“If you’re dating someone, and you’ve met their family and they are whacked, and you think it’s okay i’m dating the normal one….(laughing) Then you are mentally ill okay? cuz they aren’t the good one….they’re like a psycho Tylenol gel cap, man…..TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK, Crazy’s Coming!.”
-Christopher Titus on his Love is Evol Comedy Special
Author’s Note: I need to be clear on 2 things before I start this Chapter: 1. I don’t want to be writing this chapter at all, but recent events and guys with law degrees have me setting the record straight. 2. I STILL LOVE AND WILL ALWAYS LOVE Amanda Blackburn. (Sadly I think she loved my notoriety and career more then me though.) Despite loving her, the back stabbing, shit talk, and using me to get into the Steubenville case ruined all the respect I have left for her. It breaks my heart all over again to see what was once such promising talent wasted on Butt hurt, bitterness and drama. All thayt being said, let me continue and fulfill your need for drama folks.” –Don Carpenter
Chapter 4: Amanda
I created 2 monsters in January 2013. I had chatted more with Heidi Blackburn via the #oprollredroll facebook group, and then via personal communications after trying to build a team to cover the trial of Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond. At the time, I didn’t know if I’d have the time or resources to fully cover the trial when it came around. The goal was to train some Ohio kids in the Indy Media ways, and let them report the remaining rallies, and the trial. I was trying to get out of media, and I was down to the last $800 of my donations to use.
I formally met the sisters Blackburn at Plain Jane’s in Steubenville following a Stand Up for Steubenville town Rally that I covered. They arrived fashionably late. (not interested in covering the rally and starting to learn that day) Being on time is something that the girls lacked the capacity to do, and this would become a terrible habit that would plague our efforts in the future. We chatted over beers about independent media. I told them of my time in the occupy movement, places I have traveled for media purposes, and we discussed the Steubenville case briefly. I told them what an exhausting, hard and thankless job this was, and straight up that this is usually a non paying gig unless your stuff gets picked up by an outlet. Amanda and Heidi listened asking no questions or showing no reservations about joining the team.
The Blackburns just stared at me the whole time smiling and not listening. I freaking hated that look. Like I was someone important, or a rockstar meeting fans for the first time. I was neither a rock star or someone important. I was just some dumb son of a bitch who was reporting on a rape case where none of the stories made sense. I could tell they thought I was this famous hotshot reporter. I quickly told both girls that I was neither rich nor famous. ( I didn’t know at this time my name was quite the topic of Steubenville household conversations, nor that thousands were following my work…nor did I care.)
Finally the girls began to speak, Amanda claimed to have a degree in journalism and wanted to learn to live stream. Heidi wanted to be a photographer. I told the girls to write their first story on Mobile Broacast News about growing up in the ville to get a feel for the site, and to have something I could start promoting them with, as it takes FOREVER to build up a following. I had been doing media for about a year or so, and thanks to my Steubenville work, was finally starting to build a large following across the US and abroad.
My group relocated to the Spot Bar where Amanda bought me a beer. “Thanks, savin the world don’t pay the bills.” I replied and again explained to her that this shit don’t pay, but it’s my contribution to making the world a better place. This is a very true line, when it comes to independent journalism said to me many times by my mentor Nigel, and a line I would tell the girls over and over again in the future when they would start complaining about a lack of following and not making money off of doing media.
Independent journalists rarely get paid for their work. We operate on donations from our readers/viewers to keep our media going. Said donations pay for our wifi, equipment, travel, data plans etc. Not a dime we raise is for profit or personal use.
While at the Spot Bar, 2 of my friends Adam and Cassandra were getting messed with hard by some mafia looking dude telling them how people end up missing and dead in the river. My journalist associate Tom Prigg and I were messed with earlier at the town rally, so we all decided to leave and go to the Triple Play Cafe.
I chose to ride with the Blackburns. I got into Amanda’s car which was filled with garbage everywhere. We talked more about the Steubenville case with Heidi often trash talking this lame ass crime show called Behind the Yellow tape and making fun of the host, Joey Ortega. Amanda kept silent frequently staring at me with a smile at red lights while sheepishly asking about my recent death threats in Steubenville. “Half the town wants you dead, and the other half like you.” exclaimed Heidi when I laughed about the threats and dismissed them as nothing to worry about.
