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The First O. J. Book

July 3, 2015

 

I got the idea for an O.J. Simpson book long before all the others came out. The inspiration came in a flash at three in the morning as I lay awake on “B” row in L.A. County Jail’s “High-power” section. The only sounds on the row of twenty-five, one-man cells were cockroaches scurrying across the concrete floors . . . the same floors worn smooth by the thousands, perhaps millions of feet that have tread there. I was absolutely certain that I wasn’t the only one in High-power that wasn’t able to sleep that night. There had to be at least one other inmate whose conscience wouldn’t allow it.

 

Over on “G” row the Juice had to be having at least a twinge of nostalgic remorse. That’s if the guys got even a drop of humanity in him, because this was, exactly to the day, the one year anniversary of the vicious killing of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. It wasn’t O.J.’s problems that were keeping me awake however. By coincidence, it happened to be my wedding anniversary. I’d lost my wife and kids when I’d gotten myself arrested a year ago, and I was considering how a guy could get himself so screwed up and leave such a horrendous trail of heartbreak and sorrow in his wake. Those made me think of O.J., that’s when it dawned on me that I was in the perfect position to write the very first, original, and now long lost and forgotten O.J. book.

 

I used to be a reporter, mostly radio news, beat stuff. Show up at the scene of a crime or car wreck, murders, coke busts, some politician’s news conference, pretty boring fare actually. I was just doing it to bide my time until I could fulfill my real dream: progressive rock disc jockey. That turned out to be a bust though, come to find out, spinning the same records over and over, no matter how cool it seemed at the time, is beyond monotonous. I should have stuck with the news.

 

The good thing about working around a newsroom is, you learn things you never realized existed. Twenty-four-seven the wire services are feeding the news over the teletypes. One line blurbs, three line headlines, five page in-depth coverage. Unusual words and places and names are phonetically spelled out, background information is available. It was the internet before the net existed. I was doing the midnight to six a.m. anchor shift when John Lennon and Elvis died. I got the inside skinny on Ted Bundy and Son of Sam. I learned what leads, how to write, what the professionals consider newsworthy and entertaining. When you’re around that atmosphere for a while you get a sense of what’s interesting to the public. If it bleeds, it leads, isn’t just a slogan, it’s a newsman’s credo. And on this special occasion, Nicole and Ron’s blood was still warm and dripping all over The L.A. Times and every local and national newscast across the country and world. The trial was being broadcast in real time, live, all day. We’d sit on the rows and watch every minute of it. The defense was brilliant, the prosecution was pathetic, and drama was dynamic. And I knew how it could all work for me.

 

I’d write not only about O.J. and the trial, but also the inside story of the inner workings of L.A. County High-power and what really goes on with the Juice (and everybody else) on the inside. The real deal about the belly of the beast, and there was the title, “Deep Inside the Belly of the Beast." I’d use the profits to finance my own legal defense. At the time, I didn’t have a lawyer, not a real one anyway. I promise you, the only justice you or anybody else is going to get in the L.A. justice system is equal to what you can pay for. That’s not an exaggeration. I’ve seen guys who weren’t even remotely guilty get life or worse, while others walked free, tracking the trail of the blood of their victims behind. O.J. did a county year for double murder.

 

By sheer luck I was in a unique position, physically, to work on my project. There are seven High-power rows, A through C, each with twenty-five one-man cells, the rows sectioned off from each other. High-power houses the worst, most violent, most notorious, or notable. You’ve got shot callers, guys down from death row, guys you can’t mix in the general population because they’ll kill or be killed, and you have the escape risks. I was the latter. I’d been caught red-handed with a hacksaw blade at court. I was in county six years fighting cases, picking up cases, delaying and evading. The years I did in High-power were the best time I’ve ever done. It’s extreme high security, you’re handcuffed and shackled anytime you leave the cell and you rarely see the light of day. But, if they allow you to remain in High-power, I mean the prisoners . . . the shot callers, and then you’re in. Everything is shared. The gang shot callers w