Monday, January 28, 2013

John Walsh 101--Agitprop for an Antihero.

It is always a good day when you meet up with a hero. No--certainly not John Walsh, but rather the man who reviewed Walsh's book, Tears of Rage in New York Book Time in 2008, S. Michael Wilson. Wilson's review is note-perfect, and while I haven't read Walsh's masturbatory masterpiece yet, I do plan on buying a used hardcover at Amazon for a penny--it being of that category which the market prices as such, plus a fair $3.95 charge for postage and handling.

Wilson writes: "Again, I’m not painting Walsh as a demon," but I certainly am! He's the kind of demon who'd serve his cut-up six-year-old in a lasagna, and then complain about too much garlic, or finding a toenail in the sauce.

ABC's Nightline on Dec 16, 2008, Adam Walsh Case Closed, shows video from the Walshes' press conference "announcing" the solving of the couple's 27-year-old ordeal---or as the Associated Press put it, the "solving." A newly installed Hollywood, Florida chief of police, Chad Wagner, had utilized his first year on the job in a review of the case file and it suddenly occurred to everyone at once that this murder-slash-decapitation (with one news source stating the six-year-old boy had been raped, but hard to prove without holding the O-ring evidence) had, in fact, been solved. Given a shared wavelength, Wagner and Walsh must have been credentialed at the same coven of macho Warlocks, although Chad's first name is short for Chadwick, and not Chappaquiddick as I first thought.

Twenty-seven years TO THE DAY after his beloved son was lost to him forever in a senseless act of non-profit homosexual homicide, a weepy and histrionic John Walsh evoked Le Duse when he said:
For twenty-seven years we've been asking, 'who could take a six-year-old boy and murder and decapitate him? Who?' We needed to know. We needed to know. And, ah, today we know.
Ah! Well if you asked the right wiki.question, like: How much does John Walsh make in a year? You'd get an arguably accurate wiki.answer: John Walsh made $135 million from Fox in 2008, and since common profit motive speaks rather nicely to such a proposition, I must beg to infer: would his animal magnetism promise such plunder be it either television celebrity, or mid-level hotel-motel management?

The AP article, Walsh murder finally "solved", describes the toothless, brain-damaged culprit who was tagged with the crime as being "a self-described transvestite," although, I must say--having been in that life for years, it's something usually sprung on you, rather then giving anyone a chance to steel themselves by "advanced notice." Apparently, since according to the AP, Ottis Toole "also claimed to be a cannibal," that too may only be braggadocio, with our drumsticks and breast meat remaining safe and moist.

Ottis Toole died in prison more than a decade over twelve years ago.

The competing books are also of interest. There's "Between Good and Evil," by Roger L. Depue, which like Walsh's book, gives a "with" credit to Susan Schindehette, of People Magazine's feature department. The subtitle "A Master Profiler's Hunt for Society's Most Violent Predators," may have more to do with an Israeli doctrine of preemptive retaliation, than voir dires, or airport screening, but surely it incorporates advancements in semi-processor speed, if not existential angst.

I think S. Michael is winking at me from his Amazon page right now! Stop it S.!

Anyway, at the beginning of Chapter I of Depue's book he says:
For ten years beginning in 1979, I was chief of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, at a time when its pioneering work in the field of criminal profiling first came to prominence, thanks in part to author Thomas Harris, who picked the brains of our profilers in conjuring up the character of Dr. Hannibal Lector for his novel The Silence of the Lambs.
Leaving aside for a moment an unfortunate lack of consciousness that allowed for Depue to write "picked the brains of our profilers" within such a context, (I hope they used asparagus forks!) what do you think "came to prominence" means? Since 1979 was the year of Etan Patz's disappearance from SoHo in New York City, in a similar circumstance of maternal obliviousness and publicity firestorm as found in the Walsh case---herein, the six-year-old Etan disappeared while walking by himself alone to a school bus stop several blocks away from the loft building where the Patz's lived, and since Etan Patz was the actual inaugural photograph of a missing child found printed on a milk carton, beating out the primacy hubris of "Adam," do you think that "came to prominence" might really mean something like "deception and fabrication through blending the lines between reality and artifice?" Is there a dairy council where I can get the statistics for children recovered? What about the lactose intolerant? Is the government liable to supply Beano on demand?

