A Primer on Committing Crimes
Many years ago, during a crucial stage in my moral development, I figured out that if I were ever to decide to do something illegal, I would probably not call a press conference to announce it. And I also decided that once any such dastardly deed was completed, I almost certainly wouldn’t distribute video of my involvement in it to the media.
This seemed like a no-brainer to me, even though comic book super-villains like Doctor Doom and Lex Luthor regularly interrupted all broadcast frequencies to proclaim their evil intentions to the entire world. It hadn’t escaped my notice that publicity of that nature tended to attract undue attention from the authorities and generally resulted in a sound thwacking from the likes of the Fantastic Four or Superman.
As a result of this lesson learned in my formative years, I’ve successfully kept any criminal intentions that might have occurred to me (the Great Beer Robbery, Doughnut-gate, the Counterfeit Red Sox Ticket Scam) to myself, thereby, I believe, substantially enhancing my chances of avoiding incarceration and other inconveniences perpetrated by the justice system.
I highly recommend this approach – which I call “If You Can’t Be Honest, At Least Don’t Be Completely Friggin’ Stupid” – to the seven people who have been arrested for arson and burglary in connection with a break-in and fire at the old Boys and Girls Club in Waterville on March 19.
Here is how police were able to solve the case: The alleged perpetrators took video of themselves throwing Molotov cocktails inside the building’s empty swimming pool and posted it on YouTube. Just in case that wasn’t sufficient evidence, they thoughtfully included credits identifying themselves.
Doc Doom would be proud. I, on the other hand, am less than impressed.
Nor would I give high marks to the two New Hampshire men who went to Eliot on March 31 with the alleged intention of having some ice cream.
A lot of ice cream.
According to police, the duo stole $110 worth of frozen treats from an ice cream truck, the kind that plays the same annoying tune over and over on its loudspeaker until you want to stuff your ears full of rocket pops.
The suspects were spotted committing the crime, and police followed what was, no doubt, a sticky trail to their vehicle, where they were apprehended before they could complete post-production work on a short movie about their escapades and send it off to various film festivals.
Another example of the dangers of excessive publicity occurred on April 2 in Brunswick, where police stopped a car alleged to have been operating erratically and to have scraped a guard rail on Interstate 295.
The driver turned out to be ex-O.J. Simpson attorney F. Lee Bailey.
Police could have charged him with leaving the scene of an accident or other traffic violations. They could have given him a sound thrashing with their nightsticks. Instead, they did something even more heinous.
They informed the local press, which printed an extensive story speculating on why Bailey was in Maine. Best guesses: 1. He has a summer place here. 2. He has business interests here. 3. He’s negotiating a national distribution deal for the pool-bombing video.
Enough crime and punishment for one week. Let’s move on to news of the type that doesn’t generate nearly as many hits on YouTube. As a result, no one in any of the following stories has been threatened with arrest.
As far as can be determined from the article, the person assigned to assess the city’s qualities – no, it wasn’t F. Lee Bailey – barely left the bar at Gritty McDuff’s, except to sample some Cold River vodka (which isn’t made in Portland) and visit the Black Point Inn (which is in Scarborough). With that itinerary, who wouldn’t find the place livable?
Meanwhile, another study also ranked Portland near the top, but not in a good way. The Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, placed the city sixth among smaller metropolitan areas in “job sprawl.”
In non-think-tank talk, that means Portland has had lots of jobs migrate from the center of the city to the suburbs (which is probably why the guy from Forbes spent so much of his non-Gritty’s time in the ‘burbs). The study’s conclusion seems questionable, though, because Brookings’ definition of what constitutes Portland included Lewiston-Auburn, Biddeford-Saco and even Sanford. Any new employment in those places was considered sprawl.
As studies go, this one would be greatly enhanced by a YouTube video. With explosions. Lots of explosions.
Speaking of lurid video, an animal rights group sent an undercover operative to the former DeCoster Egg Farm in Turner, where the activist shot scenes showing numerous instances of alleged abuse of hens. On April 1, officials from the state Department of Agriculture raided the farm, now called Quality Egg of New England, and seized evidence.
A company spokesman denied claims that cruelty to animals was widespread at the facility, but that video thing isn’t helping Quality any more than it did those guys in Waterville.
The Wausau Paper mill in Jay is closing permanently on May 31, and its equipment will be sold off.
About 96 workers will lose their jobs.
In Biddeford, nobody is worrying about job sprawl. The city is still trying to deal with the April 3 announcement that WestPoint Home, the only remaining textile mill in a place once defined by that industry, will close in June.
The job toll: 121 will be out of work.
L.L. Bean, struggling with the recession, is laying off 150 of the 200 employees at its call center in Bangor.
The company hopes to rehire most of them by summer.
On a more positive note, the Portland Sea Dogs begin play for the 2009 baseball season on April 9, with a roster loaded with prospects.
Among those Dogs likely to be promoted to the parent Boston Red Sox (anyone interested in a few counterfeit tickets?) in the next year or two are first baseman Lars Anderson and pitcher Junichi Tazawa.
Portland’s new NBA Development League team has a name. In light of the success of that YouTube video, the franchise will be called the Pool Bombers.
Sorry, that was my criminal inclination speaking. The team will actually be called the Red Claws.
Sorry, this time I’m not making it up. Honest.
Much as I’d like to end on a positive note, my journalistic integrity (I got some in exchange for bogus Sox tickets) will not permit it. There’s ugly news out of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. The schedule for 2010 calls for a pops concert featuring the music of Abba and Barry Manilow.
That’s one crime I really don’t want to see on video.