I don’t know exactly why the article caught my eye, but it did. After
all, there were so many more provocative headlines in the Metro section
(the only section of the paper — along with the obits — that I bother
to read any longer). But there it was:
- REPORTER FOR TABLOID FACES BATTERY CHARGES
No doubt the halfwit copy editor at the Times wasn’t even aware
of the play on words he’d come up with. They’re not that clever. In fact
they don’t even have to have degrees to work at that lousy rag anymore!
I read down a few lines further. Apparently, some whacked out
reporter for The Star (the sleaziest of the three tabloids) had been
charged with felony battery for stabbing a police officer with a
ballpoint pen (which brand, I immediately wondered) after the officer
had refused to grant the guy an interview regarding the death of William
Shatner’s wife (who had drowned in the family swimming pool on the
The Shatner ordeal was the quintessential tabloid story. Something
nobody would normally give a hoot in hell about, but with a little
window dressing here and there, coupled, natch, with the prototypical
unglamorous photos of the now porked-out actor (the tabs love
fat) — heck — The Star could work that baby for three, four weeks,
Even in his moment of despair Shatner had managed to take the time to
step in front of the cameras and deliver a somber Shakespeareanesque
soliloquy which — true to form — sounded like typical Shatner bad
acting. The TV crews — lacking any really good, gruesome stories on
this particular night — had to settle for the blubbery, bereaved actor
as he babbled on about how much he was going to miss his wife (Shatner’s
fifth) of two years.
Hmmm. Did Shatner look slightly … guilty? Somethin’ weird
about this dude. Always kind of figure him for a child molester or
something. Oh yeah — as an ex-tabloid reporter myself, I could see the
possibilities of brewing up a nice little scandal here — perhaps
suggesting that the alcoholic, many-times-married actor — now on a
serious downhill slide — might have … well, you know.
Reading down a few lines further, I suddenly knew why Dr. Potrzebie
– my ever-faithful Spirit Guide — had led me to glance at this
article. I blinked. No, I wasn’t seeing things. There it was!
“Prosecutors said that David P. Sargeant, 39,” (who was described as
a –”5 foot 11 inch, 230 pound, 39-year-old reporter for The Star”) had
become irate when he’d been denied an interview regarding the death of
Nerine Shatner, after which he had stabbed officer Joseph Miranda “twice
in the right hand with a ballpoint pen.” Prior to being arrested and
hauled away, Sargeant had screamed at the officers, “If you’re going to
arrest me, I want you arrested for denying me an interview.”
I re-read the article again, this time savoring each word. It was
nothing short of poetry! My heart literally sung in my breast as I
continued to devour the all-too-short item –soaking up each line like
the sweetest nectar.
Yessir … ol’ Sarge. You finally got yours, you dumb punk. It
couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
Let me explain. The last time I’d seen Dave Sargeant (known to one
and all as “Sarge”) I was the one in handcuffs. Standing before
the magistrate on the fifth floor of the Criminal Courts building in Los
Angeles, I could hear tittering from the Peanut Gallery, as the DA read
off the charges against me. I turned around and looked at the faces of
each of the giggles. I recall Sarge was the only one who failed to make
Back then (1990) Sarge was working, in some capacity that was never
quite clear, for “The Reporters,” a Fox TV show that was meant to ride
the coattails of the successful “A Current Affair,” which was riding
high on the charts. At the time I was working as a segment producer at
“Current Affair.” Sarge occupied an office right next to mine on the Fox
lot in Hollywood. Shortly after I jumped ship and went over to Paramount
to work on “Hard Copy,” “The Reporters” went into the toilet (it had the
lowest ratings of literally any show on the network. I recall
Sarge frantically calling me to see if I could get him a gig over there.
I told him there were no openings. I never saw him again until that day
in the Criminal Courts building.
Sarge and I were never buddies, but we’d gone out for drinks after
work a couple of times. Sarge was always complaining — mostly on the
subject of his being the butt of the jokes of the Current Affair
staffers — and for some reason he’d turned to me for consolation. As
long as he was paying the tab, I was willing to listen.
In March of 1990 — approximately a year after I’d embarked upon an
undercover investigation of the tabloid industry I was arrested on
charges of breaking into the computers of Fox Television in Los Angeles
and New York. Yep … computer hacking. The DA had pegged me as a big
case — perhaps even bigger than Kevin Mitnick (Mitnick and I shared the
same lawyer) who was the star hacker around at the time.
The only difference between Mitnick and I was that Mitnick was a
real hacker. I, on the other hand, was what is commonly known as
“a pigeon.” Yep, I’d been set up, and I had to admit, whoever did it had
done a slambang good job of it.
