Monthly Archives: April 2010

Amanda Knox: What Happened To Her?

On April 19th, Amanda Knox, the American student accused and found guilty of killing her British roommate in Italy, saw hope again.  Knox’s attorneys filed an over 200-page appeal stating that there was new evidence that could prove definitively that Knox didn’t do it.  Reports say that the appeal also dissects the lack of DNA evidence placing Knox at the crime and introduces a new, star witness who can confirm her whereabouts.

Two new judges and six new jurors will hear the evidence and testimony of the appeal and make a decision as to whether or not Knox will remain in an Italian prison.  It will be a tough job; say that the Italian legal system didn’t work the first time around or bend to international pressure and reverse the decision?  Knox won’t be the only one effected by the judgement.  Her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito will also benefit if Knox is found innocent as he too has been spending time behind bars.  (Knox was sentenced to 26 years, Sollecito mysteriously only 25.)  The two were convicted back in December 2009.  Italian prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini might have a word to say about this however.  News reports state that Mignini has said that “two decades in jail is not enough for American student Amanda Knox.  He wants to put her away for life.”  Interestingly, Mignini is also under fire these days for abusing the power of his office and for intimidating journalists during the trial.  Mignini has filed his own appeal with the courts (which is allowed in Italy) to change Knox’s sentence from 26 years to life.

So who’s the witness that just might turn this whole case around?  Mario Alessi, a convicted murderer who spends his days at the same Italian prison as the third convicted party in this drama, African man Rudy Hermann Guede.  Rudy was convicted and sentenced on a fast track outside the eyes of the media frenzy.  Sadly, many fear that this was accomplished because of his skin color and because he didn’t have the weight of being an American citizen behind him.  Alessi is said to have told Knox’s attorneys that Guede told him (who told my mother’s brother’s sister’s uncle) that Knox wasn’t there when he sliced and diced Meredith Kercher from England.

I don’t know how strong the word of a convicted murderer is going to be in exonerating Knox, but I have a feeling this appeal is going to see some positive results.  Not because the evidence is going to be overwhelming, but because the Italian prosecutor is looking more and more biased.  Why appeal for life when he already got 26 years?  Kercher’s family didn’t hire him to do it – so why is he making it personal?  Why is he determined to win?  We’ll see, but I have a nose that he’s going to be the weak link that gets the decision reversed.

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Good Samaritan Left To Die

It’s all over the news; a homeless man (Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, a homeless, Guatemalan immigrant) came to the aid of a woman being attacked in Jamaica Queens this morning.  For his efforts he was stabbed multiple times by the male assailant and left bleeding on the sidewalk.  For over an hour people walked by, ignoring the blood pooling around his lifeless body.  One gawker even lifted the man to see the stab wounds on his chest.  Eventually someone called 911, but by then it was too late and Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax was dead.

Last weekend Sam and I went to a friend’s birthday party at an unmarked speakeasy on La Cienega.  We parked the car and immediately noticed a man in a door-well covered from head to toe with a dirty, gray blanket.  Sam and I like to help when we can and if we have food or clothing or a couple of bucks in our possession when we see someone who seems as if he or she needs it more than we do, we’ll give it away.  The exceptions to the rule are people who seem dangerous, intoxicated or high, unpredictable or sketchy.  Like why is this guy asking for money in the middle of the intersection, but he’s wearing a clean Adidas track suit and new Nike’s?  So when Sam saw the inert figure he instinctively started veering towards it while reaching for his back pocket.

I stopped him.  I was afraid that the man would be startled by Sam and would awake violently.  I was afraid that Sam would get hurt.  So I shook my head.  And this is the problem we have.  This is why a man could die alone in a pool of blood on the sidewalk while no one helps.  People are afraid.

