Archive for April, 2011


perversion of justice

Someone powerful in Memphis TN is trying to railroad 15-year-old James Prindle for a rape of a toddler he didn’t commit.

We don’t know yet who it is or why they’re doing it, but we have our teeth in this case and we will eventually learn what is going on. Our best guess right now is that the puppet-master is someone who is involved in child sex trafficking. And we know it must be someone powerful because the police and courts appear to be dancing to this person’s tune and are doing everything in their power to prevent the truth from becoming known.

We have an interested party on the ground right now and he says the whole thing stinks. He came to Memphis to learn what facts he can, and all his experience and connections are being frustrated so far. Yesterday a court clerk threatened to call security to remove him from her office, and he dared her to do it (she didn’t). But neither would she release any public records to us including the initial police incident report.

I have recommended that we get the FBI involved, and the postal inspectors too (it appears correspondence from the boy may have been intercepted by the jail authorities). Even if the Feds don’t help us, we will have at least created a paper trail to help support a future appeal and civil litigation against official wrongdoers.

When I wrote my April 14th piece about child sacrifice, it was James Prindle that I had in mind. He is being treated like a “throw-away child” by everyone, even his parents. He feels deeply hurt and abandoned. He knows nothing but his cesspool existence of having been raised in an abusive home—a Cordova Creek apartment, actually—that was known as the neighborhood drug house. James’ stepfather Jefferson Sanders, 40, allegedly deals meth, cocaine, and date rape drugs, and regularly beat James, his mother, and his younger brother.

He can’t understand how his mother Monica, 37, would choose to side with his stepfather and not him. He still cannot get his head around why, accompanied by her lawyer, his mother would have visited him in jail two weeks ago to disown him. He still cannot understand how his mother can say she believes he raped his little sister—especially at a time when there were seven other kids in the apartment.

He cannot understand why his biological father Sam, who has money and lives in Maine, will not help him and only says, “You’ve got to learn to stand on your own two feet.” James says he’s trying.

James cannot comprehend that this turn of events in his young life may, in fact, prove to be his deliverance. But that unimaginable possibility is far in the future. He is charged as an adult, indigent, being held in adult jail and receiving no schooling, he has no skilled lawyer who cares about him, and is unable to pay an impossibly high bond.

James has been assigned the worst attorney in the public defender’s office and the facts of the case are being obfuscated and hoarded by the court. Lacking evidence and relying mostly on statements made by a pair of brothers who had been involved in the child sex industry (and maybe the likeliest perpetrators), the full extent of the police investigation seems to have been to come up with a “blame the babysitter” rationale and leave it at that—and the babysitter in this instance is unfortunately James.

James can’t understand how anyone can seriously believe he raped his little sister. “I only like girls my age or older—that’s it.” He says he “would rather blow my brains out than ever think about touching my sister.”

James is popular at school and earns mediocre but passing grades. He has never been in trouble with the law before. He has been labeled socially “slow” and diagnosed / medicated for a rash of mental disorders caused by TV, junk food, and bad parenting: Severe Depression, ADHD, and Borderline Personality Disorder. James ran away from home several times, cut classes, acted out in school, cut himself, and was hospitalized for being suicidal. Nobody helped or cared. “I hated my life,” he said. Who can blame him?

Yet even though he’s facing charges that could land him in prison for more than sixty years, what mostly upsets James about the whole affair is that his brand new X-Box was stolen that night and sold by one of the other kids to buy pot. “I got to play with it less than five minutes before it was gone,” he says. He’d saved for it for months. (He’s a kid and that’s how they sort of think.)

But I’m throwing too much at you all at once. Let’s back up and start at the beginning.

On August 16th 2010, James Prindle was babysitting his little sister and brother while his mother and stepfather were at work. It was past nine when two brothers showed up at the door of his apartment. He had not invited them—they were just there along with a few of their friends.

The brothers had heard about James’ new X-Box and came to see it. Figuring the brothers would break down the door if he kept them out, James let them in. There were suddenly eight of them, plus James’ sleeping brother and sister, in that small apartment.

