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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Gopher Gets His

At approximately 5:00a.m. ninety years ago today Red Dan Houlihan, a Gopher*, was wrapping up an evening of whoknowswhat with three of his Gopher pals. The quartet decided it was time for breakfast but being Gophers thought that they shouldn't have to pay.

Walking past a grocery store they grabbed two loaves of bread and three cans of milk. A beat cop named Martling saw the theft and started to chase them. The Gophers hopped into a cab, most likely driven by another gang member, and started to speed away. Officer Martling fired off a few shots at the taxi and thought nothing more of it.

An hour later the cab was found abandoned at Sixth Avenue and Thirteenth street and there reposing in the back seat was Red Dan. Nineteen and dead for a dollars worth of groceries. One of Officer Martlings bullets did indeed find its target.

*This actually took place in Hudson Duster territory so Red and the boys could have been HDs mislabeled by the press.

Monday, March 29, 2010

No, is not an option

"It's most likely those bootleggers. There'll be no trouble. They didn't deliver the stuff and they can't expect me to pay for it." Now that attitude may have been sound if Joseph Storch was dealing with the neighborhood butcher, baker or candlestick maker. But he wasn't he was dealing with hoodlums.

Storch had ordered some whiskey, how much wasn't reported anyways a large touring sedan pulled up to his house around 9:00 p.m. or so Eighty-eight years ago tonight. It was the bootleggers and they wanted their dough. Storch said he never got the stuff. The response was "We'll be back in a couple of hours. You'd better have the kale." Or something to that effect.

At around 11:00p.m. the large touring sedan pulled up and two guys got out leaving three in the car. The mugs entered the building and sent a tenant up to Storch's apartment to tell him a "friend" was waiting downstairs.

Storch, his wife and a friend were discussing the the bootleggers when the neighbor arrived with the message. His wife pleaded with him not to go down but Storch made the previously mentioned statement and headed downstairs while his wife and friend stood at the top of the stairwell.

Once in the vestibule Storch informed the bootleggers that in commerce one does not pay for something that one doesn't receive. He received two answers, one in the forehead and one in the throat.

At the sound of the shots the sedan started cruising down the street and the two bootleggers chased it for the length of a building before jumping onto the running boards in true gangster fashion.

Meanwhile Storch lay in the vestibule, his blood pooling around him, planning his critique for Angieslist.com

Friday, March 26, 2010

Young, young, young

At seventeen years of age Sam Licht had already done a stretch in the reformatory for burglary, but now he was out and up to something else. Something else that didn’t sit well with others. Eighty-eight years ago today Sam put on a blue suit, laced up his tan shoes and donned a green over coat and matching hat. It was a nice spring day and he headed over to 168 Madison Street.

Sam loitered around for a bit and just before 5:00p.m. a young lady arrived also dressed in her spring finery of a fur coat, black hat with green trim and white and yellow shoes. The couple definitely stuck out in the neighborhood. They spoke to each other for a few minutes and then, right when a taxi cab pulled up to the curb, the girl turned and walked away.

Sam turned in the opposite direction and began to nonchalantly walk away as two torpedoes stepped out of the cab. They walked up behind Sam and one of them fired a bullet into the back of Sam’s noggin and then stepped back into the cab and were whisked away. Why? Was the dame a decoy? Who knows. Smells like Kid Dropper and the boys to me but then again that could be my Old Spice.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hurburger deluxe

Since we had so much fun with 1901 yesterday lets stay there again shall we? Good. Just as Brooklyn barber Joseph Lapis was getting back to work sweeping up hair, trimming mustaches and telling everybody how he blasted a burglar in the chest the other night, over in Mid-town Manhattan Detective McCafferty was walking at 42nd Street and 6th Avenue. From the opposite direction came international thief Sam Hurburger.

Sam was well known to both New York City and London police as the leader of gang of thieves who operated for about a decade. Sam’s brother ran a pawnshop in London’s Strand and the gang fenced their loot through him.

