I WILL BE SIGNING BOOKS AT THE DEEP RIVER CT. LIBRARY, SAT. NOV. 14 FROM 2-4
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.
He is the author of No Time to Say Goodbye: Memoirs of a Life in Foster Care and Short Stories from a Small Town. He is also the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.
HERE'S MY LATEST BOOKS.....
This is a book of short stories taken from the things I saw and heard in my childhood in the factory town of Ansonia in southwestern Connecticut.
Most of these stories, or as true as I recall them because I witnessed these events many years ago through the eyes of child and are retold to you now with the pen and hindsight of an older man. The only exception is the story Beat Time which is based on the disappearance of Beat poet Lew Welch. Decades before I knew who Welch was, I was told that he had made his from California to New Haven, Connecticut, where was an alcoholic living in a mission. The notion fascinated me and I filed it away but never forgot it.
The collected stories are loosely modeled around Joyce’s novel, Dubliners (I also borrowed from the novels character and place names. Ivy Day, my character in “Local Orphan is Hero” is also the name of chapter in Dubliners, etc.) and like Joyce I wanted to write about my people, the people I knew as a child, the working class in small town America and I wanted to give a complete view of them as well. As a result the stories are about the divorced, Gays, black people, the working poor, the middle class, the lost and the found, the contented and the discontented.
Conversely many of the stories in this book are about starting life over again as a result of suicide (The Hanging Party, Small Town Tragedy, Beat Time) or from a near death experience (Anna Bell Lee and the Charge of the Light Brigade, A Brief Summer) and natural occurring death. (The Best Laid Plans, The Winter Years, Balanced and Serene)
With the exception of Jesus Loves Shaqunda, in each story there is a rebirth from the death. (Shaqunda is reported as having died of pneumonia in The Winter Years)
Sal, the desperate and depressed divorcee in Things Change, changes his life in Lunch Hour when asks the waitress for a date and she accepts. (Which we learn in Closing Time, the last story in the book) In The Arranged Time, Thisby is given the option of change and whether she takes it or, we don’t know. The death of Greta’s husband in A Matter of Time has led her to the diner and into the waiting arms of the outgoing and loveable Gabe.
Although the book is based on three sets of time (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the diner is opened in the early morning and closed at night, time stands still inside the Diner. The hour on the big clock on the wall never changes time and much like my memories of that place, everything remains the same.
The Valley Lives
By Marion Marchetto, author of The Bridgewater Chronicles on October 15, 2015
Short Stores from a Small Town is set in The Valley (known to outsiders as The Lower Naugatuck Valley) in Connecticut. While the short stories are contemporary they provide insight into the timeless qualities of an Industrial Era community and the values and morals of the people who live there. Some are first or second generation Americans, some are transplants, yet each takes on the mantle of Valleyite and wears it proudly. It isn't easy for an author to take the reader on a journey down memory lane and involve the reader in the life stories of a group of seemingly unrelated characters. I say seemingly because by book's end the reader will realize that he/she has done more than meet a group of loosely related characters.
We meet all of the characters during a one-day time period as each of them finds their way to the Valley Diner on a rainy autumn day. From our first meeting with Angel, the educationally challenged man who opens and closes the diner, to our farewell for the day to the young waitress whose smile hides her despair we meet a cross section of the Valley population. Rich, poor, ambitious, and not so ambitious, each life proves that there is more to it beneath the surface. And the one thing that binds these lives together is The Valley itself. Not so much a place (or a memory) but an almost palpable living thing that becomes a part of its inhabitants.
Let me be the first the congratulate author John William Tuohy on a job well done. He has evoked the heart of The Valley and in doing so brought to life the fabric that Valleyites wear as a mantle of pride. While set in a specific region of the country, the stories that unfold within the pages of this slim volume are similar to those that live in many a small town from coast to coast.
An award winning full length play.
"Cyberdate.Com is the story of six ordinary people in search of romance, friendship and love and find it in very extraordinary ways. Based on the real life experiences of the authors misadventures with on line dating, Cyber date is a bittersweet story that will make you laugh, cry and want to fall in love again." Ellis McKay
Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play. The play was also given a full reading at The Frederick Playhouse in Maryland in March of 2007.
In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
By jackiehon October 13, 2015
After reading about John's deeply personal and painful past, I just wanted to hug the child within him......and hug all the children who were thrown into the state's foster system....it is an amazing read.......
By Jane Pogodaon October 9, 2015
I truly enjoyed reading his memoir. I also grew up in Ansonia and had no idea conditions such as these existed. The saving grace is knowing the author made it out and survived the system. Just knowing he was able to have a family of his own made me happy. I attended the same grammar school and was happy that his experience there was not negative. I had a wonderful experience in that school. I wish that I could have been there for him when he was at the school since we were there at probably at the same time.
By Sueon September 27, 2015
Hi - just finished your novel "No time to say goodbye" - what a powerful read!!! - I bought it for my 90 year old mom who is an avid reader and lived in the valley all her life-she loved it also along with my sister- we are all born and raised in the valley- i.e. Derby and Ansonia
By David A. Wrighton September 7, 2015
I enjoyed this book. I grew up in Ansonia CT and went to the Assumption School. Also reconized all the places he was talking about and some of the families.
By Robert G Manleyon September 7, 2015
This is a wonderfully written book. It is heart wrenchingly sad at times and the next minute hilariously funny. I attribute that to the intelligence and wit of the author who combines the humor and pathos of his Irish catholic background and horrendous "foster kid" experience. He captures each character perfectly and the reader can easily visualize the individuals the author has to deal with on daily basis. Having lived part of my life in the parochial school system and having lived as a child in the same neighborhood as the author, I was vividly brought back to my childhood .Most importantly, it shows the strength of the soul and how just a little compassion can be so important to a lost child.
By LNAon July 9, 2015
John Tuohy writes with compelling honesty, and warmth. I grew up in Ansonia, CT myself, so it makes it even more real. He brings me immediately back there with his narrative, while he wounds my soul, as I realize I had no idea of the suffering of some of the children around me. His story is a must read, of courage and great spirit in the face of impoverishment, sorrow, and adult neglect. I could go on and on, but just get the book. If you're like me, you'll soon be reading it out loud to any person in the room who will listen. Many can suffer and overcome as they go through it, but few can find the words that take us through the story. John is a gifted writer to be able to do that.
By Barbara Pietruszkaon June 29, 2015
I am from Connecticut so I was very familiar with many locations described in the book especially Ansonia where I lived. I totally enjoyed the book and would like to know more about the author. I recommend the book to everyone
By Joanne B.on June 28, 2015
What an emotional rollercoaster. I laughed. I cried. Once you start reading it's hard to stop. I was torn between wanting to gulp it up and read over and over each quote that started the chapter. I couldn't help but feel part of the Tuohy clan. I wanted to scream in their defense. It's truly hard to believe the challenges that foster children face. I can only pray that this story may touch even one person facing this life. It's an inspiring read. That will linger long after you finish it. This is a wonderfully written memoir that immediately pulls you in to the lives of the Tuohy family.
By Dr. Wm. Anthony Connolly
This incredible memoir, No Time to Say Goodbye, tells of entertaining angels, dancing with devils, and of the abandoned children many viewed simply as raining manna from some lesser god.
The young and unfortunate lives of the Tuohy bruins—sometimes Irish, sometimes Jewish, often Catholic, rambunctious, but all imbued with Lion’s hearts—told here with brutal honesty leavened with humor and laudable introspective forgiveness. The memoir will have you falling to your knees thanking that benevolent Irish cop in the sky, your lucky stars, or hugging the oxygen out of your own kids the fate foisted upon Johnny and his siblings does not and did not befall your own brood. John William Tuohy, a nationally-recognized authority on organized crime and Irish levity, is your trusted guide through the weeds the decades of neglect ensnared he and his brothers and sisters, all suffering for the impersonal and often mercenary taint of the foster care system. Theirs, and Tuohy’s, story is not at all figures of speech as this review might suggest, but all too real and all too sad, and maddening. I wanted to scream. I wanted to get into a time machine, go back and adopt every last one of them. I was angry. I was captivated. The requisite damning verities of foster care are all here, regretfully, but what sets this story above others is its beating heart, even a bruised and broken one, still willing to forgive and understand, and continue to aid its walking wounded. I cannot recommend this book enough.
By Paul Dayon June 15, 2015
Great reading. Life in foster care told from a very rare point of view.
By Jackie Malkeson June 5, 2015
This book is definitely a must for social workers working with children specifically. This is an excellent memoir which identifies the trails of foster children in the 1960s in the United States. The memoir captures stories of joy as well as nail biting terror, as the family is at times torn apart but finds each other later and finds solace in the experiences of one another. The stories capture the love siblings have for one another as well as the protection they have for one another in even the worst of circumstances. On the flip side, one of the most touching stories to me was when a Nun at the school helped him to read-- truly an example of how a positive person really helped to shape the author in times when circumstances at home were challenging and treacherous. I found the book to be a page turner and at times show how even in the hardest of circumstances there was a need to live and survive and make the best of any moment. The memoir is eye-opening and helped to shed light and make me feel proud of the volunteer work I take part in with disadvantaged children. Riveting....Must read....memory lane on steroids....Catholic school banter, blue color towns...Lawrence Welk on Sundays night's.
By eileenon June 4, 2015
From ' No time to say Goodbye 'and authors John W. Touhys Gangster novels, his style never waivers...humorous to sadness to candidly realistic situations all his writings leaves the reader in awe......longing for more.
By karen pojakeneon June 1, 2015
This book is a must-read for anyone who administers to the foster care program in any state. This is not a "fell through the cracks" life story, but rather a memoir of a life guided by strength and faith and a hard determination to survive. it is heartening to know that the "sewer" that life can become to steal our personal peace can be fought and our peace can be restored, scarred, but restored.
By Michelle Blackon
A captivating, shocking, and deeply moving memoir, No Time to Say Goodbye is a true page turner. John shares the story of his childhood, from the struggles of living in poverty to being in the foster care system and simply trying to survive. You will be cheering for him all the way, as he never loses his will to thrive even in the darkest and bleakest of circumstances. This memoir is a very truthful and unapologetic glimpse into the way in which some of our most vulnerable citizens have been treated in the past and are still being treated today. It is truly eye-opening, and hopefully will inspire many people to take action in protection of vulnerable children.
By Kimberlyon May 24, 2015
I found myself in tears while reading this book. John William Tuohy writes quite movingly about the world he grew up in; a world in which I had hoped did not exist within the foster care system. This book is at times funny, raw, compelling, heartbreaking and disturbing. I found myself rooting for John as he tries to escape from an incredibly difficult life. You will too!
By Geoffrey A. Childson May 20, 2015
I found this book to be a compelling story of life in the Ct foster care system. at times disturbing and at others inspirational ,The author goes into great detail in this gritty memoir of His early life being abandoned into the states system and his subsequent escape from it. Every once in a while a book or even an article in a newspaper comes along that bears witness to an injustice or even something that's just plain wrong. This chronicle of the foster care system is such a book and should be required reading for any aspiring social workers.
From Publishers Weekly
JFK's pardons and the mob; Prohibition, Chicago's crime cadres and the staged kidnapping of "`Jake the Barber'" Factor, "the black sheep brother of the cosmetics king, Max Factor"; lifetime sentences, attempted jail busts and the perseverance of "a rumpled private detective and an eccentric lawyer" John W. Tuohy showcases all these and more sensational and shady happenings in When Capone's Mob Murdered Roger Touhy: The Strange Case of Touhy, Jake the Barber and the Kidnapping that Never Happened. The author started investigating Touhy's 1959 murder by Capone's gang in 1975 for an undergrad assignment. He traces the frame-job whereby Touhy was accused of the kidnapping, his decades in jail, his memoirs, his retrial and release and, finally, his murder, 28 days after regaining his freedom. Sixteen pages of photos.
From Library Journal
Roger Touhy, one of the "terrible Touhys" and leader of a bootlegging racket that challenged Capone's mob in Prohibition Chicago, had a lot to answer for, but the crime that put him behind bars was, ironically, one he didn't commit: the alleged kidnapping of Jake Factor, half-brother of Max Factor and international swindler. Author Tuohy (apparently no relation), a former staff investigator for the National Center for the Study of Organized Crime, briefly traces the history of the Touhys and the Capone mob, then describes Factor's plan to have himself kidnapped, putting Touhy behind bars and keeping himself from being deported. This miscarriage of justice lasted 17 years and ended in Touhy's parole and murder by the Capone mob 28 days later. Factor was never deported. The author spent 26 years researching this story, and he can't bear to waste a word of it. Though slim, the book still seems padded, with irrelevant detail muddying the main story. Touhy is a hard man to feel sorry for, but the author does his best. Sure to be popular in the Chicago area and with the many fans of mob history, this is suitable for larger public libraries and regional collections. Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH
John William Tuohy, one of the most prolific crime writers in America, has penned a tragic, but fascinating story of Roger Touhy and John Factor. It's a tale born out of poverty and violence, a story of ambition gone wrong and deception on an enormous, almost unfathomable, scale. However, this is also a story of triumph of determination to survive, of a lifelong struggle for dignity and redemption of the spirit.
The story starts with John "Jake the Barber" Factor. The product of the turn of the century European ethnic slums of Chicago's west side, Jake's brother, Max Factor, would go on to create an international cosmetic empire.
In 1926, Factor, grubstaked in a partnership with the great New York criminal genius, Arnold Rothstien, and Chicago's Al Capone, John Factor set up a stock scam in England that fleeced thousands of investors, including members of the royal family, out of $8 million dollars, an incredible sum of money in 1926.
After the scam fell apart, Factor fled to France, where he formed another syndicate of con artists, who broke the bank at Monte Carlo by rigging the tables.
Eventually, Factor fled to the safety of Capone's Chicago but the highest powers in the Empire demanded his arrest. However, Factor fought extradition all the way to the United States Supreme Court, but he had a weak case and deportation was inevitable. Just 24 hours before the court was to decide his fate, Factor paid to have himself kidnapped and his case was postponed. He reappeared in Chicago several days later, and, at the syndicates' urging, accused gangster Roger Touhy of the kidnapping.
Roger "The Terrible" Touhy was the youngest son of an honest Chicago cop. Although born in the Valley, a teeming Irish slum, the family moved to rural Des Plains, Illinois while Roger was still a boy. Touhy's five older brothers stayed behind in the valley and soon flew under the leadership of "Terrible Tommy" O'Connor. By 1933, three of them would be shot dead in various disputes with the mob and one, Tommy, would lose the use of his legs by syndicate machine guns. Secure in the still rural suburbs of Cook County, Roger Touhy graduated as class valedictorian of his Catholic school. Afterwards, he briefly worked as an organizer for the Telegraph and Telecommunications Workers Union after being blacklisted by Western Union for his minor pro-labor activities.
Touhy entered the Navy in the first world war and served two years, teaching Morse code to Officers at Harvard University.
After the war, he rode the rails out west where he earned a living as a railroad telegraph operator and eventually made a small but respectable fortune as an oil well speculator.
Returning to Chicago in 1924, Touhy married his childhood sweetheart, regrouped with his brothers and formed a partnership with a corrupt ward heeler named Matt Kolb, and, in 1925, he started a suburban bootlegging and slot machine operation in northwestern Cook County. Left out of the endless beer wars that plagued the gangs inside Chicago, Touhy's operation flourished. By 1926, his slot machine operations alone grossed over $1,000,000.00 a year, at a time when a gallon of gas cost eight cents.
They were unusual gangsters. When the Klu Klux Klan, then at the height of its power, threatened the life of a priest who had befriended the gang, Tommy Touhy, Roger's older brother, the real "Terrible Touhy," broke into the Klan's national headquarters, stole its membership roles, and, despite an offer of $25,000 to return them, delivered the list to the priest who published the names in several Catholic newspapers the following day.
Once, Touhy unthinkingly released several thousand gallons of putrid sour mash in to the Des Plains River one day before the city was to reenact its discovery by canoe-riding Jesuits a hundred years before. After a dressing down by the towns people Touhy spent $10,000.00 on perfume and doused the river with it, saving the day.
They were inventive too. When the Chicago police levied a 50% protection tax on Touhy's beer, Touhy bought a fleet of Esso gasoline delivery trucks, kept the Esso logo on the vehicles, and delivered his booze to his speakeasies that way.
In 1930, when Capone invaded the labor rackets, the union bosses, mostly Irish and completely corrupt, turned to the Touhy organization for protection. The intermittent gun battles between the Touhys and the Capone mob over control of beer routes which had been fought on the empty, back roads of rural Cook County, was now brought into the city where street battles extracted an awesome toll on both sides. The Chicago Tribune estimated the casualties to be one hundred dead in less then 12 months.
By the winter of 1933, remarkably, Touhy was winning the war in large part because joining him in the struggle against the mob was Chicago's very corrupt, newly elected mayor Anthony "Ten percent Tony" Cermak, who was as much a gangster as he was an elected official.
Cermak threw the entire weight of his office and the whole Chicago police force behind Touhy's forces. Eventually, two of Cermak's police bodyguards arrested Frank Nitti, the syndicate's boss, and, for a price, shot him six times. Nitti lived. As a result, two months later Nitti's gunmen caught up with Cermak at a political rally in Florida.
