|He went that away!!!
Welcome back, dear readers. For the uninitiated, Unpacking the Writer is the monthly series in which I pull back the curtain, just like Toto did in the Wizard of Oz, and reveal some of the inner workings of the mind of a writer on this series of tubes.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: I’ve been told, by someone in the know, that begging my readers to click on the adverts on these pages could vitiate my contract with Google Ads. Therefore, I certainly won’t do that ever again. However, I also realize I have no control over my readers. Some of them may click on the adverts without prompting. They are such mavericks that way.
WHEN I’M 62: Maybe it’s because I had a birthday earlier this month or maybe it’s just a function of getting older, but I’ve been thinking about the past a lot lately. Facebook helps me rediscover the past through many of the Groups and Pages I’ve joined.
I’ve also been thinking about my past a lot lately and this series of tubes has also been helping me catch up with that. Through them, I have connected to people I knew 42 years ago. F’rinstance, I’ve reconnected with Jim Cox, one of my favourite instructors back when I was at Sheridan College. There are several stories I’ve started writing about my times at Sheridan College. Eventually, they’ll all connect up and I’ll publish it as a book, or magnum opus of some kind.
Jim is almost my oldest connection rediscovered on the Facebookery. However, that honour would go Leon Stevenson. I first met Leon back in 1971, or ’72, around the same time I met my 1st wife in what was then known as Cooksville, Ontario. [I don’t know if anybody still calls it Cooksville, but it was the first place I ever lived in Canada. I watched over the years while Cooksville was swallowed by greater Mississauga.] Leon went on to form several bands, one of which became The Extras. I’ve followed Leon’s career and we’ve run into each
other on and off at Music Biz functions over the years. The Extras had a number of hits in Canada, including this terrific Ska tune, which was more of an underground hit due to its subject matter:
However, novelty tunes are not the only thing The Extras are known for. They were also known for great tunes with silly videos, because that’s what people did back then:
Sadly, that’s as far back as I’ve been able to take the Facebook Time Machine. I can’t get past the event horizon that marks the transition between my life in Canada and growing up in Detroit.
When I first moved to Canada I tried to keep up with my Detroit friends. I’d visit my folks on Gilchrist Street some 10-20 times a year and, while I was back, would catch up with some of my Detroit friends. However, as Detroit visits became less frequent, I also noticed that my ‘Merkin friends had not really reciprocated by visiting me in Canada.
|“No soup for you!!!”
Mark Levine, my band mate in Cobwebs & Strange, visited once. He rode his bicycle from Southfield, Michigan, to Oakville, Ontario, on his way to register at MIT. That’s the last time I ever saw him.
Kenneth John Wilson and his new bride visited once. In the couple of years since I had seen him Kenny had been Born Again. Most of the visit (or so it seemed at the time and in retrospect) was spent trying to convince me to accept Jesus Christ in my life. They even left me a Good News Bible, which I kept until about 10 years ago, when it became one of the few (cherished) objects left behind (no pun intended) in my last break-up (along with 3 other different versions of The Bible, which I loved showing people the contradictions. But I digress. Again.). I would love to see Kenny again and see whether he is still highly religious.
However, those were the only friends who visited me. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about and have grown quite nostalgic for the friends that preceded the Cooksville event horizon: Dean Donaldson, who drummed for Cobwebs & Strange; Craig Portman, whose family moved to California before I moved to Canada, and I lost track of him then; Jimmy Coblentz, a few years older, who had a fleet of Studebakers and — inappropriately — moved to Normal Avenue in Los Angeles; Terry Seissor, an occasional girlfriend who wasn’t happy to learn I was moving to Canada and getting married; Jeff Deeks, whose family was so convinced that he was a drug addict (he hadn’t discovered drugs yet) and I was a bad influence on him, that they shipped him down to live with his grandparents in Hernando, Florida; Kenny Wilson; and Mark Levine are all people I’d love to find again. If you have a clue where any of them absconded to, let me know, because I’m just not as good at cyber-sleuthing on this series of tubes as some people.
|A moment in time in the Not Now Silly Newsroom
ALMOST QUIET ON THE CRAZY FRONT: Speaking of cyber-sleuths. It has grown relatively quiet since I published The Johnny Dollar Wars and started sharing the hell out of it. As of this writing it’s #6 on the Not Now Silly All Time Top Ten, with a bullet!
