Long (Noir) Read: “I know who killed the Black Dahlia: my own father”

A retired LA detective talks to the Guardian‘s Alexis Sobel Fitts:

Shortly after receiving the news of his death, Steve Hodel found himself sorting through his father’s belongings. Though Steve’s father, George Hodel, loomed large throughout his early childhood, their relationship had always been strained. George was a grandiose doctor with a distant personality who abandoned the family shortly after Steve’s ninth birthday, eventually moving far away to the Philippines.

As he went through his father’s possessions, Steve found a photo album tucked away in a box. It was small enough to fit in his palm and bound in wood. Feeling like a voyeur, he perused it. It was filled with the usual pictures – his mom, dad and brothers – as well as portraits of the family taken by the world-famous surrealist artist Man Ray, a family friend.

But towards the back, something caught his eye: two pictures of a young woman, her eyes cast downward, with curly, deep-black hair. Steve still doesn’t know why he had the idea, but as he looked at the images, he thought to himself: “My God, that looks like the Black Dahlia.”…

The personal connection between Short and George Hodel suggested by the album photos seemed outrageous. Hers was one of the most brutal murders in American history, and, after the Zodiac killer’s shooting spree in San Francisco, perhaps the most famous unsolved crime in California. But from this moment on, Steve was hooked…

Cataloguing evidence has been Steve’s life for the last 15 years, during which the quest to connect his father to Short’s murder consumed his life. It brought him back to Los Angeles, where he now spends his days in a modest apartment, documenting his father’s supposed criminal past in a snowballing body of work including four books, a play and a frequently updated blog. And though his first book, Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story, is little more than hundreds of pages of evidence, listed chronologically like a cop’s case log, it made the New York Times bestseller list after it was released in 2003.

This research has won him fans. It has also made many people uncomfortable given his tone, which blurs the line between obsession and admiration, and his conveniently gripping narrative: a homicide detective, raised in the heart of gritty Los Angeles, finds his father guilty of the city’s most notorious unsolved murder…

Obscenity Prayer (Open Thread)

My sister and I met for drinks recently at a pirate-themed bar, and this is where the hostess put us:


It’s almost like she knew us or something. Weird!

I’m trying to reach a state of Zen-like calm about Election 2016, which, contrary to my earlier predictions, has become even more fraught than 2008. I’ve come up with this Obscenity Prayer to keep my blood pressure within normal parameters and reduce the urge to reach through the screen and throttle random strangers:

FSM, grant me the indifference to ignore brainless, provocative drivel,
The patience to endure well-meaning nonsense politely,
And the motherfucking wisdom to tell one form of bullshit from another.

Here’s where I’m at: I voted for the person I thought would make the best president. I’ll work my ass off to elect the Democratic Party ticket this fall. And that’s all I can control and/or should worry about.

See how easy that is? I predict this state of enlightenment will last at least an hour or so — maybe even half a day if I don’t read comments.

What are you up to this long weekend (in the US)? Hubby and I are taking a little vacation to celebrate our anniversary, so I’ve got that going for me!

Long-Legged Bird (Open Thread)

Here’s a great blue heron:


Or at least a very good one. It was quite tame, hanging around some fishermen at sunset hoping for leftover bait, but it gave me the stink-eye when I got close.

This beach doesn’t allow dogs (fascists!), but as soon as the sun goes down, the dogs come out to frolic in the surf.

Tonight there was a Coast Guard helicopter crossing back and forth on the horizon. Lost tourist, maybe. Hope he/she/they are recovered.

My sleep schedule is all screwed up, so I’m wide awake, sitting outside slapping the zika-squitos away. Why are you up?

For the Birds: Monday Afternoon Open Thread

Here’s a good-looking pelican:

pelican mad beach

I’m having an extremely shitty day, so I’d rather look at pelicans than talk about politics or other awful topics. But you feel free to discuss whatever you’d like — open thread!

Friday Afternoon Open Thread

This illustration seems like a weird amalgam of DougJ and Tom L, what with the song lyrics and classical art and all:


I’ve had a hellacious day, which has thus far included a WiFi outage, getting stuck on a drawbridge with a rambunctious dog that does not belong to me gamboling through the cab of a truck I am not used to driving, followed by an angry stand-off with someone’s housekeeper. It’s complicated. You?

Open thread!