At the Cafe, I drank water chatting with Amanda, and admiring her smile and laughter. She had an amazing smile that lit the room up. I also began writing up my story on the town rally while my friends and Blackburns danced. (The routine was usually attend rallies, film them, and then while everyone was partying write my piece up..something that my friends and anons would be amazed by every time we were out.)
It was after a couple hours that I finally realized Amanda was hitting on me. (I’m usually clueless when it comes to stuff like this anywhere.) “Come dance with this blond girl.” yelled Cassandra (referring to Amanda) “If you don’t come dance with me it’s your loss.” Amanda said smiling at me. I don’t dance, so I hung at the bar slamming water, and writing my piece when I was approached by 3 very large biker looking dudes. They asked if I was at the town rally earlier to which I said yes. They then demanded to know if I was a member of anonymous like they were told. I said no, showed my press pass, and gave them my business card. Satisfied I wasn’t anon, the 3 guys left me alone after apologizing and returning to their table across the dance floor.
Amanda and I would sneak outside to smoke cigarettes and flirt a bit. I was very intrigued by this beautiful young lady. Heidi was drunk and being absurd making dumb comments about DJ Dave Ott and random passers by, but it wasn’t bad. It was funny actually. I’d later be informed by my friends in attendance that while on the dance floor, the Blackburns were deciding who was going to “fuck me” ( we just met and didn’t know each other for Christ’s sake!…LOL), and were asking my friends fora good word to be put in wih me and supposedly were looking for cocaine and hard drugs.
I wasn’t there, so I don’t know what the conversation actually was. I see no reason my friends would lie to me on this, but had a known this back in January, I’d have kicked both ladies to the curb and would have saved ALL OF US this ridiculous and absurd drama post Steubenville.
At last call, a town supporter sent her boyfriend to the bar to buy my friends and I a drink. He even bought Heidi a beer, but drunk she forgot about it and it stayed at the bar. After hours was discussed, and I was soon tasked with asking around to find a club. Amanda, and Heidi also wanted to go. I didn’t know anyone in the bar, so I asked dude who bought us the drinks about after hours. He suggested club 106, but also told me there’s no rules there and anything can happen. I got the directions, and off we went to the 106. I drove being the only sober person, and we hit downtown Steubenville. club 106 was located in a bad part of the town, and as we parked and walked the barely lit streets, we could hear the music, and smell marijuana being smoked in mass quantities. It turns out, 106 is a Chicago boys hangout and party spot. The Chicago boys are Steubenville’s local gang. We stood outside the club debating to go in or not as the gang bangers walking by would ask us white folk what we were doing there, or driving by us staring at us menacingly. Finally one gang banger approached us told us were were lost, he never saw us before and we were welcome to try to go in and see what happens. We decided to leave instead. (Several shootings and stabbings have happened at 106 after this night.)
We got the fuck out of there, while talking among ourselves if we were set up or not. If it was a set up, I felt as if I were the target being I was the one referred there. Adam and Cassandra were upset, and mistakenly thinking someone else from the club sent us there. Back to Triple Play we went to drop the Blackburns off and to chat with DJ Dave. We hung out for a minute while our situation was explained to Dave, and I stepped in to say it wasn’t anyone still at Triple Play who sent us there. DJ Dave was a cool dude bullshitting with us for awhile until I said we should head back to Pittsburgh. I hugged Amanda before she left, and was amazed that such a pretty girl was interested in me. I wondered for a moment if she had ulterior motives or not, and dismissed that thought as paranoia.
Amanda and I would begin talking and texting several times a day. sometimes for minutes, and most of the time for hours. It interrupted my work many times, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed chatting with her while continuing to work 20-22 hour days researching, and monitoring anon’s activities on the Steubenville case. Somewhere between it all, I even managed to keep updated on covering Pittsburgh Activism, and do some local interviews about my coverage of Steubenville.
