Wednesday, July 30, 2014

And the APD MRAP Goes to This Lucky Winner...

The Albuquerque Journal reported that APD’s 14-foot-tall, 45,000-pound Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle – aka MRAP – is going away.

Dear Ms. Madeson:

On behalf of Chief Gordon Eden and the entire Albuquerque Police Department, I am delighted to inform you that you have been selected as the winner in the “Take This MRAP Home Today” lottery

We've filled up the gas tank with the requisite 284 gallons, and the keys are in the ignition waiting for you. (Lucky monogrammed four-leaf clover keychain provided by APD Forward.)

The entire SWAT Team is detailing your new vehicle as I write this, and they're really putting their backs into it, getting in all those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. It's a great community event,so please come on down and pick up your unique prize today!

Very truly yours,

Janet Blair
Communications and Community Outreach Director
Albuquerque Police Department

Dear Ms. Blair:

Thank you so much for reaching out, but there must be some mistake as I'm pretty sure that I never entered the lottery. I eschew lotteries in general and especially have no need of an armored vehicle at this time. My Honda Fit is adequate for my transportation needs, and the few times a year when it snows, I just stay home. Plus, my trusted landlords assure me that there are no landmines on our property and none reported ever in the Santa Fe County vicinity. They are, however, concerned that at over 10 ft. high, it won't fit under my carport.

But thank you for thinking of me, and best of luck with scrapping it.

Thanks, but no thanks,

Frances Madeson

Image by Charlie Grapski
Dear Ms. Madeson:

How silly of me. I just conferred with Mayor Berry who has it on good authority from CAO Perry who got it from Chief Eden that we, by which I mean the City of Albuquerque, are throwing in a new carport.

It seems you and I both neglected to read the fine print, but fortunately ACLU-NM Exec. Dir. Peter Simonson, who's really good at this kind of thing, alerted us to the fact that down at the bottom in the teensiest of lettering is the proviso that a height-appropriate carport is indeed part of your winnings.

Please expect representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers in the next 72 hours to arrive at your casita to begin construction.

Also, I've checked the weather for the next few hours and while we might get some always welcome precip (we are in the throes of monsoon season after all), it's nothing your new MRAP can't handle. If it were to hail grapefruits, cantaloupes or even watermelons, your new MRAP, as I'm sure you already know, was built to withstand improvised explosive devices (IEDs). I'm wholly confident that your new MRAP can take Mother Nature's very worst, assuming it arrives, at least until we get that new rust-resistant carport up for you.

All to say, we really need you to get yourself down here with a valid NM driver's license before the end of business today. I'm sure you understand as the savvy lottery winner that you are that it would be a boon for all concerned if your bon voyage christening (we're prepared to smash an entire magnum of New Mexico's own Gruet Brut courtesy of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce) made this evening's television news.

Not to pressure you unduly, but KOAT, KRQE, and KOB are all running with the story as their lead. In fact, all of the really relevant footage has already been shot, we just need a smiling you behind the wheel getting on I-25 North heading up to the State's capitol.

And if we make the 6 o'clock broadcasts, as an extra bonus, City Council Prez Ken Sanchez himself plans to escort you to the Bernalillo County line!

With every good wish,

Janet Blair
Communications and Community Outreach Director
Albuquerque Police Department

P.S. An investigative reporter at KRQE has rather urgently inquired if you've thought of an affectionate pet name for your new MRAP yet? If not, please don't sweat it, we'll make one up for you. See you shortly!
Rob Perry as imaginatively rendered by Albuquerque imagist Dinah Vargas. (I must ask her what that P stands for.)
Dear Ms. Blair:

Whoa, whoa, whoa there, lady! I've just had a very concerning phone call from my Geico rep, who informs me that the annual insurance premiums for what you keep insisting is “my MRAP” will break my personal piggy bank. I'm not even waiting for my accountant to get back to me with the personal property tax consequences to tell you the following in no uncertain terms: please don't look for me at the christening ceremony. I find I have an unalterable pre-existing scheduling conflict.

I really must encourage you to find another lucky winner.


Frances Madeson

Chief Gordon Eden ready for his close-up. I must remember to ask Dinah why he doesn't have a P?

Dear Ms. Madeson:

Well, this is awkward, but I regret to inform you that your winnings (MRAP and carport) are not transferable. Civil rights specialist Simonson was adamant on that point. Or as he put it just moments ago, "Tell her I've gone back as far as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and there's simply no wiggle room."

