Click here to learn the story.
Various people keep asking for this electronically, and so here it is. But before you get too excited, please understand that this is just a very rough outline, and not terribly accurate. It is impossible to write a readable history following this outline, as I discovered later. Before I made that discovery, I compiled this first attempt to organize my thoughts. Its a mess. These files are in Word 2003 format, and they electronically cross-index one another, so they probably wont work properly unless you download them all into the same folder. If when you open these documents you see that your screen is filled with coding, simply click on the pilcrow ¶ button at the top of your screen and that will clear things up. I also have crates upon crates upon crates upon crates of clippings (mostly photocopied from microfilms) and programs and whatnot, most of which I shall never post. If you want to purchase my collection, the price is $2,000,000 plus taxes. For those two or three of you who might be interested in the topic, I have the back story below the links.
HERE ARE OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT ENJOY
HOW I STARTED THIS PROJECT, AND WHY I NEVER FINISHED
In the summer of 1994 I finally got curious enough about all the disused, abandoned, shuttered cinemas I kept passing by that I decided I would go to the downtown library and ask for the books that had been written about them. The librarians insisted that there were no such books. I was convinced that they were mistaken. They were right. I was wrong.
So I set about, first, looking through the telephone books. I chose 1914 as a random year and was surprised to see how many cinemas were listed. I began to jot everything down. I followed this by jotting down all the listings in the city directories. I followed that by photostatting the three volumes of theatre scrapbooks (except for the few articles that had fallen out when the glue had dried decades before, of course). Then I started raiding the vertical files, microfilms, and various antique periodicals on file. I went to the BECHS and started furiously transcribing (by hand!) everything listed in its index cards. That was one job I was never able to finish! Then came the antique shops, especially the weekly antique mall in Clarence. After all that, the project simply took on a life of its own. You must understand, please, that I had no idea at all what I was doing. There was no order, rhyme, or reason behind what I was gathering. I was just gathering everything I could get my hands on. I did not understand most of it. I still dont understand much of it.
To encourage others to contact me with their superior knowledge, I ran off a copy of my skeletal notes and placed it at the Buffalo and Erie County Librarys Special Collections Room in downtown Buffalo. It was a great way to make friends! In no time at all I had people clustering around me and I enjoyed picking all their brains. It was heaven on earth. Through other connections I met Dr. Charles W. Stein, who invited me over for some unforgettable evenings at his condominium, where he regaled me with endless stories of the old days. I still havent written down most of what he told me. I must do so before my memories get completely stale. And Charlie introduced me to Dan Harter, another wealth of knowledge, who knew pretty much everything there was to know about theatre in the US historically, culturally, artistically, technically, architecturally, financially, and in terms of business practice. I became a sponge, soaking in everything I could.
There was one incident or actually nonincident that only now, in retrospect, has come to take on a symbolic significance. One day as I was turning the Broadway/Ellicott corner to walk into the library, I saw a guy, half a block down, crossing Broadway. He was wearing military fatigues and was cocking a rifle, getting ready to aim. I had no idea who would be his random target. I was the closest pedestrian and thought I might be his prime choice, but like so many people he seemed not to be aware of my existence. Luckily I never heard a shot. I told the security guard at the library, but I dont know that anything ever came of it, as the rifleman was probably long gone by the time I said anything.
Unsurprisingly, in addition to earning me friends, my research earned me enemies as well, and that was perfectly understandable. In a way, it was even reasonable. You see, once upon a time, back in 1990 give or take, I had a moonlighting job working for well, I refuse to name names and Id be sued if I did so lets just call this entity Employer A. Employer A didnt pay much, but I liked the job. Then one day I went to work and nearly every face was new to me. The place had been purchased and put under new management. Click here for a nice parody of the new management. I was very much out of place in this milieu, but the
On one unforgettable evening, more than two years later, I got something I had never had before: an exact date and time and place of another repeat of these stories. And I got the name of the person who told the stories and, most importantly, I at long last got precise details of what he had said. I got this from an acquaintance who shouted at me over the phone to end our acquaintanceship over the matter. This shouting session was quite lengthy. I cant remember now, but I think it was close to half an hour.
Looking back on it now, I wonder if there was an unspoken motive underlying her rage. You see, a few weeks earlier or was it a few months earlier? she had tried to snuggle with me. It was nothing sexual; she was just trying to be cozy. I was flattered, but hey, she was only 17.
Okay. I might as well reveal the opening sentence of that unforgettable phone conversation. For nearly twenty years I have refused to repeat any part of this conversation because I knew it would function as a virus, taking on a life of its own. Nonetheless, I think that now it is time I repeated the conversation, come what may. It began with You know, you wouldnt have had any problems at [Employer A] if you werent molesting little children all the time!!!!!!!!!! She shouted that assertion at the top of her lungs. Throughout her lengthy screaming session, she managed to tell me what she had heard the night before. Employer A had taken her and a mutual friend aside for a debriefing. Employer A told them that management had caught me molesting small children, on company premises, during work hours, while I was on the clock. Employer A claimed to have caught me doing this numerous times over the course of several years. Each time Employer A caught me in flagrante delicto, Employer A would issue a warning that this activity must cease. Each time I agreed, and yet at my next shift Employer A would catch me at it all over again. After SEVERAL YEARS of this recalcitrant activity, Employer A had finally decided that it would be best to let me go.
People believed that story? Yes, people believed that story. Lots of people believed that story. Even people who had worked alongside me throughout all those years and who saw for themselves that nothing of the sort had ever happened even they believed it. Does the story even make prima facie sense? But people believed it, and they continue to believe it. To bolster her case, my once-friendly acquaintance defiantly repeated, at least ten times, what she confidently thought was the irrefutable Why would they say it if its not true? When she finally realized that her disgust was too great to allow her to continue the conversation, she slammed the phone down. Heavens to Betsy! In spite of her various personality problems, I had actually been somewhat fond of her. I knew she was a bit scatterbrained, but I wasnt expecting such gullibility, and I certainly hadnt expected the fury that resulted from such gullibility. Just goes to show you....
Now I was suddenly on even more hardcore mailing lists, and the mailing list of the American Nazi Party as well. A police car was stationed 24/7 in front of my apartment for six months. One day I got brave and waved. The policeman was startled, started his engine, quickly drove away, and then a few moments later came around the block and parked again right in front of my apartment.
People I genuinely cared about would now no longer speak with me, and so by this time I was in a deep depression. A lawyer I knew lets call him Lawyer A entirely on his own tack, without my asking, offered to file a slander suit, free of charge. This slander suit would be based specifically on the most recent known telling, since it was only for that particular incident that we had usable details. All he asked for was a standard 30% cut if we won. Fine. I agreed. Months went by. Silence. I called several times but only reached his answering machine, on which I left increasingly desperate messages reminding him that time was running out. As the statute-of-limitations deadline was fast approaching, he suddenly called to demand money that I couldnt afford. I rounded it up, quite painfully from a relative who couldnt afford it either. Lawyer A then did nothing until 11:00pm the night before deadline, when he phoned to shout at me for having waited so long. He kept me up all the way through morning, putting papers together, and then had me drive to the County Clerks office to file. Employer As attorney quickly responded with the predictable motion to dismiss, arguing, paradoxically, that my slander suit constituted libel against his client. Lawyer A then telephoned two witnesses who had previously been heavily involved with Employer A. They had been extremely hostile towards me during my tenure there, and so I had no desire to have anything further to do with them. I was certain that, if contacted, they would simply engage in piling on the calumnies. Lawyer A phoned them against my advice and without first telling me. These two witnesses CONFIRMED EVERYTHING I HAD SAID and added many more details, with specifics! They were more than happy to testify on my behalf, as they realized I had been grossly abused and defamed! Lawyer A then immediately telephoned me and the first word out of his mouth was Bingo! He told me what had just happened, and he apologized to me. He said he had been entirely wrong about me. He had assumed that I was just telling a pack of lies in order to get some money out of other people, and now he was surprised and humbled to discover that I had been telling the truth. Now why on earth would he think that I had been lying if Im not even the one who asked to go to court? Hes the one who volunteered to take this to court for me! Besides, if he thought I was lying, then why on earth had he taken my case? Does he make it a practice to represent only liars and con artists? Maybe? I dont know.
