Tuesday, November 30, 2010


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.


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.

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


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.


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.


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


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.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Huron at Euclid Avenue
(facing what is now PlayhouseSquare)

Cleveland streetcars were operated by the Cleveland Railway. In the late 1800s "electrified" streetcars, which were three times faster than horse-drawn streetcars, expanded suburban development out from the city for ten miles in every direction (except, you know, North.) People working in the city could escape the major influx of Southern and Eastern European immigrants and industrial-strength pollution.

Beginning in the 1890s we soon had the incorporation of East Cleveland (1895), Lakewood and Cleveland Heights (spiritual sister cities, each founded in 1903) and by the 1930s we saw the villages and new suburbs of Bedford, Berea, Euclid, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, Parma, Rocky River and Shaker Heights all attain city status.

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spicy Mystery Stories


Click on to enlarge

April 1936 Issue
"Zang took my body and blew the breath of a soul into it. Before Zang, I was nothing. Now I am all!"
Produced by Culture Publications (I love that) this title is among the "weird menace" or "shudder pulp" genre, as distinguished from its hard-boiled detective counterparts through its use of supernatural or extraterrestrial themes. They were horror stories, a descendant of the Grand Guignol for their use of torture and brutality. For their time they were rather pornographic.

The Vintage Library

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lemko Hall

Built in 1911, this recognizable Cleveland landmark is an unusually shaped building, resting as it does at the intersection of West 11th, Kenilworth and the diagonal cross-street of Literary in the Tremont. It once featured a saloon, gambling salon and a spacious ballroom. In 1936 it was owned by the Lemko Assn. Home Branch No. 6, a social club for Slavic people of Lemkovina (I kid you not) located in the Carpathian Mountains.

The Lemko Association of the USA and Canada was the largest social and cultural organization among Lemko immigrants in North America.


During 1936 it was officially a pro-Communist, supporting a plan to relocate the Lemko peoples from their Carpathian homeland to the Soviet Union to resolve socioeconomic and nationalist difficulties. They adopted an anti-fascist platform, and advocated a Carpatho-Rusyn Section within the International Workers' Order.

In 1939 the headquarters moved to Yonkers.

During my heyday in Tremont, the main corner space was a floral boutique named Wildflower, and the lower-level was the home of exotic art-and-water installations and impromptu "happenings." This video from 1993 features neighborhood legend Robert Richie and his penis.

UPDATE: And oh look - there's Daniel Thompson!

Tremont History Project
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
Encyclopedia of Rusyn history and culture (Paul R. Magocsi, Ivan Ivanovich Pop)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Oxford Elementary Murals

My daughter just started her first session of indoor soccer, which is led at one of the local elementary schools - but not hers. The last time I visited Oxford Elementary School was to hand out information before an election ... Jesus, was that in 2004? Never been inside.

So we're walking from the gym (where they held scrimmage) to one of the classrooms (where they would be conducting strategy, complete with an animated smartboard - classy!) and pass this wide, brightly painted mural.

"Wait," I said to the parent walking with me, "did that say W.P.A.?" I doubled back and sure as hell, there it was ...

"Federal Art Project
W.P.A. In Ohio"

Finding info on it online was not hard, and led me to a website I was previously ignorant of, a website for the Cleveland Heights Historical Society and an article about the numerous Federal Art Project murals and ceramics to be found at Oxford Elementary, an article written by Mazie Adams, the parent of one of my kid's schoolmates.

Oxford Elementary applied for and received funding for the creation of "two hydrocals (a type of extra-hard plaster) and thirty-five ceramics." In early 1937 the murals were painted directly to the walls by artist Gladys Carambella, the one I saw and that is featured above is of The Pied Piper of Hamlin.

In the 1970s as certain Heights schools were being torn down or renovated, the other mural, depicting the tale of Cinderella was almost destroyed. A little research revealed the forgotten origin of the works - and how federally-funded art is actually protected by the Federal Government. A layer of glue was applied to "save" the artwork, which made the formerly brightly colored work look much worse, and yellowed over the next quarter century. A grant from the Cleveland Foundation led to their proper restoration in 2000.

"National Art Treasures in Cleveland Heights" (Mazie Adams)
Cleveland Heights Historical Society

Thursday, November 4, 2010


The pro-labor paper, The Cleveland Citizen made note of the "Hearstian", anti-labor, Red-baiting film, Riffraff.

