Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gangsters, Strippers, Punkers, Gays & Musicians A History Of The Kerryman

In Chicago's river north neighborhood at the northest corner of Clark and Erie is an Irsh bar by the name of the Kerryman. For more than a century this building has hosted a variety of drinking establishments. The one more or less consistent theme has been music among those who have appeared here are The Dead Kennedy's. The Replacemats,Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and a singing Dion O'Banion. It's been the cities biggest strip club and home to Chicago's first live DJ gay disco.

Below are a couple of then and now photos but to get the full story you'll have to watch the embedded video newly uploaded on out ChiTownView YouTube station.

                                         Photo by Ken Mierzwa

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lightnin Hopkins / Strikes Again, A Briefcase Of Blues Pt.1

Chicago's Bluesfest is coming up June 12 – 14 down in Grant Park. It's always a good time although I prefer to go down during the day and check out the action on the smaller stages rather than taking in the main acts at night. I also like wandering over a couple of blocks to Millers Pub to slake my thirst rather than deal with the hassle of getting beer at the fest. It's a great way to recharge your batteries.

If you want to see this years completelineup follow this link. We'll be posting more on the fest later because today we are posting on another matter of the blues.

Coincidentally I have a good friend who has lived in the same apartment for a long, long time and has accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. He recently got the word his building was sold and he had to clear out his storage locker so he has been cleaning house. So he calls to me the other day to see if I want a briefcase full of blues tapes.

Being something of a pack rat myself I said sure and drove over to pick it up. It was one of those monster cases that hold 120 tapes and man it was heavy, in the physical sense. After I got it home cracked it open I discovered it was heavy in the metaphoric sense as well. This was more of a goldmine than a briefcase. It was a superb collection of tapes offering a musical journey. If I still had a tape player.

My original intent was to put the whole thing on eBay and try and make a quick buck. Once I saw what was inside a better plan came to mind. Since I still did have a tape player why not dive in listen to some of the tapes. Then share what I've heard here on my blog taking you along with my journey.

So we begin with Lightnin Hopkins “Strikes Again” a cassette on the Collectables label #5216. The keyword on this collection of tunes would be laid back. If your looking for frenetic guitar solos and searing vocals this is not the set for you. On the other hand if you'd like some easy going “front porch” style blues this one comes up aces and you should defiantly check it out.

The LP was originally released on Home Cooking records during the 1970's. Here is the recording info I got from the book “Lightnin Hopkins His Life & Blues”
Recorded 4/11&12/1968 ACA Studios in Houston Texas. Lighting Hopkins guitar & vocals, Cedric Haywood piano, Lawrence Evans bass & Ben Turner drums.
Side 1; Born in the Bottom, Mojo Hand, The World's in a Tangle, I Went to Louisiana, Feel Like Balling the Jack
Side 2; A Man Like Me Is Hard to Find, Go Ahead, I Wonder Where She Can Be Tonight?, Old Man, Movin' Out, Crying For Bread

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Early Chicago History, The Cities 1st Murder & The Fort Dearborn Massacre

Chicago, the windy city, hog butcher to the world, slab city, the wickedest city in the world from its earliest days it has been known for vice, corruption and murder. It was not a very pleasant area before it was settled just a low, wet expanse of sloughs and bogs. The river was full of wild rice, the banks teemed with skunk cabbage and wild onions. This is why the natives called the area Chickagou meaning bad smell.

We here at ChiTownView have tracked the history of organized crime from the 1850's on. We've chronicled the likes of; Mike McDonald, Roger Plant, Big Jim Colosimo, Al Capone, Franks Nitti, Tony Accardo, Sam Giancana and many others. In this clip we go back to Chicago's very beginning and tell a tale of corruption, murder and a massacre that wiped out the early settlement.

