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The Way of the Fight
The Way of the Fight
by Georges St-Pierre
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.23
47 used & new from $4.55

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part biography,Part Self-Help, Part Philosophy, April 23, 2013
This review is from: The Way of the Fight (Hardcover)
In the introduction to his first book, The Way of the Fight, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre proclaims: "My goal here is to write the greatest book ever written."

This is a very ambitious goal for any first-time author. If those words came from another professional fighter--hell, if it came from any other writer, it would be almost laughably overambitious. Coming from St-Pierre, the statement seems like it is something obtainable.

St-Pierre is, after all, a fighter who got to the top of the heap by outworking his opposition, by overcoming obstacles, by setting ambitious goals and then going out and achieving them.

It would have been easy for St-Pierre to sit down and write a book filled with fluff, with nothing but tales of glory of St-Pierre the conquering hero. That angle's been taken by many athletes before him, and it is an angle that works well. If the focus of the writer is to move units, that is the path to take.

I do not get the feeling that St-Pierre's goal was to fleece his fans in that manner. There's much more to this book than a straight-line narrative about how St-Pierre went from birth to UFC champion.

St-Pierre took some heat in the days leading up to UFC 158, when he revealed that he does not man his own twitter account. There is no doubt that some will doubt that he wrote The Way of the Fight on his own. He did not.

St-Pierre readily admits that fact early in the book. St-Pierre had help in writing this book, just like he has help when he trains for his fights and deals with any aspect of his life. St-Pierre says he hires to his weaknesses, hoping to learn from the experts with which he surrounds himself. Those experts include Firas Zahabi, John Danaher and Kristof Midoux.

I mention these three individuals specifically because they are not only a huge part of St-Pierre's life, but also of The Way of the Fight. The book is broken down into five specific sections. Those sections are: "Mother," "Mentor," "Master," "Maven" and "Conscience."

Each of these sections focuses on a specific piece of Georges St-Pierre's story. Interspersed throughout the sections are recollections from the important individuals who shaped that portion of his St-Pierre's life.

"Mother" looks at a young St-Pierre, a "reject" who was bullied, a young man who learns to win through losing. The highlight of this section is when St-Pierre reveals why he is so interested in dinosaurs and then segues to comparing Royce Gracie's early UFC performance to that of a cockroach. It is an odd analogy, but it works.

The second section of the book, "Mentor," focuses on the man who began to shape St-Pierre into a mixed martial artist, Kristof Midoux. The story of how the two met and the progression of their relationship is interesting and definitely not your everyday tale of mentoring, as it takes the phrase "tough love" to another level.

What really becomes clear in this section is just how badly St-Pierre wanted to grow and be the best, and how his journey toward that goal began.

The next step on that journey was working with the man he writes about in the "Maven" section, John Danaher. If you have seen a St-Pierre fight, odds are you have seen Danaher. He is the serious-looking gentlemen who always seems to be clad in a rash guard.

Danaher is also recognized as one of the best minds in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Early in the section, Danaher reflects on how there was nothing remarkable about St-Pierre when he first arrived to train at Renzo Gracie's in New York City.

This may be the most revealing section. Danaher is blunt in his assessment of St-Pierre, proclaiming him to be a "good, but not great athlete" and then going on to detail exactly what it is that does make St-Pierre great.

The fourth section, "Maven" focuses on the man who most people associate with St-Pierre, trainer Firas Zihabi. Zihabi offers a different take on St-Pierre, and it is a comparison I've never heard anyone use: Zihabi compares the man who many feel is the best welterweight to ever fight in the UFC to an ant.

Zihabi writes about ants/St-Pierre, "They thrive in every ecosystem, they can modify almost any habitat and adjust it to their ultimate goal, they can tap into any resources they can find and they can definitely defend themselves." It is strange, but also somehow perfect.

The final section, "Conscience," focuses more on a behind-the-scenes look at the life of St-Pierre and is based around his manager and friend Rodolphe Beaulieu. This section was written between the Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz fights and takes a look at the life that St-Pierre lives as one of the most well-known fighters in the game.

Yes, there are tales from St-Pierre's fights included in The Way of the Fight and there are many pieces of biographical information that give some insight into one of the most media-savvy fighters in the game today, but if you are looking for a straight autobiography or profile piece, this is not that book.

