Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our Town, Our Murder



Murder is easy -- fictionally speaking, and a pretty nifty dramatic device. When a writer or movie director adds a corpse and a detective to a roomful of pretty people, we’ll get suspense for sure, romance perhaps, and certainly an hour or two of entertainment

Which is ironic. Because in real life, there’s no entertainment value in murder, though local TV news remains unconvinced of that fact. Murder is nothing but misery and waste.

The boy or man found dead and lit on fire in Altadena Sunday morning didn’t find fame in his lifetime. But he’s famous now, for a few days, anyway.

It’s a pity he’ll never know that television news vans gathered on Windsor in his honor, and reporters went door- to-door, hoping to mike up something of prurient interest. He was worth oh so much more to them dead than alive. (More on Patch)

23 comments:

  1. The last sentence sums it up.. then again, the blame could be because the media makes it so? They sensationalize the horrible, tragic things in life because humans love to prey on the bad.. Maybe because its not them.. I feel bad for the ones who are gone in such a tragic way. I can speak first hand because my husband died 11 years ago in a freeway accident and yes it hit the news both local as well as in the L.A. Times... and sad to say my brother's death was publicized because he was a state employee killed in the line of fire. His EOW
    was 2 1/2 years after my spouse's.
    It would be nice if the next time people read about another person's tragedy that they put themselves in their shoes.

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  2. Oh, KBF, how tragic. I'm so sorry. Your last line is very true, too.

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  3. I'm so sorry, Kalei. That's a lot of loss to bear.

    Fortunately I don't have a TV so I wasn't bombarded by the news coverage of this tragic Altadena story. But, Karin, your deft telling of it sent a chill down my spine.

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  4. I read this and the continuation at Patch--let's hope this is not the beginning.

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  5. Dear Kalei's Best Friend, thank you for sharing your story. It touched us all.

    And thank you Des, the Restless Chef, for helping me finish this piece. When I was at all sixes and sevens, you said, something to the effect of, "Ok, think. What are you trying to say. Tell me."

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  7. Kalei, hearing your story helps us all take that walk. Thank you for sharing.

    I think senseless violence diminishes us and makes us all feel vulnerable no matter where it takes place.

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  8. I'm so sorry for what you've gone through, KBF.
    And so sad to hear of such cruel, senseless violence. I hope it doesn't mean gang turf wars are escalating in Altadena.

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  9. Kalei, my heart goes out to you.

    Karin, your piece sparked a good discussion. Commenters have made a lot of suggestions, all of which will be useful in making Altadena a better place. Seems it's been boiling up and everyone's been wondering about a solution. Maybe it's not just one thing, but many things. As Revvell said, "It really doesn't matter where you begin... just begin!"

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  10. I drive past the shrine to the unknown victim on Windsor after my evening hikes, and it's a sad reminder of the violence around us. Is the gang activity increase due to the release of prisoners to ameliorate the State's budget problems? If so, I'd gladly pay more taxes to keep them inside.

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  11. There's some good stories on the patch comments, about life in Altadena in the late 80's and 90's.

    My horse lived in Altadena before I did, and I remember driving to the stables one day, must have been 1993 or so. And a car was stopped in the middle of the street, the driver was talking to friends and I couldn't pass. So I leaned on my horn.

    Two hands popped out from the windows in the back and did this weird finger ballet. Damn, I thought, those are fucking gang signs. I made a quick 180 and drove away. No valor, but lots of discretion.

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  12. I never would have thought of Altadena as a venue for gangs. "There was here" says a lot. I wonder if anyone is so good at imagination and empathy that s/he can feel "there was here" much of the time. For psychological self-preservation, I suppose we need filters and mental boundaries to prevent rampant empathy, but it sure feels cold.

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  13. Terrible story! So much senseless violence going on these days. Great post Karin!

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  14. My heart goes out to you Kalei...

    Years ago, my ex and I lived in Pomona, just south of the 210 freeway in a charming little neighborhood. After being there for about 2 years, I started noticing an increase in gang writing in the neighborhood ( I used to work with "at risk" kids)...then one night we heard a car racing through the neighborhood (kind of a maze of streets, not one that cars would race on)...then one night we heard a gun shot...no idea where or why or what happened. Even my ex, the Vietnam Vet was unnerved...we found out that about 2 years prior to our moving into the neighborhood numerous gang members and leaders had been imprisoned and that a number of them had gotten out and would continue to be getting out....shortly after that we moved...
    I hope that Altadena is not experiencing an upsurge in gang activity...it's not an easy thing to deal with for either the neighborhood, nor for law enforcement.
    I tried to comment on Patch Hiker but it disappeared...that seems to happen a lot when I've tried to comment...don't know why...I try to sign in with Facebook...

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  15. Kalei's Best Friend - you have been through the wringer.

    "It would be nice if the next time people read about another person's tragedy that they put themselves in their shoes."

    So true. I guess the barrage of violent death via the media (lets not forget the playing back of a three second clip over and over again) can make you numb until someone like yourself reminds us that theres a person behind the headlines. I do recall a friend of mine opening the door to find the media with microphones jammed into her face saying "how does it make you feel to be living next door to a registered child molester?" Certain;y not a hallmark greeting.

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  16. Dan the Altadena Patch EditorApril 18, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Chieftess, please email me at dan.abendschein@patch.com and tell me the email address you try to post with and I will get your problem ironed out .

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  17. Same thing happened about 30 miles south of here. An honors high school student was shot down the block from his house, who knows why. the real tragedy is that the papers are playing up the fact that the boy was black, instead of the fact that he was a church choir member, honor student and being raised by his very strict grandparents (along with his brother). I was truly saddened.

    And KBF, I am very sorry for both of your losses. I can't imagine it.

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  18. I know even if there was nothing but the dead & dying darkness back in your little town, there would still be a rainbow.

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  19. I have some stories from the eighties where we drove miles out of our way so we wouldn't drive this one street. We promised mom.

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  20. I finished it over at Patch. Such a sad story.

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  21. I'm very sorry about your losses, KBF. You always leave such nice comments on my blog that I, for some shallow reason, would not have thought that anything unfortuante had ever occured in your life.

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  22. Speaking as woman who was married to a man who was murdered several decades ago, I speak from some experience. KBF, there are few in the world who can speak to what we have been through. In this day and age of "instant news" there are speculators and talking heads who yammer on, mostly just to fill empty space about things they did not experience. Most of those talking heads have never lived through the death of someone they loved in such a manner, or they would never utter some of the inane things they spew.

    Gangs have been an issue in the LA Basin, in the cute little locales that most of us have enjoyed, for years. We crack down on them and they ooze, like slime, to other areas. Budget cuts makes keeping gangs trimmed, is difficult.

    This death made the news even by me, amazingly enough.

    Karin, thank you for NOT being a talking head yammering, no hype.

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  23. We had automatic gunfire in the soccer field across the street from my home not long ago. That was followed by a string of shootings with a few mistaken identity fatalities thrown in for good measure. I didn't think I lived in "that kind" of neighbourhood either. Ignorance truly is bliss.

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