Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Carroll Bryant Interview (Repost)

Hey everyone, Carroll here. As you may or may not have noticed, Ira took down my last interview off her blog. We debated the issue for a good couple of weeks prior to her taking it down. I was against it. She didn't delete it, just threw it back into draft along with a few other posts regarding me. Why did she do it? Well, to be honest, the bullies were linking to it from their bully blogs, websites and the Goodreads Bully group, "Authors Behaving Badly". For some reason, she doesn't want their links popping up on her blog. She doesn't like being stalked by them. I myself couldn't care less. Anyhow, I decided to go ahead and post it here, on my blog, until she decides to publish it again. Sorry it took me so long to get around to it, I've been kind of busy lately.


Hey everyone! I have another author interview for y'all. It's by someone you all know, love, hate, I don't care. His latest book Year of the Cat is out and I thought I'd interview him again. So here is Carroll Bryant and his interview with Year of the Cat.

1) When did you start writing?

Carroll: Oh, let's see, I did some writing back in grade school when I wasn't dodging the dinosaurs. It was pretty difficult what with writing on stone tablets and all because I am sooooooo old. Actually, I wrote a book when I was about 9 years old and it was published by the school I was attending at the time and placed in their little library. It was supposed to be a few pages long for an assignment for class, but I think I got a little carried away with it and ended up writing like 50 pages or something. I got an "A" for the overkill so it was worth it.

2) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Carroll: I never did know I wanted to be a writer until a few years after I started writing. It all began really on my 18th birthday when hanging out at my place with an old friend who has since passed away. He was strumming a tune on his guitar and I started belting out some lyrics, singing them really, when he paused and said, "That sounds pretty good, write those lyrics down." So I did. That was my first song. The next few years I wrote close to about 500 new songs or lyrics or poems or whatever you want to call them. It wasn't until I was about 21 or 22 when I wrote my first novel size story. (Haven't published it yet) That was when I thought it could be pretty cool if I were a published author. The thing was, I just didn't like the sound of the term "starving artist" so I kept it on the back burner and focused on just making money the old fashion way.

3) How long have you been writing?

Carroll: Since I was 18. I thought we covered that? LOL Oh, wait! This was your attempt to get me to spill how old I am, right? Ha-ha. Very clever. Next question.

4) What is your book about? (Describe it)

Carroll: Year Of The Cat is about an American detective, Lancaster Parks, who is sent to a small town in Mexico (San Felipe) to help the local law enforcement there investigate a string of serial killings against American tourists. He quickly meets the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. The girl remains a mystery throughout the story until the very end and she changes her name on a daily basis. It doesn't take Lancaster very long to figure out that she is about as odd as odd can be, living in her own strange world, but he doesn't care, he falls madly in love with her anyway and gets a little distracted at times from his investigation. He also learns very quickly that the local law enforcement aren't exactly choir boys. He deals with their corruption while trying to solve the case and all the while, learning more and more the dark history of San Felipe, its people, it's traditions and dealing with their ghosts. The more he learns, the more he gets swallowed up in everything, making it much harder for him to come to terms with the truth about who he really is.

5) How many books have you written?

Carroll: Written? About 15 - and another 10 or so half written or started. Published? Four so far. How many will I have written and published by the time I cash out of this planet? It's hard to tell. I don't go in search of ideas, the ideas seek me out.

6) Who influenced you the most to start writing?

Carroll: That's a toughy. I can't say for sure that I was inspired by any one person. I know that Elvis was an inspiration as was Rick Springfield, but that is where songwriting is concerned. As for the books, I would have to give some credit to Margaret Mitchell and her book, "Gone With The Wind." That is an amazing book. It was also the first novel I ever read as a young boy. Dr. Suess may have been the inspiration behind my poetry. As for the music, it just popped in my head one time and never left. I hear music in almost every kind of noise around me. I hear the  rhythms and the beats. It can be quite annoying at times actually.

7) What’s your next project? Any new books in the works?

Carroll: There is always new books in the works. Always something to do. To edit and what-not. I am actually planning to publish my Ebook "Last Flight Out" into paperback this coming year. I can't wait for that. I will be doing some book-store signings once that happens. I can't wait to get out there and meet some readers. I might stick close to home to start out with, then we'll see how far I spread out with it. Chillicothe, and Columbus will do just fine for now.

8) What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

Carroll: My favorite to read is romance. No, really, it is. Although I haven't done much reading lately, and most of what I do read is what I swipe from my mother when I go visit. I can't say if I have a favorite to write. I go with my mood in that department. I have a Western story on tap at the moment. I try to add a little of everything in my books as best I can. For example; In my sci-fi story, I have romance in it. In "Year Of The Cat", I have mild erotica / romance, mystery, thriller and a dab of comedy.

9) Tell us two things about you that not too many people know.

Carroll: Not too many people know I am a softy at heart. I am also petrified of heights. Not that I won't go up to high places, but man, if I do, I will have nightmares for weeks on end about falling to my death. It absolutely scares the crap out of me to be higher than maybe 20 feet. My grandfather was the one who taught me how to confront my fears. I used to be terrified of snakes until I took a job for the forestry department one year. I had to deal with a lot of them with that job. The good thing is, I was able to learn more about them and that seemed to help. They still give me the willies, but at least I don't freak out anymore when I see one like I used to. One should always learn to confront their fears.

10) How did you come up with the idea of your book?

Carroll: I never really get any ideas, they seem to find a way to find me. (I think I mentioned that earlier) Anyhow, I originally thought the story was going to take place in Europe somewhere, maybe Paris, France. However, I had a friendship at the time with a Mexican girl and through her, I decided that it would be best told if the story took place in Mexico. Mexicans have a deep history where religion is concerned and this was a somewhat important background for the story. I think it worked out great.

11) If you could be a character in one of your books, who would it be? (And why?)

Carroll: Oh, by far, Zenakis Vinzant in "Of The Light". I mean, he gets to meet extraterrestrials for crying out loud. How cool would that be? In fact, I created and molded the character of Zenakis after myself.

12) Where can we find your book?

Carroll: My books are available on all E-readers. KINDLE - NOOK - SONY READER
You can also find my other books on Copia too. OF THE LIGHTLAST FLIGHT OUT
CHILDREN OF THE FLOWER POWER and YEAR OF THE CAT You can also find them on E-BOOK PIEKOBO, Baker and Taylor, Gardner's Books and of course, for ipad users, The Apple / ipad book store.

13) Do you read the same genre you write?

Carroll: Yes. When I get time to read.

14) Is writing the only thing you do?

Carroll: Pretty much. I quit working about six or seven years ago to focus on it. Between my books, my songs, my poetry, my blog - about the only other thing I do is play football fantasy and travel.

15) How do you find the time to write?

Carroll: I have all the time in the world. Granted, I have been really busy of late, but my schedule is somewhat clear or could be cleared at any time.

16) Do you edit your books yourself?

Carroll: A couple books I have, but two others I had someone else go over them.

17) What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

Carroll: Oxygen! LOL Seriously, I can live without anything. The one thing I learned in my time on this planet is, everything burns, and nothing lasts forever. I suppose as long as I got my health and my sanity along with my cheery disposition, I will be okay.

18) If you were stranded on an island, name three things you MUST have with you.

Carroll: Three girls. (A blond, a brunette and a red head) LOL

19) If you were stranded on an Island, name three characters from your books you would want to be stranded with.

Carroll: Zenakis Vinzant from "Of The Light" because he is a survivor (like me). Ian Finnegan from "Children of the Flower Power" because he would be the comic relief. And then maybe Kavita Davidson from "Last Flight Out" because we are both artistic.

20) Did you get a lot of support from your family where your writing is concerned?

Carroll: Define support. To a degree I think they tried to understand it. You have to understand that they are blue collar people and trying to persue anything in the arts doesn't really compute with them. Which is why I think it took a while for me to finally do anything with my writing. However, their approach to life is what helped me get to where I am now. I mean, even I had a problem with the proverbial "starving artist" life style. Working for a living and saving my money, making some wise investments - has led me to where now in my life I can quit working and focus on it full-time without worrying where my next meal will come from or paying the rent. I like this better than the alternative.

21) What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Carroll: Stay away from Goodreads! LOL They have too many bullies there and it's not worth the risk to have them target you. If you think Goodreads will help you in a bully situation, think again. They're librarians are leading the way in online bullying against Indie authors. Other than that, you might want to stay clear of Kindle Boards too. And if by chance you do get targeted (like I did) then by all means, try and understand that they are the "minority" and your career isn't over just because they target you. Don't give them that power over you and your dreams. Fight back! And keep doing your thing.

22) Name a book from someone else that you wished you would have written.

Carroll: That would be a toss up between "Gone With The Wind" and "To Kill A Mocking Bird". I love both of those books.

23) Of all your characters, which one do you have the most in common with?

Carroll: Far and away, Zenakis Vinzant in "Of The Light". I modeled that character after myself. (Did I already mention that?) Oh, and before we end this thing, let me plug a link to my songs on my Youtube Channel THECARROLLBRYANT and my fabulous blog Carroll Bryant - which has over a quarter of a million views on it in just ten and a half months. I am really proud of that. It took a lot of work to get it where it is. It's just overwhelming that so many people from all over the globe find it interesting enough to visit. I also have a "poetry only" blog (with some information about my work and the stories behind it) that I just started a few weeks or so ago. It's called The Carroll Bryant Collection. I also have a blog on Wordpress that I started a month or so ago, but I don't post much on that. Just poetry only. I might be deleting it sometime soon, I don't know. I also have an old blog on Weebly, but like Wordpress, I didn't really get into it much and have pretty much abandoned it. I also want to say to all aspiring authors out there that if you don't think you can do it (get published) then I am here to tell you that you can. Just go to my blog and check out the Bookbaby page and links or go visit BOOKBABY.COM today and learn about their services. Don't wait to be "discovered" - just discover yourself. And thanks for the interview Ira, it's been real. LOL

I'll leave you all with a pic of me and my little buddy last Spring after taking him (my sister and mother) to the movies. It just seems like you can never spend enough time with the ones you truly love. What with life and its many demands.

This is me in deep thought.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Looking Glass

THE LOOKING GLASS - Written by Carroll Bryant

(Dedicated to the Goodreads bullies)

Mirror, mirror on the wall 
Who is that image I just saw? 
T'was a shadows glimpse that I did see 
Looked again and it was me 

A fallowed sport so proper and fine 
Fearful chills up and down thy spine 
To whom considers ones dirty deeds? 
Self absorbed in ones own greed 

A hammers claw so sharp a touch 
Without a thought he sought as much 
Glaring at a great divide 
Foretells a tale his eyes met mine 

No word spoken is no word heard 
Stroking keys aspire to hurt 
Raging hate swirls in pain 
Spreading lies and calling names 

To what so glimmers like a star 
Gives you the right to rip apart 
Dreams so scattered and scathed they lay 
Careers forsaken in the slay 

Holier than thou they sit amused 
Preying on all the confused 
Not a care to what they done 
Now we watch them as they run 

Pulled into their wicked show 
Rumors dance amid their glow 
Smiles burn all else to ash 
Welcome to the looking glass 

Emotional death by homicide 
Hearts come hither love suicide 
Extend the arm of one sad bully 
Allow me to introduce myself, I am Mr. Tom Foolery

Monday, January 28, 2013

Flag Of Australia

The flag of Australia is a defaced blue ensign: a blue field with the Union Flag in the canton (upper hoist quarter), and a large white seven-pointed star known as the Commonwealth Star in the lower hoist quarter. The fly contains a representation of the Southern Cross constellation, made up of five white stars - one small five-pointed star and four, larger, seven-pointed stars.

The flag's original design (with a six-pointed Commonwealth Star) was chosen in 1901 from entries in a worldwide competition held following Federation, and was first flown in Melbourne on September 3rd, 1901; this date has been proclaimed as Australian National Flag Day. A slightly different design was approved by King Edward VII in 1902. Over the next few years, the exact specifications of the flag were changed several times both intentionally and as a result of confusion. The current specifications were formally gazetted in 1934, and in 1954 the flag became recognized by, and legally defined in, the Flags Act 1953, as the “Australian National Flag”. In addition, there are other official flags representing Australia, its people and core functions of government.

The Union Flag is thought locally to symbolize Australia's history as six British colonies and the principles upon which the Australian Federation is based, although a more historic view sees its inclusion in the design as demonstrating loyalty to the British Empire.

The Commonwealth Star originally had only six points, representing the six federating colonies. However, this changed in 1908 when a seventh point was added to symbolize the Territory of Papua and any future territories. Another rationale for the change was to match the star used on the Coat of Arms, which was created in the same year. The star is also known as the Federation Star. The Commonwealth Star does not have any relation to Beta Centauri, despite that star's coincidental location in the sky and its brightness.

The Southern Cross is one of the most distinctive constellations visible in the Southern Hemisphere, and has been used to represent Australia since the early days of British settlement. Ivor Evans, one of the flag's designers, intended the Southern Cross to refer also to the four moral virtues ascribed to the four main stars by Dante: justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude. The number of points on the stars of the Southern Cross on today's Australian flag differs from the original competition-winning design, on which they ranged between five and nine points each, representing their relative brightness in the night sky. In order to simplify manufacture, the British Admiralty standardized the four larger outer stars at seven points each, leaving the smaller middle star with five points. This change was officially gazetted on 23 February 1903. A complete specification for the current design was published in the Commonwealth Gazette in 1934.

Guidelines for flying the flag are laid out in the 1953 Flags Act and in a pamphlet entitled “The Australian National Flag“, which is published by the Australian Government on an infrequent basis. The guidelines say that the Australian National Flag is allowed to be flown on every day of the year, and that it “should be treated with respect and dignity it deserves as the nation's most important national symbol”

The National Flag must always be flown in a position superior to that of any other flag or ensign when flown in Australia or on Australian territory, and it should always be flown aloft and free. The flag must be flown in all government buildings and displayed in polling stations when there is a national election or referendum. Private pleasure craft can fly either the Red Ensign or the Australian National Flag. The British Blue Ensign can be flown on an Australian owned ship instead of the Australian Flag if the owner has a warrant valid under British law.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet also advises that the flag should only be flown during daylight hours, unless it is illuminated. Two flags should not be flown from the same flag-pole. The flag should not be displayed upside down under any circumstances, not even to express a situation of distress. The flag is not to be placed or dropped on the ground, nor should it be used to cover an object in the lead-up to an unveiling ceremony, or to hide other material. Flags that have decayed or faded should not be displayed.

According to a government publication, old or decayed flags should be disposed of in private “in a dignified way“; a method given as an example is to cut the flag into small pieces before being placed in the waste. When the flag is flown at half mast, it should be recognizably at half-mast, for example, a third of the way down from the top of the pole. The Australian Flag should never be flown half mast at night. Flags are flown at half-mast on government buildings on the following: On the death of the sovereign - from the time of announcement of the death up to and including the funeral. On the day the accession of the new sovereign is proclaimed, it is customary to raise the flag to the top of the mast from 11 am. On the death of a member of the royal family. On the death of the governor-general or a former governor-general. On the death of a distinguished Australian citizen. Flags in any locality may be flown at half-mast on the death of a notable local citizen or on the day, or part of the day, of their funeral. On the death of the head of state of another country with which Australia has diplomatic relations - the flag would be flown on the day of the funeral.  On ANZAC Day the flag is flown at half-mast until noon. On Remembrance Day flags are flown at peak until 10.30 am, at half-mast from 10.30 am to 11.03 am, then at peak for the remainder of the day.

The Australian National Flag may be used for commercial or advertising purposes without formal permission as long as the flag is used in a dignified manner and reproduced completely and accurately; it should not be defaced by overprinting with words or illustrations, it should not be covered by other objects in displays, and all symbolic parts of the flag should be identifiable. It also must sit first (typically, left) where more than one flag is used. There have been several attempts to make desecration of the Australian flag a crime. In 1953, during the second reading debate on the Flag Act, the leader of the opposition, Arthur Calwell, unsuccessfully called for provisions to be added to the bill to criminalize desecration. Michael Cobb introduced private member’s bills in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992 to ban desecration, but on each occasion the bill lapsed. In 2002, the leader of the National Party, John Anderson, proposed to introduce laws banning desecration of the Australian flag, a call that attracted support from some parliamentarians both in his own party and the senior coalition partner, the Liberal Party. However, the Prime Minister, John Howard, rejected the calls stating that “ the end I guess it's part of the sort of free speech code that we have in this country.” In 2003, the Australian Flags (Desecration of the Flag) Bill was tabled in Parliament by Trish Draper without support from Howard and subsequently lapsed. In 2006, following a flag-burning incident during the 2005 Cronulla Ritos and a burnt flag display by a Melbourne artist, Liberal MP Browyn Bishop introduced the Protection of the Australian National Flag (Desecration of the Flag) Bill 2006. This bill sought to make it a criminal offence to willfully destroy or otherwise mutilate the Flag in circumstances where a reasonable person would infer that the destruction or mutilation is intended publicly to express contempt or disrespect for the Flag or the Australian Nation. The bill received a second reading but subsequently lapsed and did not go to vote in the House of Representatives.

