Archive for the ‘Gangs’ Category

The passing of a Bronx Legend – Phyllis Carpenella-Germano

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

 

On 12/05/2011, we lost a local Bronx legend. Ducky Girl Phyllis Carpenella-Germano passed away. If her name doesn’t ring a bell, you were probably not living in the Norwood area of the Bronx during the early-mid 60’s.  During the course of my Ducky Boy interviews, I got to know her a little bit, and found out she still had that rebellious spirit she had back when she was a member of the infamous Ducky Boys gang…

Dec 31st, 2011

On this last day of 2011, I was going thru my to-do list, and writing this blog was at the top of the list. For athe last few weeks, I kept putting it off because I knew it would be awkward to write since I didn’t really know Phyllis “the person” all that well. But she was one of the first interviews I did for my book on the Ducky Boys gang, and she really showed me what I had gotten myself into…

On May 27th, 2006, I met Phyllis for the first time in Bronx Park. My friend and ex-Ducky Girl Geri Gertler-Norcross set up the meeting with Phyllis and Lenny Lim (also one of the original Ducky Boys).

To save typing tonight, here is the link to my blog entry of that day:
Down the Ducky Turf with some Ducky’s 5/27/2006

Read that entry (it’s not too long)… But it shows just how fearless and bad-ass Phyllis was throughout her life…  At almost 60 years old, she and Lenny climbed over a barbed-wire fence just to send a middle finger to the Botanical Gardens who had put this fence up to block people from getting to the Twin Lakes section for free. In talking to Phyllis & Lenny that day, I found that they were two of the most honest interviewees EVER. Neither of them were embarrassed nor apologetic of anything she did back in the Ducky Boys heyday.

I have to admit that I was a little intimidated by this 5 foot, 100 pound (if she was soaking wet) woman… Phyllis was still a tough cookie, and could still (more…)

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

Tribute to the Wanderers – Originally published Winter 2006 issue of Back in the Bronx

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Note: This article was written for Back in the Bronx magazine in Winter 2006. New information came in and some of the details in the story have changed in the years between this article and the publishing of Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang. I chose to leave it the way it was originally published.


A Bronx Tribute to “The Wanderers”

By James Hannon of Lantern-Media.com

A native Bronxite’s tale of how Hollywood came to the Bronx, and how the resulting movie influenced his life.

Published in Back in the Bronx Magazine, Winter 2006 issue, Vol XIV, Issue L1

Click here to see the original published article



In 1979, a movie by the name of The Wanderers came out. It was based off the book by Richard Price and starred a then-unknown actor named Ken Wahl. It also had a tremendous supporting cast that is too big to list here.

My sister’s boyfriend Louie really sold me on this movie a year or so earlier by telling me they were filming it near the Dollar Savings Bank on the Grand Concourse & Fordham Road, and that they had a bunch of old cars lining the surrounding streets and they were filming. This was a big deal to me, so I was definitely looking forward to it coming out.So, when it finally came out, I was horrified to find out that it had a rating of “R”. I was only 12 years old and five long years away from being eligible to see this movie. Ratings actually meant something back then, and I couldn’t imagine any kid’s parents letting them see “R” movies. I was crushed that I couldn’t see it.

My 19 yr old sister and Louie went to see it and told me that it was great, and that it opened with a shot of the RKO Fordham movie theatre and Alexander’s Department Store, and had aLOT of other Bronx locations! I thought my neighborhood was about as far from Hollywood as you could get, but this movie was filmed in my neighborhood — And I couldn’t see it!

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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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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!

Press Release: Bronx Gangs Author James Hannon to Appear at the Museum Of The American Gangster in Lower East Side, NYC

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Bronx Gangs Author James Hannon to Appear at the Museum Of The American Gangster in Lower East Side, NYC

“Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang” author James Hannon to appear at the Museum of the American Gangster in New York City on Thursday, December 16th for “An Evening with the Ducky Boys Gang.”

Bronx, NY (PRWEB) November 18, 2010

Author James Hannon will appear at the Museum of the American Gangster on December 16th, 2010 with a presentation on the Ducky Boys Gang. Mr. Hannon is becoming known for his current book entitled “Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang” – which details the all-too-human side of the terrifying Bronx gang of the early-1960s who were immortalized in Richard Price’s novel and 1979 movie “The Wanderers.”

The event, entitled “An Evening with the Ducky Boys Gang” will begin at 6pm on Thursday December 16th at the Museum of the American Gangster at 80 Saint Marks Place (off 1st Ave) in the Lower East Side section of New York City.

During the presentation, James Hannon and special guest, ex-Ducky Boy Kevin Byrne will give an introduction to the Ducky Boys Gang, read passages from the book, and answer questions from the audience. Following the presentation, Mr. Hannon and Mr. Byrne will remain on-hand to mingle with guests and sign books that will be available for sale. Guests will then be invited for a short tour of the museum.

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WIDOMV 2010 – Part 1 – James’s BronxTalk TV interview

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

WIDOMV 2010 = What I Did On My Vacation 2010

I started typing this as one document that covered two weeks, but it got really long…So I’m going to break it into sections for both your and my sanity…  I’ll back-fill the “/?” part of the title when I figure out how long I end up dragging this out…

Well, its Sunday October 24th, 2010 and its the last day of my two week vacation – Its back to work tomorrow.  And while I didn’t “go anywhere” for my vacation, I did seem to do an awful lot of stuff if you believe the pictures I took from the last two weeks…

My vacation officially started on Friday,  Oct 8th, but I can’t talk about that week without telling of something really cool that happened on Monday of that week…   I did an interview on TV for my book Lost Boys of the Bronx – The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang !!!

