Category Archives: Featured

Are Police Becoming Too Militarized?

Image by Kim HerbstImage by Kim Herbst This investigative work, written by yours truly, originally ran in the Aug. 13, 2015 issue of Isthmus, one of the best alt-weeklies in America. Gregory Humphrey was mowing his lawn on June 16, when, just after noon, four police officers wearing military khaki and armed with assault rifles cut purposefully across his yard. “It happened extremely quick,” recalls Humphrey. “I swung the lawn mower around when I reached the edge of the property…and there they were.” As Humphrey, 53, tried to make sense of it, more heavily armed officers began to spill out of the rear… Continue Reading

Shine On You Crazy Green Dot

Everybody has got something to hide except for me and my monkey, John Lennon sang.Everybody has got something to hide except for me and my monkey, John Lennon sang. The Internets are a remarkable tool, half of the time. The other half, it’s remarkably irritating. Great for news, porn–news about porn–and keeping up with everyone but the Kardashians–ya know, that vacuous tribe of squishy and stretched narcissists that recently drove Lamar Odom (to a brothel) and Scott Disick (to his yacht) for drug-fueled ménage à trois? Now Odom is in a coma after being discovered by two hookers and Disick, according The Daily Mail, appears worse for the wear. But what the Internets… Continue Reading

Cheated by God

imagesIt’s around 3:30 a.m. and this guy gets into my cab. He sits up front. He smells like crack smoke. Everyone knows you can buy crack in this part of the city. That’s not any kind of secret. I ask how his night has been and he tells me, which somehow leads to him noting that I seem sad and stressed. I ignore the comment because I don’t want to get into it, but he continues to prod, telling me I needn’t be afraid, that my secrets are safe with him. I roll down the rear windows so the air… Continue Reading

Honoring the Dead New Mexico-Style

DescansoLess than 24 hours after Annette Gonzales, 39, and Emily Baca, 29, were killed while waiting for a green light at Riverside Drive and Fairview Lane, in Española, New Mexico, two crude crosses had been put there in memory of them. “In our family tradition they say the person doesn’t rest in peace until you place a descanso,” said Gonzales’s daughter, Ileen Gallegos. “We did it immediately, the following day.” For thousands of New Mexican families, the crosses, or descansos, are monuments to fallen loved ones whose deaths were tragic and unexpected. Gonzales and Baca, for example, died… Continue Reading

The Heroin Blues

1470005_10152062499292439_750674460_nphoto by Sarah No Madison, WI–In the sordid, voyeuristic, details to emerge from the presumed heroin overdose death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman I hear echoes from my own recent life, now marred by psychic wounds that have barely begun to heal. Of the many terrible things my girlfriend, Sarah, and I witnessed while living in New Mexico the icy blue color that washed over the faces of those overdosing on heroin jarred us the most.  This ghoulish discoloration is caused by a sudden decrease in oxygen due to respiratory depression, preceded by a loss of consciousness. As far as… Continue Reading

Fiddling Like Nero

The crash shift a wall, knocking the door from one of its hinges.The crash shift a wall, knocking the door from one of its hinges. Southwestern, North Dakota—It was a cold gray, quiet, day—until a woman crashed a car into Room 135. It happened around 3:30 p.m., when a thunderous bang! tugged me from the ether. It sounded as if someone had punched the backdoor, or the door in the office, so all what-the-heck-like, I tottered to see who or what was to blame, but wind-strewn litter was all I saw. No sooner had I returned to bed, where I was happy, when my girl dashes in exclaiming the lady from Room… Continue Reading

A Wife’s Revenge

A woman battered this truck after finding it parked outside a motel late one night.A woman battered this truck after finding it parked outside a motel late one night. Western North Dakota—Night has fallen on a particularly grueling, but otherwise unmemorable rainy day. A man who assembles the steel skeletons of soulless commercial space each day beginning at sunrise decides tonight he’s going to kick it with a couple of bro-ish co-workers before returning home. He tails the bros to the motel they’ve called home for over a month now. Six-packs in hand, they plod up the wet stairs in mud-caked boots, to Room 143. After soaking up some warmth they sip eagerly from… Continue Reading

No Respect for Small Town Cops

Motel guests get harassed by the K-9 cop, who didn't locate any narcotics on the couple.Motel guests get harassed by the K-9 cop, who didn't locate any narcotics on the couple. Dickinson, North Dakota—Small town cops always get a bad rap, and rightfully so. Unlike their urban counterparts, small town cops receive far less training. And because small towns tend to have low crime rates, police tend to spend an inordinate amount of time enforcing traffic laws and responding to small disturbances, like people setting off illegal fireworks. Sometimes small town police seem averse to police work all together. Last month a man was stabbed on the property. The police wanted to view our security… Continue Reading

Motel Treasure Hunts

DSC_0077Western North Dakota—It happens often enough. A guest disappears for a day or two before stumbling, all weak and disheveled, back to his room to discover his key no longer works. Perhaps a stranger, hearing someone attempting to enter, answers the door. There’s someone in my room, complained one construction worker who’d gone missing for a day. We rented the room when you stopped paying for it.  It’s an oddly satisfying chain of events, from the moment I instruct the housekeepers to pack it up to when the confused former guest forks over the ransom on his belongings. I’m not… Continue Reading

Africans in North Dakota

W.B. shows off his warning for trespass.W.B. shows off his warning for trespass. Western North Dakota—Last night a couple of the housekeepers, all of whom are from Cape Verde, stopped by the office to tell me about the racist man working at the gas station across the street, how the man, for no reason, booted them from the store prior to the cops doling out warnings for trespass. What happened went something like this: Kenny purchased W.B. the wrong kind of cigarettes. W.B. returned moments later to exchange the pack for the correct one. One of the clerks, an older man with a scraggly gray beard,… Continue Reading
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