The witnesses invited me to visit with them, and for the first time ever we actually got along. They told me the full stories that had been circulating about me, which were beyond anything I could have imagined. How could anyone have believed them? There was so much, and in so many directions, that it should have made anyone wonder about the veracity of the
As I would learn years later, these multitudinous stories about me did not fade away. They were kept up, and quite robustly. For all I know, they might still be in general circulation, perhaps with even wilder details. But nobodys going to tell me one way or the other. I almost never hear the stories told about me, and on the rare occasions when I do, Im always the last person to hear them. But there is a conclusion that is inescapable. This manager and his family were in the habit of making false accusations of theft against others, while it was they themselves who were guilty, though never prosecuted as far as I know. There were political entanglements and complications that made prosecutions impossible. They were in the habit of making accusations of homosexuality against others, while they vehemently rebuked anyone who pointed out that the managers themselves were obvious
Lawyer A then waited again until the very last day to put together a response to the motion to dismiss, which he told me to file at the courthouse itself rather than the County Clerks office. That didnt sound right at all, and I said so, but Lawyer A insisted that I file my papers only with the courthouse, and not with the County Clerk. I was suspicious. I ran off a second copy of the papers. Because it took most of the day to prepare the paperwork, I arrived at the court shortly before closing time. The secretaries were terribly confused as to why I was giving them papers. My suspicions were right! I drove to the County Clerks office and arrived there just moments before closing. I filed another copy there, and the staff were perfectly prepared for these things. Lawyer A had deliberately given me incorrect information to prevent me from filing properly! Shortly after I filed the papers with the County Clerk, Lawyer A backed out of the case, leaving me high and dry. Ever since that time I have had a really horrible reputation, and Ill probably never be able to live it down.
Thats why my new research earned me enemies. The executives of two nonprofit theatres in Western New York heard some crazy stories from Employer A, who could (and maybe did???) now truthfully add the story of a failed slander suit. So those executives of those two nonprofit theatres harshly rebuffed my offers to volunteer my services for them. They did not want to see me, meet me, hear from me, or even listen to free advice. And the crazy accusations one of them made against me sheesh! claiming that I was conspiring with a demolition crew to rob their equipment and sell it to Warner Bros! Huh? Where did that story come from? What substances do these members of the Affluent Society inhale when theyre locked inside their private Executive Boardrooms? (And people say that Im delusional? Okay. Whatever.) They were convinced that I was a saboteur; so they decided to attack me before I could attack them. Paranoia is the name of the game, I guess. It was their loss, not mine, because I could have and would have saved them an enormous amount of expense and trouble, and would have ensured that their restorations were more accurate. You see, I knew things they didnt, especially about the original architecture and décor. They still dont know these things and probably never will. Oh well....
My hobby kept me away from home during library hours and kept me alone in my apartment(s) during nonlibrary hours. Many of these years I didnt live in Buffalo. Thats because after the fire and after the shootout in my driveway, I decided there were better places to reside. So I moved a stones throw away, to the City of Tonawanda, which I really liked at first. It was charming. The architecture was lovely. Niawanda Park and the Niagara River were almost in my front yard. The neighbors were friendly. Or so I thought. My neighbors soon grew suspicious because I was away so much and because when I was home I kept to myself. That couldnt be normal. They were certain of that. Single, male, keeps to himself, wrong color, funny name. They werent comfortable with my presence in their midst. But it was okay. I lived there for years without incident. Then came 9/11. I remember 9/11. I was paralyzed that day. Literally paralyzed. I had somehow pulled a muscle in my back and couldnt move. I couldnt even reach the phone to call for help. The pain was excruciating. Finally, around two oclock in the afternoon, I was able to struggle out of bed. It took me forever to cross the small living room to get to my phone and computer. I decided to send an email message to Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian to let them know that I would not be able to attend their screening of Little Caesar that night. When I turned on the computer, the first thing I saw was a message from Bruce Jackson saying that tonights showing of Little Caesar was canceled because of todays unspeakable events, and that he knew we were all trying to learn about the safety of our relatives and friends. Huh? I checked the days news online and saw just a few images, and read just a paragraph or two. That was all my nerves could handle. I felt shell-shocked. This was beyond horror. No words could form.
The very next day two friends from far, far away, unknown to each other, telephoned me, imploring me to leave and get as far away from New York State as possible, because they were certain that some maniac would murder me in retaliation for the events of the day before. (Youre wondering about something entirely irrelevant and youre letting your imaginations run wild. So Ill tell you, even though I dont want to. Both were approximately my age. One was female. One was male. Both were religiously unaffiliated white US citizens born and raised with easily pronounceable Western European names living in States further west. Does that matter?) I thought these two friends were being awfully silly and foolish. But I was wrong, and they were right. They were giving me the best advice Ive ever gotten. Little did I realize.... Something should have begun to dawn on me when I saw that previously friendly neighbors were now scowling at me. But hey, I thought, it could be anything; next time we chat everything will be fine again. Thats how stupid I was.
It was in June or July 2002, at which time I had been spending more than seven years of my life on this all-consuming new hobby, that Chuck LaChiusa asked if I would begin to serialize some of what I had learned for the Buffalo Architecture and History web site. Gladly!
I did not recognize the latest incarnation of the pattern, because it had only just begun a little over a year before I submitted my first instalment, and so I did not understand that by now everything had already gone wrong. There were some problems here and there, sure, and I simply concluded that I was just going through one of those rough-sledding bits of life that we all need to get past. Soon enough, though, the problems became insurmountable, and so my first instalment proved to be my final instalment. I just recently learned that there is a term that describes what I had gone through at Employer A and what I would continue to endure over the next dozen years until I finally left Western New York: mobbing. Here are some books on the topic. I havent read all of them yet. But I like what Ive read so far. I feel vindicated at least a little bit. (Please do not assume that these books or authors endorse my tirade. Please. Theyd probably be horrified by this tirade. Youll see why.)
Read the Foreword by Kenneth Westhues.