This reminds me---the interchange between Disney and Dreamworks, with the NSA and the CIA, is said to be so great that they even shared decorators, who when redoing conference rooms on both coasts installed the same manufacturer's table and chairs---except at NSA headquarters, they left the appliqued Mickey Mouse ears off the chair wingbacks. If this is true I owe a fact credit to Jane Meyer, but if apocryphal, my overwrought imagination can be blamed.

I'll give way now to a linear reading of S. Michael Wilson's New York Times' book review of Tears of Rage: Overacting 101, by the master of the genre, John Walsh, but I'll surely come back for more input below. I've hit pay dirt emotionally on this subject, activated by S. Michael's humorous and sane influence---and all I had to really do was risk being in exceedingly poor taste if found wrong in my analysis. But baby, all the patterns, and crutches, and cliches from my 9/11 and War on Terrorism study are abundantly on display. Truth resonates. Can synthesis be far away?


January 21, 2008, New York Book Time, Book Review: Tears of Rage by John Walsh, Reviewed by S. Michael Wilson,

Don't ask me why, but John Walsh has always rubbed me the wrong way. That's the main reason I read this book, because if I'm going to have an opinion on somebody, I'd rather it be an informed one. And that's really the only difference this book has had on my opinion: it has informed it.

John Walsh isn't a bad guy, and it is undeniable that both his political movements and his television shows have helped people and changed awareness and legal procedures for the better. But despite all he has done, it’s hard to actually like him.

The first fifty pages or so of the book deal with his personal background and personal history spanning from his childhood through the early years of Adam’s, and it is this completely self-indulgent section that really displays Walsh’s personality. By his own account, he is street-smart, a tough and skilled fighter, a great athlete as well as extremely bright, has never known fear or a lack of confidence, has saved lives without even thinking twice about it, and has never failed in any endeavor that he has pursued. Basically, he’s perfect. But what bleeds through this is the reality that he suffers from an oversized ego that motivates his self-centered world view. This self-centered (bordering on selfish) attitude is apparent in stories related by him in such away that you must assume that he doesn't see it himself. When Adam is born, for example, he is told by the hospital where his sick father is that he can not bring the child into the cancer ward, at the risk of infecting the floor full of patients with little or no immunity left. Knowing only that he wants his father to his grandson before he dies (which he would have anyway, as later they all go to Disneyworld together), he sneaks the newborn into the hospital via fire escape, regardless of the risk he puts the others in the cancer ward. Also, it is impossible that anything done by him or his wife could be wrong or ill-informed. When mentioning Adam’s natural birth without the aid of Lamaze, he makes a point of saying “I don’t even think there were those classes back then.” Being 1974, Lamaze was already a string movement, especially on the east coast where they were. Later, for their second child, he states that she started Lamaze classes then, but only in her eight month, when the fifth or sixth is when you usually begin. Nothing out of the ordinary there, right?

This self-centered egotism extends immediately to his son, whom he declares was the perfect one in the hospital. “All the other little babies, some were splotchy, others a little misshapen. Adam was the perfect little baby everyone was looking at.” Granted, every parent feels that his or her child is special, but by John Walsh’s factual depiction, it is quite possible the Adam, had he lived, would have been revealed as the Second Coming. Apparently, Adam did not share a single negative trait with the other dirty, filthy, and ill-mannered children that wander the planet. And everybody loved him and wished he were theirs, and all of their adult friends felt more comfortable talking to him than to other adults, because he was that well-mannered and mature and responsible and perfect. Blech. Some of his praise towards Adam also reveals a sort of class elitism, as he takes great pride that “Adam had sharp clothes. On the playground all of the other kids looked kind of scruffy compared to him.” It seemed important to Walsh that his son wore “not sneakers, but Top-Siders. And small Izod shirts instead of regular tee’s.” And let’s not forget about the Captain’s Hat, “…an expensive one with a black braid and a visor.” In the course of Reve Walsh’s description of the day that Adam disappeared, she makes mention of the hat at least three times, pointing out at each instance that it was “a nice one, not a cheap knock off version” like the other children wear. She even goes as far as to complain that this detail (among others) should have been used when the store attempted paging Adam.

