On the Luncheon Agenda: Norman Pearlstine

Mark Your Silurian Calendar Now for Thursday, January 15 
Speaker: Norman Pearlstine, Chief Content Officer of Time Inc.

Norman Pearlstine

Norman Pearlstine


Place: The Players, 16 Gramercy Park South (same as East 20th Street)

Time: January 15 at noon

Tariff: $45 for members, $50 for guests

Norman Pearlstine, former executive editor of The Wall Street Journal and now the chief content officer at Time Inc., has pretty much done it all in the news business, from reporter to the very top of the masthead.

And he’s our first speaker of 2015.

Pearlstine distinguished himself at the WSJ from 1968 to 1992, except for a two-year period when he was the executive editor of Forbes magazine. At the Wall Street Journal, he was a staff reporter in Dallas, Detroit and Los Angeles; Tokyo bureau chief; managing editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal; and national editor, editor and publisher of The Wall Street Journal/Europe, before returning to New York to become the WSJ’s managing editor and, finally, executive editor.

Among his other posts, he has been chief content officer of Bloomberg, and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., where he is now chief content officer (a new title). Pearlstine is a past chairman of The Committee to Protect Journalists and the author of  “Off The Record: The Press, The Government, and The War Over Anonymous Sources,” a 2007 book that sprang from his experiences as the Time Inc. boss who agreed to give federal prosecutors access to reporter Matt Cooper’s notes about CIA agent Valerie Plame after they had been subpoenaed.

Pearlstine now faces the challenge of preparing Time Inc. to be a stand-alone company as it faces the onslaught of the Internet against traditional media.

He has lots to say and almost no one says it more clearly. Please save the date: January 15 at noon. Please reserve by emailing first vice president Betsy Ashton or call the Silurians reservation line at 212 532-0887. Do not forget to leave the names of your guests as well as your own.

Photos from Robert B. Fiske Jr. Luncheon – November 20, 2014

All photos courtesy of Bill Diehl

Robert B. Fiske Jr speaking at Silurians Luncheon
Robert B. Fiske Jr speaking at Silurians Luncheon
Robert B. Fiske Jr. and Allan Dodds Frank

Robert B. Fiske Jr. and Allan Dodds Frank

Photos from Lucinda Franks Luncheon – October 14, 2014

All photos courtesy of Mort Sheinman

Lucinda Franks reading from her book.

Lucinda Franks reading from her book.

Lucinda Franks and Allan Dodds Frank

Lucinda Franks and Allan Dodds Frank

Lucinda Franks and Enid Nemy

Enid Nemy and Lucinda Franks

Photos from Walt Bogdanich Luncheon – February 18, 2014

All photos courtesy of Mort Sheinman

Investigative reporter Walt Bogdanich of The New York Times

Investigative reporter Walt Bogdanich
of The New York Times

President Allan Dodds Frank,  guest speaker Walt Bogdanich

President Allan Dodds Frank,
guest speaker Walt Bogdanich

 

 

Photos from Preet Bharara Luncheon – January 14, 2014

All Photos courtesy of Mort Sheinman

Preet Bharara and Allan Dodds Frank

Preet Bharara and Allan Dodds Frank

Preet Bharara speaking at Luncheon

Preet Bharara speaking at Luncheon

Preet Bharara and Ralph Blumenthal

Preet Bharara and Ralph Blumenthal

Seymour Topping Receives Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Seymour Topping receiving Lifetime Achievement Award (photo Mort Sheinman)

Seymour Topping receiving Lifetime Achievement Award (photo Mort Sheinman)

 

Audrey Topping, Seymour Topping and Allan Dodds Frank (photo Mort Sheinman)

Audrey Topping, Seymour Topping and Allan Dodds Frank (photo Mort Sheinman)

Seymour Topping was presented  this year’s  Lifetime Achievement Award by our president, Allan David Frank,  on Thursday, Nov. 14. The annual award was given before an enthusiastic audience, which included a goodly number of Topping’s large family, at a dinner held for that purpose at The Players.

Topping (aka Top), who is approaching his 92nd birthday, has spent some 67 years in journalism. From the age of 16, when he was the editor of his high school newspaper he knew he wanted to be a journalist, specifically, a foreign correspondent in China. (He was inspired by Edgar Snow’s Red Star over China, a seminal book on the beginning of China’s communist party).

