Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tony DeFranco: Teen Idol

The DeFranco Family, featuring Tony DeFranco, was a 1970s pop music group and family from Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada. The group, all siblings, consisted of guitarist Benny DeFranco (born 11 July 1953); keyboardist Marisa DeFranco (born 23 July 1954); guitarist Nino DeFranco (born 19 October 1955); drummer Merlina DeFranco (born 20 July 1957); and lead singer Tony DeFranco (born 31 August 1959).

The group had a number of hits between 1973 and 1977, including "Abra-Ca-Dabra" and their biggest hit, "Heartbeat (It's a Love Beat)." Either Tony DeFranco or the entire family appeared in almost every issue of a number of the teen magazines of this period, such as Tiger Beat and Flip. By the late 1970s, the group had faded from the pop scene.

The five siblings who comprised the DeFranco Family were born to Italian immigrant parents and raised in Port Colborne and Welland, Ontario. Initially performing as the DeFranco Quintet, the group found success after a demo tape of their songs was heard by Sharon Lee, editor of teen magazine Tiger Beat. Impressed by what she heard, Lee arranged for Charles Laufer to fly the group to Los Angeles for an audition. Laufer signed the group to an exclusive deal with his company, Laufer Entertainment, financed a three-song demo, and helped them to secure a contract with 20th Century Records.

The DeFranco Family recorded at United Western Recorders studios in Hollywood with accompaniment by Wrecking Crew veterans Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Carlton on guitar, and Max Bennett on bass. They appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand nine times.

With their lighthearted approach to music, the DeFranco Family became a successful pop music act in the mid-1970s. Their debut 1973 single, "Heartbeat, It's a Lovebeat," featuring the lead vocals of then 13-year-old Tony DeFranco, reached number one on WLS for five straight weeks (and was number two there for the entire year 1973), number three in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the top slot on the Cashbox singles chart, as well as hitting number three in their native Canada on the RPM 100 national Top Singles chart, selling more than two million copies in the process. It was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A in November 1973. The song's writer, Purdue alumnus Michael T. Kennedy, was a long-time executive at Boeing/McDonnell Douglas. Their second single, "Abra-Ca-Dabra," which reached the Top 40, was followed by their final hit, "Save the Last Dance for Me," which reached number 18 on the charts in May 1974.

The DeFranco Family's active career reached a roadblock when a rock version of their tune "Write Me a Letter" failed to generate much attention and reached no higher than the 104th slot on the charts. Although their earlier hits had been produced by Walt Meskell, the disappointing sales of "Write Me a Letter" prompted their record label, 20th Century Fox, to dismiss Meskell involuntarily and team the group with Mike Curb, who had previously worked with The Osmonds. But the collaboration proved disastrous. When Curb attempted to recast the group as a cover band, they resisted and severed their relationship with their publisher and manager, Charles Laufer and Laufer Entertainment, and 20th Century Fox.

Unable to attract interest from another label, they continued to tour and perform in Las Vegas. Frustrated by their inability to attain their previous heights, they disbanded in 1978. A reunion concert at Rhino Records' Retro Fest in August 1999 was followed by the DeFranco Family's final performance at B.B. King's Nightclub in Los Angeles in April 2000.

Tony obtained a real-estate license and became a realtor with Sotheby's International Realty in Westlake Village, California.

The siblings took up residences within an hour's drive from each other in California and remained close. Although the DeFranco Family gave up its involvement in the music industry, Tony and Marisa continued to perform on occasion.

Sources: Wikipedia

This work released through CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pretty Boy Floyd: American Gangster

Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd (February 3, 1904 – October 22, 1934) was an American bank robber. He operated in the Midwest and West South Central States, and his criminal exploits gained heavy press coverage in the 1930s. Like most other prominent outlaws of that era, he was killed by policemen. While speculation remains among which officers were actually there, local or the FBI, known accounts prove that local officers Robert "Pete" Pyle and George Curran were present for not only the killing, but also the embalming. He remains a familiar figure in American popular culture, sometimes seen as notorious, but at other times viewed as a tragic figure, partly a victim of hard times.

Floyd was born in Bartow County, Georgia. He grew up in Oklahoma after moving there with his family from Georgia in 1911, and spent considerable time in nearby Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri. He was first arrested at age 18 after he stole $3.50 in coins from a local post office. Three years later he was arrested for a payroll robbery on September 16, 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri and was sentenced to five years in prison, of which he served three and a half.

When paroled, Floyd vowed that he would never see the inside of another prison. Entering into partnerships with more established criminals in the Kansas City underworld, he committed a series of bank robberies over the next several years; it was during this period that he acquired the nickname "Pretty Boy." According to one account, when the payroll master targeted in a robbery described the three perpetrators to the police, he referred to Floyd as "a mere boy - a pretty boy with apple cheeks." Like his contemporary Baby Face Nelson, Floyd hated his nickname.

In 1929, he faced numerous arrests. On March 9, he was arrested in Kansas City on investigation and again on May 6 for vagrancy and suspicion of highway robbery, but he was released the next day. Two days later, he was arrested in Pueblo, Colorado, charged with vagrancy. He was fined $50.00 and sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Floyd, under the alias "Frank Mitchell," was arrested in Akron, Ohio, on March 8, 1930, charged in the investigation of the murder of an Akron police officer who had been killed during a robbery that evening.

The law next caught up with Floyd in Toledo, Ohio, where he was arrested on suspicion on May 20, 1930; he was sentenced on November 24, 1930, to 12–15 years in Ohio State penitentiary for the Sylvania Ohio Bank Robbery, but he escaped.

Floyd was a suspect in the deaths of bootlegging brothers Wally and Boll Ash of Kansas City. They were found dead in a burning car on March 25, 1931. A month later on April 23, members of his gang killed Patrolman R. H. Castner of Bowling Green, Ohio, and on July 22 Floyd killed ATF Agent C. Burke in Kansas City, Missouri.

In 1932, former sheriff Erv Kelley of McIntosh County, Oklahoma, tried to arrest Floyd; he was killed on April 7. In November of that year, three members of Floyd's gang attempted to rob the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Boley, Oklahoma.

Despite his life of crime, he was viewed positively by the general public. When he robbed banks he would destroy mortgage documents, which freed many citizens of their debts. He was even protected by citizens of Oklahoma, who referred to him as "Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills".

Floyd and Adam Richetti became the primary suspects in a June 17, 1933, gunfight known as the "Kansas City massacre" that resulted in the deaths of four law enforcement officers. Though J. Edgar Hoover used the incident as ammunition to further empower the FBI to pursue Floyd, historians are divided as to whether or not he was involved. Another, more likely, suspect, was gang torpedo Sol Weismann, who resembled Floyd. Floyd adamantly denied his involvement in this fiasco (apparently a botched attempt to free bank robber Frank Nash, who was in police custody), and as he never bothered to deny many of his other crimes, including murders of policemen, it seems unlikely that he was a participant in the "massacre" at Kansas City.

The gunfight was an attack by Vernon Miller and accomplices on lawmen escorting robber Frank "Jelly" Nash to a car parked at the Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. Two Kansas City, Missouri, officers, Detective William Grooms and Patrolman Grant Schroder; McAlester, Oklahoma Police Chief Otto Reed; and FBI Special Agent Ray Caffrey were killed. Nash was also killed as he was sitting in the car. Two other Kansas City police officers survived by slumping forward in the backseat and feigning death. As the gunmen inspected the car, another officer responded from the station and fired at them, forcing them to flee. Miller was found dead on November 27, 1933, outside Detroit, Michigan, beaten and strangled.

Floyd and Richetti were alleged to have been Miller's accomplices. Factors weighing against them included their apparent presence in Kansas City at the time, eyewitness identifications (which have been contested), Richetti's fingerprint said to have been recovered from a beer bottle at Miller's hideout, an underworld account naming Floyd and Richetti as the gunmen, and Hoover's firm advocacy of their guilt. Fellow bank robber Alvin Karpis, an acquaintance of Floyd's, claimed that Floyd confessed involvement to him. On the other side of the issue, the bandit alleged to have been Floyd was supposed to have been wounded by a gunshot to the shoulder in the attack, and Floyd's body showed no sign of this injury when examined later. The underworld account identifying Floyd and Richetti as the killers was offset by equally unreliable underworld accounts proclaiming their innocence or identifying others. The Floyd family has maintained that while Floyd owned up to many other crimes, he vehemently denied involvement in this one, as did Richetti. It has also been contended that this crime would have been inconsistent with Floyd's other criminal acts, as he was not otherwise known as a hired gun or (especially) a hired killer.