The actual disappearance of Adam at Sears is, of course, the reason for anything, and it is also the main reason that I lose respect for John Walsh, as the one the fact that he and Reve refuse to admit, to themselves or anybody else, is that they (or, more directly, she) are just as much at fault as anybody else. The simple fact is that Adam’s mother leaves him alone in the store for a period of time that, while she is unclear about (“I was gone a few minutes. Five. Maybe ten altogether.”), can logically be clocked at a good ten or fifteen minutes by examining the list of things that she claims happened while he was from view. Also, during this time, she points out that she had made sure that he was close enough that she “could have” peeked around the corner at any time to check on him, which of course means that she didn't. Then, when she suddenly can’t find the child she had left alone in the store, she becomes frustrated and angry when her situation isn't immediately made top priority. This may seem a bit harsh on my behalf, but anybody who works in retail can tell you that negligent parents let their children run around stores all the time, then automatically assume that it is the store’s responsibility to play babysitter and round up their strays. And this is the same attitude that Reve, understandably yet at the same time predictably and unfairly, assumes almost immediately when her initial concerns are not met with the utmost urgency. John is quick to say that this is because his wife “She had on shorts, she was a woman, and she looked nineteen years old”, but the truth is because she was acting like your typical negligent parent. They goes out of his way to imply that the store and the police were slow and unwilling to help, yet neither of them knows who called finally called the police (which would mean that the store did, and means that they certainly didn't), and neither do they know who first informed the media during the first few hours of the search (which would mean that the police did, and again, that they didn’t). Does this make them bad parents? No, but their refusal to admit that others did take immediate steps to help them that they did not take themselves makes them stubbornly reluctant to share in blame. When they eventually dropped the lawsuit they brought against Sears, they claimed that they did so because the Sears lawyers were going to drag their names through the mud, and so they dropped the suit to protect their family as well as Adam’s Foundation. The truth hits a bit closer to home, that Sears was no more responsible than the mother who left the child unattended for up to a quarter of an hour.

Another distasteful trait of John Walsh's is his tendency to use his dead son to win arguments. It is very evident throughout the book that Walsh has a short temper and a lack of emotional control, and in fact seems almost boastful of it. And while I like a “man of action who doesn't play nice” as much as the next person, I tend not to trust people who describe themselves as such. And while Walsh rightfully argues against the bureaucracies and politics that repeatedly impede him, his arguments always seem to be punctuated with phrases indicating that not he, but his innocent, brutally murdered son, demands that justice be served. Being the savvy advertising executive that he never tires of describing himself as, Walsh seemed to learn early on that while you can argue with a hot-headed activist, you can't argue with a dead child.

Again, I’m not painting Walsh as a demon, as he has done much good. And I am also not implying that he is completely bull-headed. He is the first to admit that he wouldn't have gotten a fraction of the media coverage he did if Adam were a lower-class minority child, and I agree with him completely for his criticisms of the psychics and religious fanatics that attempted to use the situation for their own advantage, as well as when he defends his wife against claims by the media the Reve didn't act the way a grieving mother should act, as if there is a right and wrong way for individuals to handle emotions that very few of us ever (thankfully) have to contend with. And while he at times seems to bend over backwards to both slam the cops and FBI for their bungling his son's murder investigation while at the same time praising both agencies for the good they do, it never appears phony or heavy handed. And, unlike Jon Benet’s parents, both John and Reve were quick to cooperate when the investigators turned their attention to them, knowing that the quickest way was to eliminate themselves as suspects. You see? I'm not out to get the guy. But when he talks about teaching his six year old son how to use a diving knife (yeah, that's safe), and when he recalls the humorous story of when he left his six month pregnant wife alone in shark infested waters, I can't help but feel a little contempt for him.

