They Say "Don't Ever Meet Your Heroes" ( Unless She's Nancy); 13 Young Cooks On Working With Silverton

"The youngest, aged twelve, could not conceal her disappointment, and turned away. feeling as so many of us have felt when we discover that our idols are very ordinary men and women," - Lousia May Alcott, from "Jo's Boys", 1885

They say don’t ever meet your heroes. You just might be crushed. My sister Jeanine, who has been in love with James Bond ever since we saw “Dr. No” at the Vermont Drive-In 55 years ago, always said she never wanted to meet Sean Connery for fear of a let down.

This past week,  presiding the (belated) celebration for the 10th Anniversary of Mozza, that notion was knocked down when I spoke to 13 cooks at the Mozza Corner about what it was like to meet - work with - Nancy Silverton.

I had three questions. What were you doing 10 years ago? When did you first hear of Nancy? What’s it like to work with her?

The first was Anna Nguyen, Osteria’s so called Garde Manger ( French for ‘Keeper of the food”) who is also known as Anna Abdul Jabbar because she is 7-feet-2 inches tall and sky hooks smoked mozzarella balls.   

“Nearly. 10 years ago, I was working through a bunch of recipes from Pastries from La Brea Bakery. I worked at this bakery in Colorado where I had a lot of creative freedom, so I loved to try Nancy’s recipes.

"I would be in the kitchen exclaiming things like, "Only Nancy would think of this!" Like combining lemon zest with cranberries. Nancy always takes it beyond the obvious, to absolutely delicious. I was bound and determined to find her address, so I could write her a letter, asking how in the world she came up with a Fennel Ricotta Muffin, one of the best things I'd ever eaten.”

A few years later Anna’s husband was asked to write a little blurb describing her.  He wrote "She loves drinking beer on a patio, and is obsessed with perfectly laminated croissants, and Nancy Silverton."

Years later, Anna applied for work in pastry, but Liz “Go Go” Hong, the executive chef, hired her for the MozzarellaBar   

“I was so excited that I would get to be right by Nancy. I figured even if I got fired after a week, at least it would be a week working with Nancy.”

Anna then reveals the theme of this story.

“They always say don't meet your heroes. That the disappointment could hurt so bad. That it's just better to hold them on a pedestal. I'm so glad I met mine.

“Nancy has taught me about flavor, balance, layers, and how to make gorgeous dishes. She’s taught us that good is never good enough. It has to be great. She has showed us the value in working on a dish for weeks, trying 16 variations, going back and forth with different flavors until it's perfect. She's taught us how to be demanding, and insistent, while being kind, and genuinely caring for the people who work for you.”

##

Yes, that’s a hard – and classy -  opening act to top. So, we move on to the jazzy, dirty opposite. It’s time to for chi Spacca’s Cameron ‘Miles” Tollehaug.

“Ten years ago I was picking up dog shit for a living. And cat crap. And bird shit. I really was.” say Cameron, the tall – and wackiest - Spacca line cook. He was working for veterinarian in Berkeley.  

Later, Cameron was doing an internship at Oliveto in Oakland when he heard word of Nancy Silverton and Mozza. “Nancy taught me how to look at salads. She taught me even if a dish is good, we can make it better by looking at all aspects of it. Like maybe we could use a different cutting technique. Or how one particular herb might make a good dish great.”

##

Ten years ago, Marisa “2 Kitchens” Takenake was a junior at UC Riverside and living with four other students. Somehow, she became “the girl that cooked and baked for everybody.”

So she bought cookbooks. One of the first was by Julia Child. “Funny enough,” she says, “Nancy’s face was on the inside cover.”

Roughly six years later, she was working at the Water Grill downtown and began looking to work with a big time L.A. female chef. There were three she considered; Suzanne Tracht, Suzanne Goin and Nancy Silverton.

“I got a stage at Osteria Mozza and my first night in I worked right next to Nancy and Celeste. The rest, they all seem to say, is history.”

“To work with Nancy means that I have something to strive for. A constant reminder that a female chef with personality and femininity can still be a tough bitch in the kitchen and a successful one. She is the personification that hard work pays off and that there is a way to blend both passions of savory and pastry into one career.”

##

Some start cooking at the Water Grill, some a little lower on the restaurant hierarchy. Ten years ago, Adonayy Fernandez, chef at Pizzeria, was a shift manager at Wienerschnitzel.

Three years ago, he landed a job at what would become his “second home”, Pizzeria Mozza.
“Everyone was so welcoming, but I was anxious to meet the chef who had brought this all together,” Adonayy says. “I was really nervous the first time I saw her.”

That would soon change.

“The first time I actually met her she gave me a warm smile, and she gave me an explanation about how our salads represented Mozza and that I had to do my best to make sure we kept the standard that our guests expected.”

Nancy encouraged him.  After a year and half, he was promoted to sous chef for Pizzeria Mozza.

“I was so happy because I going to get to work so close to Nancy,” he says. “Only a few people have the privilege to treat Chef Nancy on a close basis. Her story has been an inspiration to me, to never lose confidence on yourself and always achieve your goals. I want to thank Chef Nancy for the opportunity of being part of this family.”

##
Ten years ago, Francis Chua, 28, was in a culinary school in Manila. The Philippines.  Five years ago, he started working at Pizzeria Mozza in Singapore.

“I went to work at Mozza because I thought it was a Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich place," Francis says. "Now I know it’s a Nancy Silverton place.”

Francis was enamored with the simplicity of Mozza’s food.  “Nancy Focus is in the simplicity and the food products,” he says. “And as a baker, too. I admire her dough at the pizzeria.”

He doesn’t go on to use superlatives, as the only accurate way to describe the dough at the pizzeria is to call it “the dough at the pizzeria.”

##

Telling his own story in the kitchen of Mozza2Go is Luis Cendejas who – it should be noted - is 21 years old.

“Ten years ago, when I was 10,” Luis begins.   (Right then, I say to myself “This guy was never much at math’). “I was in grammar school in Highland Park.”

For some reason, I guess because he – like many people – calls me “Chapo”, he brags, “I have never been in jail.” (I think of the Chris Rock routine where he says “Fool, you ain’t supposed to be in jail, so don’t go bragging about it.”)

But, Luis tells of a high school science teacher who learned of his interest in cooking and extolled the wonders of Nancy Silverton. “I started as a polisher and now I’m a line cook,” he says with understandable pride. 

Like all, he raves about Nancy. But, his raves are not about the tweaking of a recipe or the wonders of the pizza dough. It’s something down to earth, somethingjust plain right.

“Every day, when she sees us, she doesn’t just walk right by, She says “Hi” to everyone and asks how we are doing. That don’t sound like a whole lot, but believe me, to someone like me, it really does mean a whole lot .”

 ##

Benjamin Giron, 28,  first heard about Nancy and Mozza right about the time Mozza was opening. He was working at BLT and chef Laurent Tourondel was raving  about Nancy.

“The thing I love about Mozza,” Ben says, “is I am always learning because Nancy is always learning.”

##

Ten years ago, Herbert “Herby” Yuen, sous at Pizzeria, was a junior in high school. 

“Coming from the east coast, I had actually never heard of Nancy Silverton until I staged at the Mozza Bar,” he says. “Nancy has taught me so much regarding the balance of food, flavor profiles, and plating techniques. Not only is Nancy an influence in the development of my palate, but she also assists me in becoming a better leader.”

##

Ten years ago, Kirby Shaw was 13, in 8th grade and full of dreams to hit the Gibson homerun that would lead the Dodgers to a World Series Championship.  He is not on the Dodger lineup, but rather finding glory on the line at Osteria Mozza.

“I first heard about Nancy from my Aunt Kelly who was kinda obsessed with her,” says Kirby, who had his high school graduation lunch at Mozza. .

“Nancy is the first chef, along with really the whole Mozza family, that has made me feel I can truly be myself and enjoy my job.

(Editor’s note – It should be noted that at any other restaurant, I Kirby was really “himself”, he would like be committed to a mental facility.)

“I have never worked for any person/ company longer than I have now for Mozza and I credit it to the atmosphere Nancy has created.” 

As for Aunty Kelly?  You bet your bottom raviolo she brags about her nephew. And his boss.

##

“When Mozza was just opening, I was a junior in high school in Houston, Texas with Christine Larraucou!,” says Kirsten Mayall, line cook at Osteria Mozza. “I had a passion and aptitude for cooking, but no intention of pursuing it professionally.”

