Pipe Bombs And Pipe Dreams
In a Sunnyslope bedroom, beneath a map of the intended targets, the gruesome crime unfolded. As Michael Bloom plotted, his partner Carl Schall listened.
The plan was to dynamite black people during church services, to kill little children at Jewish day-care centers and to slaughter impoverished Mexicans at social-service agencies throughout Phoenix.
One of the two people in that Sunnyslope bedroom was now ready to talk, ready to explain how the hatred had gotten to the point where people must die.
Before he explained the conspiracy and his role in it, Carl Schall thought back to his first impressions of Michael Bloom, to those pieces of this story that made Michael a leader and Carl a willing follower. "Mike said he once watched a black guy get tied up in barbed wire and thrown into a lake. The guy drowned. It was back East. Mike and the others were breaking up a Communist rally," recalled Carl Schall.
Mike also told his friend that his great uncle served with Hitler's S.S. troops in Poland during WW II.
You can see how Carl would remember those tales. Whether or not the anecdotes are true is another matter. Authorities are investigating but have been unable to confirm or deny the drowning. Mike's mother did tell the police that her father, Mike's grandfather, "was a white supremacist and involved in Nazi activity."
If those details remain clouded, this much is concrete reality: A police raid in January discovered Michael Bloom's bedroom full of materials for pipe bombs: ignition wire, assorted lengths of pipe, powder and drilled end caps as well as a detailed handbook for assembly. Organized-crime detective Al Shearer and FBI agent Kurt A. Krause also found a lengthy list of minority targets.
According to Carl, he and Michael were supposed to detonate the bombs last February with timers set to guarantee an explosion when the largest number of people were present. To ensure that the injuries would be particularly hideous, the bombers planned to wrap the pipe with razor-sharp wire which would become flesh-shredding shrapnel.
"Mike said it would be great," explained Carl, because after the attacks a national neo-Nazi organization "would give us money to travel around the country and hit different targets." While Michael Bloom mapped out his strategy of white-supremacist carnage, his friend Carl Schall was entrusted with the task of purchasing bus tickets that would take them to a safe house in Michigan where they could ride out the heat.
Instead, Schall broke and ran, and by the time he was through running, he had a new identity and Michael Bloom was in custody.
Schall, a young man with classic Nordic good looks, sat in a Phoenix coffee shop last week quietly telling his story. His mother sat on the other side of the table.
When they heard a journalist was looking for them, they called the newspaper office. They refused to leave a phone number where they could be contacted and would not sit for an interview unless they were protected with pseudonyms. They have gone underground out of fear of retaliation from Bloom and his Aryan allies in the Valley.
"Detective Shearer said they were making a case and that maybe we should move because I narked on Mike," said Schall.
When the police raided Bloom's home on January 26, the Schalls had 24 hours to move.
"We hurried up, put our stuff in storage, gave up our home and stayed with relatives," said Mrs. Edward Schall.
The Schalls' lives were turned completely upside-down.
"We had no idea what would happen to us. It involved uprooting our high school and junior high children. We had to get school records transferred without the old schools knowing where the kids were going. We had to vanish in the middle of the night. We couldn't tell our friends what happened. There are an awful lot of people from our church group who had no idea what happened to us," said Mrs. Schall.
After selling their old car lest it be recognized, they moved into a two-bedroom townhouse with relatives until they could purchase a new home. Even after moving into the new house and putting the kids in new schools, the pressure did not let up.
With the sort of devotion you'd expect from a mother who has raised twelve children, Mrs. Schall quit her job teaching and stayed at home to oversee the safety of the kids. Vigilance continues.
"None of the children are allowed to go out alone," said Mrs. Schall. "They don't come home from school alone. I keep track of all of them."
Almost three months after the police raid and shortly after they'd moved into their new house, the Schalls' phone rang.
It was Michael calling for Carl. Mrs. Schall panicked.
"How did he get our number? It was supposed to be unlisted. I had these horrible visions of having to move all over again."
Despite the seizure of the bombs in January, Bloom had not yet been arrested. Carl discovered Bloom was still planning to expand his white-power group and now he was also plotting revenge.
