Sort of; really, I just used inside information to belatedly pirate a scoop that the Mail-Tribune won’t publish yet because its all of it sources on the matter are moral cowards. And Ma’s response to this news was less than encouraging: “Well, that’s precious. Now, be a dear and fix your mother another gin and tonic, but for God’s sake, make it stiff this time!”

I’m reminded of an old children’s song: “Old MacDonald had a content farm/E-I, S-E-O.” I haven’t made much of an effort in these pages to practice that ancient art, mainly because I find it disreputable in the extreme. That’s one reason why, despite substantial self-promotion on my part, it took this blog over half a year to reach 500 all-time page views, a mark that is probably psychologically important only because I really am something of a navelgazing twit. “Blogging: never have so many with so little to say said so much to so few.” Another reason is that I don’t publish the sort of inane bullshit that WordPress likes to promote on its homepage. So be it.

That said, I have done some accidental SEO, with results that can be regarded either as serendipitous or disturbing. Notably, “turd in a bag” has become one of the most common search terms leading the disoriented to these pages. There’s only one proper response to a discovery like that: “DAH-yum! SHEE-yut! Torresdale AVENUE!”

On second thought, one might also respond by catching the Speed Line to some temporarily vacant house in the South Jersey suburbs to drop off a Haddonfield Special, the better to welcome back the owners after their vacation. What, you ask, is a Haddonfield Special? Basically, it’s an Emmaus brown bag lunch special, but eat-in, nonconsensual, and customarily left on the family piano. It’s the kind of thing that would make perfect sense in the Tenderloin but would freak the hell out of suburbanites in Mill Valley, which is exactly why places like Haddonfield are targeted. It’s also a matter of suburban kids (and dogs) being the ones who go on wilding rampages of that sort, but even so, there’s no transgressive thrill to dropping a deuce on the Norfolk Southern right-of-way in Nicetown (“We’re Putting the Nice Back in the Town”–ha!) or throwing a used tampon onto the subway tracks at Cecil B. Moore. No one would notice the difference.

All aboard the Cleveland Steamer!

Ooh, did those last three paragraphs contain a bit of Old MacDonald’s E-I, SEO? I dare say they did, although they didn’t say a word about Old MacDonald’s animal husbandry practices, animal husbandry having been his major until they caught him at it one day. Ewwwwww! Or, Ewe! But don’t blame me for raising the nasty specter of bestiality; y’all are the ones who are coming here on your own quests for that which is nasty, and possibly proceeding to make your own pilgrimages on the road to Emmaus. Aliens in the Family may not draw those who seek after the well-examined life, but at least it attracts those who seek after the well-examined stool.

Most of the remaining search terms leading the electronically adrift to this blog, the ones that don’t make a man despair for the inclinations and intellectual capacity of his countrymen, have concerned Greg Lemhouse. This indicates a degree of civic engagement becoming a self-governing people, Greg Lemhouse being a city councilman and, until recently, a police lieutenant. Greg Lemhouse resigned from the Medford Police Department while I was back east and not in a frame of mind to give a shit about Rogue Valley politics, since I hear enough of that nonsense when I’m in Ashland. Hence, it was a spike in Lemhouse-related traffic to “Mass Transit for Other People” that alerted me to something being afoot with the lieutenant and convinced me to take a look at the Mail-Tribune website. Lo and behold, I discovered that this hitherto dutiful salaryman, less than a decade shy of a lucrative vested pension, had decided to strike out on his own and start a police consulting business.

It was a fishy story from the start. That’s usually the kind of thing that you do if you’re Bill Bratton, or have at least secured one hell of a featherbedded pension. Of course, it’s no surprise that a guy who wormed his way onto the Ashland City Council and into the Medford PD brass before he was 40 by being a notorious goody-two-shoes would come up with a story like that. After all, all the cool cops are hawking their consulting services. These cops have also done things like run the NYPD and the LAPD, which Lemhouse hasn’t exactly done, but you have to give the guy credit for not claiming that he was resigning to spend more time with his family. That’s one Navickas nemesis who knows what sort of mercenary work all the cool kids are doing.

