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I don't want no more of this Crazy Love...
July 2, 2007 12:21 PM   Subscribe

Crazy Love, a Sundance feature documentary, tells the bizarre love story of a couple (Burt Pugach and Linda Riss) who married after he stalked her and threw lyme acid in her face, eventually blinding her. Interview with the couple, some pictures from the movie. Some years into their marriage, he was again accused of stalking, and his wife defended him.
posted by misha (49 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
So I guess stalkers are like spammers. They keep doing it because once in a while, it really works.
posted by DU at 12:29 PM on July 2, 2007 [6 favorites]


What I found interesting was that he served 14 years for having someone throw lyme in her face, and then she married him after he got out of jail. So it wasn't just momentary desperation on her part.
posted by misha at 12:33 PM on July 2, 2007


I'm going to wait for the AskMe.
posted by NationalKato at 12:34 PM on July 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


This movie and this story is obviously fairly extreme, but a large number of successful Hollywood movies and television shows involve actions that are no less than Stalking, words that are no less than Communicating Threats, and physical contact that is no less than Assault.

I have actually said to the judge during sentencing or in my closing that the man was just aggressively being a suitor like society teaches him to be, and that if the woman had come around to find affection for him, then they would be making a movie about this story instead of him being sent to jail. You will be shocked to learn that strategy did not work.
posted by flarbuse at 12:41 PM on July 2, 2007


Romantic-Comedy Behavior Gets Real-Life Man Arrested
posted by Firas at 1:01 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


More crazy love. Or just a publicity stunt.
posted by amro at 1:04 PM on July 2, 2007


Marcy reviewed Crazy Love for our site and came away appalled:
What's missing from this unusual love story is love. Not once did I believe that Burt cared for Linda, the actual woman and not his idealized pin-up version. Linda was a victim of both a man and the times. Born in 1937, she came of age when women were expected to marry young and produce children. The police laughed at her when she was repeatedly harassed, and when Burt destroyed her pretty face, her marriage prospects dwindled to zero. The reconciliation with the man who maimed her was an act of survival.
posted by muckster at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Lime. Dude. It's lime. Calcium oxide; it's a caustic base, not an acid. Lyme is a disease.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:16 PM on July 2, 2007


threw lyme acid in her face

Sorry, my inner science geek has to point out that what was actually thrown was lye, which is actually a base, not an acid. There's also lime, which is also alkaline, and Lyme, which gave it's name to a lovely tick-borne disease, and is a pretty nice place to visit.
posted by pupdog at 1:17 PM on July 2, 2007


Dei gustibus.
posted by Twang at 1:18 PM on July 2, 2007


"Born in 1937, she came of age when women were expected to marry young and produce children. The police laughed at her when she was repeatedly harassed, and when Burt destroyed her pretty face, her marriage prospects dwindled to zero. The reconciliation with the man who maimed her was an act of survival."

We've come a long way, baby.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:23 PM on July 2, 2007


Uh...cute couple.

That is some seriously fucked up shit, right there.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:37 PM on July 2, 2007


The couple are attending various film festivals to promote the documentary. I'm sort of tempted by the idea of interviewing them for a piece about the film, but I'm not sure I could do it without accidentally bellowing 'You're both completely fucking nuts, then?' as my opening question.
posted by jack_mo at 1:42 PM on July 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


It seems unacceptable that someone should only receive 14 years for blinding and permanently disfiguring someone on purpose. Anyone who can convince themselves to do that is never going to be safe to have in society.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:43 PM on July 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Two more links related to the film.