"Mike wanted to get together with people they would use in the new [neo-Nazi] group and he wanted me to come to a meeting," Carl remembers. "He talked about having his stuff confiscated and going to a skinhead rally in California. He also talked about finding out who snitched him off. He threatened to kill this girl he thought was the one who narked him off." When asked how he'd gotten the unlisted phone number, Michael said a directory-assistance operator had given it to him.
Although Bloom hadn't figured out the true source of his troubles, the Schalls were terrified that it was only a matter of time. They were also frantic he'd found them so easily. The phone company was apologetic about its mistake.
After Bloom's eventual arrest, Carl's true role became apparent to Michael.
On a visit to a mall, Carl ran into a mutual friend who'd seen Bloom in jail.
"Mike's been busted big time and he's looking for you," was the warning.
The Schalls worry that Bloom might find them and they wonder still at the furious events that have engulfed their entire family, events that began when Carl transferred to Sunnyslope High in order to take Air Force ROTC. Carl said he met Michael during their sophomore year and that, as loners, they hit it off.
"Mike had been a member of the S.S. Action Group [a neo-Nazi group based in Michigan] and towards the end of the year he talked more and more about Nazism and how the government needed to be overthrown. He brought in anti-Communist leaflets.
"He just got more and more into it and showed stuff to some of us who were anti-black, a circle of six or eight."
Carl's problems with blacks began in rural Georgia.
"Back there, blacks in junior high beat up my first-grade brother and my other brother in kindergarten," recalled Carl.
"If you tried to stand up to one black person, you had to fight ten or fifteen."
Mrs. Schall said that until they moved to Georgia, none of her kids had problems with race.
"No one had tolerance for anyone in Georgia," said Mrs. Schall. "A black person would be killed if they walked into a white church. And no white person could ever think of going to a black church.
"In my school where I taught, a lot of the little kids came to class indoctrinated. I kept one of my first graders in during recess and made him finish his assignment and he told me, `First thing I'm going to do when I get out of school is kill me a white teacher.'"
Carl said he ran into problems at Sunnyslope High, where racial tension was aggravated by black gangs like the Bloods and the Crips, and Latinos who swore allegiance to Pico Nuevo.
In October of '88 Carl and Mike leafleted their campus and began recruiting sympathetic students to the cause of white supremacy.
On November 21 the two of them were suspended from school, and for the first time Carl's parents became aware of his activities.
"At the school's hearing, they had the pamphlets that they'd passed out. They were anti-black, anti-everybody that wasn't white and blonde," says Carl's mother. "My goodness, some of our best friends are Jewish. We've never had anti-Jewish thoughts. Having memories of the second World War, we were horrified." Both of Carl's parents are teachers and describe themselves as quite conservative.
"We've read the Constitution together with the kids, gone over American history, but we never discussed Nazis. We just assumed in school they learned that the Nazis were every bit as bad as the Communists."
Although the school did indeed discuss fascism, Carl said Mike put it all into perspective: "We heard about Hitler in World History but the way Mike explained it, we were borrowing some of the national socialism issues. Mike said Hitler was a great man who went crazy."
After they were booted out of school, Detective Shearer paid a visit to the two boys. The door he opened with Carl gave young Schall somewhere to turn when he became desperate.
Although his parents had now forbidden Carl from hanging out with Michael, the two still met on a regular basis.
On December 17 Carl went over to Mike's house.
Bloom's bedroom was a bunker dedicated to fanaticism. Flags from Nazi Germany and the Civil War Confederacy were unfurled in the room. Interspersed with the stacks of white-supremacist literature were a sawed-off shotgun, a bolt-action rifle and a .22-caliber revolver. A book, The Poor Man's James Bond, had been well-thumbed. Purchased at the Guardian Spy Shop on Northern Avenue, the tome contained detailed instructions on how to assemble and detonate homemade bombs. On the wall, a map of the city had a large number of minority targets circled. In his closet, beneath the two brown-shirt uniforms he'd purchased through the mail, was a collection of pipes waiting for gunpowder.
