Saturday, June 24, 2017

Terror In Ypsilanti Wins Book Awards


Literary Classics Press Release, Rapid City, South Dakota:
"The 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards and Top Honors Book Awards Finalists have been announced. Selected from submissions by entrants around the globe, these distinguished honorees are recognized for their contributions to the craft of writing, illustrating, and publishing exceptional literature. In this highly competitive industry these books represent the foremost in literature in their respective categories."

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This month, I learned my book Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked won a 2017 Literary Classics Book Award in their true crime category. Last month, I earned a similar honor from the 2017 International Book Award as a finalist in their true crime category. I am hoping to hear from a third writing competition to made it a clean sweep. 


Winning, placing, or showing in one of these writing contests gives authors bragging rights and the documentation to label their work award-winning. Winners receive a certificate suitable for framing, a roll of award emblems to festoon their book covers, and a digital emblem file for internet use.

The hosting organization announces winners with a press release and provides promotional opportunities through their business website and social media outlets. Often, there is a formal award ceremony offering press, photo, and networking opportunities. This year's Literary Classics Book Awards ceremony takes place over Labor Day weekend in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

As I wind down my Terror In Ypsilanti book tour this summer, I plan to shift my attention towards the film industry. So far, two media companies have shown an interest. One company pitched the idea to A&E, but the network is taking their programming in a different direction. Not to worry! There is still plenty of time to shop the project to other production companies, so I am not discouraged.

Terror In Ypsilanti has been out less than a year and garnered more attention and success than I expected. All formats--a quality paperback, digital ebook, and audiobook--are doing well. My publisher Sam Henrie of Wheatmark, Inc. tells me that Terror In Ypsilanti is their best selling title. For purchasing information, click-on the book cover image in the right-hand sidebar.

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Literary Classics Seal of Approval Book Review: For Immediate Release Literary Classics pr@clcawards.org Literary Classics is pleased to announce that the book Terror in Ypsilanti, by Gregory Fournier, has been selected to receive the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. 

The CLC Seal of Approval is a designation reserved for those books which uphold the rigorous criteria set forth by the Literary Classics review committee, a team comprised of individuals with backgrounds in publishing, editing, writing, illustration and graphic design. There’s nothing pretty about murder, and Gregory Fournier’s Terror in Ypsilanti is a testament to that fact. A compilation of first-hand reports of the moments leading up to and following the gruesome deaths of Michigan co-eds, this book follows John Collins, the convicted mass murderer of Michigan, and explains the evidence leading to his arrest and subsequent conviction. 

Extensive research has culminated in this ultimate reference guide for information on John Collins and the Ypsilanti murders. Told in narrative, each incident is detailed, including descriptions of the victims, crime scenes, witnesses, etc. Each of the cases were quite complex, but Fournier presents the facts concisely and objectively. Riddled with graphic detail, this book is not for the faint of heart. Regardless, for anyone wanting specific information on the Ypsilanti murders, or as a general case study, this book is an excellent resource. To this day, John Collins maintains his innocence. Multiple interviews and witness reports are presented showing both sides of the case. After reading the book, the reader is free to draw their own conclusion.

Amazon Author Site: http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-A.-Fournier/e/B00BDNEG1C

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Lunch With Soupy Sales in Detroit

Soupy Sales was born Milton Supman on January 8, 1926, in Franklinton, North Carolina. His father Irving Supman immigrated to America from Hungary in 1894. He was a Jewish dry goods merchant. Later in life, Soupy would quip that the local Ku Klux Klan bought their sheets from his father's store. Milton's nickname came from his family. His older brothers were dubbed "Ham Bone" and "Chicken Bone." The youngest son was "Soup Bone." Milton (Soupy) Supman enlisted in the United States Navy and served in the South Pacific. After the war, he earned a Master's degree in journalism. His oldest brother had become a doctor, and his other brother became a lawyer. Soupy had little choice but to go into show business.

After graduation, Soupy worked as a morning DJ and performed a comedy act in nightclubs. In 1949, Soupy Sales began his television career on WKRC-TV in Cincinnati with "Soupy's Soda Shop," television's first teen dance program. The show was cancelled after a year. Soupy moved to Cleveland and did a late night comedy/variety program called "Soupy's On!" where he took his first pie in the face which became his trademark. After a couple of seasons, Soupy left Cleveland for health reasons. "The station manager was sick of me," he quipped.

