David Bruce: Crime Anecdotes

• At a concert featuring hardcore group Black Flag, a bouncer unnecessarily roughed up a woman in the audience. Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski saw what was happening, did not like what he saw, and hit the bouncer’s head with the end of his bass, resulting in the bouncer going to a hospital to get stitches. After the show, Black Flag’s kick drum was missing, and a different bouncer said that to get the kick drum back they would have to go to the manager’s office. The kick drum was there, and so was the manager—who felt safe because his bouncers were also there. The manager criticized the Black Flag members, calling them “f*ckups,” but they got the kick drum. They also learned that the club’s owner had called other clubs that Black Flag was going to play at and told these clubs not to pay Black Flag because they were troublemakers. Unfortunately, at this club and at other clubs women are often not safe at music concerts. In 1984, during a Black Flag concert in Hamburg, Germany, three women in the audience had their tops torn off. Mr. Rollins gave his shirt to one of the women, but his shirt was also torn off her body. Mr. Rollins says, “So much for my good deed.” And at a club in Los Angeles, Mr. Rollins noticed that the security guys were frisking everybody who came in. He says that “[t]he girls got searched extra carefully” because “the security guys [were] getting in a good feel when they could.” One way in which Mr. Rollins is sensitive is that when he notices that he is walking behind a lone woman, he will slow down and let her put some distance between him and her. He knows that often women are afraid that they will get attacked on the street. He also knows that they can be scared by his presence. He says, “I’ve had girls run into stores and wait until I pass before they come out.” Unfortunately, women sometimes have good reason to be afraid of men.

• Cult filmmaker John Waters is a friend of Leslie Van Houten, who was a member of the Charles Manson Family, and in 2010 he thought that it was time she was paroled despite her participation in the murder of Rosemary LaBianca. In 2003, CBS remade the book Helter Skelter, which is about the Manson Family, as a TV movie, and Mr. Waters worried that its portrayal of Ms. Van Houten could have a negative effect on her parole hearings. Mr. Waters telephoned the director, John Gray, and told him about Ms. Van Houten and his belief that she deserved to be paroled. (The two men did not know each other.) When Mr. Waters saw the completed movie, he was relieved because the character of Ms. Van Houten played only a small part in it. Later, he was in a Los Angeles restaurant when his waitress asked him, “Can I ask you something personal?” He replied, “Sure,” but he was surprised by what she asked him: “Are you the head of that ‘Friends of Leslie’ organization?” He replied that the organization had no head and had officially disbanded, but that many people wanted Ms. Van Houten to be paroled. It turned out that the waitress—Catherine Wadkins—had played Ms. Van Houten in the new Helter Skeltermovie. Mr. Waters felt bad because he thought that he might have cut the size of her role by telephoning the director. Ms. Wadkins told him, “Yes, you did,” but she added, “That’s OK. I think Leslie shouldget out, and I tried to play the part in a way to show how brainwashed she was.”

• Cher and Meryl Streep co-starred in the movie Silkwood. In a 1987 interview, Cher called Meryl “incredibly brave” and told about a night in Manhattan when the two saw a huge man mugging a woman: “Meryl screamed and ran straight at the man—who let go of the woman and ran straight at us! I thought we were going to be killed, but he ran between us and disappeared. We were both a wreck, but that’s Meryl. She does what’s right, no matter what.” Meryl said, “I convince myself of my own courage. After I’ve played Isak Dinesen [in Out of Africa], I think I’m as brave as she is. I can fight lions—for a while. I stuff my straw in there, and I really believe I can scare the crows.”

• Helena Rubinstein left Poland and traveled to Australia with 12 pots of facial cream that had been made by a Hungarian doctor. The Australian women liked the facial cream’s effect on Helena’s complexion, and Helena recognized a business opportunity. She became very, very rich through selling her cosmetics and through her determination—a trait that served her well throughout her life. When she was 94, some armed robbers broke into her apartment in Manhattan. She told them, “Go ahead and kill me—I am not going to let you rob me.” The armed robbers ran away.

• LSD guru Timothy Leary once escaped from prison. While he was being introduced into the prison system, he was given psychological tests, some of which he himself had designed. (He was once a professor at Harvard.) Therefore, he knew how to answer the tests to give the prison officials the impression of himself he wanted to give them: that he was a safe and conventional conformist who would not escape and who had an interest in gardening and in forestry. The plan worked. They sent him to a place from which it was easier for him to escape.

• In 1960, a burglar made the mistake of trying to burgle John Wayne’s home. Mr. Wayne was home, and he grabbed a shotgun and chased the burglar into the backyard where he made the burglar stop by yelling, “I got you covered!” Mr. Wayne’s wife telephoned the police, who quickly arrived. The burglar did have a request that he asked Mr. Wayne to fulfill: “I came here in a cab. The taxi driver is still outside. The meter’s running. He didn’t know I came to rob you. Could you take care of him, Mr. Wayne?” Mr. Wayne paid the taxi driver.

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


John Ford’s The Broken Heart: A Retelling, by David Bruce


William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: A Retelling in Prose, by David Bruce


Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist: A Retelling, by David Bruce


David Bruce’s Smashwords Bookstore: Retellings of Classic Literature, Anecdote Collections, Discussion Guides for Teachers of Literature, Collections of Good Deed Accounts, etc. Some eBooks are free.