Explore Scenes of the Crime With OZY
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because crime touches us all. And not in the good kind of way either.
By Eugene S. Robinson
This OZY original series explores our complex connections to crime.
To the sensible, the business pitch might have seemed much more than reasonable: pay what you owe or get paid what you owe. But a kind word and a hammer always got one collector further than just a kind word alone. Which brings us to Lester C., a former collections thug in New York who talks about the ins and outs of being a ball-peen hammer–wielding extortionist.
What do you do when a case is so cold cops won’t even touch it? If it’s your father who was killed, you do what Jon Kinyon did: fight for answers. From the post-Age of Aquarius–swinging San Francisco to a possibly mob-related murder, the answers weren’t matching the questions.
Boston in the late ’70s was not just the scene of some of the most lurid public examples of racist violence (Case in point: the famous photo of the Black man being stabbed by a Southie resident with an American flag), but it was unarguably the heyday of the Boston Irish Mafia. Underworld chronicler Phyllis Karas looks back at the Wild West of the last days of South Boston’s murder-mad mob.
Known as Muggable Mary, you could read about her adventures of urban derring-do on the daily in the New York Post. Appearing alternately as old women; old, blind women; and old, blind women on crutches, Mary’s job was to appear, as the name suggests, muggable. An endeavor that in the swelter of financial collapse, the infamous 1977 Blackout, a city in the serious grips of a heroin crisis saw her getting mugged during one shift five times.
Following in the footsteps of the hit Netflix TV parody American Vandal last year, true-crime parody podcasts, including The Onion’s ”A Very Fatal Murder” and Castbox’s ”This Sounds Serious,” take aim at our violence obsession. So what makes a good parody version? Here are some key ingredients: the self-importance of earnest, amateur detectives and armchair sociologists, and leaning into the absurd.
You’ve probably had a first date go from bad to worse, but from worse to gunplay? Well, that’s something else entirely. And all part of a narrative that started with a brutal West Indian father and ended with pre-Tinder gun-toting, knife-carrying dating.