Shortly after the attack, Kansas City police received a postcard dated June 30, 1933, from Springfield, Missouri, which read: "Dear Sirs- I- Charles Floyd- want it made known that I did not participate in the massacre of officers at Kansas City. Charles Floyd". The police department believed the note to be genuine. Floyd also reportedly denied involvement in the massacre to the FBI agents who had fatally wounded him. In addition, a recent book on the massacre attributes at least some of the killing to friendly fire by a lawman who was unfamiliar with his weapon, based on ballistic tests.

On July 23, 1934, following the death of John Dillinger, "Pretty Boy" Floyd was named Public enemy No. 1. On October 22, 1934, Floyd was shot in a corn field behind a house on Sprucevale Road between Beaver Creek State Park and East Liverpool, Ohio near Clarkson, while being pursued by local law officers and FBI agents led by Melvin Purvis. Varying accounts exist as to who shot him and the manner in which he was killed. He was carried out of the field by FBI agents and died under an apple tree.

Having narrowly escaped ambush by FBI agents and other law enforcement agencies several times after the Kansas City Massacre, Floyd had a stroke of bad luck. On October 18, 1934, he and Richetti left Buffalo, New York, and slid their vehicle into a telephone pole during a heavy fog. No one was injured, but the car was disabled. Fearing they would be recognized, Floyd and Richetti sent two female companions to retrieve a tow truck; the women would then accompany the tow truck driver into a town and have the vehicle repaired while the two men waited by the roadside.

After dawn on October 19, motorist Joe Fryman and his son-in-law passed by, observing two men dressed in suits lying by the roadside. Feeling it was suspicious, he informed Wellsville, Ohio, Police Chief John H. Fultz. Three officers, including Fultz, investigated. When Richetti saw the lawmen, he fled into the woods, pursued by two officers, while Fultz went toward Floyd. Floyd immediately drew his gun and fired, and he and Fultz engaged one another in a gunfight, during which Fultz was wounded in the foot. After wounding Fultz, Floyd fled into the forest. The other two officers enlisted the help of local retired police officer Chester K. Smith, a former sniper during World War I, and subsequently captured Richetti. Floyd remained on the run, living on fruit, traveling on foot, and quickly becoming exhausted.

At least three accounts exist of the following events: one given by the FBI, one by other people in the area, and one by local law enforcement. The accounts agree that, after obtaining some food at a local pool hall owned by Charles Joy, a friend of Floyd's, Floyd hitched a ride in an East Liverpool neighborhood on October 22, 1934. He was spotted by the team of lawmen, at which point he broke from the vehicle and fled toward the treeline. Local retired officer Chester Smith fired first, hitting Floyd in the right arm, knocking him to the ground. At this point, the three accounts diverge; the FBI agents later attempted to claim all the credit, denying local law enforcement were even present at the actual shooting. According to the local police account, Floyd regained his footing and continued to run, at which point the entire team opened fire, knocking him to the ground. Floyd died shortly thereafter from his wounds.

According to the FBI, four FBI agents, led by Purvis, and four members of the East Liverpool Police Department, led by Chief Hugh McDermott, were searching the area south of Clarkson, Ohio, in two separate cars. They spotted a car move from behind a corn crib, and then move back. Floyd then emerged from the car and drew a .45 caliber pistol, and the FBI agents opened fire. Floyd reportedly said: "I'm done for. You've hit me twice."

However, Chester Smith, the retired East Liverpool Police Captain and sharpshooter, described events differently in a 1979 interview for Time magazine. Smith, who was credited with shooting Floyd first, stated that he had deliberately wounded, but not killed, Floyd. He then added: "I knew Purvis couldn't hit him, so I dropped him with two shots from my .32 Winchester rifle." According to Smith's account, after being wounded, Floyd fell and did not regain his footing. Smith then disarmed Floyd. At that point, Purvis ran up and ordered: "Back away from that man. I want to talk to him." Purvis questioned Floyd briefly, and after receiving curses in reply ordered agent Herman "Ed" Hollis to "Fire into him." Hollis then shot Floyd at point-blank range with a sub-machine gun, killing him. The interviewer asked if there was a cover-up by the FBI, and Smith responded: "Sure was, because they didn't want it to get out that he'd been killed that way."

FBI agent Winfred E. Hopton disputed Chester Smith's claim in a letter to the editors of Time Magazine, that appeared in the November 19, 1979, issue, in response to the Time article "Blasting a G-Man Myth." In his letter he stated that he was one of four FBI agents present when Floyd was killed, on a farm several miles from East Liverpool, Ohio. According to Hopton, members of the East Liverpool police department arrived only after Floyd was already mortally wounded. He also claimed that when the four agents confronted Floyd, Floyd turned to fire on them, and two of the four killed Floyd almost instantly. Additionally, while Smith's account said that Herman Hollis shot the wounded Floyd on Purvis's order, Hopton claimed that Hollis was not present. Hopton also stated Floyd's body was transported back to East Liverpool in Hopton's personal car.

Floyd's body was embalmed and briefly viewed at the Sturgis Funeral Home in East Liverpool, Ohio, before being sent on to Oklahoma. Floyd's body was placed on public display in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. His funeral was attended by between 20,000 and 40,000 people and remains the largest funeral in Oklahoma history. He was buried in Akins, Oklahoma.

Sources: Wikipedia

This work released through CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chief Joseph: American Indian

Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, Hinmatóowyalahtq̓it in Americanist orthography, popularly known as Chief Joseph, or Young Joseph (March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904), succeeded his father Tuekakas (Chief Joseph the Elder) as the leader of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of Nez Perce, a Native American tribe indigenous to the Wallowa Valley in northeastern Oregon, in the interior Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

He led his band during the most tumultuous period in their contemporary history when they were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in the Wallowa Valley by the United States federal government and forced to move northeast, onto the significantly reduced reservation in Lapwai, Idaho Territory. A series of events which culminated in episodes of violence led those Nez Perce who resisted removal including Joseph's band and an allied band of the Palouse tribe to take flight to attempt to reach political asylum, ultimately with the Sioux chief Sitting Bull in Canada.

They were pursued by the U.S. Army in a campaign led by General Oliver O. Howard. This 1,170-mile (1,900 km) fighting retreat by the Nez Perce in 1877 became known as the Nez Perce War. The skill with which the Nez Perce fought and the manner in which they conducted themselves in the face of incredible adversity led to widespread admiration among their military adversaries and the American public.

Coverage of the war in United States newspapers led to widespread recognition of Joseph and the Nez Perce. For his principled resistance to the removal, he became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker. However, modern scholars like Robert McCoy and Thomas Guthrie argue that this coverage, as well as Joseph's speeches and writings, distorted the true nature of Joseph's thoughts and gave rise to a "mythical" Chief Joseph as a "red Napoleon" that served the interests of the Anglo-American narrative of manifest destiny.

Joseph was born Hinmuuttu-yalatlat (alternatively Hinmaton-Yalaktit or Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, Nez Perce: "Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain" or ',Hinmatóoyalahtq'it – “Thunder traveling to higher areas”) in the Wallowa Valley of north eastern Oregon. He was known as Young Joseph during his youth because his father, Tuekakas, was baptized with the same Christian name, later becoming known as "Old Joseph" or "Joseph the Elder."

While initially hospitable to the region's newcomers, Joseph the Elder grew wary when settlers wanted more Indian lands. Tensions grew as the settlers appropriated traditional Indian lands for farming and grazing livestock.
Isaac Stevens, governor of the Washington Territory, organized a council to designate separate areas for natives and settlers in 1855. Joseph the Elder and the other Nez Perce chiefs signed a treaty with the United States establishing a Nez Perce reservation encompassing 7.7 million acres (31,000 km²) in present-day Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The 1855 reservation maintained much of the traditional Nez Perce lands, including Joseph's Wallowa Valley.

An influx of new settlers caused by a gold rush led the government to call a second council in 1863. Government commissioners asked the Nez Perce to accept a new, much smaller reservation of 780,000 acres (3,200 km2) situated around the village of Lapwai in Idaho, and excluding the Wallowa Valley. In exchange, they were promised financial rewards and schools and a hospital for the reservation. Chief Lawyer and one of his allied chiefs signed the treaty on behalf of the Nez Perce Nation, but Joseph the Elder and several other chiefs were opposed to selling their lands, and did not sign.

