Saturday, August 19, 2017

Let Me Tell You a Story

So, yeah. Lot of things going out there, huh? Charlottesville. Barcelona. The Great White House Dumpster Fire of 2017. Yeah. Nazis in the bathroom, just below the stairs.

Listen, I'm, uh, not a fan of Donald Trump, let's just put it that way. I'm now on my fourth decade of not being a fan of Donald Trump. I know everyone is trying to outdo each these days with being artisanal and hipster not-Trump fans but I wasn't a fan of Donald Trump a long time before it was cool.  

And pretty much everything I was dreading would happen before the election has come to pass. I don't go on about it because too many other people I'm, uh, not a fan of either seem to have the market cornered. I'm a born nonconformist.

Actually, I'm still not entirely sure this isn't all a bad dream I'm having because that chicken sandwich I had last night wasn't properly cooked. Trump may not exactly be a low-rent gangster from Queens who got lucky and hit the big time, kinda like Chili Palmer without the charm, but he sure as hell comes off like one. Has he followed through on a single campaign promise? He's broken so many I've lost count.

But do I think he's the bastard lovechild of Adolf Hitler and Squeaky Fromme? Come on. Get real. This is a guy who's spent his entire adult life doing business in New York real estate, big money casinos and television. He's pretty much been vetted. Real Nazis have a hard time hiding it. It's a compulsion. It's their religion.

Trump is a thug and a boor and has a remarkable penchant for saying all the wrong things at the wrong time but if you think he's a Neo-Nazi then you've never had the misfortune of dealing with an actual Neo-Nazi. I don't mean a racist or a LARPer Nazi, or a Kek disciple. I mean most people have never actually come across an honest-to-God Neo-Nazi. 

I have and it's kinda like looking into the shark tank at the New England Aquarium. You realize that you're encountering something that is entirely alien to your experience.

Duane from Gallery East, Al from SSD and some idiot,
backstage at Bad Brains' Boston debut

Let me tell you a story.

I was involved in the Boston Hardcore scene in the early 80s. The skinhead look was in but we were all actually punk rockers. Things could get pretty violent and obnoxious but it was pretty much kids just having fun while they were young enough to get away with it. But there were Nazi punks in the woodpile, no doubt about it. And they liked to hurt people.

They weren't always skins and they weren't always local. I remember some Nazi punk band somehow got an opening slot at a show at The Channel and they all looked like Beavis. But things got pretty ugly pretty quickly. During the melee, the lead singer of the band hurled the microphone stand into the crowd, nearly killing a girl. Then they were chased back to New Hampshire or wherever the fuck they came from.

But there were also some scenesters who started in with the Nazi shit too. I was seen as suspect not only because I liked (then) verboten bands like Van Halen and The Clash but also because my best friend was Jewish and my steady in high school was a black girl from Brookline.

I remember going to a party once, wandering into the wrong room and encountering a clutch of Nazi punks getting all weepy over an LP of old SS marching songs. It was like...yeah, I'm going to just go over... here now. My, what a fascinating doorknob that is. I do declare.

But that was nothing compared to these Neo-Nazi skins who showed up one night, from God knows where.

The New York band Kraut was in town (not a Nazi band, incidentally) and Clash admirers Stranglehold were the opening act. These particular Neo-Nazi skins were milling around, pretty much minding their own business. They weren't physically imposing but goddamn, they were fucking scary. They had all kinds of tattoos all over their neck and face and arms, including the spiderweb and teardrops. Tattoos weren't really a punk thing yet.  In fact, that's what struck me- I'd never seen the teardrop tattoo before and didn't know what it meant.

So anyhow, Stranglehold comes on and the crowd gets into it. Boston moshing was considerably more violent than other scenes, since these were essentially a bunch of prep school jocks who liked to mix it up. A fun night ended with bruises, maybe a black eye or bloody nose. Whee.

Then a friend of mine named Dave got pushed by someone into one of these Neo-Nazi skins. Faster then the eye could see, the skin clocked Dave with a right hook. One of his friends gave him a couple more shots and pushed him down.  The Neo-Nazis wore these giant signet rings and at first it looked like the punch took Dave's eye out. It was a bloody fucking mess.

The dance floor cleared. Like an idiot I leaped into the middle of it and started yelling "come on, let's fuck these guys up!" and so on. To this day, I don't know what the fuck I was thinking. I doubt anyone heard me but they certainly saw me waving my hands around and pointing as these Neo-Nazis. The band played on but seemed a bit confused by what was going on.

The Neo-Nazi who punched Dave looked straight at me and I will never forget his eyes. I didn't see a glint of human recognition in them. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. He seemed to have already sized me up and determined I wasn't anything he needed to waste his time on.

