Staring Down the Night Stalker

Richard Ramirez via Wikicommons

Everyone seems to be talking about “Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer” on Netflix. It seems like an appropriate time to re-post my own experience with Richard Ramirez. This post was originally published on LAist.

There are some people, mostly retirees, who haunt the halls of the downtown LA courthouses, attending trials for entertainment. High-profile trials are mobbed, but the regulars know the secret is to attend the preliminary hearings instead. When the hearings were held for the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, the courtroom was practically empty. I only worked half-days, and at the time I was taking prescription opiates, so I had a lot of patience for just hanging out. Sometimes I took the bus to the courthouse and watched the afternoon sessions of the preliminary hearings. This is where Ramirez pulled a lot of the antics you saw in the newspaper, like drawing a pentagram on his hand, and lunging at the DA.

I often left the courtroom for a smoke when victims took the stand. The “regulars” knew when a particular witness was going to be harrowing or horrifying and warned each other. I was mainly interested in the detective work and forensics – the shoeprint outside a window, the blood spatter – what we now know as “CSI”. I didn’t want to witness people’s tortured tales of horror and fear.

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watt’s picture of the week – friday, january 15, 2021

this morning at the crack of dawn at the sp slip in my pedro town…

photo by mike watt

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mike watt’s hoot page

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The Descendents Send Trump off of Twitter and out of our Lives

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Get Your Sandwich Fix at Element 29, a Detroit-Style Deli

Element 29 is a Detroit-style deli in Culver City that offers great sandwiches, with pastrami that might be the best in Los Angeles.

The amiable owner, Chef Jeff Meyer, grew up in Motor City “eating at delis constantly. What can I say? I’m a Jew. I’ve always loved delis and I’ve dreamed of opening a restaurant since I was a teenager.”

Quality reigns supreme here. The briskets — USDA Prime only — are seasoned with Moroccan ras el hanout spice blend, then smoked for 18 hours. Most offerings are made in house, including the corned beef, pastrami, smoked turkey, and gravlax.

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Movies Till Dawn: Something for Your Rattled Nerves

The Beguiled” (1971, Kino Lorber) Wounded Union soldier Clint Eastwood attempts to play fox in the henhouse while recuperating at a private women’s school in the Deep South, but his increasingly aggressive behavior only provokes an even more disturbing response from the headmistress (Geraldine Page) and students. Audiences didn’t want to see Eastwood play a heel, which doomed this period thriller from Don Siegel upon release; four-plus decades later, it’s the performances – especially Page and Elizabeth Hartman in roles that teeter on the edge of misogyny – that distinguish the film, though the suspense and unsettling atmosphere also has appeal. Kino’s Special Edition Blu-ray includes insightful commentary by Kat Ellinger, a new interview with cast member Melody Thomas Scott, and a vintage featurette on Eastwood and Siegel’s collaborations in 1971, which included this film, “Play Misty for Me” and “Dirty Harry.”

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Book Review: Peter And The Wolves by Adele Bertei

Residents of Cleveland in the 1970s produced some of the most memorable proto-punk music ever made, music so memorable we still talk about it today even though it was barely recorded and in its day, was almost totally unreleased. These bands still exist for people like me, not like the bands whose records I pored over in my youth but like remembered dreams, rock and roll ideas so imperfectly documented, the imagination has to fill in a lot of blanks. Adele Bertei was in the thick of this scene while it happened, and was in a band with Peter Laughner, whose work as a member of Rocket From The Tombs and Pere Ubu is totemic to anyone even a little bit interested in what punk before punk sounded like. Peter And The Wolves explains how this sausage got made even when it felt like no one was looking.