Before 1901, what is now Australia was six separate British colonies. The Union Flag, as the flag of the British Empire, was first used on Australian soil on 29 April 1770 when Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay, and it was again used at the start of European settlement of the country on 26 January 1788. It was often used to represent them collectively, and each colony also had its own flag based on the Union Flag. As an Australian national consciousness began to emerge, several flag movements were formed and unofficial new flags came into common usage. Two attempts were made throughout the nineteenth century to design a national flag. The first such attempt was the National Colonial Flag created in 1823-1824 by Captains John Nicholson and John Bingle. This flag consisted of a red cross on a white background, with an eight-point star on each of the four limbs of the cross, while incorporating a Union Flag in the canton.

The most popular national flag of the period was the 1831 Federation Flag, also designed by Nicholson. This flag was the same at the National Colonial Flag, except that the cross was blue instead of resembling that of St. George. Although the flag was designed by Nicholson in 1831, it did not become widely popular until the latter part of the century, when calls for federation began to grow louder. These flags, and many others such as the Eureka Flag (which came into use at the Eureka Stockade in 1854), featured stars representing the Southern Cross. The oldest known flag to show the stars arranged as they are seen in the sky is the Anti-Transportation League Flag, which is similar in design to the present National Flag. The differences were that there was no Commonwealth Star, while the components of the Southern Cross are depicted with eight points and in gold. This flag was only briefly in usage, as two years after the formation of the Anti-Transportation League in 1851, the colonial authorities decided to stop the intake of convicts, so the ATL ceased its activities.

The Eureka Flag is often viewed as the first Australian flag as it was the first notable example of a design that had the Southern Cross while excluding the Union Flag. The Murray River Flag, popular since the 1850s, is still widely used by boats that traverse Australia's main waterway. It is the same as the National Colonial Flag, except that the white background in the three quadrants other the canton were replaced with four alternating blue and white stripes, representing the four major rivers that run into the Murray River.

Source: Wikipedia

This work is released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Presidents: Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was born April 13th, 1743 and passed away on July 4th, 1826. He was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801-1809). At the beginning of the American Revolution, he served in the Continental Congress, representing Virginia and then served as a wartime Governor of Virginia (1779 -1781). Just after the war ended, from mid-1784 Jefferson served as a diplomat, stationed in Paris, France. In May 1785, he became the United States Minister to France. Jefferson was the first United States Secretary of State (1790-1793) serving under President George Washington. With his close friend James Madison he organized the Democratic-Republican Party, and subsequently resigned from Washington's cabinet. Elected Vice President in 1796, when he came in second to John Adams of the Federalists, Jefferson opposed Adams and with Madison secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which attempted to nullify the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Elected president in what Jefferson called the Revolution of 1800, he oversaw the purchase of the vast Louisiana Territory from France (1803), and sent the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806) to explore the new west. His second term was beset with troubles at home, such as the failed treason trial of his former Vice President Aaron Burr. With escalating trouble with Britain who was challenging American neutrality and threatening shipping at sea, he tried economic warfare with his embargo laws which only damaged American trade. In 1807, President Jefferson signed into law a bill that banned the importation of slaves into the United States. In scholarly surveys Jefferson remains rated as one of the greatest U.S. presidents, though since the late-twentieth century, he has been increasingly criticized by many historians, often on the issue of slavery.

A leader in the enlightenment, Jefferson was a polymath who spoke five languages fluently and was deeply interested in science, invention, architecture, religion and philosophy, interests that led him to the founding of the University of Virginia after his presidency. He designed his own large mansion on a 5,000 acre plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia, which he named Monticello. While not a notable orator, Jefferson was a skilled writer and corresponded with many influential people in America and Europe throughout his adult life.

Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves, yet he was opposed to the ultimate continuation of the institution of slavery throughout his life and privately struggled with the dilemma of slavery and freedom and its compatibility with the ideals of the American Revolution. Historians are in disagreement with how much Jefferson was committed to the anti-slavery cause. After Martha Jefferson, his wife of eleven years, died in 1782, Jefferson remained a widower for the rest of his life; their marriage produced six children, of whom two survived to adulthood. In 1802, allegations surfaced that he was also the father of his slave Sally Hemings’ children. In 1998, DNA tests revealed a match between her last child and the Jefferson male family line. Although some historians have noted that the evidence can also support other possible fathers, most have concluded that Jefferson had a long relationship with Hemings and fathered at least one and likely all of her six children, four of whom survived to adulthood.

Jefferson also remains to this day, the highest ranking public official to ever go on record to report a UFO. However, the term “UFO” wasn’t yet used at that time.

The third of ten children, Thomas Jefferson was born at the family home in Shadwell, Goochland County, Virginia, now part of Albemarle County. His father was Peter Jefferson, a planter and surveyor. He was of possible Welsh descent, although this remains unclear. His mother was Jane Rudolph, daughter of Isham Randolph, a ship's captain and sometime planter. Peter and Jane married in 1739. Thomas Jefferson showed little interest in learning about his ancestry; he only knew of the existence of his paternal grandfather.

Before the widower William Randolph, an old friend of Peter Jefferson, died in 1745, he appointed Peter as guardian to manage his Tuckahoe Plantation and care for his four children. That year the Jefferson’s relocated to Tuckahoe, where they lived for the next seven years before returning to Shadwell in 1752. Peter Jefferson died in 1757 and the Jefferson estate was divided between Peter's two sons; Thomas and Rudolph. Thomas inherited approximately 5,000 acres of land, including Monticello and between 20 and 40 slaves. He took control of the property after he came of age at 21.

Jefferson began his childhood education under the direction of tutors at Tuckahoe along with the Randolph children. In 1752, Jefferson began attending a local school run by a Scottish Presbyterian minister. At the age of nine, Jefferson began studying Latin, Greek, and French; he learned to ride horses, and began to appreciate the study of nature. He studied under Reverend James Maury from 1758 to 1760 near Gordonville, Virginia. While boarding with Maury's family, he studied history, science and the classics.

At age 16, Jefferson entered the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, and first met the law professor George Wythe, who became his influential mentor. He studied mathematics, metaphysics, and philosophy under Professor William Small, who introduced the enthusiastic Jefferson to the writings of the British Empiricists, including John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Isaac Newton. He also improved his French, Greek, and violin. A diligent student, Jefferson displayed an avid curiosity in all fields and graduated in 1762, completing his studies in only two years. Jefferson read law while working as a law clerk for Wythe. During this time, he also read a wide variety of English classics and political works. Jefferson was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1767.

Throughout his life, Jefferson depended on books for his education. He collected and accumulated thousands of books for his library at Monticello. When Jefferson's father Peter died Thomas inherited, among other things, his large library. A significant portion of Jefferson's library was also bequeathed to him in the will of George Wythe, who had an extensive collection. After the British burned the Library of Congress in 1814 Jefferson offered to sell his collection of more than six thousand books to Congress for about four dollars a book. After realizing he was no longer in possession of such a grand collection he wrote in a letter to John Adams, “I cannot live without books”. Always eager for more knowledge, Jefferson immediately began buying more books and continued learning throughout most of his life.

After practicing as a circuit lawyer for several years, Jefferson married the 23-year-old widow Martha Wayles Skelton on January 1st, 1772. Martha Jefferson was attractive, gracious and popular with her friends; she was a frequent hostess for Jefferson and managed the large household. They had a happy marriage. She read widely, did fine needle work and was an amateur musician. Jefferson played the violin and Martha was an accomplished piano player. It is said that she was attracted to Thomas largely because of their mutual love of music. During the ten years of their marriage, Martha bore six children: Martha, called Patsy, (1772-1836); Jane (1774-1775); an unnamed son (1777); Mary Wayles, called Polly, (1778-1804); Lucy Elizabeth (1780-1781); and Lucy Elizabeth (1782-1785). Only Martha and Mary survived to adulthood.

After her father John Wayles died in 1773, Martha and her husband Jefferson inherited his 135 slaves, 11,000 acres and the debts of his estate. These took Jefferson and other co-executors of the estate years to pay off, which contributed to his financial problems. Later in life, Martha Jefferson suffered from diabetes and ill health, and frequent childbirth further weakened her. A few months after the birth of her last child, Martha, age 33, died on September 6th, 1782. Jefferson was at his wife's bedside and was distraught after her death. In the following three weeks, Jefferson shut himself in his room, where he paced back and forth until he was nearly exhausted. Later he would often take long rides on secluded roads to mourn for his wife. As he had promised his wife, Jefferson never remarried.

