A New Normal…

 

Crime victims do not have the label emblazoned on their foreheads, but they might as well once their circle of friends and co-workers know what has occurred. They carry on with the business of life, but how can you?

When the crime and the loss of your loved one first occurs, your entire world has been turned upside down and inside out.  You retreat; you’re numb, in shock and disbelief. You “have an idea” what should occur with the police and the judicial system as you are smart and keep up with current events (or so you think.)

You are either a doer and try to arrange, organize, and  call investigators twice a day for the latest information (that they cannot divulge), all in an attempt to postpone the gut wrenching grief …Or you are condemned to the couch in a fetal position looking for a reason to go on.

Your family members are “all over the place” with their emotions. They want to talk about it, or not at all, they try to seek comfort in their own ways and may resist your attempts to band together in solidarity.  If relationships are strained to begin with, thrusting people into this incomprehensible situation can fuel the fire.  It is the rare family who can put aside their differences and be troopers in the face of violent crime. However, it is possible.  Such complex dynamics remind me of the classic movie “The Big Chill”: (Part 1 of 6)  A bunch of misfit college friends are thrown together over the loss of their friend’s suicide.

After violent crime, your friends and co-workers are supposed to be your anchors, right?  Well, not really!

Co-workers and friends may secretly feel that the family did not take measures to prevent or intercede, that they were somehow partially responsible.

If the case is high-profile with the media, there are ever-present reminders, innuendo, rumor and misinformation.

Knowing that your average adult attention span is fleeting for “normal conversation,” how do you engage with them repeatedly with your tragedy? How can they possibly relate? How can they sympathize? Unless they have been through it, they cannot. You do not know it, but you are a burden to the workings of other’s normalcy! It’s not you! It’s they who are so uncomfortable! It is not your job to make them feel comfortable when you are actively grieving.

One of my favorite sayings for this intersection of life was that after the homicide “the casseroles stopped coming after two weeks.” Yup, two weeks is the average attention span for those who cannot relate!

Therefore, you MUST change-up your friends for those you grieve with and have a common bond with, such as a crime victim’s support group become your true friends, your surrogate family for as long as you need them! However, for some, there is that temptation to take on the victim identity for too long, unable to establish a “new normal.” BEWARE my friends of the pitfalls of grief! The pitfalls  can “eat you up and spit you out for dinner” if you do not have the proper guidance to help you navigate for the long haul.

It is rough terrain indeed! Even thirty plus years down the trail, I am not perfect. I wear the scars of vulnerabilities and some regrets for which I have no control.  Ahhh, but wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to dance again, “just like at the end of the Big Chill” movie despite the tragedy that has occurred. It is sign of healing, if only for a minute!  Who wants to dance with me?  The Big Chill Dance Scene: 

With that said another aspect of the aftermath of crime whose drum cannot be beaten enough, is the task and importance of the Victim Impact Statement which can, if carefully crafted, change the outcome of sentencing and any former thoughts of prisoner release with the proper assistance.

Contact me if interested! http://donnagore.com/victim-impact-statement-assistance/

Unanswered Questions: Murderous Birds from Alfred Hitchcock… The Horror of it All

Murderous birds from Alfred Hitchcock

Murderous birds from Alfred Hitchcock

Fascination by mysterious circumstances spells horror! I’ve always wondered about this. What made the birds attack in the 1963 movie “The Birds”? The film starred Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor as the two main characters.  Hitchcock had a dark side in terms of how he treated his actors and was obsessed and controlling with Tippi for seven years under contract, despite the positive times on the set.  Mr. Hitchcock was smart to carefully couch his comments and never truly reveal his premise. How and why would birds murder?  The birds /seagulls (scavenger bids) and crows attacked singly and collectively. The presentations were stark and eerie, in particular the ending scene.

Hitchcock says that a general theme was “man taking nature for granted makes him complacent, thus believing that he is the master of everything.”

Is there something deeper than “plain horror” just like the “hidden messages” in the Beatles recordings??

 My question/theory - Could there be an even more diabolical message applying to people such as don’t try to cage anything, including people. Look what happens when we cage people, they just get worse!   Such analysis would be considered “poppycock” by Hitchcock, no doubt.

