On the Easy Listening Larceny Beat

A Boston teen was arrested for theft when he told police the ”Tony Bennett” on the iPod in his possession was a girl he knew. 

                                                              The Boston Globe

A lot of guys think I got an easy beat because I’m on the Easy Listening Larceny Squad, but that ain’t the case at all.  Me and my partner Rocco are out there every night risking our lives so that the tunes law-abidin’ citizens download are safe and secure.  At 99 cents a pop, you don’t wanna have to go back to some on-line music store and tell ‘em you was robbed.  “That’s not our problem,” is what they’re gonna say.  Out in cyberspace, no one hears you scream when your iPod is stolen.

“You have the right to remain silent if you don’t know who Vikki Carr is.”


But I tell ya, it’s startin’ to get to me.  Every time we stop ‘n frisk some kid we suspect of boosting some Lawrence Welk tunes, or ripping off some poor old lady whose kids gave her an MP3 player loaded with the Tommy Dorsey dance tunes of her yout, our lives are on the line.  You never know when some guy is gonna snap and fling a handfull of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass at you, disfigurin’ you for life.  I got three years left before I can put my fanny in a chair behind a desk at HQ and just listen to the screams on the police scanner every night as Wayne Newton sings “Danke Schoen” in the background, and let me tell you–at 2 years and 364 days I’m gonna be watchin’ every tick of the clock.

Exhibit A


“You wanna stop and getta donut?” Rocco asks.

“Sure,” I say.  It’s all part of community policin’–establishing a friendly presence in the neighborhood so’s you can inspire trust and maybe get a tip the next time some gang holds up a used record store and takes off with all the Lawrence Welk albums.

We greet a few of the regulars in the Melnea Cass Blvd. Dunkin’ Donuts and I start to chat up Madge, who’s workin’ the night shift.

“Anything I should know about that I don’t?” I say to her real friendly-like.

“What you don’t know would fill a library with room left over for story hour in the basement,” she says, cracking wise.

“C’mon, you got your ear on the pulse of da ‘hood,” I say.  Flattery will get you somewhere I figger.

“Ain’t no snitchin’ in my kitchen,” she says, and I understand her fears.  If she was to tell me she knew what happened to the 241 Perry Como songs that went missing last weekend, she’d be a sitting duck for the empty-eyed young men who walk the mean streets around here, ear buds in and nodding their heads like those stupid chihuahas you see through the rear windows of the rides the pimp daddies cruise around in while Slim Whitman thumps through the bullet-proof glass of their tinted windows.

“Okay, I gotcha,” I say, winking at her.  If I had to I could drag her in front of a grand jury, but I ain’t go no probable cause.  “See ya around.”

We get back in the car and start to roll through the hood, lookin’ for the usual suspects.

“Ain’t that Tyrone Diggs over there?” Rocco asks, and sure enough, it’s the kid who beat a Tony Bennett rap when some smart-ass legal defender asked him a leading question on direct examination:  “You say that the police were heartless,” the kid lawyer with the wispy goatee said:  “Do you think they left it in San Francisco?”

The D.A. objected but the cat was out of the bag.  Tyrone walked outta da courtroom scot-free, whistlin’ “(How Much is) That Doggie in the Window”–with parentheses!  What a freakin’ country.

“Yeah–that’s him,” I say, and I slide the car into a parking space real quiet-like, so he don’t notice us.

“Whadda ya think he’s got on tonight?” Rocco asks.

“I dunno–maybe some Andy Williams.”

“Moon River?”

“I wouldn’t put it past him.”

We get out of the patrol car and of course Tyrone don’t hear us, he’s got his music up so loud.  Before he realizes it we got him surrounded and I’ve unplugged the player from his earphones.

“Well, well, if it ain’t the amazin’ Mister Diggs, always wrigglin’ his way out of a jam like Houdini,” I say.

“You got nothin’ on me,” he says.  A regular Jimmy Cagney, he is.

“We’ll see about that,” I says as I spin the wheel in the “Artists” directory on his MP3.  It only takes a coupla revolutions before I hit the jackpot.  “Who,” I say, my voice dripping with sarcasm, “is Al Martino?  Some pal of yours from da North End?”–Boston’s version of Little Italy.

Tyrone gives me a look that’s half sneer, half smile–a snile?  A smeer?

“Blue . . . Spanish eyes,” he begins to croon, “Teardrops are falling from your Spanish eyes!”

“Should I read him his rights?” Rocco asks.

“Don’t even bother,” I says to him I says.  “These kids with their ‘world-wide web’ and their Google–it really frosts my ass,” I say as I hand Tyrone back his player.

“Stay outta trouble, okay?” I admonish him.

“Hey–what’d you have to go an admonish me for?” he says as he brushes off his NorthFace down vest.  Probably stole it off some kid from da suburbs.

“You know what?” I says to him.  “You got a smart mouth is what you got.  You keep it shut, you might just stay outta trouble long enough to escape this living hell of easy listenin’ you’re trapped in now.  Maybe make it outta here to college, some place where they listen to white punks on dope with stupid names like Smashing Pumpkins and Guster and Plain White T’s.”

Bo Diddley’s a guns-slinger!


Tyrone looks me up and down–he’s fearless, just twenty-two and he don’t mind dyin’, to quote Bo Diddley, the ultimate un-easy listening singer.

“I ain’t gonna keep my mouth shut for nothin’,” he says defiantly.

“Why not, if I may be so bold as to ask?” I say, right back at him.

“Because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to sing ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.’”


Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Busted: The Lighter Side of Crime and Punishment.”

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