Friday, October 01, 2004


It's the two year anniversary of the DC Sniper Attacks. It was a time we won't soon forget. A time of fear. A time of uncertainty. A time when crossing the street to get to the CVS was something your wife told you not to do, but you needed a Cherry Coke, dammit! When the sniper had finally been caught, the good people at our parent organization filed this story:

TheDiner's Sniper Retrospective
Our memories of 2002?
Big election.
MJ on the floor.
Pats win the Super Bowl.
Getting clipped at 500 feet. Oh yeah. That doesn't happen every year.

It's the end of an era. The sniper era. Good times, folks. Times we won't soon forget. With all the ducking and weaving and dodging and running, it was a time that made you feel alive. Your senses keener. The world was exciting and full of possibilities, not the least of which was the possibility that hot, screaming death was on its way to your skull from across the Applebee's parking lot.

We here at TheDiner--still publishing more frequently than those jive-asses at Modern Humorist and still bandying about the not fully fleshed out promise that we will soon-real soon-return fully to the flower and glory of our illustrious past-were faced with an important question: how soon before we could start making jokes about the sniper?

If there's anything we learned from 9-11, it was that that we need to end our codependency with corrupt oil-producing nations by seeking out alternative energy sources, that we need to develop a cogent foreign policy that does not consistently embitter the rest of the world to the point of open hostility, that the current "administration" wouldn't know common sense from their own asshole and that "9-11" would be forever available to writers in search of a quickie connection to seeming relevance.

Actually, what it taught us is that from time to time, people get sensitive about the subject matter of jokes. And while our very own webmaster once quipped that the Yankees, during the World Series against Arizona "collapsed like the Twin Towers" to the thunderous laughter and approval of the Diner staff, it remains very possible that we will not see the first wave of classic September 11 humor for at least another couple of months.

We chose to be sensitive about it. We tested out some material on a select audience and got a range of responses. Positive things were said, such as, "Wow! You have your finger on the zeitgeist! Also my cock!" and "Ohh. It's funny because it's true!" We did elicit some negative responses. Many people remarked, "It's just not right, joking about tragic events." Others said, "Jesus! How can you say that! My wife has just been shot!" Still others remarked: "Hey, what the hell are you doing? This is a crime scene!"

Nevertheless, TheDiner is uniquely positioned to give the definitive Sniper Retrospective. Mainly, because we managed to stay out of the way of his bullets, a group that grew a little more exclusive during what we here at TheDiner call...THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF SNIPPITY-SNIPE!

[Cue theme song]
(in the tune of the Spiderman theme song)
Sniper-man! Sniper-man!
Busting caps from a not-white van!
There he goes! Watch him pass!
He'll cap your ass while you're getting gas!
Look out! Here comes the sniper man!

Sniper man's master plan?
Cash and carry on his credit plan!
Ransom notes! Bible quotes!
A freaky kid upon whom he dotes!
Hoo-Ahh! Look, it's the sniper man!

Profiles in Snipey-tude.
We at TheDiner aren't forensic psychologists, but no one else seemed to rise to the occasion during the entire sniper affair either. At times during the investigation, all kinds of bizarre theories were bandied about. Perhaps the most ludicrous one was that he was a terrorist-Al Qaeda gone local. Lord, how foolish. Even more foolish is that even to this day, the sniping gentleman is being referred to incorrectly as a "serial killer", and given our heightened state of melodrama, that's a term that's likely to stick and persist in the same incorrect and ignorant way the belief that a millennium somehow began on January 1, 2000 shall stick and persist despite all reason. The truth of the matter is that Mr. Mohammed was a "spree killer", pure and simple, with motivations and scope so incredibly mundane that it makes everything but his chosen method of delivery look garden-variety upon any smidgen of scrutiny.

TheDiner, during the three-weeks of sniping, had our own nom de guerre for the sniper, and it's one that we'll persist with even now, it being no more or less accurate than anything the so-called experts came up with: The Bon Jovi Killer.

