DON’T WORRY-BE HAPPY
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.
I'm a big big Fan of Bukowski
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
HERE'S PLEASANT POEM FOR YOU TO ENJOY................
Lying here quietly beside you,
My cheek against your firm, quiet thighs,
The calm music of Boccherini
Washing over us in the quiet,
As the sun leaves the housetops and goes
Out over the Pacific, quiet-
So quiet the sun moves beyond us,
So quiet as the sun always goes,
So quiet, our bodies, worn with the
Times and the penances of love, our
Brains curled, quiet in their shells, dormant,
Our hearts slow, quiet, reliable
In their interlocked rhythms, the pulse
In your thigh caressing my cheek. Quiet.
Kenneth Charles Marion Rexroth (December 22, 1905 – June 6, 1982) was an American poet, translator and critical essayist. He is regarded as a central figure in the San Francisco Renaissance, and paved the groundwork for the movement. Although he did not consider himself to be a Beat poet, and disliked the association, he was dubbed the "Father of the Beats" by Time Magazine. He was among the first poets in the United States to explore traditional Japanese poetic forms such as haiku. He was also a prolific reader of Chinese literature.
I Sing the Body Electric
“Be not ashamed women…You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul.”
Leaves of Grass
“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere - on water and land.”
“Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.”
“Resist much, obey little.”
“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your ice, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…”
“I am not to speak to you,
I am to think of you
when I sit alone or wake at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.”
“I swear I will never mention love or death inside a house, And I swear I never will translate myself at all, only to him or her who privately stays with me in the open air.”
“That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”
“Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.”
“…what is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.”
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself, and what I assume you shall assume; For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless, It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it, I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked. I am mad for it to be in contact with me.The smoke of my own breath, echoes, ripples, buzzed whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine. My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs, the sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-colored sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn, the sound of the belched words of my voice loosed to the eddies of the wind, a few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms, the play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag. Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems; You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,), you shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books; You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me: You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.”
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
Were you thinking that those were the words—
those upright lines? those curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words—the substantial words
are in the ground and sea,
They are in the air—they are in you.
Were you thinking that those were the words—
those delicious sounds out of your friends’
No, the real words are more delicious than they.
Human bodies are words, myriads of words;
In the best poems re-appears the body, man’s or wo-
man’s, well-shaped, natural, gay,
Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or
the need of shame.”
“Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass,
Be not afraid of my body.”
When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer
“When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.”
A Clear Midnight
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best.
“I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation- a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every states I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.”
“Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process; a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brassbound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality on the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the-glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.”
“In long-range planning for a trip, I think there is a private conviction that it won’t happen. As the day approached, my warm bed and comfortable house grew increasingly desirable…To give these up for three months for the terrors of the uncomfortable and unknowns seemed crazy. I didn’t want to go. Something had to happen to forbid my going, but it didn’t.”
“When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by the mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In my middle age I was assured that the greater age would calm my fever… nothing has worked… I fear the disease is incurable.”
“A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ.”
All conservatives are such from personal defects. They have been effeminated by position or nature born halt and blind through luxury of their parents and can Only like invalids act On the defensive.
300 quotes from Emerson
To view more Emerson quotes or read a life background on Emerson please visit the books blog spot. We update the blog bi-monthly emersonsaidit.blogspot.com
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
Two survivors of the Battle of Gettysburg at the 50th anniversary reunion, July 1913.
What Love is…..
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. Rumi
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.
REVIEWS FOR "SHORT STORIES FROM A SMALL TOWN"
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.
By Sandra Mendyk
Just read "Short Stories from a Small Town," and couldn't put it down! Like Mr. Tuohy's other books I read, they keep your interest, especially if you're from a small town and can relate to the lives of the people he writes about. I recommend this book for anyone interested in human interest stories. His characters all have a central place where the stories take place--a diner--and come from different walks of life and wrestle with different problems of everyday life. Enjoyable and thoughtful.
I loved how the author wrote about "his people"
A touching thoughtful book. I loved how the author wrote about "his people", the people he knew as a child from his town. It is based on sets of time in the local diner, breakfast , lunch and dinner, but time stands still ... Highly recommend !
WONDERFUL book, I loved it!
By John M. Cribbins
What wonderful stories...I just loved this book.... It is great how it is written following, breakfast, lunch, dinner, at a diner. Great characters.... I just loved it....
DON'T YOU JUST LOVE POP ART?
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.
OTHER PLAYS BY JOHN WILLIAM TUOHY............................
The CIA Puts Hundreds of Declassified Documents about UFO Sightings Online
Let down by the X-Files reboot? Maybe you never really dug the whole alien conspiracy thing with the bees and the black sludge in the first place. Maybe you didn’t need another convoluted, inscrutable, bonkers plotline. Maybe you wanted the truth. It’s out there. The CIA might know where it is.
In 1978, the agency known in some circles for masterminding nearly every world event since its inception declassified a vast number of files, “hundreds of documents… detailing the Agency’s investigations into Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOS). The documents date primarily from the late 1940s and 1950s.”
And since this past January the public has had full and open access to all of those documents on the internet. To celebrate the seriousness of this archive’s widespread availability, the Agency made two lists of five different documents each, to “highlight a few documents both skeptics and believers will find interesting.”
Who do you think they picked for their model skeptic and believer? “The truth is out there,” as the CIA is apparently fond of saying, “click on the links to find it.”
The Mulder and Scully lists serve as lighthearted introductions to the sometimes bewildering array of documents in the CIA’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Electronic Reading Room, which hosts those several hundred reports, memos, etc., sometimes redacted or written in Agency code.
Then, of course, there’s this precious eyewitness testimony, from Mulder’s list, taken from a man in East Germany in 1952:
Now, the side of the object on which the holes had been opened began to glitter. Its color seemed green but later turned to red. At the same time I began to hear a slight hum. While the brightness and hum increased, the conical tower began to slide down into the center of the object. The whole object then began to rise slowly from the ground and rotate like a top.
If you’re seeing a description from a classic sci-fi radio drama or pulp magazine, read on. The craft becomes “surrounded by a ring of flames,” rises, and flies away. And, of course, the man had earlier witnessed men “dressed in some shiny metallic clothing.” It all sounds very silly except that many other unrelated people in the small town reported seeing something very strange in the sky that night. One witnesses’ overactive imagination does not invalidate the testimony of the others.
Or does it?
We’ve had many sightings of UFOs from astronauts and pilots in the last few decades (mostly debunked), and ordinary people on the ground have never stopped seeing lights in the sky. So we might wonder why all of the CIA documents on the site come from the 1960s and before? Is this a sign of increased activity in the years after the supposed Roswell event? Perhaps the alien conspiracy’s feverish, devious start?
Or, as GeekWire writes, was the CIA “worried about the potential threat that UFOs posed to national security… they assumed that the UFOs might be part of a Soviet weapons test program.” With the gradual warming of relations, then glasnost, the spies lost interest… (Or…?) … but we might wonder why the Agency used the new X-Files debut to draw attention to itself. Your conspiracy theory is probably as good as any other.
If CIA did stop investigating alien invasions, you don’t have to. The Agency has left it in your capable hands, publishing “10 Tips When Investigating a Flying Saucer” to guide you in your quest for the truth. Be warned: it’s a very skeptic-friendly set of guidelines; one that—were everyone to follow it—might virtually eliminate every reported UFO sighting. Curious that. What are they hiding?
Find the list below, and see the complete explanation of each tip (such times we live in) at the CIA’s website.
1. Establish a group to investigate and evaluate sightings
2. Determine the objectives of your investigation
3. Consult with experts
4. Create a reporting system to organize incoming cases
5. Eliminate false positives
6. Develop methodology to identify aircraft and other aerial phenomena often mistaken for UFOs
7. Examine witness documentation
8. Conduct controlled experiments
9. Gather and test physical and forensic evidence
10. Discourage false reporting
Again, to dig deeper into the CIA’s fascinating archive of UFO sightings, visit its FOIA UFO collection. True believers may want to know more, and they can, if they’re willing to follow the Byzantine research instructions on the UFO collection’s main page to find an Agency article about the “CIA’s Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-1990.” Or they could just click here.
Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness
A severe drought, exacerbated by widespread logging, appears to have triggered the mysterious Mayan demise
By Joseph Stromberg
It’s long been one of ancient history’s most intriguing mysteries: Why did the Maya, a remarkably sophisticated civilization made up of more than 19 million people, suddenly collapse sometime during the 8th or 9th centuries? Although the Mayan people never entirely disappeared—their descendants still live across Central America—dozens of core urban areas in the lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula, such as Tikal, went from bustling cities to abandoned ruins over the course of roughly a hundred years.
Scholars and laypeople have proposed countless theories accounting for the collapse, ranging from the plausible (overhunting, foreign invasion, peasant revolt) to the absurd (alien invasion, supernatural forces). In his 2005 book Collapse, though, Jared Diamond put forth a different sort of theory—that a prolonged drought, exacerbated by ill-advised deforestation, forced Mayan populations to abandon their cities. That hypothesis has finally been put to the test with archaeological evidence and environmental data and the results published this week in a pair of studies.
In the first study, published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Arizona State University analyzed archaeological data from across the Yucatan to reach a better understanding of the environmental conditions when the area was abandoned. Around this time, they found, severe reductions in rainfall were coupled with an rapid rate of deforestation, as the Mayans burned and chopped down more and more forest to clear land for agriculture. Interestingly, they also required massive amounts of wood to fuel the fires that cooked the lime plaster for their elaborate constructions—experts estimate it would have taken 20 trees to produce a single square meter of cityscape.
The other study, published by researchers from Columbia University and elsewhere this week in Geophysical Research Letters, applied quantitative data to these trends. Using population records and measurements from current forested and cleared lands in the region, they constructed a computer model of deforestation in the Yucatan and ran simulations to see how this would have affected rainfall.
Because cleared land absorbs less solar radiation, less water evaporates from its surface, making clouds and rainfall more scarce. As a result, the rapid deforestation exacerbated an already severe drought—in the simulation, deforestation reduced precipitation by five to 15 percent and was responsible for 60 percent of the total drying that occurred over the course of a century as the Mayan civilization collapsed. The lack of forest cover also contributed to erosion and soil depletion.
In a time of unprecedented population density, this combination of factors was likely catastrophic. Crops failed, especially because the droughts occurred disproportionately during the summer growing season. Coincidentally, trade shifted from overland routes, which crossed the heart of the lowland, to sea-based voyages, moving around the perimeter of the peninsula.
Since the traditional elite relied largely upon this trade—along with annual crop surpluses—to build wealth, they were sapped of much of their power. This forced peasants and craftsmen into making a critical choice, perhaps necessary to escape starvation: abandoning the lowlands. The results are the ornate ruins that stretch across the peninsula today.
The collapse is especially intriguing because it seemingly occurred at “a time in which developed a sophisticated understanding of their environment, built and sustained intensive production and water systems and withstood at least two long-term episodes of aridity,” says B.L. Turner, the lead author of the ASU study. In other words, the Maya were no fools. They knew their environment and how to survive within it—and still they continued deforesting at a rapid pace, until the local environment was unable to sustain their society.
One of the lessons of these complementary studies, says climate modelerRobert Oglesby of the University of Nebraska, who worked on the second paper, is that our reshaping of the environment can often have unintended consequences—and we may not have any idea of what they are until it’s too late. For a present-day example, we can even look to another region where the ancient Maya lived, Guatemala, which is undergoing rapid deforestation. “There’s a tremendous amount of change going on in Guatemala,” said Oglesby. “They may be that much more vulnerable to a severe drought.”
John Vaccaro, Whose Playhouse of the Ridiculous Gave Anarchy a Stage, Dies at 86
By BRUCE WEBERAUG. 11, 2016
John Vaccaro, sitting, directed “Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit” (1969). The rock musical starred Ruby Lynn Reyner, left, in the title role, and Francis Dudley, who played a sideshow barker.CreditVernon L. Smith/Scope
John Vaccaro, a theater iconoclast whose avant-garde troupe, known as Playhouse of the Ridiculous, helped establish Off Off Broadway as a source of antic creativity and thumb-in-the-eye subversion of social and artistic conventions, died on Aug. 7 in Manhattan. He was 86.
