Crime is up in New Haven, according to the New Haven Police Department’s Uniform Crime Report. It’s up a whopping 1%. Seems scary, but the overall picture doesn’t really compare to, say, Rio de Janeiro, where I had the opportunity to spend New Year’s. Let me tell you, when a Colombian and a South African from Johannesburg tell you that you should not leave the hotel (even to cross the street to the public beach) without a guard or an escort, you take notice.
So suffice it to say, I’m not all that freaked out about New Haven, in the general big picture of things, which hopefully doesn’t include my getting mugged right after this article comes out.
However, crime is way too juicy a topic to let slide. Now, in considering topics for the rest of this column, I had many to choose from — Rush Limbaugh, Michael Jackson, Martha Stewart, Enron — but I said to myself: Kevin, the readers of the Yale Daily News Magazine do not spend the time and effort to read this column so that you can tell them a bunch of facts they already know. I gave myself a stern look and quickly replied: Okay, even if they’re easily accessible facts, let’s try to give the people something that makes ’em really stand up and go “wow,” or at the very least makes whatever they’re drinking spurt out of their nose, thereby providing not only a hygenic service (nose cleaning is such a lost art these days), but also a humorous one — who doesn’t like to see a nasal niagra from across the dining hall? So I set out to find something truly hilarious and, hopefully, even a little scary.
I never thought I’d end up at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Ten Most Wanted List. Unbelievably, this project generates some of funniest things ever to come out of the federal government. For example, take the remarks on James J. Bulger. James is wanted by the FBI for racketeering, 18 counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and a host of other things. In summary, this is one bad dude. But he is also “an avid reader with an interest in history. He is known to frequent libraries and historic sites, currently on the heart medication Atenolol (50 mg) and maintains his physical fitness by walking on beaches and in parks with his female companion, Catherine Elizabeth Greig. Bulger and Greig love animals and may frequent animal shelters.”
The list goes on. Michael Alfonso, wanted for flight to avoid prosecution and for murder, “is known to enjoy working out at gyms.” Robert William Fisher, the only person on the list to be pictured shirtless, and wanted for allegedly killing his wife and two young children and then blowing up their house, “is an avid outdoorsman, hunter, and fisherman.”
Especially not to be missed on any visit to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List (which by the way can be found online at www.fbi.gov/mostwant/topten/fugitives/fugitives.htm) are the age-enhanced photographs. Now, I’m pretty sure that a ten year old with the right kind of software package could make enhancements of similar, if not superior, quality, but that wouldn’t be as funny as the ones generated by the FBI because the Bureau probably has a whole Age-Enhanced team that specializes in producing such photographs, or at the very least one guy who could say to his wife when he goes home at night that he had a hard time getting the double chin on Glen Stuart Godwin to pucker correctly, or that his boss gave him a hard time about the lack of clarity on the picture of Victor Manuel Gerena’s hypothetical bald spot.
Don’t get me wrong, I have incredible respect for our hypothetical FBI age-enhancer. Indeed, I see a crucial role for him in the upcoming presidential election, and even in all future presidential elections. These days, what with the increasing life span and the increased ability of presidents to stay healthy and active in office, our former presidents are sticking with us for a lot longer. And they don’t look as good as they did when we elected them. I believe that the American people deserve to know what they’re getting into when they elect a president. What if Bill Clinton’s hair, instead of just whitening, had completely fallen out? How would you have felt seeing such a face on your TV on a frequent basis? If you knew that Howard Dean’s chins were going to multiply by a factor of three by his second year in office, how comfortable would you feel casting your ballot for the good doctor?
Furthermore, think of the children: they are the ones who must endure more than a decade of history classrooms decorated with the portraits of our nation’s leaders. And some of them have been really ugly. Chief Justice Roger Tawney’s face is enough to give even relatively mature high schoolers nightmares. We must avoid such calamities in the future. Thank God the geniuses at the FBI TTMWL (these people really deserve as many acronyms as possible) have come up with the answer and are already proceeding with human testing on the dregs of American society. Makes me feel my tax dollars are being well-spent.
One last, crucial bit of information — the price tag. Just in case you thought it was immoral to attach a price to a human being, the FBI TTMWL have proven you wrong: turning in or “providing information leading directly to the capture or conviction” of these guys will usually net you $50,000. Unless of course you hit the Most Wanted List jackpot and turn in the Prince, the Director, the Emir, Abu Abdullah — now known by his current stage name, Usama bin Laden — in which case you will get $27 million, $2 million of which is provided by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association. So nice to see private organizations chipping into the bounty fund. Also nice to see that crime does pay — at least for some people.
Oddly, despite having been revised in November 2001, bin Laden’s poster makes no reference to September 11th, which might mean that the US Department of Justice isn’t jumping to conclusions about his involvement. In which case I sort of wonder why we went into Afghanistan to take out Al-Qaeda, of which the FBI TTMWL does admit bin Laden is the head. Just odd in a general sort of weird way that one expects from any person or organization obsessed with coining acronyms and pencil pushing.1
In any case, just remember what fun and frivolity your Federal Government and the FBI (and me) provide. And remember Age-Enhanced Photography when you go to the polls in November; it’s crucial to our nation’s future.
1Note that I have nothing against coining acronyms and pencil pushing. Indeed, there are few things more entertaining on the long flight to and from Rio de Janeiro.
Kevin B. Alexander is committed to the study of the universe and the whimsicality found therein, and the advancement of his newfound passion, Age-Enhanced Photography.