Could L.A’s Ugly Past Be Sanford’s Possible Future?

A whole new meaning to "fire sale."

I have never been to Los Angeles.  I don’t know anyone who lives in Los Angeles.  Everything I know about Los Angeles comes second-hand.   Yet it was 20 years ago my first gig as a paid freelancer came when I wrote about the 1992 L.A. riots after the acquittal of the police officers who beat motorist Rodney King.

I can’t read that article now without wincing.  It’s earnest and sincere, but it’s overwrought, poorly thought out and badly written.  It’s not that I regret what I said when I was in my mid-Thirties, and  I am not afraid of being angry, I’m not that angry young man anymore.

I’m gratified former Time magazine correspondent Sylvester Monroe who covered the uprising in L.A. wrote a remembrance of where he was 20 years ago and what has changed since then.

The 1992 Los Angeles riots were one of the biggest stories of my career and among the most personal. I wasn’t just a reporter covering the worst civil unrest in modern U.S. history. I was also an African-American man and father of an adolescent son ever mindful of close encounters of the worst kind with the police.

Reporting on the six days of deadly violence and vandalism following the acquittals of four white L.A. police officers tried for the brutal, videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King resonated with me even more than the trial itself. In nearly 10 years as a Los Angeles correspondent for Time magazine, I was never stopped by the LAPD. As a young teenager, my son, Jason, was ticketed once for jaywalking. We paid a $50 fine and that was the end of it. But we both were always wary.

Twenty years later, relations between the Los Angeles police and the city’s black citizens are light-years beyond the tinderbox atmosphere that once prevailed, thanks to extensive police reforms, including a much-touted commitment to community policing, increased external oversight and more enlightened department leadership. Many black Angelenos now believe there has been so much progress that what happened in 1992 could not happen again. At least not in the same way.

One reason is that despite some ongoing racial tension, the people of Los Angeles generally get along much better than they did at the time of King’s famously plaintive plea: “Can we all just get along?”

“I do not feel it could happen again because [the police] are now accountable to us and want to be,” says Lawrence Tolliver, also black, who owns a popular barbershop just blocks from the infamous intersection of Florence and Normandie Avenues where white truck driver Reginald Denny was dragged from his truck and almost beaten to death by young black men right after the King trial verdicts. “If something like [the King beating] did happen today, it would be a lot different than in 1992. They would investigate it, and the current police chief would not let it get to that point. We have a lot more impact on the department now.”

The answer is, "Maybe, but it's not going to be easy."

That may be true for L.A., but not for every city around the nation. As Los Angeles marks the 20th anniversary of its riotous past, national attention is now firmly fixed on yet another racially charged assault. In the Trayvon Martin case, the Sanford, Fla., police did not shoot the unarmed 17-year-old black teenager. But police handling or mishandling of the case and how it is resolved in court could make Trayvon this generation’s Rodney King. For what has not changed in two decades is continued excessive force against black males (and females) by law enforcement officers and others who claim they were afraid for their lives.

If George Zimmerman is exonerated and rioting does occur, that would be unjustified and unfortunate, but not wholly unexpected. When there is one standard of justice for Whites and a separate and unequal one for Blacks and it is shrugged off as no big thing it breeds the lack of respect for the American system of justice and all its representatives that is decried by its most ardent defenders. If peaceful civil disobedience is denigrated as rabble rousing and counter-productive, then once legitimate means of redress are choked off, violent reactions become inevitable.

Americans are not people who quietly suffer their lot in life with hand-wringing and hushed voices. They raise hell about everything from high taxation without representation, unjust wars, government that becomes too big, bloated and intrusive and for civil rights and equal protection under the law. Faith in, and compliance with the rules and laws of a civilized society can only be maintained as long as they are equally and fairly applied regardless of race, color, creed, orientation, power, influence or connection.

If no one should be considered above the law then no one should be considered below the law.   That includes Trayvon Martin as much as it does George Zimmerman.

King was everything Martin wasn’t.  A large Black man with a criminal record who was breaking the law and might have been stoned then.   King was a victim of police brutality while Martin faced off with an overzealous vigilante-slash-police-wannabee and.though King was a victim, he wasn’t entirely innocent.  .

