Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Art of the Roadkill Warior

So, first off, gotta use this space to do a little I-Told-You-So to my man Esposito over our fantasy baseball match up. It’d be mean to say my team was whuppin’ his team’s butt… but it wouldn’t be a lie.

See, whereas Esposito believes in hunches, instincts, and picking the dude whose baseball card lands face up, I am a man of science. I am a man of facts, details, and penetrating investigation. And I’m not just talking about skimming RBIs, ERAs, and all the usual jazz – I take it outside the batter’s box. I’m looking up which player was out partying the night before, which guy just had a kid and can’t get any sleep, and which dude has a contract negotiation coming up and needs to bring the fire.

Anyhow, just another example of how Esposito and I have our different methodology about the world. The man is good police and a great partner. When it comes to the job, there’s nobody I’d rather be working alongside and have watching my back. But when it comes to the ways of the world – y’know, Thai food vs. Indian, brunettes vs. blondes, 360 vs. PS3? We’re on totally different wavelengths.

Take the other day. While out and about on a case, we got into a convo about a classic New York practice: the art of scoring roadkill. For those who don’t live in our fair city, I’ll break it down for you. Basically, when you’re done with your old stuff here, you leave it out on the street for those less fortunate. Y’know, students, artists, former hedge fund managers. Like I told Esposito, it’s trickle down economics at its finest. A citywide version of the Leave a Penny, Take a Penny tray.

But my partner doesn’t get it, of course – Esposito’s a retail guy all the way. I tried to explain the fine art of the deal to him, but guy just stared at me like I was speaking Farsi. We’re a classic case of the quick fix vs. the savvy consumer. He figures why hunt for a cheap copy of The Best Of CCR when you can snag it for twenty bucks across the street? Why walk a couple blocks to the good hotdog place when we can grab one from the stand out front?

Me, I’m all about sidewalk book sales, vintage t-shirts, and secondhand cars. Hell, the couch in my apartment, the one where Esposito likes to chillwhen I’m kicking his ass at Madden? That’s a refugee from 54th and Lex. Dude freaked out when I told him that. Not like he had a problem crashing on it all those times before.

Point is, New Yorkers have been recycling way before little blue boxes and all that. It’s not like, we’re dumpster diving here. It’s just a way of passing along things to someone who needs it. The city helping those who help themselves.

In fact, that reminds me. On my way home from work tonight I'm gonna do a little roadkill tour, see if there are any coffee tables left out and needing a new home. Esposito accidentally put a huge crack in mine last Madden tournament – I think he’d appreciate me picking up a new one. Well, my kind of “new,” that is...

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Moronic

Now, I love my job. I get to play Cops and Robbers all day and get paid for it (although nowhere near enough). Plus, bumping the siren and speeding through a red light never, ever gets old.

But there are drawbacks, chief among ‘em having people figure they can do my job for me. See, just like TV shows have made everybody think they’re a lawyer or a doctor or, I dunno, a model, people now have no problem telling me how to investigate a case.

I’ll be in court giving evidence and I get a juror asking if we thought to use a spectral analyzer on the bootprints. Did we try a hi-res scan of the security camera footage? How about a UV scan on the murder weapon? Let me tell you, the NYPD’s hardly got the budget for a fingerprint kit, let alone the money for me to drive around with a Hummer and equipment straight outta Star Trek.

I’m not trying to bitch and moan here, it’s just a little annoying when I’m at Thanksgiving dinner and my uncle’s asking if we remembered to use that experimental laser array to check for gunsmoke residue. C’mon, I work for the NYPD, not S.H.I.E.L.D! Lousy coffee, yes. Experimental laser arrays, no.

Besides, we don’t need that kind of equipment to catch bad guys. More often than not, criminals do our job for us. A lot of the time they give us everything we need, right up to and including the smoking gun.

I mean, I’m sure there are some ‘criminal masterminds’ out there, but the majority of skells just aren’t that smart. That’s why they’re criminals, right? And, hands down, the dumbest of them all are drug dealers. I got more stories of moronic mopes from my time in Narcotics than the rest of my years in the NYPD combined. I mean, some of these guys should just have strolled into the precinct asking to be cuffed.

Where to start? Maybe with the dealer who lit up a joint during interrogation because we were “stressing him out?” Or how about the mook who used his glock to shoo away pigeons? And then there’s the goof who, after being arrested, asked for his crack vials back, since we “weren’t gonna be using them anyhow.”

Sometimes you look at these guys and think, for all that effort, you could actually have gone pretty far in the legit world. I mean, take the dealer who printed up flyers advertising his weekly specials. He even paid homeless guys to hand them out, get better “circulation.”

‘Course the flyers made clear exactly where he could be found dealing… We just strolled over there and cuffed him on our lunch break.

So the next time you’re watching one of those fancy police shows where they bring out equipment that’s on loan from NASA, just remember that most of the time you don’t need an infared thermometer or a spectral transmitter to catch the bad guys. You just need common sense. And criminals who don’t have any.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Unspoken Rules of the Laundry Room

Living in New York City has its benefits. In fact, there’s about a million of them. Being able to find a cool new bar by taking a different route home from work, breakdancing buskers on the subway, the sidewalk waffle-stand down on Fulton Street, 4 AM closing times… the list goes on.

‘Course, as with anything, where there’s good, there’s bad. Car alarms going off at five in the morning, the parade of weird smells, street mimes… and the fact that you’re living in close proximity to eight million other people. Close enough you can figure out the plot of the TV movie they’re watching and if they overcooked dinner.

