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Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

[Prohibitionists] aren’t really interested in rescuing or protecting anyone.  They are profiting…off our deep social ambivalence with the realities of sex.  –  Remittance Girl

Rough Trade Xmas rapist

Judge issues advice to rapists: choose your victim & the time of year carefully, and you’ll get away with it:

A father of three has been given a suspended sentence for attempting to rob and threatening to rape an escort at gunpoint because he needed money for Christmas.  Liam McGran (49) later told gardaí he decided to rob the woman as he had been with her before and he knew she was small.  He demanded money and threatened to rape the woman in her home as he pointed an imitation pistol at her.  However the victim, who had a firearms licence and was knowledgeable about guns, recognised it as a fake and fought McGran off before he fled the apartment…The woman sustained scratches and bruises…He also pulled out some of her hair…

Welcome To Our World

As a regular customer of nail salons for almost 19 years, I can attest that Nir is nothing more than a concern troll:

…the nail-salon industry in…America [is]…an avenue of opportunity for immigrant workers with low skills and little English.  As Asian nail salons have proliferated—often offering manicures, pedicures, and acrylics at a fraction of the cost of high-end salons—immigrant women have trained and employed one another, providing new arrivals with a means of making a living, a way help out families back home, and a community.  They have also helped drastically grow the manicure market, making what used to be only a luxury for the rich an affordable and accessible habit for middle-income Americans…But The New York Times this week presents a very different narrative of the nail industry.  In a multi-part series by reporter Sarah Maslin Nir, the Times suggests that the real “price of nice nails” is an underclass of immigrant women subject to high rates of exploitation, abuse, fertility issues, and other health problems…In the apprenticeship system for that’s sprung up in nail salons, she sees only exploitation…But in the formal economy, cosmetologists of all sorts must pay to attend schools and certification programs, pay the government for a licence, and take internships or training programs before salons let them do hair/nails/makeup on their own.  Is the apprenticeship system really so different?  At least salon workers can still make tips while they train…One of the major impediments to doing so…is workers’ immigration status.  They have trouble participating in the formal economy…because they are in America illegally…Nir fails to indict U.S. immigration policies for their poor conditions.  Instead, she would actually [like to] see more government agents visiting the nail salons…

The Punitive Mindset

Stop faking!

A…woman arrested in a Daytona Beach [prostitution] sting…died in her jail cell…because she did not get the care she needed as a known addict…April Brogan…complained of being “dope sick” when she was brought to the jail April 29…Two days later…[she] started vomiting and foaming at the mouth…Volusia County spokesman Dave Byron said…there was no breach of protocol…

Broken Record 

This is turning into a full-blown black comedy:

Houston police and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office are teaming up with [prohibitionists]…Prostitution is such a big problem during the annual oil and drilling convention…that police are stepping in to do something about it…the thousands of men in town for the convention…raises the demand for sex trafficking.  So police went out…with [prohibitionists]…to walk around the Astros and Dynamo games…giving out [propaganda] flyers…”We do not tolerate anyone that is trying to buy a human being,” said Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia…

Traffic Circle

Articles recognizing “sex trafficking” as overblown hysteria are becoming far more common, and can be found in sources ranging from blogs:

…sex-trafficking – i.e. people who are kidnapped, enslaved and forced into sexwork against their will –  isn’t quite the massive global problem campaigners want you to believe it is…anti-trafficking campaigners aren’t seeking to pressure law enforcement to enforce existing laws more forcefully (kidnapping and rape are already prosecutable crimes).  They are blurring the lines between forced and voluntary sexwork, and it seems, when you examine their agenda critically, that their real desire is simply to criminalize all sexwork and label all sexworkers as exploited victims…

…to the Huffington Post:

…anti-trafficking groups have deliberately conflated trafficking with prostitution by…choice…anti-trafficking groups like the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women (CATW) not only spew wildly inflated statistics about the number of women and children being trafficked in the United States; they also argue that the vast majority of sex workers in this country are trafficking victims.  And that’s simply not true.  Studies show that most sex workers in the developed world are in the profession by choice, not because they are trafficked.  Yet even federal and state agencies do not distinguish between consensual prostitution and actual trafficking cases…Indeed, anti-trafficking groups acknowledge that they now use the term, trafficking, for what used to be called pimping…