Jean Harlow and Hollywood newcomer Spencer Tracy get to show off their woiking class acting chops in this flicker, released January 3, 1936. Tracy plays a commercial fisherman, Harlow a gal working the cannery, they are married and extremely unpleasant characters.

Tracy (Dutch Miller) talks his brother fishermen out a strike, knowing the Boss, Nick Lewis, will only break their contracts and hire scabs. When he becomes the new head of the union, he calls a strike and is proven right. All union workers are driven into poverty.

Meanwhile, Boss Nick loves Hattie and tries to woo her after Dutch moves out and ends up in a hobo camp. Hattie steals cash from Nick to give to Dutch, but he runs from her, and Nick presses charges, landing the now-pregnant Hattie in prison.

Industrial sabotage. Girl prison break. Little Mickey Rooney playing a goddamn trumpet. Dutch comes clean, he and Hattie reunite - with the new baby - and everything is happily ever after.
"Miss Harlow the comedienne is one person. Miss Harlow the tragedienne is another. And when the new photoplay at the Capitol choose to accent the less convincing personality and to cast a somber eye upon such weighty matters as labor in revolt, the Red menace, motherhood and life in a women's prison, then, alas, a boisterous jest skids down the slopes of melodramatic routine." - The New York Times
Apparently the prison break scene result in a lawsuit against MGM from the California State Industrial Welfare Committee because of the women actors who became ill as a result of working through an actual downpour. They each received an extra $15.

The Cleveland Citizen
The New York Times

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Harvard Club Raid

Federal Bureau of Investigation
John Edgar Hoover, Director
May 12, 1936


Re: Police Corruption in CLEVELAND, OHIO.

On January 10, 1936, the Prosecutor's Office of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, raided the Harvard Club. The Bueau has made no independent investigation concerning this raid, but slippings from the January 11, 1936 issue of the Cleveland Press discloses that John Sulzman, Sheriff of Cuyahoga County, took no part in the raid; that the County Prosecutor enlisted the cooperation and aid of twenty-five private detectives and armed with search warrants endeavored to serve such warrants at the Harvard Club.

They were met with formidable resistance, however, by Jimmy Patton, who threatened to "mow down" the raiding party with machine guns and held the raiding party at bay for six hours, during which time all the gambling equipment at the Harvard Club was moved away by trucks. It was finally necessary for the Safety Director of Cleveland to proceed to the Harvard Club, located just outside city limits, with a party of policemen to gain entrance to the Club.

This action was necessary because the Sheriff, when called by the Prosecutor's raiding party for aid, refused to send assistance, even though his office was notified that the Prosecutor's raiding party had been threatened with machine guns. It is evident, therefore, that the proprietors of the Harvard Club were closely connected with politicians and those in power in Cleveland.

It is desired to point out particularly the "hard boiled" attitude assumed by James "Shimmy" Patton, who threatened to "mow down" the raiding party. The newspapers setting forth this information are probably correct in the attitutde which was assumed by Patton as well be shown herein below:


On February 24, 1936, Mr. W.G. Harper, Operative in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Treasury Department, Cleveland, Ohio, was interview by Special Agent [[redacted]] Mr. Harper stated that when the Harvard Club was closed by the local authorities information is to the effect that the raid was so planned as to give Elliot (sic) Ness, recently appointed Safety Director of Cleveland, a political buildup.

The Cleveland newspapers have given a great deal of publicity to the raid and to the fact that Sheriff John M. Sulzmann refused to come to the aid of County Prosecutor Frank T. Cullitan, when Cullitan found it impossible to gain entrance into the Harvard Club. A news item appearing in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, dated January 11, 1936 is quoted as follows:
"For nearly six hours last night operators of the Harvard Club held County Prosecutor Frank T. Cullitan, his staff and twenty special constables at bay after they appeared at the expensive gambling resort in Newburg heights to raid it simultaneously with a surprise attack on the Thomas Club in Maple heights, which yielded without resistance.

From sunset until nearly 11 last night the prosecutor and his force of men were repulsed by threats from the operators of the Harvard Club to 'mow down' the constables with machine guns if they tried to batter in the doors.

The Harvard Club was stormed only after Safety Director Eliot Ness, acting, he said, 'as a private citizen,' took several police squads to the prosecutor's aid.