Chicago's first permanent resident was Jean Du Sable a black man from the island of Hispaniola. He lived where the Chicago River emptied into Lake Michigan which at the time was just east Michigan Ave. Du Sable lived on the north side near where Tribune Tower now sits. His residence lasted from 1779 to 1800 when he sold his property to Jean LaLime an agent for land speculator William Burnett. Thus LaLime became the city's first permanent European resident. He lived there until 1804 when Burnett sold the property to John Kinzie, another of his agents. LaLime moved across the river into the newly constructed Fort Dearborn. There he worked as an interpreter for the army. Kinzie an Indian trader went on to become the unelected leader of the settlement that soon grew around the fort.

Among the items Kinzie was trading to the Indians was alcohol which eventually led to him conflict with Fort Dearborn's commander Capt. John Whistler. Apparently in another grand Chicago tradition the fix was in and in 1810 Whistler and his senior officers were replaced. The new commandant was Capt. Nathan Heald. On June 17 1812 Jean Lalime became Chicago's first murder victim when he was stabbed by Kinzie. Kinzie was exonerated by an inquest held by Capt. Herald but speculation was Lalime was a spy informing on corruption going on at the fort. LaLime would go on to become one of Chicago's first ghosts. When the first Chicago Historical Society opened it's new museum at the northwest corner of Dearborn & Ontario in 1890 one of the exhibits were the bones of Jean LaLime. Since that time there have been numerous reports of ghostly goings on at this location. We have posted a video of thelocation that you can see.

The bones of Jean LaLime?

At that time American and Britain were fighting the War of 1812 and throughout the northwest territories Indian tribes were joining the British to fight the invading Americans. By August 12 local Indian tribes, the Pottawatomie and Wynado, had surrounded the fort with hundreds of braves. Captain Herald struck a deal with the Indian chiefs for safe passage in exchange for whiskey and guns. When they heard of the deal Herald's officers rose in revolt against this bargain the weapons were destroyed and whiskey poured into the river. That evening another council was held and the Americans were told they would still be allowed to flee to Fort Wayne some 150 miles away as long as they left right away. After spending the night packing the troops and settlers set off the next day.

They only got about a mile and a half near where Prairie and 18th St. is today when they were attacked by some 500 Pottawatomie who had been escorting them. It was a savage bloody slaughter that killed most of the fleeing Europeans those that weren't killed outright were captured and sold into slavery. Capt Heald and his wife were captured and transported to Mackinac, where they were turned over to the British commander there. John Kinzie and his family were also spared due to his business dealings with the tribes. He returned to Chicago a year later and worked as a trader and Indian interpreter until his death in 1828.

Fort Dearborn was burned to the ground by the victorious Indians with the bodies of the massacre victims left scattered to decay on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. The bodies were given proper burials by the replacement troops when they arrived a year later. By the end of the century this area would become an enclave for the cities wealthy elite after The Great Chicago Fire.

The natives victory was short lived settlers returned with the troops and Fort Dearborn was rebuilt. Chicago was incorporated as a city in in 1837 and continued to grow and prosper. By then the last of the Indian tribes had been removed to lands west of the Mississippi.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Life & Death Of Richard Cain, Giancana Underling, Chicago Cop, Kennedy Gunman(?)

Our latest upload on ChiTownView series "Chicago Crime Now & Then" takes us to the site of a Mafia hit on Sam Giancana associate and one time Chicago cop Richard Cain. It was not just another run of the mill outfit hit though and Cain wasn't just another bent cop. Here then is a brief history of Richard Cain

Richard Cain first became acquainted with Sam Giancana while a teenager through his mother who was a friend of Momo's. When he was sixteen Cain joined the army and when he got out he went to work for a form OSS operative turned private investigator named John Buenz. Buenz was a close friend and did work for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Cain spent time in Cuba doing investigative work during the early 1950's. This work along with the private eye skills he learned, like wiretapping, would serve him well later in life.

In 1953 Cain moved with his wife and child to Bay City Mich. where his father lived settled down and became a bartender. After only six months Cain moved to Chicago where he started doing security work for UPS. He would also renew his friendship with Sam Giancana and shortly became a made member of the outfit. While organizing a string of burglaries and hijacking at UPS he was made head of security. Who would better know the criminal mind better than another crook.