In our opinion, Mohammed clearly used the October 8 release date of Bon Jovi's latest record "Bounce" as a precipitating event. Muhammed was clearly "halfway there" and "living on a prayer." For "love" he gave it a "shot". Repeatedly. It wasn't going to "make a difference if [he] made it or not." He was a "social disease"-one you could "read about in the papers, in some places it [came] in thirty-two flavors." As many innocent people discovered, "you could call 911, but you can't stop the fun." Muhammed was "wanted-dead or alive." Sometimes "he slept", but sometimes "not for days". He "played for keeps" knowing he "might not make it back." He had "a loaded gun." And there was "nowhere to run." It was his life, it's now or never. Nothing was going to last forever.

Shit, dude. I'm just going to cite this entire entry as evidence:

In the end, he saw about thirteen faces through has scope. And he rocked them all.

Finally, when he was arrested, where did his license plate indicate it was from? Jersey. Rest my case.

His Beef?
Well, it had something to do with people making home improvements. And buying gas. And, um, making...crafts and shit. Plus he had an ex-wife and some kids. Now personally, I never enjoyed going to craft stores like Michaels. I can understand his fury. And the service at that Ponderosa down outside Richmond is notoriously shitty.

Also, he lived in Bellingham, Washington, which seems to be a gathering place for the strange and beautiful nutjobs in America. In Bellingham, you are likely to share a bar with some freaky emerging serial killer, failed indie-rockers and proto-typical survivalist-cum-Trading Spaces fans that can kill a man sixteen different ways with a wheat colored tea-cosy. For real.

Sniper man, sniper man
On the honey and cracker fitness plan
Hit 'em high, hit 'em low.
Brings receipts to your Home Depot
Huzzah! Three cheers for sniper-man.

Avoiding Snipes and other Bits of Stellar Policework
When your point man is the colorfully-named Chief Moose-who was, by the way, moosilicious!-you know you are going to get some jaw-dropping examples of fleet-footed and high-tech policery. My favorite moments:

1. The official who stated to the papers that they believed the suspect was a "person or persons". Great! That means we can eliminate, right off the bat, all members of the animal kingdom as well as escaped amusement park animatronics, Martha Stewart and K.I.T.T. Additionally, we can rule out suspects that are non-existent, inanimate, or fictional! Keep up the crackerjack work!

2. The work of Fairfax police chief (and personal buddy of mine) Tom Manger, who endured the typical post-shooting press confab with a polite air despite the relentless re-querying of the collective press: "Chief Manger? I'd like to ask again the same question you just answered in the hopes that the dulcet tones of my voice might somehow inspire you to say something different than you said before?" Proof, at least, that the fourth estate is not some kind of hive mind.

3. Bitchslapping the man who bore false witness. Damn, kid, you should know not to fuck with John Q. Law when he's feeling frustrated and looking for some dope to beat down.

4. From Montgomery County Police's makeshift "How to be a Good Witness" manual: "Look, in the direction of the [gunshot] and make a note of people or vehicles in that area." This is a groundbreaking piece of advice in witness theory, blowing the doors off the previously widely-believed theory that witnesses to a crime should scratch their ass, spit into the wind and go about their business as if nothing has happened.

5. How about those cops in Richmond who swooped down on those two illegals making the phone call? Talk about stupid. "Two Hispanic males" wasn't anywhere near any of the criminal profiles, correct or otherwise. Richmond PD: typical sub-competence.

6. From Montgomery County Police's makeshift "How to be a Good Witness" manual:"Commit what you saw to memory." This is a groundbreaking piece of advice in witness theory, blowing the doors off the previously widely-believed theory that witnesses will, if asked about a crime they witnessed, will instead describe the turkey they had on Thanksgiving in 1987.

7. From Montgomery County Police's makeshift "How to be a Good Witness" manual: "Keep a pen available. If paper is not available, write on your hand." This is a groundbreaking piece of advice in witness theory blowing the doors off the previously widely-believed theory that people need utensils in order to remember things." No doubt witnesses will soon be shouting to perps "Could you hold still? I want to capture the way the sunlight frames your shoulders and stabbing hand." And the writing on your hand part. That's just fucking brill.

8. From Montgomery County Police's makeshift "How to be a Good Witness" manual: "Do not allow another witness or media to contaminate your memory." This is a groundbreaking piece of advice in witness theory blowing the doors off the previously widely-believed theory that people aren't swayed by other people or media. Maybe it goes something like this: BANG! "Hey, look over there!" "NO! I've been shot!" "Hey, he's been shot! Who shot him!" "Look, there he is!" "No! I seem to remember him being over there!" "I'm bleeding to death!" "Keep back! Stop contaminating my memory with your unclean remembrances! Oh, no! My!"

The Fleeting Nature of Genius
At first blush, it sure looked like Muhammed and Malvo had a brilliant thing going. Show up, shoot, get away, with the area and circumstances well-scoped. Quite literally, these two could have done it forever! Sniping could have been a daily fixture in our lives-over time, it could have been a commonplace occurrence. And their cause was helped immeasurably by the whole White Van Thing (more on that in a minute), a piece of unlikely and lucky circumstances that spelled huge dividends. But then we have this whole credit-card ransom scheme. What was that about? How were they going to get that to work? Were they going to get the authorities to adhere to the honor system and promise to not track the spending of the money? So disappointing to discover that brilliance was merely dumb luck in disguise.

Sniper man, sniper man
Got more hits than Duran Duran
Squeal of tires, peals of laughter
Save your fucking prayer till the morning after
Wild Boys! All love the sniper man.

The White Van
Talk about your classic misdirection play. Once the sniper got saddled with the rep of being a white-van drivin', highway evading master criminal, he was made in the shade. TheDiner steadfastly refused to believe that the "white-van theory" was the correct one. In courier-happy Washington DC, the white van may as well be the city-wide mascot. They are as prevalent in Washington as cabs are in NYC. The biggest problem is that if you stand on any street corner in any part of the Metro area at any time of day or night, you'll see a white van within thirty seconds. When you are a witness, or on the crime scene, and the moment is hot and your memory isn't primed and you are prone to conflation and confabulation and you've been told "Look for the White Van! The answer will be found in the White Van!" the chance of you missing a crucial detail about the crime scene is increased exponentially.

What also didn't make any sense is why anyone expected a media-montoring criminal to keep driving his white van after it had been identified, especially weeks after the fact. Especially considering Muhammed was good at changing the other variables-location, target, time of day. The failure to follow swallowing the White Van theory with several grains of salt probably extended this ordeal by four or five body bags.

Karin's Good Idea About the Sniper
Was for the media to refer to him as "Snipey McSnipe" or "Mr. Snipeypants" in the hopes it would irritate him. This was, by any measure, good thinking.

Sniper man don't have a van
He squares his shot in a big sedan
Through a hole he's on a roll
Squeezing caps from his fire-pole
Bang-bang! Did you see the Sniper man?

The Hunt for the Sniper
Once Mr. Snipeypants hit up the Home Depot at Seven Corners-my old pre-PSA workday caffeine loading site-it was on, motherfucker. Me and my friend Joe got out the personal dragnet with a quickness. It was one thing for him to shoot up Montgomery County, a blighted and hectic land with very little to recommend it, but once you come down round about Route Fitty and the Pike-well, you got me and Joe to contend with. Not in my backyard, Mr. Snipey-Pants.

At any rate, it was no surprise that Muhammed never came back to our town to shoot some more people, not with Joe Vee and I perpetrating like a two-man A-Team (for the record, I was definitely the Hannibal-Murdoch axis, and Joe was the Mr. T.-Face stand-in.). We were checking out suspect vehicles, watching out for people crossing the street, and generally running in a serpentine fashion all over the neighborhood, from Clarendon's "Saigon" District to Four Mile.

Our methodology: be unpredictable. Change up the game. Do what's unexpected. Some of those old women probably had nothing to do with crime, but by the time we finished our jump-outs, there's no way they'd walk the dark side. Sure we pulled some motherfuckers from their cars?and yes, we did "pants" a lot of those people...and yes, Joe and I frequently took money from their purses in order to make a capital investment in our crime-fighting infrastructure, but who wouldn't?