In case you are confused by that: That is a good thing. The Way of the Fight delivers a great deal more than a book written in that manner could. It is part biography, part self-help, part philosophy. It is a book that, read in the right manner, teaches more than it tells.

The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment
The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment
by Chael Sonnen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.20
81 used & new from $4.61

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Deeper Look at Chael P. Sonnen, May 15, 2012
Over the course of the last few years Chael Sonnen has become one of the most divisive figures in mixed martial arts. The outspoken UFC middleweight is beloved by some and reviled by others, to find an MMA fan without an opinion on Sonnen is virtually impossible. With a recently announced rematch against middleweight champion Anderson Silva looming, the timing could not be better for Sonnen to release The Voice of Reason: A VIP Pass To Enlightenment.

When you first open the book it doesn't take long to figure out what kind of ride you will be taken on by Sonnen. The dusk jacket features a brief blurb from the author that simply states, "You're welcome, civilization." If that's not enough of a clue of where things are headed, you'll find that none other than "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of Humanity, COO of the Universe," has penned the foreword. Those two items set the tone for the book, but don't be fooled, just like with the author himself, there is much more happening here than a quick glance can discern.

The book itself is comprised of more than 25 relatively short chapters, with each chapter tackling a subject before quickly moving on to the next topic. In that manner the book it is not unlike an interview with Sonnen himself. If you find yourself uninterested in the subject that he is currently writing/speaking about, just wait a minute or two, he'll change gears and move on to something fresh.

The book is laid out in an entertaining manner. After a brief introduction, the author begins by taking the reader on the journey with him to a UFC fight, detailing everything that goes into getting there and the drama that he has to deal with every step of the way. The book closes with that fight taking place and Sonnen having his hand raised in victory. Between those chapters is where we hear "The Voice of Reason."

During the course of the book there are moments where Sonnen comes off as "aw, shucks" humble, such as when a father and son want to have their picture taken with the fighter. There are many examples of self-deprecating humor, like when he discusses losing focus for a brief moment, writing that if you need an example, "Look no further than my fight with Anderson Silva." There are times when you will be left wondering about the sincerity of what he is writing. And you should wonder during those times because as Sonnen himself writes, discussing characters on television:

"If you begin any thought about these people with `he seems like a really nice and genuine person' than you are his favorite breed of fool. You're the type that still believes in Santa Claus and fad diets. You are our favorite sort of turkey. I mean, their favorite sort of turkey. Because I'm not like them at all. I would never lie to you. Trust me, because I am the real deal, and we are going to be best friends forever."

Sure there are times that Sonnen is playing all of us, but that's part of the beauty of his game, figuring out when those times are taking place.

The topics covered in the book are varied. You get the fight related topics you would expect, but you also get a glimpse at things that shaped Sonnen's life, his family and his early days of wrestling. He also offers his thoughts on, among other things politics, Presidents, terrorists, films, walkout songs and much more.

For those that are already fans of Sonnen this book will be a must read. For those that, shall we say, are less than enamored by Mr. Sonnen, this book will provide a glimpse below the surface, exposing the reader to a man that is much more than the one he presents when he is standing in front of a camera with a microphone in his hand.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 16, 2012 3:05 PM PDT

The Complete Guide to Planning Your Estate in Illinois: A Step-by-step Plan to Protect Your Assets, Limit Your Taxes, and Ensure Your Wishes Are Fulfilled for Illinois Residents
The Complete Guide to Planning Your Estate in Illinois: A Step-by-step Plan to Protect Your Assets, Limit Your Taxes, and Ensure Your Wishes Are Fulfilled for Illinois Residents
by Linda C. Ashar
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.83
15 used & new from $12.44

