2/18/2011

item 1 >>> Now Playing…  Resurrection Shuffle Tom Jones covered this tune, but here’s the real deal from Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, 1970. A scratchy old record for scratchy old listeners…

item 2 >>> LQQK @ †h∆†! Serene Branson at the Grammys This is actually kind of unsettling to watch…being in broadcasting, I know what it’s like when the brain is working faster than the mouth, and a fews words of gibberish comes out. Usually, you can just laugh it off. They were speculating this lady was having a stroke, now they’re calling it a “complex migraine”. It sounds to me like she knew what was happening, and was trying to pass her report off to another correspondent. Word is she’s doing OK. But it’s like I always say, I only hope I don’t die of something embarrassing…like Chuckles the Clown, remember?

item 3 >>> Life’s Not Fair, But That’s Life…When something that was legal is made illegal, those who were legally doing it are generally out of luck. Sometimes, when there weren’t that many doing it in the first place, they, but only they, are allowed to continue. We call that being “grandfathered in.” A perfect example would be spit-balls in baseball. When they were made illegal in 1920, 17 pitchers who depended on it for their livelihood were allowed to continue using it, but no others could. The last legal spitballer was Burleigh Grimes, who retired in 1934. A similar phenomenon happens in popular culture, when something that was completely innocent and acceptable suddenly becomes verboten, thru no fault of its own. I call that being “grandmothered out.” It doesn’t happen that often, thank goodness, or everything would be in jeopardy. But it sure happened to Ayds Diet Candy. This was part of a highly successful weight-loss program, developed in the early 70s. It was called candy because it really wasn’t medicinal…simply a chemical that dulled the sense of taste, which supposedly discouraged people from eating. Awareness of the AIDS virus in the mid-80s resulted in a drop in sales of 50% by 1988, and the product was gone from the shelves for good by 1990.

item 4 >>> The Dreaded S-Symbol…But the ultimate “grandmothered out” is the Swastika. In fact, it’s been so successfully erased from Western culture that most people today would be shocked at how widespread its use was just 100 years ago.The symbol is known down thru history from all corners of the world…the earliest found in paintings and carvings of the Neolithic Period, around 1000 BC. It is still used today as a prominent symbol in both the Hindu and Buddhist religions…in fact the word itself is from svastika, meaning “lucky charm” in Sanskrit. And that was its meaning when it became popular in the US and Britain around 1900. A typical “Good Luck” postcard might feature a 4-leaf clover, a rabbit’s foot, a horse-shoe, and a swastika. Seen here, a women’s hockey team, a young Jacqueline Bouvier in squaw garb, a Coca Cola watch fob, and the insignia patch of the 45th Infantry Division of the US Army. It was founded in the 1920s as part of the Oklahoma National Guard, and the symbol represented the region’s American Indian heritage. It was changed to a thunderbird in 1939.

item 5 >>> You Live Where?…There are even 2 towns named Swastika…left, Clinton County in Northeastern New York State…right, from northern Ontario. Both have steadfastly refused to change their name, even amidst intense outside pressure during World War 2. They defend themselves by simply pointing out: “It’s a different swastika…it’s not that one. Others would disagree, but then again, a swastika pattern still exists in the floor tiles at the Temple Beth El synagogue in Utica, NY. As is explained to those who can’t believe it, the connotation to the Jewish congregation is not and never was that of the Third Reich. So mind your own business. Which brings us to the unfortunate Pacific Coast Biscuit Company.

item 6 >>> Nazi Crackers…When in was formed in 1899, the Pacific Coast Biscuit Company followed the lead of many such companies in that it was an amalgamation of 14 smaller businesses from Seattle to Los Angeles…Portland, Spokane, San Francisco…even a factory in Salt Lake City. And just their “luck”…guess what they chose as a corporate logo…

Nabisco purchased the company in 1930, and continued some of their brands…including Honey Maid Graham Crackers to this day. The old Snow Flake Saltines were marketed, along with the more common Premium brand, until the mid-1960s. The black and white illustration is from 1956…the color  from 1959.