Using previously overlooked Secret Service reports, this book proves, for the first time, that the mob stalked Cermak and used a hardened felon to kill him. The true story behind the mob's 1933 murder of Anton Cermak, will changes histories understanding of organized crimes forever. The fascinating thing about this killing is its eerie similarity to the Kennedy assassination in Dallas thirty years later, made even more macabre by the fact that several of the names associated with the Cermak killing were later aligned with the Kennedy killing.
For many decades, it was whispered that the mob had executed Cermak for his role in the Touhy-syndicate war of 1931-33, but there was never proof. The official story is that a loner named Giuseppe Zangara, an out-of-work, Sicilian born drifter with communist leanings, traveled to Florida in the winter of 1933 and fired several shots at President Franklin Roosevelt. He missed the President, but killed Chicago's Mayor Anton Cermak instead. However, using long lost documents, Tuohy is able to prove that Zangara was a convicted felon with long ties to mob Mafia and that he very much intended to murder Anton Cermak.
With Cermak dead, Touhy was on his own against the mob. At the same time, the United States Postal Service was closing in on his gang for pulling off the largest mail heists in US history at that time. The cash was used to fund Touhy's war with the Capones.Then in June of 1933, John Factor en he reappeared, Factor accused Roger Touhy of kidnapping him. After two sensational trials, Touhy was convicted of kidnapping John Factor and sentenced to 99 years in prison and Factor, after a series of complicated legal maneuvers, and using the mob's influence, was allowed to remain in the United States as a witness for the prosecution, however, he was still a wanted felon in England.
By 1942 Roger Touhy had been in prison for nine years, his once vast fortune was gone. Roger's family was gone as well. At his request, his wife Clara had moved to Florida with their two sons in 1934. However, with the help of Touhy's remaining sister, the family retained a rumpled private detective, actually a down-and-out, a very shady and disbarred mob lawyer named Morrie Green.
Disheveled of not, Green was a highly competent investigator and was able to piece together and prove the conspiracy that landed Touhy in jail. However, no court would hear the case, and by the fall of 1942, Touhy had exhausted every legal avenue open to him.Desperate, Touhy hatched a daring daylight breakout over the thirty foot walls of Stateville prison.The sensational escape ended three months later in a dramatic and bloody shootout between the convicts and the FBI, led by J. Edgar Hoover.
Less then three months after Touhy was captured, Fox Studios hired producer Brian Foy to churn out a mob financed docudrama film on the escape entitled, "Roger Touhy, The Last Gangster." The executive producer on the film was Johnny Roselli, the hood who later introduced Judy Campbell to Frank Sinatra. Touhy sued Fox and eventually won his case and the film was withdrawn from circulation. In 1962, Columbia pictures and John Houston tried to produce a remake of the film, but were scared off the project.
While Touhy was on the run from prison, John Factor was convicted for m ail fraud and was sentenced and served ten years at hard labor. Factor's take from the scam was $10,000,000.00 in cash.
Released in 1949, Factor took control of the Stardust Hotel Casino in 1955, then the largest operation on the Vegas strip. The casino's true owners, of course, were Chicago mob bosses Paul Ricca, Tony Accardo, Murray Humpreys and Sam Giancana. From 1955 to 1963, the length of Factor's tenure at the casino, the US Justice Department estimated that the Chicago outfit skimmed between forty-eight to 200 million dollars from the Stardust alone.
In 1956, while Factor and the outfit were growing rich off the Stardust, Roger Touhy hired a quirky, high strung, but highly effective lawyer named Robert B. Johnstone to take his case. A brilliant legal tactician, who worked incessantly on Touhy's freedom, Robert Johnstone managed to get Touhy's case heard before federal judge John P. Barnes, a refined magistrate filled with his own eccentricities. After two years of hearings, Barnes released a 1,500-page decision on Touhy's case, finding that Touhy was railroaded to prison in a conspiracy between the mob and the state attorney's office and that John Factor had kidnapped himself as a means to avoid extradition to England.
Released from prison in 1959, Touhy wrote his life story "The Stolen Years" with legendary Chicago crime reporter, Ray Brennan. It was Brennan, as a young cub reporter, who broke the story of John Dillenger's sensational escape from Crown Point prison, supposedly with a bar of soap whittled to look like a pistol. It was also Brennan who brought about the end of Roger Touhy's mortal enemy, "Tubbo" Gilbert, the mob owned chief investigator for the Cook County state attorney's office, and who designed the frame-up that placed Touhy behind bars.
Factor entered a suit against Roger Touhy, his book publishers and Ray Brennan, claiming it damaged his reputation as a "leading citizen of Nevada and a philanthropist."
The teamsters, Factor's partners in the Stardust Casino, refused to ship the book and Chicago's bookstore owners were warned by Tony Accardo, in person, not to carry the book.
Touhy and Johnstone fought back by drawing up the papers to enter a $300,000,000 lawsuit against John Factor, mob leaders Paul Ricca, Tony Accardo and Murray Humpreys as well as former Cook County state attorney Thomas Courtney and Tubbo Gilbert, his chief investigator, for wrongful imprisonment.
The mob couldn't allow the suit to reach court, and considering Touhy's determination, Ray Brennan's nose for a good story and Bob Johnstone's legal talents, there was no doubt the case would make it to court. If the case went to court, John Factor, the outfit's figurehead at the lucrative Stardust Casino, could easily be tied in to illegal teamster loans. At the same time, the McClellan committee was looking into the ties between the teamsters, Las Vegas and organized crime and the raid at the mob conclave in New York state had awakened the FBI and brought them into the fight. So, Touhy's lawsuit was, in effect, his death sentence.
Twenty-five days after his release from twenty-five years in prison, Roger Touhy was gunned down on a frigid December night on his sister's front door.
Two years after Touhy's murder, in 1962, Attorney General Robert Kennedy ordered his Justice Department to look into the highly suspect dealings of the Stardust Casino. Factor was still the owner on record, but had sold his interest in the casino portion of the hotel for a mere 7 million dollars. Then, in December of that year, the INS, working with the FBI on Bobby Kennedy's orders, informed Jake Factor that he was to be deported from the United States before the end of the month. Factor would be returned to England where he was still a wanted felon as a result of his 1928 stock scam. Just 48 hours before the deportation, Factor, John Kennedy's largest single personal political contributor, was granted a full and complete Presidential pardon which allowed him to stay in the United States.
The story hints that Factor was more then probably an informant for the Internal Revenue Service, it also investigates the murky world of Presidential pardons, the last imperial power of the Executive branch. It's a sordid tale of abuse of privilege, the mob's best friend and perhaps it is time the American people reconsider the entire notion.
The mob wasn't finished with Factor. Right after his pardon, Factor was involved in a vague, questionable financial plot to try and bail teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa out of his seemingly endless financial problems in Florida real estate. He was also involved with a questionable stock transaction with mobster Murray Humpreys. Factor spent the remaining twenty years of his life as a benefactor to California's Black ghettos. He tried, truly, to make amends for all of the suffering he had caused in his life. He spent millions of dollars building churches, gyms, parks and low cost housing in the poverty stricken ghettos. When he died, three United States Senators, the Mayor of Los Angles and several hundred poor Black waited in the rain to pay their last respects at Jake the Barber's funeral.
Interesting Information on A Little Known Case
By Bill Emblom
Author John Tuohy, who has a similar spelling of the last name to his subject Roger, but apparently no relation, has provided us with an interesting story of northwest Chicago beer baron Roger Touhy who was in competition with Al Capone during Capone's heyday. Touhy appeared to be winning the battle since Mayor Anton Cermak was deporting a number of Capone's cronies. However, the mob hit, according to the author, on Mayor Cermak in Miami, Florida, by Giuseppe Zangara following a speech by President-elect Roosevelt, put an end to the harrassment of Capone's cronies. The author details the staged "kidnapping" of Jake "the Barber" Factor who did this to avoid being deported to England and facing a prison sentence there for stock swindling, with Touhy having his rights violated and sent to prison for 25 years for the kidnapping that never happened. Factor and other Chicago mobsters were making a lot of money with the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas when they got word that Touhy was to be parolled and planned to write his life story. The mob, not wanting this, decided Touhy had to be eliminated. Touhy was murdered by hit men in 1959, 28 days after gaining his freedom. Jake Factor had also spent time in prison in the United States for a whiskey swindle involving 300 victims in 12 states. Two days before Factor was to be deported to England to face prison for the stock swindle President Kennedy granted Factor a full Presidential Pardon after Factor's contribution to the Bay of Pigs fund. President Kennedy, the author notes, issued 472 pardons (about half questionable) more than any president before or since.
There are a number of books on Capone and the Chicago mob. This book takes a look at an overlooked beer baron from that time period, Roger Touhy. It is a very worthwhile read and one that will hold your interest.
GREAT BOOK FROM CHICAGO AND ERA WAS MY DAD'S,TRUE TO STORY
Eight long years locked up for a kidnapping that was in fact a hoax, in autumn 1942, Roger Touhy & his gang of cons busted out of Stateville, the infamous "roundhouse" prison, southwest of Chicago Illinois. On the lam 2 months he was, when J Edgar & his agents sniffed him out in a run down 6-flat tenement on the city's far north lakefront. "Terrible Roger" had celebrated Christmas morning on the outside - just like all square Johns & Janes - but by New Year's Eve, was back in the bighouse.
Touhy's arrest hideout holds special interest to me because I grew up less than a mile away from it. Though I never knew so til 1975 when his bio was included in hard-boiled crime chronicler Jay Robert Nash's, Badmen & Bloodletters, a phone book sized encyclopedia of crooks & killers. Touhy's hard scrabble charisma stood out among 200 years' worth of sociopathic Americana Nash had alphabetized, and gotten a pulphouse publisher to print up for him.
I read Nash's outlaw dictionary as a teen, and found Touhy's Prohibition era David vs Goliath battles with ultimate gangster kingpin, Al Capone quite alluring, in an anti-hero sorta way. Years later I learned Touhy had written a memoir, and reading his The Stolen Years only reinforced my image of an underdog speakeasy beer baron - slash suburban family man - outwitting the stone cold killer who masterminded the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
Like most autobiographies tho, Touhy's book painted him the good guy. Just an everyday gent caught up in events, and he sold his story well. Had I been a saloonkeeper back then I could picture myself buying his sales pitch - and liking the guy too. I sure bought into his tale, which in hindsight criminal scribe Nash had too, because both writers portray Touhy - though admittedly a crook - as never "really" hurting anybody. Only doing what any down-to-earth bootlegger running a million dollar/year criminal enterprise would have.
What Capone's Mob Murdered Roger Touhy author John Tuohy does tho is, provide a more objective version of events, balancing out Touhy's white wash ... 'er ... make that subjectively ... remembered telling of his life & times. Author Tuohy's account of gangster Touhy's account forced me - grown up now - to re-account for my own original take on the story.
As a kid back then, Touhy seemed almost a Robin Hood- ish hood - if you'll pardon a very lame pun. Forty years on tho re-considering the evidence, I think a persuasive - if not iron-clad convincing - case can be made for his conviction in the kidnapping of swindler scumbag Jake the Barber Factor. At least as far as conspiracy to do so goes, anyways. (Please excuse the crude redundancy there but Factor's stench truly was that of the dog s*** one steps in on those unfortunate occasions one does.)
Touhy's memoir painted himself as almost an innocent bystander at his own life's events. But he was a very smart & savvy guy - no dummy by a long shot. And I kinda do believe now, to not have known his own henchmen were in on Factor's ploy to stave off deportation and imprisonment, Touhy would have had to be as naive a Prohibition crime boss - and make no mistake he was one - as I was as a teenage kid reading Nash's thug-opedia,
On the other hand, the guy was the father of two sons and it's repulsive to consider he would have taken part in loathsomeness the crime of kidnapping was - even if the abducted victim was an adult and as repulsively loathsome as widows & orphans conman, Jake Factor.
This book's target audience is crime buffs no doubt, but it's an interesting read just the same; and includes anecdotes and insights I had not known of before. Unfortunately too, one that knocks a hero of mine down a peg or two - or more like ten.
Circa 1960, President Kennedy pardoned Jake the Barber, a fact that reading of almost made me puke. Then again JFK and the Chicago Mob did make for some strange bedfellowery every now & again. I'll always admire WWII US Navy commander Kennedy's astonishing (word chosen carefully) bravery following his PT boat's sinking, but him signing that document - effectively wiping Factor's s*** stain clean - as payback for campaign contributions Factor made to him, was REALLY nauseating to read.
Come to think of it tho, the terms "criminal douchedog" & "any political candidate" are pretty much interchangeable.
Anyways tho ... rest in peace Rog, & I raise a toast - of virtual bootleg ale - in your honor: "Turns out you weren't the hard-luck mug I'd thought you were, but what the hell, at least you had style." And guts to meet your inevitable end with more grace than a gangster should.
Post Note: Author Tuohy's re-examination of the evidence in the Roger Touhy case does include some heroes - guys & women - who attempted to find the truth of what did happen. Reading about people like that IS rewarding. They showed true courage - and decency - in a world reeking of corruption & deceit. So, here's to the lawyer who took on a lost cause; the private detective who dug up buried facts; and most of all, Touhy's wife & sister who stood by his side all those years.
Crime don't pay, kids
Very good organized crime book. A rather obscure gangster story which makes it fresh to read. I do not like these minimum word requirements for a review. (There, I have met my minimum)
Chicago Gangster History At It's Best
As a 4th generation Chicagoan, I just loved this book. Growing up in the 1950's and 60's I heard the name "Terrible Touhy's" mentioned many times. Roger was thought of as a great man, and seems to have been held in high esteem among the old timer Chicagoans.
That said, I thought this book to be nothing but interesting and well written. (It inspired me to find a copy of Roger's "Stolen Years" bio.) I do recommend this book to other folks interested in prohibition/depression era Chicago crime research. It is a must have for your library of Gangsters literature from that era. Chock full of information and the reader is transported back in time.
I'd like to know just what is "The Valley" area today in Chicago. I still live in the Windy City and would like to see if anything remains from the early days of the 20th century.
A good writer and a good book! I will buy some more of Mr. Tuohy's work.
Great story, great read
A complex tale of gangsters, political kickback, mob wars and corrupt politicians told with wit and humor at a good pace. Highly recommend this book.
One of the best books I've read in a long time....
If you're into mafioso, read this! I loved it. Bought a copy for my brother to read for his birthday--good stuff.
READERS REVIEWS FROM AMAZON BOOKS
There are more intense books that go into supposed motivation and recording techniques and equipment, but this is a lovely work that illuminates the songs and the stories behind them without being overbearing in doing so. I really enjoyed it - bought several copies to give as gifts. Well done!
READERS REVIEWS FROM AMAZON BOOKS
Any book about Joe Petrosino can't be all bad. Far too little attention is paid to Petrosino these days. The foolish Public remembers names of scumbags like Capone, Gotti, Valachi, Tony Soprano, etc. Far too few people remember New York Cop Joe Petrosino. In a time when Italians were segregated, harassed by Cops and treated as second class citizens, Petrosino arose as the first Italian anti-gangster Cop. Then, as now, gangsters claimed they were the victims of prejudice, discrimination and profiling. Petrosino rose above his times to become a Pioneer in anti-Mafia police work. Tough as nails, un-corruptible, and utterly fearless, Petrosino was assassinated by the Mafia in their usual cowardly style.
This book is a welcome bit of scholarship on the great Petrosino. Tuohy's book does contain an, apparent, misprint. There is a lone word, without authority, regarding Petrosino being "corrupt," perhaps a reference to his tough police tactics. Corruption, however, implies a personal power or profit motive. Tuohy provides no evidence or argument of any such motive or activity on Petrosino's part. On the contrary, the only evidence is that Petrosino was a good, honest Cop. Petrosino is a role model for young and old alike, oppressed immigrants, and even whining minority gangsters and their sympathizers, such as Sharpton, Obama, Jackson, and Holder.
I have several books from The Mob Files Series and I have really enjoyed reading them. The Joe Petrosino story is definitely one worth reading. He had an interesting life working against the mafia. I enjoyed seeing the pictures in the book and they helped bring the story to life.
What literature makes of the food we eat
Catherine Conroy, The Irish Times
“When all the others were away at Mass I was all hers as we peeled potatoes . . . ”
You insist that they read this Seamus Heaney poem at your mother’s funeral. You think of looking out the window from the kitchen sink, your hands scooping up the mulch of the peelings, the ends of your sleeves wet with grey water.
No more of that. But you and your little sister still go home at Christmas to peel spud after spud like this at the kitchen table. You drink lots of wine and have happy calluses on your hands.
In a friend’s house on Christmas Eve, there are so many of them to feed, the spuds are peeled in the bath. When the sack is emptied into the tub, the noise is like a roll of thunder.
Food is life. The madeleine memories it brings are involuntary, deep in your bones.
People talk too much about the writing of old white men, but if you could never taste again, it is Hemingway who could tell you about food. In A Moveable Feast, his ode to appetite, he writes, “As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and . . . drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
In Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms, a wine shop in the early morning is “swept dust, spoons in coffee-glasses and the wet circles left by wine glasses”.
That is also a kitchen the morning after a dinner party, red wine and cigarettes, crumpled up napkins with greasy spots of stale cream.
Your friend has had a baby boy. You come over for a glass of wine. He tells you he imagines a dinner party in the near future when his boy is a little older. He will come into the room in his pyjamas before he goes to bed. My friend will say, “ ‘Okay, you can have a bit of dessert and then say good night to Catherine and off with you now, down to your room.’ That’s who we are now,” he says, delighted with his summation.
