my family and i took a quick memorial day vacation up to san francisco (how delightful, “francisco. francisssco!”) and, like good tourists, took in a bunch of the sights. we rode the cable cars, walked around the fisherman’s wharf, drove across the golden gate bridge and, of course, visited alcatraz!

as our boat approached the island penitentiary i had a strange feeling of deja vu, even though i knew i had not been there before. and then it hit me – i had visited alcatraz many times… through a tony hawk skateboarding game on the ps2. i’m definitely not a gamer, so it was a completely surreal experience to walk around this place that i had randomly visited in cyber/gaming-space. i must say, the tony hawk folks did a pretty good job at mapping out the island ;)

anyhoo, during the audio tour of the prison itself, we heard many interesting stories about notorious inmates, breakout attempts, prison riots and such. on one wall was this photo, describing some of the most infamous inmates ever housed at alacatraz:


second from the left is al capone, notorious gangster and tax cheat…. next to him, i believe, is the man known as the “birdman” of alcatraz (who ended up, apparently, in isolation because he was quite a handful as a prisoner). but when i saw alvin “creepy” karpis (second from the right), i had that same, strange feeling that i had seen him before. was it from a movie? was he a minor character from the tony hawk game?

it wasn’t until we were driving home that i blurted out to my startled wife who it was, exactly, that i thought mr. creepy karpis looked like – adam clayton from u2, of course! it’s always the bassist, isn’t it? my wife, being the compassionate and reasonable around here, responded by asking, “don’t you think he would be sad to hear that?” now, i’m not saying anything bad about adam clayton from u2. he seems pretty nice. still, though, bono and the gang might want to run some background checks :O

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