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Whereas breweries suffered during Prohibition, the speakeasies profited all the more. 21 was the most famous club illegally serving alcohol in New York. It opened in 1920 under the name Red Head in Greenwich Village and changed its address three times before settling permanently inside a residential house on 52nd Street. A doorman ensured that neither the police nor any troublemakers were admitted, since the main business of what to all appearances was just a restaurant was the illegal alcohol trade. ...
The club underwent an unusual reconstruction. The owners built fake walls and doors, new stairs, and secret shafts. One closet had a hidden mechanism, activated by touching a metal coat hanger to a particular hook in the wall, which resulted in a door popping open to reveal a cache of wine. With the touch of a button, the shelves behind the bar would slide backward. The bottles then dropped down a hidden chute and shattered against rocks. ...
... And yet 2,000 cases of the finest wines, including vintages from 1880s, were stored on the premises. ... What the investigators couldn't suspect was that the rear wall of the niche was actually a secret door, since at a weight of two and a half tons, it gave all the appearances of being a solid wall, even if someone banged against it. It could be opened only when a very thin rod was inserted into a tiny hole, where it unlatched a lock mechanism. The room this door opened into was the basement of the adjoining house and was thus technically not part of the club. This way the owners hoped to protect their employees from having to lie to the authorities.
The heavy door opened not only ionto the wine cellar but into an elegant room in the rear, equipped with booths and designed for private parties. One regular guest during Prohibition was Mayor Jimmy Walker, who did not like to be interrupted while he enjoyed a good glass of wine and retreated down there whenever the police showed up. ...
After Prohibition was lifted in 1993, 21 continued as a distinguished restaurant, attracting numerous famous diners, from Ernest Hemingway to Frank Sinatra, Dorothy Parker to Humphrey Bogart. To this date the restaurant's wines are kept in the formerly secret vault... (From Breweries, Speakeasies, and Wine Cellars, pgs. 209-211)
Who was he and where did he come from? The family trees of the poor don't grow to any height. I know nothing real about my father; I don't even know if his name was real. There was never a Granda Smart, or a Grandma, no brothers or cousins. He made his life up as he went along. Where was his leg? South Africa, Glasnevin, under the sea. She heard enough stories to bury ten legs. War, an infection, the fairies, a train. He invented himself, and reinvented. He left a trail of Henry Smarts before he finally disappeared. A soldier, a sailor, a butler -- the first one-legged butler to serve the Queen. He'd killed sixteen Zulus with the freshly severed limb.
Was he just a liar? No, I don't think so. He was a survivor; his stories kept him going. Stories were the only things the poor owned. A poor man, he gave himself a life. He filled the hold with many lives. He was the son of a Sligo peasant who'd been eaten by his neighbours; they'd started on my father before he got away. He hopped down the boreen, the life gushing out of his stump, hurling rocks back at the hungry neighbours, and kept hopping till he reached Dublin. He was a pedlar, a gambler, a hoor's bully. He sat on the ditch beside my mother and invented himself. (-- p. 7)
The unique moral outlook of seem somehow to have penetrated even the fastnesses of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The morning after my adventures in espionage, I arrive at a photo studio somewhere off the Strip to find myself surrounded by sem-naked young men whose more than ordinarily sparkling eyes, unblemished skin, gleaming teeth and air of sexless perfection tell me that they are Mormons, members of a church that forswears sex before marriage and stimulants or narcotics of any kind, from caffeine to niotine and cocaine. These are all good Mormon boys who have done their 'missionary work,' in other words they have travelled within America, or beyond, wearing white shirts and dark suits and spreading the word of Mormon. This is the second year of their (strictly topless and genital-free) calendar. It raises money for charity and seems to have won the reluctant acceptance of the Church Elders back in Salt Lake City.
