Tuesday, January 31, 2012
COMICS WITH PROBLEMS issue #25
The Will Eisner M-16 U.S. Army Rifle Maintenance Booklet
32 Page M-16 Booklet, art by Will Eisner Studios, unknown author or authors.
Distributed to every U.S. soldier from 1968-1972 during Vietnam conflict. Originally sealed in plastic to accomodate weather concerns, and for jungle distribution.
PROBLEM(S) DEALT WITH: Vietcong, Communism, Lube
PROBLEM(S) DEALT WITH: Vietcong, Communism, Lube
Monday, January 30, 2012
(Reuters) - New York state authorities denied parole on Tuesday to the man convicted of the crime that generated one of the most famous headlines in U.S. journalism: the New York Post's "Headless body in topless bar."
The parole board denied early release for Charles Dingle, 53, convicted of the 1983 rampage in which he fatally shot the owner of a topless bar, took hostages, raped a woman and forced another to cut off the dead man's head in order to prevent police from linking the bullet to his gun.
Dingle, held in an upstate prison, has maintained his innocence despite numerous eyewitnesses and considerable physical evidence.
The headline, credited to Vincent Musetto, an editor and film critic who retired last year after 40 years at the Post, recalls a much more violent New York City than today's. There were nearly 2,000 murders in 1983 compared with 515 in 2011, according to police statistics.
The headline provided the title for the book "Headless Body in Topless Bar: The Best Headlines from America's Favorite Newspaper."
It also helped cement the Post's reputation as the most colorful of New York City's tabloid newspapers, which maintain an intense newsstand rivalry even in a digital world.
The Daily News went with "Queens night of horror" to chronicle Dingle's crime. Newsday, the Long Island paper that published a New York City edition at the time, titled the story "A night of terror." For The New York Times, it was, "Owner of a bar shot to death; suspect is held."
The rejection Tuesday was Dingle's third failed request for parole.
The parole board of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision on Tuesday noted Dingle's long prior criminal record, a "propensity for victimizing others," and at least 30 violations in prison including assaulting the staff.
"This continued poor behavior coupled with your disturbing criminal history makes your release incompatible with public safety and welfare," the three-person panel ruled. "To release you would so deprecate the serious nature of the instant offense and undermine respect for the law. Parole is denied."
In a 2010 interview with the Post, Dingle blamed the media frenzy for denying him a fair trial and faulted the parole board for asking him to "plead guilty and take responsibility for the crime."
"I can't do it because I didn't do it," he said.
Police told a very different story, based on accounts from people in the bar that night and the morning of April 14, 1983, including the victim's wife. One year later, a judge in a non-jury trial convicted him of second-degree murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery, sentencing him to 25 years to life in prison.
Dingle was drinking and using cocaine before getting into an argument with bar owner Herbert Cummings, 51, according to newspaper reports attributed to police at the time.
Dingle shot Cummings dead and took several hostages, one of whom he raped. Dingle ordered one hostage who happened to be a mortician to retrieve the bullet from Cummings' head. When she failed to find the bullet, he ordered her to cut off the head with kitchen knives.
"That woman had a lot of guts," police Lieutenant Dennis Cunningham told Newsday at the time. "She remained cool during this time and talked Dingle out of killing all of them."
The severed head was placed in a box labeled "Fine Wines" and stuffed with party streamers torn from a bar decoration. Dingle tried to flee with the head but his car would not start, so he called a cab.
When the cab driver arrived, Dingle locked him in the back of the bar and stole his car, taking two of the women "on a gruesome terror ride into Manhattan," the Post said.
With one of the women driving and the box in the front seat, Dingle passed out, allowing the two women to flee and call police. Police found Dingle just waking up and they wrestled the gun from him without firing a shot.
With the arrest happening on a Thursday morning, the Post had time to get the story in one of its afternoon editions. A front-page teaser headline read "Cops find headless body in topless bar -- Page 8."
By Friday morning, at least one of the editions carried the banner front-page headline "Headless body in topless bar," and a legend was born.
Musetto's headline also provided the title for the book "Headless Body in Topless Bar: The Best Headlines from America's Favorite Newspaper."