Of course, I should mention the job. Weve all had bad jobs, and this one was sure pretty bad. In 1987 I thought it was the dream job, despite the poverty wages. Its mission was something I believed in to the core of my being. Within weeks I began to see the truth. Within a year I was hoping for escape, but there were no other jobs on offer in Buffalo, at least, none for which I qualified. Then beginning sometime in
Let me back up a little. There was a pattern at this job. The chairman paid no attention whatsoever to lower-level staff. Oh, yeah, he would occasionally say Hi to them when passing in the hall, or he would occasionally unleash his considerable temper at them, but they were not in his thoughts. As favors, he would offer adult children of colleagues various positions, and would simply order his hatchet men to fire some current low-level staffers to clear the way. (A few months later, if a low-level person who had been fired dropped by to say Hi to old friends, the chairman would not even recognize that person.) Oh yes, I can remember one particularly moving incident. The chairman gave a brand-new low-level staffer an assignment, and she performed it exactly to specification. She turned it in quickly, but by then the chairman had decided that what he had asked for was not what he wanted after all. He called me into his office to demand an explanation for why she had been so stupid as to turn in what he didnt want. I tried to explain that she had given him precisely what he had asked for, but he talked right over me and in disbelief he angrily muttered Stupid bitch! He issued an instruction to one of his hatchet men to dismiss her the next morning. The chairman NEVER paid overtime (and we worked a lot of overtime I sometimes did 100 hours a week). In about 1995 he learned that business owners were not legally required to pay managers overtime, and so at the regular Monday-morning meeting he explained that to us and announced, From now on, youre all managers. He hired a highly qualified gentleman to take charge as overall operations manager, with a promise of total autonomy. That total autonomy immediately proved itself to be micromanaging and the complete sabotage of all his work. He endured months of mistreatment. There was a computer problem he had arranged to solve, but the IT personnel (who were among the chairmans sex partners) prevented him from carrying out his task, and, of course, the blame for not carrying out the task was placed squarely on his shoulders. He finally yelled at the chairman, in the presence of some others. Right after the meeting the chairman requested that those who had witnessed the yelling write down what they had heard. The chairman submitted these witness reports to the board of directors, who then, concluding that this highly qualified gentleman was a hothead, dismissed him. That was one example. Heres another example: The chairman somehow managed to hire a highly respected professional away from a prominent employer. This professional was exactly that: professional. His work was not only perfect and meticulous, but admirably creative as well. It was beyond reproach. He asked if his wife and daughter could get positions, and the chairman agreed. The chairman then started sabotaging and undermining the professionals work. How predictable. He requested that all the low-level staffers on the floor submit written complaints about the professionals wife. And they did. I held them all in my hands, I read them all, and I so much wanted to photocopy them, but I would have been caught. Each complaint was nearly identical, even to the wording, and so it was obvious that the chairman had told them precisely what to write. A few minutes after I got these handwritten papers, the chairman walked into my office and asked for them. I handed them over. The chairman then informed the board of directors that he had received complaints from all the floor staff about the professionals wife, and the board decided that she should be dismissed. She was. The professional and his daughter resigned. I liked all these people. The highly qualified gentleman disliked me because of my poor attitude, but I liked him. After he was canned I contacted him and we had a dinner meeting at a restaurant, where at last we saw eye to eye, and he finally understood where my poor attitude originated and why. He was by then in full sympathy. The professional and his family I also quite liked, and we stayed in contact for a while after they were all gone. There were other similar instances as well. Many others. But to provide any more examples would risk identifying the place. Besides, its difficult to write about people without identifying them beyond highly qualified gentleman and highly respected professional and so forth. So lets just move on to a different episode, the one that I witnessed
There was a guy at the office I had gotten along with quite well. He was always jovial and friendly and pleasant, and we frequently had lunches together. Let us call him the
While everybody else was overjoyed, I was upset. I was working for criminal monsters, and I wanted nothing more to do with them. By working there I was effectively complicit, and thats not something I ever wanted to be. I felt completely defiled. I was so upset that my immune system shut down and within a few days I thought I was dying. I could no longer go to work. The situation quickly got complicated more complicated than a Congreve play. But theres no point in telling that story here, partly because I find it too embarrassing but mostly because I need to keep mum about details. But Ill tell this much. The
Slowly my health began to return thanks only to physicians and surgeons. I was back at work before I fully recovered. (I have yet to recover fully, as the immune problems occasionally make their presence known even still. This drains what little savings I ever manage to put together.) The suit against the
I knew I was in trouble. Lots of trouble. I needed to talk with someone. I phoned a disgruntled
When I arrived at work there was an executive meeting in a room where meetings were generally never held, and I knew it was about me. While that was going on I went to the chairmans computer to help him with a task he had assigned me the day before, and I decided to do something I had never done on my own before: I looked at his email messages, trying to gauge how many of his supporters and friends had warned him of looming troubles and perhaps even forwarded him the pseudonymous message. His inbox was filled to overflowing with messages from the supposedly disgruntled
The chairman walked into my office, gently asking me, Whos Tinto Brass? He called me in for a lengthy private meeting. He told me that he knew everything and that the executives demanded my immediate dismissal. He showed me the emails he had just received from the other of my two friends. My two friends hadnt left his employ at all. They were still on payroll, off the books, and used their status as supposedly disgruntled
I applied at Kenmore Cab. The initial overhead was more than I could afford, the income was less than I could afford, the cabs were sickeningly smelly, and some of the staff were downright spooky. Enterprise Rent-a-Car tossed out my application. I tried for a job delivering pizza, but the announced position didnt exist. There was one pizza-delivery position that actually did exist, and the pay was good! But it was a front run by the Mafia. No thanks. (A friend had worked there briefly as a delivery boy, and he said that in the kitchen there were no secrets. Shop talk was the only talk, and there was nothing but shop talk. Unfortunately, he heard only snippets, as he dashed into the kitchen to pick up orders and then dashed out right out again. But he did learn that the Statler Hotel downtown was being used for the FBI witness-protection program, and that the operators of the pizza joint together with their colleagues had the Statler under 24/7 surveillance. Gli uomini donore.... Oh my oh my, the things Ive learned through the years....) I applied as an apprentice roofer. The pay was $7/hour gross, which is about $9,400/year
After the email episode the
Then came the FBI episode. That was in early 2002. I had made a wire transfer to a movie-memorabilia shop in Italy, and so the FBI told my bank to freeze my account. This was part of the War on Terror, my banker gently explained to me. Im not making this up. The bank agreed to unfreeze my account, but just a few days later a hacker depleted my account. If they cant get you one way, they get you another.
Next was the repeating episode of stolen mail (mostly utility bills), which my neighbors would read to my landlord over the telephone. My landlord found this endlessly fascinating and was always eager to hear more. That apparently went on for months. How did I learn about this? Simple. The landlord called me and told me! Most recently the neighbors had opened my gas bill, called him and read it to him, telling him that my last payment was delinquent. The landlord wanted to know why I wasnt paying my bills lately. Well of course I wasnt paying the bills, because the neighbors had been swiping them!!!!
Then came the two
But then it all suddenly made sense when the police took me to headquarters for an interrogation on Tuesday morning, 3 September 2002. Thats when I learned what a small group of neighbors, doubtlessly goaded on by
The claims these neighbors had made were vague, and while drug dealer was certainly a prosecutable offense, I wasnt too sure that homosexual was, promiscuous or otherwise. But the neighbors had made one claim that was specific only one and it was true!!!!! At a block party I invited the neighbor kids to play with my mice. A few of the parents were terrified of mice and forbade their children to get near them, but most of the parents were okay with it. Unfortunately, not a single one of the parents was interested in playing with the mice, which was too bad. I guess it all has something to do with conditioning were taught to be frightened of these gentlest of all animals. After watching the children be so enchanted with the mice for a little while, I thought this was too adorable not to be captured for posterity. I went back to my apartment, brought out my 35mm camera, and shot several rolls of film. That did not create a frenzy at the time but then a few weeks later 9/11 happened, and the neighbors got spooked. What happened and when, I dont know, but within a year they reported me to the police. The police, to say nothing of these few worried neighbors, thought that my behavior was heinous. Captain David Frank Bentley, Officer T. Hankinson, and a third, a detective whose name and rank I no longer remember (he was tall, slender, in his 60s, and supremely grumpy), surrounded me in the captains office.