No one else should be hurt or die due to what happened one night in Sanford, Florida. The hope is justice will prevail and everyone involved will be treated in a fair and equitable way. But if anyone believes what happened in 1992 can’t happen again they have not paid attention to the bitterly learned lessons of Los Angeles very well.

Rodney King was not innocent, but he was a victim.

George and the Great White Shark

shark (noun)
any of a group of elongate elasmobranch, mostly marine fishes, certain species of which are large, voracious, and sometimes dangerous to humans.

shark (slang)
a lawyer. (Derogatory.) :  Some shark is trying to squeeze a few grand out of me.

A guy in a bad trouble needs a good lawyer and now Zimmerman has one.

When George Zimmerman replaced his former attorneys with Mark O’Mara, the first thing he did was to go on television and express his sympathies to the family of Trayvon Martin.  It was a departure from the bluster and self-promotion Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig engaged in and whose behavior toward their client was so unprofessional SLATE legal writer Emily Bazelon ripped them both in an article called, “George Zimmerman Needs A Good Lawyer.”

Mission more than accomplished.  Zimmerman has a good lawyer in O’Mara and the way he’s working over the prosecution in the courtroom and the press on television, he’s real good., and he showed he’s earning his fee as he dropped two jaw-dropping revelations on how much better he is than Sonner and Uhrig in appearances on CNN and CBS.

(AP) ORLANDO, Fla. – George Zimmerman’s attorney says a website created to raise money for his legal defense has raised more than $200,000.

Mark O’Mara said on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Thursday night that he learned about the money on Wednesday and will inform a judge at a Friday hearing.

Zimmerman, who has been charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting of Trayvon Martin, was released from jail this week after paying 10 percent of $150,000 bail.

O’Mara says the bail amount may have been higher if the judge knew Zimmerman had raised $200,000.

Welcome to post-racial America.  Where you can kill an unarmed Black kid and fools will send you nearly a quarter of a million dollars so you can beat the rap.

In another “better late than never” revelation, O’Mara now concedes his client’s “apology” might not have been the best move (at least now after the fact that it worked).  Hey, not bad, slick.  It only took you a week to figure out what a lot of us knew as soon as we heard it.

(CBS News) The attorney for George Zimmerman apologized for the apology his client offered to the parents of Trayvon Martin during his bond hearing last Friday, saying he did not understand the victim’s family would find the timing of his remarks inappropriate.

“We had reached out to see if we could do it privately,” attorney Mark O’Mara said on “CBS This Morning.”

Mark Strassmann reported that Zimmerman had asked for a private meeting with Martin’s parents before Friday’s hearing, which was rejected. Their lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said Thursday that requesting a meeting a day before the bond hearing was “self-serving.”

At the hearing Friday Zimmerman took the stand and, speaking to Martin’s parents, said, “I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am, and I did not know if he was armed or not.”

Crump told the press following the hearing that Zimmerman’s apology was poorly timed and insincere. “The apology was somewhat of a surprise because we had told them this was not the appropriate time, but they just disregarded that, and he went and pandered to the court and the media and gave a very insincere apology.”

O’Mara dismissed the notion that Zimmerman’s apology was aimed at the judge whose decision it was to release him on bail, but said he did not realize the family would think it inappropriate.

“My concern is, I didn’t realize that the way [Martin's family] had responded to me was through a press conference where they said it was too late or not an appropriate time,” O’Mara said.

“To be honest, had I known that – maybe had I seen the press conference – I’m not sure that we would have done it at the bond hearing, because the purpose of it truly was to get to the family and to respond directly to the family’s request. Had I known or been told that that wasn’t the time, it wouldn’t have happened. So, I apologize for that.”

To find justice, the Martin family will need the prosecution to better than they are doing.

This guy is disingenuous enough to be a Republican presidential candidate.

I’m pretty sure Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton would like to tell O’Mara exactly what he can do with yet another half-assed apology.

