All posts by Marion

Murder on the Subway

Honestly, I wasn’t going to write about this. I was going to write a post about the obvious fix that is needed to make the JFK Airtrain functional. But it’s insane now to write a post about first-world-problems — getting to and from the airport — while vigilantes are murdering homeless people on the trains.

So short and simple and with some links:

I challenge anyone reading eyewitness  reports of what happened on the train and looking at the photo of the chokehold to say that Neely wasn’t murdered. I’m not saying it was first degree murder, but the chokehold was wreckless, and any REASONABLE PERSON would know that. I say this as someone who is now often frightened on mass transit. The mass shooting in Brooklyn, and the more recent shooting of a single passenger — a man on his way to meet his brother for brunch —  are terrifying. Deaths caused by people pushed onto trains are terrifying. But you don’t react to fear by pouncing on an emotionally disturbed person with no gun, no knife, making no threat because he throws down a jacket, and then putting him a CHOKEHOLD which a reasonable person would know is deadly force. In photos it’s clear the marine was bigger than him and could have subdued him — not his job — without deadly force. Whatever his intent was, he was wreckless, and of course he should be charged.
Updating to add: Just found this, a statement by the alleged murderer’s lawyer: “Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death,” the law firm of Raiser and Kenniff, P.C. said in a statement. “We hope that out of this awful tragedy will come a new commitment by our elected officials to address the mental health crisis on our streets and subways.”
Again, Man A puts man in a chokehold. Man B in chokehold passes out.  Man A continues to choke him.  A reasonable person would have foreseen the victim’s “untimely death.”  And yes, NYC prosecutors if you don’t overcharge, you will find a jury willing to convict on the evidence, and convicting a murderer is your job. Doing your job won’t cost you the election.
Updated to add:  Caught a NYTimes article contrasting the lives of the victim and his assailant. The mental health system (and other systems) failed Jordan Neely before his murder, but some of the failure wasn’t due to money or a need for “stronger” involuntary commitment laws. Some of the failure was simply the failure to track humans within the mental health and law enforcement system. There was a warrant for his arrest because he had left a program that he’d agreed to in court because of charges against him. He could have and should have been arrested and sent back to that program instead of simply being thrown out of the subway by cops — who didn’t check for warrants — weeks before.  Why didn’t the police check for warrants?
That failure will be exploited by his killer’s defense team  (if he’s ever charged) — as it should be because that is the defense team’s job. Ultimately, that failure didn’t cause Neely’s death,  but it is an example of one of many things that could have prevented the encounter from ever happening.
While I don’t think it is the job of NYPD to be psychiatrists or mental health workers, it is certainly their job when called in by mental health workers to CHECK FOR OUTSTANDING WARRANTS.

I’m Back!


Hello lovelies! So I haven’t been using this blog in ages. You might notice some changes, like the web address! Tech support (better known as the better-half )had a wee problem with his email, and TLDR we lost the old address, which I will not refer to as it is now being held for ransom by cybercriminals.  Jokes on them! It’s worthless.  To paraphrase: All my content belongs to me. So you can still find everything from opera reviews, to snarky television recaps, to me telling a story on the radio right here.

Plus: Silver lining — the new site is a dot com so that’s better, and the better-half learned more stuff about WordPress so I’ve got some fancy updates, which will also work for my business site, Perfect English NYC.

So suck it cybersquatters! 



A Prudent Plan

Perfectly respectable people, in fact some very fine people, doctors such as Dr Oz, Dr. Phil, Dr Laura Ingraham, Dr. Bill O’Reilly and of course Presidential Medal of Freedom Winner the Honorable Dr. Rush Limbaugh have suggested that we “must not,” as our Dear Leader put it “let the cure be worse than the disease.” Everyone dies, and those dying of corona virus are mostly “on their last legs” like that medical resident who died in Brooklyn at age 26, or the school principal in her 30s, or some kid with asthma. Does your kid have asthma? If not, nothing to see here folks! It’s a “measly cold.”

These respectable conservatives are not monsters, but defenders of freedom who want nothing more than to dine in a restaurant and be able to say the “n” word because why should only black people have that right?

They are short-sighted however in merely defending the rights of Americans to buy lawn fertilizer or get their hair and nails done, or return the little ones to school so they might be able to get a head start on their day drinking. The problem is that it’s not merely about “culling the herd” and losing a few old geezers. If the kids go to school, teachers are bound to get sick, and a few of them might have some underlying condition or just not be lucky and die. Of course, most teachers would be happy to make that kind of sacrifice and they’ve had it good for way too long, what with summers off and only working till three, but this still might be chaotic for kids in both government and real schools. Then again, it might solve the problem of seniority and unions, so maybe it’s not the best example. A better example of the problem with simply letting the virus spread and letting God sort this out, would be the strain on the healthcare system.

