Fri, 28 April 2017
The curious, lurid, shocking case of billionaire sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein is not the normal brand of true crime normally covered in the Principled Uncertainty Podcast, but it is both true and full of crime.
Jeffrey Epstein's net worth allowed him the kind of life one could only hope and dream for. He owned his own private island and private jet. He rubbed elbows with the likes of Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, and Prince Andrew.
It also afforded him the ability to prey on dozens (or maybe hundreds) of underage girls under the auspices of hiring them for "massages." It worked like this: he'd hire a teenager to come to his palatial estate on Brillo Way in Palm Beach, Florida. Then, once Epstein had scandalized that one young woman, he'd offer a "finder's fee" to that girl to recruit other girls so that he could receive a "massage."
Jeffrey Epstein 's troubles began when a few of his former victims became police informants after minor run-ins with the law. The West Palm Beach police force secretly began building an airtight case against the billionaire financier as Epstein continued his manifold exploits in Florida.
He was convicted of soliciting sex from a minor in 2008 and served a paltry eighteen-month sentence, after which he continued his hobnobbing, despite having to register as sex offender. The fact that he was a serial molester / sexual predator had nothing to do with the fact that he had lots of money. Lots and lots of money. It allowed him the kind of defense team that only billionaires could get away with, and as a result, he received the equivalent of a slap on the wrists.
This episode of the Principled Uncertainty Podcast is a little different from most, in that it deals with crime but not murder. Still, it's a fascinating tale of deception and horror, even if no one was killed. And to think: Jeffrey Epstein is still walking the streets after only serving thirteen months in jail.
Mon, 17 April 2017
Few guitarists can hold a joint to Dimebag Darrell, Pantera's insanely talented axe man from Pantego, Texas. He was a singularly talented human being, and if you've heard of Pantera, you've no doubt considered giving up a normal life's pursuits in order to be more like one Darrell Abbott.
I spent my teenage years emulating Dimebag Darrell, but I never got beyond chugging along to the riffs from 'Far Beyond Driven.' I was a bit of a metal-head, and along with Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, Dimebag was my hero. If you're not astounded by this dude's guitar playing, you and I can never be blood brothers.
When Dimebag Darrell was murdered on December 8, 2004, I literally punched a tree down in my backyard. It was inconceivable that someone so full of life and joy be struck down at such a young age. (He was 38.) Despite the band's dark themes and messages, Pantera was a band that focused on joy. Pure, raucous, hellacious joy. Dimebag Darrell represented youthful love of metal, and his death was an augur of a different age for me.
It's one of the strangest and most bizarre true crime scenarios to play out in a public setting, especially where a heavy metal band is concernded.
A crazed fan named Nathan Gale ended Dimebag Darrell's life at a Damageplan show in Columbus, Ohio in 2004. He was angry over the band breaking up and possibly by Pantera lead singer Philip Anselmo's fiery words in an interview mere weeks before. Due to that and some degeneration in his mental capacity, he jumped the fence at the Alrosa Villa Club and rushed the stage, pulling a 9mm Beretta in the process.
He shot Dimebag Darrell in the head at point-blank range. He fired into the crowd and tried desperately to find Dimebag's brother, Vinnie Paul, in order to end his life as well. It was a local cop who ended the horror by shooting Nathan Gale with a police-issue shotgun.
Despite the horrific circumstances of his death, 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott's legacy lives on in the wonderful music he created with his friends Rex Brown and Phillip Anselmo, and his brother, Vinnie Paul. You can find Pantera's albums anywhere you steal music. Check out the Pantera Behind the Music for more information.
Sat, 8 April 2017
On April 8, 1994, an electrician looking to install a security system at Kurt Cobain's Seattle, WA residence saw what he thought was a mannequin through a greenhouse window. Upon further inspection, he came to regard the figure as a human being, and a few minutes later, unknowingly made one of the most profoundly disturbing discoveries in rock-n-roll history.
Kurt Cobain, the heralded lead singer and creative force behind Nirvana, was dead. He was found in his greenhouse with a shotgun and a stash of heroin nearby, so Cobain's death was initially ruled a suicide.
Immediately, the news of Kurt Cobain's death set off shockwaves in the music world. He was very often considered a premiere voice in the Grunge movement, and Nirvana was one of the cornerstones of the Seattle sound (along with Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice-in-Chains). There were public outpourings of emotion in Seattle, and several copycat suicides occurred in the days following news of Cobain's death.
In the midst of all this, Cobain's wife, Courtney Love, had hired a PI named Tom Grant to track down her husband, who had fled from drug rehab in LA several days before. After news of Cobain's death reached him, Grant gradually became convinced that Cobain had not, in fact, killed himself but had been murdered. He was concerned with several details that didn't seem to add up, and so he began a decades-long push to get Kurt Cobain's death to be re-investigated.
A few pieces of evidence are always cited when presenting Cobain's death as a potential murder. First of all, there's the fact that one of Kurt Cobain's credit cards was used in the hours following his death, before his body was discovered. Then there's the amount of heroin in his system. (He had nearly three times a normal fatal dose in his system.) There's the lack of fingerprints on any item in the greenhouse. There's the weird shenanigans involving Courtney, Dylan Carlson, and a guy named Cali in the days leading up to Cobain's death.
Building a case from all of the disparate pieces of evidence, though, always struck me as bizarre. Nothing ever plays out like a TV show. Even in clear-cut suicide cases, some threads never quite get tied up, so how can you tie them all together, if you're only doing so to prop up your already-reached conclusion.
This podcast episode explores the issue from the inside out. First, I start with the proposition that, Okay, Kurt Cobain was murdered. Why? Who benefits? For me, the issue becomes transparent when you take all of these issues at face value. Hope you enjoy, and I'll be back with a new one soon.