The Brief, Extraordinary Life of Cody Spafford
March 12, 2015 2:21 PM   Subscribe

"He did terrible things but it did not define him as our friend and the person we knew" The Seattle Met explores the life of a loved and respected young man behind a tragic bank robbery attempt.
posted by KGMoney (46 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
oyster shucker... what a fucking terrible job.
posted by ennui.bz at 2:50 PM on March 12, 2015


I had met him a couple times before this all happened. He even shows up in a couple of my wedding party pictures that we took at the Walrus and the Carpenter. When I heard the news about the robbery and his death I found it very hard to believe that it was him. Drugs can really mess with a person.
posted by matildaben at 3:01 PM on March 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think they mean the guy they thought they knew.


I don't see anything particularly extraordinary about this guy. If a person can muster up the absolute lack of compassion to stick a gun in someone's face and put that kind of trauma into their life, I doubt I'd count armed robbery as out of character. It was there, they were lucky to not be hurt. Like the Craigslist Killer, whose fiancé couldn't see him like that kind of guy., and he never put her in danger, though he never thought twice about murderung another woman. I mean, that guy was a med student at a decent med school. Surely he didn't seem like the kind of guy to murder women on Craigslist in between exams. But he was. And nobody normal will ever know why.
posted by discopolo at 3:03 PM on March 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think they mean the guy they thought they knew.

Not to get all hippy dippy but no one knows everyone totally, only bits.
posted by josher71 at 3:14 PM on March 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


Seems a bit disingenuous to compare a crime of desperation (yeah, drugs can make you desperate, even if you are somebody "normal") in which the criminal didn't even use a real gun* to multiple premeditated serial killings.

Nobody's saying this guy is extraordinary anyway, that is literally nowhere in or even implied by TFA. They're saying he's a PERSON, who did other things in his life than rob a bank, and that they are asserting their right to love him even though he fucked up and did something awful. But I guess drug users, petty criminals, and serial murderers are just all one and the same, all just inhuman monsters for us to shun from view...

Sorry. As it happens I met Mr. Spafford at W&C in 2013, and he was such a scintillating, knowledgable person that I remembered him immediately upon seeing this picture, even though I literally only saw/spoke to him the once. I am on the "he's human" side, I guess.

*Yes I am aware that it's all the same to the bank teller. However, it clearly indicates that Spafford had no intention of killing anyone.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:17 PM on March 12, 2015 [37 favorites]


However, it clearly indicates that Spafford had no intention of killing anyone.

but he did intend to make someone believe he might

i don't recall anyone calling him an inhuman monster, though - maybe really fucked up guy covers it
posted by pyramid termite at 3:31 PM on March 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Nobody's saying this guy is extraordinary anyway, that is literally nowhere in or even implied by TFA.

It's right there in the title...
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:32 PM on March 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


but he did intend to make someone believe he might

This is a weird thing for me. I know plenty of people who have given plenty of other people reason to think they would visit bodily harm on them. It is different when killing them is the option given, I suppose.
posted by josher71 at 3:35 PM on March 12, 2015


That's just sad and awful.
posted by suelac at 3:36 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't help but notice that Cody was a good-looking, blond, blue-eyed white kid. I wonder if he would have gotten a feature article eulogy if he had not been.

I feel like if a reporter was inclined, they could find potential and redeeming qualities in almost every criminal in Seattle and it's interesting they chose Cody.
posted by justkevin at 3:39 PM on March 12, 2015 [43 favorites]


Exactly what I was thinking, justkevin. This screams of "privileged person given favorable post-mortem which would not have been otherwise afforded him had be not been of a particular archetype." Which is not to say that people don't deserve a holistic retrospective of their lives, just that in our society such things are not evenly applied.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:48 PM on March 12, 2015 [13 favorites]



Not to get all hippy dippy but no one knows everyone totally, only bits.


How is that not what I said?
posted by discopolo at 3:50 PM on March 12, 2015


I can't help but notice that Cody was a good-looking, blond, blue-eyed white kid.

Those ugly-looking, brown-eyed white kids sure have it a lot tougher.
posted by phaedon at 3:54 PM on March 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sorry. As it happens I met Mr. Spafford at W&C in 2013, and he was such a scintillating, knowledgable person that I remembered him immediately upon seeing this picture, even though I literally only saw/spoke to him the once. I am on the "he's human" side, I guess.


They're all human, but it's scary who some humans are, and what they're capable of.

I'm pretty sure lots of people though Ted Bundy was an intelligent, great guy. And Jim Jones. And all the neighbors of the guys that murder their families, who tell the news reporter after the crime,"Seemed like a really good guy, good dad, don't know what happened."
posted by discopolo at 3:55 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm genuinely dismayed by the bitter tone of some of the comments here.
posted by clockzero at 4:04 PM on March 12, 2015 [21 favorites]


And Jim Jones.

According to Wikipedia, Jones was really popular prior to the move to Guyana, including being head of the HRC, befriending Willie Brown and Harvey Milk, helping out with Walter Mondale's presidential campaign, etc. It is really amazing how charisma can cloud the judgement of otherwise intelligent people.
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:07 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


While on the other hand, it's amazing how legitimately decent people can legitimately fall apart.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:26 PM on March 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


discopolo: “I'm pretty sure lots of people though Ted Bundy was an intelligent, great guy. And Jim Jones. And all the neighbors of the guys that murder their families, who tell the news reporter after the crime, ‘Seemed like a really good guy, good dad, don't know what happened.’”

Sure, but good lord – a dumb kid who committed a foolhardy bank robbery and got himself killed by a cop is absolutely not Ted Bundy or Jim Jones. Let's be clear: pointing a weapon at someone and making them believe you're going to kill them is an awful thing to do, one of the worst sorts of psychological assault one person can commit against another. But it's a damn sight different from actually murdering multiple people, isn't it? I don't doubt that Cody Spafford made some huge mistakes – and did at least one thing that counts as a trauma-inducing crime. Armed robbery – the act of threatening someone with heinous injury or death if they don't hand over cash – is not a nice thing at all. But at the end of the day, yes, he was a kid who had a few moments of stupidity and recklessness, and his prior life, the things he accomplished, the friends he made, are not taken away by those moments. He paid the price for his crime in spades. He's dead, after all. It's okay that people want to remember the good in him.

justkevin: “I can't help but notice that Cody was a good-looking, blond, blue-eyed white kid. I wonder if he would have gotten a feature article eulogy if he had not been. I feel like if a reporter was inclined, they could find potential and redeeming qualities in almost every criminal in Seattle and it's interesting they chose Cody.”

This is a good point. My first impulse is to say that we should be careful saying this kind of thing, because there are a lot of people in the world who would be happy just tossing out any sympathetic story about a criminal in the name of being "equitable" – no, that's not what we want, we want fair and honest tellings of the lives of people who go through this shit who aren't white, too.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize this is really a point we should take to heart. And not just in saying – there are plenty of black and brown kids who went through the same thing as Cody but aren't talked about. That's true, but it goes deeper: a disproportionately vast number of black and brown kids would never have had the opportunities Cody had in the first place. They would never have been able to start over again in Seattle; they would never have been able to walk in off the street and land a job as an oyster shucker at a place that would ultimately get them a sous chef position; they would never have even been given multiple chances in a rehab program. The number of poor folks (again, particularly poor folks who aren't white) who don't get these meager amenities and opportunities is unfortunately quite large.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has said about Darren Wilson: indeed, he was innocent. Now let's show some concern for all the innocent folks who have never been afforded the rights he has – who have never been given a fair day in court, or allowed to exonerate themselves, or been granted even the presumption of innocence in the first place. I kind of feel like it's a good idea to see this story in a similar light. This poor kid really went off the rails, and it's understandable that all his friends wish they could have helped him, because they valued him. Let's not lose sight of the larger context when we take this story and start thinking about actions we can take to make sure it doesn't happen again.
posted by koeselitz at 4:36 PM on March 12, 2015 [31 favorites]


Oh, and one other thing about this bit from the article:
Rodgers yelled to the group below, “He’s got a knife!”

The commanding officer took up his radio: “Get SWAT here.” He requested a crisis intervention team with negotiating experience, an antiriot gun that shoots beanbags—anything he could think of to resolve what was shaping up to be a standoff.

The sound of seven shots ricocheted off the courtyard walls.

When Rodgers later gave his statement, he recalled shouting, “It doesn’t have to end like this. Stay where you’re at.” And that the suspect kept saying, “Nope. I’m not going to do it.” He said the young man ignored his commands, edged across the garage roof, then rushed at the detective, charging as fast as he could with the knife clenched by his side. Everything from that first sighting to those seven rounds unspooled in under two minutes.
Given the era we live in, it is absolutely not out of line to ask if this is how it really went down – or to furthermore demand – regardless of how it really went down – that we somehow equip and train our police officers to disable a suspect in a way that is nonlethal. Even the passage itself makes this clear. They had to call in SWAT to get a friggin' nonlethal weapon that could incapacitate him? That's not okay. It cost a life. I don't blame anybody for firing when a knife-wielding tweaker lunges at them, but I do blame the system for giving them nothing but lethal bullets with which to do so.
posted by koeselitz at 4:43 PM on March 12, 2015 [16 favorites]


How is that not what I said?

When you said "I think they mean the guy they thought they knew" it sounded to me like you were saying they didn't know him at all.
posted by josher71 at 4:47 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


This guy sounds like he could have charmed his way into as many drugs as he wanted. So what's with the desperado schtick?
posted by telstar at 4:51 PM on March 12, 2015


We can speculate about who would have gotten second chances and who might have gotten posthumous articles until we're blue in the face. The only two things that I know for certain is that heroin doesn't give a fuck what color you are, and this kid wouldn't be any deader if he were black.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:57 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


How nefarious and suspect that this journalist found the story of a successful chef getting ready to run a kitchen at a high-end NYC restaurant concealing a secret life to be compelling. That they imagined others might be interested in reading about a gregarious over-achiever who ended his life robbing a bank in an elaborate costume and who was gunned down by cops in the driveway of the Starbucks CEO. Happens all the time. Why is it that THIS time "they" decided to write a story about it? What's their agenda?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:08 PM on March 12, 2015 [16 favorites]


I'm not going to threadsit, but I certainly didn't foresee the kinds of reactions here from this article.

I posted this because I once knew an otherwise pretty good guy who committed a similarly terrible act due to mental illness, and I wish people would have been able to realize that he was a fucked up kid who did something really wrong, rather than simply vilifying him and writing him off as evil.

I posted this because good people sometimes do stupid, misguided things, and it's important not to lose sight of their humanity, even while condemning the act.
posted by KGMoney at 5:21 PM on March 12, 2015 [19 favorites]


There are some ridiculously tasteless comments above. I have chosen to flag rather than quote and argue, but the people making those comments should be ashamed of themselves and should reflect on why they feel compelled to do something so tacky in public.

It was a great article and I think it is wonderful that the restaurant owners and staff chose to affirm their connection to him (and to emphasize his humanity) rather than turn their backs. Pretty much every one sentence entry in the local police blotter will have an equally rich story behind it; I wish they could all get told because it is so easy to reduce people to negative labels but even people who make bad and hurtful choices are first and foremost people.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:24 PM on March 12, 2015 [9 favorites]



Sure, but good lord – a dumb kid who committed a foolhardy bank robbery and got himself killed by a cop is absolutely not Ted Bundy or Jim Jones.



Ok, maybe by now you've realized that I was replying to Blast Hardcheese who met Cody in real life and found him intelligent and had a positive experience talking to him, and found him relatable. That alone doesn't make a person more than someone who knows how to charm ppl through bullshit. Insert famous ppl who did just that.

I'm surprised by the number of people who think committing an armed robbery is some kind of boyish mistake. Or that it was just a stupid and misguided act. He didn't steal $20 from the church collection plate. He committed a pretty non-trivial crime as an adult.
posted by discopolo at 5:57 PM on March 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


And he probably fucked up the life of the person that shot him.
posted by jpe at 5:58 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I dunno, for me, the flipside of "Remember that those who commit horrible crimes are people who love them" is "Just because you love someone, don't downplay the severity of their crimes".
posted by 23skidoo at 6:26 PM on March 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Grief is a strange emotion. It really is. The various eulogies (the Stranger has a similar story) to me represent people trying to process this fellow's death. He was well-liked, and worked at a popular local restaurant, and so was pretty well-known.

