Killer, Ellroy and Marla's pumps

What do the Osaka mafia, Snoop Dogg, Chuck Jones and Charles Keating Jr. have in common?

Published April 15, 1999 8:53AM (EDT)

As detailed here last week, these are not the best of times for the New
York crime families, but then things aren't exactly a bowl of cherry
blossoms in the Japanese underworld either. Earlier this month, reports
the Japan Times, Osaka mob boss Katsuo Boku was ventilated by one of his
own men, Seiji Uehara. Uehara was reportedly having a problem getting
by on a gangster's salary, so he hit up Boku for a loan. When Boku balked
("never a borrower nor a lender be"), Uehara forced him at gunpoint to
go to his bank. Once there, a scuffle broke out between the two
mobsters, the gun went off twice, and now one of the Land of the Rising
Sun's most powerful gang lords is taking a dirt nap. Before his
retirement, Boku was the head of the Sawada-gumi, an affiliate of
Japan's largest crime syndicate -- the Yamaguchi-gumi.

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Here by the shore of Gitche Gumee, across the Big-Sea-Water, the rabid
Rottweiler of crime writing is rampaging across America. He calls
himself "the death dog with the hog log, the foul owl with the death
growl." He's a shy flower, but Valerie Kalfrin of APB Online somehow got
author James Ellroy to open up. Ellroy, who has recently been let out of
his kennel to promote "Crime Wave," a collection of his novellas and
magazine articles, told Kalfrin that reading his books "will leave you
reamed, steamed, dry-cleaned, tied, dyed, swept to the side, screwed,
blued, tattooed" and, well, you get the idea -- he's the Big Dog, the
King of the World, and a far more appealing one than whatsisname, to be

All heart and darkness, noise and nuance, Ellroy is a jocular soul,
buoyant against all odds, whose writing comes from some place you and I
don't want to go to, don't even want to think about. But we can't take
our eyes away from the results: "L.A. Confidential," "The Black Dahlia,"
"Suicide Hill," "Blood on the Moon" and "My Dark Places," among many others.
Ellroy's own mother -- who, he says, "majored in booze and minored in men" --
was the victim of an unsolved murder (that case is the subject of "My
Dark Places"). In his youth Ellroy spun out big time -- "drinking, using
drugs, breaking into houses to sniff women's undergarments, stealing"
and doing a stretch in the county jail -- before deciding to write about
his demons instead of becoming them. The type of people in his stories,
he told Kalfrin, are "what I could have been if I didn't have a very
strong will to be a happy human being ... if I hadn't shit-canned all my
crummy behavior ... I go out of my way to treat people with kindness."
Indeed, Ellroy's even generous toward his critics: "They can just kiss
my ass," he barks.

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But Ellroy is not the only bad dog to come out of L.A. One of Snoop
Dogg's dogs may have set up the rich rapper for a canine paternity
suit. As reported by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Killer, one of
Snoop's pit bulls, has impregnated a purebred Akita belonging to a
neighbor who's none too pleased. (In Killer's defense, the Akita is
rumored to be a saucy little minx given to parading around in her
birthday suit.) Nor has the randy Killer limited himself to cattin'
around -- he's also charged with chasing another of the Dog Father's
neighbors up a tree.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Fortunately, dogs can't drive and Killer doesn't live in Rome, where
last Thursday Italy's highest court ruled that doing it in the road (to
wit: sex in a car) is an "obscene act," punishable by as much as three
years in prison. "A sexual act that is certainly not obscene in
private," the court explained, "becomes so if it is done in a public
road." A peculiar ruling, in a country where cars with papered-over windows rock violently night and day. Adding much-needed balance to the tempest, Riccardo Schicchi,
manager of Cicciolina, the Italian porn star and former wife of artist
Jeff Koons, opined that "making love in cars has its own history and
dignity. Just think of drive-ins."

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Meanwhile, Chuck Jones (no relation to the famed Bugs Bunny director)
-- the cwazy wascal who's got a woody for Marla Maples' shoes -- was back
in court last week for a retrial in which he'll act as his own lawyer
(do the words "Dr. Kevorkian" ring a bell?). As you'll recall, Jones, a former publicist for Maples, the estranged wife of Donald
Trump, was convicted in 1994 of burglary and criminal possession of The Marla's
footwear and other personal belongings. But that conviction was
overturned in 1996 and now here we go again.

It may be a simple theft case, but it's not simply a theft case. No,
Jones developed an, uh, relationship with Maples' shoes that some say
disturbingly resembled the one that Snoop Dogg's Killer had with
that Akita. To put it delicately, Jones wanted to hump her pumps (and
did). In his April 8 opening statement to the jury, the New York Daily News
reported, Jones said, "I'm not here to apologize for my lifestyle and
you're not here to determine whether it's appropriate." Fear not, Sir
Chuckles, we judge neither ye, nor your Jones!

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Oh, almost forgot, this week's Oleaginous Ogre award goes to Charles
Keating Jr. Keating, who once railed against the immorality of Hustler
honcho Larry Flynt, agreed to a plea bargain on April 7, and he will
walk after serving less than five years for his part in a savings and
loan junk bond scam that ripped off 23,000 investors -- many of them
elderly -- to the tune of $285 million. Though he denies it, some claim
that Keating, who says he can't pay restitution, has assets stashed
abroad. Last week, in a Los Angeles Times article, reporter Jeffrey
Gettleman told of one of the group who called themselves "The Losers."
Anthony Elliot, 89, Gettleman wrote, committed suicide in 1990 "because
he was distraught over losing $200,000 -- his life savings." Hey, way to
go, Keating! See you in hell, or would you prefer the Cayman Islands?

- - - - - - - - - - - -

All in all, it's been a wack week for crime, especially the
chuckleheaded variety, but the party's got to end sooner or later.
There's just not room to fully discuss the parrot that was subpoenaed
and questioned by a police trooper in a Stroudsburg, Pa., burglary case.
We certainly can't get into why former teen idol Frankie Avalon was in
Ventura, Calif., Superior Court testifying in support of Frankie "Can't Take
My Eyes off of You" Valli's wife's broken bra strap. And one can only
hope that Kwok Chi-hoi of Hong Kong will spend his next four years and
eight months of imprisonment refining his MO. Last Friday, the South
China Post reported that the klutzy Kwok was found guilty of stealing a
taxi driver's mobile phone along with a pile of cash. Apprehending Kwok
wasn't much of a challenge, however, being that he thoughtfully left his
own phone in the taxi -- that would be the one with his home number and
the picture of him and his girlfriend on it.

Until next week, remember: Before exiting a cab, always look around to
be sure you have all your belongings with you.

By Douglas Cruickshank

Douglas Cruickshank is a senior writer for Salon. For more articles by Cruickshank, visit his archive.

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