After college, Kirsten found her "professional" jobs to be uninspiring, and so she “followed a rabbit hole that led me back to cooking.”

At her first restaurant kitchen, in New York, she heard about Nancy Silverton.

“One of my coworkers in that kitchen was a former line cook at Osteria Mozza, and he waxed poetic about Nancy - the only chef he knew that still worked the line in her restaurant after so many years, and who did so wearing Marni.”

Listening to that friend's advice to work at Mozza upon moving to LA was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

“Working under (and side-by-side with) Nancy Silverton has made me a stronger, more creative cook. I have learned that perfection in this craft is never too lofty a goal; that working on an idea for weeks on end is a worthwhile exercise in persistence, not a sign of ineptitude; and that creative work is like a puzzle, requiring ingenuity and playful curiosity to find the solution.”

"Above all, Nancy has been a role model in leadership for me. She demonstrates every day how to lead: by showing kindness and genuine interest to every individual on her team. I remind myself daily to follow in her (very cool, probably Marni) footsteps.

“I could go on for hours about how important Nancy has been in my life.

##

Ten years ago, Arthur Grigoryan was 11 years old. (When she hears that, Anna says “The should be the lede of your story.”

Arthur realized in high school he wanted to be a cook. “Being from LA, I was really interested to know who the legends were in the game from this city and the first names that I came across on the internet were Wolfgang Puck and Nancy Silverton.”

After spending some time studying and working in France, he came home and landed his first paying gig at Osteria.

“Working for Nancy over the past year at both Pizzeria and Osteria has been an incredible experience,” says Arthur. “ One thing I admire about Nancy is her high attention to detail about the food being perfect. If one thing does not seem right, she will always stop and teach us so that we don't make the same mistakes again.

“Working at Mozza has been great not only because I get to stand two feet from a living legend every day, but also because I get to work with a group of humble, talented, individuals who I know will reach great heights someday.”

##

Ten years ago, Jess Ziman was at Crossroads High School, one of the toughest in Los Angeles.

When she was 17 she had a meal that. Thought she didn’t know it for years later, would change her life.

“I went to Osteria Mozza and sat at the Mozzarella Bar,” Jess, says. “Nancy was in full view. I never said a word to her, but just stared. It was a bit awkward. I didn’t even know I wanted to be a cook.

Then though a series of what she calls “a combination of serendipity and unfortunate events” she found herself looking for a job as a cook. 

But she imposed one strict rule. She would only work at the Mozza Corner.  She got the gig.

"The environment at Mozza is so different than any other place I have worked and it all come from the top. There is this wonderful sense of community that Nancy has created”.

“She, somehow without being critical, she honesty tell you about a dish that is not just right. But, she wants you to keep coming back to that dish to make it just right. She’s willing to get on your level, but in a cool way.”

.##

Few have worked with Nancy longer than Raul Ramirez, 38, the morning prep sous chef. He been with her 17 years ( even longer than me.) Raul worked with Nancy at Campanile starting around 2000.

There’s been a lot of raves about Nancy Silverton in this story, but the ending belongs to Raul.

“All the time she comes in asking me how I’m doing. I don’t have any complaints about Nancy. She’s a nice person.”

hero

Liverbest; Nancy Silverton and Chi Spacca's Ryan DeNicola Take A Humble Food To New Heights

For decades, maybe even for a century,. liverwurst has been the laughing stock of the gourmet world, a mashed-up concoction that even it's punch line cousin - Chopped liver -  seemed to distance itself from. 

But, this week that all changed when one of the humblest of foods found itself on the menu of Nancy Silverton's chi Spacca accompanied by, get this,  yet another hackneyed food item that will soon be heading for bright lights; the potato pancake.

This reporter - recently embedded with an elite Mozza unit on the heralded Corner of Highland and Melrose - got a rare inside glimpse at the making of a dish. This is the often harrowing tale of how the potato pancake and a disc of liverwurst ended up together on the menu of one of America's greatest restaurants.

It's three hours before service at chi Spacca, the smallest and most muscular of the Mozza restaurants on the Corner.  Chef Ryan DeNicola is looking down at three golden brown potato pancakes with line cook Tyler Vidal.   They taste all three and deem them fine.

But, now, Ryan explains to Tyler the single most important lesson to be learned on the Corner; Nancy Silverton will not be satisfied with this effort. She will send them back to the ateiier. Nancy is never satisfied with a first effort. Or a sixth. There is improvement to be found with more work.. Even when it is outstanding, it has to get better.

And sure enough, Ryan and Tyler take the three, five-inch diameter pancakes over to Osteria Mozza where Silverton is getting ready for a night behind the Mozzarella Bar. She tastes them. They're all good. But, with Nancy,. good don't cut it. 

Now, back to the liverwurst.  

When asked if she helped Ryan with the liverwurst, Nancy Silverton replied, "Oh, pleeease. What do you think?"

The spark for transforming liverwurst into liverbest occurred in Philly at MIchael Solomanov's Rooster Soup Co.. Nancy and James Beard award-winning pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez ordered the fried Lebanon baloney sandwich. Nancy asked how they managed to get baloney from Lebanon.  "Lebanon. Pennsylvania" she was told. Makes sense, There's no baloney in real Lebanon.

It was like a fried baloney sandwich, but thicker. and it gives  Nancy the spark that liverwurst might be worth revisiting. Shape it into a thick medallion and fry it. Worth a shot. After all, this is the woman who took the humble grilled cheese sandwich halfway to heaven.

Back on the corner, Ryan got on it with enthusiasm.  He got his version of liverwurst to a point where anyone familiar with that stuff in a tube would not recognize it.  It's pork liver, pork fat, pork meat. salt, onion. black pepper, cardamon, ginger,, oregano and mace.  (It should be noted that this "mace" is one the so-called "winter spices", not  the mace used by the LAPD.). 

Then this hockey puck is fried. 

Two days later after the first - failed - potato pancake tryout, , Nancy is beaming. She has figured it out with the help of consultant Jess "Don't Call Me Jesse" - Eleven, the only employee on the Corner to admit to have made a potato pancake.  In addition to using a classic chrome box grater ( think cheese) a mandolin was brought in to obtain large potato pieces for creaminess. Onions, white and green, brought color and more flavor. Then, the traditional Jewish favorite got what it needed. bacon. Ecco! 

The result?  Behold chi Spacca's "Fried DeNicola" liverbest  over "Nancy's 2 Grater"  Potato Pancake with bacon. "It's gonna be at all the Jewish delis," says Nancy. .   

No one's laughing at liverwurst anymore.. 

pp lb

 

 

 

 

John Skaggs, Big City Homicide Detective With A Mayberry Heart, Retires From LAPD

June 30, 2017

February, 2005 – LAPD Officer Sam Marullo and his homicide training officer Det. John Skaggs are driving past the sprawling U.S. Post Office facility on Central and Florence avenues in South Central Los Angeles.

 “You know, Marullo, this is the largest mail facility west of the Mississippi.”

 Murullo looks up from a Grape Street murder book he’s been studying and says “Dayum!”

###
Besides his father Ronnie, who was a homicide detective for the Long Beach Police Department, there was a fictional detective who inspired John Skaggs to go into law enforcement. But, it was not super cool Steve McQueen with his ’68 Mustang 390 GT of “Bullitt” or deadly Clint Eastwood with his .44 magnum of “Dirty Harry”. It was that soft-spoken, kind and – most of all – respectful Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

 “My favorite TV show as a kid and today was the cop show ‘Andy Griffith’,” said Skaggs, a 30-year veteran of the LAPD who is retiring today. “There was some life lesson learned from every episode about morals and relationships.  I have taken away many ideas from that show on how to treat people with respect, and deal with courage and bravery.”

Although Skaggs, 52, grew up in Long Beach around cops – his uncle was a deputy chief for the LAPD who retired in 1986 – he didn’t seriously consider law enforcement as a career until he was about 17. 

“I got into some trouble as a kid and decided I needed to get away from some bad influences. Soon after, I developed my desire to be a police officer and joined the police academy and never looked back.”

After graduating, he requested to be sent to either of the city’s two highest crime rate areas. 

“I chose 77th Street Division, which covers South-Central, and Southeast Division, which covers Watts.  These two were the busiest Divisions, and they had the largest gang problems.”

Skaggs knew from going to high school in Long Beach and witnessing what was happening on inner city streets and in schools that gang enforcement would be where he could have the biggest impact on people's quality of life.

“The main reason I joined LAPD, was because they were the only police department with a true gang unit.  Their Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) Unit was devoted to one thing, gang suppression.  I joined the LAPD to be a gang officer. I could chase gang members that were responsible for most violent crimes and completely ruined communities with fear and intimidation.”

But, along the wide ride, Skaggs discovered something many cops, journalists and regular folk don’t realize; Gang members are humans, too.

“One thing that stands out is the number of gangsters I built friendly relationships with that were later killed,” Skaggs said. “Many tried to get out of 'hood life.  I observed very often that I was the only person in their lives that ever encouraged them to go legit and get an education or job that would lead to a career.  So many of them had no positive influence in their lives and no role models.”

Rob Bub, who recently retired from the LAPD after 22 years in homicide, was Skaggs' field training officer.

“If you are a training officer, John was the guy wanted to have,” said retired LAPD homicide detective Rob Bub, who was Skaggs’ training officer.

“John knew what he didn’t know and what he needed to learn,” said Bub

The very first day Bub was training Skaggs, they got a call for a man with a knife in a domestic dispute.

“We roll up on the scene and we go around the back of the house on Figueroa,” explained Bub. “And there was this Hispanic guy with a 12-inch kitchen knife. I’m thinking John’s first shift and we are gonna end up dumping somebody.”

The two took up tactical positions and Bub had an idea. He knew Skaggs was fresh out of the academy where they teach rudimentary Spanish.

“Knock him dead with your Spanish,” Bub told Skaggs. “And John talked him out of it. He dropped the knife. It was refreshing to see someone on their first day who knew what to do.”

Christopher Barling, homicide coordinator of the 77th , met Skaggs 30 years ago at the police academy. They were at CRASH together and partners on and off for five years at Southeast. 

“Without a doubt John is one of the best homicide detectives in the LAPD thanks, in large part, to his persistence and stubbornness,” said Barling.“  The characteristics of persistence is not unique among detectives, but John Skaggs has perfected it. "He’s like that old salesman who is about to get shut down and told to leave and at the very last moment, he sticks his foot in front of the closing door.”

It’s not breaking news that the most difficult part of the murder investigations, especially on the Southside of Los Angeles, is getting witnesses. There is the fear of retaliation. Fear of going to court. Fear of being labeled a snitch. And, coming in first place, the fear of getting shot to death for cooperating with the dreaded enemy; the police.

Barling said Skaggs had and knack for getting people to open-up.

“One of John’s greatest gifts was the ability to get someone on his side. He is going to take care of a witness. He has this talent for building a bond with people. And he is very sincere.”

Skaggs also had the talent for pissing people off, Barling said. His fellow detectives, the younger officers, and even his captains and commanders were fair game..

“As his partner, sometimes John’s stubbornness drove me crazy,” Barling said. “He is so strong willed, so strongly opinionated that sometimes he did not want to listen to anyone.”

And Skaggs was never one to apply a coat of sugar.

“People don’t like to hear they are wrong, but Skaggs had no problem telling people what he thought of them,” said Barling. “Me, I might try and finesse a situation. But, John would just tell them 'You’re wrong'."

“In John’s world, you are either helpful or you are a dumb ass.”

LAPD Chief of Police Charlie Beck lavished praise on Skaggs.

“There is nothing more honorable in policing than detective work,” Beck said via E-mail.  “The dogged determination and intelligent pursuit of the truth required are the best of our qualities.  John Skaggs was born to be just such a detective. He is relentless and brilliant in his hunt for the worst mankind has to offer.  I have depended on him to solve our most important cases.”

In 2009, Beck promoted Skaggs to head the West Bureau Homicide which is currently located at the Olympic Division on Vermont and 11th Street.

“I was proud to promote him so he could pass his skills to those under his command,” Beck said.  “I will miss having him to rely on, but his retirement is well earned.”

Skaggs will expand his role as a teacher and consultant for government programs that assist police departments across the country with high homicide rates and low clearances.

Skaggs will likely teach these departments the value of a good CI.  A CI, or Confidential Informant, is an essential player for a successful homicide detective. Skaggs had some of the best.

“We would be stuck on a case, and John would go off somewhere and talk to one of his informants,” said Sal LaBarbera. another storied LAPD homicide detective who retired in 2015. “Ten, 20 minutes later, he’d come back with some vital information. I’d say ‘How the hell did you get that?’ Even though I knew.”

One of Skaggs prime CI’s talked about him with the proviso her name would not be used.

“I was arrested for prostituting on Figueroa 19, 20  years ago or so and I told the officer ‘What if I told you about a murder?’ Next thing I knew I was taking to John Skaggs. He told me to trust him and I did. Was one of my best decisions. One thing about John. If he gave you his word, he honored it. His word was his bond.”

The woman, hooked on crack, was later involved with a carjacking and did six years in prison. When she got out, she called on Skaggs.

“He was there for me. He helped me stay sober.   I got in a [drug and alcohol] treatment place and John would come visit me.”

She has been clean and sober for six years now.

“Five of those six years John was there to hand me my sobriety cake,” she said. “When life shows up and I need that shoulder to cry on, John is there for me.”

August, 2005 – LAPD Officer Sam Marullo and his homicide training officer Det. John Skaggs are driving by the sprawling U.S. Post Office facility on Central and Florence avenues in South Central Los Angeles.

 Marullo’s head is deep into a Mad Swan Bloods vs. Main Street Crip killing.

 Skaggs points at the post officer.

 “You know, Sam, this is the largest mail facility west of the Mississippi.”

 “I didn’t know that. Must be a whole lotta letters up in there.”

 LaBarbera said Skaggs solved more of his cases than anyone he knew.  “More than me. More than Barling. He had great persistence.”

Skaggs most famous case was detailed in L.A Times reporter Jill Leovy’s outstanding book “Ghettoside”. All of Skaggs talents are revealed as he successfully investigates the killing of Bryant Alexander Tennelle, son of LAPD homicide detective Wallace Tennelle. 

“If you read the book,”. Leovy said, “It might seem like John is a caricature of a homicide detective, But, in reality, I downplayed him. He really cares deeply about the cases. He has this laser focus. By the way, he thought “Ghettoside” was a book about the [Tennelle] case and everything else in it was just filler.”

Two men were convicted of Tennelle’s murder and both are in prison.

Of, course, all the murders weren’t solved. One of them was the 2006 Watts killing of 25-year-old Anthony Wayne Owens, Jr. shot to death at Imperial Courts housing project.

But, mention Skaggs to Anthony’s mother and she passionately praises him.

“That there is a good man,” says Cynthia Mendenhall, much better known in Watts as community activist Sista Soulja.  When she is told Skaggs is retiring, Sista gets silent for several seconds before saying “For real? You’re gonna make me cry.”

“John Skaggs treated me and my family like we were his family,” said Sista, a former PJ Crip who turned peacemaker and community activist more 20 years ago.  “John was hurt he couldn’t solve Tony’s murder. But, he just couldn’t get what he wanted from the people that knew.  He took it personally.  He is, I guess now was, a great detective. He wasn’t there for the check. He was there for the people.  It was like he was on a mission to catch killers before another innocent life was lost”

Lashell Lewis is mother whose son’s murder was solved by Skaggs. 

In March, 2004, Edwin Johnson, 18, was visiting friends at 97th and Hickory in the Jordan Downs housing project in Watts. A car of rival drove by and Edwin was shot five times.

The mom said that though her son was born in L.A. , he was raised in Big Bear which did not prepare him for the mean streets.

“My son, not being raised in Watts, didn’t know how to dodge bullets,” said Lewis. “I was devastated. I put my faith in John.”

Eight months later, Skaggs having pulled out his main tools – perseverance, charm, trust, sincerity and respect –  solved the case.

“John treated me as a human person with love, kindness and respect,’ said Lewis. “He assured me he would not give up. He treated me, ya know, with love. I think of him not so much as a friend, but more like a big cousin or an uncle.”

March, 2006 – LAPD Officer Sam Marullo and his homicide training officer Det. John Skaggs are driving by the sprawling U.S. Post Office facility on Central and Florence avenues in South Central Los Angeles.

