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Established New York 1997
Established New York 1997

Field Reports

A Clearer Photo of the River North Puncher–Please Help ID

Posted July 25th, 2016 in Uncategorized by Bill Jensen

A Twitter user sent me this photo, which was apparently taken around the time of the incident. If you have any information on this man–his name or current whereabouts–please contact me. CoK5BvTWcAE3F8P 3

SLA Shootout with LAPD, May 17, 1974

Posted May 17th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Bill Jensen

Today is the 40th anniversary of the shootout between the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Glenn Miller, former White Nationalist leader, Identified as suspect in Kansas Jewish Center Shooting

Posted April 14th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Bill Jensen

Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a 73-year old from Aurora, Missouri who also goes by the name Glenn Cross, has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the suspect in the shootings at two Jewish centers in suburban Kansas City.

 

Miller is the founder of the White Patriot Party in the early 1980s.

 

sa_miller_white-man-speaks-out-263x400

 

In 2012, he spoke to a group of students at Missouri State University. He covered various topics, including the Holocaust, Henry Ford, and what he perceived as the Jewish dominance of government. In a “heated exchange” with a Jewish student, Miller told her Hell yes, I hate you and all Jews, and you all deserve my hate for what your people have done to mine”.

 

(Incidentally, other guests included Dan Gayman of the Church of Israel, who I interviewed as part of my Master’s final project at the University of Kansas.)

Kansas Jewish Community Center Shooter Reportedly Yelled “Heil Hitler” When Taken Into Custody

Posted April 13th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Bill Jensen

Overland Park Police Department are reporting three people dead in the shooting. A press conference will be held at 5pm central time.

KCTV5

 

KSHB, who had people on the scene faster than any other media outlet, reported that the shooting suspect yelled “Heil Hitler” as he was being taken into custody.

 

 

 

Screenshot from KSHB site, showing suspect in custody.

Screenshot from KSHB site, showing suspect in custody.

In The Company Of Misery: How I Became a Manchester City Supporter

Posted April 9th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Bill Jensen
  • This is an essay I wrote 7 years ago, which was published in an American newspaper. Yes, things have changed (most notably, the bank account of City), but the meat, marrow and meaning remains the same.

    Manchester-City-fans-in-1-007

    Rivalry.

     

    No matter what the sport, I will hand over three hours if the two teams on the field are rivals, the fans in the stands sporting chewed-up knuckles, relishing all the barbarism and carnage to come, along with the hope of bragging rights for at least one night. And when the rivalry is provincial—two teams, home bases only miles apart, supporters born into the faith, house by house, street by street—the game is that much more grand, meaty and rare, tapping into the primal instinct every human is instilled with: the instinct to protect your turf.

     

    It was this type of rivalry that had me drinking a pint of Guinness in an East Village bar at 8 in the morning a few Sundays ago. The thing about a rivalry like this is you can’t simply pick a side. You’re born onto a side. When my daughter came home from school and asked me why we have to like the New York Mets baseball club, I could have placed blame on my grandparents for escaping the Lower East Side and downtown Brooklyn for the pastoral landscape of the Hempstead Plains. That pilgrimage, which ended (at least for me) with two teenagers meeting in the East Meadow High School cafeteria, cast me down the wobbly road to that triumvirate of Long Island’s new kids on the block, the Mets (baseball), the Jets (American football) and the Islanders (ice hockey). 

     

    I have always been keenly aware of the second-class citizenship that such loyalty has bestowed upon me and my family. And for close to 20 years, I have been keenly aware of losing. The New York Rangers finally winning the Stanley Cup (and their fans subsequently shoving it down the Islanders fans’ throats). The Yankees destroying the Mets time and time again, culminating with the heart breaking Subway Series in 2000. And of course, the Jets, while not having a rival as sharp as the others, still rip out my heart and show it to me on a season-by-season basis, coming up with new and creative uses for the well-worn phrase “same old Jets,” a motto that might as well be on the team’s crest. In those three sports, these are my teams till I die.

     

    In 2001, I was flipping through Saturday morning cartoons when I stumbled upon an English Premier League soccer game. I had heard stories of English football, the hooligans, the chants, the blood dribbling down the chins of haggard-toothed fans. Rivalry. So even though it was soccer, I watched. The next week, I watched again. Then again. I actually began to enjoy it: the rude-boy chants spilling out from the stands, the eruption when the odd goal was finally netted. But sport is unlike art or music. You can enjoy it–lose yourself in the rhythms and the textures and melodies, but at some point, you must pick a side. I spent hours watching matches and reading soccer-mad websites. I was about two weeks into my search when it hit me: Here was my chance to choose a winner.

