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Sunday, November 9, 2014

FREDRIKA MANDELBAUM--The Jewish Queen of Thieves--Jewish Mob Queen


REPRINTED FROM THE JEWISH FORWARD NEWSPAPER...Authored by Sara Breger

The press called her a “Queen Among Thieves” and the person who “first put crime in America on a syndicated basis.” In 1884, The New York Times named her “the nucleus and center of the whole organization of crime in New York City.” During the Gilded Age, Fredericka Mandelbaum, a German-Jewish immigrant, rose to power as the country’s premier fence—seller of stolen goods. Described as “a huge woman weighing more than two hundred and fifty pounds” with “extraordinarily fat cheeks,” Mandelbaum was the head of one of the first organized crime rings and a driving force behind New York City’s underworld for more than twenty-five years. J. North Conway, who has written the new biography “Queen of Thieves: The True Story of “Marm” Mandelbaum and Her Gangs of New York,” talks with The Forward’s Sarah Breger about life in the Gilded Age, chasing the American dream and why no one has turned Mandelbaum’s life into a Hollywood blockbuster.

Sarah Breger: What brought Fredericka Mandelbaum to New York?
J. North Conway: A combination of factors including the infamous potato famine of 1848 and increasing restrictions against Jews in Germany brought Fredericka to the United States in 1850. Her husband Wolf, had sailed a few months earlier, so she was traveling alone in steerage with a new baby. She was so tall that some documents I’ve seen said she had to stoop the whole time.

SB: Why did Mandelbaum enter a life of crime?
JC: This is a story of coming to America for whatever reasons and trying to make good. Like every immigrant she was trying to make a better life for her children. She came for the American dream and it happened to be the only job she could get was in crime. And she was good at it. I couldn’t find where she learned the ropes or if she had an innate ability but she knew how to set up this criminal network. She knew enough to bribe the right people, and she knew protecting her interests meant protecting a cadre of criminals; if they went to jail, they couldn’t steal things, if they couldn’t steal things, they couldn’t sell to her, and then she couldn’t sell to other people. If you were to do a flow chart of her enterprise, it would look like a very functioning business today. As a business model you would say she would be up there with the Bill Gateses of the world.

SB: Was it common for women of period to be involved in crime?
JC: Fredericka was the “queen pin” of underworld activities. She was the first such woman— or if she wasn’t the first she was the biggest and most successful. She knew exactly what she had to do to rise to the top—not just buying and selling. But she knew money talked and which politicians, police or judges to give it to. She made more money and had more power than any woman of her era in any legitimate business.

SB: Was her husband involved in her business?
JC: Wolf didn’t seem to play a role in her rise to power, but the indication I got from my research is many criminals of the period had a duality in their life. They had their husbands, their families, their children, religion, social events and then had the other side of their life which in her case was stolen goods. She remained devoted to Wolf and never remarried after he died. An anecdote that I couldn’t verify but is well known was that Wolf loved to hear piano player and safe-cracker Charlie Bullard play. When Bullard was arrested, one of the reasons Fredericka broke him out of jail was to have him come back and play for an ailing Wolf.

SB: Was Mandelbaum a religious Jew?
JC: Very, one of the interesting things is she remained fairly religious throughout her life. She settled in the German Jewish community and had very deep connection there and she was attached to her synagogue— Rodeph Shalom in Queens.

SB: How far was her reach?
JC: What became apparent during her trial was that she had bribed so many people –judges. Politicians, police—that even though everyone knew what she was doing, they were all on her payroll and had no reason to stop her. People didn’t look at her as the common everyday criminal. Even legitimate businessmen bought from her.

SB: Was she known outside of New York?
JC: As time went on and she became the largest fence in New York, thenetwork of criminals she associated with expanded and she found herself with stolen merchandise from all over including stolen items from the Chicago Fire.

SB: How did she eventually get caught?
JC: Around 1884 there was a new district attorney, Peter Olney who had vowed to clean up government. He pinpointed Mandelbaum as the nucleus of crime in New York City. His goal was to make a name for himself but also get the center of crime behind bars and that happened to be Mandelbaum. Olney couldn’t trust anyone in government or police since they were likely on her payroll. So he bypassed them and brought in the private Pinkerton Detective Agency who set up a sting operation.

SB: How did Mandelbaum escape?
JC: By this time, public sentiment was turning against criminals and corruption. Mandelbaum had two of the best lawyers in the country but even they said they couldn’t get her off. She was released on bail for $30,000—which back in 1884 was a huge amount of money. Pinkerton detectives put her on 24-hour surveillance. One day they followed her to her lawyer’s office and then followed her back home. But it wasn’t her, it was one of her maids. She had literally slipped out the back door of her lawyer’s office with one million dollars in cash and diamonds. She went to Ontario, Canada, which at the time had no extradition treaty with the United States. She was able to escape prosecution and live out the rest of her life pretty comfortably with the money she brought. She got off scot-free. You almost want to cheer.

SB: Did she ever return to the United States?
JC: According to most reports she retired in Canada— she supposedly sent cards to her old associates with her address saying, “come up and see me some time”. She did slip back into the country in November 1885 when her daughter Annie died. Everyone— including The New York Times— knew she was there. I don’t know why, but she crossed the border untouched, even though those warrants were still open.

SB: How did she die?
JC: She died at 65 and was buried at her family plot in Queens. Everybody turned out for her funeral— businessman, police and even a bunch of well-known criminals. But what was most ironic was the story that appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle the next day: After the graveside ceremony many attendees went to the police to report that they had been pickpocketed during the service. I couldn’t write a better ending.

SB: Why don’t more people know about her or how is this not a movie?
JC: It’s almost an affront to tell this story for a lot of reasons. The biggest reason is she got away with it. She lived a life of crime, she had enormous power, enormous wealth and got away with it. The other is that she is aJewish-American woman. Somehow we hear about Carney and Rockefeller but it is very difficult to find names of women like Fredrika Mandelbaum. That’s because most historians are men and if they have a choice they want to tell a man’s story. I’m not trying to make this a sexist or feminist issue but it’s very rare we talk about women’s roles in history because they have been obscured.

Forward

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Metaphor of the Middle East-IMPACT: Jewish Boxers in America OPINION


A Metaphor of the Middle East-IMPACT: Jewish Boxers in America  OPINION
An Aritsts Statement

Producing and executing the production of IMPACT: Jewish Boxers in America was never intended to represent some small microcosm of what is now happening in the Middle East. Far from it.  Over the course of production for this half hour film, my research led me to profile some of the all time greatest Jewish boxers that filtered their way to the top of the food chain within American society--specifically the Jewish experience in the sport of professional boxing.  However, with the current trends that have been taking place in the Middle East one can not see a correlation between the spirit of the Jewish boxer and the Isreal freedom fighter consisting in Masad, the Isrealie defense forces.  My intention for producing IMPACT was to establish some kind of insight nationally here in the US that might in some prolific way protect our American President Barack Obama from harms way should another Kennedy type assasination plot be lurking in the wings from some right wing supremacist group that is still fighting at preventing another man of color or diversity to ever endure the office of our great nations leaders....So much of what I discovered through the production of the project led me to believe that the Ron Lipton's--Jewish Boxer and victimized police officer for the towns of Verona, NJ scenario now symbolizes what so many people have vowed to do towards Isreal pushing and demanding they receed into the sea never to be seen again.  What Ron Lipton endured by fighting off KKK members at his home during the 1970's and defending his family, land, self governing status and the rights of so many blacks during that period symbolizes the same kind of fight much of the Jewish population in Isreal has had to endure in order to keep a nation for the Jewish people-post World War II a Zionist state.  The belief that there should and must be a secure home for the Jewish people.