Let’s say that only 10% of the people who catch the virus get sick enough to go to the hospital. We have no way of actually knowing percentages since it’s still so difficult to get a test, but lets just put that as a hypothetical. That’s still a lot of people and a lot of burden on the healthcare system. Even if only a small percent of those 10% need ventilators, treatment is very costly. Plus all that personal protective equipment is pricey. And it means that we patriotic Americans can’t get our much needed elective surgery done. Imagine you are a hardworking American on your third wife, and it’s time to either get her a boob job or trade her in, and you not only can’t you get the boob job booked because of this COVID-19 nonsense, but they aren’t allowing incoming flights from Eastern Europe!

Doctors and nurses, even young, healthy ones, seem especially vulnerable to the most virulent form of the disease. Yes, it’s what they signed up for, and we can replace them with exports, but that might mean reopening the borders and do you really want to be getting your prostate checked by Dr. Mohamed?

We must figure out some way to prevent the clogging of our healthcare system that will result if we simply open up the economy. Hospitals must be available for anyone who can afford to be in them, and skating rinks should be for skating, not for dead body storage! Clearly our freedom to do whatever we want is our God-given right as Americans under some amendment as confirmed by the Federalist Society (trademarked) owners of the Supreme Court of These United States, and we can’t let the mere 2 or 3 or 5 or whatever it is percent of the total population who might die of COVID-19 stand in the way.

Therefore, may I suggest that the aforementioned defenders of freedom have not gone far enough in saying we must reopen the economy and live with a few, or a few million, deaths? They must advocate for an opening up the healthcare system itself. Since we have no effective medicine or vaccine for the virus, the solution is simple. Those who have symptoms, reaching the point where medical intervention is necessary, must for the sake of the rest of us be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and give up their lives without wasting valuable medical resources. After all once ventilated, the odds are terrible. Why take up space? If people are selfish enough to call an ambulance, paramedics should be given a fast acting agent to put those poor souls out of their misery immediately, at which point their bodies should be brought quickly to a crematorium and disposed of. My suggestion would be building these crematoria quickly and placing them on the outskirts of our cities. Their possessions should then be seized, since this service will be costly, and the burden should not fall on we the tax-paying public. If they own businesses, perhaps those businesses could be transferred to loyal Americans in need, who did NOT get caught by the virus. We could call this the COVID-19 Special Treatment Law.

While this will not end the spread of COVID-19, it will solve some of the problem of its economic impact. Sure other measures must be taken. It is possible that many unpatriotic Americans (Democrats probably) – the weak – those with underlying conditions such as diabetes, high-blood pressure, cancer survivors, the elderly etc will continue hiding in their homes. They will no longer buy gasoline and see the USA in their Chevrolets. They will no longer dine in local eating establishments or get their hair done. They will NOT go to Disney World, or otherwise do their part to sustain economic growth. They will probably buy everything on Amazon. Therefore, we must also pass laws forcing them out. We can call this legislation, Shop or Die! It will take courage to enforce these laws. Perhaps we can add incentives and rewards for alerting the local authorities to your shut-in neighbors. As we learned from 911, if you see something, say something!

COVID-19 is a test, and it will change us. It will bring us back to our very roots. It will be the moral challenge of the century. In the longer term, we must really think about those Americans (not us) who, as the late (or possibly still out there surviving on blood transplants from the young) Senator Alan Simpson R-Wyoming, once said, feed off “a milk cow with 310 million tits” by which he meant social security. We might want to continue and expand the use of those crematoria. Think of how low our taxes would go if those medicare using layabouts weren’t relaxing with their chemo and insulin and kidney transplants that they charge to Joe Taxpayer, but instead were simply willing to live and die within their means, and not burden the rest of us. Did George Washington have health insurance? Did Abraham Lincoln? Or Jefferson Davis?

After all the alternative would be some sort of system where healthcare, itself would be looked at as a right, which would be socialism and an anathema to everything we stand for.

Random Thoughts: Serial novels, serial television and Is Dennis Franz still alive?

This morning, I broke a mug. I had rearranged some spices on a shelf above the sink.  They were precariously balanced. Some bottles fell into the sink, smashing the mug.