All criminals insist that they are innocent. I actually was. And I
proved it. Three years later, the same Judge who’d sentenced me,
exonerated me of all charges and completely expunged my record. Six
months later I sold the film rights to my story to Phoenix films, who
attached Oliver Stone to direct the
film (which is, so they
tell me, finally being cast).
But back then I wasn’t thinking about movie deals. I was far too
busy trying to find an attorney who could deal with a DA who insisted
that there would be no plea bargains in this case. No sir,
Richard Lowenstein — a large balding man with bulging hips and lips
that always seemed oddly wet — had promised my lawyers I was gonna do
After my arrest, I was to learn that Sarge, along with Riva Dryan –
a 300 lb. hairy-legged gofer who worked for “A Current Affair” — were
the two key witnesses for the prosecution. Which meant to me that they’d
also been involved in setting me up.
Actually, I knew from the get-go that Dryan had been in on it;
several months earlier, I’d dumped her from a book project which she and
I had temporarily collaborated on. As I played back her screaming
message on my answering machine, some particular words she’d said weeks
earlier replayed themselves in my brain. “I love revenge,” Dryan had
informed me, between bits of a corned beef sandwich at a Hollywood
eatery. “And I always, always, always get it … no matter how
long it takes,” she giggled demonically. “Know why?”
I shook my head.
“Because I’m relentless,” she said.
Dryan had been relentless alright. Not only had I been busted, I’d
been publicly defrocked on the 6:00 news. As I watched the replay of
myself being led to the waiting police car in handcuffs, I remember
thinking to myself, “It may take forever, but I’m gonna get these
f—ers.” At the time I was so thoroughly engrossed in thoughts of
revenge, that I’d failed to notice that the network I was watching
myself on was Fox Television (Fox continued to cover every one of my
court appearances — the only one of the three networks who deemed the
Several days later, going through a stack of papers in my attorney’s
office, I looked over the original complaint to the LAPD. Lo and behold,
Dryan’s name showed up as the original complainant. Next, I looked at
the DA’s witness list. The first name on the page was David Sargeant.
Actually I wasn’t all that surprised. Sarge was, without a doubt, a
spineless jellyfish. Exactly the kind of guy who you like to pick on.
And exactly the kind of guy who’ll join the nearest lynch mob.
I glanced at the Times article again, and pondered the strange twists
and turns that fate takes. Well one thing was for certain: Ol’ Sarge had
obviously put on a few pounds since the old days. I remembered him as
soft, kind of pudgy (not fat) guy who always wore cheap ties, and whose
blue dress shirts seemed permanently stained by gigantic underarm sweat
rings. Most of all, I remembered that more than anything, Sarge just
wanted people to like him. Naturally, nobody did.
What interested me now, was how Sarge had turned from a 160 lb., not
particularly interesting wimp into a frothing-at-the-mouth 230 lb.
tabloid reporter — a middle-aged crazy, whacked out enough to actually
attack a police officer! For a story on William Shatner’s wife!
Everybody knows that tabloid reporters will do all sorts of outlandish
things for a headline, but good God, this Shatner thing wasn’t nearly
hot enough to get busted for. No, clearly Sarge had gone off his rocker.
But then again, years of working for the tabs can do that to you.
Having said all that, the ugly truth is that I wasn’t all that
interested in the psychological profile of David Pearson Sargeant. What
I was interested in was reveling in the image of Sarge’s
230-pound ass parked in a jail cell. Now that was interesting.
Those of you who’ve been reading this column already know my feelings
on revenge. The column in which I wrote of the joys of revenge resulted
in hundreds of angry e-mails, mostly from irate Christians who wanted to
spank me for opting to go with the wisdom of the Old Testament rather
than the “forgiveness” found in the New.
Well, just to let you guys know, I’ve changed my POV (slightly) since
I wrote that column. Not that I don’t still believe in “an eye for an
eye.” It’s just that I finally came to the realization that I didn’t
have to personally get involved. Nope — the Big Guy upstairs would take
care of everything in his own time and his own way.
A few years back, I had a file on my computer simply labeled
“Payback.” That file contained the current addresses, social security
numbers, credit records, unlisted phone numbers, as well as other
pertinent information on Dave Sargeant, Riva Dryan, as well as every
other person — down to the attorneys — who’d been involved in the Fox
fiasco. In fact, the file contained names going all the way back to …
well, a long time. Yep, like my fat friend Riva, I was a revenge junkie.
I don’t have that file any longer (actually, to be honest, it’s on a
Zip drive, but it’s not up to date any longer).
See, the cool thing about letting God handle the deal instead of
doing all sorts of unkind (not to mention time consuming) things
yourself, is that He always does it just right.
