Author Archives: Russel Ray Photos

About Russel Ray Photos

Photographer career began in sixth grade in 1966.

Sending thoughts and prayers….

I live in my own little world

I almost feel bad today.

I went to Walmart at 6:00 this morning to get some cat litter for Zoey the Cool Cat. When I checked out, the machine asked me if I wanted to donate to disaster relief. For the first time in my life, I said no.

The only disaster that everyone is collecting for is Hurricane Florence and the floods.

Well, Twitler has shown me that I need to look out for myself because he’s trying to destroy people like me, as well as other people typically called “minorities, people of color, women, etc.”

Since red states like North Carolina already get way more money from the government than they contribute, money which comes from blue states like California, where I live, I just decided to keep my money, especially since my tax burden under the Twitler tax giveaway to the rich is going to increase significantly for 2018.

Good luck over there on the East Coast. Sending thoughts and prayers…..

(Yeah, I’m cynical under Dictator Twitler and his regime.)

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

 

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SNIPPETS (9-16-2018)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

Oh, dear.

I never switched to the “easier way to create posts on WordPress.com” because I didn’t find the new editor easier.

I just logged in to my blog and find that WordPress.com now is developing their “Gutenberg” editor. I was offered the choice to try it out while it’s still in development, so I did. One look at it, and I deactivated it.

Gutenberg is a “block editor,” which means you edit things in blocks. I have vast experience with block editors since most of the email programs use block editors (I have been using Mailchimp for six years); I absolutely despise them. They are the most difficult things in the world to use. Just give me a good HTML editor and I’m happy.

If WordPress.com forces us to use Gutenberg once it’s fully developed, my blogging days at WordPress.com here at Russel Ray Photos shall come to an end. Since I have an upgraded blog that costs $99 a year, if I quit paying that $99, everything I have written over the past six years will disappear into thin air.

Oh, well.

That just means I can start over again on a different blogging platform, and everything old shall be new again!

SNIPPET 2

I have been looking for nice, durable, strong, good-looking outdoor furniture that I can display some of my larger plants on. Finally, at Wayfair.com, I found a lot, and I ordered a lot. My first order arrived this past week. Here it is, a two-shelf wood/metal table with my huge Mammillaria displayed nicely on it.

Outdoor table from Wayfair

The wood is solid Paulownia, lightest-to-strongest-ratio wood species in the world, and the metal is recycled aircraft-grade aluminum pipes. Extremely easy to assemble (i.e., NOT IKEA!). I like it so much that I ordered two more.

SNIPPET 3

My first experience with Wayfair.com was several months ago when I ordered a “mushroom stool” to use as a side table outside on my patio. It is exposed to the elements, which here in San Diego means mostly sun, and still looks as new as the day it arrived. Recently I ordered three more and moved the first one to the other side of the house where I display an expensive Aloe in a custom display that I made specifically for it:

Mushroom stool from Wayfair

The rocks are real rocks from out here in the East San Diego County boondocks. They are glued together with GE 100% silicone with a hole in the middle filled with cactus soil. The pot and rocks (and plant!) weigh 53 pounds, so it really did need something strong to sit on besides the ground. When the other mushroom stools arrive, that pot sitting on the ground to the right also will be placed on one but about twenty feet down the deck.

SNIPPET 4

When I win the lottery

(which will be never because, uh, I would have to play the lottery, and I don’t),

I want to buy about 5,000 acres and create a dog sanctuary with 2,000 acres, a cat sanctuary with 2,000 acres, and an “Other pets” sanctuary with 1,000 acres, and have enough money left over to hire people to manage the place so that all I have to do is walk around and give lots of love to lots of pets.

Texas A&M UniversityOf course, I’ll have 5,000 acres of gardens, too, so the cats can climb in trees, the dogs can, uh, raise their legs on trees, and I can finally use my forestry degree from Texas A&M University (Class of ’77).

SNIPPET 5

Update on Zoey the Cool Cat’s diabetic diet.

End of week four.

After becoming a floor cat and refusing to jump up on anything for four months, she now has jumped up on the bed four consecutive nights and made herself at home, usually between my legs. She’s losing weight; moving about the house to find all the sunny spots during the day; jumping up on shelves, chairs, and beds; and returning to her old feisty, playful self.

Thank you Hill’s W/D prescription diet!

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

SNIPPET 6

I guess margarita didn’t fit.

Bureeto car

SNIPPET 7

Found deep in in the East San Diego County boondocks, but what is it?

What is it?

SNIPPET 8

Uh-oh. The chicken is heading towards the road. You know what that means but we still don’t know why.

Chicken heading for the road

SNIPPET 9

I was in the El Cajon Home Depot a few days ago at 6:00 a.m. Dad and his 6-year-old son were there. Son was standing in front of the skeleton canines pointing and crying. He was frightened.

Halloween at Home Depot two months early

Dad was over at the battery rack ignoring his son. I felt so sorry for the little kid. My first question, though, was “What dad takes his 6-year-old son to Home Depot at six in the morning?” Kids should be in bed at that time of day!

SNIPPET 10

Killers of the Flower MoonI have always enjoyed history, which includes etymology. I just started reading “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Gramm.

On page 11 is the etymology of Whizbang, Oklahoma (no longer a town, just a road – Whizbang Road – on the Osage Reservation):

“….the reservation’s tumultuous boomtowns, which had sprung up to house and entertain oil workers—towns like Whizbang, where, it was said, people whizzed all day and banged all night.”

Stunning visual, but I could not find a video on YouTube…..

SNIPPET 11

We get lots of beautiful sunsets in the east here in San Diego, but only after the sun goes down in the west. Something to do with the curvature of the Earth, reflections, etc. Here’s a sunset in the east taken by the dash cam in my car on September 14, 2018:

Sunset in the east in San Diego, California

SNIPPET 12

Zoey the Cool Cat has something to say about the current election season:

Elect functioning adults in November 2018

SNIPPET 13

“I give the fight up: let there be an end, a privacy, an obscure nook for me. I want to be forgotten even by God.”

—Robert Browning, “Paracelsus,” 1835

SNIPPET 14

From a news story:

“Families help shape you as an individual, and they’re always there for you, no matter what.”

Well, if the family happens to be Mormons and Catholics, and you happen to be gay, no, they are not “always there for you, no matter what.”

SNIPPET 15

From a news story:

“….[M]any corporations donate to both political parties. You never know which way the winds will turn, so you might as well have a bribe in both camps.”

Fight organized crime

SNIPPET 16

This little cat often welcomes me at the back door when I arrive at Friends of Cats. It’s a Turkish Van, a breed that I had never heard of. Very beautiful!

Turkish Van cat at Friends of Cats sanctuary in El Cajon, California

Turkish Van cat at Friends of Cats sanctuary in El Cajon, California

SNIPPET 17

Slowly but surely I’m working my way out of this severe depression caused by retirement, i.e., not having anything to do.

My mother-in-law’s boyfriend told me about San Diego Oasis, providing programs for the elderly. I checked them out and immediately volunteered to help K-6 children who have been identified as lagging behind their classmates in their reading skills.

I also proposed a new program for them, a chess club. In my proposal I mentioned my playing experience, my teaching experience, and my chess club experience. I also told them that I was a firm believer in keeping the mind active and that an active mind can prevent the onslaught of dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, etc. The San Diego Oasis Program Council liked my idea for creating a chess club, called me for further details, and has approved me starting a chess club with the Spring 2019 curriculum. I’m so happy!

Here is a picture of some of the members of the La Mesa Outdoor Chess Club that I helped start in August 2013:

La Mesa chess club

SNIPPET 18

Every bookshelf needs a great adornment.

Zoey the Cool Cat on the bookshelf

SNIPPET 19

This little one is Max. He is one of my favorite cats in Cozy Cottage at Friends of Cats.

Max at Friends of Cats sanctuary in El Cajon, California

I love his long ear hairs. Max is in Lifetime Care and is not adoptable. Usually Lifetime Care means that the owner died or otherwise had to give up the cat, possibly going to assisted living himself. Friends of Cats will take cats into Lifetime Care with just a $5,000 contribution. Doesn’t matter how old the cat is.

Max is described as a “long-hair brown tabby with white.” Since tabby is a coloring and not a breed, that probably means that Max is a Domestic Long-haired cat, or as we knew them back in my youth in Kingsville, Texas, an “alley cat.”

He’s such a sweetie.

SNIPPET 20

My wise old grandmotherMy wise old grandmother was a conservationist before it was fashionable. She constantly told me,

“Do not throw things away! There is no away!”

To this day, I recycle whatever I can because I firmly believe something else that she told me:

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

In today’s world with eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and all these groups on Facebook where one can buy or sell things, it’s amazing what people are willing to buy and how much they are willing to pay. I speak from experience, both as a seller and as a buyer.

One can even buy and sell plants online, and in plant auctions. Here’s the first plant that I bought in an online plant auction, an Operculicarya pachypus:

Operculicarya pachypus

I’m not telling you how much I paid…………..

The seller was located in West Hollywood (suburb of Los Angeles), and I guessed who it was based on his email address at eBay. Since I knew him, and had his phone number, and wanted this plant badly, I called him and asked if I could drive to his place and pick it up instead of having him ship it to me.

The problem with shipping plants is that sellers almost always ship plants “bare root,” which means they take them out of the containers, shake off all the soil from the roots, wrap the roots in moist napkins and such, and ship the plants. Shipping expenses are less.

Some plants can take that, some can’t.

Because of what I paid for this beautiful little tree, I didn’t want to take the chance, especially since I was unfamiliar with its growing requirements, so I drove to Los Angeles to pick it up.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

 

Maybe some day mine will be B&B

Gardening logo

When I left College Station TX on April 15, 1993, intent on never returning to Texas, I left behind my three prized plants: a Norfolk Island Pine, a Schefflera, and a Pony Tail Palm.

All three had been with me since 1966, and all three were about 3 feet tall. I was so proud of them.

When I settled in San Diego on April 27, I noticed that Norfolk Island Pines (called Star Pines here) grew to 30 or 40 feet; Scheffleras grew to 20 or 25 feet, and bloomed!—and Pony Tail Palms grew to 15 to 20 feet, and also bloomed!

Pony Tail Palm

Zoey the Cool Cat enjoying her catioAt our new home in the East San Diego County boondocks, I have a Schefflera, but it froze when we had two consecutive days of 28°F in February. It recovered, but then it almost died of heat stroke when we had a couple of weeks of 100°F daily temperatures, including 118°F on Zoey the Cool Cat’s shaded catio.

Today I planted in the ground a Pony Tail Palm which is 3 feet tall. This one has multiple branches on it, which I really like. I have never had one with multiple branches before because they are much more expensive the bigger they get and the more branches they have.

Pony Tail Palm

Maybe some day mine will be B&B (big and blooming).

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Let sleeping cats lie

Cats

The first time I ever got scratched by a cat was in 1966 when I saw one sleeping in the alley by our trash cans in Kingsville TX.

I went to pet it.

Nope.

My wise old grandmother told me as she poured hydrogen peroxide on the wounds:

“Let sleeping cats lie.”

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

All pictures by Russel Ray Photos at Friends of Cats sanctuary in El Cajon, California.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

One of them might be unique

Railroads & Trains logo

Whenever I go out I’m always on the lookout for trains. When I was over in Palm Springs on August 21 with the Pacific Photographic Society, our bus came home via the Salton Sea. I have a few billion pictures of the Salton Sea but across from where our bus stopped, I saw this:

CSX 7679

Union Pacific enginesYou might say, “Meh. A train engine.” and that would be true in a sense. However, to train fanatics like me, it’s interesting. It was the fifth engine on that freight train, trailing four Union Pacific engines. What makes this interesting is that Union Pacific is the largest railroad in the nation, operating 32,000 miles of track, and this was deep into Union Pacific territory. Here is a map of the Union Pacific rail network:

Union Pacific Railroad network

CSX Transportation is the nation’s second largest railroad, operating 21,000 miles of track. Here is a map of its rail network:

CSX Transportation

Notice that it is a pretty good distance from the CSX tracks on the East Coast to Palm Springs, California, on the West Coast.

Although not unheard of, it is somewhat unusual for an engine from one railroad to be found on the tracks of another railroad. If such occurs, it often means that the competitor’s engine has been borrowed short-term or perhaps leased for a extended period.

There are various web sites where we train nuts can track the movement of train engines, and when I went there, I found that CSX 7679 had been built in May 1991 by General Electric. It is GE model C40-8W. You didn’t know train engines had model numbers and years, did you?

The first picture that shows up anywhere is from January 1, 1995, when it was in Huntington, West Virginia. It was seen in Fort Worth, Texas, on February 3, 2006, and then, six months later, back on the East Coast, in Selkirk, New York. It stayed on CSX tracks through June 1, 2017, when it was seen in Hamilton, Ohio. Thence, it disappeared until showing up in Norden, California (a southern suburb of Palm Springs) on February 12, 2018. My picture also was taken in Norden, but on August 21, 2018, pretty much indicating that CSX 7679 is on a long-term lease to the Union Pacific.

Next time you’re waiting for a train, check out those engines. One of them might be unique.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

SNIPPETS (9-2-18)—Maybe I just don’t hang out in the right places

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

Litter bikesFirst it was Cars 2 Go, then lime green and orange bikes, now Bird scooters. Haven’t played the game yet. I’m waiting for the Ferrari to be dropped off in front my my house. Then I’ll play.

SNIPPET 2

Sunset on September 1, 2018, from Yogurtland in El Cajon, California. The contrails, or “chemtrails” as conspiracy theorists call them, add a certain uniqueness to the sunset, especially considering that San Diego County has the largest population of military service personnel than any other free place in the world, including the Pentagon, according to the people who know more than me.

Sunset on 9/1/18 in El Cajon, California

SNIPPET 3

My wise old grandmother told me to learn something each and every day, so in recognition of yesterday being International Bacon Day, I thought some chemistry might be appropriate. Chemistry can be fun! You’re welcome.

I love chemistry

SNIPPET 4

Zoey the Cool Cat’s response to International Bacon Day:

Day?

SNIPPET 5

To everyone who has a birthday (pretty much left that one wide open):

Happy birthday!

SNIPPET 6

The result of shooting a video at Friends of Cats where I volunteer 5 days each week but the subject of the video thinks the camera lens might taste good:

Cat tongue

SNIPPET 7

New plant in my garden. Euphorbia antisyphilitica. The name tells you what it has been used for, mostly in Mexico, and through the end of World War II. It’s a very waxy plant, and the wax still is used in the cosmetic and food industries.

Euphorbia antisyphilitica

SNIPPET 8

On September 21, 1973, I was headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the Texas A&M–LSU football game. That was back in the days before MADD, DADD, and SADD, so we had to make a pit stop in Lake Charles.

At the truck stop I found a Bible store. I already was pretty anti-religion as a freshman at Texas A&M University but what I found interesting, and what added to my logic reasoning about religion being fake news, so to speak, was the number of Bibles I found. If the Bible were the infallible word of God, it seems there would only need to be one Bible, perhaps in different languages, though. Instead, I found 48 different versions of the Bible, all in English: the Catholic Bible, the NIV, the King James, et al. The best Bible I found, though, was one which had eight separate versions on every two-page spread so that one could compare the versions. That really sewed it up for me.

Now I’ve found that there is one more version, the recently released NRE:

New Republican Bible

SNIPPET 9

Sunsets have been pretty magnificent lately. Here is sunset on August 30, 2018, in the East San Diego County boondocks where Jim, Zoey the Cool Cat, and I live:

Sunset in the East San Diego County boondocks on August 31, 2018

SNIPPET 10

When I was 11 and my wise old grandmother was helping me set up my very first company (a typing business for college students at Texas A&I University), she told me to treat each day like every other day, doing some work and some play each day. That way I would never be distracted by looking forward to the upcoming weekend and would never be depressed when the weekend ended.

Book of WisdomI think college football (FBS) has been reading my wise old grandmother’s Book of Wisdom. Here is this weekend’s schedule:
Thursday: 12 games
Friday: 8 games
Saturday: 64 games
Sunday: 1 game
Monday: 1 game

I wonder how those Monday Morning Quarterbacks handle this.

SNIPPET 11

This guy normally is the first one to jump on my lap at Friends of Cats:

Why do you have a strange cat on your lap?

He was eating when I arrived, though, and did not notice me until it was too late. That look let me know what he thought about another cat being on my lap.

SNIPPET 12

Zoey the Cool Cat, what do you think about the current President of the United States?

Zoey the Cool Cat's opinion of Twitler

SNIPPET 13

Benoit PaireBenoit Paire (picture at right) of France played Roger Federer last week at the U.S. Open tennis championships. Paire has what Tiwtler and his ilk would call a “terrorist beard,” the only tennis player I can think of with that beard style.

I can’t think of any other in tennis, or any in golf, and only a dozen or so in football and baseball, who have that beard style. I would think those beard styles would be difficult in football and baseball because of their helmets, but why so why few, or no beards, in tennis and golf?

SNIPPET 14

I’m not much for prognostication but I am a history buff. It seems to me, especially since 1992, that when an administration goes too far to the left OR too far to the right, there is a mid-term correction. Look at 1992 Clinton and the 1994 “Contract With America” correction. Look at 2000 Bush and the 2002 correction. Look at 2008 Obama and the 2010 correction.

Twitler is the worst of the most recent four presidents so I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a huge blue tsunami in November 2018, so huge that I believe the Democrats will take over both the Senate and the House, and we will see Twitler impeached and convicted. Immediately afterward we will see Pence, assuming the mantle as president upon Twitler’s conviction, impeached and convicted. Then they’ll get to work trying to undo all the damage that Twitler and his ilk have caused.

SNIPPET 15

After graduating from Texas A&M University, my first home was in Houston, Texas. I had two little Beagle puppies named Union and Pacific, after the Union Pacific Railroad. Yeah, I know. I was weird then and am still weird now.

My neighbors, however, had a little Welsh Corgi which they had named Little Shit. It was weird when I would hear them out walking the dog and they would yell, “No! Quit that! Get back here you little shit!” I resolved then never to name my pets anything other than wholesome names safe for telling someone at work what the name of my pet was.

Many years later, after moving from Houston to College Station, I had two dogs, a Chow Chow-Besenji mix named Sugar and a long-haired Dachsund named Penney.

Penney and Sugar

Sugar used to ride around town on the back of my motorcycle. I even took her to Dallas, Waco, Austin, and Houston several times at speeds up to 60 mph when the speed limit was 55 mph.

Sugar the motorcycle riding dog

Best rider I ever had on the back seat of my motorcycle. She understood how to lean into the curve, and when we were flying down a straightaway, she would put her head to my side, watching where we were going and letting her ears flap in the wind.

SNIPPET 16

The cats at Friends of Cats absolutely adore me, probably because I have so much love to give. Unfortunately, I do not have any food to give, so when the Food Lady arrives, they abandon me. I am left all alone. I know my place in their lives.

The food has arrived

SNIPPET 17

Zoey the Cool Cat continues to get better on the thirteenth day of her anti-diabetes diet.

Throughout her life, except for the last four months, she has taken up residence outside the bathroom door while I showered, shaved, etc., waiting patiently until I came out. On the ninth day of her diet, she started that practice again. Every. Single. Morning. Here she is, patiently waiting for me and ready to lead me to the kitchen where she knows she will be fed.

Zoey the Cool Cat patiently waiting outside the bathroom door

SNIPPET 18

Picture caption contest. Here’s the picture:

Will you love me today?

Choose a caption:

Cat: “Are you the one who will love me today?”
Me: “Yes, yes I am.”

or

Me: “Are you the one who will love me today?”
Cat: “Yes, yes I am.”

SNIPPET 19

I can count on one hand the number of dragonflies I have seen in San Diego County since arriving here on April 27, 1993. This one stopped by my front door a couple of days ago:

Dragonfly

Did not stay long, though. There have to be more. Maybe I just don’t hang out in the right places….

SNIPPET 20

This month, remember the words of Zoey the Cool Cat who always speaks the truth.

Truth isn't truth!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Book Review—Deadly Times

Book Review

My wise old grandmother always told me that “those who don’t study history are bound to repeat it.” She also told me that “history is written by the victors.”

I have always loved history, so much so that as late as a graduating senior in high school I thought I wanted to be a history teacher. Then, after doing research and discovering that (1) teachers in Texas didn’t make enough money to get me out of the poor household that I was in, and (2) if I wanted to make enough money and be a history teacher, I probably would have to go to college and get a bachelor, master, and doctorate degree.

Eight.

More.

Years.

Of.

School.

Nope.

It wasn’t until the last decade or so that I came to agree firmly with what my wise old grandmother said as I watched the Texas State Board of Education remove any mention in their textbooks of history events like the KKK and Jim Crow laws. According to the social studies textbook, “United States Goverment,” Brown v. Board of Education only happened because sometimes “the buildings, buses, and teachers for the all-black schools were lower in quality.”

Deadly TimesWhen I was at the public library a few weeks ago, there on the New Books display was one titled “Deadly Times—The 1910 Bombing of the Los Angeles Times and America’s Forgotten Decade of Terror” by Lee Irwin.

Since I live just 100 miles south of Los Angeles, the title intrigued me. With 55+ years of history reading and research under my pillow, I had never heard of this bombing, and certainly not “America’s Forgotten Decade of Terror.” Nothing about it in my Texas high school and college history books….

After reading the dust jacket, I checked out the book.

Between 1907 and 1911, there were more than 200 bombings carried out in the United States, East Coast, West Coast, and everywhere in between. It was the longest period of sustained terrorism in the nation’s history. The bombings were carried out by Union men against non-Union companies.

Although labor unions can be traced back to 1349 in England with the Ordinance of Labourers, the first effective nationwide labor organization in the United States was the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor, founded in December 1869. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions began in 1881 and eventually morphed into the American Federation of Labor.

When reading Deadly Times, it is important to know—the book does not tell you directly—that Democrats in 1910 were pro-big business and against the working man. Republicans were mostly pro-working man, pro-union, anti-big business, anti-rich. Exactly the opposite of what the two parties stand for in today’s United States. In 1910, many newspapers actually WERE foes of the working class. Perhaps this is the time that the current U.S. President wants to take America back to.

Los Angeles Times building after being destroyed by a bomb in 1910In 1910, the Los Angeles Times was an open shop business, and the owner, General Harrison Gray Otis (1837-1917) was so anti-union that he proposed making unions, strikes, and picketing illegal in San Francisco (a pro-union city, and the largest city in California at the time) and Los Angeles. General Gray’s proposal ultimately made the Los Angeles Times building a prime target, and early in the morning of October 1, 1910, a bomb exploded and killed 21 people (some accounts say 20; some accounts say that the number is not known because of the carnage the bombs created).

Lee Irwin’s research creates a fascinating story of the bombing, the search to identify and catch the bombers, a nation polarized by labor issues and the bombings, and the trials that ensued. The search for the bombers was conducted by William J. Burns (1861-1932), known as “America’s Sherlock Holmes,” and his William J. Burns International Detective Agency, acquired in August 2000 by Securitas AB of Sweden.

In April 1911, Burns, along with Los Angeles and Chicago police, arrested brothers John J. McNamara (1876-1941) and James B. McNamara (1882-1941). Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), eventually to become famous for defending John T. Scopes (1900-1970) in 1925 in the “Scopes Monkey Trial,” was hired by the labor unions to defend the McNamara brothers.

Before the case could go to trial, a plea bargain was reached in which both brothers would plead guilty. John, admitted to placing the bomb at the Los Angeles Times building, would serve life in prison. J.B. would serve 10 years albeit for a different bombing; the judge would modify the plea bargain so that J.B. would serve 15 years in prison. Interestingly, the plea bargain was first mentioned at the home of E.W. Scripps, a name well known here San Diego County where we have the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Scripps Health, Scripps Research, Scripps Ranch housing subdivision, and more.

The Los Angeles Times trial ruined Clarence Darrow who himself was indicted and tried, twice, for attempting to bribe jurors. His first trial, a state trial where Darrow was defended by Earl Rogers, (1869-1922) ended in acquittal. The second trial, a federal trial, resulted in a hung jury. A plea bargain, in which Darrow agreed to leave California and never come back, was reached in order to avoid a third trial.

Darrow left public life for many years, returning in 1924 to defend Nathan Leopold Jr. (1904-1971) and Richard Loeb (1905-1936), teenage sons of two wealthy Chicago families, accused of kidnapping and killing 14-year-old Bobby Franks for the thrill of it (resulting in the term “thrill kill”). A year later was the Scopes Monkey Trial.

I have always been fascinated by people killing people, under the guise of religion, social progress, thrill, or whatever, and this book certainly brought to my attention lots of events where people killed people that I had not been aware of. I now have several other books, autobiographies and biographies, on my reading list.

Considering where the current U.S. President and his ilk are taking the nation, I would not be surprised if the common laborer ultimately rises up, perhaps again resorting to death and destruction….

More interesting facts I learned from “Deadly Times” and subsequent research:

  1. Ossian Sweet (1895-1960) trial. In September 1925, a white mob in Detroit tried to drive a black family out of the home they had purchased in a white neighborhood. During the melee, a white man was killed. The eleven black men in the house all were arrested and charged with murder. Darrow’s closing argument to the all-white jury:
    “I insist that there is nothing but prejudice in this case; that if it was reversed and eleven white men had shot and killed a black man while protecting their home and their lives against a mob of blacks, nobody would have dreamed of having them indicted. They would have been given medals instead….”
    The first trial of all 11 defendants was a mistrial.
    The second trial involved Henry Sweet, Ossian’s brother, who had admitted firing the shot. Henry was found not guilty on grounds of self-defense. All charges were dropped against the other ten.
    Darrow’s closing statement, lasting over seven hours, is considered a landmark in Civil Rights history and is included in the book, “Speeches that Changed the World.”
  2. The book, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, by Kevin Boyle, a professor of history at Ohio State University, is about the Sweet trials. It became a bestseller, won the National Book Award for non-fiction, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It also is on my reading list now.
  3. The judge overseeing the Sweet Trials was a young Frank Murphy (1890-1949) who would go on to serve as the last Governor General of the Phillippine Islands, Mayor of Detroit, Governor of Michigan, and as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. The court building in Detroit is the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.
  4. The television show “Perry Mason” is based on the life of Earl Rogers (1869-1922).
  5. Los Angeles Times bombing memorial in Hollywood Forever CemeteryThere is a memorial in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery honoring 20 people killed in the Los Angeles Times bombing. General Otis also is interred at the Cemetery. It has 20 names on it, not 21.
  6. The labor movement in Los Angeles crashed after the guilty pleas of the McNamara brothers, languishing until the 1950s.
  7. Samuel GompersThe head of the American Federal of Labor at the time, Samuel Gompers, who approved tens of thousands of dollars of Union money to defend the McNamara brothers, was honored by the United States Post Office on a 3¢ postage stamp issued on January 27, 1950.
  8. The kidnapping and murder of Bobby Franks was the basis for Patrick Hamilton’s 1929 play “Rope” as well as Alfred Hitchcock“s 1948 movie of the same name. Other film, theatre, and fiction works based on Bobby Franks include Meyer Levin’s 1956 novel Compulsion and the 1959 film adaptation; Nothing but the Night by James Yaffe; Little Brother Fate by Mary-Carter Roberts; Never the Sinner, a 1988 play by John Logan, which included an explicit portrayal of Leopold and Loeb’s gay relationship; Native Son by Richard Wright; Swoon, a 1992 film by Tom Kalin; Funny Games, a 1997 Austrian film by Michael Haneke, and its 2008 remake; R.S.V.P., a 2002 black comedy film; Murder by Numbers by Barbet Schroeder; and Stephen Dolginoff’s 2005 Off Broadway musical (muscial? really?) Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story.
  9. Leopold’s autobiography, Life Plus 99 Years, published in 1958, is on my reading list now.
  10. In 1959, Leopold sued to block production of the film version of Compulsion on the grounds that Levin’s book invaded his privacy, profited from his life story, and defamed him. Eventually the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against him, stating that Leopold, as the confessed perpetrator of the “crime of the century,” could not reasonably demonstrate that any book had injured his reputation.

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