I chat to Cody, a personable nineteen-year-old who is happy to discuss any part of his religion to me. He is surprised and pleased, I think, to learn that I do not find his particularly absurd, in the way many mainstream Christians do. I forbear telling him that the reason I do not find Mormonism especially ridiculous is because I find all pretend invisible friends, Special Books and their rules equally ridiculous. Mormon ideas about realms of crystal rebirthing and special underpants are no weirder than the enforcing of wigs and woollen tights on orthodox Jewish women or laws and dogmas about burkhas and Virgin Births. The religion of the Latter Day Saints is not deserving of especial contempt simply because it is newer. It is as barmy as the rest and I cheerfully treat it as such. It has the same impertinent views concerning women and gays, of course ... (-- p. 268)
Mr. Raymond chuckled, not at all offended, and I tried to frame a discreet question: "Why do you do like you do?"
"Wh-oh yes, you mean why do I pretend? Well, it's very simple," he said. "Some folks don't - like the way I live. Now I could say the hell with 'em, I don't care if they don't like it. I do say I don't care if they don't like it, right enough - but I don't say the hell with 'em, see?"
Dill and I said, "No, sir."
"I try to give 'em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason. When I come to town, which is seldom, if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond's in the clutches of whiskey - that's why he won't change his ways. He can't help himself, that's why he lives the way he does."
"That ain't honest, Mr. Raymond, making yourself out badder'n you are already -"
"It ain't honest but it's mighty helpful to folks. Secretly, Miss Finch, I'm not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that's the way I want to live." (-- pgs. 228-229)
To Kill a Mockingbird
Narrated by U.S. actor Sissy Spacek, a Southerner herself
There are others but this would be our version of choice.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Featuring Robert Duvall in his break-out role and Gregory Peck, reminding us of a time when Hollywood still had leading men - so long.
ESL students need have no fear of the mild southern colloquy in this film classic. It was made at a time when elocution was still an important asset in the acting trade. As Robert Graves so neatly put it, goodbye to all that.
For the first time ever, I was alone in a different country. I was nervous about how I was going to cope in this big, bustling city (New York) and so I employed a technique which still serves me well today. I imagined myself as someone who relished new exciting opportunities, who was utterly unafraid and perpetually optimistic. It was a kind of reinvention. Everyone I met was new. These people didn't know me, there was no shared history, so I could be anything or anyone I wanted to be. My theory was that if I behaved like a confident, cheerful person, eventually I would buy it myself, and become that. I always had traces of strength somewhere inside me; it wasn't fake, it was just a way of summoning my courage to the fore and not letting any creeping self-doubt hinder my adventures. This method worked then, and it works now. I tell myself that I am the sort of person who can open a one-woman play in the West End, so I do. I am the sort of person who has several companies, so I do. I am the sort of person who WRITES A BOOK! So I do. It's like a process of having faith in the self you don't quite know you are yet, if you see what I mean. Believing that you will find the strength, the means somehow, and trusting in that, although your legs are like jelly. You can still walk on them and you will find the bones as you walk. Yes, that's it. The further I walk, the stronger I become. So unlike the real lived life, where the further you walk the more your hips hurt. (-- pgs. 187-188)
On another legendary fatty:
Robbie Coltrane joined us for the films and very quickly became a regular because we couldn't face filming without him. He made us laugh like no one else on set. His big, chippy, Scottish style was so different to everyone else. He played around a lot on set and yet, on camera he is clearly in utter control. He was the one who had big feature film-sized presence. Shame he's got such a small cock... in comparison to his magnificently impressive body I mean, of course. (-- p. 274)
The Vicar of Dibley - The Immaculate Collection
U.S. ad featuring an Ontario woman who spoke out against the Canadian health-care system may be exaggerating the severity of her condition, say medical experts.
Shona Holmes has appeared in U.S. ads saying she had to go to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona to be treated for a rare type of cyst at the base of her brain — a Rathke's cleft cyst. She mortgaged her home and paid $100,000 to be treated there because getting care in Canada involved a six-month wait, she said. She is currently suing OHIP to recoup those costs. Holmes, from Waterdown, Ont., said she would have died had she relied on the Canadian health-care system and waited to see a specialist.
