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  • John 10:39 am on October 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: mike walsh, new york   

    Mike Walsh – The Fighting Congressman 

    I am still working on the book and had dinner with Kevin DeVerrell a few weeks ago. We talked for several hours. In order to keep my brain limber, I often have to write about other things, so today if you want you can read about the legendary Mike Walsh!

    Image from a campaign poster

    Image from a campaign poster

    Mike was described by a modern writer as a “working class punk and proletariat dandy” and surprisingly, little has been written about him.

    Walsh came to America from Ireland as a boy and his family settled in Manhattan. When he grew up, Mike became a rabble-rousing street politician from the Bowery and eventually ended up a congressman.

    He and his group of loyal Bowery B’hoys once spotted a political opponent leaving the courthouse and accosted him by dousing him with sacks of flour and then running him up the flagpole for display, as if he were Old Glory. To make matters worse, Mike then described the incident in a newspaper article, which deeply humiliated the older man and later cost Mike $25 when he lost the civil trial for libel. Mike’s verbiage was of the “rat-faced, vermin infested” school of insult journalism and he was damn good at it.

    The Bowery Boy was a colorful, fighting politician cut from the cloth of the mid-nineteenth century New York street tough: day laborer, news reporter, street fighter, and later assemblyman and congressman. Walsh gave hilarious speeches and with his b’hoys would invade rival political meetings and commandeer the stage, events of which were followed always by “two or three beautiful fights”. He could incite the mob to thunderous cheers, and he could ad-lib and deliver a two-hour speech – no script required.

    After a quarrel with authorities in Rhode Island, he once even threatened to show up in Providence with five-hundred Bowery Boys in order to re-decorate the place. Mike also once challenged one of the corrupt town bosses to a knife-duel, while producing two large Bowie knives. The boss declined the invite. When he became a congressman, an admirer who had been touched by the legend, approached Mike on the streets of D.C. He asked if he was “the” Mike Walsh. He was told yes. But this man was in disbelief – surely Walsh was taller and more grand. After this comment about his height followed by an insulting gesture, a flurry of punches was his reward and the man was quickly on the ground. But he jumped to his feet in glee – this was Mike Walsh after all. They then became fast friends and merrily went about to the hotel bar for drinks.

    As an assemblyman in Albany, a fellow legislator, with sparse red hair “and not much of it”, appeared one day in the chamber sporting a bright, new black toupee. For the following account relayed forty years later by Mike’s lawyer friend who was in the gallery that day, we hereby owe a debt of gratitude.

    The newly coiffed man’s name was Watson, and as he took to the podium for a speech, Mike was loading his canisters; he would not miss the sporting opportunity to call out this ridiculous rug. Feigning non-recognition of Watson, Mike interrupted him by shouting:

    “Mr. Speaker, are we now going to permit any person to invade this chamber to give stupid and boring speeches?” (mild laughter followed)

    The house speaker responded,

    “The podium belongs to the assemblyman from Albany, Mr. Watson.”

    Now rising from his seat, Mike slowly approached the podium, and in a half-stooped, head-cocked sidewise posture, quizzically squinting, Mike exclaimed,

    “Oh my God… it is Watson!” (the chamber erupted in loud laughter)

    Mike had done what every other man had been thinking.

    Years later, after losing re-election to Congress by a mere 18 votes, Mike became an alcoholic. Following a monumental drinking binge, he was found on a Manhattan avenue with a fractured skull, his pockets emptied. Mike was just 48 when he died.

    Source: Old articles from the Brooklyn Eagle

     
    • criticextraordinaire 6:39 pm on October 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Can’t wait to read what Keith has to say about Billy and his back story. Will be interesting to (hopefully) learn how a guy as level-headed as Billy got hooked up with an alpha dog like Ronnie. Or how he got introduced to somebody as classy as Joy.

  • John 3:28 pm on September 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: central park, new york, pale male, red tailed hawk   

    Pale Male – The Red-Tailed Hawk That Owns Central Park 

    “Pale Male” looking handsome

    Pale Male (hatched circa 1990) is a well known New York City Red-tailed Hawk who has made his home since the early 1990s near Central Park. Birdwatcher and author Marie Winn gave him his name because of the unusually light coloring of his head. He is one of the first Red-tailed Hawks known to have nested on a building rather than in a tree and is famous for establishing a dynasty of urban-dwelling Red-tailed Hawks. Each spring birders set up telescopes at the Model Boat Pond to observe his nest and chicks at 927 Fifth Avenue.