Of course, worried parents should have every reason to report a suspicious character to the authorities. Since I prefer to be alone most of the time, I have never wished to be a parent, and thus I have never been a parent, but nonetheless I can still identify. If I were a parent I would be overly protective and I would be deeply suspicious of everybody. In an ideal world the authorities would listen carefully to any suspicions and would perform a serious and careful investigation, which, with accusations such as those directed towards me, would not be at all difficult to do, especially when the suspect agrees to allow the authorities to inspect his apartment. Besides, as all the neighbors knew, except for the mice at the block party, the only interactions I had with any children was waving Hi as I would walk down the street. Nothing more. Ever. This was common knowledge. I waved Hi to everyone I met in my neighborhood. It was the polite thing to do. The neighbors had all accepted this for many years. I never made friends with any neighbors. I had a fair number of friends in Buffalo and Sanborn and Angola and Williamsville and elsewhere. They were friends because we shared interests (silent movies, theatre, history, and so forth) and saw eye to eye. I never met folks with such interests in my neighborhood, but I was always polite. I never visited any neighbors except for one
These police officers had an interest in
The captain asked if he, the detective, and the officer could examine my apartment. After their lengthy and emphatic unpleasantness, I was not happy about allowing them in, but I decided it would be for the best, and initially I was confident that after a little while theyd see that there was nothing illicit, and that they would then apologize for having disturbed me. How wrong I was! The detective noticed that I had leftover prescription pain medication from when I had pulled my back muscle a year before. Whats more, I still had one or two
There was a picture window in my living room. I liked it because I could see a little bend in the Niagara River from it. It was soothing. That was about the first thing that the captain noticed, and he asserted that with such a convenience at my disposal, he was certain I must be regularly using it to expose myself. Thats when I really began to understand that he was merely accusing me of his own predilections. This was the Employer A strategy all over again.
The detective said it was time to study all my photographs. My negs were in order. My positives were just scattered about, but most of them were tossed higgledy-piggledy into a file drawer. The detective went through them. Hundreds upon hundreds of photos of Hawaii, Australia, wildlife, animal sanctuaries, pollywogs, frogs, salamanders, newts, old buildings, theatres, architectural details, Germany, scholarly conventions. Amongst all this were literally only about six rolls of children playing with mice. The detective loudly called out to the captain and the officer, Yeah, this guys got a problem! They came round to see for themselves, and all three unanimously agreed that these photos were the work of a leering criminal mind. They put my entire photo collection aside to take to headquarters.
The detective started looking through the rest of the apartment, including the basement which all the tenants shared in common. He demanded to know why I had all that S&M/bondage paraphernalia in the basement. What? If there was anything like that down there it sure wasnt mine. (I checked later and found that there was nothing of the sort anywhere on the premises.) He also accused me of being a Nazi sympathizer, which he said was evidenced by the collection of Nazi porn on my computer. What in heavens name is Nazi porn? To this day I dont know what that is. (I thought for a moment he may have been looking at my essay on Salon Kitty, but then it occurred to me that my essay was nowhere on my home computer.) Since I hadnt a clue as to what he was talking about, I asked him to show me what he meant. I dont have to show you anything! he snarled. A ha! He found that on my computer there were hardcore sites among the favorites! Sexual predators look at porn, he insisted. (Yes, I have looked at porn. Id be surprised to find too many people who havent. Heck, Im on friendly terms with some producers, directors, and performers in the porn business I was then and I still am now. But no, I am not a sexual predator. And those favorites were not mine. I hadnt noticed them before, as I had purchased the computer used a little over a year previously and paid no attention.) The detective would open the sites from the favorites and pull up photographs of women who were clearly in their 20s. He would study them for a while, slowly, one by one, and would then begrudgingly admit, She seems to be
While the detective continued to search my computer, the captain decided to be suspicious as to why I would have a letter from the Freethinkers of Northern Colorado. Are you some sort of atheist? Dont you believe in God? He said that people without belief in God would not be able to tell the difference between right and wrong, which was further indication that there was something wrong with me. Good grief! He also didnt understand why I had the local newspaper, The Tonawanda News. You see, each issue of The Tonawanda News includes a small photograph with a caption showing a school child who had just won a spelling bee or a baking contest or whatever. They have pictures of KIDS!!! And you KEPT them!!! But they didnt confiscate those. The police captain wondered about my VHS of Cinema Paradiso, but after pondering it for a while he put it back on the shelf. Not strong enough. He needed something better. Oh! Look at this! The captain saw a most promising title on the spine of a book: The Boys from Syracuse. Hmmmmm. What might that be? Oops. Just a book on the Shubert Brothers of Broadway fame. Nope, cant use that. I was worried that hed steal my Tinto Brass collection, which was on prominent display. He glanced at it but against all my expectations he showed no interest in it!
After an hour of searching, the detective confiscated one more item for my criminal file. It was a 3.5" disc. I had labeled it Buster Keaton behind the Scenes. That title sounded suspicious to him and so he took it back to headquarters for examination. The disc was mostly empty, containing a grand total of three items each was a photograph I had copied from an eBay listing a year or so before:
Pretty strong stuff, huh? But that wasnt all. The captain confiscated something even more salacious: a beginners book of Italian grammar that I had just purchased from a shop in Toronto. You see, it had a photograph of some Italian school children on the cover. Bingo! That was it! Six rolls of film of the neighbor kids playing with my mice. And now a grammar book with a photo of schoolchildren on the cover. Too much! This was abnormal! Deviant! As the detective boomed out, Everywhere you turn in this apartment, its kids, kids, kids, kids, and more kids! They had a case. This was going to result in serious jail time. With those items they were going to build a case against me and lock me away. They confiscated my computer, too, surely because they wanted to plant evidence on it. They confiscated all my photographs, and, finally, the captain hit the jackpot and confiscated one last item: my correspondence with Lawyer A regarding my suit against Employer A, who I am convinced instigated all this commotion to begin with. And that binder of correspondence, Im sure, is what the police wanted most of all especially since they were on good terms with Employer A. The captains grin went from ear to ear and he could not contain his excitement. Isnt it interesting that youve been accused of this before? he shouted out with great glee. Once he found that binder, he called off the search. They now had what they had been looking for. So Im sure that everything else was just a pretext to get that binder. Stupidly, that obvious conclusion didnt occur to me until much, much later. (I should be more truthful. That obvious conclusion didnt occur to me until I wrote this paragraph. Sometimes Im just not all that bright.)
Back to headquarters. Much more haranguing. I thought they were going to kill me. By now youre wondering why I didnt simply demand to see a lawyer. First of all, the police would not allow me to make a phone call. Secondly, I had had my fill of lawyers. Remember Lawyer A, mentioned above? Well, there had also been Lawyer B, who did precisely the same
The detective asserted that I must be a deviant because ALL my photographs were of children. No, I corrected him, of the many hundreds of photographs I have shot, mostly of landscapes, frog ponds, architecture, only several rolls were. He cut me off by bellowing out, YOU HAVE AN UNHEALTHY OBSESSION WITH KIDS!!!! Since I seldom had visitors, the police concluded that I was a dangerous antisocial misfit. When they asked if I ever had visitors, and I said yes, of course I did, they concluded that those visitors were colluding with me in criminal conspiracies. The captain proffered: So when you get together with your friends you talk about atheism, right? No, I said, we talk about architecture, local history, silent movies. He gave up on that tack and switched it to You talk about pedophilia. Give me the names of the people you talk about pedophilia with. The topic had never once come up. He refused to believe me, and repeated his question, more and more loudly, probably 50 times. When I gave the same answer 50 times, the detective was ready to explode, and screamed in exasperation, He keeps on playing mind games! The captain asked where I worked. I told him. He had never heard of the place and asked what we did there. I told him. He said that sounded to him like a group that agitated for pedophilia. The captain demanded to know, in full elaborate detail, all about masturbation and my fantasies and everything sexual I had ever done or thought throughout my life. He started describing little children to me in graphically sexual terms, rhapsodizing about how desirable their body parts are, and that was talk that nearly made me throw up. I was certain by now that he was talking about his own psychological problems, not mine. He wanted to know about my every homosexual tryst. I had never had any, I said, nor had I wanted to. To my surprise he granted that I was probably telling the truth about that, but that was not enough. Now he wanted to know the name of each and every child I had ever molested, the dates, the circumstances, the names of the parents, the specifics of each violation, the contact information. It was impossible for me to provide nonexistent information, and that made him erupt in fury. Seeing that such a line of inquiry was going nowhere, he and the detective demanded to know why I didnt have a girlfriend. The detective shouted at me: Why dont you? Its easy enough to do!!! How on earth was I supposed to answer that? Well, did I at least pay for hookers? No, I said, I have never done that, which is true. (Ive met and had friendly conversations with a number of sex workers through the years, but Ive never made use of their services. I wouldnt feel at all comfortable doing that.) They asked why I did not have any Playboy magazines lying around. (Actually, I did have a few, the ones that had articles related to Tinto Brass; but I had those filed away in note binders and folders.) I told them that I dislike Playboy, which is true. That settled the matter for them, they said, for no normal
The captain told me that I now had a choice. If I confessed, they would let me go home. If I didnt confess, they would then be obliged to perform a full investigation, full assault, and full attack. He also assured me, with a most menacing tone of voice, Once we lock you up, we will find evidence against you we will. I was able to translate that into English. That meant that all three were going to pummel me, crack my skull open, toss me into a cell, and plant evidence on me. I gave in. They had me say to their tape recorder that they had treated me wonderfully and courteously, and then they had me say other things too. Everything I said into their tape recorder was a lie. Now that they had incriminating evidence that would stand up in court, THEY LET ME GO!!!!!!! By putting me through all this, and then letting me go, they had created a bizarre situation, and that was the point. They knew that nobody would ever believe me, because police do not let suspects go after getting a confession. And so, to this day, almost nobody has ever believed me. A few lawyers believe me. (There are a few good lawyers, I have since discovered. Very few.) A few others involved in the legal profession believe me. Nobody else believes me. The story sounds dumber than bad fiction. To top it off, the police captain assured me that he would be back the following Monday to arrest me. This was so mindboggling antirealistic that it made my head hurt. What policeman would ever tell a suspect, Ill be by next Monday to place you under arrest? Purest insanity. But deliberate insanity. The police knew, correctly, that if I were ever to tell this story, everyone would think I was delusional. And they were right. Thats exactly what happened.
As soon as the police let me go I called some friends who then immediately called their daughter to represent me free of charge. I had not known until that moment that their daughter was a lawyer. Had they not asked her to do so, I would have been in prison for a minimum of 15 years for possession of that Italian-grammar book and for the photos of the neighbor children playing with my mice. My new lawyer right away told me I was an idiot. I did not take that as an insult. She told me that anyone with any sort of experience would know never to talk with a policeman about anything, under any circumstances. She also assured me that I was not alone in my idiocy, because hundreds of others go through precisely the treatment I had just been through every day! This was standard operating procedure, and the victims were seldom criminals but were generally just easy naïve targets, who were not politically connected, that the police could have a good time playing with. The only difference between me and most others was that I was lucky. Most people in my position would have been in jail already and would have stayed there for decades. She also told me that many lawyers refused even to drive through the City of Tonawanda for fear of the police, who were considered the craziest in all Western New York. Lawyers would drive around Tonawanda when they needed to get somewhere. And, I have to admit, what she was saying made me feel really dumb. Naïve might be a better word. But, no, dumb. Thats what I felt. Dumb! (And the police, I later discovered, were not dumb at all. They were brilliant, in their limited way. In their very limited way.)
Now, Ive never been outgoing. I prefer to be by myself with lots of peace and quiet. Some people interpret that as hiding myself inside a shell. Other people interpret that as unfriendliness. Still others interpret that as rudeness or arrogance. But that doesnt follow. Not at all. I had always been a very friendly, open person, but after this treatment I discovered that, for the most part, I really no longer liked people. I no longer liked Buffalo. I no longer liked Tonawanda. I no longer liked any part of New York. I wanted to leave. Right away. And I deeply regretted not having heeded the wise advice of
When I returned to work the following day, Wednesday, the 4th of September, I saw that the chairman was worried sick. He called me into his office because he was convinced that what had happened to me was just a ruse; he was certain that he was the actual target. He started telling me, feverishly, that he would pay all my legal expenses. A few minutes later he came up to me in my office, one inch from my face, and started telling me, nervously and sotto voce, that it was okay, that I didnt have to worry about losing my job over this, that his sympathies were precisely with those adult males whose sexual preferences were for underagers. Have you ever felt totally creeped out? I mean, so creeped out that you just wanted to throw up and run to another planet? Now what else was I going to learn about this horrible place that I had been working in for so many years? I havent got a clue as to what my expression looked like, but I do remember that my voice was cracking only because I didnt know how to deal with this situation. Despite a cracking, wavering voice, I told him in no uncertain terms that he had it all wrong. It was like talking to a wall. But then, a few moments later, he seemed confused and slinked away. This was the guy who had a sterling moral reputation? I guess this was his attempt, after a year and a half of hatred, to
Just a little while later that morning I saw from my office window an expensive car pull up in the parking lot. Trust me when I say that it was not common for a car quite that expensive to pull into the parking lot at the place where I worked. A very short, very wide little guy slowly emerged from the drivers seat. He appeared to be about sixty years old, though its hard to say, especially after all these years. He was wearing expensive dress clothes, including an ankle-length coat and a hat. He was the stereotypical undercover police investigator. How I wished I could snap a photo of him. Frustratingly, I had no access to a camera. He pretended to be a customer. He didnt understand that we generally didnt have customers; we had members, and his behavior and mannerisms and demeanor and looks were an absolute mismatch for our members. Before he even walked into the building, I knew that he was going to ask to purchase two items, and I knew which two. And thats exactly what he did. He did not leave his name, which again was an absolute mismatch for our members, who all introduced themselves and wanted to chat. There was never an exception. He slowly waddled his way back to his car and drove off. I was certain that he and everyone else back at headquarters would be sorely disappointed in the two items he had just purchased. And they were, because nothing ever came of that
Shortly before closing time came a dénouement of sorts, for the chairman had just figured out that I was indeed the sole target of the police investigation, and that he had nothing to worry about regarding himself. How he figured that out, I dont know. He was
You know, the other folks in the office never understood why I was often so dramatic. They came to work in the morning, got paid much more than I did, went out to drink beer at 5, then drove home and zoned out watching TV. That was the life. So what was the big deal? Why was I always in a turmoil? They couldnt understand. They thought I was crazy. And, you know, I think they were right.