This revolting thing is a cocktail called an "Alien Brain Hemorrhage": "To make an alien brain hemorrhage cocktail, fill a shot glass halfway with peach schnapps. Gently pour Bailey's Irish Cream on top. After the shot is almost full, carefully add a small amount of blue curacao. After it settles, add a few drops of grenadine syrup." Looks like it could be improved with a couple lumps of dry ice. Listening to these Scots, it looks about as appealing as Haggis!
In July 2010, The SF Examiner published a story about a “surly scoundrel” who defiantly stood in the driveway of a fire station, purposely blocking firefighters’ path as they were responding to a call. The crazed lowlife stuck out his middle finger at the firefighters and refused to budge until they threatened to get tough with him.Although the odd tale was comical on its own, we found a San Francisco police captain’s use of the term “surly scoundrel” the most amusing.
Greg Corrales, a 42-year veteran of the Police Department, also called that scoundrel a “remorseless reprobate” in his colorful community newsletter out of the Mission Police Station, which he penned for the better part of two years and that read like a 1940s hard-boiled crime novel.
While the newsletter covering police activity in the Mission district was a hit among journalists and locals, particularly English teachers, the Jan. 13 edition was Corrales’ last.
The pulp-writing cop and ex-Marine was recently reassigned as police captain at San Francisco International Airport, and he said he doesn’t plan to write a newsletter in his new post.
Like Raymond Chandler’s detective thriller “Farewell, My Lovely,” Corrales’ final newsletter did not disappoint.
In reporting about a prostitution bust at 20th and Valencia streets, Corrales wrote that three cops “arrested a soiled dove for loitering for the purpose of tawdry faux amour.”
To describe a marijuana bust at County Jail, he wrote, “Officer Sands thwarted a sullen smuggler’s attempts to sneak a quantity of The Weed with Roots in Hell into the jail.”
He also penned a report about “a miscreant urinating on America.”
Corrales began writing the newsletter in 2009, during his second stint as Mission station captain. In putting out a newsletter, which is required of all station captains, Corrales said he mixed his love of being a cop with his passion for the hard-boiled style.
He collects books from the genre dating between the 1940s and mid-1960s.
Favorite authors include Cornell Woolrich, David Goodis and San Francisco’s own Dashiell Hammett, Corrales said.
“Pulp writers in those days got paid like a penny a word for producing stories,” Corrales said. “They used a lot of adjectives to up their payroll.”
Creative use of a thesaurus
In the March 26 newsletter, for example, there is a reference to a fugitive who was “a very glib and convincing prevaricator.” However, “pursuant to their diligent investigation” officers “discovered the craven convict’s real identity.”
And then there was the March 13th incident, when officers encountered “a shameless scoundrel who was in the act of urinating on America. The bumptious brute violently resisted arrest.”
Police Capt. Gregory Corrales, also indicted, was sued in 1985 for allegedly choking and clubbing a taxi driver who had committed a minor parking violation. The city settled the case for $45,000. According to court records, Corrales was named in three or four lawsuits in the early 1980s.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
LOS ANGELES — Philip Vannatter, the Los Angeles police detective who led the investigation of the 1994 slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, has died.
Vannatter died of complications from cancer Friday in Santa Clarita, Calif., his wife, Rita, said. He was 70.
“He was a real blue-collar detective,” O.J. Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden said in an emotional interview Sunday. “He did his job the best he could and he was a fine detective, one of the best.”
Vannatter was among the first detectives to arrive at former football star Simpson’s mansion in June 1994 after the stabbing deaths of Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, Goldman.
In 1977, Vannatter arrested film director Roman Polanski in the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on charges of having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.
One colleague told the Los Angeles Times in 1994 that Vannatter was a bear of a man who once kicked a door off its hinges while arresting a robbery suspect. When Vannatter worked as a detective in Los Angeles’ Venice section in the 1970s he would have contests with colleagues to see how long they could hold a sledgehammer with one arm outstretched.
But his work was challenged repeatedly during the Simpson trial, and Vannatter often responded testily on the stand when Simpson’s attorneys questioned him.
Simpson’s defense team branded Vannatter a “devil of deception” and said he had used a vial of blood from Simpson to plant evidence at the former football star’s estate. The detective acknowledged that he had a vial of Simpson’s blood in an unsealed envelope in his car during a visit to Simpson’s home, but was unapologetic about the matter and said he was simply carrying it to a criminalist.
