Where’s the Beef? Another (Alleged) Culinary-Criminal Tale
by John Philpin
Crime Profiler
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Our recipe begins on Honshu, Japan’s main island, near the port of Kobe. The city of a million and a half people is divided by the Rokko Mountains; to the south are the port and the urban center, and to the west and north are residential communities and sparse agricultural lands. It is on this land where farmers raise Wagyu cattle, massaging the cows with saki and serving them a special diet that includes large quantities of beer. At market, the pampered Wagyu has become the highly-marbled prime grade of Kobe Beef, selling for one- to three-hundred dollars per pound. It is the stratosphere of excellence, and the stratosphere of expense.

There is plenty of reasonably-priced land in Eagle County, Colorado. Although the county is best known for ski trails in Vail, there are cattle ranches on the gradual western slopes near the county seat of Eagle. Prime-grade Colorado beef sells on the hoof for a buck a pound (a six-hundred-pound prime steer for $660). It is not much different than prime-grade Texas or Oklahoma beef. The steaks are good, and the cost is affordable.

On June 30, Kobe Bryant (yes, named for the Japanese beef) was in Eagle for some surgical attention to his knee. His is not just any knee. His is a multi-million-dollar knee that launches fakeout moves and slam dunks for the Los Angeles Lakers. He is a celebrity, an extremely wealthy, young (24) celebrity, in a land where celebrity and youth are worshipped — not least by the media and their sponsors.

Whether Kobe Bryant is leading the Lakers to another championship, or being charged with a third-degree sexual assault in Eagle, the cameras follow. He sells product (dumping Adidas for Nike and a reported forty to forty-five million over five years), and now for the media he has become product (Geraldo Rivera, covering the Colombian front, had time to ruminate on the case).

Since District Attorney Mark Hurlbert announced the charge, the Bush administration’s prevarications in the Iraq-Niger uranium matter have faded from the headlines, Scott Peterson (we must assume) sits quietly in his cell, Internet sports and crime message boards have overflowed with sexist and racist bile, the FBI is investigating threats made against Hurlbert, Bryant acknowledged adultery, denied sexual assault, and bought his wife a four-million-dollar diamond, the alleged victim’s name, address, and phone number have appeared on the Internet, her name has been released by at least one radio commentator, and her friends have made the rounds of TV talk shows.

More is known about this young (19) woman’s sex life, dietary habits, mental health history, music preferences, education, ambitions, and relationships than is known about Kobe Bryant’s. She, too, has become product, and the whole vulgar program is brought to you by [fill in the blank].

The public appetite for spectacular infotainment is at its most voracious. The last decade fed us saturation coverage of JonBenet, OJ, 9/11, the shuttle crash, the war in Iraq, Elizabeth Smart, Jessica Lynch, Iron Mike, the Skakel trial, the anthrax murders, Bill and Monica, Chandra Levy, and a dozen other tragedies served in exquisite detail for our vicarious pleasure.

Will there be cameras in the Colorado courtroom? You betcha. There is money to be made.

And now, as promised, our culinary tip. Somehow you have managed to acquire a pound of Kobe (the beef, stupid). First, put away the barbecue. Second, marinate thin slices of the meat in a blend of soy sauce, green onion tops, and dashi broth. Third, serve with rice.

More about the Kobe Bryant case.

Also by John Philpin:

Slaughter Night in Moscow
The Baton Rouge Serial Killer Case
Scott Peterson's Trial by Media

©John Philpin, 2003 All Rights Reserved -- Do not reproduce in any form or circulate without permission. -- Information available exclusively through Karisable.com

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January 5, 2006

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