I hope that within time this films IMPACT will be seen as a wakeup call that trying to destroy a race by pushing them into the sea, running them off of a police force or trying to antagonize representatives of the Jewish community will be met with failure.  "Masada Shall Not Fall Again" as Cletus Seldin reminds us all of in the film depicting the Jewish mass suicide that took place on Isreals Masada mountain where hundreds of Jews committed suicide at the face of returning to slavery under King Herrod's watch.  It is a moment that we must all remember and understand as the importance of what the film describes in the words of those who participated.  As I write this passage, Golden Gloves boxing champion Ed Gersh has past away and I fondly remember his wise words of how the world sometimes trys to condemn the Jewish nation during times of desparity and crisis.  Perhaps Mr. Gersh would be reveling now as proud to be Jewish than ever before.

What I hope viewers of this project especially non-Jews will walk away with is a better respect in all facets of our lives for the Jewish people knowing that for centuries, similar to the black experience we have endured victimization and consistant hatred in a world where (According to a recent world opinion poll by the Anti Defamation League) 25% of the world still holds some resentment towards Jews or doesn't know what the Holocaust was in the place of global history.  Still frightening statistics to consider when Jews around the world still have some fears of another Holocaust happening again.  The protection of our 
Jewish state and what it means to have in place is somewhat our insurance policy with the world to know there is a place to go if Masada, Nazi Germany, The Spanish Inquisition or a number of other anti Jewish campaigns were ever to happen again.  Be it known today that before it were to happen, the Jewish people would not go down without a fight.  I hope you afford yourself to be a participant in active discussions as we set out bringing this film to the national public.

Shalom


Friday, July 18, 2014

A Letter of Apology--REPRINTED FROM FACEBOOK POST BY ROLENE MARKS--Modin, Isreal



Please allow me to apologise on behalf of all the citizens of the State of Israel. I humbly apologise to you and your readers and to the world for our leaders defending our right to live. Here in Israel, we consider living a basic human right.
The indignation of journalists, commentators and your readership has prompted them to spew forth some of the most vile invective we have seen other than that of Der Sturmer circa 1940’s and the letters and op-eds posted in your publication have educated me in a new level of hatred.
I apologise that it is left up to our army to make sure that the citizens of Gaza are evacuated from dangerous zones safely through pamphlets, text messages and roof knocking. I guess my text message and pamphlet were lost due to Hamas being on strike. Literally. 
I apologise that we have not racked up those large numbers of Israeli casualties you were hoping for. I apologise for a government who values my life and those of my fellow citizens so much they do anything in their power to protect it. Whatever internal squabbles we may have or policies we agree or don’t agree on, life is valuable. I am sorry for our defense forces, made up of representatives of all sectors of Israeli society, who both prepare us and defend us with their lives.
I am sorry for our Iron Dome batteries that intercept the rockets aiming for our death and destruction. For those of you calling Israel an Apartheid state, Iron Dome makes no distinction between Jew, Christian or Arab. We are all targets.
I apologise that our government has made sure that we are equipped with bomb shelters and know how much time we need to take cover. I am sorry that Hamas prefer to build weapons smuggling tunnels instead of protecting their citizens but the “death industry” (their words not mine – google it yourself) has proven more lucrative than saving lives.
Most of all, I am sorry that this upsets you so much that in countries across the world you choose to take out your frustration on members of the Jewish community, attacking people physically, in the media and in barely disguised hateful press releases.
Please accept my humble apologies for any inconvenience we may have caused you.
Rolene Marks
Modiin
Israel

Friday, June 27, 2014

Battling the Fight With Mental Illness--Our Struggle Continues.......







