01x11 - Episode 11

Episode transcript for the TV show "The New Yorker Presents". Aired: January 2015 to present.
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01x11 - Episode 11

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Man: Okay. Great.


I think it would be interesting to do a piece about sort of the unlimited powers that prison wardens enjoy.


I'd be interested in reading about Facebook and other social media stuff as admissible evidence.

I don't know if you guys know Blood Falls in Antarctica. It's this, you know, strange blood-red execrents, like there's been some m*ssacre underneath the ice.

He had some kind of criminal record, but he's a sommelier. He knows cheese.

Zadie Smith is writing the screenplay, and Olafur Eliasson is doing the art somehow.



Metaphor alert.

Course correction.

Course correction.

A Canadian chain just came out with a pizza cake, which is a six-layer, 5,000-calories--

It sounds great.

Take an old rat, hook up its circulatory plumbing to a young rat, and lo and behold, the old rat gets younger.

We should do that here.

There's incredible amounts of neural regeneration.

Okay, we'll mark that off for--


Thank you all.

Hi. I'm Kenny Burck.

I live in Green Hills, Ohio.

I am a genealogist, and genealogy is a type of collector, and what you collect is ancestors.

I did a book on the Burck family coming to America in 1841.

I have actually never been out of Hamilton County, Ohio, longer than three weeks and three days, and those are my trips to Germany to trace my family history.

I have two boys.

My older son Kenny had always lived nearby me.

My younger son Robert lives in New York City.

A lot of times, people tell me, "Oh, I live in New York City."

I said, "Oh, really? Do you know my son?"

They say, "There's 10 million people in New York City.

What makes you think I'd know your son?"

And then I say, "Oh, he's the Naked Cowboy," and they say, "Oh, yeah, I know your son."

According to ABC News, my son, the Naked Cowboy, is the number 3 tourist attraction in New York City after the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.

Not many fathers can say that.

Even at a very young age, he always had the idea that he was going to be rich and famous.

Robert went to a Catholic local grade school.

He actually, for a short period of time, had anorexia.

And what that is, it's a body image issue.

But with some counseling and, uh, concentration from his parents, he actually turned that issue into a different issue.

He was going to become a bodybuilder, and that was his first attempt to try to be rich and famous.

He always set his goals very high, and when the Naked Cowboy who wants to be a bodybuilder-- right away the goal is Mr. Universe-- after a few years, he decided, "You know, maybe I'm not going to make a lot of money being a bodybuilder."

Because of his good physique, people would hire him to go with them on a date or whatever.

He started up a very small escort business.

I was serving on the Village Green Hills Council, and, uh, so it was somewhat disconcerting when, uh...there was a police report about this or that.

I'm just glad it was short-lived.

And then he graduates from the University of Cincinnati with a four-year degree in political science.

I assumed he was going to go to work in Washington, D.C. and have a good, steady job. But he came home one day and announced he's going to be a country western singer.

We have a lot of music in the family.

I have a whole generation of violin players.

♪ I'm the father of the Naked Cowboy ♪
♪Comin' to a town near you ♪

At first he was just a singing cowboy.

There's probably 20 different CDs.

One is called My Dad. It's quite touching.

He also made some X-rated country CDs.

Monkey Pudding.

So he sets his guitar case up.

He's singing as the Cowboy on Venice Beach, California, Muscle Beach, and he's not getting money in his case, so this photographer friend of his suggests, "Why don't you take your clothes off? You're on the beach anyway."

It was very successful, and the photographer says, "Look, you're the Naked Cowboy."

That caused me some concern.

Is this morally what a person should do?

I have no people in any way whatsoever in my entire genealogy that, uh, the word "nakedness" or "performing in the nude"--

Nothing like that. No strippers in the family.

From this model, you can see that from the side it appears to be naked, but actually you can see that he has a pair of underwear on.

In fact, he has two pairs of underwear.

We need a little more support in our family, you understand.

I'm sort of an underwear type of person.

Around the house that's what I wear is my underwear.

Maybe he saw that. Who knows?

I never really thought about it.

The first experience I have with the Naked Cowboy performing is when he made an appearance on our main public square.

According to my co-workers at work, I was mortified.

They said when they arrived, I was across the street hiding behind a phone booth watching him.

