Second Tacoma Homicide of 2015: Larnell Griffin

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In the early morning hours of Thursday April 16th, two or three men arrived at the apartment of Larnell Griffin on South 40th and S. Lawrence Street. One of them had a dispute with Larnell over a cellphone. According to a witness Larnell put his hands up and backed up. When his attacker did not lower the weapon, Larnell struggled to disarm him and was shot. Police arrived at 1:45am to reports of shots fired. Larnell was taken to Madigan Hospital where he died.

The murder of Larnell Griffin is only the second homicide in the city of Tacoma this year. And yet, despite the lack of lethal violence in Tacoma lately and an active manhunt, local media have all but ignored this killing. I found exactly one article on komonews.com with no mention of Larnell’s attacker and no articles at king5.com or kirotv.com. Our local paper, The News Tribune, Crime Stoppers, and this site are the extent of the media coverage in the death of 33-year-old Larnell Griffin.

Of course this is nothing new. All major local television is based out of Seattle and in Seattle, Tacoma is often still regarded as a place where these sort of shootings happen every day. Thankfully the crime rate in Tacoma has continued to go down.

However, no matter how low the crime rate might get, those who are friends and family of its victims are still devastated by their loss. No lack of coverage by the news can minimize what’s happened. According to Larnell’s Facebook page he was married. Photos show a young child. Whenever a life is lost, countless lives are changed.

As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of the victim. Those who knew Larnell are encouraged to share their thoughts and memories. Each comment is approved by me to keep negative comments to a minimum.

To the friends and family of Larnell, I’m sorry for your loss. Here’s hoping his killer is apprehended and brought to justice quickly.

– Jack Cameron

Update: The person police believe is responsible for the murder of Larnell was arrested on the evening of 04/21.

5 Question Friday with the Sixth Ave. Yarn Bomber

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If you spend much time on Tacoma’s 6th Ave. you’ve probably seen her work. If you’re lucky you may have even seen her in the process of covering a bike rack with yarn. Often the yarn will be colored in themes that reflect nearby businesses. For a while, I had no idea who was doing it or why. Recently I got in touch with the self-described 6th Ave. Yarn Bomber and she agreed to participate in this week’s 5 Question Friday.

1. How did you start being the Sixth Avenue Yarn Bomber?

I started yarn bombing about a year and a half ago after not such stellar sales at Art on the Ave where I was selling my Original Growler Sweaters.  I noticed that people we’re draw to the yarn the bright colors really attracted them. However many had no clue what a growler was. It was after that I decided to take it to the street. I had no idea how I was going to do it until I saw the bike racks. It just struck me, they would look awesome covered in yarn. So it began my yarn awareness.

2. Why 6th Ave?

Why sixth ave, because its my home. I have lived on 6th Ave (or just a block or two off) for the past 25 years. Also in my teenage years I went to Stadium and we regularly hung out on 6th ave. I just love this neighborhood and want to do my part to help make it as awesome as it can be. I recently had to move from my home of ten years on 6th and Fife but quickly found a new place just two blocks off sixth Ave. I feel very fortunate to have found a place so close to the Ave so I will be able to continue my bombings.

3. Where is the one place you’d like to yarn bomb that you haven’t?

I have one place on 6th Ave I have planned on bombing for over a year. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But I will.

4. What can those who want to support your yarn bombing do to help?

I welcome any donations yarn or money. This year has been a real struggle.  I am now single and fully supporting my self working a full time and part time job, I also sell hats and growler sweaters.  I have a lot of bombs out there and plan more. They also need to be replaced on a regular basis and the costs add up. So I am extremely happy for any donations big or small, they all help keep it going. I have started a go fund me for anyone wishing to help out.

5. What’s next for the Sixth Ave Yarn Bomber?

Currently I am one of the artists featured in episode 4 of TV Tacoma ‘ s show “Art Town” (now airing) for the future,  I am presently working on getting a project for kids together for Maritime fest coming up this summer,  I also have plans for some new installations for Art on the Ave and am continuing to replace wore pieces.  I also want to hit up some other Tacoma neighborhoods too.

The Sixth Ave. Yarn Bomber’s work can be seen all over 6th Ave. You can donate to her yarn bombing fund at this link: http://bit.ly/1OOxf1J I’d like to thank her for taking the time to join me on 5 Question Friday. If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: The Rosewood Cafe

Welcome to the latest installment of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date. Here are the rules: Each week, my girlfriend Mimi and I go somewhere in the Tacoma area for a cheap date where we spend $20 or less. This does not include tips because service is unique and can’t be universally quantified. This week we take a look at The Rosewood Café.

The Rosewood Café is a quiet little place on the corner of North 26th and Warner near the Proctor District. They’re primarily a sandwich shop with a relaxed style that’s both comfortable and familiar. It feels nothing like a franchise.

One day last week, Mimi and I stopped by for a cheap lunch date. The Proctor area is notorious for being expensive. The Safeway a few blocks away recently tried to start charging for parking in their lot, but public outcry stopped them. Simply put, the Rosewood isn’t the first place I’d think to go if I only wanted to spend twenty dollars or less.

Mimi and I looked over the menu. She decided on the Rosewood Deluxe. The menu describes the Rosewood Deluxe as “Oven roasted all natural turkey, smoked bacon, Havarti cheese, fresh lettuce, tomato, and red onion. Served on grilled peasant bread with mayo.” It was $8.00.

I chose the Big Tuna Melt for $7.50. We each got beverages. I got a Coke. Mimi got a decaf coffee.