Bottleneck (#440) invoice

Under the banner “Sex trade is work,” Argentine prostitutes handed out symbolic invoices with prices for their sexual services in front of the Buenos Aires City Legislature, in an unusual campaign for a law to recognize their rights as workers.  Health care, access to education, the right to freely practice their trade, trade union organization and the possibility of retirement benefits, basic rights that any other work would provide, are a dream for these women.  Argentina does not regard prostitution as a legal activity, but does not ban it either, which is why around 80,000 prostitutes remain marginalized by public policy and face risks including fear of losing their homes, extortion and police persecution…The police, if not extorting bribes, harass them and occasionally launch violent operations to shut down brothels…A bill to regularize prostitution rests with the Argentine Senate, but may not be considered this year…

The Course of a Disease (#444)

Given that the BBC has until now belched up “sex trafficking” propaganda as though it were factual, it’s a slight improvement for it to pretend that the subject of client criminalization is one which can be “debated” by two opposing sides (neither one an actual sex worker).  However, neither side does anything but spout talking points; the whole article is about as phoned-in a piece of tripe as ever got past a bored, hung-over editor.

A Year Later

Four months after the…government brought into force new laws aimed at ending prostitution…the vast grey market for sexual services in Canada remains, unsurprisingly, intact.  From Halifax to Victoria and everywhere in between, sex is still being bought and sold in Canada, according to sex workers, police departments, researchers, and common sense.  But that doesn’t mean the industry…hasn’t shifted in response to the laws…sex workers in five cities…said uncertainty over the new regulations has pushed some clients away and made business harder for them…Chris Atchison, a research associate at the University of Victoria, doesn’t expect it to last.  Atchison, who has spent almost 20 years studying men who buy sex, says what we’re seeing now is basically what happens anytime there’s any change to the laws around sex work…but the market doesn’t go away in the long run…the worry is that, as the industry recalibrates, it will reform in ways that are less open and thus less safe for sex workers and clients alike…

Sexcrime

Two dominatrix pornographers have become the first adult filmmakers to fall foul of strict new regulations governing online pornography…a ruling from the television on demand regulator has found that videos from professional dominatrix Megara Furie and a Welsh dominatrix operating under the name Mistress R’eal were in breach of the new guidelines…

First They Came for the Hookers… (#527)

A lawyer representing adult entertainment venues says his clients will sue Georgia over the state’s new anti-trafficking law, which…is financed in part through a new tax on [strip clubs]…Alan Begner, whose practice represents nearly two-thirds of strip clubs in the capital city, said…“Nude dancing is protected under the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions, and speech cannot be taxed”…

Worse Than I Thought (#532)

Why do people think “bipartisanship” is so wonderful? Anything politicians can agree on is almost invariably horrible for the citizenry:

The anti-human trafficking bill whose unanimous passage in the Senate last month was widely hailed as a triumph of bipartisanship includes language that could send publishers of…adult advertisements to prison, civil liberties advocates have warned…prosecutors don’t even need to prove prior knowledge, just that “the defendant had a reasonable opportunity to observe the person”…the preponderance of language in the bill would quietly advance a “tough on crime” agenda just as many Americans are clamoring for broad-based criminal justice reform and a softening of state attitudes toward non-violent behaviors…

Bread and Circuses (#533)

The “sex trafficking” circus needs victims to die for the crowd’s satisfaction, and if a big, juicy one can’t be found, little scrawny ones will have to do:

Two women have been sentenced to federal prison terms in Massachusetts for their role in a sex trafficking ring that transported other women across state lines to engage in prostitution…Vanessa Grandoit…was sentenced…to one year in prison and five years of probation…Kairis “Lola” Sanchez…to 18 months in prison and five years of probation…The women acted mainly as drivers.

