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Cold case playing cards highlight unsolved murders
01.20.2015
09:33 am

Topics:
Crime
Games

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James Foote, Florida (SOLVED)
 
In 2007 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Corrections, and the Attorney General’s Office worked with the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers to forge a new way to solve some of the state’s unsolved cases. It’s a regular deck of cards in which the face of each card features a photograph and some factual information about an unsolved homicide or missing persons case. In July 2007, 100,000 decks of cold case playing cards (two decks highlighting 104 unsolved cases) were distributed to inmates in the Florida’s prisons. Two cases, the murder of James Foote and the murder of Ingrid Lugo, were solved as a result.

Connecticut and Indiana have also taken up this idea, and produced decks of cards with homicide victims (sometimes missing persons) on them. We found a few images of the cards to show you. A friend of mine gave me a deck of the Connecticut set at a party recently, where they made quite the impression. They’re a little bit reminiscent of the “Iraqi Most-Wanted” playing cards that coalition forces distributed after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
 

Maurice White, Indiana
 

Linda Weldy, Indiana
 

 

Ingrid Lugo, Florida (SOLVED)

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘A Few Tunes Between Homicides’: Never before released song by Lead Belly! Dangerous Minds exclusive
01.20.2015
06:12 am

Topics:
Crime
History
Music

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That great American blues/folk artist Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter was born on January 20, 1888 (or 1889), making today the 127th (or 126th) anniversary of his birth. He’s known today for popularizing songs like “Goodnight Irene,” “Midnight Special,” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” as American folk and, eventually, rock ‘n’ roll standards, but in his day, Lead Belly was widely renowned for having been in jail. A lot. Thrice, in fact—once on a weapons charge, once for killing a man, and a third time for trying to kill a man.

Remarkably, Lead Belly literally sang his way out of prison! His second stint was cut short by a pardon issued after Lead Belly wrote a song honoring the then-Governor of Texas Pat Morris Neff, and he repeated the stunt during his third hitch, in Louisiana (though as he may have been eligible for a good-behavior release anyway, it’s disputed whether it was really the song that did the job). It was while he was serving that third sentence that Lead Belly was recorded in performance by the famous father-son team of folklorists John and Alan Lomax, which of course is how we know him today. From an essay by Smithsonian Folkways archivist Jeff Place, which will appear in the forthcoming 5-disc retrospective Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, and which we’ve edited for length:

Angola was one of the worst prisons in the South; it was probably as close to slavery as any person could come in 1930. Lead Belly became known around the prison for his singing and guitar playing. This was the situation when John Lomax wrote the prison warden L.A. Jones about visiting on behalf of the Library of Congress to record prison songs.

John Lomax and his young son Alan were traveling and recording African American folk songs in prisons in the South. They were hoping to find older African American vernacular music not “contaminated” by the popular blues and jazz of the present day, and they felt long-term prisoners who had been isolated from society might just be the answer. Fresh from recording some of Lead Belly’s fellow prisoners at Sugarland on July 5, 1933, they arrived at Angola on July 16. Lead Belly was suggested to them as a good singer to record, and they realized they had really made a “find.”

The Lomaxes made 12 recordings. Lead Belly saw an opportunity in this situation for himself and “wondered if a pardon song” might work again. Unlike Neff, Louisiana governor O.K. Allen did not tour prisons, so Lead Belly didn’t have access to him. When the Lomaxes returned the following July to record 15 more songs, he had a special one prepared, “Governor O.K. Allen.” He asked if John Lomax would deliver a recording of the song to Allen’s office. Lead Belly had previously written asking for a pardon as well. It is not known whether Allen listened to the song, but Lead Belly was officially granted a pardon on July 25, 1934. Again, the state maintained it was purely on the basis of “good time.”

Lead Belly’s meeting with the Lomaxes was re-enacted for a short newsreel film that, luckily, survives. Here it is, featuring Lead Belly and John Lomax woodenly playing themselves, with a darkened garage standing in for a prison yard. It’s kind of ridiculous, and to a viewer today it’s full of embarrassing values dissonance (loads of “yassuh” racism, unsurprisingly) but on the other hand, it’s motion footage of Lead Belly performing “Goodnight Irene!”
 

