Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

All News Stories Mentioning the Gun Fight in Front of Our Loft

5 Oct

I scoured the news to try to find out what happened at our lofts. There was one article and 4 peripheral mentions of the gun fight at our lofts.

Here is my story of what I observed that night for comparison:

St. Louis hopes solution to summer crime is combo of enforcement, youth programs

ST. LOUIS — City officials on Thursday outlined a plan to combine enforcement and funding to deter crime in the summer months.

The city will devote $1 million in Community Development Block Grants to provide summer programming for children and teens, including camps, pop-up events and three meals a day, officials said at an event with community partners at the O’Fallon Park Rec Complex YMCA.

At the same time, police patrols are being increased, said Heather Taylor, deputy director for the Department of Public Safety. The police department will use data to determine when and where officers should patrol to help reduce crime downtown and in the Downtown West neighborhood.

The dual tactics come amid concerns about an uptick in crime in the downtown area recently and as students are wrapping up classes ahead of summer. Taylor said keeping kids engaged and providing them resources is critical in creating a safer city and a better future. “I actually grew up in St. Louis city, and rec centers are why I’m here,” Taylor said. “… I grew up in the ’90s where homicides were at their highest in the city of St. Louis. If it wasn’t for rec centers, having that outlet and those resources available to me, I wouldn’t be a college graduate.”

The city and St. Louis Public Schools worked together to create Summer Fun STL, a series of youth camps, programs and pop-up events that will take place at seven locations from June 6 through July 29. The offerings also will include three meals a day for kids ages 5 to 17. City officials hope to serve about 700 kids with the programs. The locations are: Nance Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary, Ashland Elementary, Walbridge Elementary, Patrick Henry Downtown, Yeatman Middle School and Peabody Elementary School.

The Gateway Region YMCA also will provide programming with funding from the Prop S Youth at Risk Program. More information on the city’s youth summer programs is available at www.stlouis-mo.gov.

Paired with the new programming, the city is boosting police enforcement efforts. Officers will work 12-hour shifts on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. And during peak crime hours — 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. — the city will increase traffic enforcement, air support, specialized units, park rangers and deputy marshals. A collaboration with the St. Louis Sheriff’s Office also will provide an increased police presence on Washington Avenue and Market Street.

The city began increased patrols of downtown about a month ago, and this week announced they have worked with rentable electric scooter companies to shut down the service at 7 p.m. in the downtown area after residents complained of safety hazards created by the scooters.

Additionally, Lt. Col. Michael Sack announced the city’s public safety department has developed an incident mass notification system in partnership with federal authorities, highway patrol and local agencies, to help the city investigate large-scale violence and mass shootings. Sack is the commander of the Bureau of Community Policing but will take over as interim police chief next month when Chief John Hayden retires.

6.) https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/st-louis-hopes-solution-to-summer-crime-is-combo-of-enforcement-youth-programs/article_b50b0c28-9379-582a-afff-77077a3d8763.html

Downtown ambassadors in St. Louis act as ‘eyes and ears’ to spot trouble, offer help

ST. LOUIS — On a warm June night in downtown St. Louis, a woman walked frantically around Kiener Plaza. She spotted two men in bright orange vests, ran up to them and asked if they’d seen a man with two small children. The kids were her godchildren, she explained, and the man had called to say they were stranded downtown, with no car. His phone had then died. The men in the vests, part of the Downtown Youth Ambassadors, had been paying attention. One asked if a child in the group had curly hair and a grayish shirt. Yes, the woman replied, in relief. “I think I saw them that way, but I’ll keep a lookout,” said the ambassador, pointing west toward Citygarden. When asked by a reporter if similar situations happen often, he nodded. “All the time,” he said, as he and his orange-vested partner continued walking throughout downtown.

The Youth Ambassadors program was created a year ago through the Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District, a special taxing district that pays for cleaning, security and other services in the city’s entertainment and employment hub. A group of ambassadors, who are mostly school resource officers, patrol the streets every weekend to help visitors, answer questions and spot trouble. One of the primary objectives of the program was to help address mayhem and crimes that have occurred downtown, especially among teens. The ambassadors’ roles drew heightened attention this spring, as large groups of juveniles roamed the streets on electric scooters, with some occasionally breaking into fights. On the first Saturday in June, two teen girls were wounded when gunfire erupted as two groups of juveniles began fighting around 8 p.m. In 2022, at least one teen has been injured by gunfire in downtown every month.

On some nights, the ambassadors witness the aftermath of shootings and fights. Sometimes they rush to help victims of violence. They communicate with police, even when they just sense trouble may be brewing. They also serve as deterrents, stepping in to talk with teens, some of whom they recognize, before mischief turns more serious. Other days are much calmer. Ambassadors will give out directions to visitors trying to find their hotels after sightseeing near the Gateway Arch, or dish out restaurant recommendations to Cardinals fans. “We’re just eyes and ears here to make sure everything is going OK,” said Janice Dickerson, one of the ambassadors.

Forming the program, recruiting ambassadors

The Youth Ambassador program is similar to one started years ago by the Downtown St. Louis CID, but the new version was crafted by Ron Johnson, a retired Missouri Highway Patrol captain. Johnson was appointed by then-Gov. Jay Nixon to head security in Ferguson after the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014. He retired in 2018 after three decades in law enforcement and launched a security consulting firm. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner hired Johnson’s firm in 2019 on a one-year contract to serve as a liaison between her office and police.

Kelli McCrary, executive director for Downtown St. Louis CID, brought on Johnson’s firm to help improve safety downtown.

The neighborhood organization has allocated about $100,000 to the Downtown Youth Ambassador program. McCrary says there may be room to grow the program in the future.

Last summer, Johnson drove around for nearly eight weeks and spotted a trend: large groups, sometimes 30 or more youths, on Washington Avenue and along the grassy park areas along Market Street, from Memorial Plaza to Kiener Plaza. His next step, he said, was trying to address how to break up the “youthful” large crowds, which he noted sometimes included older teens and young adults. “I didn’t take the approach ‘Well how do we stop our youth from coming downtown?’” he said. “I didn’t take the approach of ‘Well how do we arrest ourselves out of an issue? But how do we make sure that we can all exist and enjoy the treasures of downtown?’”

Johnson met with Kelvin Adams, superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, to ask for recommendations from the district’s resource officers, who are trained in de-escalation and crisis intervention, and to help form the team of ambassadors.

Today, most of the ambassadors are resource officers who roam school hallways with students and often recognize those students while working downtown. There are also a few other school employees and retired police officers in the program. “I just love kids. You just have to for this job,” said Cortez Ward, one of the program’s supervisors and a resource officer at Gateway Middle School. Ward is one of about 40 ambassadors working part time on weekends.

The ambassadors are instructed not to disarm people, and they do not have authority to make arrests. They are equipped with vests and radios — and their experience working with youths. “When the kids can see themselves in you, that’s how you form a relationship with them,” Johnson said. “You see them and they see you, and they can begin to put themselves maybe in their position. And when you’re trying to talk to him or her, that’s a better opportunity for them to listen.”

‘You can’t stop everything’

Ambassadors believe they can earn the trust of youths and other residents. Nancy James, an ambassador and former police detective, says some kids will come up to her to warn of trouble. “They’ll point out who has a gun or who is starting a fight,” James said. When trouble does hit, the ambassadors often have to intervene.

One night in May, James took cover when shots rang out near Kiener Plaza. She then calmed a young girl who had a graze wound on her back. James said she connected to police by radio and helped get in contact with the injured girl’s mother.

The ambassadors say that parents have a role to play, pointing out, for example, that they’ve seen adults drop off large groups of kids and then drive off. Police and city officials in recent weeks have pleaded with parents to supervise kids more carefully downtown; some ambassadors say those pleas may help explain why downtown on recent weekends has been calmer.

Others say the city’s ban on scooters downtown has sent a message to kids that they should avoid the area.

Johnson, the program director, says the youths heading downtown are not coming from just one neighborhood, or even just the city. He believes regional leaders, from across St. Louis County and the Metro East, need to work together to establish activities and events for youths on weekends.

One ambassador, Carole Dent, a former police officer and currently a parole officer for the Department of Corrections, says some “terrible” incidents have overshadowed the downtown experience. Dent says a small group of “bad actors” is usually at the center of trouble, with most other teens just running around scared. But she added that she has just as many good memories as bad, recalling teens taking prom pictures downtown in the spring. “You can’t stop everything,” she said. “You don’t know how much we’ve stopped either.”

7.) https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/downtown-ambassadors-in-st-louis-act-as-eyes-and-ears-to-spot-trouble-offer-help/article_bdd90261-0d06-52d4-a51f-96ae414cf2bd.html

100 Shots Fired Between Downtown St. Louis Rentals

It’s not the first shooting at a downtown short-term rental this year

By Benjamin Simon on Wed, Jul 20, 2022 at 3:04 pm

Short-term renters fired up to 100 shots at each other Wednesday morning. Nearly 100 shots were fired during a shootout between short-term renters early Wednesday morning, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Around 1 a.m. in the Downtown West neighborhood, an argument broke out between parties staying on the 1900 block of Washington Avenue and on the 400 block of North 20th Street. Shortly after, a nearby resident told KSDK that they’d heard shots similar to “machine fire” for two to three minutes.

Initially, witnesses stated to police that the shooting took place between separate Airbnb renters. They have since clarified their statement to say that the shooting took place between “short-term rentals.” An Airbnb spokesperson confirmed to RFT there are no active or recent reservations at either property on 1920 Washington or 411 N. 20th Street.

Two people were injured, according to the police’s incident report. The police noted that they arrested two suspects and seized “a large quantity” of narcotics and firearms in one of the rental units. This is the most recent incident in a slew of deadly shootings this year at short-term rental units in the downtown area.

In early March, a 16-year-old was shot and killed in the Ely Walker Lofts. A few weeks later, two teenagers were killed at a birthday party at Cupples Station Loft Apartments. Both were thought to happen at short-term rentals.

During the police department’s weekly crime update on Wednesday morning, Lieutenant Angela Dickerson said she doesn’t believe there’s an “ongoing problem” with violence in downtown-area short-term rental units. Police spokeswoman Evita Caldwell said the violence stems from a few “bad actors” who are “doing things they aren’t supposed to do or doing things they are not disclosing to [short-term rental] owners.”

In March, LaShana Lewis, chair of the St. Louis Downtown Neighborhood Association, told KMOV that the area was looking into restrictions on downtown rentals. “Given recent events … people seem to be now making sure that we have some sort of wrap-around [for] requirements for having [short-term rentals], especially in downtown,” Lewis said.

This story has been updated to remove all references to Airbnb on July 21 at 11:57 a.m.

1.) https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.riverfronttimes.com/news/100-shots-fired-between-downtown-st-louis-rentals-38139252%3Fmedia%3DAMP%2BHTML

Police: 100 shots fired in Downtown West neighborhood, 2 injured

One resident said the shots sounded like a machine gun and lasted for as long as two or three minutes.

Author: Alex Fees (KSDK), Elyse Schoenig

Published: 8:07 AM CDT July 20, 2022

Updated: 5:40 PM CDT July 20, 2022

ST. LOUIS — Dozens of shots were fired in St. Louis’ Downtown West neighborhood early Wednesday morning. One resident said the shots sounded like a machine gun and lasted for as long as two or three minutes.

Police said the shootings happened at around 12:30 a.m. near 20th Street and Washington Avenue. Police said their mobile reserve units reported hearing “a hundred” gunshots. Officers believe there were groups at separate parties involved and people were feuding and shooting at each other. 

Police said a 20-year-old woman was found in the area of 20th Street and Washington Avenue. Police said she was a passenger in a car that was hit by gunfire near the scene of the shooting. She was taken to the hospital for treatment. The driver was not injured.

Officers found another victim with a gunshot wound to his foot. He was also taken to a hospital for treatment. Police said he was also one of the suspects in the shooting.

5 On Your Side spoke to several people in the area who say they’re at the point of wanting to move out. “This honestly has to stop,” area business owner Nicole Jenkins said. “I grew up in the City of St. Louis and I’ve never seen it like this.” Jenkins’s concerns were echoed by many of the other area business owners. “It’s disheartening because you want your customers to feel safe,” Ashanti Moorehead said. Jenkins said she wants more action, like increased police presence, and more surveillance. “I think there needs to be officers on feet for what needs to take place and occur here,” Jenkins said. At the end of the day, she said her passion is serving her clients. She said if her safety and theirs are at risk, it’s time to take her passion and move it somewhere else.

“I caution the investigation is very preliminary at this juncture,” said St. Louis Police Lt. Mathew Karnoski. “There were two groups of individuals shooting at each other. We are in the midst of recovering dozens and dozens of shell casings and so far, we have recovered three firearms and arrested two people.”

Police said witnesses said the parties were hosted at Airbnb rentals.

A spokesperson for Airbnb noted there were no active listings or reservations at either property.

Karknoski said two handguns were recovered at the scene.  “One has been outfitted with a device to make it a fully automatic weapon, and we’ve also recovered a 223 AR-style pistol,” he said.

Police also seized a “large quantity” of suspected narcotics from the scene.

