Friday, December 24, 2010

Round Top


Damariscotta, Represent.

A little summer on Christmas Eve. A trip to Maine is not complete with a stop at Round Top.

My family has been visiting Friendship, Mine for over a hundred years. Round Top is a local ice cream manufacturer. Ten or twenty years ago they remodeled and enlarged their home-base store into a proper, sit-down ice cream parlor (it had been a small, barn-like structure for long, long before I was born) and this summer I noticed all of the old calendars they had framed on the walls. Almost every month from 1936 are represented.

I may not post another entry before the New Year. After January 1 I think I will be redirecting the focus of this blog - the emphasis will still be on Cleveland, but will turn to the 1950s.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cleveland Municipal Stadium


In a nation built on catchy sports-oriented nicknames -- Dizzy, Mickey, Refrigerator, the King, Fuzzy, the Green Monster, the House That Ruth Built, the Fumble, The Drive, A-Rod, Meadowlark, the Great One, the Ain'ts, the Evil Empire, The Big Sombrero, Pronk -- there can only be one:

CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL STADIUM

They called it this because the name BIG CITY FACILITY DESIGNED FOR CONGREGATION seemed too festive. This stadium was built in 1931, which featured the first use of aluminum in a large, multipurpose stadium facility, spearheaded by city manager William R. Hopkins and others (include the Van Sweringen's and the Indians ownership) for the usual reasons; to attract big crowds downtown to spur development and commerce, especially their own.

Cleveland Municipal Stadium was neither a WPA project, nor was it created in an effort to secure the 1932 Olympics, though these are both popular rumors. I was once told and perpetuated the idea that it was built for the 1936 Olympics, which took place in Berlin. That's a sexier legend, but no less false.

The Indians played here in 1932 and 1933, but fans were not happy with the gigantic outfield (which reduces the chance of home runs, of course - see: 1954 World Series) and as the Depression depressed ticket sales, the team moved back to League Park in 1934.

By 1936 the Cleveland ball team began playing Sunday and holiday games here, to take advantage of the potential 74,000 seats (there were 81,000 seats during football season) making it their home for evening games in 1939 because League Park had no lights, and the permanent home of the Indians in 1940.

In 1936 Cleveland Municipal Stadium was home to the Cleveland Rams. On September 24, 1935 the Seventh Eucharistic Congress was held there attracting 75,000 to a midnight mass and an estimated 125,000 Catholics to the service next morning.

Cleveland Municipal Stadium was torn down in 1995, and no one noticed.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
Ballparks.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Act


The Ohio Criminal Syndicalism statute made it a crime to advocate "the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform" and to "voluntarily assemble with any society, group, or assemblage of persons formed to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism."

(syndicalism: n. A radical political movement that advocates bringing industry and government under the control of federations of labor unions by the use of direct action, such as general strikes and sabotage.)
The Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Statute was enacted in 1919. In 1927, this Court sustained the constitutionality of California's Criminal Syndicalism Act, the text of which is quite similar to that of the laws of Ohio. Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927). The Court upheld the statute on the ground that, without more, "advocating" violent means to effect political and economic change involves such danger to the security of the State that the State may outlaw it. - UMCK website, Brandenburg v. Ohio
Following the Great War, an anti-communist movement called the First Red Scare began to spread across America. As a result of the 1917 Soviet Revolution, Russia pulled out of WWI which many allies saw as a betrayal. Also, as the Russian Revolution was a violent overthrow of a government, and the ideology of communism called for expansion, it was feared by the establishment that the working underclass may be inspired to revolt anywhere.

These fears were also fueled by the thousands of immigrants coming to America every day, especially from the Southern and Eastern European states.

The Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Act sought to penalize that which is merely advocacy - which is to say, free speech.
Between 1951 and 1954, the Ohio Un-American Activities Committee, headed by House member Samuel Devine, questioned forty Ohioans, asking each person, "Right now, are you an active member of the Communist Party?" Every person refused to answer, citing the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects Americans against self-incrimination. Most of the accused were college students or people during the 1930s who advocated socialist or communist programs to end the Great Depression. Various grand juries eventually indicted the forty people, with fifteen of these accused being convicted for supporting communism.

In 1952, the Ohio Un-American Activities Committee contended that 1,300 Ohioans were members of the Communist Party. Approximately seven hundred of these people supposedly resided near Cleveland and worked in various industrial occupations, while four hundred more resided in other northern Ohio cities. Only two hundred communists supposedly resided in central and southern parts of the state. -
Ohio History Central
It should come as no surprise to the more cynical among us that the Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Act was not struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court until 1969 - in the defense of a Clarence Brandenburg, the leader of a Hamilton County-based chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

Sources:
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
Ohio History Central
Wikipedia

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cedar-Lee Theatre

"Mae? MAE! Bring me some reefers!"



Go on, it's storming outside. Watch the whole thing.


The Cedar-Lee Theatre (located at the corner of...) opened on Christmas Day, 1925 with a screening of The King of Main Street. It was originally a single, 1,100 seat house.

Just this past December 1 they celebrated their 85th anniversary with a showing of The Gold Rush. Tickets were twenty-five cents. I love that.

In spite of contemporary accounts suggesting the movies were an excellent value and source for escape during the Great Depression, theaters did indeed have to take special action to ensure the audiences kept arriving. One popular attraction was Bank Night, where a lottery was held for a cash prize. In 1936, thirty Cleveland area theaters challenged and defeated an existing police ruling that this was an illegal practice.

There was also Crystal Night and China Night, an event dramatized in the little seen My Summer Story, that little-seen sequel to A Christmas Story.


They used the lobby of the Palace for the lobby scene, but this scene was shot in the Ohio.

Hey, while we're at it ... here is a scene from that forlorn mess, shot in large part in Cleveland during the sweltering summer of 1993 and released never:


Skip the opening bit, what you want starts at 2:06 - the World Exposition. No, no, not that Exposition. In spite of what most Clevelanders believe, the tales of Ralphie Parker take place in Indiana, not Cleveland. And this World Exposition supposedly took place in Chicago. There was, of course, a 1934 Chicago World's Fair, but calling it an exposition in this movie leaves me wondering if they were trying to cut some kind of difference. When do these movies take place, anyway? There is nothing in A Christmas Story to suggest Depression-era hardship. The sequel does in a ham-fisted way (okay, you can watch this whole clip if you want to feel that.)

However. I like to think they did capture some of what it felt like to be squeezed in a "Streets of the World" exhibit, complete with live camel.

And oh, did I mention I'm in the camel scene? You won't see me. I am the young man with thinning hair in the loud shirt, visible from 4:50 to 4:56. No, really, you can't see me.

Wait. What was I talking about?

Sources:
YouTube
imdb.com
cleveland.com
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy New Year


I have not run in over two weeks. This in spite of today being a gloriously above-freezing day. I had an allergic reaction to a topical medication on Friday night (we don't need to get into that) and my right foot swelled very painfully, and the infection went all the way up may leg, making it very uncomfortable to stand, walk or even sit upright.

The Christmas shopping is only partially accomplished. The children are going stark-raving insane. And so are we. My wife is horribly overbooked, I have so much to accomplish before the end of the year ... which really ends on December 23, when you look at it realistically. Grant applications, final reports, including the final report for this award. It's about time, but it's also about space. The space in my head. I'm a little overwhelmed, and not particularly happy.

The house is a cluttered mess. I tried to push back a little today, but there's only so much you can accomplish AND take time out for holiday cheer. Went to see A Christmas Carol at Great Lakes this afternoon.

So much to do. No time.

And yet, on this day, December 11, I did compose a first draft. It is there. It is spotty, but I can see the cracks and aim to fill them. Our story begins on New Year's Eve, and ends there, too.

But not in that order.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Satchel Paige


Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige (July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982) may have been born anywhere between 1900 and 1908. He may have gotten his nickname as a young baggage-handler from jerryrigging a pole to carry four bags at once - or because he was once caught swiping a suitcase. Depends on who you ask.

Satchel was born in Mobile, Alabama. Entering reform school for shoplifing at the age of 12, he was mentored by Edward Byrd who taught him his loping pitching style. Release early from a five year gig, Satchel went semi-pro. As was common in those days, especially for black players, he played wherever and whenever he could, not only for the team he had a contract with, but off-season games (in Cuba, for example) and “barnstorming” where you might often get to watch a mixed-race game. In 1931 he played for the Cleveland Cubs as part of the Negro League. Playing in a city that also had a white, professional team, had an effect on Paige.
"I'd look over at the Cleveland Indians' stadium, called League Park. All season long it burned me, playing there in the shadow of that stadium. It didn't hurt my pitching, but it sure didn't do me any good."
In 1936 Paige was playing for the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
The Cleveland News - Friday, July 3
Colored Aces to Play Here Sunday

Negro National League baseball will return to Cleveland Sunday with a double-header at League Park between the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, for years two of the strongest clubs in the loop.

Satchel Paige of the Crawfords rated the biggest crowd pleaser among the colored ball players is expected to pitch one of the two games here. He humiliated the Homestead team two years ago before 12,000 fans, turning them back without a hit.
As a member of the Negro League All-Stars he also barnstormed in Cleveland that summer, facing off against 17 year-old Bob Feller. Each pitched three innings, giving up one hit. Feller struck out eight, Paige seven.

In 1948 at the age of 42, Satchel Paige joined the Cleveland Indians. He is the oldest rookie in the history of the Major Leagues.

Sources:
Wikipedia
The Cleveland News

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Western Reserve University


Western Reserve College was founded in Hudson, Ohio in 1826. Hudwas at that time the most populated area of the region. "Reserve" as it was known was the first college in Northern Ohio.

In 1882, railroad baron Amasa Stone donated half a million dolars to move the institution to Cleveland, where it became a "University." The site was adjacent to the Case School of Applied Science (founded 1880) and the two institutions worked together, sharing buildings and staff, long before they merged into a single entity in 1967.

WRU's undergraduate men's college was named Adelbert College after Amasa's son Adelbert who drowned when a student at Yale. In 1888 WRU establied the College for Women, which in 1932 was named Mather College in honor of Flora Stone mather, the college's second council president. Mather was a liberal arts school which also offered courses in home economics and education.

Sources:
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
Wikipedia

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bay Village


Eliot Ness and his wife Edna Staley Ness lived in a bungalow right on Lake Erie in the bedroom community of Bay Village, a town described in a 1936 edition of The Plain Dealer as "A little New England, west of Cleveland."

Their cottage, pictured above, would have sat hidden from Lake Road, behind a much larger house. I have no idea what the address is, and the odds are very good it was torn down in the past decade to create a much larger house.

The Lake Shore Electric would make the trip downtown in about an hour. The Ness home was a gray, one-story affair with a reflecting pond, easy access to the water, a cozy fireplace and plenty of room for their six cats. However, Eliot did not usually get home before 10 PM.


Edna

Sources:
Bay Village (Virgina L. Peterson)
Eliot Ness, The Real Story (Paul W. Heimel)
Bay Village: A Way of Life

Pink Lady


Pink Lady
1.5 measures Plymouth gin (as opposed to the more common London Dry gin)
half measure grenadine
half measure heavy cream
quarter measure lemon juice
1 measure egg white
Dip the rim of a champagne saucer in grenadine and then in caster sugar to make a pink rim. Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into the glass, add a cherry garnish.
- Diamond Dame

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"A second Boston Tea Party!"

The following play script is by David Hansen © 2010.


UNION PARTY CONVENTION

MAYOR BURTON steps forward.

MAYOR BURTON
Cleveland in her Centennial Year warmly welcomes the Convention of the National Union for Social Justice! We cordially invite everyone attending your convention to attend the Great Lakes Exposition. We invite you to share the inspiration of a rapidly growing community confident of its own future and of that of the country under the control of popular government.

VOICE OF THE LIVING NEWSPAPER
Citizens from around the nation, Forty-thousand strong have come to Municipal Stadium to hear the fighting radio priest, Father Charles E. Coughlin give the keynote address at this first Union Party convention, throwing the weight of his ten million listeners behind the candidacy of North Dakota Representative William Lemke. Some sporting patriotic costumes!

Enter CONVENTIONEER in a feathered "Red
Indian" headband, war paint and modern, floral
patterned dress.


CONVENTIONEER
You remember the Bostonians dressed up like Indians when they threw that high-priced British tea overboard? Well, we don't like the high-priced tea we're getting from Washington, and we don't like taxation without representation, so we're going to throw it overboard. We represent a second Boston Tea Party!

VOICE OF THE LIVING NEWSPAPER
What if your man doesn't win the election this November?

CONVENTIONEER
These feathers stand for peace. That means we will use peaceful methods -- Not bullets, but ballots.

VOICE OF THE LIVING NEWSPAPER
Here comes the man himself, as thousands rise to their feet in the sweltering summer heat!

FATHER COUGHLIN, a stocky, ruddy
cheeked man in a frock coat and collar, with
round wire-rimmed spectacles, walks through the
audience to the rostrum at center.


CROWD
(goes wild)

FATHER COUGHLIN
Mr. Chairman, Rev. Dr. Gerald Smith, Congressman Lemke, ladies and gentlemen from every State in the Union. It is my happy privilege to be here today.

That great betrayer and liar, Franklin Double-Crossing Roosevelt, promised to drive the money-changers from the temple, and succeeded in driving farmers from their homesteads. He built up the greatest debt in all history, which he permitted the bankers the right to spend, and you and your children shall repay with seventy billion hours of labor.

My friends, the hand of Moscow backs the Communist leaders in America, and aims to pledge their support for Roosevelt. We are wholly opposed to the Roosevelt taxes, dole, and to the propaganda that has been spread through this land. We are opposed, sympathetically, to the Republican candidate, poor Mr. Alfred Landon. Holy Mackerel, Andy! He doesn't know whether he is going or coming.

Is it Democracy for the President to browbeat the Congress and insist this legislation "must" be passed? Is that democracy?

FATHER COUGHLIN waits for a reply from
the audience. If he does not receive one, he asks
"Is that Democracy?" Even more ferociously.


FATHER COUGHLIN (CON'T.)
Is it Democracy for the president to say, "pass this legislation whether it is Constitutional or not"? Is that Democracy? Is it Democracy to have our country filled with bureaucrats and their banks filled with unpayable debts, save for their bankers? Is that Democracy? Why should there be want in the midst of plenty simply to satisfy the Rothschilds, the international financiers, the Jews?

We are Christians. We believe in Christ's principle of love your neighbor as yourself. I challenge every Jew in this nation to tell me that he does not believe in it. The better class of Jews are willing to accept this basic principle of Christianity. When men become so prideful that they believe they can rewrite the eternal law of God - when ballots have proved useless - then as one American, imbued with the tradition of Washington, I shall not disdain using bullets for the preservation of liberty!

FATHER COUGHLIN takes off his coat.

FATHER COUGHLIN (CON'T.)
It is not pleasant for me who coined the phrase "Roosevelt or ruin" - a phrase based upon promises - to voice such passionate words. But I must admit that "Roosevelt AND ruin is the order of the day. New Deal policy is Un-Christian! It is anti-God! It is downright asinine!

FATHER COUGHLIN undoes and removes his
clerical collar.


FATHER COUGHLIN (CON'T.)
If I don't deliver nine million votes for William Lemke, I'm through with radio forever! I am willing to die in this struggle to liberate America from the money changers!

FATHER COUGHLIN swoons, steps back,
mops his brow, regathers himself and gasps:


FATHER COUGHLIN (CON'T.)
I AM SICK!

FATHER COUGHLIN is helped away from the
rostrum.



This fictionalized speech was created using quotations from Charles E. Coughlin at rallies in Cleveland and Philadelphia, and from the following sources:
The New York Times
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Cleveland Press
Social Justice
Father Coughlin's radio broadcast
Additional thanks to Karen Ketchaver and Donald Warren's biography of Coughlin.


The "tea party" conventioneer's quotation is documented, and not a product of the playwright's imagination. Really. For real.

Sterling Lindner Davis Department Store

Sterling Lindner-Davis Christmas tree, 1936

http://www.talespinnerchildrenstheatre.org/performances/slumberland.htmLocated on grand Euclid Avenue at East 12th Street, this department store was a conglomerate of three other stores (hence the mouthful of a moniker) and as you can see, they always had a very large Christmas tree. Sterling Lindner Davis began the tradition of putting a stupidly enormous Christmas tree inside their atrium, starting in 1927. Legend has it the tree grew a foot while inside the store.

From a 1952 postcard:
A live, 50 ft. tree, festooned with 60 lbs. of 'icicles', 1000 yds. of tinsel, 1500 ornaments, and illuminated by 6 banks of 750 candle-watt spotlights. It requires 650 man-power hours to trim by swinging stages suspended from the skylight.
Their "Santaland" included a device where you could insert a coin and receive a gift that came down a slide, a train, and an enchanted forest display.

Talespinner Children's Theatre presents Adventures In Slumberland by David Hansen, Nov. 30 - Dec. 22, 2013. 

Sources:
Cleveland Christmas Memories (about.com)
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
Cleveland Memory Project
POSTCARDY: the postcard explorer

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Trip To Lubberland


Took advantage of MOCA Cleveland's "Free Fridays" admission to take in Duke Riley's exhibit, An Invitation to Lubberland. I was hoping for good art. I was looking for an education. I got a small amount of both.

The video part of the art event was a bit of a disappointment, a man in a bowler and frock coat (is he the man from the government who counts hobos, is he a hobo himself ... is he one who becomes the other ..?) was difficult to watch and included inter-titles which led to a conclusion which one unfamiliar to the history of Kingsbury Run might find interesting. They did not rise to the level set by the artist's very interesting and well-crafted drawings and mosaics (see above.)

I do not know why I have been put on this earth to be the guardian or avenger of Eliot Ness' tarnished reputation, or rather a "Speaker for the Dead" hell-bent on providing an depiction of his humanity, his goodness and his failings, free of all of the mythic bullshit. This exhibit goes so far as to state that it is because of Ness' failure to catch the so-called torso murder, and his torching of the shanty town that he lost the 1947 election. I have nowhere else seen this to be the case.

However, the claim (as etched into a Buffalo nickel) that the citizens of Cleveland were so appalled by the destruction of the hobo city of Kingsbury Run that during the election they threw mannequin parts up into the trees ... it is an evocative image, though I question whether many had their own mannequins lying around to expend on such public art.

By the way, I do not think it was actually part of the exhibit that the MOCA docent follow me around like a fucking stalker. That was really irritating. He kept bobbing in and out of my line of sight, or standing right behind me like I was going to swipe something. Get lost pal, you are creepy.

I did learn a very helpful hobo sign:


officer of the law lives here

UPDATE: The Plain Dealer really loved this installation:
"A triumph for him and for MOCA. It also sets a benchmark for any local art institution that commissions an artist -- local or otherwise -- to create something new. It's a mark that will not be easily surpassed any time soon." - Steven Litt, 12/14/2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

George Gund



"Proof that George Gund loves us and wants us to be happy."

- Ben Franklin

George Gund (April 13, 1888 - Nov. 15, 1966) was the son of a Cleveland brewer. Yay! He was in the first graduation class of Harvard Business School, began his career in banking in Seattle before returning to Cleveland to make a killing in the business of processing decaffeinated coffee. Boo.

Gund actually assumed control of the Gund Brewing Company in 1916 ... but that was bad timing. No wonder he turned to coffee.

He invested wisely during the Depression, picking up cheap stocks, was hired by Cleveland Trust Co. as a director and eventually Chairman. In the year 1936 he married his wife Jessica. In spite of having six children to provide for, Mr. Gund eventually left $600 million (1960s dollars) to The George Gund Foundation, which he founded in 1957. As the dedicated servant of the non-profit sector, I am grateful to the George Gund Foundation for paying my mortgage and feeding my children.

Did I mention he also studied animal husbandry and for a time was a rancher in Nevada? George Gund II was an unstoppable American force for all that is good.

Sources:Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
The George Gund Foundation
Brewing in Cleveland (Robert A. Musson)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cleveland Trust Company


Founded in 1894, the Cleveland Trust Company opened its offices on the corner of East 9th and Euclid in 1908. By 1924 it was the sixth largest bank in America, with Harris Creech as its President. The company survived the Depression well.

The Cleveland Trust building (closed to the public since 1996) was designed by George Post and the famous rotunda features murals by Frank Millet. He and his assistants worked for a year to complete the 13 paintings, depicting the "rise of civilization in the Midwest." Millet lost his life in the North Atlantic in April, 1912 aboard a very large ship.

The stained-glass dome of the rotunda is 85 feet high and sixty feet across, and designed "in the Tiffany style."


Rotunda In Action

For the record, Cleveland Trust employed my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather.

Sources:
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
Great Lakes Titanic Society

UPDATE 8/28/2015: The Cleveland Trust Building was destroyed in the Battle of New York.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Assessment

One month into my Fellowship Year I gave an assessment. Looking back it sounds kind of desperate, fearful. Too much lay ahead and I was not sure how I would fare. Writing one essay (if they were essays) a month about Cleveland 1936 trivia did not seem, at the time, to be amounting to much. It did not feel I was getting anywhere.

Since that time I have begun to get hold of the elephant. You know that old the about the blind men describing an elephant? That's this play, this play I have been wanting to write for fifteen years. Thanksgiving was my EUREKA WEEKEND, when I finally understood the shape of the elephant.

I have spent a great deal of time in libraries, read many books. My study has compelled more study. As facts fall upon themselves, actual characters emerge, and they have lives. This is how it works for me. I see them in this place, at that time, and believe they are there.

I have rubbed elbows with fellow travelers, been to far more readings of new plays than before, attended more plays than I have had or made the opportunity to in many years.

I have applied for competitions. I have been invited to apply for competitions. I have produced a play. I have had a play accepted for production. Submissions have been made for publication, and may yet be accepted. Tools have been purchased and utilized. Investments for the future have been made. And the research and preparation for this play has spun off into new and different works which are simultaneously in progress.

A year is a long time to concentrate on your art while at the same time balancing a job, a family, a life. I have received support and comfort from everyone, at home, in my place of employment, among my peers, in pursuing this work.

I am only scratching the surface of what this year has yielded, for now and for the future. And one thing I can definitely say about the Creative Workforce Fellowship is the act of applying and failing to receive a grant on the first go-round has compelled a great many of my peers to push themselves harder to create more and more exciting work to improve their chances of acceptance next year. The positive effects reverberate throughout the community.

I have a month. At the end of this month I will have a draft. Yes I will. I need to schedule a reading.


Cheese.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Senator Robert J. Bulkley


Robert Johns Bulkley (October 8, 1880–July 21, 1965) was the senior Senator from Ohio in 1936. A Democrat and former U.S. Representative for the 21st District (East Side!) he was elected to the Senate in 1930 to finish the term of deceased Senator Theodore Burton. He was re-elected in 1932, but lost his seat in 1938.

The Bulkley Building in PlayhouseSquare is named after him. I work there.

Radio Priest (book)


I think I have some kind of stomach virus. I have been up since 4 am with a roiling stomach, which was not alleviated by choosing to take this time to finish reading Donald Warren's biography of Charles Coughlin, Radio Priest: Charles Coughlin, The Father of Hate Radio.

The book refers to Coughlin as a "footnote" in American history, but I am coming to believe he is more of a blind-spot. There are two Jewish members of a certain age in the Playwrights' Unit, and when I brought in a scene making passing reference to this radio priest, one of my peers needed me to explain who he was, while the other was all too aware of his history.

Warren's book details the interesting life of this narcissistic and hateful Catholic priest, though I have to admit I was more interested in the earlier, pre-WWII history, after which it gets bogged down in the question of whether or not Coughlin received direct monetary compensation from the Nazis. This is not unimportant information, but there were an awful lot of names and unanswered questions and a great many specious claims as to make the author sound almost as conspiratorily-minded as his subject.

Published in the mid 1990s, Radio Priest attempts at the outset to trace Coughlin's brand of right-wing, bellicose wailing to the then-present day polititainers like Rush Limbaugh. The book is well-overdue for a reprint with a new forward.

Anything clever I might say comparing Father Coughlin to the likes of Glenn Beck was already done in a much more professional manner in the September 13 issue of The Onion in the article Nation Once Again Comes Under Sway Of Pink-Faced Half-Wit:
Dr. David Snider, a media historian and author of the book "Frothing, Shouting Dim-Bulbs: An American Tradition", said that the current porcine loudmouth is the latest in a long line of pink-faced half-wits that began in the 1930s with the incendiary radio broadcasts of Father Charles Coughlin, a pink-faced half-wit Roman Catholic priest.

According to Snider, this original pink-faced half-wit exploited the Great Depression to foment his message of virulent anti-Semitism—a tactic of shamelessly preying upon American misery and misfortune that has since been employed by nearly every pink-faced, intellectually corrupt piece of shit asshole to open his fat, disgusting pig mouth since.
Radio Priest opened my eyes to the finer points of anti-Semitism, and the more recent defense of anti-Semitism practiced by those who hold it dear, namely blaming only bad Jews for all the evil which befalls the rest of us - good Christians and good Jews alike.

The good Father taught us that in the olden days, because of true anti-Semitism, Jews could not own land, nor were they tolerated to stay anywhere for any length of time. As a result, Jews put all of their savings into GOLD, which they carried from place to place. And they learned to create more gold by lending gold for interest - an act, children repeat after me, call usury - something Christians were forbidden to practice because it goes against God's law (see: Shakespeare's: The Merchant of Venice.)

Flash-forward to the 20th Century, or at least to 1936 which concerns us most, and Coughlin has made it clear that what threatens our world the most is the Jew-backed, Communist world conspiracy, made possible by "international financiers" - this being the term Coughlin more commonly used early in his career before coming right out and saying "Jews".

The year 1936 was the high point in Coughlin's political career. And remember, we are talking about a parish priest from Detroit. He supposedly answers to the Catholic Church, and Warren's book is loaded with documented missives and direct quotations from interviews detailing the back and forth between bishops, cardinals, federal agents and the like, describing the thoughts of Church superiors and how they might deal with a person who had gained an historically unprecedented amount of influence and power due strictly to the power of mass media - the radio.

The story ends with a whimper, not a bang. Warren would have us outraged that the Catholic Church did very little to reign in a figure who increasingly (especially after his own party's humbling in the 1936 Presidential election) hateful rhetoric led directly or indirectly to hate crimes and which was arguably "lending aid and comfort to our enemies" during the war with Germany. Since his book has been published, accounts of child abuse by priests too numerous to tally left this reader unsurprised at the Church's inaction.

Now, if I may offer my own opinion: What is distressing to me is no longer that individuals such as Coughlin can miseducate so many people. It is the extent to which so many people actually prefer to think in a paranoid and fearful manner. It is the only explanation. Just recently Glenn Beck dedicated three hours to bête noire of the right, George Soros. Granted, Beck was doing a hatchet job on a single individual, not an entire race, but he did attempt to distance himself from accusations of anti-Semitism by - ta-dah! - accusing the Jew Soros of being anti-Semitic.

Remember what the good Father taught us - Jews are not the enemy, Bad Jews are the enemy. An important distinction. Let us continue. From The New Yorker, November 29, 2010:
Beck pictured Soros as a deeply evil figure, a shadowy manipulator whose marionettes include unions, the Democratic Party, the media, and the President; a rapacious financier who seeks to subvert and destroy the American republic in order to satisfy his own greed for money and advance his plot to establish an all-powerful global, state under his control. As it happens, these tropes correspond uncannily to those of classical anti-Semitism.
I happened to read this article the same morning I finished Warren's book. Hmn.

Unlike Beck, who has the support of his Gentile oligarch Rupert Murdoch, Coughlin relied on independent radio stations which became increasingly unhappy with his rhetoric to carry his message across the country and his radio broadcasts were suppressed by the late 1930s, and with is a major source of his revenue. Around the same time, however, his weekly paper Social Justice gained a higher-quality look, which different color inks to make it pop and higher quality photographs. There is evidence that this funding came straight from Berlin. It is without a doubt that several articles in the paper were direct transcriptions of speeches from the office of Joseph Goebbels. Eventually he was pressured to cease publication as a case was being created against him as a disseminator of seditious materials.

Source:
Radio Priest, Charles Coughlin, the Father of Hate Radio
The Onion
The New Yorker

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Social Justice


Social Justice Vol. 2 No. 6
August 31, 1936


The issue featured above includes continuing coverage of the Union Party Convention held in Cleveland in August, 1936.

* * *

My blog posts have slowed a bit in the past week as I have been reading the biography of a man who:
- Was backed by shadowy, right-wing finances.

- Communicated to his audience through mass-media and grand, public, staged events.

- Appealed to base instincts and fear.

- Made educating the people about the impending threat of Communist world-domination the centerpiece of his message.

- Detailed wildly complex and paranoid conspiracy theories.

- Fomented race-hatred in millions of his economically-challenged followers.

- Had an obsession regarding the possession of gold.

... Tomorrow we'll talk about Father Coughlin.


Drum fill. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Assorted Views

A small packet of cards, suitable for mailing. (circa 1940?)


Terminal Tower


Public Auditorium


View from Terminal Tower


Museum of Art


Coast Guard Station


Municipal Stadium


Cultural Garden, Gordon Park
(Now Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.)


Municipal Airport


Garfield Monument


Euclid Beach Park


New Main Avenue Bridge
(Built 1939)


Lorain-Carnegie Bridge

Source: Mom's house.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Homosexuality

J. Edgar Hoover, keeping it real.

The 1920s were a period of great excess and celebration. The internet tells me (from numerous sources) that what was becoming what we know to day as the "gay" lifestyle was, while not explicitly acceptable, on the rise and becoming more visible. Drag shows and cabarets were fixtures among jazz clubs and speakeasies, and while society turned a blind-eye to illegal alcohol production and consumption, they were turning their eyes away from everything else.

With the Depression came a stripping away of everything considered excessive or indulgent, a return to so-called "traditional family values." The term homosexual came into being, and was defined as the antithesis of a normal relationship. It was diagnosed as a mental illness, and (see: Hays Code) was increasingly unacceptable anywhere in any form, subject to all manner of legal and social punishments.

One example of Hollywood's censorship of gay issues and themes involves Lillian Hellman's play The Children's Hour which was adapted into the 1936 film These Three ... only now one of the figures in this boarding school lesbian love triangle is now a man and the story has a happy ending.

The term "sex crime" emerged in the media during this period, which described rape, child molestation - and homosexuality. By the late 1930s gays were the targets of widespread campaigns to "clean up" the ills of society.

Homosexuality was illegal in Cleveland at this time. It was the presumption of several involved in the so-called "Torso Murder" case that the man they were looking for was a sexual deviant. Detective Peter Merylo, who drove himself to the brink of sanity on this case, made it his crusade to put "perverts" behind bars.

On numerous occasions Merylo would solicit known gay bars, follow a departing pair of men to a residence or hotel, wait an appropriate amount of time, then force entry catching them in a compromising situation. He pulled this stunt so many time judges became reluctant to try his cases.

Merylo also liked to wander Kingsbury Run in his underpants to lure the killer, but that's another story.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Novelguide.com
TruTV.com

Vampire's Kiss


Tomorrow evening, Saturday, November 20 I will be doing something I have never attempted before - hosting a rock concert. It is a CD release party for VAMPIRE'S KISS by the legendary Cleveland-area industrial-goth-pop duo QUEUE UP featuring my very good friends Alison Garrigan and Dennis Yurich.
A whole bloody body of Queue Up material has been dug up and compiled onto a new CD called Vampire’s Kiss. Inspired by the b-side track of the same name, the disk contains studio works and performances long gone, but not forgotten. Many of the tracks date back to the mid 1990s when Queue up was touring through the midwest.

The CD contains everything from studio demos to tracks from the stage play “The Vampyres” to classic live performances. To add to the mix are two tracks from the recently revived Queue Up line-up featuring guitarist Dennis Yurich and vocalist Ali Garrigan – a live version of Bauhaus’ “Spirit” and an unplugged version of Souixie and the Banshees’ “Cities in Dust.” The two founding members of Queue-Up bring on a newer, leaner, more visceral incarnation of the darkly enigmatic, Gothic/Industrial band of 15 years ago.
Yes, a track from my play THE VAMPYRES, a critical darling dating back to the late 1990s (no, it's not a critical darling, I was joking, all critics hate that play.) That's how I first got to know Dennis, when he and Ali agreed to create original music for the play. I wrote lyrics which were very wordy and Dennis cut them in half - I mean, he literally cut them in half, removing the second half of every verse which was pretty much a restatement of the phrase which precedes it.

The resulting song, COME (one of two original songs in that play) is featured on the disc, and you can enjoy a live performance of it here:



This video is from the 1997 production of THE VAMPYRES, featuring Adam Hoffman and Maurice Adams on vocals, with a pre-recorded backing track by Queue Up. This is not the recording from the disc, of course.

The boy has asked what this song is about. Inspired by the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley, this song is about a man who defies God by sailing into rough weather, and drowns. However, as we all know, love conquers death and the memory of his love brings him back to life albeit as a bloodthirsty corpse. If that sounds pretentious - WIN!

You can purchase VAMPIRE'S KISS and find more info on tomorrow night's festivities at the Queue Up website.

The event will be held at the Center for Rock Research, 1761 E. 39th St. in Cleveland. There's a $5 cover - seriously, FIVE BUCKS. All Ages, Doors open at 7:30 p.m. BYO.

Also featuring ARROGANT REX and MORTICIA'S CHAIR.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Philip Johnson


Philip Cortelyou Johnson (July 8, 1906 – January 25, 2005) is the famous bald architect with the big, round glasses.

Born in Cleveland, Johnson's ancestry is Dutch. He is descended from Jacques Cortelyou who mapped out the town plan for New Amsterdam for Peter Stuyvestant. Studying philosophy and history at Harvard, he took several long breaks to tour Europe where he developed his passion for architecture and fascism.

With fellow travelers he championed the modern style of architecture, creating the earthshaking show The International Style: Architecture Since 1922 at the Museum of Modern Art. However, he resigned his post at MOMA in the 1930s to dabble in journalism and criticize the "failure" of the fledgling welfare state. He became a foreign correspondent for Father Coughlin's magazine, Social Justice.

He was "enthralled" by Hitler, and became a disciple of Lawrence Dennis, who predicted that Capitalism was doomed, and that fascism was America's only bulwark against Communism. In 1934 he and some friends formed the National party, though it attracted little interest. He went to Louisiana to work for Huey Long, and after that man was assassinated, found his way to Coughlin's headquarters in Royal Oak, Michigan. In addition to the writing gig, the radio priest tapped Johnson for political organizing for his National Union party.

For ten years, Philip Johnson espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric until he followed the Nazi army into the invasion of Poland as a correspondent. He returned to the United States and enlisted in the Army.

In 1983 he designed the big, ugly extension of the Cleveland Play House and the big, dumb Bolton Theatre.


Sources: Wikipedia
Journal of Architectural Education
The Washington Post
Radio Priest: Charles Coughlin, The Father of Hate Radio

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Franklin Delano Rosenfeld

Roosevelt is Jewish. Rosenfeld was the first name and he wasn’t regarded as one of the first founders of Jewry in this country, either. I have a book out there with the pedigree of all the Jews in it written by a Jew which I can show you ...some of them more famous Jews than he.
- Charles Coughlin, 1970

Since the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 this country has been educated to a new phase in government … Or shall we say that which it is? It is assuredly “Freedom and planning” adapted to the United States … Stripped of all its commouflage, it is a guild form of government … The guild form of government is directly the opposite of the constitutional form of government, It is the Jewish plan of a world estate.
- Louis McFadden, U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania, 1934

President Roosevelt intends to repeat the “Pax Judaica” of Woodrow Wilson who led the United States into the World War because he acted on behalf of Morgenthau, Warburg, Jacob Schiff, Louis Brandeis, Kuhn, Loeb & Co., all Jewish bankers of New York and masters of the world. President Wilson was able to put across his cheme because 20 percent of America’s population was Jewish then, but it is easier now, because the number of Jews number 40 percent of the total population today and because Roosevelt himself is a Jew.

- from a Roman newspaper, 1940

From the viewpoint of eugenics, it [FDR’s Jewish background] explains his natural bent toward radicalism … and proves unmistakably, that the Roosevelt administration offers a biological, as well as a political problem. It is therefore as natural to him to be radical as it is for others to be true Americans … HE IS NOT ONE OF US!”
- Gerald Winrod, Defender magazine, 1935

All I know about the origins of the Roosevelt family in this country is that all branches bearing the name are apparently descended from Claes Martenseene Van Roosevelt, who came from Holland sometime before 1648. In the dim distant past they may have been Jews or Catholics or Protestants - what I am more interested in is whether they were good citizens and believers in God - I hope they were both.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1935
Source: Radio Priest: Charles Coughlin, The Father of Hate Radio (Donald Warren, 1996)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Inoculations

Existentialist beatnik nightmare.

What are the emotional triggers which stimulate the response to create? How can I hear so much which leaves me dead and then awaken to such nonsense and noise? Arriving at the 1300 Space (I have been here before, really) I could not tell where to enter, and then upon entering I still felt like I did not belong.

I knew people and was told the house was upon but sitting in the house was a) an audience plant and b) Amy Pawlukiewicz tearing up a magazine.

I sat and sipped a PBR. It was a little cool, I was wearing a coat, and a ballcap, in a dark room, listening to Amy changes the stations on a real radio and the sound of people much younger than I am laughing in the lobby area. A tweet:



My expectations were high. This were a happening.

Another tweet:



The space was made of office space, cheaply but so well-lit. The words ridiculous but so well-rehearsed. Exciting, rhythmic, and loud. Bodies were made to move, to surprise, but never threaten, not really. Anything with a live drummer is all right with me.

The woman next to me (half my age?) thought everything was HILARIOUS. Even things that weren’t. That was a good thing. The place was oversold on a Monday night. And the second act was written for Nick, it couldn't have been for anyone else. It just taps into his sense of freaky, manic, explosive, irrepressible, cartoony wackdiculousness. And he gets to sing.

There are three more performances. You should go.

Theater Ninjas - Inoculations

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meeting of the minds

"Demagoguery and stupidity are the natural enemies of democracy."
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"Democracy is doomed. This is our last election. What will happen? It is Fascism or Communism. We are at a crossroads. I take the road to Fascism."
- Father Charles Coughlin

Thursday, November 11, 2010

John Hay High School


Built in 1929, this neoclassical structure underwent an extensive $36 million redesign between 2001-2006 creating a 21st century learning facility for the CMSD students lucky enough to go there. I love working with the kids and teachers at John Hay (I am substituting for one of our performers there today) and am constantly delighted by the way they remodeled this old-timey school without altering its original design elements.



As a reminder of things past, however, two large portraits stand in the main hall, shabby and ill-treated over the past seventy years. One is of progressive Cleveland Mayor Thomas L. Johnson, the other of Commodore Oliver Hazard "Don't Give Up the Sip" Perry. They stand before important Cleveland buildings and landmarks, unrealistically overlapping each other at dramatic angles which was all the rage for artists producing work for the W.P.A.


These are, in fact, W.P.A. paintings. Water-damaged, graffitied, slashed, begging for restoration. It has been suggested that the works were created by Clarence Carter, who created murals for post offices around Ohio, but whether he did in fact create the John Hay High murals is in dispute, and other candidates are unknown.