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Speaking Ill Of The Dead

Well over a decade ago, I was part of a group of friends. One of them had a real punk little brother (teenager) who, I knew, was destined for trouble. He was a stereotypical punk, always in trouble at school and the law, involved in booze and drugs and crime and gangs and whatnot. The high point, I recall, was him being found passed-out drunk in a stolen car at the tende age of 15 or so. Within a year or two, he had his first child Let's call him "Billy."

There is one area where I have to give Billy credit for: he once inspired me to invent an ethnic slur. His father was deceased, but he insisted that his "real" father was a Colombian drug dealer to get some gang cred. One of our group said that he was desperately trying to be a "wigger." I spontaneously corrected him: Billy was a "Wic."

One day, after our little group had drifted apart, one guy I'd remained close to gave me some shocking news.

"Hey, Jay!"


"Guess what?"


"Billy's in REAL jail!"



A little while later, I interrupted our conversation.


"Guess what?"


"Billy's in REAL jail!"

"I know. I told you."

A little while later, I interrupted him again.

"Hey, Don!"


"Guess what?"


"Billy's in REAL jail!"

"I know, Jay. I told you that half an hour ago."

20 minutes later, I struck again.

"Hey, Don!"


"Guess what?"


"Billy's in REAL jail!"

"Jay, I know you like to call me stupid, but I know Billy's in REAL jail. I told YOU that."

"Don, I'm not saying it over and over again because I think you're stupid. I'm saying it over and over again because it feels so good to say it. You try it."

"Hey, Jay!"


"Guess what?"


"Billy's in REAL jail!"

And a big grin spread across his face. It WAS fun to say it. It became a running gag between us for years. And we never bothered to verify whether or not it was true at that particular moment -- with Billy, it seemed a safe bet.

Last night, the joke developed a new twist. Don called me:

"Hey, Jay!"


"Guess what?"


"Billy's NOT in real jail!"

"He's not?"

"Nope. He's dead."

Not that I didn't trust Don, but I poked around online to find out more details. (Don is still friends with Billy's older brother.) It turns out that Billy was right around 30, a heavily-tattooed "tattoo artist" with a lengthy criminal record and three kids by two "baby mamas." He was still a druggie, and a couple other members of his family had also gotten arrested on drug dealing charges, and it's a better than fair chance that Billy's death was tied to his history of recreational pharmacology.

There's a part of me that's a little freaked. Billy was about a decade younger than me, but he piled up a lot of living in those years. And while I know, intellectually, I should mourn the death of a fellow human being, that is dwarfed by the thoughts that he chose to be an utter dirtbag and so many of his choices led to his demise. And I can't forget all the times he insulted and threatened me simply because he felt the need to show some dominance.

RIP, Billy. You left the world a better place.

But I think I'm going to miss the running gag Don and I had more.


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Comments (12)

You can always use the old ... (Below threshold)

You can always use the old SNL Generalissimo Francisco Franco joke.

Just wondering if he wore f... (Below threshold)

Just wondering if he wore false teeth.

The uninsured can always use 'um.

If you'll inquire, I'll contact Congresswoman Slaughter.

RIP, Billy. You... (Below threshold)
RIP, Billy. You left the world a better place.
Too bad he didn't leave soo... (Below threshold)

Too bad he didn't leave sooner.

It could be a problem with ... (Below threshold)

It could be a problem with "schadenfreude"... It just somehow feels right with certain dirtbags of society, but (at least in my case) feel a bit tainted by the feeling after. My problem is I don't mourn their passing as a fellow human being. I have always felt that people who CHOOSE the criminal path don't deserve my sympathy when they off themselves. I've said that also about suicide bombers. I'm for them blowing THEMSELVES up. But they have no right to take others with them. Same thing for criminals. They have the same right to off themselves, by themselves. Just not off anyone else doing it. And the schadenfreude aspect is somehow feeling a grim satisfaction when some idiot manages to off himself and save me (the state) money doing it for them.

dirtbags...save me the... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

dirtbags...save me the state money. Why is that conservatives always jump to instant indictments who are the real criminals? And then there is the tambem wish for summary punishment.

Not much has changed. I remember Jay´s first blog, I ever read, on the misidentified Brazilian, LONDON bomber "If looks like a duck acts like a duck, then"...the comments and congratulatory rush to judgment and support without reservation of the police tactics to shoot and kill.. were pretty much the same.

Now, when an DOJ official has represented in some capacity, a suspected terrorist who may or may not be one, the DOJ official is lumped in league with a generic terrorist straightaway and respect for anyone wishing a fair judicial process is immediately suspect to anyone from the real America, that someone like Palin loves to champion.

It seems a pity we have have rule by laws; so much easier and cheaper just to kill the so-called real criminals, and slang liberal judges, except then there are topical (but not at wizbang) cases like this in the heartland, which occured under some governor or other that is portrayed as the real america i.e not liberal.

Johnson's letters were not acknowledged. Cole died in 1999 without ever learning that Johnson was attempting to confess to the crime. The year after Cole died, Johnson wrote again to a supervising judge. This time, the case was moved to a different judge and rejected without comment. Eventually, however, Johnson's confessions reached the Innocence Project of Texas and Cole's family. Attorneys at the Innocence Project of Texas sought posthumous DNA testing in the case and Lubbock prosecutors cooperated.
It is a shame that some p... (Below threshold)

It is a shame that some people have a much more difficult life than others, whether (some may or may not feel) they deserve it or not.... may he RIP

Go in peace, Crickmore -- y... (Below threshold)

Go in peace, Crickmore -- you'll leave this thread a better place.

Steve, I remember the Londo... (Below threshold)

Steve, I remember the London story, and the guy's name -- De Menzies. I remember quite clearly saying that the guy definitely had it coming, and the police had no choice but to shoot him.

I also remember retracting that story when it came out that the London police had lied about nearly every detail about the shooting incident, apologizing for taking their word up front on the circumstances, and saying some very unpleasant things about them. Essentially, they concocted the "perfect" story about the shooting that would leave the incident utterly unquestionable, and I agreed.

When the truth came out, I was furious, and publicly so. I still am, for that matter.

In this case, "Billy" was a dirtbag 15 years ago, and remained one right up until his death. I don't rejoice in his death, but I'm not mourning it and I'm unsurprised.


Hey Jay:Billy's NO... (Below threshold)

Hey Jay:

Billy's NOT in jail and he's never going to be in jail again.

Nah, that doesn feel good.

Hey Jay:

Steve's Not in Jail 'cause he's still commenting!

Now THAT has a ring to it.

Oh! I got it! Stevie's the ... (Below threshold)

Oh! I got it! Stevie's the internet troll! Wow!


I was only trying to extend... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

I was only trying to extend the life of Jay's anecdote, by doing some 'stream of consciousnes thinking, not hyjack a thread which really did'nt have a much larger intention than to be amusing. Anecdoctal social science can be pretty limiting, if it presents only one side, which normally it does liberal or conservative.






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