Outside, the streets of Phoenix were hung with Christmas decorations.
Bloom, who'd been active with neo-Nazi organizations for more than three years, pulled out his latest correspondence from the S.S. Action Group.
"He had a letter from the people in Michigan announcing the beginning of the revolution in February of '89," said Carl.
Mike asked his friend to purchase timing devices from a hobby store so that the bombs could be set to go off in crowded buildings.
After Carl agreed to buy the timing apparatus, the two young men left for the Paradise Valley Mall.
Although he'd agreed to help carry out the attack, Carl Schall was troubled to his soul.
"When he came in, he just went right into his room and he was visibly upset," recalled Carl's mother. "He said to me, `Mom, I don't know what to do. Some people are going to get hurt or killed and I don't know what to do. I know Mike means it.'"
After talking it over at home, Carl Schall dialed Detective Shearer's number.
In the coffee shop Mrs. Schall thought about her first reaction upon learning that her son was in the middle of a plot to murder blacks, Jews, and Mexicans throughout the Valley. "It was beyond my wildest imaginings. You read about this in books but this is the United States of America, this can't be happening," she recalled. "You don't ever think your kid will get involved in something like this. The bombings were supposed to be in the first part of February and something had to be done before someone was killed."
After talking to Carl's parents, Detective Shearer took Carl back to Michael's home on January 9, asking the young man to make a mental note of all that he saw.
At 4:05 p.m. Carl Schall walked into his friend's home.
What he saw first and foremost was Bloom transformed.
Michael had shaved his head. He wore high-laced black boots with steel toes and a flight jacket studded with Nazi symbols. Like Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, Bloom was now dressed for combat.
He told Carl he'd ordered forty feet of fuse from a pyrotechnics magazine.
After Carl left, he wrote down everything he'd seen.
One week later Michael Bloom and almost thirty members of the Arizona White Battalion marched down the main thoroughfare of downtown Phoenix under the gaze of local television news cameras.
THE JANUARY 16 PARADE down Central Avenue by the neo-Nazis Arizona White Battalion was timed to coincide with the march by thousands of demonstrators who walked every year to demand a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
As members of the battalion strutted in the street, a black woman with her infant sat on a bus bench with tears streaming down her face. Before fleeing, she asked why they had to do this on King's day.
But as television cameras focused on Michael Bloom, he cracked, "Who is Martin Luther King? I deny that he exists or ever did."
Bloom explained that the Arizona White Battalion marched not to denigrate King, but to honor Michael's personal hero, Robert Matthews.
A resident of Arizona who was active in the top resistance movement locally, Matthews is a legend among white supremacists. In the early '70s he moved to Washington and founded The Order with another Arizona Nazi, Gary Yarbrough.
The Order made its mark on America in 1984. That year, thirteen members signed a declaration of war against the United States, according to documents obtained by authorities and antiterrorist organizations like the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL). The Order's violence was funded by a counterfeiting ring, a series of bank robberies and a string of armored-car heists that included a $3.6 million score, notes a 1985 ADL publication entitled "Progaganda of the Deed: The far right's desperate revolution." The publication outlines the rampage: That April, members of The Order bombed the largest synagogue in Idaho; on June 18, members of The Order assassinated Denver talk-show host Allan Berg; on December 9, Matthews was trapped and killed by federal agents on an island in Puget Sound. One of The Order survivors, Frank Silva, was sentenced to forty years. While Silva was confined in a federal lockup outside Phoenix, members of the Arizona White Battalion established contact with him.
On January 26--ten days after the battalion's strut down Central--the FBI, accompanied by Phoenix detective Shearer, executed a search warrant on the Bloom residence.
In addition to the bomb-making supplies--some of the pipes were two and one-half inches in diameter and up to twelve inches long--the guns, the Nazi regalia, a homemade silencer and the white-supremacist literature, authorities also confiscated the map of intended victims. They also found a long list of minority targets that included seven Jewish day-care centers, Black Family and Child Services and numerous churches like the Gethsemane Spanish Assembly of God. Michael Bloom's notebooks contained this entry: "I've decided that a few of my men and I will initiate the revolution."