The cause was complications after surgery for an aneurysm, said his sister, Barbara, his only immediate survivor.
A writer and occasional performer but mostly a director, Mr. Vaccaro made dozens of theater pieces of surpassing zaniness and barely controlled anarchy.
In his heyday, from the mid-1960s into the 1980s, he and his compatriots created what became known as ridiculous theater, borrowing (and twisting) plots from legend and literature and old movies and sending up political hypocrisy, social politesse and behavioral and sexual norms. Their motto, usually attributed to the writer Ronald Tavel, declared, “We have passed beyond the Absurd: Our position is absolutely preposterous.”
Playhouse of the Ridiculous staged productions, often musicals, in small theaters in Midtown and Downtown, including many in the Off Off Broadway hothouse La MaMa Experimental Theater Club.
The troupe shared a social scene with the denizens of the Factory, Andy Warhol’s studio — the back room at Max’s Kansas City, a once well-known nightclub on Park Avenue South just north of Union Square, was a shared hangout — and Mr. Vaccaro’s populous casts, many of them amateur performers, often included members of Warhol’s coterie.
Heavy on the glitter and makeup, broadly comic and shamelessly vulgar, sexually confrontational and terribly, terribly impolite, Playhouse productions bridged the wanly declarative, amused subversion of the ’60s Warholian aesthetic to the emergent glitter-glam and punk anger of the ’70s.
In effect, they created a genre of their own. At one point The New York Times described it as “the nonplay that is a pastiche of lines from Shakespeare, Aeschylus, 1930s movies, grand opera, TV commercials and comic books, in no apparent order.”
In explaining his aesthetic, Mr. Vaccaro often said that conventional theater was timid and dishonest in its unwillingness to depict its actual subjects — sex, for instance — and in its dependence on decorum and euphemism. By and large, his effusive works sought to reveal the uncensored chaos that exists in people’s minds. In a 1970 interview in Cue magazine, he described his company and his working method.
“My people are like what they do onstage in real life,” he told the magazine. “Few of them are different. They’re not actors. Few have had any training, and with those, I’ve had to destroy their grammar-school ideas of acting.
“What we’re doing I really couldn’t tell you.” he continued. “How it works between us I don’t know. I say things and they do them. But it doesn’t stop there. I give a detail and they build up a whole history behind the detail. Watch one of the shows three or four times; you’ll see it.”
One of the company’s shows, “Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit,” was a rock musical set in a bordello whose characters included a thalidomide baby, female conjoined triplets and a stump-armed princess. Jack Kroll of Newsweek described it in 1969 as “the wildest and in some ways the best show in New York” — “an explosion of pure theatrical energy unconfined by any effete ideas of form, content, structure or even rationality.”
Other productions were “Conquest of the Universe,” a frenetic intergalactic comedy by Charles Ludlam, who would eventually feud with Mr. Vaccaro and create a parallel, better-known, troupe, the Ridiculous Theatrical Company; “The Magic Show of Dr. Magico,” a Scheherezade-like parade of graphically erotic tales played against sophisticated original music and dancing; “Persia, a Desert Cheapie,” a cartoonish spoof of Arabian Nights movies; and “The Nutcracker in the Land of Nuts,” written by Mr. Tavel and directed by Mr. Vaccaro, a wicked Christmas-season alternative to the beloved Tchaikovsky ballet featuring a seven-headed mouse monster and other freakish creatures.
“As one of the farthest outposts of the New Theater, Vaccaro’s troupe affects people that way: They laugh themselves silly — and hate themselves afterward,” the critic and theater scholar Glenn Loney wrote in an introduction to the Cue interview. “That’s Vaccaro’s way of showing them how grotesque he thinks our lives have become.”
John Joseph Vaccaro was born in Steubenville, Ohio, on Dec. 6, 1929. His parents were Italian immigrants — Salvatore Vaccaro and Mary Gelato, whose names were changed when they arrived in the United States to Samuel Vaccaro and Mary Gillette. Sam Vaccaro owned a grocery and a tire shop. By his own account, John was confused by a Roman Catholic upbringing in “a town with nine blocks of whorehouses.”
He became a drug addict at 15, he said, and remained one until his mid-20s. Later, after a mental breakdown, he spent time in an institution, where, he told The Times in 1969, he realized the positive results of confronting “all the psychological things out in the open.”
He nonetheless served in the Navy and graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in English before moving to New York City, where he earned a living as an appraiser of rare books, a vocation he gave up to start working in the theater.
“When I first went into analysis, I was afraid to tell the psychiatrist all the things in my mind, things I thought no one had ever done,” he told Cue. “When I trusted him enough and finally told him, he was bored.He’d heard it all before. I was not unique! And suddenly I felt very human. Another burden, another monkey got off my back.
“I’m very free. And that’s the theme in all our plays: Freedom. Total freedom.”
HERE'S SOME NICE ART FOR YOU TO LOOK AT....ENJOY!
After all, I think that a poet has maybe five or six poems to write and not more than that. He’s trying his hand at rewriting them from different angles and perhaps with different plots and in different ages and different characters, but the poems are essentially and innerly the same. Jorge Luis Borges, interviewed in The Art of Fiction No. 39
So, my grandfather was a baker in the army. Yeah, he went into the war
… all buns glazing
… all buns glazing
Every night, let go of your failures and successes, gains and losses. Carry nothing over. Begin each new day at the beginning. From Conversations with Plato
The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink. T.S Eliot
I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year. Edna St. Vincent Millay
Photographs I’ve taken
I live in Shepherdstown West Virginia,
the coolest art town in the US
Sculpture this and Sculpture that
Family Portrait 1995, glazed ceramic. Viola Frey,
David’s Ankles: How Imperfections Could Bring Down the World’s Most Perfect Statue
My obsession with the flaws, reproductions and potential collapse of Michelangelo’s masterpiece.
By SAM ANDERSONAUG. 17, 2016
Photo illustration by Maurizio Cattelan for The New York Times
Last summer, early in the morning, I stood out in the main square of Florence to watch the tourists come in. It was quiet. A Zamboni-like street cleaner drove its rounds, leaving wet circles on the paving stones. A vendor unpacked tarp-wrapped souvenirs from the back of his white van. When the crowds began to arrive — tour groups from Japan, China, Germany, Spain — they seemed less like people than like weather. They surged into the square, pooling and drifting. They clicked selfies in front of the statues. A small herd of Segways rolled past, one rider singing fake opera at the top of his lungs. I watched a tour group from Arizona (clearly identifiable by their neck badges) approach the white figure of Michelangelo’s David, towering on a pedestal in front of City Hall. One of the tourists pointed to it and said, in a tone of amused contempt: “It’s the most famous statue in the world, and they just leave it outside. No big deal — just hose off the pigeon crap.”
The implication was clear: Italy was a backward country, incapable of protecting its cultural treasures. To be fair, the tourist was not the first person to make this accusation. In his history “The Italians,” Luigi Barzini writes that one of the basic pleasures Italy reliably provides for visitors is “that of feeling morally superior to the natives.” I sometimes felt this pleasure myself. The inefficiency of the Italian bureaucracy, whether selling you a postage stamp or fixing a street, was often marvelous to behold. And indeed, the statue the man was pointing at had obviously suffered from standing outside: The marble was striped with dirt.
But the tourist was, in one very important respect, wrong.
He was pointing not at the actual David but at a full-scale marble replica. Michelangelo’s real statue did once stand in this spot, but it was moved, for its own protection, 143 years ago. The original is now in a museum across town, shielded from the elements, perfectly safe.
Or at least that’s how we like to think of it. We are conditioned to believe that art is safe, beyond the reach of the grimy world. We don’t hang the Mona Lisa next to an archery range. We put her in a fortress: walls, checkpoints, lasers, guards, bulletproof glass. There are scholars, textbooks, posters — a whole collective mythology suggesting that the work will live forever. But safety is largely an illusion, and permanence a fiction. Empires hemorrhage wealth, bombs fall on cities, religious radicals decimate ancient temples. Destruction happens in any number of ways, for any number of reasons, at any number of speeds — and it will happen, and no amount of reverence will stop it.
Few humans on earth know this melancholy truth better than the citizens of Florence. They are born into a profound intimacy with decay. The city was the epicenter of the Renaissance — home to such art-history superheroes as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Cellini and Leonardo da Vinci — and the relics of that period have been under siege, more or less constantly, ever since. In 1497, the fanatical monk Savonarola sent his followers door to door to gather the city’s nonreligious art, books, clothing, musical instruments, then piled it all 50 feet high in the central square and set it on fire: the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities. (The spectacle was such a success that he repeated it the following year.) In 1895, earthquakes shook Florence so hard that citizens, fearing aftershocks, spent the night sleeping out in the streets. The 20th century brought Nazis and Mafia car bombs. This November will mark the 50th anniversary of the great Florentine flood of 1966, an inundation that overtook much of the city center, killing dozens of people and destroying old masterpieces.
Today, the perpetual engine of Florentine destruction seems only to be getting bolder. Its latest target is its most ambitious yet: the mascot of the Renaissance, shining ideal of the human form, one of the most celebrated artworks in this or any other city — Michelangelo’s David.
The trouble is the David’s ankles. They are cracked. Italians first discovered this weakness back in the 19th century, and modern scientists have mapped the cracks extensively, but until recently no one claimed to know just how enfeebled the ankles might be. This changed in 2014, when a team of Italian geoscientists published a paper called “Modeling the Failure Mechanisms of Michelangelo’s David Through Small-Scale Centrifuge Experiments.” That dry title concealed a terrifying story. The paper describes an experiment designed to measure, in a novel way, the weakness in the David’s ankles: by creating a small army of tiny David replicas and spinning them in a centrifuge, at various angles, to simulate different levels of real-world stress. What the researchers found was grim. If the David were to be tilted 15 degrees, his ankles would fail.
The seed of the problem is a tiny imperfection in the statue’s design. The center of gravity in the base doesn’t align with the center of gravity in the figure itself; when the base is level, in other words, the David’s body is slightly off-balance. There is, as the article nicely puts it, “an eccentricity of the loads.” This places extra pressure on the David’s narrowest part: his ankles. As long as the statue is perfectly upright, the eccentricity of the loads is tolerable. But there is very little margin for error. If you tilt the base even slightly, the stress on the ankles sharply increases.
Now it just so happens that, for a very long time, before he was moved into his protective museum, the David was leaning slightly. No one is sure exactly why. He stood, for more than 300 years, in the spot where I saw the tourist from Arizona scoff at the dirty replica. Popular legend says the lean was caused by a thunderclap in 1511, part of a violent storm that Florentines interpreted as a bad political omen, but more likely it was a result of the ground shifting slightly, for regular ground-shifting reasons — something like the force that tilts the famous tower of Pisa or the one that sucks constantly at the city of Venice.
For several hundred years, the David leaned at an angle of several degrees. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re dealing with six tons bearing down every second of every minute of every day of every year of every century, it is plenty. Hairline fractures worked their way slowly through the stone. The right leg is significantly worse than the left. As the tilt of the statue increases, the stress will move higher and higher up that leg, until — at the moment of failure — it will break off just below the knee.
But what would make the David tilt? The big fear is tremors, tremors of all kinds: traffic rumbling, the nearby construction of a high-speed train tunnel, the steady concussion of tourists’ feet and — most of all — earthquakes. Florence sits near several active fault lines, and every so often the city takes a seismic hit. In December 2014, a rash of 250 earthquakes rattled the countryside around Florence. Most were minor, and none hit the city directly, but still — Florentines could feel the motion.
My mind could not stop imagining it. An earthquake hits the center of Florence. Liquid waves roll under the rigid city: The church bells ring out of time, terra cotta tiles rain down from the Renaissance rooftops, priceless paintings rattle off the walls of the Uffizi. Meanwhile, inside the Accademia Gallery, the David’s pedestal begins to tilt. Slightly at first, just enough to shift the statue’s gaze, so that he looks not at his old enemy anymore — the implied Goliath off in the distance — but at a new one: the floor he’s been standing on for 134 years.