To all of my Facebook and Linked in friends:
As some of you might know, I've been battling a bi-polar mental health condition for over 20 years now.  To say the least it has been a long struggle in and out of mental health hospital wards that have included state run hospitals here in New Jersey where at times I was hospitalized for weeks on end.  I'd like to take a moment after all of these years to apologize to so many of my media connections for any outrageous ways I had treated you in the past that may or may not have been unprofessional or beyond reason.  Unfortunately, it is the nature of my illness that sometimes approached work in ways that were unacceptable.  Currently, I have grasped control of my illness and have been successful managing it in a way that is acceptable to my peers and professional colleagues.  I have been enrolled in a state run PACT program for progressive treatment to help me better understand my illness and progress to a point where I can see things clearly with the help of progressive psychotropic drugs that don't obscure my thinking.  It has been a long and arduous process that has seen me in mental health hospitals over a dozen times.  I believe it is important for all of you to know this in hopes that you don't discriminate against anyone you come in contact with that suffers from these kinds of conditions.  It is not our fault but unfortunately part of a process where we as mental health patients have become victims of a system that sometimes harbors our true potential and sets us on a course of hard knock learning in order to hopefully better managing our potential and ability to work within the community productively without becoming a menace to ourselves or others.  For many years, I did not completely understand these diseases and it has taken a long time to better become a person that can control the illness and not allow the illness to control me.  I've lost many friends along the way and have seen first hand what it is like to live amoungst the mentally ill without hope....without spirit and without any direction for the future.  Please understand that what I have experienced, I would not ever want to wish upon anyone.  Lonely and vacant mental hospital health wards have been an underlying theme in my existence as a mental health patient.  I've continued to be productive as an award winning documentary producer but understand it has all come with a price.  In the next months I hope to document what my experiences have been like under guard by the state mental health systems to give you all a better understanding of what this kind of existence has been like hoping that you all stay safe and well in your day to day existences.  Again, please forgive me for what ever kind of  out of balance treatment I have done to all of you my friends in the past.   I'm currently trying to rebuild a productive lifestyle that will hopefully bring me back into the creative circles that I was once a party to in a healthy and productive manner that will be mutually beneficial for everyone.  Mental health issues shouldn't be hidden away and unspoken about.  All of us must understand that this is a struggle that is at times so painful and considered a stigma that we should all better understand.  I love you all and thank you for taking the time to read my new mantra in media with hopes that through my upcoming work we all will take into consideration a better understanding of what good mental health and proper non discriminatory treatment is all about.  Take good care of yourselves and the ones you are with.....Your apologetic warrior of mental health issues, I remain, James Ford Nussbaum. 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

World Cup Fever...Will It Ever Become a US Passion?

So sorry to most of my readers for the delay in my latest installations of thoughts and progressions....Here now the blog from GALILEO PRODUCTIONS, LLC...World Cup Fever.

I've been amazed to learn about this current circlular return of World Cup Soccer Fever here in the US....a progression from where we stood over 20 years ago when PELE hit the scene trying to gain popularity for the sport.  Today we are again witnessing a sport where bitting opponents becomes attractive on the field and the fan to player popularity may have forgotten the Argentinian player who was gunned down returning to his country after accidently putting the ball into his own net.  Cartel money was heavily invested into those games at the time and he lost enormous amounts of cash for those who were betting on the games.  I must also remind readers of the trampling of fans that had become so previlant at many of the games sometimes killing fans who attended.

Soccer in Europe is probably one of the only things that many Europeans generationally are attached to associating their teams to their villages and enveloping a culture that goes far beyond the local game within the community.  To many it is a lifestyle and the hooligans that are attracted to the beer drinking and party times that happen have found the games to be a working class social event that takes the pressure off of many who attend.

I have not yet found a fondness to soccer or World Cup play over the years but by the numbers this time versus the days of Pele, it has found a strong audience here in the US.  Perhaps it is time for us to create our own national team that would represent us in a much broader style of play as the sport grows especially with our youth.

But in order for soccer on a world wide level to truly expand, I believe that there must be some American or international governing board that will help protect the spirit of the game along with the fans and players.  Right now, the sport seems to carry too much drama like biting players and putting on a great whining show when a call is made against a player.  Once a standard, a governing body is put into place more religiously with the sport here in the US and abroad, we might see safer play in hopes that no one goes out and kills someone either in the seats or after a game.  I don't see yet the attraction of the sport as it slows down too much for me to be really excited about watching.  However, right now it would seem that American viewers are attracted to World Cup play and the future looks bright for a larger world order of teams that will command international viewers.  I still hope that we don't lose track of our NASCAR, baseball, basketball and hockey passions that still seem to attract more viewers than ever before.  In the end, a more compassionate soccer game with better governing rules might be the answer to increasing the popularity of the sport here in the US.

Just saying, but I don't yet see a place of popularity for World Cup or regional soccer matches here in the US that would surpass a good NASCAR race or local baseball, US football game.  Time will tell.  Meanwhile, let the games continue.