I convinced the Blackburns to come to Pittsburgh to begin learning from me, and to help me cover a march against UPMC. It was the best way to teach them activist journalism. I knew both girls weren’t activists let alone knew how to cover it despite their claims to being activists for years. Besides, I prefer teaching in the field and that’s how I learned….time to sink or swim. The girls once again showed up fashionably late, but fortunately with still enough time for us to get to the rally for me to set up my gear. Off we went: Heidi on pics, Amanda on live stream, and me on the HD camera. It was an awesome march, and I loved watching Amanda stream. She smiled the entire time even keeping up with me as i dodged dipped, ducked and dove on top of fire hydrants, trash cans/barriers to get better shots. She seemed to have a real passion for this, and it reminded me of myself when I first started doing this.
At the rally the girls met Tom Jefferson a friend of mine and local activist photographer. We were all going back to my place after the rally to watch the Dr. Phil Steubenville show. When asked what could we do in the meantime before the show, I suggested the usual: grab some beer, I have whiskey at the house. “you can grab some beer if you want, but I’m broke and will contribute whiskey and my home.” The girls and Tome agreed, we grabbed a case of PBR and back to my place we went. (at no point did anyone say no I don’t want to get beer. This purchase has been a major bitching point by Heidi and Amanda since the Steubenville trial.)
As we drank, we did a live commentary on live stream of the Dr. Phil Show. I was told by many you tube commenters, that our commentary was better than the actual show. It was fun, we all were buzzed. Tom and Heidi took my couch while Amanda and I hung out on the floor. I didn’t have a bed, but I did have the couch, and a cot. Worst case since my guests were drunk, I knew they were going to stay the night. The girls could have taken said couch and cot, and I’d take the floor. Tom invited himself to stay over as well, so the room was full. (Again there’s been alot of bitching by the girls because I didn’t have a bed….sorry when you’re not home at all, or on the road constantly, I can’t justify having a bed or cable tv…those are expenses that are wasted and shit I couldn’t afford anyways.)
We ran out of beer, so Tom asked Heidi to go to the bar with him to buy more. Folks were hungry and I didn’t go to the store, so I asked if they wanted to go to the store or Wendy’s (both a 3 minute walk from my house, and inexpensive purchases.) No one wanted to do that, so I grabbed the pizza menus and Amanda ordered 1 large hoagie, some bread sticks, a 2 liter and a large pizza for $20.99. (again an expense the girls would bitch about to this very day)
While Tom and Heidi were out, Amanda and I began talking some more and then began making out. It was passionate and hot, but we were soon interrupted by the pizza man and the return of beer. I began falling hard for Amanda around this point.
Now when folks have been drinking since 2 pm, they’re gonna be loud and a bit rowdy. My room mate had come home sick around midnight and wanted to sleep, and was rightfully upset by the ruckus coming from my room. I told everyone to keep it down for her sake.
We all settled down for the night Heidi and Tom cuddling on my 2 seater couch, and Amanda and I on the floor. (no one wanted the cot or anything like that) I awoke several times during the night to hear Tom and Heidi Fucking on my couch above me. I’d just ignore it, wonder how Amanda wasn’t woken up by this, and go back to sleep. I don’t screw on the first few dates, but I still chuckle about Heidi bitching about having to sleep(and fuck) on the couch at my place. If I had a bed Heidi, what would you have done? fucked Tom as Amanda and I slept on either side of that? LOL.
We spent the next day at my place hanging out sipping coffee. Amanda and I sneaking to the kitchen or the futon in the living room (wait what? another place to sleep in my place? WTF HAHA) to make out and chit chat. Amanda became bummed out that she wouldn’t see me for awhile and would really miss me, so I tenderly grabbed her from behind kissing the back of her neck and I put my dog tags around her neck. I told her she would definitely see me again, and that I was very into her. She smiled, blushed and whipped around to kiss me on my lips. No one left my house that day until I got an email from the Pittsburgh Mayor’s office in response to my request to observe the city crackdown on the Southside bars and drunks roaming the streets each weekend. I was invited to join the mayor in a city command post (another story I was working on at the time.) I informed everyone they had to go, and that I needed to head downtown by midnight to cover this story. After making a troll vid making fun of my recent death threats and the Steubenville haters (to which Amanda, Heidi and Tom all laughed their asses off, and were amazed I made it in only 20 minutes) we all drove downtown in Amanda’s garbage filled car where we parted ways. I kissed and hugged Amanda, and as I walked with Tom to his bus stop, he bragged about how much of a sexual freak Heidi was. I just smiled, tripping over Amanda and told Told Tom that I think I found someone very special.