Their refusal to sign caused a rift between the "non-treaty" and "treaty" bands of Nez Perce. The "treaty" Nez Perce moved within the new reservation's boundaries, while the "non-treaty" Nez Perce remained on their lands. Joseph the Elder demarcated Wallowa land with a series of poles, proclaiming, "Inside this boundary all our people were born. It circles the graves of our fathers, and we will never give up these graves to any man."

The non-treaty Nez Perce suffered many injustices at the hands of settlers and prospectors, but out of fear of reprisal from the militarily superior Americans, Joseph never allowed any violence against them, instead making many concessions to them in hopes of securing peace.

In 1873, Joseph negotiated with the federal government to ensure his people could stay on their land in the Wallowa Valley. But in 1877, the government reversed its policy, and Army General Oliver Howard threatened to attack if the Wallowa band did not relocate to the Idaho Reservation with the other Nez Perce. Joseph reluctantly agreed. Before the outbreak of hostilities, General Howard held a council at Fort Lapwai to try to convince Joseph and his people to relocate. Joseph finished his address to the general, which focused on human equality, by expressing his "[disbelief that] the Great Spirit Chief gave one kind of men the right to tell another kind of men what they must do." Howard reacted angrily, interpreting the statement as a challenge to his authority. When Toohoolhoolzote protested, he was jailed for five days.

The day following the council, Joseph, White Bird, and Looking Glass all accompanied Howard to look at different areas. Howard offered them a plot of land that was inhabited by Whites and Native Americans, promising to clear them out. Joseph and his chieftains refused, adhering to their tribal tradition of not taking what did not belong to them.

Unable to find any suitable uninhabited land on the reservation, Howard informed Joseph that his people had thirty days to collect their livestock and move to the reservation. Joseph pleaded for more time, but Howard told him that he would consider their presence in the Wallowa Valley beyond the thirty-day mark an act of war.

Returning home, Joseph called a council among his people. At the council, he spoke on behalf of peace, preferring to abandon his father's grave over war. Toohoolhoolzote, insulted by his incarceration, advocated war. The Wallowa band began making preparations for the long journey, meeting first with other bands at Rocky Canyon. At this council too, many leaders urged war, while Joseph argued in favor of peace. While the council was underway, a young man whose father had been killed rode up and announced that he and several other young men had already killed four white settlers. Still hoping to avoid further bloodshed, Joseph and other non-treaty Nez Perce leaders began moving people away from Idaho.

The Nez Perce War was the name given to the U.S. Army's pursuit of the over 800 Nez Perce and an allied band of the Palouse tribe who had fled toward freedom. Initially they had hoped to take refuge with the Crow nation in the Montana Territory, but when the Crow refused to grant them aid, the Nez Perce went north in an attempt to reach asylum with Sioux Chief Sitting Bull and his followers who had fled to Canada in 1876.

For over three months, the Nez Perce outmaneuvered and battled their pursuers traveling 1,170 miles across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.

General Howard, leading the opposing cavalry, was impressed with the skill with which the Nez Perce fought, using advance and rear guards, skirmish lines, and field fortifications. Finally, after a devastating five-day battle during freezing weather conditions with no food or blankets, with the major war leaders dead, Joseph formally surrendered to General Nelson Appleton Miles on October 5, 1877 in the Bear Paw Mountains of the Montana Territory, less than 40 miles (60 km) south of Canada in a place close to the present-day Chinook in Blaine County.

Joseph's fame did him little good. By the time Joseph surrendered, 150 of his followers had been killed. Their plight, however, did not end. Although he had negotiated a safe return home for his people, General Sherman forced Joseph and four hundred followers to be taken on unheated rail cars to Fort Leavenworth in eastern Kansas to be held in a prisoner of war campsite for eight months. Toward the end of the following summer the surviving Nez Perce were taken by rail to a reservation in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) for seven years. Many of them died of epidemic diseases while there.

In 1879, Chief Joseph went to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Rutherford B. Hayes and plead the case of his people. Although Joseph was respected as a spokesman, opposition in Idaho prevented the U.S. government from granting his petition to return to the Pacific Northwest. Finally, in 1885, Chief Joseph and his followers were allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest to settle on the reservation around Kooskia, Idaho. Instead, Joseph and others were taken to the Colville Indian Reservation far from both their homeland in the Wallowa Valley and the rest of their people in Idaho.

Joseph continued to lead his Wallowa band on the Colville Reservation, at times coming into conflict with the leaders of 11 other tribes living on the reservation. Chief Moses of the Sinkiuse-Columbia in particular resented having to cede a portion of his people's lands to Joseph's people, who had "made war on the Great Father."

In his last years Joseph spoke eloquently against the injustice of United States policy toward his people and held out the hope that America's promise of freedom and equality might one day be fulfilled for Native Americans as well. In 1897, he visited Washington again to plead his case. He rode in a parade honoring former President Ulysses Grant in New York City with Buffalo Bill Cody but he was a topic of conversation for his headdress more than his mission.

In 1903, Chief Joseph visited Seattle, a booming young town, where he stayed in the Lincoln Hotel as guest to Edmond Meany, a history professor at the University of Washington. It was there that he also befriended Edward Curtis, the photographer, who took one of his most memorable and well-known photographs. He also visited President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington that year. Everywhere he went, it was to make a plea for what remained of his people to be returned to their home in the Wallowa Valley. But it would never happen. An indomitable voice of conscience for the West, he died in September 1904, still in exile from his homeland, according to his doctor "of a broken heart." Meany and Curtis would help his family bury their chief near the village of Nespelem.

The Chief Joseph band of Nez Perce Indians who still live on the Colville Reservation bear his name in tribute to their prestigious leader. Joseph is buried in Nespelem, Washington, where many of his tribe's members still live.

Sources: Wikipedia

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mary Read: Pirates

Mary Read (died 1721) was an English pirate. She and Anne Bonny are two of the most famed female pirates of all time; they are the only two women known to have been convicted of piracy during the early 18th century, at the height of the Golden Age of Piracy.

Mary Read was illegitimately born in England, in the late 17th century, to the widow of a sea captain.

Her date of birth is disputed among historians because of a reference to the "Peace of Ryswick" by her contemporary biographer Captain Charles Johnson in A General History of the Pyrates. He very well may have made an error, intending to refer to the "Treaty of Utrecht". Whichever it is, her birth was at 1691.

Read's mother began to disguise illegitimately born Mary as a boy after the death of Mary's older, legitimate brother Mark. This was done in order to continue to receive financial support from his paternal grandmother. The grandmother was apparently fooled, and Read and her mother lived on the inheritance into her teenage years. Still dressed as a boy, Read then found work as a footboy, and later found employment on a ship.

She later joined the British military, allied with Dutch forces against the French (this could have been during the Nine Years War or during the War of the Spanish Succession). Read, in male disguise, proved herself through battle, but she fell in love with a Flemish soldier. When they married, she used their military commission and gifts from intrigued brethren in arms as a funding source to acquire an inn named "De drie hoefijzers" (The Three Horseshoes") near Breda Castle in The Netherlands.

Upon her husband's early death, Read resumed male dress and military service in Holland. With peace, there was no room for advancement, so she quit and boarded a ship bound for the West Indies.

Read's ship was taken by pirates, who forced her to join them. She took the King's pardon c.1718-1719, and took a commission to privateer, until that ended with her joining the crew in mutiny. In 1720 she joined pirate John "Calico Jack" Rackham and his companion, the female pirate Anne Bonny.

Read remained dressed as a man at first. Nobody knew that Read was female until Bonny began to take a liking to Read thinking she was a handsome young fellow. That forced Read to reveal to Bonny that she was a woman. Rackham, who was Bonny's lover, became jealous of the intimacy between them and threatened to cut the throat of Bonny's new paramour. To prevent Read's death, Rackham was also let in on the secret; following, Rackham decided to break male seafaring tradition by allowing both women to remain on the crew.

During their brief cruise in late 1720, they took several prisoners and forced them into useful service. Read fell in love with one such victim who was surprised to learn that she was a woman and eventually returned the affection. When one of the pirates challenged her lover to a duel, Read contrived a secret duel to occur a couple hours earlier. She killed the pirate before he could bring any harm to her lover, whom she called "husband" as they made vows to each other in absence of a minister.

In October 1720, pirate hunter Captain Jonathan Barnet took Rackham's crew by surprise while they were hosting a rum party with another crew of Englishmen off the west coast of Jamaica. After a volley of fire left the pirate vessel disabled, Rackham's crew and their "guests" fled to the hold, leaving only the women and one other to fight Barnet's boarding party. Allegedly, Read angrily shot into the hold, killing one, wounding others when the men would not come up and fight with them. Barnet's crew eventually overcame the women. Rackham surrendered, requesting "quarter."

Rackham and his crew were arrested and brought to trial in what is now known as Spanish Town, Jamaica, where they were sentenced to hang for acts of piracy, as were Read and Bonny. However, the women escaped the noose when they revealed they were both "quick with child" (known as "Pleading the belly"), so they received a temporary stay of execution.

Read died in prison in April 1721, but there is no record of burial of her baby.

Source: Wikipedia

This work released through CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gerald Ford: The Presidents

Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., on July 14, 1913, at 3202 Woolworth Avenue in Omaha, Nebraska, where his parents lived with his paternal grandparents. His mother was Dorothy Ayer Gardner, and his father was Leslie Lynch King, Sr., a wool trader and son of prominent banker Charles Henry King and Martha Alicia King (née Porter). Dorothy separated from King just sixteen days after her son's birth. She took her son with her to the Oak Park, Illinois home of her sister Tannisse and brother-in-law, Clarence Haskins James. From there, she moved to the home of her parents, Levi Addison Gardner and Adele Augusta Ayer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dorothy and King divorced in December 1913; she gained full custody of her son. Ford's paternal grandfather Charles Henry King paid child support until shortly before his death in 1930.

Ford later said his biological father had a history of hitting his mother. James M. Cannon, a member of the Ford administration, wrote in a Ford biography that the Kings' separation and divorce were sparked when, a few days after Ford's birth, Leslie King threatened Dorothy with a butcher knife and threatened to kill her, Ford, and Ford's nursemaid. Ford later told confidantes that his father had first hit his mother on their honeymoon for smiling at another man.

After two and a half years with her parents, on February 1, 1916, Dorothy married Gerald Rudolff Ford, a salesman in a family-owned paint and varnish company. They then called her son Gerald Rudolff Ford, Jr. The future president was never formally adopted, however, and he did not legally change his name until December 3, 1935; he also used a more conventional spelling of his middle name. He was raised in Grand Rapids with his three half brothers from his mother's second marriage: Thomas Gardner Ford (1918–1995), Richard Addison Ford (born 1924), and James Francis Ford (1927–2001).

Ford also had three half-siblings from his father's second marriage: Marjorie King (1921–1993), Leslie Henry King (1923–1976), and Patricia Jane King (born 1925). They never saw one another as children and he did not know them at all. Ford was not aware of his biological father until he was 17, when his parents told him about the circumstances of his birth. That year his father Leslie King, whom Ford described as a "carefree, well-to-do man who didn't really give a damn about the hopes and dreams of his firstborn son", approached Ford while he was waiting tables in a Grand Rapids restaurant. The two "maintained a sporadic contact" until Leslie King, Sr.'s death.

Ford was involved in The Boy Scouts of America, and earned that program's highest rank, Eagle Scout. In later years, Ford received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in May 1970 and Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He is the only U.S. president who is an Eagle Scout. Scouting was so important to Ford that his family asked that Scouts participate in his funeral. About 400 Eagle Scouts were part of the funeral procession, where they formed an honor guard as the casket went by in front of the museum. A few selected scouts served as ushers inside the National Cathedral.

Ford attended Grand Rapids South High School and was a star athlete and captain of his football team. In 1930, he was selected to the All-City team of the Grand Rapids City League. He also attracted the attention of college recruiters.

Attending the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, Ford played center and linebacker for the school's football team, and helped the Wolverines to undefeated seasons and national titles in 1932 and 1933. The team suffered a steep decline in his 1934 senior year, however, winning only one game. Ford was the team's star nonetheless, and after a game during which Michigan held heavily favored Minnesota (the eventual national champion) to a scoreless tie in the first half, assistant coach Bennie Oosterbaan later said, "When I walked into the dressing room at half time, I had tears in my eyes I was so proud of them. Ford and [Cedric] Sweet played their hearts out. They were everywhere on defense." Ford later recalled, "During 25 years in the rough-and-tumble world of politics, I often thought of the experiences before, during, and after that game in 1934. Remembering them has helped me many times to face a tough situation, take action, and make every effort possible despite adverse odds." His teammates later voted Ford their most valuable player, with one assistant coach noting, "They felt Jerry was one guy who would stay and fight in a losing cause."

At Michigan, Ford became a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Omicron chapter) and washed dishes at his fraternity house to earn money for college expenses. Following his graduation in 1935 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, he turned down contract offers from the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers of the National Football League to take a coaching position at Yale and apply to its law school. Ford continued to contribute to football and boxing, accepting an assistant coaching job for both at Yale in September 1935.

Ford hoped to attend Yale's law school beginning in 1935 while serving as boxing coach and assistant varsity football coach. Yale officials at first denied his admission to the law school, because of his full-time coaching responsibilities. He spent the summer of 1937 as a student at the University of Michigan Law School and was eventually admitted in spring 1938 to Yale Law School. Ford earned his LL.B. degree in 1941 (later amended to Juris Doctor), graduating in the top 25 percent of his class. His introduction to politics came in the summer of 1940 when he worked in Wendell Willkie's presidential campaign. While attending Yale Law School, he joined a group of students led by R. Douglas Stuart, Jr., and signed a petition to enforce the 1939 Neutrality Act. The petition was circulated nationally and was the inspiration for the America First Committee, a group determined to keep the U.S. out of World War II.

Ford graduated from law school in 1941, and was admitted to the Michigan bar shortly thereafter. In May 1941, he opened a Grand Rapids law practice with a friend, Philip W. Buchen, who would later serve as Ford's White House counsel. But overseas developments caused a change in plans, and Ford responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor by enlisting in the Navy.

Ford received a commission as ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve on April 13, 1942. On April 20, he reported for active duty to the V-5 instructor school at Annapolis, Maryland. After one month of training, he went to Navy Preflight School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he was one of 83 instructors and taught elementary navigation skills, ordnance, gunnery, first aid and military drill. In addition, he coached in all nine sports that were offered, but mostly in swimming, boxing and football. During the one year he was at the Preflight School, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade on June 2, 1942, and to Lieutenant in March 1943.

For his naval service, Gerald Ford earned the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with nine engagement stars for operations in the Gilbert Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Marshall Islands, Asiatic and Pacific carrier raids, Hollandia, Marianas, Western Carolines, Western New Guinea, and the Leyte Operation. He also received the Philippine Liberation Medal with two bronze stars for Leyte and Mindoro, as well as the American Campaign and World War II Victory Medals.

Ford was a member of several civic organizations, including the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), American Legion, AMVETS, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Sons of the Revolution, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In 1992 the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation awarded Ford its Lone Sailor Award for his naval service and his subsequent government service.

Gerald R. Ford was initiated into Freemasonry on September 30, 1949.

On October 15, 1948, at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Ford married Elizabeth Bloomer Warren (1918–2011), a department store fashion consultant. Warren had been a John Robert Powers fashion model and a dancer in the auxiliary troupe of the Martha Graham Dance Company. She had previously been married to and divorced from William G. Warren.

After returning to Grand Rapids, Ford became active in local Republican politics, and supporters urged him to take on Bartel J. Jonkman, the incumbent Republican congressman. Military service had changed his view of the world. "I came back a converted internationalist", Ford wrote, "and of course our congressman at that time was an avowed, dedicated isolationist. And I thought he ought to be replaced. Nobody thought I could win. I ended up winning two to one." During his first campaign in 1948, Ford visited voters at their doorsteps and as they left the factories where they worked. Ford also visited local farms where in one instance, a wager resulted in Ford spending two weeks milking cows following his election victory. Ford was known to his colleagues in the House as a "Congressman's Congressman".

Ford was a member of the House of Representatives for 25 years, holding the Grand Rapids congressional district seat from 1949 to 1973. It was a tenure largely notable for its modesty. As an editorial in The New York Times described him, Ford "saw himself as a negotiator and a reconciler, and the record shows it: he did not write a single piece of major legislation in his entire career." Appointed to the House Appropriations Committee two years after being elected, he was a prominent member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Ford described his philosophy as "a moderate in domestic affairs, an internationalist in foreign affairs, and a conservative in fiscal policy."

In the early 1950s, Ford declined offers to run for both the Senate and the Michigan governorship. Rather, his ambition was to become Speaker of the House.

In November 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Ford to the Warren Commission, a special task force set up to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Ford was assigned to prepare a biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin. The Commission's work continues to be debated in the public arena.