 
After his third release, in 1934, Lead Belly made a go of a singing career, abetted by the Lomaxes, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and tantalizingly lurid newspaper descriptions like “Murderous Minstrel,” “Virtuoso of Knife and Guitar,” “Two-Time Dixie Murderer Sings Way to Freedom,” and by far my favorite for its sheer over-the-top sensationalism, “Sweet Singer of the Swamplands Here to do a Few Tunes Between Homicides.” Lead Belly fell out with Lomax in 1935, but his career continued, and in 1948, he would make his final recordings. Again from Jeff Place:

During the 1940s, Lead Belly met two individuals who would become important to his final years of life, Frederic Ramsey Jr. (1915–95) and Charles Edward Smith (1904– 70). Both men were record collectors and jazz scholars and had recently jointly published a book, Jazzmen (1939). They were interested in researching early African American music from the South to search for the roots of jazz. Lead Belly’s repertoire was a perfect resource in this quest. Ramsey felt that Lead Belly’s repertoire had been under-recorded and wanted to get as much of it as he could on tape.

Ramsey got to know Lead Belly socially after the war. “Lead Belly used to come up and visit, and people would come and visit, and we would really throw parties, and you couldn’t stop that guy from performing. I mean, he did it, you could have paid him nothing, he’d come there and have a good time and he would play”. One night Huddie and Martha were invited to the Ramseys for dinner, and Ramsey showed Lead Belly the new machine. Ramsey had hung drapes in his apartment to simulate the sound dampening in a recording studio. Lead Belly wanted to try it out, although he had not brought his guitar, not planning on playing. Ramsey had only a cheap microphone. With Martha’s occasional help he recorded 34 songs that night. Better yet, the tape deck allowed the recording of the introductions and the stories behind the songs. There would be three evening sessions (with the guitar at the other two, along with much better RCA mics borrowed from Moe Asch), and more planned. Lead Belly left for a European tour before additional sessions could be arranged. “Anyway, I think we had maybe three or four gatherings, and I could be wrong about this, it certainly wasn’t all done in one evening, but he used to come and once he… he was a guy who got really comfortable, once he got started, he wouldn’t stop.”

That many of these last recordings were recorded unaccompanied was sadly prophetic. Lead Belly would soon be exhibiting the symptoms of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), which robbed him of his ability to play before took his life near the end of 1949.
 

 
The aforementioned Folkways set, Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, is the most comprehensive career-spanning retrospective of his work yet, and is scheduled for release on February 24th, 2015. Packaged in a 140 page 12x12” book, it features over 100 songs on five discs, 16 of which have never been released. One of those unreleased songs comes from that guitar-less session at Frederic Ramsey’s apartment. It’s called “Everytime I Go Out,” an original composition that doesn’t appear to have ever been recorded in any other form. We at Dangerous Minds are thrilled to be able to debut it for you today.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
The only film footage of blues/folk legend Leadbelly
Kurt Cobain and Mark Lanegan’s short-lived Leadbelly tribute band
The amazing old Paramount Records ads that inspired R. Crumb

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Welcome to Fear City’: The NYPD’s scary mid-1970s campaign to keep tourists OUT of NYC
01.08.2015
09:56 am

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Amusing
Crime

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Anyone raised on MAD Magazine in the 1970s and 1980s has taken in enough “New York City is a dingy, dangerous hellhole” gags to last a lifetime. The NYC Scouting blog described it very well a few years back:

“I really came to be enchanted by [New York City] through the pages of MAD, in which it was depicted as a place of extremes. The subway was a place to get killed. Times Square was a primal circus, while Fifth Ave was full of elitist ultra-rich snobs. Greenwich Village was home to wackos, hippies, and wannabe bohemians, while a jog in Central Park was less a workout and more a way of escaping the mugger chasing you.”

It’s interesting that “Scout” (a.k.a. Nick Carr) was so enchanted by this depiction; I suspect for most people the incessant talk of muggers and gridlock and rats and cockroaches was a horrible turnoff. A classic of the “I Hate NY” genre was the 1970 Neil Simon movie The Out-of-Towners, an annoying one-note cinematic experience in which Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis play visitors from “Twin Oaks, Ohio” who can’t travel the space of a block without 18 terrible things happening to them. Quite a few years later, around the time of Bernhard Goetz, there was the astonishing “Runaway” episode of The Facts of Life in which Tootie couldn’t spend a half-hour in midtown without having her coat and wallet stolen and becoming the target of a pimp’s malign scheme. Either way, the problems and dangers were overstated in 1970, 1975, 1983—it’s always overstated.
 

