Discover more from Best Evidence
Puffy · Fentanyl · TMZ
Plus: Interpol's efforts to identify dead women
Is Netflix’s How To Become A series basically the “Dummies” series but 1) for streaming TV and 2) evil? So far, the franchise has brought us How to Become a Cult Leader and How to Become a Tyrant; it seems like its third iteration, on organized-crime management, would be covered by those prior two shows.
But if the earlier installments are any indication, the catchy titling doesn’t really cover what’s in the tin, any more than the how-to-be-an-assassin voiceover narration in The Killer1 reflects the on-screen action. It’s smart packaging, though, I can’t deny that.
Do I think there’s anything I can learn from Mob Boss (which dropped on Tuesday but, as always, I am a little behind)? I never assume I know everything going into a new situation2 but I suspect there isn’t, based on this Decider review that suggests it’s basically the jukebox musical of Mafia males.
But the actual decider, for me, is the narrator: actor Peter Dinklage, who is up there with Morgan Freeman in terms of authoritative intonation, is back for VO duties yet again — and the way he rips into some of the cheesier lines brings me back to his fantastic cameo in Living in Oblivion. This is peak knittable watch, I am hoping.
Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God dropped on Monday, and I feel like it got a little lost in market confusion between in and Escaping Twin Flames. Two love cult docuseries over the course of a few days might do that to an audience, right?
This HBO three-parter is on Amy Carlson — aka “Mother God,” a Colorado cult leader who is now decimating all the Google results for her Blue Bloods-starring name twin. Unlike the actor, this Carlson died in 2021, a passing that went undiscovered even as police pulled her followers over as they — not kidding — were Weekend At Bernie’s-ing her remains.
This Vanity Fair story on the series interested me most not with that detail (I’ve been doing this long enough that it’s hard to grab me with wackiness) but with this: “There are no talking head experts in the series, or clips of media stories. Outside of Carlson’s family members, a local sheriff, and a reporter, the story is told exclusively by current and former followers and the footage they left behind.”
I’m intrigued by the decision to take the narrative that direction, and curious abut how they filled three episodes with those types of interviews. So that’s my weekend plan. What’s yours? You know what to do. — EB
Still need a Bluesky invite code? We talked about the conscience-driven migration away from Twitter exactly a month ago, and know that company owner Elon Musk’s new level of open bigotry is spurring another wave of departures. So we’ll just note that we have a couple Bluesky invite codes available, if you’re interested in checking out that (still invite-only) platform. Each code will work for one person, so here they are, first come, first served — we’re bestevidencefyi.bsky.social (and, personally, I’m evelb and Sarah is sarahdbunting).
The Great ‘Fentanyl Trash Can’ Freak-out: How park litter made Brooklyn parents lose their minds. [Curbed]
I’m really interested in the (oft-mythical) narrative around found fentanyl, especially as it relates to consumption by dogs/kids. I’ve started collecting them the way I do true crime real estate stories (among others3), and will do my best not to bore you with them all. This item, published Wednesday, has the bonus of that certain kind of big city parent with a co-op tote bag on the streets and a Ring doorbell with Nextdoor-shared footage (“Anyone else see this suspicious man on the sidewalk on Thursday at around 3 PM? Something just seems off!”) at home.
Is "found fentanyl” the Satanic Panic of the 2020s? I’m going to need to collect more data to decide if the comparison tracks, but reading this item is prompting me to lean in that direction. — EB
The Mirai Confessions: Three Young Hackers Who Built a Web-Killing Monster Finally Tell Their Story [Wired]
Here’s your big weekend longread, all y’all tech crime fans. Andy Greenberg scored these first-person accounts from a group of teens who, on an odd day in 2016, took out Netflix, Spotify, Twitter, PayPal, Slack and many other websites and apps. You’ll come away from this piece reminded of how fragile the internet can be — and how our hardware that can make us vulnerable. — EB
Woman Killed in Belgium 31 Years Ago Is Identified by Her Flower Tattoo [NY Times gift link]
This article was the first time I’d heard of Operation Identify Me, an Interpol effort to discover the names of 22 women found dead across Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The cases aren’t linked, officials say, but all the victims are part of long-unsolved homicides, many stretching back for decades. A snip:
The Operation Identify Me campaign gained attention this spring in part because details from each “black notice,” alerts issued to the police worldwide seeking information about unidentified bodies, were released to the public for the first time on Interpol’s website.
The notices present various types of victim information, and no two cases are alike. The oldest case dates back nearly 47 years, and the most recent is from 2019. Some cases have more details than others, and a cause of death is not always known.
“We’ve got to remember that these victims, these women, they’ve become victims twice,” Susan Hitchin, the coordinator of Interpol’s DNA unit, said earlier this year. “They’ve been murdered and then also their identity has been taken from them.”
In this case, the campaign to discover the identity of “the woman with the flower tattoo” generated over a thousand tips, including one from “a person in Britain who recognized the flower tattoo on the news as belonging to a relative.” That’s why we know her name is Rita Roberts; but her slaying remains a mystery. — EB
How TMZ Became Hollywood’s Grim Reaper [The Hollywood Reporter]
It’s no secret that TMZ pays for tips — and that its roster of informants includes folks in law enforcement. The website’s knowledge of Matt Perry’s death has prompted “new scrutiny” for how it acquires information, this story’s dek reads — but from whom? The three-byline item is a rundown of scoops TMZ has scored, and some quotes on how they’re gross but fill a market demand. The techniques described aren’t anything new or unusual — just relationship-building and palm greasing for cops, clerks, and court employees. And I sure do wonder if THR would turn down any of the intel TMZ has gotten if they could get it for free. I wonder if most pubs would. — EB
Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs accused of years of rape and abuse by singer Cassie in lawsuit [Associated Press]
The allegations within the suit are shocking and disturbing, with beatings, sex trafficking, and forced drug use all claimed by the now-37-year-old R&B star. “After years in silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story, and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships,” she said.
Through his attorney, Ben Brafman, Combs denies all the allegations, and says that “For the past six months, Mr. Combs has been subjected to Ms. Ventura’s persistent demand of $30 million, under the threat of writing a damaging book about their relationship, which was unequivocally rejected as blatant blackmail.” In response, Cassie’s attorney says that Combs offered “eight figures to silence her and prevent her the filing of this lawsuit. She rejected his efforts and decided to give a voice to all woman who suffer in silence.” — EB
Next week on Best Evidence: It’s a short week for us here in the States, with the problematic holiday known as Thanksgiving on Thursday; we’ll be taking that day and Friday off. That means no Docket next week, but Monday-Wednesday it’ll be Best Evidence biz as usual.
Yes, I watched it despite my qualms expressed last week. Yes, I want all the details of Michael Fassbender’s diet, supplement, exercise and recovery routine. Yes, I was engaged. No, I don’t think it was Fincher’s best (but, still, more watchable than fucking MANK). Happy to discuss it more in the comments!
This might be a lie.
Possibly related: I’m doing a big stuff purge right now, and have noticed that my digital hoarding has sharply increased. A coincidence? Not a chance.