Downtown resident Dale Carney lives at the intersection. “I was almost asleep and heard the gunfire,” said Carney. “I basically dove under the bed. I called 911 right away and got through in a second, luckily. I told the lady 20th and Washington, gunfire. Lots of gunfire. When I was talking to them, it was still going off, so I’m sure they probably heard it over my phone.”

9.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/shots-fired-shooting-airbnb-downtown-west-st-louis/63-116543b2-253b-488f-86d6-42599cf2f3cd

This is our police report:

There are literally 13 people aressted for our incident, ages ranging from 16 to 47!

Here’s some pictures where I marked where we were (mostly circles) in relation to where the most major shooting occured (the line on the sidewalk 4′ under our window and the x’s and *):

And I think the spaces between demographics and heading of “State of Missouri” in that police report means an officer (“special victim”) might have been involved.

From what I saw, it was probably cross fire, because the police were not close during the actual altercation. I think it would be plausible that one of the gunmen with his back to our loft, and shooting across our parking lot an another young person (also armed and shooting) may have clipped a police car or something like that.

The “x” are where police cars finally came to, after the shooting was mostly over. Maybe 1-3 shots happened after I saw police.

This is how Saint Louis news described our gun fight involving 13 people and possibly an officer:

It’s weird that a whole-ass, multi-person gun fight is being framed as cars being shot??! The one article (the ONLY one that talks specifically of the gun fight we witnessed) directly addressing 7-13 people shooting automatic weapons was reduced to ballistic damage on 15 cars. It is hardly accurate or reflective of what actually went on–and nobody cared to gather information or report what actually occurred.

I’ll post the Reddit chain about our gun fight in a different entry.

2.) https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/15-vehicles-damaged-overnight-during-rapid-gunfire-in-st-louis/

a “special victim” is defined as:

Downtown violence, 12-hour shifts, dwindling roster stressing St. Louis police

Some commanders have shared their feelings about the current state of affairs in memos obtained by 5 On Your Side.

Author: Christine Byers (KSDK)

Published: 5:56 PM CDT August 1, 2022

Updated: 6:26 PM CDT August 1, 2022

ST. LOUIS — Hundreds of shots fired, two innocent people caught in the crossfire, bullet holes in multiple cars and buildings downtown this past weekend.

All of it comes at a time when the city is forcing officers to work 12-hour overtime shifts, which have led to impassioned memos from commanders scrambling to fill cars as the police union estimates 102 officers have left the force so far this year.

Mayor Tishaura Jones stood with Maj. Renee Kriesmann during a weekly downtown safety briefing Monday, and cited a December 2020 study paid for by the Regional Business Commission when asked what her plan is to retain and recruit officers.

“(The study) showed St. Louis actually has enough officers, they just need to deploy them in the right way,” Jones said. “And so we have been looking at our deployment strategies, along with the Center for Policing Equity, to make sure that we can deploy our officers in a smarter way and also making sure that we’re deploying our alternative responses. “So we have Cops and Clinicians, we have a diversion program that takes a little bit of that burden off of officers responding to every call.” She also said St. Louis isn’t alone in its struggle to find officers, which she found out while attending an event sponsored by the National League of Cities. “There wasn’t one mayor at the table who also isn’t experiencing an officer shortage,” she said. “So it was not just St. Louis, it’s Tacoma, Washington, it’s Jackson, Mississippi, it’s Union, Georgia, it’s Savannah, Georgia, it’s Montgomery, Alabama. “These are all cities, including more that are experiencing an officer shortage in the midst of a nationwide labor shortage.” Maj. Renee Kriesmann outlined the weekend’s violence, and added: “It’s not a big secret that we are short some officers, however, what we’re trying to do is use the officers that we have to keep them visible.”

Internally, some commanders have shared their feelings about the current state of affairs in memos obtained by 5 On Your Side.

On July 13, Lieutenant Michael McAteer wrote to the Technological Solutions & Investigations staff, letting them know he would be calling on as many as 10 of them to return to the streets. The unit typically works at headquarters on technology-based policing at the Real Time Crime Center, monitoring cameras during incidents, ShotSpotter calls and other intelligence-based investigations. “I am afraid that I must ask your help in making some extremely difficult decisions as we move forward,” he wrote. “As a good supervisor, I am sure each of you has paid attention to the agency’s staffing crisis, and have anticipated the potential impact this might eventually have upon our division. What comes next cannot be of any great surprise at this point.”

He told his staff he met with Interim Chief Michael Sack during the first week in July.

“He was quite candid in sharing staffing issues: 124 officers removed from the manning table last year; down another 140 officers from there, minus another 75 on various forms of long-term leave/sick/limited duty. Altogether, it can be safely estimated approximately 340 fewer cops than the Department fielded just seven years ago. Sadly, I cannot say that we have reached bottom. As other agencies step up their recruitment efforts and fill their vacancies, it is only common sense that they would seek out seasoned officers from the St. Louis Police Department. Unfortunately, even with mandatory staffing requirements, the districts continue to struggle with properly staffing patrol vehicles. In essence, this staffing issue has now become an officer safety concern.” He assured his officers he argued to keep the staffing level in the Intelligence Unit as is, arguing the unit provides a high-tech approach to crime strategies, moving officers out of the unit will cost the department specialized training and experience and the unit’s stats speak for themselves. “While these arguments have prevailed in helping us avoid cuts in past situations, the scope of the department’s existing crisis most certainly overpowers everything,” he wrote.

Sack wrote to a memo to sergeants and officers Friday, in which he talked about crime summaries officers read every day. “What they don’t contain is equally important. That is, they don’t note the efforts each of you takes to serve. Incidents seem to pile up, one upon another. Call, followed by call, followed by report writing, maybe a booking and an email to the (Circuit Attorney’s Office) mailbox. Each day you come to work and go through your shift. Some shifts may seem like a repeat of the previous day. I know this is difficult for you. I know the 12-hour shifts are a strain – not only on you, but your families as well. We watch each week as our officer-peers leave for other agencies or retire. We encounter challenging situations and endure it all with professionalism and compassion. Our Department is not unlike others. Other agencies struggle to retain and attract officers. While we may not be able to control retention, we can control our response to the challenges we face each day. This is a difficult time for law enforcement. Please know that I appreciate your efforts and that what you do makes a difference in the lives of many in our community…I humbly ask you to continue to carry on as best you can, to work hard and do the right thing. The community is counting on each of us. Please keep focused on your service and perform your duties proudly and safely. Thank you for what you have done, and what you will continue to do as we serve in this challenging time.”

Barely more than 24 hours after that memo went out, officers at Central Patrol reported hearing about 100 gunshots just past 2 a.m. Saturday. Calls then came into 911 soon after reporting shots fired near the Architect Stunning Lofts in the 700 block of N. 21st Street. There, police found 15 cars damaged by gunfire and 50 shell casings.

A few hours later, two people were dropped off at a hospital with gunshot wounds, and police believe they were involved in the shooting.

At 3:14 a.m. Sunday, a 78-year-old woman and a 55-year-old man were struck by gunfire in the 1300 block of Convention. Both survived their injuries, but police found 100 shell casings at the scene along with nine apartment windows and five cars damaged by gunfire.

Police also reported between 200 to 300 juveniles congregated in and around a new event space called The Den in the 1300 block of Convention around that time.

When asked whether the 12-hour mandatory overtime shifts may continue in the fall months, she said department leaders evaluate that question every week. So do the officers.

3.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/local/st-louis-downtown-violence-police-department/63-927ca100-a7c5-40a9-b47a-6055745d9d8d

Cool’s Interview:

4.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/01/downtown-west-residents-asking-city-leaders-police-intervention-after-violent-weekend/

Teen shot, killed inside transit station on Monday in St. Louis

“It’s just so scary to think that this happened inside a bus and train station where so many people were,” said a woman whose brother tried to buy a ticket.

Author: Robert Townsend

Published: 5:30 AM CDT August 2, 2022

Updated: 5:30 AM CDT August 2, 2022

ST. LOUIS — “It’s scary to think that this would happen in a station like this where it’s really business,” said a concerned woman, who asked that her identity be released.

Witnesses told police in mid-afternoon Monday a mask and hoodie-wearing, young guy stormed through the front entrance at the St. Louis Gateway Transportation Center at south 15th and Poplar Streets near Enterprise Center. Within moments witnesses said the gunman shot a teenage boy in his head and killed him.

Police say the boy was sitting in the lobby.

“It was just so crazy. We saw the young man’s body just lying there on the floor. That could have been one of my family members. It’s just sickening,” the woman told 5 On Your Side’s Robert Townsend.

Multiple police officers rushed to the scene, put up crime scene tape and started talking to witnesses. The station was packed with dozens of travelers at the time. The woman, who spoke with 5 On Your Side, says her brother was trying to buy a train ticket just minutes before. She asked that her name not be revealed. “The witnesses said the young man who was murdered was sitting in a seat in the lobby. The guy came in the building, stood behind him and said ‘what’s up now,’ pulled a revolver out of his pants and shot him” said the woman.

Greyhound and Amtrak operate out of the station. Customers say ticket counters for both companies temporarily shut down after the deadly shooting.

It happened after a violent weekend in St. Louis.

Police say early Saturday morning two innocent people were caught in the crossfire when hundreds of gunshots were fired near north 21st Street.

Back at the St. Louis Gateway Transportation Center a frustrated Jhordy Sanchez couldn’t buy a bus ticket to Columbia. “I’m just going to go to the airport and catch a shuttle bus. This is such a big inconvenience It’s bad publicity for Greyhound and bad publicity for St. Louis,” said Sanchez.

Nobody else was hurt. Police quickly took a teenager into custody thanks to eagle-eyed witnesses. “These people were very helpful that when they saw that, they remembered and provided us with a lot of information,” said Major Ryan Cousins with the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department. 

However, that’s little comfort for this weary woman. “I’m tired of the violence and I’m ready to get my family out of town and move,” she said.

Hours after the shooting, both Greyhound and Amtrak were once again selling tickets and running again.

5.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/teen-shot-killed-inside-greyhound-station-st-louis-missouri/63-f9ee95fa-dd35-49ae-a77c-8ad9d4fc2cb7

Downtown leaders to city: Spend more to make downtown St. Louis safe

ST. LOUIS — Downtown business leaders want City Hall to spend more money making the area safer. And they say if that doesn’t happen, the whole city could suffer.

Officials with Greater St. Louis Inc., the region’s business development organization, said Thursday they want city leaders to use part of an unprecedented haul of federal aid to put up more surveillance cameras, upgrade street lights and take steps to slow down traffic on roads like Fourth Street, Broadway and Tucker Boulevard.

The request follows more than a year of problems with high-profile shootings, drag racing and late-night mayhem that has at times fostered a sense of lawlessness in the heart of the region. Residents have complained they can’t sleep at night. Some business owners have worried the bad headlines will scare clientele away, and others have considered relocating themselves.

“A catalytic infrastructure investment from our city government is critical to restoring confidence,” said Jason Hall, Greater St. Louis Inc.’s CEO.

A spokesman for Mayor Tishaura O. Jones was noncommittal Thursday. “We will absolutely take a look at their recommendations,” said the spokesman, Nick Desideri. “Our administration remains committed to improving public safety in downtown St. Louis.”

The city has worked to dampen downtown troubles: It shut down a troublesome nightspot on Washington Avenue last summer, reassigned more police to the area in the fall, and banned electric scooters in June after reports of roving bands of unsupervised youths. Jones also convened a public safety task force with city officials and business executives to monitor progress downtown and respond to problems.

But on Thursday, some of those same executives were asking for more.

Hall spent the first part of a press conference Thursday talking up downtown’s strengths as a hub for high-income employment and tourism, with a growing residential population and plenty of redevelopment potential. He also noted reasons for optimism: The new MLS stadium. The plan to revive the vacant Butler Brothers building. A tech startup’s announcement Wednesday it’s opening an office on troubled Washington Avenue for more than 200 employees.

But Hall also conceded the pandemic took a hefty toll. The number of jobs downtown has dwindled. Office vacancy rates are up. Sidewalks are crumbling, graffiti is covering buildings and high-voltage wiring is hanging out of light poles, Hall said. “We cannot compete as a global city if we allow this to be our front door,” he said.

8.) https://www.stltoday.com/business/local/downtown-leaders-to-city-spend-more-to-make-downtown-st-louis-safe/article_459821d7-5e58-510d-b9e7-9ec3a4bf398c.html

Police investigate after man was shot near Downtown St. Louis

By Kelsee Ward

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 6:12 AM CDT

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – Police are investigating after a man was shot near Downtown St. Louis early Monday morning.

The shooting happened near Washington Avenue and North 18th Street at around 3:14 a.m. Police said the man was shot in the chest when they arrived on the scene.

The investigation is ongoing.

Copyright 2022 KMOV. All rights reserved.

11.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/15/police-investigate-after-man-was-shot-near-downtown-st-louis/

St. Louis City police, public safety leaders address recent uptick in homicides

By Gabriela Vidal

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 8:46 PM CDT

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – As summer winds down, the City of St. Louis Is facing a growing crime trend in homicides. “Unfortunately, we were slightly ahead of where we were last year,” said Public Safety Director Dr. Dan Isom. The City of St. Louis currently has 129 homicides. At this same time last year, the city recorded 121 homicides. The last four happened on Sunday night in a span of five hours. “Any homicide, any loss of life is distressing, but when it happens in such a short period of time, [it] is certainly cause for concern,” said Isom. “Also, in addition to the fact that we don’t find any connection between the four.” Isom said St. Louis police believe the homicide that happened off Grand and Broadway was the result of an altercation between several people, and police have some potential leads on who the suspects could be.