4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable Information, May 9, 2010
One of the first points that this book makes is that it is a huge mistake to wait to plan your estate. Another piece of advice that is offered here is that you do not, under any circumstances, want to plan your estate or write a will without the help of a series of professionals at your side.
Many people view estate planning as something done by the old, infirm or wealthy. The authors of this book try very hard to dispel this type of close-minded thinking. The logic of the authors is that the younger you are when you start to think about estate planning the better off you will be. If you set the wheels in motion early, you will save time, money and stress later in life. For example, the younger you are when you start planning, the cheaper life insurance, an important piece of estate planning, will be. It's these small pieces of wisdom that the authors work hard to share with the reader.
The Complete Guide To Planning Your Estate In Illinois is presented in a step-by-step manner. The authors take great pains to describe each move one should make in this process, starting with assembling the right team for the job and the role each member of that team will play. Other pieces of the puzzle that is estate planning which are covered: determining your net worth, wills, laws, probate, trusts, insurance, taxes, investing and financial planning, will substitutions and common "what if" situations. The appendices include some easy to use forms as well as a quiz to test your understanding of the topics covered.
The single most important thing to take away from this book is that estate planning is something that needs to be done early and with very little fear. After reading this book and using the tips the authors provide, the reader should be able to leave their planning meetings confident in the knowledge that they will be providing for their families future. A very well written, easy to understand book on a topic that many people tend to fear and dread.

The Complete Guide to Beekeeping for Fun & Profit: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply (Back-To-Basics Farming)
The Complete Guide to Beekeeping for Fun & Profit: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply (Back-To-Basics Farming)
by Cindy Belknap
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.85
44 used & new from $2.62

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know, May 9, 2010
Knowing very little about beekeeping and bees in general I found this book to be a very eye opening read. Cindy Belknap delivers on the title, for this has to be the complete guide that one would need to get started in beekeeping. There is an overwhelming amount of information packed into this book.
The author does a good job in warming the reader to the topic, delivering a number of facts on why bees are very important in our modern world. To find out that bees and the pollination they provide are directly responsible for billions of dollars in agriculture in the United States alone is a bit shocking. The author obviously has a large amount of respect her subject and it shows through in the writing. In this book, the reader will discover everything they ever needed to know about bees and beekeeping.
After learning of the importance of the bee in society, the reader is then treated to a detailed investigation of the honeybee itself. The name of this chapter is "All About Bees" and that is no joke as Belknap delves into the physiology of bees, the social caste of the hive, the work done inside and outside the hive and the mystery of how bees communicate. After reading this chapter you will know definitely know if you want to pursue beekeeping as a hobby or profession, the amount of information will either ignite your desire or overwhelm you.
If you decide to move on, things will get even more complicated. The next chapter covers everything you must do once you decide that beekeeping is for you. Topics covered here include, start up costs, different types of hives, the smoker, feeders and feed, clothing for the beekeeper and finally the bees themselves. Also covered are the important considerations of hive placement and knowing your local laws in respect to beekeeping.
The keeping and working of the hive is reviewed in exhausting detail next. Everything the vigilant beekeeper would need to know is covered here, dealing with stings, harvesting the hive, illness inside the hive, dealing with pests of all shapes, size and temperament.
Organic/Natural beekeeping is also looked at. If the task of beekeeping was not an arduous one before, the amount of work that goes into organic beekeeping is even more daunting. There is a lot of labor and thought involved with organic beekeeping, but there is a huge payoff on a personal and financial level for those that can maintain an organic/natural hive and honey production.
The business of bees and bee products are also looked at. Belknap details how to start your own small business here and what products once can manufacture, sell or be involved with.
In the final chapter, the author delivers a way for the beekeeper to enjoy their labor, a huge number of recipes based around your beekeeping and honey collection.
Lastly, if more information is required, the resources included in the appendices include the dissection of the bee, the lifecycle of the bee, a month-by-month beekeeping calendar, fun facts about bees and an exhaustive glossary of terms relating to beekeeping.
In the end, I would find it hard to believe that there could be a more detailed tome on the subject of beekeeping out there outside of academia. For the novice interested in beekeeping, this book will surely become your bible.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2011 11:16 AM PST

The Complete Power of Attorney Guide for Consumers and Small Businesses: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply
The Complete Power of Attorney Guide for Consumers and Small Businesses: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply
by Linda C. Ashar
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.95
41 used & new from $1.72