As the ground continues to roll, the David’s tilt accelerates. Five degrees, six degrees, seven, eight, nine. Gravity begins to act not just on the top of the David’s head but on his back, pushing him forward. Ten degrees, 11, 12.
Finally, the compromised ankles reach their angle of maximum stress. They begin to slide along the old microfracture faults — an earthquake within the earthquake — and the David’s legs and ankles are crushed by the weight of the body above. He begins to truly fall.
The first thing to hit the floor is his bent left elbow, the arm that holds the heroic sling, and it bursts along the lines of its previous breaks, old scars left over from an incident in the 16th century involving an unruly mob and a bench. Then the rest of the marble will meet the floor, and the physics from there will be fast and simple: force, resistance, the brittleness of calcite crystals, the shearing of microscopic grains along the axes on which they align. Michelangelo’s David will explode.
When I first saw the David in person, the only word that came to mind was “perfect.” Why hadn’t anyone ever told me he was perfect? I was 20 years old, exhausted, unwashed, traveling for the first time ever, ignorant of almost everything worth knowing. “Perfect,” I know now, is not a terribly original response to the statue, nor a very precise one, but in that moment it filled my mind. It felt like a revolution — urgent, deep, vital, true.
Standing in front of the David was, by far, the most powerful experience I had ever had with a work of art. The statue is gigantic: 17 feet tall, three times the size of an actual man, the height of a mature giraffe — another fact that no one had ever told me. I had always assumed, based on the images, that the David was life-size. To find otherwise seemed like a category error, like arriving at the Taj Mahal to discover that it is actually the size of a walnut. There was an existential snap in my brain, a sudden adjustment of the relative values and proportions of every other object in the world, including me.
He towered over me in his iconic pose: back foot flat, front foot tipped, shoulders cocked, left arm raised to hold the sling, huge right hand hanging down by his side, head turned fiercely toward the glorious future. He was a giant marble god, except he wasn’t a god; he was a man, but then of course he wasn’t really a man either; he was white stone — but the stone looked somehow soft, like flesh, and the hard-soft marble curved and rippled into muscles and veins, tiny and large, subtle and blunt, each feature easing inevitably into the next, all the way around. My eye kept roaming, looking for imperfections, not finding any. My mind ran in silly loops. The only word it would settle on, again and again, was “perfect.”
I stood there in my filthy Birkenstocks feeling a sense of religious transcendental soaring: the promise that my true self was not bound by the constraints of my childhood — by freeway exits, office parks, after-school programs, coin-operated laundry rooms at dingy apartment complexes, vineyards plowed under and converted into Walmarts, instability, change, dead dogs, divorce. No. The David suggested that my true self existed most fully in some interstellar superhistorical realm in which all the ideal things of the universe commingled in a perpetual ecstasy of harmonizing trumpet blasts. If such perfection could exist in the world, I felt, then so many other things were suddenly possible: to live a perfect life creating perfect things, to find an ideal way to be. What was the point of anything less?
Again, I was 20. My girlfriend and I were in the middle of a six-week, shoestring-budget grand tour of Europe. We slept every night in teeming hostels, ate meat with our hands in public parks, frightened people with our terrible German. But it was all worth it for moments like this — moments in which I could truly believe that perfection was real, as real as a train station a few hours away, and that my life was heading toward it.
A huge crowd swarmed around the David, gawking and chatting, but I hardly noticed them. My girlfriend and I stood in the museum for an extremely long time, until the crowds began to thin. Eventually we left and moved on to another museum, another city, and then we went home and — as the years rolled up their sleeves and marched Americanly by — we got married, had children, found jobs. I fantasized about perfection while crashing, again and again, into what I discovered were the extremely solid walls of my own limitations. Just on the other side of those walls, I knew, stood the David on his special pedestal: an impossible destination that I was nevertheless determined to reach. But the meeting between my head and that wall began to take up more and more of my attention, and after a while I started to wonder if the perfection on the other side actually existed, if there had ever really been anything there to begin with.
The David began, in 1464, with a mistake. Several mistakes, actually. In fact, so many mistakes, and such serious ones, that the whole project seemed to be ruined from the start. The source and precise extent of the mistakes have been disputed over the centuries, but what we know for sure is that none of the mistakes were Michelangelo’s fault, because he wasn’t born yet. The block that would become the David was cut out of the mountains 11 years before its eventual sculptor’s birth.
The first mistake was the stone itself. The marble-cutting community in and around Carrara was, and remains today, practically a sovereign nation, with its own dialect and politics and lore and hierarchies of technical expertise. Michelangelo was a native of the quarrying world, fluent in its ways, but the sculptor who chose the block, Agostino di Duccio, was largely ignorant of them. He had been selected by one of Florence’s most influential groups, the Wool Guild, to carve a monumental marble statue of the biblical David. It would sit high on the edge of the city’s great cathedral, the Duomo, to serve as a show of strength, an artistic boast and a warning to the city’s enemies.
But Agostino was in over his head. He had no experience carving marble on this scale — nobody alive did. The block he chose was huge but flawed. The power of marble, after all, is supposed to be in its perfection: a pure white chunk cut, at almost impossible expense, out of the dirty, ragged mountains. But this slab was marred by little holes, discolored by veins.
It was not only Agostino di Duccio who was overmatched — the quarriers were, too. The block was 18 feet tall and something like 25,000 pounds. No one had harvested a stone this large in close to 1,000 years. The whole process was one ordeal after another. Because statuary marble tends to form up near the tops of mountains, it took months of labor to get it down to the quarry floor. The trip from Carrara to Florence — an 80-mile journey that takes around two hours in a modern car — took two more arduous years. There were teams of men, teams of oxen, big ocean ships, flat river barges, inclement weather, monthslong delays. At one point, the giant block fell into a muddy ditch and had to be laboriously extracted. One scholar has speculated that this accident caused the cracks that now plague the ankles.
When the block finally arrived in Florence, it was greeted as a wonder. Its size, to the public, would have been more apparent than its imperfections. It was deposited in a courtyard behind the cathedral — a huge white apparition in the middle of the small brown city. People came from all over just to stare.
City leaders went to inspect the block, and they were dismayed. It had not only been badly chosen; it had also been badly carved. Agostino, as was traditional, had “roughed out” the block at the quarry — a quick whittling down to leave only what was necessary for the eventual statue. In doing so, however, he had compounded his previous mistake. The block had been strangely narrow to begin with, and Agostino had made it even narrower. He created an awkward hole in its middle. It was hard to see how this stone was ever going to become a plausible human form. Some believed that it was ruined, that the city’s investment was already lost.
Agostino was fired. The block was abandoned. It sat there, on its side, getting rained on, hailed on, fouled by birds, for more than 30 years. After a while, it became a fixed part of the landscape of Florence. People and buildings changed all around it, regimes rose and fell, but the monumental block never moved. Residents began to call it, with some mixture of respect and mockery, “the Giant.”
I didn’t get back to Florence, after my initial visit, for nearly 20 years. When I did finally return, it was as an adult man on the brink of middle age. I was not quite 40 but felt, in many ways, older. My hair, once as heroically thick as the David’s, had begun to thin visibly, and I felt sad about this, and I also considered my sadness to be its own failure, because I wanted to be the kind of person who didn’t care about superficial, middle-age things. Every morning, when I stepped out of bed, my joints hurt, especially my ankles, which a doctor had recently diagnosed with arthritis — they were 20 years older than the rest of me, he said.
My youthful pursuit of David-like perfection had gone, shall we say, not terribly well. I had turned out to be a strange person, not anything like an ideal. My life was littered with awkwardnesses, estrangements, mutual disillusionments, abandoned projects. Recently, I had begun to notice an odd tic in my interpersonal style — a problem with my gaze. I would be speaking with someone, a friend or a shopkeeper, all very normally (how are you good thanks how are you how’s your summer), and then, for no discernible reason, my eyes would dart away from my interlocutor, urgently, right over one of his or her shoulders, and the shift would be so sudden that the person would whip his or her head around to see what on earth I was looking at — a policeman or an exotic bird or a runaway train — but it would turn out that there was nothing there at all. My gaze had been flicked away by a little spasm of social discomfort. And so the person would look back at me, confused, and I would manage to hold his or her gaze for another few seconds until the social energy built back up between us to an intolerable level, at which point I would suddenly break the circuit again by looking away — and the person would look, one more time, back over his or her shoulder to confirm that nothing was there, and then our relationship would be altered forever.
Perfection, it turns out, is no way to try to live. It is a child’s idea, a cartoon — this desire not to be merely good, not to do merely well, but to be faultless, to transcend everything, including the limits of yourself. It is less heroic than neurotic, and it doesn’t take much analysis to get to its ugly side: a lust for control, pseudofascist purity, self-destruction. Perfection makes you flinch at yourself, flinch at the world, flinch at any contact between the two. Soon what you want, above all, is escape: to be gone, elsewhere, annihilated.
By the time I returned to Florence, I had grown accustomed to spending solid weeks in a state of high anxiety — my hands would turn freezing, like a corpse, and I would sit at my desk wishing I could cry, and my wife would tell me, with increasing urgency, that she was afraid I was going to have a heart attack. Eventually, after many years of this, I was prescribed a daily pill intended to stabilize an imbalance in my brain chemistry, and this solution has worked, more or less. Yet I am still plagued by this eccentricity of the loads: an impossible tension between the fantasies in my head and the realities on the ground.
And so, on my bad ankles and with my broken gaze, I returned to see the David. Things in Florence seemed essentially the same. Crowds still waited for hours in the brutal heat to enter the churchlike museum. Inside, the David stood exactly as I last saw him. I experienced the same moment of revelation: the sudden improbability of his size, his excellence. He still dominated the space, still held the light on his impossibly subtle musculature. In fact, he was looking better than ever, because in the intervening years he had been cleaned, millimeter by millimeter, at great expense and with some controversy — the grit and dust of 500 years scrubbed off. The marble seemed to glow. Once again, my brain reached for the word “perfect.”
But “perfect” no longer seemed adequate. Although I couldn’t see the cracks inside the David’s ankles and legs, I knew they were there. I knew other things too: that the marble of his face was pocked with holes, for instance, which restorers had filled in, and that he was missing a small chip of stone from one of his lower eyelids, and that his right little toe had been lost multiple times, and that a crazy man had taken a hammer to his left foot in 1991. Although the David’s maladies were mostly patched up over the centuries, you could still see all the scars.
In the year 1501, amid fresh political spasms, the leaders of Florence decided to rehabilitate the Giant. But who could possibly save it? There was some talk of giving the project to Leonardo da Vinci, the city’s (and Europe’s) reigning genius. But Leonardo was an intellectual, nearly 50 years old, who openly disdained the process of sculpture — that sweaty blunt hacking at stone. In the end, the commission went to a less famous Florentine, Michelangelo Buonarroti, a 26-year-old eccentric who had just made his reputation in Rome by carving a marble Pietà for St. Peter’s — a statue of astonishing grace and maturity and polish. Michelangelo hurried home to take the commission.
The first step had been to stand the Giant up. This, in itself, was a production. Once again, all of Florence came out to watch. The block had been sitting there for 35 years, almost the entire life expectancy of a 16th-century human, and it was now in worse shape than ever. Marble is best to carve when it is freshly cut from the mountain. The longer it sits out, the more brittle it becomes. The Giant was now thoroughly “cooked,” in the local parlance — dried out by decades of sun. Some people said it was beyond salvaging. Many wanted to attach extra marble blocks to it. They said it would be impossible to get a proper figure out of the misshapen mess that was left. This would become one of the feats that would elevate Michelangelo to mythic status: that he not only salvaged the ruined block but also turned it into a masterpiece. As the Renaissance art historian Giorgio Vasari put it: “And truly it was a miracle on the part of Michelangelo to restore to life a thing that was dead.”