Sam had been captured a year or so ago and place in jail in Rochester, NY but escaped and the police had been on the look out for him ever since. Especially since a number of burglaries started to pop up around the city that led detectives to believe that Sam was once again in town.

Back to 42nd Street- So there’s McCafferty on the corner and then Sam walks up. He recognized the Detective on sight and quickly turned around and dashed across Bryant Park. McCafferty took off after him. After running two blocks the thief started to out distance the Detective. Not willing to let a catch like Sam get away McCafferty pulled out his gun and yelled, “Stop or I’ll shoot” ( I suspect it wasn’t a cliché 109 years ago) Having dealt with McCafferty in the past and having no doubt that the Detective would in fact perforate his back, Sam hid the skids and was taken in. And that they say is that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Welcome to my shop, let me shave your crop, dishcharge my shotgun in your top. Daintily

One hundred and nine years ago today Brooklyn barber Joseph Lapis exercised his Second Amendment right and kept his shop from being burglarized. The previous morning he and his brother John entered their establishment in the bottom of 164 Hamilton Avenue and saw that during the night someone attempted to break in.

Believing that the footpad(s) would return that night they set out to protect their combs and mustache wax by going out and purchasing a shotgun. Joseph also procured a cot and set it up in the rear of the shop so that he could spend the night.

Long about 3:30a.m Joseph was awakened by the sound of somebody tampering with the lock on the front door. He grabbed his gun and approached the door. He listened for a few more seconds, then placed the barrel against said door and pulled the trigger. He heard a guy let out a scream and then all was quiet. The barber then got dressed and went to the police station and told them about the ordeal.

A patrolman was dispatched and went to the shop. He entered the building and on the landing of the second floor found would be yegg John Alba lying unconscious with a wound to the chest. Alba was taken to the hospital where he denied trying to break into the shop but remained mum on how he came to get a chest full of buck shot.

Since you can’t go around shooting burglars Joe the barber was arrested but back then people figured burglars got what they deserved and he was paroled the same day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't short Shorty

One hundred years ago today former pool room owner Henry Jacobs was about to open his own gambling joint in Harlem. He gave a guy named Hogan $1,500 and told him to meet him later at the house which was already set up with all kinds of gambling equipment. In the meantime Jacobs ventured to the Pilgrim café, then located on the second floor of 28 West 116th Street, and ordered some lunch with a couple of pals.

At a nearby table sat another gambling sort by the name of Shorty Mansfield. Shorty called Jacobs over and supposedly asked for $250 that Henry owed him. Henry said he didn’t have it so Shorty blew a hole in his belly.

Mansfield hit the door and made a successful get-away while Jacobs hit the floor. He was subsequently taken to Harlem hospital where one hundred years ago tomorrow he died.

The story doesn’t end there however. Remember Hogan? Well he wasn’t much of a hero. With Henry playing pinochle in purgatory he pocketed the $1,500 and took all the furniture and gear and opened a gambling house not to far away and did very well. In one month he made $17,000 and although the police knew about the house, it was never raided, so undoubtedly a good portion of that dough found it’s way into blue pockets.

Someone else who knew about the many clams rolling in was the Widow Jacobs who for six months tried to collect Henry’s money to no avail. So one day the following autumn she showed up at the house and broke a window with her umbrella and then smashed two more by throwing a hammer through them. She was arrested and blew the whistle but with all that jack rolling in it’s hard to believe the police did anything about it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bob & Carol and Ted & Alice

Eighty-years ago, pretty much this minute, two well dressed young ladies (we'll call them Carol and Alice) entered a Brooklyn drug-store and asked to see some perfume. Store proprietor William Blair took out a number of bottles for the women to look over. While this was taking place two fellows (Bob and Ted) entered the store and pulled out their guns and told Blair to put ‘em up. Once Blair had them up the dames helped the guys clean Blair's register out of a hundred bucks and the $600 ring he was wearing. All four then skedaddled in one of them there automobiles and went to Vegas where they almost had a fourway but thought better of it and then went outside and mixed with a bunch of different people while Dionne Warwick's "What the world needs now, is love, sweet love." played.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lights, camera, action!