But I do have some marvelous news. APD Officers Anthony Sedler and Ramon Ornelas, just back on duty after the unfortunate shooting of alleged car-thief Jeremy Robertson (multiple bullets fired into his back as he fled from them), have volunteered on their own dime to deliver your now gleaming MRAP to your home. Not exactly sure of their ETA, but after dark for sure.

It's been a pleasure corresponding with you on this matter.

All best to you,

Janet B.

Dear Ms. Blair:


Sunday, July 13, 2014

James Boyd's (And Our) Hell

I'm participating in a group project to transcribe the 40 police interviews conducted in the aftermath of the infamous and ignoble shooting of James Boyd in the foothills of the Sandia mountains.  Here is the first snippet of the interview conducted with APD's Scott Weimerskirch the day after he voluntarily joined the death squad that ended the mentally ill homeless man's life. Not a shred of remorse. Sometimes words just speak for themselves.

Okay, today's date is Monday March 17th, 2014, it's approximately 13:42 hours and this is Detective Jeff Stone with the Albuquerque Police Department here at the Family Advocacy Center at 625 Silver. We are here investigating an Officer Involved Shooting that occurred up in the foothills area near 812 Piedra Vista, NE. This is in reference to case number 140023683. Present in the room, state your name: Agent Hal Page, New Mexico State Police. Also, Sean Wallace, APD. And we are here interviewing Scott Wiemerskirch.

Stone: Scott, can you just tell me who your employer is?

Wiemerskirch: City of Albuquerque as a police officer.

Stone: And what unit are you assigned to?

Wiemerskirch: I'm assigned to the Tactical Canine Unit under the Special Operations Division.

Stone: How long have you been assigned there for?

Wiemerskirch: Almost seven years.

Stone: What's your call sign?

Wiemerskirch: 754

Stone: And your man number?

Wiemerskirch: 2774

[Spelled his name]

Stone: Scott, how long have you been on the department?

Wiemerskirch: I started the Police Academy July of 99, so a little over 14 years.

Stone: Awesome. Alright man just run through me, I'll give you the floor, from start to finish, everything that you can recall about what you did last night.

Wiemerskirch: Last night, I was actually secondary on call. For a canine request. And shortly, probably around 17:30 hours I got a call from radio control from dispatch advising canine request to the foothills in reference to a guy that was armed with knives and threatened open space, officers, camping up there.

Upon hearing the call right away I was kind of concerned about that because, it's something like, they were saying that they told him, Don't come any closer otherwise they were going to beanbag him, things of that nature.

So at that point I asked them if they'd advise I believe ______________ who's also actually a lieutenant, and I advised here that I'd be also be able to help. Getting dressed to go to the call Officer Ken Ronzone who was the primary came in on the call, called me, and told me what was going on, and I told me I'd be there also, because concern of that time of the day, it was actually nice, the weather was nice, and I'm actually familiar with that area somewhat from biking and stuff and trail running. But realizing on a Sunday that if we got a guy up in the foothills in that area in open space, there's a lot of people and I'd want to have resources to try to contain him and stop him from moving around.

Along route to the call I heard there was another call in the valley which I originally was going to go to, but then hearing this I actually, I called Sergeant Silver who I was actually covering for, advising him of what was going on and I told him I was going to call another dog to handle the call in the valley. Because this, one based on the things I told you earlier, I thought it was a little bit more urgent.

Stone: Okay.

Wiemerskirch: So I continued on and proceeded from I-25 to I-40 to Tramway to Copper to turn in off La Cueva. And when I went on scene, even prior to that I was asking as I came up Copper ,if I needed to come off the top of the trailhead to provide self containment, or if I should come up to where they were at.

Officer Ken Ronzone advised me that I should just come up to where they were at. And also to deploy with my dog, and we went to the house at the address that you had mentioned, there's a gate to the backyard you go out to the open space. When I arrived on scene things I was concerned about...when I deploy I put on a headset to try to keep radio traffic down to a minimum. And grabbed my police service dog and proceeded to the gate. When I came out to the gate, I looked up to the east and I could actually see a guy in an elevated position above us by a formation of rocks, yelling down at a field officer and, also it was Officer Keith Sandy and Rick Ingram. The sergeant on scene was Jason Carpenter and I saw Ken Ronzone. Officer Ken Ronzone was talking about pulling people back down off the hill to create more distance. I also ran into Pat Hernandez to try and verify charges.