Synopsis from a movie reviewer’s perspective characterizes it as story involving a potential romantic triangle with a wealthy, spoiled Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), handsome Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), and schoolteacher Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette). The human story begins in a San Francisco pet shop and culminates at the home of Mitch’s mother (Jessica Tandy) at Bodega Bay, where the characters’ sense of security is slowly eroded by the curious behavior of the birds in the area than a sea gull swooping down and pecking at Melanie’s head. The onslaught begins, and there’s virtually no letup. Fandango

Initial Attack – Boat scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxfJZy5_x8A

Schoolyard-Playground Scene- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydLJtKlVVZw; (Children’s song as background music!)

Ending Scene: Potential attack- Deadly silent…Hundreds of birds watching….waiting from telephone wires, tree branches and the ground witch was so covered with birds, the landscape could not be seen! They waited to attack as precariously walk to the car with the caged original “love birds” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMwvHLe5m3g

“Can I bring the love birds, Mitch? They haven’t harmed anybody.”  (Nooo!)

History and contemplated original ending – YouTube: The Golden Gate Bridge: “Too impossible to Film” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JupbvUq5OE0

  • “The Birds”  was based on a short story of the same title written in 1952 by Daphne Du Maurier;
  • The real impetus took place two years before the release of the film. It was based on a real-life event that happened in 1961, in the Monterey Bay California area. Reportedly, huge flocks of seabirds collided against many houses for unknown reasons, unnerving residents. “Thousands of disoriented seagulls flew “suicide missions “into houses along the Monterey Bay coast line, further south of San Francisco.
  • The True Answer?

“Scientists at LSU finally discovered that the deaths happened because the birds had been poisoned by a nerve-damaging toxin called domoic acid found in the birds’ natural diet of anchovies and squid (that had both eaten plankton with concentrated levels of domoic acid). Scientists discovered that toxin-making algae were present in 79% of the plankton that the creatures ate. The acid caused bird brain damage, or at the least, created confusion, dizziness and seizures. The acid had possibly come from leaky domestic septic tanks in the area rather than from suspected farm fertilizers.” http://www.filmsite.org/bird.html

How about a couple of Freudian Theories – (Oh Brother!)

It is about three needy women (literally ‘birds’) – and a fourth from a younger generation – each flocking around and vying for varying degrees of affection and attention from the sole, emotionally-cold male lead, and the fragile tensions, anxieties and unpredictable relations between them. The attacks are mysteriously related to the mother and son relationship in the film – anger (and fears of abandonment or being left lonely) of the jealous, initially hostile mother come to the surface when her bachelor son brings home an attractive young woman. Curiously, the first attack has symbolic phallic undertones – it occurs when the man and woman approach toward each other outside the restaurant in the coastal town.

  • From a film student’s paper at SUNY –Fredonia- (May 9, 2002)Mitch becomes more involved with Melanie the bird attacks progressively get more vicious. At the birthday party for his little sister Cathy, Mitch and Melanie are off alone and Melanie reveals that her mother abandoned her at an early age, which raises the question, is better to be loved or abandoned? Melanie feels it is better to be abandoned, while Mitch feels its better to be loved. As they walk back to the party, Lydia looks up at them and frowns, showing her displeasure of them being together. Immediately afterward, Cathy is attacked by a gull setting into motion a full scale attack on the children at the party. The birds attack Cathy for befriending Melanie earlier.
  • There is no clear logical explanation of the bird attacks in the film, but the metaphorical reason is clear. The bird attacks are the personification of Lydia’s (mother’s) rage and fight to remain the alpha female of the family.
  • The lovebirds are also a strong symbol in the film. They symbolize the characters in the story. The birds are trapped in a cage; the end of the film traps the characters within their own cage.

Do Crows and Seagulls Really Have Reason to Attack People?