So you have the shock of the violence of his death, combined with the violence of his behaviour just before his death and his hidden life as a heroin user, all contrasted with his public (and also quite valid) persona of a cheerful person with a bright future.

And in grief we're often groping around for answers. Why did he have to die? Couldn't the SPD have acted differently? Which, given the circumstances seems a pretty unfair question to ask (despite the SPD's apparent odious record).

Is it unfair that Cody gets a number of articles written about him in publications that cater mostly to a "SWPL" audience?

No.

But that's grief for you.

A strange, indescribable emotion that different people experience in different ways.

The articles are pretty meaningless, really, just expressions of grief.
posted by Nevin at 6:27 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


discopolo: “I'm surprised by the number of people who think committing an armed robbery is some kind of boyish mistake. Or that it was just a stupid and misguided act.”

Nobody here has said that. I underlined over and over again in my comment above that pointing a gun at someone, even a pellet gun, and making them believe you'll happily kill them if they don't give you all the money, is a terrible thing to do. All we're saying is that this is a tragedy – because the crime of pointing a gun at someone should not be immediately punishable by death.

Are you suggesting otherwise? I guess you probably don't mean to. As far as I can tell, you just think it's sort of silly and stupid for people to have reverence or fond memories of someone who committed what is clearly a crime that caused real damage. But think for a moment about what that means. Do you really think everything good about a person is negated if they commit armed robbery? Again, I'm not minimizing, but it seems like you're painting this as ridiculously black and white. Life is unfortunately not so simple.

23skidoo: “I dunno, for me, the flipside of ‘Remember that those who commit horrible crimes are people who love them’ is ‘Just because you love someone, don't downplay the severity of their crimes’.”

Yeah, I guess that's what this argument is: a kind of stupid thing where we all pick a side of that coin and argue it ad nauseum.

Would it maybe be possible to avoid downplaying the severity of crimes whilst also remembering that people who commit horrible crimes are sometimes people that were remembered fondly?

I guess probably not. Such nuance is difficult to pull off on the internet, isn't it? So maybe I should go back to arguing a side.
posted by koeselitz at 6:34 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


And he probably fucked up the life of the person that shot him.

What? No.

A person who is shot by another person does not "fuck up" the shooter's life. There are many ways in which the shooter's life may be fucked up as a result of having pulled the trigger, but it's not the person who was shot who fucked up the shooter's life.

Life doesn't work that way, and neither do verbs.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:51 PM on March 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: a great place for selective sympathy. Anyone reading my comments over time would realize that no one is less charitable towards our police state. But if you do something egregious -not just lying cops saying you did- you get what you get. And I really don't care why or what made you do it. Actual commission of an act requires a response and -as much as I heartily dislike LE- I really don't care if you were drunk, sad, or stupid. You did that shit. And you can't undo it.
posted by umberto at 7:39 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


The whole thing feels pretty fatalistic to me. I don't think he was really expecting to get away with the robbery, and I think he probably did rush that cop, specifically so he would shoot him. I think a lot of these crimes that are blatanly not something you can get away with are just people who have had their lives go off the rails and lost hope making an end of it, either literally or as a free person.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:49 PM on March 12, 2015


There are many ways in which the shooter's life may be fucked up as a result of having pulled the trigger, but it's not the person who was shot who fucked up the shooter's life.

I have written and rewritten this comment a half dozen times or more, and I can only find it in me to say, in the strongest terms possible, that you are wrong. You are very, very wrong, and I hope you never find out how wrong you are.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:49 PM on March 12, 2015


I have written and rewritten this comment a half dozen times or more, and I can only find it in me to say, in the strongest terms possible, that you are wrong. You are very, very wrong, and I hope you never find out how wrong you are.

