Maxie And Mickey

May 24th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

On October 21, 1929 (just days before the stock market crash which ushered in The Great Depression) there was a sell out crowd at New York’s Madison Square Garden watching five 5-round boxing matches. In each bout one of the fighters was Jewish—Max “Slapsy Maxie” Rosenbloom; Yale Okun (fresh from his win over heavyweight champion to be, “Cinderella Man” James Braddock); Al Singer “The Bronx Beauty”, Ruby Goldstein “The Jewel of the Ghetto” and Jackie “Kid” Berg. The fantastic, Semitic fistic program, promoted by Samuel “Subway Sam” Rosoff, the Jewish builder of New York’s subways, was a benefit for the Palestine Emergency Fund and “The Stricken Jews of Palestine.” In six days (August. 23-29, 1929) some 132 Jews had been killed, 232 seriously injured and many left homeless by Arab rioters incensed at the Jewish presence at Jerusalem’s Western Wall and the increasing Jewish migration to Palestine. Some of the worst bloodshed was in Hebron. The 600 Jewish residents there refused help from the Haganah (then an illegal Jewish self defense group). The Jewish Hebronites said they would be protected by the Arab elders. They were wrong. Some 68 Hebron Jews were murdered. Let’s segue to 1948. “Slapsy Maxie”(Damon Runyon had given him the nickname because, though a very clever boxer, Rosenbloom was a light puncher) was a comic actor in the movies (usually playing a punchy lug). He fronted a comedy club in Hollywood, “Slapsy Maxie’s.” His boxing career was long over (Four years as light-heavweight champ, 298 fights with 229 wins). LA Mobster Mickey Cohen (once a featherweight boxer himself) was with Ben “Bugsy” Siegel a founder of Murder Inc. and leader of the “Jewish Mafia” and the alleged real owner of “Slapsy Maxie’s.” It was at the club that Ben Hecht made a legendary speech to an audience of Cohen, Siegel and other Jewish gangsters, bookmakers, hustlers and gamblers. Hecht was a prominent screen writer, novelist and journalist. He was an ardent supporter of Irgun (the Israeli terrorist cell headed by Menachem Begin). Hecht asked the audience of tough guy Jews to contribute money for the purchase of arms for Irgun. Some $200,000 was raised. There is a division of opinion on what happened to the money. Some claim Cohen simply kept the dough. A writer devoted a book to an implausible theory linking Mickey Cohen, Menachem Begin, the Mossad and the Israeli government to the death of Marilyn Monroe and the assassination of President Kennedy. Obviously, there is a glut of far fetched conspiracy theories concerning these events, one more outrageous than the next.


Black and Tan

September 24th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

An oddity. One of HG’s favorite drinks and favorite sweet confections are named for a brutal, hated military (or police) force. The Black and Tans (the brainchild of Winston Churchill, unfortunately) were a force of World War One veterans recruited to aid the Royal Irish Constabulary to fight the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War for Independence (1919-1922). They had a reputation for fierce brutality, much of it directed against the civilian population. Their name came from their khaki uniforms and black headgear. Some 9,000 served in Ireland and more than a third died or left the service. During their underground terrorist war against the British military in pre-Israel Palestine, the Irgun (and other Jewish militants including young HG, an Irgun sympathizer) often referred to British soldiers in Palestine as “Black and Tans.” Given all of that, it does seem a bit strange that HG often ordered a “Black and Tan” (one half Guinness Stout and one half Bass Ale, the perfect accompaniment to oysters). Howard W., HG’s journalistic mentor and an I.R.A. veteran, would often sup with HG on oysters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Howard would never say “Black and Tan” (he had killed a number of them) but simply order a bottle of Guinness and a bottle of Bass. As for sweets: In the Bronx youth of HG, the young man’s favorite ice cream parlor was Addie Vallin’s (Gerard Avenue and W. 161st Street). The “Black and Tan” was an ice cream soda. Coffee ice cream, milk, seltzer and a slightly bitter chocolate sauce mixed with chopped pecans. An incomparable ice cream soda.

March15 - Black and Tan II

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