item 7 >>> The Golden Age of Gangland Slayings…Yup, that was Boston in the 1960s. And 2 names especially resonate from those days…one was the New England Don, Raymond Patriarca. Born in Worcester on St. Patrick’s Day 1903, his family moved to Providence 3 years later. It was there, during Prohibition, he served his apprenticeship…bootlegging, hijacking, prostitution, armed robbery, and yes murder. He proved to have the perfect balance of brains and brawn, said to be ruthless with his enemies, but fair and generous to his friends. The New England mob had 2 components, Philip Buccola in Boston and Frank “Butsey” Morelli in Rhode Island. There were of course close ties to the New York families…the Connecticut River was the dividing line, the Genoveses controlling Hartford, Springfield, and Albany, the New England families taking everything else east and north. Illnesses to both New England bosses left a power vacuum in the early 1950s which Patriarca was the obvious choice to fill. He united the New England mob, operating out of his home in Providence, with close ties to the Profaci/Colombo family, while underboss Jerry Anguilo ran operations in Boston, fending off the Irish Gangs of Charlestown, Somerville, and Southie, as they battled each other.

item 8  >>> Old School…Needless to say, given his line of work, Patriarca was arrested 28 times and spent 11 years in prison. But he had national influence, owning pieces of 2 Las Vegas casinos, and other interests in Philadelphia and Florida. Despite his accumulated wealth, he lived in a simple 2-story wood-frame home, and operated out of his vending machine and pinball business. And he was mortal enemies with the Kennedys…during the McClellan Committee hearings on organized crime, he taunted Jack and Bobby saying “You 2 don’t have the brains of your retarded sister.” For their part, they called him the “pig on the hill,” referring to his stronghold in the Federal Hill section of Providence. He was finally brought down when tied to murders of Willie Marfeo and Rocco Desiglio by an associate who flipped…and that was…

item 9 >>> Joseph “The Animal” Barboza…The most feared contract killer north of New York, said to have murdered 29, altho experts think the body count was more like 9 or 10. An ex-boxer, he was the showy, pushy, media hog to Patriarca’s quiet, behind-the-scenes operator. He broke rules and overstepped bounds, and the problem was he was Portuguese, which is to say not Italian, so he couldn’t be made. He was said to be very kind of children and animals…and was one of the most flamboyant figures in Boston in the mid-60s…almost as big as Tony Conigliaro. In October of 1966, he and 3 other hoodlums were arrested on weapons charges while cruising the Combat Zone. The other 3 were bailed out, but no one came forth with the $100,000 he needed.  The writing was on the wall. When 2 of his buddies had collected a little over half that amount, both were killed and the money disappeared. Barboza wisely turned state’s evidence, and his trial was a media sensation, not the least for his attorney losing half a leg in a car explosion meant for him. Most of the top mob figures in New england ended up behind bars, including Raymond Patriarca, 6 years for conspiracy to commit murder, altho he continued to run his empire from prison. But several others received the death penalty and others, life sentences.

item 10 >>> The Curtain Comes Down…Paroled after one year, Barboza was re-located to California in the Witness Protection Program. He went to a culinary school, served more time for assorted crimes, and was gunned down on February 11, 1976. Even his lawyer F. Lee Bailey said it was no great loss to society. Raymond Patriarca died of a heart attack in 1984, and the mantle was passed to his son, Ray Jr. There are many names that ring forth from those bloody times…Zannino, Cincotti, Lombardo, Patrizzi, Henry “The Referee” Tameleo, and Frank “The Cheeseman” Cucchiara, the Angiulo Brothers…but Patriarca and The Animal ruled the headlines, and even I was a little nervous when we’d go shopping in Revere, the “Dodge City of the East”…

Wicked Ballsy

I’m sure some of our products sound funny to people in other countries, so we’re even…these are still made today in the land I call Persia, cuz it sounds nicer…

shameless pluggo di tutti pluggi…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Other Daily blog at http://stolf.wordpress.com (the legendary Stolf’s Blog)

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com

Audio samples coming soon…or just check the podcasts…twc-rr blows…


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