All grown-up things contained in a moment like that. Like the line from James Salter’sLight Years, “Life is weather. Life is meals”.
Holden Caulfield’s simple Swiss cheese sandwiches in Catcher in the Rye and Leopold Bloom’s “stripes of sandwich, fresh clean bread, with relish of disgust, pungent mustard, the feety savour of green cheese”, tell us things about the character.
You remember sandwiches you made with great disinterest. You are eight and you come in from playing down the field. You don’t have time to talk. You slather a piece of white bread with jam and fold it over. You stick your head under the tap for a quick drink and then you run off. Nothing will ever be as important again as that hut and that game.
Your cousin says, “It’s ridiculous isn’t it? Our idyllic childhood. We actually brought flasks down fields, we ate sandwiches sitting on bales of hay.”
Food is the other character: Mrs Dalloway’s dinner party, Ms Havisham’s cobwebbed wedding cake, Bridget Jones’s guilty calories.
In Ulysses, the Queen of Puddings is Gerty. Her “Queen Ann’s pudding of delightful creaminess had won golden opinions from all . . . though she didn’t like the eating part when there were many people that made her shy and often she wondered why you couldn’t eat something poetical like violets or roses . . .”
The pudding you remember most is one you didn’t eat. You are 10. You go around the houses with your dad when he does meals on wheels. He lets you hold the warm containers and you think the jam sponge and custard looks delicious, if meagre, in its polystyrene tub. You want to steal it for yourself.
You sometimes stand at a front door for a long time, waiting. Your dad cups his hands to peer in the windows. How frequent the darkness inside of those houses, the heavy curtains drawn. Then the relief when the front door finally opens and a gentle conversation can begin.
Memory is only our take on things and a story changes each time you circle it. But the food is fact: colour, texture, taste. The food is undeniable.
Yes, your friends are right. You might have travelled around Italy alone because of Eat Pray, Love, full of the intent of finding that one perfect pizza she buys in Naples.
Maybe you went because of the figs in Under the Tuscan Sun, or the fiascos of chianti inA Farewell to Arms or the cannoli of the Ferrante novels. The Italian bookshop owners know. They stack these books together. You meet a lot of people in Italy sitting quietly alone, eating something simple and delicious. The meal itself provides the company.
When you finally find the famous pizzeria late at night, it is on a dangerous street and it is closed for August. You stand beside some disappointed Japanese people who take photos of the closed shutters. You eat at a place across the road that is supposed to be just as good.
Being alone, you worry about how fine you are with being alone. Eating dinner on a quiet terrace in Lipari, looking out at the port, you do that thing where you are being so consciously present that you are almost ruining it for yourself. “Isn’t this truly beautiful?” you say. “Remember this for the next bad time. How lucky you are.”
The sort of thinking that feels like it’s at one remove from actual appreciation and enjoyment.
You are tanned from the day, in a new easy dress that you found on a sale rail in the supermarket. You eat something simple, a tomato salad; the way the tomatoes are delicious in Italy, the way in Italy you believe in their classification as a fruit more truly; the sweetness, the juice. People are always on the look out for old-fashioned eggs, tomatoes, potatoes – the side of the road foods that don’t taste like they used to.
People are looking at you sitting alone in a restaurant on holidays because they’ve been staring into each other’s faces for days now and they need some fresh material outside themselves.
But then some other Shirley Valentines arrive into the restaurant, and even a man-Shirley with his laptop. You suddenly feel just as much within the company of these other souls than if you’d all been seated together.
Food and grief
In Anne Enright’s The Green Road, Constance spends pages upon pages in a supermarket doing the Christmas shop. She’s at the till and back she goes again for the sausages and then some Brussels sprouts. Halfway down the ramp of the carpark and back she goes again for someone else’s Christmas wants.
You read this and are unexpectedly moved at all the stubborn effort. It makes you think of the day a friend cried into the broccoli in a vegetable shop the first Christmas after her mother died, fiddling with the opening of the little plastic bag.
Every Christmas since, I ask her, “How are you this year? Have you cried into the broccoli?”
This is Charles Bowden writing in his essay, The Bone Garden of Desire, about a defiant appetite in the face of grief. “I would believe in the words of solace if they included fresh polenta with a thickened brown sauce with shiitake and porcini mushrooms . . .” He pleads with us to always go to the garden and the kitchen. There is affirmation of life in both.
You are sitting with a heartbroken friend on a hospital bed on a hot day. A fan whirrs; you are both eating Cornettos. The ice cream dribbles down your fingers.
What better way to show the animal of the body, how the ordinary continues, than to force your characters to return to the dinner table.
Homer writes, “There’s no part of man more like a dog than brazen belly, crying to be remembered.”
Heartburn is Nora Ephron’s roman à clef about a pregnant woman who leaves her cheating husband. The tale is interwoven with standard recipes for well-loved dishes, some semblance of certainty when there suddenly is none. The recipes affirm a belief in method and order. They provide a slow-stirring comfort. They require a deliberateness of thought.
Knowing she was sick, Ephron’s last book, I Remember Nothing ends with a list of the things she will miss. One-third relate to food and eating.
• The concept of waffles
• Dinner at home just the two of us
• Dinner with friends
• Dinner with friends in cities where none of us lives
• Thanksgiving dinner
• One for the table
Robots To Eat All The Jobs?
by Kim-Mai Cutler (@kimmaicutler)
In the face of rising U.S. income inequality and concerns about job loss to automation, some of Silicon Valley’s best-known names including Y Combinator’s Sam Altman havespoken up in favor of a universal basic income that would give people a baseline standard of living in an economy that may not be able to produce enough decently compensated work for everyone.
A mix of technologists, policy wonks and creatives are trying to kickstart a bigger movement around that idea this coming weekend with a Basic Income Createathon.
“Everyone in the country having jobs is not going to make sense anymore because we’re going to have computers and robots doing what we’re doing most of what we’re doing today,” said Jim Pugh, who got a Ph.D in distributed robotics before he worked on the original 2008 Obama campaign. “If you accept that as a premise, what we need to do as a society is not made up of small changes. It’s actually a fairly radical change and basic income seems to be an elegant solution for doing that.”
A basic income is a kind of Social Security system where all citizens or residents get an unconditional amount of money on top of whatever their wages are from elsewhere. It assumes that, above this minimum level of income, people will still be motivated to work for more money or on more meaningful projects.
The Createathon is very deliberately not called a “hackathon,” because Pugh wants to make non-technical folks feel welcome into the fold.
“We are strongly encouraging participating from writers, artists, musicians, videographers and people who might not normally gravitate toward hackathons,” he said. “If your focus is building an app, our hope is that we’ll have some technology projects. But we also hope that people will be working on long-form content. People will be making videos, writing songs, or painting paintings. There can be all sorts of different ways of expressing interest and support for the idea.”
There are some early experiments with cities in the European Union, like in Utrecht, which is starting to give “no strings attached” money to some of its residents. Then there have been studies on unconditional cash transfers in Sub-Saharan Africa through programs like GiveDirectly, which Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna recently backed with $25 million after some early tests. Pugh also pointed to an American example with the Alaska Permanent Fund, which was established in 1976 to re-distribute some of the state’s oil revenue to Alaskans in the form of dividends.
Pugh said the point of the Createathon is to build energy for a broader political movement that will advocate for universal basic income and push for small pilots to test the idea out in the United States.
To be fair, not everyone prominent in the tech industry agrees with the premise that there won’t be enough jobs for everyone. Marc Andreessen regularly ridicules this idea on Twitter. But there are still a number of influential folks who are concerned about the 3.5 million truck driving jobs that may be lost to self-driving vehicles, or the millions of factory jobs that might be lost to improved robotics.
Nor does everyone believe that a basic income is the right solution to the problem. MIT professor Andrew McAfee, who raised many concerns about increasing automation in his book, “The Second Machine Age,” favors an expansion of the earned income tax credit over a universal basic income. The earned income tax credit functions like a negative income tax; it’s still tied to whether you work or not. That’s because McAfee still wants a system that incentivizes people to do something, regardless of whatever it is. He argues that people exhibit depression or worse levels of health without some kind of bigger purpose.
Then, of course, institutionally speaking, it’s very hard to remove an entitlement once it is offered. In other countries where there is a clientelistic form of politics with huge swaths of the labor force that are dependent on public sector income, it’s very politically difficult to correct spending and entitlements if broader economic circumstances change.
A movement for a universal basic income would represent a fundamental shift in the way Silicon Valley, and perhaps the U.S., thinks about the value of work and unconditional cash grants. More than thirty years ago, former Californian governor Ronald Reagan was elected U.S. president on campaign speeches that ridiculed mothers and women who abused the welfare system. Under Clinton Administration, welfare reform was centered on getting clientele off the rolls.
Today the thinking is quite different.
Do people need to work for the sake of work, especially if jobs with livable wages are not widely available?
“One of the big hurdles we face is that there’s such an ingrained belief in people that they should work,” Pugh said. “The idea of getting money unconditionally is completely counter to a lot of people’s world views.”
Absolve \ub-ZAHLV\ 1: to set free from an obligation or the consequences of guilt, to remit (a sin) by absolution. Absolve was adopted into Middle English in the 15th century from the Latin verb absolvere, formed by combining the prefix ab- ("from, away, off") with solvere, meaning "to loosen." (Absolvealso once had additional senses of "to finish or accomplish" and "to resolve or explain," but these are now obsolete.) Solvereis also the ancestor of the English words solve, dissolve, resolve, solvent, and solution.
Umami \oo-MAH-mee\ noun: A taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides (such as glutamate and aspartate) Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda is credited with identifying as a distinct taste the savory flavor of the amino acid glutamic acid, which he first noticed in soup stocks made with seaweed. This fifth basic taste—alongside sweet, sour, salty, and bitter—was named umami, meaning "savoriness" in Japanese. Umami can be experienced in foods such as mushrooms, anchovies, and mature cheeses, as well as in foods enhanced with monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a sodium salt derived from glutamic acid.
Affectious: (uh-FEK-shuhs) adjective: Affectionate or cordial. Via French, from Latin afficere (to affect or influence).
THE BEAT POETS
Beat poetry evolved during the 1940s in both New York City and on the west coast, although San Francisco became the heart of the movement in the early 1950s. The end of World War II left poets like Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso questioning mainstream politics and culture. A Brief Guide to the Beat Poets | Academy of American Poets https://www.poets.org/poetsorg
Beat poet Michael McClure tries new style at 83
Photo Nathaniel Y. Downes, The Chronicle
By Sam Whiting
In the 60 years since the famed Six Gallery reading that introduced the Beat poets, Michael McClure has read his words in any number of forms and settings.
But he’d never done anything close to what he was doing Saturday, Nov. 7, which was to walk around a room reading his words as they hung on a wall. McClure, 83, had put poetry to 24 abstract horse monoprints by his wife, Amy Evans McClure, 60. The words and the image merge on the same print. But McClure’s words on paper don’t have the impact of McClure’s words on paper as read aloud by McClure.
“Ripple. Grullo. Thicket,” he reads from one painting in a voice that is as commanding as Richard Burton reading Shakespeare. “Houyhnhnm,” he neighs, as proof that he is now also fluent in the horse dialect.
“You have to understand that Michael is the most amazing trickster of a man,” says Jack Foley, who came from Oakland down to Palo Alto for the event. “He’s so connected to words and to language that he can pull off something like this and make it quite beautiful.”
The show, titled “Sculpture & Monotypes by Amy Evans McClure, Words by Michael McClure,” is at Smith Andersen Editions through Nov. 25, but McClure was only there to open the show on Saturday. He has no other Bay Area readings scheduled, and if this turns out to be his last, it will have been the right setting. Smith Andersen is in a converted auto garage, and so was his first public reading.
That was on Oct. 7, 1955. McClure was 22 and fresh out of San Francisco State, living at Scott and Haight streets and coming over the hill to Six Gallery, which had sculptures hanging from the rafters and a plank stage on the floor, on Fillmore at Greenwich.
McClure had met Allen Ginsberg at a party, where they bonded over mutual admiration for William Blake. McClure and Ginsberg used to meet for coffee in North Beach. “He’d read me Jack Kerouac’s letters, which were fascinating to me.”
During one of these meetings, McClure told Ginsberg he’d been asked to organize a poetry reading at Six Gallery but he didn’t have the time, because his then-wife was expecting.
“Allen said, ‘Do you want me to put together the reading?’ and I said, ‘Absolutely, man, that would be good.’”
And so began an event that was neither recorded nor filmed but is generally considered to be the moment that sparked the Beat Generation. On the bill that Friday night were Ginsberg, McClure, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Philip Lamantia, with Kenneth Rexroth as emcee. A historic plaque marking the spot notes that Kerouac was also on the bill, but he did not read. What Kerouac did was drink from a jug of garage wine and free-form his own poetry by yelling out words like “Dig it” and “Go, go,” during the readings.
McClure read “For the Death of 100 Whales,” which presaged the Greenpeace Save the Whales movement by about 20 years, but that was all but forgotten in the wake of “Howl,” which Ginsberg introduced that night.
“As we spoke, we realized from the results that we were speaking for the people,” McClure says. “We were saying what they needed and wanted to hear, and that encouraged us. We drew a line in the sand and decided not to back off that line.”
Now they are all dead and gone except for Snyder, who is a practicing Buddhist in the Sierra foothills, and McClure, who is a practicing Buddhist in the Oakland hills. He likes to start his day with meditation and a hike in the forest behind his house, which is what he was doing under the redwoods last March when he took a step on slick footing and his legs went out from under him.
“I was temporarily suspended in the air like Wile E. Coyote and then dropped.”
Hip surgery, rehab
He cracked a bone and had to have hip surgery. He spent three days in the hospital and 10 in a rehab facility, and nine months later, the early morning hours he once devoted to meditation are devoted to working out in a gym to get his leg back under him.
He has been walking with a cane, and the surgery left him with a tremor that makes it impossible for him to read his own handwriting.
But he’s not complaining. “Until I was 27, I thought I was going to die before I was 28,” he says. But he’s now been married for 29 years and decided the time was right for his first-ever collaboration with Evans McClure, an accomplished artist in her own right.
For 15 years, Evans McClure has been making sculptures of horses, which she can hear from her studio window, facing Butters Canyon. Her horses can be seen outside the Orinda Public Library and inside the McClure home. One such horse, an Appaloosa, sits in the living room, and the three of them — McClure, McClure Evans and the horse head — were sitting together when McClure had a revelation.
“I said I love the spots that are painted on there because they remind me of gestural art, like Pollock or Clyfford Still,” he recalls while sitting outside before his reading. “Maybe we could do a series of paintings of spots like you paint on the horses.”
Paula Kirkeby, who owns Smith Andersen and represented the late Bruce Conner, invited the McClures to do a joint print project, and suddenly they had their theme.
“We were totally serious about it,” he says, “and devoted to the idea.”
Evans McClure put the spots and patterns of an Appaloosa onto paper, in ink and water color. To fix them with the right words, McClure got a series of note cards and on each card wrote two words.
“I wanted to put the consciousness and the perceptions of a wild horse, not a domesticated horse, into a deck of cards that I could flip through,” he says.
The words and images were combined in the print shop at Smith Andersen. As each of 24 unique images rolled off the press, McClure went through the cards to find the words to go with it. It was performance art with no one there to witness it.
Once the prints had their words, the McClures decided to do it again in reverse order, this time applying a print to each of the cards. This forms a series called “Appaloosa Deck.” There are four decks of 32 cards.
The prints and the cards moved from the shop to the gallery on the other side of a wall. Also in the show are Evans McClure’s horse sculptures, greeting people as they walk in the door.
As the crowd built on Saturday, McClure rested in a side room. Then he came out, without the aid of his cane, and leaned against a display case.
“Am I clear?” he asked at the start, warming up his voice. He introduced the artwork, then left the safety of the display case and walked around the room, looking at each of the 24 prints and reading the words behind glass.
It was all over too soon. Nobody wanted to stop hearing his voice applied to his verse. The audience stood there awaiting a poetry encore. McClure thought he had left his anthology, “Of Indigo and Saffron,” at home, but a copy magically turned up.
He read several haikus, and a poem that fit the theme of the “Appaloosa Deck.” “Horse heads swirling in rainbows,” it began.
The audience still wanted more, so he reached for a second book, “Ghost Tantras,” just reprinted by City Lights in a 50th-anniversary edition. His hands were so shaky they could barely turn the page, but they found their way to Page 39.
“This poem comes from 1962,” he announced:
“MARILYN MONROE, TODAY THOU HAS PASSED
THE DARK BARRIER
— diving in a swirl of golden hair.
I hope you have entered a sacred paradise for full
warm bodies, full lips, full hips, and laughing eyes!”
That was just the first stanza, and the audience was entranced.
Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:email@example.com Twitter:@samwhitingsf
Sculpture & Monotypes by Amy Evans McClure, Words by Michael McClure:Through Nov. 25. Smith Andersen Editions, 440 Pepper Ave, Palo Alto.www.smithandersen.com
Beat Poets Are Topic of 1965 Doc
The world’s leading Beat poets gathered under one roof one day in 1965, at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The short film that documented this historic event will screen at Emerson College on Tuesday, November 10, as part of the Bright Lights Film Series.
Wholly Communion (1965), directed by Peter Whitehead, will be screened in 35mm with a live poetry reading by Emerson alumnus Janaka Stucky ’00. The event starts at 7:00 pm.
