hiya friends, sorry life intervened once again i would like to say i have been most productive getting my latest book finished but i would be lying, ^_^ the truth of it all being children’s birthdays and a bout of severe paranoia no need for details but i am back and happy again yay ^_^ easing myself gently back into the world of blogging with a picture i found quite recently most of the ones i have shown you so far i have had stored away in dusty folders in the basement area of my laptop ^_^ today’s though i as usual was looking for something else and found this and as always i was then absorbed in its story
here is the picture
so here we have a picture that is typical of over half my collection i do love to collect pictures of old especially abandoned, buildings and the more falling apart they are the better ^_^
but no hang on a moment there is electricity, see the lamps are working, this is not an abandoned place this is in fact Al Capone’s finely furnished cell in Philadelphia’s historic Eastern State Penitentiary. During his 8-month stay in 1929 for possession of illegal weapons, Capone believed he was being tormented by the ghost of James Clark, a victim of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago.
before arriving at Alcatraz, Capone had been a master at manipulating his environment at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta. Despite strict convictions from the courts, Capone was always able to persuade his keepers into procuring his every whim, and often dictated his own privileges. It was said that he had convinced many guards to work for him, and his cell boasted expensive furnishings which included personal bedding along with many other amenities not extended to other inmates serving lesser crimes. His cell was carpeted, and also had a radio around which many of the guards would sit with Al conversing and listening to their favorite radio serials. His friends and family maintained residence in a nearby hotel, and each day he was flooded with visitors
Capone started his life of crime at a young age. Rumored to have started pimping prostitutes before reaching puberty, he was raised on the tough streets of Brooklyn and earned extra money as a bouncer in various brothels. By the age of twenty, Capone had moved to Chicago and was managing a popular nightclub named The Four Deuces. By 1924, Capone had his hand in various rackets, including prostitution rings, bootlegging, and gambling houses and was believed to be earning over $100,000 per week.
Despite his illegitimate occupation, he had become a highly visible public figure. He made daily trips to City Hall, opened soup kitchens to feed the poor, and even lobbied for milk bottle dating to ensure the safety of the city’s children. City officials often were embarrassed by the politic strength of Capone, and began leveraging his illegal activities through police raids, along with setting intentional fires to his places of business.
In the beginning, the public glamorized Capone’s activities and identified with him as a modern day Robin Hood. It wasn’t long, however, before the public started weighing against him when it was believed that he had ordered the death of a famed local prosecutor named Billy McSwiggin. The young prosecutor had before tried to pin Capone with the violent murder of a rival gang member and he had a reputation for going after bootleggers. Although many speculated against Al’s involvement in McSwiggin’s death, there was a great outcry against gangster violence, and public sentiment went against Capone.
Capone quickly went into hiding, fearing he would be tried for McSwiggin’s murder. He remained out of sight for nearly three months, and then after realizing he couldn’t live the remainder of his life underground, he negotiated his surrender to the Chicago Police. The authorities eventually recognized that they lacked sufficient evidence to bring Capone to trial, and though very unpopular with public opinion, he was set free. The public was outraged and law officials were left embarrassed. “Big Al” had become one of the most powerful crime czars in Chicago.
By 1929, Capone’s empire was worth over $62,000,000, and he was ready to wage war on his most prominent bootlegging rival, George “Bugs” Moran. Bugs was also one of the principal Chicago gangsters. He was known to publicly talk against Capone, and maintained a sense of spiteful arrogance that was said to anger Capone so much that Moran became one of Al’s routine topics of discussion. It was rumored that Capone gave orders to take Bugs down by assassinating his gang members from the bottom, not stopping until they reached Bugs
Capone was living lavishly in Palm Beach, and assigned one of his top associates “Machine Gun” McGurn to mastermind the hit. McGurn had one of his bootleggers lure members of the Moran gang into a garage to buy liquor at an unreasonably cheap price. The deal was made and the delivery was scheduled to take place on Valentines Day. McGurn and his men awaited them in stolen police uniforms. When they arrived, McGurn’s gang pretended to be police making a bust, and ordered all of Moran’s men to stand facing the wall. Thinking that they had just been caught by police, seven members of the Moran gang turned to the wall awaiting arrest. McGurn and his men opened fire with machine guns, fatally killing the gangsters. Bugs, who saw the police car before stopping and thought it was a raid, fled the scene. Capone was credited with what would be deemed one of the most famous mass murders in American history, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
The publicity ultimately backfired and attracted the attention of President Herbert Hoover. Having just started his presidential term, Hoover demanded that Capone be brought to justice. Andrew Mellon, the Secretary of the Treasury, was pressured by Hoover to spearhead the government’s battle against Capone. Mellon collected harsh evidence against “Big Al” which exploited his gang affiliations, bootlegging, prostitution rings, and flagrant evasion of taxes
It would take nearly five years and an intensive undercover operation before Capone was finally convicted. On October 17, 1931, Alphonse Capone was sentenced to 11 years, $50,000 in fines, and was forced to pay court fees totaling over $30,000. The judge refused to allow Capone to be released on bail and he was confined at the Cook County Jail until arrangements were made for his transfer to Atlanta. On May 4, 1932, Capone began serving out his federal prison sentence at Altanta. Capone quickly flaunted his power and started to again have the ability to dictate his privileges. He was given unlimited access to the Warden, and was said to maintain large reserves of cash hidden in his cell, often generously “tipping” guards who would assist him by yielding to special requests. His time spent at Atlanta would not be as plush as when he was confined in Cook, but he still had means to manipulate the system
1934, Attorney General Homer Cummings along with Sanford Bates, the head of the Federal Prisons, made arrangements to send Capone to a facility where he would be unable to leverage the system. Alcatraz was the perfect answer to a problem that no one could seem to control. In August of 1934, without any formal notice, Capone was placed on a secure prison railroad car, on a journey along with 52 other inmates to America’s Devil Island
Warden Johnston had a custom of meeting the new “fish” when they first arrived at Alcatraz, and usually participated in their brief orientation. Johnston wrote in a later memoir that he had little trouble recognizing Capone while he stood in the lineup. Capone was grinning, and making quiet smug comments from the side of his mouth to other inmates. When it became his turn to approach Warden Johnston, it appeared that he wanted to show off to the other inmates by asking questions on their behalf in a leader-type role. Johnston quickly provided him his prison AZ number, and made him get back in line with the other convicts. During Capone’s time on Alcatraz, he made several attempts to con Johnston into allowing him special privileges, but all were denied. Johnston maintained that Capone would not be given any special rights and would have to follow the rules as would any other inmate
Capone eventually conceded and one day made the comment to Johnston, “It looks like Alcatraz has got me licked.” Capone spent 4 ½ years on Alcatraz and held a variety of jobs. Capone’s time on Alcatraz was not easy time. Capone got into a fight with another inmate in the recreation yard and was placed in isolation for eight days. While working in the prison basement, an inmate who was standing in line waiting for a haircut, exchanged words with Capone and stabbed him with a pair of shears. Capone was admitted into the prison hospital and released a few days later with a minor wound. Capone eventually became symptomatic from syphilis, a disease he had evidently been carrying for years. In 1938, he was transferred to Terminal Island Prison in Southern California to serve out the remainder of his sentence, and was released in November of 1939. Capone died on January 25, 1947, in his Palm Island Mansion from complications of syphilis
and so there you have it, an interesting character no doubt about that, but to me it is a glaringly obvious example of what is wrong with our concept of career criminals and our unceasing consumption of media. When the media take over an individuals personality, they often either sabotage or glamourise, and neither are true on most cases, but in this case media and myths and word of mouth all served to make the character of Al Capone very much larger than life, and one of the more unsavoury aspects is how he becomes glamourised to the point of he is no longer seen as the criminal the outcast of society serving time for his misdeeds, he becomes some kind of anti hero and for the most part his sins are glossed over, faded out, the public romanticise his personality and often forgive him and even invent excuses as to why he fell by the wayside or they give him a whole backstory of somehow life lead him down the wrong path once and really he is some sort of good guy who fell on bad luck somehow.
Well i just don’t have that same friendly forgiving lets all love the bad boy with his cheeky smile attitude nope and nope again, in fact all of the nopes in the world. Seriously the guy was responsible for a rather large number of murders and never thought he did anything wrong, upon entering any kind of system he attempts to manipulate it and generally he was about as rotten as they come. Now don’t get me wrong i imagine there are a few out there who like me do not see this ‘character’ from the past and see him for what he is, and if anything more people these days will see through the manufactured image and have little sympathy for his attempts to gain favour, but i am not speaking of our enlightened times now, i am speaking of those times past when he was around and the media mostly consisted of newspapers and radio, for the masses that were fed the image conjured up by the story tellers and the so called legends handed down to little boys playing in the dirt with sticks pretending they are guns and they just became Al Capone career criminal. It’s not that i think everyone was gullible although a large amount were but media was still a new concept then and i think a lot suffered from the idea that if it was reported on the radio then it must be true, indeed i believe more than one government probably made use of the idea of feeding the public such juicy stories of what Al Capone was up to as some kind of smoke screen disguising what the government was really doing. i remember clearly back when we had here in dear old blighty the wedding of lady di and charles and it was such a huge business that it overtook all forms of media for at least a week and through that week i thought of what was happening when our attention is so focused on whatever story they are feeding us at that time.
so we gain stories and nefarious characters we gain entertainment for the masses, the character becomes infamous and how many would turn down such an accolade as given out by the mass belief, and one wonders how many then fell into believing their own hype? How many believed the media stories about themselves and then felt they had to now live up to the image thrust upon them?
there are those who have committed atrocious crimes purely for the idea of creating such a mythos around themselves, painfully sad and disturbed characters whose one aim in life was to achieve a sudden brief moment in the spotlight for being heinous creatures – again here in england i can remember one such disturbed character who deliberately killed and when brought before a court to answer for his crimes they asked his name and he chose his own character name he clearly and loudly proclaimed he was ‘the crossbow cannibal’
so where are we left ? with the media now playing an even larger role we have so many ways now of including media in our lives, from phones with screens to being plugged into the internet 24 hours we consume media as our main sustenance and a huge portion of the population does believe in what is being fed to them, and many more cannot recognise the increasingly blurry line between fact and fiction, governments control media, media controls the populace and so the cycle continues.
For me i choose to often just step away as in this week i stepped away went out into the sunshine played with my children and now i come back and collect more pictures ^_^ and i think if more people could see through the hype and were able to step back then it would make the world a better place, i do not for one moment think it would stop the likes of Al Capone or anyone trying to emulate him, neither would it stop governments from manipulating the world we see and live in but for each person that does step back they gain a new perspective and hopefully a more clearer mind, and that can’t be bad.
still it takes all sorts to make a world as me mam used to say
love and peace be with you all