The miracle took some time. First, Michelangelo decided that he needed to carve the David in private, so workers came and built a roofless shed around the Giant. For many months, inside his shed, Michelangelo toiled away unseen, using a series of finer and finer chisels in an attempt to rescue every centimeter of the stone. He was a savant of marble, so he would have understood everything about the block, all of its grains and flaws and possibilities. The figure of the David began to emerge little by little, as A. Victor Coonin puts it in his definitive recent history of the statue, “From Marble to Flesh,” “like a person being slowly revealed as water drains from a bath.”
When the shed was finally opened for a public viewing, in the summer of 1503, the David really must have seemed like a miracle. The dirty old cooked Giant had become a smooth, enormous, naked man, paused just on the brink of heroic motion. The young sculptor had not run from the odd dimensions of the block; he embraced them, turning them into his figure’s signature elements. The block’s narrowness yielded the lean, twisting body (as opposed to an overmuscled superman), with its huge head and hands. Michelangelo gave the David a grotesquely furrowed brow — a shelf of a forehead closer to a Neanderthal’s than a modern human’s — because he knew that anything more “realistic” would fail to scan for a viewer on the ground. The figure was unreal but real, stylized but natural. It would come to define the city.
A debate raged over where to put the David. The statue was so powerful, so impressive, that it seemed a waste (and perhaps even impossible, engineeringwise) to install it in its intended destination, way up on the cathedral. Instead, after rounds of conferences among the Florentine intelligentsia, it was decided that the sculpture would be installed in the city’s central square, the Piazza della Signoria, where everyone could see it. A special machine had to be invented to move it: a huge wooden frame inside of which the David was suspended in a net of ropes, rocking gently, as a crew of men rolled it across the city on greased beams. At night, it had to be protected by armed guards from rowdy kids who were throwing rocks at it.
The David’s journey took four days, at the end of which it was installed, to much fanfare, out in the public square. It would stand in that same spot for the next 369 years, a period during which it would be shaken by thunder, hit by carts and smeared with bird feces. In 1527, a riotous mob tried to storm City Hall, and another mob, in defense of the public order, threw heavy objects out the windows: stones, tiles, furniture. A bench hit the David, breaking his left arm in half.
Michelangelo went off to Rome, where he painted the Sistine Chapel; designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, at the time the largest in the history of the world; and eventually died, wealthy and famous beyond measure, at age 88. He would never see his David again.
The Giant continued its slow decline. Although the broken arm was eventually mended and reattached, the statue remained outside, exposed to rain, ice, hail, wind and vandals. Its surface began to visibly degrade. In the 19th century, the statue’s restorers tended only to make things worse — they used wax, which discolored the marble, and acid, which ate at its surface. Before long, the David needed restoring from his restoration. A broken rain gutter on the Palazzo Vecchio poured torrents of water directly onto the statue. Concerned citizens began to agitate for him to be moved indoors. They built a protective wooden shed over him, isolating him in a bubble of safety. This brought the public life of the David full circle. He was carved in a shed; he was hidden in a shed.
Eventually, the statue’s protectors were able to move him, on train tracks laid laboriously across Florence, to a custom-built room in the Accademia. But the room still wasn’t finished, so the David sat inside a crate for years, growing colonies of microorganisms like a huge piece of cheese.
The Accademia attracts well over a million visitors a year, and they all end up in one room: the David’s rotunda. I stood there, in the summer of 2015, watching the crowd watch the David.
The air in the room was perfectly still. The tourists fanned themselves with maps of Florence. Guides, speaking directly into their followers’ ears via head-mounted microphones, led large groups into the center of the crowd like battalions into battle. I watched a woman take a short nap while leaning against a stone column. A couple from Holland sat down next to me and fired streams of Dutch at each other, the only word of which I could make out was the English “six-pack.”
Most of all, people took pictures. For almost its entire history, the Accademia has been a strict no-camera zone, but the rise of smartphones made that impossible, and now the phones have taken over. Tourists spend their time in front of the three-dimensional David poking a two-dimensional version of him on their touch screens. I witnessed the execution of many, many selfies: the jockeying for a proper angle, the sudden dead-eyed smile, the brisk walk away. (There always seemed to be something furtive, something almost criminal, about a selfie.) Often, through a trick of perspective, the selfie-taker’s own head would appear on the screen twice as big as the David.
The most popular target for photographers was the David’s genitals. People were obsessed with them. I watched a very American man (Tommy Hilfiger shirt, Oakley sunglasses, BMW baseball hat) pretend to cup the statue’s testicles while his wife took his picture — and then his wife pretended to cup the David’s testicles while he took her picture. Two women posed for a photo pretending to hold the David’s penis simultaneously, as if it were a trophy fish. A serious man touch-focused his iPhone camera, with delicate precision, on the David’s foreskin.
At the back of the crowd, I found the David’s security guard. He sat sideways on a folding chair, chin in hand, a model of relaxed uninterest; he seemed to watch the room without even looking. When he spoke, his mustache moved over a mouth that was missing several teeth. He was a native Florentine, and he told me stories about crazy tourists (weeping, thongs) and about the great flood of 1966, in which his family’s house was underwater up to the second floor.
I asked him if, after all this time, he had any personal feeling of awe left for the David. He said he did not.
“If you eat chocolate every day for 20 years,” he said, “you will get bored of it.”
If looking at Michelangelo’s David is the equivalent of eating chocolate, then walking the streets of Florence is like drowning in Willy Wonka’s gushing chocolate river. The image of the David is everywhere. There are bookmarks, mouse pads, T-shirts, posters, watches, key chains, mugs, ballpoint pens, commemorative plates, pie servers, snow globes, sugar spoons, USB sticks and Christmas ornaments. There are leather shops and pizzerias and even parking garages named after him. Tourists can buy aprons that make them look as if they have the David’s body: the lean, muscular torso, the naked little penis.
And then there are the statuettes: a vast army of miniature imitation Davids that stand in shop windows and on hawkers’ carts in all the famous piazzas. Near the Accademia I found a store called, in English, “David Shop.” It was a David-replica bonanza, more Davids than I have ever seen in one place before. The smallest was the size of my pinkie, the biggest slightly taller than an average Italian woman. I bought a postcard that was also a jigsaw puzzle featuring the David’s penis wearing sunglasses and saying “Ciao!”
Next to the Duomo, for an exorbitant price, I bought a bobblehead David; his giant head, attached by a spring, waggled ridiculously as I walked. He waggled past many other versions of himself — hundreds, thousands, infinity Davids. From a distance, many of the replicas looked acceptably David-like, but up close most of them were laughably bad. The replicas are like a systematic exploration of all the possible ways to distort Michelangelo’s design. Their faces are squashed, their heads are flat, their noses are pointed, they look like goblins. Some of them seem to have breasts. Others have rib cages jutting out in high relief, like cartoons of shipwreck survivors. One shop-window David stood several feet tall and cost more than $200 — a serious investment that would have taken up major space in any buyer’s home. Its face looked like a bug-eyed, emaciated elf’s. Its muscles were lumpy and gnarled. Its feet were long and bony, like the feet of an ancient witch in a fairy tale. Its hair looked like a pile of spaghetti. It seemed more a parody of the David than a tribute.
In the Accademia gift shop, I bought a sticker that read, simply, “DAVID MANIA.” This, I decided, was the epitome of David souvenirs — a tribute not to the actual David but to our mass enthusiasm for him.
Sometimes, when I found myself fed up with Florence and its crowds, overwhelmed by the kitsch, the heat, the vendors, the constant eruptions of Renaissance cosplay, my walks took me across the river, away from the old bridge, toward a plain yellow building with a stationery shop on its ground floor. Twenty feet up, where no one ever seemed to look, was a small historical plaque identifying it as the temporary home of the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is where he agonized over the writing of his novel “The Idiot,” which I was rereading. Dostoyevsky was, in many ways, the anti-David: ugly, short, hairy, awkward, nervous, ill, angry, a prophet of spite and self-sabotage. I found him incredibly inspiring. He spoke to me beyond the kitsch, above the crowds, from the other side of my old simplistic understanding of the David. He gestured toward something more complex, more inclusive, more sustainable.
Dostoyevsky moved to Florence with his wife in 1868, during a miserable swing through Europe, and he detested the city at times with a degree of comic loathing that only he could have mustered for such a beautiful place. He complained about the humidity, the rain, the crowds, the heat. He never learned Italian, preferring to sit in his room, alone, wrestling with his novel. He stayed, for nearly a year, only because he was too poor to leave — he had compulsively blown much of his money at the roulette tables of Europe.
As I looked at the David, I thought about “The Idiot,” and as I read “The Idiot,” I thought about the David. They existed at opposite poles, and yet they also spoke deeply to each other. “The Idiot” was Dostoyevsky’s attempt to create an ideal man, a modern Christ — what he called “a completely beautiful human being.” He was forced to try to write this perfect book, however, in humiliatingly imperfect conditions: isolated far from home, in intense poverty and grief — the Dostoyevskys’ young daughter had died just months earlier — and delayed by fits of epilepsy. Up in his cramped apartment above the paper store, Dostoyevsky flogged his unruly book. “The Idiot” is full of wild crowds bursting into rooms out of nowhere. Its plot is strange, lurching, unbalanced. Its hero is seen by everyone as a fool, and his presence seems to cause trouble wherever he goes. The book is, in both theme and execution, one of the great artistic statements of the impossibility of human perfection. Rereading it during the visit to Florence made me feel, somehow, spiritually itchy.
Unlike Michelangelo, Dostoyevsky was missing from the official lore of the city — you couldn’t buy postcards bearing his image or visit a museum devoted to his life and work. This made him even more of a refuge, a small secret I shared with no one.
One afternoon I walked into a part of the Accademia that most people never see, down a labyrinth of staircases and hallways, to a small office tucked into the very back of the building. This belonged to Angelo Tartuferi, director of the museum — the official protector of the David. The walls were hung with medieval paintings. Tartuferi wore a green Umbro polo shirt. He was relaxed, animated, candid; he spoke in long streams of Italian punctuated occasionally by roars of laughter.
We talked about the David’s cracked ankles, a topic with which Tartuferi was very familiar.
I asked him about the geoscientists’ terrifying paper. He rolled his eyes. It was, he said, mainly a publicity grab: We have known about these cracks for more than 100 years, he pointed out, and they aren’t getting any worse. The David is now perfectly upright, and he is one of the most closely monitored artworks in the world. There are maps not only of the cracks themselves but also of every stain and blemish on the surface of the marble, of every repair that has ever been made, even of the patterns in which dust tends to fall. Visitors to the Accademia will notice a large, inelegant plastic brick mounted behind the David to monitor all of its vital signs: temperature, motion, angle of inclination. It is labeled “SMARTBRICK. New. Fast. Easy. Smart.”
Tartuferi conceded, however, that he was still worried about an earthquake. Sometimes he had bad dreams. All of that high-tech monitoring can only warn us — it can’t protect anything. And while it seems to be true that the cracks aren’t getting worse, they are not getting better either. As long as they exist, the David will be vulnerable.
What, then, is to be done? In fact, a relatively simple solution to the ankle problem already exists. Although we can’t fix the cracks, we can mitigate the stress that makes them dangerous. There is a special kind of antiseismic base that allows a marble statue to move along with any tectonic disturbance. It’s similar to the kind of technology you’d find under buildings in San Francisco. Many less illustrious statues in earthquake zones are already protected by such bases. They are not terribly complex and, considering the potential consequences of leaving it undone, not terribly expensive: about 250,000 euros, according to Tartuferi, a tiny fraction of the revenues the David earns the museum in a single year.
In 2014, after the earthquakes rocked the countryside around Florence, after the global media fretted about the possible destruction of the David, Italy’s minister of culture said that an antiseismic base would be installed under the statue within a year. But a year passed, and nothing happened. When I arrived in the summer of 2015 — six months after that statement — I half-expected to find men in hard hats working around the David’s pedestal. Instead, there were only the usual tourists. The David, meanwhile, stood there in his old precarious rigidity, vulnerable as ever to the tremors.
I asked Tartuferi what was happening with the antiseismic base.
The delay was only bureaucratic, he said. He had met, long ago, with a company that did this sort of stabilizing work. Tartuferi had told the Italian press that the job was underway. The base could, hypothetically, go in at any moment.
