Archive for December, 2010

Christmas Blizzard 2010 / Irish Voice review

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Originally this was going to be a blog entry on this cool review I got on the Irish Voice newspaper website today, but I realized that the Scotch Plains Christmas Blizzard of 2010 is just as worthy to talk about…

I’ll talk about the book stuff first since I think its pretty major – AND it will let me end the blog with the blizzard videos and pictures… So here goes…

After shoveling out from the Christmas Blizzard (see later on), I sat down to surf the net a bit, and I got a Google Alert email telling me that
James Hannon” and “Lost Boys of the Bronx” was mentioned in a news story entitled “Don’t Bet Against Spider man“.. Didn’t know what connection I had to Spiderman, but news is news right?

Popping the article up on my screen, I realized it was from the Irish Voice newspaper and was written by “Off the Record” columnist Mike Farragher – Now things made sense….   A few weeks ago, I had went to the Irish-Mexican Alliance benefit (see my blog from then for what that was all about) and I met Mike in person there.  We’ve been “virtual” colleagues for a while since both of us were part of the Irish-American Writers & Artists group and had a lot of the same friends (most notably god-amongst-men Larry Kirwan – who somehow is getting mentioned in every blog lately LOL) – We finally met in person, and I passed my book to him hoping he would find the time to check it out…

Well, he did and he wrote a wonderful review of it…  Check it out at:

http://www.irishcentral.com/story/ent/off_the_record/dont-bet-against-spider-man-112497839.html
I know Mike has both an online edition of his column and a “physical newspaper” edition.   I’ll find out Wednesday if I made it to the paper version…

Now  onto the Christmas Blizzard!

Everyone knew this was coming – kinda… In the days prior, there were reports of it being anywhere from a dusting to 2 feet of snow…  Would it come on Christmas Day or the day after – or not at all???  Details were sketchy, but “something” was gonna happen…  Eventually reports started remaining consistent and we were gonna have a Nor’Easter the day after Christmas…

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Review/Blog: Evening with the Ducky Boys at the Museum of the American Gangster

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Back in November, I was asked to do a book reading for Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang at the Museum of the American Gangster in the Lower East Side section of New York City.

I was kinda hesitant to do it because I wouldn’t really call the Ducky Boy “gangsters” since they were like 13-16 years old at the time.  They were tough kids for sure, but there really wasn’t any connection to organized crime.  I expressed my concerns to Lorcan Otway, the awesome curator of the Museum, and he understood my concerns, but told me not to worry..  While his museum has an element of organized crime, its full mission is to show “American Gangs” not just the Mafia.  He also includes the Underground Railroad as an exhibit in his museum, so he is serious about that distinction.  Well, the Ducky Boys are an American gang, so I agreed to doing the reading at the Museum of the American Gangster, and we set the date for Thursday, December 16th, 2010 at 6pm.

I started worrying shortly afterward that doing a book reading on my book might be a little difficult.   If you don’t know already, it is in an “Oral History” format, so it reads almost like a movie script as the interviewees tell the story in their own words – sometimes alone but more often interacting with other interviewees.   Basically my problem was that I would have to read stories with multiple characters speaking.  And I’m not Rich Little – who can do great character impressions…

At one point, I came up with a great idea (to me anyway) – Being that I originally planned this to be a  documentary film  (see my books introduction for how that fell apart), I had the original interviews filmed and digitized on my computer…  So all I had to do was show the clips to the audience and I would kill two birds with one stone.  Not only would it be an interesting take on a book reading, but it would also mean that all the video I shot/digitized/edited wasn’t going to go to waste.   It was win-win all around.    I called Lorcan to see if that was ok with him (and technically feasible), and he thought it was a great idea too, so we were off to the races!

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Ducky Boys, Shmoozing, and the Irish-Mexican Alliance

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Hanging with a Ducky Boys and the Irish-American Writers and Artists again!

Last night, I took advantage of another networking event thanks to the fine folks of the Irish-American Writer and Artists group that I belong to, and had a great time and helped do some good in the world.

If you know me, you know I’m not the biggest fan of networking events – especially ones that do double-time as a benefit, but theres something special about the IAMW&A group where I actually look forward to these events.  See my first interaction with the group in my blog entitled “WIDOMV 2010 – Part 4 – Irish American Writers and Artists

Last night’s event was called the Irish-Mexican Alliance and it was to benefit the Committee to Protect Journalists.  Rather than interpret it, I’ll just grab the description right from the IAMWA website

“A group known as the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) has been seeking to draw attention to the issue of journalists in Mexico being murdered, intimidated and forced to seek political asylum in the U.S. for doing their job, i.e. reporting on the Narco War in Mexico (click here to view the incredible CPJ report on the subject).

As an organization devoted to freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of expression for all artist, we at IAW&A wholeheartedly support the efforts of CPJ.

We have formed THE IRISH-MEXICAN ALLIANCE, a group of writers, artists and their supporters, who are in the process of organizing a night of Celtic and Mexican music, Chicano and Irish poetry, etc., all to raise money for CPJ.

Among other things, we are hoping to summon the spirit of the San Patricio Brigade, a group of Irish Americans who fought on behalf of Mexico in the mid-19th Century.”

The organizer and emcee of the event T.J. English – who is on the board of directors of the IAMWA and the author of The Westies and Paddy Whacked.   He’s also a helluva nice guy.

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Lost Boys of the Bronx commercial

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Well, I just finished editing the first commercial for my book Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang and I hope you enjoy it…

It will begin airing on HomeGrown Music TV starting in January 2011

Thanks to Loretta Parete-Gonnella for putting up with us and the cold and being our sexy reader actress.   Also thanks to Mike Hepponstall and Leon Leybs for co-writing and co-filming…   And as always thanks to Jackie Hannon for helping out!

From a bad situation comes good… OLR Burglary Aftermath

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

I know I just posted a long-winded blog about the Brandon Flowers show, so you may be sick of me by now, but I just had to post this quick blog about something awesome that came out of something bad…

First, the bad…Last Sunday Night/Monday morning, my old Bronx Catholic Grammar school Our Lady of Refuge was broken into during a rash of burglaries against Catholic schools in the neighborhood.  Rather than interpret it, let me just share the words directly from the pastor and neighborhood guardian and personal hero of mine – Monsignor (but to me, he will always be Father) John Jenik.

From http://OurLadyOfRefuge.com

From The Pastor —-    November 29th, 2010

Today was not one of OLR’s best days. Burglars gained entrance to the school by breaking one of the south gym windows late Sunday night or in the early hours of Monday morning.

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Review/Blog: Brandon Flowers at the Stone Pony – Dec 1st, 2010

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

This is not really a “review” of the show, but more of a journal of the “James & Jackie Experience” of the Brandon Flowers show last night.

Well, it’s the beginning of the holiday season, and what better way to celebrate than with Brandon Flowers of the band The Killers right? What, you don’t celebrate Christmas season with the Killers in your house? But my beautiful wife Jackie tells me everyone does it! (FYI Jackie is celebrating her birthday today so feel free to wish her well in the comments – Happy Birthday sweetheart!)

I’m joking of course, but it was a way to tell you that every year on World AIDS day, The Killers put out a Christmas song and video where all the profits go to fighting AIDS… So yesterday (December 1st 2010), they released their newest Christmas song “Boots” at fine establishments everywhere. I picked my copy up on ITunes and it’s actually a pretty good song that I recommend you getting (or at least watching the equally good video) – The money goes to a good cause so it’s a win-win situation.

The “Boots” video link is at: http://www.starbucks.com/share/#/the-killers – Supposedly every viewing make STARBUCKS/RED contribute a nickel to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa.

The other thing is that my wife likes the Killers. I mean she REALLY likes them – almost bordering on obsession. as I mentioned in an old Blog , if Jackie had to choose between me and lead singer Brandon Flowers, I’d be worried.  Please see the August 2008 blog where Brandon Flowers checked out my wife’s boobs.

Mr. Flowers is doing a solo tour now, and he happened to come to the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ last night. You may know the Stone Pony from when the band I managed called The RiffSurfers played there a couple of summers back or probably more likely from a little known New Jersey-ite named Bruce Springsteen

The Stone Pony is a great venue to see big acts. Its relatively small and intimate, and usually when acts play there they hang out and take pictures and sign autographs. I’ve seen some great acts there such as the aforementioned RiffSurfers, my pal Larry Kirwan and Black 47, The Smithereens, and the New York Dolls to name a few.

So when my wife’s obsession Brandon Flowers came to Asbury Park, the day before her birthday, you know I was gonna be there… Plus it was a Wednesday night in the middle of the holiday season down the shore for a “little known” solo act of a band that’s popular in a certain population – so I figured if 20-30 people came out that would be a lot. And Jackie could meet the dude, get a picture and maybe an autograph.

Boy did I underestimate the selling power of Brandon Flowers! Last night we drove down to Asbury Park, and got an early whiff of my mistake in judgment when parking was a little difficult. Asbury Park in winter is a normally a pretty desolate place – but tonight we had to park a few blocks away..

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