Thanks for your visit.

James Ford Nussbaum


Sunday, April 6, 2014

I Want To Be John Irving....Blunt







JOHN IRVING

I want to be John Irving...
And tell it like it is...
I want to be John Irving...
And and be a writer's Wiz...
I want to be John Irving...
..And be so esoteric...
I want to be John Irving...
Galileo's heretic?
I want to be John Irving...
And teach you about some words...
I want to be John Irving...
...and wrestle with the turds....

I will become John Irving...
And pass along my thoughts...
I will become John Irving...
and passify your haunts....

So if you read John Irving...
Consider yourself just right...
He'll bluntly tell you what he thinks..
For the man can fight and fought...

If you're ever in New Hampshire...
and want a bite to eat...
Remember Hotel New Hampshire...
The Shinning haven jaunt....

I want to be John Irving...
Forever wrestle words...
It's always muse John Irving...
Who's blunter than your thoughts....



Saturday, March 29, 2014

IMPACT-Jewish Boxers in America--Coming to NYC and PHILADELPHIA

Some exciting news about our latest documentary project IMPACT-Jewish Boxers in America
Upcoming screenings.

www.impactthefilm.com

Screenings in NYC:

2:00PM September 19th, 2014-Friday
92nd Street Y
New York City, NY, NY


Philadelphia, PA
10:00AM-11:00AM, September 8th, 2014-Monday
Golden Slippers on the Main Line
Adath Isreal
250 North Highland Avenue
Merian Station, PA
Across from the Bala Cynwood Library

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Free Alan Gross from Cuban Jail...





Beginning in 2009, Alan traveled to Cuba five times to implement the USAID project. To increase Internet access and connectivity at Cuban synagogues, Alan loaned information and communications technology (ICT) devices such as cell phones, wireless technologies, personal computers, and other computer network devices to local community members at each project site, tested the equipment, and then trained citizens to use the equipment.
Alan understood that Cuba and the U.S. had strained relations, and that the Cuban government attempted to control or limit its citizens’ access to media. But he did not know that distributing anything funded (in whole or in part) by USAID could be viewed as a crime in Cuba. As a U.S. citizen working on a project publicly sponsored and funded by the U.S. government, Alan never thought that he was at risk of imprisonment in Cuba.
On December 3, 2009, the night before Alan was scheduled to return to the U.S. from his fifth trip to Cuba and moments after he concluded a phone call with his wife, he was arrested by Cuban officials. The Cuban government held him for 14 months without charge. After a summary trial in March of 2011, a Cuban court determined that Alan had attempted to undermine the Cuban government by distributing communications systems not under government control – the very work USAID sent him to Cuba to do. The court convicted Alan of “acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state,” and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. 

After over 4 years in a Cuban jail, isn't it time to petition President Obama to bring home Alan Gross?  His struggle has been ongoing as he was jailed for bringing in computer technology for the Jewish community in Cuba over 4  years ago.  His health has been deteriorating and the freedoms of press that we have here in America were sorely overlooked by the Cuban government when he traveled there.  The Long Island government contractor has been petitioning the US government to release him but the efforts have fallen short as Mr. Gross has had little chance for freedom accused of spying in Cuba and losing a long struggle to eradicate him from his Cuban prison cell.  Will the US make efforts to free Alan Gross or will Cuba become the next Egypt where the fear of press freedoms and our efforts to eradicate the invisable silent population be overlooked?  Please make every effort to help this man towards freedom and be returned to his Long Island family.  Free Alan Gross.








Friday, March 7, 2014

Revisiting the Craft of Magic--Society of American Magicians and International Brotherhood of Magicians





REVISITING THE CRAFT OF MAGIC

I was a small boy when 12 of my local compeers successfully started and endured founding THE MAGIC CASTLE magic club that held a place in our basement theater in South Orange, New Jersey during the early seventies in Essex County, New Jersey.  Our club comprised of young talent performed magic shows for .25 cents a head on Thornden Street in South Orange and later donated some of our proceeds to the local South Orange Rescue Squad while we all attended Junior High School and then Columbia HS later on.  It was an enchanting time and many of us learned and mastered the craft with such ease it astounded local neighborhood parents in believing that our band of misfits could accomplish such wonderment for the locals.
Magic shows were also available to local birthday parties and we all performed for the neighborhood when the need arrived.  What great days.  Our magic theater would later evolve into a puppet theater that my father helped construct and build for admission and shows to all who came by to admire.