I thought, “We can’t just keep buying more mugs.” I have some mugs I had made to promote Blood Diva, a near-porn, vampire, novel I self-published years ago, which didn’t exactly become the next big thing.  Those mugs are just sitting around.

Mugs, for sale! Books too!

My husband is off on an adventure, so I imagined explaining to him when he gets back, “Since we’re not using those mugs for anything, we might as well just replace broken ones with them!” He would say, “Oh honey!” in that way he does, which basically means, “You’re not a failure to me.” And it’s awesome I have that.

But then I asked myself: What on earth (aside from the MFA from Sarah Lawrence) made me think I could just hall off and publish my novel without a team of editors to tell me to change it? The arrogance!

And then I thought about how novels used to be written in olden times, and how it was probably easier to get published on account of not everyone in the world thought he or she could write a novel, and how a lot of the classics were serialized in newspapers. Besides the classics, there are probably a ton of long forgotten serials. I wonder how many were canceled and never completed because readers lost interest?

Was it like with network shows where if the ratings weren’t at a certain level pretty damn quick the editor would pull the plug? Did writers beg? Did they suddenly decide to kill someone off or have a heroine get kidnapped to add some spice?

Some of the classics were written as complete novels and broken up, but many (Count of Monte Cristo to name one) were actually written serially, with authors scrambling to get chapters in on time for the next publication. If a series was popular, the author was encouraged to keep it going and stretch it out, which is why some of these classics are very, very, long.

What did this mean for the stories? For one thing it meant that if the author killed off a character, and the audience got angry about it, there wasn’t much that could be done — unless of course the character had perished in a shipwreck or something and the body hadn’t been found. That may be why we find so many cases of “is he or isn’t he dead” in so many old novels. The writers were hedging their bets.

Working with these deadlines, I doubt authors — especially established ones — got too much interference from newspaper editors and publishers, who were probably relieved when an installment was in time, and didn’t get too involved in content.

It’s not like the process (these days) where, by the time a novel gets to publication, decisions have been made that may be very different from what the writer originally envisioned. Do the people pushing a writer for changes always know best? And best for whom? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Lisa Geneva, the author of Still Alice, initially self-published her bestseller about a professor with early onset Alzheimer’s. When it was picked up by an established publisher, she was forced to change the ending. She’s quoted as saying the new ending was the better one, but I wonder if there are good or even great novels that didn’t get published because authors were sure they knew best.  And sometimes a change might not be because it’s “better” but simply because someone feels it will sell better.

In any case, serialization meant that novels used to be more like the present day television series, which have become less episodic and more concerned with seasonal or series-long story “arcs”. The creators of the shows may know in advance where they want to go, but unforeseen factors along the way, including how well a story line plays, become important. Take the Jesse Pinkman character on Breaking Bad. He was supposed to be killed off during the first season, but Aaron Paul’s performance was so charismatic that they kept Jesse around and he became the moral center of the show. That character, and the audience’s reaction to him, changed how the show got to its endpoint. The show, however, retained that original elevator pitch, its creator’s vision of “turning Mr. Chips into Scarface.”

The minor character who wasn’t minor.

In the case of modern genre novels that are written as a series, you still have room for the audience/reader reaction to influence what comes next, but for a single “literary” novel, you don’t. The editors and others who help the author “craft” the book serve that purpose, not popular opinion.

And that got me thinking more about the differences between novels and television shows and how in addition to the decisions made by the writers, such as “Hey, let’s kill off the wife!” television shows are subject to events beyond the control of the writers and producers. What happens when an actor dies? Or refuses to come back? Or has to be fired like Kevin Spacey on House of Cards? Changes can be forced upon a series, which change everything.

Like NYPD Blue for example. The first season of the series starred David Caruso as John Kelly. Caruso, despite the name was a very Irish-looking ginger, and that ethnicity — Irish-Catholic — was a big part of his character’s backstory.


Famous quitter.

The series became very popular and Caruso wanted a big fat raise, which he didn’t get, and so he was written out, making his last appearance in the fourth episode of the second season. The writers brought in Jimmy Smits, an actor who was already popular with television audiences from the show LA Law, and the show ran successfully for many more years, Supporting actor, Dennis Franz, who played partner to both Caruso’s John Kelly, and Smits’s Bobby Simone, stayed with the series throughout its run and through two more partners.