Cullitan pleaded in vain for help from the city police department and from Sulzmann, the country's chief law enforcement officer."
Entrance having been finally gained after a six hour seige, the prosecutor and his deputies found that all of the gambling equipment had been removed by the aid of trucks. The paper goes on to state that after entrance had been gained "Hebebrand and his aids walked into the money-counting room of the club on the pretext of getting their hats and coats, and escaped by climbing through a small window near the roof of the resort, and dropping ten feet to the ground outside."

The paper continues -
"A few minutes later Sheriff Sulzmann, ill in bed at his home, sent word to Cullitan, the prosecutor said, that he would not send aid or protection unless it was requested by Mayor Jerry Sticha of Newburh Heights, 'in accordance with my home rule policy.' Cullitan had previously tried time after time to reach Sticha at his home, but was told he was not there.
The paper gives the following details concerning the raid:
"Patton (James "Shimmy" Patton who is well known to this Bureau) cursing profusely, rushed toward Cullitan. Cullitan tried to accomplish his task peacefully.

'Anyone that goes in there,' Patton cried, 'gets their _______ head knocked off. You've got your _______ home at stake and we got our _______ property at stake.'

'I've tried every decent way I could --' Cullitan began.

'No, you haven't,' Patton broke in.

'This is my job to close this place,' Cullitan said.

'Why don't you quit your job?' Patton shot back.
The Cleveland News, dated January 11, 1936 stated as follows:
"Mr Cullitan also had 'nothing to say' when asked if he would take any action against village officials who allowed gambling joints to operate so openly in violation of law."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer, dated January 14, 1936 quotes Eliot Ness, Safety Director, as follows:
"'I did not know Sheriff Sulzmann excepting through the newspapers,' Ness said. 'I haven't met him yet, but I consider I know him thoroughly since his refusal to send deputies to the aid of County Prosecutor Cullitan.'

'When John Flynn, my assistant director, went to County Jail he found six deputies just sitting -- perhaps waiting for the millennium. He got no satisfaction from Jailer Murphy. Neither did I. We both pointed out Mr. Cullitan's plight, and we both got the answer: 'The sheriff stands by his home rule policy -- he must request from the mayor of Newburg Heights.'

'It Can't Happen Here', the title of one of our best sellers, would be true locally if applied to the sheriff rescuing the prosecuting attorney. Hence the recent raids became news here, although they would not have been news in many cities.

'I want to say seriously to you and to all of the better element, that we must have the public with us. That means good citizens must not neglect their full duty.'"
The above quotation was taken from a speech given by Eliot Ness at the Cleveland Athletic Club before the Odovene Club, composed of Ohio Wesleyan University Alumni.

That the raid conducted by Frank T. Cullitan is alleged to have its political aspects is shown in a news item appearing in the Cleveland Plain Dealer dated January 29, 1936, which is quoted as follows:
"County Prosecutor Frank T. Cullitan's recent raid on the Harvard and Thomas Clubs was described last night as a plot 'cooked up' by an assistant county prosecutor to embarrass Sheriff John M. Sulzmann's campaign for Congress in the Twentieth District and to benefit Congressman Martin L. Sweeney."
The news item goes on to state:
"The ward leaders voted to endorse Sulzmann for Congress and to call a meeting next week of the 277 precinct committeement in the district to submit Sulzmann's candidacy to them."
For your information Sulzmann was defeated in the primaries.

News items appearing in the Cleveland newspapers are very laudatory of the appointment and conduct of Eliot Ness as Public Safety Director of Cleveland. He was particularly praised for his action in assisting County Prosecutor Cullitan, "as a private citizen" during the raid on the Harvard Club. News items have also stated that numerous raids are being conducted by police squads in an effort to clean up gambling conditions in Cleveland.

The Cleveland News dated January 11, 1936, refers to Ness as follows:
It was Mr. Ness who, when Sheriff Sulzmann, from his sickbed, refused to send aid to Cullitan, took the bull by the horns and led 33 Cleveland police officers and men to the Harvard Club to protect Cullitan from possible violence."
Referring to Cullitan the same paper states:
"The prosecutor, his job of closing the two notorious gaming resorts done, offered no criticism either of Sheriff Sulzmann's refusal to help, or f the lethargy of Newburg Heights and Maple heights officials in failing to close the clubs."
Referring to Eliot Ness' move to clean up conditions in Cleveland, the Cleveland News dated January 9, 1936 is quoted as follows:
"On orders from Safety Director Ness a meeting of policy operators was called by Deputy Inspector Frank W. Story at the E. 35th St. - Longwood Ct. police station Tuesday night.