The brothers were…

(For some reason I don’t quite grasp, I’ve been asked not to use the brothers’ real names—even though their information is plastered all over the Internet. Okay, I’m a sport, so we’ll use pseudonyms: Nemo and Mike.)

…The brothers were 12-year-old Mike and his 14-year-old brother Nemo. Their last names start with “S.”

They had reputations as known neighborhood troublemakers. “I knew them and told them to stay away,” James’ mother Monica said to the press. They’d lived in their apartment for less than two months, and she knew the brothers were trouble. “I’d already heard that one of the boys had been arrested for trouble at a middle school,” she said.

But she couldn’t have imagined how much trouble they would be.

Nemo had already racked up charges for auto theft, assault, vandalism and disorderly conduct. Mike has previous charges for assault and possession. And more to the point of this story, for five years, from the time that Nemo was 5 and Mike was 4, both boys were exploited by a child sex trafficking ring of registered sex offenders. They were taken to private camps and organized fishing trips that their dad actually paid for—so everyone in that family got screwed.

So these are the street- and sex-smart urchins James let into the house and who somehow convinced James it was okay to leave them alone with the X-Box and the baby while James ran down to a nearby convenience store to get something to eat.

By the time James returned there was a commotion inside.  James could hear the baby crying. There was fear in the sound of her shrieks and wailing. Mike came to the door and refused to let James in, so James ran downstairs to a neighbor and asked him to call 911.

When James returned to his apartment door, this time Mike let him in. The baby was still crying and, as James made for the bedroom Mike restrained him. As he looked around he saw some of the guys had left and that his X-Box was gone! Nemo emerged from the bedroom and immediately took charge. Nemo and Mike called 911 and reported a break-in by a masked robber who had stolen the game console and assaulted James’ 23-month-old stepsister.

When the police arrived, James was so bewildered and scared that he just let Nemo do all the talking. “My homey is slow,” Nemo explained and laid out the lie for the cops. Somehow Nemo and Mike got James to play along.

Nemo’s scheme unraveled when the boys were separated and questioned and, in something worthy of a late night comedy sketch, Nemo said the robber was white and James said, “Uh, I’m not sure but I think he was black.”

There was no sign of forced entry, and it appears that someone gave the little girl a bath before police arrived, possibly to get rid of evidence.

There were indications that the girl had been held down while she was raped. She suffered serious head trauma and was released after spending a week in the hospital.

Things were way out of hand while James was away. A kid named Adam later testified that he was alone with the baby and had touched her. He said he was checking her for fever with a rectal thermometer. “Do you have younger siblings?” the judge asked and Adam answered “no.” How then, the judge asked, did he know how to check for fever?

Before the police arrived, James was in the clear but he just didn’t know it.

James should never agreed to go along with Nemo’s and Mike’s lie. (He’s not labeled “slow” for nothing.)

The worst thing is, James is now being made a fall-guy for the crime. He’s being tried as an adult for rape, child abuse, and false reporting. Nemo, on the other hand, is being charged as a juvenile with facilitation of rape and child abuse. Yet due to a lack of evidence, all charges against Mike were dropped. (I don’t know what’s happened to Adam or even who the other guys were in the apartment that night.)

This all happened at an October 21 hearing where the judge sorted out all the evidence as presented and—much to the delight of Nemo’s and Mike’s attorneys—got it all wrong. He compounded his error by remanding James to the adult courts and jail.

There will be a lot more to this story as it unfolds, but this is all I’ll write today. We need to find James competent counsel, and pronto. As things stand right now, this kid cannot stand alone with the whole corrupt system against him.

James’ dad should be ashamed for abandoning his son to the wolves.

Please contact me if you want to help.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Led Zepplin performing “Dazed and Confused”



The longer the Grub Shack is closed, the crankier I’m getting. I can go without my daily dose of chocolate ice cream—I’m no addict. I can even go without the social contact the place affords—I’m an introvert. But what I cannot stand is watching the distress of my friends Jerry and Eva as they must continue to pay the costs of running their ice cooler and other fixed expenses while being prevented by the state from earning any income.