Oh yeah, a pretty good book, tends to cover all of the bases. Just beware that it isn't an objective view of the Adam Walsh case, but rather one man's crusade to tell his own story the way he sees it.

Reviewed by S. Michael Wilson

Posted by NY BOOK TIME at 4:29 AM

Well, I'm back, with the words "God bless the New York Times" on my lips. This comes from finding what is so far the earliest news coverage available online, at their archive---still over two years removed from the event itself, but still, providing many fun facts that will discontinue and entangle with what unfolds later.
This article is two years and three months into the new endless "fear of toothless homosexual cannibals stealing toddlers into made-for-TV movies," the precursor to endless War on Terror later. The first telecast, "Adam" aired 13 evenings previously, with a second version to follow in two years. Changes to federal law are already passed and signed, although not with quite the alacrity of the Patriot Act, but close.
An important fact here is a timestamp placed on our scapegoat, who is being brought to the attention of authorities to only enter the narrative now, 27 months after the kidnapping.
After a truly truly horrific childhood, which includes induction into Satanism at his grandmother's altar, Toole winds up in the state pen in Jacksonville in 1983, having killed a man in an arson, so any citations to him as a "convicted serial killer," or "convicted pederast" seem to be made up.

October 23, 1983, New York Times, Inmate Reportedly Admits Killing That Spurred a Law, by Reginald Stuart,

HOLLYWOOD, Fla., Oct. 22— An inmate has confessed abducting and killing 6-year-old Adam Walsh in 1981, according to the police here. His parents' efforts to help other families with missing children led to enactment of a Federal law and a television movie about their ordeal.

The inmate, Otis Elwood Toole, 36, voluntarily confessed in Jacksonville earlier this week, the police said today, after his name had arisen in connection with Henry Lee Lucas, who was convicted of murder in Texas and claims to have killed as many as 200 women.

Both men said only Mr. Toole was involved in the case here, according to the police. Mr. Lucas was imprisoned at the time.

"He's the man," said Police Chief Samuel D. Martin, when asked how confident his investigators were about Mr. Toole's confession.

"I have gone over this so many times and tried so many angles to make sure we've got the right man," Mr. Martin said in an interview here today.

Not a Solid Case

Mr. Martin conceded that the department had "a lot more work to do on the case" before it was solid. Confessions often follow publicity about a murder case, legal experts say. But Mr. Toole was in Florida State Prison at Raiford, serving a 20-year sentence for arson, when a motion picture about the case, "Adam," was on television Oct. 10, so he did not watch the program.

According to Mr. Martin, Mr. Toole "knows too many things" to be the wrong suspect. He will probably be formally charged with the child's murder next week, Mr. Martin said.

Mr. Toole's purported confession was announced late last night by Mr. Martin and Assistant Chief Leroy Hessler in this South Florida community of about 125,000 people adjacent to Fort Lauderdale.

"I cannot comment on this individual, but am relieved that he is off the streets," John Walsh, the slain child's father, said at a news conference this afternoon. "My heart will be broken for the rest of my life. I will always miss him." Reve Walsh, the boy's mother, did not attend the news conference.

Fear Gripped Parents

Mayor David Keating said: "Everybody down here is very happy about it. I just hope this is the real thing, that this is the fellow that really did it."

Linda Blank, a mother of two children who lives in the same neighborhood as the Walsh family, said she cried when she heard the news of the confession.

"What do you feel," said Mrs. Blank. "I just cried. You're mad. How can this happen? I just hope he gets justice."

She said Adam's abduction and murder prompted many parents here to protect their children more than in the past. Neither of her two children are allowed to play alone in the playground of the school across from their home. "It's a shame," she said. Cynthia Wood was shopping with her 8-year-old son today in the shopping mall where Adam was abducted in July 1981. "I'm glad it's solved," she said. "We were in the bookstore at exactly the same time Adam was taken, so it really hit home to me as a mother."