Basically what they told me is they're telling this guy to leave, and when they went up there he was in a camp, they told him, Look let me see your hands, they challenged him to come forward and he showed his hands and he actually pulled knives out of his pockets. So based on that they were saying they had him on Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer, so we had felony charges, and the guy was just real irate was what they were telling me. And I could even hear him up from up top of the hill yelling and throwing his hands up. When they wanted us to back up... Jeff McFarland had called me prior to me leaving my house and he says, Hey I heard this call and do you want me to head up that way?, and I was like yeah I could use the manpower.

After we were down below, I told the guys, Let's not back up. My concerns at that point that we had him out in the open to talk and all, but he had a camp, he had not been searched by any officer, he'd already showed aggressive violence toward officers, he was even making comments that he'd kill people. Concern I had is, I don't know what else is in his camp and I wanted to keep him in a position where he didn't have such an advantageous position such as high ground or a position of cover to engage us in case in his camp he did have a rifle, a gun or something. Because of the close proximity to not only the houses, but to the south there's people, there's even people that were occasionally passing on the trail down below and I felt if we backed up, and this guy went mobile we were putting the public in jeopardy also.

So I took that Officer McFarland to go to the south I wanted _______ and another officer went with him cause I wanted to have eyes on into that camp area, or the rocks where he was recessed back into, and I moved up down below with Officer Keith Sandy and Rick Ingram, and at the same time I was trying to have Officer Ken Ronzone take a team and go to the north, and started giving the positions out to flank the individual and also provide containment.

Even from our position, you can still any time you got a guy in an elevated position there and the position of disadvantage which was a concern ... when I initially got up there, we started talking to him and trying to find a viable, based on the crime of the felony, see if there was a viable deployment of a dog. And from that lower position there's a lot of cactus bushes, rocks, that the dog would have to encounter to try to go up there and it wasn't viable at all. It wouldn't have been a practical tool cause if he saw the dog coming, and he was in a position to observe that, that he could actually try to circumvent those tactics.

And I told the guys when they got up there that from here the dog would not be practical.

When I got there really no one was having any dialogue with him, so I tried to talk to him and told him you know, Sir, what's going on? I might have even called him dude, just trying to get him to talk and he started to explain how everything from the economy's going to collapse in five months, said his money, his identity taken away, was really upset about things, and he made mention of everything from white collar crime. And he's tried to talk to APD before but he's CSO and they pretty much kicked him out. And just irate with the whole system and he didn't get ahold of OSI and CIV, so now I'm thinking he's military too, and we need to do that stuff because you know we can't do anything, and I told him you know a) APD's here now, why don't we walk off this mountain and we can go talk abut this.

And then he, you know, he corrected me, It's not a mountain, it's a hill, and you guys don't have the right, and he said basically, he kept on referring to State Police about talking to them cause in my dialogue with him he was just getting irate. You know, Put down the knives and come down the hill. You don't have the right to do that. At one point during this whole interaction, on the lower part, he actually pulled out a knife in his right hand, and he made all kinds of gestures of throwing his hands up just really irate even to the point of, you know, You guys come up here. His whole demeanor was you know basically he was going to kill all us, and ________me at one point he even called me a punk and was going to kill me, and he kept on mentioning the State Police so actually I was...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Slimy Passage: In Defense of Ed Champion (And Everything We Hold Dear)

By Goodloe Byron

The other day my friend Ed Champion wrote and published a prolix screed about the stranglehold on discourse and literary style in the hands of the grossly untalented few in American letters who are rewarded for nonsense and worse by the powers that be in corporate publishing. He amped it up by concentrating his attention in this piece exclusively on some of the female offenders (the pictures alone are priceless), and got in big trouble with the gatekeepers of the status quo. "He's after our womenfolk, circle the wagons!"

In fact, there's a very ugly pile on, and in the din made by those calling for his big beautiful head on a platter, the word "misogyny" is being recklessly bandied about. It's often an absurd charge akin to "Witch!," but in this case it rings especially hollow. Ed is no misogynist, I am certain of it, in fact I'm offended on his behalf, and I'm not easily offended. As charges go it's not only scurrilous, it's unsupportable. Even a cursory glance (or listen) to the hundreds of substantive interviews with women writers available in his archives make that rapidly and undeniably evident.