Let’s recap: Mr. O’Meara didn’t know his client’s website had raised over $200,000 until after he was sprung on a measly $150,000 bond and he didn’t know the “apology” his client made in open court to the Martin family was neither wanted nor appreciated until after he heard about it at their press conference.

I have to admit this guy is pretty slick. If O’Mara were any more oily he should have a pipeline shoved up his asshole and we could get gas prices under $3 bucks tomorrow.

I also have to admit I really thought O’Mara was more principled than the two ambulance chasers previously representing Zimmerman. Now I see he’s just a more polished version of the same sort of snake oil salesman.  Unlike those clowns who looked like sleazy hustlers, O’Mara is smart, savvy and knows how to work the media as anyone know who watched the bail hearing post-mortems where it was proclaimed he crushed the prosecution like the Miami Heat beating up on a rec league basketball team.

O’Mara is killing it for his client.   He ate the prosecution’s lunch at the bail hearing and served it back up to them.  They had better step their game up quick because while they’re playing checkers, O’Mara is playing chess.

$200,000 won’t buy Zimmerman his own version of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team” legal counsel, but like 10,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea, it’s a good start.    If he keeps kicking as much butt as he has O’Mara won’t need any other $400-an-hour attorneys to help him.  So far he’s tap-dancing all over the other side and if perception is reality, the reality is O’Mara is winning  the perceptions game.

Instead of worrying if the defense can find 12 jurors to acquit Zimmerman, it could be tougher to find 12 that will convict him.

For the sake of anyone hoping Zimmerman is convicted for the death of Trayvon Martin, they had better hope the prosecution steps up their “a’ game the next time they square off against O’Mara in court.   Boy George has a real shark on his legal team and this one is a Great White.

O'Mara speaks to (and handles) the press.

A Different Kind of “Media Bias”

Geraldo Rivera is best at being the worst.

As part of the National Association of Black Journalists media watchdog committee, I was given the task of coming up with nominees for this year’s Thumbs Down award for statements from the mainstream media that reflected a lack of racial sensitivity, bias, racism and just plain ignorance.

It wasn’t hard to come up with candidates and especially since the Trayvon Martin case has sent so many conservatives into full-blown ranting and raving mode.  Here are my four nominees for the Worst of the Worst and what they said that earned them a spot on my list.  Only one of my choices were submitted to the NABJ board for consideration, but then there’s no shortage of journalists committing high crimes against racial diversity and the profession every day.

Geraldo Rivera: FOX News host: “I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly not to let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as much as George Zimmerman was. Trayvon Martin, God bless him, an innocent kid, a wonderful kid, a box of Skittles in his hands. He didn’t deserve to die. But I bet you money, if he didn’t have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way,”

"No, I'm NOT related Peter Griffin."

Phil Griffin, MSNBC President:I’m sorry, I don’t care about journalists. … I want fair-minded, smart people who understand the world and can interpret it,” he said. “If they’re journalists, great. This notion that you somehow you have to have done something to earn so-called journalists’ credentials? Stop.”

"Hi, I'm Liz Trotta, and nobody knows who I am."

Liz Trotta, FOX News Contributor: “my favorite anchorman of all time” Lester Holt to cover the story with Tamron Hall, where they “had to agree to telling their experiences as a black person, how the cops would follow them, how security and police would follow them.” “Why do you involve your black reporters and anchors in this kind of framework that can only hurt their credibility?”

New York magazine pulled this image, but the mistake was publishing it in the first place.

New York magazine:  “Obama’s Gay Marriage Evolution Watch: Day 468” (02/27/12)

Editor’s Note: This post originally used a variation on an iconic illustration of the evolution of man, known as the ‘March of Progress’, which concluded with an image of President Obama holding a rainbow flag. The illustration was intended simply as a symbolic representation of the President’s self-described “evolution” on gay rights, but has been criticized for its similarity to various racist depictions of the President and African-Americans in general. While that was not the context of the image (in fact, Daily Intel has criticized such representations before), we recognize that images of this nature do carry troubling associations, and so it’s been removed from the post. We apologize for the offense it has caused.