According to a Popular Science Article in 2012, after experimentation –

Crows’ true behaviors include:

  • When encountering a single face, crows do occasionally scold a person who is not dangerous. It seems safer to cry wolf occasionally rather than ignore a real threat. But when we presented the crows with a choice, their ability to distinguish among people was uncanny.
  • In general- The corvid family–a widespread group of birds made up most prominently of crows, ravens, and magpies–are no ordinary birds, with a brain-to-body-weight ratio and cognitive abilities equal to apes and dolphins. This excerpt, from the great new book Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans_,
  • The Top then List of Birds that can and perhaps will “Kick your Ass”-
  • Seagulls rank # 10 according to Toptenz.net. (They began with #10)  So…. are they the worst or the most harmless?  Who knows?  (See reference below if you’d like to watch individual videos)

 Parting thoughts:

Although the Movie “Cleopatra “won the Academy Award for best picture that year, “Hitch” was given credit for being ahead of his time for technical effects in using computer graphics, having many mechanical birds assembled and had  an excellent bird trainer who trained hundreds of birds.  However, there were real injuries sustained with birds hurled relentlessly at the actors and exhaustion ….but no murder!

Perhaps we should just “enjoy the horror of it under the covers” and forget the rest!  There will never be another, “The Birds” although they did try an internet re-make in 2011 which never made it to fruition.

References: Many YouTube interviews were reviewed in addition to:

http://www.ibtimes.com/alfred-hitchcock-birds-attack-mystery-solved-photos-videos-709324

http://www.filmsite.org/bird.html

http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/shokoff/Birds.htm

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-06/how-crows-recognize-individual-humans-warn-others-and-are-basically-smarter-you

http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-birds-that-could-kick-your-ass.php

Unanswered Questions: Murderous Birds from Alfred Hitchcock… The Horror of it All

Protection Under the Dome: Is Your State Capitol a Safe Place? 

dome-602071_640

It’s a “sign of the times” so they say…being cautious and proactive against future violence.  After 9-11 in our neighboring state of New York and the horrible massacre in Newtown, CT in 2012, you would think that we would have caught up with other states. However, it appears that public buildings for the public’s use and enjoyment was a primary reason against installing metal detectors at our historic and palatial looking State Capitol  (constructed between 1872 and 1879). But perhaps, “the public’s right to enter’” should be safeguarded as much as possible in 2015.

“For decades, legislators in Connecticut resisted recommendations by police to add metal detectors as a permanent feature at the Capitol and Legislative Office Building.”

A little history regarding the registered historic landmark: the Connecticut State Capitol 

The Capitol was opened in 1878 and stands in the picturesque setting of Bushnell Park. (Construction 1872 -1879). Designed by Richard M. Upjohn, a cathedral architect, this High Victorian Gothic style statehouse was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1971 and underwent a restoration between 1979 and 1989.The exterior marble from East Canaan, Connecticut and granite from Westerly, Rhode Island is accented by a gold leaf dome. The interior floors of the Capitol are inlaid with white marble and red slate from Connecticut and colored marble from Italy. The stenciling, stained-glass windows and light fixtures were designed by Boston interior decorator William James McPherson.  This beautiful and unique building houses the executive offices and legislative chambers of the state, as well as historical memorabilia including statues of Nathan Hale, “The Genius of Connecticut” and Governor William Buckingham.

How Does Your State Stack Up with Security?

According to a 2007 survey in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. All three have metal detectors, as do Pennsylvania and New Jersey. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, there are metal detectors installed at 23 state Capitols, in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.    All three have metal detectors, as do Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Some State Capitols screen all visitors with the metal detectors, while others such as California exempt state employees and legislators.

According to a CT NewsJunkie.com article, during Governor Malloy’s second inaugural address at the beginning of the legislative session on January 6, 2015, “every Capitol Police officer and security technician was on duty.” No incidents were reported.

In Connecticut, some state employees and all legislators are exempted from screening by the metal detectors.  Rather, they may use their badges to get through the turnstiles or vestibules to get into the building. (Hmmm! Who are the exempted employees and why? Suppose they did this at airports?)

In terms of overall traffic, legislators, staff, and the nearly 150,000 annual visitors  including   more than 25,000 school children visit the State Capitol Complex and our beautiful  “over the top” cherry wood and marble Legislative Office Building.

Since 1999, upgrades have included: installation of cameras and video equipment, a card access system, increase in staffing of capitol state police, implementing a security technician program, installing garage gate arm access and emergency call boxes, implementing an emergency warden program, (i.e. emergency management building personnel knowledgeable about proper procedures),  mandatory staff  intruder drill training and workplace violence training.

It all sounds impressive BUT… in February 6, 2002 it all went wrong! According to a Hartford Courant article, a report with the following information was issued to legislative leaders, but not to the public! ‘Too embarrassing! I was just into my third year as a state employee when this occurred….

  • Police swarmed the state Capitol complex in response to a report of a gunman on a roof;
  • Some employees of the Legislative Office Building weren’t notified the building was being evacuated, and no one made use of a public address system to direct the hundreds of people who were “locked down” inside the Capitol;
  • “Several lapses” in the police response were described as “an uneven enforcement of the lockdown and a lack of communication between police and legislative leaders and staff.”
  • Hundreds of people were evacuated from the Legislative Office Building and detained in the adjacent Capitol in the hours after the legislative session opened Feb. 6th. *** Two women told police they saw a machine-gun toting man on the roof of the office building’s garage.
  • THE TRUTH – It was a videographer with a hand-held camera.   But, it might have been just as they described!
  • Capitol police admitted that an evacuation at the Capitol complex had “not been tried or practiced before,”
  • Joint training sessions were needed to familiarize state and local police with the government complex. A “lack of communication” between all parties could have been eliminated if only they would have made use of use of public address systems, e-mails and a formal chain of contact.
  • Additional problems included:  insufficient radio communication between the police, a SWAT team, armed military police and the “Trooper One” helicopter, which hovered overhead.
  • The primary concerns expressed by employees centered around the evacuation and lockdown procedures…. Workers in the office building library and maintenance workers in the basement were not notified by police that the building was being evacuated. During the Capitol lockdown, when all doors should have been secured some people were seen exiting and leaving the grounds, potentially in the line of fire of a “potential sniper.”
  • Interestingly, as reported by the Hartford Courant, “a search of the garage turned up evidence that police initially thought could be connected to the reported gunman — a “ski-mask type hat” and three vehicles that they considered suspicious. But by 6:30 p.m., the garage was deemed safe. A half-hour later, an attorney contacted state police on behalf of the rooftop cameraman, suggesting a misidentification had occurred.   (What??  An attorney was representing the cameraman in 30 minutes?? LOL How convenient for him!)
  • Children in the on-site day care center for children of state employees remained safe. However, an upgraded phone system with a message light for emergency calls was recommended.
  • To this day, I can attest to any public meeting in the LOB, “a script” concerning emerge procedures is always read at the outset.  And…. To this day, I believe that no one is allowed to park or have access to the upper floor of the LOB garage!

January 10, 2010, in Austin Texas:

  • Twenty–four year old Fausto Cardenas, was identified as the shooter after firing several shots from a small-caliber handgun on the Capitol steps.
  • Although beginning in 2009, visitors to the House and Senate galleries were asked to pass through metal detectors outside the third-floor galleries to watch legislative action in those chambers nothing had been done to secure the entrances to the Capitol.
  • Governor Rick Perry had received endorsements from the National Rifle Association and the Texas State Rifle Association. His response was: “I’m always up for looking at new ways to protect our citizens, but the last thing I want is for the Texas Capitol to turn into DFW Airport.” (So what else is new??)
  • Another incident “may have forced the hand that fed Governor Perry” when in May 2010, another man was arrested for dropping an eight-inch knife on the floor during a committee meeting.
  • According to AR15.com,”Home of the Black Rifle,” as of their post on Friday, May 21, 2010,  Tourists entering the Texas Capitol during the start of the new security procedures thought “metal detectors were a good idea ***until they found out people with concealed handgun permits are not required to surrender their firearms at the door.
  • “People with licenses still can carry guns in the building, so what’s the point? Why are you putting up metal detectors, some people inquired. Just before noon, perhaps only one in 20 people entering the building through the south entrance had to go through the metal detectors. A special line was set up for school groups, people with concealed handgun permits and people with state-issued building passes. A computer is set up for troopers to check the status of handgun permits.”