But the Italian government, Tartuferi said, refused to allow him to install the base. The nation was in the middle of an elaborate restructuring of its museum system, and it was planning to put new leaders — some of whom would be known as “supermanagers” — into Florence’s highest-profile (and therefore most lucrative) museums. This made Tartuferi a lame-duck director, and the Italian government was not going to allow him, on his way out the door, to execute a project as important as saving the David. Italy, in the midst of its own economic collapse, wanted to be the hero that stepped forward to save the David from collapsing.
The problem was that no one could say exactly when this power transfer might occur, and — even after it did — if and when the base would be installed. When Tartuferi departed, he told me, he was planning to pass the project of the antiseismic base off to his successor. This, he said, is what the new director would have to deal with first.
Meanwhile, every day, the David would remain at risk. In fact, Tartuferi told me, the high-tech monitoring device on the back of the David’s pedestal, the smart brick, had recently been turned off. There was no point in monitoring anymore, he said — everyone knew what needed to be done. Now they just needed to do it.
Tartuferi was not the only one who told me a story like this. I met with a woman named Contessa Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda, one of the most powerful figures in Florence’s art world. Eighteen years ago, the contessa founded a nonprofit organization called Friends of Florence, which has financed and overseen the restoration of many of the city’s endangered masterpieces, from sculptures in the central square to Botticelli oil paintings in the Uffizi to 15th-century Mannerist frescoes in a popular local church. The organization fills a crucial lack in Italy, helping to make up for the increasingly cash-strapped government’s inability to take proper care of its decaying cultural heritage. In 2004, Friends of Florence raised half a million dollars to help fund the cleaning and restoration of the David, and they continue to pay for the statue’s regular monitoring and upkeep. A family of spiders, Brandolini told me, had been discovered living in the giant caverns of the David’s hair. Every few months they covered his body with dusty webs that needed to be vacuumed off.
Friends of Florence would dearly love to raise the funds to pay for the David’s antiseismic base. But the Italian government, again and again, has insisted that the state will take care of it. It seemed they believed that an outside organization rescuing the David would be improper. She was an even-keeled and practical woman, but while relating this to me, she grew visibly frustrated. There was simply nothing she could do against the overwhelming force of official Italian national pride.
Destruction takes many forms, not just the sudden apocalyptic crash or the long-term degradation of rain and ice and wind. There is death by inaction, death by neglect. There is also death by reverence, death by ubiquity, death by subtle retail-shop humiliation. The David’s superfame struck me as another eccentricity of the loads: the tension between the actual statue — the original physical thing, unique in the world — and the statue’s ubiquitous image. The thing itself was hopelessly outnumbered by its own reproductions. We knew the David so well, and our own knowledge of our knowledge of that image, that we could hardly see the David at all.
There was a part of me — a part I never mentioned to the museum directors or the contessa or anyone else in Florence — that was titillated by the possibility of the David falling over. It was a perverse, adolescent, iconoclastic streak, a dark troll that lived under the otherwise more-or-less serviceable bridge of my conscious mind. It was something like what Freud called the death drive: an urge toward failure and collapse, especially of the things we want most in life. If perfection in life truly isn’t possible, croaked my troll — and it isn’t! It isn’t! — then perhaps we should move on to the relative perfection of destruction.
My inner troll worshiped not the David but the cracks in the David’s ankles. They were, as a fatal flaw, so deliciously humiliating — such a perfectly ironic undercutting of the statue’s otherwise heroic stature. The David’s destiny, said my troll, was not to stand but to break.
This put me in mind, once again, of Dostoyevsky — the grumpy outcast seething in Florence, the anti-David. My troll could easily have been one of his characters. It could have been the splenetic narrator of “Notes From Underground,” who recoils against the notion of rational utopia, of the perfectibility of mankind: “Two times two is four is no longer life, gentlemen, but the beginning of death.”
The real power of Dostoyevsky’s work, though, is that despite all the misery his characters endure, his vision is not actually miserable. It is redemptive, celebratory, powerfully totalizing. Humans are compulsive, irrational and petty, yes, but they are also selfless, intelligent and idealistic. In Dostoyevsky, there is a radical acceptance that strikes me as, in its own way, a new, more perfect vision of perfection: an envelope of understanding that can hold the entire universe.
I began to think of the David not as a traditional hero but as a Dostoyevsky character. Like the Idiot, he was an ideal man with no real place in the world — misunderstood, assaulted by crowds, drawn into all sorts of unheroic shenanigans. There was, God knows, much that was insane about our relationship to the statue: the compulsive selfies, the inertia of the Italian bureaucracy, the DAVID MANIA. But as a character in “The Idiot” puts it: “To attain perfection, one must first of all be able not to understand many things.”
As I walked around Florence, I was exposed to hundreds and thousands of horrible David replicas. At a certain point, I began to actually love them. They were so awkward, so bad and so numerous, that they were, in the aggregate, somehow good — a perfect tribute to Michelangelo’s strange genius, and to the gnarled history of the statue itself. They were, themselves, little trolls: the David’s imperfections made flesh, sprung fully formed out of the cracks in his ankles and set loose upon the world.
At home, on my mantle, I keep a small crowd of them: a green one, the bobblehead, a white one that looks like an elf. One of them, a tiny keychain, recently fell over and broke — his head cracked clean off. I keep its pieces there with the rest.
A month after I met with him, Angelo Tartuferi was removed from his position as director of the Accademia. The antiseismic-base project, needless to say, had not yet commenced. Tartuferi’s replacement was one of Florence’s new so-called supermanagers, a medieval scholar from Germany named Cecilie Hollberg. I met her in June, at a lush hotel bar overlooking the Arno River. I had expected someone stern and formal, but Hollberg was, in fact, relaxed and unpretentious and congenial, with a sly humor that rushed into all the gaps in our conversation. She seemed perpetually amused to have been plucked out of her small German town and imported to watch over the most famous statue in the world. She referred to the David, jokingly, as her husband. We drank spritzes and had a wonderful time.
I asked Hollberg about her husband’s ankles. Had there been any progress, under her watch, on the David’s antiseismic base? This was six months after Hollberg took charge and a year and a half after the culture minister’s initial promise to place the David on the base.
There had not been any progress. Hollberg, in fact, seemed surprisingly calm. After all, an earthquake was still hypothetical, and she had inherited plenty of other, more pressing problems. There were holes in the museum’s roof that let rainwater through. There were illegal vendors who hassled the tourists while they waited outside in line. There was the problem of finding space, in the clotted center of Florence, to expand the undersized museum.
After her arrival, Hollberg said, people emerged from everywhere to tell her how to save the David. Everyone claimed to be an expert. Everyone seemed to have something to sell. But Hollberg wanted to take her time, to consider all the options. She wanted the right solution, not just the fastest or easiest. At some point in the future, she said, she would probably travel to Los Angeles to consult experts at the Getty Center about how they protect their statues.
In the meantime, Hollberg said, if a major earthquake were to hit Florence directly, every museum in the city would endure some destruction, not just the Accademia. I found this, somehow, not comforting at all.
AND HERE'S SOME ANIMALS FOR YOU...................
For years, Hunter S. Thompson had been sitting on a shameful secret. He had in his possession a pair of massive elk antlers that belonged to Ernest Hemingway — antlers that Thompson brazenly stole from Hemingway's Ketchum, Idaho home in 1964.
Thompson had long felt a deep connection to Hemingway, and he would end up becoming a large influence in his written work. It was in 1964 that Thompson decided to drive out to Ketchum, Idaho, to visit the house where Hemingway had lived and died. Hemingway committed suicide there in 1961.
Thompson was also there to write a story for the National Observer about Hemingway's legacy in Idaho. And when Thompson got to the home, it was empty. As he was leaving, he noticed a massive pair of elk antlers hanging above the doorway — and stole them.
"[Hunter] made such a long journey to go and visit, and he just couldn't help himself. And he was much younger then, and not as wise." Thompson's widow, Anita Thompson, tells As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch.
"When he would talk about it, he was embarrassed. Because Hunter is not a thief — he's just so caught up in the moment. We planned to take a road trip several times in 2003 and just quietly return them, but we never did," she says.
Unfortunately, the Gonzo journalist would never get around to making that trip to Idaho. On Feb. 20, 2005, Thompson — like Hemingway before him — shot himself.
Years later, Anita Thompson came across the dusty antlers in the garage. And she decided that enough was enough: She knew she needed to return them.
"The antlers were hanging above the 1972 red Chevy Caprice, so they're a beautiful compliment to the car — except they weren't Hunter's, so we had to return them."
She got in touch with the local library that managed the Hemingway House in Ketchum, as well as Sean Hemingway, the author's grandson, who was "so gracious, and pleased to have them back."
The plan was to drive the antlers up to the Hemingway House in Ketchum. But getting them there was a feat in itself.
"I had to return them to the home in my Prius. They fit in the back with the seats down. Putting them into the car, they were almost the same weight as I am," she says.
The antlers are now in the process of being delivered to the Hemingway family in New Jersey.
MUSIC FOR THE SOUL
Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, in 1962.
AND NOW, A BEATLES BREAK
TODAY'S ALLEGED MOB GUY
Interview with A Gangster
By John William Tuohy
It started with the shotgun slaying of an aged bootlegger on a dark and frozen Chicago street in December of 1959. In some respects it also ended there thirty one years later. That year, 1998, was when I completed research for my book about the life and times of Roger Touhy, the prohibition era gangster who fought the mob over control of Chicago’s criminal rackets.
On that freezing December night the 61 year old Touhy, no relation to me, was ambushed and killed as he entered his sister’s home at 125 N. Lotus Street in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. Just twenty days before he was killed, Touhy had been released from state prison after a federal judge found that the mob had engineered the gangster’s conviction on trumped up kidnapping charges.
Touhy’s murder was the last part of the book that I had researched and by then almost everyone who had anything to do with the case had long since died or vanished. In fact, the only two people who were still alive who were related to the case were the eerily named ambulance driver, a Mr. Stillwagon, and a world class hood named John Marshall Caifano. A made member of the Mafia, Caifano was widely suspected of having been part of the murder team that gunned Touhy down. The Chicago police picked him up on suspicion a few hours after the murder but without evidence or witnesses, he was released.
Caifano before the Crime Committee 1959
Even after I had finished the book, I was left with the nagging question of why? Why murder an ill, fragile 61 year old who had been out of criminal circulation since the end of prohibition? Was it a lesson killing, intended to send the message that the mob never forgets and never forgives? Or was it a revenge murder? Touhy’s suspected killers, including Caifano had come up the ranks of the Outfit through the old 42 Gang and during the Touhy-Nitti wars fought on the back country roads of Cook County, Touhy had slaughtered more than just a few members of the 42.
But revenge wasn’t the answer. The mob seldom, in fact rarely, killed out of revenge, especially the well managed Chicago mob. In 1959 the boss was the capable and level headed Tony Accardo. He would never sanction a revenge hit especially in light of the fact that since his release, Touhy had become something of a media darling. No, revenge wasn’t the answer. The mob kills for two reasons; money and self-protection. Nothing else really matters in that world.
So the question remained, why kill the old man? What was the motive? He certainly had no money and he was in no position to harm the Outfit. So what was it? Was there a story behind the story that I had missed? I decided to find out and my only source for that information was Marshall Caifano.
But it was more than Caifano’s involvement with the Touhy case that intrigued me. For crime writers, Caifano was the great white whale of organized crime. He had survived seven decades in the mob. He had a front seat, or was privy to, virtually every significant event in the storied history of the Chicago mob, and the organization that once ruled the underworld from everything west of the Mississippi river. At its height of power, the Chicago Outfit held sway over the mobs in Detroit, Kansas City, and Los Angeles. It owned, outright, Las Vegas, Miami and large parts of Cuba. It ran gambling ships in Iran, casinos in London, and dope exports in Viet Nam and if legends are true, it once controlled, through blackmail, the Attorney General of the United States of America. And Caifano saw it all happen. He knew, literally, where the bodies were buried.