The next day, Thursday, the 5th of September, I got a phone call from a kindly elderly lady. We knew each other already through the chairman! And it was the chairman who had asked her to call me. She was only too happy to do so, because she had some things to get off her chest as well, and so she thought it was time to tell me something that she was sure I didnt know. Actually, she told me lots of things I didnt know, but I darent publish them because I have no documented proof. But heres one thing she told me that helped put everything into perspective, and Im free to repeat it because its in the public domain. She told me that just a block from my apartment was the police captains son. A ha!!!! Yes, I see! Of course! This was beginning to make sense indeed! And hes the spittin image of his father, too, which eliminates all doubt about paternity. Here he is again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
At about that time I got curious about something. I went on to Google and started checking on how police managed to get false confessions. One of the first things I ran across was an advertisement for an unofficial police handbook entitled We Get Confessions. The ad praised the book as being the best methodology for, essentially, getting anyone to confess to anything, generally through nonviolent coercion. Hmmmm. I really wanted to read that. But to purchase it would get my name on a mailing list that I didnt ever want to be on. And I sure didnt want to give those guys any money. Judging from the online advertisement it seems to be a methodology for getting random dummies like me to confess while letting
On the morning of Saturday, the 7th of September, my lawyer called to tell me that the police would not press charges. They had gone through my computers entire hard drive and determined that it was clean. I was genuinely surprised that they hadnt added anything to the hard drive. They certainly had the opportunity and the motive. I dont understand why they didnt. Im glad they didnt, yes, but I dont understand why they didnt. Was that simply because I now had legal representation? That sounds highly unlikely. Somewhat more likely is that the police had done some research on me, and they couldnt have liked what they found. They were hoping that I was an unknown nobody, an easy target for planted evidence and false allegations, a new toy they could enjoy punching around for 15 years or more. Surely they learned differently. My name was known and respected among local historians and history buffs. I had some celebs that I counted as friends including one who was a frequent guest on Johnny Carsons Tonight Show and I had numerous acquaintances in the sciences, some of whom were quite famous for debunking bogus claims of molestation generated by shrinks who hypnotically reveal repressed memories. I also had friends and acquaintances who were quite expert at tearing The Courage to Heal and all other such rot to shreds, and who were rather famous as expert witnesses in court. Maybe the police decided that they had messed up and picked on the wrong person? Maybe the police decided that booking me might generate gales of negative publicity? Maybe the police decided that booking me might be more trouble than it was worth? I dont know. Or perhaps there was an anonymous guardian angel who quietly pulled some strings on my behalf? I suspect so, but Ill never know. Who would have done that for me? Why? How?
It was during that Saturday-morning phone call that my lawyer explained to me once again, slowly, deliberately, forcefully, that if I didnt leave town right away I would be the police departments new toy, since the police take ceaseless revenge upon any target whom they are unable to book. And I must never set foot in the City of Tonawanda ever again as long as I live. I would be risking everything to do so.
That afternoon I went to the George Eastman House in Rochester to meet my new acquaintance Serge Bromberg who was presenting one of his Retour de Flamme shows. I handed him a lost nitrate silent
It was I think a month before the police agreed to return my confiscated property. (Im lucky I got my stuff back. Police by law are permitted to steal anything they like, from anyone, for any reason or no reason. There is no recourse.) My lawyer accompanied me to headquarters, and I let her do all the talking. The police captain said to me, Thanks for being so coöperative. I wanted to kick him. I just looked at him without answering. After my stuff was back in my car, my lawyer, to make her point clear, told me yet again that to stay in Tonawanda was to be arrested. I had to leave. No arguments. There was no room to fight, and so I just gave in. I quickly moved out of my apartment. The chairman gave me permission to use the company van for that purpose. Oh the stuff I tossed out! I gave thousands of books and journals to a local shop. I filled an entire dumpster with stuff I would rather have kept. By this time the police had informed all the neighbors of my confession, and heaven only knows how they embellished it. All I know for certain is that every neighbor wanted me dead. Well, it makes for an interesting life. And that is how the police succeeded in the goal the captain had succinctly summarized when he told me, We want a safe neighborhood.
Oh yes, back to the confiscated/returned computer. I had been having these horrifying visions of finding folders filled with tens of thousands of hardcore photos, and finding hundreds upon hundreds of hardcore sites among the favorites. What was really there? I dreaded to look but I just had to find out. I was a nervous wreck as I patched the machine together, turned it on, and almost nothing. No folders. Maybe ten porn sites among the favorites. That was it? Thats what all this hullabaloo was about? I shut off the computer and never turned it back on again. It might now be in storage. Or I might have tossed it. I dont remember.
I tried to find another apartment, but only one landlord returned my call. I went to see the place, and it was a dilapidated boarding house that reeked of fried pork. Dilapidated I could deal with. Thats how I grew up. I was quite accustomed to that. But the fried pork was too much. My stomach couldnt handle it. As for the other calls I made, all the landlords refused to talk with me, surely because my name sounded too foreign. People with foreign-sounding names were not too popular in the years following 9/11, and were especially unpopular in such a
I was quite taken aback when several friends suggested that I simply explain to everybody that Im not Arabian or Iraqi or Muslim, thinking that if I were to say such a thing suddenly everybody would be nice. Why should I say such a thing? And what difference would it make? And so what if I were Arabian or Iraqi or Muslim? Is it a crime to be Arabian or Iraqi or Muslim? Does being Arabian or Iraqi or Muslim make one dangerous? And for heavens sake: How many US citizens can define the word Muslim? How many US citizens can locate Arabia or Iraq on a globe? How many US citizens know the first thing about Eastern history and cultures? How many US citizens can tell the differences among the various peoples of the East? If the answer is so much as 1/30th of 1% Id be stunned. All people who look different or have names that are difficult to pronounce are lumped together as the enemy. So come on! Get real! How could such an explanation solve anything? The issue was simply wrong color, funny name, single male, keeps to himself, doesnt drink beer with us. That was the issue. Thats why everybody was creeped out. Anyone who fit that description would have been assumed guilty of every crime that ever there was. I foolishly did not bother to clip the news article that quoted a gal who in response to 9/11 suggested that future problems be prevented by killing all brown people. That was the issue. And whats more and this is what nobody seems to understand I have zero identity with my cultural roots. No identification at all. Nada. Zilch. I have no friends or social contacts from those parts of the world, and those parts of the world and those cultures really dont interest me in the least. I dont read about them, I dont follow their news, I dont read their literature, I dont eat their food or listen to their music or hang their art on my walls or wear their fashions or anything. I
While landlords were all giving me the silent treatment for over two months, I had no choice but to live on the office premises. That really got on everybodys nerves. Then in
A month or so afterwards the
So there I was, for several months, staying in the
The office where I worked strongly preferred conservative dress and hair. It was not a written policy, and it was not strictly enforced, but everyone obeyed because it was the proper thing to do. So I stopped cutting my hair, just to irritate everyone. In a few months my hair was below my shoulders and I looked absolutely ridiculous. Nobody said anything. Then once I had saved sufficient funds I spent an entire Tuesday night packing my things into an ABF truck. It took me the whole night because my Geo Metro was very small and I had to drive over just a few boxes at a time from the other side of town. As I was inside the truck loading boxes that evening my mobile phone rang. The caller introduced herself as Annon Adams. She was involved with the Theatre Historical Society, had just learned about my research on Buffalo theatres, and was just dying to chat with me about the topic. She was even thinking of driving over to Buffalo for a get-together. Well, hey, you know.... Sorry! When I finished loading the truck at eight or so on Wednesday morning I was not in the least bit tired or sleepy. I drove over to the office to spend my antepenultimate day there. It would have been my ultimate day except that the Capitol Theatre in Rome NY had just delayed my plans by asking me to introduce a Buster Keaton movie on Saturday night. I couldnt resist and so I said Yes! On Friday, in further violation of the unwritten dress code, I wore a
At my request the
Just for the record, I should state that despite numerous opportunities to do so, I never sabotaged any work. I did all my assignments to the best of my ability. The managers were worried that I was stealing files and reporting all to the authorities. I did nothing of the sort. And that is one of my regrets. I wish I had.