What would it hurt if the state were to allow them to operate while working on making the necessary upgrades to their septic system? Nothing. There would be no environmental damage, no health dangers to customers. The community would benefit and Jerry and Eva would not be squeezed financially as they are now.

“Why don’t you just say ‘screw the state’ and open for business?” I asked Jerry the other day.

“Because of the fines,” he said. “I could be fined a thousand dollars a day. That’s more than we bring in each week.”

So he must sit and wait, patiently if possible, the worry lines deepening in his face. He waits for the volunteer contractor to show up. He waits for direction from the official inspector. And all the while he waits and worries as his money runs out.

It’s enough to turn me into a bomb-throwing anarchist. Shouldn’t government be helping, not hurting, people like Jerry and Eva? They’re salt-of-the-earth, solid-citizen types. They’re The People the politicians are always claiming to serve. BS. They’re The People government is always screwing, and I’m sick of it.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Collective Soul performing “Brings Me Down”


in the saddle again

My computer is fixed and it feels actually snappy and responsive. What a relief! It took two days for it to be repaired. The virus infestation was so bad, the hard drive had to be replaced.

It was the weirdest thing: the technician who did the work had an uncanny resemblance to Paco, whose birthday it is today. Paco, I may have found a lost cousin. He is your height, has your eyes, and certainly did a good job of fixing this machine. And he is loquacious, just like you. Happy Birthday!

I’m relieved to be back online again; there have been so many missed e-mails and work delays, it feels like I’ve been away for a month rather than just four days.

The phone has been ringing off the hook all day long with inquiries from media people about the Jordan Brown case, from Alex and attorneys about his case, from people helping us with Paul Henry’s case, etc. It is almost as if people had been holding off contacting me until now that I’m back at my desk, though I know the busyness of the day is just coincidental.

Anyway, it’s late in the afternoon and things have finally become quiet enough for me to organize what few thoughts I have. Over the weekend and up until now, I am feeling somewhat like a person who has just pushed a log off a hilltop and is watching it roll. My work seems to have taken on a life of its own. It seems that my task is no longer to push but to run and try to keep up.

The latest indication of this is that Alex volunteered he would like to come to Texas for a visit when his case is resolved and he is hopefully free. Alex, the reserved and intensely private young man whose life until now has been driven by people and forces other than himself, wants to come to Estrella Vista for solitude and an opportunity for reflection. Is it possible that this place will become for others a portal to new lives of freedom, self-responsibility, and adventure as I have imagined all along? It will only be so if others see it.

I’d best giddyup and start chasing that log. More tomorrow.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Gene Autry performing “Back In The Saddle Again”



No, my computer hasn’t come back to life. I’ve merely figured out that I can get out a post this morning working in “safe mode.”

I’ll have to keep this short because I can’t really see everything that I’m doing–I hope some typos don’t sneak in working this way.

I was just two movies into a Bruce Willis marathon when the phone rang last night. It was my friend Mary Ellen Johnson, executive director of the Denver-based Pendulum Foundation. She was calling to tell me that we have received a seed development grant to fund the first steps in a “parricide initiative” we have been discussing for more than a year and a half. In other words, I will be able to do the youth justice advocacy work that has taken center stage in my life–but from now on, with financial help.

This represents a tremendous change, a new life for the work. It will probably please my Christian readers to know that we will probably date the success of this work of helping kids and their families rebuild their lives to Easter of 2011. I am sure they (and I) will attach cosmic significance to the timing of this development.

I’ll tell you more about our plans when this computer is repaired and I can do a proper job of sharing the Good News. In the meantime, though, I just want you to know that things are looking up and that the dismal things we see in so many children’s lives will not defeat us.

Happy Easter!



A virus has got into my computer and taken control. Anything I try to do with it is frustrated.

So I am therefore on an enforced holiday for the weekend, until I can take the computer to Alpine on Monday where my friend Mark Hannan, a transplanted Englishman, will help me undo the effects of more than a year of poor computer hygene.

Nothing has worked right since I got another virus last year, but was able to get the machine working again, albeit at a suboptimal level. It will be nice to have it back in tune again.

Have a good weekend!


oh wow

I haven’t been following the metal markets for a while and checked today. Gold is at $1,506.80/oz and silver is at $46.61/oz.

These prices are less a reflection of these commodities’ values than of the worthlessness of Federal Reserve notes. If you can remember when gold was $315/oz and silver was $6/oz, you can see just how far the value of our fiat money has fallen in a relatively short time.

No sermon today. Just a reminder that it’s time to wake up.


Groove of the Day

Listen to the Gatlin Brothers performing “All the Gold in California”


can’t sing

My research sometimes takes me into weird territory and, following up on leads we’ve received about the official weirdness in Kosciusko County, Indiana, I have been backgrounding myself on white power politics. Ninety years ago Indiana was a stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan, and it is possible its residual effects still color politics and justice in this ultra-conservative region of the state.

I stumbled across a performing group called “Prussian Blue,” a young blonde-haired-blue-eyed twin singing duo—Lynx and Lamb Gaede—who achieved international notoriety in the early 2000s by the time they were age 12. Lynx and Lamb Gaede first performed together at age 9 at a white nationalist festival called “Eurofest.” By the time they were 15, it began to emerge that their career as white nationalist pop stars was mainly the creation of their mother April, an activist and writer for the white nationalist organization National Vanguard.

Their images had been splashed all over the media and exploited by people on both sides of the issue of “racist hate” music, and then it began to be shown that the girls had been pushed into the whole thing by their mother. Prussian Blue’s website and Facebook page went inactive by early 2009. Now that they’re thinking more for themselves, the girls do not consider themselves to be racists.

Lynx and Lamb will be nineteen in June. They have whole lives ahead of them, yet they will forever be known as white power hate stars. Thanks Mom.

To me the saddest thing about the whole affair is this… and I’m not saying this to be mean, believe me. I’m sure that Lynx and Lamb are nice girls. But they’ve been sensationalized and used by folks like David Duke on one hand, and by the “Jewish-controlled news media” on the other. And through all the insipid outrage-stoking coverage no one has ever mentioned the obvious: the twins can’t sing any better than your own kid did at her last school Christmas pageant.

If anyone had ever mentioned it, this would make everyone on all sides look ridiculous. (Much ado about nothing.)

But then everyone was saved in 2006 when the obvious was obfuscated by a fortuitous event: Prussian Blue was parodied in the New York musical White Noise, which premiered to critical acclaim and became an object of national media attention. The show played to packed houses, won honors, and was named one of Talkin’ Broadway’s Best Shows of 2006.

It no longer mattered whether Lynx and Lamb could sing. The New York actresses did it very well, thank you. And now that the media could train their cameras on something more slick and suitable, the Lynx and Lamb story was bigger than ever. But their image had been hijacked. The media circus was benefiting everyone but Lynx and Lamb.

This story is particularly interesting to me because I see so many examples in my work of children being offered up as sacrificial lambs to the values and beliefs of their parents, no matter how ignorant, dysfunctional, or evil. We all do it to some degree, whether we’re raising our kids to be good little Methodists or Satanists, Republicrats or Nazis, Naturalists or Naturists, Straights or Kinks, Communists or Capitalists, Creatives or Consumers, Lovers or Haters, Freemen or Slaves.

In most cases—especially in households in which children suffer abuse—I see example after example of children willingly doing what they’re told, even when what they are told to do is tasteless, horrifying, or twisted. In the most extreme settings of abuse, we see something played out that’s called the “Stockholm effect.” 

The Stockholm effect is a psychological shift that paradoxically occurs in captives when they are gravely threatened but then shown acts of kindness by their captors. Captives who exhibit the syndrome tend to sympathize with and think highly of their captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness. When subjected to prolonged captivity, these captives can develop a strong bond with their captors, in some cases including a sexual interest. Even if the “captives” are children and their “captors” are their parents, step-parents, or guardians, the Stockholm effect can be a very real and potent thing.