Some classic humor about the New York experience from MAD Magazine
 
If New York was suffering from a negative image, it’s possible they had nobody to blame for it but themselves, at least judging from this astounding PR campaign from 1975 that Gothamist spotted on Reddit. ““WELCOME TO FEAR CITY” trumpeted the cover, “A Survival Guide for Visitors to the City of New York.” Just in case you had missed the point, the designers put a big, scary skull on the cover.

At the time, New York was suffering a budget crisis so serious that the city actually was facing bankruptcy, which obviously affected the funds the city had available to pay, for instance, law enforcement personnel. I’m legally required to quote here the legendary headline the New York Daily News ran on October 30, 1975, after President Gerald Ford stated that he would veto any bailout funds for New York: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” 

Already in the second paragraph of the pamphlet you can see some serious scaremongering going on, and it’s not difficult to see the actual purpose behind the pamphlet:

“Mayor Beame is going to discharge substantial numbers of firefighters and law enforcement officers of all kinds. By the time you read this, the number of public safety personnel available to protect residents and visitors may already have been still further reduced. Under those circumstances, the best advice we can give you is this: Until things change, stay away from New York City if you possibly can.”

Nice city you got here. Would be a shame if anything were to happen to it…..

This pamphlet was cooked up by the, ahem, “Council for Public Safety,” which was practically synonymous with the police, firefighters and other unions.
One can see in it a chilling reminder of the controversies in which the NY Police Department is currently embroiled, defiantly dissing the new liberal mayor, Bill de Blasio. After the shocking death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner at the hands of the police and the all-too-predictable non-indictment of its perpetrators, the excesses of the police have become a topic of discussion all over the nation, and the NYPD is right at the center of that debate. The police must always justify its existence (or the perks it receives for dangerous work), and will always, entirely paradoxically, point to the high crime that it is ostensibly supposed to prevent as a scary image of a world without the police. Just a few days ago the NYPD was engaging in a stealth “strike while getting paid” in which they refused to issue tickets and the number of arrests plummeted.

But the really scary thing is—New York City (or at least Manhattan) in 2015 is tremendously affluent—Millionaire Island—and the crime rate, however you want to measure it, is sharply down from the 1970s peak. But in the intransigence of the NYPD, who have dissed de Blasio (elected by 73% of NYC’s citizenry) in two consecutive NYPD funerals, you can see the implicit claim, over and over and over again, that without us, without the NYPD, the residents of New York face an urban jungle of chaos and crime. The 1970s may have seen an unfortunate high point in New York’s crime and squalor, but ultimately, there’s no such thing as a city too safe for the police not to make that claim.


 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cartoonist draws her stay in LA county jail with only a golf pencil
01.05.2015
06:41 am

Topics:
Art
Crime

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When cartoonist Elana Pritchard violated a court order, she was sentenced to two months in the Los Angeles County prison system—hardly a well-spring of inspiration for most artists. Pritchard’s mentor however, is famed cartoonist and animator Ralph Bakshi, perhaps best known for his brilliant feature-length cartoon Fritz the Cat, the first animated film to receive an X-rating from the MPAA. Bakshi encouraged Pritchard to chronicle her time behind bars, and what she produced using only a golf pencil and whatever paper she could scrounge up is a gorgeous comic memoir.

Stylistically, you can see Bakshi’s witty influence in her work, but there are notes of R. Crumb’s exasperated humanity and Jon Kricfalusi‘s wild sense of movement and form as well. The filth, the scarcity and the brutally, nonsensically regimented life of a prisoner is all drawn out with humor and pathos. While Pritchard portrays most of her fellow inmates with vigor, character and charm, she draws herself as a literal hapless baby, barely able to function. As you might expect, authority figures aren’t quite so flatteringly depicted.

To read more about Pritchard’s prison time, check out her essay at LA Weekly, where she talks about the dreaded “squat and cough,” being shuffled around without explanation, trying to keep clean when laundry, hot water, toilet paper and maxi pads were never in abundance and even a harrowing encounter with some male inmates attempting to trade tits for meth. I wonder what the MPAA would think of that.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
YES. There’s a mashup of the Notorious B.I.G. and the ‘Serial’ theme song
12.19.2014
11:17 am

Topics:
Crime
Hip-hop
Media
Music

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The success of the This American Life spinoff podcast Serial, which in Season 1 has been looking at the facts surrounding the incarceration of Adnan Masud Syed for the murder of a former girlfriend named Hae-Min Lee, has been a major story in the world of podcasting. It’s been a #1 in the iTunes store for weeks, and if you’re a loyal This American Life listener, you’ve probably been gushing about the case with your friends since the podcast’s inception. As viewers of HBO and AMC have learned of late, the pleasures of the serial form of story-telling can be profound, something the consumers of The Perils of Pauline, Fantômas, and the death of Little Nell decades or centuries ago didn’t need to be told.