Magic has had a long legacy in my life and the craft has help build a mind set that trains you to discover and figure out what is real and what might be charade.  It also builds great presentational sales skills for all who are involved.  THE MAGIC CASTLE that we constructed in our basement home mimicked the acclaimed house of magic MAGIC CASTLE in California and through the help of such wonderful people that were all local, we built a name for ourselves and the club.  Magic was our entry into social circles and a vast array of friends from all over New Jersey.  I was once offered over $100.00 to disclose how my brother and I performed the trunk illusion Metamorphosis for local onlookers.  Of course we never gave in to temptation and the secrets long lived our club for decades.

Today magic has reemerged in my life and I'm again drawn back to the craft that has set us apart from all the rest of the local kids from our neighborhood.  We charmed the neighborhood and made magic a staple and social skill builder for all of the shy and introverted kids that came through our doors.  The tradition continues today and with the help of good friends we carry on the craft for generations to come.

Let there me mysticism and magic for all who come to know the gift of the Magi....


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Crystal Rock Symphony--The Music of Pebbles in a Bowl

Varied chimes from falling pebbles in different bowls.
Each one has it's own significant key.
The pebbles fall in syncopation each timed to a beat that syncs with a metronome.
On cue the pebbles fall into bowls and chime a constructed tune.
The music they create is natural....Always original but chiming like raindrops on a window sill
during a natural storm.

The mood they create seems accidental but is constructed with severe pragmatic planning.
Their sound is quite intentional but mimics accidental raindrops into various pools of water.
The sound created is a rock symphony--The Music of Pebbles in a Bowl.

Simply intended to appear natural but a sophisticated and  pragmatic illusion.
Various colored pebbles in their bowls, each with a different note...a different key.

Music to ones ears.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Understanding the Significance of Mumbet in the Berkshires of Massachusetts


Understanding the Significance of Mumbet in the Berkshires of Massachusetts

It might be said at it's greatest moment that the petitioning slave Mumbet of Sheffield, MA made her mark to emancipate herself from slavery at a pivotal moment in American History;
Mumbet's exoneration from her slave owner John Ashley.  Her petition to Barrister Theodore Sedgwick to help her emancipate herself came at a time when Massachusetts was moving in the direction of freeing more and more slaves calling for equality of all men including women.
What's most fascinating is her accomplishments at achieving woman's rights as an American citizen as well as a free slave.

I'm enamored at the what rich history lies in the foothills of the Berkshires to no avail allowing us all to get a better understanding of what has made up our American back bone....our core set of equal rights and abolishing a bombastic slave ritual in Southern Massachusetts that would eventually die a slow death.  What can we glean from her story is best yet described as a cry out for all of our individual freedoms and reiterates the call for freedom in our American spirit that still rings true for all Americans using Mumbet as the example of how we should value what rights and privileges we hold close to our hearts not just as black Americans but as all Americans.  Mumbet's story is one of ever lasting quiet vigilance that reiterates the methodology that Martin Luther King laid down in order to gain equality later in years for the entire black community using Ghandi's principles.  

I applaud what Mumbet accomplished in South West Massachusetts in the late 1700's and take her story as a milestone of reiteration on what the American Spirit is all about.  In a microcosm, Mumbet's story in a little region of the Berkshires sings true and holds fast to the American dream where freedom is not truly appreciated until in part you have some of it taken away.  It is not until then can your really appreciate what we have to admire and embrace in a free society that you swell up with complete admiration for an American slave that not only gained respect by gaining her own freedom but truly allowed us all to help ourselves appreciate more what we now have in this country compared to many places abroad.....Mumbet....a pioneer that represents the American Dream.