a year in which my beloved grandmother died, and a summer in which my childhood dog died and another cat ran away after we moved out of the house I grew up in.

A fatal blow, right in the childhood.

Knowing the end was near, the ever-dignified Max was attempting kitty hara-kiri: rather than eventually suffocate, he was starving himself to death. The vet said he should have succumbed before I returned from Boston. Judging by the loud purr he gave, though emaciated, when he saw me again, and by how he declined in the few hours immediately after that, I think he was holding out to see me. This proves my belief that cats are capable of discerning and refined loyalty. It also makes me blame myself for any suffering he might have experienced.

Max was the finest hunter of any species I have ever met. If we mounted his “presents” to us, we would have a wall full of mouse, rat, squirrel, and bird heads.While he might have been a menace to the mockingbirds that nested in our yard, he was definitely the most effective pest control in our neighborhood. He was also an excellent cuddler and had the world’s loudest purr.

Easter 2012 to Finals 2013 006.JPG
“America’s sweetest serial killer” rests after a hunting trip

After seeing the companion of half my life slump over on the vet’s examination table, I was in no mood to keep reading the anthology on high-profile executions in America I had planned to review for you last week. In fact, I was barely able to keep myself together in public. Trying to go shopping with a friend the day after, to keep me occupied, backfired, as I almost lost my s–t when we walked into a part of a store that had cats on LITERALLY EVERYTHING.

Okay, maybe there was just one pillow with a cat on it, but you understand.

Why so upset over a cat?

Because a cat, like all animals, is naturally good. Some might call them “inferior beings” because they do not have the range of choice we do, and have no conception of morals. However, I say this puts them beyond the reach of evil. They are “lower” than us only in that while they are aware, we are aware we are aware. Because of self-consciousness, we recognize their weakness in comparison to us, and have the choice of defending them or not.

Max played with his food because of instinct. He did not delight in causing pain to rodents. He never killed for sport. He never bribed a cop, robbed a bank, or defrauded old folks of their retirement money.

When someone commits a heinous crime, it’s unfair to call them ‘an animal.’ Man is the only animal that acts out of malice.

And it is that existential dilemma which draws me to true crime.

Tomorrow I will review something light and fluffy for you, two series available on Netflix that fall under “crime” in content but not in ethos. It includes lots of healthy animals and the people who love them, along with dumb American tourists carrying drugs across international borders.

I will also publish the review schedule for the next several months.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

-L