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[To politicians] a stripper is a sex-trafficker is a source of state revenue.  –  Elizabeth N. Brown

Bad Girls 

A Nevada brothel worker and an armored truck employee conspired to take at least $100,000 from the former’s workplace over several months…Shiva Zamiri and Jessie Aulelava were arrested…Zamiri started working as the brothel’s bookkeeper last September, and that money was stolen within weeks of her being on the job.  A person close to Zamiri identified the unnamed brothel as Sheri’s Ranch…

Out of Control (The Camel’s Nose) another spooge sneaker

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a spooge sneaker:

A man has admitted to ejaculating into a female colleague’s coffee several times  – but says he fancied her and hoped it would make her notice him.  Robert John Lind, of Blaine, Minnesota, pleaded guilty to ejaculating into his colleague’s coffee and over her desk on a number of occasions last year.  The woman said she had an ongoing issue with her coffee tasting foul before she caught Lind with his hands near his genitals and a “deer in the headlights” expression near her desk.  The victim then noticed, “a large amount of clear liquid on…her desk”…

Gateway

Cops blatantly lie to justify persecuting peaceful, consensual behavior:

Six men were caught up in a prostitution sting over the weekend by vice and narcotics agents of the Clarksville [Tennessee] Police Department…The ongoing effort is designed not only to reduce this type of activity but also to prevent assaults and robberies against the solicitors.  This has become commonplace with online prostitution as the men become easy targets when they are directed to [incalls, a cop mouthpiece lied]…

A Modest Proposal

An hour with London escort Kamillah is $450. But for $100 more, she’ll enter into a nikah mut’ah—a temporary marriage that some Shia say makes sex outside of marriage permissible…Among [her] reviews…[one] satisfied customer concludes: “Allahu Akbar! Had the best mutah experience everr [sic]”…

Saving Them From Themselves

Because “sending a message” is more important than human life:

Four Chicago-area teenagers faces felony child-pornography charges after uploading a video of themselves having sex to Twitter…Both the sex and the posting of the video were consensual—this is not a rape or “revenge porn” scenario.  But…minors who post sexually-oriented images of themselves online or even share them privately with one another can be charged as child pornographers…Who benefits from branding these teens sex predators for life because they dared to explore their sexuality?…

The Biggest Whores (#134)

Alternative fee arrangements are all the rage.  But beware in Indiana, because the courts have drawn the line at seeking “sex or fellatio in exchange for providing legal services,” suspending a lawyer for a year, without automatic reinstatement, for propositioning an arrested prostitute in exchange for representation…Christopher A. Hollander, worked as a public defender and used the access provided by his position to score the phone number of an unnamed sex worker that he’d previously admired in the classified section…he called her up and offered his services…intending to barter.  The exchange never happened because when Hollander met with the prostitute, it turned out to be an undercover cop…Hollander got pinched by a bunch of overzealous cops who seemingly substituted “shits and giggles” for “probable cause” or “reasonable suspicion”…[the cops had stolen the woman’s phone and intercepted his texts]…All they know is that a lawyer claimed to have learned of an accused woman’s plight from a friend of hers and offered representation.  There’s absolutely nothing shady about this text…With absolutely no reason to suspect anything but the exercise of someone’s constitutional right to counsel, the cops decided to impersonate the alleged prostitute to set up a meeting with the lawyer.  You know, because defending accused criminals is suspicious activity…

The Auctioneer Effect

Grandstanding female politician in Nevada introduces yet another ludicrous “sex trafficking commode sign” bill.  Another grandstanding female politician tries to one-up her by demanding castration as the penalty for “sex trafficking” so as to discourage “these pimps”.  Sponsoring politician then huffs that her bill is VEWWY SEEWIUSS and berates second politician for her ball-cutting fantasy.  Second politician then doubles down…

The Mote and the Beam (#419)

Remember, sex work was recriminalized in Rhode Island less than six years ago, largely due to the efforts of cops who wanted in on the “sex trafficking” gravy train:

…police set up [fake]…escort ads…and [entrapped] nearly two dozen men…Providence Police Chief Hugh T. Clements Jr…[bloviated] “Many of these girls are being used, they are being forced into it because of addictions, forced into it by boyfriends and pimps”…Mayor Jorge Elorza…[pretended that] he’s reviewing possible legal action that could be taken against Backpage.com…”It’s dangerous,” Clements said. “We want to send a message to these girls, do not use this page to make money.  They could be victims”…