    When he arrived in Central Park in 1991, as a first-year immature hawk, Pale Male tried to nest in a tree, but he was driven off by crows. He later roosted on a building on Fifth Avenue across the street from the park. In early 1992, he found a mate, dubbed First Love. First Love was injured later that year and removed to the Raptor Trust in New Jersey. During her absence, Pale Male took another mate, called Chocolate by birdwatchers. After several unsuccessful spring nesting attempts, Pale Male and a mate, possibly Chocolate, hatched 3 eyasses in 1995. The eyasses survived to young adulthood and took up residence in Central Park. Chocolate died later that year from injuries from a collison with a car on the New Jersey turnpike.

    First Love returned to Central Park after being banded and released from the Raptor Trust. She and Pale Male reunited and raised several eyases. People in the park waited months to see the eyasses grow and then take their first flights. Pale Male was a good father, bringing food to his offspring about five times each day. In 1997, First Love died after eating a poisoned pigeon in Central Park.

    Show Off!

    Pale Male’s mate from 1998 to 2001 was a hawk known as Blue. The pair were observed to hatch about 11 eyasses in that period. Blue disappeared about the time of the September 11 terrorist attack in 2001.

    In early 2002, Pale Male was first observed with a new mate, Lola. They raised 7 eyasses between 2002 and 2004, building a nest on ornamental stonework above a top-story window on a residential housing cooperative at 927 Fifth Avenue (at East 74th Street) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Lola disappeared in December 2010 and is presumed dead.

    A new mate appeared in early January 2011. This new hawk, with the moniker “Ginger”, because of her dark feathers on her neck and chin, is only in her second year. She is a young adult, with still-yellow irises, indicating her exact age. This will be her first nesting attempt, in the winter and spring of 2011 using the existing nest. Ginger exhibited behavior consistent with incubation of eggs in mid-April 2011 and two eyasses emerged towards the end of May 2011, producing the first baby hawks in this nest since 2004.

    Pale Male’s latest mate, Lima (also known as Ginger), died on Saturday, February 25, 2012, presumably from a poisoned rat.

    It’s a bird! It’s a ….

    In Pop Culture

    “Pale Male,” a one hour documentary by filmmaker Frederic Lilien, aired on NATURE – WNET in 2004. A feature documentary called The Legend of Pale Male by Frederic Lilien was completed in April 2009.

    Alt-Country singer Steve Earle references Pale Male in his song “Down Here Below”, from the 2007 albumWashington Square Serenade.

    Pale Male (or at least a puppet of him) has made several appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien where he played various instruments with The Max Weinberg 7

    At least three children’s illustrated books about Pale Male have been published, including:
    The Tale of Pale Male: a True Story, by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt, 2007);
    City Hawk: the Story of Pale Male, by Meghan McCarthy (Simon & Schuster, 2007); and
    Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City, by Janet Schulman (Knopf, 2008)

    Pale Male is the mascot of P.S. 6, an elementary school at the Upper East Side, Manhattan.

    Sources

    Wikipedia

     
  • John 3:50 pm on July 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , new york, , world trade center   

    World Trade Center Stunts During The 1970s 

    Truly Strange and Bizarre!

    George Willig

    Willig is a mountain-climber from Queens, New YorkUnited States, who climbed the South Tower (2 WTC) of the World Trade Center on 26 May 1977, about 2½ years after tightrope walker Phillippe Petit walked between the tops of the two towers. At the time, it was the third tallest building in the world (behind 1 WTC and the Willis Tower). It took him 3.5 hours to scale the tower. New York City Mayor Abraham Beame fined him $1.10, one cent for each of the skyscraper’s 110 stories.

