Monday, November 28, 2005

Do Killers Dream of Electric Chair Sheep?

As we near the execution date of Crips co-founder Stan "Tookie" Williams, a slew of Hollywood celebrities have been urging Governor Schwarzenegger to commute his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The latest actor to speak out against the execution is Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx, who played Williams in a made-for-TV movie. As we all know, actors are the definitive authority on subjects they've addressed on-screen. That's why Martin Sheen thinks the viewing public actually wants to hear about his political views; after all, he was the President, right?

Foxx weighs in: "If Stan Tookie Williams had been born in Connecticut in the same type of situation, and was a white man, he would have been running a company." It's unclear exactly what kind of company, or what business school Williams would have opted for. I'm going to go out on a limb here, & say he would've been a Yale man.

Anyways, Stan Williams & a high-school buddy (killed long ago), co-founded the biggest street gang in the world. In 1979 he was convicted of two capital crimes: killing a convenience-store clerk during an armed robbery, then executing a couple who owned a motel, along with their daughter. That's Yale for you! To this day, Williams maintains his innocence. Here are the three main points, listed on his website, that sum up what he poignantly calls his "innocence issues":

1) There were other, unidentified fingerprints found at the scene of both murders. His fingerprints were nowhere to be found.

2) A bloody bootprint was found at one of the crime scenes, which was determined not to be made by Williams.

3) His jailhouse confession was in fact submitted by another convict, a "white man" who was given access to intimate details of the case & was granted leniency for his efforts.

In summary: he didn't leave fingerprints, someone else stepped in the blood of his victims after he fled the scene, & the testimony of a jailhouse snitch sealed the case against him. Aw, poor Tookie.

What's interesting is that his website also bemoans the fact that the prosecutor in the case used out-&-out racist tactics to convict him. Such as? Williams, as a prominent figure in the South Central Los Angeles underworld, was likened to a Bengal Tiger in the San Diego Zoo. Er...that sounds more like a metaphor than a racial slur, but then I've never been to law school. The other complaint from the Tookie camp is that the prosecutor was able to dismiss the three African American prospective jurors, leaving a lily-white jury that was all to happy to convict the poor gangsta. Tough break, landing a prosecutor that actually knew what he was doing.

Just for shits & giggles, I thought I'd show you, my loyal audience, a brief excerpt from Tookie's petition for clemency, as addressed to the Honorable Governor...

"This petition is, in a way, about what America is and what it offers to its people--the right to strive, to seek and find purpose, to have hope, to put failure & wrongdoing behind... the knowledge that America is a nation which is built on these values, and believe in second chances." God bless that poor mass-murderer...he brought hope back to a despondent nation, when we needed it the most!

Something I thought was strange was the notable absence of any mention of his victims. In fact, his main concern seems to be stopping "youth-on-youth & black-on-black violence", & he's particularly disturbed by news that sets of Crips have sprouted in South Africa. Then, as I read more of his petition, I found:

"This message is not about the death penalty, or about reversing the judgement of the courts. Nor does it diminish the death of Albert Owens, Yen-I Yang, Thsai-Shai Yang, Yee-Chen Lin, or the suffering of the family members and friends who loved them." Gee thanks. Well I'm sure their families have gotten over it by now, the important thing is that Tookie keeps churning out children's books, right? We don't want his Nobel Peace Prize nomination to be jeopardized by lethal injection, do we? What kind of message would that send?

Well, it's in the hands of the Governator now. He'll be meeting with attorneys, then deciding whether or not to spare poor old Tookie. Will he be swayed the Hollywood elite he once rubbed muscular elbows with? Or will his conservative backers put enough pressure on him to keep Williams on Death Row? We'll know soon enough. The execution date is set for December 13th. When asked for comment on the clemency hearing, Schwarzenegger replied, "It's never a fun thing to do." Less fun than having your family murdered by a career-criminal, I would imagine.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Haiku written while waiting for my shift to end

Beam me up, Scotty;
No intelligent life here.
And that includes me.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Shirking for the man

I work at a post-production facility in Hollywood. We help crime dramas get on TV & we help student films get to the "rejected" pile at film-festivals. And I hate every nanosecond of it.

It wasn't always like this. I used to work at another, similar job, just down the street. I had worked my way up from delivering videotapes in a goofy-looking company car to supervising the account-executives at the company's corporate headquarters. I had been the employee of the month, & employee of the year. It could've been a lot worse.