Picking up enough info about this scene has always been tricky, but possible, kind of like poring through rolls of old microfilm, looking at negative images of photos and trying to get a feeling from them. Bertei’s text puts flesh to the images, vivid memoir writing that captures a flavor from a place and time. I can’t say if this is completely accurate, I wasn’t there, but it rings true according to what I do know about that town and my own impressions of it as a tourist. It has the feeling of reading an article that you want to keep going on. The 80-some pages pass quickly, and I recommend having a copy of Smog Veil’s excellent 5-disc Laughner retrospective from 2019 handy for background music.  Continue reading

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Wonder Woman 1984: The Morning After, Hot Takes / Exorcisms

By Badly Licked Bear

1. Whips: As both an experienced Spelunky player and a level 20 masochist, I am deeply concerned with the terrible whip handling in this film. Is it a lasso? Is it a whip? Pick a style. This film looks like a video game with a bad physics engine whenever the Lasso of Truth is in play.

If you’re at a dungeon or party and someone with a singletail wants to have fun and they say “I was inspired by Wonder Woman 1984,” just shout your safeword, immediately.

I give this entire film “One out of Five Whips.”

2. Dinner Dates & Wasted Potential: Look. People like Wonder Woman for various reasons, and I’m not going to rehash the Queer or BDSM history of the character, here, but it’s inseparable from the character. The best part of the first movie was what a butch friend and I called “Lesbian Golf Island,” and while this film opened really limp in that area, it followed with what almost…for a moment…seemed like it was moving towards the funniest “Two women on a date, but not sure if they’re actually on a date” moments in film. It could have gone somewhere – or at least made a joke.

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Pop-Up Alert: The Bahn Mi Shop at Piccalilli

The Bahn-Mi Shop. Photo credit: Piccalilli

The Bahn Mi Shop is a brand-new pop-up debuting today, Tuesday, January 5.

You’ll find The Bahn Mi shop at Piccalilli, the Asian fusion restaurant in downtown Culver City. A temporary concept, The Bahn Mi Shop has a simple menu: four types of bahn mi, along with green papaya salad, brussels sprouts with Korean chili and corn nuts, and two house-made spritzers (fresh lemonade and fresh ginger ale).

The pop-up came about due to the popularity of the eatery’s Vietnamese sandwiches. Each sandwich — choose from pork belly, lemongrass BBQ chicken, crispy tofu, or fried egg — comes with pickled daikon and carrot, Thai herbs, and sambal aioli on a sesame sourdough baguette, with nuoc mam and hoisin vinaigrette on the side, and a serving of house-made potato chips.

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A Skeptic’s Review of Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel

Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel with Zac Bagans is one of the heavily promoted new shows hoping to lure you to the new streaming service, Discovery +. I chose to get the 2-week free trial because Scott Michaels, friend of the Beat and expert on the history of everything creepy in Los Angeles, would be appearing in the 2-hour special that starts streaming today. The Covid lockdown probably made this special happen for Ghost Adventures, because the lack of guests (and probably lack of funds) made it possible for them to explore the Cecil for the very first time, even camping out in the infamous hotel for several nights.


They did their homework on the Cecil, famous for the mysterious death of Canadian tourist Elisa Lam in 2013, as well as the many murders, suicides, and serial killer guests. The show had all of the details. If I ever felt like important information was missing, it would be revealed at a later stage in the show. This is where people like Scott come in, because he seriously knows his shit.

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Movies Till Dawn: Opening on a More Positive Note

White Riot” (2019, Film Movement) Briskly paced and decidedly on-time documentary about the Rock Against Racism movement in the UK during the mid-1970s, with its focus divided evenly between the marquee names at various benefit concerts (the Clash, Steel Pulse, Sham 69, Tom Robinson) and the writers, photographers, artists, and others who cemented the group’s push against the National Front and its xenophobic tenets (which were notoriously supported by Eric Clapton, David Bowie, and members of the punk scene). The former comes in bracing live footage from the 1978 Victoria Park concert and from new and archival interviews with, among others, the late Joe Strummer, Pauline Black (The Selector), and producer Dennis Bovell; the latter is equally invigorating, with director Rubika Shah emulating the cut-up aesthetic of the movement’s flagship publication, Temporary Hoarding, through graphics, unsettling news footage and archival images.

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