Franz probably got the job in the first place because of a memorable small role on Hill Street Blues, in which he played Norman Buntz, an ethically-challenged but somehow lovable cop. Buntz proved popular enough to get a spin-off series, but not popular enough for that series to last a season. Andy Sipowicz, his character on NYPD Blue, was more of a “by the book”, stand up guy, then Buntz, but there was a resemblance.

So I asked myself, “Whatever happened to Dennis Franz? Is he dead?” I was pretty sure he was dead because I couldn’t remember seeing him in anything for years. But I looked him up. He’s still alive, just enjoying retirement.


(If the porny-vampire novel with opera, is too much for you, the rest of Marion’s oeuve may be more to your taste. You can check them all out here.)

My Life as a Welfare Queen

(This was originally posted in 2010. I’m reposting for the 4th of July 2018.)

It’s time for me to come clean and admit how much I scam and rip off the government. Yes, it’s people like me that keep your taxes high (not as high as all the other industrial nations, but still, it’s your money).

First, I should tell you, I’m a third generation grifter. My grandparents arrived on these shores via Ellis Island. They were even given an alias. You think Stein is our real name?

They immediately benefited from soft immigration policies, “give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.“Yeah, baby! They couldn’t wait to come in and start working that system. Soon they were having anchor babies and sending them to public schools on the taxpayers’ dime.They also enjoyed all those freedoms — religion, expression, press.They even got involved in trade unions and collective bargaining!

Then came the Great Depression. That could have set things right, invisible hand of the market and all that, but noooo! They used their vote to get that disabled guy and his commie cronies in and before you could say WPA, tons of people were grifting the government, building roads and dams, even making art — all kinds of nonsense that the feds had no business going near.

The feeling of unity was downright socialistic! Despite the Depression, both my parents got college educations without paying a dime in tuition! They didn’t even have to fake transcripts or forge checks. The local government made it easy, only requiring they do well enough in high school to get a spot in its city university system. Back then the powerful actually believed that educating the masses would help make life better for everyone and prevent political extremism. The naivety is astounding!

Then World War II came and all that touchy-feely propaganda actually helped strengthen the country. I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day.

My father, always the schemer, joined the army.What did he get out of it?A little something called the GI Bill.That’s right, folks for a couple of years of service, (more like a paid vacation to the exotic Philippines) my father came back to find graduate school paid for AND a rent subsidy.Talk about living high on the hog!

He was then able to grow a business because he hardly paid any rent! Not only did New York come up with a sweet scam called “Rent Control,” but they also had housing projects, which before they were allowed to fall into decay and dangerousness, provided housing to plenty of opportunistic ex-army guys and their baby mommas.

As for my mother, she put her “education” to good use getting herself a cushy job as a “teacher” in one of those public schools. Union benefits! Set up for life. Sweet.

With that government tit to feed us, my father continued to build his business. He didn’t even complain about the “tribute” his Uncle Sam wanted every April 15th. Figured it was his duty or something. Guess he was getting soft.

And even into old age, both my parents kept up their ripping off the government ways, benefiting from those major giveaways — social security and Medicare. They didn’t lose all the money they’d saved when they got old and sick. My mother cleaned up in the end, selling the house, cashing out, and spending her golden years in a swanky assisted living facility. Give me dignity or give me death, baby!

With this kind of background, of course I was heading toward a life of stealing from hard working American taxpayers!

Not only did I attend public universities, I also didn’t have to shell out much for cars because here in New York, we’ve got a little thing called mass transit. There aren’t as many opportunities to feed at the trough as there used to be, but thanks to the “education” I was able to acquire, I found some creative ways to beat the system. There are little things that I hardly even notice most of the time like the fact that I have “protection” in the form of police, fire fighters and even sanitation workers who work for “the public”. Yup, that’s me! Jane Q Public, enjoying those services! Hey, unlike most of “the little people” in those poor countries, I even get safe drinking water and a system that keeps people from selling spoiled and unsafe food. It’s like having a personal food taster or something!

So given that it’s a beautiful Memorial Day, I think I’ll go out and enjoy myself.Maybe head over to a nearby locally supported park like that big one in the middle of Manhattan, or the state park they built over the sewer treatment plant a mile or so north. Sewer treatment! That’s something. My government even cleans my shit! What a country!

Or perhaps I’ll just head a couple of blocks west, pay my respects at the national park which happens to be a government supported mausoleum for some old President who was himself a welfare king who never made a dime at his failed business attempts, but managed to graduate  from a publicly supported military academy and went into politics — that last refuge of the scoundrel — after his army stint.