Having escaped from Buffalo I crossed much of the country in my dilapidated Geo Metro and found that the further away I was, the nicer people were. And in my numerous encounters I happened to meet a very well known and highly respected scholar whose area of interest precisely matched the historical documents I had rescued. I mentioned to him what I had found and what I had done, and he instantly said hed purchase them from me. He wished to make preservation copies and then donate the originals to the archive at the university where he worked, where the papers would be made available for public inspection. Well, I said, that probably wont be possible, because the
This was the friend I had helped? Had I not helped him he would likely have been rotting in prison, and thats where he belonged. Why did I ever trust this scumbag?
I emailed the history buff and demanded that he go back and retrieve all the documents that were spread out on the attic floor. He wrote back right away that I was being unreasonable and that he refused to speak with me again until I calmed down.
About five years later, after I sort of settled down in a new city, I was volunteering one Saturday at a park as part of a festival for human rights. I heard my name being called, and it was a voice I didnt want to hear. I turned around and saw the
Of all the horrible things that anyone has ever done to me, the destruction of those documents was by far the worst. Im still sick over it. (NOTE ADDED 16 APRIL 2014: It just now occurs to me: A few days before I left the office for the last time, I copied some personal files from the office computer onto floppy discs. I put those discs in amongst the items to put into the ABF truck. But when I arrived at my destination, those floppy discs were missing. I never understood how. Well duh.... It was the
When I made the discovery that I no longer liked people, I wondered if that was just a phase from which I would recover. It wasnt. I still dont like people. I do make a few notable exceptions, though, of course. Very few. They know who they are. Im cordial with other people, but nothing more than cordial. And among people with whom Im cordial there is only shop talk. Nothing personal. Ever. If I could really have my own way I would move to a large horse ranch with the proviso that I never come into contact with a human again. If they dont have four legs or feathers or fins, I dont want them in my life.
As for the lengthy bout of depression I suffered throughout much of the 1990s, it was to be my last one. Afterwards I developed an immunity. And no, Ive never been able to work up the energy to study that Italian-grammar book. Its still collecting dust in storage. But that fake résumé did get me some gigs and jobs that eventually got me back up on my feet.
Are there morals to this story? Yes, there are:
UPDATE (Sunday, 21 September 2014) Oh, heres another one that a friend just pointed out: Police Dash-Cam Video Exonerates New Jersey Man. Just gives you that nice warm glow all over, doesnt it? The parents of those cops must sure be proud of their boys. After all, who else would risk life and limb to keep us safe from marauders? This is what happens ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE. It was only by fluke that this video surfaced, courtesy of a whistleblower at the station, who probably now needs to fear for his life. This is the sort of evidence that the police normally hide or destroy.
It was fortunate that all my misfortunes happened a decade ago rather than now. Now with total information awareness and its lingering offshoots, including that reprehensible Live Scan, theres no possibility of getting a business manager to agree to pretend a friend had been an employee. Now theres no possibility of keeping a new address a secret. Now theres no way to fly under the radar even for a moment. I guess this is all, uh, um, to protect, uh, someone, um, against, well, something. Yeah. It certainly protects corporate gangsters against whistleblowers, thats for sure.
Thus this great Buffalo-theatre-history project crashed and burned before it was even launched. I have never been back to Buffalo and I shall never return even for a visit. I dont want to feel that weight again. I would never feel comfortable or safe there again. Nor would I feel comfortable or safe anywhere in Western New York. Buffalo City of Good Neighbors my foot. They should change the name to City of CAT Bulldozers, Demolitions, Segregation, Slums, and Violent Maniacs. That would be far more honest. It wouldnt affect tourism because there isnt any. On the positive side, though, I discovered to my amazement that, once I was a thousand miles away from New York, I could walk down the street without getting harassed and without the police stopping me or even looking at me, I could go shopping without getting peculiar looks, and I could apply for
In my new life I got involved in other things that quite happily occupied all my time. And happily I discovered that, within a few months (weeks?) after I left Tonawanda, Bentley was no longer police captain! He was shunted into a nonpolice position for a year and then took an early retirement. I would just love to know why he got the boot, but thats not information that will ever be divulged. (Was that in part a reaction against his attempt to arrest me? I doubt it, but its a delicious thought.) The Tonawanda City Hall is quite expert at keeping its dirty laundry hidden most of the time. I hear that Bentleys replacement, though, a guy named James G. Litz, was every bit as bad. A person who is too afraid to use real names his own or certain others posted a comment on a bulletin board. I wish I knew the story behind his sentiment that Litz would seem like a choir boy compared to the days of Bent lee. And then Litz was kicked out too. (But the old lingers on, as it always does. Now there is a different Bentley and a different Hankinson on the force. This isnt nepotism. Its royalty.)
How many more stories like mine are there? I presume there would be many millions. But people wisely dont talk, because they know that nobody would believe them. And theyre right. Besides, do you know how embarrassing it is to tell people, I was falsely accused of...? When you do that, people dont sympathize with you. Not at all. They just mentally link you with the crime you were accused of, and then they want nothing to do with you. Thats why its really pretty stupid of me to write this essay that youre now reading. But I figure that someones got to begin to break that barrier and get some dialogue going. If you were ever assaulted, or if your children were ever assaulted, youre not going to feel comfortable reading this, are you? Youll just make an unavoidable emotional connection and wish me dead. If, on the other hand, youve been falsely accused, youre going to have some sympathy, but youre going to be distrustful, because nobody in his/her right mind goes public with this. Its a maddening situation to be in. Thats why people keep quiet. If youre innocent and falsely accused, you are limited to two and only two choices: keep quiet and take the risk that rumors will catch up with you and cause a maelstrom that could land you in jail for the rest of your life, or tell people what happened and have them all disbelieve you which could start rumors that will catch up with you and cause a maelstrom that could land you in jail for the rest of your life. Thats your choice. Not much of a choice, is it? Nobody will ever feel comfortable around you again if youve been falsely accused, because theres that unavoidable emotional connection and that unavoidable lingering doubt. Its just an ugly situation, and theres no solution to it. Think back to the good old days: If you were accused of witchcraft, how could you prove you werent a witch? There was no way to do so. The accusation alone was your doom. And anyone who were to have the temerity to defend the witch would also be doomed. Theres also the understandable emotional reaction that to concentrate on those falsely accused of a crime is to take attention away from the true victims of crime and further to erode any credibility that true victims need to prove their case. Thats true. Thats absolutely true. Whats the solution? I dont know. Help? People at the office where I work dont understand why I never gossip. And they dont understand why I refuse to listen to their gossip. The reason is simple: Gossip is an unfair forum in which the accused has no recourse. I find that extremely ugly, especially after all Ive been through.
Taking a six-week break from another project back in 2008, I finally began to turn my Buffalo materials into a book. I took the story from 1813 through the beginning of 1835. The result was about 250 pages long, and its one of my proudest accomplishments. By scribbling that ms I discovered an astonishing political history of the Village of Buffalo that no other historian knows or even suspects. I was not prepared for such a revelation. It just formed, all by itself, on the computer screen as I was writing. Thats what happens when you put together lots of scraps of forgotten data. Those data begin to link themselves together to tell dramatic stories that nobody remembers. Its just like magic. Its exactly like magic. Except that its even better. But I have not published that book, nor shall I until I get some other things out of the way. Its filled with errors that, several years later, I finally know how to correct, but that would take me a full month, which is time I cannot afford to spend right now. I doubt anybody would be interested in it anyway. People like to read about things they remember. Adventurous people like to read about things their parents remember. People who are yet even more adventurous like to read about things that their grandparents remember. But I wrote about stuff that everybodys great-great-great-great grandparents all forgot. So yes, I realize that the book has no commercial possibilities at all. And since I have no interest in getting a Ph.D., I realize that the book will never be reviewed in a scholarly journal. Thus it will never have a popular audience, nor will it have an academic audience. It will have no audience. I just want to do it because I just want to do it. So there. My research is a hobby, you see, a rather obsessive hobby. Its not a business venture. And thats something that certain antiques vendors either cannot understand or pretend not to understand when they think they can charge me more money than I own just to get an old scrapbook or program. When they raise the prices that high, they get stuck with items that they then arent able to give away for free.