After serving as an infantry officer in World War II, he realized his dream in 1946. International News Service hired him as a stringer with the title of  Chief Correspondent for North China and Manchuria. He was based in Peking, where he covered the Chinese civil war. In 1947, INS put him on staff in Nanking. Six months later he joined the Associated Press and covered the fall of Nanking to the communists. A year later he established AP’s Saigon bureau, becoming the first American correspondent in French Indochina after World War II and the only one there when hostilities broke out.  After two years, AP sent him to London, where he covered the diplomatic beat and then, in 1956, was assigned to a divided Berlin as bureau chief.

In 1959, Topping  joined the staff of The New York Times. He was assigned to Moscow as chief correspondent. He covered the first space shots, de-Stalinization and the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1963, he became the paper’s chief correspondent for Southeast Asia, covering the wars in Indochina.  Other parts of the globe where he was based include the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.  After 20 years abroad, Topping returned to New York to become the paper’s foreign editor and then was promoted to managing editor.  He ended his 33-year career at The Times as the Director of Editorial Development.

Upon leaving The Times he became the Administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a position he held for nine years. He also was a professor at the J School   (now emeritus) and, after his retirement in 2002, he conducted a seminar at Columbia’s School of Arts and Sciences on The Evolution of Media and the Public Interest – History and Issues.

Top has continued to write and lecture at other venues in the United States and China.  He is president of the international advisory board at Tsinghua University in Bejing.

In March 2010, Topping published his latest memoir: “On the Front Lines of the Cold War: An American Correspondent’s Journal from the Chinese Civil War to the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam,” a book about his experiences on the ground in covering the major events of that era.  His other books include “Journey Between Two Chinas” and two novels. Professional affiliations include the presidency of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and chairman of their committee on international relations.

He is married to Audrey Ronning Topping, the photojournalist, documentary film maker, and author. They have five daughters.

Linda Amster

Silurians Honor Gloria Steinem
for a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievement

By Bill Diehl

Gloria Steinem received the Silurians Lifetime Achievement Award at a gala dinner at The Players on Dec. 4. President Myron Kandel presented her with a plaque inscribed, “In recognition of a lifetime of excellence as a writer, editor, feminist, and activist, whose advocacy for gender equality has placed her in the pantheon of civil libertarians everywhere.”


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Tabloid greats wrote about ordinary ‘ruck’ of life

July 7th, 2011

By Pat Fenton  –  from the Irish Times Online

Breslin is back at the Daily News and Pete Hamill has a new book out that everybody is talking about, “Tabloid City.” And that’s good news, but sadly, both events also remind me that something important to Irish culture is slipping away from us. The sort of journalism they both perfected as they wrote stories in the Daily News and the New York Post about the city’s Irish working-class neighborhoods is fading away. And so are some of the Irish neighborhoods they wrote about.

The first time I ever read a newspaper column by Pete Hamill I was sitting in Kerrigan’s bar in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn one afternoon, reading the New York Post. It was in the 1960s, and I had just come home from two years in the Army. I was 22.

I didn’t know who Pete Hamill was, but I couldn’t stop reading what he was writing about our neighborhood. He was writing about the factories on  7th Avenue, about the local bars like Farrell’s on 16th Street and 9th Avenue, and how his father from Belfast, Ireland, drank there. My father from Galway, Ireland, drank there too.

I remember holding up the Post, a liberal newspaper at that time and hated in our conservative neighborhood, and asking the bartender if he knew who this guy Pete Hamill was. And I remember what he said to me.  ”He’s that effing Communist from down on 7th Avenue. And he went to Holy Name School, too,” he said, shaking his head, as he mentioned the parochial school we all went to. He said more, but I don’t remember it.

All that stuck in my mind was that he was writing about us. Our world. And I knew then for the first time that I wanted to be a writer.

The sort of writing he was doing, picking up on Irish-American working-class stories in his journalism where James T. Farrell left off in his fiction with his Studs Lonigan trilogy is disappearing.

His Studs Lonigan could have been a local legend in Windsor Terrace that he wrote about in his columns, a dock worker named Noonan Taylor, who some said was the toughest man in Brooklyn. He wrote about bar fights, and drinking your fill of whiskey and beer on the weekends after a week of back breaking, labor in the factories of the neighborhood, and slow dancing with the neighborhood girls on Saturday nights down in places like the Caton Inn on Coney Island Avenue as the song “Dream,” by Jo Stafford, played over and over again on the juke box.

The late Jimmy Cannon was probably one of the first Irish-American journalists to cross the vague line that bordered fiction and factual writing in newspapers, and doing it before anyone ever heard the term “New Journalism.”

After Cannon came a long list of other Irish-American journalists like: Hamill, Jimmy Breslin, Joe Flaherty, Dennis Duggan, Jack Deacy, Jim Dwyer, Dan Barry and T. J. English, all of them with their own story to tell about New York’s Irish working-class.

Before Joe Flaherty got his first by-line, he worked as a longshoreman on the docks of Red Hook, Brooklyn, unloading grain bags as a member of the union his late father was the president of, Local 1266 of the Grain Handlers.

Flaherty, who wrote for the Village Voice, and sadly died too young, was no doubt one of the best of them. He once told me that “if you really want to find out about this city go out and talk to a guy who cuts meat for a living. Talk to a guy who makes a living behind the stick of a bar. They’ll tell you what’s really wrong with it. They know more about it than any politician.”

Their beat was up in the bars of Bainbridge Avenue in the Bronx, it was Beach 116th Street in Rockaway, and places like 9th Avenue down in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, that once had Irish saloons on both corners of 17th Street, Kerrigan’s and McNulty’s, it was T.J. English’s Hell’s Kitchen, and Breslin’s Queens Boulevard, lined with bars and cocktail lounges all the way down to the entrance of the 59th Street Bridge — bars where stories of the city were told again and again over whiskey and beer on Saturday nights.

They were all writing about the ordinary ruck of life that existed in these places. The Daily News, where Breslin worked for more than a decade, probably has two of the last of that genre of writers left, Denis Hamill and Michael Daly.

I got to know Breslin after I had a story published in New York Magazine in 1973. It was called “Confessions of a Working-Stiff,” about my years of working as a cargo-man out in Kennedy Airport for Seaboard World Airlines.

He was always telling me to write a book. One afternoon when we were drinking in a rough, cargo man’s bar called the Owl, near Kennedy Airport, I told him that I had gone to the library and took out a book on how to write a novel.

I had been working with him on an idea he had about turning the world of cargo men at Kennedy Airport into a pilot for a television series.

I remember him uttering a string of curses under his breath and then barking at me in that gravelly Breslin voice that turned every head in the bar, “Jesus, you don’t read a book on writing a book; you just write it.”

I tried to spit out that I just wanted to get an idea of how many chapters a novel should be, how long it should be, but he would have none of it as he shook his head in annoyance. “Don’t worry. You’ll know when it’s done.”

After that outburst, I was nearly afraid to ask him my next question.  Would he sign a first edition I brought with me of his novel “World Without End, Amen”? He took some time writing in it, so I asked him what he wrote. He just barked, “Never mind. Read it later.” And he slammed it shut.

When I got home, I opened it up and read the words, “May 11, 1978. For Pat Fenton. Who should simply sit down and start writing 2 pages a day for the next year. Sincerely, Jimmy Breslin.”

Some Saturday afternoons I would just walk into the old Daily News building on 42nd Street, and take an elevator up to the floor he was on. This was in the 1970s, before metal scanners. He would be sitting alone in a glass fronted, small office at the end of a long hall. I would watch him struggle with his newspaper column with the pressure of a deadline pushing on him. He would stop every now and then and scream at me, “Answer the phone.”

His coat would be thrown over a chair and his tie would be hanging unmade around his neck, as if he was getting ready for a bar fight rather than the creative act of writing. The sweat would roll down his head in beads and all along his desk, and on the floor there would be piles of crumpled paper with his discarded words. With the intensity of a bullfighter, he would stare at the typewriter that held paper covered with his pen marks.

When he was finished writing, he would sit back in his chair and read his copy to an editor over the phone, and the story would appear in that night’s Bulldog edition of the Sunday Daily News with all the smoothness and spontaneity of a great barroom tale.

Then he would knot up his tie again, walk out of the Daily News building, hail a cab, and wave as he disappeared into the streets of the city.

Today, the sort of Irish working-class journalism that he, Jimmy Cannon, and Pete Hamill came out of is also disappearing, and so is the world that nurtured it. Glasses up to the lot of them.