Vannatter was perhaps more enraged by a member of his own team: Detective Mark Fuhrman, whose racist rants had been recorded in interviews with a screenwriter and who invoked the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination under questioning by the Simpson legal team about whether he had ever planted evidence.
In 2008, Simpson was convicted in Las Vegas of criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery and using a deadly weapon.
“We got great pleasure seeing him incarcerated. But we didn’t need that by then anyway,” said Vannatter’s wife, Rita.
Mega-man: The fast, fabulous, fraudulent life of Megaupload's Kim Dotcom
Since the shutdown of Megaupload, stories have erupted about the life and exploits of the company's founder, a self-styled "Dr. Evil" of file sharing. Kim Dotcom's opulent digs, high-end cars, fondness for models and other Bond-villain-esque behaviors have been splashed across websites and have confused evening newscasts for the last week.
The man once known as Kim Schmitz (and as Kimble, and as Kim Tim Jim Vestor, and finally as Kim Dotcom), now awaiting extradition from New Zealand to face charges of conspiracy, money laundering and copyright crimes in the US, has enveloped his actual life in a cloud of hype and bluster that echo the worst of the dot-com bubble from which he took his new surname. In 2001, the Telegraph called Schmitz "a PR man's nightmare and a journalist's dream."
Schmitz wrote recently that all that's behind him a now; a family man, he's even happy to meet the neighbors for coffee. But when New Zealand police arrived at his mansion outside Auckland last week with helicopters, they cut their way through various locks and then into the home's safe room, where Dotcom was reportedly standing close to a sawed-off shotgun, and they took him into custody. The worldwide raids, in which hundreds of servers were also seized in the US and in which 100 officers raided homes and offices in Hong Kong, have just added another layer to the legend Dotcom has been building since he was a teenager: god of hackers, Midas-touch Internet investor, Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer champion.
Dotcom has gone out of his way since the early 1990s to put himself at the center of media attention. He's certainly got it now. But who, really, is this guy?
The rise of Kimble
Born in Kiel, Germany to a Finnish mother (the source of his dual citizenship), Schmitz has made a career out of being larger than life, which seems appropriate for a six foot, six inch man (give or take an inch—his height seems to change with every report) who can fill a room with his 300+ pound presence.
In the early 1990s, Schmitz used a little hacker cred and the growing paranoia over the powers of computer hackers and phreakers to launch a media-powered cybersecurity career. He got his first shot at media stardom in 1992, when he was interviewed by the German press and then featured in a December Forbes article on the "computer hacker crime wave." Schmitz took advantage of the complete lack of technical credibility of reporters and the growing "hacker mystique" to create a sexier, more dangerous version of himself—if not James Bond, then Dr. No.
Giving his hacker handle "Kimble" (which he later claimed was taken from the name of the main character in the film The Fugitive), and claiming to be the leader of an international hacker group called Dope, Schmitz said he had hacked hundreds of US companies' PBX systems and was selling the access codes at $200 a pop, bragging that "every PBX is an open door to me." He also claimed to have developed an encrypted phone that could not be tapped, and to have sold a hundred of them.
In his 2001 interview with the Telegraph, he also claimed to have hacked Citibank and transferred $20 million to Greenpeace, a claim refuted by Greenpeace, which had a total operating budget of just twice that in the mid-1990s. (While Citi washacked in 1996, it was by a group of Russian hackers—and they certainly didn't donate the money to charity.) He also claimed to have hacked NASA and said that he had accessed Pentagon systems to read top-secret information on Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War.
There's no record to substantiate most of this; perhaps some of it is true. What he did do was steal phone calling card codes and conduct a premium number fraud similar to the recent rash of Filipino phreaking frauds. He bought stolen phone card account information from American hackers. After setting up premium toll chat lines in Hong Kong and in the Caribbean, he used a "war dialer" program to call the lines using the stolen card numbers—ringing up €61,000 in ill-gained profits.
Schmitz was also playing pirate in other ways. Andreas Bogk, a member of the Chaos Computer Club, recently told the Wall Street Journal that Schmitz set up a computer system for the uploading and downloading of pirated PC software, charging people for access. (Schmitz exposed the scheme in an interview with a German television news program, and it was subsequently shut down by Deutsche Telekom.)