And my foolish show of bravado fell on deaf ears anyway. The legendary punk rock warriors of Boston all backed off. Brotherhood! Unity! The Scene, man! 

Maybe later.

Eventually the moshing started up again (nobody called it moshing then) but there was a wide berth between these Neo-Nazis and everyone else. Later I heard people say they were armed with handguns but I don't think I believe that. I just think everyone looked into those eyes and realized that any fight with these guys was not going to end with the usual bloody nose and bruised knuckles. 

These Neo-Nazis gave you the unmistakable impression that they took their violence very seriously. Very, very seriously. I mean, these guys were ready to take on an entire club. In Boston. They didn't seem fazed by the prospect.

Some friends and I ended up leaving halfway during Kraut's set to take Dave to the emergency room at Mass General. At some point I imagine those Neo-Nazis probably joined some mercenary force and went on to commit war crimes in El Salvador or somewhere.


So the Great Trump Panic has gotten to the point that there's an ongoing crackdown, not only on actual Nazi and racist websites but on some non-Nazi conspiracy sites and YouTube Channels and Facebook pages and on and on. You're seeing a lot of attacks by establishment voices, not only on conspiracy theory (well, any conspiracy theorizing that isn't aimed at Trump) but even the slightest deviation from the consensus reality you'd encounter at a dinner party in the Hamptons or Pacific Heights.

The ongoing but markedly-diminished "Pizzagate" phenomenon is a major impetus for this backlash, especially after some dipshit showed up at Comet Ping Pong with an assault rifle. The problem is that the whole Pizzagate thing is predicated on the assumption that you can crack a conspiracy by looking into symbolism and coded language. Unfortunately, that's not really how it works. You need evidence.

But by the same token, you're seeing a lot of people try to pretend that there's nothing amiss in Washington whatsoever, all the evidence to the contrary. The Washington Post reported that child sex trafficking was in fact a major problem within the Beltway in early 2016.  We've seen thousands of people arrested for such all over the country this year alone.

There are two problems here. First, the all-consuming toxin of partisanship- which turns everything it touches to shit and garbage- got all mixed up in this. It became an Us-Against-Them thing and actual truth be damned.

The second is that most decent people can't even picture themselves engaging in that kind of activity and henceforth can't picture anyone else doing so either. 

Big mistake.

Let me tell you a story.

I used to do appearances at conventions and probably got to know a little more than I wanted to about the seamy side of fandom, whether it's comics or SF or what have you. I saw a lot of really sketchy shit on perfectly reputable dealer's tables. A lot of it seemed to come from Japan for some reason.

At a couple shows I ended up sitting next to a guy I will call the Canadian Cartoonist, who has since passed away. Now I vaguely heard about him, some controversy in The Comics Journal dealing with some offensive racial caricatures in a book he worked on. So my guard was up a bit. But he was a really nice guy. Very funny, very talented, charming, good-natured, extremely knowledgable about comics. Just a good guy to be stuck at a crappy con with.

And then I looked at his stuff and I said to myself, oh my God- this guy is a total fucking pedophile.

Now, usually the stuff you'd see at cons was essentially neckbeards fantasizing about teenage girls in Wonder Woman costumes or something. Sketchy, but whatever. That's not what the Canadian Cartoonist was into. He was into drawing very young boys in the most compromising positions short of "you're going to prison now, guy." He rationalized drawing eight year-olds in bondage by claiming they were actually elves. Or something.

That was an eye-opener. I later came to see more of this kind of thing floating around Artist Alley here and there. And don't get me started on the Furries.

The Canadian Cartoonist disappeared after The Comics Journal article for a couple years. I learned he went to Asia somewhere (I believe he spoke one of the languages) in the interim. I also heard rumors that it was a kind of "get the hell out of Dodge" situation. Around the time he left there was a fairly well-known comics artist who got busted for, y'know. 

Now, I'm sure some of you are saying what do you expect, this was some overgrown babyman fanboy. This had nothing to do with the government or any conspiracy.

Let me tell you a story.

I grew up in Braintree as many of you know. And growing up in Braintree in the 70s was kind of like a mashup of Twin Peaks: The Return and Lord of the Flies. In fact the more I think about it now the more insane it seems. 

I was only vaguely cognizant of it at the time but notorious Boston gangster/MKULTRA subject Whitey Bulger had two of his cronies bumped off across from the park we all played in and in the apartment complex I had a paper route in. Shades of Blue Velvet.

