Sunday, January 3, 2010

Before the year is out....

This morning I awoke at five, and was at my desk by five-thirty. I've always been an early riser, especially during the week, but weekends I usually doze until at least six-thirty. Maybe this is a sign that 2010 will be so packed with writing projects that a 5:00 a.m. wakeup call will become the norm.

2009 certainly ended on an auspicious note. In October I started a new job as a technical writer for a large engineering company. This position strengthened a habit that I've been cultivating for a long time: producing quality copy on demand, without yielding to the vagaries of mood or personal drama. Let's hope that by performing well at my day job, I'll increase and improve my writing output in other areas.

I'm working on a few projects at the moment. One is an article for Rick Mattix's On The Spot Journal about William Howe and Abe Hummel, the legal 'dream team' of the New York underworld from 1869 until 1907, when the District Attorney succeeded in shutting their firm down. Gangsters, showgirls, prizefighters, and philandering bluebloods kept Howe and Hummel on retainer as an operating expense. Some of the stunts they pulled are unbelievable even by today's standards: Hummel once discovered an error in procedure that liberated 240 of Blackwell Island's 300 inmates in a single day. Howe, representing a gangster who had murdered another thug and dumped the dismembered body in the East River, convinced the jury that his client's seven year old girl had actually done the bloody deed. They're so gloriously bad that I'll be sorry to see the research end.

The Dopey Benny Fein project is still in progress. Geoff Fein, Benny's grandson, has been wonderful to work with, but the  research itself is taking time because I'm focusing on primary sources, and the requisite legwork is considerable. Benny's activities during the 1920s remain a mystery, although I've come across a few references to drug-related arrests. If anyone reading this blog has additional information, please contact me.

I'm still working with Franklin Abrams on the Our Gotham project. Some new webisode scenes have been filmed, namely the tense confrontation between Kid Twist Zweifach and the Bottler, who is determined to prevent Twist from seizing the profits of his popular stuss game. I've posted two screen shots below: the first shows Zweifach (played by Franklin) in profile, while the second is a re-enactment of Twist's first, menacing visit to the Bottler's den. Franklin is a first-rate actor who practically summons the spirit of these early gang leaders whenever he steps in front of the camera.

Expect some interesting trips to old New York in the coming year! And more on the Dope!


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