Monday, July 20

In Broad Daylight -

A Florida Murder Mystery and More . . .

It's been a year since FSU Law Professor Dan Markel was murdered, but it appears that little progress has been made toward solving the crime. Police seem to be pinning their hopes on an automobile of interest. We can only guess that it was a well organized crime by someone who had studied Dan Markel's daily schedule and circuit of whereabouts.

:: Reporter Jennifer Portman
gives us an update from Tallahassee.

:: And a local update was aired on NBC Miami.

# Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History by Gary Lawson.

:: An entertaining review by Alfred Soto.

# Christopher Fowler shares his ten
Favorite Forgotten Crime Writers who
have vanished from today's bookshelves.

# Mike Ripley's July 2015 column.


Tuesday, May 26

Weaponized Celebrity -

Blasphemy from
Charlie Hebdo to The Fashion Police . . .

It didn't take long for the Blasphemy Demagogues to move from cartoons in Paris to red carpet glamour on American TV, because that's the way wolves operate.

Wolves attack the periphery of the flock, so the supposedly frivolous topics of cartoons and Tinsel Town evening gowns were irresistible targets.

We are living today in America surrounded by a "Gotcha!" Culture in which anything you say can be twisted around to seem sinister and reviled by some anonymous lynch mob.

The Blasphemy Demagogues wasted no time in concocting a fake racist incident attributed to the commentariat ensemble on The Fashion Police TV episode reviewing the Academy Awards red carpet parade.

It all started, of course, with a Big Lie that something was said challenging whether it was appropriate for a young actress to wear a hair style featuring dreadlocks with an evening gown. But that wasn't what was said.

Instead the question which was raised was whether the size of Zendaya Coleman‘s hairdo was disproportionately too large and overpowering for her choice of gown and overall silhouette - a legitimate topic and not at all race-specific.

Their chatter prompted me to mentally shuffle through a series of remembered images from The Pre-Raphaelite Movement.

I hadn't noticed anything racist in the ensemble's chatter; nevertheless, there were immediate vociferous calls for The Fashion Police to be cancelled.

And one of the most painful consequences of this fake racist incident was watching Giuliana Rancic apologize in a video clip which evoked the horrors of watching tortured Korean War GIs confessing to imaginary sins.

Soon the incident was further exploited by self-styled activist celebrities who insisted that The Fashion Police must be eliminated from television fare unless the ensemble includes African-American commentators. But is this really necessary?

In a previous era, when there were only three or four TV networks, advocating to shoehorn into a television show a minority celebrity for the sake of affirmative action could have seemed like a plausible rationale. Today, however, there are plenty of TV channels, talk show ensembles, minority commentators and discussions about the entertainment industry.

And there is already a Black TV fashion talk show called Fashion Queens on Bravo. I hope neither TV show is cancelled for Blasphemy; I think there is room for both and more. I've caught Fashion Queens a couple of times, and it looked like they were having a lot of fun.

Thus, it has now become our responsibility as TV viewers to sort out real racist incidents from fake racist incidents.

I think some people need to pause and take a deep breath before lashing out at anything they don't like by calling it racist, which can effectively shut down any further conversation about the subject.


Wednesday, April 29

The Not So Lush Life -

Profuse apologies for my unexpected blogging hiatus, but I got unusually busy. We had a cascading phenomenon at our house; viz: three women in rapid succession relapsed, got drunk, went berserk, and became combative.

Two of the women tried to assault me, and the third woman tried to hit my male boss with a frying pan. I didn't suffer any serious injuries, and they are all gone now. But while this was all happening, there was much chaos and turmoil, so I couldn't get much writing done.

Why continue doing this? Well, one wants to make a difference, help people, make the world a bit better, etc. It is a response to the classic question: what is a good life?

Entre nous, I have never directly witnessed women behaving so badly. And this is all attributed to Demon Rum? I have never been much of a drinker myself, but my impressions of alcohol have certainly changed over the years.

When I was a young adult, living in Greenwich Village, alcohol was regarded as merely a social lubricant, although it was the nemesis of many a writer. One of the songs which became part of the soundtrack of our lives was Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life.

You could hear it over the jukebox in restaurants, cafes, bars, and other establishments. It provided a poignant and sometimes nostalgic musical background while waiting to meet a friend. It seemed to have a romantically tragic aura around it.

But not anymore . . .

One can never predict which British detective series some PBS governing board will select for local consumption. Lately, I've enjoyed Vera and Inspector George Gently. I was quite surprised at the arrival of John Banville's Quirke.

Nevertheless, there he was in three episodes in our living room. I'm in no mood to critique John Banville, who has certainly been far more productive than I in the writing department of late. But why he became fixated on The Fifties completely confounds me. I didn't like that decade at all, not the music or the clothing or anything at all. And who else would portray such a figure but Gabriel Byrne, of course - surely, the casting of Byrne as Quirke was a no-brainer.

The one issue in the drama which disturbed me considerably was Dr Quirke's alcohol problem. After being deeply immersed in this issue 24/7, I'm not favorably disposed to tolerate much of it in my evening divertisements, too.

Even so, I remain curious about Banville's Philip Marlowe venture being shopped around for a possible movie. And the jackpot question: who will portray Marlowe this time round?


Tuesday, March 10

A Moving Eye -

As an increasing number of police officers are being equipped with body-worn cameras, access to the video footage is being thrashed out in Florida, according to this report by Susannah Nesmith.

*  *  *  *  *
Cara Black, author of the Aimee Leduc detective novels, writes about Simenon, Inspector Maigret, and Paris.


Monday, February 2

Shades of Noir -

I recently watched the neo-noir movie Mullholland Falls again. The first time I saw it I didn't know what to expect except that the opening credits disclosed that the story was written by Pete Dexter, a well-respected writer.

The story started out in a seemingly classic noir place, then seemed to sag in the middle, when it took an unexpected turn into what looked like X-Files territory.

But when I watched it again recently, I didn't notice a middle sag as much. The music was lovely, the art direction attractive, and the cinematography atmospheric. I enjoyed the film much more the second time around.

# Speaking of Noir-ish matters, if you're in London this Thursday, you may want to attend a discussion with John Banville and John Mullan about Philip Marlowe and The Black-Eyed Blonde.

# Sarah Weinman has returned with a new blog-like newsletter called The Crime Lady. Here's a sample piece. Welcome back, Sarah!

# Have you been watching Grantchester? Here's some background on the Grantchester TV series by the author, James Runcie.

# Geoffrey O'Brien reviews the new Pynchon movie.

# And Jonathan Shapiro reviews Perfidia by James Ellroy.


Friday, January 23

French Funnies Fallout -

I was not surprised at the failure of the Obama Administration to send VP Biden to the French Charlie Hebdo Unity Rally because they had been critical of the magazine in the past, just as they had been critical of the Monty Pythons for slandering Christianity.

Oh, wait!
You mean they haven't
criticized Monty Python for that?

"The future must not belong to
those who slander the prophet of Islam."

The remark above was made by
President Obama to the UN in 2012.

I thought that dead people
cannot be slandered under U.S. Law.

Go figure.

:: Charlie in America ::


Sunday, January 4

FL: Recent Social Footprints -

A look back at 2014 in Media
includes this provocative study . . .

How the story of Florida's Trayvon Martin Phenomenon was told by different media via Harvard's Nieman Lab. Includes MSM, Blogs, and Social  Networks, et al.

# The end of an old-fashioned motel.

# Instagram equals Insta-bust for police
in Miami-Dade by David Ovalle at the Herald.