or “Florida man kills Florida man. Dateline: Jacksonville, 1991.”
A refection by Michael “I remember when sex was safe and music was dangerous” Dean
So, in case you’ve been living in a cave or never listened to the Freedom Feens, I used to play in a rock group called BOMB.
Before the World Wide Web and before Photoshop was common (and usable), our meme makers actually went to college for graphic arts, and did page layout with glue and a big piece of cardboard, not with a computer mouse. Their work had to be photographed and split into four color screens to be able to be printed anywhere. It was expensive, difficult, and required trained people to do it right.
The guy who did most of Bomb’s posters and two of our record covers, Richard Carse, was a graphic artist by trade. When I knew him, he worked as a well-paid long-term temp at places like Bank of America and at various high-end San Francisco advertising agencies doing graphic art.
At some point he started doing a lot of crystal meth, lost his job, moved from San Francisco to Florida, started dating my ex-girlfriend Beth, and ended up in a domestic dispute with her where the police showed up and ended up shooting Richard and killing him.
Since this was in 1991, there’s nothing about it online except this little blurb on ancestry.com.
I don’t even have a picture of Richard, because no one had a digital camera back then, taking regular photos was expensive, and I’ve lost any pictures I had of anyone in my many moves since then.
He was handsome, tall, thin and wiry with high cheekbones and icy pale blue eyes. He often wore suits for work, and often wore suit jackets when not at work. He looked like someone who should be working at an Ivy League university, not someone who would be doing heroin and speed with bike messengers and punk rockers in the seedier parts of San Francisco. He was older than us. Last time I saw him he was 39, Tony (Tony Fag, the drummer in Bomb) and I were both 27.
I’ve always wondered if there was a newspaper report about Richard’s death, and today I got that. I’m kinda happy, it’s closure for me in some ways. Tony Fag and I actually had a theory that Richard had faked his death. Because that seems like something he’d maybe do, and because the only account of it we had was second hand, Beth had talked to Tony.
Feen fan extraordinaire Carl Lehár-Mikes was recently attending school in Jacksonville. (You may have met him at Porcfest two years ago, the year that I was there. Tall handsome European dude with long blond hair. He was hanging out with the Feens almost non-stop, but didn’t talk a lot.)
I asked Carl to do me a huge favor and go to the local library to look up any newspaper articles about Richard’s death. I said to look on microfilm at the first week of July 1991, and to send me scans of anything he found. After I explained what microfilm is and how to use it, he went, armed only with the approximate date (Tony and I never knew the exact date, and actually found out on July 4th), and names and a brief explanation of what happened, and he found it for me! It’s below. My comments, and some of Richard’s art, are below that.
I say that from what is in the article, from what Beth told Tony, and from what I know about Richard.
(EDIT: READ THE COMMENT BELOW FROM Maurice Kern, AND MY REPLY TO HIM. TURNS OUT BETH WAS A HALF-BLOCK AWAY AND NOT IN ANY DANGER. THE COP PROBABLY MURDERED RICHARD.)
And I’m not one of those “If the police shoot you, you must have deserved it” idiots. I think that at LEAST 9 times out of 10 when cops shoot someone, it’s a cop getting away with murder. But:
I believe the police description of what happened (that’s rare, I usually don’t). But I knew Richard VERY well…..as well as he’d let someone know him. I’d spent hundreds of hours in the same room with him, had many long talks, and we were friends.
- Richard was suicidal. I saw him do things and say things that made it clear he had a death wish. Including one time saying if anyone ever pulled a gun on him he’d say “Go ahead and shoot me, motherfucker.” i.e. basically saying “I’ll probably commit suicide by cop (or suicide by mugger).” He also got a tattoo while I knew him of a skeletal hand on his shoulder. He said it symbolized that “Death is always near and always right behind you.”
- Richard couldn’t handle his drink. And was worse on speed. Nutty. Crazy. Violent. He once went from talking calmly to tackling me with no provocation at all. He held me down in a choke hold until people pulled him off me. (By the way, I have friends these days who are not insane, but you know, punk rock.) After people pulled him off of me, he sat in the corner laughing to himself for many minutes after. This newspaper article doesn’t mention meth, but Beth told Tony that Richard had been drinking heavily and doing meth for several days when this happened. Richard liked to snort meth, he also liked to shoot it. Don’t know which was the case here, but he likely hadn’t slept for several days. He was a binge user and that was his MO, to not sleep for several days.
- The police description sounds like Richard. Especially “…he growled a little and said ‘do it, do it’.”
- If a citizen, not a cop, had done the shooting, under the same circumstances, I’d say it was justified, and I think most gun owners reading this would say that too.
- You could say “Yeah, but the cops show up where they’re not wanted.” And they do. Often. But this was Beth’s house, where Richard was a guest, Beth had kicked him out, he wouldn’t leave, he’d cut himself (this is all true from her account to Tony also), and she called the police herself, to get him off her property. So basically, she’d voluntarily contracted the police to remove an aggressor who would not leave her property when told to. From there on out I treat this morally about the same as I’d treat it if Beth had called a private enforcer.
It’s good to finally get this newspaper article. I’ve wanted it since this happened, but didn’t know how to get it. If nothing else, I now know Richard is really dead, he didn’t fake his death.
I may try to track down the friend / neighbor mentioned in the article, though his account seems to reflect what Beth told Tony.
There are several reasons I’m discussing this instead of just letting it be. One is that Richard lived the kind of life where nothing I’ve written here would likely feel like a disgrace to him. He’d probably be happy to still be remembered, even for bad things. He’d think it was better than being forgotten.
Another reason is so you know that when I do describe the police shooting someone as murder, you’ll know that I’m not using that term lightly.
Fun facts: The Bomb song title “All My References are Dead” is a reference to Richard Carse, because I used to use him as a job reference. I did that because at the time he was one of my only friends with a “straight” job and a telephone. Also, the Bomb song “Hey Richard” is Tony’s advice to Richard to get him to embrace life instead of being preoccupied with death.
Richard didn’t take advice well.
Some art by Richard Carse:
Carl’s pictures of using Microfilm at the 4th floor of the Jacksonville Main Public Library: