"He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." - Chicago Gangster Ted Newberry. Rubbed out January 7, 1933

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dead Guy Art

We have our first entry! Scroll down past all the advertisements for lasik surgery that nobody ever reads to check it out.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thats a wrap for Spanish

Exterior- Second Ave. 4:00pm 89-years ago today. JOHNNY SPANISH approaches a cafe where is WIFE and a FRIEND are waiting for him. Before he has a chance to enter KID DROPPER approaches him.


Hey John got a minute?


Just one, what's up.

As the Dropper begins to speak FOUR HOODLUMS walk up and fan out around him and Spanish. Spanish doesn't pay any mind to it as this is the status quo with guys like them.


Some of the boys and me were thinking.


Well don't think to hard you might hurt yourself.


Thats funny, you always were good for a laugh. I got a joke of my own.


Let's hear it. I always-

BAM! Before Spanish can finish his thought a bullet slams into the back of his head. Dropper and his henchmen casually turn the corner and walk away.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Its in the bag

With normal summer doings and what not some DGIS's have been neglected. So we'll play catch up, In the summertime when the weather is fine we go fishing we go swimming in the sea ... On July 23, 1902 four young boys were preparing to go swimming at the foot of 73rd Street in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. As was their habit, they removed their clothes and began searching for places to hide them prior to jumping in the water. As one of the lads was seeking his spot he came across a potato sack that was filled with something. Being curious he pulled out his pocketknife and slit the bag only to find another bag inside. He called out to his chums who all gathered around as he opened the inner sack. As the young boy slit the inner sack they all jumped back in horror as part of a naked man plopped out of the bag. (Editors note: DNGIBs [Dead Naked Guys in Bags] qualify for mention on the DGIS forum) (Editors 2nd note: Mungo Jerry never said anything about finding dead guys while fishing and swimming in the sea.)
The man in the bag was forty-year old Giuseppe Catania, a Brooklyn green grocer. Just what the husband and father did to deserve such a fate is unknown (neighborhood gossip had him killing one or two guys back in Sicily) but on the morning of his final day he told his wife that he was going into Manhattan because a man had stolen a case of preserved tomato paste for him from the Custom’s House. The lure of the free tomato paste was just a ruse because when Catania arrived at his destination he was beaten to a pulp and his throat was slit from ear to ear. The grocer was then stripped and his clothes were used to mop up the blood. The killers then trussed him up by tying his head to his knees. A flour sack was then tied over his head and his body placed on a floor mat. Another floor mat was placed over him and the two mats were sewn together with Catania inside. This bundle was then placed into a larger sack and loaded onto a wagon. (No small feat considering Catania weighed 240 lbs.) The police believed that the grisly package was then transported back to Brooklyn on the wagon during the night for disposal in the Ocean.
In 1902 the foot of 73rd Street in Bay Ridge stopped at a twenty-foot embankment, which led down to the shore. It was the opinion of the police that the killers stopped the wagon here and pushed the bundle over the side thinking that it would roll into the surf and be taken out with the tide. However instead it got tangled up in some bushes and was there for the kids to find the next day. Undoubtedly a Mafia victim it’s not known whether or not Catania was himself a member of the organization or a non-partisan who some how crossed them. Personally I smell a Morrello and a Lupo but thats just me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tanner Smith meets the Mummy

Opening August 1, is the MUMMY 3 with Brendan Fraser. As an apreciator of dead guys in suits I can get behind three thousand year old dead guys in a suit. I didn't care for the first one when I saw it but it has since grown on me as a late night cable flick. Mummy 2 blew. This one looks like the first installment with a change of geography but I may check it out. So what does the Mummy have to do with this blog? I'm getting there... thoughts of horror films turned to memories of the local monster movie host in Detroit Sir Graves Ghastly. I remembered one segment where he would show monster art work sent in by kids. What a great idea thought I, so I would like to announce the first annual Dead Guys in Suits art contest. Any budding artist who wants to send in a pic of a dead guy in a suit will be entered. First prize is a signed copy of Bad Seeds in the big Apple. Second prize, a set of steak knives, third prize is you're fired...wait, thats something else. First prize a book. All (tasteful) pics will be posted on this blog. A panel of celebrity* judges will decide the winner.


All pics must be of a dead gangster, real or imagined, but the time frame must be 1900-1940. Medium is up to the artist, crayon, pencil, paint- It's your call. All entries must be received by August 31, winner will be chosen shortly there after.

One possible subject for someone out there is today's Dead Guy; Westside gang leader Thomas "Tanner" Smith. 89 years ago tonight Tanner was playing cards in the gang's rendesvous, the Marginal club, when Robert Shaw (Shore) came up behind him and sent a couple bullets into his back and then fled. Shaw got his a few nights later in Hoboken, NJ by some Tanner Loyalist. Gangster City owners can check out the full story pgs 88-94

* Pat Downey's definition of celebrity is basically whomever he chooses to be a judge.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Friday is here and the DGIS studio will most likely be enjoying another summer respite next week. We leave you with a reminder that 74-years ago this coming Sunday Willie Shapiro, younger brother of Meyer and Irving Shapiro, who were both eliminated by "the Combination" better known as Murder Inc. in 1931, was himself killed. Willie was eliminated for no other reason than he was a Shapiro. Lured to a bar Willie was beaten to a pulp, stuffed in a sack and then buried alive in the sand dunes of Canarsie. Nice guys those Murder Inc. fellows.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Extra, extra!!