In 1955 at the behest of Giancana Cain applied to become a Chicago policeman but was rejected because he was too short and had 20/200 vision. All it took was a little money and a word from his outfit backer and Mr. Cain soon rose in the eyes of the law. Once a cop he quickly made a name for himself as an expert on gangsters and quickly moved up soon becoming a detective. His $9,000 a year salary was matched by his mafia backer for whom he acted as a bagman distributing bribe money to fellow officers and warning about raids against the outfit.

Cain's criminal tendencies began to catch up with him in early 1959. In quick succession he was accused of stealing money and became involved in a questionable shooting that resulted in the death of Harry Figel. Although he was exonerated in both cases Cain withdrew from the streets and took on a couple of assignments where he acted as a mole for his mobster backers.

First he went to work for Assistant States Attorney Richard Ogilvie who was a mob buster building a case against Tony Acardo for tax fraud. As Michael Cain explains in his book on his brother Tangled Web; "From Giancana's perspective, Dick's job was to provide enough information to convince Ogilvie that he was a crack investigator and along the way to introduce a couple of flaws in the case to ensure that it would be over-turned." It was a strategy that worked . Acardo was convicted on income tax evasion charges that were thrown out on appeal.

Then in January 1960, Richard Cain was recruited by representatives of Illinois State's Attorney Ben Adamowski to spy on Irwin Cohen. Cohen was commissioner of investigations for Mayor Richard Daley. Adamowski was a thorn in Daley's side and was embarrassed when Cain was caught installing a camera to spy Cohen's office. Adamowski was out of a job later that year and in 1963 ran against Daley coming closer to beating him than any other challenger.
Cain was never brought up on charges but was forced to resign from the force and left Chicago for awhile to cool off.

 Following his return to the windy city he started his own investigations company Accurate Laboratories specializing in investigations, guard / undercover services, polygraphs and wiretapping. It was during this time that the CIA began subcontracting some of it's work to the Chicago mob and Cain returned to Cuba to assist in the Bay of Pigs and later attempts to kill Fidel Castro. He also did work for the Federal Police in Mexico until he beat a man then tried to arrest him. This escapade got him deported back to the states and Chicago.

Back in Chicago returned to work for Richard Ogilvie helping him in his run for Cook County Sheriff. Ogilvie won the election and as a reward Cain was made head of the county's Special Investigation Unit. It was the zenith of his career during that time he allegedly became involved in Kennedy's assassination his mentor Sam Giancana fingered Cain as one of the JFK shooters indeed as the actual gunman in the alleged ‘Oswald sniper’s nest’ in the Texas School Book Depository. Followed by his attempt to take over the Chicago outfit. Culminating with his kidnap Joey Aiuppa who would go on to head the outfit in the 1970's and early 80's.

Cain was becoming a threat to the established order and needed to be taken down a couple of pegs. He had plans to take over as sheriff when he found himself in legal trouble. In December 1963 thieves stole $250,000 worth of prescription drugs from Zahn Drug Company in Melrose Park another bastion of mob power in suburban Chicago. Later some of the drugs were recovered in a raid at the Careville Motel that was led by Cain. As it turned out the raid was staged the motel had been rented by an SIU sergeant that reported directly to Cain. Also Zahn claimed that Cain offered to sell them back the drugs just a few days before the raid. Cain and three others were indited and dismissed from the Sheriffs Department.

Although he still had Sam Giancana as a protector Momo was having his own problems with both the law and the real bosses of the outfit Paul “the waiter” Ricca and Tony Acardo. The heat was so intense that both Giancana and Cain relocated to Mexico in 1966. He would still make trips back to Chicago and during one of these trips FBI agent Bill Rohmer tried to recruit him as an informant. Cain declined and during another Chicago visit got arrested for his connection to a 1964 bank robbery. He was convicted in 1968 and a year later he was finally convicted in the Zahn case.

Richard Cain was imprisoned until 1971 when he was paroled and returned to the streets of Chicago. There he tried working both sides of the street as an on again off again informant for Rohmer while still doing jobs for the mob. He was allegedly one of the gunmen in the assassination of “Mad” Sam DeStefano. Another of his projects was to turn his Bay Of Pigs story into a movie. By late 1973 Cain had several meetings with Marshall Caifano about taking over the south side gambling operations.