Does this make any sense to you?  I say, no guns, period in the Capitol except for law enforcement.

Definition- Conceal and Carry law –

Concealed carry or carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) is the practice of carrying a weapon (such as a handgun) in public in a concealed manner, either on one’s person or in close proximity. Not all weapons that fall under CCW controls are lethal. For example, in Florida, carrying pepper spray in more than a specified volume (2 oz.) of chemical requires a CCW permit. Whereas, anyone may legally carry a smaller, so-called, “self-defense chemical spray” device hidden on their person without a CCW permit.

Texas Requirements Conceal- Carry Weapons: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/RSD/CHL/faqs/index.htm

  • The Concealed Handgun Law sets out the eligibility criteria that must be met. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age (unless active duty military) and must meet Federal qualifications to purchase a handgun.  A number of factors may make you ineligible to obtain a license, such as: felony convictions and some misdemeanor convictions, including charges that resulted in probation or deferred adjudication; pending criminal charges; chemical or alcohol dependency; certain types of psychological diagnoses protective or restraining orders, and defaults on state or city taxes, governmental fees, or child support.  Eligibility requirements can be found in GC §411.172.You must also submit a completed application, pay the required fees and submit all of the required supplemental forms and materials.

Conclusion:

I suppose we all have our preferences as to what makes us feel most secure based upon our culture, upbringing and experience. However, can we not draw the line and hand over the guns when it comes to our public places of assembly, learning, law making and human civility?

Although we know that humans are not at all civil when it comes to the use of violent crime as a means to “settle differences,” I prefer to think that “a gun in your pocket,” particularly in public places designed for our citizenry to come together as one, is not the path for “the ordinary citizen”, not at all.

 

References: http://ctmirror.org/2014/01/17/sign-of-times-metal-detectors-coming-to-connecticut-capitol/

http://www.cga.ct.gov/capitoltours/

http://www.ct.gov/dmhas/lib/dmhas/legislative/SCPD_Press_Release_1-17-2014_.pdf

http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/opening_day_inauguration_test_new_security_measures_at_capitol/

http://www.ehs.washington.edu/fsoemerprep/evacwardduties.shtm

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Perry-rebuffs-call-for-Capitol-metal-detectors-1696334.php

http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=8&f=8&t=410900

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concealed_carry_in_the_United_States

Shattered Lives Radio Turns Three

shatteredlives-015

I have been pressed for time (and stressed for time) in the past several weeks and not able to properly reflect on a milestone that means a lot to me.

As of February 8th or so I am celebrating the three-year anniversary of continuous weekly live broadcasts on SHATTERED LIVES RADIO!

If someone ever asks “when I’m gone to the great beyond,” What was one of the coolest, most rewarding, educational (and often frustrating and time-consuming endeavors) I have ever done?  Shattered Lives Radio would be high on the list!

The “people part” and the opportunity for new learning and creating awareness for the masses  have been the greatest joys. Meeting and making so many wonderful new friends and colleagues is the most empowering experience one can have! To be surrounded by so many who give unselfishly in their own humanitarian ways for the benefit of those touched and often pounded by violent crime, has forever changed me!  Both individuals and non-profits, family members of crime victims, service providers,  law enforcement, investigators and others helped to create a beautiful tapestry of LIVE and archived shows to be  proud of.

I have had my share of “firsts” from the perspective of the aftermath of crime in many topic areas such as homicide caused by impaired diabetic drivers,  frank discussion regarding suicide, hostage negotiation, human trafficking,  broadcasting live from the Henry C. Lee Forensics Institute of Science, participating in  an exciting cross-country cold case “mystery tour” upcoming with Sheryl McCollum and a fantastic true crime author series sponsored by WildBlue Press just to name a select few!

And to think the idea of this show was “hatched on a cruise ship” with the able assistance of former PI and author, Denny Griffin! The concept of dealing with the aftermath of crime is still fresh, people want it and need it in their own time, even if they don’t always listen live. The shows are there to be of assistance forever!