But then we were bought out, & a new CEO, CFO, & some other SOBs were brought on board. I had a new boss, new staff, & new responsibilities. I hated all of them. %99 of my friends at wwork were fired, one ofter the other. My job started keeping me up nights & making me not much fun to be around. Yeah, yeah, we all have jobs we hate, I know...but this is my blog, so keep your problems to yourselves until I'm finished, please. Anyways, it got to be where I wanted out so bad I would take a paycut & work shitty hours if it meant getting away from that awful place. And lo & behold, a friend who worked here (where I'm at now) put in a good word for me, & got me an interview here. Well, I totally tanked the interview but I guess no one else applied, because I got a job here. The day I found out, I gave notice. Then I decided to give them the same notice they gave my friends, & that was it. I told my new job I could start in a week, & took that week off. I slept in & watched Columbo. It was fun.

So my new job was ok, I guess. Same pay, which was good, & the hours were decent. It didn't exactly give my life meaning, but I was able to pay my bills & still have enough to take my girlfriend to El Coyote on the weekends.

And then?

And then the same bastards, the same human paraquats, they bought this place out too. Can you fucking believe it? Now I gotta answer to them again, & work with that ship of fools I bailed out of last year. Sometimes it gets me down, like when they lay a bunch of people off on paydays, but what can you do. They haven't let anyone from my department go yet, but I don;t have any illusions about it, I know I'm the low man on the totem-pole, & I'm ok with it. That's why I blog at work! Anyways, I'm half-hoping to get laid off so I can be done with it, & half terrified of not being able to pay my bills & still take my girlfriend to El Coyote on the weekends.

Every day, more e-mails on new policies, which are prompyly revised, rejected, & forgotten, usualyy inthat order. Everyday, more motivational jargon & capped smiles. And every day, I care a little less. That's not true...a lot less. That old addage about 100 monkeys trying to type "Hamlet" is as close as I can describe it to the unanointed. Luckily, I can see the humor in it so I usually don't get too riled up. I'm also counting down to February, when I'll get my certificate form the Nick Harris Detective Agency & Academy, & can find some work that won't zombify me the way this psyche-ward does.

I'm not going to lie, I considered trying to get fired. Could I say, "I would prefer not to," whenever someone asks me to do something? The only snag is, these guys know how to screw disgruntled ex-employees out of their unemployment checks. At least that's what my friends who were fired have told me. Dammit. I guess I'll be back here tomorrow morning after all.

Ah, Bartleby...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Extradited from Marlboro Country

Here I am, after lunch, on a beautiful November afternoon. I did laundry before coming in to work today, so I'm wearing fresh clean army pants & a nice lint-free black t-shirt. You know what would really hit the spot right now?

A fucking cigarette!

I haven't smoked in a dog's age. Well, if you consider about half a year a dog's age. See I had this thing where I would smoke, quit, smoke quit, ad infinitum. Not to feel too sorry for myself, but as I took on more responsibilities at my old job, I would really start puffing away. I had been smoking on & off, mostly on, since I was a kid in short pants, which may explain why my "little" brother towers over me.

My friend Erin & I had a saying we would bust out with, whenever someone said, "Hey, I thought you quit smoking." We would say, "Shit, I quit every time I put one out!"

Most recently, I had quit for over a year. Then I succumbed to temptation & bought a pack of Chesterfield Lights at the 76 station on Santa Monica & Las Palmas. They were good. Of course I couldn't stop at just one pack. But I knew my girlfriend disapproved. What to do? Well, like a fool, I thought I could play it know, chewing gum & washing up with those hand towelettes? Stupid. One morning she & I ended up at the same red light on the way to work. Awkward!!!

So I quit again, then & there. And that was the last cigarette I've had the pleasure of smoking since. Now I see that the liquor store I patronize exclusively (I'm trying to get an endorsement...they already gave me a t-shirt) is selling Export A's. What are Export A's, you may ask? Well, my pink-lunged friends, they're a Canadian brand that come in a flat package, & are a bit shorter than regular American cigarettes. Are they a better smoke? Well...yeah, sure, why not. The point is, I used to smoke them when I had my first apartment. Yep, we used to fill empty can after empty can of PBR with Export A butts. Good times.

Deep down, I know it's not a good idea to deliberately inhale carbon monoxide & molten tar. But I still hold my pen like a cigarette. Deep down I know that smoking causes's been scientifically proven to cause cancer. But I still crave a smoke after a Combo Ultimo at Acapulcos. I know that several members of my family have been directly killed by smoking. I look at their pictures on the wall at my parent's house. They're smoking in the pictures. What can you do.