During Monday’s downtown public safety briefing, Isom addressed questions as to why St. Louis is experiencing an uptick in violent crime, he attributed it to several factors. “One, we’ve had a serious explosion in these stolen KIAs and Hyundai’s, which I think offer availability for mobile crimes, and they are being used in certain violent crimes,” said Isom. “This is one issue that has changed and accelerated in the last month or so.” Two, he says it could also be the rise in dangerous weapons on the street. “Meaning guns that can be transitioned to fully automatic. Of course, a gun that is fully automatic is going to be way more lethal than one that’s not,” said Isom. “I think our primary focus right now is enforcement in trying to slow down the violence that’s happening in this community through physical presence, through intelligence, through trying to close these cases as quickly as possible to hold people accountable.”

As of August 20, only 54 percent of homicides have been solved in the City of St. Louis.

“It has been reported that our numbers are down somewhat significantly from last year as well in terms of officers,” said Isom. “However, we have been doing the 12 hour shifts to compensate for that.”

News 4 checked in with the St. Louis Police Officers Association on what they think has contributed to the rise in recent violent crime. President Jay Schroder believes the ongoing shortage of police officers is among the issues that has taken a toll on the community. Right now, he says the department is about 300 positions short. “We’re drastically underpaid compared to departments all around. We used to be one of the better paying departments and now we’re $20,000 dollars behind our people in St. Louis County, so we’re not competitive. We’re not keeping up with the rest of the folks around us,” said Schroder. “It’s going to be a team effort for everyone. it’s going to have to be the police department and the city, they’re going to have to get behind their policemen, to pay their policemen. And they’re going to have to show the guys that ride the streets every day that people actually care.”

Earlier this June, SLMPD institute 12-hour mandatory shifts on the weekends for police across the city to address some of the growing crime trends over the summer, but that policy is expected to end at the end of the month. However, Isom says the city’s focus will still be having police presence in high crime areas. “We will continue to look at personnel and our manpower and try to adjust it to the areas we think will have the most impact,” said Isom. “We have worked officers very hard for the last couple of months working 12-hour shifts, and it certainly has helped, but we have to recognize that we have to give officers a break as well.”

“I’m really hoping that in St. Louis we’re able to say from this point on, we will begin to scale up what works, because we can get out in front of this,” said James Clark, Vice President of Public Safety for the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. Clark tells News 4 that for years he has been saying the solution is prioritizing education and outreach in communities and homes where the crime is taking place. “It starts with the neighborhoods, and it starts with resources in the neighborhood,” said Clark.

Yet, amid violence this past weekend, there was a new symbol of hope on display in the city. A peace sign is now up on display on the wall off 4230 Manchester Avenue in the Grove. Kyle Holbrook, a Miami-based muralist who created the artwork, tells News 4 this is part of an anti-gun violence initiative he started over a year ago. “It’s bringing awareness to the issue, an epidemic that we are in as a city and as a country of gun violence, but it’s not anti-gun,” said Holbrook. St. Louis marks the 42nd city he’s been to in the country to create one of these murals, and he hopes to reach all 50 states by sometime next year. It is especially important to him after losing 46 friends to gun violence over the course of his life. “And the intent is families will know and friends of lost loved ones will know that this is done with their lost loved one in mind,” said Holbrook.

Copyright 2022 KMOV. All rights reserved.

10.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/23/st-louis-city-police-public-safety-leaders-address-recent-uptick-homicides/

Article Weblinks:

1.) https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.riverfronttimes.com/news/100-shots-fired-between-downtown-st-louis-rentals-38139252%3Fmedia%3DAMP%2BHTML

2.) https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/15-vehicles-damaged-overnight-during-rapid-gunfire-in-st-louis/

3.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/local/st-louis-downtown-violence-police-department/63-927ca100-a7c5-40a9-b47a-6055745d9d8d

4.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/01/downtown-west-residents-asking-city-leaders-police-intervention-after-violent-weekend/

5.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/teen-shot-killed-inside-greyhound-station-st-louis-missouri/63-f9ee95fa-dd35-49ae-a77c-8ad9d4fc2cb7

6.) https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/st-louis-hopes-solution-to-summer-crime-is-combo-of-enforcement-youth-programs/article_b50b0c28-9379-582a-afff-77077a3d8763.html

7.) https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/downtown-ambassadors-in-st-louis-act-as-eyes-and-ears-to-spot-trouble-offer-help/article_bdd90261-0d06-52d4-a51f-96ae414cf2bd.html

8.) https://www.stltoday.com/business/local/downtown-leaders-to-city-spend-more-to-make-downtown-st-louis-safe/article_459821d7-5e58-510d-b9e7-9ec3a4bf398c.html

9.) 9.) https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/shots-fired-shooting-airbnb-downtown-west-st-louis/63-116543b2-253b-488f-86d6-42599cf2f3cd

10.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/23/st-louis-city-police-public-safety-leaders-address-recent-uptick-homicides/

11.) https://www.kmov.com/2022/08/15/police-investigate-after-man-was-shot-near-downtown-st-louis/

Gun Fight Timeline of Landlord Action

4 Oct

Sat, July 30, around 2 AM (time of gun fight):

I sent this right after I spoke with 911, the shooting was still happening as I wrote and sent this text:

(13 hours and 39 min after gun fight) I didn’t hear back at all so at 3:39 PM I sent some questions to the landlord.

No response.

Sat, July 30, 11:56 AM (10 hours after gun fight):

I didn’t hear anything back by text. I thought I should get it in more formal writing so I sent the landlord an email detailing the event and asking for an update as well as action:

He never responded to me, personally. So we have no idea what happened, what caused a shooting, if anyone of the shooters lived, or rented an Airbnb at our loft, if the shooters were still around…. We don’t know how good the camera footage was, if it was turned over to police, or even if anyone cared enough to do an investigation.

Wed, Aug 3, 2022 (4 days after the gun fight):

We could see a lot of papers on a door down our hallway. But we weren’t brave enough to go read what they said. As you can see, that door is between 2 other apartments. And it’s past the stairwell, where you don’t need to ever go, as it dead-ends. So if we crept over there someone might see us being nosy and there wouldn’t really be a plausible explanation for being over there.

But the orange color made me think it’s possibly an eviction notice.

Silence from the landlord for 6 days following the gun fight right outside our windows.

Friday, Aug 5, 2022 (6 days after the gun fight):

This is the first we’ve heard from the landlord after a major incident

Same day:

Mon, Aug 8, 2022 (9 days after gun fight):

The voice sounded so angry and possibly violent that she left the full trash bag out in the hallway and went back inside our locked loft!

Thurs, Aug 11, 2022 (12 days after the gun fight):

The landing was full of trash and furniture. It looked like someone cleaned out their apartment. Did one of the shooters live right on our floor? The apartment that had the orange sign on the door was open and maintenance was in there cleaning.

Sunny Came Home Gaylors

2 Oct

Ties to the cover of Taylor Swift’s Midnights cover art. Also to song-writing with fiction as inspo still being personal.

https://www.jeffreypepperrodgers.com/blog/behind-song-sunny-came-home-shawn-colvin-songwriting

Note about the song, Willow

20 Sep

Has anyone said this is sung from Karlie’s perspective?, yet?

At least the latter half.

Show me the place where others gave you (Taylor) scars. Snake gate, etc…

Every bait and switch was a work of art. Karlie is telling Taylor that the bearding stunts TS engineered have been working.

I’m begging for you (Taylor) to take my hand, wreck my plans (getting married and having children with a man), that’s my man (JK reference from interview).

Karlie wants Taylor to take her train home. Anywhere else (all 4-5 of Taylor’s houses).

Karlie is asking Taylor to be with her so she doesn’t follow through with her plan to marry JK.

The Lighthouse Analysis: VIII. Mythology- Odysseus

27 Aug

There are many references to mythology in The Lighthouse movie. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re themes of the movie, because none of them are carried out in an entire story arc.

The Lighthouse does not follow or retell the Odyssey. There are, however, many references to that text that I will highlight below:

Homer portrayed Odysseus as a man of outstanding wisdom and shrewdness, eloquence, resourcefulnesscourage, and endurance.  In the Odyssey Odysseus has many opportunities to display his talent for ruses and deceptions, but at the same time his courage, loyalty, and magnanimity are constantly attested (3). 

Younger fancies himself hard-working and resourceful. Actually, it’s more than fancies, that’s how he sees himself (though others do not). Younger can’t take this unfair (in his mind) criticism of his work, which clashes with his own self image, and allows the logging foreman to die without intervening. Then he steals his logging foreman’s identity to get a job, which is deceptive. More central to the story, is the fact the whole premise is that Younger is deceiving himself. The fact that Younger is the only one in the lighthouse, yet the audience sees a story of two men, is the primary ruse. Younger, in an effort to evade responsibility for his murderous behavior, separates the side of himself he blames for impulsive, immoral behavior–his Id, or as the audience comes to know him–Older.

Odysseus was deeply involved in the war of Troy since he was one of the commanders of the forces. With his skills in oratory and his smart ideas, he was a critical figure in the victory of the Greeks (4).

This speaks to Younger’s mindset as well. The movie references this characteristic of oratory skills in the dialogue throughout. Older talks in a poetic manner. This is because of Younger’s dreamy, unrealistic, fanciful notions of what a lighthouse wiki is supposed to be like. Since Older is a figment of Younger’s mind, he embodies all those storybook characteristics to a T.

Bear with me on the following formatting here, the mythology description tells each stop of the journey one after another, but I want to make my comparisons to the Lighthouse film after each:

Books VI–XIII describe Odysseus’ wanderings between Troy and Ithaca:

The call-backs to the Odyssy in this movie are not a direct relation to the story, like I said, but there are little things that are similar in Homer’s story and in this film. The fact that Younger has drifted from job to job is similar to Odysseus wandering all around having adventures.

He first comes to the land of the Lotus-Eaters and only with difficulty rescues some of his companions from their lōtos-induced lethargy;

Odysseus’ first stop at the Lotus-eaters talks of lethargy. This is shown in the movie as Younger getting barked at during his logging job for going slowly, and also when he first came to the lighthouse. The bad notes in the logbook about Younger’s lazy work ethic are why he murdered the senior wiki.

he encounters and blinds Polyphemus the Cyclops, a son of Poseidon, escaping from his cave by clinging to the belly of a ram;

Cyclops comes up in the movie with the one-eyed bird and one-eyed decapitated head–possibly a call-back to cyclops with the one eye.

Among other things Poseidon controls the sea and carries a sort of fish spear called a trident (which is an extension of God’s own power (7)). Obviously, the power of the sea is symbolized throughout the Lighthouse movie with the isolation and the waves and the storm. God or ultimate knowledge is also referenced with Older’s dominance of the lighthouse light and the ending where Younger looks into the light and whatever he sees is enthralling, but also too much to handle.

he loses 11 of his 12 ships to the cannibalistic Laistrygones and reaches the island of the enchantress Circe, where he has to rescue some of his companions whom she had turned into swine.

Older destroys the boat toward the end when Younger wants to chance getting struck across rocks in the storm sort of like Odysseus’ larger loss of ships to the cannibals. The Lighthouse does not show cannibalism, but it does show a similar, desperate rationing of food, and last resort consumption of alcohol, than pure ethanol for lack of clean drinking water.

Lastly, swine could also be pictured between Odysseus’ adventure and the Lighthouse looking at the interior condition of the lighthouse deteriorate-they are living like pigs.

Next Odysseus visits the Land of Departed Spirits, where he speaks to the spirit of Agamemnon and learns from the Theban seer Tiresias how he can expiate Poseidon’s wrath.

At first, Younger tries to escape accountability (which can be seen loosely as atonement) for his hand in killing two people. His delusional mind separates the impulsive, more animalistic, Id side of his personality. While he is acting the hypervigilant super-ego side that is overly concerned with social norms. Failing this, and with reality knocking ever louder as the movie progresses, Younger looks to the lighthouse light for divine intervention and knowledge.

The next stop of Odysseus and his crew was the island of the cyclops, Polyphemus. Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon and the nymph Thoosa. He was a one-eyed giant. In Homer’s Odyssey, Polyphemus traps the voyagers in his cave and closes the entrance with a gigantic boulder. To escape from the cave, Odysseus made his men sharpen a spike so that they could attack the cyclops in his single eye. When Polyphemus returned, Odysseus used his superb oratory skills and talked to Polyphemus for long hours while the cyclops drank wine. Polyphemus ended up drunk, and Odysseus’ men used this chance to attack his eye with the spike, thus blinding him (4).

The theme of being trapped is, throughout the movie, emphasized. The first scene showing just how far, and how endless the water is around the lighthouse let’s the audience know any people on the lighthouse are truly alone. And when their relief crew does not show up, it shows the wikis are trapped-there is no way off the island. The storm just emphasizes what we already knew–the men are stuck. Not even the small boat can help them off the island, as it would be crushed on the rocks nearly immediately.