Now, in this big psychological warfare operation being waged against "conspiracy theory" I'm seeing a lot of demeaning pop psychology, which is pretty galling considering it's all being written by what former Obama aide Ben Rhodes called "27 year-olds who literally don't know anything." It's always something to do with persecution complexes and delusions of grandeur and this, that and the other bullshit.

Someone should add, "plus, growing up in Braintree" as a disclaimer. 

What could I possibly mean by that? Read this, from The Boston Globe in 2008:

Prostitution sting charges 7 as FBI puts focus on youth 
Seven people face prostitution-related charges as a result of a law enforcement sting in Braintree, part of a nationwide effort by the FBI to rescue children forced into prostitution. 
Although none of the people arrested locally in "Operation Cross Country" was underage, one told authorities that she had been working as a prostitute since she was 14. About one-quarter of adult prostitutes started when they were juveniles, officials say. 
The stings were carried out last month by local police and the FBI. Authorities say they called numbers listed in the erotic services section of and arranged for visits at a local hotel, which was cooperating with police.
Most of those arrested were from Boston, and were using Braintree as a base of operation.

OK, this operation was broken up in 2008. Do you know when I first about this going on in Braintree? In 1982. I heard from a friend who I knew was friendly with a Braintree cop. He said they were using girls from the high school who were picking up men from the subway station and taking them across the street to the motel. I couldn't believe it when he told me the names. They were very young. That was twenty-six years before this particular operation was finally broken up. 

That no underage prostitutes were arrested in an operation targeted at rescuing them is not surprising. Someone almost certainly tipped someone off. I mean, this is Braintree.

What exactly do I mean by that? Well, the Braintree Police apparently carried out a similar sting in 2005. It couldn't have been terribly successful if the FBI felt they had to take over three years later, wouldn't you say? 

Let me tell you a story.

I went to East Junior High (now East Middle) and it felt like wandering through the set of Sin City as performed by the cast of Bugsy Malone. It felt like you were never quite sure the ground beneath your feet wasn't going to turn into Jell-O at any given moment. Unless I wanted to go a good half-mile out of the way, I had to navigate my way through Monatiquot Village, a Section 8 apartment complex which then was filled with Aquarian casualties and their feral kids. There was always a lot of screaming and yelling going on. Like, always.

You could choose one or two paths to the school, both of which had open-air drug bazaars going on before and after school. Older kids would meet up with sixth-graders who already had nicotine addictions and sell them pot, speed, acid, you name it. I mean, I already knew what "Microdot" and "Windowpane" meant when I was ten years old.

I wish I were exaggerating. 

The Big Path, as it was called, became a Thunderdome after school. Fights would be arranged and scheduled. No, I'm not kidding. Everyone knew who was going to be fighting there after school. It was like a boxing card. Sometimes there'd be two or more fights going on at the same time. You never, ever saw a teacher or principal come to break it up, even though this was all in clear eyeshot of the front door of the school.

Now, there was a teacher at East who was an open pedophile. Everyone knew about this. He used the A/V room as his recruitment office. He was also a foster parent. And a Boy Scout troop leader at the Congregational Church.

Everyone knew the kids he was fostering (and nobody messed with them- they were pretty tough) and he set them and some other boys up with minibikes, stereos and the best clothes. I remember standing in the art room in sixth grade watching one of these boys doing donuts in the courtyard on his Honda mini. He eventually got bored when no one came out to bust him and drove off.

Everyone knew what was going on. This teacher would stand in the hallway between periods and cruise passing students. Prepubescent students. I only had a social studies class on that floor so I only had a few run-ins with him. He had really greasy long hair, acne scars and the most disgusting leering smile you ever saw. 

I mean, child molester from Central Casting.

There was also a teacher down the hall who had regular, obscenity-laden shrieking fits at her classes. I remember seeing other teachers stand outside the classroom and fret. I'm not talking Sister Mary Elephant- I'm talking screaming bloody murder. Seriously- this school was a madhouse. And we all took it for granted.

So you're thinking, this was just schoolyard rumor, right? Nothing more to it. I mean, if there was how the hell did this guy get away with it?

Well, he didn't. He was eventually arrested. Off the coast of Florida, in a boat sitting in international waters, if memory serves. I do remember reading about that in The Patriot Ledger.  

REVISION: I'm doing some research and it appears my timeline was a bit off. This teacher started at East in the late '50s and was first arrested in 1980. I do believe he was arrested again in 1986,  but I have to confirm the exact date. But all concerned seem to agree on the overall details.  

Now, like I said- this wasn't a secret. Everyone- and I mean everyone- in the school knew about it. So how the hell did he get away with it? 

How, indeed.

