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Thursday, November 5, 2009

And everything seemed to be going "so well"....

The California Inspector General has just released a "blistering" report (.PDF) which faults state parole agents, the department of corrections and law enforcement for gross negligence in supervising--or not, as the case may be--Philip Garrido. Apparently he was only supervised 12 of the 123 months he was supposed to be closely monitored. A list of bungled opportunities is cited and the conclusion is that "Despite numerous clues and opportunities, the department, as well as federal and local law enforcement, failed to detect Garrido's criminal conduct, resulting in the continued confinement and victimization of Jaycee and her two daughters...." (Summary here).


Meanwhile, over in Cleave-land, people are wondering how ex-Marine Anthony Sowell could have gotten away with murder for so long. Police only got interested in him a month ago after he was accused of rape and assault. Even then, when a naked woman fell from his window on October 20, firefighters came but no police. Another neighbor, the owner a chicken joint across the way, claims that some time ago he reported seeing Sowell naked, standing over a bloodied and naked woman in the bushes outside the infamous "horror house." Nothing came of it. Parole officers apparently last visited Sowell on September 22; despite reports of the overwhelming stench of rotting flesh dating back to 2007, so bad that it caused a local sausage factory to change its sewer line and grease trap--which did not alleviate the stench--no one thought about entering the home!

The bodies were finally discovered by the cops on October 27, and Sowell was arrested on Halloween. Cue theremin!

Incidentally, the police were responding to another attempted rape which occurred hours after Sowell was visited by parole officers on September 22. This attack took place nearly a month before they declined to show up after the naked woman took a tumble from his house....

The link between Sowell and Garrido is that they were both sexual offenders who'd been convicted, served time and upon release were insufficiently monitored. In one case a man got away with imprisoning a woman for at least ten years while he was being "supervised." Another murdered at least 11 women!

We're not the first to make the link. Here and here you can find articles wondering what went wrong.

We would propose that the problem is a mix of indifference and, in the case of Sowell, racism and class prejudice. Who gives a damn about poor, black crackheads? More to the point, however, is that the system is severely overburdened. Who has time to check up on all these convicted rapists when there are potheads to hassle? It is said that America has the highest per capita prison population on the planet after China. That means an awful lot of parolees.

Of course the easy response will be to call for more cops, more laws, tougher sentencing and tougher enforcement. We would replace the word "tougher" with "better." Ditto for the word "more."

Now, this would be loony tunes territory if not for the fact that we are simply making a poetic riff rather than a serious conspiratorial narrative.

Obviously, that Sowell was arrested on Halloween is a resonant fact. It's a time when we dress up as monsters, ghosts, killers, dead people. Tombstones and fake blood abound. The skeleton is ubiquitous.

The most commonly accepted theory of Halloween is that it derives from the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-an). Samhain marks the point at which the line between our world and the world of the living is blurred, allowing spirits to pass through. It was also a kind of temporal tessellation--regarded as a kind of "New Year as it separated the divide between the "light" and "dark" halves of the year. Black and white, yo.

Hallowe'en, from "All Hallows Even", or "All Saints Eve" is the Christian holiday grafted onto the pre-existing traditions. All Saints Day itself (in Mexico literally the "Day of the Dead"), is celebrated differently in various in Catholic countries including visiting the graves of deceased loved ones and leaving offerings and lighting candles or flowers.

The Sowell "horror house" (shades of Halloween) was located on Imperial Avenue. It's almost a cliché these days that America is like a new Rome: 200 or so years of Republic followed by a slide into Empire. In Sexual Personae Camille Paglia writes: "Our cold white Federal architecture is Roman. Banks and government buildings are vast temples of state, tombs and fortresses....Rome rediscovered the hieratic Egyptian funeralism latent in Greek Apollonian style....Egypt and Rome defined themselves by death-rituals of preparation or commemoration." (Italics added)

Terrible and commonplace as the crimes of Sowell and Garrido seem, fact is that most of us will never be touched by these things, even indirectly. The potency of the event however, is enough to give one pause, even fear the world around us. Hence, if America is slipping into something less than a democratic Republic, these are just the kinds of events that will push it in the "right" direction. More cops, more laws, more surveillance. Whatever keeps the kids safe.

Interesting in that the conspiracy theorist thinks this slide into Empire is not a natural phenomenon but one aided and abetted by an unseen had, elite figures such as those to be found as members of Yale's infamous Skull and Bones, perhaps. Figures such as dueling presidential 2004 candidates John Kerry and George Bush. The "Bonesmen" have a headquarters known as the "Tomb," where their basement initiations are said to involve members dressed à la Halloween in garish costumes, including robes, priestly vestments, Don Quixote, the devil, skeletons....Incidentally, Bonesmen assume fanciful names upon initiation and George Bush (Senior) was known as Magog.

The group has also been accused of having the stolen skulls of Geronimo and Sancho Panza hidden in the Tomb. One of the macabre details of the Sowell case is that he kept one his victim's skull in a bucket in his basement. Talk about your New World Odor.

Regarding the Sowell case and what the it evokes, we here at LoS are not proposing any intentional twilight language or conspiracy theory but a case of interesting poetic resonance. Finally, though we hate to "play the race card," we concur with Black Voices in asking: "If this were a white neighborhood, I wonder if more extensive efforts wouldn't have been taken to identify the odor."

Then again, we don't want to contradict ourselves; we've already said the negligence may stem from agencies spread too thin or over-burdened. Garrido's crime went undetected for years, and he was a white dude. But one crime doesn't necessarily negate the other; Garrido's race doesn't necessarily disprove the racial context of the Sowell murders.


Perhaps these cases are a matter of the "class card." Perhaps it's all these things and more. Hundreds of girls in Juarez, Mexico have turned up dead, beaten and raped in the past 13 years and, after a "lull," at least twenty this year have simply disappeared. The American media deigns to cover it every once and a while. The Mexican government hasn't been very effective. Maybe it's indifference. Maybe it's helplessness. All pretty much par for the course.

Just stumbled across this article from Times Online by one Richard Bone!

d.a.levy their city is a fucking mess. Giving it back was the wisest move you could have made....

4 comments:

  1. "....seemed harmless"


    A FAQ

    A bit more perspective, better information than I provided. Sowell, for example, was not a parolee. He did get checked up on and had to check in, though.

    Interesting pieces to check out....

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Three women missing for a decade have been found in Cleveland. Three brothers arrested. I'm very glad for the women and their families, but can only imagine the horror this must stir up in families with missing loved ones. What a nightmare. Some interesting names in this case (Knight, DeJesus, Ariel Castro....), plus, "the three missing women" also refers to case in Springfield, Missouri...

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  4. Three women's bodies found in Cleveland, suspect named Michael Madison (echoing the name of actor Michael Madsen, famous for brutal roles) and also, kind of like a Mad Son....

    Here

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