Let me give this one more shot with you. Okay? And then we can agree to disagree.
First I know, it is a shame that I am the guy who has chosen to cover this weird and sometimes scary journalistic niche. You might be better served by Alex Caine or Yves LaVigne or Christopher Hitchens or Maureen Dowd or somebody, but it is your cruel fate to be stuck with me. As my old lady is fond of telling me about once a day, “Oh fucking well.”
I have had the video that clearly shows the start of the fight and John Lindeman’s death for awhile and I do not think I have let on that I had it. As a rule, I usually know more than I say. The video surfaces now because a relative of one of the victims asked me to post the video. He asked in a public way, in a comment on the site, so the jig was kind of up then. Okay?
The Technical Problems
There are two obvious, general technical problems with posting the video.
The first is the huge contrast between the fluorescent lit foreground, which is the interior of the store, and the background, exterior which is comparatively dark. (I am not even going to go into wavelengths or formats, okay?)
My solution basically, was to create overexposed stills for the background and, on occasion, lasso the players in Photoshop. Then I compared and marked up the stills while watching various permutations of the video. Some permutations were various levels of over exposure, others crowded the red end of the spectrum, others the blue and so on. Usually the video was in slow motion. Some bits were in slow motion and looped. It was involved. I am just some guy. I am not the FBI crime lab. I spent about 15 hours on this in the last couple of months. I spent about 25 or 30 hours on it last week. Unless I actually hand out the video, you physically cannot massage it as I did.
The sound quality, except for the hum of the fluorescents in the store, is excellent by the way. And, the illustration that accompanies the story is one of the stills I marked up from the video and it was cropped to fit that illustration hole on the page, The field of view of the video is much larger than the illustration I showed you
The second, obvious, general technical problem is that because I am a little web-site, the video I would be able to show you would have to be squeezed into a window that is 310 pixels wide by 250 pixels high. The images I have been watching are very much larger than that. You would not be able to download the video I showed you. You might download a still but not the whole video.
The Ethical Problems
There are also a couple of ethical problems that ride with this video, too.
The survivor who asked me to post the video did so, I happen to know, not FOR people like you but BECAUSE of people like you. The survivors have really been beaten up emotionally by the Sober Riders. This particular survivor, thought that if skeptics saw the video with their own eyes it might shut them up. I feared the opposite. I feared that without taking the pains I took with the video, some moron might just say, “There is nothing there. I can’t see anything.” And, as I understand it, that is your argument. What I am telling you must be a lie because you cannot see it. I must be blind because you cannot see. And, I think there are none so blind as they who will not see. So we disagree.
The other ethical problem, is that there is not a uniformity of opinion among the survivors about posting this video. I’ve got it and it would be great for me, personally, if I put it up. I would have the site with the snuff video. You know? I would attract freaks from seven continents. I might even get that book deal I have been pitching since June. I am sure video of Lindeman’s death would generate a ton of hits. But, also women and children who knew and loved John Lindeman would have to watch him die. And, in the end, I chose not to post the video.
And, since I posted the 5,000 word story, “Watching Lindeman Die,” two days ago, another survivor has written me and asked me in the most touching terms to please not post the video. So I will not be posting the video in the future either.
What To Do
Without posting the video, the best I thought I could do was what reporters have always done, which is to try with words to truthfully tell you what I saw and heard. And, that is what I did. I told you what I saw and heard. I told it as a first person piece, which is the most personal voice in journalism, which by its nature carries emotional as well as factual content, because it was a first person piece for me. You can believe what I told you or not. It is good to be skeptical. I applaud and encourage your skepticism.
I understand that you are often offended by the tone I take in many stories. I am guilty. I have never mastered the miracle of the immaculate perception. If you think I am bad, you should go read H.L. Mencken some time.
I happen to think that if you are going to pick up a pen, if you are not a coward or a punk, you have an implied obligation of advocacy. You choose sides and take stands. Sometimes you are right. Sometimes you are wrong. You take that calculated risk. And, you speak for men who, but for you, would not otherwise have a voice. So sue me if you think I have chosen the wrong side.
All I really know about John Lindeman is the last forty seconds of his life. In those last forty seconds I saw him run directly at mortal danger three times in order to try to defend his friends. In the last four seconds of his life I saw this guy literally run through three bullets in order to, I think, try to get his hands around the throat of the guy who had just mortally wounded one of his friends. And, the killer was running backward, too. Lindeman had chased him completely across the parking lot and the killer’s back was against a wall when Lindeman finally fell.
This Finger Is For You
I have led what cynics call an interesting life. I do not know if Lindeman is the bravest man I have ever seen but I know he is a candidate. Lindeman’s survivors should be proud. His killers should feel ashamed. And, nobody else is going to say it: Not the Arizona Republic, not the El Lay Times, not Easyriders, not Thunder Press, not Rolling Stone, not The New Yorker, not Vanity Fair, not Hog Tales, not People Magazine, nobody else, so you are stuck with hearing it from me.
Oh fucking well. If you don’t want to hear me say it don’t listen. Okay?