In 1964, Democratic President Lyndon Johnson led a landslide victory for his party, securing another term as president and taking 36 seats from Republicans in the House of Representatives. Following the election, members of the Republican caucus looked to select a new Minority Leader. Three members approached Ford to see if he would be willing to serve; after consulting with his family, he agreed. After a closely contested election, Ford was chosen to replace Charles Halleck of Indiana as Minority Leader.

As Minority Leader in the House, Ford appeared in a popular series of televised press conferences with famed Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen, in which they proposed Republican alternatives to Johnson's policies. Many in the press jokingly called this "The Ev and Jerry Show".

During the 8 years (1965–1973) he served as Minority Leader, Ford won many friends in the House because of his fair leadership and inoffensive personality. An office building in the U.S. Capitol Complex, House Annex 2, was renamed for Gerald Ford as the Ford House Office Building.

On October 10, 1973, Vice President Agnew resigned and then pleaded no contest to criminal charges of tax evasion and money laundering, part of a negotiated resolution to a scheme in which he accepted $29,500 in bribes while governor of Maryland. According to The New York Times, "Nixon sought advice from senior Congressional leaders about a replacement. The advice was unanimous. 'We gave Nixon no choice but Ford,' House Speaker Carl Albert recalled later".

Ford was nominated to take Agnew's position on October 12, the first time the vice-presidential vacancy provision of the 25th Amendment had been implemented. The United States Senate voted 92 to 3 to confirm Ford on November 27. Only three Senators, all Democrats, voted against Ford's confirmation: Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, Thomas Eagleton of Missouri and William Hathaway of Maine. On December 6, the House confirmed Ford by a vote of 387 to 35. One hour after the confirmation vote in the House, Ford took the oath of office as Vice President of the United States. Ford's brief tenure as Vice-President was little noted by the media as reporters were preoccupied by the continuing revelations about the Watergate scandal - a political scandal resulting from the discovery of a series of crimes committed during the 1972 presidential election and allegations of cover-ups by the White House.

Following Ford's appointment, the Watergate investigation continued until Chief of Staff Alexander Haig contacted Ford on August 1, 1974, and told him that "smoking gun" evidence had been found. The evidence left little doubt that President Nixon had been a part of the Watergate cover-up. At the time, Ford and his wife, Betty, were living in suburban Virginia, waiting for their expected move into the newly designated vice president's residence in Washington, D.C. However, "Al Haig [asked] to come over and see me," Ford later related, "to tell me that there would be a new tape released on a Monday, and he said the evidence in there was devastating and there would probably be either an impeachment or a resignation. And he said, 'I'm just warning you that you've got to be prepared, that things might change dramatically and you could become President.' And I said, 'Betty, I don't think we're ever going to live in the vice president's house."

When Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, Ford assumed the presidency, making him the only person to assume the presidency without having been previously voted into either the presidential or vice presidential office. Immediately after taking the oath of office in the East Room of the White House, he spoke to the assembled audience in a speech broadcast live to the nation.

On September 8, 1974, Ford issued Proclamation 4311, which gave Nixon a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes he might have committed against the United States while President. In a televised broadcast to the nation, Ford explained that he felt the pardon was in the best interests of the country, and that the Nixon family's situation "is a tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must." When he announced the Nixon pardon, Ford also introduced a conditional amnesty program for Vietnam War draft dodgers who had fled to countries such as Canada. Full pardon for the draft dodgers, however, did not come about until the Carter Administration.

After Ford left the White House in 1977, the former President privately justified his pardon of Nixon by carrying in his wallet a portion of the text of Burdick v. United States, a 1915 U.S. Supreme Court decision which stated that a pardon indicated a presumption of guilt, and that acceptance of a pardon was tantamount to a confession of that guilt. In 2001, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award to Ford for his pardon of Nixon. In presenting the award to Ford, Senator Ted Kennedy said that he had initially been opposed to the pardon of Nixon, but later stated that history had proved Ford to have made the correct decision.

On September 16, 1974, President Ford announced a program for the Return of Vietnam Era Draft Evaders and Military Deserters. This proved to be controversial, as it provided a means for those who were against the Vietnam War to erase any remaining criminal charges and for those who were given punitive discharges as a result of being against the war to have them converted to Clemency Discharges. The Proclamation established a Clemency Board to review the records and make recommendations for receiving a Presidential Pardon and a change in Military discharge status.

The economy was a great concern during the Ford administration. One of the first acts the new president took to deal with the economy was to create the Economic Policy Board by Executive Order on September 30, 1974. In response to rising inflation, Ford went before the American public in October 1974 and asked them to "Whip Inflation Now". As part of this program, he urged people to wear "WIN" buttons. At the time, inflation was believed to be the primary threat to the economy, more so than growing unemployment. They felt as though controlling inflation would work to fix unemployment. To rein in inflation, it was necessary to control the public's spending. To try to mesh service and sacrifice, "WIN" called for Americans to reduce their spending and consumption. On October 4, 1974, Ford gave a speech in front of a joint session of Congress and as a part of this speech kicked off the "WIN" campaign. Over the next nine days 101,240 Americans mailed in "WIN" pledges. In hindsight, this was viewed as simply a public relations gimmick without offering any means of solving the underlying problems. The main point of that speech was to introduce to Congress a one-year, five-percent income tax increase on corporations and wealthy individuals. This plan would also take $4.4 billion out of the budget bringing federal spending below $300 billion. At the time, inflation was over twelve percent.

Ford was an outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.

The federal budget ran a deficit every year Ford was President. Despite his reservations about how the program ultimately would be funded in an era of tight public budgeting, Ford signed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, which established special education throughout the United States. Ford expressed "strong support for full educational opportunities for our handicapped children" according to the official White House press release for the bill signing.

The economic focus began to change as the country sank into the worst recession since the Great Depression four decades earlier. The focus of the Ford administration turned to stopping the rise in unemployment, which reached nine percent in May 1975. In January 1975, Ford proposed a 1-year tax reduction of $16 billion to stimulate economic growth, along with spending cuts to avoid inflation. Ford was criticized greatly for quickly switching from advocating a tax increase to a tax reduction. In Congress, the proposed amount of the tax reduction increased to $22.8 billion in tax cuts and lacked spending cuts. In March 1975, Congress passed, and Ford signed into law, these income tax rebates as part of the Tax Reduction Act of 1975. This resulted in a federal deficit of around $53 billion for the 1975 fiscal year and $73.7 billion for 1976.

When New York City faced bankruptcy in 1975, Mayor Abraham Beame was unsuccessful in obtaining Ford's support for a federal bailout. The incident prompted the New York Daily News' famous headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead", referring to a speech in which "Ford declared flatly ... that he would veto any bill calling for 'a federal bail-out of New York City'". The following month, November 1975, Ford changed his stance and asked Congress to approve federal loans to New York City.

One of Ford's greatest challenges was dealing with the continued Vietnam War. American offensive operations against North Vietnam had ended with the Paris Peace Accords, signed on January 27, 1973. The accords declared a cease fire across both North and South Vietnam, and required the release of American prisoners of war. The agreement guaranteed the territorial integrity of Vietnam and, like the Geneva Conference of 1954, called for national elections in the North and South. The Paris Peace Accords stipulated a sixty-day period for the total withdrawal of U.S. forces.

The accords had been negotiated by United States National Security Advisor Kissinger and North Vietnamese politburo member Le Duc Tho. South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu was not involved in the final negotiations, and publicly criticized the proposed agreement. However, anti-war pressures within the United States forced Nixon and Kissinger to pressure Thieu to sign the agreement and enable the withdrawal of American forces. In multiple letters to the South Vietnamese president, Nixon had promised that the United States would defend his government, should the North Vietnamese violate the accords.

In December 1974, months after Ford took office, North Vietnamese forces invaded the province of Phuoc Long. General Trần Văn Trà sought to gauge any South Vietnamese or American response to the invasion, as well as to solve logistical issues before proceeding with the invasion.

As North Vietnamese forces advanced, Ford requested aid for South Vietnam in a $522 million aid package. The funds had been promised by the Nixon administration, but Congress voted against the proposal by a wide margin. Senator Jacob Javits offered "...large sums for evacuation, but not one nickel for military aid". President Thieu resigned on April 21, 1975, publicly blaming the lack of support from the United States for the fall of his country. Two days later, on April 23, Ford gave a speech at Tulane University. In that speech, he announced that the Vietnam War was over " far as America is concerned". The announcement was met with thunderous applause.

