Valentine’s Day Massacre At The Narwhal

narwhal

I’ve written about both Creative Colloquy and The Nearsighted Narwhal before. Creative Colloquy is a local group that posts original content on their website and once a month performs public readings at the B-Sharp Coffee House in Tacoma’s Opera Alley. They’re next gathering is on February 23rd. The Nearsighted Narwhal is a shop on 6th Ave. where you can find dozens of self-published zines from all over as well as books and CDs from local authors.

These two have joined forces to release Valentine’s Day Massacre at the Narwhal, a full length CD album of short stories and music all done in the noir pulp fiction style of the 1930s and 1940s. It’s available starting today at The Nearsighted Narwhal or you can purchase a digital copy at this link.

Full Disclosure: I have worked with both Creative Colloquy and Nearsighted Narwhal. I’ve been a featured author and contributor for Creative Colloquy. My book, Ruin Your Life is available at Nearsighted Narwhal and I have a zine coming out that I collaborated with the Narwhal’s Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas. And there is one track on Valentine’s Day Massacre at the Narwhal that is a short piece written and performed by me. This is all to say that my opinion is not entirely unbiased.

Valentine’s Massacre at the Narwhal is part noir anthology, part concept album. There’s a loose narrative tying the stories together along with short musical interludes by The Happy Sinners and The Bad Things. Each story is performed by the author with accompanying sound effects by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas.

It starts off with a man picking up a hitchhiker. To pass the time they tell each other stories. Each story is the sort you’d find in hardboiled detective novels or paperback pulp fictions.

William Turbyfill’s Dime Store Shoes tells the tale of a dead woman and a detective who has seen too much death.

The Happy Sinners follow this up with a haunting rendition of St. James Infirmary.

Jenni Prange Boran’s Pro is a story about a career convenience store robber who encounters something new.

Dressed to Kill by L. Lisa Lawrence takes a married couple’s Valentine’s Day kink to the extreme.

At this point we go back to our driver and hitchhiker still getting to know each other.

And then it’s time for the melancholy fun of The Bad Things with Can’t Get Enough of Love.

The dark stories continue with Ashes to Ashes by Christian Carvajal, a genuine LA Private Investigator story with a femme fatale accused of killing her husband.

LTR by Gregory Knight Miskin tells the story of a couple with a deadly intimate hobby with dark humor.

There’s a nice musical interlude in the form of Witness Statement by Dennis Ellis.

Next up is my own contribution to the album, a short story called Run Away in which a desperate man writes a goodbye letter to his mother.

Michelle Biddix-Simmons’ story Masterpiece has everything you’re looking for in a noir story: private detectives, mob bosses, and a woman as beautiful as she is deadly.

The album ends with along with the hitchhiker’s ride and The Happy Sinner’s sultry rendition of Mac The Knife.

As a participant in the album, I can’t give you an objective review of the album. I can say that it was a lot of fun helping create it and I enjoyed listening to these stories and letting their words create images in my head. The radio show is almost a lost art. This album does its best to reclaim it.

If you’re interested in listening to Valentine’s Day Massacre at the Narwhal, you can buy physical copies at The Nearsighted Narwhal at 2610A 6th Ave. or you can stream it for free or purchase a digital copy at this link.

– Jack Cameron

First Tacoma Homicide of 2015: Jesus Isidor-Mendoza

C__Data_Users_DefApps_AppData_INTERNETEXPLORER_Temp_Saved Images_CgAAG1TbALeEVCPIAAAAAK6k1ag141

Jesus Mendoza and his son

In the early afternoon of Monday February 10th a resident reported to police that there was a nylon bag containing what might be a body in a ravine near the 3000 block of Delin Street near South Tacoma Way. The bag was found in a steep area that was difficult to access behind an abandoned house frequented by transients.

On Tuesday the body was identified as 18-year-old Jesus Isidor-Mendoza, father of one.  He’d been missing since October of last year. On October 22nd, Jesus left his mother’s house to go to class at Pierce College. He never arrived for class and he never returned home. His mother later reported him missing.

Police arrested two men in their 40s and one woman in connection with the death of Jesus. Charging papers state that Jesus met the two men in a detached garage that they lived in. For reasons unknown, Jesus was raped and drowned using a bucket of water. The assailants then cut his body into pieces, sealed them in plastic bags, and put those bags in a nylon bag. The nylon bag was found in the ravine.

