Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Anyways, here's a gaggle of links about the dude to whet your interest in his work.
Boston Globe article about crime fiction
The Amazing Zeltser-Man (Bleeker Books)
Dave Zeltserman's page at CrimeSpace
Dave Zeltserman's website
"The Myth of Publishing" by Dave Zeltserman
Friday, May 27, 2011
The 42-year old Ponzo had been indicted in 1997, along with 14 other men, of numerous federal charges. These included racketeering, conspiracy, murder and attempted murder. During a gang war in 1989, Ponzo and his pals had murdered three other hoods and tried to whack at least seven more. He was allegedly one of a group of masked gunmen who had assaulted “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, the head of the Patriarca family of the New England Cosa Nostra, at a Saugus IHOP. By 1994, however, Ponzo had skipped town to escape drug charges, and nobody had seen his butt since.
It must have been hard to top such an impressively active youth, but Enrico tried. He fulfilled the American Dream of owning a ranch in The West. He became a well-liked resident of Marsing, Idaho, calling himself Jeffrey John Shaw (“Jay” for short) and traipsing around in “bib overalls and a straw hat”. This idyll, which sounds like an episode of Crime Story morphing into Green Acres, came to an end this spring – and very possibly for reasons of sentiment. It turns out he was engaged in a custody battle for the children he'd had with his estranged girlfriend. As the battle heated up, he began to take risks by asserting his false identity in court documents and whatnot, and that may have drawn the notice of the Feds. This is one lesson that any Anti-Hero of Classic Noir could have taught him. Never Get Emotionally Involved – especially when you're on the lam.
His newfound friends said he was a great guy, always ready to fix your computer or to get jiggy in front of a Wii screen. The quality of his friends makes you wonder though. After he was arrested, several of those same buddies were themselves arrested for "using a jackhammer to break through the foundation of Mr. Ponzo’s house, then using a blowtorch to open a steel safe beneath the floor and stealing more than $100,000 in cash, as well as gold and other valuables."
Enrico Ponzo (Boston Globe)
Fugitive wanted for attempted Saugus mob murder arrested in Idaho (Wicked Local News)
Enrico Ponzo Captured (Huffington Post)
While the mystery of who Enrico Ponzo is has been solved, other questions remain (Idaho Statesman)
An Ardent Friend Forever; Then Came the Theft Charges (New York Times)
Idaho Rancher Revealed as Gangster From Boston (New York Times)
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
The original novel was the first one George V. Higgins published, after 17 failed attempts, and he went on to write more than twenty others before he died in 1999 at the age of fifty-nine. He also had a busy career as a U.S. Attorney. His books are unique in that they are written almost entirely in dialogue, usually profane and often very lengthy, the same guy talking on for pages. The movie script for Eddie Coyle was nearly catatonic in comparison. He presents an interesting contrast with Robert B. Parker. They were both born in the 1930’s, started publishing around the same time and cranked out reams of stuff about their chosen territories. Yet Parker remains an icon of detective fiction while Higgins is scarcely remembered.
For an interesting tidbit about the movie, consider that the bank robber Jimmy Scalise was played by Alex Rocco. Rocco was a native of Cambridge, Mass. who grew up in Somerville and hung out with Whitey Bulger’s Winter Hill gang in his youth. According to Wikipedia, he was involved in an incident that set off “the Boston Irish Gang War of the 1960’s”. Young Rocco had the good sense to leave Boston for California, change his name (from Petricone) and become an actor. All of us miscreants should make such lucky choices in our own lives.
George V. Higgins (Wikipedia)
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Wikipedia)
Alex Rocco (Wikipedia)
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Amazon.com)
Obituary - George V. Higgins (The Independent)
Thursday, May 19, 2011
The latest legal moniker for bad kids is "youthful offender". It isn't very Latinate and it doesn't have the musty bureaucratic quality of the older term. It doesn't evoke police stations with file cabinets against the walls and typewriters on the desks, judges sentencing you to the "reformatory", and grimly hysterical mothers in flounced dresses weeping themselves silly. The "youthful" part of it makes the term sound almost hopeful, as if the "offender" deserves to be treated lightly and given another chance. As such, it conjures up, if not police precincts and the courts, the Politically Correct dictatorship of a college campus, in which everything that is said, about anyone, must be neutral and respectful and only blandly descriptive. "Youthful offender" is actually an even purer, fakier euphemism - surely one that can never face up to the reality of fourteen year old sociopaths with souls as old as evil itself. The only good thing about it is that it sounds so lightweight and stupid that no self-respecting "bad kid" would want to claim the title. It almost sounds like something your mother would say. That is, if she were some middle class Pollyanna who smelled nice and belonged to a book club. Nowadays, about the only time you hear even a faint echo of the older term is when Chris Meloni refers to "juvie" in Law And Order: Special Victims - and I'll bet there are more than a few kids who, with puzzled looks on their faces, ask their parents WTF that means.