Ford faced two assassination attempts during his presidency, occurring within three weeks of each other and in the same state; while in Sacramento, California, on September 5, 1975, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, pointed a Colt .45-caliber handgun at Ford. As Fromme pulled the trigger, Larry Buendorf, a Secret Service agent, grabbed the gun and managed to insert the webbing of his thumb under the hammer, preventing the gun from firing. It was later found that, although the semi-automatic pistol had four cartridges in the magazine, the weapon had not been chambered, making it impossible for the gun to fire. Fromme was taken into custody; she was later convicted of attempted assassination of the President and was sentenced to life in prison; she was paroled on August 14, 2009.

In reaction to this attempt, the Secret Service began keeping Ford at a more secure distance from anonymous crowds, a strategy that may have saved his life seventeen days later; as he left the St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Francisco, Sara Jane Moore, standing in a crowd of onlookers across the street, pointed her .38-caliber revolver at him. Moore fired a single round but missed because the sights were off. Just before she fired a second round, retired Marine Oliver Sipple grabbed at the gun and deflected her shot; the bullet struck a wall about six inches above and to the right of Ford's head, then ricocheted and hit a taxi driver, who was slightly wounded. Moore was later sentenced to life in prison. She was paroled on December 31, 2007, having served 32 years.

Ford reluctantly agreed to run for office in 1976, but first he had to counter a challenge for the Republican party nomination. Former Governor of California Ronald Reagan and the party's conservative wing faulted Ford for failing to do more in South Vietnam, for signing the Helsinki Accords and for negotiating to cede the Panama Canal (negotiations for the canal continued under President Carter, who eventually signed the Torrijos-Carter Treaties). Reagan launched his campaign in autumn of 1975 and won several primaries before withdrawing from the race at the Republican Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. The conservative insurgency convinced Ford to drop the more liberal Vice President Nelson Rockefeller in favor of Kansas Senator Bob Dole.

Ford considered a run for the Republican nomination in 1980, foregoing numerous opportunities to serve on corporate boards to keep his options open for a grudge match with Carter. Ford attacked Carter's conduct of the SALT II negotiations and foreign policy in the Middle East and Africa. Many have argued that Ford also wanted to exorcise his image as an "Accidental President" and to win a term in his own right. Ford also believed the more conservative Ronald Reagan would be unable to defeat Carter and would hand the incumbent a second term. Ford was encouraged by his former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger as well as Jim Rhodes of Ohio and Bill Clements of Texas to make the race. On March 15, 1980, Ford announced that he would forgo a run for the Republican nomination, vowing to support the eventual nominee.

After securing the Republican nomination in 1980, Ronald Reagan considered his former rival Ford as a potential vice-presidential running mate, but negotiations between the Reagan and Ford camps at the Republican National Convention were unsuccessful. Ford conditioned his acceptance on Reagan's agreement to an unprecedented "co-presidency", giving Ford the power to control key executive branch appointments (such as Kissinger as Secretary of State and Alan Greenspan as Treasury Secretary). After rejecting these terms, Reagan offered the vice-presidential nomination instead to George H.W. Bush.

In October 2001, Ford broke with conservative members of the Republican party by stating that gay and lesbian couples "ought to be treated equally. Period." He became the highest ranking Republican to embrace full equality for gays and lesbians, stating his belief that there should be a federal amendment outlawing anti-gay job discrimination and expressing his hope that the Republican Party would reach out to gay and lesbian voters. He also was a member of the Republican Unity Coalition, which The New York Times described as "a group of prominent Republicans, including former President Gerald R. Ford, dedicated to making sexual orientation a non-issue in the Republican Party".

Ford died on December 26, 2006, at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, of arteriosclerotic cerebrovascular disease and diffuse arteriosclerosis. His age at the time of his death was 93 years and 165 days, making Ford the longest-lived U.S. President. On December 30, 2006, Ford became the 11th U.S. President to lie in state. The burial was preceded by a state funeral and memorial services held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on January 2, 2007. After the service, Ford was interred at his Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Ford died on the 34th anniversary of President Harry Truman's death, thus becoming the second U.S. President to die on Boxing Day. He was the last surviving member of the Warren Commission. His wife, Betty Ford, died on July 8, 2011. Like her husband, Betty also died at age 93. They are the longest lived Presidential couple.

Ford was the only person to hold the presidential office without being elected as president nor vice-president. The choice of Ford to fulfill Agnew's vacated role as vice president was based on his reputation for openness and honesty.

Sources: Wikipedia

This work released through CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tips For Longer Living

Everybody seems to be on this health kick. Everyone wants to live longer. Well, anyone can tell you how to do this, but there is a question I ask and I shall ask it after we go through all the things that will keep you on this earth a few extended years.

I think the first thing that jumps right out at us is to eat better. Eat more fruits and vegetables. A healthier diet is always key to better health. Especially your greens. One of my favorites to eat is broccoli. I also eat a lot of mushrooms and onions. In the summer, I eat at least two days a week, nothing but garden fresh salads. Sometimes three days. But fruits are essential as well. Normally, when I take a day to eat nothing but a salad, I also throw in various fruits into the mix. At least once a month I make sure I eat pineapple, purple and green grapes, green apples, peaches, banana's, and pears. I also drink a lot more orange juice in the summer too.

I also cut down on the meats in hotter weather. Drink at least a half gallon of water a day, and then do what we all know helps our health, walk.

Yes, you heard me, walk, instead of running or jogging. It's actually better for you. Less impact on your body, especially your feet. A nice five mile walk everyday does the trick where cardiovascular is concerned.

Something not to do is smoke. I suppose that goes without saying. Maybe doing a few push-ups every now and then wouldn't kill you either. Even some sit-ups.

Stay away from the booze and the drugs, the junk food, the fast food, pizza's. Yeah, sure, we get that already, right?

Sometimes a cup of coffee and or tea wouldn't hurt. Especially herbal teas. A little chocolate and a glass of wine now and then will also help your health, provided you do it in moderation. Inversion also helps promote good health. I use a Teeter Inversion for that. If you can't afford one, try laying head first on your back on a children's playground slide. That can be used as a sort of supplement. Or you can hang upside down on some monkey bars. Just make sure you clean out your pockets first.

Okay, if you do all of these things, you'll live to be a hundred, right?

Well, first of all, wrong!

Second of all, why would you want to live to be a hundred?

We'll start with the first of all first. Just because you do all of these things to safe guard your health doesn't mean you will live longer. It might help your chances, however, you can't predict accidents. You know, an auto accident or maybe you get gunned down in a movie theater. Or perhaps you visit Florida and run into George Zimmerman. You just never know. 

It's also worth mentioning that just because you don't smoke cigarettes, or take in the alleged second hand smoke, it doesn't mean you won't get any kind of cancer. The truth is, every human being is born with cancer cells that lie dormant until they decide to become active. some times they don't. Where cancer is concerned, it's just the luck of the draw. (Or bad luck of the draw as the case may be.) Still, not all smokers get cancer and not all non smokers are immune from it. 

Now for the second of all. Honestly, why would you want to live to be a hundred? Statistics say that 95 percent of people who live to be ninety years old, have no control of their faculties, or are dependent upon others for their care. You are apt to lose control of your bowels / bladders, and will probably be frail as a twig. Your mind may not be there like it used to, and there's a pretty good chance you won't be able to drive either. Eyes can go bad. Basically, with old age, your body starts to break down at some point. It's just a fact of Mother Nature, and biology. 

So again, I ask the question - Why? Why spend the final days of your life not being able to do the things you love to do? What's the point? 

I see how the elderly are. I see my mother and how she has become a different person due to old age. She is slower when she walks, forgetful at times. I see them always taking their pills for this or for that. Maybe it's just me, but life isn't worth all of that. In fact, life is to be lived, not tolerated. By living I mean, I like to smoke. I like to drink. I like to get up and go whenever I decide to. I just don't think I would enjoy life if I ever get to the point where I can't defend myself against some punk attacker. Or if I couldn't drive my car where ever and whenever I like. Not to mention, bald hair and shriveled testies and or missing all of my teeth doesn't sound very exciting to me. 

I think when I get to a point in my life when I am becoming more and more restricted in my movements and thoughts, then that would be right about the time I would be more welcoming of death. Let's face it, without death, then what is life really all about? 

So sure, you can do all the things that make and keep you healthy. Eat all the things that will help you live longer, but you don't have to go overboard with it. You can still enjoy a Big Mac and a Whopper. You can still eat those curly fries. Go ahead, have some chicken and steak. Pig out on those chips and donuts. Go out there and have some fun in life. It's the things that are bad for you that makes life worth living in the first place. And if you fall to your death sky diving, at least you got to sky dive before you died, you know? 

