Saturday, November 24, 2007

Library Card Chronicles 

Thanksgiving marked the 44th year since JFK was assassinated.

Midday November 22, 1963: Jack Ruby went to the Dallas Morning News offices and sat in the only chair with a view of the area in Dealey Plaza where Kennedy would be killed. Shortly before Kennedy's motorcade arrived, Ruby left the office and then returned a few minutes after the assassination. He feigned surprise when newsmen told him that the President had been shot. According to Seth Kantor, Ruby was at the Parkland Hospital while Kennedy was being treated. Then, after Oswald was apprehended, Ruby lurked among the reporters inside the Dallas Police station. He was carrying a gun in his pocket.

Jack Ruby's former boss, Richard Nixon, was also in Dallas that day. Like Ruby, Nixon had extensive and recurring ties to the mob. His longtime political advisor was just one example:

Richard Nixon's earliest campaign manager and political advisor was Murray Chotiner, a chubby lawyer who specialized in defending members of the Mafia...
When Nixon went on to the White House, both as vice president, and later as president, he took Chotiner with him as a key behind-the-scenes advisor – and for good reason. By the time he became president in 1969, thanks in large part to Murray Chotiner's contacts with such shady figures as Mafia-connected labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello, and Los Angeles gangster Mickey Cohen, Richard Nixon had been on the giving and receiving end of major underworld favors for more than two decades.

In his first political foray – a successful 1946 race for Congress as a strong anti-Communist from southern California – Nixon received a $5,000 contribution from Cohen plus free office space for a ''Nixon for Congress'' headquarters in one of Mickey Cohen's buildings.

And there was more to come.

In 1950, at Chotiner's request, Cohen set up a fund-raising dinner for Nixon at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Los Angeles. The affair took in $75,000 to help Nixon go on and defeat Sen. Helen Gahagan Douglas, whom he had portrayed as a Communist sympathizer – ''pink right down to her underwear.''

''Everyone from around here that was on the pad naturally had to go,'' Cohen himself later recalled, looking back on the Knickerbocker dinner, ''… It was all gamblers from Vegas, all gambling money. There wasn't a legitimate person in the room.'' The mobster said Nixon addressed the dinner after Cohen told the crowd the exits would be closed until the whole $75,000 quota was met. They were. And it was.
That was chickenfeed, though, compared to the $1 million in mob money ($500k from Marcello) that funded Nixon's 1960 campaign for President.

Jack Ruby's had numerous ties to Carlos Marcello.

The Assassinations Committee established that Jack Ruby was a friend and business associate of Joseph Civello's, Carlos Marcello's deputy in Dallas and the boss of Dallas's relatively small Mafia family, a reality that J. Edgar Hoover tried to keep from the attention of the Warren Commission and which the commission itself suppressed by not mentioning it in its report or published exhibits. Furthermore, it [the HSCA] established that Ruby was on very cordial terms with Joseph Campisi, who, the committee found out, was considered to be the number two man in the Dallas Mafia hierarchy and a man on such friendly terms with the Marcello brothers that he sent the family 260 pounds of homemade sausage every Christmas.

Campisi told the committee that he knew all of the Marcello brothers and used to go often to New Orleans to play golf and go to the track with Vincent, Anthony, and Sammy [Marcello]. It was Vincent who first introduced him to Carlos and Joe, and Carlos had taken to him to such an extent that he invited him several times to his fishing camp at Grand Isle, where Campisi would cook spaghetti for Carlos and all the brothers and their friends.

Joe Campisi, as we know, owned the Egyptian Lounge. In its interview with Campisi the Assassinations Committee obtained an admission from him that Jack Ruby had dined with him at the lounge the evening before Kennedy was assassinated. Campisi also admitted that he had visited Ruby in the Dallas County Jail eight days after the assassination.

What was Carlos Marcello doing when JFK was killed? Well, Marcello-- the little illegal immigrant from Tunisia who became the most powerful mob boss in America-- was getting acquitted in Federal Court in New Orleans, (by virtue of a bribed juror). Marcello slipped past Bobby Kennedy's Justice Dept. that day, to the delight of the hideous David W. Ferrie, who was in the audience watching the proceedings:

On the day of the assassination Ferrie was in a courtroom with Carlos Marcello. Marcello was found innocent of all charges brought against him by Robert Kennedy. Only hours after the shooting, Marcello attorney C. Wray Gill, [gave] Ferrie... unwanted news. Gill was telephoned by an unknown source in Dallas saying that Oswald's wallet contained a library card with Ferrie's name on it. Oswald's former landlady in New Orleans was paid a visit by a visibly agitated Ferrie who wondered if she knew anything about the card. Ferrie then rushed to an ex-neighbor of Oswald's and again asked for any information about the card that she might know, but was again frustrated from finding an answer. Immediately after searching for information about his library card and finding none, Ferrie made a phone call to Houston to reserve a room at the Alamotel, a Carlos Marcello owned motel.