First They Came for the Hookers… (#420)

The Georgia House of Representatives just approved a constitutional amendment to make strip clubs pay for the state’s fight against child sex-trafficking…The amendment’s proponents have barely even bothered to justify why strip club owners should be liable for footing this particular bill.  Imagine the outrage if lawmakers were trying similar shenanigans on any other category of business—soliciting an annual fee from gas stations to fight rape, say, or forcing podiatrists to subsidize drunk-driving checkpoints…all adult-entertainment businesses would have to pay $5,000 per year or 1 percent of their revenue, whichever is greater, into a state fund…The bill’s text suggests that consuming alcohol and looking at naked women may entice strip club customers to go forth and sexually exploit children and hence the fee is “necessary” and “reasonable.”  It also suggests that strip clubs are a popular venue for shopping for child sex slaves.

Another Fine Mess

Once again:  ordinary business practices don’t magically become newsworthy when hookers use them:

Zimbabwean sex workers…are now embracing mobile payment service…in a bid to safeguard their payments…from…clients [who]… violently demand their money back…The sex workers are also able to send pictures and videos of cases of abuse or violence to rights campaigners using social media and other instant messaging platforms…

Property of the State (#512) Purvi Patel

The first woman to be sentenced for killing a foetus has been handed a 20-year prison term for feticide and neglect of a dependent, despite claiming she gave birth to a stillborn baby.  Purvi Patel was bleeding heavily when she entered a hospital emergency room in Indiana in 2013 after giving birth unexpectedly in her bathroom…The prosecution also claimed that Patel had ordered drugs to induce an abortion on the internet [sic].  However, a toxicology report did not find any evidence of the drugs in her system.  Patel is the second woman to be charged with feticide in the US, but the first to receive a prison sentence.  She was prosecuted under state laws that are [supposedly] intended at targeting illegal abortion providers and prosecuting crimes against pregnant women…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#523)

It’s good to see the mainstream media publishing truth about at least one form of sex work:

…Porn is condemned regularly for a rise in labioplasty procedures, a cosmetic surgery that anti-porn activists would have audiences believe is sweeping the globe.  The organization Fight the New Drug is entirely devoted “to raising awareness on [porn’s] harmful effects using science, facts, and personal accounts” and almost-charming attempts at youth lingo.  They even tell readers that they’re going to “drop some truth bombs” in a listicle called “Ten Porn Stats That Will Blow Your Mind.”  Because if there is one thing the young folks can’t get enough of (besides porn) it is a mind-blowing listicle using ancient studies that weren’t peer reviewed.  But recent studies looking at porn consumption and depictions of sex in porn actually reveal that it is hardly the life-ruining, woman-hating, healthy-sex-murdering specter we’ve been warned about for so long…

Guinea Pigs

New forms of tyranny are often tested on sex workers first:

…Oregon entrepreneur Lawrence George Owen…owned one restaurant, eight strip clubs, and two adult-video stores in the Portland area…Owen installed ATM machines…and sometimes, customers used the cash to privately pay some strippers for sex.  Now Owen faces federal charges for “conspiring to use interstate commerce” in promotion of prostitution…[as] the result…of a nine year joint-effort by Portland’s vice squad and the FBI…Promoting prostitution is only a federal crime under certain circumstances, such as when the perpetrator transports or coerces an individual across state lines for prostitution purposes.  Using mail, telephone calls, or other “facilities of interstate commerce” in service of prostitution will also do the trick.  But the FBI has no evidence that Owen enticed or transported strip-club employees from outside Oregon, nor that he used mail or telephone calls to help facilitate their prostitution efforts.  When the FBI wants to make a case against someone, however, they’ll find a way. In this case, the FBI decided that ATM machines count as “facilities of interstate commerce”…

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We’re not anti-fairies but it’s in danger of getting out of control.
–  Steven Acreman

There was a good assortment of links this week, but only one video of note again.  And again, that one video was provided by Mistress Matisse; the links above it were contributed by Jesse Walker (“fairy”), Grace (“horse” and “art”), Sarah Woolley (“RIP”), Angela Keaton (“naked”), Eddie Cunningham (“movie”), Lucy Steigerwald (“rules”), and Gideon (“cleaning”).

From the Archives

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It is…easier to characterize sex work activists as traffickers and pimps than what they really are: vulnerable women advocating for themselves within a system that is set up to marginalize and dehumanize them.  –  Alana Massey

Amsterdam

What the fuck is this patronizing bullshit?

Amsterdam may open a brothel where fifty women will get a chance to do their work without pimps. The municipality proposes five buildings with a total of 19 windows available…A feasibility study has been launched to see what all is involved in a prostitution business that is run by prostitutes. The municipality believes that a company which sex workers themselves are responsible for the affairs, will contribute to a prostitution industry with good working conditions without abuses…

If Dutch politicians would stop mistaking their masturbatory fantasies for reality, they’d know that most prostitutes already run their businesses without the dubious “help” of pimps or politicians.

Real People Bella Robinson

Here’s a good profile of Bella Robinson, written by fellow activist Tara Burns:

Bella Robinson entered the sex industry as a homeless 18-year-old fleeing an abusive marriage that had rescued her from the foster care system.  She’s exactly the sort of “victim” for whom sex trafficking laws were invented.  But Robinson—now a human rights activist who has been a hooker (her preferred term) for 30 years—doesn’t think of herself as a victim of the sex industry.  She says she’s been sex trafficked by the state and victimized by laws intended to help people like her…

One Size Fits All

Because Shazam!

51-year-old Robert Edward Neves, an American National arrested in the Philippines, will face trial for [dating] a 17-year-old [woman]…Neves is also being charged with [sex trafficking]…it is illegal for any person…to keep or have in their company a minor which is 12 years or under – or who is 10 years or more his junior in any public place…The [young woman said she]…and Neves…met in an online date site…eventually becoming lovers…after they met in person…

Follow the Leader

Costumed hooligans with titles like “officer” abduct and abuse people in much the same way every day:

A 6-year-old boy in Missouri endured an emotional four-hour staged kidnapping because his family thought he was being too nice to people he didn’t know…the boy’s mother, grandmother, aunt and a co-worker of the aunt…have been charged with kidnapping and other felonies…the boy was lured…into a pickup after getting off his school bus, tied up, threatened with a gun, taken to a basement where his pants were removed, and told he could be sold into sex slavery…that he would never “see his mommy again,” and he would be “nailed to the wall of a shed”…[he was bound] in the basement for some time before he was unbound and…lectured…about stranger danger…

Uncommon Sense

Ticino has always been considered a haven of the Swiss sex industry.  Dozens of Italian sex workers, both women and men – regularly commute…there…roughly 600 registered sex workers [work] in Ticino out of a total population of 340,000 residents…But…the local government is trying to push through a new law aimed at cracking down on unregulated prostitution by confining the oldest trade to just licensed brothels, apartments and authorised sex districts…

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong

Dear clergymen:  STOP STICKING YOUR DAMNED NOSES INTO OUR BUSINESS.  Love, sex workers everywhere.

Representatives of the Church of Scotland have joined other churches and faith groups, including Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims, Sikhs, Quakers and the Free Church, in urging the First Minister to…follow the kind of prostitution law adopted in Nordic countries…Sex worker-led charity Scot-Pep said laws criminalising the buyer exposed sex workers to HIV and violence and had been rejected by UNAIDS, the World Health Organisation and Human Rights Watch…a Swedish report on the issue published this week had concluded that the law made sex workers more vulnerable.  Fiona Gilbertson…of Scot-Pep…said…”This is clearly a subject about which the Church has been misinformed, and I would invite them…to read the evidence and to speak to sex workers before proceeding any further with this campaign…”

Here’s my friend Laura Lee on the subject.

The Last Shall Be First

A bill…in the Florida Legislature…would make it a crime for transgender people to use single-sex public facilities…including restrooms…that correspond with their gender identity.  Violators would be [subject to]…a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.  The bill would also empower people in a…restroom during any “unlawful entry” to sue the alleged interloper and owner of the facility…single-sex facilities…would be restricted to those with a corresponding “biological sex…at birth”…

Yellow Fever

Lauren HershMost of this reads like a script for a really lurid TV cop show, because reporters nowadays believe everything cops tell them as though it were engraved on stone tablets.  There’s also infantilization of young people, agency denial, bogus statistics, conflation of all “missing child” cases with stranger abduction and all stranger abduction with “sex trafficking”, the evocation of imaginary “criminal gangs”, pro-criminalization propaganda and a special guest appearance by the vile Lauren Hersh, the prohibitionist who was a prosecutor until she was forced out in disgrace for railroading two innocent men for rape.

Policing for Profit 

Here’s another prohibitionist badge-licker who is so busy wanking to his fantasies of “slave ships” that he is unable to comprehend that expanded state power to steal private property will eventually come back to bite him:

Tim Heffer [fantasizes] so strongly that sex [work] is…slavery that he compares the cars…owned by [clients] to slave ships…he testified in support of HB 1558, which would allow [cops to steal]…the cars and money of people arrested for soliciting a prostitute, even if they are never convicted.  “Rather than one large ship, they’re smaller vessels…we need to take these ships away from traffickers and buyers”…

Rough Trade (#339)

Who else but a sociopath could “appear to be in disbelief” when he is convicted for the same kind of rape he’s been convicted for at least twice before?

Akis Livas, 52, appeared to be in disbelief when his lawyer explained to him that he would be locked up for…[booking a sex worker] for four hours, and [bringing] an envelope stuffed with paper which he pretended was the $850 to pay her.  The woman said when she discovered there was no money, she became scared…she has suffered from a lack of trust in others and [is] still receiving counselling…Livas continued to minimise his responsibility and had not shown remorse…

Shame, Shame

A mugshot…is a photo designed to tell the state’s side of a story.  The subject of the photo, taken at one of the lowest points in their life, has no voice, but the language of the form – the unflattering bright light, the drab background, the name and prisoner ID at the bottom – tells us we are looking at a “criminal”.  With the internet, that “we” has expanded to the far reaches of the globe…before the subject can mount a defense, a 1,000-word photo pronouncing their guilt may have already gone viral.  Stacking the deck in favor of the already advantaged police, the photos discourage empathy in favor of judgment…this humiliation becomes just another manifestation of punishment…The press partakes readily in this ritual debasement, the most respectable of media outlets eagerly distributing the state’s unflattering photos, of people who have yet to be convicted of anything, on the front page and on the evening news and on dedicated websites that feature nothing but mugshots…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #420)

After months of negotiations, [German politicians]…agreed the final details of a new law governing sex work…but prostitutes say it isn’t fit for [the] purpose…Undine de Rivière…[of the] sex workers’ union BeSD…[said] the rule requiring sex workers to be registered with the authorities…was unacceptable…[as is] requiring prostitutes to have a doctor’s note…while sex workers are happy to discuss measures that can help them practice their profession and maintain their health, they want them on their terms…

Wise Investment (TW3 #440)

Much more of this, please:

A metro Atlanta dominatrix…is suing a…private investigator for secretly filming their…session…Lakenya Monfort…contends Reginald Walker…posed as…[a] client…[and used a] hidden…video-camera to record the session without Monfort’s knowledge…[to use] as evidence against Monfort in her child-custody case…Georgia law…prohibits secretly…video-recording someone in a place where he or she has a reasonable expectation of privacy…

The Notorious Badge (#452) 

50 shades of clusterfuck:

…the press tour for…50 Shades of Grey [is] now firmly established as among the most disastrous of the past decade…The most glaring problem…is [that]…romantic leads Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan do not like each other…A routine visit to TODAY takes on the excruciating air of a court-ordered couples therapy session…It is not difficult to picture Dornan and Johnson luring one another into a “Red Room of Pain.”  It stretches the capacity of the imagination to think that both would emerge alive…[both]…routinely display discomfort…when talking about sex…Dornan [said]…”I had to do stuff to her that I’d never choose to do to a woman…The first day…was kind of an out-of-body experience…I’m like, ‘What the fuck is happening?  I’m a dad.  What?’…

The way Dornan repeatedly mentions his child, as if to provide a ward against evil, is fascinating in a Victorian kind of way.