Take Dryan for instance. I really don’t know exactly what happened to
her. Oh, I’d staked out her apartment for a few years, run her credit
and her phone bills, had her tailed. I was just biding my time,
Like Sargeant, Dryan suffered from a massive inferiority complex. I
recall that, more than anything else, Dryan had wanted to be a tabloid
producer. Instead, she wound up being exactly what she was — a full
Which was too bad because Dryan actually was actually quite talented.
But who the hell is going to hire someone who weighs 300 lbs., doesn’t
take showers for weeks on end, and who wears her pajamas to work?
Nobody, that’s who.
The last word I’d had on Dryan came from a reliable source who
informed me that she’d been linked to some kind of illegal shenanigans
involving underage kids who were turning tricks for a known Hollywood
pimp. Back when I’d known Dryan, she was palling around with Madame
Alex (R.I.P.) and Heidi Fleiss (Hollywood’s two top suppliers of
prostitutes), so it seemed like a pretty natural progression to me.
And now, ol’ Sarge was in the hoosegow. I half-considered showing up
at his arraignment attired in a pink bow tie, but I but decided against
it. I thought of sending flowers with a cleverly worded message to his
house (Sarge still lives with his parents), but I decided against that
Understand something, people. The word “karma” makes me gag. But I
was, and still am, absolutely 100 percent positive that it was no
accident that I’d opened up the Metro section the day the article on
Sargeant ran. (Prior to that, I hadn’t opened the paper in over a
month). Accident? No way.
It was just the Big Guy’s way of showing me He was on the job.
Which finally brings me to the point of this rather longwinded
diatribe. Sure, I know that the idea of me reveling in the downfall of
some poor besotted tabloid reporter probably sounds like mean-spirited
stuff. Perhaps. But I am, after all, an imperfect creature am I not? And
the fact is, I’d had nothing to do with Sarge’s downfall. As for
enjoying it, well, hell, I think I’m entitled to that.
See, the deal is, had it been a couple of years earlier, ol’ Sarge
might have wound up in some alley with a couple of busted kneecaps.
Yeah, I was that kind of guy. But, you see, once you truly understand
that “you reap what you sow” — once you see that it’s a law, a
scientific principle — well, you’ve got no choice but to stop, take a
deep breath, and get on with the real work, which is cleaning up your
And I’ll tell you, it’s not easy. I openly admit that over half my
life I was a liar, a cheater, a thief, a philanderer … and generally
an all-around crummy person. Thus, it only seems right that the second
half (so to speak) of my life will — no matter what else I do — be
dedicated to cleaning up my act. Why? Because like I said, we’re
creatures of habit. And the truth is, I don’t naturally want to quit
doing bad stuff. But, I’ve been able, with much practice, to get to the
point where I actually think before I act.
The result of that is that I know when I’m doing the wrong
thing. Even when it’s something as stupid as giving the finger to some
jerk who’s just cut me off on the freeway … somewhere inside, I know
that it’s wrong.
I believe that we all know. Somewhere inside us (unless we’re
truly mentally ill), we know. At the point at which we no longer
know (say, in the case of a Charles Manson) then we’re another animal.
We’re can no longer count ourselves amongst the human race. I don’t like
to use the term “demon possessed” because it reeks of Benny Hinn-style
Christianity (which also makes me gag), but you get the idea, I’m sure.
Evil has only one purpose. To own us. To pound and hammer us. To
fill us so full of poison that finally that person inside us that
“knows” — that feels guilty when he steals something from the
supermarket — that person no longer has eyes or ears, or a
voice. At that point, I believe that we become irredeemable. Literally,
we have crossed a boundary: We’ve morphed into another species.
Today, as we approach the year 2000, I believe the world is full of
“morphed” people. Creatures who are inhabiting human bodies but who are
no longer human. I’m not talking science fiction, folks; this is
absolutely real. Evil men and women walk this earth. And I don’t mean
poor Dave Sargeant, who probably just spent too long hanging out in
scum-bucket tabloid-land and finally lost it. Hopefully ol’ Sarge got
the wake-up call.
That’s another thing God does. He gives us wake-up calls. I know; I
ignored ‘em for half my life. But the night I spent sitting in a cell in
Parker Center — that night I listened. I don’t mean to sound corny, but
that night — after asking God for forgiveness — I promised to turn my
life around. And every day (well almost every day) I renew that
promise. (You gotta keep renewing it.)
Another cool thing about this whole deal is that what God changes you
into after you decide to follow Him. One thing I can pretty much
guarantee is that whatever it is, it’s not going to be something out of
some Sunday school class or a TBN sermon. All that “nice guy”
Christianity stuff, I’ll tell you, it’s bogus, man. It’s “Cheap
Salvation” — which is what 99 percent of the so-called Christians in
the world are practicing. I’m talking about the people who think it’s
all about acting in a way that they deem to be “appropriate,” or
Hey, you don’t know what’s right, man. You’ve got no clue..
