Tuesday, May 31, 2005

June Quotes & Police Calls of the Week

Quotes of the Week
"All there is to a hummingbird is a beak, a few feathers and an asshole." -- Kenny, the birder

Police Calls of the Week
March 30: A 50-year-old man was taken into custody at 5:45 a.m. March 30 after police responded to a call from his apartment building in the 1700 block of E. River Park Court. The man, who answered the door naked, caused a flood in his apartment by leaving a faucet on. The man was arrested after he became combative and refused to dress.

March 26: A 15-year-old daughter who would not come into the house on Nonesuch Cove Road when her mother asked her to received a talking-to about disrespect from the responding officer. She was reminded that as a minor her parents had rights and responsibilities regarding her well-being.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Love is a Battlefield

I got a call from the St. Paul Police Department today. A recorded message broke the news to me that a “level 3” sex offender was moving into the neighborhood, and there was an open meeting about it tonight.

I wasn’t really sure what level 3 meant, but I figured sex offenders don’t have as many levels as a Pac-Man game. I thought there were probably 5 or 10 levels of these weirdoes, but I called my wife, who is an attorney, so she could fill me in on how perverted/dangerous this guy probably is.

She broke the news to me that a level 3 is the worst rating you can get. She told me level 3 means he is the most likely to re-offend and that he ranks right up there with the creep who killed UND college student, Dru Sjodin.

My wife and I went to the meeting. About 100 people crammed themselves into a small church on Selby Avenue to get more information on one James Larry Love. When we walked in the door, we picked up an informational sheet about Mr. Love and a booklet about sex offenders that should have been titled “There Goes The Neighborhood.”

One page of light reading told us more than we wanted to know. On one day in 1985, Mr. Love broke into a woman’s apartment and raped her. He also beat the woman’s 7-year-old son with a tire iron when he tried to intervene. Later that day, Mr. Love broke into another woman’s home and raped her, then fled to a nearby city park and raped yet another woman.

Mr. Love had a longer rap sheet than that, and we’re not talking hip hop music. This guy has been in and out of the big house most of his life. Even after being released from prison in 1998 after serving his time for the rape bender, Mr. Love has been in and out of jail due to violations of his probation, including failing to properly register as a sex offender (he registered as “homeless” even though he had a residence so he would be more difficult to track). He did not complete any offender treatment program despite being in prison and on probation since 1985.

A majority of people at the meeting were horrified and outraged that this monster was moving into the neighborhood, akin to Godzilla terrorizing Tokyo. My anger intensified at the stupid questions people asked and some of the ridiculous answers.

One lady expressed concern that there was an elementary school just a couple of blocks from Love’s new residence. Love’s probation officer said his victim pool was adult females, not kids, and reassured the woman and the rest of us that kids were not in his crosshairs.

He could have just as well said: “Don’t worry, he won’t cornhole your kid. He might beat the shit out of him with a tire iron, but he won’t fuck him. As long as your kid steers clear of Love raping someone, your kid will be fine.”

Another woman expressed concern about the school bus stop a block away from Love’s new residence. “Who will be watching our kids?” she demanded, apparently thinking the St. Paul police’s job includes parenting and babysitting on the side.

One person took this as her chance to change subjects. After all, 100 people hadn’t shown up to hear info about the sex offender. We all wanted to hear how she had left her door unlocked, and her apartment had been broken into. They had thrown a lot of clothes around and took a VCR. Apparently, she had never watched CSI and was stunned to hear police can’t dust for fingerprints when you’ve had your hands over every square inch of whatever evidence may have existed.

It kind of spiraled out of control after this point. The questions kept getting more and more stupid.

One man told the group how he had just met Mr. Love while walking to the meeting and we should feel sorry for him. The poor guy was in prison for nearly the last 20 years. He has to wear a big black box on his belt that holds a GPS device so probation officials can track him the next 3 months. Also, he seemed really nice and remorseful for what he did.

At this point I would have hijacked the meeting if three of St. Paul’s finest hadn’t been in attendance. The answers to said stupid questions were too polite (Minnesota Nice should not be reserved for perverts), and too many people tried to sway the whole “scary” tone of the meeting to a “warm and fuzzy” feel.

“Of course he acted remorseful,” I would have told the violin player. “What’s he gonna’ say? Hey buddy, you better lock up your wife and hide her in the laundry hamper because I’m on the loose again! I’m about to start my second crime spree, just as soon as I get a hard-on and find a tire iron.”

Here’s my rendition of how the rest of the meeting would have gone, with actual questions asked and what my answers would have been (I’m tempted to send this to the St. Paul police as a script for future meetings)...

Lady #1: “Was Mr. Love addicted to drugs or on something when he perpetrated these crimes? Was he just drunk at the time?”

Me: “Yeah, he was just drunk. You know how it is. Some people have too much to drink and order a six-pack and a pound at the Taco John’s drive-thru; some miss the toilet when they barf; or some flash their tits to a video camera and end up on Girls Gone Wild. Some even wake up next to someone they had mutual drunken sex with and regret it. Then there are the ones who rape three women and beat the snot out of a 7-year-old with a tire iron. Yeah, just “normal” drunken behavior like urinating in public.”

Lady #2: “How did he break in the homes? Should we do more than lock our doors?”

Me: “Who the hell cares how he broke into the homes? Locking the doors might be a good idea and just remember… screens on the windows are only good for keeping bugs out.

You could also watch the movie Home Alone a few times and get some great home defense ideas like tying paint cans to strings and hitting home intruders in the head when they try to come up the stairs.

Or give them a bit of a challenge. Leave an extension ladder in your front yard. Lock everything except the window on the second floor and then spend a lot of time in front of it topless. When he props the ladder up and starts climbing, have a bunch of heavy shit to drop at him on his way up like an iron, a TV, a sewing machine, a suitcase full of horseshoes, then an anvil.

But you might not want to sunbathe nude while wearing a blindfold. That might not be safe.”

Lady #3: “Does he have a mental condition of some sort?”

Me: “What the hell do you think? This guy raped 3 women and beat a 7-year-old with a tire iron. In one day! We’ll never know if this guy’s elevator goes to the top floor, because the cable snapped and the elevator has been free falling down the shaft since 1985. He’s nuttier than a Pearson’s salted nut roll!”

Lady #4 (aka Church Lady #1): “I came into this meeting feeling scared and frightened, but I leave here rejuvenated. We need to be ever vigilant, but I do believe that it’s best for Mr. Love to live in the light, not in the shadows of darkness. We need to have faith that the Lord will guide Mr. Love down the chosen path of righteousness.”

Me: “Listen, Toots. We’re in a church, but it’s not Sunday. What is this "live in the light, not in the shadows of darkness" bullshit? You sound like that creepy, old midget woman from Poltergeist. Run to the light, Mr. Love!”

To make a long story short - No matter what this guy’s last name is, he’s getting no lovin’ from us.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Runaway Bride

Julia Roberts has got nothing on fellow Georgia native Jennifer Wilbanks. The latter's version of The Runaway Bride is a real peach.

I'm not going to really recap much of the actual news story since that has been airing around the clock the last 72 hours. But one question keeps popping up. Why did she really do it?

I find it hard to believe she'd go through all that trouble just to say "I Don't." Why didn't she just start off by telling him, "It's not you, it's me." That's worked for thousands of other people.

Maybe her fiancé, who seems like a better egg than Clark Kent, did something "crazy" during his bachelor party like smoke a bubblegum cigar, go on a skeeball bender at Chuck E. Cheese or watch "stag" films on the Outdoors channel. Maybe he and his buddies went to watch a stripper get down to business taking the varnish off of some kitchen cabinets.

Maybe she bolted because she found out they were going to be married and weren't even cousins! That would be enough to derail a few weddings in the Deep South. Or maybe she wanted to elope but didn't know that meant you take your spouse-to-be with you.

I was going through excuse after possible excuse in my mind when I heard on the news today that Wilbanks' fiancé still wants to go through with the wedding. He forgives Wilbanks and says, "Isn't everyone allowed to make a mistake?" Well, there was more than one mistake here, including making this sappy fiancé a murder suspect in the time she was gone.

Maybe that's a clue. If he's not going to be pissed about this, he's not going to be pissed about anything. He's always prancing around like Mr. Rogers, happy to be in his cardigan and sneakers, chatting with the mailman Mr. McFeely, and watching his puppets and toy train go by. She just wants him to go off on her just once so she knows he's normal. But she tried everything, and nothing worked, so she had to go Greyhound.

