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Friday June 29, 2012

Not making any sense out of the causeway cannibal's autopsy report

Rudy Eugene So, Obamacare, right guys? But also the face cannibal. Maybe especially the face cannibal, since right now the Obamacare thing is getting lots and lots and lots of attention. (Although maybe not one particular aspect, which being how fucked up it is that Anthony Kennedy voted against it.) So the autopsy report of Rudy Eugene, the causeway cannibal, was released. The Miami Dade Medical Examiner brought in an outside toxicology lab to assist, and together they found nothing but pot in his system. The Google is not strong with me this morning, and I’ve not found the report, or even a press release, on the medical examiner’s web site. But here is the quote being repeated on numerous news sites:

The laboratory has tested for but not detected any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs, or any adulterants found in street drugs. This includes cocaine, LSD, amphetamines (Ecstasy, Meth and others), phencyclidine (PCP or Angel Dust), heroin, oxycodone, Xanax, synthetic marijuana (Spice), and many other similar compounds … within the limits of current technology by both laboratories.

Now let’s recall the timeline leading up to this incident. Rudy lives in Broward. He wakes up at 5:30 am during Urban Beach Weekend and heads to South Beach with his bible. He spends the morning there and when he tries to leave in the early afternoon he finds his car broken down. Next we have him walking back toward the mainland along the MacArthur Causeway, shedding his clothes, swinging from lamp posts, and tearing pages out of his bible. At around 2 pm he crosses the bridge to the mainland and finds a homeless guy, attacks him, strips off his clothes, and bites off pieces of his face in a prolonged attack. Eventually a police officer arrives at the scene and orders Rudy to stand down, and when he doesn’t the officer shoots and kills him.

There was all sorts of speculation that Rudy had done drugs on the beach that caused him to go psychotic, and an initial coroner’s report indicated that there were undigested pills found in his stomach. (The coroner’s report released this week doesn’t appear to mention this, which is extremely odd. If the initial report was wrong, why not say so to clear it up?) But here’s the thing: the bible. It was there at the end, and it was with him when he left the house in the morning. That’s the key to the whole thing, because it suggests that the attack wasn’t caused by something that happened on South Beach, but something that happened prior to everything else in this story.

He shed his car, his clothes, and even his gold teeth. Everything except for his bible. It was next to him when they hauled away his shot-up body. He tore pages from it ceremonially as he walked across the causeway. (Have you walked the MacArthur Causeway? I’ve walked it. I’ve biked it. I drove across it twice a day for years. It is maybe the most beautiful stretch of road. Walking it is not untranscendental.) Rudy was clearly having a psychotic/religious experience. (Or as Eowyn puts it, “demonic posession.”) Check out Brief Psychotic Disorder. (“Grossly disorganized” behavior? Check.) The guy lost his mind, quite possibly due to brain damage or a brain tumor, which are headline causes of Psychosis. I’m assuming the coroner would have mentioned a tumor if they’d found it, so it’s something that does not show up in this kind of autopsy.


Monday March 17, 2008

If you’re going to review which restaurant bathrooms are best for doing blow, do it right and provide the criteria on which you judge: “7) Bidet? (Only problem is, you might never come out).”



Retirement age for US Border Patrol money-sniffing dogs? 9 years.


Tuesday November 27, 2007

Children’s’ block and syringe. Wynwood.


Wednesday September 5, 2007

At NPR, a timeline of the ‘war’ on drugs. Of course Miami features prominently. Great photos, too. This would be interesting to read right before watching Cocaine Cowboys, for some historical perspective.


Wednesday April 25, 2007

Cocaine Cowboys the movie

cocaine cowboys screenshot

Cocaine Cowboys is a documentary about the drug trade in Miami in the late 1970s and early 80s. Built around absorbing interviews with Jon Roberts, Mickey Munday, and Jorge “Rivi” Ayala, it’s intercut with occasionally cheesy reenactments and some fascinating stock footage.

In the first part, Roberts and Munday tell their stories. Small-time crooks who happened to be in the right place at the right time, they become two of the biggest importers of cocaine from Colombia to Miami. They share lots and lots of interesting stories about the technicalities of how they did it (many more are on the DVD’s great deleted scenes section), how much money they made, and all the cool shit they got to buy. There’s stories of destroying the private room at the Forge and just paying to have it restored, smashing cars as a form of tension-relief, and transporting coke in the trunk of a car on a flatbed truck. There are great stories about dropping loads with homing signals in the ocean, evading the Coast Guard boats at Haulover Park inlet, and flying around the West side of Cuba.

The focus shifts to the violence that came with the business in the middle section. From prison, Ayala tells the story of his quick rise through the ranks to become the main assassin for Griselda Blanco (“La Madrina”), and then the story pretty much stick with her. She’s painted as the leader of one side in the early 80s cocaine war, having guys killed along with their wives and children, laying waste to anyone who rubs her the wrong way, and generally being all capital-R ruthless. Ayala is the star of the movie, sympathetic and serious, even as he describes systematically tracking down and killing a dude who slighted Blaco’s son outside a police station.

In the third act the movie makes the case that the cocaine trade is singularly responsible for Miami’s current financial clout. We see the sleepy resort/retirement community of the 1970s, the building boom that came in the 80s, and the economic contraction that came when Regan cracked down on the drug trade in the mid-80s. At the time, 90% of the cocaine imported into the US came through Miami. There are enough quotes from experts that connect the dots between the drugs and the financial status of the whole city (why are there so many banks in Brickell, anyway?) that make the argument seem quite plausible. When the big bust came (Roberts and Munday both spent time in prison, as did Blanco), the city had supposedly been given enough of a push that the economy flew on its own.

I think everyone already knows that this is a fascinating film, but I’m throwing in my “me too” anyway. If there’s a complaint to be made, it’s how much it relies on straight interviews. Besides the three main guys, we get lots of police, experts, and a few smaller criminals. The filmmakers don’t help themselves by trying weird montage effects and transitions between the interviews and other bits. And there’s lots of use of photographs, sometimes manipulated for graphic effect. Maybe this is all done about as well as it could have been, but the fact is that the old-Miami footage is the only thing actually worth watching, and Cocaine Cowboys would probably work just as well with the picture turned off. But that’s not so bad — the three main subjects are intriguing, and the pacing of the narrative is perfect.

One other thing: it’s graphic. They went and got crime-scene pictures of all the shootings, and they sprinkled them throughout the movie at the appropriate points. No half-assing it here.


Monday October 2, 2006

“Miami was the most dangerous place on earth.” Cocaine Cowboys opens October 27. (via SotP)