Crazy Love has a web site with a trailer.
The film was released by Magnolia Pictures.
posted by Rashomon at 1:45 PM on July 2, 2007


thanks, pupdog.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:52 PM on July 2, 2007


Just covering my bases here, this being a public forum. Ladies: if any of you throw lye in my face, I won't be waiting for you at the gates when you get out of prison, and the cost of working off the multi-million dollar civil judgment won't leave you any time to come-a-courting.
posted by litfit at 2:06 PM on July 2, 2007


I'd like to see Rob Reiner take a crack at this one. I'm thinking Crazy Love meets When Harry Met Sally - come on, you know you're picturing it right now.
posted by jennaratrix at 2:35 PM on July 2, 2007


I'd like to see Rob Reiner take a crack at this one. I'm thinking Crazy Love meets When Harry Met Sally - come on, you know you're picturing it right now.

So like, Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in the emergency room?
posted by pupdog at 2:39 PM on July 2, 2007


I have actually said to the judge during sentencing or in my closing that the man was just aggressively being a suitor like society teaches him to be, and that if the woman had come around to find affection for him, then they would be making a movie about this story instead of him being sent to jail. You will be shocked to learn that strategy did not work.

And if the woman had consented to the sex, it would have been love making and not rape. I'm kind of shocked to hear this from a MeFite, to be honest. I believe in putting forth the most vigorous defense possible, but this seems to be crossing the line into poisoning the commons. Do you also advance "look what she was wearing/she was asking for it" lines of thinking?

To me, this argument is not part of a vigorous legal defense but is sort of an ideological gloss placed over the legal system to legitimate certain perspectives regarding appropriate behavior between men and women.

If this strategy doesn't work (as it shouldn't) why perpetuate the myth that male violence towards women is merely misunderstood affection (and that the correct response to stalking/harassment is to embrace the stalker/harasser)?
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:41 PM on July 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


These two were a guest on a show where I work, and they seemed very happy together backstage, away from the cameras. This is truly a crazy fucking story, batshitinsane. She seems like a hard, hard woman - a streetwise tough chick who could've imprisoned much better men than the guy she's with. But damn, I guess love is love....
posted by nevercalm at 2:42 PM on July 2, 2007


Love hurts
posted by UseyurBrain at 2:42 PM on July 2, 2007


And..um...Disfigures
posted by UseyurBrain at 2:43 PM on July 2, 2007


The day before the attack, in the face of several threats on the eve of her engagement to another man, Linda Riss called the police and begged for protection. Their failure to act resulted in Riss v. City of New York, a staple in Tort Law classes around the country. She lost and the case stands for the proposition that you can't sue the police for failing to protect you unless they took some action or made some assurance that caused you to rely on their protection.
posted by Partial Law at 3:09 PM on July 2, 2007


Partial Law - That of course, was addressed in VAWA, which created a private right of action when police departments failed to uphold their own orders of protection. This was then gutted by Castle Rock v. Gonzales, one of the many shameful decisions of the Rehnquist court and one of the most heartbreaking cases in a long-line of them.
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:16 PM on July 2, 2007


Wait, I'm getting Castle Rock and Morrison screwed up. Morrison gutted VAWA, Castle Rock is depressing without that aspect.
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:18 PM on July 2, 2007


What a disgustingly misogynistic movie. This isn't about a krrrazzzy kourtship, this is about a sociopath exploiting a woman in a scary manner. This isn't "crazy love", it's about a subhuman asshole and the regrettable inequalities that facilitate his exploitations. This story isn't unique or unfathomable, it's going on everyday around the world. There is a woman in the US right now looking the other way while her live-in boyfriend molests her children. There is a woman in the Middle East right now marrying the man who raped her because her "purity" is gone. A woman in Indonesia is staunchly defending her drunken husband who beats her weekly. And on and on.
posted by dgaicun at 3:19 PM on July 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm shivering, the worst nightmare I ever had involved me strangling to death a guy who threw bleach in a woman's face. It was so intensely real that it still disturbs me.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:31 PM on July 2, 2007


Allen, thanks for mentioning Morrison.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:45 PM on July 2, 2007


Lordy, it all just gets even ickier, doesn't it?
posted by miss lynnster at 3:48 PM on July 2, 2007


Sorry, I meant lye and typed the 'm' not once but twice!