Another similarity to Odysseus, strongly alluded to throughout the movie is the speech. Like Odysseus’ superb speaking skills, Older speaks in poetry. The language is like an old English novel, not a modern day blue collar worker.

Further similarities to this part of Odysseus’ journey are brought up in the movie. The one-eyed bird/one-eyed decapitated head references cyclops pretty directly in The Lighthouse. Some scholars theorize that the cyclopes also symbolizes the sun and solar power. The cyclops Polyphemus was the son of Zeus. And for the ancient Greeks, the sun was the eye of Zeus. Thus the cyclops embodied the power of the sun and the aspect of their god Zeus that was fire and light (9). Now we’re heating up! The Lighthouse itself with it’s bright light (an eye, maybe?) that allows people to live, or if the light goes off-die at sea. It’s very similar to the God Zeus having the power to help people live (with light and fire) or kill people off. Aside from showing the power and divinity in the light both stories are talking about divinity.

Their next stop was the island of Aeolus, the god of the winds (4). AIOLOS (Aeolus) was the divine keeper of the winds and king of the mythical, floating island of Aiolia (Aeolia). He kept the violent Storm-Winds locked safely away inside the cavernous interior of his isle, releasing them only at the command of greatest gods to wreak devastation upon the world (10). Aeolus, master of the winds, wanted to help Odysseus on his journey and gave him a bag which contained all the winds except the West Wind. In other words, only the wind he needed was allowed to blow, while all the winds that would hinder his journey were bagged up. Odysseus’ men did not know what was inside the bag and thought that the god had given Odysseus a great treasure that the king was keeping to himself. They departed the island of the god and sailed until they were in sight of Ithaca. When Odysseus was asleep, his men looked for the bag and opened it just as they were nearing Ithaca’s shores. Unfortunately, the winds were unleashed and took the ships far away from their home. With this, they arrived in the land of the Lastregonyan, a race of cannibal giants that destroyed all their ships but one and killed almost all Odysseus’ men. Only Odysseus’ ship and its crew survived this attack (4).

Aeolus, who is son of Poseidon (God of the sea), gifts Odysseus friendly wind. Due to ignorance and greed, Odysseus’ crew open the bag containing all the unfavorable winds and the ships are taken further from home instead. Then, the group faces cannibal giants that destroy their ships, condemning them to death and further time out at sea for Odysseus. Similarly, in the Lighthouse, Younger kills the senior wiki and hides him in the water tank instead of just listening to his criticisms and tightening up his work ethic. Then, checking the water tank Younger sees the dead, but his delusional mind makes it a bird, rather than the man. When another gull flies toward this scene, threatening to ruin Younger’s delusion with reality, Younger kills the bird violently. It’s an ignorant move because the truth and reality are inevitable–the drinking water is tarnished. In the movie, the same shift in winds that Odysseus and his men go through is spotlighted after an ignorant act. The arrow points North and the isolation on the lighthouse island becomes more sinister. Younger and Older will not be going home any time soon. The giant cannibal in the Lighthouse is Younger’s delusional mind itself, because he is more and more hedonistic and dangerous the longer he is out there.

Odysseus and his remaining men next stopped at the island of the enchantress Circe, who would cause more trouble for the voyagers. Circe offered a feast for the voyagers, but the food and drink she gave them had drugs and turned them into animals. Odysseus was not among the group who attended the feast, and one of the men who escaped, found him and told him what had happened (4).

This part of Odysseus’ journey is shown in the Lighthouse with the drinking, loss of food, and the ethanol. As a direct consequence of Younger’s murder, the food and beverage literally turn the situation untenable. Drinking alcohol, then ethanol turn the men at the lighthouse into animals-their behavior increasingly debaucherous.

As a sidenote, Younger’s delusion turns man into bird so Odysseus is referenced in that way also.

Odysseus then encounters the SirensScylla and Charybdis, [we already talked about sirens, don’t forget] and the Cattle of the Sun. One of Tiresias’ instructions to Odysseus and his men had been to avoid eating eat the sacred cattle of Helios, the sun god. However, after spending a month in Thrinacia due to bad weather and running out of food, his men could not bear it anymore and hunted down the cattle. When the weather cleared, they left the land but Helios was angry at their actions. In revenge for killing his cattle, Helios asks Zeus to punish or he would no longer shine the sun over the world. Zeus complies and makes the ship capsize. Odysseus loses all his men, becoming the only survivor (4).

see source (8).

The Lighthouse strongly asserts the story of the sun-cattle through the plot. Running out of food because Younger didn’t listen. He didn’t listen to the logging foreman before. He didn’t listen to the senior wiki. And he didn’t listen to Older about rationing. Younger refuses to listen and change his behavior like Odysseus’ crew do not listen or mind about eating the sun cattle. And in both stories rules of honor and piety are alluded to. The Gods/divine power are displeased with the hedonistic acts, and both Younger and Odysseus’ crew are doomed afterwards. In both stories divine power takes away the sun/light as punishment. In both stories boats are lost and the sea is harsh.

After the ship capsized, the tides washed Odysseus ashore onto the island of the nymph Calypso. The nymph fell in love with Odysseus and kept him captive for seven years. She offered him immortality and eternal youth, but the king refused her because he wanted to return to Penelope in Ithaca. Years later, Calypso decided to let Odysseus go with a raft. However, the king once again suffered the wrath of Poseidon, who sent a storm that destroyed the raft and left Odysseus in the middle of the sea (4).

Women and sexuality feature strongly in The Lighthouse film. The men both hunger for sexual attention from women, and fear it’s power over them. Older speaks with sadness of a wife at home who couldn’t stand his long absences. The two masturbate, but also can’t conquer the siren/mermaid or the fishy entity around the light of the lighthouse. Even the figurine fails to get Younger off toward the end of the movie. To the men, women are desirable and chaotic, sexy but wild. In that way, women are also compared to nature, which cannot be tamed or mastered. In this setting of powerlessness over the wildness of nature (or on a smaller scale, women) Younger gives himself a type of immortality. As long as his mind separates out the scapegoat Id, he is innocent of any crimes. He may be captive on the lighthouse with his victim, but his mind walled off his action and he is free to pursue power of knowledge through mermaids and the light.

After almost nine years, Odysseus finally leaves Calypso and at last arrives in Ithaca. Odysseus proves his identity—with the aid of Athena—by accomplishing Penelope’s test of stringing and shooting with his old bow. He then, with the help of Telemachus and two slaves, slays Penelope’s suitors. Penelope still does not believe him and gives him one further test. But at last she knows it is he and accepts him as her long-lost husband and the king of Ithaca (3).

Though The Lighthouse does not mirror this plot point in Odysseus’ travels, the movie does center on identity. Through the film there are many questions that are (subliminally) brought up that need considering: Whose perspective are we viewing the plot through? What is identity? Is identity only the sum of all parts (Id + ego+ super-ego) or does each part individually hold up when separated? Is one portion of our identity fully responsible for transgressions while another is completely innocent and pure? Which part of identity has the most power? Knowledge? Divinity? What is real and what is a delusion? And does that matter to the story?

More directly, The Lighthouse has Younger assuming his boss’ identity and using that name. Older goes by a nickname. Toward the end secrets and identities are revealed, which also spells out the fact that these are actually the same person. Tommy and Thomas Wake-both are named Tom. This is the movie taking pains to show the audience what has happened. So we don’t have tests of identity per say, but the whole movie IS the test.

Sources:

1) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Siren-Greek-mythology

2) https://symbolsage.com/sirens-greek-mythology/

3) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Odysseus

4) https://symbolsage.com/odysseus-trojan-war-hero/

5) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Prometheus-Greek-god

6) https://symbolsage.com/prometheus-greek-mythology/

7) https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Trident_of_Poseidon

8) https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-odyssey/book-12

9) https://www.uniguide.com/cyclopes

10) https://www.theoi.com/Titan/Aiolos.html#:~:text=AIOLOS%20(Aeolus)%20was%

20the%20divine,wreak%20devastation%20upon%20the%20world.

The Lighthouse Analysis: VIII. Mythology-Sirens

27 Aug

There are many references to mythology in The Lighthouse movie. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re themes of the movie, because none of them are carried out in an entire story arc.

The singing mermaid-like creature in the movie is reminiscent of sirens. Sirens were human companions of Persephone. After she was carried off by Hades, they sought her everywhere and finally prayed for wings to fly across the sea. The gods granted their prayer. In some versions Demeter turned them into birds to punish them for not guarding Persephone. In art the Sirens appeared first as birds with the heads of women and later as women, sometimes winged, with bird legs (1). Though early depictions of the Sirens showed them as half-woman half-bird creatures, similar to harpies, who lived by the sea. However, later on, Sirens were said to have female heads and torsos, with fish tail from their navel downwards. Around the Middle Ages, the Sirens morphed into the figure that we now call mermaids (2).

The movie also depicts both the siren/mermaid-creature, and birds (though separately). In the Lighthouse, the birds are said to be the souls of dead sailors, so that is adjacent to the sirens getting wings, and having hybrid heads of women, tails of fish, and wings of birds.

The Sirens seem to have evolved from an ancient tale of the perils of early exploration combined with an Asian image of a bird-woman. Anthropologists explain the Asian image as a soul-bird—i.e., a winged ghost that stole the living to share its fate. In that respect the Sirens had affinities with the Harpies (1).

This soul-bird concept is closer to what the movie was doing: A singing siren and in addition the birds that represent souls.

The Sirens stayed on an island near the strait of Scylla and Charybdis after the search for Persephone ended. From there, they would prey on the ships passing nearby, enticing the sailors with their charming singing. Their singing was so beautiful that they could make the wind stop to listen to them. It’s from these singing creatures that we get the English word siren, which means a device that makes a warning noise. With their musical ability, they attracted the sailors from the passing ships, who would come closer and closer to the dangerous rocky coast of the Sirens’ island and ultimately get shipwrecked and dashed on the rocks. According to some myths, the corpses of their victims could be found all along the shores of their island (2).

Younger was drawn to the fishy woman in a supernatural way. The siren/mermaid made a high pitch “singing” and was also an omen of impending danger.

The Sirens symbolize temptation and desire, which can lead to destruction and risk. If a mortal stopped to listen to the beautiful sounds of the Sirens, they wouldn’t be able to control their desires and this would lead them to their death. As such, the Sirens can also be said to represent sin (2).

The movie is trying to convey how Younger has split into Id and ego precisely because he cannot control his desires. As the parts of himself are coming back together (strongly symbolized by the two “men” dancing) Younger’s vices and impulsivity return in his character.

Some have suggested that the Sirens represent the primal power that females have over men, which can both fascinate and frighten men. After Christianity began to spread, the symbol of the Sirens was used to portray the dangers of temptation. The phrase siren song is used to describe something that is appealing and alluring but also potentially dangerous and harmful (2).

Same concept in the movie. Younger is always magnetized and attracted to the siren/mermaid. In the beginning of the movie his interactions with her are fleeting, then toward the middle of the movie, they are longer and more substantial, and at the end he tries to copulate with her fishy nether-regions. This helps show his Id returning to his personality, the break of his delusion. It also shows man’s temptations toward the feminine, which purportedly leads to other temptations. Finally, the movie uses this as a key indicator things are going to get bad.

Sources:

1) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Siren-Greek-mythology

2) https://symbolsage.com/sirens-greek-mythology/

3) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Odysseus

4) https://symbolsage.com/odysseus-trojan-war-hero/

5) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Prometheus-Greek-god

6) https://symbolsage.com/prometheus-greek-mythology/

7) https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Trident_of_Poseidon

8) https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-odyssey/book-12

9) https://www.uniguide.com/cyclopes

10) https://www.theoi.com/Titan/Aiolos.html#:~:text=AIOLOS%20(Aeolus)%20was

AirBnB

13 Aug

After the gunfight under our windows I wondered if someone might have an errant AirBnB renter that had a party that went south. It had never occurred to me before to even think residential apartments might offer up short-term rentals. Because we’re renters. No lease I’ve ever signed allows subletting, which is what short-term rentals technically would be. But the news talked about over 100 shots fired down the street from here, and said the culprits were 2 warring AirBnB parties. Like, parties as in groups of people having fun, not parties in the court of law sense. So I looked on the website, and boy did I find out our lofts have an AirBnB situation! I could tell each listing that was definitely from our loft building because we have distinct orange-colored kitchen cabinets.

At first I thought the landlord must not know about these residents gone rouge. OUR lease is very specific that we are the only 2 allowed to live in our apartment. It limits guests to family and limits the amount of time they can stay here. There is no subleasing permitted on the lease we signed. And I just assumed it was like that for everyone in the lofts… Because what a liability! If something happened, the landlord could ultimately be responsible since he owns the building. It would cause a legal entanglement to evict a resident for something their AirBnB subtenant did.

After the gunfight I emailed and texted the landlord asking if any of the participants lived in our lofts or rented one of the many Airbnbs listed.

positions of me (circle) and people with modified weapons

He ghosted me.

July 31st I counted 10 listings that showed the building’s distinct orange kitchens (note how many guests each ad has listed for one loft):

In regards to the number of guests allowed for each individual loft, you can see that parties are actively encouraged by the hosts. This is not exclusively a high end vacationer thing-though at these price-points, it’s that too. These hosts have 6 guests listed frequently, which is NOT the size of any loft in this building. They are trying to solicit partiers to split the high cost, knowing damn well the nuisance and risk parties will introduce to the building.

