Friday, January 12, 2007


I've been asked this about a thousand times and I'll just get it over with so we can move on. Jim asks:

Wallace, I have two questions, entirely out of genuine interest and not meant to critique my esteemed "pal". I thought that the inclusion of "Southern Soldiers" into your book's original title was sound on several fronts, but I amicably chided you on your decision to have dropped it, and instead go it alone with the ~MM~ Mexican Mafia.What were your reasons, or whims, on deciding this?
2. "Wally Fay", why did you choose the name Wally Fay? Is there any connection here to the Wally Fay character in the Joan Crawford vehicle "Mildred Pierce" of many years past? We are curious Wally, be a sport and tell. Bunch of us old time vatos here in SanFer, Borrego Valley, "Sylmar Ranch" and Kansas are dyin' to know.
Felice año nuevo to all.

Since you're asking, I used the name Wally Fay because every combination of Tony Rafael was already taken when I started using Blogger and Yahoo. A lot of people got there before me and I got shut out. So as I was casting about for some appropriate handle, I went to a default mode and searched the mental memory banks for something that connected the topic with earlier generations of LA noir writers. To me, the one guy that seemed to catch the spirit of this place better than the rest was James M. Cain. And as I started replaying his books and the movies made from them in my head, one guy popped out -- Jack Carson, to my mind, one of the greatest character actors ever to step in front of a camera. There's one other actor, Vito Scotti who ranks right up there with Carson. But it had to be Carson because he was connected to Cain and bingo -- Wally Fay from Mildred Pierce. "You know me, Mildred. I see an angle and I can't help cutting myself a piece of throat." Perfect. All this took about 30 seconds. And nobody had claimed the handle on Yahoo mail so I grabbed it.

So yeah, Wally from the movie and I wear the handle proudly. Send my your info Jim and you'll get a signed copy. You're the first guy to actually make the connection so you get a prize for being so well rounded.

As to the book, I still think Southern Soldiers is a cooler title but I was overruled. It wasn't my call. Those who spend the money call the shots. The publisher and the distributor thought Southern Soldiers sounded too much like a book about the Civil War. They didn't want to confuse the public and having to explain the title just makes the book harder to sell. It was a purely commercial decision.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

When covering the topic of race violence, I don't use a bias filter. If it happens, or there's some news item related to it like the city's new "weighted matrix" gang strategy I'll talk about it. But as we all know, the race-biased violence in this city has, for the most part gone in one direction. When the three Hispanic civilians were machine gunned on Central by three male blacks, I talked about that too. The reason I haven't posted more on it is because that case is going nowhere. No good wits, no suspects and no progress. There have been a handful of puzzling homicides of Hispanics in remote parts of the County that may be race related but, like the Central homicides, no strong wits and no suspects. They look hinky to me and they may go that way if the investigations ever bear fruit. But at this point, there's no way I could legitimately call them race related because nobody knows. So I'm waiting until there's something to talk about.

Bear in mind it took almost a year before Northeast had any reliable information on the Wilson killing. And I waited two years before I had enough info to characterize that as a race murder. There's no doubt, even without the shooters in custody that the Central Ave. killings were race-motivated. It's the only way it figures right now.

So does the race thing work both ways? It sure does. And when anything happens on either side of the color line, you'll hear about it without the spin. Just as an aside, there was a time when the Bounty Hunter Crips had Hispanic members and XVIII had Black members. The 18th broomed all the blacks and Bounty Hunters threw out all the Hispanics. Believe it or not, there was such a thing as Hispanic Bloods [I erroneously said Crips, thanks for the correction] and Black Surenos. Can you picture anything like that now? Unthinkable. I'll post something about that whole thing sometime soon.

On the other topic of comments, I don't care what opinions you hold, just don't be stupid or offensive about it. I disagree with a number of comments but I run them because they're articulate and they don't get down in the gutter. The basic rule is, if it adds something to the dialogue, even if it's extreme, I'm okay with it. A foul rant, adds nothing.
In response to a query from a commenter, I've only had to reject a handful of comments. It appears the loud mouths, bedwetters, cell soldiers and net bangers got the hint they're not welcome here. The quality of discourse and the level of thought you commenters have put into the effort has never been better. As a result, the hits have gone up, we're getting some old commenters back and adding some new ones. Congrats all for keeping the discussions to high level. And as to the number of pix in the book, I submitted "lots." How many will appear is another question. We're working on it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

As if making a direct response to our question in the previous post on how "targeted" versus "blanket" suppression would work, yesterday Chief Bratton and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo unveiled a new strategy for addressing gang violence. The plan is to create a matrix using weighted factors to identify the "worst" gangs in the city and then hit them with a brick.

At first glance, it seems like an interesting idea and something that veteran law enforcement and even activist types have suggested in the past. We'll hold off on commenting about this particular approach until we can get more information on the stuff that can make or break any concept -- the details.

The LA TIMES article on this initiative mentions that one of the neighborhoods under consideration for special attention is CPA, "a relatively small gang that police say is responsible for a disproportionate amount of violence in the Valley." For decades, CPA had a reputation more as a party neighborhood than hard core shooters and looters. Obviously that's changing. The question is why? We a have a few theories but let's let the initiative take its course and see what develops officially. When it's over, we'll compare notes.

The takaway from the LA TIMES piece seems to be that the killing of Cheryl Green finally got somebody's attention and it created the motivation for this new strategy. This phenomenon clearly underscores the fact that it's not a story (in this case, ethnic cleansing) until the big media says it is. The Green case generated lots of ink, unlike almost all the previous cases.

Let's recap some of the racially motivated homicides and assaults and the level of press attention, shall we?
Kenny Wilson, Anthony Prudhomme, Christopher Bowser: Nearly six years after the fact.
Hightower: No press.
Haggins: No press.
Boikins: No press.
Winston: No press.
Mellancon: No press.
The Williams family: No press.
Green: No press.

We got a bunch more. The point is the gatekeepers of what qualifies as news literally have to be overwhelmed by reality before they take official notice of "racially sensitive" issues. In this particular instance, the reality that overwhelmed them was the Avenues trial last September. Once the ice was broken with that case, well, all of a sudden, it's NEWS!

I clearly remember numerous fruitless pitches and serious conversations with the gatekeepers about this phenomenon years ago. They didn't want to know it. They never heard of it. And will someone escort this man out of here?

In the immortal words of one brave editor, "We don't want to start a race war." Using that line of reasoning, no one should have reported the Rodney King beating or Pearl Harbor for that matter because it could raise some eyebrows.