Saturday, April 24, 2010

Edwin Valero- Boxer - A murder, a suicide, and a bad tattoo

CARACAS, Venezuela – Former boxing champion Edwin Valero, who had a spectacular career with 27 straight knockouts and flouted a tattoo of President Hugo Chavez on his chest, hanged himself in his jail cell Monday after being arrested for stabbing his wife to death, police said.

The former lightweight champion used the sweat pants he was wearing to hang himself from a bar in the cell, said his lawyer, Milda Mora.

Valero, 28, had problems with alcohol and cocaine addiction and struggled with depression. He had previously been suspected of assaulting his wife and was charged last month with harassing her and threatening personnel at a hospital where she was treated for injuries.

Valero's 24-year-old wife, Jennifer Carolina Viera, was found dead in a hotel room on Sunday, and police said the fighter emerged telling hotel security he had killed her.

Valero was found hanging in his cell early Monday by another inmate, who alerted authorities in the police lockup in north-central Carabobo state, Federal Police Chief Wilmer Flores told reporters. He said Valero still showed signs of life when they took him down, but they were unable to save him.

The former WBA super featherweight and WBC lightweight champion was a household name in Venezuela and had a huge image of Venezuela's president tattooed on his chest along with the country's yellow, blue and red flag.

A man whose fists carried him from poverty in a small town to fame, Valero's all-action style soon earned him a reputation as a tough, explosive crowd-pleaser, and his last victory in Mexico in February over Antonio DeMarco brought his record to 27-0 — all knockouts. Venezuelans called him "Inca," alluding to an Indian warrior, while elsewhere he was called "Dinamita," or dynamite.

Valero had a turbulent disposition and had been in trouble with the law before, for violent incidents and problems with alcohol and drugs.

Last month, he was charged with harassing his wife and threatening medical personnel who treated her at a hospital in the western city of Merida. Police arrested Valero following an argument with a doctor and nurse at the hospital, where his wife was being treated for injuries including a punctured lung and broken ribs.

The Attorney General's Office said in a statement that Valero was detained March 25 on suspicion of assaulting his wife, but his wife told a police officer her injuries were due to a fall. When the boxer arrived moments later, he forbade Viera from speaking to the police officer and spoke threateningly to the officer, prosecutors said in a statement.

A prosecutor had asked a court to keep Valero in jail, the Attorney General's Office said. But a judge instead allowed him to remain free under certain conditions including that he appear in court every 90 days, said Mora, his lawyer.

Mora told The Associated Press that after the incident Valero was held for nine days in a psychiatric hospital in Merida, where he underwent police-supervised rehabilitation. She said people close to the fighter posted bail on April 7 and he was allowed to go free.

Valero's manager, Jose Castillo, criticized authorities for failing to act more forcefully to prevent the killing.

"I asked the authorities not to let him out. He needed a lot of help. He was very bad in the head," Castillo told reporters. "But they let him out. They were very permissive with him and because of that, we're now in the middle of this tragedy."

Mora, however, said of Valero: "He was the only one responsible."

She said that the Venezuelan government had arranged for the fighter to attend a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in Cuba. He had missed a flight to Cuba earlier this month and was scheduled to fly there soon, she said.

The fighter had police escorts who were charged with protecting him. But last week he slipped away from those escorts, leaving his house near Merida with his wife and saying they were headed into town, Mora said.

Valero stayed in touch with his manager by phone but it was unclear how he and his wife turned up days later halfway across Venezuela at the hotel in Valencia, Mora said.

While police suspected Valero was battering his wife, "the only person who could report it was her, and she told her family that he never hit her," Mora said. "She wanted help for him."

Valero also "adored his wife," Mora said. "We were very close to him and we knew there could be this sort of outcome because when he became conscious of what he really had done, he wasn't going to be able to bear not being close to Carolina."

Mora described the fighter as hyperactive and said he suffered from depression. She said in jail the authorities took away his jacket and his shoelaces to prevent him from using them for a suicide attempt, and that he used his sweat pants instead.

Before his death, photographs showed Valero being led away in handcuffs, then shielding his face by pulling down his cap.

The fighter's 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter have been staying with their maternal grandmother, Mora said.

Valero had fought mainly in Japan and Latin America because he had trouble obtaining a license to fight in the United States. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in a motorcycle crash in 2001, and until the law was changed recently, most jurisdictions refused to grant a license to a fighter who had sustained a brain injury.