Marullo’s preparing himself to give a “notification” to mother whose 17-year-old son has been killed near Nickerson Gardens.

 Skaggs points at the post office.

 “You know, Sammy, this is the largest mail facility west of the Mississippi.”

 Marullo doesn’t even look up and just says “They must have stamps for days.”

Marullo, who formally became a homicide detective in February, 2014, is grateful for Skaggs’ mentorship. Still, he enjoys chiding Skaggs about the mail facility.

“Every single time we passed that place he would say that. ‘This is the largest mail facility west of the Mississippi.” And most every time I would act as though I hadn’t already heard that.  

When it came Marullo’s time to train officers, he followed his mentor’s tradition of telling them about the mail facility.

“I would then say, ‘Did I already tell you that?’ and they would say “Yeah, about three times.’ Millennials. I guess I came from a different era because each of the 15 times John told me that, I act as though it was the first time I heard that useless fact.”

Marullo said Skaggs had high expectations of him and that made him work harder and smarter.

“I find myself placing those same expectations on the trainees with whom I've worked.”

Marullo went on.

“John was dedicated to working murders.  He sacrificed half of his life to chasing killers.  He always left a positive impression on the victims' families and always followed through with his promise to do all that he could to find the person who killed their loved one. He is not only a mentor, but a friend.”  

This morning, shortly after 9 a.m., Skaggs landed at LAX after a week in Memphis and headed for his last shift.

“I’m leaving with a ton of great memories and a few bad ones after 30 years of service,” said Skaggs. “It was an awesome ride.”

Maybe if Frank Bullitt and Dirty Harry Callahan were real, they coulda learned a few things from John Skaggs, the big city detective with the small town heart. Check out the photo below. That’s a real homicide detective. Ain’t nothing Hollywood about it.

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John Skaggs, Big City Homicide Detective With A Mayberry Heart, Retires From LAPD After 30 Years Of Service

February, 2005 – LAPD Officer Sam Marullo and his homicide training officer Det. John Skaggs are driving past the sprawling U.S. Post Office facility on Central and Florence avenues in South Central Los Angeles.

 “You know, Marullo, this is the largest mail facility west of the Mississippi.”

 Murullo looks up from a Grape Street murder book he’s been studying and says “Dayum!”

###
Besides his father Ronnie, who was a homicide detective for the Long Beach Police Department, there was a fictional detective who inspired John Skaggs to go into law enforcement. But, it was not super cool Steve McQueen with his ’68 Mustang 390 GT of “Bullitt” or deadly Clint Eastwood with his .44 magnum of “Dirty Harry”. It was that soft-spoken, kind and – most of all – respectful Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

 “My favorite TV show as a kid and today was the cop show ‘Andy Griffith’,” said Skaggs, a 30-year veteran of the LAPD who is retiring today. “There was some life lesson learned from every episode about morals and relationships.  I have taken away many ideas from that show on how to treat people with respect, and deal with courage and bravery.”

Although Skaggs, 52, grew up in Long Beach around cops – his uncle was a deputy chief for the LAPD who retired in 1986 – he didn’t seriously consider law enforcement as a career until he was about 17. 

“I got into some trouble as a kid and decided I needed to get away from some bad influences. Soon after, I developed my desire to be a police officer and joined the police academy and never looked back.”

After graduating, he requested to be sent to either of the city’s two highest crime rate areas. 

“I chose 77th Street Division, which covers South-Central, and Southeast Division, which covers Watts.  These two were the busiest Divisions, and they had the largest gang problems.”

Skaggs knew from going to high school in Long Beach and witnessing what was happening on inner city streets and in schools that gang enforcement would be where he could have the biggest impact on people's quality of life.

“The main reason I joined LAPD, was because they were the only police department with a true gang unit.  Their Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) Unit was devoted to one thing, gang suppression.  I joined the LAPD to be a gang officer. I could chase gang members that were responsible for most violent crimes and completely ruined communities with fear and intimidation.”

But, along the wide ride, Skaggs discovered something many cops, journalists and regular folk don’t realize; Gang members are humans, too.

“One thing that stands out is the number of gangsters I built friendly relationships with that were later killed,” Skaggs said. “Many tried to get out of 'hood life.  I observed very often that I was the only person in their lives that ever encouraged them to go legit and get an education or job that would lead to a career.  So many of them had no positive influence in their lives and no role models.”

Rob Bub, who recently retired after 22 years as an LAPD homicide detective, was Skaggs' first field training officer.

“If you are a training officer, John was the guy wanted to have,” said retired LAPD homicide detective Rob Bub, who was Skaggs’ training officer.

“John knew what he didn’t know and what he needed to learn,” said Bub

The very first day Bub was training Skaggs, they got a call for a man with a knife in a domestic dispute.

“We roll up on the scene and we go around the back of the house on Figueroa,” explained Bub. “And there was this Hispanic guy with a 12-inch kitchen knife. I’m thinking John’s first shift and we are gonna end up dumping somebody.”

The two took up tactical positions and Bub had an idea. He knew Skaggs was fresh out of the academy where they teach rudimentary Spanish.

“Knock him dead with your Spanish,” Bub told Skaggs. “And John talked him out of it. He dropped the knife. It was refreshing to see someone on their first day who knew what to do.”

Christopher Barling, homicide coordinator of the 77th , met Skaggs 30 years ago at the police academy. They were at CRASH together and partners on and off for five years at Southeast. 

“Without a doubt John is one of the best homicide detectives in the LAPD thanks, in large part, to his persistence and stubbornness,” said Barling.“  The characteristics of persistence is not unique among detectives, but John Skaggs has perfected it. "He’s like that old salesman who is about to get shut down and told to leave and at the very last moment, he sticks his foot in front of the closing door.”

It’s not breaking news that the most difficult part of the murder investigations, especially on the Southside of Los Angeles, is getting witnesses. There is the fear of retaliation. Fear of going to court. Fear of being labeled a snitch. And, coming in first place, the fear of getting shot to death for cooperating with the dreaded enemy; the police.

Barling said Skaggs had and knack for getting people to open-up.

“One of John’s greatest gifts was the ability to get someone on his side. He is going to take care of a witness. He has this talent for building a bond with people. And he is very sincere.”

Skaggs also had the talent for pissing people off, Barling said. His fellow detectives, the younger officers, and even his captains and commanders were fair game..

“As his partner, sometimes John’s stubbornness drove me crazy,” Barling said. “He is so strong willed, so strongly opinionated that sometimes he did not want to listen to anyone.”

And Skaggs was never one to apply a coat of sugar.

“People don’t like to hear they are wrong, but Skaggs had no problem telling people what he thought of them,” said Barling. “Me, I might try and finesse a situation. But, John would just tell them 'You’re wrong'."

“In John’s world, you are either helpful or you are a dumb ass.”

LAPD Chief of Police Charlie Beck lavished praise on Skaggs.

“There is nothing more honorable in policing than detective work,” Beck said via E-mail.  “The dogged determination and intelligent pursuit of the truth required are the best of our qualities.  John Skaggs was born to be just such a detective. He is relentless and brilliant in his hunt for the worst mankind has to offer.  I have depended on him to solve our most important cases.”

In 2009, Beck promoted Skaggs to head the West Bureau Homicide which is currently located at the Olympic Division on Vermont and 11th Street.

“I was proud to promote him so he could pass his skills to those under his command,” Beck said.  “I will miss having him to rely on, but his retirement is well earned.”

Skaggs will expand his role as a teacher and consultant for government programs that assist police departments across the country with high homicide rates and low clearances.

Skaggs will likely teach these departments the value of a good CI.  A CI, or Confidential Informant, is an essential player for a successful homicide detective. Skaggs had some of the best.

“We would be stuck on a case, and John would go off somewhere and talk to one of his informants,” said Sal LaBarbera. another storied LAPD homicide detective who retired in 2015. “Ten, 20 minutes later, he’d come back with some vital information. I’d say ‘How the hell did you get that?’ Even though I knew.”

One of Skaggs prime CI’s talked about him with the proviso her name would not be used.

“I was arrested for prostituting on Figueroa 19, 20  years ago or so and I told the officer ‘What if I told you about a murder?’ Next thing I knew I was taking to John Skaggs. He told me to trust him and I did. Was one of my best decisions. One thing about John. If he gave you his word, he honored it. His word was his bond.”