Walshes Pushed for Law

The Walsh family's pursuit of help from law-enforcement agencies for themselves and other families in similar situations was instrumental in enactment of the Missing Children Act, which requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation to keep more detailed records on missing children and makes it easier for parents to search for their children.

According to police accounts, Adam and his mother went shopping at the Hollywood Mall on July 27, 1981. Mrs. Walsh allowed her son to remain in a video-games display area of the Sears store there while she went to look at some lamps. When she returned, he was gone.

A store guard had reportedly ushered some older youths out of the display area and out of the store. Adam apparently left about the same time, perhaps wandering out on his own or perhaps being put out by the guard in the mistaken belief he was with the older youths. The Walshes later sued Sears.

Before the lawsuit was filed, Sears officials had helped the family in its efforts to find Adam and allowed producers of the movie to use a Sears store for a re-enactment.

Volunteer searches by hundreds of people turned up no leads, and police efforts were as fruitless. Less than a month later, Adam's severed head was found. Since then, the police unsuccessfully pored over thousands of leads.

Meeting on Confessions

Then, early this month, the Hollywood police hit on a lead that took them to Jacksonville and eventually to Mr. Toole. They read that law-enforcement officials from several states had met in Monroe, La., to discuss the purported confessions of Mr. Lucas. In discussing some of the slayings, he reportedly said Mr. Toole had been involved.

Chief Martin said his detectives became interested when Mr. Lucas discussed crimes committed in Florida. They asked a police detective in Jacksonville investigating a series of unsolved murders there to ask Mr. Toole about the Walsh murder. The detective called them back early this week and advised them to come to Jacksonville, where Mr. Toole reportedly confessed.

Mr. Martin said the two men began informing on one another. "Toole got upset with Lucas, who was involving him in murders he didn't think he should have talked about," he said. "So he got upset and decided he would implicate Lucas in some."

Assistant Chief Hessler said Mr. Toole cried a little when questioned about the Walsh killing. "Of all he talked about, this was the only homicide that really bothered him," Mr. Hessler said.

photo of John Walsh; photo of Adam Walsh; photo of Otis Elwood Toole


December 28, 1997, New York Times, A Murdered Child And a Media Assault, by Johanna Berkman,

YOU'VE seen it on the covers of books by Donald J. Trump and other celebrities, the well-known name paired with another that is not.

"Tears of Rage," written by the host of "America's Most Wanted," John Walsh, with Susan Schindehette, a senior writer for People who worked on the book at her home in Southold, follows the convention.

Their subject, however, is anything but standard. Viewers of "America's Most Wanted," on Fox-TV, know that Mr. Walsh is a close friend of law enforcement. It comes as a surprise that much of the rage in the book is directed at police officers in Hollywood, Fla., who for 15 years unsuccessfully investigated the kidnapping and slaying of Mr. Walsh's 6-year-old son Adam.

In an interview Mr. Walsh characterized the officers as lazy and incompetent. "They were bumbling and stumbling along," Mr. Walsh said. "They were afraid to ask for help."

The boy's head was found in 1981 in a drainage canal near Vero Beach, 120 miles from his home in Hollywood, and the officials did not recover the rest of his body.

In ''Tears of Rage,'' which was on the list of Best Sellers in The New York Times for two weeks in October, Mr. Walsh and Ms. Schindehette explored the police department's decisions and suggested what might have been done. They described Mr. Walsh's struggle to regain happiness in his personal life and his success in carving a prominent niche as a crime fighter and an advocate of children's and victims' rights.

"We're past trying to hold on to one sad tragedy," Mr. Walsh wrote. "Let's not stay stuck on this little gap-toothed face wearing a baseball cap. It's not just about our son anymore. It's about a lot of people's kids."

What prompted Mr. Walsh to write the memoir, he said, was not simply his sense that his account could benefit others, but also his anger over the release of his son's case file.