Back Off Mitt Romney’s Religion!

Hey, why's everyone picking on the rich White guy?

In six months I want to defeat Mitt Romney.   I want to beat him so badly he’ll never think of ever doing anything more ambitious than sitting around trying to count all the money he’s made closing down businesses and putting people out of work..   I want to reelect Barack Obama and kick Mitt’s ass back to Massachusetts, Utah, California or wherever else he has a home.

I don’t want to destroy Mitt Romney.   He seems like a fairly decent fellow and particularly so when compared to vicious scum like Santorum, Gingrich and Perry.   I just don’t want him to be the next president.  Nor do I want him to be the subject of bigoted attacks for being a Mormon.

While attacks on politician’s personal faith should be off-limits, one reason Romney has had trouble gaining traction with certain parts of the Republican Party are lingering questions about what Mormons believe in.  Now his adversaries are using Romney’s faith as a club against him too.

MSNBC’s Martin Bashir launched a broadside attack on Romney suggesting he might be damned for lying.

Bashir alleged that Romney has lied three times in recent days, speaking about Ted Nugent’s endorsement, unemployment under President Obama and a “vast left-wing conspiracy” in the media.

“It doesn’t matter how many times he hears the truth, Mitt Romney prefers to tell lies,” Bashir blasted. He repeatedly referred to Romney as “Mitt the Mendacious.” Then, he wondered how Romney would be punished for lying, and whipped out the religious text of Romney’s faith.

“In Section 63, in verse 17 of the Doctrine and Covenants of the Mormon Church we find this: ‘All liars, and whosoever loveth and and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death,'” Bashir said. “And from the Book of Mormon to Nephi, Chapter 2, Verse 34 we find this: ‘Woe unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.'”

“Given what the Book of Mormon is clearly saying, Mr. Romney has but two choices,” Bashir continued. “He can either keep lying and potentially win the White House, but bring eternal damnation upon himself or he can start telling the truth. The question for him, I guess, is which is more important.”

There are things about Mormonism that makes me uneasy and I need to learn more about how Romney squares himself with some of the most troublesome aspects.

But Bashir using Romney’s religion to bash him is scurrilous and repugnant. Legitimate questions about a candidate’s religion are not out-of-bounds, but Bashir took it way too far in suggesting Mitt Romney may be eternally damned.

Mitt’s faith or mine or yours is nobody’s business. Now when we take our private beliefs into the public square we may have to answer questions or how it will impact upon us or others.

For example, when I was recently called to grand jury duty I was asked if I had a moral or religious objection to hearing cases where the death penalty might apply. I confess to not knowing much about the Mormon faith, but I do know it has had a somewhat “problematic” relationship with Blacks.

You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. . . . Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which was the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another cursed is pronounced upon the same race–that they should be the “servants of servants;” and they will be until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree (Journal of Discourses, 7:290; emphasis added)

 Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be (ibid., 10:110; emphasis added)

That’s “will always be.”  Nothing about it’s okay for a White man to bang a Black woman “x” years from now and for a Black man to screw a White woman?  Well, I don’t think we really need to wonder what Brigham Young and Joseph Smith would have thought about that, do we?

Mitt Romney is another case entirely.   It is essential to know how much of Smith and Young’s teachings he believes and what he rejects.   They are his own versions of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

If every politician that ever lied were condemned to hell there would be no room left over for the real hardcore sinners.   Going Bashir’s route doesn’t prove Romney faces an eternity burning in hell for being a liar.  It will make him a victim of the worst kind of intolerance and turn off wide portions of the electorate were Obama to go after Romney based upon his religion.

The goal is to beat Romney, reelect the president, and deny a Washington takeover by the far-right G.O.Tea Party.  It’s enough for me that Mittens is wrong on nearly every issue.  That doesn’t make him evil.   Wrong is quite enough.

If the idea of pinning a privileged rich man’s ears back sounds like a good one to you, then I’m with you.  If you want me to help rip and shred Romney’s policies, cool.  I’m with you.