He was also charged with drunken driving in Texas, and despite efforts of his promoter, Top Rank, to secure a visa for him, the U.S. government denied his application because of the pending charges.

Valero claimed his application was denied because of politics; he was sympathetic of Chavez, a fierce critic of the U.S. government. U.S. officials say they cannot discuss individual visa cases.

Valero appeared as a special guest at events hosted by Chavez and was lionized by some of the president's supporters as a national hero, while some critics accused him of avoiding punishment for past problems due to his links to the government.

Valero's is the third high-profile suicide of a former boxing champion in the past year.

Hall of Famer Alexis Arguello, the mayor of Managua, Nicaragua, was found dead at his home in July of a gunshot wound to the chest. A few weeks later, Italian-born former super featherweight and junior welterweight champion Arturo Gatti, a naturalized Canadian, was found strangled in the Brazilian resort town of Porto de Galinhas. His wife was arrested as the prime suspect in the death, but authorities later ruled that he committed suicide.

The World Boxing Council lamented Valero's death in a statement, saying he had "happy years" in boxing and that his record will go down in boxing history. The council also said it hopes to help create a fund to pay for the education of Valero's two children.

WBC president Jose Sulaiman has said Valero was replaced as WBC lightweight champion in February after he expressed a desire to compete in a higher weight division.

Promoter Bob Arum, the founder of Top Rank who had been promoting Valero, said the fighter had never displayed such behavior and was "very polite, well spoken, sort of funny."

"It's obvious now, in retrospect, that he should have been institutionalized during this period, but it's silly to play the blame game," Arum said. "Now in retrospect, he clearly should have been getting help."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Waiting for Zoey

I went to L.a. and wrote about it.

Three beers

The car was dark. Its interior was lit by the street lights. The door opened. Shoes scuffled on the parking lot tarmac. The brightness of the motel sign was a brilliant neon. It drew wayfarer's like a moth is drawn to a lightbulb. The keys opened up the room. The bed was blanketed, and tucked. The two pillows on the bed were plumbed. A television sat silently across from the bed on a series of drawers, waiting for a spectator. The shower was hot, no one else was showering this late at night. The tepid water tank could handle the heat of one shower at the late hour. The warm water rained down. The soap lathered then fell into the drain. The complementary towel was made slightly damp and hung back up. A shirt was buttoned, pants that were slightly wrinkled were put on, and a razor that could cut away an evening's beard laid fallow.

The bed sank under a man's weight. The television came on from the response of the remote. The news of Los Angeles filled the room. The glow of the screen filled the room. The audio occupied the room.

"Amid the worst economic downturn since world war two the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is planning to increase fares for the first time in two years to help offset a $204-million gap in its operating budget for buses and rail systems..."

The liquor was dissolved in the mouth. "Whim is a hard thing to beat," the bartender had said. "I haven't seen you in a long time, what are you doing here? No matter, what will you be drinking?"

The liquor burned in the stomach. The dizzying effect of alcohol was only felt after the fifth. The jukebox swayed back and forth in time to music. "Is there an escape," the bartender asked without moving his lips. "Can you possibly get away from her? Coming back here, its just an excuse. You're drawn to her like a bee to pollen."

The ceiling spun for a moment then focused. The white ceiling danced with images. It faded into darkness. The dark of night still hung in the sky the closed window shades unneeded.

There was a knock at the door. A short staccato. The room reverberated with the noise of another series of knocks. The bolt was undone with suspicion. The room was lit with her presence.

The white blouse clung to her, like her skirt, both forever hugging her body. The heels of her shoes were sharp points and inch high. The stockings hit the short dress. The lines of the leggings ran long. The coat was momentarily on, then put on a chair. The chair waited for more clothing to be put on it longingly.

The room filled with voices.

"You have obligations."

"I am here anyways."

"You didn't want me before, and I don't want you now."

"We are stilted lovers."

"Who said we were lovers."

The chair was covered with more clothes.

"I like the hidden. I like unsaid lovers, I like being someone, then the real me, some more authentic person shining out saliently in secret."

The room reverberated with sound of flesh.

"You think I'm opaque?"

"Its like we're in a bedroom. In the bedroom is a bookshelf, and a window. Very normal. The bookshelves take up the majority of the room, but all the inhabitant ever wants to talk about is the view out the window."