This is easily the most horrific homicide I’ve ever written about in Tacoma. All three suspects are being held without bail.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Jesus Isidor-Mendoza and want to share memories of him.

– Jack Cameron

Getting It Right

On November 1st, the body of Elaine Mansfield was found in a hotel room in the 8800 block of South Hosmer. Shortly after this, police said they were looking for a man who was seen with her near the time of her death. As this page talks about homicides that happen in the city of Tacoma, I contacted police spokesperson Loretta Cool and asked for details. She said that Elaine’s death was ‘Not Homicide’ and the there was an ongoing investigation.

When this happens, I don’t typically write about it because then I would have no choice but to write about all deaths in Tacoma and I simply don’t have the time or resources to do so.

This evening the police caught up with the man they were looking for. Tacoma Weekly reported it with the following Tweet:

tweet

There’s nothing wrong with the Tweet. However, if you go to that link this is what you get:
TacomaWeekly
The headline is an attention grabber but it’s also inaccurate. Not only has the death not been ruled a homicide, but the article itself says as much in the first paragraph.

Let me be clear that this is not me trying to beat up on the Tacoma Weekly. While there are certainly media outlets that practice this sort of thing on a regular basis, I’ve seen nothing from the Tacoma Weekly to indicate this is any sort of pattern on their part. It’s likely just a lack of communication between the writer of the article and the writer of the headline.

Unfortunately when it comes to deaths, there are circumstances that are fairly typical. Recently there were two local gun deaths that took place in a house which had all the hallmarks of a suicide homicide. However, it turned out to be a double suicide. I had actually already written up the article fully expecting it to be a homicide and just waiting for the names to be released. But I waited to make sure it was before I posted about it.

Like that incident, the death of Elaine Mansfield has hallmarks of many other homicides I’ve reported on. A dead woman in a hotel room and a man the police have apprehended as a person of interest certainly sounds like a murder.

I’ve gotten things wrong before as well. It’s an occupational hazard. It’s also why I tend to wait for more information and multiple sources before I post something.

It may seem like a harmless mistake but there are people who will see this man’s photo and the headline and never read the article. There may be family and friends of the victim who will see this and think she was murdered when she wasn’t. There are real consequences to getting things wrong.

I’m hoping that the Tacoma Weekly will modify the headline and issue an apology.  I will update this article when and if they do.

– Jack Cameron

UPDATE 11/28/14: Tacoma Weekly has still not taken down the headline or apologized for it. The Tacoma News Tribune posted an article about the same thing with a much more responsible headline.

My Family Needs Your Help

My niece, Anya. John and Char's youngest.

My niece, Anya. John and Char’s youngest.

I’ve never done this before. When it comes to TacomaStories.com, the stories I post here are rarely personal. But sometimes circumstances require a personal touch.

If you’ve been reading my Twitter site, you’ll know that I have some friends who have recently become homeless. Their names are John Hodgson and Char Edson. They have two small children. John and Char are my son’s aunt and uncle.

For the last couple weeks as the weather has turned and their situation has become more desperate many of us have asked John & Char to put up a crowd funding site so that our amazing community can help them out. They had declined. They did not want charity. They are proud and willing to work, but work has been hard to come by.

Last night some friends of mine and I were talking about putting up a site for them because we know people will help if there’s an easy way to do so. Thankfully, this morning John and Char started a GoFundMe page.

This time of year is one of the most popular times to give. It’s also one of the coldest times of the year. If you’re looking for a local cause to give to this holiday season where your money will have a direct and immediate impact, I ask that you consider giving to this cause.

Below, you’ll find more about their circumstances from John himself. I’m including his story from his GoFundMe page here so that you know exactly what’s going on. Thanks.

- Jack Cameron

Here’s John: 
My name is John Hodgson. 4 years ago I was laid off of my job of 6 years as a Supervisor of Environmental Services in a hospital. This event coincided with the birth of my son Rowan and my wife Char being diagnosed with Autoimmune Disorders and severe migraines. 2 years ago I shattered my ankle after falling down a stairwell while carrying my then infant son. I now have a metal rod replacing the bone and 7 screws holding it in place. This has made it so I cannot do my previous career. It hasn’t been all bad as my daughter Anya was born soon after. After Anya’ s birth Char’s health  declined. Her Rheumatoid Arthritis makes it very painful to even get out of bed let alone chase after or pick up two little ones. Recently we have become homeless. We are now forced to rely on our vehicles more than ever .  We are utilizing all of the resources available and I am asking to raise funds  so that we can get our two vehicles in good repair with reliable tires. Thank you.