An Op-Ed, a Tweet About the Op-Ed, and the Massive Racist, Xenophobic, and Anti-Semitic Response

———–Updated at 12:55 PM on 20 May 2016———-

I’ve gone back in and replaced the crude copy and paste of Jonathan Weisman’s twitter timeline from yesterday with a screen grab saved as a pdf. This will make it easier on the site and on the eyes, but if you haven’t looked and want to, or want an easy way to save this for posterity, there are 14 pages in a pdf file below the fold.


Earlier today The Washington Post published a very thoughtful essay by Brookings Institute Senior Fellow Robert Kagan. The New York Times Deputy Washington Editor, Jonathon Weisman, tweeted about it. A short time later all hell broke lose on his twitter timeline. While several mainstream news outlets have picked up the story, the majority of them in Israel, I think its important to capture some of this stuff. While it is impossible to prove much about people using nyms on the Internet and Twitter, many of the folks sending this stuff to Weisman are also claiming to be Trump supporters. Regardless of whether Donald Trump and his campaign want this type of support and supporters, this is more evidence of a very disturbing trend that has been developing through the 2016 presidential primary season. I’ve copied and pasted/screen grabbed all of the offensive material, which is after the page break.

And you are all warned, some of it is very, very vile. But it goes right to our past discussions about destroying the Grey Zone/the civil space that we all live in as citizens regardless of our ethnicities, religions, places of origin, etc. These types of expressions are an attempt to draw hard and fast lines around what is an American and who can be one. Moreover, they seek to push others into either choosing sides or to shake their heads and go along to get along out of fear of losing whatever safety, security, and prosperity they have. In many ways the response that Mr. Weisman received on twitter is a perfect example of what Dr. Kagan wrote about in his op-ed.

It also goes to the core theme of the Trump campaign: “I, we, America will be treated well… (Or else!)” The Trump campaign, and specifically Donald Trump’s on the stump, at debates, and during interviews rhetoric is setting the conditions to fully transform the Republican Party from the Grand Old Party to the Herrenvolk Party whether he intends to do so or not. Herrenvolk democracy is a populist, using Seymour Martin Lipset’s four typology description of political/civil society, form of government and governance. In a herrenvolk democracy one party, usually the majority party, but not always so, defined by ethnic or racial categorization dominates the state, society, economy, and usually religion too, over all other parties, movements, groups, and sub-cultures. The latter are tolerated at best and actively persecuted at worst. What Weisman’s twitter feed demonstrates is that those with the impulse towards herrenvolkism are feeling especially confident right now. And the potential danger that poses to America should be taken very, very seriously.

(If anyone can get a better/proper screen grab, which I’m having trouble with in Chrome, please grab all of it and email it to me and I’ll update it.)

Read more

Thursday Afternoon Open Thread

In keeping with our occasional “Keep Thor in Thursday” theme, here’s how my high schooler let me know she’d busted yet another goddamn iPhone screen earlier this week:

thor screen

Clever girl — she knows I’m a sucker for Thor. After tomorrow, I won’t be able to refer to the screen-destroyer as “my high schooler” anymore because she’s about to become “my college student.” Figgety fuck, how’d that happen?!?

Among Floridians, it’s customary for kids who graduate to go to the beach for a week; there’s even a catchy name for it: Beach Week. When I graduated from high school (during the Reagan administration!), some classmate’s very gullible parents rented a posh three-story beach house for their kid’s Beach Week. No one could have predicted that a horde of rowdy teenagers would descend to utterly trash it, but that’s what happened.

I woke up early and surveyed the devastation. There were vomit stains on the carpet and curtains. The sofa had huge cigar holes burned in it. The tile was cracked where someone had knocked a keg off the counter. Pictures were broken. A television had been hurled off a deck and was half buried in the sand. Glassware was obliterated.

I had not personally committed any of these atrocities, but I figured it was time to skedaddle. The parents who had been foolish enough to supply the staging ground for that night of mayhem later contacted all the kids who had been there to try to get money to offset the damage. I told them honestly I didn’t have any money. Still feel kind of bad about that.

Now, in the fullness of time, it’s my turn to watch a kid pack up for Beach Week, and I’m supplying the venue, which is the beachfront condominium of a relative. I am confident that my kid and her friends won’t trash the place. These kids today with their stupid broken phones and their responsible behavior — they aren’t assholes like we were. I blame Obama.

Open thread!