Category: crime

A Big Fix

This is a true story. But I’m changing some names to keep from being sued by a giant auto repair franchise. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they did sue. They seem to be aggressively out for all the money they can get.

My wife’s car got a nail in a rear tire, which started a slow leak. I wanted to avoid driving far, because it only had 17 lbs of pressure remaining, so I picked the closest tire repair shop in town. That would be “Big Deal Tire Center.”

“Did you buy the tires from us?” Dick Cheney asked. I’m changing his name to Dick Cheney so this bastard won’t sue me. In fact, I’ll just call him Dick.

“No.”

“Then our charge is $24.99.” Dick solemnly announced with all the gravitas of a deep-tread Pirelli.

“All right,” I sighed. I’m accustomed to paying 15 to 20 bucks for a flat fix, but I guess $24.99 is my penalty for being a disloyal consumer. I just wanted the job done, and soon, and without having to traipse all over town on low air, seeking a low price.

About 20 minutes later, Dick summoned me over for a little talk.

“Sir, we inspected your vehicle and we found some problems. Your rear shocks are leaking. It’s ruined your rear tires. Your shocks and tires must be replaced.” Dick spoke like a cop reading me the rules of the road.

I knew about those rear shocks already. And judging from the tread remaining on the tires, I thought I could get five to ten thousand more miles on them before replacing anything.

“I know about that. No thanks. I just want the flat repaired,” I said gently but firmly.

“Those tires are bad. You HAVE to replace them. Now.” Dick grumbled. “I’ve worked it all out. This is what we’re going to charge you.” He handed me a computer-generated estimate.

According to this estimate I would be charged $400 for new shocks, and $156 as the basic cost for new rear tires. But there were many additions to this basic cost, including $6.50 for waste tire disposal, $31.98 for balancing and wheel weights, $16.00 for adding nitrogen into the tires, $25.00 for a warranty agreement, $38.16 for something called “mileage protection”, and $3.50 for “free” re-balancing. The total estimate, with tax, came to $720.35.

I was pretty sure I could get this same work done at another shop for a fraction of the cost. “No thanks,” I reiterated, “I just want the flat fixed.”

Dick leaned over the counter, eyes piercing me like gimlets. “You have to have this done! Your tires are cupping and nippling! There are nipples forming on the tread. That could cause a blow-out!” he remonstrated with much authority in his voice.

Cupping and nippling? How can he say that with a straight face? And I’ve never heard of tires described as having nipples before. I stifled a laugh.

Where are all those cupped nipples?

Where are all those cupped nipples?

Dick seemed angry. Maybe he thought he could intimidate me because I look like an old man. Well I am an old man. And I was needing a nap. I was tired, and was tempted to just give in. But I hate bastards like this, so I decided I wasn’t going to back down, come hell or high water.

“I only want the flat fixed,” I lowered my voice an octave.

He scowled at me. “This work HAS to be done!” Dick expostulated, penetrating me with his Dick-straight stare. He was a big, burly guy with large, round rings in his earlobes that made him look criminal tough. I feared for a moment that fisticuffs were going to break out between this scoundrel and me. But fuck Dick!

“I only want the flat fixed.” I firmly repeated. “Uh, is that going to be a problem? Should I take my car someplace else?”

Dick backed away. “No, no, that’s okay. We’ll fix the flat.”

Finally I was able to get that Dick out of my face. And about 20 minutes later the flat was repaired, and the car was ready to go.

I’d like to say I won’t go back to Big Deal Tire Center again, but I’ve run across this problem at other tire shops also. What is it with the hard sell?

Money, I guess. I imagine there are many people who are easily intimidated by authoritative, aggressive auto mechanics. Especially women and old men. I wonder how much money is wasted by these vulnerable people on overpriced, unnecessary repairs?

So I just want to warn you. Be careful when you take your car in for a simple tire repair. Bring a strong backbone and small wallet. And maybe take a martial arts course. Or you could end up in a big fix.

Watch Words for Women

My great-aunt Edna, from our family album.

My great-aunt Edna, from our family album.

Only about one out of every ten prisoners in the U.S.A. is a woman. It seems men are the biggest mischief makers in our country. Or maybe we’re just the least sneaky of the genders, as we clumsily traipse down the primrose path.

But this percentage is changing. A growing number of women are ending up in the calaboose. And I hate to keep knocking on my own gender, but one of the biggest causes of women being arrested, is men.

When a woman gets mixed up with the wrong man, she runs the risk of ending up at the Graybar Hotel for an extended stay. Women need to wise up and pay attention to the warning signs that bad boys give off, if they want to avoid becoming complicit in their high crimes and misdemeanors.