Well, I have my theories but it's worth mentioning we're talking about the Boston Diocese here, where hundreds of priests got mixed up in the sex abuse scandal. Two of the most notorious priests served in Braintree at one time or other. And you had to contend with pedos approaching you in the streets now and then. It was just part of the landscape. In fact, me and my buddy Charlie were almost Mystic River'd one day in the very same spot the legendary Sacco and Vanzetti shootings went down.  

A story for another day.

So again, how the hell did this guy get away with it for so long? Well, it helped that he was plying his trade in Braintree. He picked the right town, say that much for the guy.

Let me tell you a story.

Longtime readers of The Secret Sun remember the University of Alabama shooter, Dr. Amy Bishop, and that I went to school with her and her brother Seth. I'm almost positive I was in at least one class with her (it was a Sci-Fi Lit class, so it's kind of a no-brainer) and probably more in my first go-around in ninth grade. I wasn't exactly friends with her brother but I did used to talk comics with him and a mutual friend in the lunchroom.

I should say the brother that Amy Bishop murdered.

I've been reading a book on Bishop (A Professor's Rage) since I'm trying to get a handle on mind control and so on pertaining specifically to children of my generation. Why? Well, I got kind of weird notion while researching the Grunge scene and the phenomenal rate of attrition it's engendered and it proceeded from there. 

Plus, Elizabeth Fraser.

There's a lot of material to sort through when dealing with mind control, most of it rubbish. I keep remembering why I've spent so many years keeping out of that particular thicket. But our Ms. Bishop shows all the hallmarks of being a real-life, honest-to-God, no-I-really-mean-it Manchurian Candidate and I need to find out why.  

This too is a topic for a much longer piece but let me just give you the Reader's Digest version.

One fine December night-- according to the single newspaper account this rather extravagant episode earned at the time-- our Amy was trying to unload her father's shotgun, which she had being messing with upstairs. She came down to the kitchen and asked Seth to help her, but as cruel Fate would have it, the gun accidentally discharged its shells into poor Seth's chest and he died. Just a freak happenstance. The family were understandably crestfallen and the Braintree Police determined it was an accident and Amy went on to a sterling career in science.

Except what really happened is that somehow after reading the account in The National Enquirer of the murders of Dallas star Patrick Duffy's parents, Amy blew two holes in the walls of the house, came down and blew her brother away, ran out into the cold night with shotgun and shells and went on a rampage Quentin Tarantino would find excessive, waving her re-loaded Mossberg at passing motorists and attempting a carjacking or two before finally engaging in an armed standoff with two Braintree patrolmen.

There were any number of felonies to book this young woman on but the Chief of Police came down to the station, declared it all an accidental shooting and ordered his staff to forget about the rampage and kick the girl loose. Somehow this was all fine and dandy with the Norfolk County DA, his prosecuting attorney and a special State Police investigator.

That is, it was all fine and dandy until Amy gunned down the University of Alabama Biology Dept. After that. the then-current Chief (named Frazier, believe it or not), who was extremely pissed off about the cover-up (which included police files and logs being removed from the station and hidden in the home of a retired captain) called the Alabama cops and told them about the Seth snuff. 

One of the reasons Frazier might have been so pissed off was that he was mysteriously suspended four days before Seth's murder and subsequent rampage. True story. There was another Tarantino rampage in town that ended with Frazier gunning down some nutjob after a high speed chase. Frazier was the shop steward at the time, meaning he was the one guy the aggrieved officers could appeal the Chief's decision to.

So ask me again why I believe in conspiracies and cover-ups?

This aired the week before the Huntsville Shootings

It gets worse. It gets so much worse that I keep putting my iPad down and muttering incredulous sounds to myself every time I dig into this book. I thought I was pretty jaded by now but this is like...fuck.

Fucking Braintree, man.

Let's put it this way- if I read this story in a novel I'd find it all too outlandish to finish. As far as I'm concerned pretty much everything is on the table now. Reptilians, MONARCH, Pizzagate? Hey man, go for it. If this shit went down, the sky's the limit.

Here's how it goes...

Our fine Doctor Amy shoots a Mossberg inside her house, kills her brother, goes apeshit on Washington Street, waving a shotgun at passing motorists, car mechanics and paperboys before engaging in a Mexican stand-off with two of Braintree's finest. I couldn't even tally the number of felonies she committed that night.

No charges.

Our fine Doctor Amy punched out a soccer mom in a crowded International House of Pancakes in front of dozens of witnesses. 

No charges.

Our fine Doctor Amy allegedly sent- not one- but two letter bombs to her lab supervisor at Boston Children's, who was also a big deal at Harvard, allegedly. He pissed her off in a particular way, allegedly. Guess what happened next, allegedly?