When asked why he took the trip to Houston, Ferrie told federal authorities that he and two male companions drove all night on November 22, 1963, 350 miles, through a fierce thunderstorm to Houston to go goose hunting in Texas. He also claimed the trip was designed to gather information on how to run an ice skating rink, a business he wished to open in New Orleans. On the 23rd of November Ferrie visited the Winterland Skating Rink, managed by Chuck Rolland. Rolland told authorities he never spoke to Ferrie about the skating rink business. All Ferrie did, said Rolland, was make and receive phone calls for hours at a pay phone.

On the afternoon of November 23rd Ferrie called his roommate. Layton Martens told Ferrie that he was being accused of involvement in the assassination. Ferrie returned to New Orleans to find that the FBI and Secret Service had just learned about his library card being found in Oswald's wallet. An FBI teletype from the New Orleans office to FBI headquarters notified Director Hoover that Carlos Marcello's attorney G. Wray Gill had notified Ferrie about the library card. Though someone at the Dallas P.D. had tipped off Gill about the card, and information about it was teletyped to Hoover, an inventory of Oswald's personal property by the Dallas P.D. shows no record of a library card. On the evening of November 23, 1963 Ferrie drove to Galveston, stayed the night and returned to New Orleans the next day. There is no record explaining why Ferrie went to Galveston.
Indeed, Carlos Marcello didn't get to enjoy his own acquittal party at the Royal Orleans hotel in the French Quarter. He went back to his office at the Town and Country hotel on Airline Dr., where he made many phone calls into the evening. Ferrie left the party early, too. The library card snafu had to be remedied quickly, and (researchers such as Lamar Waldron believe that) Ferrie trekked to Tejas to retrieve the library card, which was presumably lifted by some "sticky fingers" in the Dallas Police Dept.. So, when the Secret Service came and asked Ferrie about the library card, which they did, Ferrie was able to present it to them.

The next morning, 11/23/63, Ruby told his "roommate" that he was going to kill Oswald. Then Ruby, or someone who sounded like Ruby, telephoned the Dallas Police station and said that Oswald would be killed and wanted to make sure that the police surrounding Oswald would not get trigger happy and shoot any assailants. Ruby easily infiltrated the Dallas Police Station's garage through an unsecured fire exit door and shot Oswald, who died shortly thereafter.

Update: Sorry. It helps to know a few other things. Lee Oswald's uncle was a bookie who worked for Carlos Marcello. In Mafia Kingfish, historian John Davis claims that an FBI informant spotted Oswald at the Town and Country hotel accepting a wad of cash from Carlso Marcello himself. Also, an employee of the Pontchartrain Beach amusement park claimed to have seen Oswald and Ferrie strolling down the boardwalk together in 1963. And here is the famous picture connecting Ferrie and Oswald at a Civilian Air Patrol picnic in Louisiana in 1956.

I guess it's just a small world.

At our previous house in Broadmoor, my office was on the 2nd floor and faced the neighbors' rear balcony. Every other week or so, one of their tenants would creep out onto the balcony and discharge his firearm into the trees. It was loud and scared the bejeezus out of me. One time I think I was working on a Marcello post and heard the screen door open and then "BAM!" he shot his gun and I was ... quite startled. But I never said anything about it to anyone except maybe to my wife Lovely. (Note, this guy was not the dude who shot a bullet into our yard as described in this post. He lived on the other side of us.)

Dead Milkmen "Six Days":
Deep down in New Orleans
We met with guns
Those people got a weird idea
Of what is fun

Fun fact! This Halloween, Nick Cage and son went trick or treating by my old house in Broadmoor in the garden district.

For a good start on the conspiracy angle to the JFK assassination, I recommend John Davis' Mafia Kingfish (if you can find a copy), and Lamar Waldron's Ultimate Sacrifice.

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AP: "A federal judge has spared U.S. Senator David Vitter an embarrassing appearance on the witness stand in a prostitution case."

That bites.

However, I must give a shoutout to the Nolajava coffeehouse on 5055 Canal Street, which features a graphic similar to this one on their "buy 8 get 1 free" customer punch cards. (H/T PR)


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Friday, November 23, 2007

Comparing Apples to Easies 

The Big Apple has 27 times the population of the Big Easy, but only twice the number of murders. This year, the vast majority of NYC homicide victims died at the hands of friends or acquaintances-- so using NOPD logic, I guess New Yorkers who have no friends or acquaintances have "nothing to worry about".