He had been talking too much though and not just to Bill Rohmer his loose lips were getting wider. As an expert wiretapper he'd been making tapes in 1973 he said to girlfriend Marlene Kennedy ‘If anything happens to me, listen to this tape.  It’s worth a lot of money to you.’ Then on December 19, 1973 ‘Richard Cain let it slip in a bar in the hearing of outsiders that he and his chief had had something to do with an international conspiracy and a political murder on an assignment from the CIA. Exactly 24 hours later two masked men walked into the same bar, ordered everyone at gunpoint to line up face against the wall, singled out Cain, shoved a gun barrel in his mouth and silenced him for good.’ After blowing his head off and before leaving the killers took something off his body.

Web sites
Richard Cain

Richard Cain: the JFK shooter in the alleged ‘Oswald sniper’s nest’

Iona Andronov, ‘On the Trail of a President’s Killers, ‘The New Times, 1977.

Michael J. Cain, The Tangled Web, 2007.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bernie Sanders For President And Why I Support Him Part 1

I have been a fan of Bernie Sanders for many years and am a supporter of his candidacy for the Democratic Nominee to be President of The United Sates in 2016. Bernie is a stand up guy who fights for the average American. In an era when most politicians have sold out to the corporate elite Mr. Sanders is a progressive who gives voice to those who have been shut out of the system.

Who is Bernie Sanders? Many of you may be asking. He is a true independent who has been running and winning as one without losing since 1981. In that time he has been Mayor of Burlington Vermont (8 years), and the longest serving independent Congressman (16 years). When he ran for the Senate in 2007 he defeated his opponent by a 2/1 margin and in 2012 he received 71% of the vote. It should be noted while he is an independent he is for the most part a Democrat although he is unafraid of speaking out against them.

I first came across him years ago through his “Breakfast With Bernie” radio program which can be heard on many progressive talk radio stations. I tuned in one afternoon when he was talking about Christmas shopping at the Smithsonian Museum and was finding most of the available items were made in China. I response to his criticism the museum opened a made in America gift shop. Here is quote from Mr. Sanders on the subject after the shop opened.

"Everybody understands that our middle class is hurting. We have lost millions of good manufacturing jobs in this country," Sanders said. "From the very beginning it made no sense to me that a museum owned by the people of the United States -- whose mission is to talk about our history and our culture - was not doing everything it could to buy products made in this county by American workers. We've got a lot more work ahead of us, but I think this is a step forward."

This is the kind of man Bernie Sanders is and demonstrates why I support him in his run to be President. I've been voting in Presidential elections since 1972 and for the first time I'm going to actively lobby for a candidate and urge anyone who will listen to do the same. As part of that effort I shall be posting here on a regular basis reasons/examples of why Bernie Sanders should be president.

I found this article on the Huffington Post and it is written by environmental activist Bill McKibben who is the author of a dozen books, including 'The End of Nature' and 'Deep Economy'.

Why the Planet Is Happy That Bernie Sanders Is Running for President

First, he's a stand-up guy. When we told him about the Keystone Pipeline in the summer of 2011, he immediately set to work helping us block it. He strategized, he used his bully pulpit in the Senate to spread the word, and he devoted staff time to pressuring the State Department. Contrast that with, say, Barack Obama who was mostly silent about climate change his whole first term, and managed to make it all the way through the 2012 campaign without discussing it. Or Hillary Clinton, who after initially saying she was "inclined" to approve Keystone has gone entirely mum on the most iconic environmental issue of our time. Who showed up in New York for the People's Climate March? Bernie Sanders. Who said, straightforwardly in today's official announcement, "the peril of global climate change, with catastrophic consequences, is the central challenge of our times and our planet." That would be Bernie Sanders.”

Here what the man himself has to say about climate change deniers.

If you'd like to find out more about Bernie Sanders click here

If you want to support his run click here.