     

    I was not born into any of these regions, let alone ever been to them. I knew Leeds from the side streets Morrissey spoke of slipping down; Blackburn, Lancashire from the 4,000 holes Lennon read about in the news. 

     

    After a month, I came up with some prime choices and called Colin, the only British fellow I know. “I think I’ve got a team,” I said. “Arsenal.”

     

    “Not very rock star, Arsenal,” Colin said. I didn’t quite know what he meant.

     

    “I don’t quite know what you mean,” I said.

     

    “C’mon,” said Colin. “They won it all last year.”

     

    “Okay,” I said.

     

    He was right. What’s the fun jumping in bed with someone who just won? I want to be part of the build-up.

     

    “How ‘bout Liverpool?”

     

    “What are you doing?” Colin said.

     

    “Why don’t you just give in and support United.”

     

    Manchester United. The most visible squad in the football universe. The world’s richest sports franchise. Fifteen league championships. Their exhibition games have sold out Giants Stadium. You could call them the New York Yankees of the football world.

     

    But where there is a Yankee, there has to be, in the shadows, a Met. A runt. A second-class citizen. I bit my tongue and asked Colin the inevitable.

     

    “Isn’t there another team in Manchester?”

     

    “Yes,” he replied. “Manchester City.”

     

    Years of pain and torment. Forty-seven million pounds in debt. Blowing it at all the wrong times. Last major trophy, 1976. I have never been to Manchester, knowing it only from Smiths lyrics and the Gallagher brothers. “I would rather kick my daughter out of the house than let her support Manchester United,” Noel Gallagher once said.

     

    A few days later, I saw Colin. “Manchester City,” I declared.

     

    He raised an eyebrow. “Well, if that’s the way you want to go…But be prepared for heartache.”

    Dunne

    About 10 people are standing outside Nevada Smith’s in the East Village on a cold February morning, shivering under a sign that reads, “Where Football is Religion.” In the vernacular of the natives, it is called a Derby. The Manchester Derby, United vs. City. Most of the crowd is wearing the red of Manchester United. I spot one older guy with a light-blue ski cap of City.

     

    At 7:45, the door opens. The bar is a typical New York railroad number, long and narrow. I follow the man with the ski cap to the back of the bar, pull up a stool next to him and pull off my sweater to reveal the City jersey I picked up on eBay. An older gentleman comes in with his two young sons. I get but one sentence out of my mouth about the upcoming match, something about how good keeper David James played the previous week against Chelsea, when he interrupts me.

     

    “You American?” he says with a bewildered look.

     

    “Yes,” I say.

     

    “Why do you support City?”

     

    “Well, because I’m a Mets fan and a Jets fan,” I say.

     

    He smiles. “The underdogs, huh?”

     

    More City fans enter, giving each other the same sad looks I used to see at Shea Stadium before Jet games in the late ‘70s. United fans, staked out in the front of the bar, outnumber us 4-1. The game, beamed by satellite from City’s home pitch, begins and City is playing hard. A beautiful cross by Shaun Wright-Phillips is headed wide by Steve McManaman. Should have been a goal. City fans hold their heads. Won’t get many chances like that. Then the chants start. They are mostly nursery rhymes, sung in English accents, with naughty words. “Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the Scousers right on top/Put the city in the middle and burn the fuckin’ lot.” It goes on like this for the rest of the game. Our chants are a happy “City Till I Die” number and “Blue Moon,” as in “Blue moon, you saw me standing alone.”When 48,000 sing it at City of Manchester Stadium, it sounds quite majestic. When 10 sing it at a bar in the East Village at 8 on a Sunday morning, it sounds like crap.

     

    In the second half, United’s teenage prodigy Wayne Rooney breaks through and rolls the ball under the Man City keeper. One-nil, which is a tantamount to death at this stage. A United fan jumps on top of the bar and the chants get more severe. “City’s going down like a Russian Submarine,” sung to “Yellow Submarine,” along with, “Twenty nine years… F**k all,” which I quickly understand is United’s version of the Yankee fan’s once reliable “1918” (sung to Red Sox fans in reference to their last World Series win).

    Rooney Dives

    City’s heart is out of it. One of their defenders tries to stop a cross and inadvertently kicks it into his own net. The red side of the bar erupts with a part cheer/part laugh that is difficult to describe, other than to say that I have been on the receiving end of its torment before at Shea Stadium.

     

    The game ends quickly after that, and most of the City fans exit. I stick around with the last men standing, listening to the chants still being pelted our way. I actually get angry. We need better organization. Better chants. C’mon guys.

     

    After a fourth Guinness, I sidle next to a doughy-faced City supporter at the urinal.