But the director of the brain tumour research centre at the Montreal Neurological Institute says he thinks that claim is "an exaggeration." Dr. Rolando Del Maestro says the lesion Holmes was diagnosed with is benign, and usually slow-growing. It typically does not require urgent attention, he said. "If it's a real emergency in the sense that the patient's visual function is getting substantially worse, the patients would be brought in immediately and would be operated on the next day," he said. (emphasis added)
In 2005, Holmes, complaining of headaches and vision loss, went to see a Canadian doctor and was put on a six-month waiting list to see specialist. After trying unsuccessfully to expedite the process, she was diagnosed and treated at the Mayo Clinic. Holmes said U.S. doctors considered the cyst a tumour, and that it would cause death if not removed immediately. But neurosurgeon Michael Schwartz of Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital says he's never seen or heard of a death from a Rathke's cyst. He told CBC News symptoms can be alleviated if the cyst is drained or part of it removed to take pressure off the optic nerve. "Then the person's vision almost always improves. "If somebody called me about a patient that was losing her vision or had a structural abnormality of the brain I would see them within days."
The contentious advertisement is being run by a conservative lobby group, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, opposed to U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to involve the government playing a role in reforming U.S. health care. It warns that Washington wants to bring in Canadian-style health care that would cause "deadly" delays for people waiting for important medical procedures. Holmes denies taking any money from Americans for Prosperity for her message. Her publicist, paid for by the lobby group, says she's now declining interviews. But Holmes told CBC News in an earlier interview she believes Canadians are not speaking up about the problems in the health-care system. She said that every time she thinks about stopping her criticism of the system, she gets "another really sad phone call or desperate phone call of somebody who is tragically trying to get treatment in Canada and can't."
It's of a brave young highwayman this story we will tell,
His name was Willie Brennan and in Ireland he did dwell.
'Twas on the Kilwood Mountains he commenced his wild career,
And many a wealthy nobleman before him shook with fear.
And it's Brennan on the moor, Brennan on the moor,
Bold, brave and undaunted was young Brennan on the moor.
One day upon the highway, as Willie he went down
He met the mayor of Cashel, a mile outside of town.
The mayor, he knew his features and he said, "Young man," said he,
"Your name is Willie Brennan, you must come along with me."
And it's Brennan on the moor, Brennan on the moor,
Bold, brave and undaunted was young Brennan on the moor.
Now Brennan's wife had gone to town provisions for to buy,
And when she saw her Willie she commenced to weep and cry.
Said, "Hand to me that ten-penny," as soon as Willie spoke,
She handed him a blunderbuss from underneath her cloak
For young Brennan on the moor, Brennan on the moor,
Bold, brave and undaunted was young Brennan on the moor.
Now with his loaded blunderbuss -- the truth I will unfold --
He made the mayor to tremble, and he robbed him of his gold.
One hundred pounds was offered for his apprehension there,
So he, with horse and saddle, to the mountains did repair,
Did young Brennan on the moor, Brennan on the moor,
Bold, brave and undaunted was young Brennan on the moor.
Now Brennan being an outlaw upon the mountains high,
With cavalry and infantry to take him they did try.
He laughed at them with scorn until at last 'twas said
By a false-hearted woman he was cruelly betrayed,
Was young Brennan on the moor, Brennan on the moor,
Bold, brave and undaunted was young Brennan on the moor.