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You should have seen what we did to this guy—we jacked him up!  –  “Officer” Cynthia Whitlatch

This week’s top link contributor was nobody!  Actually, it was Reason articles tweeted by the Reason account, but I don’t give self-evident credits (i.e. articles tweeted by their own authors or host media) because they’re self-evident.  Got it?  The first video is from Mark Draughn, and even though I don’t like hip-hop I think this song needs to be promoted, especially because the NYPD wants it censored.  And since 50 Shades of Grey has appeared so often here lately, I thought y’all might enjoy this parody of E.L. James’ execrable prose and abysmal plotting.  The links between the videos were provided by Franklin Harris (“does” and “ad”), Walter Olson (“cuckoo”), Grace (“effect” and “never”), Jillian Keenan (“horrible”), Clarissa (“safer”), Radley Balko (“touch”), Nun Ya  (“lives” and “butch”), Tushy Galore (“dog”), Rick Horowitz (“cane”), Elizabeth N. Brown (“Uber”), Popehat (“rescue”),  and Domina Elle (“menstruating”).

From the Archives

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After writing December’s story “Serpentine”, I conceived of the notion of making it the first of a loose trilogy, connected not by characters, events or setting, but by shared motifs.  This is the second in that trilogy, and you’ll have a month to ponder which other aspect I plan to explore last.

Jacob Ellis was a nervous young man.  That is, he was habitually nervous; he had trouble sitting still for long unless he occupied his hands with something, and it was often difficult for him to focus on the task before him unless he was very, very interested in it.  It wasn’t that he was stupid; quite the opposite in fact.  His mind was so agile, so filled with curiosity, that he found it difficult to keep it from wandering to things that were more worthy of consideration than the dull matters of clerking.  But since it had been determined long ago that he would follow his father into the legal profession, that was what he had done, despite the fact that he would probably have been more suited to a trade involving more motion and less focus on dry-as-dust wills, deeds, contracts and all the other mundane matters of a family law practice.

But today, he was also situationally nervous, because his father had entrusted him with his first important client:  the estate of Magnolia Machen, the wealthiest woman in the county.  Mr. Machen had been killed in the War, and since many a lost fortune and devastated farm had been left behind in General Sherman’s wake, it had not been difficult for his widow to purchase a grand old house (in need of some repair) and most of the other valuable land in the area, and to build up a considerable income from it.red tape  And since Mrs. Machen was a woman of reclusive and frugal ways, that income had enabled her to invest in the stock market and to acquire other, more valuable properties stretching from coast to coast.

She was so reclusive, in fact, that Jake had not even been aware that she had a daughter until his father told him that he was to meet her at the house today.  And that meeting was the cause of yet a third layer of nervousness:  Miss Machen was stunningly beautiful, with mounds of lustrous hair, dark, piercing eyes and a sinuous grace that more befit a dancer than a debutante.  Being in her presence filled him with powerful feelings he could not clearly define and was not at all comfortable with, and he felt himself perspiring under his seersucker to a degree he felt was profuse, even considering the June heat.  Could she really be almost forty years old?  She didn’t look a day over twenty-two, but if she were that young she’d have been born more than ten years after the late Mr. Machen’s demise.  Best not to think too hard about it.  “You’ll have to forgive me, Miss, but up until today I wasn’t even aware that you existed; I had assumed the estate would go to more distant relatives.”

If she noticed his clumsy handling of the statement, she was far too well-mannered to show it.  “I haven’t lived here since before you were born.  You see, my mother was a singularly cold-blooded woman, and didn’t really want to be burdened with a child.  So I was shipped off at a very young age to be educated in Europe, and have lived with various relatives in various parts of three continents since then.  I have only seen my mother a handful of times since childhood, and the only reason I was here when she died was that she wrote me a letter summoning me here a few weeks ago, once her doctor told her that she only had a little while yet to live.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” said Jake, mostly because he couldn’t think of anything else to say.  He was a bit surprised that Doc Thompson’s prognosis had been so accurate; he had been largely retired for twenty years, and the only people who still consulted him were those more concerned with his legendary discretion than with his very average level of skill.  Thompson probably knew about the dirty laundry and closet skeletons of most of the best families in the region, and would take that knowledge to the grave in a very few years.  It had been a very profitable specialization for him; people said there was no secret, however dark, that a sufficient sum could not persuade him to keep.