     

    “Ah,” he says, shaking his head in disappointment.

     

    “I know,” I reply. “So many chances early on.”

     

    “Yeah,” he says “Typical City.”

     

    I settle my tab and walk into the chilly mid-morning of the East Village with a smile on my face.

     

    I never had a choice at all. I may have never been to Manchester.

     

    But I was born there.

LA Mag Johnny Lewis Feature in “Top 5 Longreads of the Week”

Posted February 9th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Bill Jensen

Thank you to the longreaders at Longreads for putting my LA Magazine feature The Secret Life of Johnny Lewis alongside bad-ass stories by Sonia Smith and Adam Penenberg (and Garrison Keeler’s ode to his hometown). I particularly like the fact that they tell you how long it will take to read the story–21 minutes. Please take at least 22 minutes, adding an extra minute to reflect.

 

imgresYou can view the list here.

Waking Andy Kaufman

Posted November 13th, 2013 in Uncategorized by Bill Jensen

KaufmanThere are no empty beer cans or cigarette butts that can guide you to his grave. No crowds. No security guard. No graffiti on the neighboring headstones. Walk past Fishman and Waldman in Section One-4 of Beth David cemetery in Elmont until you reach a small bush with those little red berries that our moms all told us were poison when we were kids. Look down and you’ll see it.

 

There is no bust of him in his Elvis getup, lip curled and hair coiffed. No statue of him standing awkwardly next to a phonograph, waiting to lip synch the Mighty Mouse theme song. No mention of his lounge-lizard alter ego Tony Clifton or the lovably incompetent Latka Gravas or the sword-swallowing fakir. No mention of his profession at all. No sign of what he was or who he was. Just a slab of granite, sticking six inches above the ground at the front of the Kaufman-Bernstein family plot, etched with the words “beloved son, brother and grandson.”

 

Andy Kaufman’s body is supposed to be lying six feet below this hunk of stone. Nobody’s sure whether to believe that or not.

The greatest prankster Hollywood had ever seen, Kaufman left every audience he played asking one question: “Was that for real?” He conned news agencies, press conferences, national television audiences. He hired cops to bust up his gigs. He stood outside Carnegie Hall in a mad-man-rags disguise holding a sign that read “Andy Kaufman=Antichrist.” The show sold out. He fooled David Letterman into thinking wrestler Jerry Lawler had really broken his neck and slapped him silly. Having the world think he was dead would be his greatest prank of all.

 

Fifteen years ago at the Nassau Funeral Home inGreat Neck, Bob Zmuda stood over the casket of his best friend and wondered the same thing. Well-wishers approached Kaufman’s longtime writing partner and begged Zmuda to let them in on the joke—Andy wasn’t really dead, and this gig in Great Neck would be the performance of his career.

 

But Zmuda, a guy who risked life and limb helping Andy execute pranks across the globe, was sitting this one out.

 

“He had talked about faking his death to me,” Zmuda recalls. “I told him, ‘Count me out. It’s illegal and this is one prank you have to do on your own.’ He got the hint from Elvis. He was always looking for the ultimate hoax. You don’t get better than faking your own death.”

 

Andy had often said he would fake his own death and come back when he was 50. He was born in 1949. What better time to return than when your name will be on the lips of everyone in Hollywood? That would be around Christmas, when Man on the Moon, a biopic of Kaufman directed by Milos Forman, starring Jim Carrey and featuring music by R.E.M., hits the theaters.

 

Zmuda says he never saw the body, fearing that a lasting image of his best friend’s cancer-ridden body, his shaved head and skin-and-bones stuffed in a box, would have freaked him out too much. He stayed in the back of the funeral parlor as his friend Joe Troiani poked the body. He says Troiani still wonders if the body he jabbed was real or wax because he didn’t know what a dead body was supposed to feel like.

 

If Kaufman isn’t lying underneath this pitch of earth in Elmont, then where would he be? Where would he have gone all these years? Elvis went to truck stops. Jim Morrison went to Africa. Maybe Andy went home.

Britain’s Vauxhall Cop Car Gets Us One Step Closer To A Real Batmobile

Posted September 4th, 2013 in Uncategorized by Bill Jensen

Batman pickup truck

This summer, Jared Barris, the grandson of Batmobile creator George Barris, unveiled the Ford F-150 Crimefighter at San Diego Comic-con. Tuxedo black with Ferrari red striping and tail fins, the Crimefighter looks like a Bat truck, but unfortunately does not have a Bat Computer or other high tech advancements to help fight crime.

Enter the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer. On the outside, the British car looks like a low-slung minivan, but it’s what’s on the inside that matters.