I might have forgotten all about the feud by now had it not been for their reflexive attacks on me. Sadly — for Koldys — The Flying Monkey Squad, his sycophantic gang of ass-kissers that used to hound me on this series of tubes, is now reduced to just one: Ashley Graham, aka Grayhammy. While crossfire has diminished considerably, the war has not ended. Whenever a new skirmish breaks out I am reminded to share The Johnny Dollar Wars with more individuals. Then I set up a whole new series of timed click bait tweets, a simple process carried out with the flick of a button. All of this to push more truth about Johnny Dollar through this series of tubes.
Now, you’d think a smart guy like Mark Koldys — a former-Wayne County Prosecutor, fer fuck’s sake — would have figured out a way to end the war he started. Perhaps I give him too much credit. No matter, because I am content to keep this up as long as he and his Gang of One does. However, after slapping these fools down on this series of tubes for the past 3 years, would I grow nostalgic for The Johnny Dollar Wars if it were to ever end?
TWO MORE REASONS FOR MY MOTOR CITY NOSTALGIA: I’ve started making final preparations for The 2nd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. This year there are already more stops planned and more subjects for research than last year’s very successful trip. I’ll be gathering more documents, examining more microfiche, and gathering photographs for the 2014 edition of the Road Trip.
|The Purple Gang trying to remain anonymous
One of the topics I’ll be researching while up north is the history of Detroit during the 1920s through to the late ’60s for later chapters of Farce Au Pain (the long-lost book I keep promising to serialize in these pages). I’m still writing and researching parts of Farce Au Pain while I edit other parts. One never knows where research will lead. The story of Farce Au Pain is still taking unexpected turns in this series of tubes, but not everything can be found on the Information Highway, hence the The 2nd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research.
More specifically, I’ll be researching newspaper microfiche for articles on The Purple Gang. It surprised me that a person in Farce Au Pain, who will be introduced in Chapter Two, had a strange connection to The Purple Gang? And, who knew, that would lead to further research in Miami, a place I’ve been writing about for the last several years.
This series of tubes is an amazing place, occasionally filled with wonderful synchronicity like this, some of which make me shiver. This one had all my hairs standing on end. Get comfortable while we take a rest stop on the Information Highway:
Recently I was retweeted by the grandson of Meyer Lansky because I shared an article about his grandfather. Makes sense. No big deal, right?
This is where it gets weird. While it was accidental that the Tampa Times published an article about the daughter of the famous mobster just before Father’s Day, it was not accidental that I shared it. I shared it because Meyer Lansky has been on my mind a lot lately because that’s where the Purple connection led and I have been researching him for Farce Au Pain.
That’s why the last book I finished reading was “Mickey Cohen; The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster.” Lansky, not surprisingly, comes up 13 times in Cohen book. The next book I started reading was “The Purple Gang; Organized Crime in Detroit 1910-1945.” I’ve read it before and own it. I decided I’d read it again because it, and the Cohen book, are sources for “Farce Au Pain.” [For the record: Lansky only comes up once in the Purple book, but it was a different era.]
Without giving too much away [NO SPOILER ALERTS!] there is someone introduced in Chapter Two of “Farce Au Pain” who grew up in the Jewish ghetto of Detroit, ‘Merka’s first throwaway city. He was just in his early teens when the Purple Gang was a happening thing, but he was a cocky kid who would run errands for Harry Millman. [Incidentally, and almost besides the point, Pops was friends with Morrie (Morris) Millman, Harry’s brother. And, Morrie and Millie Millman are my sister’s Godparents, but I digress.]
As he grew up, Harry Millman paid for his education so he wouldn’t fall into a life a crime. He became a lawyer, so you’d have to argue whether Harry was successful, or not. That lawyer, almost 20 years later, connects Adrian (who you may all remember from Chapter One) tangentially to Meyer Lansky, who appears in “Face Au Pain” twice as often as he did in the book on The Purples.
It’s a series of tubes.