"I like the feeling of your chest."

"Why are you here, you are obligated."

"Its so far."

"What about the distance between us?"

"You're here to serve a purpose."

Commands were given. They were obeyed. The room brightened with pleasure. The bed was filled with afterglow.

"We can stop at any point."

"We're not stopping at the spot I want, we're stopping at the point that you've regulated. You chose to meet me here, we could have stayed somewhere else where all of this wasn't possible. A parking lot, a friend's house, a church..."

"I don't want you talking about me."

"I thought we were talking about me, how egotistical I am."

"You have a mouth like a crocodile. Your smile is as wide as a mile with the same intent."

"As the reptile or as in the distance?"

A finger ran along soft tissue. Eyes looked on other eyes.

"My heart has four chambers."

A hand was placed near a beating muscle.

"Each chamber pulses regularly, for a long time the fourth chamber was shut down. My blood was poisoned. The chamber broke down out of disgust. I could taste the poison in my throat."

"I've only been so honest with one other person."

"I can taste the bile in my blood. "

"Do you talk about me to other people?"

"No, not really, maybe."

The overhead fan spun quietly. Goosebumps appeared on skin. A body searched another for comfort. The other body lay fallow.

"The thing I like about you is that I know you're going to fall for me."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Broken glass

Dear Faithful readers,

I realize I haven't posted in a week and more. I will be posting shiznit tonight. In the meantime check out this essay I did for the muay thai blog. Broken Glass

sincerely yours,

Matt Lucas

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gated Community

When I moved to the barrio from my former garden city of Berkeley I noticed how many fences there were. Every house it seemed like had some sort of demarcation of perimeter. These fences reflect the social landscape with their lack of elegance. You know no rich people live on this street with their fucking fancy fences. The gates also speak of the separation between people. There is a desire to protect one's own assets, an understandable one and putting up a fence, while useless for the most part, is a psychological defense. The fact that most crime and abuse happens between people that know each other seems like an important thing to recognize. You're more likely to have your shit stolen from friends, and acquaintances than some random thug roaming down the street. Its your neighbors who are going to grift from you. So why put up a fence?
Pretty Basic Bastille. Lots of wire. Some rods. Probably better than a solely wire fence. It was also pretty tall. Which makes me a little less likely to climb over it... unless I got a ladder with my bugarly tools.
This is rad. The fence is spikey, which means dangerous, and they've locked in their front porch. Double security.
Set behind the picture below is this row of houses. Reminds me of a minuature version of the big gated communities in las vegas. I'm glad there's no fucking neighborhood association on this block screaming at me about my substandard fence.
A big ass gate. Fancy.

The spikey fence pointing at different angles gives the climber of the fence a little more to worry about. Especially since my pants hang between my legs unevenly! Ouch!
The arched fence between brick blocks. Wait a second! I could just climb on top of those small pillars and avoid the fence all together. Looks like I'm looting this house tonight!
The classic white picket fence. Dreams of middle class suburbia reside here in the barrio!

White, Spikey, and you can't park your get away car in front! Damn!

No hanging out after I've robbed them!? What the hell?

This place has the right idea, just board up everything. They've even protected their windows with steel bars. That means that no one can get in or out! A fortress of safety!

Boarded up in the barrio!

I thought these stairs were nice, although it does make stealing couches harder. Why can't they have ramps for cat burglars? Its also worth noting the gate/front door.

Double security here on a shit house, a fence and a bike lock! Formidable!

What no fence? No locked in porch!? wait what's that? Oh protected by a security group. Better steer clear of that sign.

None of the usual trappings, but the color of this house seems to say; "We have nothing of value, look at us, we don't even value good colors on our abode!"

Oh shit a dog? Wait is it a Chihuahua? I think I saw this guy's little pocket pup shitting on the lawn the other day. No big deal!

Locked in gate and a fence! Double your safety double your fun!
White and spikey. Fucking racist!
Black and spikey. Fucking racist!

Pointy tops! Wouldn't want to climb this and catch my balls on those spikes!

Classic wire fence. Meh no problem with my fence cutters!

Locked front door!

A fence on wheels!

Gate Guardians! Damn this one's seen some action! Missing a paw no doubt defending an intruder!
A spin on the classic white picket fence motif
Shitty house!
Look at that shitty fence! Burglars are going to hop over that for sure!