Despite the seizure, Michael Bloom was not arrested. Rather than pick him up, the FBI explored the possibility of tying Bloom into a larger conspiracy involving other Arizona hate groups.
Free to roam the streets, Bloom pursued his fanatical beliefs.
In February, the month he'd intended to detonate the pipe bombs, Bloom met instead with Tom and John Metzger in the desert just outside Phoenix. They took target practice with other neo-Nazis using semiautomatic weapons. In photos taken to commemorate the Phoenix rendezvous, Bloom is pictured saluting in rigid ROTC style.
Tom Metzger, described in research materials compiled by the Anti-Defamation League as "the most visible hate-monger in the United States," is the founder of White Aryan Resistance (W.A.R.). His cable television series, Race and Reason, is viewed throughout the United States, including Phoenix. It was Metzger's son, John, who was choked on the Geraldo Rivera show on November 4, 1988, by Roy Innis after he referred to the black man as an "Uncle Tom."
In 1986, after the conviction of ten surviving members of The Order, Tom Metzger stood on the courthouse steps and declared, "They have given us ten martyrs. A new day is dawning for white people in this country," according to Extremism on the Right: A Handbook, published by the Anti-Defamation League in 1988.
In a statement given to the FBI, and later recanted, one of the leaders of The Order said his group helped finance Metzger, the ADL reports.
According to Bruce Carroll Pierce--a member of The Order who was convicted and sentenced to 150 years as the trigger man in Allan Berg's death--Metzger was personally given a quarter of a million dollars from the Brinks armored-car heist by Robert Matthews.
In 1986 one of Metzger's lieutenants deserted W.A.R. and renounced white supremacy. Skinheads attacked the man, beat him, slashed him with a razor and nailed his hands to a six-foot plank of wood.
A former Grand Dragon in the Ku Klux Klan, Metzger is personally credited with reaching out to the estimated 3,000 young skinheads in America and ushering them into formal white-supremacist organizations, the ADL says.
MDNM His role as the Pied Piper of Hate is enhanced by personal appearances, sponsorship of skinhead rallies with white-power rock groups like the Boot Boys Band, the cable-TV program and publication of a tabloid where minorities are described as "Congoids" or "Brown Rot."
In a recent issue of the W.A.R. newspaper, the January 16 march by the Arizona White Battalion was given extensive coverage, including photos. In the same issue, Arizona prisoner Frank Silva, in an essay called "Dogs of War," called for violent confrontation.
Silva's message did not need repeating as far as Michael Bloom was concerned.
The month after the desert rendezvous with the Metzgers, on March 10, Bloom was one of 34 skinheads arrested outside a Scottsdale nightclub for brawling.
On March 21 the afternoon daily did a cover story on Bloom and his three skinhead roommates, who shared an apartment in Phoenix. The article was like the scores of media profiles that swept the nation this year, superficially profiling skinheads while allowing them to spout off. Neither the seizure of the pipe bombs nor the massive rumble on Scottsdale Road just eleven days prior was mentioned in the write-up. In fact, the story ignored all of the violent activity locally, including suspicions by authorities that the skinheads were responsible for desecrating synagogues with spray-painted Nazi slogans and swastikas. Instead, the leader, Jason Miller, was quoted as saying, "We get the best reaction from students in schools where there are a lot of blacks and Hispanics. They know the problems being caused by the black and Hispanic gangs that are selling drugs and killing people."
Bloom, who told the reporter, "All we [whites] have left is our race," later bragged that the newspaper coverage was a great recruiting tool.
One month later, on April 26, Michael Bloom and a gang of skinheads were stopped en route to a fight at Cortez High. Phoenix policeman Jim Carlough disarmed the gang, seizing baseball bats, tear gas and even a .25-caliber Raven.
Unable to link Bloom's bomb plot to other militant groups, the FBI stopped its investigation long enough for Detective Shearer to arrest Michael Bloom. He was taken into custody September 8, 1989, almost eight months after the authorities searched his bedroom and seized the unassembled pipe bombs. Because he was sixteen, he was taken to the juvenile-detention facility on Durango Street, facing allegations of a conspiracy to commit arson of occupied structures and to deposit explosives.