We continue this week with another interview. Today stopping in the DGIS studio is actor and film maker Franklin Abrams. Franklin has been working to bring back the early days of New York City gangdom by filming short pieces about Monk Eastman and his protégé Kid Twist Zweifach in a series calle "Our Gotham". The trailer for the soon to be released Changing of the Guard episode can be seen below.

Look quick, if the drunk in the boater in the opening shot looks a tad familiar thats because it's DGIS founder Pat Downey in his first role: Drunk gambler. (Spoiler: I get to grab a prostitues back side)

Dead Guys in Suits: Thank you for stopping by today Franklin. Sorry Pat Downey couldn’t be here but he’s in Hollywood recuperating, he went on a bender after finding out he wasn’t even considered for an Oscar. We’ll text him and let him know you’re here.

Franklin Abrams: The Oscar let down should be settled with a duel between Pat Downey and Jeff Bridges.

DGIS: Please tell us about your film series.

FA: Our Gotham is a short film series that’s set in the Underworld 1903-1904 New York and is focused around Monk Eastman, Kid Twist and the reality of their surrounds. The vision is to make the transition from a short film series to an Episodic Television series. A script for the first episode (pilot) of the television series was recently completed and within in it, we are introduced to the likes of Tammany boss, Big Tim Sullivan, District Attorney, William Travers Jerome, Five point leaders Paul Kelly and a host of other politicians, gamblers. Prostitutes cops, street urchins and a bunch of all out intriguing characters.

DGIS: How did you come to be interested in the gangsters of yore?

FA: As a kid growing up in New York city ,I was intrigued by the streets of the Lower East Side and I would often stand on street corner and day dream about who got killed there and what illegal dealings went in down in each building. My gateway drug for my affinity in gangster films and literarature was the Edward G Robinson films and a VHS copy OF Once Upon A Time in America that my father played in the house. After that I was hooked and I knew that many afternoons spent at the archives was ahead of me.

DGIS: You’ve played both Monk Eastman and Kid Twist. How did you prepare for the roles of each? How were they the same/different?

FA: The fact that I wrote for both characters puts me in the proper head space for when I act as them. Monk is impulsive, sloppy on the tongue, belligerent, gluttonouse and full off witty one liners. Monk speaks/ hits first and answers later. He does what he wants, when he wants. ! From absorbing newspaper with quotes from him and first hand accounts of him, I find a voice to write from which then lead me to act from. We are fornuate in the case of Monk because there was so many rich one liner’s and quotes that he blessed the Newspapers of the time with. They real gems that serve as the foundations for defining character and constructing scenes.

In many ways Twist is the antithesis of Monk, he’s clcualted, organized and disciplined ambitious and self educated. All of his moves are strategic. Unlike Monk, twist would never go out on a drunken bender, resulting in all out gun fight. Instead, attacks under his reign are precise and calculated. Twist is full of one liner as well, but where Monk might curse and have some clever quote about “goin straight”, in the New York Herald, Twist kept a low profile and might make a reference to the Civil War instead. It’s a tough one for me because I’m wearing many hats, I’m writing producing, casting etc, etc. So I don’t get to strip down and surrender solely to acting like I would if I was just hired to portray Twist or Monk I’m steering the entire ship. As an actor, you are your own instrument and both characters stem from the same place in my instrument, so sometimes they might feel and sound a little too similar.

DGIS: Pat just texted us back, he says that in between bouts of the dry heaves he’s shopping around his script, “Legs Diamond meets the Wolfman” but is willing to give you first shot at it. He wants to know if you’re interested.

FA: Actually, I was thinking more the lines of Owney Madden meets Creature from the Black Lagoon,but tell him I’m open to discuss it.

DGIS: Who is more fun to play Monk or Kid Twist?

FA: Definitely Monk because playing him is like playing a big kid.

DGIS: Any other gangsters that you’re itching to play?

FA: Yes indeed. I’m jonesing to produce a piece about and play any member of Detroit’s Purple gang. Also, it would be a ball to play Humpty Jackson because was even more of goon than Monk Eastman. On a sociopath tip, I’d love to step into the shoes of Murder Inc’s own, Harry “Pittsburgh Phil“Strauss and one day I’d like to base a production in old LA and portray Mickey Cohen.

DGIS: A shame Pat isn’t here, being from the motor city he is into the Purple Gang as well. In addition to your film series you also do “live” pieces. We saw you at the Lower Eastside Tenement museum. You’ve also been at the recently opened Museum of the American Gangster. Are there any plans for a full length play?

FA: Absolutely. Author Extraordinaire Rose Keefe, is currently penning a one man show about Twist that we will hopefully put into production at the Museum sometime this year.

DGIS: Here’s another text from Pat – Two enthusiastic thumbs up for Owney meets the Creature also ask Franklin if he’s interested in doing an Our Gotham spinoff called – Pat Downey: Early 1900’s Drunk Ass-Grabber?

FA: HaHA! Little does Pat know that we wrote a spec script for a series that centers on Pat getting drunk and rolled in every episode. In the first episode he gets beaten by a bunch of Street Urchin kids and in the next one he gets drugged and stripped of his clothes by a prostitute!
On a serious note, Pat is a natural, and his ability to stay in character the whole day had the actors in the piece eating their hats.

DGIS: I’m sure he would appreciate that but we’re not gonna tell him because he’s already difficult to work with. We like the fact that in both your film pieces and live scenes your dialog is chock full of early 20th century gang vernacular. Is it difficult to write a scene trying to stay true to the period?

FA: It’s very difficult and there’s a thin line between staying true to the period and alienating the audience with overkill on the language. The skill lies in writing just enough of the old language in each sentence then using regular words that follow and hence define the point you are trying to get across. Books such as Apaches of New York, Cornelius Willemse’s Behind the Green Lights and Newspapers from the time really assist in capturing the texture and essence of the time

DGIS: Now that you wasted the Bottler, what’s next? Will we see Kid Twist and Cyclone Louis get croaked out at Coney Island?

FA: That episode is actually a one off from that chapter in time. We are going to go back in time a few months and start the series from the time when Monk and Co. are arrested for beating and robbing the wealthy Whitmore guy and get into a tussle with the Pinkerton Detectives who are trailing the wealthy young man.
This scenario and overall episode will set up the path of an entire series. Stay Tuned for sure! Oh yeah, there might be a role where Pat gets shot in the ass,
Tell him that he will get two days to prepare for his audition.

DGIS: We understand that Pat is “Method” so don’t sweat the bullets. We noticed that the Rabbi is a reoccurring character in your films. Is he based on anyone in particular or do you just like the idea of a crooked, gambling, prostitute-patronizing religious teacher?

FA: Yeah, I had one of those in Hebrew school (just kidding) Priests are always being portrayed as boy touchers, so I figured I can pay homage to degenerate Rabbis! Yes, I’m kind of obsessed with the notion of the righteous and pious being thrown off track into a lair of desperation out of circumstance, I read many accounts of the learned and well respected Rabbi who immigrates from Lithuania to America only to find a job in the Ghetto blessing Old ladies’ chickens as being Kosher.

The first Rabbi character in our piece was inspired from a 1904 New York Daily tribune article in which a Synagogue official hired the Eastman’s to bludgeon officials from their congregation. The Rabbi in Changing of The Guard is inspired by Hutchins Hapgood’s 1903 book, The Spirit OF The Ghetto, which digs deep into the notion of Russian immigrant rabbis being ostracized by the wealthy German Jewish population from the Yorkville section of the city, therefore limiting them to a life of little works in the slum Congregations of The lower East Side.

DGIS: Here’s another text:
Tell Franklin that Hollywood’s tough; me blunts all gone and I need him to send a caravan cause right now I’m gadding the hoof on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams and wants to hop a bull back to the Frog and Toe.