I am not suggesting that Lynx and Lamb are the victims of such abuse, nor that their performing act and provocative image grew out of anything more than the control and influence of a parent with widely discredited views. Yet their story is a cautionary tale that highlights the lengths to which some people will go, even sacrificing the futures of their kids, to prove the righteousness of their beliefs.

Two years ago a 3-year-old New Jersey boy whose parents had named him “Adolf  Hitler Campbell” was, along with his two sisters, removed from the custody of his parents even though they were not accused at the time of abuse or neglect. Last year the parents, Heath Campbell, 37, and Deborah Campbell, 27, both unemployed and disabled, lost custody of their children when a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division, citing instances of family violence, determined the parents were unfit because both had been abused as children and “neither has received adequate treatment for their serious psychological conditions.”

Until the unlikely day when America adopts the discredited practices of the Nazis to limit who has the right to bear children, our youth justice work will likely be consumed to a great extent by saving children from being unfairly punished for the sins and excesses of their parents.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Laurel Aitken performing “Skinhead”


dirt artists

It would be easy for a casual visitor to see us out here as a bunch of poor people just moving dirt around on the desert. At a certain level they would be right, though the image doesn’t even begin to capture the significance of what’s really happening here.

People come here to experience peace and solitude. To live in nature. To get away from the distractions, insults and abrasions of modern life. To find renewal from the numinous spirit of the land.

A lot of people come to the Big Bend to heal and start anew. It is the land of second chances and fifth marriages. A place where people stubbornly refuse to fold.

Some people come here to change but fail. They keep reopening old wounds and repeating past failures. More people come here to change and succeed. They become survivors, adepts, creatives, artists.

Their ‘art media’ may be words or food or music, old trucks and machinery, new technologies like solar panels and windmills, rock and wood and mud and drywall—anything at all—and yes, in a sense we are all just moving dirt around on the desert.

I often joke about how I live in a mud house with dirt floors, but I must admit in all truth that I am very fortunate to be living in this particular mud house. It is a work of art.

Here is a photo of my fireplace, which was sculpted in adobe by Abe and Josie, the former owners, to look like the roots of a tree. When guests enter the house for the first time, it is not uncommon for them to say that its stonework and rustic walls and beams remind them of a castle or some other ancient structure. The fanciful and fantastic ambience of the place is an inspiration to me in my life and work. I’m privileged to be here and to have the place rubbing off on me. The house is a constant reminder that I can (and must) live here as a kind of “dirt artist,” making the most of the natural materials which are already present on the property.

The strategic principle of making the most of what you already have is applicable to every aspect of life. It is a source of unending fascination to me to see the various ways that people out here are making the most of what they have.

For example, Jerry and Eva have achieved a level of customer loyalty in their business that eludes the leaders of many major corporations. Trevor Reichman has achieved a level of stability and fulfillment in his life and art that eludes many rock stars. John Wells has created a simple, elegant, low-stress existence that must seem an enviable and impossible dream to the sophisticated city dwellers who’ve read about his Field Lab in The New York Times. There are many more such examples, and I’ll write about them in due time.

Yesterday I talked to a guy who said he’s “dirt poor” after paying his taxes, settling his bank charges, filling his truck’s gas tank, and paying off his ex-wife. I heard a radio report that Standard & Poor’s just dropped its outlook on US debt to negative, and that the stock market is sharply off as a result.

Looks like the whole country is going to have to learn to be “dirt artists” from here on out.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Gene McDaniels performing “100 Pounds of Clay”


customer satisfaction

Apparently I am not the only one out here who loves the Grub Shack and its proprietors Jerry and Eva Langevin. I am only one guy in a big, big crowd.

Last week the Shack was shut down by the long arm of the state.

At the completion of their triannual inspection Jerry and Eva learned that the Shack’s former owner made some promises that were not kept and that it must fall on Jerry and Eva to be the promise-keepers for the Shack to remain open. They were told that they must install a septic system for the business, even though the business does not own the land it sits on.