The woman, hooked on crack, was later involved with a carjacking and did six years in prison. When she got out, she called on Skaggs.

“He was there for me. He helped me stay sober.   I got in a [drug and alcohol] treatment place and John would come visit me.”

She has been clean and sober for six years now.

“Five of those six years John was there to hand me my sobriety cake,” she said. “When life shows up and I need that shoulder to cry on, John is there for me.”

August, 2005 – LAPD Officer Sam Marullo and his homicide training officer Det. John Skaggs are driving by the sprawling U.S. Post Office facility on Central and Florence avenues in South Central Los Angeles.

 Marullo’s head is deep into a Mad Swan Bloods vs. Main Street Crip killing.

 Skaggs points at the post officer.

 “You know, Sam, this is the largest mail facility west of the Mississippi.”

 “I didn’t know that. Must be a whole lotta letters up in there.”

 LaBarbera said Skaggs solved more of his cases than anyone he knew.  “More than me. More than Barling. He had great persistence.”

Skaggs most famous case was detailed in L.A Times reporter Jill Leovy’s outstanding book “Ghettoside”. All of Skaggs talents are revealed as he successfully investigates the killing of Bryant Alexander Tennelle, son of LAPD homicide detective Wallace Tennelle. 

“If you read the book,”. Leovy said, “It might seem like John is a caricature of a homicide detective, But, in reality, I downplayed him. He really cares deeply about the cases. He has this laser focus. By the way, he thought “Ghettoside” was a book about the [Tennelle] case and everything else in it was just filler.”

Two men were convicted of Tennelle’s murder and both are in prison.

Of, course, all the murders weren’t solved. One of them was the 2006 Watts killing of 25-year-old Anthony Wayne Owens, Jr. shot to death at Imperial Courts housing project.

But, mention Skaggs to Anthony’s mother and she passionately praises him.

“That there is a good man,” says Cynthia Mendenhall, much better known in Watts as community activist Sista Soulja.  When she is told Skaggs is retiring, Sista gets silent for several seconds before saying “For real? You’re gonna make me cry.”

“John Skaggs treated me and my family like we were his family,” said Sista, a former PJ Crip who turned peacemaker and community activist more 20 years ago.  “John was hurt he couldn’t solve Tony’s murder. But, he just couldn’t get what he wanted from the people that knew.  He took it personally.  He is, I guess now was, a great detective. He wasn’t there for the check. He was there for the people.  It was like he was on a mission to catch killers before another innocent life was lost”

Lashell Lewis is mother whose son’s murder was solved by Skaggs. 

In March, 2004, Edwin Johnson, 18, was visiting friends at 97th and Hickory in the Jordan Downs housing project in Watts. A car of rival drove by and Edwin was shot five times.

The mom said that though her son was born in L.A. , he was raised in Big Bear which did not prepare him for the mean streets.

“My son, not being raised in Watts, didn’t know how to dodge bullets,” said Lewis. “I was devastated. I put my faith in John.”

Eight months later, Skaggs having pulled out his main tools – perseverance, charm, trust, sincerity and respect –  solved the case.

“John treated me as a human person with love, kindness and respect,’ said Lewis. “He assured me he would not give up. He treated me, ya know, with love. I think of him not so much as a friend, but more like a big cousin or an uncle.”

March, 2006 – LAPD Officer Sam Marullo and his homicide training officer Det. John Skaggs are driving by the sprawling U.S. Post Office facility on Central and Florence avenues in South Central Los Angeles.

Marullo’s preparing himself to give a “notification” to mother whose 17-year-old son has been killed near Nickerson Gardens.

 Skaggs points at the post office.

 “You know, Sammy, this is the largest mail facility west of the Mississippi.”

 Marullo doesn’t even look up and just says “They must have stamps for days.”

Marullo, who formally became a homicide detective in February, 2014, is grateful for Skaggs’ mentorship. Still, he enjoys chiding Skaggs about the mail facility.

“Every single time we passed that place he would say that. ‘This is the largest mail facility west of the Mississippi.” And most every time I would act as though I hadn’t already heard that.  

When it came Marullo’s time to train officers, he followed his mentor’s tradition of telling them about the mail facility.

“I would then say, ‘Did I already tell you that?’ and they would say “Yeah, about three times.’ Millennials. I guess I came from a different era because each of the 15 times John told me that, I act as though it was the first time I heard that useless fact.”

Marullo said Skaggs had high expectations of him and that made him work harder and smarter.

“I find myself placing those same expectations on the trainees with whom I've worked.”

Marullo went on.

“John was dedicated to working murders.  He sacrificed half of his life to chasing killers.  He always left a positive impression on the victims' families and always followed through with his promise to do all that he could to find the person who killed their loved one. He is not only a mentor, but a friend.”  

This morning, shortly after 9 a.m., Skaggs landed at LAX after a week in Memphis and headed for his last shift.

“I’m leaving with a ton of great memories and a few bad ones after 30 years of service,” said Skaggs. “It was an awesome ride.”

Maybe if Frank Bullitt and Dirty Harry Callahan were real, they coulda learned a few things from John Skaggs, the big city detective with the small town heart. Check out the photo below. That’s a real homicide detective. Ain’t nothing Hollywood about it.

Skaggs Hollywood

California Cherry Growers To Consider Boycotting Nancy Silverton After She Calls Michigan Cherry Pie "Best in the Nation"

Not since George Washington chopped down a cherry tree has the beloved little red fruit been embroiled in such controversy as it has this week after Nancy Silverton was heard on a "hot mic" saying the cherry crumb pie from Grand Traverse Pie Co. in Michigan was "the best in the nation."

The comment was immediately met with scorn by the California Cheery Growers Association (CCGA) and California Cherry Pickers Organization (CCPO) both of whom will meet later this week to consider a "limited boycott" of  some Nancy Silverton-related establishments.

"We will vote and see, but the boycott would be limited in scope," said Umberto "Stems" Guzman, president pro- tem of the CCGA. "We all know we would never win a vote to boycott all Nancy-related operations. We love Pizzeria Mozza too much for that." 

The particular Grand Traverse Pie Co. that caused the controversy was a Cherry Crumb made with Montmorency cherries and pastry cream that was sampled by the Mozza staff on "The Corner", (the fabled intersection of Highland and Melrose in Hollywood South.)

After taking several forkfuls, Silverton is heard saying "this is the best cherry pie in America". The comment was caught on a so called "hot" or 'live' microphone of a freelance Russian journalist who was doing a article about Silverton for the Stalingrad Gazette. 

The pie was a gift to Silverton from New York based cook Mario Batali who, apparently, likes the pie, too.

Efforts to reach Grand Traverse Pie Co. owners Mike and Denise Busley for a comment were fruitless

The Grand Traverse Pie Co. started in Traverse City,  in northwest Michigan and now has locations throughout Michigan and even one in Terra Haute, Indiana. To see if Silverton was right check out SHOP..GTPIE.COM

cherry pie

FBI Operative Known As "The Magnet" Said To Be Pizzeria Mozza Newport GM Doug Zamensky

For several years, it was presumed that Pizzeria Mozza Newport general manager Doug Zamensky, the red-headed Idaho native who earned a dubious reputation as one of America's most likely robbery victims, was simply a small-town guy. in over his head in the big, bad city.

Friday however, Krikorian Writes, the Washington Post and Orange County Register all broke the story that Zamensky is actually a highly regarded operative known as "The Magnet" working with the FBI to draw out some of the most hardened criminals in Southern California. 

The FBI would neither confirm or deny the reports, however sources in the fabled agency leaked a shocking video of a stolen taxi cab speeding into the parking lot of Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach on Pacific Coast Highway with a Newport Police Department SUV hot on its tail. Seconds later, as the parking valet watches. four policemen are seen sprinting back toward PCH in hot pursuit of the suspects who jumped the wall separating the restaurant from a Ferrari dealership.

In a separate video obtained by Krikorian Writes only,  Zamensky is briefly seen looking out of a Mozza door to the parking lot waiting. according to the sources, for the stolen cab to appear. A mere 31 seconds after Zamensky opened the door to the parking lot, the stolen cab appears and the suspects exit and run off.

A source explained how Zamensky became "The Magnet."