No One Died in the Press Box

By Arlene Schulman from her blog ArlenesScratchPaper.blogspot.com

Once in a while when the subject comes up, I inform the inquisitive that the most formative period in my life so far was my twenties and thirties,when I was raised by itinerant prizefighters, baseball players and the sportswriters who covered them: those who did well and neer-do-wells, trainers of champions and their opponents, and ball players who sometimes made foolish errors on and off the field. Like a sticky-fingered thief, I slipped into rooms of their souls to steal their stories and repurpose them into my own.

Willie Randolph
Ray Arcel
From Willie Randolph of the New York Yankees, I learned about the helplessness of fumbling baseballs, game after game in front of millions, so that a wrongly colored tablecloth at a dinner for thirty seemed so less important. Hank Steinbrenner, younger and slimmer (and so was I) spoke of the expectations of his father and I looked at the expectations of my own. Boxing trainer Ray Arcel and his quiet dignity, humanity and humility taught me that the bum in the ring is still a man with the same dignity, no matter what his price tag. From boxing gym owner Artemio Colon, I learned that one doesn’t have to be a world champion to be a success. 
Artemio Colon

I didn’t have a head full of statistics or a box of rubber-bandedbaseball cards and failed dreams of playing the outfield. My curiosity, plain and simple, was to understand how people lived, won, lost, loved, persevered, who they were and where they were headed. 

           Film editor and amateur boxing referee Frank Martinez pushed me out of the editing room, shoved a camera in my hand and ordered me to shoot and to write about people. I haven’t stopped.

Sitting in press boxes, kibitzing in dugouts and locker rooms, and attending sporting events alongside renowned sportswriters like Dave Anderson, Vic Ziegel, Barney Nagler, Mike Katz and Jerry Izenberg. I dismissed contemporary novels as too trivial compared to their writings and the writings of A.J. Liebling, Red Smith, Bill Heinz, Budd Schulberg and Paul Gallico, who captured a colorful sports scene when the world was a much smaller place and people spent more time with each other.

            At the non-quite yet half-century mark, I find myself bereft of an acknowledgment to the men and women who have helped shape, inspire, propel, encourage and even discourage me, and who are no longer with us. (The living are another story.) But at least half a dozen times a year, someone’s obituary appears and this part of my life reappears once again, only to disappear at the turn of a page or the click of a link on a website.

Leon Spinks

Eddie Futch and Michael Spinks

Many of the men would sit at the bar and regale each other with stories or eat dinner together. I remember dining with the boxing trainer Eddie Futch and his fighters more than once: they drank water, ate steak, and went to bed before 10 pm. So did I. Or I stayed in my hotel room and watched television or telephoned my latest boyfriend or friends to complain that the wallpaper didn’t match the bedspread and that I couldn’t wait to be home.
A woman was a novelty and sometimes I was mistaken for a sportswriter’s girlfriend or daughter or the press assistant. Never the round card girl, though. At press conferences, I was one of the fellas, mixed in with a sea of tweed jackets and plaid shirts, a distinctive fashion style I have always avoided. I must confess, though, like The Odd Couples’ Oscar Madison, I have dried my hands on kitchen curtains.
Since I did not write for one particular newspaper, I missed out on the nurturing of an editor and newsroom colleagues and adapting to one newspaper style with its tics and temperaments.  Instead, I led more of a latchkey type of existence, adapting styles and becoming resourceful in finding and shaping stories for different outlets, by working the beat on the street much like a cop would. I’d pick up news and information and call editors to pitch stories and when one door closed, I rang other doorbells.
Jose Torres
Irving Rudd