As you can see, this is not a new thing. There were many “super-hosts” among those offering up units for short-term rental. And it wasn’t a seldom occurrence, as many of the hosts had 30-40-50 reviews from people who had already stayed in our building.

Annnd you can see in the above examples (not exhaustive) that there are actual businesses offering up our loft’s units on AirBnB. In my opinion, a lot of the hosts looked like they had their units professionally staged and the photos were magazine quality. If an individual did that, then I guess they are in the right business. But also, maybe this is big-business since travel companies were sometimes listed as host. How does that even occur? The landlord HAS to be in on it if businesses are using the building. He is absolutely taking extra deposits, or higher rental fees, or a direct cut of the AirBnB profits to allow that.

You can also see the money being made on these AirBnB stays. For the 10 listings of our address, the average per night stay cost $140! I couldn’t even believe it. So that’s precisely why we could afford to live in such a nice building: Crime + the real money is being made on all of the AirBnBs.

On Aug 9 there were 14 listings, including 4 new listings (one of the listings was for 2 different apt) from “J.C.”

And I noticed the pictures on these listings were the exact same pictures that were on apartments.com and renters.com etc, etc… Like the landlord was in on it.

And of course he would have to be, because we have gates and the doors and elevator requires a key fob to get in. How would all these AirBnB people be getting around the property if the landlord wasn’t assisting the host? Ooohhhh, all those things hanging on the gate are a means of entry! UPS and Amazon and other frequent people use them to come in without the key fob. So the literal 17 on outside gates are for the AirBnB people to get in also.

So if 15 units are posted on AirBnB for short-term rentals that means 23% of the units in our lofts are hosting AirBnb!

At first I was mad. Because that’s egregious. And it endangers all of us with actual leases since AirBnB does not do background checks. Also, it renders are gated property and key-fob entry useless. Random people are trapesing in and out of here every weekend. And one legitimate AirBnB can invite 60 friends into the building, and no one’s checking these people in any way. We need a door man checking badges and IDs and confiscating weapons and drugs! It’s really not safe for current leasors, and it’s very unethical to draw people here from outside the community who don’t know what they’re stepping into. These people are just on vacation, a lot of them, and some have kids and stuff. They’re just walking around unaware that a whole ass gunfight broke out. Right on the property. And last weekend. There really should be some kind of mandatory disclosures. Landlords should be required to inform tenants of the scope of AirBnBs allowed. The AirBnB landlords should be required to disclose safety concerns to potential short-term leasers.

Then, I thought about buying a building in a rough area of town. An area that is trying to revitalize, that has many empty warehouses, construction, drag racing, people gathering, and random gunfights. The locals probably know to stay away, so it must be difficult to fill all of the units in the building. And what a waste to have a quarter of the building sit empty! So I can understand trying to recoup some money and get people into those units.

Saint Louis isn’t really doing anything to crack down on AirBnBs, and the property owner is obviously making money from it, so I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon. I didn’t realize that’s yet another thing I need to research when looking for housing–are AirBnBs listed for that property??!

Literal Gun Fight at our Loft

31 Jul

Went to bed early to fully enjoy the weekend. It seems like we’re always tired and fatigued so we don’t do much. But…

Awoke to a bang. Goose is 16 years old and doesn’t see well anymore, especially in the dark so I thought he stumbled on his rubbermaid ladder getting on the bed, as he sometimes does. Heard another crash and glass. I thought- Goddammit what did the cats knock over?! thinking the commotion was inside the loft. Then there was loud persistent bangs (bang bang bang bang bang bang bang, I think 7 initially?) and my first thought was, what the fuck?! Someone is banging on our window. Again?!

This had happened to us in Utah. Someone repeatedly came to the space behind our apartment and banged on our bedroom window with their fist, scaring the wits out of us. Was it a meth-head, just a passerby? But it wasn’t a one-time thing either. The person came back and knocked on the back window a second time. Did they plan to rob us? To rape us? Kill? We didn’t know, but it felt targeted because none of the other neighbors had the problem. When the person returned, we thought that was really unhinged and I was too terrified to open the curtains and look who it was. So I knocked back from the inside, thinking it might be a cat or something, or if the person knew we were home it would scare them away. This brazen person knocked right back with more force, so we knew they had no fear or qualms that we were inside. Anyway, that was a big part of the reason we didn’t renew that lease even though the location was really ideal.

Back to yesterday. So I thought some mofo had gotten some implement and was striking our window. We’re on the 2nd floor, with only storage units beneath us, so the sidewalk between the parking lot and our unit isn’t all that far above (it might as will be 1st floor on the North side). I thought they were using a broom or rake or something. The B in the pic is where our bed is and the line is where the loud noise was coming from-probably 3-5 feet under our window is the front sidewalk.

Cool was up first and peeking out the blinds. She said, “Hit the deck!” Which seems like a funny thing to say now. But I was disoriented and wanted to get my bearings, so I peeked out the blinds too. What I saw was two approximately 20 year old black men shooting back and fourth across the parking lot with automatic guns. There have been all kinds of car break-ins, stolen catalytic converters, and an armed gang of teens stealing Kias in Saint Louis, and I think across the country. So I thought- Oh great they got into the security gate and are going to break-in, and possibly steal our cars. What a headache!

The circle is our North window, and the 2 Xs are where the shooters in the parking lot were:

But they seemed to have no interest in the cars, only shooting each other. So I knew it wasn’t the car thieves after all.

I got on the floor and called 911. It was the first time I had ever called.

Because in 2005, when our crazy landlord literally broke the front door down to show the house to potential renters, it was my roommate at the time, Eileen, who called. I just hid in the closet and cried with her (I was 22 and terrified).

Back to Saturday: And I was on hold. I would have been surprised and appalled, but I had seen true crime where 911 had put them on hold for like 20 min in some short-staffed, high crime area. And at that time I didn’t even know that was a thing! I thought the whole point of 911 was immediacy for emergencies. But I worked though my shock and disgust when I watched whatever show, so when it happened to me I thought- That checks out. While I was on hold the recording kept loudly saying wait on the line or something like that every few seconds. Heaven help you if you’re trying to quietly hide from an attacker or something.

While I was waiting, the shooting outside had been continuing the entire time, but now I also heard commotion in our 2nd floor hallway. I think I heard exclusively female voices (I can’t be sure there were no men, but I don’t remember any) all loudly and excitedly chattering. I didn’t know if neighbors woke up or if people had run inside to hide, or if the shooters had gained entry. I was afraid to get close to the hallway door because my 911 message was loud, and also I didn’t know if any of the gunmen were inside the building. I half expected banging or shooting at our apartment door at any moment and didn’t know what I would do in that scenario.

I was still holding for 911 and went more to the interior of the loft, but Cool was still in the studio area and had called 911 (after me) and was already talking to someone. I didn’t want my loud recorded message to make her call unclear. She was describing the scene to 911 and saying there were many people outside in masks and head-coverings, all with automatic guns with silencers and some long extended attachment. I hadn’t realized there were many people out there.

After what felt like 10 min, I walked to the living area and someone answered my call saying it was 911 this is (something that started with a C, I don’t remember now). I thought it was weird they didn’t ask for my address like they always do on television shows, but proactively provided it first thing. I was also surprised that I remembered the address correctly and without thinking while under stress, bc we move so much. We have only lived in Saint Louis for 4 months.

I said there was shooting and the operator wanted to know how many shots had been fired. I hadn’t been counting but it would be like 7 rapid-fire shots at a time, then like 2 one-offs, but continuously since we woke up, so I really didn’t know. I said, probably 80, I’ve been on hold and they’ve been shooting this whole time. He must have asked how many shots 3 times! While he was on speaker phone, another burst of shots rang out right next to the wall where I was standing (pic below: the star is 7-12 shots and the K is where I was. The C is where Cool was) and he said- We’ll send someone right over. Before he hung up on me I said, Please hurry, our apartments are completely lined with windows!

It felt like a lot of waiting on hold for 911, but I guess time was weird because of the stress of continuous shooting and the fear.

Right after the call to 911, I texted the landlord saying there were 7(?) shooters with automatic guns who had been shooting for the last 20 minutes, and informed him 911 had been called. No response.

We keep the blinds in the living room partially open all the time. Because the cats want to look out the windows even when we’re sleeping and they’ll ruin the rental blinds if they’re not raised taller than a cat. As such, I had a clear view of the area in front of the loft’s main entrance, and could see a portion of the stairway.

The marks are where I was looking out and where the people were kinda standing and planning their next move. The X closest to the door was a masked boy, probably 16, carrying a long, automatic gun. The next X was a maybe 20-22 year old girl, no mask, no gun, just standing as if no shooting was occuring. The the biggest X was a husky guy in a mask also carrying a big automatic gun that I estimated to be no more than 23 years old.

They all looked relaxed, and non-chalant. None had angry expressions. They didn’t look like hardened professionals, or gang members. They were sort of standing around. I considered taking a picture or video since I had such a clear view and it was dark in my loft so I don’t think they were really looking up at me. My camera takes shitty pictures in low light if the case is on my phone, so I didn’t want to stand there removing my phone case, and knew the quality would be bad if I didn’t. My impression was that these were dumb kids who didn’t understand the consequences of their actions. Nobody looked like they were out to be a murderer. Nobody looked scared in the least bit. I didn’t think they looked like hardened criminals, just 16-23 year olds without developed brains, but with automatic weapons.

As the shooting continued, and we waited for the police to show up, I looked out the North window, sat on the treadmill, looked out the West window, back to the North window… I finally saw two police SUVs on the street outside the property. But they left. I was afraid because it went quiet that the police would say it was over and just leave without intervening. I went back to the West windows and when I did I counted (in case I needed to be a witness) 7 people go from the entrance, up the stairs. I quickly went to the North side windows to get a look at the group.

At the North side an unmarked truck pulled up and parked in the middle of the aisle. A regular, ununiformed guy got out and I didn’t know who it was, but they didn’t seem like police. He was heading toward the stairs to the loft entrance. Right toward the big group that had been shooting for the last 15-20 minutes. I was concerned that he was alone, and expected some sort of altercation.

There was no fuss. I don’t know who he was or if he engaged with the group. They just continued on their way. I was struck how casually they were all walking. Just slow, regular pace, in a group. I thought they must be trying to play it off like they were just innocent passersby. But at least 2 of the guys still had masks and face-coverings on. All 5 gals looked to be in club attire. No masks, booty shorts, mini skirts, heels, and flip flops. Cool said one of the gals was carrying a to-go box from a restaurant. They gals had been outside most of the time of the shooting looking just casual, as if a gunfight wasn’t happening. Anyway, at no time did any of the shooters or gals looked stressed, angry, perturbed. It was creepy how calm and casual everyone was.

I noticed two sets of police lights, but they were pretty far from the action. In the pic: The X on that corner of the intersection, but further North, halfway up the next block. Later, I saw a car driving along the street behind our parking lot, and they had to change lanes. So I knew there must be a police car right at my X with its lights off. The group of gunmen were at my circle in the pic, heading toward the carrot demarking the pedestrian gate. A few minutes later a police car sped down the street with another following soon after (the small Xs).

But because of the landscaping (it’s much more established and thicker than in this pic) I couldn’t see what happened. I didn’t know if the shooters casually walked away or if they were arrested. There was no altercation inside the gates.

Police strolled slowly and pretty calmly on foot, and sort of stood in front of the building. Soon a group of police were walking through the parking lot, standing, people were going outside, there were gals in skirts standing around, 2 random people left on the sidewalk as if a half hour gun battle had not just taken place. I saw 2 puppies off leash! Everyone kinda standing around chatting like this just happens every day, yawn. It was fucking bizarre.

Everything sort of settled down and we went back to bed. Sleeping nervously with much paranoia. Would they come back? Later in the morning I looked everywhere I could think online to find out what happened. No news story. No neighbors talking about it on the Nextdoor app. I looked up our complex name on there. And 47 weeks ago someone said they lived here and it was terrible, especially at the pool, because there were a whole bunch of units being used for AirBnB.

I looked up our address, and sure enough there were literally 10 listings for units within our building, 3 of them superhosts with 47-ish reviews each. So it’s a major thing. And I don’t know if people are breaking our lease, which does not allow subletting, or if they’re paying the landlord extra or something for the privilege. I can’t imaging a building owner would want to take on the liability, or mess with that potential legal entanglement–but some people only care about money.

No word on Twitter or Reddit either. I couldn’t find anything on the police blotter. It’s as if a half hour shoot out with automatic guns and at least 12 people weren’t armed and around our loft! One stray bullet could have easily broken our windows and killed us. Even sleeping in bed we are right next to the window and could have been shot. Nobody cared? It was the biggest, most dangerous thing we ever lived through in any place we ever lived, and it was just quiet and over.

I strained to overhear conversations of the other residents as they entered the complex (remember our windows right by the door). Some lady said she called 911 because she has a 6 month old, and was irate about being on hold. She said there were people driving and randomly shooting. Which I knew firsthand was false, because I had front row view to the entire thing. It was planned because they were wearing masks and head coverings. They weren’t random because they were contemplating how to get in the key-fobbed entrance of the building. So I don’t know if she jumped to conclusions or heard some mom-story that minimized their culpability. But I knew that was not what happened. I also didn’t know if the shooters lived here, if someone was followed home from the club and victimized, or if it was a crazy AirBnB altercation. Another lady walking by mentioned she was a nurse (phew, file that away for the future–reassuring) and said this place is ghetto now and hadn’t been last year.