To honor a show obsessed with murder, New York-based producer Fafu decided that the thing to do was to mash up the tinkly Serial theme song (composed by Nicholas Thorburn, available here) with something a bit heavier—the Notorious B.I.G. track “Somebody Gotta Die.”

Face it—listening to a murder case week after week has made you feel like a gangsta—now you have a soundtrack to match.
 

 
via Huh.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Sit on my Face’: Pro-pr0n protest goes all Monty Python outside of Parliament today
12.12.2014
10:20 am

Topics:
Activism
Crime
Sex

Tags:


 
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out the hashtag #pornprotest on Twitter, it’s the best thing on the Internet right now. It seems that Parliament has recently been messing with what you can and can’t do in adult videos, and right-thinking individuals on the scepter’d isle came out in numbers today to protest the legislation.
 

 

 

 

Photo by Ms Slide @sliderulesyou
 
More pics from today’s protest after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
You can run, but you can’t hide: Watch this wild heat-vision police pursuit helicopter footage
11.18.2014
02:25 pm

Topics:
Crime
Science/Tech

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Last Friday, in the Haller Lake neighborhood of Seattle, police identified a stolen SUV and went into pursuit. The driver and his passenger abandoned the vehicle and ran into Washelli Cemetery. The suspected criminals could be forgiven for thinking that they had the upper hand—the cemetery was pitch-dark and they had no shortage of places to hide. What they weren’t counting on were the high-tech contributions of the King County Sheriff’s Office Guardian-One helicopter unit armed with a heat-vision camera that turns any human being into a glowing white beacon in an expanse of black and gray.

“Looks like I got a couple of hiders…. if you go, third row in, I believe, and just like 20 feet in….,” says the helicopter pilot to the two policemen on the ground in pursuit of the alleged SUV thief hiding under a bush—within seconds they’ve got the first suspect in custody.
 

Two cops, at top, zero in on the perp
 
According to the Seattle PI website:

“A police dog performed a track after officers arrested the pair and found a gun among the gravestones, reports say. Officers determined the gun was stolen and seized it from the scene. Police booked an 18-year-old man into King County Jail for investigation of vehicle theft and eluding, and a 19-year-old man for obstruction and a warrant.”

If the video doesn’t change your expectations of getting caught the next time the police are after you, it might remind you of an especially cool video game or action movie, just because it looks so incredibly awesome.
 

 
via Vocativ

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Unimpressed man calmly sits in restaurant while it’s invaded by masked gang
11.18.2014
11:37 am

Topics:
Amusing
Crime

Tags:


 
There’s not too much information about this video which surfaced on the Internet yesterday of an unimpressed man sitting in a restaurant while 35 armed and masked men invade the place. The whole thing went down somewhere in Russia. 

“Couldn’t Care Less Guy” just calmly sits there, casually sipping on his bottled water… waiting for the whole thing to blow over. He doesn’t even flinch.

Perhaps he was in on it?

 
via Daily Dot

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Murder By Guitar: San Francisco punk band Crime live at San Quentin prison, 1978
11.12.2014
07:21 am

Topics:
Crime
Punk

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A 2012 reproduction of Crime’s San Quentin flyer.
 
So if anyone has been looking for an index of how the world has changed since 1978, here’s one valuable piece of data. That Labor Day, the San Francisco punk band Crime played a show in San Quentin State Prison. The members of the band wore matching dark blue police uniforms, and as they played such originals as “Crime Wave,” “Piss on Your Dog” and “Rockabilly Drugstore,” inmates waved flyers that screamed “CRIME,” the band’s block-letter logo, above a drawing of a leather-clad dominatrix in a jail cell. I’m no expert, but I don’t think any festivities along these lines are planned for San Quentin this year. I bet they’re lucky if the warden lets them watch a rerun of The Voice.
 

 
How did this supremely unlikely event come to pass? Drummer Hank Rank told an interviewer from Amoeba Music a few years ago:

Contrary to popular perception, there were not many venues for early punk bands. Bill Graham publicly declared that he would never allow a punk band to play any of his venues, and many smaller clubs were scared by what they read about the goings-on at punk shows. That’s why we were open to the idea of Museums Without Walls that put art and music in unlikely places, so when we were contacted with the opportunity by Lynn Hershman (now Leeson), we jumped. We were the only punk band on the show that hot sunny day in the exercise yard at the Q, and neither the prisoners nor the guards knew what to make of us. The window of the cell where Sirhan Sirhan was in solitary was directly opposite where we played, and I’d like to think that our show was the worst punishment of his life.