I saw the couple in an interview, and she said she wasn't disfigured, and dated lots of men while he was in jail, but married him when he came out, basically, because he had been lifting weights in jail and didn't look too skinny any more...really.
posted by misha at 4:53 PM on July 2, 2007


I can't believe I'm in my 30's and I still giggle at reading or saying "Buttafuoco".
posted by YoBananaBoy at 5:29 PM on July 2, 2007


I'm just happy to see the Paul Simon quote in the title. Graceland, for all that it is a masterpiece of cultural appropriation, is amazing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:29 PM on July 2, 2007


"Folie à deux (literally, "a madness shared by two") is a rare psychiatric syndrome in which a symptom of psychosis (particularly a paranoid or delusional belief) is transmitted from one individual to another."

In this case the delusion is that love has anything to do with it. What they do have is an unhealthy enmeshment between two personality disordered people.

In my opinion, he is Narcissistic Personality Disordered (NPD) with some BPD stalker traits. And she is Histrionic Personality Disordered (HPD).

"The essential feature of the histrionic personality disorder is a pervasive and excessive pattern of emotionality and attention-seeking behavior. These individuals are lively, dramatic, enthusiastic, and flirtatious. They may be inappropriately sexually provocative, express strong emotions with an impressionistic style, and be easily influenced by others.

"Women with HPD are described as self-centered, self-indulgent, and intensely dependent on others. They are emotionally labile and cling to others in the context of immature relationships. Females with HPD over identify with others; they project their own unrealistic, fantasied intentions onto people with whom they are involved. They are emotionally shallow and have difficulty understanding others or themselves in any depth. Selection of marital or sexual partners is often highly inappropriate. Pathology increases with the level of intimacy in relationships."
posted by nickyskye at 7:02 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


What no on has mentioned so far is that Pugach was still married to someone else when he did this.
posted by brujita at 8:12 PM on July 2, 2007


No one.


I posted about this on Mecha a few weeks ago. I don't want to be alone for the rest of my life, but why the fuck would I want to wind up like this? Being married is not what would fulfill me.
posted by brujita at 8:16 PM on July 2, 2007


people who need people are the luckiest people!
posted by bruce at 10:54 PM on July 2, 2007


allen.spaulding — that's unfair. It isn't an outrageous legal defense. That's what you're supposed to do when representing someone. The other party's lawyer sure isn't trying to be fair to your client.
posted by Firas at 11:05 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


And yes, if you're defending an accused rapist, I think trotting out "look what she was wearing" is reasonable. You're seriously being unethical if you're somebody's lawyer and try to impose your own values (against their well-being!) onto the case.
posted by Firas at 11:08 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Egads, Firas. You and Allen.spaulding are seriously equating a case where consent is never given with a case where consent is? Because flarbuse is talking about "courting" behaviour that occurs to change someone's mind from not interested to interested. If the person becomes interested, no problem. If not, then that prior behaviour becomes part of some harassment suit. Law that requires people to gamble on others' future perceptions to determine whether their current actions are legal or not is not good law.

I've dealt with the same thing re: whistleblower legislation. In some proposed regimes if it turns out that the informant has uncovered something dastardly, he's a hero. If not, he's a traitor and charged for revealing secrets. The law should enable a person to evaluate whether their actions are legal, right now, not have to gamble on whether they are.

That being said, this is shit. Where's Jerry Springer?
posted by dreamsign at 1:32 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see Rob Reiner take a crack at this one. I'm thinking Crazy Love meets When Harry Met Sally - come on, you know you're picturing it right now.

I'll have the corrosive agent she's having!
posted by hell toupee at 5:27 AM on July 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Dreamsign - I understand your argument, I'm just not sure what you're proposing is a useful way to categorize criminal behavior. You're doing away with intent to foucs on outcome and that's just not how our criminal justice system works. An employee who unlawfully gains access to information and then turns it over to the public is not the same as one who feels compelled to turn over information he/she has received through non-illicit means.