Jefferson served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress beginning in June 1775, soon after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. He didn't know many people in the congress, but sought out John Adams who, along with his cousin Samuel, had emerged as a leader of the convention. Jefferson and Adams established a friendship that would last the rest of their lives; it led to the drafting of Jefferson to write the declaration of independence. When Congress began considering a resolution of independence in June 1776, Adams ensured that Jefferson was appointed to the five-man committee to write a declaration in support of the resolution. After discussing the general outline for the document, the committee decided that Jefferson would write the first draft. The committee in general, and Jefferson in particular, thought Adams should write the document. Adams persuaded the committee to choose Jefferson, who was reluctant to take the assignment, and promised to consult with the younger man. Over the next seventeen days, Jefferson had limited time for writing and finished the draft quickly. Consulting with other committee members, Jefferson also drew on his own proposed draft of the Virginia Constitution, George Mason’s draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and other sources. The other committee members made some changes. Most notably Jefferson had written, “We hold these truths to be sacred and un-deniable…” Franklin changed it to, “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” A final draft was presented to the Congress on June 28th, 1776. The title of the document was “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled.”

After voting in favor of the resolution of independence on July 2nd, Congress turned its attention to the declaration. Over three days of debate, Congress made changes and deleted nearly a fourth of the text, most notably a passage critical of the slave trade. While Jefferson resented the changes, he did not speak publicly about the revisions. On July 4th, 1776, the Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence and the delegates signed the document. The Declaration would eventually be considered one of Jefferson's major achievements; his preamble has been considered an enduring statement of human rights. All Men Are Created Equal has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language“, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history“. The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who based his philosophy on it, and argued for the Declaration as a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.

In 1779, at the age of thirty-six, Jefferson was elected Governor of Virginia by the two houses of the legislature. The term was then for one year, and he was re-elected in 1780. As governor in 1780, he transferred the state capital from Williamsburg to Richmond. Jefferson served as a wartime governor, as the united colonies continued the Revolutionary War against Great Britain. In late 1780, as Governor he prepared Richmond for attack by moving all military supplies to a foundry located five miles outside of town. General Benedict Arnold learned of the transfer and captured the foundry. He also delayed too long in raising a militia. In January 1781 he evacuated Richmond as the war got closer. In early June 1781, Cornwallis dispatched a 250-man cavalry force commanded by Banastre Tarleton on a secret expedition to capture Governor Jefferson and members of the Assembly at Monticello but Jack Jouett of the Virginia militia, thwarted the British plan by warning them. Jefferson escaped to Poplar Forest, his plantation to the west. Jefferson believed his gubernatorial term had expired in June, and he spent much of the summer with his family at Poplar Forest. His tenure as governor in general, and his decision to flee the capital in particular, was heavily criticized at the time, and has been criticized by historians ever since. The members of the General Assembly had quickly reconvened in June 1781 in Staunton, Virginia across the Blue Ridge Mountains. They voted to reward Jouett with a pair of pistols and a sword, but considered an official inquiry into Jefferson's actions, as they believed he had failed his responsibilities as governor. Jefferson was not re-elected again.

Following its victory in the war and peace treaty with Great Britain, in 1783 the United States formed a Congress of the Confederation (informally called the Continental Congress), to which Jefferson was appointed as a Virginia delegate. As a member of the committee formed to set foreign exchange rates, he recommended that American currency should be based on the decimal system, his plan was adopted. Jefferson also recommended setting up the Committee of the States, to function as the executive arm of Congress. The plan was adopted but failed in practice. Jefferson wrote an ordinance banning slavery in all the nation's territories though it wasn't passed into law. He later resigned from Congress when he was appointed as minister to France.

In September 1789 Jefferson returned to the US from France with his two daughters and slaves. Immediately upon his return, President Washington wrote to him asking him to accept a seat in his Cabinet as Secretary of State. Jefferson accepted the appointment.
As Washington's Secretary of State (1790-1793), Jefferson argued with Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, about national fiscal policy, especially the funding of the debts of the war. Jefferson later associated Hamilton and the Federalists with “Royalism,” and said the “Hamiltonians were panting after ... crowns, coronets and mitres”. Due to their opposition to Hamilton, Jefferson and James Madison organized and led the anti-administration party (called republican, and known later as Democratic-Republican). He worked with Madison and his campaign manager John J. Beckley to build a nationwide network of Republican allies. Jefferson's political actions and his attempt to undermine Hamilton nearly led Washington to dismiss Jefferson from his cabinet. Although Jefferson left the cabinet voluntarily, Washington never forgave him for his actions, and never spoke to him again.

Jefferson supported France against Britain when they fought in 1793. Jefferson believed that political success at home depended on the success of the French army in Europe. In 1793, the French minister Edmond-Charles Genet caused a crisis when he tried to influence public opinion by appealing to the American people, something which Jefferson tried to stop.
During his discussions with George Hammond, first British Minister to the U.S. from 1791, Jefferson tried to achieve three important goals: secure British admission of violating the Treaty of Paris (1783) ; vacate their posts in the Northwest (the territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River north of the Ohio); and compensate the United States to pay American slave owners for the slaves whom the British had freed and evacuated at the end of the war. John C. Miller notes that after failing to gain agreement on any of these, Jefferson resigned in December 1793.

Jefferson retired to Monticello, from where he continued to oppose the policies of Hamilton and Washington. The Jay Treaty of 1794, led by Hamilton, brought peace and trade with Britain – while Madison, with strong support from Jefferson, wanted “to strangle the former mother country” without going to war.

Working closely with Aaron Burr, Jefferson rallied his party and ran for the Presidency in 1800. Jefferson and Burr received the most electoral votes, but since neither had a majority, the election was decided in the Federalist-dominated House of Representatives. Though the Federalists wanted neither Jefferson nor Burr to be president, Hamilton convinced his party that Jefferson would be a lesser political evil than Burr and that such scandal within the electoral process would undermine the new constitution. On February 17th, 1801, after thirty-six ballots, the House elected Jefferson President and Burr Vice President. Jefferson owed his election victory to the South's inflated number of Electors, which counted slaves under the three-fifths compromise. After his election in 1800, some called him the “Negro President“.

Jefferson took the oath of office on March 4, 1801, at a time when partisan strife between the Democratic-Republican and Federalist parties was growing to alarming proportions. As a result of his two predecessors' administrations, as well as the state of events in Europe, Jefferson inherited the presidency with relatively few urgent problems. Though he and his supporters attempted to dismantle several of the accomplishments of his two predecessors, notably the national bank, military, and federal taxation system, they were only partially successful.

Ideas for a national institution for military education were circulated during the American Revolution. In May 1801 the Secretary of War Henry Dearborn announced that the president had appointed Major Jonathan Williams, grandnephew of Benjamin Franklin, to direct organizing to establish such a school. Following the advice of George Washington, John Adams and others, in 1802 Jefferson and Congress agreed to authorize the funding and construction of the United States Military Academy at West Point on the Hudson River in New York. On March 16th, 1802, Jefferson signed the Military Peace Establishment Act, directing that a corps of engineers be established and “constitute a Military Academy.” The Act would provide well-trained officers for a professional army. On July 4th, 1802, the US Military Academy at West Point formally started as an institution for scientific and military learning.

In his second term, Jefferson's popularity suffered because the problems he faced, most notably those caused by the wars in Europe, became more difficult to solve. Relations with Great Britain had always been bad, due partly to the violent personal antipathy between Jefferson and the British Ambassador, Anthony Merry. During Jefferson's first term, Napoleon's position was relatively weak and as such negotiations were possible. After Napoleon's decisive victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, however, Napoleon became much more aggressive, and most American attempts to negotiate with him were unsuccessful. Jefferson responded with the Embargo Act of 1807, directed also at Great Britain. This triggered economic chaos in the US and was strongly criticized at the time, as it continues to be. Due to political attacks against Jefferson, in particular those by Alexander Hamilton and his supporters, he used the Alien and Sedition Acts to counter some of these political adversaries. In 1807, Jefferson ordered his former vice president Aaron Burr tried for treason. Burr was charged with conspiring to levy war against the United States in an attempt to establish a separate confederacy composed of the Western states and territories, but he was acquitted. The US Constitution of 1787 provided for protection of the international slave trade for two decades, during which planters of the Lower South imported tens of thousands of slaves, more than during any other 20-year period. In 1807 congress passed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, which Jefferson signed into law and which went into effect January 1st, 1808. While the act established severe punishment against the international trade, it did not regulate the domestic slave trade.