It was for a Bronx community access show called BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank and it was my first real interview on TV…  (There was something on Scotch Plains TV a few years back for my RYL Documentary, but we don’t talk about that anymore)   Bronx Talk is a show on the BronxNet network, and everybody in the Bronx (estimated population 1,411,654 people) with cable gets this channel so its not small potatoes…  It was also repeated 3 times a day – every day for the week.  In addition it was also simulcast on the http://www.bronxnet.org/tv/bronxtalk website — What I’m saying is that a LOT of people had potential to watch the show..

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Press Release: Book Release: Lost Boys Of The Bronx: The Oral History Of The Ducky Boys Gang

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Book Release: Lost Boys Of The Bronx: The Oral History Of The Ducky Boys Gang

Bronx native James Hannon releases book detailing the all-too-human side of a terrifying Bronx gang of the early-1960s made infamous by Richard Price’s “The Wanderers.”

Bronx, NY (PRWEB) September 9, 2010

James Hannon’s new book Lost Boys of the Bronx tells the true story of the Ducky Boys gang from the point of view of the gangmembers, their victims, and neighborhood residents who lived through it all.

In the fictional novel, and subsequent movie The Wanderers, Richard Price wrote about a gang of “stunted Irish madmen” who were “stone killers that attacked in droves to compensate for the fact that few of them were over five-feet tall.” That gang was the Ducky Boys and they certainly left an imprint on his audience.

In James Hannon’s new book Lost Boys of the Bronx, the real-life gang behind the fictional monsters portrayed on screen are brought out into the open and made human. Readers will see how a few 1960s kids became a gang of hundreds in their heyday, and how growing up in the age of drugs, glue-sniffing, war led to the destruction of many lives where only their loyalty to each other got them through.

Some early industry reviews:

Richard Price, Academy Award nominated screenwriter, and author of The Wanderers,
“I read this book in one sitting – It was GREAT”

Larry Kirwan, frontman for band Black 47, and author of Rockin’ the Bronx,
“This is essential reading for anyone who wishes to become familiar with the unique spirit of the Bronx. Rock on Ducky Boys!!!”

Steven Schindler, Author of Sewer Balls and From the Block,
“What James Hannon does is make some sense out of the myths and mystery of why these gangs behaved the way they did, and how they went about it. And as in most thoughtful and well researched projects, he demonstrates that the reality of the situation is infinitely more interesting and compelling than the made-up Hollywood version.”

Steve Samtur, editor for Back in the Bronx magazine,
“Kudos to Mr. Hannon for his perseverance. His ability to forage for Ducky Boys after more than 40 years and finding them is remarkable. To get them to speak about their experience is testament to his tenacity.”

There will be a book signing to accompany the official release of Lost Boys of the Bronx on September 12th, 2010 at the American Legion -Bajart Post in Yonkers, NY.

Lost Boys of the Bronx – The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang
By James Hannon
Published by AuthorHouse, Aug, 2010
220 pages

ISBN:
6×9 Paperback (978-1-4520-2054-9)
6x9Hardcover (978-1-4520-2055-6)

Available at AuthorHouse, Lantern-Media.com, and many online retailers.

About the Author
Author and ex-Bronxite James Hannon grew up across the street from Our Lady of Refuge and PS 46 schools on East 196th Street and Briggs Avenue. Little did he realize that almost twenty years earlier, the real-life Ducky Boys, who would become so significant in his life after watching the Wanderers movie, were attending the same schools, hanging out in the same schoolyards, and trying to figure out what their next adventure would be.

Mr. Hannon is the director of the 2004 documentary “Out of Our Dens – The Richard and the Young Lions Story” about a 1960’s garage band that came from a “20-mile radius of Newark, NJ” who became one of the greatest bands that nobody ever heard of.

He currently lives a stones throw away from the Bronx in central, New Jersey with his wife and cat.

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Laying out the damn PennySaver

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

So I’m reading this book “Looking for Calvin & Hobbes” by Nevin Martell – which is a biography on the publicity-shy cartoonist Bill Watterson who wrote and drew the greatest comic strip of all time  (Umm Calvin & Hobbes)…

The introduction which is really good is about how the author tracked down, and eventually got an interview with the elusive Watterson…   Since the intro tho (I’m currently 85 pages in), the book has been pretty boring and dry.  And while Martell describes individual C&H strips which I remember, he doesn’t actually SHOW them…  I guess he couldn’t get the rights…

Either way, I’m intrigued to see what happens when he meets the cartoonist, so I’m reading on…   But this isn’t a book review blog, so I’m gonna stop there and be egotistical and show how this book involves “me”…

I was reading the part of the book where Bill Watterson quit his job doing layout for the local PennySaver magazine to take his shot at newspaper comic strip stardom…  The newspaper job wasn’t paying much, and the risks were huge, but the rewards were limitless..  In the book, one of Watterson’s contemporaries said that  “(Bill) wanted to give everything he had to Calvin and Hobbes. If it didn’t work out, it didn’t work out, but it wasn’t going to be because he had to spend eight hours a day laying out the damn Pennysaver.” (more…)