Miss Machen shrugged.  “Hardly a loss, Mr. Ellis; as I just told you, she and I weren’t very close.  The only reason her death affects me more than the death of a business associate is that it stands to be extremely profitable for me.”

Even after hearing about their estrangement, Miss Machen’s coldness in regard to her mother shocked him. I reckon the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, he thought; I won’t be surprised to hear she sends her daughter away, too.  But out loud he said, “Well, um, yes…that is, ah, er, you’re her sole beneficiary.”

“I’m well aware of the contents of the will, Mr. Ellis; my mother did not like surprises, and was therefore not one to inflict them on others.”  Her voice was soft as silk, but her gaze sank into his being like…he preferred not to think about it.  “In fact, if it’s all the same to you we can dispense with the customary formalities; I’d rather just sign what I have to sign and then be on my way.  I’ve a train to New Orleans to catch in only a few hours.”

“Of course; my father has been your mother’s attorney since the early seventies, so it’s the least I can do to, ah, expedite things for you.  There are just, um, a few questions…”

“Oh?”  The brief syllable dripped impatience.

“Um, yes, well, just one really important one, and a minor one.  First, I see we have a copy of the death certificate, but there’s absolutely nothing anywhere about funeral arrangements.”

“My mother didn’t believe in such frivolities, nor do I.  Her remains were cremated.”

“C-c-c-cremated?”

“You find that frightening?” The trace of a smile flickered across the lovely lips, but only for an instant.

“N-no, not exactly, it’s just, um, I’ve never seen that done before.”

cremation urn“There are no local crematories, Mr. Ellis; my mother’s doctor took it to the nearest one.  It’s all in these papers here, and the ashes are in that urn.”  She gestured to a rather plain metal container placed unceremoniously among other boxes on the parlor table.  “Now what was the other matter?”

“Oh, um, it’s just these, um, Arizona ranch holdings; I don’t have all the information I need to deal with them from here, and I’d rather not have to bill you for a trip all the way out there.”

“I believe a telegram to my attorney in Denver would clear that up,” she said, rising from her seat; “I’ll just tell him to respond directly to you.”

Since Miss Machen had pointed it out, Jake had been unable to keep his mind off of the urn; he had never seen the ashes of a human body before, and was consumed with curiosity about what they would be like.  Were they fine, or coarse?  Were the teeth and bones wholly reduced, or were there still shards?  He just had to see, and Miss Machen would be on the telephone with the telegraph office for at least a few minutes.  What would be the harm?  After all, neither the old lady nor her daughter seemed very sentimental about the remains, and neither of them was in a position to see him peeking anyhow.  He turned to the container and lifted the lid, but was startled and confused when he found not ashes, but something white and papery.  He quickly glanced down the hall to be sure his hostess was not yet returning, then reached into the jar and pulled out the contents.  As a boy he had once seen the cast-off skin of a snake, thin and translucent but still retaining the shape of the animal which had left it behind when it became too old and worn to be of use any longer; that’s what the thing in the urn reminded him of, though it was much larger.  And though it had been crumpled and broken in the process of compressing it into the undersized container, it was still quite obvious that the creature which had shed this decrepit husk was possessed of a human shape.

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If you can talk, you can breathe.  –  unidentified murderer cop

Not a bad selection of links for the post-holiday weekend, really; the first video was one of several Jae showed me on New Year’s Eve, while the selection of the second was based on a Twitter conversation between several sex workers (I will leave you to guess the subject yourselves).  All the links above the first video were provided by Tushy Galore, and those between the videos by  PopehatGraceRick HorowitzRadley BalkoClarkhatElizabeth N. Brown, and Dave Krueger (in that order).

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