Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Thanks to a couple of readers on this one. In 1998, an ATF agent named WILLIAM QUEEN went undercover with the Mongols and operated behind the lines for 28 months. He went by the name of BILLY ST. JOHN. The operation ended with a bunch of indictments and prison sentences. Queen wrote a book about it, UNDER AND ALONE. You can find it on Amazon.

The book is a fast but ultimately not satifying read. He didn't go into enough detail to satisfy the truly curious mind. He didn't explore a lot of areas that I know are out there waiting for exploration. Maybe he was holding back not to screw up future or ongoing investigations. Nonetheless it's a decent enough book and worth the price.

A few readers sent word that the book got some interest from the film business. Apparently it's now official. Mel Gibson is attached to the project, as they say in the biz, and he'll play the Queen/St. John part. Queen scored a $1 million payday for the film rights. He'll also be tech consultant.

While we're always hoping for the best, the movie business has a lousy track record when they turn a "true life" story into a screen product. Especially when it involves crime. In the process of transforming a good story into a movie, the real life aspects are clipped and pruned along the way until most of them are left in the script writer's drawer. What you often see on the screen is nothing like what happened on the streets.

The most extreme example of this happened in 1992 when Edward Olmos made AMERICAN ME. As originally written, the script was an accurate history of the early days of the Eme. The story goes that even Cocoliso blessed the project because it told the truth. But when Olmos decided to make a "few changes" the reality went out the window. The scriptwriter walked away from the project. Unofficial and unpaid "advisors" (Eme dropouts) told the producer that the "changes" would piss off the carnals. Apparently artistic vision took a back seat to the truth. And people paid with their lives.

By the time the dust settled, bodies fell, Olmos was targeted for termination and the movie public was short changed. Even people who knew the real life story walked out of the movie wondering what the hell they just saw on the screen. It was a mess. As it turns out, a deadly one for the official tech advisors.

Hopefully, Gibson won't go the same way Olmos did. But in that business, anything is possible. By the time it's over, it could turn out to be "Biker Gangs from Venus Want Earth Women."

On a related topic, I heard from a pal in the movie business that Tony Scott, brother to Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Blade Runner etc.) is doing a remake of THE WANDERERS. If you young guys out there haven't seen it, rent it. It was an over the top "street gang" movie set in Manhattan. By modern standards, the gangs in that movie were as hard core as Vanilla Ice.

Scott plans on shooting it in LA and we'd love to be there for the open casting calls. Advice: don't cover up those tattoos yet. They'll need hundreds of dressed down homies. Hollywood is comin' to the 'hood so practice up on your mad dog look.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The free exchange of opinions and observations is one of the reasons I started this site. I'm especially gratified to see that a number of the comments to the posts come from people who have come up in the neighborhoods and been through the system. For the most part, the comments are informative and provide the sort of insight that can only come from those who have been there and back. I'm grateful to people who can contribute without resorting to profanity and don't throw fat on the fire of north/south, black/brown animosity. Or for that matter, advocating any form or violence or prejudice.

I've noticed a battle going on in the comments that has no place on this site. I'm not a prude and I'll tolerate a certain amount of profanity. Especially if it's clever and used like a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer. What won't happen here is hate.

If you claim a neighborhood and want to put that in your comment, go ahead. But I won't allow challenges and cyberspace mad dogging. Keep the fights off this site. There are plenty of places on the internet where you can do that. Frankly, they're boring and do nothing to further the outside world's understanding of what's what.

Please don't ruin this place for everybody else. If you've got something to say, do it the right way. Speak your mind but don't add to problem. Don't put me in the position of being a censor. There's already enough of that.