The New Patriotism/Ravenna/Friday Oct 12/1:04 pm: This afternoon, a Ravenna woman answered a knock on her door and found three men standing on her porch. The men asked if she wanted free U.S. flags. The woman hesitated. The men took advantage of her surprise and talked their way into her home. Once in her living room, one of the patriotic suspects asked to use the bathroom. The woman directed him to the loo. Another patriotic suspect walked into her bedroom without asking. The third patriotic suspect kept talking about free U.S. flags. All three patriotic suspects were in her house for a total of 20 minutes; they gave her a baseball cap with a U.S. flag on the front and left, promising that they would return with some free U.S. flags. After closing the door, the Ravenna woman inspected her violated home, but nothing was missing. Still perturbed by the hidden motives of the patriotic suspects, she called the police to report the suspicious incident.

The New Weapon/First Hill/Sat Oct 13/7:57 am: A woman was walking northbound on Boren at Spruce Street when she heard someone approaching from behind. Before she could turn to look, the suspect grabbed her by the neck and displayed a box cutter. "Give me all your fucking money or I will cut you," the stranger said. The woman opened her purse and revealed its lack of money and valuables. Convinced of her poverty, the stranger freed her and ran off westbound on Spruce. The woman went to work and called 911.

The New Saboteurs/Queen Anne/Sat Oct 13/9:40 am: A woman was walking on Queen Anne Ave North when she observed a black man peering up at a TV tower. The man seemed to be looking at and around the tower to see how it was built and supported. The woman found it odd that a black man would be interested in a TV tower, and so called the police to investigate the suspicious matter. When Officer Miller arrived, she told him that the black man (who by then had departed) wore heavy black-rimmed glasses, dark pants, and a black jacket with the words "A Force To Be Reckoned With" on its back. She last saw the black man walking "nonchalantly northbound on Queen Anne Ave North."

The New State/Northgate/Sat Oct 13/3:21 pm: This afternoon, a 57-year-old Northgate woman called the police to report a fraud and possible theft of identity. She told the reporting officer, Officer Gonzalez, that--like thousands of Americans last month--she had recently become unemployed, and was on disability for back surgery. A few days ago, she ordered plane tickets over the phone from Bill Brown Travel in Florida. Ignoring the signs of the times, she gave the Florida-based travel agency all of her bank information. Her ticket arrived in the mail from Florida a few days later. Everything seemed normal.

But today things fell apart. While checking her bank account (which she does frequently), she noticed six unauthorized transactions involving various amounts of money. She informed the bank of the illegal transactions, and the bank immediately protected her account. Though her son has a troubled past (he has been in jail since August), she suspects the crime is somehow connected to the giant telecommunications corporation AT&T, because they often bill her for international calls (to Germany, Kenya, Guinea) she never made.

Police Beat, however, is of the opinion that the state of Florida is the real culprit. Florida, which is the state of the 21st century in the way that California was the state of the '80s, is a post-apocalyptic swamp that effuses an infectious miasma of bad news. From the election to the pilot school to the anthrax, the "Sunshine State" has generated all our new nightmares.

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