Help John, Char, Rowan, and Anya by clicking here. 

5 Question Friday With Defiant Goldfish’s Adam Dopps

goldfishWhenever I go to Pt. Defiance (and I go to Pt. Defiance a lot),  I look to the left of the entrance and see a an old small building with a fence around it and I think of the beers I drank there back when it was called The Goldfish and how nice it was to have a good bar near one of my favorite places in Tacoma, but unfortunately like far too many other historic buildings in Tacoma, it has been left vacant for years.

Enter Adam Dopps. Adam recently contacted me about his project, Defiant Goldfish. He and others are trying to reopen The Goldfish and return her to her former glory. He happily agreed to join me for 5 Question Friday and tell us more about it.

1. What is the Defiant Goldfish?  

The Defiant Goldfish stands for several things.  It is the goldfish that refuses to die. It also stands for a bar and bistro that doesn’t conform to the norms. We are taking our 45 years+ in the restaurant and bar business, and adding the things we like the best about our top 20 places WE like to go, and creating a hybrid.  When you are catering to the White Collar crowd, the Blue Collar crowd, the biker crowd, and now, Mom’s and Dad’s with their kids, you can’t do things the same way as Red Robin. The Defiant Goldfish is irreverent. We are respectful of all area’s of the business, but are not pigeon holing ourselves under any one category.

2. Why do you want to reopen this bar?

This is a really good question. And the answer has changed quite a bit over the last couple of months.  When we first started out, the focus was on finding a good location for a bar that would be happy spending the rest of our careers working in. We both are turning 50 very soon.  I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s self employed, but have spent the last 16 years working for Corporate America. And it sucked!  Corey and I are both a bit outside of the box. We are loud, boisterous, and spend most of our time laughing, usually at our own expense :)  My point of telling you this is; you can’t work in a corporate environment when you have out personalities, without having to temper who we really are. A couple of loudmouth guys that just LOVE to entertain and be around people.

Since we started working on the inside of the building on Saturdays, we have had dozens of people stop in and talk to us about either their history in the Goldfish Tavern, or why they hope their is going to be a cool neighborhood bar in their future. Most of them want to talk about both. During the conversations, we have become a little nervous.  Now, along with what WE envision for the new version of the Defiant Goldfish, we have come very aware of the responsibility it comes with. There are a LOT of people out there that are VERY attached to the tavern, and want it back very badly. At the same time we are renovating the building, we are quite aware that the elation out there about the fact that it is re-opening, is followed by the next strongest emotion about it;  “Don’t screw up the Goldfish.  We like it the way it was.”  That last sentence keeps me up at night.

The history and loyalty of the Goldfish Tavern and her patrons, as well as our Kickstarter Fundraiser Campaign, have turned this into a community project. That comes with high expectations, and meeting and exceeding high expectations is never as easy as it sounds, Those high expectations are what we are striving for.

3. What is the history of the Goldfish?

The Goldfish Tavern has been in business since prohibition. There are not many businesses that stay around that long, let alone a neighborhood tavern. It had stood the test of time until just two years ago when they closed down on Halloween Night. It was a gas station in it’s early day’s as well. It has had a lot of different owners over the years, trying different things or catering to different crowds. I hear “biker bar” a lot. I also here “neighborhood hole in the wall” a lot too. I have also heard “gay bar” and “punk rock bar” as well as “whistle stop” for the Ruston factory and waterfront workers that came there for a cold one after their shift was done.  I have heard so many stories at this point that it is hard to decipher fact from fiction :).  I had a gentleman send me a message a couple weeks ago asking if we were going to be “Harley Friendly”.  I said “of course we are.  We are also Suzuki friendly, Yamaha friendly, scooter friendly and car friendly. Trucks too :)”.  This is where the history meets the road. There are a lot of folks that claim it as “their kind of bar” over the years, but I get the feeling that “definition” has also meant different things to different people since 1933.

4. How can people help make the Defiant Goldfish a reality?

Getting the Goldfish Tavern back up and running as the Defiant Goldfish is not easy. It is also very expensive.  One of our main changes to the building is that we are adding a full kitchen, which is the most costly thing you can do in a building. That requires new plumbing, new electrical, new permitting, new higher licensing cost’s, new equipment, and the relocation of several parts of the old layout, to make room for the kitchen. Bringing a building that has been there since 1933 up to today’s code is a project.