Actually, despite everything, I do still have a soft spot for Buffalo. Look at my URL! Buffalo is my adopted home town. I really did love it with all my heart. But now that I look back on it, I can understand that my love was for Buffalo only in the abstract. I loved certain aspects of its past. I deeply resent the way the Senecas were treated, and I deeply resent their omission from the history books. I deeply resent the public hangings. I deeply resent the
When I wrote the first draft of this essay, the exercise was cathartic. I had divulged a few little bits and pieces of this story to a select few friends, who generally did not believe me. I then kept it in, and held it in, for over 20 years. Now that Im posting the skeletal outline of what was supposed to have become a better skeletal outline of what I had hoped would one day be a series of articles that would eventually become a book, I need to explain why I never wrote that book. And dont anyone dare ask me, Whats the problem? Do you have writers block? To explain why I never wrote that book, I found that I needed to break down and reveal as much as the law will allow. Most identities need to be kept secret, and some details need to be elided over, else Id be sued. Maybe Ill publish the entire account posthumously. After posting the first draft, I noticed that the story was incomplete, and I noticed that I had jumbled some events. So I rewrote it quickly. Then I noticed that even my rewrite was filled with omissions and misrecollections. So I rewrote it again. And again. And again. And again. Over 150 times, I think. Its about as complete and correct now as it can be without risking defamation suits. In my years of researching the law, I have discovered that truth is not a defense. Truth is never a defense. That is why I would lose. That is why much must still remain secret. It will remain secret until the perpetrators are all dead, or until I am dead. Perhaps it will remain secret forever. And now that Ive
Words: Νίκος Γκάτσος (19111992), Music/Narration: Μάνος Χατζιδάκις (19251994), Vocals: Ἀλίκη Καγιαλόγλου
Ἀκούστε τώρα τὴν ἱστορία τοῦ Κεμάλ,
ἑνός νεαροῦ πρίγκιπα τῆς Ἀνατολῆς
ἀπόγονου τοῦ Σεβὰχ τοῦ Θαλασσινοῦ
ποῦ νόμισε ὅτι μπορεῖ ν’ ἀλλάξει τὸν κόσμο.
Ἀλλά πικρὲς οἱ βουλὲς τοῦ Ἀλλάχ,
καὶ σκοτεινὲς οἱ ψυχὲς τῶν ἀνθρώπων…
Στὴς Ἀνατολὴς τὰ μέρη μιὰ φορὰ κι’ ἕναν καιρὸ
ἦταν ἄδειο τὸ κεμέρι, μουχλιασμένο τὸ νερό.
Στὴ Μοσούλη, στὴ Βασόρα, στὴν παλιὰ τῂ χουρμαδιᾴ
πικραμένα κλαίνε τώρα τῆς ἐρήμου τὰ παιδιά.
Κι’ ἕνας νέος ἀπὸ σόι καὶ γενιὰ βασιλική
ἀγροικάει τὸ μοιρολόι καὶ τραβάει κατὰ ’κεῖ.
Τὸν κοιτὰν οἱ βεδουΐνοι μὲ ματιὰ λυπητερή
κι’ ὄρκο στὸν Ἀλλάχ τους δίνει πὼς θ’ ἀλλάξουν οἱ καιροί.
Σὰν ἀκούσαν οἱ ἀρχόντοι τοῦ παιδιοῦ τὴν ἀφοβιά
ξεκινὰν μὲ λύκου δόντι καὶ μὲ λιονταριοῦ προβιά.
Ἀπ’ τὸν Τίγρη στὸν Εὐφράτη κι’ απ’ τῂ γῇ στὸν οὐρανό
κυνηγὰν τὸν ἀποστάτη νὰ τὸν πιάσουν ζωντανό.
Πέφτουν πάνω του τὰ στῖφη σὰν ἀκράτητα σκυλιά
καὶ τὸν πάνε στὸ Χαλίφη νὰ τοὺ βάλει τῂ θηλιᾴ.
Μαῦρο μέλι, μαῦρο γάλα ἤπιε ’κεῖνο τὸ πρωΐ
πρὶν ἀφήσει στὴν κρεμάλα τῂ στερνῄ του τὴν πνοή.
Μὲ δύο γέρικες καμήλες, μ’ ἕνα κόκκινο φαρί
στοὺ παράδεισου τὶς πύλες ὁ προφήτης καρτερεί.
Πάνε τώρα χέρι-χέρι κι’ εἶναι γύρω συννεφιά
μὰ τῆς Δαμασκοῦ τ’ ἀστέρι τους κρατούσε συντροφιά.
Σ’ ἕνα μήνα, σ’ ἕνα χρόνο βλέπουν μπρός τους τὸν Ἀλλάχ
ποῦ ἀπ’ τὸν ψηλὸ τοῦ θρόνο λέει στὸν ἄμυαλο Σεβάχ:
«Νικημένο μου ξεφτέρι δὲν ἀλλάζουν οἱ καιροί·
μὲ φωτιὰ καὶ μὲ μαχαῖρι πάντα ὁ κόσμος προχωρεί.»
Καληνύχτα Κεμάλ. Αὐτὸς ὁ κόσμος δὲ θ’ ἀλλάξει ποτέ. Καληνύχτα…
Hear now the story of Kemal |
a young prince from the East
a descendant of Sinbad the Sailor,
who thought he could change the world.
But bitter is the will of Allah,
and dark the souls of men....
Once upon a time in the East,
the coffers were empty, the waters stagnant.
In Mosul, in Basra, under an old date-palm,
the children of the desert were now bitterly crying.
A young man of ancient and royal race
overhears their lament and goes to them.
The Bedouins look at him sadly
and he swears by Allah that things will change.
When they learn of the young man’s fearlessness,
the rulers set off with wolf-like teeth and a lion’s mane.
From the Tigris to the Euphrates, and from the earth to the sky,
They pursue the renegade to catch him alive.
They pounce on his troups like rabid dogs,
and take him to the caliph to put the noose around his neck.
Black honey, black milk he drank that morning
before breathing his last on the gallows.
With two aged camels and a red steed,
at the gates of heaven the prophet awaits.
They now walk hand-in-hand among the clouds
with the star of Damascus to keep them company.
After a month, after a year, they find themselves before Allah
who, from his high throne, tells foolish Sinbad:
“O my vanquished upstart, things never change;
the world carries on only with fire and with knives.”
Goodnight, Kemal. This world will never change. Goodnight....
If the theatres of Buffalo interest you (and I hope they do, though I have no illusions about that), you may wish to read my messy and disorganized essay about some early performers who kept Buffalonians entertained at The Gilbert-Trowbridge-Silsbee-Chapman Saga. Im quite proud of that essay as well. Predictably, just about the only traffic it gets is from web crawlers. I understand. Who on earth would want to read it? Its about people and times and events that everybodys great-great-great-great grandparents all forgot. Theres a lesson in there for all of us.
The next video, well, I cant vouch for it at all,
but if theres any truth to it, were in big trouble:
The Truth behind Cops Killing Black Kids
The past can be changed:
Indeed. It can.
Alegrate de tus sufrimientos. Rejoice in your sufferings.
Never before would I have understood that.