Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Name That Bandit, Smokey


I've always thought of the FBI as an excellent organization and I was sure that those who work there have responsibilities that are more involved as far as what they entail as compared to other jobs. I've always thought that things in the FBI would operate at a "step up" from that of other jobs. You know, the complexities, the multi-leveled thinking approach to things, the intricacies that are involved, stuff like that. I've always thought that there would definitely be something "different" about working for the FBI. I was correct. It is different, all right. Not different in the way that I was thinking of, but different nonetheless.

Welcome to Chicago, where 2008 saw almost a record number of robberies with the total hovering somewhere between 276 and 284. (They're still filling out reports on some of them, so they're not sure exactly how many just yet. I'm just glad there's a fairly reasonable explanation for not having an exact figure. After all, they are the FBI; they should know things like that.) Now with that many robberies, it brought about, according to The Chicago Tribune "an unusual problem." Not a lack of manpower. Not a lack of funds. Not a problem with witnesses. Not a problem with violence. No, they have a problem (wait for it....) coming up with all of those nicknames. Wait. What?

No, seriously. WTF?

Apparently, if a robber is a "serial robber" (which, by apparent definition, is someone who is responsible for doing all of the robbing at least three times), they are supposed to get a "unique and memorable name". The nickname is important because it draws public interest and the interest of the media. (And those in the media love a good nickname for anything! Doesn't matter what it is! A good nickname or a catchy phrase will have those in the media practically wetting themselves in anticipation of being able to use said nickname in their story.) So if you're of the serial robbing type, you've gotta have a nickname. And according to a one Ross Rice who is the FBI spokesman in Chicago and the name-assigner for that area, "It's actually one of the more trying parts of the job."

The names?!? The freaking names that you have to make up are one of the "more trying parts" of working for the FBI?! Are you kidding me?! If that is one of the more trying parts, I'd love to know what are some of the easier aspects of working for the FBI! Let's see...tracking that Unabomber guy for 16-17 years....that DB Cooper thing that hasn't been figured out since 1971....the World Trade Center ordeal and looking for that Osama dude....yeah,l all a piece of cake compared to coming up with a little nickname for a robber. I see.

Oh, but I kid. (Actually, I don't. This is ridiculous. Naming anything, anyone, it doesn't matter. It's NOT hard!) One of the things that made it so, soooo hard for this guy to give nicknames to the evil doers is the sheer number of them. Now, I'm doing the math here (because it's what I do) and if there were 276 robberies and you have to have committed 3 of them to be a "serial robber" and get yourself a shiny gold star and a catchy moniker to go underneath your blurry surveillance photo on the evening news, you're looking at a maximum of 93 names. 365 days in the year. That's one every 3.92 days. You can't come up with a nickname for someone in 3.92 days?! Really? I think I could come up with a couple of 'em in 3.92 seconds. Give me 3.92 days and I'll nickname them all. Forget the other 361.08 days, I won't need 'em! (Slappy McRobs-A-Lot! Stick 'em Up Pete! Bank of the West Pest! Shall I go on? No? Thank God.)

Rice was responsible for names (that were much better than mine I just threw out in less than 3.92 days) like " "....The Cadillac Bandit," (for his getaway car), "The Brazen Bandit" (for his demeanor) and "The Straw Hat Bandit" (for, well, some names are less trying than others)." Who the hell is going around robbing banks in Chicago (of all places) in a freaking straw hat is what I want to know? Old McDonald?

Rice was also responsible for the naming of a one robber Michael Staadt as the "Groucho Bandit" because he wore a fake moustache during his robberies. "Groucho" was later arrested outside of a bar when alert employees called police. (They're always alert when something like this happens. Never do you read "The dozing, half-wit bartender then called police with the information." Never.) He's not always quite so clever when it comes to his dubbing of the dastardly. Apparently, two different robbers decided to don an oh-so-stylish Kangol hat during their robberies. The first guy got the obvious "Kangol Bandit" distinction. The second one got the also obvious (but a little silly sounding) "Kangol Bandit 2" distinction.



OK, I wouldn't know a Kangol hat if it bit me in the ass. (I'd know I'd been bitten in the ass, but I wouldn't know what did the biting. I'm just saying.) What's with the name, anyway? Kangol. Is it like a cross between a kangaroo and a Mongol? I had not idea, so I looked it up and, in case you're interested (and how could you not be at this point!) THIS is a Kangol hat. Behold!


OK, so a "Newsies" hat? Paperboy in the 1920s? Do people really wear those? If so, why? You'd think that if they did that I'd have already made fun of them by now. And if people aren't really wearing those these days, couldn't you have gone with a name along those lines? "The What Not To Wear Bandit", perhaps?

I wish that the person who wrote the article over there at the Chicago Tribune had asked Mr. Rice why it seems that only in nicknames of criminals do you hear or see the word "bandit" used. The only other time you'll hear "bandit" bandied about is if it involves Burt Reynolds and is proceeded by "Smokey and the". Other than that, "bandit" is conspicuously absent from day to day language. Just look at all of these other "bandits" that were out robbing things all over the place:

  • The Leprechaun Bandit


  • The Playboy Bandit

  • The Second Hand Bandit




  • I think that my favorite "bandit" nickname is one that, unfortunately, did not originate in Chicago. It was the doing of the FBI guys in Seattle when they came up with the name "Can You Hear Me Now Bandit" for a guy who kept talking on his cell phone whilst robbing places! I also think that I'm glad that the practice of nicknaming criminals gets toned down a bit when it comes to those who kill other people. I was good with "The Unabomber" as a nickname (no matter how ridiculous it is). I wouldn't have been good for 16-17 years of "Be on the look out for "Explode-y Von Bombs Your Ass."

    So what have we learned? The FBI is a pretty tough place to work. Or not. Maybe we've learned too much about the inner workings of the FBI. Or not enough. Either way, I think we learned that if you're going to be a bank robber, don't always wear the same damn thing every time you rob a place. I think we also learned that we're glad that bank robbers (in general) aren't real bright and will continue to wear the same damn thing every time they rob a place, which earns them a catchy nickname which aids their eventual capture. It's one of the few times when I'm actually grateful for stupidity

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    2 comments:

    Alice Amplified said...

    Oh, for the love of Mike. Kangol hats are coooool! and no, you don't wear them like a newboy cap. You wear tham BACKWARDS, so that the Kangol logo is showing.

    I've asked you to please check with me before sticking your foot in your fashion mouth!

    In the absence of Stacey London, I'm your go to.

    Mare said...

    BACKWARDS?! So that the Kangol logo is showing to whom? Those BEHIND you? How are those in FRONT of you going to know it's a Kangol hat if it's BACKWARDS?!

    You've got some guy named Mike with a backwards hat and a foot in his mouth! Doesn't sound very fashionable. Where IS Stacy London when you need her?

    Can't we all just throw on a nice message T-shirt and call it a day? I do enjoy a nice message tee.