You only get one spin around the board, this aint Monopoly. Get out there and do the things you love to do. Hang with the people you love to hang with. Eat what makes you happy. Just get out there and enjoy your life. Don't worry it away over death. Trust me, when it's over, it's over. That awesome double cheeseburger isn't going to cut your life short because the truth is, nobody is promised any amount of time on this earth. Nobody! And right before I die, I want to be able to smile and recall that earlier in the day, I had that last cheeseburger, or that last smoke, or that last drink. Heck, maybe if I'm lucky, I even had my last piece of tail. 

Oh yeah, I will die with a smile indeed. 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Room - By Carroll Bryant

It starts out the same every time. I am walking through the doors of a mansion, entering always through the kitchen. The ground level only has the big kitchen, a dining room and a study. There are steps that lead upstairs, but I take the stairs that lead down into the basement, but it's not really a basement. It strikes me more as a lower level section that appears more like a living room. It is grand in size.

My furniture is already there, waiting for me. Everything was delivered and placed into their proper rooms by the movers. Everything except my bedroom furniture. It was left in the living room. "What the hell?" I think to myself.

I am alone. My confusion as to why the movers did not take my bedroom furniture upstairs to the first floor is confounding to say the least. I clearly left instructions for them to place them in the first door to the left at the top of the stairs. How in the world am I going to be able to carry my dresser up there by myself?

I take in a heavy sigh before heading back up to the kitchen. I then head to the stairs that lead up to the first floor. Once I get to the top, I gaze down the long hallway. There are sixteen rooms on this level. I turn the knob of the door that was supposed to be my bedroom. I open it and look inside. Just as I thought, barren. "Damn it." I muttered.

I close the door and start to turn to head back down when I hear a noise. It sounded like someone turning a door knob. I turn back quickly only to notice that one of the doors had come ajar, and was slightly open. I tilt my head, then slowly walk to it, never taking my eyes off it.

When I look inside, I see stairs that go upward. How did I miss this when I first looked at this place? Oh wait, that's right, I did try to open this door once, but it was locked. The realtor must have found the key and unlocked it for me.

Out of curiosity, I slowly climb the stairs. They go up about 20 steps before turning to the left, and I take the last few steps before I find myself looking at another room, fully carpeted, and boxes all over the place along with stacks of magazines.

Even from where I stand, I can see what are in the boxes. More magazines. They're not your average kind of magazines, they are pornographic magazines. Just hundreds and hundreds of them.

I make my way slowly further into the room. I start to dig into a few boxes, and yes, more pornographic magazines. "What the hell?" I again softly utter in total and complete bewilderment. I finally make my way to the far end of the room, stepping around all these boxes. I come to another level where one step, and I am looking at more boxes except, inside of these boxes there are nothing but sex toys. All kinds of different colored dildos, and all different sizes. I can't figure this out. "Somebody had issues." I reasoned.

I then find myself looking at the window. It reminds me of a stained glass window you would see inside a church.

Suddenly, I get this uneasy feeling that I am being watched. Worse than that, I feel the presence of evil. I quickly become uncomfortable. I don't want to show my fear so I slowly begin to casually walk back to the steps. That evil feeling gets stronger. There is something definitely watching me.

Right about the time I get to the top of the steps to go down, something grabs me by my right ankle. I jerk my leg as hard as I can but whatever has me, won't let go. It begins to pull me back into the center of the room. I fall on my back and start struggling with it. I am using my left leg to kick at whatever it is, but there is nothing there for me to kick.

I quickly reach out, turning onto my stomach, and grabbing the edge of the top step to prevent this thing from pulling me. I fight hard to drag myself to the edge, still kicking at the air. Slowly but surely, I crawl down the stairs one step at a time, still with this unseen force pulling me by the ankle. I finally get halfway out the door when my ankle is released.

I roll myself out into the hallway, and quickly jump to my feet, and race down the hall to the other stairway. I hear the door to that room slam shut as I practically leap down to the kitchen.

I stand there, breathing heavy as I stare at the stairs that lead up to the first floor. "What in the hell is that?" I wondered.

The second time around, I find myself sitting in the living room. I am in my bed watching TV. I look to the stairs that lead up to the kitchen. I know now what is inside that room on the first floor. I don't want to go back up there, but my strange appeal to the room overrides all of my fears. I climb up the steps to the ground level and stand before the stairs that lead to the first floor hallway. I can feel the evil exuding from this distance. Without any true knowledge as to why, I climb the stairs again and find myself staring down the hall and at that door.

It was closed at first as I slowly begin to walk towards it. Halfway down the hall, it opens by itself, almost like it was expecting me to return.

Standing at the bottom of the steps that lead up back inside that dreaded room, the evil swells inside my body. I never felt such evil before. Damn it, I have to go back up there to that room. I don't why, I simply must.

Before I knew it, I was standing at the top and once again, found myself looking at the magazines and the sex toys. I sat down on the floor and started looking through some of the pages of some of the magazines. They were arousing me. I then hear the door below slam shut. I was trapped. I jumped to my feet and raced down the steps but couldn't get the door open. Something had grabbed my right ankle again and tried to pull me back up. I got halfway when I was able to somehow break free from the grip and bull rushed myself through the door.

It flung open and I toppled onto the floor in the hallway. I got up and ran back down to the kitchen, listening once again to the door slamming shut behind me.

"I'm never going up to that room again." I heard myself say. "In fact, I am never going up to the hallway ever again." I swore even more vigorously.

The third time, I found myself once again in the living room entertaining a friend. "Nice place." He complimented. "Why do you sleep down here though? Don't you have sixteen rooms upstairs on the first floor?"

"I don't want to talk about it." I replied.

"Come on dude," He pleads, "take me on a tour. I want to see the rest of the house."

"I don't want to." I said. "There's something not right going on up there."

He looked at me intensely. "What do you mean?"

I then figured that maybe I would be safe from the evil entity if I had someone else with me. I also thought that whatever it was, maybe it wouldn't show itself if I had someone else with me. I decided to accommodate him and so I led the way.

We found ourselves looking into the rooms one by one. My friend quickly noticed the obvious. "Dude, you have absolutely no furniture in any of these rooms."

I shrugged my shoulders.

Then we found ourselves standing in front of that door. It was closed. My friend took a hold of the knob and turned it. He pulled the door open. "Where do these stairs lead?" He asked.

"Another room." I answered.

His curiosity got the better of him. I followed closely behind. We made it to the top and he stopped dead in his tracks. "The mother lode." He whispered. "Holy shit, dude, are these your magazines?"

"They were here when I moved in." I explained. I don't think he believed me.

He looked like a kid in a candy store as he made his way to the middle of the room. I lingered behind. He placed himself on the floor and started digging into the boxes and looking at the magazines. "I wouldn't do that if I were you." I warned.

He paid me no attention. Before long, he got back to his feet and wandered over to the back end and up on the other level and started pulling out the dildos. "That has got to hurt." He reasoned, holding up a huge one to display with a smile on his face. "Have you used any of them yet?" He questioned.

"Dude!" I exclaimed. "Get real."

I knew he was only joking, but still, it was a nasty joke.

Then I felt it again, that evil presence. Within moments, I could see on his face a look that told me he was feeling it too. "I want to leave." He spoke nervously, placing the dildo back into the box as he started to make his way towards me.

All of a sudden, he screams in total horror. "Help me!"

Something had grabbed him by the ankle. I raced over to take his out stretched hand and I pulled with all my strength. By the time I dragged him to the top of the steps, the entity released him and he and I both stumbled down the stairs and out into the hall. Clear of the door, we laid there and watched the door close by itself.

My friend jumped to his feet and took off like a lightning bolt. I was close behind him. I watched as he ran out the kitchen door. "Good luck with that!" He cried out, getting into his car and vanishing into the distance.

These dreams began about 15 years ago. I have had about nine more since. In every one of the dreams after that third one, I have never gone back up into that room. I know when I am in this dream that I am in it, and I know what waits up there. Some kind of evil.

I have, on a few other occasions, made it back up to the hallway, and stood there looking at the door. Every time, it is closed when I look at it and then it opens, almost like it is inviting me back up. I never accept the invitation.

In the dream, my friend has never returned to visit. I can't say I blame him.

I don't know what that evil entity is. I often think that perhaps it is Satan himself. This confuses me because I am a Pantheist. I don't believe in heaven and hell or God and Satan in the same context as most religious people do. I simply believe in energy. Good and bad. And that good and bad energy exists in us all at the same time. But whatever is residing in that room of porn, is nothing but a bad energy. A really bad energy.