This 50th anniversary screening and poetry reading commemorate “The International Poetry Incarnation,” which was known as Great Britain’s first full-scale “happening.” The evening of June 11, 1965, was remembered for its “near-hallucinatory” revelry and came to be seen as one of the cultural high points of the 1960s.
Stucky participated in the Poetry Reincarnation 50th anniversary event in London this past spring.
THE ART OF PULP
DON'T YOU JUST LOVE POP ART?
HERE'S SOME NICE ART FOR YOU TO LOOK AT....ENJOY!
Tower in Orange and Green Paul Klee 1922
THE ART OF WAR...............................
Mish Mash: noun \ˈmish-ˌmash, -ˌmäsh\ A : hodgepodge, jumble “The painting was just a mishmash of colors and abstract shapes as far as we could tell”. Origin Middle English & Yiddish; Middle English mysse masche, perhaps reduplication of mash mash; Yiddish mish-mash, perhaps reduplication of mishn to mix. First Known Use: 15th century
Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s blood-stained uniform, 1914.
ALLEGED MOBSTER OF THE DAY
Giancana, Sam Mob leader. As a teenager, Sam “Momo” Giancana was a member of the notorious 42 gang, where he earned his reputation as an outstanding gets away driver or wheelman His first arrest came in September 1925, for grand theft auto. Before his twentieth birthday he was picked up three more times. Once for suspicion of murdering a witness to a robbery case and the other for the killing of Octavius Granady a black man running for office in the heavily Italian 20th ward. On September 17, 1926, Giancana was indicted for murder. He was the teenage wheelman in an incident with other 42’s gang members when they robbed a middle aged barber named William Girard. When Girard, resisted they shot and killed him. A cab driver identified Giancana, who was arrested. The police worked him over for a few days, but he wouldn’t squeal and did his time. In November of 1928 Giancana was arrested for attempted burglary of a clothing store. He pleads guilty and was sentenced to one to five at Statesville prison. He was released on Christmas Eve, 1932, and he went to work for Paul Ricca. In May of 1939, Sam was arrested again, and sentenced to four years in federal prison Leavenworth. The charge was for moonshining. He had been caught in a barn in Elgin, Illinois, with 8800 gallons of mash 1000 gallons of alcohol and 1000 gallons of spirits. Giancana was transferred from Leavenworth to Terre Haute Indiana where he tested 74 on verbal intelligence and 93 on non-verbal. He registered for the draft, but was appointed F-4 “He is a constitutional psychopath with an inadequate personality manifested by strong anti -social tendencies” the report read. In 1942, gangster Murray Humphreys hired members of the 42 gang, which still included Giancana, as well as Marshal Caifano, Teets Battaglia and others, to guard the bosses while Roger Touhy gang was on the run from prison.
In 1943, Giancana kidnapped Jake Guzak and held him in an empty building and gave him a choice; turn over a gift of $250,000.00 in exchange for support and acceptance from the outfit. Otherwise they would kill him. Guzak accepted the offer for the money, vowed his support and was driven to West Roosevelt Road and released.
In about 1943, Giancana grew close to “Little New York” Campagna, Tony Accardo and Joe Fusco. When it looked like Accardo would go to jail on a tax charge, Campagna told him “Your next in line” In June of 1953, Giancana may have ordered the kidnap murder of politician Clem Graver who refused to pay his kidnappers. They never found his body. By 1954, Sam Giancana was under boss to Accardo but, as his daughter wrote “I had a feeling at times that dad was like a peon to them, yet it was during these years that they both gave Sam more and more responsibility “
She was right of course. Paul Ricca acted as though he were found of Giancana but he detested him according to sources, and, in the end, Accardo probably ordered his death.
In December 1959 Tony Accardo had a lot on his mind, the Internal Revenue was all over him and Paul Ricca was in constant trouble with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. After the raid on Appalchin, the FBI snapped to life and now Chicago was crawling with agents who were suddenly investigating every aspect of the mobs business. It was a dangerous time to be the boss, just as it had been back in 1933 when Ricca slyly set up Frank Nitti as the outfit’s leader so that Ricca could operate unnoticed behind the scenes. By 1959, Ricca had learned that the federal government’s resources were limited when it came to combating organized crime. If federal prosecutors couldn’t nail the biggest, the most powerful bosses, they simply went for the largest and flashiest mark
And left the others alone. So in 1959, Ricca and Accardo decided to make Sam Giancana the government’s newest target, they promoted him to boss and told the world that they were retired. An FBI informant told the Bureau in 1959 that Giancana wasn’t really the boss and that the only person of any importance in the Mafia and the national syndicate who believed that Giancana was the boss was Giancana himself and a few yes men who worked under him. Accardo called his top men to a meeting at Meo’s restaurant. (Not the Tam-O’Shanter as has been reported in the past) . However Meo’s was too staid for Giancana’s taste. His favorite hangout was the Pink Clock bar where he would meet his mistress for whom he kept and apartment. However, Giancana would later put the Meo brothers in charge of the Villa Venice, a rundown place he purchased on Milwaukee Avenue in rural Wheeling. Giancana poured a small fortune into the place, redecorated it and opened a casino in the back.
He could afford it. By 1959, Giancana’s personnel take from Las Vegas was estimated to be $300,000.00 a month After a quick dinner in Meo’s back, Accardo, a man of few words under the bets of occasions, rose to his feet and announced that he was stepping down as the boss and that Sam Giancana would take his place. “This is Sam” Accardo mumbled “He’s a friend of mine” It was, as Ovid Damaris pointed out “a coronation ceremony was deceptively simple: Accardo merely placed a hand on Giancana’s shoulder and said, “I want you to meet my friend, Sam Giancana”  Giancana was 49 when he took over the Chicago Outfit. A baby by Mafia standards. Moe Dalitz and Murray Humphreys, who had the utmost respect for Tony Accardo, could never understand why Accardo would sanction the rise of a dolt like Sam Giancana to head up the Chicago family. Like most people in the underworld they felt that Sam Battaglia should have been named Boss instead of Giancana because Battaglia was calmer and more level headed, even though he lacked Giancana’s intelligence. Many soldiers in the outfit and more than a few connected guys were outraged that Giancana got the job because they knew how hyper and hot-tempered he was. Most considered him a danger to himself and to them.
Giancana rise in the outfit was helped by the aging and increased wealth of the mob elders. By 1959, he had come to power. By then he had been arrested at least 63 times and had served time for auto theft, burglary and moonshining. He had killed an estimated 200 men and had fourteen different aliases, however his favorites would remain Sam Flood and Mr. Gold. He could be charming and likable. He was shy around those he didn’t know, more prone to listen then to talk. He could also be childishly vain, wearing expensive toupees that cost him $1,000. His clothes were monogrammed and he had a solid gold key chain and diamond chips on his wristwatch. He owned a solid gold swizzle stick. He smoked foot long cigars and drove loud colored Cadillac’s, wore sharkskin suites, alligator shoes and silk shirts. On his right hand he wore a massive star sapphire pinky ring, a gift from Frank Sinatra. Like Frank Nitti, Giancana was always trying to better himself. He was remarkably well read, by mob standards. He studied antiques, particularly bisque and porcelain figurines and became an avid collector. He sent his girls to the most expensive and best catholic finishing schools in the Midwest.
When served a dish that was expensive he would say “I wonder what the poor are eating tonight”  However, he still ate in his old neighborhood at the Vernon Park Inn at Vernon Park and Aberdeen, where the bill seldom came to over $3.00 for an enormous meal. Sam Tufano called Papa O’Zeke a fat robust owned the place little man who had once cooked for Al Capone. He could encourage friends and family, he was generous. He could be caring and find time to hear out any solders or friend or family member’s problem. After his wife Angeline died in 1954, he was always on the make for a women and all he asked was that she have a nice figure and a pretty face, nothing more nothing less. He had a soundproofed cellar conference room in his Oak Park home at 1147 Wenonah Avenue. To look at Sam Giancana in 1957 was to see the very embodiment of a gangster, and every one took notice including the federal government, which was exactly the plan, that Accardo and Ricca had in mind.
Acting as Giancana’s guide to running the mob, was Tony Accardo, who would never step completely down from his spot as boss of the mob. Tony Accardo was a peasant but a reserved man and a thinker. Giancana was a hyper aggressive personality. Another difference between Sam Giancana and Accardo and Ricca, aside from Accardo and Ricca’s superior intelligence, was that Accardo and Ricca knew how to stick to business. Even Frank Nitti knew how to stick to business. Giancana didn’t and that was how he got involved with one of the stupidest affairs the Chicago group had ever become entangled in, the CIA plot to kill Castro. Like Accardo, Giancana lost money in Cuba, not the millions that Accardo lost, but still it was more than he could afford to lose.
Behind Accardo was, Paul Ricca who would act, as advisor to Giancana even though he disliked him. Like Accardo, Ricca would remain a power behind the throne.
As his under boss, Giancana chose Frankie Strong. Another childhood friend, Butch Blasi, would be bodyguard, appointment secretary, driver and confidant. Blasi was also a collector who delivered cash to Accardo, Ricca and Giancana
Giancana’s loud style and fascination with Hollywood brought around the federal government and in October of 1962, while Sam was out of town Accardo and Ricca met with the political bosses who said that they “had never seen things so bad before” 
On May 14, 1965, Giancana was called in before a federal grand jury in Chicago and questioned for three days about the structure of the national commission in an effort by the Organized crime unit “to break the inner circle of the Chicago mafia”
In an effort to keep outsiders from knowing who may or may not have talked the DOJ flooded the field of potential informants by calling in everybody and anybody related to organized crime including Charlie English Fifi Buccieri Gussy Alex John D’Arco Pat Marcy Ben Jacobean of the first ward Anthony Tisci and Frank Annunzio with whom Tisci was now the aid for as well. On June 1 1965 Giancana was brought before Judge William S. Campbell
“Do you continue to refuse?” Campbell asked.
“Yes Sir”  Giancana was ordered jailed until he talked or until the grand jury was dismissed telling Giancana “You have the key to your own cell”
A year passed before he was released the Justice Department had him lined up to appear at two and half years’ worth of grand jury hearings, however Giancana talked to the CIA and threatened to go public with the plots to kill Castro and the Justice department backed off. According to Giancana, after he was released from jail, Accardo had all but ordered him out of Chicago. He was humiliated and he swore he would never forget the treatment he had suffered at Accardo’s hand. The whole outfit was treating him “like a punk” and he resented it. He had earned them, Ricca and Accardo and other, millions, maybe hundreds of millions, and now he was a Nobody. In fact, an FBI informant reported that it was widely agreed “Nobody is happy with Sam’s release and that he has to go or he’ll drag us all down the drain with him”  On November 16 1966 another informant reported that “the bosses have placed a hit out on Giancana” On January 19, 1967, Giancana, told an informant that he intended to “go to an island and relax for the rest of my life. I’ll leave everything behind. They can have everything I got”  That statement, and others like it, were reported back to Ricca and Accardo who feared it was Giancana’s way of saying that he was going to flip over to the FBI. They also wondered openly why he had not been subpoenaed since his release. But, by then Giancana had left Chicago for Mexico. However, before he left, his gambling club, the Villa Venice, exploded in a fireball for no apparent reason. John D’Arco handled the insurance claim, through his company Arco insurance.
By 1968, Tony Accardo wanted some of the millions that were pouring in to Sam Giancana’s gambling operations in Mexico and elsewhere. However Giancana felt that he had built the empire of gambling cruise ships and several illegal casinos around the world and the had no intention of splitting his share with anyone. He did give his bodyguard Richard Cain a fair share because he had helped to build the operation, but since Accardo had all but thrown him out of Chicago, Giancana considered himself an independent agent. He was also still smarting over the fact that when he taken over the black policy in the forties, that Ricca and Accardo hadn’t supported him with any cost of judge or guns, yet he was obligated to kick almost all of the money he made back up to them. Even when he was the boss, he still felt that he wasn’t getting his fair percentage from the black policy rackets and was smarting because he had to spill the money with Capos who now ran the territory. Accardo sent Butch Blassi, who was now his bodyguard and driver, just as Sam had once been, to tell Giancana that Accardo wanted to have a sit down, but Giancana told Blassi to tell Accardo “to go to hell” 
One morning in 1972, Giancana awoke around 9:30 in the morning and stepped out into the walled garden that surrounded his estate in Mexico. It had been a reasonably good year. He had spent Christmas in Santa Monica with his new girlfriend and New Years on the beach at Waikiki. His casinos were earning him millions upon millions of dollars. Suddenly to men jumped out from behind the large trees and dragged him to the ground, handcuffed him and threw him into a car marked Immigration that had been waiting in the front of the house. He was tossed in the back seat and stripped of his silk pajamas and handed a blue work shirt and a pair of overall three times his size.
Sam demanded to see his Mexican lawyer Jorge Castillo, but Castillo was no fool. When he found out that Mexican federal officials didn’t want any more protection money from Giancana, he figured the end was near for the Chicago hood and disappeared for a while. What had happened was that the United States government had applied pressures to Mexican officials as to why a hood like Giancana was allowed to remain in their country for eight years on a temporary resident alien status. The Immigration car drove to the airport and threw Giancana on the first plane bound north for America. Thirty minutes later
Momo Giancana was in San Antonio Texas without a penny to his name wearing a pair of pants that would have fallen off of him had he let go of his grip. In San Antonio two FB agents served Giancana with a subpoena and put him on a plane to Chicago where more agents were waiting with more subpoenas. Among the agents was Bill Roemer who had berated Giancana at that same spot twelve years before in 1962. Roemer was shocked at what he saw “he looked like some Italian immigrant landing at Ellis Island, destitute and frail.” 
The Intelligence Unit for Chicago police hauled him away for questioning in the Dick Cain murder. He met with the grand jury four times but was evasive preferring a perjury charge to another contempt citation he told his children and his in-laws that he would do anything from “rotting away in jail”  but kept sending word to Accardo that he would never talk to the Fed’s but somebody close to Giancana got word to Accardo that Giancana said he would do anything to keep from rotting in jail. By that time, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Idaho’s Frank Church was looking into the CIA monkeyshines over the past thirty years and wanted to talk to Giancana about his involvement in the CIA plan to kill Fidel Castro. Johnny Roselli testified first and Sam was scheduled to go next but in May of 1975, but he fell ill with gallbladder problems. He flew to Houston for a cholecystectomy and then returned home to 1147 South Wenonah, Oak Park, where he was taken care of by his youngest daughter Francine.
On the night he was killed, Sam Giancana took an early nap. Later his daughter Francine and her husband, Jerry arrived. A few minutes later Butch Blasi and Chuckie English showed up. Outside a unit for the Chicago Police Intelligence unit was watching the house from across the street. They had a small party celebrating Sam’s return to good health. At about ten the party broke up. Seeing the guests leave, the police car across the street drove over to up and coming hood Tony Spilotro’s house a few blocks away and waited for Spilotro to come home. Someone returned and Giancana went to his finished basement. About a half an hour after his guests left, Sam cooked the Italian sausage, escarole and cece beans that Francine had brought to over. A few minutes later Francine came back to the house at about 10:15 to retrieve her purse. On the way back out to the car, Francine noticed Butch Blasi returning to the house as well, but thought nothing of it. Fifteen minutes later, at about 10:30 Joe DePersio called down the stairs to tell Sam that he was going to watch the Johnny Carson show on television and then go to bed. Did Sam need anything?
No, he replied, he was going to bed himself. Giancana turned on one of his two favorite movies, both Sinatra films, The Man with the Golden Arm and the Manchurian candidate. He walked over to the small stove to cook his cece beans when somebody put the 22 to the back of his head they shot him in the throat and mouth to show that they thought that he had been talking. The other bullets were put into his brain, fired as the shooter stood over Sam’s dead body.
The killer took Sam’s wallet out of his back pocket; he ruffled through it, left the credit cards and almost $1,500.00 in place, and then threw the wallet across the room. The killer was somebody that Giancana trusted otherwise he never would have been allowed in the apartment.
Joe DePersio called down to Sam before he went to sleep for the night. There was no answer but the lights were on and he could smell the sausage burning on the stove and walked down stairs to find Giancana.
The murder weapon was found on the side of Thatcher Road, which led to River Forrest where Butch Blasi lived. The FBI reconstructed the scene. Based on the time that Giancana was killed, about 10:35, the killer’s car was headed down Thatcher Road records showed that a squad car was screaming up the road as well. The shooter panicked and tossed the murder weapon out the car window.
Butch Blasi was the popular suspect by everyone except FBI man Bill Roemer who suspected that although Blasi may have helped to set Giancana up for the killing, he didn’t actually pull the trigger.
His own men despised him. So ended the bloody reign that counted at least 79 known murders. The mob showed its contempt for Sam Giancana by staying away from his funeral. Of the hundreds of wise guys that Giancana had gone up with and ruled over, only Butch Blasi and Chuckie English showed up for his funeral.
Giancana, the Kennedys, and Sinatra: In September of 1933, Joe Kennedy secured the representation for Gordon’s Dry Gin, Haig & Haig and Dewers. He set up his distributorship, Somerset Importers, with the relatively small investment of $100,000. Within a short time, the franchises were bringing Kennedy $250,000.00 a year. Kennedy’s southern representative in the business was Charlie Block who was in a separate partnership with Miami gambler, Bert Wingy Grober who was also a friend of Kennedy’s. That connection proved helpful in 1944, when Kennedy was having a problem breaking his Haig & Haig whisky into the Chicago market. Kennedy asked Block to put him in contact with Grober who in turn placed Kennedy in to touch with Tom Cassara, a Miami Beach mobster.