Go after his religion or his family and you’re going alone.   You win by being right, proving the other guy is wrong and you can do a better job than him.   President Obama can win the election by winning that argument.  A scorched earth campaign to destroy Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon is simply religious bigotry by another name and that’s a bridge way too far for me.

There is more than enough in Romney’s sorry record to rip him to shreds without engaging in the worst sort of gutter politics.   Hardball politics doesn’t have to mean scorched earth.

George Zimmerman: “Sorry” I Killed Your Kid

The killer says "I'm sorry."

George Zimmerman appeared in court yesterday for his bond hearing.  His attorney said his client wished to make a statement.  From the witness stand, the killer of Trayvon Martin addressed his parents and spoke in slightly accented English,  “I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not.”

The Martin family had turned down a request from Zimmerman’s attorneys for a meeting.   Now face-to-face with him, Tracy Martin wept angrily and Sabrina Fulton had no outward reaction to the apology.  The family’s attorney, Ben Crump dismissed it as “self-serving.”

I thought Zimmerman’s “apology” to the Martin family for their “loss” was too precious for words. He even managed to work in a preview of his defense strategy when he added he didn’t know how old Trayvon was or if he was armed.

I see what they did there.

Benjamin Crump, attorney for the Martin family did too.

They feel it was just so self-serving, that it was one of those things that was not sincere,” he said. “We can only guess that his motive was to get sympathy. It’s 50 days later at his bond hearing, and for the first time he’s saying, ‘I’m sorry for killing Trayvon.'”

Most people are sorry.  Sorry after they’ve been caught.

Some observers thought the bond hearing was a major setback to the prosecution’s case as the lead investigator said he couldn’t conclude  if Zimmerman’s claim he was attacked by Trayvon was untrue, nor which one was heard crying “help” that night.

The natural urge to declare winners and losers is deeply ingrained in the American psyche.   There are probably odds being given in Vegas whether Zimmerman beats the rap and walks.

Here in the land of snap decisions and short attention spans you get instant analysis by experts on whatever is the burning controversy of the day.   Way back when it used to be the job of the media to simply present the facts and let the public reach their own conclusions, but apparently everyone is so much stupider now and must have everything explained to them or they won’t know what to think.

The justice system doesn’t work well with the 24-hour news cycle.  It moves too slow and doesn’t space its dramatic  moments out between commercial breaks.   This isn’t going to discourage CNN, MSNBC or Fox from offering observations that may be flat wrong, but any sentient human being should understand going in not to fall for the hype.

Zimmerman was given a low bond of $150,000 instead of the $1 million the prosecution wanted.  He will be released and have to wear an ankle bracelet to track his whereabouts.   He isn’t the most popular guy in Florida so he’s probably going to be confined to the homes of whoever takes him in and lets him sleep on their couch.

This is the process.  It’s a long, hard journey to justice and there’s no guarantee Zimmerman will be convicted or if he is it comes along with a plea deal to a lesser charge.

But I’m cool with whatever happens.  Despite all the hand-wringing and fears that Florida would burn to the ground, there’s been no riots and no rampage of Blacks running wild on the street lashing out in rage.

That’s not to say it can’t happen, but as the process plays out everyone seems to be playing it cool and waiting to see if justice is really done.

Trayvon's parents and attorney arrive for the bond hearing.

So Stupid Even A Rock n’ Roll Caveman Can Do It

First the hair goes. Then the hearing goes. Finally the brains goes.

A few months ago there was some minor surprise when Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine came out for Rick Santorum and doubted the president’s citizenship. What’s notable is this is the first time the only guy to get fired from Metallica for being a bigger drunk than the rest of the band put together had said anything newsworthy in years.

Rock n’ roll Republicans aren’t all that rare.   There’s Muscatel Mustaine, the late Johnny Ramone, Kid Rock, Britney Spears, Meatloaf, and Alice Cooper who are all out of the closet conservatives.  You can rock and be right-wing.  It’s just kind of weird.

Then there’s the case of The Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent who is in a class all by himself and that’s no class at all.