"The first robbery was legit,"  said a law enforcement sources speaking on the condition of anonymity and referring to an armed La Brea Avenue holdup in which Zamensky was the victim. "But, RHD (LAPD'S Robbery Homicide Division) started using Doug as a set up victim.  They'd put Doug in an area and watch him. Pretty soon he would get robbed. We got Rollin 60s, Grape, Florencia, even remnants of the old Weather Underground. Doug became known as 'Th Magnet'. He's a legend."

In the latest case in Newport, the taxi cabs thieves were allegedly part of a ring that would steal just about anything and sell it at the swap meet. One of the alleged robbers is said to have a warrant out for his arrest issued by RHD. 

Zamensky could not be reached for comment. 

 

 

 

LAPD To Increase Patrols Along Sunset Blvd. During Annual Feldmeier Bros. "Sip 'n Stumble"; Mass Protests Expected

In an effort to assuage public outrage over Saturday's Los Angeles City Council-approved Pub Crawl led by two Assyrian brothers, the LAPD announced it would increase both foot and horse-mounted patrols along the Sunset Boulevard route of what has been called "a drunken stumble of debauchery and arguments."

Reversing himself on a campaign promise, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he is bound constitutionally to allow the controversial "Cultural Stroll" along Sunset from Western Avenue to Downtown. However, in Friday's closed session of the City Council, Garcetti said he hopes it "rains like dogs and cats Saturday and the sip 'n stumble is canceled", according to sources..  

Both organizers of the pub crawl, where attendees stop at a bar for a drink then walk to the next bar for another until they reach Union Station, professed bewilderment over the negative response to the upcoming event. 

"I don't get the big uproar over a few guys having a beer or two and walking along one of the most famous streets in the world," said Chris Feldmeier, who, along  with his brother Duke, is organizing the event. "You would think people would welcome a group of culturally minded men who enjoy the city's incredibly diverse cultures and will not be on the roads driving."

The route will go through Little Armenia, Thai Town. Filipino Town, Michoacan North, Dodger Stadium South, Echo Park, and Chinatown. 

Duke Feldmeier, a professor of anthropology and Chris's brother, said the "stroll" will give participants "a ground-level view of some of the most vibrant cultures in the city. It is one thing to drive by and see the diversity, it is a completely different and enthralling experience to walk among the cultures."

Still,many weren't buying it.

"Cultural stroll, my ass, it's a sip 'n stumble if I every heard one," said Rabbi Golda Strichmarcs, who will lead a protest march at the point in the walk where  participants are expected to reach .20 blood alcohol level, (two-and-a-half times the legal limit). "Well, if you consider vomiting on public monuments cultural, then I guess it is accurately named."

In addition to a heavy LAPD, the FBI will be monitoring the "walk".  David Chang, Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field office, said it was a "no brainer"  the FBI would have an interest in the march  "Look at the guy in the photo below. He's the poster boy for a mid-level Al Qaeda commander." 

Meanwhile. Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has offered to send a  representative, Francis Sebastian, to "represent Manila with all the class, curiosity  and open-mindedness for which we are famous." 

Both Feldmeiers rejected outright Duterte's offer. 

"I want to have fun," said Chris Feldmeier, "I do not, repeat, do not. want a two-hour lecture on Genghis Khan."

The list of announced walkers reads like a who's who of rambling drunks with opinions so fixed it would take a car bomb to dislodge them. One of them, Ken Epstein  - a Jew from Australia, which automatically makes him suspicious -. is perhaps best known - and loathed - for a Facebook comment that seemed to indicate he did not think Donald J. Trump is one of the five worst people in recorded history.

At press time, it was not known if Epstein's chief Facebook opponents, Ralph Waxman and Murray Rubinstein, would partake in the sip'n stumble. I mean Cultural Stroll.   

chris F

 

 

 

My Lunch With KeeKee Watson, Played Infamous Role On Florence and Normandie

On April 29, 1992, I had a big-time hankering for my favorite hot dog. Just as I was about to roll out to Art’s Famous Chili Dogs, at Florence and Normandie, my cousin Greg called. “I’m going to Art’s,” I told him. Greg yelled at me: “Do not go to Art’s! Turn on the TV.”

I did, and what I saw was Reginald Denny a brick’s throw from Art’s, getting stomped. As I watched, one of his attackers, Henry Keith “KeeKee” Watson, stood, almost casually, on Denny’s neck.

Twenty-five years later, I’m at a pizzeria with KeeKee, now 52, talking about the riots. He can be an imposing man; big, wide, capable of a frightening sneer. But on this day, he’s charming. The two female servers smile when he raves about his three-cheese pizza. His glowing review of butterscotch pudding could not be printed here. (The servers ask him to write it on a comment card.)

Watson remembers the mayhem of 1992 as cathartic — a furious release — and yet it had no lasting impact on his neighborhood, three blocks from the Florence and Normandie flashpoint. What fed the fury, he will tell you, only gets worse.

“Twenty-something years ago, they was beating guys like Rodney. Now they’re shootin’,” Watson said. In 2016, he witnessed a police shooting in an alley near 107th and Western Avenue. “Half the time they ain’t traffic stops. They are assassinations.”

Twenty-something years ago, they was beating guys like Rodney. Now they’re shootin’.

 Keith “KeeKee” Watson

Watson acknowledges his pivotal involvement in the ’92 riots, but he puts the overall onus on the police.

“The LAPD is 99% to blame. When I first saw the Rodney King beating, we were kind of excited because it was like, finally, this was caught on tape.

“Just about any black man in Watts, Green Meadows, any South Central neighborhood — getting your ass kicked by the police was not news. It was a matter of fact. We thought finally, finally, finally they caught them on video.”

Then the verdict came in.

“I was shocked. I was in disbelief. I was pissed off,” Watson said. “On 69th Street everyone was upset. It was like validation that it was OK for the LAPD to beat black men. The turmoil was kicking up. Minute by minute it was getting turned up.”

In court a year later, Watson would escape felony conviction; he was found guilty of misdemeanor assault and released for time already served. In his defense, his lawyer said, he got caught up in “crowd contagion.”

This is the way KeeKee explains it now: “It’s like if you told me you had an extra Garth Brooks ticket, I’d say, ‘Brother Mike, I’m gonna have to pass on that.’ But if you were able to convince me to go, hell, 30, 40 minutes into the concert, I’d be do-si-doing. That’s what happened at Florence and Normandie.”

Michael Krikorian, author of the crime novel “Southside,” was a freelance writer in 1992. His Tweeter acount is @makmak47  .  Henry Keith Watson apologized to Reginald Denny in court and on television in 1993. He has been a limousine driver since 1996.

KeeKee.jpg

"I Have No Further Questions" - The People vs. The Mozza Journalist

                                                          "I HAVE NO FURTHER QUESTIONS"

ACT 1

EXT. LOS ANGLES CRIMINAL COURTS BUILDNG, DOWNTOWN - DAY
Throngs walk into the 20-story building. A man tosses a L.A. Times into a trash can. 

CLOSE - THE NEWSPAPER
The headline reads “Trial of Mozza Journalist Missing Deadline Begins”

INT. COURTROOM 112, 9TH FLOOR. ON A PLAQUE READS “JUDGE LANCE ITO”. 
Judge Lance Ito is presiding. Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark approaches the witness stand where Michael Krikorian sits. At the defense table sits Johnnie Cochran. There is no jury as this is a bench trial, aka a trial by judge.

                                                                                CLARK
                                            Would you state to the courtroom your occupation? 
                                                                                KRIKORIAN
                                            I work at The Corner.
                                                                                CLARK
                                            Could you be less vague?
                                                                               COCHRAN
                                            Objection. She’s being combative. Some things don’t change. 
                                                                                ITO
                                            Overruled. The defendant will answer the question. 
                                                                               KRIKORIAN
                                            I work for Nancy Silverton on the corner of Highland and Melrose. 
                                                                               CLARK
                                            What is your position there?
                                                                               KRIKORIAN
                                            I am a Special Forces Oerator. I have a wide variety of                                                                                                                       tasks, some of which I cannot talk about.
                                                                               CLARK
                                            Okay, Mr. Mysterio. But, isn't it true you also work for one                                                                                                                 Christine Larroucau?
                                                                               KRIKORIAN
                                            If she needs me, I’m there. 
                                                                               CLARK
                                           And isn’t it true she often needs you to write up the fabled                                                                                                                Mozza Employee of the Month Award for, as you call it, “The Corner”?
                                                                              KRIKORIAN
                                          I’ve helped her, yes.
                                                                              CLARK
                                          You’re being modest, Mr. Krikorian Isn’t it true                                                                                                                                     you actually write most of them? 