To help cover these cost’s, since neither Corey or myself are rich, and did not show up to this party with any deep pocket investors, we have launched a Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign.  This is a way for people to become involved in the project and contribute to it’s success. People can pledge as little as $10. If we meet our goal of $22,000, then their credit or debit card will be charged the amount they backed us with, when the campaign ends on December 5th. I we do not reach our goal, they are charged nothing, but we also don’t get a dime, making this project die.

They can also like our facebook page, and share our story on their own Facebook or Twitter page. That is crucial to our success.

– Here is how one of our backers described Kickstarter:

– Truly grassroots volunteering.

– You give money through the Kickstarter website, using your credit ot debit card.

– Kickstarter takes a small cut for their expenses (so does Amazon Payments).

– You get recognized as a contributor, and receive a reward proportionate to your contribution.

When total gift’s from volunteers to the Defiant Goldfish goes above $22,000, Kickstarter cuts them a check after collecting all the pledges, minus their expense.  (after the campaign ends on Dec. 5th)

We all get beer :)

I could not explain it better myself.  It is easiest to understand by going to the website and seeing for yourself what it is all about, what you can contribute, and what you get in return for your contribution.

5. What do you see for the future of the Defiant Goldfish?

I see me retiring in about 20 years and looking back on how much the new incarnation of the Goldfish has affected people’s lives. How many people have met there over the years and become lifelong friends. How many people have met there future spouse there ( I met my wife in the first bar I owned, and we have been together for nearly 20 years).  I see us providing a place to the people of N. Tacoma where they can go and meet up with friends for a great meal and fantastic beverage. A place where mom and dad can go with their kids to build their own memories.  I see this place, in 2033, having one hell of a party.

I’d like to thank Adam for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday and I wish him the best of luck in Reopening Defiant Goldfish. You can help make Defiant Goldfish a reality by contributing to their Kickstarter campaign.  If you or someone you know would like to participate in a future 5 Question Friday contact me at jackcameronis@gmail.com

-  Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Michael Fitzgerald from Destiny City Comics

DestinyCityComics

I’ve been going to local comic book shops since I was 12 years old. Back then it was O’Leary’s Comics out in Lakewood. Later I’d go to Lady Jayne’s, then The Spider’s Web, then Comic Book Ink, then Spy Comics in Federal Way which is now Fantasium Comics. Detroit native Michael Fitzgerald is the latest entrepreneur to get into the comic book shop game. His new shop, Destiny City Comics is opening next week. He was nice enough to take some time from getting his shop ready to join me for 5 Question Friday and tell us a bit more about himself and his shop. Here’s Mike:

 1. What is Destiny City Comics?

Destiny City Comics is my new comic shop set to open October 1. I want the shop to be a destination for comic book lovers. I hope to make available a healthy variety of works by esteemed creators.

2. Why did you want to open a comic book shop?

It all just kind of came together. After seeing RR Anderson post about an upcoming informational session and deadline, I thought I’d pitch the idea to Spaceworks Tacoma and they were incredibly supportive. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to open a shop without their enterprise training. When I saw the spot next to King’s Books was open I really thought that would be a great fit for my comic shop idea that I’ve been working on for the past few months.

3. What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about comic books?

I think one of the bigger things might be the misconception that comics are just about bone-headed superheroes smashing their way through problems, but while there are plenty of those and they can be fun there’s a lot more out there. I hope to be able to connect people to comics they can really enjoy because there’s a lot of high quality stuff out there by passionate creators.

4. What is your favorite comic book story and why?

You know I’ve read a lot that I really enjoy but I think I have to go with Death: the High Cost of Living for this one. I wrote about this book for local arts and culture magazine Post Defiance when we read it for the Comics and Pizza Club at King’s Books (http://postdefiance.com/ten-things-i-learned-about-life-from-death-the-high-cost-of-living/).

5. What do you hope for the future of Destiny City Comics?

I want to ignite imaginations with some great literature and make the shop a fun place to visit. I want to encourage single issue or trade paperback subscribers for repeat business. I also hope that it will be a cultural hub for Tacoma and host unique art events.

 

I’d like to thank Mike for taking the time to join me and honestly, for opening up a comic book shop I can walk to. Destiny City Comics is located next door to King’s Books at 218 St. Helens, Tacoma, WA 98402.You can find out more information about Destiny City Comics at their website: http://destinycitycomics.com/ or at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DestinyCityComics

If you or someone know is interested in joining me for 5 Question Friday, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com

- Jack Cameron