Quick random notes: September 2, 2017.

Obit watch: Shelley Berman, noted stand-up comic.

Performing in upscale nightclubs and on concert stages, including Carnegie Hall at the height of his fame, he found humor in places where his borscht belt predecessors had never thought to look: ‘‘If you’ve never met a student from the University of Chicago, I’ll describe him to you. If you give him a glass of water, he says: ‘This is a glass of water. But is it a glass of water? And if it is a glass of water, why is it a glass of water?’ And eventually he dies of thirst.”
“Sometimes,” Mr. Berman told The New York Times in 1970, “I’m so oblique, even I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

(I’m going to have to start using “Were you very fond of that cat?” in conversation.)

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Before you answer that: the dinner is actually a testimonial being put on by an association of retired NYPD detectives. There will be two honorees:
John Russo, “who investigated the murder of Karina Vetrano, who was killed while jogging in Howard Beach, Queens, last year.”

And the other one? Retired detective Louis Scarcella.

Mr. Hynes eventually helped to overturn the guilty verdict of David Ranta, partly blaming Mr. Scarcella for botching the murder case. When Mr. Thompson became the district attorney in 2014, he began a broad investigation — still ongoing — of what was ultimately more than 70 of Mr. Scarcella’s old cases. So far, prosecutors have reversed the convictions in eight of those cases, and judges have overturned another few, but the district attorney’s office has repeatedly maintained that Mr. Scarcella has not committed any punishable conduct or broken the law.

The event’s sponsor is aware that Mr. Scarcella is a polarizing figure. John Wilde, the retired detective who organized the evening, claimed he chose to honor the detective not in spite of the controversy, but because of it.
Mr. Scarcella did not prosecute the defendants who ended up in prison; he investigated and arrested them, Mr. Wilde said. Many people had a hand in the convictions that went wrong, but at least so far, Mr. Wilde added, only Mr. Scarcella has gotten any blame for the cases, and the ordeal has taken a toll.

Just as a reminder:

Detective Scarcella and his partner, Stephen Chmil, according to investigators and legal documents, broke rule after rule. They kept few written records, coached a witness and took Mr. Ranta’s confession under what a judge described as highly dubious circumstances. They allowed two dangerous criminals, an investigator said, to leave jail, smoke crack cocaine and visit with prostitutes in exchange for incriminating Mr. Ranta.

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