Susan Murphy Milano played a huge role in getting this endeavor off the ground too!  And, my co-host Delilah Jones of ImaginePublicity, has been there for me teaching, guiding and supporting me during the ups and downs, fun and somber moments, and the triumphs!  Thank you my dear friends, “the special three” mentors  who gave me so much, (as well as my wonderful guests) and continue to do so!

To borrow a phrase from the esteemed Walter Cronkite, I will do my best to re-construct a  roster below so that you may enjoy them again , for that’s the way it was!

Shattered Lives Radio past guests and topics:

  • Melissa Siegal, Teen Dating Violence;
  • Yuli Garza –   MAG- Mothers-Men Against Gangs;
  • Dr. Dalal Akoury – Crime and your health;
  • Elmire Raven – IPV- My Sister’s House;
  • John Pace –Former Male Madam –  Human Trafficker;
  • Marilyn Gambrell – No More Victims;
  • Pamela Ressler, R.N. Stress Resources & Using Social Media to Heal;
  • Bob Rahn & Kim Anklin, PI’s with Attorneys- Wrongful Conviction – The Case of Jonathan Fleming;
  • Prosecutor David LaBahn – Gang Related Convictions;
  • Ryan Ulbrich –  CT Cold Case of Leah Ulbrich, his mother;
  • Jamie Isaacs – Author, Presenter, Victim of Bullying;
  • Bob Rahn & Kim Anklin, PI’s- Wrongful Conviction – The Case of Jonathan Fleming;
  • Karen Beaudin – Missing Persons, Homicide Survivor, Author;
  • Bill Jenkins – Survivors of Crime & Gun Control;
  • Mary Drexler- CT Council on Problem Gambling;
  • Michael Smith- Survivor – Killing via Diabetic Impaired Driving;
  • Christine & Dan  Nascimento,   Cutting Edge , Healthy , All Organic Hair Salon “Modern Edge”
  • Derek Gault & Sandy Hein – Hostage Negotiation;
  •  Police Chief Larry Reinhart –  Family Victim of IPV;
  • Amy Santagata & Duane Bowers – Suicide;
  • Marcus “Strider” Dent, Commander of Baltimore Guardian Angels;
  • Jessalyn Dorsey – Crime Victim Advocacy  Council– Atlanta;
  • California DA Nancy O’Malley – Crime Victim Rights;
  • Trina Murphy-    Survivor of Missing & Murdered Sister;
  •  Police Chief Marty Sumner – IPV Offender Focused Deterrence Program;
  • PI Denny Griffin – The Patrick Rust Case;
  • ***Planning for the CUE Center On the Road to Remember Tour – No Shows in September-beginning of October
  • Police Chief Marty Sumner – IPV Offender Focused Deterrence Program Part Two;
  • Sheryl McCollum- The Cold Case Investigative Research Institute; (CCIRI)
  • Dr. Tina, Maschi –  The Plight of Elderly Prisoners;
  • DA Nancy O’Malley With Co-Host Attorney-Advocate Michelle S. Cruz – Victim Impact;
  • “Krush”  Victoria Kent -Baltimore Guardian Angel & IPV Victim;
  • S. Daniel Carter- Director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative (32 NCSI) for the VTV Family Outreach Foundation;
  • Sheryl McCollum – Part Two- Unveiling their Upcoming Cross Country Cold Case Tour (CCIRI);
  • F. Mark Granato – CT Author –  Book – “The Day Hartford Hospital Burned” et al;
  • Prosecutor, Tad DiBiase – Prosecution of “No Body” Cases;
  • Author Steve Jackson – WildBlue Press &  his Book – “Bogeyman”;
  • Author. Kevin Sullivan – WildBlue Press & his Book “Vampire” (Serial Killer)
  • Author John Ferak – WildBlue Press and his Book – “Dixie’s Last Stand – IPV;
  • Author Burl Barer – WildBlue Press & his Book “Man Overboard – The Counterfeit Resurrection of Phil Champagne

“And so it goes” (in the words of journalist Linda Ellerbee). I will continue the fine work on Shattered Lives Radio, as long as it makes sense to do so, and as long as there is more aftermath of crime to discuss!

 

Shattered Lives Radio Turns Three