As I said above, stalking and harassment is not "courting" behavior. These are tools of control and compulsion and future validation does not mean that they were ever acceptible. Were I to kidnap someone and hold her in my basement for years until she agreed to marry me, would that mean that my act of kidnapping was just extended courtship?
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:10 AM on July 3, 2007


What's sane about love? Between myself and friends, I know of at LEAST three couples that got together by what's now called "stalking." Life's not clean-cut like a dictionary definition, maybe actual, dangerous stalking and love are not mutually exclusive. And maybe he should have been put away for the rest of his life anyway.
posted by erikharmon at 8:29 AM on July 3, 2007


These stories are common enough. Most people know the story of Patty Hearst, who joined the terror cell that gang-raped her. The very term 'Stockholm Syndrome' comes from a woman who married with the bank robber who took her hostage during a Swedish heist.

The story of Carol Smith could be the most disturbing version of this theme I know. She fell in love with the rapist who kidnapped her (together with his pregnant wife) at knifepoint and kept her imprisoned in a coffin under his marital bed as a sex slave and torture toy for nearly a decade.

Maybe some day we'll get a laff-riot film about those wakky lovebirds.
posted by dgaicun at 9:20 AM on July 3, 2007


Jezus Christo that Carol Smith story is fucked up. Good lord.
posted by daHIFI at 10:08 AM on July 3, 2007


Agreed on Carol Smith. Holy fuck. No matter how much time you spend studying violence against women, you can never predict how far it can extend. I don't know why this isn't taught more often.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:23 AM on July 3, 2007


See, my point isn't about what should be good law or what should be a good humanist take on the matter—my point is what appropriate measures a good lawyer should be taking. What does "ideological gloss placed over the legal system to legitimate certain perspectives regarding appropriate behavior between men and women" mean as far as the lawyer of the accused (not the judge or jury) is concerned? It's an attritional legal system. As the representative of the defendant you're not supposed to be the token feminist in the room. The only point at which you should concede a character flaw in your client is if it would result in leniency during sentencing.

To summarize, my understanding is that attorneys for the plaintiff and the defendant aren't supposed to be searching for the proper normative behavior from view of which their client should be judged. That's the job of the judge & jury. Am I mistaken?
posted by Firas at 12:38 PM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry. Didn't mean to abandon the thread.

What would be appropriate? A little realism. I'm only familiar with harassment in one narrow jurisdiction, but there it was a kind of three strikes system, which could encompass situations like: "Hey, wanna go out for dinner sometime?" (no). A week later "Movie Tuesday?" (no) A day later "I've got tickets to see the Stones" (that's harassment)

Well, I'd be kidding myself if I didn't realize that we live in a world where persistance -- often -- pays off. We are all socialized to play hard to get to various degrees. Psychology of scarcity and all that. Maybe we all need to be like savvy anti-spammers: Yeah, I really want that penis enlargement, or I've decided that I want to go out with that guy after all, but sorry, no, I can't validate that kind of tactic.

So comparisons with rape are really right out. But stalking and harassment can really be fine line stuff.

I get your point Firas. I'm simply saying that you are taking a tougher argument on than you need to. Sure, everyone is entitled to a defence and attorneys should be given significant leeway with regard to what that defence can be, but we really don't need to go there. We're talking about situations where citizens are unable to actively evaluate the lawfullness of their own behaviour. That's not defend-the-child-abuser territory.

(again, this is all side issue stuff, not a comment on the case in the fpp which is wack)
posted by dreamsign at 9:32 AM on July 4, 2007


Well. I'm not sure that pressing forth after being informed that your attentions are no longer welcome would yield better results. But yes I definitely agree that harassment/stalking vs. just 'aggressively courting' can indeed be a fuzzy line from the perspective of an indifferent observer, not just that of a legal defender.
posted by Firas at 9:50 PM on July 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


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