FA: Tell Pat to have a cab drop him off at Canter’s deli and I’ll then send a Goon to pick him up.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Scotland Confidential

Up the close and down the stair
In and out with Burke and Hare
Burke the killer, Hare the thief
Knox the boy who buys the beef

We are going to start the week off by leaving the under belly of early Twentieth Century New York City to visit the dark side of early 19th Century Scotland with our special guest, Author and Professor of History, Lisa Rosner, who will be delivering her presentation on the infamous Burke and Hare murders this coming Thursday, March 18, at 8 pm, at the Observatory Room, 543 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215

We are fortunate to have her in the studio today to discuss her book:

The Anatomy Murders
Being the True and Spectacular History of Edinburgh’s Notorious Burke And Hare and of the Man of Science who Abetted Them in the Commission of Their Most Heinous Crimes.

Dead Guys in Suits: Thank you for being here today Lisa, your subtitle deserves its own Edgar award. How did you come up with it?

Lisa Rosner: Thank you very much for inviting me! And for introducing me to your fascinating website, which has already led to me to new and even darker byways through murder and history.

To answer your question: Finding the right title was harder than writing the book! I’m no good at titles so I had a lot of help from Penn Press. We wanted something short and snappy, but we also wanted something that would link murder and mayhem to medicine and science. Eventually we just threw together our favorite nouns and adjectives from 19th century newspapers – Burke and Hare, true and spectacular, notorious and heinous – and you can see the result.

DGIS: For those unfamiliar with the story could you explain why Burke & Hare are remembered today?

LR: Between November 1827 and November 1828, in Edinburgh, Scotland, William Burke and William Hare killed 16 people – 3 men, 12 women, and 1 child – in order to sell their cadavers to an anatomy lecturer, Dr. Robert Knox. These were the first serial killings to gain media attention, 60 years before Jack the Ripper. The link between murder-for-profit and medical progress has fascinated people ever since. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a short story based on it, called The Body Snatcher, which was turned into a terrific horror flick in 1945, starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Currently John Landis is filming his own version of Burke and Hare, what he calls “a very black romantic comedy,” starring Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, and Isla Fisher.

DGIS: Burke even had the extra bonus of having his name turned into a verb. Can you explain what it means to “burke” someone?

LR: Tutorial on burking:

1. First, press down on the victim to compress the chest, so your victim can't expand
the diaphragm to take air into the lungs.

2. Place a hand over your victim's nose and mouth. That, too, will make it impossible
for him/her to breath. Death by suffocation will occur shortly.

3. Oops, I forgot to mention, no one in his /her right mind is going to sit still and
be burked. So, before step 1 (above), be sure to get the victim very, very drunk
until he/she is unconscious and unable to fight back.

DGIS: Darn, I don’t have an eraser, I’ll just have to remember booze then compression. How did you become interested in the “seamy side of medical history”?

LR: I started out doing a form of social history known as “history from below,” in which we look at history from the point of view of students, rather than professors, and patients, rather than doctors. From there it was only a short step to looking at what went wrong in the history of medicine, rather than what went right. It can be very revealing: if you turn over rocks, you can study what crawls out.

DGIS: If I remember correctly, at your presentation you said that you were in Edinburgh doing research and didn’t set out to write the story of Burke & Hare. What was your “Aha” moment that made you say, “I’m doing a book.”?

LR: I was working on a diary of an Edinburgh physician who happened to be a friend of Dr. Robert Knox, the anatomist in the Burke and Hare case (that book became The Most Beautiful Man in Existence: The Scandalous Life of Alexander Lesassier, published by Penn Press). I found entries about Knox in the diary and thought hmmm, what other kinds of previously-unknown Burke and Hare tidbits might there be, buried in one or another archive? The answers became the book.

DGIS: I had always pictured the Edinburgh medical school as a smallish establishment with Dr. Knox the only resident teacher accepting “subjects” but reading your book I find it wasn’t like that at all. There was quite a little competition going on at Surgeon’s Square.

LR: There was, and that wasn’t the only place. Knox and his Surgeon’s Square colleagues weren’t even officially associated with the Edinburgh medical school, which had its own dissecting rooms. There were probably anywhere from 8-10 anatomy lecturers busy at work in Edinburgh at any one time in the 1820s. Between their own research, and their hundreds of students, just imagine the number of body parts!

DGIS: After seeing you speak and reading your Amazon bio, it appears that your passion for the Burke and Hare case was driven by a thirst for the facts and fueled by a thirst of Scotch whiskey. Any specific brand you’d recommend for an evening with your book?

LR: Scotland has wonderful single malt whiskies – the websites list about 80 of them -- and no two taste alike. I prefer the ones from the Islay region. Incidentally my Scottish friends pointed out to me I misspelled “whisky” in the book. I spelled it “whiskey” – that’s the usual American spelling – but in Britain whiskey with an “e” always means Irish whiskey. Scotch whisky should always be spelled without the “e”.

DGIS: Good to know, thank you. Speaking of your presentation, during your talk two cell phones rang and neither person attempted to turn them off. Did you mentally Burke them? Or have you developed your own technique of permanently silencing someone? Has anyone ever been “Rosnered”? If so what does that entail. You can tell us nobody will turn you in.

LR: My historical research has taught me that murder is not as easy as you’d think – and it’s apt to be messy -- so even rude cell-phone users are safe from me. I’d be very happy, though, if someone invented a cell-phone-zapping ray-gun. Maybe as an iphone app…

DGIS: Ah, so you are open to murdering electronics then, interesting. Once you do one…As an author and researcher one of my favorite parts of your presentation was when you described finding the information on Mary Paterson. I could relate. Why was that so satisfying?

LR: The story told about the murder victim Mary Paterson, from the 19th century to the present, is that she was a beautiful prostitute murdered by Burke and Hare and that her body was recognized by her medical student lover as he beheld it outstretched on the dissecting table. The moral of the story was clearly, She Got What She Deserved. As anyone who has seen a slasher film knows “bad” girls get sliced up.

I knew that I could poke some holes in the story by questioning where it came from. But what was very satisfying was finding hard and fast evidence that it simply couldn’t be true at all. Makes you want to think twice about all those other “bad” girls, doesn’t it?

DGIS: Twice, thrice, depending on how bad they were maybe even four or five times, but anyways in the countless hours you spent at the Edinburgh archives did
You come across any definitive proof the Dr. Knox was the first person
To ever utter the now iconic phrase, ‘Where’s the beef?”

LR: I suspect it was his lab technician/doorman, who testified that on the night of the last Burke and Hare murder, he was out at a “beef steak supper”.

DGIS: In the early 19th century kids were singing the Burke and Hare song, at the close of the 19th century they were singing “Lizzy Borden took an ax and gave her father forty whacks…” In your opinion how come kids in the 1800’s had a much more macabre wit than modern adolescents?

LR: I’m not sure that’s true. Modern adolescents have given us the immortal words:
Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher’s guts
Mutilated monkey meat
Little birdies’ dirty feet
All these things are very, very good to eat
But I forgot my spoon.

DGIS: Funny how locale plays a part in these things. In Detroit it was:
Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts.
Cut up monkey meat.
Mutilated birdie feet
French fried eyeballs in a bowl of blood. Here comes [neighborhood kid of your choice] with a spoon and that’s not all he/she came with a straw and drank it all.

Since you are a Professor we thought it only proper to turn the tables and quiz your knowledge of both doctors and devils.

1) Which of the following are murderous duos and which are 1970’s musical acts?
A) Seals & Croft
B) Burke & Hare
C) Leopold & Loeb
D) Loggins & Messina
E) Bonnie & Clyde
F) Captain & Tennille

LR: B, C, and E are the murderers. But you left out Hall & Oates, who are (gasp!) on tour this year.

DGIS: Correct. +5 for adding Hall & Oates. -10 for knowing their tour schedule

2) In what’s known as the Abbey Road murders one Maxwell Edison, who was majoring in medicine, dispatched a handful of people. What was his weapon of choice?

LR: A silver hammer. Bang bang.

DGIS: Correct. +3 for correct sound effects.

3) True or False: Without the much maligned grave robbers of the 18th & 19th Centuries there is a good chance that Marcus Welby M.D. would have been Marcus Welby Bloodletter & Leechman.

LS: True.

DGIS: Correct.

LR: And here’s one for you:
If House had been transported back to Robert Knox’s dissecting rooms in 1828 Edinburgh, would he have:
A) Blown the whistle on Knox?
B) Joined forces with Knox?
C) Pushed Knox out of the way to get at the cadavers first?

DGIS: …A...well...he's the guy with cane right? We have no idea. -13 ½ for turning the tables back and asking us something we don’t know.*

4) Complete the song lyric:
“Doctor, doctor! Give me the news I got a, bad case of –“
A) Gout
B) Dropsy
C) Icturis
D) Furuncle
E) None of the above

LR: The correct answer is E) Burke and Hare blues

DGIS: Correct. + 13 ½ for creativity.

5) What is the name of Boris Karloff’s character in “The Body Snatcher” and for extra credit what is his “official” job?

LR: His name is John Gray and he is a cabman. Curiously, Ann and James Gray were the real-life couple who found the body of the final Burke and Hare victim and went to the police, thus ending the murder spree. I suppose the name of Karloff’s character can be considered an homage of sorts.

DGIS: Correct. + 10311828. Well done Professor!

Thank you very much for stopping in Lisa we wish you much success with:

The Anatomy Murders
Being the True and Spectacular History of Edinburgh’s Notorious Burke And Hare and of the Man of Science who Abetted Them in the Commission of Their Most Heinous Crimes.
Be sure to check out Lisa's The Worlds of Burke & Hare

* DGIS staff has since Googled both “House” and “doctor” and would like to change their answer to C & A. He would have cut them up to learn what killed them?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Two Gun rising part deux

When last we left Francis Crowley he had been involved in a shooting at the American Legion hall in the Bronx and had ventured to Philadelphia where he got himself some guns. His playmates had been rounded up and one Detective Shaedel was hoping to get the full collection. Since Francis (or Frank or Shorty depending on who you talked to) was known to work periodically at his brother inlaws place of business, Shaedel would stop by know and then to inquire about him but all he ever got was shrugged shoulders.

Until seventy-nine years ago today when Shaedel stopped in at 4:00pm and found Francis in his brother inlaws office. Before Crowley knew what was what Shaedel had him against a wall and relieved him of a .45.

Francis tried to tell the detective he was making a mistake and went for another pocket claiming he was reaching for ID. Shaedel knew better and grabbed him just as Francis got his hands on his .38 but Shorty was a slippery little guy and managed to pull himself free and fire off a few rounds hitting the detective in the leg and stomach.

Francis then high-tailed it out of the room and down the hall while Shaedel staggered behind him blasting away. Down the stairwell and out the front door Francis flew a much more wanted man while Shaedel went to the hospital and recovered.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Goings on

Holy smoke, is it Friday already? Wow, haven't done much posting this week but that doesn't mean the DGIS staff hasn't been busy. We have, count em, two interviews coming up shortly and we have also been busy with another gangster ghost.

The ghost of Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll himself, who can be found at Liquid Assests in South Plainfield, New Jersey. Why does the apparition of the bad boy from the Bronx haunt a Jersey Gentleman's club? Well turns out the owner is the nephew of ...well, you'll have to tune into A&E's "My Ghost Story" to find out. In addition to playing the part of "patron" I also assisted with some back ground info on the ghost when he was amongst the living. We'll let you know when it's going to air.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Harry Brunette

Have been getting a lot of hits regarding bank robber and kidnapper Harry Brunette who was captured in New York City in 1936 -a picture of him in FBI custody can be seen down the left sidebar. Looks like his ghost was mentioned on a SyFy's ghost hunters. For those looking for more info on Harry, thank you for stopping by. Stay awhile and look around and, if you want to learn more about Mr. Brunette, there is a chapter about him in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Undead Guys in capes being killed by dead guys in stove pipe hats

As long time readers of the blog may know the staff is fond of good old fashioned horror stuff. Though we generally like our vampires to be middle aged guys, preferably with a Hungarian accent, we can understand the popularity of the James Dean/ Duran Duran vampires that have been popular over the past few decades even though we may not be interested. Which brings us to this post

Though people seem split down the middle - it is either the dumbest thing they've heard or coolest- we here believe this is genius from a writing standpoint. In a good story the protagonist needs to have heaps of conflict thrust upon him. Who has had more conflict both professionally and personally in his life than Abe? As president he is trying to save the union with incompetent generals suffering defeat after defeat on the battlefield. At home he loses a son to sickness and his wife starts to go mad. And now he has to battle vampires without letting anybody know about it.

With the vampire overkill that has been going on lately A.L. Vampire Hunter seems to be a fresh and, I'm assuming comical, twist on a tired genre. The movie rights have already been purchased so we will have to wait to see if Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter will be inspired or simply a 21st Century Billy the Kid v Dracula. Which might not be a bad thing either.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The unknown victim

Though he wasn't wearing a brown paper bag on his head, a well dressed Italian man, about thirty-five years of age, was found Ninety-Seven years ago today with five bullet holes on his person but no identification. Was it a hit? Well, it wasn't a robbery because he was found with his gold watch and almost twelve bucks on him. In today's money that would be worth uh... uhm, well more than twelve bucks. So, hit, vendetta, crime of passion, target practice...take your choice and have a good weekend.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Let's be Frank, or at least watch him

Last weeks trip in the wayback machine was so much fun let’s do it again.
All aboard!
Date: September 4, 1928
Time: 11:50p.m.
Place: 254 West 55th Street

Ready, here we go

I love mid town in this era. These buildings are great and there is great energy with so many people still about.

Ok, well lets get to business. As you can see we’re in front of a café. Let’s head in and try to get a table near the cash register. Hmm, only five customers. Don’t order anything because we won’t be here long.

Wow look at the prices! Fifteen cents for a “hamburger sandwich” to funny. Press tiled ceilings nice, oh take a gander at-never mind, see that car pulling up front two couples are gonna get out. Once they get inside the guy in front is going to pull a gun and order us to put our hands up. Just play along he’s not going to hurt anybody. Ok, here they come.

“Hands up!”

And freeze.

It’s ok to talk they are in a state of suspended animation.

The guy with the gun is Frank Gallagher. (Interesting, last weeks wayback victim was a Frank too) He’s a thirty year old ex-con having done two stints in Sing Sing and another in Elmira. He just finished his second Sing Sing visit earlier this year and he’s gonna be dead in about ten minutes or so.

When I snap my fingers the action will commence and while Frank is covering the rest of us his partner Bill Duffy is gonna grab the cash from the register. All seventy-two dollars. I feel like stopping Frank and asking him how much is life is worth but can’t interfere with the past.


There goes Duffy rifling the register, both couples are leaving, getting in car, pulling out, we’ll head out in a sec Frank’s gonna fire a shot for some reason.


And freeze

Let’s head outside.

There’s Frank, Duffy and the two molls pulling away. If you look over there you’ll see a taxi. The driver is Sam Stein, he just heard the shot. He’s gonna follow the car until he finds a cop.

Let’s head down to 45th and 9th.

That was a pleasant walk.


Take in the scenery for a few minutes. Especially the cop over there. He’s officer Cronin in a minute Frank & Co. is gonna go by and Stein is gonna pick him up in his cab…here they come, There goes Frank, and here is Stein. He’s telling Cronin what happened and Cronin will get on the running board with his gun out…Wow just like an old movie.

And Freeze

Let’s hurry down to 34th & 10th for the grand finale.

Whew, I’m out of breath.


Listen…hold on…there it is. Those pops are Frank and patrolman Cronin firing at each other. In a few seconds Duffy is gonna pull up here and Frank is gonna make a run for it and a well placed shot from Cronin will stop him in his tracks.


Crime doesn’t pay Frank.

Back in the machine please.


And we're back. Interesting, newspaper sez there were eleven patrons at the café. Somebody must have noticed us.