Speaking whatever gibberish comes out of his STD ravaged brain at last weekend’s NRA convention, Nugent continued ripping into the president, saying the Obama Administration was “wiping its ass with the Constitution” and then he went for the part that will earn him a visit from some non-prostitute patronizing Secret Service agents.

“If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

“It isn’t the enemy that ruined America. It’s good people who bent over and let the enemy in. If the coyote’s in your living room pissing on your couch, it’s not the coyote’s fault. It’s your fault for not shooting him.”

Credit Nugent for his consistency in his hatred for the current White House occupant. In 2007, he raved at a concert, “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun.” He then turned his attention to Hillary Clinton saying, “Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch”.

Would you let this man date your teenage daughter?

I enjoyed Nugent’s music more than Nugent’s Neanderthal politics until he made himself such an insufferable prick and his politics completely took over his music.  He was on Piers Morgan’s shitty show last week babbling about the Trayvon Martin case and it was obvious he didn’t have clue One about it.. Why does anyone care what an old rock n’ roll fart has to say about politics?

Sure he could still shred with the best of them, but the Nuge was never as good as he thought he was and his “poontang, poontang, POONTANG” rap was played  out years ago.  This was before he got caught playing hide-the-salami with some sweet young meat that happened to be underage.  (Professional train wreck Courtney Love claims to have provided her oral affections to Ted when she was only 12, but you have to consider the source of that information). How did Terrible Ted solve his diddling jail bait dilemma?   Why, by getting having himself appointed the legal guardian of his girlfriend and then he could legally bone her to his depraved heart’s delight.

My daughter, who cares nothing about rock music, wandered through the living room one weekend when I was watching an old Behind the Music episode about Nugent.  She sat down and watched the whole thing and at the end she concluded, “He’s an asshole.”

Nugent is a flaming asshole.   He has also repeatedly threatened violence against the President of the United  States.  Let’s see how long it takes Mitt Romney to repudiate a serial pedophiles endorsement.   Why Republicans like to hang around with this chickenhawk (in every sense of the word), I have no idea.Maybe they’re hoping to pick up one of Ted’s stray little girls?

This is nothing new for Nugent.  Being loud, vulgar and a loudmouth was part of his schtick long before he started looking like a redneck trucker.   His obnoxiousness has grown as his record sales have slumped and put him back in the shit hole clubs and state fair circuit.

Is this Romney's idea of "family values?"

Let’s also see if the same folks who were demanding President Obama return Bill Maher’s campaign contribution because Maher is such a horrible sexist will get their undies in a wad over the author of “Bridge Over Troubled Daughters,”  “Pussywhipped”, “If You Can’t Lick ‘Em…Lick ‘Em” and the always charming, “My Baby Love My Butter On Her Gritz.”

Gene Simmons recently said he regretted his vote for Obama in 2008 and is backing Romney now.  Maybe this is a change for Ted and his fellow man-whore to hang out and make shitty old fart rock together instead of separately.

After a hard’s day work on the campaign trail, there’s probably nothing better for Mitt to unwind and rock out to Love Grenade (NSFW) for his listening pleasure.  I’m sure Mrs. Romney gets her own kind of pleasure from Mitt after listening to the Nuge.

Why U Wanna Treat Him So Bad?

"Have you heard the word of God and the greatness of hair relaxer today?"

When asked to respond to allegations made in an unauthorized biography, the iconic Marlon Brando shrugged, “Friends don’t write books. Acquaintances do.”

For the 2011 book, Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks, author Ronin Ro (no, I don’t believe that’s his real name either), had to rely upon speaking with managers, musicians, record company executives and others banished from the Purple One’s private universe. As the Artist Who Rarely Speaks to the Press often forbids reporters from recording his few interviews or taking notes , there was no way Prince himself would consent to speak to Ro and does it shows.

Prince is one of the few artists whose output is deserving of the 356 pages Ro devotes to him, but the book is short on any new insights for anyone not already familiar with many of the stories and there is considerably less attention devoted to the music than the miniature musician’s contentious relationship with Warner Brothers. The battle lines are drawn from the beginning as Prince rejects his label’s insistence his debut album, For You be produced by Maurice White, leader of Earth, Wind and Fire.