THE FUCKING UNABOMBER TASK FORCE swooped in and took over the case. We're talking FBI, ATF, Postmaster General, Federal prosecutors, so many agencies and entities your head spins.

No charges.

Now, bear in mind these guys managed to put the Unabomber in prison but couldn't do the same with Amy Bishop. It was then kicked over to an ATF unit, who gathered some pretty incriminating circumstantial evidence. 

No charges. 

The lead investigator was so disgusted he took retirement. I'm not done with the book yet but I've literally lost count of the number of law enforcement agencies that were ordered to lay off Amy Bishop. Literally everything from the Braintree Police all the way up to the FBI.

If all that wasn't bad enough, our Amy kept getting plum gigs, in labs and classrooms, even though the general consensus seemed to be she was a crappy scientist and a useless teacher. Some of her students at Huntsville actually started a petition asking the school to replace her. And pretty much everyone she worked with was absolutely terrified of her.

The inference seemed to be that her house-husband did a lot of the actual science while Amy ran off to writing workshops in hopes of becoming the next Michael Crichton. From all accounts she sucked at that too. Apparently. all the books featured protagonists heavily based on Amy herself. The third and final manuscript had the Amy analog dealing with a herpes epidemic. She wrote the bulk of it in 2003.

Oh, yeah- that Amy analog was named Olivia. Olivia, Dr. Bishop. Why does that sound so familiar? Huh. I guess we'll never know.

Then Amy went into some kind of trance and opened fire in a faculty meeting, which was staffed by -wait for it now- microbiologists. In fact, teaching staff were in a panic because somehow they believed Amy had planted a bomb designed to spread the herpes virus. Not students, not custodians- biology professors and instructors at one of the leading schools for genetic science were convinced of this. People who understood the science.

According to the police they were mistaken. Huh. It happens.

Amy was in a trance after the shootings. She seemed totally unaware they happened. She denied she had anything to do with it and that the other professors were still alive. It goes on.

Fort Strong- interesting shape, don't you think?

And even though a lot of people don't realize it, Operation Paperclip-- you know, that whole deal when the Truman Administration rewarded all those GIs who spent years punching Nazis by importing a couple thousand of the most committed, most ideological Nazis and giving them plum gigs in corporate America-- actually called Fort Strong its home. 

That's on an island a few thousand feet away from Wollaston Beach, which Amy could have walked to from her house if she wanted the exercise. I did it a few times myself.

And in the craziest darn stroke of luck you could ever imagine, by golly, Amy ended her career (and her colleagues' lives) at Huntsville, just a short walk away from the Marshall Space Center, where Wernher Von Braun and pretty much his entire staff wound up after leaving the fine shores of south suburban Boston.

You just gotta love those coincidences.

And wouldn't you just know it, good old Uncle Sam was so happy he punched out the Nazis that he spent the next forty years- at the very least- carrying out literal Nazi experiments on the most vulnerable Americans you can name: sick kids, mentally-handicapped kids, pregnant mothers, poor African-Americans, and on and on down the line. Good ol' Uncle Sam pumped them full of megadoses of LSD, radioactive material (including plutonium), random viruses and diseases and in one particularly charming experiment, fed mentally-handicapped kids fecal matter. 

Yeah, that's right. Your government fed these poor, terrified handicapped kids shit. Not only shit, but shit infected with hepatitis.

So. Remind me again why I shouldn't believe in conspiracies?

Now, this Amy Bishop thing. There's another reason I'm fixated on this case, aside all the obvious ones. Old-school Sunners will remember me talking about the boy who was shot and killed three days after Christmas. It's kind of hard to explain his relationship to me but he was essentially my older brother. That's how I felt about him and that's kind of how it played out. 

How did I feel when we got the news? I felt like someone dropped a Chrysler on me. My sister and I and cuddled up with my mother and we all cried hysterically for at least an hour. Probably more.

So we had similar episodes, both around Christmas. There's something else- even when I was eight years old I thought the account of the shooting was total horseshit. It was physically impossible. Worse still, the kid who shot him was apparently involved somehow in another kid's death six months before. 

Now call me paranoid but when I'm feeling kind of dark I think about how this all went down just outside a major military base where not only German, but Japanese and Italian POWs were "processed" after the war. Kind of a long way from the front, if you get my meaning.

I think you do.

Well, I just thought I'd share this with you while I am still able to. I don't know if - or when- I'll end up on the Big AI Blacklist. Maybe I am already. There's a lot more to tell but I've done enough damage to your eyeballs already.

So be well and remember- trust no one.