Schmitz's efforts to branch into the "legit" world of security consulting with his security company Data Protect initially backfired by exposing his real identity—and by allowing it to be connected to his hacker credentials. InMarch of 1994, he was arrested by police for trafficking in stolen phone calling card numbers. He was held in custody for a month, then arrested again on additional hacking charges shortly afterward—and again released. In 1998, he was convicted of 11 counts of computer fraud, 10 counts of data espionage, and an assortment of other charges. He received a two-year suspended sentence—because, at just 20, he was declared "under age" at the time the crimes were committed.
But Schmitz used the notoriety to boost his security business. He soon landed a security contract for Data Protect with the airline Lufthansa by demonstrating an apparent security vulnerability—though according to claims by others in the German hacking community, his connection to the airline was thanks to collaboration with an insider there, and to the hacking skills of an accomplice.
The influx of cash began to fuel Schmitz's fantasy fulfillment engine, funding his love of fast cars and outrageous antics. He promoted his new bad-boy rich hacker genius image through a bizarre Flash movie called Kimble, Special Agent, in which his cartoon alter-ego drives a "Megacar" and then a "Megaboat" before breaking into Bill Gates' compound and riddling the wall behind Gates with a machine gun (spelling out "Linux" with bullet holes). The cartoon was the first public demonstration of Schmitz's obsession with all things Mega.
Rags to riches
A year after the slap on the wrist, Schmitz shifted his focus from phone fraud to Internet start-ups. Almost from the beginning, he made an effort to portray himself as someone who was Germany's answer to Silicon Valley—even if he was closer to Pets.com than to Yahoo.
His first effort tied together two of the great loves of his life: the Internet and expensive cars. Schmitz and Data Protect led the development of a real Megacar, an Internet-connected luxury car system with its own Pentium III Windows NT on-board computer, router, multi-camera video conferencing system, and 17-inch display. To get the broadband bandwidth required, the car had 16 multiplexed GSM cellular connections.The sticker price started at $90,000.
While it went nowhere, the press it received helped raise the profile of Data Protect—and of Schmitz. Schmitz was also making other efforts to create his persona. In 1999, according to New Zealand's Investigatemagazine (PDF), he was spotted at the airport in Munich getting his picture taken inside parked airplanes, which he then used to suggest that he owned them.
In 2000, Schmitz sold an 80 percent stake in Data Protect to the German conglomerate TÜV Rheinland, which bought the company for its "in-depth network expertise." Schmitz held the remaining stake through his new holding company, Kimvestor.
Flush with at least some cash, Schmitz was quick to burn some of it by waving his own particular brand of freak flag. He hired a German centerfold, a collection of other actors, a film crew, and fast car aficionados for a self-produced film called Kimble Goes Monaco—a road movie about a lavish trip to Monaco, including a cruise on a rented yacht. The movie was punctuated with Schmitz playing with expensive toys, and featured a bizarre Bill-Gates-is-spying-on-me subplot.
The image Schmitz was selling was embraced by the press, as a 2001 Guardian report on his "rags to riches" tale shows:
The 6'4", 18-stone giant has since divided his time between growing Kimvestor - which he values at 200m euros - and spending his money on top models, fast cars and expensive boats. He now owns a Challenger jet, a helicopter, several sports cars and a yacht. Last May he spent $1m (£684,000) chartering a 240-foot luxury yacht for a week, mooring it in Monte Carlo harbour for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix and throwing lavish parties for guests including Prince Ranier of Monaco.
Whatever money was actually being made at this point is unclear, but Schmitz continued to live in grand style—or at least keep up the appearance of it. He kept adding to his collection of exotic and high-end cars, and also ran into trouble across Europe for his involvement in illegal street racing. He returned to race in the Gumball 3000 in 2003, pumping up his "Dr. Evil" image by bragging about bribing Moroccan police to stop a competitor—and then bumping that car when he discovered it was ahead of him.