Now, I don't know that's true.

I was across the street behind a phone booth, but I was just looking from afar watching the whole operation.

That's my side of the story.

At first he traveled.

Finally he decided, "I'm going to stay in New York City."

He never demands money, but because of his generosity, I'd say, most people are more than willing to give him a significant amount of money.

But he makes the most of his money in other areas. This is Naked Cowboy Oyster Hot Sauce.

It is absolutely delicious.

But the reality is is I wouldn't eat an oyster for a million dollars.

Commercials, personal appearances.

He's an ordained minister.

He's had several books and publications.

Supermodel: The Onset of Stardom.

Here's a whole chapter on his nose job.

He works very hard.

He's got to exercise.

He's got to eat all the right foods.

Talk about unusual eating.

He eats sushi. I don't know where that comes in.

I've never tried it, but, uh, that must be healthy for you.

The Cowboy has a special ability to be positive about everything he does.

That's what the real secret is here.

The story of success is he makes every person and every woman feel special.

I can see the glow on their face.

They-- For a few minutes, he really brightens up their day.

I don't know where my son got his dynamic personality.

I have no idea.

I have accepted it and relish in the fact that my son is the Naked Cowboy.

I'm very proud of that.

If you go to New York City and you see the Naked Cowboy and you tell him, "Hey, I know your dad," and he'll say, "Okay, what's the secret word?"

And you say, "Genealogy."

He'll say, "Okay, you know my dad."

[Man speaking native language]

Woman: The Iñupiaq Tribe are Alaskan native people.

We haven't had a written language for very long.

How we pass wisdom from one generation to the next was through storytelling.


One of our biggest struggles is: how do we continue to remain as a people in this modern world?

Many of our youth have a lot of challenges in front of them.

Less that 50% of them graduate in the Anchorage area, and they're twice as likely to commit su1c1de than their non-native counterparts.

We're really struggling as an organization to see what's that next new social enterprise for us.

I just thought, Well, what about video games?

We found E-Line Media out of New York, and I said, "If they're willing to come to this state in January"-- because most people like to come stay in the summer--

"I'm willing to have a real conversation."

They came up to talk us out of it.

The video game industry is really a high-risk industry.

Man: How do you make a game that shows the Iñupiaq people?

The language-- They're really trying to keep the language alive and keep it strong.

[chanting in native language]

We went to our community and went to the elders, and we asked for permission.

Woman: We just said, "sh**t. You know, it's-- Of course it's difficult. Anything that's worth it is, and why not do it?"

So here we are.

[Man speaking native language]

Amy Fredeen: We fell upon the idea of really focusing the game on traditional Iñupiaq stories.

Stories about a person's interaction with nature.

Ishmael Hope: The consciousness of everything around you-- that is characteristic of indigenous ways of thinking.

They came across a traditional story called Kunuuksaayuka.

The storyteller most associated with Kunuuksaayuka was Robert Nasruk Cleveland.

Hope: One of the greatest storytellers that ever lived.

His book Stories of the Black River People is one of the greatest works of literature that you'll find anywhere, and yet it's out of print.

Fredeen: For traditional stories, the story's passed down through the eldest surviving child.

And so we went to go find Robert Nasruk Cleveland's eldest surviving child.

My aunt Minnie Gray was the one that gave the story--

That's her father's story.

There was a powerful being shoveling snow toward the village.

They couldn't figure out why they had blizzards all the time.

This young lady Nuna decided she's going to find out what's causing this.

She has lost her grandfather.

He was the shaman of the community.

He would appear in a spiritual form to help her.

I started working with the game developers describing different stories.

Hope: The Iñupiaq people weren't just consultants but actual creative collaborators.

We're trying to encourage the young people to listen to the language and try to learn how to speak the language.

I'm telling a story, so, with that in mind, I-- I made it flow.

Oh, you have to use the wind.

Let's go for it. I don't want to get eaten by a whale.

Hope: What actually really connects to people is that spirit of the Kudehee, the elder's voice.

[Man speaking native language]

[no audible dialogue]

It's the spirit of our people, and it's the spirit of our stories that touched a nerve.

[Man chanting in native language]

We aren't a museum piece.

We're living, and we have to adapt.

As a people, we cannot stand still.

What's the name of the song lyrics?

[native phrase] means "Right on!"


[traffic sounds]

Good boy.

Forward. Forward.

There you go. Right in the middle.



[buzzing, click]


Here you go, pal.

All right.

Good boy.

Man: I hate crime.

I hate when people get victimized, and that's why I was always out there arresting the worst of the worst.

And I enjoyed it, and I-- I love being a cop.

I really do.

That's all I've ever wanted to do.

I always worked the hard areas, the crime-infested drug areas.

I love the Albuquerque Police Department.

I really do, even though it's-- it's not the place to be anymore because of what's going on.

Man: I'm here because I want to hear what you have to say.

I want to understand, and, more importantly, I want to prioritize, uh, your issues.

This is my son the way he looked when they k*lled him.

The officer that k*lled him, he had a Taser.

He had inter-- crisis intervention.

But yet he was taunting him like they're not supposed to do.

What we're trying to do here is to build a constituency that, despite its diversity, can work together to hold government accountable for effective, yes, but fair law enforcement.

Corruption is from top to bottom, and the whole system.

"Serve and protect" is the basis of policing.

Used to be.

Used to be.

We've got some serious problems.

What bothers me is that it takes a homeless person getting sh*t on the side of a mountain before people wake up.

Not one officer who's sh*t and k*lled any of the public here in Albuquerque has ever been reprimanded, suspended, nothing.

Not one officer has ever been held accountable here.

I had this medallion made and my son's image on it.

It keeps him close to my heart all the time.

Here it is, four and a half years since my son got sh*t, and finally we have a chance for accountability by a preliminary hearing in the boy's sh**ting.

We have a chance where it's going to go all the way to the jury.

Let's call State of New Mexico versus Dominique Perez and State of New Mexico versus Keith Sandy.

State, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Woman: We do, Your Honor.

Go right ahead.

Here at the foot of the Watermelon Mountain--

There has never in 50 years been a police officer indicted for an on-the-job sh**ting in the city of Albuquerque.

Those 19 men had armor.

Mr. Boyd, of course, had nothing.

It can't be that, when a policeman kills somebody, they get a pass just because they're police officers.

When Keith Sandy made the split-second decision to sh**t Mr. Boyd, he was obligated to protect his fellow officer.

Mike Gomez: When I hear the Boyd case, there were a lot of similarities related to what Alan went through, too.

He was a good kid.


Thanks, Dad.


But, you know, he had his problems, when he was growing up, you know.

He started drinking.

That started everything, started the addiction problems, and, uh, that night, he took some drugs, and all of a sudden he started hallucinating.

He sh*t off a couple rounds trying to scare off the-- the people who he thought was there.

[police radio chatter]

Sean Wallace, the sh**t of my kid, he was all the way across town getting off duty, and he gets there.

He assumes command or whatever.

[siren blaring]

Alan was going back in the house and was closing the screen door behind him, and Wallace fired a high-powered r*fle through an iron screen door into his side.

One sh*t, and it didn't exit.

It just bounced around and tore him up.

And, uh, he died there on the scene.

Do you believe, Chief, that police officers should be required to follow the same laws they enforce against the rest of us?


Don't police officers derive their authority from the community?

That's what's written in this policy statement, yes.

[laughing] Okay.

Who are police supposed to protect and serve?

Well, they're supposed to protect our general public, our community.

Th-That's where "Protect and serve" comes from.

Okay. And does that include, um, citizens that they're arresting?


And would it include James Boyd?


If there was a secret grand jury we wouldn't even be here. Nobody would be here.

Right, right, right.

It would just be them and their usual bullshit, you know?

Right. All's you got to do it put one cop in jail, and the rest of them are going to open their eyes up and start--


...dotting their I's and crossing their T's and policing constitutionally because they don't want to be the next cop to be throwed in jail.

Exactly, but--

I was on the way to the zoo, and there's Mike Gomez standing with a sign saying "APD k*lled my son," and, lo and behold, I'm not the only one.

We're all part of a family that no one wants to be a part of.

It's a natural instinct to want to get justice for your loved one.

My own thoughts scared me, you know.

I had, uh, um... thoughts of-- of-- of-- of m*rder the man that m*rder my son.