One of Cassara’s business partners was Chicago gangster Rocco DeStefano. With DeStefano help, Cassara was able to work a distribution deal for himself with the Chicago Mobs representative, Joey Fusco. Fusco had been one of Al Capone’s most reliable bootleggers and had begun his career as Diamond Joe Esposito right hand man and go between for Esposito and the Genna brother’s gang during the prohibition. In 1931 the Chicago Crime Commission briefly named Fusco public enemy number one.
Joe Kennedy knew Fusco already because he had been a friend with Fusco boss, Diamond Joe Esposito during the prohibition. Before he was gunned on Johnny Torrio’s order, Esposito took credit for saving Kennedy’s life, claiming that Old Joe had come to him for help because the Purple Gang, Detroit’s vicious criminal organization, had placed a contract on his life for bringing bootleg rum into their empire without their permission or paying the usual tribute paid to them. Esposito bragged that Kennedy begged him to call to ask the Purple gang to call off the contract on his life. Esposito said he did and supposedly, thereafter Kennedy was in debt to the Chicago Organization.
The story doesn’t sound like it has much merit and it although it may be based in some truth; overall, its facts are very questionable. However, Joe Fusco traveled in the same company with Murray Humphreys, and Chicago’s Mafia Don’s Paul Ricca and Tony Accardo and was a minor owner, off the books, in the Sands Casino in Las Vegas with two other friends of Joe Kennedy’s, Frank Sinatra and Joe Doc Starcher. (1902-1977) (Starcher was later deported out of the US on Bobby Kennedy’s orders. Starcher claimed it was Joe Kennedy having his revenge. It’s more likely that fate, the Justice Department and a snitch, caught up with him)
In the summer of 1946, Tom Cassara, the small time Miami Beach gambler, stupidly sensed that he could become Kennedy’s partner if he could force Joe Fusco out of the picture and distribute Kennedy’s booze in Chicago without a mob tribute, and started talking tough to Fusco. One night Casara was called into the Trade Winds Bar and Restaurant on Rush Street. The bars’ owners were two former 42 gang members, Marshal Caifano and Sam “Teets” Battaglia. Cassara was shot in the head, and was found outside of the restaurant, laying in the gutter. He recovered, said he didn’t know how he got shot, and moved to Los Angles where he was known to be a mob front man for Chicago in its real estate dealings.
According to Johnny Roselli, Tony Accardo never bought Casara’s story that he was acting on his own. The Big Tuna figured that Joe Kennedy had duped Casara into trying to bluff the Chicago. On July 31, 1946, Joe Kennedy suddenly and unexpectedly sold his Whiskey import business to a firm owned by New Jersey rackets boss Longy Zwillman and his partner Joe Reinfield for a reported paltry $8,000,000 (Reinfield is still in business) Kennedy always insisted that he got out of the extremely lucrative import business because he had high intentions for his son’s political career, and owning a liqueur business might hurt him in the more conservative states. However, for decades, Joe Fusco insisted that the Chicago Mob, which, Fusco said, put up most of the cash for Zwillman and Reinfield to buy Somerset, forced Kennedy out.
Elmer "Bones" Renner was an old-time gangster from San Francisco who owned the Cal-Neva lodge and Casino at Crystal Bay on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. He also owed the IRS $800,000.00 in back taxes, and so, on paper anyway, ownership of the Cal-Neva passed to another old time hood named Bert "Wingy" Grober, who also, as a result of his sudden and unexplainable ownership of a casino, ended up with his own set of tax problems. With the IRS after him, Grober placed the Cal-Neva up for sale.
On July 13, 1960, the day Kennedy won the democratic nomination in Los Angeles, it was announced to the newspapers that Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Hank Sincola, a Sinatra pal and business partner, and Skinny D'Amato, a convicted white slaver, had applied for permission from the state of Nevada to take over the lodge. What didn't make the papers about the deal was that Sam Giancana and the Chicago outfit owned a secret percentage in the Cal-Neva and that it was Giancana's influence that persuaded Wingy Grober to sell the place off for the extremely reasonable price of $250,000.00. What also didn't make the newspapers about the deal was the FBI assumption that Sinatra was nothing more than a front in the Cal-Neva for New York's mob boss Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno.
Sinatra had been around the Mob for a while. In 1939, an unknown but talented crooner named Albert Francis Sinatra left the working, poor, Italian neighborhoods of Hoboken, New Jersey and signed an exclusive performance agreement with the popular Tommy Dorsey Band. Under the terms of the contract, which was written by Dorsey himself, the band leader took an incredible 33% of all of Sinatra's earnings. Dorsey's manager, Lenny Vannerson, took an additional 10%, and Sinatra's own agent took another 10%. In all, 53% of the young man's earnings were gone before taxes and expenses. Union memberships took another 30%. It was so bad for Sinatra financially that he was forced to borrow money to buy a suit to make his stage appearances. Over the next few months, as his popularity grew, Sinatra spent thousands of dollars on lawyers' fees to find ways to break the deal, but Dorsey had twice Sinatra's money and a legal fight would have dragged on for years. The young singer went to the artist unions for help, but they were useless. Tommy Dorsey was a very powerful man in the entertainment business. The national depression was still lingering and thousands of professional musicians were out of work. The unions had struck profitable deals with Dorsey, and they were not about to jeopardize those agreements for an unknown kid from New Jersey who might end up tomorrow's has been.
According to Sinatra, after the unions let him down, he took his troubles to Jules Stein, the powerful and very mobbed up Chicagoan who had founded MCA, the world's biggest theatrical agency. Remarkably, Stein was able to secure Sinatra's release for $60,000, in cash, an enormous amount of money in the 1940s, and certainly far more than the $500 that Dorsey was taking out of Sinatra's weekly pay for expenses. In later years, Dorsey explained the agreement with Stein, by saying that from a business standpoint, it was a smart deal, because he wasn't sure how long the singer would stay on top of the popularity heap. The way Dorsey saw it; he had been around long enough to know that in the popular music business, one month is an eternity. Two years was impossibility. Furthermore, kids, who were Sinatra's primary fans, were fickle. Loyalties and followings changed overnight. Dorsey was sure Sinatra was a flash in the pan. Dorsey said he wasn't happy with Sinatra anyway. Stories about the married Sinatra's eye for women were starting to show up in small pieces in the press. That sort of thing didn't happen in the forties. At least not in public. Nor was Dorsey pleased with Sinatra's ongoing spats with his drummer Buddy Rich. The stage wasn't big enough for both of their egos, and that's what it was all about, really. Ego. Sinatra had taken the spotlight away from Tommy Dorsey. As one of the band members remarked, "It wasn't Tommy's show anymore, it was Frank's." Dorsey thought it was his band that had made Sinatra the sensation that he was, and once Dorsey let him go, Sinatra's star would just fade away. That was Dorsey's version of what happened. Another version, now part of popular lore, was that for several months Dorsey refused the $60,000 that Jules Stein had offered him to release Sinatra from his contract, simply because Dorsey had grown to despise Sinatra and intended to hold on to his contract and drive the singer's career into the ground, which he could easily do by simply keeping him off stage and radio. But, Sinatra's strong willed and politically connected mother went to see New Jersey's Mafia boss, Quarico Moretti, better known as Willie Moretti, who controlled large parts of the East Coast entertainment industry. In fact, by the early 1940s, the national syndicate still held a virtual lock on the entertainment business unions nationwide and Mobsters were always looking to expand their control of the industry by managing the careers of promising entertainers.
Moretti saw that Sinatra's prospects were good, and agreed to get the young man released from his contract with Dorsey for a cash payment from Sinatra, plus a percentage of his future earnings. Working through Jules Stein, Moretti's first offer to Dorsey was $60,000 cash. When Dorsey turned that down, Moretti, who was considered, in mob circles, to be a madman, decided to take matters into his own hands, and make the band leader an offer he couldn't refuse. One night after a show, Moretti pushed his way into Dorsey's dressing room, put a gun in the band leader's mouth and told Dorsey to sell Sinatra's contract. Which he did. For one dollar. As for the $60,000 paid by MCA to release Sinatra, supposedly that money, in cash, went directly from Dorsey's bank account into Moretti's greedy little hands, after Dorsey paid the taxes on it. Sinatra always denied the story too, and claimed he barely knew Moretti, who lived only a few doors away from him in suburban New Jersey. Dorsey spent the rest of his life denying the gun in the mouth story, but in 1951, right after Moretti was killed, Dorsey only added credence to the tale, when he told American Mercury Magazine that he signed the contract releasing Sinatra because one night, three men paid him in his dressing room, placed Sinatra's release in front of him and said, "Sign it or else!"
When the National syndicate held its conclave in Cuba in the 1940s, the Fischetti brothers were there with Frank Sinatra. (1915-1998) Sinatra later explained that he wasn’t aware that the Fischetti’s were gangsters and that he had first met them in Chicago during a benefit at the Chez Paree, a night club owned and managed by the Mob. The Fischetti’s, Sinatra claimed, were star struck and insisted Sinatra use their cars and boats while he was in town and from that a friendship developed. In early January of 1947, Rocca Fischetti called Sinatra and asked him to join him down in Havana. Sinatra agreed and on January 13 1947 Sinatra requested a gun permit, saying that he sometimes carried large sums of money and needed the gun for protection. Sinatra flew to New York and then to Miami where he stayed at Charlie Fischetti mansion.
The night before leaving for Havana, Sinatra and Joe Fischetti were spotted in the Colonial Inn, the casino in Hallendale owned by Frank Costello (1891-1973) and New Jersey boss Joe Adonis (Born Joe Doto 1902-1972) and Meyer Lansky where Sinatra put on a free concert. On February 11, 1947, Sinatra and the Fischetti’s were photographed walking down the steps of a Pan American clipper at the Havana airport. They checked into Meyer Lansky’s Hotel, the Nacional, where 36 suites had been reserved for the Mob bosses which included Albert Anastasia, (1903-1957) Carlo Gambino, Willie Moretti, (1894-1951) Vito Genovese, (1897-1969) Frank Costello, Augie Pisano (? -1959) Joe Fat Man Magliocco, (1898-1963) Joe Bonanno, Tommy Three finger Brown Lucchese, (circa 1900-1967) Joe Profaci, Joe Adonis Tony Accardo, Sam Giancana, (1908-1975) Carlo Marcello, (1910-1993) Dandy Phil Kastel, Santo Trafficante and Meyer Lansky and Jospeh Doc Stacher who now controlled Lansky Juke boxes and slot machines in Jersey City.
Sinatra wasn’t in the mob meeting, in Havana, but he was in the hotel. The singer had arrived in Havana, by plane, with the Fischetti brothers. Another story that made the rounds, then and now and later portrayed in the film, The Godfather, was that Rocco Fischetti had several travel bags stuffed with two million dollars, the proceeds from narcotics sales that was owed to Lucky Luciano. (1897-1962)
Terrified that he would be stopped and searched as he left the United States, Fischetti had brought Sinatra along to carry the bags into Cuba, were tailing him. Traditionally, star struck customs agents didn’t check celebrity’s baggage. Actually, a writer named Lee Mortimer (Born in Chicago as Mortimer Lieberman in 1906) spread the money in the suit case story. Mortimer disliked Sinatra intensely and at one time the dispute brought the two men to blows. The FBI added to Mortimer’s story. Sinatra denied the story saying “if you can show me how to get two million dollars into a briefcase, I’ll give you the two million dollars”
The fact is the syndicate didn’t need Frank Sinatra to lug around its dope proceeds for them. They had worked out a transportation system years ago thanks to the genius of Meyer Lansky. If they had to lug it across the country, as Sam Giancana said later “Sinatra is the last guy you would use for that. He would draw attention. When you transport money you always use a woman with a child or a grandmotherly type. Not movie stars” As for Giancana's interest in the money-losing casino, he was probably only in the deal to keep next to Sinatra, who was trying, desperately, to keep next to Kennedy, which everybody in the Chicago outfit wanted. Before the deal was signed, Dean Martin saw the mob's interests in the casino and pulled out of the deal. Sinatra was convinced that the Cal-Neva, a seasonal place, could be turned around, that it could produce a hefty profit, even with the mob connected pit bosses stealing the place blind, and he told Giancana that with the right investment the place could become a year-round operation. To draw attention to the place, on opening night, Sinatra's personality guests included Marilyn Monroe, Joe Kennedy, and his son John. Also there that weekend was Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana. Uninvited and hiding up in the hills around the casino lodge, was Hoover's FBI. What the agents couldn't see is what went on inside the Cal-Neva secluded bungalows after the opening night party had ended. Sam Giancana reportedly told his brother that he had been present at a Kennedy brother’s slumber party that night at the Cal-Neva Casino. "The men," he said, "had sex with prostitutes -- sometimes two or more at a time -- in bathtubs, hallways, closets, on floors, almost everywhere but the bed."
In 1961 a Chicago hood named Joseph "Crackers" Mendino died of a heart attack. Over the years, he had worked under everyone from Torrio to Giancana in the juke box, pinball and gambling end of the business. Tony Accardo was one of his pallbearers, and anybody who was anyone in the Chicago outfit was there for the burial, probably the last big-time mob funeral since the days of Al Capone. At the funeral, Accardo and Sam Giancana held a meeting and directed Johnny Roselli to plant in Nevada somebody to watch over Frank Sinatra because the boys had decided that Sinatra was much too enamored with the Kennedy’s and wasn't thinking straight anymore. When Roselli returned to the West Coast he called a hood named Lewis McWille, whom he had first met back in 1938, when Roselli did a short stint as the Chicago representative to the Sans Souci Casino in Havana.
McWillie had worked in Cuba for years, mostly for New York racketeer Meyer Lansky. McWillie was never clear to anyone on exactly what it was he did for Lansky, telling the Warren Commission only that he was a "key man" at Lansky's Tropicana Casino in Cuba. When Castro booted Lansky out of Cuba, he brought McWillie with him and placed him inside of his Las Vegas Casino, the Tropicana in Las Vegas. Otherwise, there was very little known about McWillie, who was also used the obvious alias of Lewis N. Martin. It is known that he had deep contacts within the New York and Chicago mobs, and although never a member of any one specific outfit, the FBI kept him under surveillance and considered him to be a top mob hitman and enforcer for hire.
Roselli told McWillie that Chicago wanted him out at Sinatra's Cal-Neva lodge to keep an eye on their investment in the place, and to watch over Sinatra and report his activities back to Roselli. McWillie did as he was told, and created a job for himself at Sinatra's casino, working under the title of "pit boss," but McWillie, a trained card sharp, was no mere pit boss as he made himself out to be. Instead, he was a very rich, seasoned, major gambler who traveled in the highest circles of organized crime, always driven around in a sleek, new limousine and seldom went anywhere without a bodyguard. Whenever he worked in a mobbed up casino, it was always as a high level executive, several times removed from a lowly blackjack dealer on the floor that he purported to be.
At about that same time, McWillie was in frequent contact with Jack Ruby, the man who silenced Lee Harvey Oswald forever. In fact, one of the last persons Ruby spoke to before he leaped on to history's stage was Lewis McWillie. The little that is known about their odd relationship is that, according to what McWillie told the Warren Commission, he and Ruby had known each other from their childhood days in Chicago, and McWillie was Ruby's host for an eight-day vacation in Cuba in August of 1959. That same year, the Dallas Police department's Office of Intelligence listed Jack Ruby and "Chicago-Las Vegas hood Lewis McWillie" as being among those connected with mob run gambling in Dallas.
Gray haired and stylish, McWillie impressed the easily impressible Ruby, who admired McWillie and called him "a very high (class) type person" who reminded Ruby of "Like a banker or a man who understood and enjoyed the finer things in this life, which we are given." Yet, after Ruby gunned down Oswald, the FBI asked him to draw up a list entitled "people who may dislike me" and at the top of the list was Lewis McWillie. On Sunday, November 17, 1963, five days before Kennedy was gunned down, Ruby showed up at the mob owned Stardust Casino in Las Vegas where he invoked McWillie's name to cash a check and was later seen at the equally mobbed up Thunderbird Casino with Lewis McWillie. Two days after meeting McWillie in Las Vegas, Ruby was back in Dallas, flush with enough cash to pay off his back taxes.
The party didn't last long. After only two years, the Cal-Neva was starting to sour on Sinatra and overall only added to the miseries he was having in the summer of 1963. On June 30, 1962, an intoxicated Chuckie English, a Giancana hood, staggered out of the Armory lounge and bumped into one of the FBI agents tagging Giancana. English told the agents that if "Bobby Kennedy wants to know anything about Momo all he had to do was to ask Sinatra."