From that point on, Ro’s storytelling becomes a loop of tales of Prince’s irrational wish to release as much music as he wants to whenever he wants and Warner Brother’s fears of glutting the market with increasingly inferior records to the multimillion selling Purple Rain. The war between art and commerce is an old one and Ro decidedly comes down on the side of commerce as he focuses on how each subsequent post-Purple Rain release from Around the World in A Day performed worse than its predecessor until 1991’s Diamonds and Pearls broke the losing streak.

Ro does well in shining a light on former band members such as guitarist Dez Dickerson, bassist Mark Brown, and the closest thing Prince ever had to actual collaborators Wendy Melovin and Lisa Coleman, but even then he bungles the personal aspects. At one point an angry Prince tells the two who were in a lesbian relationship they would both burn in hell and then the matter is never mentioned again. It’s interesting to learn “Kiss” was given to Brown’s band, Mazarati, but after changing his mind, Prince takes the song back for himself telling Brown, “this song’s too good for you guys” but does Brown resent his former boss’s selfishness? Who knows? Ro never bothers to tell us.

Prince’s personal relationships with Sheila E., Susannah Melovin, actress Kim Basinger, and marriage to Mayte Garcia are mentioned, briefly commented upon and tossed aside.  We are told his supposed rivalry with Michael Jackson was exaggerated, but the only revelation comes that Prince kicked the King of Pop’s ass in table tennis and he decided against doing  a duet on Jackson’s “Bad” because he found the “your butt is mine” lyric ridiculous.

What Ro is most interested in is making the case that while undeniably talented and a creative genius, what Prince lacks in height he makes up for by being a total douche bag. The overall impression given is Prince is cold and indifferent to almost everyone he’s ever come in contact with and is one of the most egotistical, arrogant creeps ever.

Inside the Music and the Masks is full of sloppy writing and missed opportunities.  Ro repeats a claim that a fanzine paid Prince not to get involved in assembling The Hits/B-Sides box set, but just throws that tantalizing line out there unable or uninterested in verifying it. During the height of his battle with Warner Brothers, Prince changes his name to an unpronounceable glyph figuring out if “Prince” is no longer making music, he can escape his contract and the five albums he still owed the label. How this strategy could work doesn’t concern Ro. It only furthers his case Prince is a nut hellbent on fucking up his career.

Ro has a bad habit of climbing into Prince’s head to overhear conversations he wasn’t present for. At one point when an unnamed journalist (Ro couldn’t find out who?) began referring to the petulant pop star as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, Ro writes, It seemingly ridiculed his decision but American newspaper writers used it too. So did TV stations. He frowned, “I’m not The Artist Known As Anything. Use my name.”

How does Ro know Prince was frowning? Who was he directing his complaint to? An employee? A friend? His reflection in the mirror? Like I said: sloppy writing and this unauthorized book is full of unattributed remarks just like that.

Musically, Prince is far removed from his purple prime.  Though portions of 2004’s Musicology and the follow-up 3121 have their bright moments, they are unessential for anyone but the die-hard fan. As a free agent roaming from label to label, Prince has become the equivalent of the journeyman player in the NBA who will always find work as long as he can occasionally knock down a shot. He makes still makes Prince albums but you get the feeling he makes them for no one but himself and that suits him just fine. Where he is his in his element is onstage where a live Prince show is still a hot ticket when he goes on tour and as his 2007 Super Bowl performance demonstrates he can play some bad-ass guitar even in high-heels and the rain.

It isn’t necessary for an author to like his subject and Ro clearly feels Prince’s ego prematurely sabotaged his career. I don’t disagree. The 53-year-old with the ageless features is a far cry from the guy I once argued had failures more interesting than others’ success. He exhausted even my patience with ego trips like the lumbering three-CD, three-hour Emancipation.

Prince deserves much of the criticism he receives, but he also deserves a better critique of his music than this.  In 2002, Prince took offense at former recording engineer Susan Rogers for implying she possessed special insights into his music.  “Susan Rogers, for the record, doesn’t know anything about my music.  Not one thing.  The only person who knows anything about my music is me.”