The landlord who will text us about towing aberrant cars at the drop of a hat, and who griped at everyone via text about chicken fingers in the pool–didn’t say shit! Can you believe the landlord did not reprimand or reassure, or inform us what happened? He didn’t give a fuck. It was fucking weird and delinquent.

I thought there was a small chance the police had asked the owner not to say anything because of an investigation or something. So I emailed him a description of what happened in case legal action is necessary so there’s a record. I wanted to know if anyone was arrested, if the cameras were checked, and if we needed to make statements as probably the best witnesses to the whole scene. I also wanted to know if this was an AirBnB situation, and if he was in on it or clueless. Mostly, I just wanted to hear from the dude. In part, I said:

We couldn’t see if any arrests were made for the 7-12 people involved. As such, we don’t know if there will be a continuing problem. Did the cameras show if the gunfight was someone who lives here or one of the many units listed on Airbnb for this complex? We don’t know how afraid to be.  Can you tell me what safety & prevention measures are being implemented?

Nothing. No response. A fucking shooting popped off and no word from the asshole. So we’re trying not to panic. It might be a one-time thing. But we’re also not locked on Saint Louis or Missouri. With the major flooding and major violence right on our doorstep in one week, it seems like a good time to open our minds at least to moving. Even though I still have major moving-PTSD and DO NOT WANT TO MOVE ALL OF OUR BELONGINGS ANY TIME SOON. Also, money. It’s expensive to move, and I don’t know where we can afford to go, or if it will be any better. So we’re on standby. How many traumas do we have to endure in 2022?!

Ranking of Brandi Carlile’s Catalog

4 Jul

I’m about to go to a Brandi concert for my birthday, so I thought I would rank her songs. I used the same judging format that I did for the Indigo Girls and Taylor Swift, so check out those entries for the logistics and math (yes this is a quantitatively judged ranking).  Here is Brandi Carlile’s studio album (not lives or reworked. Yet.) songs from skip to best.  The later in this list, the better the song:

Skip:

82. Keep Your Heart Young-

This one is a skip for several reasons (and none of them are that it’s a bad or un-entertaining song).  It’s wildly loved by the fandom, and they play it at many a concert–so it’s just overheard by me.  More than that, this song in particular signaled a genre change that I didn’t want, as a fan of the original iteration of the band.  It’s good, it’s fine.  But prior to this, Brandi was too cool for school.  She was hipster and edgy and an alternative-something mid-20 (Me.  And Cool.) would really aspire to.  This song was the first homey, country, down-home, ‘mom’ folksy song.  I’m still mad at it.  But I am glad now that Brandi got a Grammy she’s returning more to the 2015-ish sound.  I hope she’ll do more rock in the future.  Or at least sneak it in.

Meh:

81. Heroes and Songs

80. Oh Dear

79. Just Kids-

The best of the meh category. It’s a great album ending, but not as good as a stand alone song.  The ambient noise is really cool.  It’s just too long and slow of a track when not used as a closer.

Neutrals:

78. Beginning to Feel the Years-

Slow. Brighter singing tone and a chorus. It doesn’t sound like Brandi very much.

77. If there was No You

76. Sixty Years On-

Voice cracks in this version. Symphony version is better, but I decided not to do any extra albums this go-around.  I might add them in later because I think I skipped at least 2, and maybe a third.

75. Murder in the City

It’s too much a copycat of a different band. Don’t like the talking through the song style. What a waste of Brandi’s pipes. The backing harmonies and strings sound good though.

74. You and Me on the Rock-

73. I Belong to You

72. Save a Part of Yourself-

Catchiness to the song. claps but harmonies and Italian snippets too.

71. Every Time I Hear that Song

70. By the way I forgive you.

69. Happy

Amber-lee. Writing is good for break-up song.

68. Someday Never Comes

Goods:

67. . Hearts Content

66. Stay Gentle

I like when Brandi is at least a little edgy. This is too sweet and leaves me Wanting another component in the song.

65. Wilder

Maybe it’s the way the band is mic-ed up to catch the harmonies but Brandi sounds echoy in a low quality way. Harmonies are nice, but nobody wants this one slowing down every concert as they are doing.

64. Blood Muscle Skin and Bone-

That first sound is so different and interesting! It doesn’t sound like Brandi singing for a lot of it. The claps and wailing 1950s harmony come off as a little cheesy. I do like the snare fast beat.

63. Fulton County Jane

There just a touch of yodal and it’s excellent.

62. 100

This one has an instrumental bridge with slight tension. At the Gorge, they played this with the tympani and it was the best version of this song!  If that was the album version, it would easily be an awesome.

61. Throwing Good After bad-

😞 Detailed.  Some lyrical complexity but slow and depressing. (Gr)

60. Letter to the Past

Passionate singing. Note. Built to last totally takes me out of the song and into a car commercial. It’s the last impression of the song and always makes me drop the rank a few spots bc it’s so jarring.

59. Gone

Waltz backing. Simple song. Nice bridge with twin harmony.

58. In the Morrow-

Low key. High notes just at end. Some kind of bango/subtle bluegrass really makes this song! There is a rise in the music & singing.

57. Cannonball (G-Gr)

56. The Eye

Too copycat of Fleetwood Mac. It seems like the band was lost during Firewatchers Daughter. They wanted that Grammy and more mainstream success but didn’t know how to go about it. This is one that I dislike it not for the song as much as what it indicated the direction the band was taking. Still, beautiful harmonies.

55. This Time Tomorrow

Nice and prominent harmonies but in a more authentic way to the band. Not as much of a copycat song.

54. Most of All

Talks about her parents. I like the sentiment and the growth. Notes. Harmony. Sentimental without being saccharine.

53. A Promise to Keep

More catchy, stronger writing than blood .. Backing Cello gives lots of resonance.

52. When You’re Wrong

Prelude to in these Silent Days. Haunting.  Tells a full story. Scream-wail is emotive and a good end.

51. Tragedy-

Notes put it over cannonball. (G-Gr)

We’re getting into the top 50 songs in the catalog:

50. Until I Die (G-Gr)

Over tragedy bc the jam and beat is more. Prominent twin harmonies.

49. Turpentine-

Low register. Catchy. This is another one that’s an awesome when done with the symphony. The symphony version is definitely over The Joke, but this one is pretty short.

48. The Joke-

I’m a bit mad at this song too. I see it as pure Grammy pandering. And as you can see, I ranked it at one point, then forgot to put it in the writing somehow-oops. Major infraction is this is the song the led most people to discover the band. I’m in the camp that it’s overrated. It was a moment in time, and Brandi hyped it up big-time. It is a good song with a good meaning and singing moments. I just don’t think it’s even close to the best song (as you can see by the half-number–this might bother me a lot later and I’ll have to re-do the whole damn thing. But it’s July 4th so I’m going to leave it for now.

unpopular opinion- I think this song is overrated. It also bothers me that “I have seen how it ends” doesn’t quite fit in the alloted space. I think there’s 5 beats in the music but 6 syllables in the words and she extends “how” for 2 beats. She shoves 7 in a 5 so “it” gets lost. She could have fixed it so easily by saying “I’ve seen how it end” Also that concept is cliche.

47. I Will

More catchy than the Joke. Cello snippets are nice. Falsetto. Lyrics.

46. Wasted

Instrumental bridge. Lyrics.

45. Whatever You Do

Soft Cello. I love the line, “never said I’m sorry but I meant it.” Orchestral. scream note ending

44. Late Morning Lullaby

Call back to Dreams. More twin harmony. Exciting bridge. Singing and lyrics.

The fact there are 43 songs ranked great and higher speaks to the quality of Brandi Carlile’s work. The numbers sound pretty high, but these are all, solidly great to perfect songs:

Greats:

43. In My own Eyes-

Bridge different from the song. Captures a yearning sound in the singing. (Gr)

42. My Song-

Strong guitar. Angsty. Emotive singing. Visual lyrics. “My mind is full of razors” is such a good line.

41. The Mother-

I like that this is real, not saccharine. This one is always a crowd favorite.  I had this lower in the rank only because Brandi had played it at so many live shows I was at, and I got oversaturated with it.  Also, I’m not a mother.  But after seeing the YouTube video where Brandi plays it to the female inmates, I just…  Go watch it!  (G-Gr)

40. Shadow on the Wall-

Strong harmonies-more twins involvement is nice.

39. Caroline-

Upbeat.  unique tempo to the catalog. Elton John.

38. That Year-

I had ranked it quite a bit lower because it’s a slow song that is super-depressing.  Deals with suicide without stigmatizing the person. Detailed. But I had to move it up because it’s such a powerful story and heartfelt message.

37. Touching the Ground-

Lyrics. Catchy. (G-Gr)

36. Hiding My Heart-

Call back to the story.

35. Sugartooth

Tells an entire story. Heavy subject matter of addiction and suicide packaged in a surprisingly upbeat tune.

34. Follow-

Notes. More of an instrumental break down.  (G-Gr)

33. Throw It All Away-

Notes. Great visual lyrics. Deep. (G-Gr)

32. Losing Heart-

Catchy chorus. More beat. Interesting beat. (G-Gr)

31. Josephine-

Falsetto harmony. Catchy chorus. (Gr)

30. I’ll Still be There-

If it all- note. The song builds. Then it all gets even stronger at the end. Kind of melting the middle.  (G-Gr)

29. Downpour-

Can hear Cello well.  Low register. (G-Gr)

28. Fall Apart Again-

One of my fave lyrics in her whole catalog: “And I think the world of myself but the world doesn’t think much of me.” (Gr)

27. Have You Ever-

Really fun tempo and a beat like footsteps. Inclusive of twin harmonies. (Gr)

26. Looking Out-

More complex backing than Fall Apart. Suitcase on my chest. Afraid of… List. Someone loves you high note & rock out.  (G-Gr)

On to the top 25 songs in the catalog:

25. Again Today-

Low register. Speeds up and jams at the end. Twins are more involved than pride. More of a tone change than Pride & Joy. (Gr)

24. Pride and Joy-

Wow-singing is strong throughout the entire song. Very orchestral. Instrumental from soft to intense.  (Gr)

23. What Can I Say-

So catchy. Conveys longing and religion human failure without being OTT. (G-Gr)

Awesome:

22. Alibi-

Unique sound to her catalog. Softly alt-punk is a fun experiment without changing the whole genre. Good harmony and beat. A bit repetitive. The sticks at the end and syncopation make it interesting.

21. What Did I Ever Come Here for? 

I really identify with these lyrics of putting yourself out there, going back to someone comfortable. Wanting them to look at your intentions, then being rejected. Catchy also.

20. Party of One-

More complex. Lyrically based. Instrumental swell. Depressing. Once, Brandi actually responded to my tweet regarding this song! Screen-grab is going in the scrapbook.

19. Before it breaks-

Lyrics. Instrumental jam.

18. Harder to Forgive-

Good writing. I like how it calls out someone who traumatized her without being mean or over dramatic. Like a march. I think the echo effect is put to good use here.  kazoo. Breakdown. Scream note.

17. Mama Werewolf-

Concept & lyrics. I know this is going to be a major-favorite at the concert [P.S. I had originally used ‘mega’-favorite, as in the shark.  Big, large, upsize.  And fuck Trump for (among many, many, many other things) ruining that word.]

16. The Stranger at my Door

I love all the cowboy sounds embedded in this one. It’s western folksy in the best way. best ending!

The top 15 songs of the catalog:

15. Dying Day-

Prelude to all the ‘home is your heart’ series of songs. Low-register AND high notes-very strong singing.The ‘dum. Da da dun dum’ end of phrases are good.

14. Right on Time-

Notes! Base. I like the acknowledgement and accountability for hurting another.

13. Hold Out Your Hand-

I like how fast she sings. Then also how it slows on the chorus. It’s surprisingly high difficulty to get the verses out that fast. Notes. Is this the most FUN song in the catalog?!

12. Rise Again-

Faster. Notes! Beat. Twin harmony. Rocks out at the end.

11. The Things I regret-

The most awesome of the awesome songs.  Trying to convince herself to let herself be happy. High energy. more lyrical. Hand claps.

Elites:

10. That Wasn’t Me- 

It was the lead single for Bear Creek, but totally different from every other song on the album. The piano along with the harmonies sound nice. A good rehab song. Earnest.

9. Broken Horses- 

The singing is A+! Not only the notes but playing with voice. Lyrics are meaningful and full of symbolism. I like ending a relationship and also having no guilt about that. Standing up for yourself is important. I like the tempo changes. Maybe too many repetitive choruses. Broken Horses doesn’t mean breaking a horse, which bothers me.

8. Closer to You

More catchy than Broken Horses even if the notes don’t compare.

7. Sinners, Saints, and Fools-

Instrumentals sound full and great. The story is a fun concept and not too OTT churchy. Scream note! The strings squeaky. Piano is chaotic. Motorcycle end.