So why was it reached for, the laziest most convenient and damning slur? Curse you Ed Champion, you're a ..uh...uh...uh...misogynist!

All the usual reasons I imagine--to discredit and demonize him in order to neutralize his critique, which  at the end of the day, is powerful! If it were not powerful would Newsweek  bother insisting/dictating that he must NOT be engaged with...?

Evocation of the M word is an efficient way to blow Ed away instead of having to deal with him, in this case with his sulfurous furor at being so outrageously excluded from a livelihood in letters, even a meager one, while others in possession of talents far inferior have second acts, third acts, and beyond. I imagine for someone so invested in the possibility of a reformed corporate publishing industry as Ed is (many of us have long ago given up that ghost), watching someone as pathetically ungifted as Gould get another shot at a readership must be akin to watching Dick Cheney resell another invasion of Iraq. Are we really going to lose Fallujah again?

I feel him, not only because he's a friend, but because his cause is just--Ed's got chops in spades, his work is full of vividities such as this one from the essay in question:

"But she’s still the same scabrous and manipulative opportunist that she was when she deflowered a 14-year-old boy at the age of seventeen."

That's a marvelous mouthful spoken aloud, and the collection of words sends a postcard directly to the right frontal-lobe, the site in the brain where humor resides. On the level of vocabulary alone he's formidable--e.g. scabrous. With that one word Ed conjures adolescent knees, injury, and (extending the joke a little further) the freshly fornicated boy skating off on his skateboard with alacrity, maybe checking his billfold wondering why it's now far lighter... But let's face it, Ed Champion could recuperate the entire OED and the score would still be Ed Champion: no way, Emily Gould: yes please. Who's making these crazy-making decisions? On what possible basis?

For heaven's sake Ed doesn't hate Emily Gould personally any more than you or I do; I doubt he hates anyone. But he probably hates, and if so I think rightly, how low corporate publishing has gone in degrading itself. And who better to exemplify that nadir than Gould whose crassness is her trademark (Ed didn't invent or exaggerate that). That's ALL her.

From accounts in the media I gather that the most offending sentence from Gould's perspective was this: "But when a minx’s head is so deeply deposited up her own slimy passage, it’s often hard to see the sunshine."

I love that line--it really makes you think. What's Gould's problem with it? Is it "minx?" Does she want to try and deny that she's an impudent and cunning woman? After all, this is the woman who by her own admission instructed her publisher's publicist  to say that she was "the voice of her generation."  Sorry, but minx is legit.

What did she think he meant by this term--"slimy passage"--that renders it a woman-hating statement? Slimy has several meanings: 1) covered in slime (I don't think he meant that), and 2) very dishonest, bad or immoral. (I would choose this one given the context of what he was talking about, spreading baseless gossip for profit.) Passage means 1) a long, narrow space that connects one place to another, 2) a narrow space that people or things can move through, or 3) an act of moving or passing from one place or state to another. (No. 3-ding, ding, ding!)

Ed is a skilled and nuanced writer, chances are excellent that he's not even saying the lowlife thing she imagines he is. If I had to put money on it, given the context of the statement, I'd say that he was referring to her lax business practices at Gawker. Her head (meaning her thoughts, her intentions) was focused on  how she could move herself forward along her trajectory towards being a well-compensated ($200,000 for her first tome) professional author. The word "deposited" should give us a clue. This is money talk, not body parts. In all honesty I ask, how is this misogynistic?

Okay, one might say there's ambiguity in the statement. He's generous like that, he's not going to insist on any particular reading. But if this is how Ms. Gould reads, how do you think she writes?!

 Even if Ed were saying, and I don't think he was, that she's got her head up her ass (a common put down--so and so has his head up his ass, meaning blinded to his own actions) how is this misogynistic?

The only way I can torture this phrase into something woman-hating is if he was saying that she had her head up her twat. But this is a leap, there's absolutely no textual proof! Furthermore, it's totally counter intuitive that Ed, who is in a long-term and loving relationship with a lovely accomplished young woman (with an awfully good head on her own shoulders), and who wishes to advance in traditional publishing, which everyone knows is a female-dominated business, would disparage a vagina by calling it a slimy passage. That's ALL Gould's hermeneutics, you can't put that on Ed, at least not and look at yourself squarely in the mirror without cringing.

And you cannot, you must not, condemn a man, especially a writer who has spent years carrying hot boiling water for Literature, for a crime as truly serious as woman-hating without better proof than that.

 Not on my watch.