4.0 out of 5 stars Good source of information, May 9, 2010
Early on in this book the reader discovers that power of attorney is an ancient concept, dating back to Mesopotamian times. An additional point that becomes abundantly clear is that almost everyone will have at least one occasion in their life where they will find themselves in a position where having an agent to represent them would come in handy.
If you care about your family and their future well-being you should read this book. Linda C Ashar details, in easy to understand language, why making plans for a power of attorney (POA) would serve you and yours well. Detailed studies of many different POA's are included and how they can help you and yours if issues should arise.
Once you have decided that a power of attorney is needed the single most important item is choosing the person that will act as your Attorney-In-Fact or agent. Asher painstakingly covers the legal restrictions on who can and cannot be your agent. Also reviewed are the criteria you should use to choose your agent. Lastly, the responsibilities of the person you chose as your agent are reviewed. For anyone thinking of obtaining a POA this is a very important chapter.
The next few chapters review, in detail, each different type of POA as well as the responsibilities of each party involved. The author also covers the limits of each of theses POA's during the detailed reviews. The important pieces here that almost everyone can use are the review of the Health Care POA and the important documents to consider in addition to the POA. Included in these documents are the Living Will, the DNR order, the Anatomical Gift Form and the myths related to this form.
Ashar, an attorney herself, reviews how to chose a proper attorney, how to work with your attorney on your POA and finally, if needed, how to fire your attorney.
The last chapters cover laws specific to each state and how they relate to a POA and where one can research these laws. Also included is a large appendix that includes helpful sample forms and estate planning worksheets.
Ashar does an admirable job with this book, showing how power of attorney is something everyone should at least consider in order to care for his or her family and finances should the unexpected ever occur and one can easily reach the conclusion that it is easier to plan for a POA than it is to plan for the unexpected.

Hollywood's Hellfire Club: The Misadventures of John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn and the Bundy Drive Boys
Hollywood's Hellfire Club: The Misadventures of John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn and the Bundy Drive Boys
by Gregory W. Mank
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.95
31 used & new from $9.05

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must have Hollywood history, July 26, 2009
The Bundy Drive Boys were a group of hard living, hard drinking friends that could be looked upon as the precursor to the Rat Pack. John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn, John Carradine, Gene Fowler, Anthony Quinn, John Decker and Vincent Price were all part of this close knit group whose singular pursuit seemed to be to get the most out of life and damn the cost.

You could not ask for a more entertaining true-life story. This book takes Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon and ups the ante a few notches. Among the tales that this book covers are anecdotes of alcohol abuse, incest, rape accusations, mutiny at sea, the exhumation of a corpse, and art forgery. The men that this book focuses on rushed through their lives with no regard for the repercussions of their actions and most died fairly young as the result of their lifestyles.

The photographs and artwork alone make this book worth the price. Before reading this book I had never seen the art of John Decker. The paintings of Decker's that are reproduced here are amazing pieces, some humorous, some haunting, but all show a talent that has been sadly ignored by most.

If you long to read tales of Hollywood's sordid past you would be doing yourself a great disservice if you ignored this book, it should be sitting right next to your copy of Hollywood Babylon.

The Turnaround
The Turnaround
by George Pelecanos
Edition: Hardcover
255 used & new from $0.01

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another classic from Pelecanos, July 28, 2008
This review is from: The Turnaround (Hardcover)
The Turnaround is the 15th Washington DC based novel authored by George Pelecanos. Critical acclaim for his novels as well as for his writing on HBO's The Wire has been fairly easy to come by for Mr. Pelecanos. Commercial success, on the other hand has somewhat escaped him. His peers and coworkers on The Wire, Richard Price and Dennis Lehane have both experienced sales that have, to date, eluded Pelecanos. Someone that has read all three authors for any amount of time would tell you that this fact is a damn shame, for Pelecanos writes with just as much power and emotion as Price or Lehane. With The Turnaround, George Pelecanos may finally be poised to break big.

In his early novels, Pelecanos wrote mostly hard-boiled/crime/detective stories and while these books were examples of great genre writing, they were just that, focused on the genre. With each book the writing of Mr. Pelecanos has progressed. As of late, while he has used some type of crime as a jumping off point, his writing has become more focused on people and their place in society. The Turnaround continues in this sociological vein.