The food arrived fairly quickly. My tuna melt was warm and delicious. It was good sized, but I’m not sure it earned the title ‘Big’. The Coke was from a can, but though I had two, they only charged me for one.

Mimi said that her Rosewood Deluxe was alright. She enjoyed the coleslaw side and felt that the fact that the sandwich was toasted really improved the sandwich.

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Between the atmosphere and the sandwiches, our cheap date at the Rosewood was very enjoyable. Unfortunately, there was a problem when it came to the bill. Our sandwiches came to $15.50. Our beverages were each $2.25. Our total before tax was exactly $20.00.

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Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date failed to come in under our twenty dollar limit. So while I recommend people check out The Rosewood Café for good food and a quiet local atmosphere, I can’t recommend it for a Cheap Date.

The Rosewood Cafe is located at 3323 North 26th Street, Tacoma, WA 98407

Where should Mimi and I go next? If you’ve got an idea, let us know. Email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: The Red Hot

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The first response I received to last week’s article The Red Hot’s Twitter favoriting it. I took this as an invitation for this week’s edition of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date. For those unfamiliar with the concept of this column, it’s fairly simple. One day each week, my girlfriend, Mimi and I go out on a date somewhere in Tacoma using only $20.

This is not the first time I’ve been to The Red Hot. It’s a hot dog bar located on Tacoma’s 6th Avenue. Their beer selection tends to be a wide variety of craft brews, many of them local. Their hot dogs and sausages are so popular that Cheney Stadium just made a deal to sell them at the Tacoma Rainiers games this season.

The Red Hot was originally located next door in a small space that is now a tattoo shop. When the bridal store moved out, The Red Hot moved into their present space. By comparison, this new location seems gigantic.

Mimi and I sat down to eat and looked at the menu. Since they serve mostly hot dogs and sausages, the difficulty wasn’t finding something within the $20 budget. It was choosing from the many options. After some debate, Mimi selected the Rainier Rueben hot dog described on the menu as “1000 Island dressing, spicy brown mustard, Swiss cheese, and topped with sauerkraut.” And I chose the Big Kahuna: “Smoked sweet & spicy Hawaiian sausage, Saigon sauce, onions, cole slaw, & topped with grilled pineapple rings.” For beverages Mimi ordered a Snoqualmie Root Beer. I ordered a pint of the No-Li Spin Cycle Red.

One of the great things about The Red Hot is that the service is often blindingly fast. It seemed like our dogs were ready in just a few minutes.

They weren’t lying about the sausage. It was sweet and spicy. It might have been a bit spicier than I prefer, but that’s just me. The pineapple rings were nice, but kind of unwieldy on the sausage. Once I really got into it, the combination of flavors along with the Spin Cycle Red made for a very enjoyable small meal. The Spin Cycle is a solid Red. I’m not very familiar with the No-Li brewery in Spokane, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for their brews in the future.

Mimi’s first reaction to her Rainier Rueben was that the sauerkraut was amazing. Lately she’s been on a bit of a Rueben kick, ordering a Rueben whenever it’s on the menu. So her praise of their sauerkraut is well earned. She said the Snoqualmie Root Beer was smooth and not overly fizzy.

A few years ago if you would have told me that you were opening up a hot dog bar in Tacoma, I’d say you were crazy. These days, The Red Hot is one of my go-to locations when I’m looking for good beer and a small meal for a good price. It doesn’t hurt that just a couple doors down, you can get incredible ice cream at The Ice Cream Social.

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The Red Hot is located at 2914 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406.

If you would like to suggest a place for a future installment of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date, go ahead an contact me at jackcameronis@gmail.com or send me a message on Twitter.

– Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: Taqueria Las Torres

Welcome back to Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date. Originally the concept was to have my girlfriend Mimi and I order the two cheapest entrées on the menu and then write about that experience. Unfortunately, this led to us ordering things we didn’t always like and in some cases, there were things that we literally couldn’t eat due to allergies or dietary restrictions. This led us to abandon this column for a while. However, I’ve come up with some new rules and they’re fairly simple:

We go on a date to a local place in Tacoma and try to spend no more than $20 total. This excludes tipping because a tip is dependent both on how much you spend and the quality of service.

First up for this new season of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date is Taqueria Las Torres. Taqueria Las Torres is a Taco Truck connected to a small building on Tacoma’s 6th Ave. and Fife Street. Here’s a photo of the place.

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Mimi ordered the three taco meal with marinated pork and a Mandarin Orange Soda. I ordered the Enchilada plate and a Mexican Coke. Our total was $19.97.

The dining area isn’t much more than you might expect in a cafeteria. It’s utilitarian rather than stylish. Televisions play whatever they’ve selected from Netflix. After a few minutes, our order was called out and we took our food back to our table.

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For food from what’s essentially a Taco Truck, it’s really not bad and fairly filling. Nothing was particularly spicy, though there’s a condiments area where you can add spice if that’s your thing. Mimi’s dish was more than a little hot by the time she was done preparing it. I ate mine with the provided plastic fork and knife.

My enchilada was tasty and filling. Mimi said that the marinated pork taco plate as authentic and that the vegetables were very fresh.

If you’re looking for a high class Mexican dining experience, this isn’t it. But you know that going in. If you’re looking for authentic, inexpensive Mexican food and friendly service, this is the place.

Taqueria Las Torres is located at 2516 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA 98406.

– Jack Cameron

Valentine’s Day Massacre At The Narwhal

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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

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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