I've written this only once: We have vastly different world views. And so it goes.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:42 PM on March 12, 2015


Assignment of guilt isn't the same thing as acknowledgement of trauma, Sternmeyer. Shooting someone certainly is excruciatingly difficult on a human being. That doesn't mean it is the "fault" of the person they shot. These things aren't so simple, I'm afraid.
posted by koeselitz at 9:09 PM on March 12, 2015


Koeselitz, I'm not saying he deserved to die for his crime. I'm just saying this whole pretending he wasn't responsible for committing the crime, just some one time, unforeseeable out of character thing is pretty hard to swallow.

Does doing something awful negate everything good about that person? Well, let's say that if some priest molests a few kids but really helps a large number of homeless get back on their feet in a remarkable way, I can honestly say I wouldn't care about his charitable works for the homeless. You don't have to agree.
posted by discopolo at 11:09 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Opiates are not easy to kick. And even if you're graced with a clean and sober life, opiates are always there, always ready to take you back, take you back into that warm embrace. Even if you've been around long enough to know that it's all a lie, long enough to have looked it dead in the eye and seen it for what it really is -- one weak moment is all it takes. And then you're back in that embrace, that embrace that isn't an embrace at all but a trap. Because once you put that shit in your arm again it is Game On and Choice is removed. It owns you. Yeah, you have drug addiction. But drug addiction has you, too.

It's special.

Go to AskMe, read the relationship questions, you'll all the time see about needing to leave this one woman behind, or this one man, but they can't. They leave but then she calls, or they call her, and they're back with her. Or him, as the case may be. Whatever. But they keep going back even after they know that her promises are empty, that her beauty truly is only skin deep, that she can't help but treat them as she does -- it's her nature. It's deeper in her than the grain in oak. No matter they know it's never, ever going to be as good as it was when first they met her, no matter what they want to believe about her, and do believe about her, she takes everything they've got, she runs through them like acid poured into a leather sack, and then she takes more, ends up they're scored and scarred and ragged and beaten but still they've got to believe her. Because without her they've got nothing, not anymore. It's all gone. She took it.

Really, they gave it to her, except that's not really true, not with addiction.

No junkie is clean and sober for certain until they are dead. They can have built a wonderful life, be surrounded by love and family and friends and a wonderful home and on and on. One false step. One moment of inattention. One blind spot. That's all it takes.

It's really interesting.

Loving junkies is interesting, too. And these people didn't even know that he was a junkie. Man. They got blindsided, like getting hit by a bus that literally was *not* there when they stepped into the street and then they're flying through the air and smashing down onto the concrete or into a car or a tree, bones snapping the whole time, and then after all the rolling and tumbling the motion stops and it's silent. And thank fkn god they are in shock, there at the first, and they don't know what's happened; they just cannot parse it. But even in shock they know the enormity of it -- something Big happened. But the shock, it's a gift; they are not yet feeling the pain.

But when they do feel the pain.

Interesting.