I went to my long night with the Crackdown Blitz teams of the city, happy….knowing I was falling in love, and that life was good. I’d written Amanda a note, she loved it but left it at my house. I’d see her again in a couple weeks for another lesson in indy media for the Summit Against Racism in Pittsburgh.
n the meantime, I continued my work. Heidi and Amanda came back on January 25th, Heidi going to stay at Tom’s and Amanda staying with me. Before we all parted ways on this day, we smoked large quantities of marijuana that the girls brought up from Ohio. The Ohio weed was certainly better than what we had in Pittsburgh. To Amanda’s suprise, I had flowers waiting for her.(she really didn’t seem to care about the flowers, leaving them behind when she left later that weekend.) Amanda I cuddled, stoned watching whatever was on tv, or maybe we watched a movie….(does it really matter what we watched. Is your need for drama and explanations really gonna give a shit about the little details, eh?) We began kissing and that escalated into making love several times. I say this not to brag. Before Amanda I had only been with 5 other women in my entire life. A personal choice if you want to call it that, and sex really never made it high on my priorities. I never cared if I got laid or not, there are always more important things in life to be doing. Anyways, the Sex with Amanda was the best I ever had. Blazing chemistry, and just felt wonderful. (my relationships with my previous sexual partners were nothing compared to this, and again I say this not to brag, but to illustrate how wonderful and magical my time with Amanda Blackburn was before it went to hell.) I never felt what I felt before while I was with Amanda sexually, personally and professionally. Again i don;t write this to brag or shame. I am writing this to inform you her, my lawyers who the fuck ever how real and sensual this felt. I knew I had found someone special. (Go fuck yourself with a sideways rusty razor anyone who wants to try and twist the above words or my thoughts..)
Amanda mentioned she was bummed out that I didn’t try to make out or have sex with her on the first couple dates. I could have explained to her what I just explained to you dear reader, but I didn’t wanna come off as odd( i’m weird enough without saying how I don;t give any fucks about getting laid or not..haha) We slept on the floor again, this time no one taking a couch cot or futon. We wake up early so I can load all my gear into the venue early, and then wire up the rooms for the summit. Amanda was amazed at how I handled the multi streams going on, navigating the secret hallways in the venue, and talking with organizers. Again there she was looking at me like I was this famous and rich reporter guy. We kissed in the elevators in the venue, and laughed when we got lost and i would do the “this is Spinal Tap…Hello Cleveland bit.” She didn’t know it but when she was streaming one of the workshops, I’d sneak away from my production table to stand outside the workshop out of site and marvel at her beauty as she streamed.
Following the Summit, Tom and I had a meeting with The Shadbush Environmental Collective. They were doing a anti fracking protest on Sunday morning in which people would be locking themselves down to a giant pig outside of a fracking pad, and we were covering it, and had to go to this meeting as a run through. We brought the girls who were turned away until the group to talk about newcomers being there. Tom and I should have notified Shadbush we were bringing new faces, and journalists with us, but we didn’t. This pissed the girls off to no end (again if they were activists as they claimed to be, they would know security protocols, and have been patient.) Heidi threw a temper tantrum as Tom and I entered without them. We spoke with the group and the girls were eventually allowed in to the meeting. If they hadn’t been welcome at the meeting or the action, i wouldn’t have covered it at all. Tom said the same thing, but I didn;t believe him. I went outside to grab the girls to hear Heidi motherfucking all of us. I explained security protocols to them, and into the meeting they went to meet the activists.