I don't believe that energy wants to harm me, but it is still evil. I can feel it. Sometimes I think I should just go back into that room and see it through. Maybe then I would discover what that entity is and what it wants from me. Maybe it just wants to have sex with me, I don't know. Then sometimes, I wish these dreams would just stop.

Oh, how I dread that dream.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Chillicothe Police Department Bully Citizen

It is with great regret that I have to write this post. Chillicothe, Ohio is made up of good people. Good hard working people. Chillicothe is a caring and giving community rich in tradition. The one thing they do not deserve is questionable law enforcement department known as the Chillicothe Police Department. I discovered this on April 1st, 2014. And no, this is not an April fools joke. Oh, how I wish it were though.

Let me set the scene:

I traveled to Chillicothe, Ohio from my home in Piketon. As usual, I left to go visit my mother and take her out to lunch. We always go over my financial affairs on the first of every month. She is, for the better part, my accountant.

Once we concluded lunch, I then went to go visit a good friend at The Pump House Art Gallery in Chillicothe, Ohio. It sits on the edge of Yoctangee Park. The park was brimming with hundreds of people out that day to enjoy, for once in a long while, some good weather finally. People having picnics, playing basketball, skateboarding, jogging, you name it. Everyone was seemingly having a real good time.

I got to speak to my friend, and in doing so, was invited to sit in with some members of the local art league meeting. However, it was about five o'clock and the meeting wasn't to start until around 6:30 PM or 7:00 PM.

I accepted the invitation.

To kill some time until then, I went to the library and hung out for a while. Then I went and bought a DVD, "Ironman 3". I then arrived back at the parking lot of the gallery, which was full of cars and people still scattered all about, where I parked my car, got out and sat on the back, on the trunk. I wasn't sitting for three minutes at best when a police car drove by, making the rounds. The officer inside looked right at me for some reason. It wasn't like I was sticking out or anything, but he stared me down as he passed by none the less. I was wearing my sunglasses and smoking a cigarette, and drinking a Mountain Dew. I was enjoying the breeze on such a warm day.

I didn't think much about it when he passed, and continued to sit there quietly, keeping to myself as I waited for my friend to show up so I could volunteer my time to help him with a project.

About ten minutes later, that same police officer made another pass. Like the first time, his eyes looked straight at me. This time, I got an uneasy feeling inside. It was at this moment when I realized what was about to go down. My instincts are almost always accurate. I know law enforcement all too well. The bad side of it, anyway. I used to assist law enforcement back in the day in Columbus. I know all of their tricks and tactics. I also knew what this officer was up to.

No more than five minutes later, the officer came back around again. This time, however, he pulled into the parking lot. Another police vehicle followed closely behind him. He pulled up to me, stopped the car, and got out. The officer in the other vehicle doing the same.

He approached me slowly. I studied him as in depth as he studied me. He stood for about five seconds in front me, about ten feet away, and waited for the other officer to approach before he opened his stupid mouth. "How you doing today?" He asked. I slid off the trunk and stood there before him, looking down at him. "I'm doing just fine." I replied.

Then he went into explaining his presence. "Got a call into the station. Someone reported a strange man going around and talking to people at random in the park. I was wondering if that was you?"

"No you didn't." I shot back. The officer cocked his head. "Excuse me?" He uttered. I rushed to clarify for him. "You didn't get a call." I informed him. "I saw you pass me twice in the past fifteen minutes."

"We got a call from a concerned citizen." He lied again. (I knew he was lying, and so did he.) "You weren't going around talking to people?"

"I haven't said one word to anyone," I told him, "nor has anyone said one word to me."

The officer persisted in playing his little game. "So what are you doing here?" He questioned.

I chuckled mockingly while shaking my head. "Well, it is a public park, I could just be enjoying the weather, but if you must know, I am waiting for my friend to arrive so I can help him with a fund raiser. Or is that against the law in Chillicothe?"

"You have an ID on you?' He pushed. I nodded my head and answered. "Yes."

The officer waited for a few seconds. "Well, can I see it?"

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my wallet. "The proper way to ask is, may I see it, and yes, you may."

I handed it over to the other cop who was standing to my left. He took it and walked to his vehicle to run a check. The officer in front of me went right into explaining once again, the purpose for the intrusion. "Like I said, we got an anonymous complaint by a concerned citizen of a suspicious character and you match the description. Blonde hair, black jeans, sunglasses and wearing an Ohio State Buckeyes jacket."

I lifted my hand up to stop him. "No you didn't." I again called his bluff. "You didn't get a call. You and I both know what's going on here so quit your lying. But hey, it's okay, I'm used to law enforcement violating my rights. Why should you be any different?"

The officer gave me somewhat of a dirty look. Up to that point, I was nothing but smiles. Well, a smirky kind of smile anyway, maybe a smug one. Only when he gave me that dirty look did I transform my smirk into a dirty look of my own at him.

A few minutes later, the other officer approached and handed me my license. I took it and placed it back into my wallet and placed that back in my pocket. I quickly responded. "Are we okay here, gentlemen, or what?" - Emphasizing the "or what".

The two officers convened for a few moments before breaking up the punk fest. One of them simply gave me a nod and they both walked back to their cars. "Have a nice day, boys." I uttered. The officer I had been speaking with stopped suddenly and turned around to face me. He still had that dirty look on his face. It appeared that he wanted to say something. I kept returning that dirty look. "Something else on your mind?" I asked him.

He didn't respond. He turned away and got back into his car. They both pulled out slowly, still giving me the once over upon their exit of the parking lot before driving out of sight.

My evening went on as scheduled without further incident. When my time was finished, I returned home. I gave a friend of mine on the police force a call to inquire about this alleged complaint. My friend checked into it and then told me that no complaint was recorded for the incident. I knew then that my gut feeling was correct, I had just been punked by the Chillicothe Police Department. That officer was lying. For had there been a complaint lodged, it would have been recorded in their daily log.

This is very disappointing. That officer had no right to approach me what so ever. It's always disappointing when a tough guy wannabe wearing a badge violates an American citizens constitutional rights. Even more disappointing that it was a punk law enforcement officer of the Chillicothe Police Department. Then again, I shouldn't have been too surprised, after all, it all begins and ends with leadership, and that would be the chief of police. The chief himself was investigated about a year or so ago for an assault at a local bar one night after he went out and got all liquored up. He picked a fight with the wrong man and got his ass whipped something awful. Story has it that when he reached for his gun, he got his ass whipped even more, and the man that did it took his gun away from him. He was also under investigation for other offenses as well that included speeding, reckless driving, and abuse of power. I suppose with leadership like that, it's no wonder that the Chillicothe Police Department would be nothing more than a bunch of rogue cops on a power-trip.

This action, accompanied with my documented run-ins with local officers in Piketon, is further proof for me that America is not a free country. Law enforcement has way too much power and they are abusing it across the land. Incidents like this are not just isolated in Ohio. It's in every state and every city and town in America. I estimate about 90 percent of all law enforcement, local, state and federal, are corrupt. But for anyone living outside of the USA thinking that they would like to come to America and get a taste of freedom, they will be sorely disappointed. Freedom in America is just a myth, I'm sad to report.

One thing is for certain though, the good people of Chillicothe, Ohio do not deserve this kind of police department. They deserve better. I'm pretty sure all law-abiding Americans deserve better, but this is what you get when a country like America runs scared after the beat down it received from the terrorists years ago. And make no mistake, we got our asses kicked by those people. The whole entire nation is living in fear of everything that blows in the wind. However, all that aside, it's still no excuse for law enforcement to go around and violate the rights of its citizens. It's also no excuse for those law enforcement communists of Chillicothe, Ohio to go around violating the rights of its citizens, and in broad daylight at that. No excuse what so ever!

If by chance anyone from the Chillicothe Police Department is reading this, and wishes to contact me to discuss this matter, you can find my contact information up top of my blog. I'm not difficult to find. However, if you do contact me, and think intimidation of threats will scare me down, think again. I am not one who is easily intimidated by anybody. I don't fear law breaking punks. Thought you just might like to know.

Meanwhile, my advice to the Chillicothe Police Department, and all law enforcement across America at any and all levels is; STOP VIOLATING THE RIGHTS OF YOUR CITIZENS!!!!!

In essence, stop being communist cowards that hide behind your badges. But hey, that's just my advice. And since I can't fight back in the streets without getting gunned down and murdered in cold blood, I will just have to settle with fighting back on this blog. My blog. In the end, I think the message will be sent loud and clear. That message is this: You can't police your community with fear. Trust me on this, it's better to police with respect. Try it sometime, you might be surprised at the results.