Europeana A Brief History of the Twentieth Century
By Patrik Ourednik
Psychoanalysis became widespread in Western Europe in the sixties and seventies and people entered therapy who were not ill but felt helpless and abandoned and wanted to know if they had any traumas. And when patients had got over their shyness and relaxed, they would tell the psychoanalyst about their childhood, and that was called displacement because eventually they would recollect something they had purged from their memory during childhood, because they did not realize that in mental life everything survived, and that although something might be purged from memory for a while, it survived somewhere, and so the patient would give the psychoanalyst verbal clues that the psychoanalyst could follow. Displacement was when some little boy or girl had an urge that was at odds with morality and so they banished the instinct to their subconscious, but when they grew up and became adults, they could have strange dreams for instance, which showed they had a trauma. And the Oedipus complex was when a little girl wanted to kill her mother in order to have sexual intercourse with her father, or a little boy wanted to kill his father in order to have sexual intercourse with his mother, but they knew very well it was not allowed. There were disputes among the specialists about the Oedipus complex, because some thought it was universal, while others thought it occurred only in certain cultures - in Vienna, etc. And in 1918 a congress was held in Budapest on psychoanalysis and its role in wartime, and most psychiatrists agreed that wartime neurosis had the same causes as peacetime neurosis. And various psychiatrists suggested treating neurosis with electric shock and they kept treating soldiers with electric shock until the soldiers declared they felt completely fit. But other psychiatrists did not agree with this and said that electric shock simply pushed traumas deeper into the unconscious but they did not actually cure them. And others said that soldiers faked traumas in order to spend the war in lunatic asylums and play cards with the other lunatics for money or cigarettes. (-- pgs. 51-52)
Yes, and unbelievably, the medical estatblishment is still using electro-shock therapy, this according to a BBC news report of March 12, 1999. Get this:
Electric shock therapy 'not up to scratch'
Electric shock treatment for mental health disorders is often administered by poorly trained junior doctors, it has been claimed. A report into the use of Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) found that the doctors are also often left unsupervised, and have to rely on out of date equipment. The report - commissioned by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) and highlighted by the BBC Two programme Trust Me, I'm A Doctor - also presents disturbing evidence that people are being prescribed the treatment inappropriately.
Only one third of the clinics in England and Wales were rated as good.
ECT involves delivering electric shocks to the brain. The electric current can provoke a fit or spasm, but also appears to have a beneficial impact on mental illnesses such as depression.
The New Yorker
Trial by fire Did Texas execute an innocent man?
By David Gann
Not long after (Todd) Willingham’s arrest, authorities received a message from a prison inmate named Johnny Webb, who was in the same jail as Willingham. Webb alleged that Willingham had confessed to him that he took “some kind of lighter fluid, squirting [it] around the walls and the floor, and set a fire.” The case against Willingham was considered airtight. ...
fter speaking to Stacy (Willingham's wife), (Elizabeth) Gilbert (French teacher/playwright from Houston, Willingdon's death row penpal) had one more person she wanted to interview: the jailhouse informant Johnny Webb, who was incarcerated in Iowa Park, Texas. She wrote to Webb, who said that she could see him, and they met in the prison visiting room. A man in his late twenties, he had pallid skin and a closely shaved head; his eyes were jumpy, and his entire body seemed to tremble. A reporter who once met him described him to me as “nervous as a cat around rocking chairs.” Webb had begun taking drugs when he was nine years old, and had been convicted of, among other things, car theft, selling marijuana, forgery, and robbery.
As Gilbert chatted with him, she thought that he seemed paranoid. During Willingham’s trial, Webb disclosed that he had been given a diagnosis of “post-traumatic stress disorder” after he was sexually assaulted in prison, in 1988, and that he often suffered from “mental impairment.” Under cross-examination, Webb testified that he had no recollection of a robbery that he had pleaded guilty to only months earlier.
Webb repeated for her what he had said in court: he had passed by Willingham’s cell, and as they spoke through a food slot Willingham broke down and told him that he intentionally set the house on fire. Gilbert was dubious. It was hard to believe that Willingham, who had otherwise insisted on his innocence, had suddenly confessed to an inmate he barely knew. The conversation had purportedly taken place by a speaker system that allowed any of the guards to listen—an unlikely spot for an inmate to reveal a secret. What’s more, Webb alleged that Willingham had told him that Stacy had hurt one of the kids, and that the fire was set to cover up the crime. The autopsies, however, had revealed no bruises or signs of trauma on the children’s bodies.