    Before the stunt, Willig was a toymaker. He visited the towers a year before the stunt and took measurements for the equipment he would need. He made special clamps that fit into the window washing tracks of the South Tower. The clamps he designed would lock into place when they were pulled down by his body weight. They would release when he decided to raise them. Once he built the equipment, he went to the World Trade Center 4 to 5 times at night to test the equipment. He began his climb at 6:30 a.m. that Thursday morning. As he was climbing, two police officers, one a suicide expert, were lowered down in a window washing basket to try to get Willig to give up. Willig swung away from the officers so they could not grab him. Willig and the officers talked, and the suicide expert realized that Willig knew what he was doing and was not a threat. The officer passed him a pen and paper, and Willig signed it “Best Wishes to my co-ascender.” Police helped him to the top of the tower, by pulling him through a tiny window hatch at 10:05 a.m. and he was arrested. Willig said he could hear the crowd cheering from ground level. His climb received plenty of attention because it took 3½ hours to complete, allowing news cameras and spectators to gather. The only significant problem Willig ran into was irregularities in window washing tracks. However, he was prepared for this because he brought a small hammer to fix the irregularities. He signed his name and the date on a piece of metal on the observation deck of the South Tower, which was still visible until the tower was destroyed on September 11, 2001.

    The stunt paved the way for appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonGood Morning AmericaThe Merv Griffin Show, and ABC’s Wide World of Sports. He also got jobs as a stuntman on The Six Million Dollar ManTrauma Center, and Hollywood Beat.

    In 1979, he published a book called Going It Alone (ISBN 0-385-14726-0).

    During the 1990s, Willig lived in California’s San Fernando Valley, working as a remodeler of commercial buildings.

    After the 9/11 attacks that destroyed both towers of the World Trade Center, Mr. Willig publicly said he regretted climbing the towers, as his actions may have brought them to the attention of terrorists. But he later told CNN that was just an initial, emotional reaction and that he was still glad to have climbed the towers.

    Owen Quinn

    On July 22, with his friend Mike Sergio, Quinn disguised himself as a construction worker and hid his parachute in a duffel bag (covered with tools) and made his way up the North Tower. They were met by a security guard, and while Sergio distracted him, Quinn continued toward the roof and got into his parachute. Quinn says he “stepped back about 15 feet and ran fast right to the end”. Sergio shot a picture and called it “The Point of No Return”. Quinn wore a blue football jersey with the biblical verse, Matthew 19:26: “But Jesus beheld them and said unto them, with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”.

    When he landed, he was arrested by Port Authority Police and taken for psychiatric exams at two different hospitals, Elmhurst and St. Vincent. When it was concluded that he was in fact sane, he was booked and charged with trespassingdisorderly conduct, and reckless endangerment. Within the course of a year Quinn made 19 appearances in court, but the case was eventually dropped.

    Philippe Petit

    On Wednesday, 7 August 1974, shortly after 7:15 a.m., Petit stepped off the South Tower and onto his 3/4″ 6×19 IWRC (independent wire rope core) steel cable. He walked the wire for 45 minutes, making eight crossings between the towers, a quarter of a mile above the sidewalks of Manhattan. In addition to walking, he sat on the wire, gave knee salutes and, while lying on the wire, spoke with a gull circling above his head.

    As soon as Petit was observed by witnesses on the ground, the Port Authority Police Department dispatched officers to take him into custody. One of the officers, Sgt. Charles Daniels, later reported his experience:

    I observed the tightrope ‘dancer’—because you couldn’t call him a ‘walker’—approximately halfway between the two towers. And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire….And when he got to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle….He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again….Unbelievable really….Everybody was spellbound in the watching of it.

    Petit was warned by his friend on the South Tower that a police helicopter would come to pick him off the wire unless he got off. Rain had begun to fall, and Petit decided he had taken enough risks, so he decided to give himself up to the police waiting for him on the South Tower. He was arrested once he stepped off the wire. Provoked by his taunting behaviour while on the wire, police handcuffed him behind his back and roughly pushed him down a flight of stairs. This he later described as the most dangerous part of the stunt.

    His high-wire performance made headlines around the world. When asked why he did the stunt, Petit would say, “When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk.”

    Although movie cameras were on the roof during the walk, the person who was supposed to film the walk did not do so, apparently due to exhaustion from pulling the heavy cable tight after some of it had fallen, creating slack while the rigging was being set up.

    Sources:

    Wikipedia

     
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