When I asked around about Caifano I learned that there were several accepted versions of him, unusual in gangland. Former Chicago Intelligence cop Andy Murcia said Caifano was a “gentleman among the gangsters” and added, “yeah, I know the clichés like ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ and ‘there's no honor among thieves’. Well, in the case of Marshall Caifano, it's clear to me why neither of those applied to him. I've always had some respect for gangsters who only killed each other for good reason. I had seen him on numerous occasions, socializing at the Ambassador East Hotel. He was always a first class gent with impeccable manners. He was not a loud mouthed hood. Instead, he seemed reserved, quiet. Despite all the stories of how he could coldly slit the throat of another gangster, or issue a two fisted beating to some punk who needed it, there was still gentleness about him.”
In 1992, I was told by Bill Jahoda, an FBI informant and former member of Chicago’s notorious Ferriola Street crew that, “Mr. Caifano was very professional, kind of distant, like a businessman, reserved.”
When I asked John J. Flood, a retired Chicago Intelligence cop about Caifano, he said, “Marshall was an animal. He was just another hood in a thousand dollar suit. He thought he was different than the others, (in the mob) but he wasn’t. If anything, he was worse than the others.”
Wayne Johnson, former Chicago cop and chief investigator for the Chicago Crime Commission told me that, “Caifano was a mob peacock. He dressed better, he spoke better than most of them but he was a stone cold killer from start to finish.”
John Marshall Caifano, he preferred to be called Marshall, was born Marcello Giuseppe Caifano in New York City on July 19, 1911 but was raised in Chicago’s once massive Little Italy neighborhood.
In the late 1920’s Caifano joined the infamous 42 Gang, a violent street gang that counted three future Chicago mob bosses in its membership. By 1929, eighteen year old Caifano's arrest record included convictions for burglary, extortion, larceny, and interstate fraud. Between 1928 and 1952, he was arrested 20 times on various felony charges and ten times for suspicion of murder.
Over the next fifty years, Caifano was suspected in at least twenty additional mob related murders including the gory killing of Estelle Carey, a dice hustler, prostitute and girlfriend of syndicate hood Nick Circella, who had threatened to inform on the mob. On February 2, 1943, Caifano and two other hoods went to Carey’s apartment at 512 Addison Street. They tied the 34 year old Carey to a kitchen chair, beat her about the face with ice picks, dosed her in gasoline and set her afire, burning her to death. Circella was deported.
On April 10, 1946, Caifano was suspected in the shotgun slaying of independent bookie Louis J. Laino AKA Tiny, as Laino sat in his car at 4701 W. 5th Avenue in Chicago.
On January 5, 1946, Caifano was suspected of killing a hood named Frank Quatrocchi (AKA Torpedo) as he stepped from Burkeys Tavern at 34 South Clark Street in Chicago.
According to police intelligence, on July 28, 1948, Caifano murdered Nathan Gumbin (Gumbinsky), an executive in the scrap iron business, as he sat in his car at 39th and Wallace Streets waiting for a red light. Caifano and Battaglia pulled up alongside him and killed him with two barrels to the head and then drove away.
On September 25, 1950, it was more than probably Marshal Caifano who murdered William Drury, an ex-Chicago policeman who was scheduled to testify before the Kefauver Crime Commission the next morning.
A year later, on June 18, 1951, Marshal’s brother, Lenny “Fat Lenny” Caifano was killed during an attempt to kidnap Teddy Roe, the head of the black policy wheel on the south side. According to witnesses, on August 4, 1952, Marshall Caifano, Sam Giancana and others murdered Roe as he walked down the street.
In April of 1953, an underworld character named Louis Strauss AKA Russian Louie, tried to blackmail mob connected Las Vegas developer Benny Binion. According to the FBI, Caifano strangled Russian Louie to death and buried him in the desert.
A year later, on August 21, 1954, according to the Chicago Crime Commission, Caifano killed Frank Maritote AKA Frankie Diamond, an old timer from the Capone era. Caifano waited inside Diamond’s garage at his home at 710 S. Keeler in Chicago and killed him with machine guns when he opened the garage door.
On December 18, 1955, Caifano was suspected of murdering a hood named Alex Louis Greenberg, a mob front man who had cheated the widow of Outfit boss Frank Nitti. Greenberg was shot to death in front of his wife as they were leaving the Glass Dome Hickory Pit Restaurant on South Union Avenue and Twenty Eighth Street in Chicago.
By 1958 Caifano’s childhood friend, Sam Giancana was running the Chicago mob. One of Giancana’s first moves was to send Caifano west to be the Mafia’s enforcer in Las Vegas. Super boss Tony Accardo warned Caifano to “Lay low, don’t make no noise and don’t do nothing to scare the fucking tourists.”
When Caifano got to Vegas he changed his name to John Marshall, chucked the cheap suits and replaced them with expensive, but loud, open neck silk shirts, bedecked himself in gold chains, yellow pants and $500 imported European leather loafers.
And he continued to kill people.
Police have long suspected that it was Caifano who placed the bomb under the truck of informant Willie Bioff and slashed Gus Greenbaum’s throat when the former casino manager became a liability due to his cocaine addiction. For good measure he slashed Mrs. Greenbaum’s throat as well.
It was about this time that rumors and gossip about Caifano’s personal life started to make the rounds in the underworld. The fact was that Caifano’s homosexuality was the worst kept secret in the underworld, a subculture where they’ll kill a man for being gay. In fact, it was around that time, in 1992, that John D’Amato, a captain in the New Jersey-based DeCavalcante family was murdered when he was spotted entering a Gay night club. But Caifano got away with it because he generally didn’t flaunt it and because street boss Sam Giancana, who had his own series of rumors to deal with, protected him.
All of this led to some interesting stories about Caifano. One of them was that he married a tall and tough talking, shapely and boisterous blonde named Darlene who hailed from the back mountains of Kentucky just like her idol Virginia Hill, the gorgeous red head who was gangster Bugsy Siegel’s girlfriend. It was generally agreed that Darlene was a cover for Caifano. In the meantime Giancana was meeting Darlene on Friday nights in a hotel-casino-brothel that Giancana owned, the Thunderbird, in suburban Rosemount.
Special Agent Bill Roemer of the FBI was trailing Giancana and figured out that Giancana and Darlene were having an affair, which was a direct violation of the few rules the Chicago mob has. Roemer decided to use the information to see if he could get Caifano to flip over to the FBI as an informant. Roemer stopped Caifano one night on a lonely stretch of highway and told him about Giancana and Darlene and then asked "So what do you think about that?"
“Caifano's face lit up with a smile that went from ear to ear. He couldn't be happier.” Roemer said later “He thought it was an honor.”
In early 1960, Caifano and others took over the infamous Trade Winds Bar on 857 North Rush Street and the once renowned Black Onyx at 104 East Walton Street in Chicago. The bars had belonged to a character named Arty Adler who owed Caifano $1,000,000 in gambling debts. When Adler failed to pay on the notes, Caifano took over his nightclubs. Adler threatened to go to the FBI. On March 28, 1960, city workers pulled what was left of Adler’s nude body out of a sewer drain at 7601 South Chappel Street. He had been dead for 3 weeks.
In late 1960 the state of Nevada drew up legislation that banned known mobsters from their casinos by placing their names into the so called "Vegas Black Book" (the book is actually green) that banned known criminals from entering any casino in the state. The second name entered into the book, behind Sam Giancana, was Marshall Ciafano. To the horror of the mob bosses, Caifano did the unthinkable. He sued the state of Nevada to have his name removed from the Black Book.
“I journey to Las Vegas frequently on business” Caifano told reporters who gathered for a press conference he called “after the Black Book came out I was always being followed everywhere and anywhere and always by the same police officers and agents. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well.” Caifano lost his suit but the episode ended his career as a top flight gangster. The boss who replaced him as king of Vegas with a slick hood named Johnny Roselli.
That same year, Caifano attempted to extort $60,000 from an Indiana oilman named Ray Ryan. According to Ryan Caifano told him “You’re one of the people we’re going to put in line. I know you know a lot of important people, including Bobby Kennedy, but we’ll take care of that too.”
The FBI moved in and arrested Caifano for the attempted shakedown. They had him on tape demanding the money and Ryan testified against him at the trial. However, the judge in the case declared a mistrial because two Chicago newspapers referred to Caifano as “a criminal syndicate hoodlum.” In the retrial, Caifano pled guilty and was sentenced to 6 years in prison.
Of course, he was lucky to get to trial at all. Word on the street was, according to FBI agent Bill Roemer, that Chicago mob bosses had considered murdering Caifano for pulling a scam in Las Vegas, the Mafia’s gold mine.
When he was released, Caifano sent word to Ryan that he intended to kill him. Ryan offered him $1,000,000 in cash to spare his life. According to Ryan’s daughter, Rae Jean, on July 4, 1977, Caifano had sent word through Las Vegas casino owner Benny Binion that he wanted $1 million “or steps would be taken to get even.”
Ryan, who was facing a $9 million dollar federal tax lien, sent back his own message. “Fine,” he told Binion, “tell him that he’ll have to get in line behind the IRS. When they’re done with me, he can have whatever is left.”
Caifano told his crew boss Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, “Let’s take the million and kill him anyway.” And that’s exactly what they did. In October of 1977, Ryan was blown up in his car as he drove away from his country club. No one was ever arrested in the crime. Retired FBI agent Richard Eisgruber who investigated the case said, “The bad guys got away with one, and that’s not good.”
According to J. Kenneth Lowrie of the US Justice Department Strike Force, Caifano and his nephews were suspected of setting up the 1973 murder of Richard Cain, a made member of the Mafia who had also been the chief investigator for the Cook County State’s Attorney. But otherwise, Caifano was out of power within the mob.
Mob informant Frank Cullota has said that Boss Tony Accardo busted Caifano down to the rank of street soldier, reducing the hood to running common low dollar street scams to earn his living, including shaking down porn theaters. It was another of those low level scams, transporting 2000 shares of stolen Westinghouse stock certificates across state lines in 1980, that got Caifano put away for 20 years in federal prison. (He would serve ten years of the sentence.)
Before he began his term, Caifano approached his crew boss, Joey Lombardo, and asked for permission to murder a man named Joey Testa, a millionaire builder and bank owner who laundered money for the Chicago Outfit. Caifano claimed that he had grubstaked Testa in an international gambling scan and now that Caifano was going to prison, Testa figured he didn’t have to pay. But he did. On June 27, 1981 Testa was blown up as he started his car after a round of golf in Oakland Park, Florida.
In the second year of his sentence, according to informant Cullota, the justice department offered to cut Caifano’s sentence to time served and tuck him away in the Witness Protection Program if he would flip, become an informant, and testify against Boss Tony Accardo. Caifano refused the offer.
In 1990, a year before my book reached publication, Caifano, then 79 years old, was paroled from Sandstone federal prison and retired to a modest home in Southern Florida.
In 1992 I found Caifano’s name and address in the phone under the listing “John Marshall.” It was that simple. I sent him a long, polite letter, explaining who I was and what I did and asked for an interview. He didn’t answer of course. Aside from an aversion of dealing in the written word….according to his prison record Caifano had virtually no education at all and was probably near illiterate……his generation of hoods, the old school Mafia, didn’t talk to journalists and they never, ever, under any circumstances at all, admitted to the existence of the Mafia. I continued to write to him anyway. Persistance, I have found, opens many doors.
It happened that my publisher had signed a book deal with an interesting character named Joe Pignatello, AKA Joe Pigs. A chef, Joe actually insisted on being called Joe Pigs. The publisher had pegged me for the book and sent me out to Las Vegas for an initial meeting with Pignatello and we hit it off immediately. Of course he was a gregarious and loveable man and it would have been difficult not to get along with him. The book we would write was tentatively titled “Recipes to Die for.”
Joe was born and raised in Chicago. His grandmother and Al Capone’s mother, natives of the same small village in Italy, were friends and sold a specific type of Italian bread in the old Italian neighborhoods. When he was 12 years old, Joe was delivering the bread to customers when he was hit by a bus while crossing the street. With both legs crushed and rather than restrict him to his tiny bedroom, Joe’s parents moved his bed into the kitchen, the center of family life. For the next two years he watched and learned the secrets of fine Italian cooking from the women who gathered around to cook and gossip around the stove.