I’m a man, but I’ve never been to jail, myself. However I’m no stranger to the hormonal influence that gravitates the male gender toward trouble. Trouble is very tempting for men. We live, eat, and breathe trouble. But I’ve figured out how to keep it away from my doorstep. Rather than rob banks or get into bar fights, I’ve settled for the adventure of watching NFL football.

Just the same, I know how a man thinks. So ladies, I’d like to give you some advice on what to look out for in your trouble-seeking man. You can avoid the lure of the crooked path by watching out for certain words your man may say to you. Such as the following:

1) “I need you to hide something for me.”
2) “Come along and watch. I’m not going to kill him, I’m just going to scare him.”
3) “After all I’ve done for you, you can’t do this one little thing for me?”
4) “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing. I learned this from my cellmate.”
5) “You don’t have to know anything. Just loan me your gun.”
6) “We’ll be in and out of that bank in seconds flat. Piece of cake.”
7) “Me and my buddies from jail are getting together. Wanna come?”
8) “It’ll only be in your closet for a few days.”
9) “I need a ride to Mexico. Now. Don’t ask why.”
10) “Trust me. I won’t let the cops arrest you.”

Ladies, if you ever hear any of these words, kick your man’s butt out of the house immediately. Then call 9-1-1 and turn his sorry ass in. And that’s how to stay out of jail.

Bad Rad

Radovan Karadzic had a bad day this Thursday. On 3/24/16, he was convicted of ten war crimes, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Let’s just call him Rad. Back in the 1990’s, Rad ordered the killing of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebinica, during the Bosnian war. He was also responsible for the Siege of Sarajevo, which killed over 5,000 civilians. Many of these civilian casualties in Sarajevo were cut down by relentless sniper fire from the surrounding hillsides.

Rad is a former Yugoslavian psychiatrist. In the 1980s he used his credentials to issue fake psychological evaluations, which helped healthcare workers secure early retirements. Later, he and a friend obtained an agricultural loan, which they used to build houses for themselves. He was arrested and convicted of fraud, and served a year in jail.

Bad Rad's mug shot from his arrest for fraud in 1984.

Bad Rad’s mugshot from his arrest for fraud in 1984.

When Yugoslavia broke up in the early 1990s, Rad entered politics – the perfect job for a con-man. He became the President of the Republic of Srpska, and Supreme Commander of the Bosnian Serb Army. I won’t get into the weeds concerning all the bad Rad was convicted of. He wasn’t the only one to commit war crimes in the Balkans. Genocide was committed by both Christians and Muslims, on many different fronts. But Christians were behind about 90% of it.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established by the United Nations in 1991 to address these war crimes. Since that time, ICTY has indicted 161 people, from lowly soldiers to high-ranking politicians such as Rad. 74 have been sentenced, 18 have been acquitted, and most of the remainder have had their cases transferred to sovereign nations, or withdrawn.

Two trials remain: that of former military leader Ratko Mladic, and former Serbian president Goran Hadzic. I love the name Ratko. Doesn’t it befit one who is accused of a war crime?

Rad hid from authorities and disguised himself for more than 11 years, before his arrest in 2008. I think it’s fitting that he had to spend time on the run and in hiding. Many accused war criminals are never caught. But I like knowing they have to spend time and energy looking over their shoulders and perhaps holing up in uncomfortable quarters.

Times seem to have changed. Political and military leaders must be more careful when considering whether or not to murder innocent people. And soldiers must think twice about which orders to obey.

War crimes continue to occur in places like Africa and the Middle East. But hopefully Rad’s conviction will sober up some of the bloodthirsty despots running around our world. Maybe we’ll have a few less disappearances of innocent civilians, over the coming years.

There have been attempts to bring war crime charges against Russian President Vladimir Putin. And there have also been attempts to charge former President George W. Bush, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, and other former members of the Bush Administration. I doubt we’ll ever see these people arrested, but if they were, I wonder how it would affect our political rhetoric.

Perhaps candidates like Donald Trump wouldn’t be so quick to advocate torture or the killing of terrorists’ family members. Maybe there’d be less Bad Rads running for President.

Rapping It Up

Where rappers rap it up.

Where rappers rap it up.

Why do people keep killing rappers? I’m no fan of the genre. And I can certainly understand why someone would want to shoot those who play this music so loud, every house in the neighborhood vibrates. But why kill the rappers, themselves? It’s just music, everyone.

Country stars drink themselves to death. Rockers overdose. But rappers–they die of lead poisoning.

The latest rapper to bite the dust was a rising star from Atlanta, named Bankroll Fresh. Last Friday night he was standing outside his recording studio, when blangdiddy, blam, blang, bang, a hail of bullets cuts him down. He was only 28 years old. No arrests have been made.

