Carjacking at CVS, and being accountable

Dateline: Tue 26 May 2015

    Skip, a resident of Butler-Tarkington, was carjacked at CVS at 56th and Illinois around 5 p.m. Saturday May 16. The perps, who had been sitting on the bench outside the store that day, attacked him as he was getting boxes for a friend who is moving. Skip was hit, savagely in my opinion, on the back of the head. He was struck so severely that he lost consciousness. The injury required 15 staples. He says he still suffers headaches.

    The suspects drove away with his 2001 gold Toyota Avalon with tinted windows and a handicapped license plate. The creeps also took his wallet. Please be on the lookout for this car. Call 911 if you see it.

    That's the story. Now it's time to have a conversation, not only about this crime, but about CVS being a better corporate citizen.

    I'm on a high horse on this one because it's personal; I trade at that CVS, and I was there that Saturday and saw those suspects sitting outside the store, on the bench where employees go to smoke or catch a breath of fresh air. I know we live in a first-class world of gentle tolerance, but I was too tolerant.

     The couple lounging on the bench -- a skinny white man in black pants and a black jacket with lots of logos, and a heavy white woman in a red shirt and black pants, both smoking -- looked suspicious. Frankly, they looked like dirtbags. As I left in my vehicle, I slowed down to give them a hard look, and they responded by smiling and waving. So I drove off, rather than go into the store and ask hard questions or call 911 to report my concerns. 

     I put the onus on myself, but I put it more on CVS. 

     As my friend Richard Sutton pointed out on Facebook, this is the same CVS where state legislator Sue Errington of Muncie was assaulted a few years ago as she was leaving the store. That was an after-dark crime. This was was in daylight. (The suspects who beat up Errington were eventually caught).

     Here is my beef. CVS does indeed have security cameras outside the store, and at the end of this post, I'll give you the link to show CVS surveillance video in a report by WTHR's David MacAnally, who also lives in Midtown. And yes, CVS has video cameras inside the store.

    So far, CVS is refusing to release video of the suspects who were inside the store, going inside to use the bathroom.

    Here are some possible fixes CVS could make:

    *Post a NO LOITERING sign above that bench. Make it clear that it is property of CVS and for use only by employees and patrons of the store. 

    *Patrol the parking lot. Yes, hire security. In the wake of this crime, a guard needs to be outside the store, sending the message to creeps that crime will not be tolerated.

     *CVS headquarters must release the surveillance video of what took place inside the store. The more people (customers and employees) who can ID this pair, the better. I am told that Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has to get a subpoena to satisfy corporate CVS. That's bullshit.

     *It's imperative that CVS acts the role of a good neighbor. One objection to the chain I've  heard -- from a pharmacist -- is that CVS overall is understaffed in contrast to Kroger pharmacy/stores. That makes CVS a more likely target for robberies. So CVS needs to beef up its presence not only outside but inside the store.

   *Employees -- who are overworked, I know -- need to be schooled in looking for suspicious behavior.

   *The bathroom facilities should only be for customers inside the store, not walk-ins off the street. That door leading to the bathroom should be locked, so it's not easily available.

      A couple years ago, when I was at the same CVS early in the morning, a man -- staggering, with alcohol on his breath -- came in to buy booze. The clerk sold it to him. I questioned her as to why she would do this. "He's just sitting outside in his car, drinking," she said. I told her I thought this was all a very bad idea, and one of us -- I can't recall who -- called the cops. This guy could have taken to the road at any time, drunk as a skunk.

     We all know "stuff happens" but we also all know that vigilance pays off. Don't blame the police; they are quite busy trying to solve crimes. And sure, more officers would help. But in today's world, we all need to have cop eyes.  Be tolerant, yes, but when your radar goes on, listen to that instinct.

     I did not, and I regret it deeply. 

     Good luck to Skip (who does not want his last name used) and good look to Detective Marshall Hoskins who is working on this case. If you have info, send me an email at and I will give you Hoskins' email.

    Finally, at the end of this post, is a link to David's TV report, with thanks for the exposure, and thanks to Skip for posting a sign on the telephone pole on 56th street, outside the store. Skip is a tough dude, and he is working it.

    We all live together, folks and we all need to work together to make our city safe.





Abe Aamidor....'Best Jewtown Hot Dogs'

Dateline: Sun 17 May 2015

Former award-winning Star and News writer/reporter Abe Aamidor continues to churn out fiction and get himself published. He is producing both short stories and a novel -- his first novel. Good on him.

Here is an update on some of his new work:

Aamidor's latest short story, the provocatively titled "Best Jewtown Hot Dogs," has been published in the Spring/Summer 2015 print edition of "Prick of the Spindle," a literary journal based in Birmingham, Alabama and edited by Cynthia Reeser.

The story deals with a wily reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times who often stops by a food stand in the Maxwell Street Market called "Best Jewtown Hot Dogs" and decides to research the history behind the name.

Abe also has two additional short stories scheduled for publication this year, from The South Carolina Review (based at Clemson University) and Broad River Review (based at Gardner-Webb University).

Abe's first novel, "Monastery of Writers," about a middle-age man who leaves his family and joins a writers' commune in an old resort hotel in Southern Indiana, will be published later this year by Moonshine Cove, a small indie press based in South Carolina.

The book will be available for order from any bookstore or online via Amazon and B&N, including in digital form.
1 comment

The bricks come tumblin' down

Dateline: Tue 12 May 2015


Columnists' exodus

Dateline: Mon 04 May 2015

    With the news a couple weeks ago that Indy Star city/state columnists Matt Tully and Erika Smith are "moving on," Tully to take up the sweet, round-about way of life in Carmel (but still write for the Indy newspaper), and Smith re-locating to Sacramento, Calif., the general response has been "meh."