Along the way, the men and women I met lived through times we will never see again. They were trailblazers and groundbreakers, some working for newspapers no longer in existence or carving out careers during the early days of television. I owe them my education, from the clever and witty press agent Irving Rudd, a Damon Runyon character who wore a 1955 Dodgers World Series ring and handled publicity for the Dodgers before they left Brooklyn, and then moved over to boxing; New York Post sportswriter Leonard Lewin who sat next to me ringside and who had more years of experience thanI was old; the writer Marshall Frady whose crisp, elegant writing I only came to appreciate long after we both worked for the ABC News documentary unit; sports producerAmy Sacks and Eleanor Sanger, the first female network sports producer, whose creativity as producers at ABC Sports were limitless; the quiet, courtly and reflective boxing trainer, Eddie Futch; Daily News sports columnist Vic Ziegel; former prizefighters Danny Kapilow and Tino Raino of Ring 8; the humorous and sly boxing trainer Jimmy O’Pharrow from Starrett City, Brooklyn; Minnesota Twins baseball player Kirby Puckett, whose eyes shone with enthusiasm before he self-destructed; former White House press secretary and ABC News correspondent Pierre Salinger, who left me reeling from his cigar smoke; the uncontainable and seemingly invincible boxing champion and writer Jose Torres; the fiery Jack Newfield; writer Barney Nagler, who first refused me admission to the Boxing Writers Association and then, later, called me fearless; quiet boxing champion Floyd Patterson; cartoonist Bill Gallo, who offered, and gave me, me his unconditional support; Madison Square Garden boxing president John Condon, who gave me the opportunity to photograph at the Garden; writer Bill Heinz, who shared writing tips with me pounded out on an old manual typewriter; sportscaster Don Dunphy; writer Budd Schulberg; the classy Joan O’Sullivan and the feisty New York Times reporter Edith Evans Asbury, both of whom I met at the Newswomen’s Club; Carl Nesfield, managing editor of the black weekly newspaper, Big Red, who knew what it was like to be an outsider; Manuel de Dios Unanue, who offered me my first steady gig when he was the editor-in-chief of El Diario-La Prensa, even though I didn’t speak much Spanish; sportswriter Victor Calderone, who recommended me to Manuel; and Mickey Mantle, who conducted the interview with a drink in his hand and hoped that I would “do good in radio.”

Victor Calderon and Rene Cubas
Bobby Murcer

Ira Becker, the owner of Gleason’s Gym on 30th Street, forced me to pay admission a couple of times before I was accepted; Yankees shortstop and broadcaster Phil Rizzuto was quite a character while outfielder turned sportscaster Bobby Murcer sent me to an art gallery; Dick Sandler, the sports editor of Newsday, gave me a chance to write for his paper while irrepressible Will Lieberson, who gave early roles to Dustin Hoffman and Jane Curtin,directed Broadway and off-Broadway shows and reported for the Armed Forces, regaled me with stories about the theater. From ABC News, the producer Steve Fleischman, who was married to film editor Dede Allen, spoke about the business of television; Emmy award winning producer and director Tom Priestley; Judy Crichton, whose legacy in television can never be matched, introduced me to her husband, novelist Robert Crichton, my first meeting with a real author; film editor Nils Rasmussen, who introduced me to the work of his late wife, Life magazine photographer Lisa Larsen, who photographed fashion, Khrushchev and documented refugees, among other subjects; videotape editor Walter Essenfeld who treated production assistants with the same respect as veteran news correspondents; ABC News correspondent Jules Bergman, who recommended books about science; Kitty Lynch of the ABC News Library, who stretched in the ladies room every day at three p.m. wearing a little black dress and perfectly coiffed hair and reading glasses.

