The Awl covers Jesse James Hollywood’s trial

I’m engrossed by the part memoir, part court-reporting from Natasha Vargas-Cooper regarding the Jesse James Hollywood murder trial that is going on right now. 

You might remember the 206 Nick Cassavetes’s movie Alpha Dog, with the very easy to look at Justin Timberlake, Ben Foster, Anton Yelchin and Emile Hirsch, playing pretend thuggery.  At the time the movie was publicized as the gritty-star-making performances for all the young stars involved!  And maybe they were.  The movie was quite good in that glossy Hollywood kind of way.  But you couldn’t help but feel sorry about the whole sordid affair.  And how the movie turned empty, hollow mid-level suburban drug pushers into something sexy. 

Anyway, with the amount of content that hits The Awl everyday, it would be easy to look past this, for now, two-part series.  But the prose is crisp and vivid. 

Besides the personal, concrete details that sketch a portrait of the murdered 15-year-old, Nick Markowitz, this is from the just-published second installment and it put a lump in my throat:

The TEC-DC9 featured in the photographs submitted to the jury was the weapon used to kill Nick. The gun was in the shallow grave with Nick’s body. It belonged to Hollywood but was fired by Hoyt. A TEC-DC9 is monstrous and formidable. It has a closed bolt design, meaning one pull of the trigger fires one bullet, and the weapon ejects the bullet cartridge and loads another. This particular weapon had been modified into a fully-automatic hand gun. The bolt had been “grinded down” so that it could fire multiple bullets at one time. This gun was capable of firing off 800 to 1,000 bullets a minute.

During the 1980s, the gun became extremely popular for non-hunting reasons because it was so easily to modify into a fully-automatic. The gun was banned in 1994 in the U.S., but similar variants were produced until 2001.

Are you getting a picture of the kind of person that Jesse James Hollywood is?  The real one is not as glamorous as Emile Hirsch, nor as pretty.  He is thuggish, muscular, brutish.  The kind of person that would kill a boy over a $1,200 debt. 

More than anything else, the description of the gun and its cruel mechanics gave the most direct sense of horror in the trial. The obvious and intentional brutality of the weapon undermines so much testimony. The gun, the fact that you can hold the damn thing in your hand, is more substantial and therefore more affecting than the subjective, agonized testimony of Nick’s father and brother. If you want any indication of what sort of person Jesse James Hollywood is, he’s the type of person who owns a TEC-9.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jamesfurbush June 22, 2009, 2:36 am

    First, I don't know Jessie James Hollywood. He could very well be a nice person — for someone that deals drugs and allegedly ordered an execution on a teenage boy. That's why I was bashing him. Not for owning a gun.

    At the same time, don't presume to know my politics on gun ownership. If you're going to bother to comment on here at least bring some knowledge, rather than just spouting out the same tired arguments gun owners deride liberals for having. It's boring and a waste of time.

    If you must know, I fully support the 2nd Amendment. But there's a stark difference between a responsible owner of a hunting rifle or handgun and someone that buys a semi-automatic weapon. They should have every right to own that semi-automatic, but don't act like there isn't a huge difference. I get that people collect guns, but let's be real. Jessie James Hollywood owned guns with the intention that he might have to use them some day, he wasn't putting them on a wall to admire.

    And finally, my story is more about the admiration for the writing from Natasha Vargas-Cooper, who went to high school with the deceased boy and was very familiar with both the events, the trial and Jessie James himself. It was her story that I was praising.