And I don’t wanna hear about the Good Book, because that poor book has
been so maligned, it doesn’t mean a thing anymore. Anybody can interpret
that book any way he wants to. And that’s what they do; they
interpret it — according to their “needs.” Personally, I don’t have
time for that nonsense. I wanna talk one on one with the Man, you dig?
So I’m warning you ahead of time that if you make the leap, you may
find yourself turning into something far different from the “nice guy”
that the Cheap Salvation people told you “should” be. Real men of God
– and they’re all over the place — may act in ways that are shocking
or disturbing. In fact, I’ll guarantee you they will. Real men of
God may say things that hurt your feelings, that insult you, that shake
you up. They may not always be polite or mannerly. Real men of God don’t
run around saying “Have a nice day,” or “God Bless You Brother.” In
fact, the people who say that stuff … those are the people to watch
You know what I say? I say dump the “good manners” and “no
swearwords” crap, people. It’s a red herring. It’s got nothing to do
with anything. Quit wasting time. Get with the program.
Oh, before I forget, I wanna go back to the Morphed People (I call
them Pod People) for a sec. I’ll tell you a secret. You can recognize
them! Not necessarily by what they look like (though there is, actually
a certain look about them — a waxiness, a deadness to the eyes). But
more importantly, when you start following God, He will give you a very
precious gift … and that is the gift of discernment. That’s the
subject of a whole other column — hell, 10, 20 other columns.
But I’ll just say this. Discernment is the single most important
weapon you need when you’re engaged in spiritual warfare. So get
familiar with it. If you don’t have it, ask for it. Someone out there
will step up to the plate and help you.
The cool thing is, though today the evil ones are far more prevalent
then ever (they include people of all ages — yes, including children),
the ones who haven’t been taken over still outnumber them. These are
your brother and sister warriors in the spiritual battle which you’re
currently — like it or not — engaged in. You might as well engage
formally, because frankly, it’s the only game in town. Everything else
– your career, your friends, your marriage, your investments, your
insurance policies, how much stuff you have stored for Y2K, what college
your kid is gong to — that’s all a piddling little nothing compared to
the deal I’m talking about.
I know that you know what I’m talking about. Unless you’re one of the
Pods, you know. And I think that’s enough for this time around.
As for my buddy, Sarge, well, hell … I forgave him long ago. (And,
yeah, I already know I’m gonna get a slew of mail
from the usual gang of
idiots saying, “Well, if you forgave him, how come you’re chortling over
his hard luck?” And my answer to all of you out there in the Peanut
Gallery is — it’s none of your friggin’ business, OK? Don’t waste my
time with your stupid letters. Go write some other columnist, because
your stuff goes straight in the trash, OK? Yeah, there was a time when I
got off on it — stupidity has always fascinated me — but I don’t have
time anymore. Got it?)
So, Sarge, ol’ buddy, I hope to God after you get out of this little
mess (I don’t think you’re gonna do any time, unless, that is, you’ve
got some priors), you really and truly ought to just get the hell out of
here. You need to think over the whole deal, buddy. I suggest you go off
to an island — or at least some place where the phone doesn’t ring, and
just spend some time alone. Take a good look at yourself. Look at all
that blubber you’ve accumulated, Davey boy. Lose that tonnage, man. Drop
it. And get the hell away from the tabloids! It’s an addiction, that
tabloid lifestyle. I know, man — I was addicted. Remember Sarge, you
ain’t goin’ nowhere, and what’s more, you ain’t taking nothing with you
when you leave this place. Think about it. So you’re 39-years-old … so
what? Hey, I don’t care if you have to sell shoes, or if you work as a
checker in a supermarket — the Big Guy’ll take care of you. I promise
you He will. And pretty soon, if you really get with the program
(and it’s just like going to the gym — you have to go everyday, and
you’re gonna hate it most of the time) eventually you’ll lose
that sick feeling you have in your stomach all the time. Eventually,
you’ll quit waking up at 3:00 a.m. in a cold sweat. One day, it’ll just
be gone. I can’t tell you when it will, but I can tell you that if you
persist, the fear and the sickness will be gone.
I don’t mean to preach Sarge — but I swear, everything I’m saying is
true. And after you’ve cleaned up your act, well, drop me an e-mail.
We’ll go have lunch.
Hey, you don’t think I spout this stuff for free, do you?
THE TONGUE IS BACK!
Well, almost. We’re about a week away reopening the doors of
the only serious, for real, no BS truth-seeking site on the Web.
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