Here’s a list of other rappers that have been murdered:

Big Hawk: 1969-2006. Shot dead by an unknown suspect, when he went to a friend’s house to play dominoes. No arrests have been made.

Big L: 1974-1999. Shot in a drive-by shooting in Harlem. The murder is still unsolved.

Bad News Brown: 1977-2011. Found dead in an alley, apparently the victim of violence. The case is still unsolved.

Blade Icewood: 1977-2005. Shot at a car wash in Detroit by an unknown gunman.

Camoflauge: 1981-2003. Gunned down outside of Pure Pain recording studio, while walking his toddler son. Whodunnit? Not me! Nobody knows, who’s willing to talk.

Charizma: 1973-1993. Shot dead in a mugging. His killer was arrested the same day.

Chinx: 1983-2015. Shot in a double-homicide in Queens, New York. The murder has not yet been solved.

Doe B: 1991-2013. Shot at the Centennial Bar and Grill in Montgomery Alabama. His killer, who had been in an ongoing dispute with him, later turned himself in.

Dolla: 1987-2009. Shot in L.A. by Aubrey Louis Berry. Berry claimed self-defense and was acquitted by a jury in 2010.

Fat Pat: 1970-1998. Brother of Big Hawk (see above). Shot in Texas by, who knows, while collecting an appearance fee.

Freaky Tah: 1971-1999. Shot at the Sheraton in Queens, New York, by Kelvin Jones, who plead guilty to murder.

Half a Mill: 1973-2003. Shot in his apartment in Albany, New York. Details about the shooting are sketchy.

Jam Master Jay: 1965-2002. Shot execution-style in a recording studio in Queens, New York. Suspects exist, but no one has been convicted.

Lil Phat: 1992-2012. Shot outside a hospital in Sandy Springs, Georgia, while awaiting the birth of his daughter. Three men were convicted of this murder in 2014.

Mac Dre: 1970-2004. Shot while a passenger in a van, in Kansas City, Missouri. There have been no leads or arrests in this case.

Magnolia Shorty: 1982-2010. This female rapper was shot 26 times, in New Orleans, in a double-homicide that also took the life of Jerome Hampton. In 2014, Gregory Stewart confessed to being one of four men who participated in this gang-related shooting. This was part of a plea agreement that resulted in no prosecution for the murders.

Pavlos Fyssas: 1979-2013. This Greek anti-fascist rapper was stabbed to death in Athens by a member of the neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn.

Proof: 1973-2006. Shot four times while playing a game of pool that turned into a heated argument. Proof first shot and killed Keith Bender. Then Bender’s cousin, Mario Etheridge, shot Proof twice in the head and twice in the chest. Authorities determined that Etheridge was acting lawfully, in defense of another. Even if he did shoot him four times.

Sabotage: 1973-2003. This Brazilian rapper was shot four times in the head and chest. No arrests have been made.

Seagram: 1970-1996. Shot in a violent neighborhood of Oakland, while exiting a van. It’s still an unsolved mystery.

Soulja Slim: 1977-2003. Shot four times on the front lawn of his mother and stepfather’s home, in New Orleans, by an unknown gunman.

Stretch: 1968-1995. Shot four times in the back while driving his minivan, in Queens, New York. The murder is unsolved, but many believe Tupac Shakur was behind it.

The Jacka: 1977-2015. Shot in Oakland, while rapping with friends in a van. No arrests have been made.

The Notorious B.I.G: 1972-1997. Considered one of the most influential rappers of all time. But it’s rumored he was behind the shooting of Tupac Shakur in 1996. This young man was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, while stopped at a red light. His killer has never been arrested.

Tupac Shakur: 1971-1996. Got into a brawl with Crips gang member Orlando “Bobby Lane” Anderson, in Las Vegas. A few hours later he was murdered in a drive-by shooting. Fellow rapper, Suge Knight, was with him, and received a head wound. Las Vegas police discounted Anderson as a suspect, and only interviewed him once. The murder remains unsolved.

VL Mike: 1976-2008. Shot in New Orleans while exiting his vehicle. An unknown assailant escaped on foot.

Yaki Kadafi: 1977-1996. This friend of Tupac Shakur was accidentally shot in the head two months after Shakur was killed. His killer served 10 years in prison.

That’s 26 murdered rappers, not counting our most recent, Bankroll Fresh. 18 of these murders, or 69%, remain unsolved. That seems like a hell of a high rate of unsolved murders. By the way, what is this about shooting rappers four times? What’s with the number four?

I guess if you want to get away with murder, shoot a rapper. You have about a 69% chance of never being caught. And if you do get caught, there’s a good chance you’ll beat the rap, so to speak.

And that about raps it up.