A few decades later Joe’s modest neighborhood restaurant became a favorite for the Chicago mob, especially Boss Paul Ricca, who, along with crew boss Sam Giancana financed Joe’s move to Las Vegas in 1954 to open the city’s first, white table cloth restaurant, the Coach & Four located where Circus Circus stands today. Later, Joe opened another place, the posh Villa D’Este. His partner in the place was gangster Tony Spilotro. Scenes from the restaurant were used in the Martin Scorsese film “Casino”.
Joe handed me the phone and Caifano’s voice came through on the other end.
“Is this John Tuohy?” he asked.
“Yes it is,” I said.
“How come you stopped writing?” he asked.
We agreed to meet in Florida that summer. I had an agenda for the subjects I wanted to cover with him but Caifano too, had an agenda as well. He would only meet in a public place. I could bring a pen and notebook with me to the interview but no cameras and no tape recorders. I was to come alone and the interview would not to be relayed to any news outlet. We were going to have, he said, an off the record interview.
As we had agreed, on the morning of the interview, Joe Pigs called at my hotel in Naples Florida. Caifano would meet in twenty minutes at a McDonald’s just a few miles away.
I entered the McDonald’s and looked around and not seeing Caifano anywhere I took a seat. A minute later, Caifano approached my table.
“John?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“Marshall Caifano,” he said.
I had heard that he was a slight man and that the other hoods called him “Shoes” behind his back because he had lifts in his shoes. But I was not prepared for how tiny he actually was. I guessed him to be barely 5 feet five inches tall and weighing in at perhaps, perhaps, 150 pounds, maybe less. But what took me back, aside from his demure height, was his big head. He was a tiny little man with a big head.
He had a full head of white and silver hair that was perfectly coiffed. He wore a gray and white long sleeved pull over, shark skin pants, matching socks and some sort of suede gray slip on shoes. The overall affect was a tiny little man made of silver. My impression was that if a natural fiber touched his body it would die of loneliness.
He was visibly nervous. I stood to shake his hand and as he grasped my hand, he moved his left hand across my left rib cage as though it was a friendly gesture but we both knew he was patting me down for a wire.
“Why are you wearing a jacket?” he asked with a wide grin. It was obvious the jacket, or what it could be covering, made him nervous.
“No reason” I answered and removed the sports coat, hanging it on the plastic green seat next to mine. We sat across the table from each other.
“So we have the same name, huh?” he asked. I could not hear even a slight sense of the Chicago accent that is so distinct to my ear. I misunderstood what he said. I wrongly assumed he meant that Roger Touhy and I had the same name.
“No,” I said over the slight din in the restaurant. “My name is John.”
“Yeah,” he replied, “My name is John too.”
Ah yes,” I answered. “John Marshal Caifano.”
I was slightly nervous. There was a moment of mutual confusion, then a moment of silence and then a few moments of amiable discussion about Joe Pigs and Las Vegas and Miller’s Pub in Chicago, an eatery we both enjoyed.
It was at about this time that I jumped the gun, so to speak. I asked about Roger Touhy but before I could finish the sentence he snapped, “I have nothing to say about that. What are you stupid?”
“Then why do you think I’m here?” I asked.
He shrugged in this sarcastic way and then went on a low key rant about Touhy, noting along the way that the Irish were animals. He was trying to play me. Everything he was doing was calculated to insult me. From his steadfast refusal to look at me when he spoke to me to his sidelong glances, were all calculated to show me who the big dog in the room was.
I’ve interviewed more than my share of mob guys over the years and I’ve learned two things. One is that mobsters lie. They lie all the time and they lie about everything. And I do mean everything.
The second thing I learned is that mobsters will try to buffalo you, scare you for no other reason than to see if they can do it. The only reply to their veiled threats is to offer, calmly, to beat them up. At that, the game playing stops and it stops immediately. It’s an ugly passage that has to happen. But I wasn’t going to threaten an eighty-something year old man. Aside from everything else, it would have reflected badly on Joe Pigs who had gone out of his way to set the meeting up.
“Where you from in Chicago?” he asked
“I’m from Connecticut. I live in Washington DC,” I answered.
“Washington?” he quipped “Nothing there but a bunch of faggots.”
I waited and then reached over took my pen and notebook out of my jacket pocket and said, “Yeah, let’s talk about that. About homosexuals. You want to discuss that for a while? Or should I just use my research notes? I’ve been talking to people.”
He looked at me with wide eyes and his mouth open slightly. What I had said, and what he heard was, “I can piss in the tall grass too, so knock it off.”
Truthfully, this midget was seconds away from having me slap him across the room, mob guy or no mob guy.
Nothing passed between us for a few seconds. I felt guilt ridden. He looked across the room at the menu and asked, “You want something to eat?”
What he had said, and what I had heard was, “Okay, I’ll stop. Put the pen away” and I did. We walked over to the counter together and I ordered something. He paid. I had to give him back the high ground. I wanted this interview.
With our unnecessary urinating contest behind us, things took a more relaxed tone. We sat, sipped coffee and talked for three hours. He told me many things, although not much of it was mob related.
He told me that when he was in his early 30s, he wandered into the Palmer House, an elegant hotel in Midtown Chicago. Taking a seat in the hotel’s magnificent marble lobby, he said he watched the hotel’s guests come and go, noting their expensive but low key clothing style.
“They didn’t yell at each other,” he said. “They talked. In calm voices. When they laughed, it was almost muted.”
He said that he sat there for hours watching and listening and learning and that he went back there often to watch and learn more. Giovanni Marcello Caifano was becoming John Marshall Caifano.
About two hours in, I felt safe to approach the unspeakable.
“Do you think some people,” I asked meaning the Chicago mob, “killed Kennedy?”
It was a loaded question, no pun intended. In 1993, a convict named Jimmy Files claimed that he was part of a Mafia hit team that killed President John F. Kennedy. Files told the FBI that the team was made up of seven members of the Chicago mob including Marshall Caifano. It is generally agreed that Files is, as the FBI concluded “Not even vaguely credible.” However, Chicago mob informer Joey Granata has verified the claim as did corrupt Chicago cop Michael Corbitt who testified to a federal court that Caifano bragged to him that he was in Dealey Plaza "when history was made".
Caifano considered my question, smiled, shrugged and said, “Naw” and then, probably forgetting himself for a second added, “But it’s great they think we did.”
I didn’t get it. His smile widened and he added, “If they figure you can knock off the President of the United States, and get away with it, no one is ever going to pay you late again.”
Before we parted he told me, without being asked, that Touhy was killed because he had successfully used the courts to get out of prison after 25 years and that he intended to use the courts again to sue the state of Illinois and the City of Chicago for denying his civil rights. This time he was threatening to subpoena all the wrong people, the bosses and their front men and that couldn’t be allowed. So they killed him.
Caifano's handy work on Roger Touhy
I had what I wanted.
Caifano died in his sleep on September 12, 2003. He was 92 years old. Joe Pigs died suddenly and his book of magnificent recipes was never written.
Note the text: Roger Touhy’s actual name was Tewy. It was misspelled by Chicago newsmen who assumed the gangsters name was the same as the long road that cuts through parts of Chicago and into western Cook County. Roger Touhy, who paid reporters to stay out of the newspapers, encouraged the mistake. Tewy is a distinctly different name from Tuohy. Roger is buried under the name Tewy.
I LOVE BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS FROM FILM
FDR, United States, Summer 1939
WHY THE WORLD NEEDS EDITORS..........
THE ART OF PULP
THE ART OF WAR............
The Observation and Appreciation of Architecture
Fallingwater house designed by architect Frank L. Wright in 1935 in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, USA.
Architecture for the blog of it
Art for the Blog of It
Art for the Pop of it
Photography for the blog of it
Music for the Blog of it
Sculpture this and Sculpture that
The art of War (Propaganda art through the ages)
Album Art (Photographic arts)
Pulp Fiction Trash (The art of Pulp Fiction covers)
Admit it, you want to Read this Book (The art of Pulp Fiction covers)
The Godfather Trilogy BlogSpot
On the Waterfront: The Making of a great American Film
The Wee Book of Irish Recipes (Book support site)
Good chowda (New England foods)
Old New England Recipes (Book support site)
And I Love Clams (New England foods)
In Praise of the Rhode Island Wiener (New England foods)
Wicked Cool New England Recipes (New England foods)
Old New England Recipes (New England foods)
Foster Care new and Updates
Aging out of the system
Murder, Death and Abuse in the Foster Care system
Angel and Saints in the Foster Care System
The Foster Children’s Blogs
Foster Care Legislation
The Foster Children’s Bill of Right
Foster Kids own Story
The Adventures of Foster Kid.
Me vs. Diabetes (Diabetes education site)
The Quotable Helen Keller
Teddy Roosevelt's Letters to his children (Book support site)
The Quotable Machiavelli (Book support site)
Whatever you do, don't laugh
The Quotable Grouch Marx
A Big Blog of Irish Literature
The Wee Blog of Irish Jokes (Book support blog)
The Wee Blog of Irish Recipes
The Irish American Gangster
The Irish in their Own Words
When Washington Was Irish
The Wee Book of Irish Recipes (Book support site)
The Blogable Robert Frost
The Beat Poets of the Forever Generation
Holden Caulfield Blog Spot
The Quotable Oscar Wilde
NEW ENGLAND BLOGS
The Quotable Thoreau
Old New England Recipes
Wicked Cool New England Recipes
The New England Mafia
And I Love Clams
In Praise of the Rhode Island Wiener
The Connecticut History Blog
The Connecticut Irish
God, How I hated the 70s
Child of the Sixties Forever
The Kennedy’s in the 60’s
Music of the Sixties Forever
Elvis and Nixon at the White House (Book support site)
Beatles Fan Forever
Year One, 1955
Robert Kennedy in His Own Words
The 1980s were fun
The 1990s. The last decade.
The Russian Mafia
The American Jewish Gangster
The Mob in Hollywood
We Only Kill Each Other
Early Gangsters of New York City
Al Capone: Biography of a self-made Man
The Life and World of Al Capone
The Salerno Report
Guns and Glamour
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Recipes we would Die For
The Prohibition in Pictures
The Mob in Pictures
The Mob in Vegas
The Irish American Gangster
Roger Touhy Gangster
Chicago’s Mob Bosses
Chicago Gang Land: It Happened Here
Whacked: One Hundred years of Murder in Gangland
The Mob Across America
Mob Cops, Lawyers and Front Men
Shooting the Mob: Dutch Schultz
Bugsy& His Flamingo: The Testimony of Virginia Hill
After Valachi. Hearings before the US Senate on Organized Crime
Mob Buster: Report of Special Agent Virgil Peterson to the Kefauver Committee (Book support site)
The US Government’s Timeline of Organized Crime (Book support site)
The Kefauver Organized Crime Hearings (Book support site)
Joe Valachi's testimony on the Mafia (Book support site)
Mobsters in the News
Shooting the Mob: Dead Mobsters (Book support site)
The Stolen Years Full Text (Roger Touhy)
Mobsters in Black and White
Mafia Gangsters, Wiseguys and Goodfellas
Whacked: One Hundred Years of Murder and Mayhem in the Chicago Mob (Book support site)
Gangland Gaslight: The Killing of Rosy Rosenthal (Book support site)
The Best of the Mob Files Series (Book support site)
It’s All Greek Mythology to me
The Rarifieid Tribe
The Upscale Traveler
The Mish Mosh Blog
DC Behind the Monuments
When Washington Was Irish
FROM LLR BOOKS. COM
Litchfield Literary Books. A really small company run by writers.
The Day Nixon Met Elvis
Paperback 46 pages
Theodore Roosevelt: Letters to his Children. 1903-1918
Paperback 194 pages
THE ANCIENT GREEKS AND CIVILIZATIONS
The Works of Horace
Paperback 174 pages
The Quotable Greeks
Paperback 234 pages
The Quotable Epictetus
Paperback 142 pages
Quo Vadis: A narrative of the time of Nero
Paperback 420 pages
The Porchless Pumpkin: A Halloween Story for Children
A Halloween play for young children. By consent of the author, this play may be performed, at no charge, by educational institutions, neighborhood organizations and other not-for-profit-organizations.