Juvenile delinquency (Wikipedia)
Juvenile delinquent (Definition)
Youthful offenders (Definition)
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
James Alan Fox (Wikipedia)
Dr. Fox's "Crime and Punishment" blog (Boston.com)
Dr. Fox's books (Amazon.com)
1) While the homicide acquittal rate for urban counties nationwide was 6 percent, 27 percent of homicide cases brought to trial in Boston in the eight years prior to 2005 had resulted in acquittals.
2) When the murder victims were black males between 17 and 35, the arrest rate was only 31 percent.
3) Boston’s murder rate between 2001 and 2005 increased more than 50 percent over the rate for the previous four years, while at the same time the homicide rate had been declining in most American cities.
I would imagine the Boston police department has made some effort to rectify these shortcomings since then, but they don’t indicate a healthy trend. And, hey, some of my own relatives were Boston area cops. One of my Irish grandfather’s cousins became a cop back in the day, and so did a couple of his sons. Get your act together, boyos – if you haven’t already.
And, you know, Free Speech, dudes!
The Worst Homicide Squad In The Country (Boston Phoenix)
George Nassar (Wikipedia)
The Boston Strangler (Tru TV)
Article in the North Andover Eagle-Tribune
Monday, May 9, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Dennis Lehane (Wikipedia)
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
The first time was when some freakin' college kid bolted out the front door with a two-liter bottle of Coke and a ginormous bag of chips. "Hey!" I shouted, and I jumped out from behind the counter, left the store and starting chasing him. After half a block, I was gaining on him so Chariots-of-Fire-ishly well that I knew I was going to catch him. My "man of action" spontaneity, which I would have been so proud of at any other time, had left me in the lurch. What was I gonna do if I did catch him? I'd have to tackle the dude, which means the two-liter Coke would probably burst and the chips would be crushed. No saving the merchandise there. What would I do to him? Beat him up? For chips and a Coke? After a few nanoseconds invested in this ethical quandary, I realized that the convenience store was wide open, with no one guarding anything. I stopped chasing the guy just as I was about to... Never mind. I doubled back, resumed my post, and saved the day - or, rather, the night.
The second time I was robbed, I barely even knew it was happening. After a busy night, with all sorts of folks in and out, I had closed the place down at 4:00 AM, as usual, to swab down the floor and had gone into the back to get the mop and bucket. I saw this wiry young black dude astraddle the door between the back of the coolers, where we kept the milk and shit, and the back room itself, where we kept the cash. The dude saw me, I saw him, noted where he was, and darted my eyes toward the cash drawer, which still looked closed. Naturally, I assumed I'd caught him in the act or - so I hoped - right before the act. I had no weapon on me, so I wasn't exactly gonna to perform a frickin', ahem...(drum roll here please)... "Citizen's Arrest". So I just said, "Hey, you can't be back here. You got to go." He mumbled something I remember not, and I said, "Come on..." With his electrically guilty little eyes darting all over my twenty-something six-foot-one-ishness, he mumbled some other unintelligible damn thing and pointed at his sock, which seemed to have a lump in it. Maybe he needed some ice, I dumbly thought, but ultimately I didn't give a shit. I just wanted to hustle the guy out the door so I could finish what I started. Three hours later, at the end of my shift, when I went into the back again to replenish the till, I noticed the cash drawer had this tell-tale V-shaped dent where it had been jimmied open just far enough that you could reach down with your hand and... I opened the drawer. The 200 dollars (or whatever the fuck it was) that we kept in the drawer was gone. It was now the lump in that little black dude's sock. I went into the back of the coolers where I'd first seen the dude, and found a tire iron resting on an orange crate. It had been within his reach when I caught him, and if I had made a fuss... I kept a cool head throughout, pretty much amazed that I still had a head intact enough to keep cool at all. I kept such a cool head, in fact, that the fuckin' cops gave ME the fish-eye when I gave them the guided tour of the crime scene. When the store manager finally arrived to relieve me - this petite four-eyed blonde with a demeanor depleted of moxie by excessive "good breeding" - she asked me in the meekest of voices why I had not detained the black dude. I looked at her like she was whack. What did she expect me to do? Wrestle him to the ground? Lock him in the store, leaving him to destroy everything in sight, while I hightailed it to the nearest police cruiser? I quit that day and never worked at any of those fuckin' places ever again. There is just so much you can expect a guy to sacrifice for the minimum wage.