The Turnaround begins on a hot summer day in 1972 when three white teenagers drive into a black neighborhood and come across three young men who were born and grew up in the neighborhood. Two of the boys in the car, full of youth, testosterone, booze and weed make decisions that have dire results. Their words and actions leave Billy Cachoris shot dead. Peter Whitten makes a running escape while the third boy, Alex Pappas, is left beaten and scarred due to his indecision. The three local teens also make decisions that they will carry with them for their lifetimes. James Monroe ends up a convicted murderer, Charles Baker beats Pappas and Raymond Monroe is left with psychological baggage that he will carry with him for 35 years.

Fast forward thirty-five years and we find that Pappas has taken over his father's diner business. He is married with a teenage son of his own. He also has a recently dead son, lost to the war in Iraq. James Monroe has served his time plus some and is trying to get his life on track as a small time auto mechanic. Raymond Monroe is a physical therapist working in DC at Walter Reed. Charles Baker has been in and out of prison. He is currently out of prison and looking to improve his life, mostly by illegal means. A chance encounter on the grounds of Walter Reed brings the men back into contact with one another.

Pelecanos develops a strong background for each character. His writing is purposeful and strong yet it lets the reader decide on their view of the character. The writing is never so overbearing that it leads you to a conclusion. That is the true beauty of Pelecanos' writing, he lets the reader develop an opinion, it is never forced upon them. In the Turnaround he sets the stage for the reader to develop their opinions on each of the characters, their life choices, the work being done at Walter Reed, the war, even their musical tastes.

The magic of the writing of George Pelecanos is in his subtle yet powerful descriptions of every day events that we take for granted. Pelecanos writes like a well-trained boxer, every word is used for maximum impact and no energy is ever wasted. His choice of words always seems correct and often his descriptions of mundane every day events hit with a subtle yet powerful force that leaves the reader near tears. Pelecanos also has a rare gift for writing authentic dialogue. He does not use over the top tough guy posturing, instead he develops the characters through dialogue that one could overhear on the street in any city. In other words, his writing has an aspect of believability that is often lacking in the fiction of today.

In the end, the bulk of The Turnaround is about the randomness of life, decisions, choices and repercussions from those choices. Choices get made, and they impact one man differently from another. Some of these choices are made in haste, some are well thought out, but all have a definite end result at some point in time. What Pelecanos shows in The Turnaround is that the result of a decision does not have to have end on the date that it was made. The Turnaround illustrates that sometimes you can still make things right and correct years after a decision has been made.

Mr. Pelecanos has gained some mainstream name recognition with his work on The Wire and there is no reason why he should not join Richard Price and Dennis Lehane on the best-seller list. His writing combines the easy and accurate character development of Price with the eye for attention and detail of Lehane. Of the group of three, my money is on Pelecanos as the strongest and most entertaining storyteller.

Mexican Pulp Art
Mexican Pulp Art
by Maria Cristina Tavera
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.33
58 used & new from $3.48

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulp Culture History, August 5, 2007
This review is from: Mexican Pulp Art (Paperback)
In the 1960's America saw the rise of the erotic pulp paperback. The simple object of the covers of these books was to lure in the potential buyer with the promise of sex. The more lurid the cover was, the better the chance that the book would be purchased. The marketing plan worked to perfection and millions of the books were sold. Close to the same time a similar strain of book was being released in Mexico and the covers were designed in the same manner, to entice purchase. The difference between the marketing in America and the marketing in Mexico was vast. In the States they peddled softcore porn and prurient interests on the cover of their pulps, while Mexico went for the straight up bizarre. Mexican Pulp Art is a celebration of the art that graced the covers of the paperbacks that were released south of the US border.

Maria Cristina Tavera pens the introduction to this collection. Tavera relates how the covers were used to lure the purchaser in and with 30 million pulps being produced monthly the competition was tough. The introduction is brief but revealing, telling of the different types of pulp titles that were produced in Mexico and how they were marketed to the public. She also relates how the books were assembled by the creative teams that put them together as well as how the themes covered in the pulps related to the Mexican way of life. After the introduction we get to the meat of the book and that is the vibrant, full-page reproductions of the cover art.

Mexican pulp covers celebrate sex as much as their American counterparts, but they also throw in violence, sci-fi weirdness, lucha libre, psychedelia, murder, and crime. The covers that are collected in this book are from the 60's and 70's and all covers contained in this book are from a defunct publisher, Editorial Continental. All the artwork reproduced in this book is from the personal collections of two individuals Bobbette Axelrod and Ted Frankel.

The artwork in this book is vivid, colorful and downright weird at some points. As Maria Cristina Tavera states in her introduction, "the fantasy elements reflect Mexican attitudes about life, death, mysticism, and the supernatural." Some of the highlights of the art: A gorilla breaking through a door to assault a man, giant ants attacking men, fighting invisible men, a fire starter, scenes of murder, suicide and mayhem, ghosts, corpses, the supernatural, gun toting children, sexpot women, aliens and much more. As the introduction states, the pulp covers blur the line between the mundane and the fantastic.

I have a soft spot for all things from Mexico. This is probably the result of an active imagination as a child. When I was growing up I told of how, in a past life, I had lived in Mexico. My story was that I was a toothless mute who pumped gas on a dirt airfield somewhere in Mexico. Ever since then I have immersed myself in Mexican culture, this book adds to my collection of Mexican art and also to the knowledge of a culture and history that is usually unfairly ignored in most of the United States. Mexican Pulp Art documents a forgotten art form and belongs on the coffee table or bookshelf of anyone that appreciates fantatstic art.

15 to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom
15 to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom
by Anthony Papa
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.18
48 used & new from $0.01

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Justice Gone Wrong - Fighting the Rockefeller Drug Laws, January 31, 2005
In 1985, Anthony Papa was a 29-year-old small business owner living in the Bronx with his wife and young daughter. Bills were mounting, rent was due and tensions were rising in his marriage when a gambling acquaintance stepped up and offered him a quick $500 to deliver a package. Papa had doubts and misgivings, but he accepted the proposal. The package Papa carried was full of cocaine and he delivered it directly into the hands of undercover cops. To make matters worse, this particular event came with an added twist; namely New York's Rockefeller drug laws, which mandate a 15-year-to-life sentence for the weight of the drugs Anthony had delivered.

15 to Life details how Papa transformed himself while in prison, from a convicted drug courier into an artist and later into an activist. The first 80+ pages cover his dealings with a shady lawyer, codefendants turning on him and his initiation into the jail system. Papa reinforces that what you see in the movies about prison life is not far from reality. Sex, violence, drugs, deals made and deals broken all take place on a regular basis behind the prison walls.

15 to Life takes a turn from prison narrative to survival tale when Papa realizes that he is going to serve a good deal of his sentence. Papa finds his inspiration to not give up when he sees a prisoner painting in his cell and becomes mesmerized by the act. A short while later, emerging from a three-day lockdown Papa has an epiphany as he looks around his cell. He considers the ten paintings he has completed and sees his freedom on the canvas. At this point Papa becomes committed to his art, realizing it is the only way he can survive prison.

While Papa works on his art he starts to realize that his lawyer is not doing much to help him. While in the library studying his case, a prisoner tells him about the law that has sentenced him to 15 years to life. The Rockefeller drug laws state that a judge must impose a minimum sentence of 15 years to life to anyone convicted of selling two ounces or possessing four ounces of a controlled substance. Kingpin or first time bust, everyone receives the same minimum sentence. Papa now had another focus besides his art, his case and more specifically, the law that put him behind bars.

Papa gets a break in September of 1993 when the Whitney Museum contacted Sing Sing about a show they would be putting together. The Whitney was looking for art by a murderer for their show. Papa saw an opportunity and pursued it, telling The Whitney that he was a convicted killer. In his mind the lie would expose his are and hopefully get him closer to freedom.

After the Whitney show Papa received his first press exposure, an in depth piece in the Gannett Suburban Newspaper. An article in Prison Life magazine followed, then a NY Times letter to the editor penned by Papa in regard to the Rockefeller drug laws. Later, an Associated Press story that is printed in six New York newspapers follows. Papa welcomes the press; the prison does not and reassigns him to a harsher area of the prison.

Papa later learns of an opportunity to join a Master's Degree Program from the New York Theological Seminary. While he is enrolled in the Master's Program Papa starts the ball rolling on his plea for clemency from Governor George Pataki. Papa details his attempts at clemency and his joy at finally receiving the news that it had been granted.