6. Wherever is Your Heart-

I like the sentiment. I like the underlying fast tempo. This song makes me excited. The notes in the chorus sound so good. Twin harmony. The Falsetto back there adds a lot. Beats. The slower refrain is an interesting change and conveys an inner dialogue and strife. This song is particularly good bc the instrumentals and singing style are very upbeat but the words are pretty sad and depressing. A tiny bit over Closer to You bc it starts slow and changes speed and has a notable bridge is generally more complex

5. Mainstream Kid-

It’s really fun to hear Brandi be more edgy. The social commentary of the lyrics is awesome.  I ranked this higher than the prior 2 sings (even though I love them both a lot) bc the singing is so powerful throughout. And also some extra points for taking a risk. Scream singing is fun and powerful. The guitar repeats, beat, and even handclaps are all good elements of the song that jazz me up. The pulsing and lower register prior to a growl note is such a good end!

4. Hard Way Home-

Harmony that sounds like sirens is a great opener. Love the pace it’s just like walking. I can really get behind the message of doing things the hard way. It speaks to me a bit more than Wherever is Your Heart’s subject matter. Love the “I’ll tell you how I wanna live… Lyric. The syncopation at the end makes me amped up!

Top 3 elites:

3. Dreams-

I like the beat and the more rock sound. The strong singing and harmonies are present but packaged in a harder, more rhythmic backing. Also, I’ll never forget seeing this one live at Spokane’s knitting factory. Brandi was so cute and cool and I wanted to meet her so bad!

2. Raise Hell-

This song never fails to make me hyped! I love the message and the yells during the sock. That beat and even the handclaps. Her singing! I love to sing this anytime especially at a concert. When Brandi opened for Dave at the Gorge, the poster we made said, “Raise Hell.”

#1 song of the whole catalog:

1. The Story-

I listened to each track 2-3 times with an open mind and based my ranking solely on each song’s merits. And it’s no surprise that the band’s originally most well known track landed on top of the list. It builds from slower to rock. And the notes! It’s always exciting to hear it, and now I like to watch the indoctrinated take it in for the first time. It captures the essence of the band.

My Notes and Deliberations:

BRANDI CARLILE CATALOGUE RANKINGS

Elite 10, Awesome 6, Great 3, Good 1, Neutral 0, Meh -3, Skip -6

Brandi Carlile 2005

  1. Follow” (Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 4:13 G-Gr 2
  2. “What Can I Say” (Tim Hanseroth) – 2:50 G-Gr 2.6
  3. “Closer to You” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 2:54 E 10
  4. “Throw It All Away” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:43 G-Gr 2.7
  5. “Happy” (Carlile) – 2:32 M-N -1 (3 listen kept spacing out)
  6. “Someday Never Comes” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 2:47 M -3
  7. “Fall Apart Again” (Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:37 Gr 3.1
  8. “In My Own Eyes” (Carlile) – 3:31 Gr 3
  9. “Gone” (Carlile, Paul Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:05 G 1
  10. “Tragedy” (Carlile) – 3:45 G-Gr 2.5

The Story 2007

  1. “Late Morning Lullaby” (Brandi Carlile) – 3:27 G 1
  2. The Story” (Phil Hanseroth) – 3:58 E 10 #1
  3. “Turpentine” (Carlile) – 2:58 G-Gr 2
  4. “My Song” (Carlile) – 4:28 G-Gr 2.4
  5. “Wasted” (Carlile) – 3:47 G 1.2
  6. “Have You Ever” (Phil Hanseroth) – 2:32  Gr 3.1
  7. “Josephine” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:02 Gr 2.9
  8. “Losing Heart” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth, Phil Hanseroth) – 3:35 Gr 3
  9. “Cannonball” (Carlile) – 3:52 G-Gr 1.2
  10. “Until I Die” (Carlile) – 4:06 G-Gr 1.5
  11. “Downpour” (Carlile) – 3:14 G-Gr 1.9
  12. “Shadow on the Wall” (Carlile, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:15 G-Gr 
  13. “Again Today” (Carlile) – 10:38 Gr 3.3 (after slow part really good )
    • Contains a hidden track, “Hiding My Heart” (Tim Hanseroth) G 1.1

Live at Easy Street 2007

  1. “Closer to You”
  2. The Story
  3. “Have You Ever”
  4. “Turpentine”
  5. “Fall Apart Again”
  6. “Downpour”
  7. “Josephine”

Give Up the Ghost 2009

  1. Looking Out” – 4:18 G-Gr 5
  2. “Dying Day” (Tim Hanseroth) – 3:33 Gr-A 4 (Brandi’s singing conveys longing perfectly. Ending note!)
  3. “Pride and Joy” – 4:20 Gr 3.1 (Starts slow & quiet and builds speed & intensity through the song. Instrumental break.)
  4. “Dreams” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:31 E 10 #3
  5. “That Year” – 3:35 Gr 3 (Lyrically dense and meaningful but also slow and depressing)
  6. “Caroline” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:36 Gr 3.3 (Fun song and Elton John)
  7. “Before It Breaks” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth) – 3:57 Gr-A 4.1 (The lyrics touch me. The instrumental break is strong.)
  8. “I Will” – 4:09 G
  9. “If There Was No You” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth) – 2:39 N
  10. “Touching the Ground” (Tim Hanseroth) – 3:17 G-Gr 4
  11. “Oh Dear” (Carlile, Phil Hanseroth) – 2:50 N-M

Live

Bear Creek 2012

Hard Way Home”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth3:21 E 10.1
2.“Raise Hell”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth E 10.2 #24:08
3.“Save Part of Yourself”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth N-G .53:22
4.That Wasn’t MeBrandi Carlile A-E3:42
5.“Keep Your Heart Young”Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth S3:20
6.“100”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth G 13:21
7.“A Promise to Keep”Tim Hanseroth G-Gr 2.54:02
8.“I’ll Still Be There”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth G-Gr 2.8 (high note)3:26
9.“What Did I Ever Come Here For”Phil Hanseroth A3:40
10.“Heart’s Content”Brandi Carlile G 0.9 (Cello. Sounds like Doris Day.)3:34
11.“Rise Again”Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth A4:11
12.“In the Morrow”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth Gr4:02
13.“Just Kids”Brandi Carlile, Jared Faw. M-N (Very slow. Like the cycling piano. Good to close the album. 6:47
Total length:50:56

Firewatchers Daughter 2015

TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Wherever Is Your Heart”Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth3:50 A-E
2.“The Eye”Carlile, Tim Hanseroth3:35 G 0.9
3.“The Things I Regret”Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth3:26 Gr-A
4.“Mainstream Kid”Carlile, Tim Hanseroth4:19 E
5.“Beginning to Feel the Years”Phil Hanseroth3:08 G-Gr 1.5
6.“Wilder (We’re Chained)”Tim Hanseroth3:32 G 1.1
7.“Blood Muscle Skin & Bone”Phil Hanseroth4:16 G-Gr 2.0
8.“I Belong to You”Carlile4:30 N-G (end speeds up)
9.“Alibi”Tim Hanseroth3:00 A
10.“The Stranger at My Door”Carlile3:42 E (Cowboy gallop, twin’s backing. That sample at the end!)
11.“Heroes and Songs”Carlile2:47 M
12.“Murder in the City”Scott Yancey Avett, Timothy Seth Avett2:53 G 1.0

By the Way I Forgive You 2018

Every Time I Hear That Song”4:01N
2.The Joke4:39 G 1.1
3.“Hold Out Your Hand”4:22 A (The fast syncopation. Style of storytelling country like Jonny Cash)
4.“The Mother”3:17 G-Gr 1.3
5.“Whatever You Do”4:07 N-G
6.“Fulton County Jane Doe”4:43 G 0.9
7.“Sugartooth”4:28 Gr
8.“Most of All”3:51 G 1.2zs
9.“Harder to Forgive”4:06 A-Gr 4(When it slows down. And Brandi’s singing. Kazoo backing.)
10.“Party of One”5:47 A-Gr 3.5 (Depressing. I like how each piece of the song is like an entirely different song.)
Total length:43:25

In These Silent Days 2021


Length
1.Right on Time3:05 A 6.25
2.“You and Me on the Rock” (featuring Lucius)3:50 N (This song bothers me the same as when TS says, “talk real SLOW so your mama don’t e.” Like, what? I just start thinking- where does Brandi live and how did they dig the foundation if it’s on rock?  Steals the enjoyment.
3.“This Time Tomorrow”3:26 G 1.1
4.“Broken Horses”5:03 E
5.“Letter to the Past”3:40 G 1.4 (stonewall rubber band bothers me also)
6.“Mama Werewolf”3:41 A 6
7.“When You’re Wrong”4:26 N-G
8.“Stay Gentle”2:28 G 1
9.“Sinners, Saints and Fools”4:32 E #4
10.“Throwing Good After Bad”4:07 Gr
Total length:38:16

Valentines Day and Stalking

11 Feb

I think the only series I haven’t skipped (or been wildly late posting) is my ‘Valentines Day is extremely problematic and shouldn’t be a thing’ series.  So am I in the middle of an emergency, out-of-state move because my landlord jacked up the rent $400/mo on our lease renewal?  YES.  Did my mate get Covid amidst a frantic, 5 weeks to leave an entire 2 bedroom house, packing frenzy?  YES.  She is fully Moderna vaccinated and boosted, and was wearing a (cloth) mask, when she ran inside a store for ten min, by the way.  And has she slept 20 hours a day and been alarmingly foggy and confused since she became symptomatic this last Sunday?  YES.  So I am super-stressed and overwhelmed.  But also, I feel very strongly Valentines Day needs to be retired.  So here I am!

This year, I’m going to talk about how Valentines Day trivializes and low-key encourages stalking.

The above is a picture of a card from the store, SketchyPrintCo depicting an image of Penn Badgley’s character from the Netflix stalker series, You, with the caption: “Stalker is a strong word, I prefer Valentine.”  There’s another cheeky card from Etsy store, Guiltycard, , with the caption: “Happy Valentines from your favorite stalker” (5).  Another image, from Etsy store LucyMaggieDesignsLtd shows a geo-tracker symbol with the caption: “You say stalker, I say devoted (Happy Valentines!)” (5).

I see the intention was to be playful and funny, but these cards make light of a very real, very serious problem– stalking.  Others agree (5):

Katy Bourne tweeted, “Dear @Etsy -please, pls reconsider & do not use stalking as a form of joke on your valentine’s cards (or any cards for that matter) out of respect for the thousands of victims living in fear of this awful crime Thank you #StalkingIsNeverAJoke #StalkingIsACrime.” Another user added a harrowing and sobering note, saying: “My stalker raped me when I was 17. These are not funny.”  Charity, Action Against Stalking replied to Bourne’s tweet saying: “Thanks for this post and for bringing this to people’s attention, especially so close to Valentine’s Day when many stalking victims may be triggered or receive unwanted gifts. As you mention, stalking is not a joke and should be taken seriously.”

A spokesperson for GuiltyCards told Glamour: “We also understand the upset this has caused and have taken this down. We wholeheartedly apologize for any offence caused. This card was simply taken from the TV program You.”  A spokesperson for Lucy Maggie Designs said the store “stands in solidarity with all victims of abuse, including those who have endured the terrible distress of stalking and harassment. The card in question was only ever intended as a playful greeting between two loving, consenting parties and we apologize unreservedly for any unintended offence caused. We thank you for bringing this to our attention and have removed this design from sale on all platforms” (5).

The problem isn’t just about funny cards, it’s the whole sentiment around normalizing secret admirers (being watched), surprise anonymous trinkets, over the top Valentines gestures, or obsessive behavior to woo.  It’s all a green light for stalking behavior.  And it tells the recipient to feel honored, proud, and open to these types of advances (1).

Romantic vs. Creepy:

Valentines Day encourages some cringy behaviors in the name of courtship and romance. Most of us will have to endure being rejected by someone we were crushing on. Most will pick themselves up, dust themselves off and move on to another more welcoming party.  However, stalkers do not operate like that, and often it’s not about pursuing a relationship at all.  Stalking is often about control and coersion, power and intimidation.  Stalkers do not just drop it when they’re rejected or told NO. Stalkers persist until it becomes annoying, and then creepy, frightening and potentially dangerous (4).

Experts have highlighted that one of the root causes of failing to apprehend stalkers is a misunderstanding of the motivations behind their behavior and treating them with the gravity they deserve. This is the kind of sentiment that Valentines Day helps create (along with ubiquitous patriarchy, of course, ‘boys will be boys.’).  The typical behavior exhibited by stalkers has been placed into five main categories (1):

  1. Rejected – Individuals who want to reconcile with previous partners. These stalkers can become resentful and fluctuate between amicable and aggressive.
  2. Resentful – Persons who feel they have been wrongfully treated by their victims i.e. they were passed over for a promotion or disrespected.
  3. Intimacy Seeker – An obsessive individual who fantasizes about having a romantic relationship with their victim. Delusional by nature, these stalkers often believe that their victim is in love with them.
  4. Incompetent Suitor – An unrelenting admirer with poor social skills who attempts to start a romantic relationship with their victim.
  5. Predatory – Sadistic, predatory individuals who enjoy the power and control of stalking their victims via surveillance, aggressive phone calls, exhibitionism and voyeurism, often with malicious intent.