 

 
Hank Rank and singer/guitarist Frankie Fix described the show in a contemporary interview with New York Rocker:

On Labor Day of this year, Crime entered San Quentin and performed for over 500 prisoners. “It was something we had wanted to do for a long time,” said Rank. “We knew we’d be playing for a crowd that was really into crime.”

As the prison gig approached, Crime almost got cold feet. “As it got closer,” said Rank, “things we were hearing got scarier. They said we couldn’t wear blue jeans or a work shirt ‘cause in the event of a riot, they wouldn’t want us to get shot, mistaken for prisoners. Then they told us about the no-hostage rule which is that if you’re taken hostage by a prisoner, they will not bargain for your life. If he says he’s going to kill you if they won’t let him out, they’ll say ‘Fine, kill this person. We don’t care. We’re not letting you out.’”

According to the band, the San Quentin gig was not their best. “It was in the daylight,” explained Fix, who rarely rises before 5 p.m.

“It was blazing heat,” said Rank, “and they had a little speaker for a PA. And imagine, you’re looking out there at a mass of 500 people and all I could see were crimes written on their faces: rape, murder, mutilation. All the disgusting side of humanity was sitting there looking at us.”

 

 
Gimme Something Better, an oral history of Bay Area punk, gives a few more details:

Hank Rank: There was sort of a demilitarized zone between the stage and the prisoners. There was a rope, and then the prisoners were all behind that. And they really divided right down the middle, blacks on one side and non-blacks on the other. When a black group would play, all of the non-blacks would stand up and move to the far side of the yard. When a non-black group would play, the exact opposite would happen. So when we hit the stage, they all got up and moved away [...] It was a tough crowd. They didn’t exactly get the music, and the guards up on the tower with their guns, looking down, shaking their heads. Nobody there knew what to make of us.

Joe Rees [of Target Video, who filmed the show]: Up on the walkway was a black female guard with a high-powered rifle. She had an afro, and it was bleached blond. You’d think that she was part of the show. Policemen performing the music. Inmates with their eyes hanging out. It was so bizarre.

Johnny Strike [singer/guitarist]: Frankie was so nervous, he was popping Valiums. By the time he hit the stage, I looked over at him and I was like, “Oh man. He’s totally out to lunch, he’s singing the wrong song.” Somehow we pulled it off.

Murder By Guitar 1976-1980, released last year, collects all of Crime’s original studio recordings. Superior Viaduct put the album out on vinyl and MP3 this summer.

According to at least one Crime discography, Target Video released the whole show on VHS, but YouTube only has this great clip of “Piss on Your Dog.”
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Hannibal Lecter’ cannibal eats woman alive
11.07.2014
04:41 am

Topics:
Crime

Tags:

hannibalcaneatface.jpg
 
A “Hannibal Lecter” style cannibal was tasered to death by police after being found eating a woman alive in an hotel room in Wales.

Matthew Williams was discovered by security guards at the Sirhowy Arms Hotel in Argoed, Caerphilly, chewing on 22-year-old Cerys Marie Yemm’s eyeball “like a Creme Egg”. He was then seen eating half her face while in a “zombie-like” state.

Hotel staff called police who arrived and tasered Williams as he resisted arrest. It has been reported that Williams was high on cocaine and collapsed and died when hit by the electric shock.

The cannibal killer and his victim were both pronounced dead at the scene.

One shocked local, Lynn Beasley, told press:

“He went Hannibal Lecter on the woman. He gouged her eyeball out, ate that and then ate and half her face. He had just been released from prison and was high on coke.”

Another local woman, Jill Edwards, who lives near the hotel said:

“This animal was eating this girl to death. He murdered her so police stopped him – good on them. Security said they told him no girls in his room and he didn’t answer when they went to check. When they opened his door he was eating her face.”

It is believed Williams was in a relationship with Cerys Marie Yemm, who he had brought back to the hotel for a drink. Williams, who was nicknamed “Fifi,” was staying at the hotel following his release from prison after serving only half of a five-year prison sentence for an attack on his ex-partner. The hotel is used as a hostel for homeless, “vulnerable people” and recently released offenders.

Police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the “incident.”
 

 
Via Daily Record & Daily Star
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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