    Among readers, anyhow. Not quite so much journalists and avid Star readers.

    Those of us who worked at the Star with Tully have been mostly scratching our heads over why the longtime champion of all things Indy would choose to abandon Patachou at 49th and Penn, where he sometimes conducts interviews and regularly drinks high-priced coffee, to head north to 146th and Springmill Road -- that's where he's going with his wife and young son.

     Maybe it's the way he delivered his message. Tully tried to wrap his brick in a velvet blanket by announcing his move to Carmel in a column praising that city's ambitious mayor.

    As a friend said, "And did you see Tully bury the lead in his bullshit Carmel column?....Mr. 'I Love Indianapolis' is moving to Carmel."

Someone who knows Tully says the decision is mostly about schools. Tully was always wringing his hands over IPS, sometimes trying to make a sale on its many merits but coming short and sounding preachy or too rah-rah to be persuasive or credible.

So rather than pay for private education in Indy, he and his family are doing what many others have done -- move to Carmel where schools are highly rated but lacking in racial, economic and cultural diversity, which is its own form of poverty.

The other attractions are the typical suburban blah-blah: bigger house, bigger yard, That's fine, and nobody really believes a columnist has to live in the city to write about the city.

But it does help.

As for Erika Smith, girl is even more of a cheerleader than Tully -- both these people have done a ton of public relations during their newspaper careers, fronting for various causes and people, Tully in the political/education arena and Smith just about everywhere else it was cool to be.

Smith never met a trendy bandwagon she did not hop on, whether it's advocating (over and over and over) for publc transit, the 10-Point Coalition, same-sex marriage or the hip life Downtown. At least Tully makes an effort to analyze some issues; Smith's approach has been largely shallow and one-note.

But so it goes. Big-city newspaper columnists once sat on a golden throne, kings of the hill -- think of Tom Keating at the Star, Mike Royko in Chicago, Jimmy Breslin in New York. These guys were gifted at nuance, wit and story-telling; they were also hard-hitting and could also slug it out and make readers think outside the box.

With the exception of Neil Steinberg at the Chicago Sun-Times, that era is pretty much gone and done.

     So best to Tully and Smith, but remember, when doing PR, you might want to get your paycheck from a PR firm. Then, on the other hand, that's what Gannett is.







Grading the Sunday Star

Dateline: Sun 08 Mar 2015

A former editor at the Evansville Press used to say, on a day when stories were reported exceptionally well,  "The paper is very readable today."

Here's what I found readable in today's Sunday Indy Star:

*Sports reporter Zak Keefer's look at the late sports editor Bob Collins' contributions to covering black basketball in the days when Crispus Attucks High School made history. The story not only outlined the racial tension in the city and state but delved into Collins' infamous alcoholism (and, the paper's enabling). Many good anecdotes and quotes from Collins, showing his deft writing style. 

Keefer did his digging, reporting former sports editor Jep Cadou's defense of the racial status quo. Cadou believed, apparently, that black players with 'jumping jack legs' and the ability to dunk the ball were not playing the sport as it was intended. Collins saw it another way, and nothing could stop his bold writing.

This is a 60-year-old story.  It was March 1955 when "Attucks players persevered over death threats, racial bigotry and partisan referees on their way to a historic state title." 

Keefer includes meaningful insight from Milan bb star Bobby Plump, who was walking around the big city before the big game. Drivers would see the Milan team, roll down their windows, and "...shout at us, 'Go beat those (expletive) n----s!" Says Plump, "I'd never heard (that language) before."

Excellent history lesson.

*'That Ayres Look' by Leslie Bentley and Will Higgins, which highlights the Indiana Historical Society's exhibit, 'You Are There: That Ayres Look.' True, the story consists of yet another list: '10 Fun Facts from L.S. Ayres & Co. History.' But the writers pack a lot of fun punch, including the info that Fort Wayne native Bill Blass had his first fashion show at Ayres in 1958; that Ayres once boasted the city's top bookstore, but only three people showed up when author Kurt Vonnegut was there to autograph 'Slaughterhouse Five' -- and all three were relatives (many of us know this story, but we still chuckle); and the quote former fashion editor Betsy Harris pulled from then-Ayres president Daniel Evans in 1992, when the store was closing: "The problem is a lot of people are nostalgic about it, but they chose not to shop down there. Nostalgia cannot be turned into sales dollars."

*Deft handling by columnist John Ketzenberger on the 'religious freedom bill,' which, Ketz notes, will simply result in 'a litigation nightmare," says Cameron Carter, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce's vice pres of economic development. "We believe Indiana doesn't need this when there is already federal protection on the books," he adds (no kidding). In case you have any doubt about the lawsuit angle, a letter to the editor from an IU law professor argues that we do need this bill because federal protection is not enough. But then, he understandably wants "valuable guidance to Indiana courts" so everyone can have their proverbial day in court.

*Gregg Doyel's Page 1 sports column on the fights that have been breaking out at Indiana school basketball games. Doyel talks about where some of these fights have occurred, the root cause (we are filled with anger) and suggests that, if we don't get our emotions and impulses under control, games may be played in empty gyms. 

I believe it was Friday that I heard a sports show on WIBC radio address the issue, but still....good reporting.

Anyone else like other stories? 



<< Older Posts


or Register


Syndicate Blog