Why'd we do it? It was really very simple. When your neighborhood is in danger and people are dying, you just answer to a higher call-and for Joe and I, that call was five-hundred thousand dollars. Think of what we could have done with that cash! And it was more than that. It was the chance to see people at the World Series wearing hats with our initials and pictures on them, and ordering that fat Irish tenor fuck to sing what we wanted to hear (that would be Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline") during the seventh inning stretch. Joe and I even had a saying we used when we started our sniper hunt: "Let's Do It!" We would have copyrighted the phrase, set up a foundation called the "Let's Do It" Foundation, and we would have sued the shirts offa any college football team or political campaign that would try to use it for themselves. Being a media-created hero in this country is like being given a stack of blank checks.

Yeah. That's why we do. Hope that answered your question.

One Really Good Thing About the Sniper
Is that it belongs to Washington, DC. Finally we have a tragedy all our own. It's ours. New York City didn't get nothing. NOTHING! In your face, New York!

Among Other Regrets
Did you know that the sniper affair was enough of an event to postpone the release of the Colin Farrell movie PHONE BOOTH? It's true! Sadly, we still haven't found anything that will stop or even slightly impede the release of an Ashley Judd vehicle.

Sniper man, sniper man!
Getting minds off Afghanistan
The boys in blue get D.O.D voodoo
Posse comitatus, who?
Bling-blang! Can't find the sniper man.

The Usual Piece of White House Idiotica
With a force of obviousness so severe it had Ralph Nader re-syncing his PalmPilot, the antics of Sir Snippy Snipe created a lot of additional gun control buzz, with questions being asked about whether we should more fully invest in ballistic fingerprinting technology. Now, up to a certain point, Washingtonians were mostly spared the natterings of King George Chickenshit because he was too busy hiding his fat, stupid target-printed head. But, at last, he sent out Ari Fleischer, an innovator in artistic media of flim and flam to deceive, inveigle and obfuscate.

When put to the query by the press, Fleischer said, "Look, bad people are going to do bad things, we just aren't going to be able to stop them." Now, I don't run the Democratic Party, and you can tell that I don't because if I did I'd be pillorying the Bushies daily with this quisling and defeatist response. Ari, just to review, because I know you have the intellect of a slice of pie, ballistic fingerprinting doesn't help stop crime, it helps catch criminals. And, dude, if we can't hope to stop the bad guys, then why are we about piss money away by the boatload and invade Iraq? Numbnuts.

The assembled media, in spite of the dangling bait, did their softball best to let Ari pass go and collect his $200. This is because the people who run the corporate media LOVE THEM SOME FEDERALIST TOTALITARIANISM!

Among Other Regrets, Part Two
In retrospect, compared with 9-11 sex, sniper sex really could have been a whole lot hotter.

Everyone Should Get to Play Clarice Starling
Someone has been watching too many movies, and in L'affaire du Snipeur, the person who really distinguished themselves by manufacturing a Lasting Achievement in Moron-ica was Rita Cosby, reporter for-surprise, surprise-Fox News. In her attempt to go the Hollywood route, be the heroine and pick the mind of a master criminal in order to reveal truths about a currently at-large murderer, Cosby decided to chase them wild gooses by soliciting an interview with Son of Sam Superstar David Berkowitz. Cosby was thrillingly unfazed by the sheer inanity of her mission, and, even better-bent over backwards to lovingly slide her forked tongue on Berkowitz's ass, giving the mass-murderer the mother of all Ego Rim Jobs.

In her offer letter, I quote: "Your personal story and spiritual growth inspired me to write to you...the Lord calls on individuals at various times to serve him and serve his people...I believe as a Christian your help is a great have a testimony that must be heard...our world is crying and you can help."

Oh, Rita, your nose is brown! Ugh. And to think that someone would beat out the Hooters-waitress-ass-signing fiasco perpetrated by Geraldo Rivera, also of-surprise, surprise!-Fox News.

The Last Word
Sniper man! Sniper man!
Not Saddam but he does what he can!
He made us dead and then he fled
Tom Ridge has made our color red
Boo-yah! That crazy sniper man.

Sniper man! Sniper man!
He's got a gun and he's got a plan!
Now he's gone, we can move on.
Wait for the word from the Pentagon.
Watch out!...Wherever there's a van.
The area you will scan
Looking for...sniper maaaaaaaaaan!

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