The following morning, Amanda and I both overslept. We spent the night talking, she telling me ho she was a rape victim and showing me scars where she was cut by her attacker.(a previous gang banging boyfriend.) It made me sick to my stomach to think someone could ever hurt this girl, let alone the rising number of rapes in this country alone. She bgan telling me a bit about her past, but I didn’t care about her past. I like her for who she is NOW and whatever bad she did in the past didn’t affect me at all. I woke up to a call asking where I was and that a ride was on it’s way. Amanda threw a fit when she couldn’t have a cup of coffee, and put make up on. We were on our way to cover a protest that last time brought 30 Pa State troopers, helicopters and more. I don’t think if we’re getting arrested later, that the cops would care if she had make up on. I almost left without her as she was in a shitty mood, dragging her ass in getting ready.. i relented and made some instant coffee as her and her sister broke my room mate’s coffee pot the day before. (they never paid my room mate for that damage btw) But fuck, we had to go like right now. The command post for the action was an hour away anyways and would have coffee and she could get ready there. She spent the ride up being pissed, and bitter, eventually holding my hand halfway there.
We get to Bessemer, Pa and meet up with the group to get ready. Amanda thinks no one likes her, and cops an attitude. It wasn’t that no one disliked or or event hat her ad her sis weren’t welcome. They were new to the group and activists are a very cliquish bunch. They’re always cautious around new faces. I tried explaining this but the drama train had already left the station at full speed. She began trash talking the activists as college wanna be protesters, and posturing for our cameras. She also called our coverage of the event as PR not journalism. (she had alot to learn about covering activism, and I tried to be patient with her on this.)
I listened to this for hours during the action, following the action and long into the night. I told her if she wasn’t welcome, she wouldn’t have been allowed to go, and that activist journalism is different than regular journalism. hell I don’t even think they teach you the many types of journalism out there in schools today. I told her that regardless of who likes or dislikes who, that if you’re a journalist, it’s not your concern if you’re liked or hated. That you’re there to do a job fairly and objectively. That just because your a journalist, you’re not gonna automatically be well known, respected, taken seriously or even talked to in the beginning. You need to earn the respect and notoriety by walking your beat, making contacts, and by cranking out solid, and objective videos/written stories.
I changed the subject and we cuddled on the couch. Amanda once again began telling me about her shady past with drugs, and her lengthy criminal record, but I stopped her again because I loved her for who she was and nothing would change that. (To this day this hasn’t changed.)
She began speaking about how this long distance relationship would be hard. I promised her I’d do everything I could to make this work, skyping, calling texting as much as I could, and I would write her a letter once or twice a week. I then blurted out “plus since all my work is in Steubenville lately, I could just y’know move there if you want my lease is up in May anyways.” She smiled at this and began kissing me. “what about your work though?” she asked. “I can do my work from anywhere in the country, and just go back to the burgh for the big actions and CPRB meetings.” I replied
“I love you Don.” She replied. Amanda slept alone on the couch that night, I stayed up all night, working on the day’s videos and some other things until finally I leaned up against the couch next to her and slept. “I love you so much.” I said as I kissed her forehead goodnight.
Amanda left for Ohio the next afternoon, but we both knew I’d be back in Steubenville in a week or so for another rally, and more Anonymous coverage. We hugged and kissed for several minutes before she left, and back to work I went. Amanda would write an awesome article on the Shadbush Action several days later. I was very proud of her. I like her writing style, and I was happy in life for the first time in a long time. I was proud, and confident in the media team I was building (myself, Amanda, Heidi, and Tom.) I was no longer alone in my work, and knew we were going to do awesome things together in the coming months.
It was around this time In January/Early February after some of my local Pittsburgh media interviews and my success in Steubenville became well known in Pittsburgh. Some of the trash left over from Occupy Pittsburgh began harassing people on the Steubenville Facebook page.I was an admin and we promptly got rid of these trolls. I believe they first started coming after me out of anger/jealousy that I was still out there protesting and doing media, and that I was becoming well known and accomplishing shit while they sat in basements pretending to be activists still and hanging on the times of Occupy Pgh which were no longer relevant. When they weren’t doing anything but cause trouble or causing drama for others, they decided to take the old Occupy Tactic of “we don’t like you anymore so we’re going to spread lies about you.”