By 1815, Jefferson's library included 6,487 books, which he sold to the Library of Congress for $23,950 to replace the smaller collection destroyed in the War of 1812. He intended to pay off some of his large debt, but immediately started buying more books. In honor of Jefferson's contribution, the library's website for federal legislative information was named THOMAS. In 2007, Jefferson's two-volume 1764 edition of the Quran was used by Rep. Keith Ellison for his swearing in to the House of Representatives. In February 2011 the New York Times reported that a part of Jefferson's retirement library, containing 74 volumes with 28 book titles, was discovered at Washington University in St. Louis.

Jefferson's health began to deteriorate in July 1825, and by June 1826 he was confined to bed. His death is considered to be from a combination of various illnesses and conditions including toxemia, uremia and pneumonia. By May 1826 Jefferson's health was so frail that he was virtually a shut in and spent most of his waking hours going over his finances and debts. On May 22 Jefferson made his last entry in the 'Farm Book', noting the price of lamp oil at a dollar twenty five cents a gallon and the cost of lighting his estate for the last month. On June 24 Jefferson wrote his last letter, to a Washington newspaper, the National Intellgencer, where he once more reaffirmed his faith in the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence. On July 3rd Jefferson was overcome by fever. Realizing he would never leave Monticello again he was forced to decline an invitation to Washington to attend a fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Declaration.

On July 4th at ten minutes before one o'clock Jefferson died at the age of 83.

Source: Wikipedia

This work is released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Carlo Gambino: American Gangster

He was “Don” Carlo Gambino, born on August 24th, 1902 and died on October 15th, 1976. He was a Sicilian mobster, notable for being Boss of the Gambino crime family, which is still named after him. After the 1957 Apalachin Convention he unexpectedly seized control of the commission of the American Mafia. Gambino was known for being low-key and secretive. He served 22 months in prison (1938–39), and lived to the age of 74, when he died of a heart attack in bed. He had two brothers, Gaspare Gambino, who later married and was never involved with the Mafia, and Paolo Gambino who, on the other hand, had a big role in his brother's family.

Gambino was born in the town of Caccamo, near Palermo, Sicily. He was born to a family that belonged to the “Honored Society”. The Honored Society was slightly more complicated than the Black Hand of America, which was often confused with the American Mafia. The Black Hand, much like the pre-1920s Mafia, was a highly disorganized version of the real European Mafia. Once Benito Mussolini chased a great deal of real mafiosi out of Italy, Italian-Americans such as Gambino benefited from the new, better-organized Mafia. Gambino began carrying out murder orders for new Mob bosses in his teens. In 1921, at the age of 19, he became a “made man” and was inducted into Cosa Nostra. He was later known as an “original.” He was the brother-in-law of Sicilian Gambino crime family mobster Paul Castellano.

Gambino entered the United States as an illegal immigrant on a shipping boat. He ate nothing but anchovies and wine during the month long trip and joined his cousins, the Castellanos, in New York City. There he joined a crime family headed by Salvatore “Tata” D’Aquila, one of the larger crime families in the city. Gambino's uncle, Giuseppe Castellano, also joined the D'Aquila family around this time.

Gambino also became involved with the “Young Turks“, a group of Americanized Italian and Jewish mobsters in New York which included Charles “Lucky” Luciano (one of the most notable mob bosses in American history) and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, to name a couple of many. The crew became involved in robbery, thefts, and illegal gambling. But with their new partner, Arnold “The Brain” Rothstein, they turned to bootlegging during prohibition in the early 1920s. Gambino also made a sizable profit during World War II by bribing Office of Price Administration (OPA) officials for ration stamps, which he then sold on the black market.

By 1926, Luciano was considered to be a powerful gangster on the rise. Luciano's immediate superior, Giuseppe “Joe The Boss” Masseria was coming into conflict with Salvatore Maranzano, a recent arrival from Palermo who was born in Castellammare del Golfo. When Maranzano arrived in New York in 1925, his access to money and manpower led him to become involved in extortion and gambling operations that directly competed with Masseria. On October 10th, 1928, Joe Masseria eliminated D'Aquila, his top rival for the coveted title of “Boss of Bosses.” However, Masseria still had to deal with the powerful and influential Maranzano and his Castellammarese Clan. Gambino was thrown right into the line of fire.

Masseria demanded absolute loyalty and obedience from the other criminals in his area, and killed anyone who gave him less than that on the spot. In 1930, Masseria demanded a $10,000 tribute from Maranzano's then boss, Nicola “Cola” Schiro, and supposedly got it. Schiro fled New York in fear, leaving Maranzano as the new leader. By 1931, a series of killings in New York involving Castellammarese clan members and associates caused Maranzano and his family to declare war against Joe Masseria and his allies. D'Aquila's family, now headed by Alfred Mineo, sided with Masseria. In addition to Gambino, other prominent members of this family included Luciano associates Albert “The Mad Executioner” Anastasia, and Frank Scalice.

The Castellammarese War raged on between the Masseria and Maranzano factions for almost four years. This internal war devastated the Prohibition-era operations and street rackets that the five New York families controlled along with the Irish and Jewish crime groups. The war cut into gang profits and in some cases completely destroyed the underworld rackets of crime family members.

Several Young Turks on both sides started realizing that if the war did not stop soon, the Italian crime families could be left on the fringe of New York's criminal underworld while the Jewish and Irish crime bosses became dominant. Additionally, they felt that Masseria, Maranzano and other old-school mafiosi, whom they derisively called “Mustache Petes”, were too greedy to see the riches that could be had by working with non-Italians. With this in mind, Gambino and the other Young Turks decided to end the Castellammarese War and form a national syndicate. On April 15th, 1931,Masseria was gunned down at Nuova Villa Tammaro restaurant in Coney Island by Luciano associates Anastasia, Adonis, Genovese, and Siegel. Maranzano then named himself capo di tutti capi (boss of bosses). In the major reorganization of the New York Mafia that resulted, Vincent Mangano took over the Mineo family, with Anastasia as his underboss and Gambino as a capo. They kept these posts after Maranzano was fatally stabbed and shot on September 10th, 1931.

In 1931, after the killings of Masseria and Maranzano, Luciano created The Commission, which was supposed to avoid big conflicts like the Castellammarese War. The charter members were Luciano, Joe Bonanno, Joe Profaci, Tommy Gagliano and Mangano.
Gambino married his first cousin, Catherine Castellano, in 1932, at age 30. They raised three sons and a daughter. Gambino became a major earner in the Mangano family. His activities included loansharking, illegal gambling and protection money from area merchants. Despite this, Gambino was low-key by inclination. He lived in a modest, well-kept row house in Brooklyn. The only real evidence of vanity was his license plate on his Buick, CG1.

In the early 1960s, Gambino slowly moved against the prominent Anastasia loyalists, headed by caporegime Armand “Tommy” Rava. With Joseph Biondo as a solid underboss, Joseph Riccobono as Gambino's own consigliere, and with his top caporegimes, Aniello Dellacroce, Paul Castellano, Carmine Lombardozzi, Joseph Armone and Carmine Fatico, the remaining Anastasia loyalists could never make a move.

Gambino quickly expanded his rackets all over the country. New Gambino rackets were created in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Gambino also, to regain complete control of Manhattan, took over the New York Longshoremen Union, where more than 90% of all New York City's ports were controlled. It was a great time, when the money rolled in from every Gambino racket in the U.S. and worked its way up to become America's most powerful crime family. Gambino also made his own family policy: “Deal and Die.” This was Gambino's message to every Gambino family member; heroin and cocaine were highly lucrative, but were dangerous, and would also attract attention. The punishment for dealing drugs, in Gambino style, was death.

In 1960s, the Gambino family had 500 (other sources have 700 or 800) soldiers, within 30 crews making the family a $500,000,000-a-year-enterprise. In 1962, his eldest son Thomas Gambino married the daughter of fellow mob boss Gaetano Lucchese, the new head of the Gagliano crime family, whom Gambino would become close to as a partner, friend, and relative. More than 1,000 people, relatives, friends, and “friends of ours“, (amico nostro) were present during the wedding-ceremony. It has been rumored that Gambino personally gave Lucchese $30,000 as a “welcome gift” that same day. As repayment, Lucchese cut his friend into the airport rackets that were under Lucchese control, especially at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where all unions, management, and security were controlled by Lucchese himself. After Joe Bonanno was forced into retirement by The Commission, Vito Genovese died of a heart attack, and Tommy Lucchese died of a brain tumor, Gambino's status and power on The Commission was elevated almost immediately. While the Mafia had abolished the title of “boss of bosses“, Gambino's position afforded him the powers such a title would have carried, as he was now the boss of the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful crime family in the country and was the head of The Commission, a position only Luciano had held before Gambino.