These people determined, even in that blinding pain, these people determined to not go down lightly. They took the strong road, or a strong road anyways, they loved this young man and they were determined to show another side of him, publicly, show that he was not just a desperate junkie fool on tv in a clowns nose with an airsoft gun. I like them. I admire them. And: I like that the paper wrote about it. That the paper wrote about those good people, and about that young man, and about how those good people did their grieving. A model, really, seems to me, a good one. The paper could write about it because there was enough information to do so, this kid had this large life, publicly, in its way.

~~~~~

Have you ever kicked opiates? I haven't. By the end of my running all of my friends were trashy and most of them were junky and junkies want to shove a needle in your arm just as bad as a Jesus jumper wants to shove a bible up your ass. It's their joy. No, their passion. Maybe both of those? I don't know, hard to articulate this. But they really wanted to poke a needle into my arm. They cared about me, wanted to share this with me. Honestly, I think that some of it was that they wanted to initiate me, get that spike into my dewy, virgin arm. But even I could see that I had plenty of troubles already, and I wasn't going to do it. Though I was definitely interested. (Junkies that I know now, today, clean/sober junkies who know me well, they pretty much insist I'd never have gotten free, and I'd bet if I had to that they are correct -- I have never met a down that I didn't love, and heroin -- as I understand it -- is way more than just a down. A lover. A heroine.) But I'd go with my friends to score -- we were running buddies, that's what we were doing that afternoon, of course I'm in, it wasn't even a question, just hop in the car let's go* -- one thing that struck me hard one time was this one kid, on the way to get the stuff, he had to pull over and puke. Apparently, you puke when you've got this stuff in you, and you feel better after you do, like the high is intensified or something, so this guy was doing him some anticipatory puking while on the way over. Pretty cool, huh?
*It was with these same guys that I was in one of the worst spots in my life, I'm basically this white-bread drunk and wtf! I'm in a speed house in near north Houston at like 3 AM, machine guns and unhappy, nervous speed freaks, jesus h. christ on a crutch!

I bet that they're all dead, my old friends; this was early 80s, they passed needles around as casually as you and I would pass around the dice in a board game. Of them all, I mostly wonder about James, a speed freak who was my 7 dollar an hour apprentice, who was always agitated and in a huge hurry, and over weeks, months, I slowed his ass down and turned him into a carpenter, a commercial carpenter; that's about the same level of achievement as turning a dishwasher into an neurosurgeon. James was super-cool, and a damned good hand, too, once he learned to work a bit slower, and apply these certain principles -- straight, plumb, level, square, true.

But. Kicking. I've not done it but I damn sure know lots of people that have, mentored more than a few of them, one in particular has laid it out for me. Here's the deal: Even though you know that it's totally lying to you and it's not even working any more you've pretty much just got to keep the run going or you're going to get dopesick. Which, from what I gather, is about like having 17 cases of the flu going at the same time. Can't sleep. Chills. Don't want to eat. Don't want to do anything. Everything sucks. Everything always will suck. He tells me that kicking in jail is a particularly neat-o thing, you're fuct and you know it, 30 days of no sleep -- yeah, you get these gray areas but no sleep, not really, and you're living with real fun people, too.

This man -- now clean and sober four years and a half -- early on in his recovery he's telling me one afternoon how he feels like he's such a piece of shit, he's really remorseful, in that he's been in over 30 rehabs, not to mention all the ER stuff. (The ER stuff: he comes to, finds he's in the ER, rips all the shit out of his arms and hauls ass, screeching; this guy really is a gem, I *really* love him.) Anyways, so he's all remorseful about all these rehabs, how he's wasted so many peoples time and attention and so much money and care and blah blah blah blah blah and I stop him mid-sentence, hold my hand up and stop him, look him dead in the eye, tell him the truth of the matter: "J___, you needed every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week that you were in those rehabs, you needed every second of every minute of every 12 step meeting you've ever been in, every second of every minute of every hour spent with a therapist or counselor or a fool mentor such as myself. Give. Yourself. A. Fucking. Break. Jesus fucking christ, give me a break! You've needed every bit of all the help you got. You'd not be clean and sober today without it. No. Fkn. Way. Almost certainly you'd not be alive." And it was the truth. Is the truth.

Amazingly -- this truly is amazing, too, I know his story, this part is Just Ridiculous -- amazingly, he doesn't have any felonies on his record. Totally outlandish, that is.


Thing about him is he looks just like A Regular Person; you'd never guess who he is. He's one of these totally good-looking guys, he's got this hairy masculinity thing going, he could model in any magazine, I mean, really, I wanna kiss the kid myself. He's got the requisite tatts that any US kid 25 to 40 is required to have, he's got this half-way grin, not like a Cool Hand Luke smile but this crooked half-way half-assed tentative smile, like he's afraid you're going to reject him, he walks into a room and women just start to squirming and twitching, they're all dying; it totally makes me sick. That little bastard.

It is fun to watch though.

So he looks just like A Regular Person. It's comical, we laugh about it. In fact, we laugh a lot, about a lot of things, but always, always always always is the knowing that he's one Blind Spot removed from it. One stumble. One time, he was on his way to an AA meeting, he had the fkn AA text in his fkn hand, and this time he's dead serious about this recovery thing, he walks past a gap between two buildings, sees an old running buddy -- M___ -- he's got a spike in his arm within ten minutes. True story.

And as I wrote above, once you're in, you're in: Game On. You're in it again. Same-same. You're fuct and you know it and it's Game On. Junkies, alcoholics -- it's not over till it's over. When they're dead, they you know that they held to their clean/sober date. But not until then.