Jailhouse informants, many of whom are seeking reduced time or special privileges, are notoriously unreliable. According to a 2004 study by the Center on Wrongful Convictions, at Northwestern University Law School, lying police and jailhouse informants are the leading cause of wrongful convictions in capital cases in the United States. At the time that Webb came forward against Willingham, he was facing charges of robbery and forgery. During Willingham’s trial, another inmate planned to testify that he had overheard Webb saying to another prisoner that he was hoping to “get time cut,” but the testimony was ruled inadmissible, because it was hearsay. Webb, who pleaded guilty to the robbery and forgery charges, received a sentence of fifteen years. Jackson, the prosecutor, told me that he generally considered Webb “an unreliable kind of guy,” but added, “I saw no real motive for him to make a statement like this if it wasn’t true. We didn’t cut him any slack.” In 1997, five years after Willingham’s trial, Jackson urged the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant Webb parole. “I asked them to cut him loose early,” Jackson told me. The reason, Jackson said, was that Webb had been targeted by the Aryan Brotherhood. The board granted Webb parole, but within months of his release he was caught with cocaine and returned to prison.
In March, 2000, several months after Gilbert’s visit, Webb unexpectedly sent Jackson a Motion to Recant Testimony, declaring, “Mr. Willingham is innocent of all charges.” But Willingham’s lawyer was not informed of this development, and soon afterward Webb, without explanation, recanted his recantation. When I recently asked Webb, who was released from prison two years ago, about the turnabout and why Willingham would have confessed to a virtual stranger, he said that he knew only what “the dude told me.” After I pressed him, he said, “It’s very possible I misunderstood what he said.” Since the trial, Webb has been given an additional diagnosis, bipolar disorder. “Being locked up in that little cell makes you kind of crazy,” he said. “My memory is in bits and pieces. I was on a lot of medication at the time. Everyone knew that.” He paused, then said, “The statute of limitations has run out on perjury, hasn’t it?”
Yes, and get this on evidence of arson:
... Dr. Gerald Hurst, an acclaimed scientist and fire investigator, received a file describing all the evidence of arson gathered in Willingham’s case. Gilbert had come across Hurst’s name and, along with one of Willingham’s relatives, had contacted him, seeking his help. After their pleas, Hurst had agreed to look at the case pro bono ...
After Hurst had reviewed Fogg (Douglas Fogg, who was then the assistant fire chief in Corsicana, conducted the initial inspection) and (Manuel) Vasquez’s (one of the state’s leading arson sleuths, deputy fire marshal) list of more than twenty arson indicators, he believed that only one had any potential validity: the positive test for mineral spirits by the threshold of the front door. But why had the fire investigators obtained a positive reading only in that location? According to Fogg and Vasquez’s theory of the crime, Willingham had poured accelerant throughout the children’s bedroom and down the hallway. Officials had tested extensively in these areas—including where all the pour patterns and puddle configurations were—and turned up nothing. Jackson told me that he “never did understand why they weren’t able to recover” positive tests in these parts.
Hurst found it hard to imagine Willingham pouring accelerant on the front porch, where neighbors could have seen him. Scanning the files for clues, Hurst noticed a photograph of the porch taken before the fire, which had been entered into evidence. Sitting on the tiny porch was a charcoal grill. The porch was where the family barbecued. Court testimony from witnesses confirmed that there had been a grill, along with a container of lighter fluid, and that both had burned when the fire roared onto the porch during post-flashover. By the time Vasquez inspected the house, the grill had been removed from the porch, during cleanup. Though he cited the container of lighter fluid in his report, he made no mention of the grill. At the trial, he insisted that he had never been told of the grill’s earlier placement. Other authorities were aware of the grill but did not see its relevance. Hurst, however, was convinced that he had solved the mystery: when firefighters had blasted the porch with water, they had likely spread charcoal-lighter fluid from the melted container.
Without having visited the fire scene, Hurst says, it was impossible to pinpoint the cause of the blaze. But, based on the evidence, he had little doubt that it was an accidental fire—one caused most likely by the space heater or faulty electrical wiring. It explained why there had never been a motive for the crime. Hurst concluded that there was no evidence of arson, and that a man who had already lost his three children and spent twelve years in jail was about to be executed based on “junk science.” Hurst wrote his report in such a rush that he didn’t pause to fix the typos. ...
December, 2004, questions about the scientific evidence in the Willingham case began to surface. Maurice Possley and Steve Mills, of the Chicago Tribune, had published an investigative series on flaws in forensic science; upon learning of Hurst’s report, Possley and Mills asked three fire experts, including John Lentini, to examine the original investigation. The experts concurred with Hurst’s report. Nearly two years later, the Innocence Project commissioned Lentini and three other top fire investigators to conduct an independent review of the arson evidence in the Willingham case. The panel concluded that “each and every one” of the indicators of arson had been “scientifically proven to be invalid.”
