Master of Disguise

Consider this a palate cleanser. It was almost three years ago. George W. Bush was teaching the world how to laugh. People were investing in something called the Internet. This column was called Street Beat. And we were fairly new on the job. Since everyone seemed to be caught up in the practice of making lists around this time, since it was the end of the year, decade and century, we took it upon ourselves to make our own list: the worst local albums of the 1990s ("Please Kill Me," January 20, 2000).

The 14 records we singled out featured such misses as Jackopierce's debut (1990's Woman as Salvation), Lisa Loeb's breakthrough (1995's Tails) and Thomas Jefferson High alum Meat Loaf's comeback (1993's Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell). It was, however, our inclusion of Pantera's 1996 album The Great Southern Trendkill that raised the ire of one reader in particular. (We've mentioned his name in this space previously, but he has since let us know he doesn't appreciate it very much. We will say that his initials are L.B. and that his first name rhymes with "Harry," and his last name is part of a tree.)

Within a day of the story's arrival in racks across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, L.B. had fired off an angry e-mail to us. While we don't have a copy of it anymore, we do remember that he identified himself as a close, personal friend of Pantera (read: He frequents their local all-nude concern, The Clubhouse) and that the subject line was "You are such a pussy." Actually, we're pretty sure it was "You are such pussy," but for now, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. We replied in the usual manner ("Thanks for reading!") and figured that was most likely the end of it.

Not so fast. A couple of hours later, L.B. sent us another e-mail containing a strange request: What's your middle name? He had a couple of choices listed--Dale and Lee--and one happened to be correct. Now, L.B. didn't seem like he was bright enough to figure this out on his own (you could practically smell the Natural Light on his e-mails), but we knew there was a Web site that would put it all together for him: For a nominal fee, you type in a name and get an address, based on drivers license information. (That's the abridged version, mind you.)

After a bit of back and forth, L.B. picked Dale and informed us that he had our address, which happened to be nowhere near where we actually lived. In his defense, the correct choice--Lee--had an address in West, Texas, 76691, about an hour from Dallas, an unlikely locale for the Dallas Observer's music editor. (We hadn't updated our license when we moved here, and though we have now, don't bother using to track us down; it's still wrong.)

Address in hand, L.B. had one last message for us: When we got home from work, he was going to be there, waiting to "kick the shit" out of us. Fine, we answered, knowing he had the address for Zackery Dale Crain, not us. Assuming, of course, he actually had the guts to show up, which is why we never got the authorities involved. A few days passed and we forgot about it.

Until last week. We got a letter in the mail from The Entertainment Collaborative's Brandt Wood, along with a clipping from The Dallas Morning News' Crime Stoppers section. "I know you were hoping no one saw this," Wood wrote, "but, alas, I have. I know it does not look much like you, but you are the master of disguise."

We scanned the Crime Stoppers clipping, trying to decipher Wood's cryptic message. As it turned out, it wasn't too difficult. There it was, in the middle of the bottom row. Wanted for probation violation and burglary of a habitation. A little bit taller and several years younger than us. Looked kind of dim and vaguely mean. His name? Zackery Dale Crain. Maybe we should have called the cops back then. Could've been a two-for-one deal.

It made us laugh when we saw the mug shot, thinking what might've happened had L.B. actually shown up at ZDC's house a few years ago. Maybe nothing. He's probably a big fan of Pantera. And by the way, if you've seen Zackery Dale Crain, call Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS. And no, telling the 5-0 that he's at the Dallas Observer isn't funny.

Well, it kinda is.

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Zac Crain
Contact: Zac Crain