And N.O. Police Chief Warren Riley says: “I think our shootings, on a per capita basis, are probably even with most American cities.”


Fun fact:

"The Big Apple" was the catchphrase of New York Morning Telegraph track writer John J. FitzGerald in the 1920s. He admitted this twice and it was the name of three of his columns. He picked up the term from African-American ("dusky" he called them) stable hands at the Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, probably on January 14, 1920.

FitzGerald's first New York Morning Telegraph "Around the Big Apple" column, on February 18, 1924, proudly declared:

The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There's only one Big Apple. That's New York.

The "Big Apple" racing circuit had meant "the big time," the place where the big money was to be won. Horses love apples, and apples were widely regarded as the mythical king of fruit. In contrast, the smaller, poorer tracks were called the "leaky roof circuit" or "bull ring" tracks.


The African-American stablehand who first called New York City "the Big Apple" at the Fair Grounds Race Track in New Orleans has never been honored. Not by New York City. Not by New Orleans. This information is not even on the Fair Grounds web site. The stablehand doesn't even have a name, mostly because almost no one has helped look for him.

More: Fairgrounds spectacles spectators. Fairgrounds fellowship and memories.
Update: Post has been edited for clarity.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving 

Some folks like to go see a movie after eating or shopping during turkey weekend. I don't do much blogging about movies anymore, but I felt like recording my brief impressions of a few films I recently watched.

Bobby-- More like a day in the life of the Ambassador Hotel than a flick about RFK. The movie is overcast with stars, and the culminating assassination scene simply doesn't correspond with the physical evidence of the case. There's no evil woman in a polka dot dress, either.

Little Children-- Again, I must say that Kate Winslet is a roundly luscious performer.

Enchanted-- Not as entertaining as the preview implied, but fun enough for the whole family.


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A trusted source tells me the following about Karen Carter's endorsement of Jim Tucker (R-Algiers) for House Speaker. (The House is majority Democrat.)

[Rep.} Karen Carter demanded that she become Speaker of the House--- or else she would vote for a Republican. This shifted everyone's opinion, and Jindal took advantage of the timing.
The timing of all of this was done PURPOSELY to give Jindal the advantage. Carter says she endorsed Tucker for the sake of "diversity." What is so diverse about Tucker?

She gave the State Party an ultimatum and then went to the newspaper when they refused her. At least that is how I've heard it. There seems to be a lot of heat on her.

Cazayoux had fifty votes... He only needed three more!

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"Scent and a sound, I'm lost and I'm found" 

Cousin Pat writes about dawgs and cats in two delightful posts here and here.

The Book asks if anyone else has seen the "Mysterious Bird" in New Orleans.

Varg talks about "rats".

Jason recounts the horrifying evangelical turkey.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pro-rating bonuses for wounded veterans 

From SD we learn:

The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.

Can we audit more warriors like Terrytown's Marine Cpl Jacob Schick, who has had 46 surgeries and 23 blood transfusions since he survived an IED in Iraq? Let's make sure these war veterans aren't getting away with extra "bonus" money they don't deserve, after becoming "unable to serve out their commitments".

Update: Go see 2 Millionth for more.

T-P photo by Susan Poag

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Quotes of the weak 

"This bill has too many earmarks."

--President Bush, upon vetoing a recent education, labor and health-care appropriations bill. The bill's largest earmark, btw, belongs to Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., who earmarked $9.3 million for the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (a school that already enjoys generous GO Zone recovery money so boosters can retire to their million dollar football condos after watching their mighty SEC team get beat at home by University of Louisiana-Monroe.)

"Their majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it is acting like a teenager with a new credit card."

--President Bush said in remarks following a lunch with Business and Community Leaders in New Albany, Indiana.

"The world would be a better place without you."

-- Lori and Curt Drew, parents of Megan Meier's former friend. "After Megan Meier committed suicide at age 13 last year, her parents learned that the boy she'd been corresponding with on MySpace -- the one who unexpectedly began calling her a fat slut and said 'the world would be a better place without you' -- was a hoax created by the parents of a former friend." (Update: More at Shrimp Po Boy....)


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Progressive decline of Dollar Bill 

In excellent posts, Dangerblond and Adrastos discuss the election results, and the demise of William Jefferson's "Progressive Democrats" machine.

Also, The DP linked to an election "news analysis" by 99.5fm which included a funny graphic of an "annotated " Prog-Dem voter's guide from the Oct 20th primary election. (Only a couple of candidates endorsed by the Progressive Dems won.) The 99.5fm news analysis, however, could be improved a bit. Consider these statements:

These [latest election] results indicate a marked decline in Jefferson's ability to deliver votes on his home turf, his re-election last year not withstanding.
It's fair to assume that the demise of the Progressive Democrats is due at least in part to the ethical questions swirling around its leader, "Dollar Bill" (the nickname given to Jefferson by his mentor, former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial), and his close confidantes.