Yesterday I was interviewed for a NYC paper called Metro NY. Should be out today or tomorrow. So if you live or work in NYC go out and grab one. If you found your way here from that article welcome, pull up a dead guy and relax. Speaking of yesterday, July 16, was the 100th anniversary of a shoot out between the Gophers and another westside gang called the Goldens. The battle was to settle a quarrel that started ten days before at a baseball game. Supposedly about forty armed members of the Gophers and the same number of Goldens banged away at each other. The police, who knew a battle was brewing between the two mobs, managed to disperse the two gangs but not until one hundred shots had been fired.* Miraculously there were only two injuries. William Lynch, a Gopher, was wounded in the hip and was found hobbling away. He was taken to Roosevelt Hospital where Joseph Gando, a Golden, had arrived with a bullet wound to the neck. Neither man would talk to the police and it was suggested that Gando’s would probably die. Wonder if Owney Madden was present? Sure, its our blog if we want him to have been there, then I say he was there.

*a hundred shots sounds like a lot to me so am taking that number with a grain of salt.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oh, by the way the new book is now available in stores as well as online.

Big Jack Zelig & regular size Rose Keefe

We here at the Dead Guys in Suits studio were fortunate to have one of our favorite true crime authors, Rose Keefe, and one of our favorite gangsters, Big Jack Zelig (who happens to be the subject of Rose's latest book, The Starker, due out this October from Cumberland House Publishing) stop by for a brief chat.

Dead Guys in Suits: I'd like to thank the both of you for stopping by. Jack I must say you look great for a guy whose been dead almost 100 years.
Rose Keefe: Thanks- great to be here. I've been reading this blog for awhile- people are starting to think I'm a necro or worse.
Jack Zelig: I feel funny doing this interview. Last time I did one, it was for the Herald in August 1912. I got a nice-looking lady reporter that time though. She sure was a dimber mort!
DGIS: Rose your previous two books were on Chicago gangsters Dean O'Banion and George "Bugs" Moran how'd you make the jump from Chi-town to the Big Apple and how'd you decide on a relative unknown like Zel?
RK: After writing about O'Banion and Moran, I became curious about the type of criminal that preceded them. I wondered whether the early gangs really were just a collection of alley rats and barroom brawlers, as Asbury's 'Gangs of New York' implied. Then I saw a photo of Zelig- that famous shot of him wearing a straw hat and smiling into the camera. Up until that point the only pictures I'd seen of pre-Prohibition gangsters were scowling mugshots. In contrast, Zelig appeared so confident and relaxed. That grabbed my interest, so I read everything I could find on him, which wasn't much, but what I did locate was all contradictory. One book said he was a heartless killer, another insisted that he was the first real defender of Manhattan's Jewish quarter. In terms of his connection to the Becker case, he was either a prosecution or a defence witness: it varied from book to book. This forgotten gangster was a total mystery that I decided I had to solve.
DGIS: Jack how does it feel having a full blown bio in your honor as opposed to the few pages you usually get in crime books.
JZ: It feels great. Just goes to show you, though, that you gotta die first to be appreciated. I was never an alley rat or barroom brawler- those lowlifes all lived across the river in Hazlet, New Jersey.
DGIS: Rose how was working on Zel's story different than you're previous subjects?
RK: It was ten times harder, if not more. I was successful in bringing O'Banion and Moran to life on the page because I was able interview people who knew them, and didn't have to rely 100% on newspapers and court documents. Zelig was dead for ninety-one years by the time I began researching his story, so I didn't have an advantage like that. But I got lucky VERY unexpectedly when one of his relatives contacted me in response to a posting I made on a True Crime newsgroup. This gentleman had been researching Zelig since the 1950s and gave me free use of his files. Joe had interviewed people who had known and in some instances worked for Zelig, and their stories really brought him to life.
DGIS: Jack how about this air conditioning huh? To bad they didn't have it back in July of 1912 eh?
JZ: Air conditioning, computers, all that stuff- it's all great. But I don't know how the guns and stalls make a living these days. No one carries cash any more. I lifted a dame's poke on the bus and all she had were credit cards. What am I supposed to do with those? Do I look like I could pass for a Sandra Lewis?
DGIS: Speaking of July 1912 is there anything you'd like to say about the Rosenthal slaying or do readers have to wait until October?
JZ: Jack Rose is a lying asshole and Phil Davidson couldn't beat up his own shmeckel. The rest you gotta wait to read.
DGIS: Rose, without giving anything away, what can readers expect to find in the Starker that they haven't heard before?
RK: The Starker includes the following, previously unpublished information:
*The testimony that Jack Zelig intended to give at Charles Becker's murder trial, provided posthumously by his relatives.
**The real reason why Red Phil Davidson killed Zelig in October 1912.
***Details about the accident that turned Zelig Lefkowitz the pickpocket into Big Jack Zelig the gangster.
DGIS: Sounds great I can't wait. Jack please don't touch that.
JZ: Good thing for you that you said 'please'.
DGIS: Rose, if memory serves correctly your Bugs Moran bio was a result of your O'Banion book. Can we expect a Zelig spin-off, perhaps a Dopey Benny or Monk Eastman tome?
RK: I'm playing with the idea of doing Dopey Benny Fein's story next. Fein succeeded Zelig like Moran succeeded O'Banion, and his story covers the New York underworld from 1900 until at least the 1950s. That's a pretty big bite to take, so I have to consider just what approach I'm going to take.
JZ: Yeah, do it! Benny was a swell fellow.
DGIS: Jack have you been out to Coney lately, if so what are your thoughts?
JZ. Same shit, different decade. I was there last weekend to catch some shows and see that they got a fella coming in a couple of weeks, a guy that drives nails into his face. I have to find out what kinda money he gets for that racket, and if you can get paid just as much for doing it to someone else's face.

Thus completes part I of the DGIS's interview with Rose Keefe and Big Jack Zelig. For more Keefe & Zelig be sure to visit-

Zel also has his very own myspace page: www.myspace.com/jackzelig