The agent reported the conversation back to Hoover who brought the comment to Robert Kennedy's attention, who told Hoover to increase the FBI's surveillance on Sinatra and the Cal-Neva. The casino was already being investigated because the Feds suspected that the casino's manager, Skinny D'Amato, was running a statewide prostitution ring out of the place. The agents suspected that the women were being flown in from San Francisco with the operation being run openly from the hotel front desk. Then, a few days after the Chuckie English fiasco, there was the attempted murder of a Cal-Neva employee who was shot on the front steps of the lodge. No one knows if it was mob-related or not, since the incident was hushed up. Then, on June 30, 1962, Deputy Sheriff Richard Anderson came to pick up his beautiful brunette wife at the lodge where she worked as a waitress because she had been one of Sinatra's girlfriends for a while before she married Anderson, three months before. Anderson had noticed the way Sinatra stared at his wife and heard about the rude and off color remarks he made to her and the Deputy, who was twice Sinatra's tiny size, warned the singer to stay away from her. Sinatra backed down and apologized and promised to leave the woman alone. But Sinatra was a man who brooded and let things build up inside him and on the night Anderson came to pick up his wife, as he stopped by the kitchen to talk with some of the help there, Sinatra came in, saw Anderson and ran up to him and screamed at him, "What the fuck are you doing, here?" Anderson remained calm and said he was waiting for his wife, then, suddenly, while the cop was still in mid-sentence, Sinatra grabbed him and tried to throw him out, and after a brief wrestling match, Anderson ended up punching Sinatra so hard in the face that he couldn't perform on stage for a week. Several weeks later, on July 17, 1962, Anderson and his wife were driving down Highway 28, not far from the Cal-Neva, when they were driven off the road by a late model maroon convertible with California plates, driving at high speeds. Anderson lost control of his car, skidded off the road and smashed into a tree, and was killed instantly. His wife was thrown from the car, and suffered severe broken bones and fractures. Anderson's parents said, "We still think to this day that Sinatra had something to do with our son's death." The Andersons left behind four children. But Sinatra's troubles with the Cal-Neva weren't over yet. A few days after Anderson was murdered, and one week before her own death, Marilyn Monroe, flew to the Cal-Neva at Frank Sinatra's invitation. Sinatra told Monroe that he wanted to discuss their upcoming film together, What a Way to Go. Monroe didn't want to go, but someone told Marilyn that Bobby Kennedy would be there. It sounded logical to Monroe, since it had been in the papers that the Attorney General was in Los Angeles on business.
Sinatra flew Monroe out on his own plane along with Peter Lawford, although the crooner was no longer speaking to Lawford after the Kennedy’s dumped him, and Law ford’s wife, Patricia Kennedy Lawford. Exactly what happened that weekend, at the Cal-Neva, isn't known and may never be known. Louis McWillie, an outfit related gambler who worked for Sinatra at the Cal-Neva said "There was more to what happened up there than anybody has ever told. It would have been a big fall for Bobby Kennedy."
What is known is that there was dinner with Sam Giancana, Peter and Pat Lawford, Sinatra and Monroe. Giancana, of course, had no business being in the Cal-Neva since he was listed in the state's Black Book of persons forbidden to enter a casino, in fact, he was at the top of the list of restricted persons, but, as San Francisco new columnist Herb Caen said, "I saw Sinatra at the Cal-Neva when Sam Giancana was there. In fact I met Giancana through Frank. He was a typical hood, didn't say much. He wore a hat at the lake, and sat in his little bungalow, receiving people." During the dinner, Monroe got uncontrollably drunk and was led by to the cabin where, while she was passed out, several hookers, male and female, molested her while Sinatra and Giancana watched, with Giancana taking his turn with the actress as well.
While the female prostitutes had their way with Monroe, someone snapped photographs of the entire thing and before the night was over, Sinatra then brought the film to Hollywood photographer Billy Woodfield, and gave him a roll of film to develop in his darkroom. The next morning, Peter Lawford told Monroe that Robert Kennedy was in Los Angeles and that he didn't want to see her, speak to her or have any contact with her in the future. When she protested, someone showed her the photographs from the night before. That afternoon, she tried to commit suicide with an overdose of pills and had to have her stomach pumped. Later on, when Giancana told the story to Johnny Roselli, Roselli said to Giancana, referring to either Monroe or Campbell, "You sure get your rocks off fucking the same broad as the (Kennedy) brothers, don't you?"
Exactly a year later, Sinatra's involvement with the Cal-Neva came to an end when the McGuire sisters were scheduled to perform there, mostly due to the fact that Giancana was dating Phyllis McGuire, with whom he shared a chalet with during her performance there. Unfortunately for Giancana, McGuire, Sinatra and the Cal-Neva, the FBI photographed the hood playing golf with Sinatra and having drinks and dinner together in the Cal-Neva dining room. The FBI was also watching that same evening when, during a small party in McGuire's room, Victor LaCroix Collins, the sisters' road manager, became irritated when Phyllis McGuire kept walking by his seat and punching him on the arm. "So I told her," Collins said, "You do that again and I'm going to knock you right on your butt. A half an hour later she punches me again and so I grabbed her by both arms and meant to sit her in the chair I got out of, but I swung around and missed the chair, she hit the floor. She didn't hurt herself . . . but Sam came charging across the room and threw a punch at me wearing a huge big diamond ring that gouged me in the left eye.
"I just saw red then and grabbed him, lifted him clean off the floor and I was going to throw him through the plate glass door, but thought, why wreck the place? So, I decided to take him outside and break his back on the hard metal railing on the patio. I got as far as the door and then got hit on the back of the head. I don't know who hit me from behind but the back of my head was split open. It didn't knock me out but I went down with Sam underneath me, he had on a pearl gray silk suit and blood from my eye was running all over his suit. I had a hold of him by the testicles and the collar and he couldn't move; that's when Sinatra came in with his valet George, the colored boy, they were coming to join the party, the girls were screaming and running around like a bunch of chickens in every direction because nobody knew what was going to happen. George just stood there with the whites of his eyes rolling around and around in his black face because he knew who Sam was and nobody ever fought with Sam. . . . Sinatra and George pulled me off of Sam, who ran out the door."
The next morning, the FBI, which had a fairly clear idea of what had happened the night before, as a well as several rolls of film of Sinatra with Giancana, filed its report, with photographs, with the State of Nevada gambling control board. After reading the report, the control board's chairman, Ed Olson, called Sinatra at the Sands Casino in Las Vegas and asked about Giancana being on the property and Sinatra said that he saw a man who looked like Giancana and that they just waved and nodded to each other and that was all. But the FBI also had wind of the fight and told the investigators and flew to Nebraska to interview Collins, who filled them in, and then back to Sinatra who denied knowing anything about it. Olson thanked Sinatra for his time and hung up. There was little else he could do. Sinatra was a casino owner, with substantial investments in the state, and he was also a major celebrity who was singularly responsible for drawing tens of thousands of tourists into Nevada. Then the newspapers got hold of the story and backed Olson into a corner, forcing him to remark that his investigation would not conclude until "certain discrepancies in the information provided by various people at Cal Neva could be resolved." Sinatra read that and called Olson and asked him to come to the Cal-Neva for dinner "to talk about this, your statements."
Olson said that he felt it was inappropriate to be seen at the Cal-Neva having dinner with Sinatra, since the singer was, technically, under investigation by Olson's office, and even if Sinatra weren't under investigation, Olson said, it would still be unacceptable for the Gaming Commissioner to be seen fraternizing with a casino owner.
"But Frank kept insisting," Olson said, "and I kept refusing the more I refused the madder he got until he seemed almost hysterical. He used the foulest language I ever heard in my life."
To calm Sinatra down Olson agreed to meet Sinatra in Olson's office but Sinatra didn't show up. An hour later Sinatra called Olson in a rage "You listen to me Ed . . . your acting like a fucking cop, I just want to talk to you off the record."
Olson, in an attempt to take back the high ground that his position required said: "Who I am speaking to?"
"This is Frank Sinatra! You fucking Asshole! F-R-A-N-K, Sinatra."
Olson avoided the insults and said that any meeting between them would have to be on record in the presence of witnesses.
Sinatra cut him short and screamed, "Now, you listen Ed! I don't have to take this kind of shit from anybody in the country and I'm not going to take it from you people . . . I'm Frank Sinatra!" Sinatra went on and on, until, at one point, Olson warned Sinatra that if he didn't show up for an interview that Olson would have him subpoenaed. "You just try and find me," the singer threatened, "and if you do, you can look for a big fat surprise . . . a big fat fucking surprise. You remember that, now listen to me Ed, don't fuck with me. Don't fuck with me, just don't fuck with me!"
"Are you threatening me?" Olson asked.
"No . . . just don't fuck with me and you can tell that to your fucking board of directors and that fucking commission too."
The next day two investigators came to watch the count at the Cal-Neva and Sinatra yelled across the casino to Skinny D'Amato, "Throw the dirty sons of bitches out of the house." But since the count had already started, the agents left before an incident could be started but came back the next day, only to have D'Amato offer them $100 each "to cooperate." The agents reported the bribe to Olson, who took moves to revoke Sinatra's license.
When the news was announced that Sinatra was under investigation and would probably lose his casino license, very few people in Nevada rushed to his aid. There were a lot of people in Nevada who resented Sinatra, others despised him and very few people felt that he should have gotten a state gaming license in the first place, and the word around the capitol building in Reno was that Sinatra needed to be taught a lesson. The lesson they taught him was to take away his license to operate a casino or hotel in Nevada, thus forcing him to sell not only his 50% in the Cal-Neva, but also his 9% interest in the Sands, about 3.5 million dollars’ worth of holdings in 1963. "I talked to Sam (Giancana) the next day," said Joe Shimon, a Washington, D.C. Police officer assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency, "and he told me that Sinatra had cost him over $465,000 on Cal-Neva. He said, "That bastard and his big mouth. All he had to do was to keep quiet let, the attorneys handle it, apologize and get a thirty to sixty day suspension . . . but no, Frank has to get on the phone with that damn big mouth of his and now we've lost the whole damn place. He never forgave him. He washed Frank right out of his books."
Nevada's Governor, Grant Sawyer, stood behind the Gambling control board's decision to yank Sinatra's license. However, while the case was still pending, President Kennedy came to the state and was given a caravan parade through the streets of Las Vegas, and found himself sitting in the same car with Governor Sawyer. Kennedy turned to Sawyer, and said, "Aren't you people being a little hard on Frank out here?" The Governor didn't reply, but later repeated what Kennedy had said to Ed Olson, who was startled by the remark. "That's about the highest degree of political pressure you could ever put into the thing," Olson said. But the Cal-Neva incident was, for the Kennedy’s, as Peter Lawford said, "The end of old Frankie boy as far as the family was concerned."
Dumping Sinatra from the White House list of favored persons was long overdue. For years, scores of Kennedy's advisors had been after the President to end his highly public relationship with Sinatra. Not that Sinatra was ever really a White House insider to begin with. Just how far out of the Washington loop Sinatra really was, was underscored by Peter Lawford when he said that "During one of our private dinners, the President brought up Sinatra and said, "I really should do something for Frank." Jack was always so grateful to him for all the work he'd done in the campaign raising money. "Maybe," Jack used to say, "I'll ask him to the White house for dinner or lunch. There's only one problem. Jackie hates him and won't have him in the house, so I really don't know what to do."
Sinatra was eventually invited for lunch, but only when Jackie Kennedy was out of the White House and even then, Sinatra was asked to use a side door to the White House, since Kennedy didn't want the press seeing the crooner on the grounds of the Executive Mansion. In fact, according to Lawford, Sinatra was only allowed into the White House twice during the three years of the Kennedy administration, and then only for brief visits. "I don't think he wanted," said Lawford, "reporters to see Frank Sinatra going into the White House, that's why Frank never flew on Air Force One, and was never invited to any of the Kennedy state dinners or taken to Camp David for any of the parties there."
Kennedy, or "Our Mister Prez" as Sinatra called the new Chief Executive, did call Sinatra on an irregular basis, but this was mostly to cover the President's favorite topic, Hollywood gossip. "When Kennedy would call," said Ole Blue Eyes' English Secretary, "he would smile at everybody, pick up the phone and say "Hi ya Prez." After each one of those calls, Frank pranced around so proud of the fact that the President was ringing him up." But Sinatra was an astute man and sensed he wasn't wanted around the White House and asked why he was being pushed to the side, only to be told by the President's staff that the Kennedy brothers' wives said that they were attending too many "Sinatra summit meetings" and their wives were not happy about it. Also, aside from being widely disliked by the White House staff, the Kennedy’s had been cooling off to Sinatra for some time before they gave him the axe, in part due to the singers often erratic public, and private, life.
The first signs of trouble came back during the election, when Sinatra hired blacklisted writer Albert Maltz to write the screenplay for a film called "The Execution of Private Slovik" from the book by William Bradford Huie, the story was about the only American serviceman executed by the army for desertion since the civil war. Sinatra planned to direct and produce the film himself. The media, the public and virtually every civic group in the country attacked Sinatra for hiring Maltz, but the ever feisty Sinatra refused to back down, in large part because he was doing the right thing, and in some part, because he was, simply, a man who wouldn't be told how to live his personal life. Boston's Cardinal Cushing, a close friend of the family, told Joe Kennedy that his son could be hurt in the conservative Catholic vote by Sinatra's hiring a communist and Governor Wesley Powell of New Hampshire had already accused Kennedy of being soft on communists. The Ambassador called Sinatra and said, "It's either us or Maltz, make up your mind, Frank." Sinatra fired Maltz, but it didn't matter. The American Legion got hold of it and went on the attack. The New York Times wrote a long piece about it and John Wayne, then the country's leading box office producer, attacked Sinatra and Kennedy for being soft on Reds. "God what a mess!" Lawford said. "The Ambassador took care of it in the end, but it was almost the end of old Frankie boy as far as the family was concerned."
Sinatra had tempted his fate with highly publicity sensitive Kennedy’s, once too often. Especially after word leaked out to the press that he was partners with the mob in a New England racetrack. Like everyone else on the inside, the Kennedy’s knew about Sinatra's overwhelming desire to be around the rough-edged set. Even while Sinatra was helping JFK into the White House he maintained his ownership in the Villa Capri, LA's most mobbed up restaurant that was a home away from home for every displaced Wise guy who traveled west to make a name for himself. But, owning a piece of a restaurant where small-time hoods ate was a different thing from buying into a major Rhode Island racetrack with crime bosses Raymond Patriarca, Tommy Lucchese, and New Jersey's gangster Angelo "Gyp" De Carlo.
When word of the racetrack investment reached the White House, combined with Frankie's mysterious role in introducing Judy Campbell to the President, it was decided to drop Sinatra once and for all. The catalyst behind giving Sinatra the axe, was, of course, Robert Kennedy. As far as the Attorney General was concerned, Sinatra's loyalties really lay with the mob, and, when and if, a push came to a shove, Kennedy was sure, true or not, that Sinatra would go along with the mob in blackmailing the President to get what it wanted.
Dropping Sinatra wasn't a tremendous loss for the White House, they had gotten what they wanted out of Frank, and, if they ever needed him again, they knew that all they would have to do would be to snap their fingers and he'd come running. To neutralize Sinatra, and always aware of their place on the historical record, the Kennedy’s justified dropping Sinatra, by having one of Robert Kennedy's employees at the Justice department suddenly "discover" that Sinatra had ties to organized crime, by reading a Department of Justice report about extortion in the movie business which mentioned Sinatra. To be absolutely certain that Sinatra, and everyone else, understood that he had been axed, the Kennedy boys decided to humiliate him publicly. Towards the end of January 1962, Peter Lawford, at John Kennedy's request, asked Sinatra if Kennedy could stay at his Palm Springs home in March while Kennedy was out west for a fund raiser. Sinatra was honored and rushed into a massive renovations program on his estate, including building separate cottages for the secret service and installing communications with twenty-five extra phone lines and a huge helipad with a pole for the President's flag.
When everything was set, and Sinatra had bragged and boasted to all of Hollywood that he would host the President, the President called Peter Lawford into the Oval office and said: "I can't stay at Frank's place while Bobby's handling the investigation of Giancana. See if you can't find me someplace else. You can handle it Peter. We'll handle the Frank situation when we get to it." Lawford was terrified of the thought of calling Sinatra with the bad news, and when he did, Lawford, who probably didn't know why the President had changed his plans, blamed the secret service and security reasons for the change in Kennedy's plans. "Frank was livid," Lawford said. "He called Bobby every name in the book and then he rang me up and reamed me out again. He was quite unreasonable, irrational really. [His valet] George Jacobs told me later that when he got off the phone he went outside with a sledgehammer and started chopping up the concrete landing pad of his heliport. He was in frenzy."
Things went from bad to worse when Sinatra learned that Kennedy was staying at the home of Republican Crooner, Bing Crosby. Sinatra, according to Lawford, "telephoned Bobby Kennedy and called him every name and a few that weren't in the book. He told RFK what a hypocrite, that the mafia had helped Jack get elected but weren't allowed to sit with him in the front of the bus." A few months afterwards the truth hit the Mafia as well. All bets were off, the Kennedy’s had not only double-crossed the outfit, they had secretly declared war against it. As far as allowing Joe Adonis back into the country, as was agreed before the West Virginia primary, the mob was informed by Joe Kennedy, through Skinny D'Amato, that the Kennedy’s not only intended to renege on the deal, they were going to start deporting and locking up hoods on a nationwide basis. The national crime commission called Giancana on the carpet for an answer and in turn Giancana called Sinatra on the carpet right after he got back from the commission meeting. One of his underlings heard Giancana screaming into a phone, "Eat'n out of my hand! That's what Frank told me! Jack's eat'n out of the palm of my hand! Bullshit! That's what that is!" and then watched as the mobster threw the telephone across the room.
Another factor that may have sparked the Kennedy-Sinatra split was Sam Giancana’s dabbling in the Caribbean. In the spring of 1961, Frank Sinatra, Sam Giancana tumbled into the life of Porfirio. Rubirosa's life when Rubirosa, Sinatra, Peter Lawford and Dean Martin rented a luxury yacht in Germany and met with Rubirosa and his wife Odile off the French coast. Sinatra may have acted as the conduit between the mob, Rubirosa and the elite within the Dominican Republic which was plotting to overthrow the island insane dictator Raphael Trujillo. With a verbal commitment, by way of Rubirosa, from the Dominican Republic's elite that the mob would be free to operate there once Trujillo was gone, all that Rubirosa had to do was to assure the Kennedy's that if it assisted in the Dominican military in replacing Trujillo in a coup, that the new government would be pro-United States.