In February 1962, the Gallo brothers kidnapped a number of prominent members of the Profaci family including underboss Joseph Magliocco and capo Joe Colombo. In return for their release, the brothers demanded changes in the way profits were divided between crews, and at first Profaci appeared to agree, following negotiations between the captors and Profaci's consigliere, Charles Locicero, but Profaci was simply biding his time before taking revenge on the Gallos. Gallo crew member Joseph “Joe Jelly” Gioelli was murdered by Profaci's men in September, and an attempt on Larry Gallo's life was interrupted by policemen in a Brooklyn bar. The brothers set about attacking Profaci's men wherever they saw them as all-out war erupted between the two factions. Plus, Gambino and Lucchese was putting pressure on the other bosses to convince Profaci of stepping down from his title and family, but on June 6th, 1962, Profaci lost his battle against cancer. He was replaced as boss of the family by Joseph Magliocco, a man very much in the Profaci mould, much to the family. That's why Gambino and Lucchese gave their support to the Gallo crew, where Joseph Bonanno, the longtime “Don” of the Bonanno crime family, gave his support to Magliocco and the Profacis.

With the Gallos out of the way, Magliocco was able to consolidate his position and concentrate on the business of running the family's affairs. However, Joe Bonanno hatched a plot to murder the heads of the other three families, which Magliocco decided to go along with. The assassinations went to Profaci capo, Joseph Colombo, who realized that the plot would never amount to anything, and warned Gambino about Magliocco and Bonanno's conspiracy against the Commission. Bonanno and Magliocco were called to face the judgement of the Commission. While Bonanno went into hiding, Magliocco faced up to his crimes. Understanding that he had been following Bonanno's lead, he was let off with a $50,000 fine, and forced to retire as the head of the family, being replaced by Joseph Colombo. One month later, Magliocco died of high blood pressure, but Gambino had other plans for Bonanno.

After Magliocco's death, Bonanno had few allies left. Many members felt he was too power hungry, and one, a boss from Florida, Santo Trafficante Jr., once said in anger, “He's planting flags all over the world!” Some members of his family also thought he spent too much time away from New York, and more in Canada and Tucson, where he had business interests. The Commission members decided that he no longer deserved leadership over his family and replaced him with a caporegime in his family, Gaspar DiGregorio. Bonanno, however, would not accept this result, breaking the family into two groups, the one led by DiGregorio, and the other headed by Bonanno and his son, Salvatore. Newspapers referred to it as “The Banana Split.”

Since Bonanno refused to give up his position, the other Commission members felt it was time for drastic action. Gambino was the one who would give the order to have Bonanno killed, but took pity on him and decided to give Bonanno one last chance to retire while he had his life. In October 1964, Bonanno was kidnapped by Buffalo crime family members, Peter and Antonino Magaddino. According to Bonanno, he was held captive in upstate New York by his cousin, Stefano “Steve The Undertaker” Magaddino. Supposedly Magaddino represented the Commission and Gambino, and told his cousin that he “took up too much space in the air“, a Sicilian proverb for arrogance. After much talk, Bonanno was released and the Commission members believed he would finally retire and relinquish his power.
Eventually, DiGregorio promised a peace meeting on whatever territory Salvatore wanted. It was an ambush. DiGregorio's men opened fire with rifles and automatic weapons on Salvatore and his associates, who were armed only with pistols. The police estimated that over 500 shots were fired but remarkably, no one was hurt. The war went on for another two more years. The Commission originally thought they could win, but when Joseph Bonanno returned, their hopes were dashed. Bonanno sent out a message to his enemies, saying that for every Bonanno loyalist killed, he would retaliate by hitting a caporegime from the other side. The Bonanno loyalists were starting to see victory, but when Bonanno suffered a heart attack, he decided that he and his son would retire to Tucson, leaving his broken family to another capo, Paul Sciacca, who had replaced DiGregorio. Gambino stood as the victorious and most powerful mob boss in the US. Having the reputation of Gambino's “mercy“, made him even more respectable in front of the Commission.

Even though Cosa Nostra members show utmost respect to their superiors, there have been cases of members disrespecting and/or humiliating another made man. An especially notorious case is that of Carmine “Mimi” Scialo - a feared and respected soldier of The Colombo Family who had control over the vast area of Coney Island. When under the influence of alcohol, Scialo would become very arrogant, loud and disrespectful. One day in October 1974, Scialo was at a popular Italian restaurant, he spotted Carlo Gambino and began to harass him, insulting Gambino in front of others. Gambino stayed calm, as he always was, didn't retaliate and didn't say a word. Scialo's body was found not long after at Otto's Social Club in South Brooklyn encased in the cement floor.

Gambino was seen at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas on August 2nd, 1967, where he is supposed to have met Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. (The  famed Rat Pack). They were excellent singers, and the mob, and Gambino in particular, lived for their music. Gambino allegedly gave each of them $10,000 after performing at the Desert Inn, while Gambino was present in the VIP-lounge. Gambino also allegedly said to Castellano: “I want a picture of me and Frankie“. Sinatra of course, happily obliged and Gambino, Castellano and other mobsters got a picture with Sinatra in the middle. Sinatra would later testify about this in court, but announced that he didn't know any Carlo Gambino, but it got to a point where he had to explain why he was attending the Havana Conference in Cuba in 1946, showing up with $2,000,000 in a silver suitcase and a picture that showed Sinatra, Lucky Luciana, Meyer Lansky, Albert “The Executioner” Anastasia, and Carlo Gambino having a drink by a pool.

Gambino was also the only mob boss of the “Five Families” who attended the burial of the longtime friend “Lucky” Luciano. On January 26th, 1962, Luciano died of a heart attack at the age of 64 at Naples International Airport. He was buried in St. John’s Cemetery in Queens, 1972, more than ten years after his death because of the terms of his deportation in 1946. More than 2,000 mourners attended his funeral, where Gambino gave his own speech in memory of Luciano, his friend and companion.

In his last years, Gambino still ruled his family and the other New York families with an iron fist, while keeping a low profile both from the public and law enforcement. He had to choose who he would appoint as his successor after his departure. He chose his cousin and capo, Paul Castellano, over his underboss, Neil Dellacroce.

Gambino died of a heart attack on October 15th, 1976, while watching his beloved New York Yankees at his home. He was buried in St. John’s Cemetery, Queens in New York City, where is friend Charles Luciano was buried, and more than ten other lifetime friends. His funeral was said to have been attended by at least 2,000 people, including police officers, judges and politicians. Gambino left behind sons Thomas, Joseph and Carlo, daughter Phyllis Sinatra, and a family with a crew of 500 soldiers, after leading the Gambino crime family for 20 years, and The Commission for more than 15.

Source: Wikipedia

This work is released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons

Monday, January 21, 2013

Carroll's Journal (Disturbia)

So far, I haven’t been going through many withdraws in the absence of my relationship with my ex. Oh sure, there’s a been a night here and there where I talk myself into thinking that I kind of, sort of, maybe perhaps miss her. The truth be told, she’s better off without me. I might be better off too. Now obviously, it’s always flattering when a girl almost half your age finds you appealing to some degree. No man (or woman) can be blamed for the feeling that derives from the attention of someone younger and most certainly, very attractive and sexy. Let’s face it, it’s human nature to fall into the mood.

Of course, I always felt deep inside that she was too pretty for me. But that would be the shallow side of my dark self coming out. Sure, there probably has to be some kind of physical attraction, but for me, even though she is soooooooooooo pretty, I still had to like other things about her and be somewhat lured into her personality, intelligence and such in order to be able to carry on some kind of relations. And like-wise, her towards me. The fact still remains that I always felt she could do better than me. And this disturbs me on several levels.

I know when my mother reads this, it will disturb her too. It may even destroy the image she has carried about me for all this time. I mean, my mother has pretty much known me since I was born - and to this point of my life - her image of me has always been that I am the center of my own admiration. In other words, it’s always about me. Not to take away from the fact that I do go out of my way often times to help others. However, in her humble opinion, it’s still me seeking for attention. Even when I try and do good.

Maybe she’s right. And that disturbs me too.

