Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Lily Belle Burk

Last Friday night, after a busy, consummated work week, I relaxed while enjoying a meal of Weenie Tots and mixed vegetables while watching the romantic comedy (chick flick) He's Just Not That Into You, starring Drew Barrymore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Frangela, and my favorite contemporary actress, Jennifer Connelly. There may have been one or two male actors in the cast somewhere, or else how could the case be made that men are pigs.
My answer to the ever ongoing observation that men are pigs because they do not follow the dictates of women's evolutionary mandates, is simply this... if women were men they'd act like pigs too (or appear to at least)!
I must admit the only reason that I watched the film was to see Ms Connelly, in what for her was a rare appearance in a basically comedic role, her reputation (and Academy Award) being based primarily in the dramatic genre. I think she came through with flying colors, as I really enjoyed her character, and sympathized with that character's unique priorities (she gets more upset about her husband lying to her about his continued smoking, than his affair with Johansson). Her scene with contactor Luis Guzman was hilarious, and I hope she will attempt more straight forward comedy in the future.
After the film I felt the need to balance out all the hilariousness with Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. Moyers, the former Press Secretary to President Lyndon Johnson, and a liberal commentator, explored the issue of national health care that is currently winding its way through Congress, the concensus tonight being that the medical insurance industry, and pharmaceutical industry have already received so many concessions from lawmakers that they are going to come out of this as winners no matter what congress passes, and that tax payer backed subsidies will continue to flow through their big pockets. Still, they don't want a public option as competition, and they expecially don't want single payer (universal) health care, which they have effectively lobbied off the table. Which is why, one guest surmised, we should scrap the current bill, and return to the single payer option. I tend to agree.
The second half of the show explored the possible connection between extreme right wing attack talk radio and television hosts, such as Michael Savage (Weiner), Bill O'Rielly, and Glen Beck, labeling those that disagree with them as traitors, communists, and murderers (O'Rielly repeatedly calling abortion provider, Dr. George R. Tiller, a mass murderer (who was later murdered inside his own church), and Beck stating he'd like to kill Michael Moore) etc., and actual acts of violence carried out against these targets, or those who closely... or remotely, represent them.
How could there possibly be a connection?!
At least the show was an hours respite from the ongoing controversy of a Cambridge MA, police Sargeant arresting Professor Henry Gates for disorderly conduct within his own home. Granted President Obama did not help matters much by calling the action stupid, but Erin's God! This story's been on the news twenty four/seven since it happened, being labeled as a blatant case of racial profiling. I think this story has received so much twenty four hour attention simply because the cable networks run twenty four hours, and as Stephie Miller points out, describing the confrontation as more of a "man thing," or macho encounter, than racial in nature. Again, I tend to agree.
Enough already! Stop! I'm tired of hearing about it. Both of you go have a beer with Barack. There is no problem that cannot be solved with alcohol.
Anyway, the very next day, a Saturday as it turns out, Jose and I planned to visit the Griffith Observatory, located conveniently enough in Griffith Park, in the hills above Hollywood, just east of the famous "Hollywood" sign.
But first, before we left, nourishment must be procured. After transposing for a few hours, documents in the Salvation Diary series, at 7:00, I decided to stretch out for awhile, and went to the garden to water it.
I found two cats out there, suspiciously close to our garden, hurriedly running away as I approached. They may have been running away because I was trying to squirt them with the hose I happened to be holding. They disappeared into the brush on the other side of the chain-link fence that is the eastern border of our garden.
I also found two young men on the other side of the fence, which was very unusual, as I had really never seen anyone out there before. They seemed to be taking measurements of some kind, thereby obscuring their obvious tresspassing with some form of legitimacy. Still I hosed them off thoroughly, much to their surprise and consternation. Angry shouts and threats of retribution were directed, I believe, in my direction. I made a hasty retreat.
Next I made my way west on Sixth Street to Towne and waited patiently for some nice Asian people to arrive and hand out glazed donuts and Ramen noodle soup. They are connected with some church (I don't know which one as the printing on the vehicles they arrive in are written in Asian) and come every week around that time in the morning. When I got there they had not arrived yet, and I took my place in the small line that was starting. I was there for the tasty donuts.
While I waited I couldn't help but notice two Asian gentlemen playing music right across the street from where I was standing. One man playing guitar, keyboards, and providing the lead vocals. His friend was playing the drums.
They were almost impossible not to notice. They played some Credence Clear Water Revival songs, "California Dreaming" by The Mamas and the Papas, Eagles, etc. During a break the purpose of their display became apparent when the singer said we were all there celebrating God.
I was there for the donuts.
Soon the donut and noodle people came. The line had grown to over a block long. I got mine, seven donuts, and I took the soup too, then was on my way home.
Unbeknownst to me, and unknown to me until Monday morning, approximately and hour and forty five minutes before I secured my 7 donuts, the body of Lily Belle Burk, age 17, was found near the intersection of Fifth St. and Alameda, about a block from my box. She was discovered by an employee of a nearby business, presumably the same gas station where Paul and I had inflated his dolly's tires a few days previously (see, Puzzles & Bricks). She was found in her own black Volvo, in the passenger seat, apparently having been bludgeoned to death and her neck slashed. There were signs of a struggle.
She had left her home in Los Feliz the day before at about 2:30 to pick up some papers for her mother from the Southwestern University School of Law, where her mother worked as an adjunct professor. About an hour later she made calls to both of her parents asking them how she might get cash from an ATM machine using her credit card, something her card was not set up to do. Her parents state that she did not sound distressed.
She did not return Friday night and her parents contacted police and filed a missing persons report.
The next morning her body was discovered. Police estimate she had been dead from 5:00PM the day before.
That Friday at 5:30PM, Charlie Samuel, aged 50, was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia on 3rd Street. His fingerprints were discovered in Lily's Volvo and is now being held on suspicion of murder without bail. Sources said Samuel had a previous history of assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, and kidnaping, and if he did indeed kill that lovely young girl I am ashamed that I am against the death penalty.
From the LA Times: "The thing we want people to know about Lily is that she was a beautiful person and that she was looking forward to her life. She was funny, warm, kind and empathetic. She was deeply and widely loved," read the statement from her parents, Deborah Drooz and Gregory Burk, a Times freelancer who writes about pop music.
Burk was supposed to begin her senior year at Oakwood School in North Hollywood in the fall.
She was set to star in her high school's production of a David Mamet play and planned to volunteer helping the homeless this summer."
Dear Erin, I hope your heaven is real, and Lily now resides there.
My sincere condolences go to her parents, family, and friends.
May she rest in peace.
Update from NBC Los Angeles, May 28th 2010:

Charlie Samuel was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the July 24, 2009, slaying of Lily Belle Burk. During the sentencing hearing, he apologized to the girl's family.

He pleaded guilty first-degree murder, kidnapping to commit robbery, second-degree robbery, attempted first-degree ATM robbery, carjacking and kidnapping for carjacking. He admitted special circumstance allegations of murder during a carjacking, kidnapping and robbery.

The plea deal saved him from a possible death sentence

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