~~~~~

Notice that the kid was drinking. The article went on about that he was in recovery. But they also said that he was drinking. Um, what? What planet is that on? That is the case if a person isn't an addict, or an alcoholic, like say maybe he was using opiates socially and stuff, well, then him drinking is not going to be a problem. But it doesn't appear to me that he'd been using opiates socially, like bringing a bottle of wine over for dinner or something; maybe instead he'd bring a rig and some heroin and they'd shoot up while watching Leave It To Beaver with the kids or some shit. I've been around for a little while, seen a few things; mostly, abstinence is the way to go.

And I know that you know the exception that proves the rule, or maybe you are the exception that proves the rule. And you know for a fact that I am totally full of shit. Great. I'm truly glad that it works for you. But for most addicts and alcoholics, your average, garden variety addict and/or alcoholic, what seems to work, over the long haul, is abstinence. Total abstinence.

Supposing you had this problem with alcohol, but hey, pot is okay! I've heard from lots of alcoholics that smoking pot makes them thirsty hint hint. Addiction shifts around, now it's alcohol now it's cocaine and now it's this and now it's that, each addiction has it's special tics (from what I've heard, letting go of speed is particularly gruesome, as it burns up every feel-good chemical in your brain, and you're going to be totally, flat-out depressed for at least a year and no, I'm not talking some lightweight depression, either) all of them have their own signature but recovery sortof has one signature, signs on the same line. You have to set it all down.

~~~~~

This kid didn't set it all down. I'm sorry he's dead. Addiction makes decisions for you, made a bad one for him. I'm sorry he waved a pellet pistol in that woman's face, too -- she was right to be scared, I damn sure would have been. Because of the pieces of him that were lovable -- and deeply loved, and respected -- he got a better wake than most others will ever get, damn sure better than any other junkie bank robber that I've ever heard of. I do love his employer, and his friends. I'm glad he got loved; not everybody gets that, not at the level he did.