The only way to survive this proximity is rules. Hard and fast rules that you can’t mess around with. Like only snag your neighbor’s newspaper if it it’s been there over a day. Like don’t listen to the same Hall & Oates song for six hours straight. And if you have a party, make sure and invite your neighbors or you’ll get a noise complaint in the first five minutes.

And then there’s a special set of rules that come into play with the laundry room because, let’s face it, that’s your most likely place to be forced to spend time with your neighbors. First place I lived in town only had two washers and two dryers, so you can bet we had to make up some stringent rules. Especially for Sunday night, humanity’s naturally designated Laundry Night.

Now, due to a recent case we were out on, I had to enlighten my man Esposito on the basic rules that come into play in the sacred confines of the room of laundry. As I explained to him, you leave your laundry in a dryer after it’s done, you’re giving the next laundrygoer free reign to place your clothes into a basket. It’s all part of the unspoken agreement we sign when we stick our quarters in and press start. That agreement’s the only thing keeping Manhattan from descending into anarchy, ‘cause there’s only so many machines to go around.

I mean, there’s no bigger buzzkill than lugging your laundry, your detergent, and everything else all the way downstairs to find every single machine occupied. It’s enough to make a hardworking city employee pull out his badge and commandeer ‘em. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience. Just putting forth imaginary scenarios, shall we say.

Anyhow, after this yet another day of serving the public interest, I headed home… and, of course, realized I had to do laundry. Put a couple of loads in, then flipped around stuck them in the dryers. After that, got caught up in doing some work and forget to head down on time. Okay, truth be told, I was hooked on finishing Castle’s WHEN IT COMES TO SLAUGHTER –the book has a killer scarecrow, okay?

Anyhow when I finally went downstairs, I found my laundry taken out of the dryer, placed in my basket, and folded up neatly. Folded? The rest I get – all part of that unspoken agreement. But folding it? That’s just too damn weird. Scary even. It’s enough to make a man consider dry-cleaning. Or at least just wearing the same pair of boxers couple days in a row.

…okay, so maybe that killer scarecrow got to me a bit.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Author Boy Watches The Detectives

All right, so I know that I usually write about my fantasy baseball team or review the latest 360 game I snagged or explain where the concept of tipping came from, but so many people have been bugging me to talk about my little “celebrity” encounter , I figured I’d put it all down in one place. Next entry, back to our usual menu of sports, gaming, and the world according to Kevin Ryan. But for now, here goes…

So, the other night I'm on the job and the scene we’re working is your typical Beckett case. Which means, basically, far from typical. As my boy Esposito puts it “She likes the freaky ones.” So what we get is a naked female vic – sunflowers on her eyes, rose petals scattered everywhere. Not exactly your usual pop and drop.

Anyhow, Beckett takes a look around and asks us if we’ve seen this before. Answer, of course, is no way. I mean, not exactly the sort of thing you’d forget. Turns out, Beckett has. At least in her mind’s eye or whatever. Girl’s an avid reader – that’s one of the reasons we get along – but she’s into mysteries, thrillers, that sort of thing. Me, I’m a non-fiction guy, so when she starts talking about the vic being straight out of a Richard Castle book, I pull a blank. I’ve heard of him, who hasn’t, but it’s not like I curl up with one of his murder mystery books after pulling an all-day shift trying to solve a real one.

Turns out, not only is the latest crime scene just like a book of his, but so was another from a couple weeks ago, this lawyer we found lying face down in the middle of a pentagram. Psycho, right? Anyhow, we pick up Castle at a fancy book party, bring the guy in. Not as a suspect, just for background. But instead of being freaked out, like most civilians are, Castle’s loving it. Wants to know all the details, get copies of the pictures, so on. A little weird, yeah, but also sorta amusing. Plus, the man really gets under Beckett’s skin and that alone is worth the price of admission.

Beckett’s convinced that the answer to the murders is somewhere in Castle’s books, which sounds pretty out there to me, but that’s how I end up spending my workday reading about a dude fending off a biker vampire gang in At Dusk We Die. Real informative and pertinent to the case, right? Although I gotta admit that it was a damn fun read. That scene where he blows away the vampire leader with the rocket launcher he made out of a propane tank? Bad-Ass. Gonna have to check that out sometime, see if it really works.

Author boy ends up tagging along for the rest of the investigation – says it’s the least he can do for the city he loves. Ha! Ask me, he likes playing detective even more than writing about one. Plus, with another dead body on our hands and the same killer as before, we’re taking any help we can get.

Anyhow, gotta admit that Castle did end up helping out on the case. The guy definitely comes at things from a different point of view… and that can be pretty useful sometimes. Not that I’d ever let Beckett hear me say that. I like having a job.

Funny thing is, it turns out Castle pulled some of his downtown strings and got himself assigned to consult with Beckett for the “foreseeable future.” Damn! Wish I could’ve seen the look on her face when the Captain told her that one.

Apparently he’s basing his next book off her – listen, you want a lead character, look no further than my charming self, just sayin’. Esposito and I got twenty bucks on whether she clocks him before the book gets published. Still, I gotta admit I can’t wait to check it out. I’ve been reading some more of the man’s books and I’m digging them. So I’m glad he’s gonna keep writing – even if it involves tagging along with real detectives for "inspiration."