In 1961, one of the many things that the Chicago mob wanted was a replacement for Cuba, so they looked around for a small, poor country, close to the United States, one that could be easily controlled, preferably run by a corrupt dictator who would allow the outfit to build its casinos on his sandy shores and stockpile its dirty money in phony banks created just for them. Central America had potential. The Outfit and their occasional partners, the CIA, virtually ran the place anyway, but it was hot, and undeveloped and poor, real poor. And if there was one thing gambling tourists in search of a good time didn't want, it was to look at sweaty, poor, undeveloped locals. Then the boys stumbled on the Dominican Republic, just off the Florida coast. It fit the bill exactly. The problem was that, the island's dictator, Raphael Trujillo, was not only losing his mind, he showed signs of warming up to the Soviet bloc. If that happened, the US would pull its support from the island, and the outfit would have to find another country to corrupt.
Trujillo had his own contacts within the mob. For decades, he and Joe Bonanno, out of New York, had been in various businesses together. When the Kennedy administration broke relations with the Republic, Trujillo traded dope for stolen guns. Still, the Republic had real potential for Chicago, who weren't greatly concerned for Joe Bonanno, a man they held in contempt. All the mob needed to do was get the Kennedy administration to commit to its continuing support to the Republic with or without Trujillo in charge. And that's when the boys discovered the legendary Dominican Playboy, Porfirio Rubirosa, El Rubirosa.
Rubirosa had spent most of his life in Palm Beach and New York bars trying, and succeeding most of the time, in seducing rich socialites, but he was also a roving ambassador for the Dominican Republic, with two primary duties. One was to make sure companies doing business with his father-in-law's government understood that they were to pad their bills with an extra 15%, which would be kicked back to the dictator's New York based holding companies. His other duty was to keep track of American based dissidents to Trujillo's reign. Using well paid mob contacts, Rubirosa turned information on the dissidents over to Trujillo's feared and brutal secret police, the SIM, which was under the control of Colonel John Abbes Garcia. He ran the secret police, the SIM (Servicio Intelligencia Militar), which dogged Dominicans all over the world. On more than one occasion, the SIM simply turned their murderous chores over to one of New York Mafia families to complete. The SIM and the mob kidnapped Dr. Jesus E. Galindez, a lecturer at Columbia University on March 12, 1956. Galindez had been an outspoken opponent of Trujillo. Two versions were advanced. One was that the SIM kidnapped him and threw him into a ship's furnace. The other is that he was returned to the Dominican Republic and Trujillo himself tortured him. The kidnap murder caused a minor international outrage, and to quell the public, Trujillo hired a New York law firm to investigate the disappearance, but all they could come up with was that Galindez had disappeared.
Porfirio Rubirosa didn't seem the type to run an international terrorist squad. A Dominican by birth, Rubirosa's father had been a general in the army and later the chargé d'affaires in Paris where Rubirosa grew up in the best schools and amongst the best people. He returned to the Dominican Republic in 1926 to study law at the age of 17 but left school to start a military career. By age twenty, he was a captain and came to the attention of President Trujillo who one day sent the handsome young captain to the airport to pick up his daughter, the plain looking Flor d'Oro -- Rubirosa took the hint and married the girl. Trujillo eventually rewarded the young Rubirosa's good sense by appointing him the position his father had held in Paris and even when Rubirosa divorced Trujillo's daughter in 1940, he managed to stay in the dictator's good graces and was allowed to retain his diplomatic position as well. After his divorce, Rubirosa married the French film star Danielle Darrieux and then American tobacco heiress Doris Duke, in 1947. When told that he would have to sign a pre-nuptial agreement minutes before the marriage took place, Rubirosa was so infuriated he smoked a cigarette throughout the entire ceremony. Afterwards, in an effort to soothe him over, Duke presented Rubirosa with a check for $500,000.00, several very expensive sports cars and a converted B-25 airplane, since he was also a pilot, and a string of polo ponies. The marriage lasted for thirteen months. Next, in 1953, Rubirosa married Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton, his fourth wife, while carrying on an affair with the much married Zsa Zsa Gabor. He would later be named in her divorce petition. His marriage to Hutton lasted only 53 days during which time Hutton gave him, or spent on him, no less than $3.5 million in cash and gifts.
Rubirosa was the ultimate pleasure seeker who loved the elegant life. Most nights would be spent dining on exotic foods and then drinking and dancing the rest of the evening away to the Latin rhythms that were then so popular with the international set then. "He also suffered," said a friend, "from a rare disease called priapism which kept him in an almost constant state of sexual arousal and left him unable to be sexually satisfied. He rarely achieved orgasms during sex and then only after hours of struggle. He knew that thing of his was his potential meal ticket and he actually trained to keep it in peak condition. He did exercises for it. He would drink each day a potion called pago-palo which he said came from the bark of a certain tree in the Dominican Republic, he believed that it guaranteed performance ... I once saw him balance a chair with a telephone book on it atop his erection. He said to me, "It's a muscle like any other, it can be strengthened." It's also not known if Sinatra set up the meeting, but after his cruise with Sinatra off the French coast, Rubirosa was invited to meet President Kennedy at his summer house on Cape Cod in late September. Rubirosa would be in the States anyway. The Manhattan District Attorney had summoned him to New York to question him about his role in the mob related kidnap-torture of several Dominican exiles. The day before Rubirosa, Sinatra and the president met in Cape Cod, Sinatra had spent the afternoon at the White House with performers Danny Kay and Judy Garland, teaching the staff how to make Bloody Mary's and then sipping them out on the rear balcony that overlooks the Washington monument. The next day, Sinatra took the president's private plane to the Kennedy's summer home on Cape Cod with Peter and Pat Lawford, Ted Kennedy and Porfirio Rubirosa and his wife Odile. The party went sailing on the president's boat, The Honey Fitz, for three and a half hours, during which Sinatra told everyone about his trip to Italy and his meeting with the Pope. When he was finished, a drunken Peter Lawford said, "All your friends in Chicago are Italian too, huh Frank?"
It will probably never be known what Kennedy, Sinatra and Rubirosa discussed out on the Cape, but less than a month after the meeting, John Kennedy gave CIA Director Alan Dulles the okay to assassinate Trujillo and Sam Giancana began his plans to rebuild the Dominican Republic into another pre-Castro Cuba. Everything was moving along smoothly, until one of Bobby Kennedy's bugs picked up on Giancana's plans to turn the Dominican Republic into another Cuba, with the White House as an unwitting co-conspirator. Kennedy was enraged at Giancana's gall and ordered the FBI to "lockstep" the mob boss. Wherever Giancana went, the FBI was there. The pressure from the lockstep got to Giancana and came to a head when Giancana and Phyllis McGuire were returning from Las Vegas to O'Hare airport. When Sam emerged from the plane, with McGuire's hat and pocketbook in hand, FBI agent Roemer "whistled and howled at the gangster and told him how pretty he looked." "That bastard," Giancana said, "started whistling and saying I was queer and everything like that. I wanted to kill him. People gathered around, we were screaming back and forth. Man oh man, it was fuckin' ridiculous....He wanted me to throw a punch, that's what he wanted, the lousy cocksucker."
As Giancana and McGuire raced down the airport's hallways, the agents walking only inches away from Giancana and McGuire kept "telling me what a great ass I had," as Sam said later. Finally Giancana turned and said "Why don't you fellows leave me alone, I'm one of you?" referring to the CIA plot to kill Castro.
"Oh really?" said FBI agent Roemer, "Come on Momo, show us badge."
When Giancana walked away in disgust, Roemer said "Oh come on Moe, we'll show you ours if you show us yours."
Giancana flung himself around to face the agents and screamed, "What do you want to know? Ask me. Go ahead. Anything you want to know. Go ahead."
"OK, tell us what you do for a living."
"That's an easy one. I own Chicago. I own Miami. I own Las Vegas."
More words were exchanged and finally agent Roemer lost control and yelled out to the crowd that had surrounded them.
"Sam Giancana, this slime, is the boss of the underworld here in Chicago, this slime. You people are lucky you're just passing through Chicago and you don't have to live with this jerk."
Momo stuck his face into Roemer's and said: "Roemer you light a fire here tonight that will never go out we'll get you if it's the last thing we do!"
The day after the airport incident, Giancana was still fuming and talking about killing FBI agent Roemer. Cooler heads prevailed and Giancana called off the contract on the agent's life. Tony Accardo, Giancana's boss, called off the contract, the next day. As for Rubirosa, in 1968 he ran his sports car, at an estimated 97 miles per hour, into a tree along the French coast and was killed instantly.
MUSIC FOR THE SOUL
Hazel Dorothy Scott (June 11, 1920 – October 2, 1981) was a Trinidadian born jazz and classical pianist and singer; she also performed as herself in several films. She was prominent as a jazz singer throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1950, she became the first woman of color to have her own TV show, The Hazel Scott Show, featuring a variety of entertainment. Scott was best-known internationally as a performer of jazz.
She was also accomplished in politics, leading the way for African Americans in entertainment and film; and was successful in dramatic acting and classical music.
Scott recorded as the leader of various groups for Decca, Columbia and Signature, among them, a trio that consisted of Bill English and the double bass player Martin Rivera, and another featuring Charles Mingus on bass and Rudie Nichols on drums. Her album Relaxed Piano Moods on the Debut Record label, with Mingus and Max Roach, is generally her work most highly regarded by critics today. She was noted for her swinging style, performing at the Milford Plaza Hotel in her last months.
Born in Port of Spain, Hazel was taken at the age of four by her mother to New York. Recognized early as a musical prodigy, Scott was given scholarships from the age of eight to study at the Juilliard School. She began performing in a jazz band in her teens and was performing on radio at age 16.
By the age of 16, Hazel Scott regularly performed for radio programs for the Mutual Broadcasting System, gaining a reputation as the "hot classicist".
In the mid-1930s, she also performed at the Roseland Dance Hall with the Count Basie Orchestra. Her early musical theatre appearances in New York included the Cotton Club Revue of 1938, Sing Out the News and The Priorities of 1942.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Scott performed jazz, blues, ballads, popular (Broadway songs and boogie-woogie) and classical music in various nightclubs. From 1939 to 1943 she was a leading attraction at both the downtown and uptown branches of Café Society. Her performances created national prestige for the practice of "swinging the classics".
By 1945, Scott was earning $75,000 ($985,813 today) a year.
In addition to Lena Horne, Scott was one of the first Afro-Caribbean women to garner respectable roles in major Hollywood pictures. She performed as herself in several features, notably I Dood It (MGM 1943), Broadway Rhythm (MGM 1944), with Lena Horne and in the otherwise all-white cast The Heat's On (Columbia 1943), Something to Shout About (Columbia 1943), and Rhapsody in Blue (Warner Bros 1945). In the 1940s, in addition to her film appearances, Scott was featured in Café Society's From Bach to Boogie-Woogie concerts in 1941 and 1943 at Carnegie Hall.
She was the first Afro-Caribbean to have her own television show, The Hazel Scott Show, which premiered on the DuMont Television Network on July 3, 1950. Variety reported that "Hazel Scott has a neat little show in this modest package", its "most engaging element" being Scott herself.
Scott had long been committed to civil rights, particularly in Hollywood. She refused to take roles in Hollywood that cast her as a "singing maid".
When she began performing in Hollywood films, she insisted on having final-cut privileges when it came to her appearance. In addition, she required control over her own wardrobe so that she could wear her own clothing if she felt that the studio's choices were unacceptable. Her final break with Columbia Pictures' Harry Cohn involved "a costume which she felt stereotyped blacks".
Scott also refused to perform in segregated venues when she was on tour. She was once escorted from the city of Austin, Texas by Texas Rangers because she refused to perform when she discovered that black and white patrons were seated in separate areas. "Why would anyone come to hear me, a Negro," she told Time Magazine, "and refuse to sit beside someone just like me?"
In 1949, Scott brought a suit against the owners of a Pasco, Washington restaurant when a waitress refused to serve Scott and her traveling companion, Mrs. Eunice Wolfe, because "they were Negroes."
Scott's victory helped African Americans challenge racial discrimination in Spokane, as well as inspiring civil rights organizations "to pressure the Washington state legislature to enact the Public Accommodations Act" in 1953.
With the advent of the Red Scare in the television industry, Scott's name appeared in Red Channels: A Report on Communist Influence in Radio and Television in June 1950. Scott voluntarily appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
Scott insisted on reading a prepared statement before HUAC. She denied that she was "ever knowingly connected with the Communist Party or any of its front organizations, but said that she had supported Communist Party member Benjamin J. Davis' run for City Council, arguing that Davis was supported by socialists, a group that "has hated Communists longer and more fiercely than any other."
Her television variety program, The Hazel Scott Show, was cancelled a week after Scott appeared before HUAC, on September 29, 1950. Scott continued to perform in the United States and Europe, even getting sporadic bookings on television variety shows like Cavalcade of Stars and guest starring in an episode of CBS Television's Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town musical series. Scott's short-lived television show "provided a glimmer of hope for African American viewers" during a time of continued racial bias in the broadcasting industry and economic hardships for jazz musicians in general. Scott remained publicly opposed to McCarthyism and racial segregation throughout her career.
To evade oppression in the United States, Scott moved to Paris in the late 1950s. She appeared in the French film Le Désordre et la Nuit (1958). She maintained a steady but difficult career in France and touring throughout Europe. She did not return to the US until 1967. By this time the Civil Rights Movement had led to federal legislation ending racial segregation and enforcing the protection of voting rights of all citizens in addition to other social advances.
Scott continued to play occasionally in nightclubs, while also appearing in daytime television until the year of her death. She made her television acting debut in 1973, on the ABC daytime soap opera One Life to Live, performing a wedding song at the nuptials of her "onscreen cousin", Carla Gray Hall, portrayed by Ellen Holly.
In 1945, Scott, who was a Catholic, married Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a Baptist minister and U.S. Congressman, in Connecticut. They had one child, Adam Clayton Powell III, but divorced in 1960 after a separation.
On January 19, 1961, she married Ezio Bedin, a Swiss-born comedian.
On October 2, 1981, Hazel Scott died of cancer at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. She was 61 years old, and survived by her son Adam Clayton Powell III. She was buried at Flushing Cemetery in Queens, New York, near other musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Johnny Hodges, and Dizzy Gillespie (who died in 1993).
I LOVE BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS FROM FILM
The Work of Jack Delano
A Masterwork Spanning 40 Years and One Island
By David Gonzalez Oct. 21, 2011
Jack Delano’s touchstone as a documentary photographer was Paul Strand’s imperative that one had to have “a real respect for the thing in front of him.” Through his long career – photographing everything from coal miners, sharecroppers, railroad men and Puerto Rican canecutters – he conveyed a deep respect for not just the travails of Everyman, but a true appreciation of the dignity that lay within.
“To do justice to the subject has always been my main concern,” he wrote in his autobiography “Photographic Memories,” which was published by the Smithsonian shortly before his death in 1997. “Light, color, texture and so on are, to me, important only as they contribute to the honest portrayal of what is in front of the camera, not as ends in themselves.”
Perhaps it was fitting, then, that Delano’s ascension to the storied ranks of the Farm Security Administration photographers in 1940 actually came about after Strand caught his first major exhibit – mural-sized prints of bootleg coal miners in Pennsylvania – and recommended him to Roy Stryker, the administration’s director.
Through coincidence or fate, that work would eventually lead him to Puerto Rico, which not only became his adopted homeland after World War II but also the subject of a vast and impressive archive that chronicled the island’s transformation from agriculture to industry. His work is a secret history that has been in plain sight – its unfamiliarity to the larger world more a testament to mainland provincialism than aesthetic shortcoming.
If he is the lesser-known Farm Security Administration photographer, it is not for lack of a compelling personal story or list of accomplishments. His work for the administration was mere prelude for a career worthy of a tropical Renaissance man: documentary filmmaker, educational television executive, illustrator and classical composer. (His wife Irene, would be his confidante, editor and collaborator in many of these endeavors, too.)
He was born Jacob Ovcharov in 1914 in Voroshilovka, Ukraine, where his mother was a dentist and his father a Russian and mathematics teacher. The family fled to the United States in 1923 and settled in Philadelphia. Music was his first love – he studied it for years, while his brother Solomon eventually became a professional violinist.
He veered off into art after some drawings he had done in a high school club helped him land a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. A chance encounter with Irene Esser, a raven-haired pianist who was playing Beethoven’s “Apassionata” Sonta tuned into lifelong romance and partnership. During a beer-soaked party, his classmates urged him to adopt an American surname, and one offered up her own – Delano. The Jack had come earlier – in honor of the boxer Jack Dempsey.
A more radical change awaited him when he won a four-month traveling fellowship to Europe, where he not only was influenced by the works of Van Gogh, Breguels and Goya, but by his purchase of a tourist-friendly camera. Upon his return, he felt his original goal of becoming a magazine illustrator seemed “cheap and tawdry, and he aspired to do something greater through photography.