~~~~~

I have to say that I'm also sorry he got seven bullets into him -- Welcome To America, Land Of The Free, Home Of Cops Dressed In Black And Carrying 19-shot Glocks. That cop didn't have a baton? Mace? A tazer? He couldn't turn tail? What a prick. I hope he's proud of himself; he'll probably get an award. There were fourteen trillion billion cops there, had that cop run one of the other cops could have pegged the kid in the leg or bonked him with a baton. Why wasn't this part of the story covered? This kid got seven bullets. Sweet.

~~~~~

Maybe his story can bring it home to someone else, maybe the next kid won't try this or that. Or maybe the next kid will stick close to his recovery, maybe he'll think "Um, a clown nose, and seven bullets? Where is that meeting schedule, anyways?" And maybe anyone reading that account who is not familiar with addiction can come away knowing that not ever addict is obvious, esp if you don't know what to look for.

I'll end with this: you ever want to talk to anyone about addiction? Alcoholism? Maybe you love someone who is alcoholic, or addicted, and you're confused and lost and want to air it out. Shoot me a msg, or an email. Smoke signals. Whatever. I'm open to talking to you, looking fwd to seeing your note, if you've got one to send.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:43 AM on March 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


you get what you get.

Since this is a tautology I don't understand totally what you mean. Are you saying that if you do something egregious any outcome is justified? Not trying to be an asshole, serious question.
posted by josher71 at 6:55 AM on March 13, 2015


Thanks for that, dancestoblue, a fantastic post, as usual.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:23 AM on March 13, 2015


wow I'm really glad I had to bail out and do things in the real world last night and didn't follow up on this thread.

First:
The headline: in the headline they just say his LIFE was extraordinary, which arguably it is. Few people are petty criminals and drug addicts turned gourmet sous-chefs turned armed robbers. Or maybe I'm hanging in the wrong circles. I mean I guess this is nitpicky but "extraordinary life" and "Extraordinary Person" aren't the same thing, and the headline says what it says.

Second:
I do guess that I consider a single armed robbery --in which nobody is physically harmed-- to be a lesser crime than serial murders, captivity and isolation with repeated psychological torture followed by mass murder/forced suicide, or sexual abuse of minors. I'm sure not everyone agrees with me about this but it's not like this is a thing nobody in the history of time has ever thought. This guy just isn't Jim Jones. I mean, apart from "they broke laws but seemed like nice guys" they have nothing in common.

Third:
Just because monsters can be charming doesn't mean every charming person is a monster. That said, my mention of having met Spafford was only meant to explain my being so affected, both by the article and the swift, callous dismissals. He wasn't a friend of mine but he was a person I met and connected to as a person. And I would hope that we all, having come to our individual bad ends with all their gradations of badness, would get at least a moment's thought given to our humanity before the internet hate machine comes to tear us to pieces and make monsters of us.

But I guess not.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:06 AM on March 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I do guess that I consider a single armed robbery --in which nobody is physically harmed-- to be a lesser crime than serial murders, captivity and isolation with repeated psychological torture followed by mass murder/forced suicide, or sexual abuse of minors. I'm sure not everyone agrees with me about this but it's not like this is a thing nobody in the history of time has ever thought. This guy just isn't Jim Jones. I mean, apart from "they broke laws but seemed like nice guys" they have nothing in common.

Nobody in this thread thinks that Cody Spafford is just as bad as Jim Jones. No one in this thread is equating his actions to those of an insane mass murderer. His name was brought up to illustrate that single meeting with a charismatic person (who hides a criminal side) isn't enough information to determine how much of their criminal side is being hidden.

It's totally easy to compare a desperate drug-addict who robs a bank against a insane mass-murderer and come to the conclusion that Cody Sprafford's crimes are inconsequential enough to not be defining. But he pointed a gun at someone to rob a bank. That doesn't suddenly become no big deal just because he's not as bad as Jim Jones.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:46 AM on March 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Similarly nobody has said armed robbery is "not a big deal." However, the direct comparison was made first to the Craigslist Killer and later to a child-molesting priest, and meanwhile any statement that he was a decent guy to the people around him or contributed anything positive to the world was dismissed because Jim Jones was apparently a charmer.*


*Though fwiw a relative of mine who met Jim Jones says that's bullshit, the man was a walking creepout machine. His ability to manipulate people wasn't rooted in charm so much as in his ability to keep people slightly off-kilter without technically crossing any lines. And, you know, claiming to have Jesus at his back.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:50 AM on March 13, 2015


A person who is shot by another person does not "fuck up" the shooter's life.

I'd make an exception for people who were shot by another person because they were charging at that person with a knife.
posted by thelonius at 1:07 PM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm genuinely dismayed by the bitter tone of some of the comments here.

Yea, really. Sometimes i wish we could have one thread like this where it's about something legitimately sad, that happens over and over, without "dohoho, do you think anyone would have given a shit if he wasn't a white guy?" or whatever the applicable pot shot is thrown in. It's pretty much rote shitposting for high fives at this point. Everyone here gets it, and my wang is getting raw from all the tugging.

I'm from seattle, lived here all my life. I know several people who just kind of fucked up like this. Some of them are dead. Some of them are still kind of mid fuck up, in a really slow slide that almost seems to be correcting itself sometimes. This city seems to really punch above its weight for drug problems and just... fucking up. Is it seasonal affective disorder? the weather? The abnormally high concentration of mental illness and autism and MS and other stuff? Probably all of the above, who knows. But it's a narrative that really hits home if you're from here.

It's also a really, really fucking white city. If someone is going to write a story like this here, about here, it's probably going to be about a white guy.

If it bugs you that stories about minorities aren't getting represented enough like this, then post them. Snarky-but-not hipshooting about it is basically just launching turds at this point. It's a consistent audience around here, and almost everyone knows the score.
posted by emptythought at 4:59 AM on March 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm from seattle, lived here all my life. I know several people who just kind of fucked up like this. Some of them are dead. Some of them are still kind of mid fuck up, in a really slow slide that almost seems to be correcting itself sometimes.

Lived there for years and this is totally accurate.
posted by josher71 at 6:58 AM on March 14, 2015


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