(Coverage of Murder of a City, Tacoma, starts here.)
All conspiracy theories and questions of credibility aside, Fred Crisman could flat-out write. Murder of a City, Tacoma is well paced and penned with conviction.
Crisman was a convincing writer, and he had a good feel for pacing. Murder of a City picks up at a slow but consistent boil from the introduction through to chapter 3.
Crisman starts the chapter meeting old friend Miller Stevens at the New Yorker “restaurant.” In looking this up, I’m pretty sure Crisman was referring to a place remembered today as the New Yorker nightclub, not restaurant. University of Puget Sound has some images from the club.
Crisman explains that Stevens is a Gypsy (which he capitalizes), and then goes on to talk about how Gypsies were being abused by the city of Tacoma. According to Crisman, social systems had been enacted for all other demographics, but the Gypsies had been left out.
Also here, for the first time, Crisman mentions that he was a teacher. I noted in my coverage of chapter 1 that I previously found this to be a curious omission, as Crisman’s firing from his position just prior to the events of Murder of a City seemed very intriguing. He’d been accused of starting a secret society among students, which, if true, says a great deal about the guy.
Regardless, Crisman talks about Gypsies for a while and proudly declares that Stevens considered him to be the best “gadjo” (non-Gypsy) he’d ever met.
Crisman says that he helped Stevens write an education plan for the Tacoma Gypsy population, and that this plan won funding by the order of $6700, which in today’s dollars is about $51,000.
Crisman says the education plan was successful but not renewed. So, Stevens, encouraged by Crisman, decides to go straight to Washington D.C. to make people aware of the problem and to continue getting the funding they need.
This is where things get interesting.
Stevens comes to Crisman to say that figures in Washington D.C. warned him to stay away from Crisman, saying they had “black and white proof” of Crisman’s poor character. Stevens is nervous and doesn’t know what to do.
Crisman advises Stevens to have these people meet him at his home. Crisman then goes and stakes out the location. When the two men arrive, Crisman follows them inside.
The men are identified as Bob Lee, a “public relations” man, and Edd Jeffords, Tacoma News-Tribune reporter.
Jeffords appears in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, among other places. He was the fine arts editor for the Tribune.
Crisman confronts the men, and they confess to having none of the “black and white” proof they’d promised. Crisman throws the men out of the house.
In reviewing the situation, Crisman surmises that the Tacoma establishment must have been angry that he and Stevens had gone straight to D.C. to rectify the injustices being done to Tacoma’s Gypsy population.
Crisman slips in a note that Lee and Jeffords were telling people that Crisman had been skimming money from the aforementioned Gypsy education program. Crisman brushes this off, claiming officials knew that Lee was a “liar” and Jeffords was just a “cheap hippie-in-residence.”
Crisman now feels thoroughly crucified by the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma News-Tribune. He hears of a Canadian-turned-U.S.-citizen named Jim Nicholls, a “man of integrity.”
Nicholls runs KAYE radio in Puyallup, which is a few miles outside Tacoma. Nicholls also has a history of running programs outside the mainstream, and of confronting the same powers-that-be that have tormenting Crisman.
The two decide to do something about it. Their alliance is formed, and the die is cast.
The chapter closes with Crisman walking into the studio for his first Murder of a City broadcast, truly setting his information war in motion. History is now ready to be made.
Originally published on Northwest Nomad.