Similarly, stalking victims cannot be classified as one type. Just watch Investigation Discovery or listen to any crime podcast–there are all manner of victims.  Victims could have been in a previous romantic relationship with their stalker, they could be a casual acquaintance or friend as well as a professional contact such as a colleague from work or a client with whom they previously interacted. One of the most worrying instances of stalking is when it comes from a complete stranger; someone who admires their victim from a distance without any prior connection. This is what makes stalking such a far-reaching and indiscriminate offence; it can impact anyone, of any age, gender or social status (1).

Some Statistics

(may vary due to multiple sources– cited below this post):

Over one million individuals receive unwanted attention from stalkers every year (1).  This figure, alarmingly does not include male stalking victims who account for 1 in 3 of all stalking victims (1).

Around 8 percent of all women and 2 percent of all men will be stalked at some time in their lives (4).

how prevalent is this behavior in the United States? Here’s two statistics to wrap your head around (2):

#1 A 2011 survey found 5.1 million women and 2.4 million men had been stalked the previous year.

#2 1 in every 6 women and 1 out of 19 men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime.

Many times, the stalker is someone the victim knows (2):

#3 Almost 3 out of 4 stalking victims know their stalkers in some capacity. The most common relationship between the victim and perpetrator is a current of former intimate partner.

#4 66% of female stalking victims were stalked by current or former intimate partners.

Stalking is often an indicator of other forms of violence (2):

#5 81% of women who were stalked by a current or former husband or cohabitating partner were also physically assaulted by that partner, while 31% were sexually assaulted.

Our youngest populations are at the most risk (2):

#6 People aged 18-24 have the highest rate of stalking victimization.

State laws don’t always protect stalking victims (2):

#7 Although stalking is a crime in all 50 states, less than one-third of states classify stalking as a felony if it’s a first offense. This leaves stalking victims without protections afforded to victims of other violence crimes.

Not only is stalking often an indicator of other forms of violence, it has been linked to femicide, the murder of women and girls (2):

#8 76% of women murdered by an intimate partner were stalked first, while 85% of women who survived murder attempts were stalked.

#9 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted before their murder were also stalked in the last year prior to their murder.

#10 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to the police before they were killed by their stalkers.

Consider that 85% of stalking victims do not report the incident to the police (1).

What is the definition of stalking?

It depends who you ask.  Part of the problem is there is no ONE, agreed upon definition held by every entity.  Stalking is the unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group towards another person (1). More specifically, the federal government defines stalking as a course of conduct directed at an individual that “places that person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to that person; an immediate family [member] … of that person; or a spouse or intimate partner of that person; or causes, attempts to cause, or would reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress …” to that person, a family member or an intimate partner (2).

According to Michigan law [laws are state by state, and this is just an example of one specific state’s laws] “stalking” means a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested (4).

For there to be stalking, the contacts made by the stalker must be unwanted or non-consensual.  One particularly problematic of stalking in regards to the law, is that much of the onus is put on the victim. If a victim feels stalked by a person, they must at some point communicate with the stalker that they do not want contact and do not want a relationship with this person. Many victims do not want to hurt feelings and want to “let them (stalkers) down easy.” This does not work on stalkers (4).  Many victims are blamed for their own troubles because there is a perception they sought out, instigated, or encouraged their stalker’s behavior.  Or the victim is blamed for not saying NO strongly enough.  Somehow the victim of stalking is held more accountable than the perpetrator.

When a victim tells a stalker they do not want contact, it should be forceful and direct. The police can help here, if necessary, by assisting in the delivering the message for the victim. Once the message is delivered, the victim must stand firm, and, if they tell their stalker they will take an action if contacted again, like calling the police, they must follow through or they will endure more annoyance and disruption caused by a stalker (4).

For it to be criminal stalking, a victim must also be in fear. The conduct that is causing fear in the victim must be repeated or continuing. In other words one creepy phone call does not necessarily constitute stalking. However two or more contacts — in person, telephonic, electronic, by mail or just leaving “presents”  — especially after clearly being warned by the victim — could constitute stalking (4).

And more responsibility put on the victim:  It is very important for the victim to document all unwanted contacts (date, time and what sort of contact) made by the stalker (4).  A preponderance of evidence is the best thing a victim can compile in order to get a case together that will be taken seriously.

Stalking is not just a stand-alone, situation in many cases.  It’s a symptom of a bigger problem:  Stalking is something many victims and survivors of domestic violence must contend with as part of their abuser’s pattern of control and power, as former and current intimate partners often use stalking to terrorize their victims (2).  The most dangerous stalkers are the ones with the most emotional investment. Therefore former domestic partners are the most common and often the most dangerous stalkers. These stalkers take the attitude: “If I can’t have you, then no one can.”  Control of a victim’s life replaces emotional and physical bonds for a stalker. They may not be able to “possess” their victim, but they can control their lives using fear and intimidation as weapons (4).

The Role of Technology and Social Media in Stalking:

In the digital age it has become increasingly easy for stalkers to obtain extensive information about members of the general public via social media. Another recent case is that of Molly McLaren who was stabbed 75 times by her former boyfriend Joshua Stimpson outside a busy shopping center in Kent. Ms. McLaren had previously complained about Stimpson to the police when he posted threatening messages about her via Facebook. Police also received a complaint in 2013 from a former girlfriend of Stimpson’s who received abusive text messages from him following their break-up. Stimpson has been found guilty of murder and was jailed for 26 years in February 2018. However, Ms McLaren’s family have stressed that more needs to be done to raise awareness over the dangers of online stalking (1).

According to a survey made by the antivirus provider NortonLifeLock, there is one out of ten Americans that admits that they have had use ‘stalker apps’ without their partner’s approval– or worse, even their exes accounts.  As explained, the company had interviewed more than 2,000 American adults asking whether they have had used stalking apps that are widely available online. The study showed that “46% of Americans admit to ‘stalking’ an ex or current partner online by checking in on them without their knowledge or consent” (3).  29% of this survey said that they check their current or former partner’s phones; 21% admitted that they review their partner’s history of their accounts; 9% said that some of them even use fake accounts to determine the loyalty of their partners. Meanwhile, 8% revealed that they use tracking apps on their partners to check their physical activities in their daily lives (3).

Contrary to the common misogynistic mindset that women more likely checks their partner’s phone, the study also showed that men tend to be twice more likely to use ‘stalking apps’ to know their partners’ whereabouts every day (3).

Though the act of stalking tends to be creepy for most people, 35% of Americans said that they do not mind the act of ‘online stalking’ to be done to them by their partners, as long as it is not in person. However, men tend to agree more on this sentiment compared to women.  NortonLifeLock mentioned that stalking apps like the most active one called ‘Stalkerware’ can be dangerous to couples or individuals when it comes to protecting their privacy.  “Some of the behaviors identified in the NortonLifeLock Online Creeping Survey may seem harmless, but there are serious implications when this becomes a pattern of behavior and escalates, or when Stalkerware and creepware apps get in the hands of an abusive ex or partner,” says Kevin Roundy, Technical Director of NortonLifeLock (3).

Additionally, the survey identified more than 1,000 ‘stalking’ apps are now available in online stores (3).  P.S. I am particularly horrified by the above stats!

What to Do About Stalking?

If stalking and harassment are such a widespread epidemic, why is more not being done to protect the victims of these traumatic offences?  Many victims feel powerless, living in fear and unsure where to turn for help. Like we talked about above, one, two, three incidents are not enough for law enforcement to act.  The stalking victim must endure and document so many incidents that it’s ridiculous.  By the time they have, the stalking behavior has escalated.  And forget restraining orders–the way police enforce those, is when they’re already broken.  Many victims of stalking have highlighted how police procedures, are not always effective against aggressive stalkers (1).

Stalking is a misdemeanor unless it becomes “aggravated stalking” — that’s when a stalker violates a Personal Protection Order (PPO) or other court order or a stalker commits another stalking crime after already having been convicted of stalking. Aggravated stalking is a felony (4).

Stalking takes its toll emotionally, psychologically and even financially (2):

#11 1 in 7 stalking victims has been forced to move because of their victimization.

#12 Stalking victims suffer much higher rates of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and social dysfunction than the general population.

#13 86% of victims surveyed reported their personalities had changed as a result of being stalked.

#14 37% of stalking victims fulfill the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, and an additional 18% fulfilled all but one diagnostic criteria.

#15 1 in 4 stalking victims contemplated suicide.

#16 1 in 8 stalking victims has reported losing work because of the stalking. More than half of these victims reported losing 5 or more work days.

Recently, TV presenter Emily Maitlis has compared her stalking to a ‘chronic illness’ which has impacted her life for over 20 years. Despite her stalker, 47 year-old Edward Vines, being issued with an indefinite restraining order in 2009, he has been convicted of twice breaching this order in the last year alone. Emily discussed the long term psychological impact of stalking within a BBC News interview, candidly revealing (1):

“You turn into this person who shouts at your kids for the wrong thing…It just makes you jumpy – and that’s stressful and it’s tiring and it’s time-consuming…It’s not that you think everyone is out to kill you. You recognise it as a paranoia. But it doesn’t make it any easier…This has literally been going on for 20 years. It feels like sort of a chronic illness…It’s not that I ever believe it will stop or he will stop, or the system will manage to prevent it properly”.

This long-lasting psychological harm of stalking has been reported by all manner of victims; irrespective of their age, gender or profession. For instance, Bob Coughtrey, 53 from Lancashire, was stalked by one of his pupils. Although Bob’s stalker was issued with a suspended prison sentence and restraining order, Bob says that the ordeal has left a lasting impact on his everyday life (1):

“She sent me a message which said ‘part of me wishes I hadn’t passed my test, because I would have got to spend more time with you’,” he recalls…I didn’t reply, but the texts just kept coming all night. They got darker and darker. I thought she might be at risk so I called the police, who went to her house…  I’m a grown man, but I felt very vulnerable and anxious. The next evening, my doorbell rang repeatedly. I looked out of the window and it was her again. She then phoned me eight times while she was outside. I phoned 999, and within a few minutes a police car arrived and they arrested her on suspicion of harassment…  It’s horrible. It’s almost suffocating. It changes your life, how you feel about people. You feel as if you’re not quite being taken seriously, because you’re a man…Some people might think it’s harmless – it’s just a woman that’s just giving you some attention. It’s not, because the attention is unwanted, the attention is unsolicited, and it was never reciprocated. I’m very cautious now, always looking around me when I go outside. I don’t feel safe”.

Basically, it’s terrorizing to be stalked.  If you are in fear and feel you are being stalked, contact the police. If you tell someone you do not want a relationship with them and they persist, tell them to knock it off, call the police and let everyone around you know there is a problem (4).

Co-workers, family members, neighbors and friends should know about the problem and provide a network of eyes and ears for the victim. Again, the victim is forced to modify their life, and become hypervigilant.  People surrounding the victim should be instructed not to give out any personal information about the victim and to report to the victim or police if they spot the stalker around the victim or the victim’s belongings. For instance, cars are often damaged by stalkers because they are easy to find and easy to trash without detection (4).

How Can I Help?

Looking to support stalking victims and make some changes on their behalf? Here’s where you can start on a grassroots level (2):

    • Encourage your state legislators to tighten stalking statutes so that stalking is both easier to prosecute and classified as a more serious crime.
    • Ask your legislators to update the federal domestic violence firearm prohibitor to including misdemeanor dating violence and misdemeanor stalking.
    • Ask your members of Congress to support legislation providing additional funding for local program initiatives and other services to victims of stalking and domestic violence, like programs established by the Violence Against Women Act.
    • Research and support legislation encouraging domestic violence education for middle and high school students. An appropriate curriculum should include information about healthy relationships, domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, and available resources.
    • Encourage local schools and youth programs to train teachers, school counselors and athletic coaches to recognize children and teens who are in violent situations. Provide educators with resources and prepare them to intervene in domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking situations.
    • Support programs in your community aimed at increasing domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking education, prevention and intervention.

In other words, Valentines Day sentiment makes light and even suggests stalking behavior.   Normalizing such dangerous behavior, that often goes along with a pattern of domestic violence is bad for all of us.  It’s bad for men, because they are pressured to do Valentinesy things which breech boundaries and often cross into “creepy” territory.  And it’s bad for women because the day tells them to want, expect, and graciously receive these gestures, which can be ultimately unsafe.  And it teaches society to see over the top gestures as romantic and fun, instead of red flags and an introduction to control and violence.  We, as a society, need to shut. it. down.  Over the years I have probably listed 12-16 reasons that Valentines Day is problematic.  Can we finally just admit that the cutesy stuff isn’t worth all the (unintended) consequences?

If you or someone you know is experiencing stalking, the Stalking Resource Center has resources, including online “Help for Victims” information and a Victim Connect Helpline at 855-4-VICTIM (855-484-2846).

Sources:

(1):  https://blackstoneconsultancy.com/unwelcome-valentines-stalking-and-harassment/

Stats-
(2):  https://ncadv.org/blog/posts/quick-guide-to-stalking-16-important-statistics-and-what-you-can-do-about-it

(3):  https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.techtimes.com/amp/articles/247360/20200214/valentines-day-warning-men-more-likely-to-follow-women-using-stalker-apps-like-stalkerware.htm

Creepy vs dangerous-
(4):  http://www.annarbor.com/news/valentines-day-brings-out-the-stalkers/

Card-

(5):  https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/stalker-valentines-day-cards