I remember riding to Atlantic City with New York Times sportswriter Phil Berger as he sang Frank Sinatra songs. He died much too soon at 58 and treated me like an old Army buddy. He had a work ethic learned in the Army that I still admire: at the keyboard at nine a.m. sharp with an hour for lunch, and then writing until five p.m. I tried, but there were too many distractions.
Pete Sheehy
 Pete Sheehy, the Yankees clubhouse man who dated back to the days of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, would bring me popsicles and stored my camera equipment in his locker, possibly making me the only woman to have a locker (of sorts) with the New York Yankees. He died on my birthday in 1985.
Most of the men I met who treated me like a comrade were old enough to be my father or grandfather. These weren’t relationships of shared intimacies and confidences but more like a young soldier in the trenches. We were too far apart in age and temperament and respect for anything but that.
“Hey, kid,” was a common greeting by p.r. men Irving Rudd and Murray Goodman.
Thankfully, I didn’t pick up the vices of some of the writers or what they might explain as indulgences, which included drinking, chain-smoking, chasing women, and in one case snorting cocaine. Every so often a fist fight or feud, or a skirmish or scuffle would erupt. No one died in the press box. One, Manuel de Dios Unanue, was murdered after exposing Columbian drug traffickers.
The men all had stories, particularly the ones who covered the sixties. I wished I had been old enough to live through it, to witness and write about the turbulent times of Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Muhammad Ali. While theirs are collections of stories and relationships, mine is one of small moments and incidents. I remember a Yankees relief pitcher named Tim Stoddard who commanded the space by his locker; at six feet eight inches tall, there was no quarrel from me. Whenever a herd of sportswriters moved towards him, he would inform them in no uncertain terms where to go. He sat in his locker reading a book on the day I decided to approach him.
Tim Stoddard
“Don’t you know I don’t speak to the press?” he growled without looking up.
“I had heard that,” I replied cheerfully, “but I didn’t think that included me. I’d like to ask you about your mother for a Mother’s Day story.”
Tim put his book down and answered every question, paying an emotional and tearful tribute to his mother who had died the year before.
Another, the volatile George Bell of the Toronto Blue Jays, cursed at reporters and women sportswriters in general. People knew to stay away. Only one person didn’t know any better. When he launched into a tirade in Spanish, I answered back with a curse word in Spanish. He approached me a few minutes later.
“What do you want to talk to me about?” he asked. “Do you know what you said to me in Spanish?”
“I most certainly did,” I replied haughtily. “But I don’t expect to be treated the way you spoke to me. I’ll be in the Dominican Republic on assignment and would like to arrange for an interview.”
He gave me his telephone number and I did interview him and others. When one of my contact lenses ripped leaving me unable to see, he drove me to his eye doctor for a replacement.
My colleagues once reminded each other, the day before a fight, that Roberto Duran would not grant interviews. I pretended I hadn’t heard and with nothing else to do, I tracked Roberto down in his room and knocked on the door. He was playing dominoes with friends.
Roberto Duran
I introduced myself and said that I was there to ask a few questions and to take a few photographs.
“Oh, come on in,” someone said. “He speaks English but he doesn’t feel comfortable with the language.”
“Oh, good,” I said, easing myself into a chair at the table, “because I speak Spanish and I don’t feel comfortable speaking it so we’re even.”
Marvin Kohn
While the men spoke about champions and contenders, Jack Dempsey’s fourth, last and most loyal wife, Deanna, was lending me a sparkly gold sweater for a Boxing Writers dinner. A female publicist wanted to pluck my unruly blond eyebrows and I allowed it (I still feel the pain). Marvin Kohn, who handed the press for the New York State Athletic Commission and was once Dorothy Dandridge’s p.r. guy, telephoned me one day to tell me that he had consulted with Barney Nagler: “We think you should dress better.” They were right. I shopped for better dresses for boxing dinners and squeezed my feet into painful heels. Barney and Marvin were from a different time and place, when men wore suits and hats and women wore gowns to the boxing matches, and when press credentials stated that no women were allowed in the press box.
The best advice I never took from them: “Marry the poor bastard.”
The old adage “If I knew now what I knew then” doesn’t always hold true. You have to go through most experiences first to be able to appreciate them later. Sometimes it’s best not to know, but to look back with relish.
So when the dust settles on another year lived and when I finally hit that half-century mark, I’ll raise a glass with overdue gratitude for everyone getting me through the first fifty years. I shared a birthday, August 13, with Marvin Kohn and for a few years’ running we would share a celebratory lunch at Ellen’s Cafe down near City Hall.
“Another year has passed,” he would remark.
Yes, Marvin, another year.
But this year and long overdue, I’ll look up and tell Irving and Marvin and Barney and Bill and Pete and Amy and Judy, Walter and the rest: “The kid owes you all a thousand thanks.”

Pal Whitey: My Troubled Friendship With the Legendary Gangster

By Lewis Grossberger | Grossblogger.com

It was back in the ‘60s that I met Whitey Bulger.

I had traveled to Boston’s colorful old Southie neighborhood to finally see if I could realize my dream: to make it as an Irish minstrel.

At a raffish neighborhood bar one night, after I had sung “Danny Boy” while accompanying myself on the flute–no easy feat, by the way—a tough-looking guy with extremely blond hair came over and introduced himself.

“I’m James Bulger,” he said. “Call me Whitey and I’ll  strangle you.”

“How about Bulgy?” I quipped. He struck me over the head with a bottle of beer, opening a gash on my scalp that required fourteen stitches. From then on, we were the best of pals.

“If Whitey don’t kill you, that means he likes you,” a member of his organization, the Winter Hill Gang, explained. “He’s got rage issues.”   Read more…….