The pricks still angry about being banned from the ville page, made up some crappy face book diary entry accusing me of harassing women in the attempts to end my work in the ville, and make me as miserable as them. I read this piece of garbage, and laughed. Anyone who knows me knows this is crap. However, I needed to tell Amanda about it because it was only a matter of time before these morons would begin stalking and harassing her with their lies. Amanda and I decided to make our relationship public around this time despite my reservations about it due to all the death threats and haters which could easily hurt her easier with her being in Ohio and me safe in the burgh. These same idiots also spread the same lies about another Pgh indy journalist, Taylor Hall. Taylor left the burgh during occupy pgh when this happened and has made a nice name for himself in Washington DC. I for one was done with Pittsburgh when the rumors against me started. If Pittsburgh activist threw all the energy they do gossiping and talking shit on one another, and actually organized, the burgh would probably have changed by now.
February Second I brought Tom, Laney and a live streamer into a very very cold Steubenville, Ohio to cover another Justice for Jane Doe Rally. The Blackburns were supposed to attend, but as usual were no where to be seen an hour into the event. Amanda said she was sick, and every hour told us they were on the way. It was this day I finally realized how many people were following my work by the amount of people who stopped me walking down the street to thank me for my work, or to stop their cars in traffic to ask if I was THE Don Carpenter. “Thnx for what you do!” they’d say as they left after hugging me or shaking my hand. (obviously the cars stopped in traffic didn’t come out for hugs haha)
The Blackburns finally Met up with us at the bar as I was hanging out with some anons and trying to write up a story on the day.( I don’t think I ever filed that story BTW) How someone who is allegedly so sick, could force themselves to go out just to go bar hopping is beyond me.
Before the rally, an anonymous supported cornered me while I was getting coffee. They gave me $200 to pass along to any anon who would be in town partying for the night. They wanted me to make sure the masked ones had a nice dinner and some drinks as a token of their appreciation. I agreed to handle that and spent the money between Plain Jane’s and Triple Play on the anons who were broke, but wanted to hang out. Several anons and anon supporters had their own funds and said to use that donation for those who were broke.
My heart leapt when I saw Amanda enter the bar and order a beer. She wanted Tom and I to spend a few days at her parent’s home with her and Heidi. She asked me for some money though, and without thinking I reached into my pocket and gave her $100.(The last of the money I made from doing a City of Pittsburgh Job…I get $125 a month to film CPRB meetings.) I told her though that part of the $100 would need to be used for gas to take Tom and I back to the Burgh. We hit the Spot Bar, and then Triple Play Cafe for dinner and dancing. Just when the anons, and my friends started to get wild, Amanda wanted to leave after Cass had me out on the floor dancing for a minute. I gave what donated money was left to an anon for the group’s hotel and drinks later, and off to casa de Blackburn we went. As we left Triple Play, I’d come across Tom and Heidi trying to quietly shit talk the members of anonymous.I’d spend the night smoking pot and watching cartoons with Tom, Heidi, and Amanda, until Amanda took me to bed for some comfort as she was sick. I cuddled her, telling her I hope she feels better.
Author’s Note: BEFORE I GO INTO CHAPTER 5 AND THE REST OF THE BLACKBURN SAGA I WANT YOU TO MAKE GOD DAMN SURE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THAT I DON’T WANT TO BE WRITING THIS. I DON’T WANT TO BE WRITING ABOUT AMANDA AS IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY WORK ON THE STEUBENVILLE CASE. HOWEVER RECENT EVENTS AND SHITTY CRIME BLOG SHOWS HAVE FELT THE NEED TO USE AMANDA TO AIR OUR DIRTY LAUNDRY PUBLICLY. I LOVE THE GIRL, AND WILL ONLY BE PUTTING OUT FACTS IN RESPONSE TO THE GARBAGE AND/OR AIRING DIRTY LAUNDRY. THIS IS A RESPONSE TO THAT GARBAGE OUT THERE, AND IS ONLY BEING DONE TO CLEAR THE AIR.
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED YET? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
Don J. Carpenter