When he was picked up, Bloom told Detective Shearer that he no longer associated with any white-supremacist groups and that he was a student again who studied locksmithing and private detective work by mail. He was carrying a folding stiletto with a four-inch blade.
After seemingly keeping the Bloom investigation in limbo for almost eight months, the state now began to move quickly.
Deputy County Attorney Ed Morgan declared Michael Bloom "extremely dangerous" and sought to have the young neo-Nazi tried as an adult.
The hearing in Judge James E. McDougall's courtroom lasted almost an entire day.
As Bloom sat next to his parents, dressed in his prison "reds," shackled at the ankles, Morgan declared that Michael had "crossed the line from expressing political views to terrorism." If tried as a juvenile, the courts could only hold on to Bloom until his eighteenth birthday. That wasn't enough time to straighten him out, said Morgan.
Neither Bloom nor his parents were allowed to comment or testify during the hearing.
Instead, Public Defender Doug Harmon argued that Bloom was being prosecuted for unpopular political beliefs.
"Aren't we singling out Michael Bloom for the same sort of special treatment that Hitler did with the Jews?" argued Harmon.
Judge McDougall was not moved.
Last Friday, October 27, the judge ordered Michael Bloom transferred so that he might be tried as an adult.
Judge McDougall's minute entry contained the following profile:
"This Court will only elaborate on one factor in the Court's decision, the juvenile's mental and emotional condition. Upon psychological evaluation by Dr. Roger Martig, the juvenile was shown to be functioning in an above-average range of intelligence and did not appear to be committable to an institution for the mentally ill, mentally defective or mentally deficient. Dr. Martig diagnosed the juvenile as having a Conduct Disorder, Mixed Type with Narcissistic Personality Characteristics. Testing did not reveal any major direct signs of personality disturbance. However, there were definite signs of fear of rejection by others and needing acceptance from others, signs of pent-up anxiety, signs of distrust of others and signs of an individual who does have antisocial personality tendencies who tends to minimize his emotional turmoils. Socially, he appears to be an individual who is very superficially involved with others, who likely forms very shallow, temporary relationships. Behaviorally, the test data indicate he definitely has control over his behavior and is not considered impulsive or changeable. When asked, the juvenile stated he did not feel he needed any type of psychological help. On the question of his potential for future acting out, Dr. Martig believes it all depends on how the juvenile internally receives and processes the results of this Court action."
On Sunday, Michael Bloom turned seventeen. He spent his birthday in an adult lockup.
Although they have rejected numerous requests for interviews and despite the fact that their son instructed them to avoid the press, Bloom's parents phoned after the judge's ruling. They requested a meeting in their home.
The parents insisted that neither of their first names be used--or their last names, for that matter. Asking that they be identified only as Michael's mother and father, the dad explained that he worked for Jews and that what he had to say might cost him his job.
IN THEIR LIVING ROOM hang a John Wayne clock, a plaque containing a poem about "Mother," and an enormous carpet with a picture of Jesus and a flock of sheep.
Michael's dad has tried to relax. His shoes are kicked off, and he is in his shorts and a tee shirt. On his arm, in testimony to his marriage, a tattoo bears his wife's name. A naked woman is stenciled upon the calf of his leg. Try as he may, he cannot put himself at ease because he is too worked up over his son.
"I can't figure out what country I live in, America or Russia. Michael is a political prisoner. They're trying him as a Nazi, a skinhead, which he is not anymore. The county attorney is trying to make a name for himself."
Michael's mother is a handsome woman who is protected on the couch by a band of unruly Chihuahuas that, by turns, merely growl and then suddenly attack with snapping little jaws. Wherever she glances, she can see pictures of children. Like the mother of Carl Schall, Michael's mom has also raised twelve kids.
"He tried to straighten out on his own. He got out of it on his own last spring and no one gives him credit for it. Just because he had those beliefs about the Jewish people. I'm sure it's not just the Nazis who have beliefs about Jewish people because the Jewish people do control a lot and I'm sure a lot of people aren't happy about it."