“I thought the camera could be a means of communicating how I felt about the problems facing the country and that therefore I could perhaps influence the course of events,” he wrote in his autobiography. “I thought I could portray ordinary working people in photographs with the same compassion and understanding that Van Gogh had shown for the peasants of Holland with pencil and paintbrush.”
That impulse led him to do his photographs of miners whose rough and short lives were spent working veins of coal as exhausted as they themselves were. He spent a month living among them, finding himself doing the kind of documentary work that could – he thought and hoped – might bring him into the Farm Security Administration, a group whose work had had “a profound impact” on him as art that had social impact. He wrote Stryker in search of a job, and despite an initial setback – no openings were available – was hired in 1940.
His early work had him following the trail of migrant workers from Florida to Maryland, a continuing project on Greene County, Ga., tobacco farmers in Connecticut, and industry and agriculture in New England. Many of the images are memorable, but one in particular was seared into his mind – that of a prisoner in a striped uniform dancing while his fellow inmates play accompaniment. It came about when the white warden ordered the men to “dance for the photographer.”
“I was so nervous and excited by the opportunity to get these pictures that I blocked out all my personal feelings,” he wrote. “It was only afterward, relaxing back in my hotel room, that the realization of what I had witnessed came upon me. The butter irony of striped prison attire combined with song and dance seemed almost surrealistic. How humiliating it must have been for these men to be obliged to perform for me, as if they were trained animals! The idea that they had been ordered to put on a show for the photographer was abhorrent.”
Stryker had often sent detailed notes – shooting scripts – about what he wanted documented and how. That would take a drastic turn in 1941, when the talents of the Farm Security Administration photographers were redirected into the war effort.
“You will keep this ever in mind,” Stryker advised them. “Lots of food, strong husky Americans, machinery, show it as big and powerful, good highways, spaciousness. Also watch for such things as good schools, freedom of education, church services, meetings of all kinds. … Watch out for particularly important nationality groups, particularly in the rural areas. Scandinavians, Swiss, Portuguese, Spanish showing community life, close-ups of people and activities. These will be most useful.”
Not that he was averse to giving direction himself: given authority to order the engineer to stop if he thought of a particularly striking scene or composition, he did just that while riding a mile long freight train in Nevada. When he hopped off and saw the train wasn’t in the exact position he had hoped for.
“So I shouted to the engineer, ‘Move her up just a little bit,’” he wrote. “Again heard the clackety-clack of each car of the mile-long train begin to inch forward. Never had I had such a sense of power! I felt like Hercules.”
Despite that power, he also realized there would be moments and moods the camera would not capture. A diary entry that he titled “Things I cannot photograph” ended thusly:
A train is approaching us!
The glare of the headlight
With a WHOOSH of thunder as it flies by us.
The brakeman gets down from the cupola and watches it go by
Two red lights and a white one pass us
The white one waves up and down.
Then back again to the drone
I throw a cigarette out of the window
It whirls off in the backwash scattering sparks wildly like fireworks
The blackness again.
An offhand comment Roy Stryker made to Jack Delano changed his life. Mr. Stryker had called Mr. Delano in November 1941 to suggest that he go to the Virgin Islands to document a Farm Security Administration project.
“And while you’re there,” Mr. Stryker added, “you might want to stop by for a few days in Puerto Rico.”
He agreed, and cut short his current assignment in Georgia. Then he dashed off to find an atlas to figure out exactly where he was headed. A few days turned into more than three months – thanks to the United States’ declaring war after the Pearl Harbor bombing – as Mr. Delano, later joined by his wife, Irene, crisscrossed the island. They were so captivated that they managed to return in 1946 – on a Guggenheim fellowship that turned into a permanent move.
Today, Mr. Delano’s vast archive of Puerto Rican images – augmented by a series he did in the 1980s where he revisited some of the same villages, valleys and people he first encountered in the 1940s – is both his masterwork and valentine to his adopted island home. They depict poverty and progress, back-breaking labor and lush landscapes, urban sprawl and modern materialism.
“I was fascinated and disturbed by so much of what I saw,” he wrote of his first trip to the island in his memoir, “Photographic Memories,” which the Smithsonian published shortly before his death in 1997. “I had seen plenty of poverty in my travels in the Deep South, but never anything like this.”
But true to his guiding principle — respect for the thing in front of the camera, as Paul Strand had declared — he saw deeper.
“Yet people everywhere were cordial, hospitable, generous, kind and full of dignity and a sparkling sense of humor,” he noted. “Wherever we went, no matter how dire the poverty, we were welcomed into people’s homes and offered coffee.”
Consider this: When a thunderstorm forced them to seek shelter one day, an impoverished woman welcomed Jack and Irene into her ramshackle home, where the rain fell through holes in the roof. As Irene handed out chocolates to the excited children, the woman explained how her husband had hurt his back and could no longer work the cane fields. She did laundry for her neighbors, and coaxed an egg from a hen when she could.
“Don’t worry, Señora,” he recounted in his book. “We take care of ourselves.”
When the storm let up, the Delanos, stunned by what they had seen, left. One of the children called out after them and put a brown paper bag in Irene’s lap.
“What’s in it?” Jack asked after they had ridden in silence for a while. “She looked inside and said, ‘Two eggs.’ ”
Mr. Delano’s work is perhaps a lifetime’s repayment of that woman’s generosity. When he and his wife returned in 1946, he joined the island’s Department of Information, which had modeled itself after the Farm Security Administration. He traveled the island, photographing schools, religious festivals, fairs, hospitals and railroads.
The group included two of his friends from the administration, Edwin and Louise Rosskam, who joined him in a later venture when they were persuaded by the future governor, Luis Muñoz Marin, to establish an agency that would use film and graphics to improve education in rural areas.
That decision led to Mr. Delano’s gradual movement away from photography, as he went into making documentary films, then to work at a newly established educational television station. He would later go on to rediscover his first love, music, as a composer, too.
But in the late 1970s, as a new generation discovered the Farm Security Administration photos, he had the idea to revisit his early work on the island. Several grants underwrote the cost, as the Delanos returned to the scenes of their youthful adventures. They found an island – and people – that had been transformed, and not always for the better. At the same time, they were able to discern the fundamental spirit that had so moved them decades earlier.
Among the 200 images in the resulting exhibition — later published in “Puerto Rico Mio” by the Smithsonian – was one of a funeral, taken in 1946 in Fajardo. A man walks down the street toting an infant’s coffin on his shoulder, a handful of people behind him. A visitor to the show wrote in the guest book: “Mr. Delano – Thank you for making it possible for me to witness the funeral of my little sister, who died before I was born.”
A son, Pablo Delano, himself a photographer, sees no coincidence in the fact that his father had no idea where he was heading in 1941.
“It was totally serendipitous,” he said. “It changed a lot of lives, and produced this whole body of work.”
Even in his final years, Pablo Delano said, his father was always willing to share his insights. Jack Delano’s phone number was listed, and people would call, asking him to come and talk at a school.
“He went to what I think were extreme lengths for somebody of his age and physical condition,” Pablo Delano said. “But if some sixth-grade teacher called and said, ‘Mr. Delano, we’re learning about Puerto Rico in the 1940s and wondered if you could come to speak to the kids,’ he would get into his Honda Civic and drive out there. And his driving was terrible, like Mr. Magoo. He’d drive to a mountain town, find the school, hobble in and talk to the kids.”
Respect for the thing in front of the camera. And when he died, his adopted land repaid that respect.
“The flag of Puerto Rico was draped on his coffin,” Pablo Delano said. “We still have that flag. It’s a very meaningful thing to us.”
Foggy night in New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1941
HERE'S PLEASANT POEM FOR YOU TO ENJOY................
Sculpture this and Sculpture that
HERE'S PLEASANT POEM FOR YOU TO ENJOY................
BY JOHN CLARE
I ne’er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale,
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
My life and all seemed turned to clay.
And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start—
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.
Are flowers the winter’s choice?
Is love’s bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
Not love's appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more.
John Clare (July 13 1793 – May 20 1864) was an English poet, the son of a farm laborer, who came to be known for his celebratory representations of the English countryside and his lamentation of its disruption.
His poetry underwent a major re-evaluation in the late 20th century, and he is now often considered to be among the most important 19th-century poets. His biographer Jonathan Bate states that Clare was "the greatest laboring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self".
Clare was born in Helpston, six miles to the north of the city of Peterborough. In his lifetime, the village was in the Soke of Peterborough in Northamptonshire and his memorial calls him "The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet". Helpston now lies in the Peterborough unitary authority of Cambridgeshire.
He became an agricultural laborer while still a child; however, he attended school in Glinton church until he was 12. In his early adult years, Clare became a potboy in the Blue Bell public house and fell in love with Mary Joyce; but her father, a prosperous farmer, forbade her to meet him. Subsequently he was a gardener at Burghley House. He enlisted in the militia, tried camp life with Gypsies, and worked in Pickworth as a lime burner in 1817. In the following year he was obliged to accept parish relief. Malnutrition stemming from childhood may be the main culprit behind his 5-foot stature and may have contributed to his poor physical health in later life.
Clare had bought a copy of Thomson's The Seasons and began to write poems and sonnets. In an attempt to hold off his parents' eviction from their home, Clare offered his poems to a local bookseller named Edward Drury. Drury sent Clare's poetry to his cousin John Taylor of the publishing firm of Taylor & Hessey, who had published the work of John Keats. Taylor published Clare's Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery in 1820. This book was highly praised, and in the next year his Village Minstrel and other Poems was published.
He had married Martha ("Patty") Turner in 1820. An annuity of 15 guineas from the Marquess of Exeter, in whose service he had been, was supplemented by subscription, so that Clare became possessed of £45 annually, a sum far beyond what he had ever earned. Soon, however, his income became insufficient, and in 1823 he was nearly penniless. The Shepherd's Calendar (1827) met with little success, which was not increased by his hawking it himself. As he worked again in the fields his health temporarily improved; but he soon became seriously ill. Earl FitzWilliam presented him with a new cottage and a piece of ground, but Clare could not settle in his new home.
Clare was constantly torn between the two worlds of literary London and his often illiterate neighbors; between the need to write poetry and the need for money to feed and clothe his children. His health began to suffer, and he had bouts of severe depression, which became worse after his sixth child was born in 1830 and as his poetry sold less well. In 1832, his friends and his London patrons clubbed together to move the family to a larger cottage with a smallholding in the village of Northborough, not far from Helpston. However, he felt only more alienated.
His last work, the Rural Muse (1835), was noticed favorably by Christopher North and other reviewers, but this was not enough to support his wife and seven children. Clare's mental health began to worsen. As his alcohol consumption steadily increased along with his dissatisfaction with his own identity, Clare's behavior became more erratic. A notable instance of this behavior was demonstrated in his interruption of a performance of The Merchant of Venice, in which Clare verbally assaulted Shylock. He was becoming a burden to Patty and his family, and in July 1837, on the recommendation of his publishing friend, John Taylor, Clare went of his own volition (accompanied by a friend of Taylor's) to Dr. Matthew Allen's private asylum High Beach near Loughton, in Epping Forest. Taylor had assured Clare that he would receive the best medical care.
Clare was reported as being "full of many strange delusions". He believed himself to be a prize fighter and that he had two wives, Patty and Mary. He started to claim he was Lord Byron. Allen wrote about Clare to The Times in 1840: It is most singular that ever since he came… the moment he gets pen or pencil in hand he begins to write most poetical effusions. Yet he has never been able to obtain in conversation, nor even in writing prose, the appearance of sanity for two minutes or two lines together, and yet there is no indication of insanity in any of his poetry.
During his first few asylum years in High Beach, Essex (1837–41), Clare re-wrote famous poems and sonnets by Lord Byron. His own version of Child Harold became a lament for past lost love, and Don Juan, A Poem became an acerbic, misogynistic, sexualized rant redolent of an ageing Regency dandy. Clare also took credit for Shakespeare's plays, claiming to be the Renaissance genius himself. "I'm John Clare now," the poet claimed to a newspaper editor, "I was Byron and Shakespeare formerly."
In 1841, Clare absconded from the asylum in Essex, to walk some 90 miles home, believing that he was to meet his first love Mary Joyce; Clare was convinced that he was married to her and Martha as well, with children by both women. He did not believe her family when they told him she had died accidentally three years earlier in a house fire. He remained free, mostly at home in Northborough, for the five months following, but eventually Patty called the doctors in.
Between Christmas and New Year in 1841, Clare was committed to the Northampton General Lunatic Asylum (now St Andrew's Hospital). Upon Clare's arrival at the asylum, the accompanying doctor, Fenwick Skrimshire, who had treated Clare since 1820, completed the admission papers. To the enquiry "Was the insanity preceded by any severe or long-continued mental emotion or exertion?", Dr Skrimshire entered: "After years of poetical prosing."
He remained here for the rest of his life under the humane regime of Dr Thomas Octavius Prichard, who encouraged and helped him to write. Here he wrote possibly his most famous poem, I Am.
He died on 20 May 1864, in his 71st year. His remains were returned to Helpston for burial in St Botolph’s churchyard. Today, children at the John Clare School, Helpston's primary, parade through the village and place their "midsummer cushions" around Clare's gravestone (which bears the inscriptions "To the Memory of John Clare the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet" and "A Poet is born not made") on his birthday, in honor of their most famous resident.
In his time, Clare was commonly known as "the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet". His formal education was brief, his other employment and class-origins were lowly. Clare resisted the use of the increasingly standardized English grammar and orthography in his poetry and prose, alluding to political reasoning in comparing "grammar" (in a wider sense of orthography) to tyrannical government and slavery, personifying it in jocular fashion as a "bitch".
He wrote in his Northamptonshire dialect, introducing local words to the literary canon such as "pooty" (snail), "lady-cow" (ladybird), "crizzle" (to crisp) and "throstle" (song thrush).
In his early life he struggled to find a place for his poetry in the changing literary fashions of the day. He also felt that he did not belong with other peasants. Clare once wrote:
"I live here among the ignorant like a lost man in fact like one whom the rest seems careless of having anything to do with—they hardly dare talk in my company for fear I should mention them in my writings and I find more pleasure in wandering the fields than in musing among my silent neighbors who are insensible to everything but toiling and talking of it and that to no purpose."
It is common to see an absence of punctuation in many of Clare's original writings, although many publishers felt the need to remedy this practice in the majority of his work. Clare argued with his editors about how it should be presented to the public.
Clare grew up during a period of massive changes in both town and countryside as the Industrial Revolution swept Europe. Many former agricultural workers, including children, moved away from the countryside to over-crowded cities, following factory work. The Agricultural Revolution saw pastures ploughed up, trees and hedges uprooted, the fens drained and the common land enclosed. This destruction of a centuries-old way of life distressed Clare deeply. His political and social views were predominantly conservative ("I am as far as my politics reaches 'King and Country'—no Innovations in Religion and Government say I."). He refused even to complain about the subordinate position to which English society relegated him, swearing that "with the old dish that was served to my forefathers I am content."
His early work delights both in nature and the cycle of the rural year. Poems such as "Winter Evening", "Haymaking" and "Wood Pictures in Summer" celebrate the beauty of the world and the certainties of rural life, where animals must be fed and crops harvested. Poems such as "Little Trotty Wagtail" show his sharp observation of wildlife, though The Badger shows his lack of sentiment about the place of animals in the countryside. At this time, he often used poetic forms such as the sonnet and the rhyming couplet. His later poetry tends to be more meditative and uses forms similar to the folk songs and ballads of his youth. An example of this is Evening.
His knowledge of the natural world went far beyond that of the major Romantic poets. However, poems such as "I Am" show a metaphysical depth on a par with his contemporary poets and many of his pre-asylum poems deal with intricate play on the nature of linguistics. His "bird's nest poems", it can be argued, illustrate the self-awareness, and obsession with the creative process that captivated the romantics. Clare was the most influential poet, aside from Wordsworth, to practice in an older style.
Clare was relatively forgotten during the later 19th century, but interest in his work was revived by Arthur Symons in 1908, Edmund Blunden in 1920 and John and Anne Tibble in their ground-breaking 1935 two-volume edition, while in 1949 Geoffrey Grigson edited Poems of John Clare's Madness (published by Routledge and Kegan Paul). Benjamin Britten set some of "May" from A Shepherd's Calendar in his Spring Symphony of 1948, and included a setting of The Evening Primrose in his Five Flower Songs.
Copyright to much of his work has been claimed since 1965 by the editor of the Complete Poetry, Professor Eric Robinson, though these claims were contested. Recent publishers have refused to acknowledge the claim (especially in recent editions from Faber and Carcanet) and it seems the copyright is now defunct.
The largest collection of original Clare manuscripts are housed at Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, where they are available to view by appointment.
Altering what Clare actually wrote continued into the later 20th century; for instance, Helen Gardner amended not only the punctuation but also the spelling and grammar in the New Oxford Book of English Verse 1250–1950 (1972), which she edited.
Since 1993, the John Clare Society of North America has organized an annual session of scholarly papers concerning John Clare at the annual Convention of the Modern Language Association of America.
AND HERE'S SOME ANIMALS FOR YOU...................
The Observation and Appreciation of Architecture
The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one. Honore de Balzac
And all people live, not by reason of any care they have for themselves, But by the love for them that is in other people. Leo Tolstoy
The most powerful symptom of love is a tenderness which becomes at times almost insupportable. Victor Hugo
To be happy with a man you must understand him a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all. Helen Rowland
Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power. Bertrand Russell
Love is an emotion that is based on an opinion of women that is impossible for those who have had any experience with them. H. L. Mencken