There’s no guidepost that tells us, “This guy is homeless and needs your help and he’s a nice guy who’s run into some bad luck.” versus “This guy is violent and he’s carrying a knife.  If you try to talk to him he’ll cut you.  He’s homeless because he’s escaped from a mental institute.”  And as a result of this fear, people don’t help their fellow man or woman.  Instead they ignore them or they weigh the risks like I did and make a case to case judgment.  But that’s the problem; these aren’t cases, they’re people.

There are close to a million people living on the streets in our country.  It used to be because of deinstitutionalization in the mental health industry, a terrible Veteran’s program or individual cases like runaways and children lost in the foster care system, drug addicts and criminals.  Now we can add the foreclosure epidemic to our list of why people are living on the streets.  So what are we going to do about this?  How do we help?

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Project Runway – Another Season Bites the Dust

On Saturday afternoon I booted up my computer to watch the season finale of my favorite TV show, Project Runway.  I had been disgruntled last week when Heidi strong-armed Mila into the finale at Bryant Park instead of Jay.  If you don’t watch the show, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about.  If you do watch the show then you might remember it was two against one for Jay until Heidi piped up.  Who knew my favorite model could be so pushy?

This week the three final contestants took to Bryant Park; Emilio Sosa, by far the most talented and tasteful designer on this season’s show, Seth Aaron, the fastest sewer anyone has ever seen (he had almost 30 looks put together in the time it took the other designers to make 10), and Mila Hermanovski, the mod-inspired black, white, and gray queen.  Throughout the season, I was pulling for Anthony “it’s hard being black and gay in the ghetto” Williams from Atlanta because I loved him, but I always knew Emilio would be the one to win the gold.  Show after show, competition after competition, Emilio would wow judges and audiences alike with his glamorous and well-crafted creations.  Seth Aaron also pleased the judges now and again with his strong point of view (Vivenne Westwood meets a less glamorous Alexander McQueen) and audiences rooted for him because he was obviously a really nice guy.  Mila on the other hand, did not transcribe from the catwalk onto my computer screen.  She seemed like a one-trick pony and despite often being in the bottom three, somehow made it to the finale.  I’m still uncertain how that happened.

To make a long story short, I’m going to remove Mila from Bryant Park because I don’t think she was ever really in the competition between Emilio and Seth Aaron.  Emilio created a tasteful line that could be sold in high-end department stores around the country.  Seth Aaron created a show full of impact pieces that dazzled the eye.  It was a difficult decision for the judges; choose the guy who won almost every competition of the season and who created a tasteful, impeccably marketable line or choose the guy who obviously has a strong point of view and who created a collection that rocked the runway?  Eventually the judges agreed that they must judge only on this one fashion show and so they picked Seth Aaron to bring home the gold.  His finale collection (which can be seen here) wasn’t for your average Joanne, but it did stop the show.

I’m sad for Emilio Sosa, but like Adam Lambert who lost American Idol, but who has gone on the be quite the thing, I think we’ll be seeing much more of Senor Sosa.

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Corn Syrup

In the past few years I’ve become practically militant about corn syrup.  Like some kind of creepy parasite, it seems to be everywhere just waiting for me to lose vigilance.  Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal for example.  In a quick fix for some bran I bought a box last week without looking, got home, and there it was: high fructose corn syrup, ingredient number three.

The chemists who make our food put it in everything these days.  Crackers: even graham crackers and animal crackers are pumped full of the stuff.  Our kids don’t stand a chance.  Jam, peanut butter, bread:  Yes, yes, and yes.  Ice cream:  Haagen Daaz, Ben & Jerry’s, Dreyer’s,  – they all have it.  Bryers is still the only au natural on the market.  Soup, juice, condiments, yogurt, I could go on and on.  At this point I wouldn’t be shocked if they even tried to put in dish detergent and paper towels.

Eating high fructose corn syrup is like rubbing fat on your waistline, your thighs or your dumpy rear-end.  Your body doesn’t digest it, doesn’t need the sugar, and doesn’t know what to do with it except to store it.  Hello, lumpy cellulite.  When I go to the local market, I find myself spending hours combing the aisles from product to product trying to find something, anything that these manufacturers haven’t injected with high fructose corn syrup.  It’s impossible.  Even a jar of pickles has it!