In February 1996, the confidential case file was opened to the public as a result of a lawsuit filed by The Mobile Press Register and several Florida newspapers. "Newspapers were looking to get into the case -- not to solve it," Mr. Walsh said, "but because I was well known on television, and they were looking to dig up stuff. They used the haughty guise of First Amendment rights."

The file shows that Ottis Elwood Toole, a sociopathic criminal, was a prime suspect. Mr. Toole had confessed to the crime several times while in prison, but also recanted.(He has since died.)

The authors argue that after Mr. Toole's first confession, in 1983, the police were reluctant to pursue the case against him. "It never seemed to occur to the cops that the most maddening part about Toole's confessions -- his inconsistencies and fuzzy recall -- might actually have a reasonable explanation. Any normal person would certainly remember having committed a homicide. But to Toole, as he himself once said, murder was no more memorable than 'smoking a cigarette.'"

The police, Mr. Walsh wrote, gravely misstepped when they played tough with the suspect. "As everyone knew, hardball didn't work with Toole; you had to coax him." While Mr. Toole was arrested for the boy's murder, he was never indicted.

For Ms. Schindehette, as for Mr. Walsh, the book is a first. Before signing on as co-author of "Tears of Rage," Ms. Schindehette had unsuccessfully tried to expand an article that she had written for People into a book. She had wanted to co-author an autobiography of a daughter of a lady-in-waiting to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, wife of Czar Nicholas II.

In a short while, a friend who was an editor at Pocket Books called to ask whether she would like to be Mr. Walsh's co-author. After meeting for dinner with a group that included Mr. Walsh's wife, Reve; the editor, and a group of producers and agents, Ms. Schindehette and Mr. Walsh decided to work together.

The pairing might appear bizarre. Mr. Walsh spent a good deal of the book berating reporters who portrayed Mrs. Walsh, who was young, attractive and dressed in a leotard and gym shorts on the day their son disappeared, as an irresponsible parent. Mrs. Walsh had gone to Sears to buy a lamp and had left Adam alone in the toy department for a few minutes.

Mrs. Walsh is quoted in "Tears of Rage" as regretting her choice of attire. "I should have been wearing something conservative, a nice dress. Something more appropriate for the day when you go to the mall and all of a sudden your little boy isn't there anymore."

Mr. Walsh also complained that the press portrayed him, a marketing executive with clients in the Bahamas hotel industry, as someone ''with connections to the mob.''

He also contended that reporters focused on an affair that Mrs. Walsh was having with a family friend who lived in their house. (The Walshes remained married and now have three children.)

Asked how her magazine handled such information, Ms. Schindehette said, ''Frankly I think People magazine has always tended to handle these stories with a sense of responsibility.''

Mr. Walsh, she added, had been featured in People several times, most recently in a cover article on the parents of slain children.

As soon as Ms. Schindehette heard about the project, she recounted, she sent Mr. Walsh a letter explaining why she was particularly interested in co-authoring his story: she had once been the victim of a violent crime.

Ms. Schindehette, who has been a consultant to the media and ethics advisory committee of the National Organization for Victim Assistance, said her experience, although not of the magnitude of Mr. Walsh's, had heightened her sensitivity, adding:

''I think that the whole point of this book that I wrote with John, the subtext was to show people, to show other journalists, that at least in some cases the story of the victim is a whole lot more compelling, a whole lot more emotionally gripping than the story of who the perpetrators are.''

Mr. Walsh, she said, has a warm personality. "I see him on television and I see that tough bandy Irish rooster persona, and it makes me laugh because he's so much warmer, so much funnier, so much softer a human being than you would ever know," she said. "I didn't think it was my job to be distanced and have perspective. I thought that my job was to get as far inside John Walsh's head that I could literally write what I knew he was thinking."

Photos: Susan Schindehette of Southold, co-writer with John Walsh, host of television's "America's Most Wanted" series, of a book about the aftermath of the murder of Mr. Walsh's 6-year-old son Adam 15 years ago in Florida. No one was charged in the case. Mr. Walsh is especially critical of the media's treatment of the case and his family. (Tapp Francke for The New York Times)

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