In 2005, Texas established a government commission to investigate allegations of error and misconduct by forensic scientists. The first cases that are being reviewed by the commission are those of Willingham and Willis. In mid-August, the noted fire scientist Craig Beyler, who was hired by the commission, completed his investigation. In a scathing report, he concluded that investigators in the Willingham case had no scientific basis for claiming that the fire was arson, ignored evidence that contradicted their theory, had no comprehension of flashover and fire dynamics, relied on discredited folklore, and failed to eliminate potential accidental or alternative causes of the fire. He said that Vasquez’s approach seemed to deny “rational reasoning” and was more “characteristic of mystics or psychics.” What’s more, Beyler determined that the investigation violated, as he put it to me, “not only the standards of today but even of the time period.” The commission is reviewing his findings, and plans to release its own report next year. Some legal scholars believe that the commission may narrowly assess the reliability of the scientific evidence. There is a chance, however, that Texas could become the first state to acknowledge officially that, since the advent of the modern judicial system, it had carried out the “execution of a legally and factually innocent person.”
However you read them, Montaigne's books were utterly, if inexplicably, original. They were not confessional, like Augustine's, nor were they autobiographical. You could call them the autobiography of a mind, but they made no claim to composing the narrative of a life, only of the shifting preoccupations of their protagonist in an ongoing conversation with the Greek and Roman writers on his library shelves - and, of course, with himself. His belief that the self, far from settling the question "Who am I,?" kept leaping ahead of its last convictions was in fact so radical that for centuries people looking for precedents had to resort to a few fragments of Heraclitus on the nature of time and change - or, eventually, to give up and simply describe Montaigne as "the first modern man." It didn't matter if he was quoting Seneca in an essay called "To Philosophize Is to Learn How to Die: or, a few pages later, in an essay about imagination, musing on the vagaries of penises: "We are right to note the licence and disobedience of this member which thrusts itself forward so inopportunately when we do not want it to, and which so inopportunely lets us down when we most need it; it imperiously contests for authority with out will: it stubbornly and proudly refuses all our incitements, both of the mind and hand." ... (-- p. 35)
That afternoon, all over the building, children scraped and scrubbed the turkeys and the sheaves of corn off the schoolroom windows. Goodbye Thanksgiving. The next morning a monitor brought red paper and green paper from the office. We made new shapes and hung them on the walls and glued them to the doors.
The teachers became happier and happier. Their heads were ringing like the bells of childhood. My best friend, Evie, was prone to evil, but she did not get a single demerit for whispering. We learned Holy Night without an error. "How wonderful" said Miss Glace, the student teacher. "To think that some of you don't even speak the language!" We learned Deck the Halls and Hark! The Herald Angels ... They weren't ashamed and we weren't embarrassed.
Oh, but when my mother heard about it all, she said to my father: "Misha, you don't know what's going on there. Cramer is the head of the Tickets Committee."
"Who?" asked my father. "Cramer? Oh, yes, an active woman."
"Active? Active has to have a reason. Listen," she said sadly. "I'm surprised to see my neighbors making tra-la-la for Christmas." ...
Meanwhile the neighbors had to think of what to say too.
Marty's father said: "You know, he has a very important part, my boy."
"Mine also," said Mr. Sauerfeld.
"Not my boy!" said Mrs. Klieg." "I said to him no. The answer is no. When I say no! I mean no!"
The rabbi's wife said, "It's disgusting!" But no one listened to her. Under the narrow sky of God's great wisdom she wore a strawberry-blond wig. (From The Loudest Voice, pgs. 36-37)
Selected Shorts from Symphony Space
Audio Cassette Only!
An uproarious live event featuring Linda Lavin reading this Grace Paley Christmas classic, The Loudest Voice, and Jerry Stiller, whose delivery of John Sayles' The Anarchists' Convention is the stuff of comedy legend!
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