I’m not a light eater.  I’ve never met a baguette I didn’t like and if it comes with cheese and chocolate, all the better.  But I refuse to destroy my body with a chemical that does nothing but make me fat.  Why are consumers falling for this?  Why are people blindly purchasing items without looking at the ingredients?  Would you take a drug without knowing what it did…would you buy a car without knowing how it ran?  No, and yet people fill their bodies with crap that’s created in test tubes.  Yelck.

So until other companies get a clue like Pepsi did (they’re removing the corn syrup from Gatorade), buyer beware.  Look at the ingredients of what you’re eating.  If you can’t pronounce it and you don’t know what it is, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

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Dog Day Afternoon

Here’s a little something I captured on film the other day.  It’s short and sweet and a happy reminder to take a moment and smell the roses.  I am continually learning how to slow down these days whether I want to or not.  Luckily for me, my dogs are always here to show me how it’s done.  Perhaps we all can take a page from their book.  So take a walk today, eat your lunch outside or maybe grab a coffee and just sit on a bench as you watch the clouds go by.

It need only be a few minutes, but do something slow and lazy for yourself.  I promise it’ll be the best breaths of fresh air you take in all day.

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Capriotti’s In Los Angeles??

For years, the only decent place to get an authentic Philly Cheesesteak around these parts has been at Papa Jakes Sub Shop. (9527 Santa Monica Boulevard  Beverly Hills, CA 90210)  Sure, there were Italian places like Bay Cities Italian Deli (1517 Lincoln Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90401) that offered sub-like sandwiches, but that’s all they were.  Sub-LIKE.

Hailing from the land of subs and cheeesteaks, immitation just doesn’t get my taste buds going.  It’s gotta be the real deal, how you doin’?  Ey, yo.  Fugetaboutit.  So when I saw the cursive letters of Capriotti’s on Wilshire Boulevard, I almost ran the curb.  (9683 Wilshire Blvd  Beverly Hills, CA 90212)  Capriotti’s has been around a long time back east; almost as long as Casapula’s, Pat’s or Geno’s.  And while their steak sandwiches aren’t quite as good as Casapula’s, their fresh turkey subs can’t be beat.  That turkey is pulled straight from the bird and with an extra handful of pickles, sweet peppers,  hot peppers, and onions, it’s like a party in your mouth.

If you’ve never had a real submarine, you might think that any old sandwich will do it for you.  A couple pieces of meat, a slice of cheese, maybe even a fresh kaiser roll…badda bing, badda boom – you’ve got yourself a sandwich.  If on the other hand, you know what the real deal is, California is like a barren wasteland.  Well no longer, my friends!  Be sure to check out Capriotti’s or Papa Jakes the next time you want a good sub.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Oh and a note for the newbies, please don’t ruin your sandwich with mayo.  It’s either oil and vinegar or nothing, got it?  Good.

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Kick Ass and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest

I’ve been taking in a lot of crime thrillers lately.  First of all, I finished a British copy of Stieg Larsson’s third and final installment of the Lisbeth Salander series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.  And then I saw the film Kick Ass on Friday.  So what does a novel about political intrigue and a movie about not-so-super super heroes have in common?  They both were awesome and they both have chicks who kick ass.

From Lisbeth Salander, the ultimate female bad-ass, to Hit Girl, the bloodthirstiest 11 year old we’ve ever seen, both women show us that it’s not just the boys who can play rough.  In fact, in Hit Girl’s case, she’s better than the boys.   I’m not going to go on and on, but if you haven’t seen the writing on the wall, let me spell it out:  Action heroes are out, action heroines are in.  Stay tuned for Angelina Jolie’s Salt coming out this summer.  Originally written for Tom Cruise who dropped out because the role was too much like his Mission Impossible character, Jolie shows that lady spies are just as competent and stalwart as their male counterparts.  I for one, can’t wait to see it.

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