Now streaming: the October episode of ‘The Munro Review on CMAC’

The October episode of “The Munro Review on CMAC” is something of a homespun affair. During these past months of the pandemic, with all of us shut out of the CMAC studios, I’ve been filming standups at various outdoor locations around the area with tripods and lights.

Pictured above: Author Jessica Garrison on Zoom.

This time, however, my trusty household crew member wasn’t available for slave labor, so I decided to do a “self standup” sitting down, using my laptop’s camera perched in my lap. The result: a scraggle-of-wild-ringlets-stuffed-into-a-cap, slightly-up-the-nostril view of yours truly sitting by my condominium’s pool, illuminated by a somber, orangeish, semi-apocalyptic sun choked with smoke.

Hey, it’s a look. We’ll call it Coronavirus-Wildfire Broadcaster Chic.

Here’s the YouTube link:


The main event in this month’s episode, however, was more conventionally filmed. Via Zoom, I interview author Jessica Garrison, who talks about her fascinating book titled “The Devil’s Harvest,” recently released by Hachette Books. It’s a non-fiction,  page-turning account of a contract killer from Earlimart named José Martinez who was able to murder with impunity because his victims were brown and poor.

In terms of my reading habits, I’m not usually a true-crime type of guy, but I feel that this tightly written, well-researched book transcends the genre. As I tell Garrison in the interview, I think of the book as having two major characters: Martinez himself, who ended up killing nearly 40 people over the course of several decades; and Earlimart itself, a tight-knit community of Mexican-American and immigrant farmworkers that has often been ignored by the power brokers of Tulare County because of its demographics.

Martinez mostly looked upon murder-for-hire as a simple employment transaction, as if he were striving for a good performance review, but he also sometimes exploded in scary, psychopathic rages, such as when he killed a neighbor for parking in his driveway. Martinez didn’t evade capture for decades because he was particularly cunning or even lucky. He was left to kill seemingly at will because society didn’t seem to care — or that the powers-that-be had no interest in prosecuting in him. (You can be sure that if he had been murdering 17-year-old white homecoming princesses, the murder headlines and public outcry would have been a lot bigger.) The author captures this bigger, scarier theme — that racism can be as much about ignoring the ills of society as it is about overt discriminatory acts — with a brisk and suspenseful touch.

It’s an intriguing and thought-provoking interview.

Also in the episode: If you missed my standalone video piece on “Chicago Fire” star Miranda Rae Mayo and the lucky winner (from Scotland!) who got to meet her for a virtual “backstage visit,” producer Kyle Lowe has packaged it into the mix as well. Plus, you’ll find the usual recaps of stuff I’ve written about recently. Enjoy.

The Munro Review has no paywall but is financially supported by readers who believe in its non-profit mission of bringing professional arts journalism to the central San Joaquin Valley. You can help by signing up for a monthly recurring paid membership or make a one-time donation of as little as $3. All memberships and donations are tax-deductible.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Jackie Ryle

    Really an interesting interview. Thank you, Donald. I’m loving your natural outdoor appearances!


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