I don’t think I do it on a conscious level. I suppose if I look back I will see that there many times I gravitated to the drama. Or - as I claim - it gravitates to me and …. I merely accept it for what it is. Either way, I do believe it will disturb her to know that I felt my ex could do better than me. But maybe that’s because I know myself better than anybody else. I know my faults and flaws. I know my secrets. Nobody really knows me 100 % - not even momma bear. Oh, sure, she will say she does, but she doesn’t. She might be able to guess at a lot of things, but not even she knows EVERYTHING!

Sorry mother. Does that disturb you?

I bring it up because there is another girl in the picture. A girl I know I will never end up with, but can’t help being involved. I also know that ultimately, she will be better off without me too. For some reason, I have been thinking a lot that every girl is better off without me. And no, it’s not a confidence issue, but more a knowledge issue. The pressures and responsibilities of a relationship is greater the price than what I am often times willing to pay. I mean, you want my heart? Fine, take it! It’s broken anyway and doesn’t work anymore. You want my soul? Here you go, enjoy it. It’s a stick in the mud so, knock yourself out. You can even have my mind. Just leave me enough of it that I can still do my writing. I just don’t believe that any of that stuff is who I am. The deeper truth is, I don’t even know who I am or what it is in this life that defines me anymore.

 This is disturbing.

I always thought that when I quit working that I would discover who I was and what I was all about. And yet, here I am almost seven years later and … I still don’t know. Worse than that - I don’t know why I don’t know. So I tried to break it down and this is what I came up with. “I’m just a guy who likes to be his own boss.”

I also like my freedom. Pure freedom.

But what is it that defines me? Is it my songs? Is it my books? Is it my poetry? My blog? My love for football? My womanizing? My charity activities? What? I mean, if I had a child of my own then maybe I could point to him (or her) and say, my kid defines me. But I don’t have one. (One that I know of anyway) so now my mind is a blank. And yeah, maybe all of it defines me but what definition best describes me? On the one hand, there are some who will say, he could write like nobody’s business. And others would say, he cared about children and women. Then there are those who would say, “Man, that guy could party!” or “That guy sure did get around. (If you know what I mean)”

So then I guess there is the good side and the bad side. But which side dominates? For me, I think it’s close to being equally distributed. I really am the Dallas Cowboys. You either love me or hate me, and either way, people seem to be drawn to me by some mysterious force. It’s like, they always want to know what’s going on. Those who hate me just keep watching because they think there is a train wreck coming and they want to be there when it crashes. Maybe because they know that I like doing things big and so the crash would be well worth the wait. It’ll be a hell of a crash! Then again, it would also be a chance for them to laugh at my pain. When you hate someone, that’s the thing that is always worth watching and waiting for.

I mention it also because I discovered recently a few people whom I thought “liked” me actually “loath” me. I could never tell because they are always so friendly towards me. Now I know why. They are waiting for the “big crash”. And the reason they don’t care for me? Because they don’t approve of my life-style. Yes, I am being judged. Aint that a kick in the ass?

Do you know how disturbing that is?

Pay no attention to my babbling right now, I am still mourning the loss of my two teams in their fantasy football leagues championship game. They both lost. And with it, I lost two grand this past fantasy football season. (Note to self: No more money leagues!) This now makes two years in a row that I have not won a championship with any of my teams. I’m losing my touch. This disturbs me. I also know that I will probably talk myself into playing the money leagues again next year. That is more than disturbing, it’s disturbia!

Better luck next time champ.

Allow me to share with you a recent conversation between my mother and myself.

Me: I have good news and bad news.

Mother: What’s the good news?

Me: There is a website that monitors web/blog stats and according to it, my blog has an estimated value of approximately 64,000 dollars.

Mother: Is that American dollars or Yen?

Me: (Laughs for a few seconds) American dollars.

Mother: That’s great! So, what’s the bad news?

Me: Nobody wants to buy it.

Mother: (Laughs for a few seconds) That sucks.

*** And scene***

How do these websites come up with this crap? Seriously! My blog is worth 64,000 dollars? Really? On what basis is this estimate founded on? I would sure like to know. I did some checking with some other “blogs” thinking that they might have some value and BA-BAM! There was no information for them. Both of these blogs are also with “Blogger”. What does it all mean Basil? Apparently, nothing. But at least I have bragging rights over these other two blogs. For whatever that’s worth. Then I go back in and see it fell after about a week to 32,000 dollars. It’s like the stock market, apparently, just up and down from day to day.

Seriously though, it’s disturbing.

I have been talking with a handful of people who wants to start multiple sites to help fight the Goodreads bullies. The idea that is swimming around is, we each start one of our own. We even have gone so far as to come up with names for them. Mine would probably be called “The Other STGRB” while a few others would start theirs with names such as “Fight The Goodreads Bullies”, “Standing Against Goodreads bullies”, “Badly Behaving Goodreader’s” and “The Goodreads Bullies Official Website”.

I still have yet to decide if I want to participate in this. It’s a chore just to over-see this blog and my “Carroll Bryant Collection”. But mostly, the idea is that we mostly link to “STGRB” and perhaps talk about the issue of cyber-bullying in general. It’s still in the conversation mode for now, but I will more than likely make my final decision when I return from San Diego at the end of March. Yes, I am off on another road trip to California. (Leaving around mid March). I think this time, I will probably just drive. I have some stops between Ohio and California I wish to make. Why am I going to California? Well, I am going to go on a few auditions. I am going to give it the old college try. Not expecting anything, just going to enjoy the experience. And no, it won’t be a new “career” if I get a part in some film or TV show. I just want to do it once or twice, three times the most, then go back and focus on books and songs. Speaking of which, I am back in the studio working on another new song and getting around to release my next book. I have kind of been a little slack in that department.

I know what you’re thinking. “More STGRB websites? How disturbing.” - LOL

I know what else you are thinking. “Carz in Hollywood? How disturbia!” Ha-ha-ha

Maybe to get your mind off of it, you can participate in the “Year Of The Cat” contest. You never know, you just might win! The questions will be posted soon, just days away in fact so, what you waiting for? Those questions aren’t going to answer themselves. Or will they? O_o

Okay, that was a little disturbing.

As for the blog, do I have some things on the back-burner right now. I would reveal some of it to you all, but I was recently notified by one of the bullies that they are still stalking me like a hawk, and they have something cooking because they more or less warned me of future “technical difficulties”. Now, I’m not quite sure what that means, but because we’re talking about cyber-bullies here, it could be just about anything. We already know they are not beyond trying to sabotage interviews or try and shut my blog down. So, whatever they have planned - I’m sure they will try and carry it out. I mean, that’s what bullies do, right? They stalk and try to cause trouble for others. This is why I fight against them. But as the old saying goes, “Misery loves company” and who could be more miserable with their failed lives than a bully?

Okay, now that is DISTURBIA!!!!

I got mother moved into her new place. It’s going to take some getting used to. The divorce will be finalized within the next 30 days, or so I am told. Honestly, this doesn’t do a whole lot to reinforce the wonder of getting married. It scares me more than I can say right now. I know some of them (marriages) stand the test of time, but the odds don’t exactly excite me. If I am going to gamble like that, I’d rather do so with my money, not my heart. It’s been through a lot already. (For many of us, that is just too true and … way too disturbing.)

If you ask me, Rihanna is so sexy ... it's disturbia.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Story Time: First Romantic Kiss

My first “romantic” kiss occurred in the early Spring of my last year of high school. Her name was Annette. Everybody called her Annie. I called her “The most beautiful, wonderful, smartest, funniest and caring person in the world that I ever met.”

Yes, she was amazing.

Her and her family moved in just a few houses down at the end of the summer. Relocating from Lancaster, Ohio to Chillicothe to accommodate her father’s employment. I saw the moving truck when it arrived, I just didn’t see her until the morning of the first day of school.

I could have driven that morning. As it is, on good days, I preferred to walk the five blocks to school. I left the house and made a right turn on the sidewalk and began my trek. As I approached her house, she was emerging with a book bag draped over her left shoulder. My first thought was simply …. “WOW.”

Her long strawberry blond hair nesting perfectly on her shoulders. One side extending about six inches in front and the other, six inches down her back. I remember it like it was yesterday. Mostly because, you tend to never forget the first time someone takes your breath away. I stopped just in front of her gate and watched as she skipped down the porch steps showcasing a warm and friendly smile. “Good morning.” She issued, reaching for to open the gate.

“Please,” I ushered in response, “allow me.”

“Aren’t you a gentleman.”

I closed the gate behind her. We started walking side by side and as expected, made our small talk with introductions and the “Where are you from” routine. Shortly into it, I requested to carry her book bag for her. She replied, “Thanks, but I can do for myself.” And yet, she didn’t say it like she was offended or anything, just a matter of fact. I countered with, “Yeah, I know that, but anybody that sees us will wonder why I am such a schmo for not carrying them for you.”