A fun story with a moral
“I believe that Denny O'Day is an American treasure and this little book proves it. Jack is a pumpkin who happens to be very small, by pumpkins standards and as a result he goes unbought in the pumpkin patch on Halloween eve, but at the last moment he is given his chance to prove that just because you're small doesn't mean you can't be brave. Here is the point that I found so wonderful, the book stresses that while size doesn't matter when it comes to courage...ITS OKAY TO BE SCARED....as well. I think children need to hear that, that's its okay to be unsure because life is a ongoing lesson isn't it?”
Paperback: 42 pages
It's Not All Right to be a Foster Kid....no matter what they tell you: Tweet the books contents
Paperback 94 pages
From the Author
I spent my childhood, from age seven through seventeen, in foster care. Over the course of those ten years, many decent, well-meaning, and concerned people told me, "It's okay to be foster kid."
In saying that, those very good people meant to encourage me, and I appreciated their kindness then, and all these many decades later, I still appreciate their good intentions. But as I was tossed around the foster care system, it began to dawn on me that they were wrong. It was not all right to be a foster kid.
During my time in the system, I was bounced every eighteen months from three foster homes to an orphanage to a boy's school and to a group home before I left on my own accord at age seventeen.
In the course of my stay in foster care, I was severely beaten in two homes by my "care givers" and separated from my four siblings who were also in care, sometimes only blocks away from where I was living.
I left the system rather than to wait to age out, although the effects of leaving the system without any family, means, or safety net of any kind, were the same as if I had aged out. I lived in poverty for the first part of my life, dropped out of high school, and had continuous problems with the law.
Today, almost nothing about foster care has changed. Exactly what happened to me is happening to some other child, somewhere in America, right now. The system, corrupt, bloated, and inefficient, goes on, unchanging and secretive.
Something has gone wrong in a system that was originally a compassionate social policy built to improve lives but is now a definitive cause in ruining lives. Due to gross negligence, mismanagement, apathy, and greed, mostly what the foster care system builds are dangerous consequences. Truly, foster care has become our epic national disgrace and a nightmare for those of us who have lived through it.
Yet there is a suspicion among some Americans that foster care costs too much, undermines the work ethic, and is at odds with a satisfying life. Others see foster care as a part of the welfare system, as legal plunder of the public treasuries.
None of that is true; in fact, all that sort of thinking does is to blame the victims. There is not a single child in the system who wants to be there or asked to be there. Foster kids are in foster care because they had nowhere else to go. It's that simple. And believe me, if those kids could get out of the system and be reunited with their parents and lead normal, healthy lives, they would. And if foster care is a sort of legal plunder of the public treasuries, it's not the kids in the system who are doing the plundering.
We need to end this needless suffering. We need to end it because it is morally and ethically wrong and because the generations to come will not judge us on the might of our armed forces or our technological advancements or on our fabulous wealth.
Rather, they will judge us, I am certain, on our compassion for those who are friendless, on our decency to those who have nothing and on our efforts, successful or not, to make our nation and our world a better place. And if we cannot accomplish those things in the short time allotted to us, then let them say of us "at least they tried."
You can change the tragedy of foster care and here's how to do it. We have created this book so that almost all of it can be tweeted out by you to the world. You have the power to improve the lives of those in our society who are least able to defend themselves. All you need is the will to do it.
If the American people, as good, decent and generous as they are, knew what was going on in foster care, in their name and with their money, they would stop it. But, generally speaking, although the public has a vague notion that foster care is a mess, they don't have the complete picture. They are not aware of the human, economic and social cost that the mismanagement of the foster care system puts on our nation.
By tweeting the facts laid out in this work, you can help to change all of that. You can make a difference. You can change things for the better.
We can always change the future for a foster kid; to make it better ...you have the power to do that. Speak up (or tweet out) because it's your country. Don't depend on the "The other guy" to speak up for these kids, because you are the other guy.
We cannot build a future for foster children, but we can build foster children for the future and the time to start that change is today.
No time to say Goodbye: Memoirs of a life in foster
Paperbook 440 Books
BOOKS ABOUT FILM
On the Waterfront: The Making of a Great American Film
Paperback: 416 pages
BOOKS ABOUT GHOSTS AND THE SUPERNATUAL
Scotish Ghost Stories
Paperback 186 pages
The Book of funny odd and interesting things people say
Paperback: 278 pages
The Wee Book of Irish Jokes
Perfect Behavior: A guide for Ladies and Gentlemen in all Social Crises
BOOKS ABOUT THE 1960s
You Don’t Need a Weatherman. Underground 1969
Paperback 122 pages
Baby Boomers Guide to the Beatles Songs of the Sixties
Baby Boomers Guide to Songs of the 1960s
The Connecticut Irish
Paper back 140 pages
The Wee Book of Irish Jokes
The Wee Book of Irish Recipes
The Wee Book of the American-Irish Gangsters
The Wee book of Irish Blessings...
The Wee Book of the American Irish in Their Own Words
Everything you need to know about St. Patrick
Paperback 26 pages
A Reading Book in Ancient Irish History
The Book of Things Irish
Poets and Dreamer; Stories translated from the Irish
Paperback 158 pages
The History of the Great Irish Famine: Abridged and Illustrated
Paperback 356 pages
BOOKS ABOUT NEW ENGLAND
The New England Mafia
Wicked Good New England Recipes
The Connecticut Irish
Paper back 140 pages
The Twenty-Fifth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Paperback 64 pages
The Life of James Mars
Paperback 54 pages
Stories of Colonial Connecticut
Paperback 116 pages
What they Say in Old New England
Paperback 194 pages
BOOK ABOUT ORGANIZED CRIME
Chicago Organized Crime
The Mob Files: It Happened Here: Places of Note in Chicago gangland 1900-2000
An Illustrated Chronological History of the Chicago Mob. Time Line 1837-2000
Mob Buster: Report of Special Agent Virgil Peterson to the Kefauver Committee
The Mob Files. Guns and Glamour: The Chicago Mob. A History. 1900-2000
Shooting the Mob: Organized crime in photos. Crime Boss Tony Accardo
Shooting the Mob: Organized Crime in Photos: The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.
The Life and World of Al Capone in Photos
AL CAPONE: The Biography of a Self-Made Man.: Revised from the 0riginal 1930 edition.Over 200 new photographs
Paperback: 340 pages
Whacked. One Hundred Years Murder and Mayhem in the Chicago Outfit
Paperback: 172 pages
Las Vegas Organized Crime
The Mob in Vegas
Bugsy & His Flamingo: The Testimony of Virginia Hill
Testimony by Mobsters Lewis McWillie, Joseph Campisi and Irwin Weiner (The Mob Files Series)
Rattling the Cup on Chicago Crime.
Paperback 264 pages
The Life and Times of Terrible Tommy O’Connor.
Paperback 94 pages
The Mob, Sam Giancana and the overthrow of the Black Policy Racket in Chicago
Paperback 200 pages
When Capone’s Mob Murdered Roger Touhy. In Photos
Paperback 234 pages
Organized Crime in Hollywood
The Mob in Hollywood
The Bioff Scandal
Paperback 54 pages
Organized Crime in New York
Joe Pistone’s war on the mafia
Mob Testimony: Joe Pistone, Michael Scars DiLeonardo, Angelo Lonardo and others
The New York Mafia: The Origins of the New York Mob
The New York Mob: The Bosses
Organized Crime 25 Years after Valachi. Hearings before the US Senate
Shooting the mob: Dutch Schultz
Gangland Gaslight: The Killing of Rosy Rosenthal. (Illustrated)
Early Street Gangs and Gangsters of New York City
Paperback 382 pages
THE RUSSIAN MOBS
The Russian Mafia in America
The Threat of Russian Organzied Crime
Paperback 192 pages
Best of Mob Stories
Best of Mob Stories Part 2
Mob Recipes to Die For. Meals and Mobsters in Photos
More Mob Recipes to Die For. Meals and Mobs
The New England Mafia
Shooting the mob. Organized crime in photos. Dead Mobsters, Gangsters and Hoods.
The Salerno Report: The Mafia and the Murder of President John F. Kennedy
The Mob Files: Mob Wars. "We only kill each other"
The Mob across America
The US Government’s Time Line of Organzied Crime 1920-1987
Early Street Gangs and Gangsters of New York City: 1800-1919. Illustrated
The Mob Files: Mob Cops, Lawyers and Informants and Fronts
Gangster Quotes: Mobsters in their own words. Illustrated
Paperback: 128 pages
The Book of American-Jewish Gangsters: A Pictorial History.
Paperback: 436 pages
The Mob and the Kennedy Assassination
Paperback 414 pages
BOOKS ABOUT THE OLD WEST
The Last Outlaw: The story of Cole Younger, by Himself
Paperback 152 pages
BOOKS ON PHOTOGRAPHY
Chicago: A photographic essay.
Paperback: 200 pages
Boomers on a train: A ten minute play
Paperback 22 pages
Four Short Plays
By John William Tuohy
Four More Short Plays
By John William Tuohy
High and Goodbye: Everybody gets the Timothy Leary they deserve. A full length play
By John William Tuohy
Cyberdate. An Everyday Love Story about Everyday People
By John William Tuohy
The Dutchman's Soliloquy: A one Act Play based on the factual last words of Gangster Dutch Schultz.
By John William Tuohy
Fishbowling on The Last Words of Dutch Schultz: Or William S. Burroughs intersects with Dutch Schultz
Print Length: 57 pages
American Shakespeare: August Wilson in his own words. A One Act Play
By John William Tuohy
She Stoops to Conquer
The Seven Deadly Sins of Gilligan’s Island: A ten minute play
Print Length: 14 pages
BOOKS ABOUT VIRGINIA
OUT OF CONTROL: An Informal History of the Fairfax County Police
McLean Virginia. A short informal history
The Quotable Emerson: Life lessons from the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Over 300 quotes
The Quotable John F. Kennedy
The Quotable Oscar Wilde
The Quotable Machiavelli
The Quotable Confucius: Life Lesson from the Chinese Master
The Quotable Henry David Thoreau
The Quotable Robert F. Kennedy
The Quotable Writer: Writers on the Writers Life
The words of Walt Whitman: An American Poet
Paperback: 162 pages
Gangster Quotes: Mobsters in their own words. Illustrated
Paperback: 128 pages
The Quotable Popes
Paperback 66 pages
The Quotable Kahlil Gibran with Artwork from Kahlil Gibran
Paperback 52 pages
Kahlil Gibran, an artist, poet, and writer was born on January 6, 1883 n the north of modern-day Lebanon and in what was then part of Ottoman Empire. He had no formal schooling in Lebanon. In 1895, the family immigrated to the United States when Kahlil was a young man and settled in South Boston. Gibran enrolled in an art school and was soon a member of the avant-garde community and became especially close to Boston artist, photographer, and publisher Fred Holland Day who encouraged and supported Gibran’s creative projects. An accomplished artist in drawing and watercolor, Kahlil attended art school in Paris from 1908 to 1910, pursuing a symbolist and romantic style. He held his first art exhibition of his drawings in 1904 in Boston, at Day's studio. It was at this exhibition, that Gibran met Mary Elizabeth Haskell, who ten years his senior. The two formed an important friendship and love affair that lasted the rest of Gibran’s short life. Haskell influenced every aspect of Gibran’s personal life and career. She became his editor when he began to write and ushered his first book into publication in 1918, The Madman, a slim volume of aphorisms and parables written in biblical cadence somewhere between poetry and prose. Gibran died in New York City on April 10, 1931, at the age of 48 from cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis.
The Quotable Dorothy Parker
Paperback 86 pages
The Quotable Machiavelli
Paperback 36 pages
The Quotable Greeks
Paperback 230 pages
The Quotabe Oscar Wilde
Paperback 24 pages
The Quotable Helen Keller
Paperback 66 pages
The Art of War: Sun Tzu
Paperback 60 pages
The Quotable Shakespeare
Paperback 54 pages
The Quotable Gorucho Marx
Paperback 46 pages