During all these exploits, Schmitz was using his Web presence to attempt to recruit volunteers to power his new Kimpire, offering promises of future wealth to those who made it to his "Hall of Fame," begging on his kimble.org site for translation services, Web referrals, and even free Web hosting:
Every Kimpire profit will be shared between everybody who made it to the Hall of Fame. If you make substantial contributions to the Kimpire, your name will appear in the Hall of Fame. Earn respect, friendship, wisdom and money with your support for the Kimpire. The Kimpire can make you rich and the other way around. The Kimpire will rule the world, so better be a part of it ;-)… If you know cool words that include "KIM", send them. Some examples: Kimpire, Kimply the Best, Kimasutra, Kimmercial, Kimpany, Kimvestor, Kim Kong, Mission Kimpossible, Kimsalabim, etc. The best words will make it to the upcoming release of the Kimpire Lexicon.
A "Kimpire" might sound ridiculous, but it was about to become a reality—thanks to file hosting.
All this was prelude to what would become Schmitz's biggest actual moneymaking scheme—the file-sharing business. To get the project rolling, Schmitz decided it was time to make a full break from his highly dubious reputation. In 2005, the name of Data Protect was changed to Megaupload, and Schmitz registered yet another company—Vestor Limited—as its owner.
That wasn't the only obscuring going on. About the same time, Schmitz officially changed his legal name to Kim Dotcom—and used his Finnish heritage to register a passport under the name "Kim Tim Jim Vestor" as well, using the address of a step-sibling in Turku, Finland. The Vestor persona was used in the creation of Vestor Limited. It wasn't until 2007 that Kim Dotcom was revealed to be connected in any way to Megaupload, and his role as founder wasn't revealed until 2011 by the company.
But as Megaupload's profits mounted—both from legitimate use and from the alleged piracy of content ranging from music to porn—Dotcom's 68 percent share of the business finally made him the sort of money he had always acted like he had.
The US government, in its indictment against the "Mega Conspiracy," said that the company had pulled in US$175 million since its inception, most coming from users who paid for premium download accounts. The money was spent lavishly. By the time of the raid on Megaupload, Hong Kong police said that Schmitz had been renting an actual office in a luxury Hong Kong hotel suite that went for HK$100,000 (US$12,800)—perday.
Married with three children, Dotcom eventually decided to move to New Zealand to better enjoy his wealth and toys. He attempted to purchase a NZ$30 million (US$24 million) mansion outside Auckland—and smooth his path to residency through a NZ$10 million investment in government bonds, putting him into the "high investment" category for immigration. He donated heavily to the Christchurch earthquake relief fund and even paid for a half-million dollar fireworks display on New Year's Eve 2011 in Auckland.
While waiting for the paperwork to clear, Dotcom arranged a lease of the desired Coatsville mansion from a company set up by the mansion's previous owner, the founder of the "Christmas hamper" layaway businessChrisco.
In the meantime, he erected a sign at the gate to the mansion's property declaring it to be "Dotcom Mansion," and started strewing the property with his toys—including cars with the now-infamous collection of vanity plates.
Photo illustration by Aurich Lawson (After Pen & Pixel)
Friday, January 27, 2012
Robert Hegyes dies at 60
Robert Hegyes, who played Juan Epstein, one of the so-called Sweathogs on the 1970s ABC comedy "Welcome Back Kotter," died from an apparent heart attack Thursday morning in Metuchen, N.J. He was 60.
In "Kotter" Hegyes co-starred alongside a young John Travolta as the half-Jewish, half-Puerto Rican high school student whose full name was Juan Luis Pedro Phillipo de Huevos Epstein.
Born in New Jersey to a Hungarian father and Italian mother, Hegyes studied theater at Rowan U. and began his career onstage. He portrayed Chico Marx in "An Evening With Groucho" and later said he based his performance of Epstein on the frenetic Marx brother.
He made his first smallscreen appearance on "The Streets of San Francisco" in 1975 and guested on a variety of TV shows, including "CHiPs," "NewsRadio" and "Diagnosis Murder." He also appeared on a number of gameshows, on a 1995 episode of "Saturday Night Live" and as himself on a 1998 episode of "The Drew Carey Show."
The actor also did some teaching at Rowan U. and elsewhere.
Hegyes and most of the rest of the "Kotter" cast reunited last year at the TV Land Awards on the occasion of the show's 35th anniversary. He also appeared last year on "Good Morning America."
Hegyes was the cousin of Jon Bon Jovi. He was married and divorced three times and is survived by two children, two stepchildren and three siblings.