Another thing that makes me wonder: Why do girls like Wilbanks and Audrey Seiler (that wacky broad from Wisconsin who hid in a swamp in Madison to get attention from her boyfriend last fall) go through all that trouble to get attention? It used to be a girl could wear a low cut blouse and a short skirt and get more attention than she could handle.

Now they fake their own abductions and disappear for days on end, creating mass man hunts by law enforcement agencies and peeling years off their loved ones' lives due to the stress of it all.

Wilbanks went out for a "jog" the day she disappeared. It was quite a run, undoubtedly inspired by a Forrest Gump marathon. She went from Georgia to Vegas and back to New Mexico before she stopped running. She called 911 from a 7-Eleven convenience store in Albuquerque - the same city where that kook dumped coffee in her own crotch and then sued McDonalds - but kept the charade going. After taking the last bite of her roller hot dogs and last swig from her Big Gulp, she told a terrifying tale of being abducted by a Mexican man and a white woman in a blue van. That implicated at least half the state's population.

A few hours later, she finally admitted she made the whole thing up because she was scared about her wedding day, which had a guest list of 600. No shit. You could tell from that "deer in the headlights" look in all the pictures with her fiancé that she wasn't ready to take the plunge. The last time I've seen eyes bug out like that was when I was fishing and reeled in a walleye too fast from 40 feet underwater.

True, that many guests for a party can be overwhelming. When I was in high school in Bismarck, N.D., 600 uninvited guests crashed my house to party when they found out my parents were in Hawai'i. Did I take the first bus out of town to Vegas? Hell no! But I did contemplate throwing myself under a bus a few days before they came back rather than face the wrath of Poppa Bear.

If I ever planned my own disappearance, there's no fucking way I'd go by bus. Georgia to Vegas would be a long haul by Greyhound. I'd peddle a tricycle all the way there before I'd get on the bus, Gus.

Why Vegas? Maybe she figured she wouldn't be charged with faking her own disappearance because she saw all those commericals that said "Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Maybe her first choice in a husband was Wayne Newton and she wanted to give him one last crack at her before her big day. We may never know.

I think her motivation was bigger than Vegas, bigger than fear of a 600-guest wedding day. I think she did it to cash in. Think about it: America is a sucker for stupid shit, especially when it's on TV. Ask any shirtless trailer park idiot who has scrape marks on his beer belly from being gang tackled in a parking lot on COPS.

Maybe Wilbanks, who had a wedding shower the Saturday before her disappearance, felt slighted by the number of gifts that came in, specifically cash. Sure, they got a blender, a couple of toasters, some dish towels, an oven mitt and a bundt cake pan. But the cash haul was short for a 600-guest party coming up. She panicked, worrying she'd get more oven mitts and bundt cake pans at the gift opening after the big day, so she went to Plan B.

Plan B was hatched the week before when she bought a bus ticket to Vegas. If there was any chance the cash haul would not be big, she would fake her own abduction and then reap all of the benefits when she surfaced - endorsement and entertainment deals. Think about it, it makes sense.

First, companies that make running shoes will be tripping over each other to get her endorsement deal for the Runaway Bride shoe.

Next, why would she spend all that time on a bus between Georgia and Las Vegas? No other reason is as reasonable as she wanted the endorsement gig. The Greyound dog logo could be modified to leaving a wedding gown and bouquet in the dust. New slogan? "Want to ditch your fiancé? Go by bus! Leave the driving to us!"

Why did she cut her own hair during her "ordeal?" Not to disguise herself during the disappearance. She wanted an endorsement deal from Great Clips or Cost Cutters, some place that would encourage folks looking to "change their appearance" to come to them instead of doing it on their own. Even better, she could be the pitch-woman for the infomercials for the do-it-yourself hair cutting machine, the Flo-Bee.

Maybe her goal was her own Mastercard commercial. Round-trip bus ticket to Vegas: $89. Wedding party for 600 guests that gets "postponed": $60,000. The media circus created by faking your own abduction: Priceless.

Throwing a rainbow blanket over her head in recent public outings, she's hardly doing it to hide herself from shame. She's doing it hoping to land a deal with some bedding company. Think how popular Martha Stewart's poncho was after her release from that Club Med called "prison."

If real desperation settles in, she could always sell this story to the tabloids: Wilbanks and Seiler are lesbian soulmates.