Marcia Clark takes out a briefcase and pulls out a several sheets of paper. 

                                                                              CLARK (CONT’D)
                                          I’d like to submit these.
She hands the papers to a clerk. 
                                                                              CLARK (CONT’D)
                                          Submission People’s 1. These are at least seven                                                                                                                                 Employee on the Month awards you have written.                                                                                                                             To wit, Corina, Luis, Miguel, Cole, Jason...  
                                                                              COCHRAN
                                          Objection. Your honor, where is this going? This man is a                                                                                                                   Special Forces Operator who happens to be able to                                                                                                                         write. Is that a crime?
                                                                               CLARK
                                          May I proceed, your honor?
                                                                                ITO
                                          Proceed. 
                                                                               CLARK
                                          And in all of these profiles, or whatever you call them,                                                                                                                       you are always on time. You meet deadline. You're a journalist                                                                                                         in your other life. Isn’t that true?
                                                                                ITO
                                          Miss Clark, get to the point
                                                                               KRIKORIAN
                                          I’ll answer it. Yes. I’m a deadline journalist. 
                                                                              CLARK
                                          Now I would like to go back a couple months. Isn’t it true                                                                                                                 on or about February 27, this Miss Larroucau informed you of                                                                                                           the next two employees of the month? One being a Jason. 
                                                                              KRIKORIAN
                                         Who?
                                                                             CLARK. 
                                         Jason the Osteria Mozza server.
                                                                             KRIKORIAN
                                         Oh, yeah. Yes. 
                                                                             CLARK
                                         And she also told you the next employee of the                                                                                                                                  month after Jason.
                                                                             KRIKORIAN
                                        Yes.
                                                                             CLARK
                                        Was that unusual for her to tell you two employees of the                                                                                                                 months at the same time?
                                                                             KRIKORIAN
                                        Yes.
                                                                             CLARK
                                        So you had a long time to finish the second one. Why were you,                                                                                                     a deadline reporter, late with this month’s Employee of the Month                                                                                                   Award? Why did you miss deadline?  
                                                                             KRIKORIAN
                                        I, uh, I wanted to make this special.
                                                                             CLARK. 
                                        Why?
                                                                             KRIKORIAN
                                        Well, it’s a honor to get this award. People like to be                                                                                                                         honored at work. It makes them feel good. 
                                                                             CLARK
                                        But, the past winners were honored, too. They must have been special.                                                                                         You were on time for them. Why did you miss this deadline? Who was                                                                                             the winner? Tell us.
                                                                             COCHRAN
                                        Objection. She’s badgering the defendant. 
                                                                             JUDGE ITO
                                        Overruled. Answer the question. 
                                                                             KRIKORIAN
                                       Well, when I heard who it was, I wanted to make it just a little extra special. 
                                                                             JUDGE ITO
                                       Krikorian, answer the damn question. Who was this                                                                                                                            month’s employee of the month?
                                                                             KRIKORIAN
                                      Eva.
END OF ACT ONE

ACT 2

INT. COURTROOM - DAY

Everyone is in place again.

                                                                            JUDGE ITO
                                      Miss Clark, call your witness.

Marcia Clark addresses the court.
                                                                            CLARK
                                      The People call Anna Nguyen. 
Anna takes the witness stand.
                                                                             CLARK (CONT’D)
                                       What do you do for a living?
                                                                             ANNA
                                       I work at the Mozzarella Bar with Nancy Silverton  at                                                                                                                          Osteria Mozza located on The Corner.                                                                                                                           
                                                                            CLARK
                                       Ah, the Corner, again. Must be fun. 
Marcia Clark takes a CD and approaches the judge.
                                                                            CLARK (CONT’D)
                                       Your honor the People would like to play this CD.

Krikorian leans over to Cochran.
                                                                             KRIKORIAN
                                         Sinatra? Coltrane?
                                                                            JUDGE ITO
                                         Miss Clark you can play the CD. 

The courtroom darkens and a large monitor plays a video.

THE VIDEO
Anna is at the South Side of the Mozzarella Bar with Osteria line cook Kirsten Mayell and the defendant.  

                                                                          ANNA
                                       So when is the next Employee of the Month?
                                                                         KRIKORIAN
                                       Wednesday. It will be turned in by 5 pm.
                                                                         KIRSTEN
                                       Who is it?
                                                                         KRIKORIAN
                                       Can’t say yet. Only my editor Chile Rico can announce it.  
                                                                         ANNA
                                       Have you ever missed a deadline for Chile Rico?
                                                                         KRIKORIAN
                                       Never.
                                                                         KIRSTEN
                                       Never ever?
                                                                         KRIKORIAN
                                       Never ever.

The video ends. The Courtroom lights come back on. 

                                                                         CLARK
                                        Do you know the date of the “Wednesday” the                                                                                 defendant refers to was April 4th?
                                                                         ANNA
                                        Yes. Something like that.
                                                                         CLARK
                                         Can you tell the courtroom what the date is today?
                                                                         ANNA
                                         I think it’s April 18th, 19th. Something like that.
                                                                         CLARK
                                         I have no further questions.

Johnnie Cochran approaches the witness. 
                                                                        COCHRAN
                                         Good afternoon, Miss Anna. You are looking quite                                                                                                                              lovely today.
                                                                         CLARK
                                         Objection. He’s flattering the witness to get her                                                                                                                                  on his side.
                                                                        JUDGE ITO
                                         Overruled. She does look good. Continue, Mister Cochran. 
                                                                        COCHRAN
                                        Thank you, your honor.  Now, do you know Eva?
                                                                        ANNA
                                        I know who she is. I don’t know her well. But, she seems                                                                                                                   awfully nice. 
                                                                       COCHRAN
                                        And Mr. Krikorian here, does he seem the type to hastily                                                                                                                   write something on a employee like this?
                                                                       CLARK
                                        Objection. The point of the trial is did he meet deadline,                                                                                                                   not if he wrote “Anna Karenina” about this Ava lady.
                                                                       KRIKORIAN
                                        Eva. Not Ava.
                                                                      JUDGE ITO
                                       The defendant will remain quiet when he is not on                                                                                                                             the stand,
                                                                      KRIKORIAN
                                        I was just righting a wrong..
                                                                      JUDGE ITO
                                       And any further outbursts and I will have the bailiffs                                                                                                                          restrain you. 
                                                                     JUDGE ITO (CONT’D)
                                       Continue, Mr. Cochran. 
                                                                     COCHRAN
                                       Have you read the last seven or so Employee of the Month                                                                                                              awards written mostly by my client?
                                                                     ANNA
                                       Yes. I’ve enjoyed them all. Even the people I don’t know. 
                                                                     COCHRAN
                                       I have no further questions.
                                                                     JUDGE ITO
                                       Miss Clark, your next witness?
                                                                     CLARK
                                       The People call Christine Larroucau.
Christine takes the stand
                                                                    CLARK (CONT’D)
                                       What do you do for a living?
                                                                    CHRISTINE
                                       I am the general manager of Pizzeria Mozza located...
                                                                    CLARK
                                       Wait. Don't tell me. Located on The Corner?

                                                                    CHRISTINE                                                                                                                                                                  That's correct.