'Fold up of your own accord or we will fold you up,' Inspector Story told them.

Along lower Scovill Ave., once the most open vice district in the city, officers are visiting houses and ordering all transient girls to move out of the city. Only those who can provie their legitimate homes are in the houses are being permitted to remain.

Bookmakers still exist, doing a curb or telephone business, but the gambling resorts have disappeared. Gamblers who prospered in Cleveland last year are reported to have either left town or to be making plans to heads for other cities where the law enforcement is more casual.

The order has gone out for the cleanup.

The police department knows Director Ness means business."
In praise of the work of Safety Director Ness the Cleveland News of January 11, 1936 carries and editorial containing the following:
"While we're cherring, let's fill the air with three long hurrahs and nine sharps rahs for Eliot Ness."
K.R. McIntire.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FOIA)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Ostriches

People’s Theater Plays
The Cleveland Citizen, December 6, 1935

The People’s Theatre will present “The Ostriches” … a brilliant comedy on war written by Rudolph Wittenberg, who recently came to this country from Germany. The Theatre itself was organized last June to present plays of social importance to a vast audience of people who have never seen their own lives portrayed in the theatre.

Many unions have given their endorsement and a great number saw performances of an earlier production, the stirring “Waiting For Lefty,” which has revolutionized American theatre of today, both in method of presentation and in subject. Also a great number of unions in Cleveland have seen “Union Label,” a short skit which is part of its mobile theatre. In one week a play was written and rehearsed by the People’s Theatre and performed in conjunction with the Union Buyers’ Club at a benefit for the (Brunk) strikers.

War is declared in Europe and two neighbors in America join in hand-to-hand combat on their own territory. After being reconciled in jail they decide to prevent the horrors of war reaching this country by forming the “International Peace Co.” Interspaced with scene of hilarious comedy are realistic flashbacks which are signaled by descending sirens.

As the theatre was founded for the workingmen, the admissions price of 35 cents is also with his budget.
The Ostriches as translated by Howard Da Silva, opened on December 23 in a former nightclub at 4300 Carnegie. The opening night performance was delayed forty minutes (accompanied by the sounds of hammering backstage) and when the curtain finally rose you could see the wet paint on the just-completed set.
The People's Theatre is not aligned with any political party. That is the euphemistic way of saying that it is not Communistic, and its organizers wish you to be clear about that. - William F. McDermott, The Plain Dealer
The Cleveland Citizen
The Plain Dealer
Showtime in Cleveland (Vacha)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Noble Sissle and The Sizzling Syncopaters

Noble Sissle and His Band from Ciro's Club
The noun "soundies" seems to originate in 1941 with the company that built & distributed Mills Panoram Jukeboxes.

A soundie was, then, a three-minute music-film played on visual jukeboxes, though in reality these films were also batched together in sets of three to show as one-reel shorts in theaters, & to sell to the 8 mm & 16 mm home projector market, so "soundie" came to mean any music-oriented film short of a full-blown feature-length musical.

But in the black community "soundies" was used to mean a short film anywhere from three minutes to an hour but usually one or two reels (ten or twenty minutes) with all-black casts, & by extension any musical-short without race reference.

Whether this use of the word developed after the Panoram soundies appeared in the 1940s, or whether the Mills Panoram company latched onto pre-existent street slang, is probably unknowable. In any case the antecedants to the soundies, like the short-short Vitagraph music-films & a plethora of one-reelers, are in essence also soundies.

"Noble Sissle & His Band from Ciro's Club & of Radio & Gramaphone Fame" (1930) is a three-minute British Pathetone, precursor to the jukebox soundies of the 1940s. Pathetones of this vintage were filmed on location, so this really is at Ciro's.

Sissle is out in front of The Sizzling Syncopaters. He's slim & youthful, singing ragtime in his sweet high voice:
"The moon was all aglow
And heaven was in your eyes
The night that you told me, those little white lies
The stars they seemed to know
That you didn't mean all those sighs
The night that you told me, those little white lies."
I absolutely love Sissle singing this.

As Noble finishes the lyrics for "Little White Lies," the trumbone & sax trade off on soloing through the instrumental break. Then without missing a beat we're into a second song.

Drummer Jack Carter leaps up to sing a rapid rendition of "Happy Feet" at the back of the band. For close, tuba player Edward Coles rushes up front to tapdance a fine example of the aforementioned happy feet.
- Weird Realm Reviews