My son came back from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The morning he was sh*t, the officer triggered a PTSD episode and escalated the situation from the get-go.

My son stood there with a g*n to his head and said that he wasn't going to hurt no one.

He wasn't posing a thr*at to anyone.

Ten minutes in, the officer discharged his w*apon and actually struck my son in the neck.

He laid there and convulsed and died after he had bled out.

And then they ordered pizza.

They had a pizza party right there, stepping over my son's body.

And the officer wasn't held accountable.

I just want to cry every time I think about it.

How could this happen in this country?

That's the foothills where James Boyd was k*lled.

These officers, following their training, made the decision to use lethal force to protect an officer from a deadly thr*at.

Mr. Boyd was 9 feet away.

He's on high ground with a knife in each hand, both hands.

The evidence will be clear that what this is is justifiable homicide by a police officer doing his job.

I feel bad for those guys.

I mean, it's kind of like my situation, except I'm not being-- I'm not facing charges.

Homicide's already kind of cleared my report and said, you know, it was justified.

It was cut and dry.

And that's where it was at.

She turned on me, uh, brandished her firearm toward my face.

I was looking down the barrel of it.

I remember seeing her finger on the trigger, and I ended up f*ring and sh**ting her and k*lling her.

After the sh**ting, I didn't have video.

I knew I didn't have video because the camera was unplugged.

I was fired shortly after.

I felt that I was wrongfully terminated.

Good job.

I went out to the range and sh*t my firearm, and I was good to go back to work.

Good throw.

Still fighting to get my job back.

I mean, you trained for it, and, based off my training--

I mean, that's what-- I survived.

Fight to win.

I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by six.

My daddy's a hero.

We're the best trained, best equipped, and largest police force in the state.


So what do you get to do?

They're trained to go out there and arm bar-T's, sh**t center mass twice, third sh*t to the head.

They're doing what they're trained to do.

We don't need a police department to be militarized.

We need a police department to be equipped to be able to handle mentally ill people without beating the living crap out of them.

It shouldn't just be a good day when you come home alive.

Every day your life is at risk.

But it should be a good day when all the people you encounter come home alive.

I mean, that would be better training for them, it seems to me.

What was the crime that prompted this massive paramilitary response?

Uh, it was not a t*rror1st act.

It was illegal camping.

At its basic foundation, policing has to be a constitutional process.

You can do law enforcement all day long.

It's easy if you don't worry about the Constitution.

We have split seconds to make a decision to sh**t or don't sh**t.

And then people have forever to tear it apart.

[no audible dialogue]

Randi McGinn: The facts that establish probable cause in this case come not from the impressions of the brothers in blue who came in to protect their own but from the direct, hard evidence-- the kind of evidence that has no bias and is incapable of shading the truth.

All right, don't worry about safety.

You're not a f*cking bird.

All right? Try it. To the heart.

He's going to harm you.

All right?

Do it.

Get down!

Get on the ground!

Get on the ground!

Get on the ground!

Get on the ground!

Don't make me--



Move in!

Okay, buddy?

Moving up.

Get your ass up!

Still got the knife in his hand?

Still got the knife in his hand.

Still got his knife in his hand.


Please be seated. Thank you.

That the state has established probable cause as to all the counts, the court will bind the matters over for trial.

Arraignment will be set at a later date.

[Man on TV] ...time, two Albuquerque police officers will face m*rder charges for that they did on the job.

Right on. That's right.

This was a victory for everyone in Albuquerque.

I had faith. I knew it. I knew it in my heart that-- that it was going to happen this time, you know, out of all the times it never has happened.

I mean, I remember years ago, when our quest first started after my son got k*lled.

You know, no one listened to us.

No one thought we were credible.

This is my rocket here, and when I put this key in and I push this button, boom, they'll be flying up like 2,000 feet.

3, 2, 1! Blast off!

Look at it go!

That's the death certificate.

This is reality, you know?

It's all on paper, you know?

Reality. Hmm. Reality on paper.

Seems like that's the only thing that counts anymore, you know?

Not what's in the heart.

The reality of him being gone... of never hearing his voice, of never seeing him again.

Here it is, over four years later-- [sigh] and I still cry for him, you know?

[grunt, sniffle]

♪♪ [theme]
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