Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Ace Frehley’s “No Regrets” and the Ducky Boys Gang

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Ace Frehley‘s new book “No Regrets” covers his time with the Ducky Boys gang, and surprisingly is in-sync with James Hannon‘s “Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang

On Saturday, I was at a local 501st Legion – NER troop over at Bookends Bookstore over in Ridgewood, NJ.  We were there to support the release of a bunch of Star Wars books by DK Publishing.  The troop was fun and all and we took a lot of pictures, and made a lot of kids (and some adults) pretty happy with our appearance there. But that’s not the main point of this blog.

What I do want to tell you about is that while we were there, we noticed that there were a LOT of big-name stars that were listed on the store’s past & future booksigning event schedule. People like Bill Clinton, Regis Philbin, Mary Higgins Clark, Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, Bill O’Reilly, Snookie from the NJ Shore TV show, the Kardashian family, and lots more..  Not every one of those names will appeal to everyone, but you have to admit they all do have some star power behind them. And it was impressive considering that it was a LOCAL bookstore and not one of the big corporate ones (i.e. Barnes & Noble).

I had to know “how” they got the caliber of authors to have a book-signing event, and I asked them. It seems they report their sales numbers to the NY Times Book list, and apparently that is a big deal when authors are going on book-signing tours.

So, me being the marketing whiz I am, thought “How am I going to jump on this bandwagon with my book Lost Boys of the Bronx: the Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang“… So I asked the owners how to get on their author list… And it was pretty simple – basically they had me autograph a few of my books and leave them there… And depending on the interest generated, they’d figure out if they wanted me to hold a book-signing event.

So the #1 piece of information you should take away from this blog is:
Go to Bookends Bookstore at 211 East Ridgewood Avenue in Ridgewood, NJ and show some interest in Lost Boys of the Bronx – hopefully by purchasing one of them!

But the story doesn’t end there… I wouldn’t hit you with a marketing plea like that without giving you a hopefully interesting story!

While talking to the manager of the store, Blair Relyea – the official (and pretty awesome) photographer of Bookends, overheard my conversation about my book and asked if these were the same Ducky Boys of the Bronx that Ace Frehley of KISS was a part of. I told him yes, and then pressed him how he knew that, since he didn’t seem to have any Bronx or obvious KISS ties.

He told me that Ace Frehley had just had a book-signing event at the bookstore for his book “No Regrets” a few weeks earlier and written a large section of the book about his involvement in the Ducky Boys growing up.

This floored me because when I talked to Ace Frehley when I was writing my Ducky Boys book, he really didn’t want to tell me any stories about his involvement with the gang – at least not for free. I have an entire chapter of Lost Boys of the Bronx devoted to my interaction with Ace regarding my book – and it wasn’t that pleasant of an interaction. Now it all makes sense – he wanted to save the stories for his own book.

So, curiousity got the better of me and I bought a copy of Ace’s book at Bookends… Even better was that they still had a few autographed copies of it (They have a huge selection of autographed books)… I must like this bookstore giving them so many free plugs LOL

I got home that night and started reading. True to Blair’s word, there were a bunch of Ducky Boys references in the first couple of chapters. It would be too much to expect that Ace would actually refer to my Ducky Boys book, but I was impressed with his stories. While they were different stories than mine, they were actually in-sync with what I had.

Some examples:

  • Most of the Ducky Boys I interviewed don’t remember Ace being in the Ducky Boys. But Ace never said he was in the Ducky Boys. He says he was in the Junior Duckies – which were the younger kids who hung out with the Ducky Boys and eventually became the 2nd generation of Ducky Boys when the original members got older and stopped hanging around the park.
  • In my book, Ducky Boy Kevin Byrne only remembers seeing Ace (then known as Punky) around the gang once. And it was when Ace put the moves on Ducky Boy Eddie T‘s girlfriend Marianne, and Eddie beat the hell out of Ace for doing so. Ace, in his book, tells that story from his point of view.
  •  Ace remembers that the original Ducky Boys were more about the camaraderie and friendship of the members, but eventually degenerated into drugs and crime. Ace also spoke of having to get away from the gang to make something of his life. That was a key theme in Lost Boys of the Bronx – a large percentage of the kids in the Ducky Boys who didn’t get away died way before their time – sometimes with very grisly endings.

I didn’t want to like Ace’s book based on our prior interactions, but I am really glad to see that he was honest and fair in his memories of the group. I am still reading how he got into KISS and his adventures there, but the interesting part of the book was his Ducky Boy memories, and he delivered.

So, the #2 thing you should take away from this blog is:
If you have read Ace’s book, and liked the Ducky Boys section, you should pick up Lost Boys of the Bronx to find out a lot more about the gang. And vice-versa – If you liked my book, you should pick up Ace’s “No Regrets” and read the first few chapters at least.

That’s about it for this blog entry – Hope you liked it… Let me know if you have any comments or questions!

Take care and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
-=James

P.s. Here’s a picture of us trooping at Bookends last weekend 11/19/2011
More pictures here

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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