This is a big obstacle for these folks who reckon that, at the end of the day, each clears only fifty cents an hour. In any other place, and for any other business, this requirement would likely have meant curtains. Not so with the Shack.

The day after the inspector shut them down, I was sitting with Jerry and Eva beneath the closed sign as they struggled to get their heads around things and figure out exactly what to do. They were still debating whether or not to close the business when Jerry straightened his back and announced, “We’ve gotta keep it open.”

A few minutes later a once-a-week customer from Midland pulled up and, ignoring the closed sign, came into the Shack to find out what was going on. When the situation was explained, he pressed a couple twenties in Jerry’s hand. “I hope this will help,” he said.

Another customer stopped by and the same thing played out.

And then a third. “I don’t have much cash with me right now,” he said. “Will you please stop by on your way home, and I’ll write you a check?”

Afterwards I told Eva: “This will be better for your business than if it had never happened.”

“Do you really think so?” she asked.

“The Love Shack is too important to people for them to let the state shut you down,” I answered. “These donations are just the beginning. And after people invest in the place, they’ll come here more often. They won’t ever let you shut down.”

“I hope you’re right,” Eva said a little doubtfully.

Eva’s feeling no doubts now.

I just got off the phone with her and she’s told me that over the weekend a contractor had volunteered to dig the hole and install the whole system without charge. Yesterday at church so many people were putting money in Jerry’s shirt pocket that Eva is pretty sure they now have enough money to cover the materials for the septic system. John Wells has put out an appeal on his website ( for people to enroll in the “Friends of the Grub Shack” by making donations and have their names listed on a plaque.

Eva is thinking that maybe there will even be enough money for them to buy a new refrigerator that the inspector said they need to replace (it was cooling one degree too low—big deal!).

The community needs the Shack to remain open and for Jerry and Eva to be there for them. On Saturday while we were away at the wedding, some people were meeting and talking at the closed Grub Shack and a verbal fight happened that would not have taken place had Eva been there. No one would ever consider getting out of line or being mean or rude in her presence. It would be just too unseemly.

We need this little patch of shade and civility and goodwill in our hardscrabble desert homeland. While it is here, no one ever goes hungry. No one is ever unloved.

Even Dirty Mike was always on his best behavior when he was at the Shack.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Mac Davis performing “You’re My Best Friend”



Yesterday I caught a ride with Jerry and Eva to a wedding in Marathon, and for the first time saw direct evidence of the wildfires that swept across the West Texas countryside last week.

It was a dramatic reminder of just how isolated I have allowed myself to have become from the events—big events—in the outer world. All week long the air became steadily hazier, and from time to time I thought I caught a whiff of the smell of smoke. But for the extent to which the fires entered my consciousness, the conflagrations may just as well have been a thousand miles away.

As I learned yesterday, the nearest fire had been only fifty files away—by our standards of distance, just “over yonder.” Some of the scenes we drove through seemed otherworldly, like something out of a dystopian film or novel. Disaster had been licking at the edges of my immediate neighborhood, and I had been blissfully oblivious to the danger.

Until the rains come in a month or two or three, we will continue to sit atop a vast landscape of dry kindling that awaits only a single spark or lightning strike to set it ablaze.

When the rains do come, all the ash on the ground will nourish new life that will be more plentiful than it would have been had the fires not come.

In the meantime, though, the people who lost their homes, ranch buildings, fencing and livestock will have to take consolation that no human lives were lost. Yet an estimated fifty local homes and buildings have been reduced to ash and rubble, and it is too early to know how much loss of life to livestock, wildlife, pets and other animals has occurred.

All of Texas is experiencing drought, and conditions are classified as extreme or exceptional in 60 percent of the state, according to the US Drought Monitor map.

So far this year, the Texas Forest Service and fire departments have responded to 654 fires that have burned more than a thousand square miles of land and destroyed 189 homes. The other day on the radio, some expert said this is the dryest spring since Texas began keeping records back in the 1800s.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Toni Childs performing “Put This Fire Out”