                                                                    CLARK                                                                                                                                                                        And isn’t it true, among you many duties,  you are                                                                                                                              more or less in charge of the coveted Employee of                                                                                                                            the Month Award? 
                                                                    CHRISTINE
                                        I don’t decide it, but I am among several who vote.      
                                                                    CLARK
                                        But, you have the task of putting the award together,                                                                                                                         having it written, editing it, making the presentation                                                                                                                           and such. Isn’t that true?
                                                                   CHRISTINE
                                      Yes.
                                                                   CLARK
                                      And the title of the award is Employee of the Month,                                                                                                                         correct?
                                                                   COCHRAN
                                      Objection. Asked and answered. Already established.
                                                                   JUDGE ITO
                                      Overruled. Answer the question.
                                                                    CHRISTINE
                                      Yes, it is. 
                                                                    CLARK
                                      Are you aware that the last employee of the so-called                                                                                                                       “Month”, Jason, was honored around February 9th or                                                                                                                        thereabouts? 
                                                                   CHRISTINE
                                     I’m not sure the exact date, but something like that.
                                                                   CLARK
                                    And are you aware that today is April 19?
                                                                   CHRISTINE
                                    Something like that.
                                                                   CLARK
                                    So in your Mozza world does that mean the month                                                                                                                             of March does not exist?
                                                                   COCHRAN
                                    Objection She is badgering the witness.
                                                                   JUDGE ITO
                                    Overruled. Miss Larroucau, please answer the question.
                                                                   CHRISTINE
                                    March was a crazy month at Mozza. Nancy was gone a lot.                                                                                                               So was I. March went by in a blur. And let me just say that is not                                                                                                       unusual for more than a single month to go by without an Employee                                                                                               of the Month Award given out.
                                                                   CLARK
                                    Maybe you should rename the award the “Employee of the Every 9 Weeks”.                                                                                 I have no further.
                                                                  JUDGE ITO
                                    Mister Cochran?
Johnnie approaches the witness.
                                                                   COCHRAN.
                                    You sure look lovely today, Miss Larroucau.
                                                                   CLARK.
                                    Jesus Christ. I knew that was coming. Here we go again.
                                                                   JUDGE ITO
                                    Once again, I concur, Mister Cochran. 
                                                                    CLARK
                                    Like I didn’t know that.
                                                                    COCHRAN
                                    Now, though your legal and birth name is Christine Larroucau,                                                                                                         you are also known by many at The Corner by another name.                                                                                                         Isn’t that true?
                                                                   CHRISTINE.
                                    Yes. 
                                                                   COCHRAN
                                    And that name is Chile Rico, correct? 
                                                                   CHILE RICO
                                    Si. Yes.
                                                                   COCHRAN
                                    And who gave you that name?
                                                                   CHILE RICO
                                    Frank. I mean Michael

                                                                    COCHRAN
                                    And why is that your name, Miss Rico?
                                                                   CHILE RICO
                                    My father is from Chile, by way of Basque Spain and my mother                                                                                                       is from Puerto Rico.
                                                                   CLARK
                                    Objection.  What the hell does this woman’s geographical background                                                                                           have to do with the case? This man is charged with missing deadline,                                                                                             not giving this witness a nickname. 
                                                                   JUDGE ITO
                                    Overruled. Besides, Beside, I like the name Chile Rico.                                                                                                                     Continue, Mister Cochran.
                                                                   CLARK
                                    Good thing her father wasn’t from Madagascar and her mother from                                                                                               Uzbekistan.  
                                                                  JUDGE ITO
                                    Miss Clark. Please refrain from those type of comments. Mister                                                                                                       Cochran. 
                                                                  COCHRAN. 
                                    Now, Miss Rico,  you and the defendant, Mr. Krikorian,  when you                                                                                                     two text, it’s in, like, a special code. 
                                                                 CHILE RICO.
                                    It’s bit complicated. But, it’s a mix of Spanish, English,  some slang                                                                                                   and, ocassionally, a little French. 
                                                                 CLARK
                                    Objection. Irrelevant. What the hell does that have to do with this                                                                                                   case? They could text each other in Swahili and it would not matter                                                                                                 to this case. 
                                                                COCHRAN
                                    Your honor, if I am allowed to continue this line of questioning, it                                                                                                      will become obvious as to the relevance of this special language. 
                                                                JUDGE ITO
                                    Proceed. But, I’m warning you, Mister Cochran. get to the point quickly. 

Cochran produces a cell phone. 
                                                                COCHRAN
                                    Your honor, I’d like to admit this cell phone into the proceedings. 
                                                                JUDGE ITO
                                    Granted.
                                                                COCHRAN
                                    This is the defendant’s phone.

Johnnie takes the phone, pushes some buttons and it is displayed on the monitor for all to see. 

On the monitor reads. 
MICHAEL -‘LO SIENTO HAVE NOT GOT TU EVA
CHILE - NO ES UN PROBLEMA
CHILE - TIENES ALL LE TIEMPOS
MICHAEL - TU KNOW YO QUERER TO DO THIS UNO RIGHT

The monitor is turned off.  

Johnnie Cochran approaches Chile Rico again.
                                                                COCHRAN (CONT’D)
                                    Can you translate this?
                                                                CHILE RICO
                                    Michael is telling me he’s sorry for not having sent me the latest                                                                                                      Employee of the Month Award, which is for Eva,
                                                               COCHRAN
                                     And these lines from you, first “No es un problema”                                                                                                                          followed by a "Tienes all le tiempo“. 
                                                               CHILE RICO
                                    That it is “not a problem” and to “take all the time”.
                                                               COCHRAN
                                    I’m sorry, Miss Rico. Could you repeat that. 
                                                               CHILE RICO
                                    It’s not a problem, take all the time
                                                               COCHRAN
                                   Your honor, I have no further questions.
                                                              JUDGE ITO
                                   Miss Clark, your next witness.
                                                              CLARK
                                   I think the People have proved without a shadow of a doubt                                                                                                            that defendant is guilty as charged of not meeting deadline.                                                                                                            The people rest.
END OF ACT 2

ACT 3
The courtroom fills up again after a brief recess.  

                                                             JUDGE ITO
                                    Mister Cochran. Would you like to call any witnesses?
                                                             COCHRAN
                                    Only one witness, your honor. 
                                                             JUDGE ITO.
                                   Proceed then.
                                                             COCHRAN
                                   The defense calls Eva Gallner. 

A slight gasp goes through the courtroom gallery.

Eva Gallner walks in the courtroom doors, rather struts in.  High heels and, surprisingly, a stunning Marni dress. She walks by a stylish woman in the gallery. The woman grabs Eva’s wrist as she walks by and whispers to her. 
                                                              WOMAN
                                     Don’t spill any Budweiser on Nancy’s dress.

Eva continues to the witness stand. Johnnie Cochran and Judge Ito look at each other and nod. Marcia Clark rolls her eyes. Eva looks at Michael.
                                                               EVA
                                      Hi, Frank. 
                                                               MICHAEL
                                      Hi, Olive.
                                                               CLARK
                                      Jesus Christ! Objection. This is a courtroom of law,                                                                                                                             not Pizzeria Mozza. We're not on the goddamn Corner!
                                                               JUDGE ITO
                                      Miss Clark, relax.   Mister Cochran, proceed.
                                                               JOHNNIE COCHRAN
                                      Good afternoon, Miss Gallner.
                                                               EVA
                                      Hello, Mister Johnnie.
Johnnie Cochran smiles big.
                                                              COCHRAN
                                      I have no further questions.
The courtroom gallery is stunned.
                                                              JUDGE ITO
                                      What do you mean? You haven’t even asked                                                                                                                                       a single question of this witness. Your only witness.
                                                              COCHRAN
                                      Your honor, I don’t need to. Anyone can plainly see that                                                                                                                   this lady here would require an extra week or so to                                                                                                                           properly write an Employee of the Month Award.                                                                                                                               The defense rests.
                                                           JUDGE ITO
                                       Your call. Miss Clark. Any cross examination? 
                                                           MARICA CLARK
                                       Oh, what’s the point? I have no questions.
                                                          JUDGE ITO
                                       Sidebar.
Johnnie Cochran, Marcia Clark and Judge Ito confer for about 20 seconds then the two lawyers go back to their tables.
                                                          JUDGE ITO (CONT’D)
                                       Since the defendant asked for judge trial, not jury trial, I have quickly reached a verdict.  

The tension rises in the courtroom.

                                                          JUDGE ITO (CONT’D)
                                        The defendant shall rise.

Krikorian and his lawyer stand up.

                                                         JUDGE ITO (CONT’D)
                                         I, the judge, find the defendant, Michael “Frank” Krikorian                                                                                                                guilty of the crime of missing deadline.
The courtroom gasps.
                                                         JUDGE ITO (CONT’D)
                                          And I hereby sentence you to 10 years on The Corner.
                                                        KRIKORIAN
                                          Hmmp.  I could do another 10.

 Eva does that Kirk Gibson double clutch. Krikorian, Johnnie, the entire gallery, all the witnesses, they all loudly cheer!            Even Marcia Clark smiles.

                                                                    THE END

johnnie cochran dashing to the trial of the century 

johnnie cochran dashing to the trial of the century