Michael's dad is proud of his son's achievements. As a student, Michael received the Presidential Sports Award for his skill with an air rifle. The citation was signed by Ronald Reagan.
Michael also picked up four ROTC awards including the highest citation available.
While he was incarcerated, his mother received a letter congratulating her from Who's Who Among American High School Students.
As she picks up a photograph of Michael in his Air Force ROTC uniform, she asks if her son looks like a violent boy. Her voice catches with emotion and for the only time, she sounds ready to cry.
A good-looking, clear-eyed young man stares out from the picture.
"They say this kid is dangerous. He's so dangerous that he takes crickets from his room and puts them outside rather than kill them. He also saved the life of a black man's son . . . He went down to the Circle K and there was this little kid out in the road, cars coming both ways, no one doing anything. He ran out, got him out of the middle of the road. And the kid's father happened to be black. But did he regret saving the kid's life? No! He's a good kid."
So how did this good kid become involved with neo-Nazi organizations that frighten to death the rest of America?
His father tried to explain.
"Michael is military-minded. He's always thought he'd love to go into the Marines. Now I realize he got into the wrong branch. But he thought it would do some good for the country. He thought he would help the country out whatever way he could. He didn't plan to overthrow the country, even with the twenty or thirty or even a hundred people . . . They [the neo-Nazis] made him think that they were forming an army and he was military-minded."
His folks maintain that Michael was not exposed to prejudice at home.
His dad pointed out that Michael's mother is half-German and half-Indian, while he is half-Irish and half-Polish.
"The Germans hated the Polacks. I'm sure if she was prejudiced, she would have killed me by now."
Although Michael's grandfather on his mother's side was a white supremacist, she points out that Michael never met his grandfather.
"My father was a full-blooded German and he believed in, well . . . Hitler was his idol. He wasn't mine. But even my father didn't instill in us a hatred of Jews. No one got along with black people back then. They get along a lot better now than when I was a kid. I have never hated anybody for what they are or what they do. We didn't bring Michael up that way, either."
As both parents pointed out repeatedly, Michael is bright enough that he didn't need indoctrination. He could figure things out for himself.
As his dad put it, "If you're standing in line to buy groceries and you've got $150 in cash that you work for, and the person in front of you has $300 worth of groceries and they're paying for it with food stamps and you know those people are just goofing off . . . ."
His mother underlined the point that these facts are available for anyone to see: "Michael's not the only one with these beliefs. There are millions of kids out there who believe this."
And if there are not millions, there are certainly more than you've thought about who've listened to their parents recall the sorts of events that Michael's dad can never forget or forgive.
"When I came out here 25 years ago from Syracuse, the Mexicans told us to leave Phoenix, that this was their town. We put in for government housing. I was making minimum wage then. They told me I didn't make enough money to qualify. So my wife got a job, at minimum wage. Then they said we made too much. I went back and saw the house and there was a colored family living in it. I didn't think that was right. I make eighteen or nineteen thousand dollars a year today and I don't qualify for nothing."
Both parents feel in their hearts that the reason Michael's still in jail is because they are not rich enough to afford the kind of lawyers that could get him out. They also believe with a passionate animosity that the prosecutor went after high bail knowing they were poor people.
"Ed Morgan is an asshole," declared the father. "I want to know what religion he is. Is he Jewish or what?"
Although the evidence seized in Michael's room suggests to the government that the young man was a threat to society, his parents see it differently.
They point out that everything confiscated was purchased legally in stores. None of the bombs was assembled, and the map was not a catalogue of intended targets but rather a diagram of all the places Michael had leafleted.
The gunpowder that was placed into evidence by the FBI was discovered in the trunk of the car owned by Michael's sister, according to the authorities.
Both parents are insistent that the government is mistaken or lying about the bag removed from their daughter's automobile. There was no bag with explosives in the car, they maintain. They agree that what the lawman took out of the car was a bag of dope paraphernalia. The contents of the bag are owned by Michael's older brother, they insist.
Later, the parents admit that gunpowder was in fact found, but that it was in the bedroom with the rest of the bomb supplies.
Their point, it turned out, was that although there was gunpowder, the police were lying about where they found it. What else might they be lying about?
The fact that there were gunpowder and bomb-making supplies is irrelevant. As Michael's father explained to his wife, "Honey, if you stop and think, how many people in this country have guns and how many of them reload their own guns and they've got to have gunpowder. I'll bet the county attorney has the same damn shit that we have in there.
"If I want to make a bomb, and I'm not as intelligent as my son, I could make a bomb. You can build a bomb underneath your sink. Believe it or not. You got Clorox to wash your clothes? You got Drano for unclogging your sink? You mix them together you probably got chlorine gas. You got a can of hair spray? It's probably a good flame thrower . . . Anything you have in your home is dangerous."
No matter what was found in Michael's bedroom, his parents are convinced he never would have actually planted pipe bombs.
"Why did this kid, who they say was so intent upon committing this crime, why did he not get the stuff again? Why didn't he collect the stuff and go ahead with his plan? He had plenty of time if he wanted to do that. He had seven or eight months," noted his mother.
"He's being tried for what he thinks, for what he thought he might do. He didn't do anything. But after they get through with him, what do you think he's going to want to do?" she wonders.
What has happened, what continues to happen to her son, troubles her. She feels he will change. "Mike was the youngest of twelve children. He gave us less trouble than any of the others," she says.
The parents claim the prosecutor and the police refuse to believe that Michael had rejected his fascist friends last spring because it does not suit their plans.
Both were very cynical about the typed notes County Attorney Morgan and Detective Shearer read from throughout the hearing.
"It was all a script, all done in advance," noted Michael's dad. "It was all theatrical. This is the only country outside of Russia where the county attorney and all his witnesses can read a script. I'm angry. If I told you what I was thinking, I'd be locked up in jail for the rest of my life."
On top of everything else, the parents are terrified that their son is going to be killed while in jail. Michael has told them that he has been singled out for elimination by the Jewish Defense League, a militant organization his father identifies as "the biggest assassination group in the world."
Finally, it is very late and there is nothing more they wish to say. Before the end of the evening, the parents open Michael's bedroom. It is the room he shared with his older brother, Joe, who also joined the Arizona White Battalion. A pair of Dr. Martens boots, part of the unofficial uniform of a skinhead, rests beneath a set of Funk & Wagnall's Encyclopedia. There are girly magazines and a Bible. With the confiscated materials in a police footlocker, Michael Bloom's room looks quite normal. But there is nothing normal about what has happened here. The evening of the interview, Michael's old classmates are celebrating homecoming at Sunnyslope High. On the side of the mountain that hovers near the gridiron, a giant S blazes brightly as the Vikings kick off. There is a normalcy and an innocence at the game that Michael Bloom and Carl Schall will never see again. Instead of his old bedroom in his parents' home, Michael Bloom now sleeps in a cellblock surrounded by blacks and Mexicans and worried that a Jew will stick a knife between his ribs.
On the same night that the rest of America watched the resumption of the World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants and wondered about the wreckage left in the Bay area by the earthquake, Michael's parents met with a journalist to try to sort out the devastation that has overwhelmed them. In their anger, there is little room for normalcy. Across the Valley, Carl Schall is trying to resume a normal life. But how do you do that when you must pretend to your new friends that your past does not exist? Is it normal to live in fear that someday your old friends might find you?
"I try to get along with everyone these days," was what Carl Schall had said. "Going to that extreme has made me stop and take a look. There are still differences with other people but I try to overlook them."
It is hard for Michael's parents to overlook anything. They remain bitter. Their boy, after all, is still behind bars, buried under $137,000 bail and with no trial date set.
Carl's mother said she and her husband are now taking a stronger hand in trying to shape their son's radical tendencies. But Michael's parents feel that he will grow out of his worst habits on his own. And besides, they say, Michael is not entirely wrong. At the end of the evening, standing in his doorway, Michael Bloom's father acknowledges that things look bad for his boy. He does not seem to believe how it has all turned out. Shaking his head he says, "Things have just gone straight to hell." And then he closes the door.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.