How A Lone Journalist Stumbled Into the 
Middle of a Heated Political Battle by Marco Mannone



Billy has no idea what he’s done wrong. Just another confused statistic behind bars, sentenced to life for a crime he never even committed. Now, without any means to plead his case, the 23 year-old is slowly losing his mind. Celebrities, politicians and activists have been fighting over him for several years, and a major trial – with a $42 million price tag – is set to go to court this spring. Advocates for Billy’s life-sentence declare he is getting exactly what he deserves, while critics denounce his wrongful imprisonment as a cruel means to an end that could result in his premature death. Billy happens to be an Asian Elephant, but that is beside the point. This is a life or death situation, with millions of dollars fluttering through the air and a Mayor’s reputation at stake.

But I digress… There is simply no way I could have known that going to the Los Angeles Zoo to write up a “routine environmental story” would lead to uncovering a conspiracy filled with politics and money, death and cover-ups. After all, us writers are no different than the restless animals pacing the Zoo’s cages: waiting for the Muse to get close enough to the bars so we can lash out like starved lightning and get a taste of inspiration. I know this now… In fact, at the dawn of this horrible new decade this may be all that I truly know. My official assignment was to go to the Zoo and prance around like a jerk to indulge Forth’s latest asinine theme: how “Green” is L.A.? Well shit, it doesn’t take Al Gore to drive over the Sepulveda Pass and see the brown cloud of death choking us all to realize we are doomed.

But enough with diving-board theatrics… let’s jump head-first into this murky cesspool and swim beyond our depth. Humble arts & literature publications still in their infancy are soft targets for the flaming arrows wielded by powerful organizations such as the Los Angeles Zoo in conjunction with the City of Los Angeles – so, it is safe to say, the Forth staff can expect a few fires around the editorial office soon. Let’s not forget that as of 1997, the Zoo became its own city department, with a clearer voice to the City Council and more direct control over its operations. Money is at stake here… and lots of it.

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