Thursday, October 30, 2008

Always Bring Your Gun

The L.A. Times just finished up its crackerjack seven-part series about the LAPD's Gangster Squad (read about the series' genesis here). The covert group of cops was formed in immediate post-WW II L.A. to "keep East Coast Mafia out of L.A," by any means necessary. The photo (left) is from 1947, and shows crime boss Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, permanently relaxing on the couch of his "swank Beverly Hills home."

Haven't had time to read the whole thing yet, but first examinations are promising. There are also a good amount of video interviews and historic photos, along with a massive amount of text and a sweet organizational/conspiracy chart showing who was allied with (or scamming) whom. Hooray noir nerds.

From the series' first installment:
There had been three more mob rub-outs around L.A. since then, including the shotgunning of two Chicago men outside a Hollywood apartment. That one generated a "Gangsters in Gambling War" headline that was a prime reason Police Chief C.B. Horrall wanted those 18 cops to see what a Thompson submachine gun looked like.

"You'll be working with these," Burns told them.

The deal was: If they signed on, they'd continue to belisted on the rosters of their old stations. They'd have no office, only two unmarked cars. They'd almost never make arrests. They'd simply gather "intelligence" and be available for other chores. In effect, they would not exist.

Burns gave them a week to ponder advice from an old lieutenant at the 77th, who said an assignment like that could get you in good with the chief. "Or you could end up down in San Pedro, walking a beat in a fog."

After the week, only seven came back, making a squad of eight, counting Burns.

"We did a lot of things that we'd get indicted for today," said Sgt. Jack O'Mara.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Dolemite walks the Earth no more. Rudy Ray Moore--actor, singer, rapper, comedian, sex philosophy narrator--passed away from complications associated with diabetes. He was 81. He is survived by a daughter and his 98-year-old mother.

Read the LA Times obit about the man who killed Monday, whooped Tuesday and put Wednesday in the hospital, then called up Thursday to tell Friday not to bury Saturday on Sunday.

The way Moore told it, his introduction to Dolemite came from an old wino named Rico, who frequented a record shop Moore managed in Los Angeles. Rico told foul-mouthed stories about Dolemite, a tough-talking, super-bad brother, whose exploits had customers at the record shop falling down with laughter.

Other fans remember him . . .

There are a million memories of him over the years:

-discussing our mutual admiration of Bela Lugosi

-his playful disdain for my yearly birthday wishes

-the occasional phone call at the most ungodly late / early hours with Rudy jokingly trying to disguise his voice followed by his audible disappointment when I wasn’t fooled

-my joy of being the butt of his jokes at live performances

-the time I told him an original joke and made him break out in laughter

-when he entered my then apartment over a decade ago, saw my cat, immediately said “here kitty kitty” in his boisterous voice which caused the cat to run in fear

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Win Win

Apparently, when you finish a book, it's Glorious Kentucky Elixir Two-Fer Day.

Note cheesy (yet still delicious) Rock the Vote Maker's Mark limited-edition America Loves Wax And Bourbon bottle.

Thanks to Mink, she is teh best.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The End

I finished the goddamned thing today (there's one little piece left but it'll take no time to wrap up and I can't do it yet anyway cause I don't have the map). But anyway, it's done. It will be out Spring next year. It is . . . generally competent and sporadically amusing.

Oh hell, I don't know, ask me in three months what I think about it, when I'm doing proofs.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Murdoch Outbid By Bat Boy LLC!

Weekly World News acquired by NY investor group
New York Post | Business Wire

Bat Boy LLC, a newly formed company, has acquired the Weekly World News from struggling American Media Inc. "The Weekly World News is a powerful brand in publishing, entertainment and online," says Weekly World News CEO Neil McGinness. "We see tremendous potential for growing the brand and significantly expanding the business."

-from Poynter

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wayne's World

Thee New York Times gets down with Wayne Coyne in his Oklahoma City compound. Oklahoma City = the new Red Hook? No, stop.


Neighbors seem largely oblivious to the fact that a rock star lives down the street, even after all these years. “It’s not like living next door to Cher,” Mr. Coyne said.

But fans do sometimes search the place out.

One Sunday evening not long ago, he said, “I was taking out the trash, and I saw this suspiciously slow-moving car.” In this neighborhood, it was not unreasonable for him to wonder if he was about to be robbed, or worse.

Instead someone yelled out the window, “Wayne, you rock!”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gomorrah: The Movie

The amazing and horrifying book Gomorrah, about the Camorrah crime culture in Naples, is now a film of apparently equally devastating impact.

This Guardian review explains why.

(Thanks to my Man in Manhattan for the tip, I totally missed this movie's existence.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

AIG's Stately Pleasure Castillo

Also from the Washington Post:

After Bailout, AIG Execs Relaxed
Less than a week after an $85B bailout, insurance giant holds luxury retreat with a tab of $440,000.

(pictured, the scene of the $440K executive knob-polishing, the St. Regis Monarch Beach)

Stay Classy, Florida

From the Washington Post's Dana Milbank:
Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Simmons on Ramirez

On, Bill Simmons writes a very long piece--more of a bro-mage, really--on baseball-hitting idiot savant Manny Ramirez, and (perhaps unwittingly) uses enough footnotes (39) to make it almost a tribute to the late David Foster Wallace (the novelist who, even though he favored tennis a bit much for my liking, was also one of the best non-fiction writers around, and who gave it up to write fiction; here's his brilliant cruise ship piece from Harper's in 1996).

Back to "The Only Human": Here are some bits from another good piece, albeit a more clinical one courtesy of Thee New Yorker, about Mr. Manny.

Simmons' piece is basically a long thought to himself, the kind you have when you are driving from Omaha to Rapid City. It's not his best stuff, and there's a lot that's been covered before, but it's pretty amusing:
Sadly, I missed David Ortiz pulling out an AmEx card in Daniel's limo, waving it with his signature gap-toothed smile and announcing happily, "I got Manny's credit card tonight!" Everyone cheered like they'd just won the pennant. With Manny riding in the other limo, they started telling "Manny Being Manny" stories, like how Manny routinely stuffed uncashed paychecks in the top shelf of his locker. Seems he rarely got around to cashing them. The checks were for $978,000 every two weeks during the season. (Big Papi knew the exact number because he made a team employee show him one.)

Poll Troll

This Just In From the Pew Research Center: After a few weeks to sober up and think it all over, America is beginnin' to reckon that Governor Sarah Palin may, in fact, not be teh most awesome person to co-lead this nation.


Thanks. More news as liberal pollsters tweak their data to create it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Strike 11

Eleven straight years of sub-.500 ball. That's not bad luck and injuries, you know. Thee Florida Marlins have won two World Series in that time. Orioles=Tragic.

Anyway, I just discovered I completely forgot to go to my last Orioles game this season (this one, vs. thee Toronto Blue Jays), and I have absolutely no guilt or remorse about it. Is this what it's like to be a Royals fan? Kee-rist. And it's not like my seats suck. They totally don't (see left).

Well, here's to 2009 . . . and lookie, the Orioles sent me a condolence card of sorts today, and it has the 2009 Schedule of Despair. Oh look, Opening Day vs. the Yanks. Great. 25,000 gold-chain bedecked, Jeter-jersied master plumbers and beauticians' assistants coming to town should put us all in a great mood for the season. Go O's.

Check out these good Oriole blogs: Dempsey's Army and Camden Chat, which created this beaut: