Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My American Crime Column: Gangster Chic With Crazy Joe Gallo and the Mad Ones

GreatHistory.com published my column on Tom Folson's new book on New York mobster Crazy Joe Gallo today.

Gallo, an extortionist and murderer who was cultivated and admired by entertainers, was the source of Jimmy Breslin's great satirical novel, The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight.

You can read my column here 

My On Crime & Security Column: Scareware: The FBI Issues a Warning About Those Pop-Up Bogus Security Warnings

The national online small business magazine Businessknowhow.com published my latest On Crime & Security column today.

The column deals with the FBI's warning about pop-up security warnings. The bogus security warnings pose a serious threat to your computer, as they may contain viruses.

My column, which also passes on the Federal Trade Commission's tips on how to handle the pop- ups, can be read here

Fond Memories of Another Christmas Season with the Children's Ballet Theatre's Production of The Nutcracker

As the 2009 Christmas season comes to a close, I heard a song on the radio from The Nutcracker, which rekindled my fond memories of when my daughter was a member of the Children's Ballet Theater in South Philadelphia.

For many years Christmas in my family meant the Children's Ballet Theatre's annual full scale production of The Nutcracker at the Merriam Theatre. My daughter, a college student today, performed in the annual Christmas productions for many years while she was growing up.

Above is a piece on the Children's Ballet Theatre that appeared in The South Philadelphia American, where I had a regular column, in 1996. The second piece is from The Philadelphia Daily News.

Angela Corosanite, the former artistic director of the Children's Ballet Theatre, is today the CEO and founder of the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School in South Philadelphia.
You can access my web profile, links to my online columns and crime fiction, as well as clips of my magazine and newspaper pieces here

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thanks for the Memories: Bob Hope's Final Vietnam USO Christmas Show

Following up on my last post about Bob Hope's Vietnam USO Christmas shows, which can be read here, above is a photo of Bob Hope during his 1969 Christmas show aboard the USS Saratoga.

You can also watch a video from Hope's TV special about his final Vietnam Christmas show in 1972 here

I submit once again that I believe Bob Hope was a great comedian, a great comic actor and a great American.

He is remembered fondly by the many thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that he entertained from World War II to Vietnam.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Remembering Bob Hope's Vietnam USO Christmas Shows

The Weider History Group's online publication, http://www.historynet.com/ has a good piece that fondly remembers comedian Bob Hope's Vietnam USO Christmas shows.

He entertained the troops in Vietnam from 1964 to 1972, continuing a tradition he began in World War II. Hope always brought beautiful women with him, including Raquel Welch (seen above in the photo with Hope).

Hope did not visit my carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk, during Christmas 1970, as we were too far north in the Gulf of Tonkin. I know that 5,500 sailors were sad about that.

Bob Hope was a great comedian, a great comic actor and a great American.

You can read the piece on Hope and his Vietnam shows via the link below:


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside. Forever Cool Dean Martin Sings For Us During a Snow Storm

With a snow storm falling on Philadelphia and the Northeast, I thought Dean Martin's Baby, It's Cold Outside would be the perfect song for today.

To listen to the song, go here

Dean Martin, as his album duly noted, is forever cool.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

First Memorial to Honor Fallen Navy SEALs and UDT Frogmen

The nation's first memorial dedicated to fallen Navy SEALs and Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) frogmen is being planned at the National Navy SEAL-UDT Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida.

The planners hope that the memorial (seen in the above photo) will be unveiled on Memorial Day.

My late father, as I've noted here before, was a Navy chief and UDT frogman in World War II. He trained at Fort Pierce prior to hitting the Japanese-held beaches in the South Pacific.

Thankfully, he survived. This memorial will honor those UDT frogmen and Navy SEALs who died in combat in America's wars from World War II to the present.

You can read about the plans for the memorial here

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Tribute to Supercarrier USS Kitty Hawk: 48 Years of Service to the Nation

The USS Kitty Hawk was decommissioned on January 31, 2009 after 48 years of service to the nation. The supercarrier performed combat operations from the Vietnam War to the Iraq War.

Below is a video tribute to the USS Kitty Hawk from the U.S. Navy:


My father, a WWII Navy UDT frogman, took me to the commissioning of the carrier at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1961 when I was a kid. I enlisted in the Navy when I was 17 in 1970 and after Boot Camp I was assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk. I served on the carrier as she performed combat operations off the coast of Vietnam in 1970-1971.

I saw the the Kitty Hawk again when she came back to the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1987 for an overhaul. I was saddened to see the old warship decommissioned, but as a non-nuclear carrier, her time had come.

My hope is that the Kitty Hawk will become a seaport museum as the old carrier has such a long and proud history.

Below is a link to a brief history of the USS Kitty Hawk


Friday, December 11, 2009

My On Espionage Column: My Q&A With Ben Macintyre, Author Of 'Agent ZigZag: The Story of One of World War II's Most Daring Double Agents,' Part III

GreatHistory.com published part three of my interview with Ben Macintyre, author of Agent ZigZag.

Macintyre's book is about the true story of Eddie Chapman, a con artist, crook and philanderer who became one of World War II's most daring double agents.

You can read Part I here

You can read Part II here

You can read Part III here

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Crime Beat Column: Joseph Wambaugh's Hollywood Moon is Another Classic Police Story

As any cop will tell you, the full moon brings out the crazies. And if you are working the streets of Hollywood, California - well, the moon makes them even crazier.

Joesph Wambaugh, a former LAPD detective sergeant, is the grand master of tales about cops, crooks and crime. He once again offers us a novel with stark realism, blunt language and abundant humor.

Hollywood Moon is the last in a trilogy of novels that began with Hollywood Station and continued with Hollywood Crows.

Wambaugh’s three novels cover the lives of the police officers assigned to the Hollywood police station. Wambaugh takes us out on patrol with the officers and we encounter the crazies, the criminals, and the victims of crime on the mean streets of Hollywood. These stories are, in turn, dramatic, funny and sad.

One can read Hollywood Moon without reading the first two novels, but I recommend that you read all three. The two young surfer cops known as Flotsam and Jetsom, ”Hollywood” Nate Weiss, a cop who yearns to be an actor, and other characters from the previous novels return in Hollywood Moon.

We also met new police officers and a creepy cast of criminals. We encounter an odd pairing of street criminals with a smooth-talking black hustler in “dreads” and a “crazy-eyed,” tattooed, big and fat biker. There is a strange young man who is attacking older women, and a pair of criminals truly for our age.

The modern criminal couple are an out of work actor who dons disguises and characters and hires the aforementioned street criminals to pull a variety of scams and thefts, and his overbearing and abusive wife who works on several computers in their apartment, committing identity theft and other high-tech white collar crime.

And the cops have to work the streets under a full moon. As a Hollywood Station sergeant duly notes, the full moon brings out the beast - rather than the best - in Hollywood.

Wambaugh, who said he exhausted his personal experience as a police officer in his first three novels, approaches his novels like a reporter. Before each novel he meets with police officers and allows them to tell their stories to him. I interviewed Wambaugh last year after the publication of Hollywood Crows and he explained his process to me.

“I start out with nothing and I start interviewing the cops at drinks and dining sessions, four at a time, until I get enough anecdotal material, dialogue and ideas to begin writing a story,” Wambaugh said. “I have no outline. I have nothing in mind when I sit down with these cops. Nothing at all. They act, I react.”

Wambaugh said that cops pick up good material in their line of work as they are out on the street, seeing people, doing things, and he quoted his character ”the Oracle’ - the wise old sergeant in Hollywood Station - who said, “Doing good police work is the most fun you’ll ever have in your life.”

Wambaugh’s Hollywood Moon is a thrilling, heart-wrenching and hilarious novel.

You can also read my interview with Joseph Wambaugh from last year here

My On Crime & Security Column: Tis the Season to be Charitable, But Don't Fall for Charity Fraud

The national small business web site Businessknowhow.com published my On Crime & Security column today.

The column dealt with charity fraud, as the crooks are working as hard as Santa's elves this time of year, trying to cheat and con business people and individuals into donating to phony charities.

You can read the column via the below link:


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My On Espionage Column: My Q&A With Ben Macintyre, Author of 'Agent ZigZag: The Story of One of World War II's Most Daring Double Agents,' Part II

GreatHistory.com has published the second column of my series on Eddie Chapman, the con man and crook that became one of the most daring double agents in World War II.
Captured by the Nazis early in the war and imprisoned, Chapman used his con man skills to convince the Nazis that he would make a good spy and saboteur for them against the British.
The Nazis trained Chapman in spy tradecraft and had him parachute back into England. Once on the ground, he turned himself into the British Security Services. The British then turned the crook into a double agent against the Nazis.
Ben Macintrye, a writer-at-large and associate editor to the London Times, has written a very interesting book about Chapman called Agent ZigZag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal (Harmony).
I interviewed Ben Macintyre and you can read part two of my series via the link below:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Che, Part One And Che, Part Two: The Films That Celebrate A Murderer And Communist Thug

I have long been interested in Che Guevara, although I am hardly an admirer, and I’ve read scores of books about him, including his Bolivia war diary and his other works.

So as a student of history, as well as a film buff, I forced myself to sit through the two long films about Che Guevara last week on the IFC cable channel.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh with Benicio Del Toro as Guevara, the film was made in two parts with the first part dealing with Guevara’s participation in the Cuban revolution, while the second part jumps ahead to Guevara’s vain and failed attempt to bring violent Communist revolution to Bolivia.

The film smartly skips right over Guevara’s role as the bloody chief executioner of scores of Cubans after the revolution, and his subsequent disastrous handling of the Cuban economy as the minister of finance.

I say smartly, as Del Toro, who produced the films, and director Soderbergh are great admirers of the late revolutionary. Rather, they are admirers of Guevara’s phony iconic reputation. The reality is quite another matter.

The films show Guevara in his best light, with numerous scenes of him healing the sick and wounded (Guevara was a doctor before he was a murderer), but they only offer one scene of him executing people. And those men were Cuban deserters, rapists and murderers. There were no scenes of him putting bullets through prisoners’ heads, or gleefully overseeing mass executions in Cuba.

Humbert Fontova, like me, does not share the romantic view of Guevara.

He wrote an interesting piece for http://www.newsmax.com/ that offers another point of view.

I interviewed Fontova for Counterterrorism magazine. I'm a contributing editor to the quarterly magazine for law enforcement, government and military people worldwide.

You can read the Fontova interview via the links below:

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