She must have found that to be a clever retort because she paused and grinned while shaking her head. “So, it’s a saving face kind of thing then?”

“I suppose.” I recall saying.

She didn’t hesitate to hand it over. “Then here, I wouldn’t want to be the cause of your reputation being destroyed. Your chivalry is appreciated.”

I think we both were kind of taking our time to walk to school. Our pace slowed down the closer we got to the doors. Once I opened them for her, I handed her book bag over. “You’re leaving me here?” She questioned.

I had to explain that while technically I was something of a jock, I liked to hang out in the mornings across the street prior to the bell with my “hood” friends. You know the ones, the party animals. She thought that to be odd. Everyone knows that in high school, you have your groups. The hoods, the jocks, the nerds, the Goth’s, the cheerleader’s, the loner’s, and so on and so forth. The fact that I got along with, and had friends from all of these groups impressed her. And the fact that I always found different times of the day to spend with each of them was probably more impressive.

She gave me the “See you around.” departure and I ran back across the street to get the ribbing from the guys after they saw me walking with her. That was to be expected. And that first month of school suddenly got very interesting. I walked her back and forth pretty much for the first week until she made friends with some other people and I gave her some space. I also discovered that she had no intention of having a boyfriend. Now, one would think this would indicate she was perhaps a lesbian, but that was not the case. She was just focused on what she wanted in life. Grades came first. Friends came second “and quite frankly“, as she told it, “guys are nothing but distractions.” It would seem that she had plans. Big plans. And I admired that.

So we were friends.

Oh sure, there was the occasional sneaking over to my yard and talking to me through my window in the late evenings after school. I ended up placing a chair outside of it so she could sit while I was sitting on the window sill inside. I don’t know why I never went outside to talk to her, she just liked it that way and to be honest, so did I. It prevented me from making a fool of myself or doing something stupid like, leaning over and planting an unexpected kiss on her lips like I wanted to do right from the moment I first laid eyes on her. But this girl was one hundred percent class from head to toe, inside and out.

And OMG! Did she smell so good.

Soon, we got a little closer when I injured my ankle and knee in a football game. I knew the moment it happened that my athletic career was over. Football, basketball, baseball and even track and field, done! Kaput! Fin!

I think she took it harder than I did.

But the days, weeks and months passed. Holidays came and went. I bought her a special Christmas present. She always wanted a necklace with her birthstone on it. (She was a Leo too, like me. Born the day before I was, and she always made light of the fact that she was OLDER than me. Albeit, only about 24 hours older, but still.) And she bought me a book. This is significant because her family wasn’t really wealthy or anything. They weren’t poor, but she did have a little brother and in order for her to go to college, they needed to save every little penny they could. She did eventually get a part time job to help contribute to that cause. She wanted to get into politics. Go figure.

We hung out on the rooftop of my house on New Years Eve looking through my telescope at the stars. We were bundled up under layers of shirts and coats and drinking hot cocoa from a thermos. You would have thought we would have kissed by now or on that night, but we didn’t. She did, however, ask me if I would attend her Aunt’s wedding in mid-March. She explained that she didn’t want to go alone because she worried she would get hit on and stuff by a bunch of strangers and what not. She said that by taking me, guys would leave her alone. (It made sense at the time.) So I said yes, even though, I wasn’t a big fan of weddings. And she knew of my reputation by then. She had heard all the stories about all the girls I messed around with. Even the older girls I would bring to the school dances. They were 19, 20, up to 22 years old. Once, I brought two girls to a Spring dance when I was 17. They were both 19 years old.

She made it a point that we would just be friends.

Finally, the day arrived. I walked out of my house all dressed up in my Tuxedo. I walked to her house to meet them and we rode to the wedding with her parents in their car. Prior to that, as I walked up to the gate, she reached over and started adjusting my tux. “Don’t you look handsome.”

Her mother found it adorable. “You two look so cute together.”

We arrive and as I anticipated, I felt like an outsider. But through it all, she stood by my side and when they were saying their vows, she slid her arm under mine and held my hand. Then afterwards, at the reception, we sat together at the bride and grooms table. And when it was time to do so, we would get up and dance. (Slow dances only)

About an hour before we left, we walked outside and roamed the grounds. We ended up on a picnic table off in the short distance in the lawn area of this reception building. At last, for the first time that day, we were alone. This is when our conversation turned to the events of the day. We discussed weddings and marriage in general. She wanted to wait. I wanted to … well actually, I never wanted to get married. She found that amusing. “Really? You don’t think you would ever get married?”

I was positive. “No. I just don’t see it happening.” And I paused for a moment before I said it. I turned to her and gazed into her beautiful blue eyes. “I would probably marry you though if you ever asked me.”

Suddenly, my heart stopped. What did I just say?

I think hers stopped too. She took a deep breath. We stared. I wanted to apologize or something because I thought I said something wrong. But before I knew it, she reached out and cupped the side of my face. She kept staring at me and smiled. She leaned in and kissed me. I thought about using the tongue, but caught myself in time. I just went with it. It was soft and tender. It lasted for about thirty seconds. She pulled away and then …. She broke my heart. “I wish I was in love with you.”

We remained friends and kept in touch for a while after graduation. When I returned a few years later on leave from the Navy, her and her parents had moved back to Lancaster. She spent two years at Ohio State and took her Junior year off because of an ailment that she never detailed for me, or so she said to me in a letter. I never did ask her about it.

While on leave, it was arranged for me to go visit her on my 2nd day in town. However, I couldn’t get a rental car until Monday and it was Saturday. My parents couldn’t loan me theirs because they had plans. I had sold both of my cars when I enlisted in the military. Luckily though, my brother’s motorcycle was stored in the garage. It was stored for the winter and this was about a week before Christmas. So out of my need to see her again, I decided to ride my brother’s motorcycle all the way to Lancaster from Chillicothe. (About an hour drive) Halfway there, it started snowing. Mostly just flurries. Still, it was butt cold freezing. She thought I was completely nuts. Maybe I was. I was completely nuts for her.

I had dinner with her and her family that night and they invited me to stay over on the promise that the next day, her father and I would load the motorcycle in his pickup truck and he would drive me back to Chillicothe. This sounded good to me. And Annie and I stayed up all night just laying in front of the fire talking. This is when she revealed to me that she was engaged. To be wedded that Spring. She removed the ring from her pants pocket and showed me. She took it off earlier so that I wouldn’t see it. She wanted to tell me about it first.

So we just ended up holding each other in our arms. Me stroking her hair for hours. We didn’t even kiss that night. The next day, her father drove me back home. I went back to see her the day before I headed back to Norfolk, Virginia. This time, I drove a car. I had gotten that rental. We drank a few beers and snuggled again in front of the fire. I kissed her on the forehead before I left around three in the morning. The last thing I said to her was, "Too bad you're not in love with me."

She silently agreed with her eyes.

On the plane back to Norfolk, I thought about her all the way. I ended up writing her a poem that I never sent. I called it, “I would Give You My Life”

A few years after I left the military, I was in Chillicothe. I bumped into an old high school friend and we rehashed the old days. We soon ended up talking about old friends and what they were up to and Annie’s name came up. About four or five years had passed since I last saw her. My friend was also good friends with her. (Everybody was) He pulled out a picture of this little boy and girl. Twins. She never sent me one because we never wrote each other after that last night together.

They were beautiful. Just as I would have expected her children to be. Then he told me, after I asked what she was up to these days. “Dude, Annie passed away a few months ago. She died of cancer.”

That must have been the ailment she referred to.

What you’re feeling right now, multiply that by a million. That is how I felt when he said that. I went home that night and cried for hours.

(Here is that poem I wrote for her:)

I thought a lot about it
And I decided that I need you
I can’t go on without it
All your precious love

Yes I know how you feel
And you know how I feel too
But if you asked my darling
This is what I would do

I would give you my life
I would make it right for you
Give you all I had
Just so I could help you see life through
Why do our feelings have to be oh so hard to control?
And are they true?
All I know my darling is
I would give my life to you

I’m sorry that it happened
I wish there was something I could say
The words of love I’ve spoken
Us ending up in this way

Yes I know how you feel
And you know how I feel too
But if you asked my darling
This is what I would do

I would give you my life
I would make it right for you
Give you all I had
Just so I could help you see life through
Why do our feelings have to be oh so hard to control?
And are they true?
All I know my darling is
I would give my life to you

And if you asked my darling
I would give my life to you