In last year's re-election, Jefferson narrowly won Orleans parish (51-49)*, but sealed the deal with a landslide in Jefferson Parish (71-29), with the help of Derrick Shepherd's endorsement and Harry Lee's assistance. But many conservatives and Jefferson Parish voters thought Karen Carter was too liberal, and/or too anti-West Bank to vote for. So they stayed home or made a strategic vote for Jefferson. This fact helped obscure Jefferson's waning control and influence in New Orleans, which has continued to diminish even after voters stupidly re-elected him. (Karen Carter, by the way, is currently showing her contemptous liberalism by supporting West Bank Republican Jim Tucker for State House Chairman. But that's another story. Thx to Point Coupee Democrat for the tip.)

Finally: Marc Morial wasn't "Dollar Bill's" one-time mentor. That was Dutch Morial, Marc's father. Dutch gave Jefferson the "Dollar Bill" moniker after Jefferson presented him with a huge legal bill for work he thought was done gratis. After that, the two became rivals.

* We can't forget Nagin's endorsement of Dollar Bill.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Sidr vicious 

Fifty-five hours or so after cyclone Sidr swamped Bangladesh, and killed 3000+ people, U.S. marine C-130 aircraft arrived with medical supplies. Our prayers go out to the 7 million Bangladeshis affected by the storm.

A Reuters reporter says the "destruction is unimaginable" while surveying the destruction in a country that suffered 140,000 deaths after a cyclone flooded the coast in 1991. Back then, the U.S. admirably responded to the horrific disaster with Operation Sea Angel, which saved thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, of lives.

Meanwhile, in this hemisphere, scientists have designated Hurricane Katrina to be the
"the largest ecological disaster in US history":

The storm killed or damaged nearly one big tree for every American, and the total load of carbon dioxide produced by their decay surpasses the amount of CO2 that all healthy forests in the US could photosynthesize back into oxygen in a year's time.
Congress for the first time approved money - $504 million - to help states replant lost forests, but only a fraction of that money has so far been allocated.

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"Not sufficiently prepared" 

New Orleans can host the Sugar Bowl, BCS championship game, NBA All Star game, Mardis Gras and Jazz Fest... but is apparently "not sufficiently prepared" to handle a televised forum with two Presidential candidates on stage simultaneously.


Update: I hope the hopelessly "overstuffed" Po Boy Preservation event didn't factor into the Presidential Debate committee's unfortunate decision. (A very hungry oyster family went to the festival with high hopes, but found the crowds and lines to be overwhelming.)

Update #2: Mr. Clio pens a strongly-worded letter to the Commission.
Update #3: As does Professor Morris.
Update #4: Read Gentilly Girl, and her links.


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New Orleans basketball update 

It exists!

Tulane is surging, and UNO is dangerously good.

The unloved New Orleans Hornets, meanwhile, have the best record in the NBA's mighty Western Conference. They are currently atop the league's toughest division, due in large part to MVP candidate and assist leader Chris Paul.

Tonight 9-2 New Orleans hosts 9-2 Orlando, who just knocked off the undefeated Celtics. It's a marquee match-up, and since the Saints season has been (prematurely) declared "over", why not go attend a basketball game and cheer on a successful New Orleans professional franchise at the top of their division?

Please note: seeing a Hornets game doesn't mean you love the eclectic Shinn family.


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Well, someone had to fill the void after Louis Rukeyser passed 

Jay Z is apparently offering money tips again.

Previously, in the intro to Rihanna's "Umbrella" video, Jay-Z told us to keep our "chips" stacked in case of a stock market downturn. Now, in his latest video, Jay-Z is shown with a fistfuls of euros instead of (weak) U.S. benjamins. In the song, "Blue Magic", he raps:

Can’t you tell that I came from the dope game
Blame Reagan for making me into a monster
Blame Oliver north and Iran-Contra
I ran contraband that they sponsored
Before this rhyming stuff we was in concert

Not Bonzo! Not Ollie! How could you think... You can't say... They would never... Where's your sense of personal resp--... Wait, I should read what? ... Oh.

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Nagin draws gasps 


[At the National League of Cities conference in New Orleans, Mayor] Nagin drew gasps from the audience when he compared the $114 billion in federal money that has been allocated to the Gulf Coast for recovery with the $192 million that has made it into city coffers to finance public infrastructure projects.

It is a rather jarring disparity, isn't it?

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