Porn Squad

First posted here nine years ago today. I’ve made a couple of minor edits.

The news item “Recruits Sought for Porn Squad” reminds NewMexiKen of one of the things I don’t list on my résumé. I’ve already served on an FBI “porn squad.”

About 30 years ago, a lawsuit was brought against the National Archives and the FBI for violating the Federal Records Act. The Archives, it was alleged, had allowed the Bureau too much independence in deciding which records to keep under the Act. As a result of the litigation, the Court ordered the Archives to exert much more oversight. In practice it was almost as if the Bureau couldn’t empty its wastebaskets without the Archives sifting through to make sure there were no valuable records.

Things began to pile up at Bureau offices. Among the heaps were whole warehouses full of confiscated pirated copies of popular films and music, particularly in Los Angeles (that is, Hollywood) where I was the National Archives’ regional archivist. Ultimately I was dispatched to the Los Angeles FBI field office to “review” these tapes and affirm they were not legally records and that they could be disposed of consistent with the court order. I’d slap a cassette into the VCR, watch enough of it to attest that it was in fact just another copy of “Patton” or “The Empire Strikes Back,” sampling my way through endless boxes and palettes. Then I’d go back to the office and draft a document saying such-and-such was trash. The Deputy Archivist of the U.S. would sign the affidavit and file it with the court. We cleaned out a large warehouse this way. (Keep in mind that this was just bulk confiscated material. A sample was retained with the case materials to serve as evidence and to provide a historical record.)

[I was not, however, allowed to apply my sampling process to the confiscated cars in the FBI garage. Even then, L.A. drug distributors drove some fancy automobiles.]

It turned out about this time that there was a big bust of audio-visual materials in Honolulu and the FBI field office there was bursting at the seams with worthless junk. “Could I go out to Hawaii for a week and help them out?” “Well,” I said, “OK. If I have to.”

But, in Honolulu, the pirated copies of popular movies were interspersed with confiscated pornography — and in those days at least, the pornography the FBI confiscated wasn’t smut. It was animals and kids and stuff. So there I was in a darkened room at the FBI offices in Honolulu putting cassettes into the VCR and sampling enough to attest that it was in fact just another pornographic film and not a federal record.

Take it from NewMexiKen, there are better ways to spend one’s day than on an FBI porn squad.

Best Line of This or Any Other Day

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Constitutional Convention, September 17, 1787

In Any Civilized Nation Today Would Be a Holiday

Two country music immortals were born on September 8th.

Jimmie Rodgers, considered the “Father of Country Music,” was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on September 8, 1897. He died from TB in 1933. Jimmie Rodgers was the first person inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

James Charles Rodgers, known professionally as the Singing Brakeman and America’s Blue Yodeler, was the first performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was honored as the Father of Country Music, “the man who started it all.” From many diverse elements—the traditional melodies and folk music of his southern upbringing, early jazz, stage show yodeling, the work chants of railroad section crews and, most importantly, African-American blues—Rodgers evolved a lasting musical style which made him immensely popular in his own time and a major influence on generations of country artists.

Blue Yodel No. 9

Patsy Cline, the most popular female country singer in recording history, was born in Winchester, Virginia, on September 8, 1932. She died in a plane crash in 1963. Patsy Cline is an inductee of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Cline is invariably invoked as a standard for female vocalists, and she has inspired scores of singers including k. d. lang, Loretta Lynn, Linda Ronstadt, Trisha Yearwood, and Wynonna Judd. Her brief career produced the #1 jukebox hit of all time, “Crazy” (written by Willie Nelson) and her unique, crying style and vocal impeccability have established her reputation as the quintessential torch singer.


Fort Davis National Historic Site (Texas)

. . . was established on this date in 1961.

Set in the rugged beauty of the Davis Mountains of west Texas, Fort Davis is one of America’s best surviving examples of an Indian Wars’ frontier military post in the Southwest. From 1854 to 1891, Fort Davis was strategically located to protect emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and the Chihuahua Trail, and to control activities on the southern stem of the Great Comanche War Trail and Mescalero Apache war trails. Fort Davis is important in understanding the presence of African Americans in the West and in the frontier military because the 24th and 25th U.S. Infantry and the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry, all-black regiments established after the Civil War, were stationed at the post.

National Park Service

Top 10 Reasons People Don’t Use Turn Signals

The top 10 reasons people don’t use turn signals.

10. I prefer to remain aloof and mysterious.

9. I find it easier to just leave one turn signal on all the time.

8. I don’t wear seat belts either.

7. I’m not from around here.

6. It’s my tax dollars that built these roads and I can turn wherever I want whenever I want

5. I would use turn signals, but every time I try the windshield wipers come on instead.

4. Our Christian Founding Fathers didn’t use turn signals.

3. The dog in my lap ate my turn signal lever.

2. The click-click-click sound messes up the thump-thump-thump of my bass woofer.

And the number one reason people don’t use turn signals,

I’m texting and drinking coffee and I don’t have three hands.


The chief himself was in his late fifties and perhaps decided that it was time to retire from the more athletic activities of his career. Nonetheless, when he finally gave up once and for all, on September 4, 1886, it was a negotiated surrender, and not a capture.

Geronimo and Naiche (son of Cochise) surrendered to Gen. Nelson Miles on this date in 1886 at Skeleton Canyon, near the Arizona-New Mexico line just north of the border with Mexico. It was the fourth time Geronimo had surrendered — and the last. With them were 16 men, 14 women and six children. The band was taken to Fort Bowie and by the 8th were on a train to Florida as prisoners of war.

“General Miles is your friend,” said the interpreter. The Indian gave Miles a defoliating look. “I never saw him,” he said. “I have been in need of friends. Why has he not been with me?”

This photograph was taken at a rest stop along the route to San Antonio. Naiche is third from left, Geronimo third from right (with the straw hat) in the front row.

After time in Florida and Alabama, Geronimo and the other Chiricahua Apaches were moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1894. Geronimo, despite remaining a prisoner of war, became a marketable celebrity, paid to appear at expositions and fairs. He died at Fort Sill in 1909, about age 80.

Also pictured are Geronimo at his third surrender in March 1886 (above) and Geronimo on exhibit at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair (below).

Quotations are from Geronimo! by E. M. Halliday, published in American Heritage in June 1966.