After his release Papa tells of his days outside of prison. His major focus is on the group he co-founds, Mothers of the New York Disappeared, named for the mothers and relatives who have had family members disappear behind prison walls. The group is focused on repealing the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The efforts of the group have helped change public opinion on the law, however the public and the government that represents them are not on the same page and the laws remain unchanged.

The story of Anthony Papa is a great read and at points a heartbreaking story. Papa is a man that did not give up when he could have easily done so. Papa capitalized on every chance he had while in prison and his story is one of triumph. His story is also one that should make the reader think about the prisoners that do give up, that are not given any chances. 15 to Life should make you think about the prisoners that are left to rot behind bars due to unfair and restrictive sentencing guidelines. Papa's story helps the reader to realize that the Rockefeller Laws are not putting away the big dealers like they intended and need to be reevaluated and ultimately scrapped.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2012 4:15 PM PST

Scene of the Crime: Photographs from the LAPD Archive
Scene of the Crime: Photographs from the LAPD Archive
by Tim Wride
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from $63.35

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection, January 15, 2005
I am sure everyone is aware that Scene of the Crime is not the first collection of police archive photos to be released. The past few years have seen the release of many collections of such photos; the most well known being New York Noir, Evidence and Death Scenes. New York Noir and Death Scenes have a common thread in their use of well-known writers in their introductions. Luc Sante the noted New York historian collected the photographs for Evidence and penned the introduction for New York Noir. Katherine Dunne, the author of Geek Love is responsible for the intro to Death Scenes. Scene of the Crime follows that tradition; drafting the modern master of Los Angeles noir, James Ellroy, to pen the introduction to this collection of archival Los Angeles crime photos. Much as Luc Sante was the ideal choice for New York Noir, Ellroy is perfect for this collection of photographs from the city that has been his muse.

Some may be inclined to compare collected archival crime scene and police photos to the work of Weegee, but to do so would be a mistake. In his time Weegee photographed to satisfy tabloid papers and their readers. Don't get me wrong, I love the photographs he took, but the police photographer is not in it for the same thing. The crime scene photographer is there for documentation. It's his job, no different than taking portrait shots of unruly and unkempt children in a corner alcove at the local mall. However, there is art to be found in crime scene photos, it is not just point and shoot. The angles, the shadows, the composition of the photos, why some have the faces of the victims shown and why some do not, these are all aspects of the art behind the documentation of the crime scene.

After the introductions and essays the photograph collection is shown with no documentation other than the notes of the photographer written on the image. This technique forces the viewer to look at the photos and imagine the stories behind them. How and why did all the subjects living and dead end up facing the lens of the Los Angeles Police Photographer? The two suited men shot over dinner. The man shot dead in an open doorway. An empty room with an open door. Bloodstains on the floor. Cheesecake photos pushpinned to a panel wall. Cigarrette cartons and bottles strewn across a wood floor. Heads resting in puddles of blood. Knife and razor cuts. Bodies laying in doorways, on steps, in cars, on streets, face down, on their backs, partially dressed, fully suited, naked and cut into pieces. Bodies lying in tubs, lying in shallow graves, shot, beaten. Dead and beaten women who would be beautiful if it were not for the blood that has run from their mouths, noses, and ears. Sharp dressed men, with their suits covered in their own blood. Ah, the good old days...

After the collection an index tells as much of the story behind each picture as possible. It is interesting to look at the index and see how close your imagination was to the reality. How close were you to deciphering the scenes? Did you nail the stories behind the SLA note, the suicides, the lovelorn, the rejected, the beaten, the famous, the unknown, the riots, the drunks, the mobsters, the stars, the starlets, the starry eyed, or the Manson family?

At first I did not appreciate the layout of the book, photos with no captions. Without the background you are forced to study the scene more intently than you would if all the details were given to you. What happened? What time did the crime take place? Why did the crime take place? Who would commit such a crime? Who's body are you looking at? In effect, you become a detective, arriving at the scene of a crime, knowing absolutely nothing other than what you are staring at. In the end, this is a perfect layout for a collection of crime scene photographs. A book that becomes more revealing and more interesting every time it is opened.

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