The question is, does Greg Lemhouse know how to keep his hands off of female subordinates who don’t appreciate his affections, or is he just a buffer, paler Richard Apicello? According to Friends of Dave Lewis (see comment on “Mass Transit for Other People”), the answer is the latter, but worse.

(The other question is, have Apicello and Martha Bennett ever gotten it on? I, for one, have always thought that they made perfect sense as a couple, an obvious fit regardless of marital status. Gratuitous aside? Yes. Disgusting? Not like Ashland’s dirty hippies, it isn’t. On the other hand, if Paddington Bear witnessed any of it, that would be super freaky—and, I must admit, entirely too plausible for comfort. If anyone illustrates that adult children’s book, I’ll be in awe; there are times when I really wish that I had artistic skills.)

This is where the Mail-Tribune enters the picture. A week or two ago, a credible source repeated to me a statement made by a highly-placed anonymous source at the Mail-Tribune named Bob Hunter, to the effect that the Mail-Tribune knew exactly why Greg Lemhouse had resigned on pain of termination (in other words, had been fired) but couldn’t get anyone with firsthand knowledge of the case to speak on the record. Consequently, the anonymous hunter said, the Trib was consulting with its lawyer in preparation to file FOIA requests for Lemhouse’s personnel file and other pertinent records to corroborate the scuttlebutt that its sources were too weaselly to discuss on the record.

Oh. What this means is that highly-placed anonymous sources, probably named Tim George, are either habitual ass-coverers or devoid of moral courage. Chief George is hereby invited to respond to this baseless gossip (Aliens in the Family is, after all, a publication devoted—perhaps too devoted—to Opposing Viewpoints), as are any other Medford ass-coverers who spoke on background to the Mail-Tribune.

The secondhand story that I heard—mind you, from a party to the conversation two minutes after the fact—is that reporters had discussed l’Affaire Lemhouse with sources, plural. This means that Tim George isn’t the only one on the hook; I only picked on him because the reporters would be idiots not to bombard him with requests for comment in a case like this. A highly-placed, usually on-the-record but temporarily anonymous Mike Budreau may be another shadowy insinuator; I wouldn’t put it past the Trib to use a little lieutenants’ rivalry to get the dirt on Ashland’s squeaky-clean elected square, and Lt. Budreau is quoted often enough that there’s no way that the Trib doesn’t have him on speed dial. I’m unfamiliar with the civilian suspects in this campaign of ass-coverage, so I won’t even try to name them, but I reckon they exist.

Let’s face it: none of these people is Bradley Manning, either in terms of rank or of courage. The Mail-Tribune’s sources are most likely not the little guys.

A brief story by way of example: Some years ago, explosive accusations were made against a popular holder of high national office. Two scrappy little greenhorn reporters at the scrappy little newspaper of record in the national capital got to the bottom of the scandal by going into a parking garage late at night to receive leaks from a scrappy little underdog of an operational director of the national police service. They gave this scrappy little deputy commissioner of police a code name that they lifted from the title of a popular pornographic film. The work of these scrappy little underdogs resulted in the officeholder resigning in true Lemhousian fashion on threat of forced removal by the national legislature, but with more public scrutiny.

The pornographically rechristened anonymous source was a man named W. Mark Felt, then second in command at the FBI. The elected officeholder whom he helped bring down was named Richard Nixon. And now, to quote the late Paul Harvey, you know the REST of the STORY.

At least the Mail-Tribune isn’t doing anything that deceptively uncourageous in order to exaggerate its reputation for journalistic derring-do unto ages of ages. No one at the Trib is about to go Washington Postal on the Rogue Valley.

Infer from this essay what you will about the state of the Fourth Estate. At Aliens in the Family, as at that mouth-foaming cable news outfit that put Egypt on the banks of the Euphrates, we report, you decide. The royal we are every bit as anonymous and dodgy as the Mail Tribune’s Georgian sources, but at least we don’t pretend to be otherwise.

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