That could have served as the best critique of Ro’s sketchy accounts and lack of attention to detail.  There is a good book to be written about Prince by someone who can bring an even-handed approach to the topic but this is not hat book and Ro is not that writer.

Brando was right. Friends don’t write books, but acquaintances do and so will enemies.

"Yeah, you wish you could grow your hair like this!"

The Affidavit of the State of Florida vs George Zimmerman

OFFICE OF THE STATE ATTORNEY
FOURTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT of FLORIDA
ANGELA B. COREY
STATE ATTORNEY

STATE OF FLORIDA VS. GEORGE ZIMMERMAN
EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, SEMINOLE COUNTY FLORIDA

AFFIDAVIT OF PROBABLE CAUSE – SECOND DEGREE MURDER

Before me, personally appeared T.C. O’Steen and K.D. Gilbreath, who after being duly sworn; deposes and says:

Your affiants, Investigators T.C. O’Steen, and Dale Gilbreath are members of the State Attorney Office – Fourth Judicial Circuit appointed in the case by State Attorney Angela B. Corey, who was assigned in the case under Executive Order of the Governor 12-72.

Investigator O’Steen was previously employed by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and has 35 years of law enforcement experience, including 20 years handling homicide investigations. Investigator Gilbreath was previously employed by the Jacksonville, Sheriff’s Office, and has 36 years of law enforcement experience, including 24 years handling homicide investigations.

Your affiants, along with other law enforcement officials have taken sworn statements from witnesses, spoken with law enforcement officers who have provided sworn testimony in reports, reviewed other reports, recorded statements, phone records, recorded calls to police, photographs, videos and other documents in detailing the following:

On Sunday, 2/26/12, Trayvon Martin was temporarily living at the Retreat at Twin lakes, a gated community in Sanford, Seminole County, Florida. That evening Marin walked to a nearby 7-11 store where he purchased a can of iced tea and a bag of skittles, Martin then walked back to entered the gated community and was on his way back to the townhouse where he was living when he was profiled by George Zimmerman. Martin was unarmed and was not committing a crime.

Zimmerman who also lived in the gated community, and was driving his vehicle observed Martin and assumed Martin was a criminal. Zimmerman felt Martin did not belong in the gated community and called the police. Zimmerman spoke to the dispatcher and asked for an officer to respond because Zimmerman perceived that Martin was acting suspicious. The police dispatcher informed Zimmerman that an officer was on the way and to wait for the officer.

During the recorded call Zimmerman made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins in his neighborhood. Later while talking about Martin, Zimmerman stated “these assholes, they always get away” and also said “these fucking punks”.

During this time, Martin was on the phone with a friend and described to her what was happening. The witness advised that Martin was scared because he was being followed through the complex by an unknown male and didn’t know why. Martin attempted to run home but was followed by Zimmerman who didn’t want the person he falsely assumed was going to commit a crime to get away before the police arrived. Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin. When the police dispatcher realized Zimmerman’s was pursuing Martin, he instructed Zimmerman not to do that and that the responding officer would meet him. Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home.

Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued. Witnesses heard people arguing and what sounded like a struggle. During this time period witnesses heard numerous called for help and some of these were recorded in 911 calls to police. Trayvon Martin’s mother has reviewed the 911 calls and identified the voice crying for help as Trayvon Martin’s voice.

Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest. When police arrived Zimmerman admitted shooting Martin. Officers recovered a gun from a holster inside Zimmerman’s waistband. A fired casing that was recovered at the scene was determined to have been fired from the firearm.

Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Bao Performed an autopsy and determined that Martin died from the gunshot wound.

The facts mentioned in this affidavit are not a complete recitation of all the pertinent facts and evidence in the case but only are presented for a determination of Probable Cause for Second Degree Murder.

By: Investigator T.C. O’Steen, Affiant
By: Investigator Dale Gilbreath, Affiant

Sworn to and subscribed before me
This 11th day of April, 2012
Jennifer Weigel
Notary Public, State of Florida at Large