In 1953, Soupy Sales relocated to Detroit and worked for WXYZ-TV Channel 7, the local ABC station. Soupy not only had the Lunch With Soupy program, he also hosted a Friday evening variety show called Soup's On, which featured musicians and jazz performers who were working one of the twenty-four jazz clubs operating in the Paradise Valley entertainment district in old Detroit. Top performers like Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, Charlie Parker, Della Reese, Dinah Washington, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis, to name a few, made guest appearences on Soupy's show. After an appearance, jazz artists would regularly sell out their venues.

Lunch With Soupy had a fixed-set of a kitchen with a window and a table and chair to the left and a door center stage in the background that would interrupt Soupy mid-sentence with frantic knocking. Naturally Soupy would stop and answer the door. Usually, Soupy would play against only an arm and a voice appearing from the door jam.

Soupy wore a dark Orlon sweater, a white shirt with an oversized checkerboard bow tie, and a beat up top hat. Besides the pie-in-the-face running slapstick gag, Soupy was know for the Soupy Shuffle (his signature dance) and his Words of Wisdom like, "Be true to your teeth and they won't be false to you."

Pookie the Lion and Hippy the Hippo
If it was noon in Detroit and you were planted in front of a television set with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and Soupy was on, you knew you were in for a good time. Regulars on the show were hand puppets Soupy interacted with. Soupy was the straight man for voice artist Clyde Adler who did the off-stage puppeteering and voice characterizations. The show's favorite puppets were:
  • White Fang, "The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA." He appeared from the left corner of the screen only as a giant white shaggy arm and paw with black triangular claws. Fang spoke in unrecognizable grunts and growls which Soupy repeated in English for comic effect. White Fang often threw the pies when Soup's jokes bombed.
  • Black Tooth, "The Biggest and Sweetest Dog in the USA." She had a black shaggy arm and paw with white triangular claws. She had feminine grunts and groans, and always flirted with Soupy. Her trademark move was pulling Soupy off-camera and giving him big, noisy kisses.
  • Pookie the Lion appeared on the ledge of the window behind Soupy. Pookie was a hipster with a wicked wit. He lip synced novelty records or prerecorded bits. My favorite memory of Pookie was a routine called "Life Got You Down, Bunky?" It was a pep talk he gave Soupy every time Soupy complained about feeling blue. Comically, it was inspirational.
  • Willie the Worm, a latex accordion worm that popped in and out of an apple. Willie was known as "the sickest worm in all of Dee-troit." Willie had a perennial cold and an exaggerated sneeze. He read birthday greetings to Detroit-area kids. Sadly, Willie's health failed him. He did not survive the show's move to the Big Apple in 1964.
When Soupy took his show to WNEW-TV in New York City, it went into national syndication. This was the height of Soupy's popularity. His guest stars included the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Jerry Lewis, Judy Garland, and Sammy Davis. 

On New Years Day in 1965, to fill a few extra moments at the end of the show, Soupy made an off-the-cuff remark to the kids in his television audience. He suggested they go into their parents' rooms, find their parents' wallets, and take out the green pieces of paper with pictures of bearded guys and mail them to him. In return, Soupy said he would send them a postcard from Puerto Rico. The show was aired live and no transcripts or videotapes exist, so the exact language he used is not known.

Soupy's remark was an ad-libbed gag not meant to be taken literally, but an angry parent filed a complaint with the FCC. The way the press reported the story, it sounded like this was the biggest heist since the Brink's robbery. Some adults were livid that a TV personality would manipulate children for commercial gain.

Show business legend has it that the prank netted some $80,000. Soupy revealed publicly that he netted only a few real dollars which he donated to charity--the rest was fake money.

The station suspended Soupy. The outcry from Soupy's fans swamped the station's switchboards and packed their mailroom with demands that Soupy be reinstated. Within a week, his suspension was lifted. Soupy worked for two more seasons before he gave up the top hat and bow tie and moved to Hollywood to become a panelist on many game shows including What's My Line, To Tell the Truth, Match Game, The Gong Show, and Hollywood Squares in the 70s and 80s.

Milton (Soupy Sales) Supman died of cancer October 22, 2009, at Calvary Hospice in the Bronx. He was eighty-three years old. Soupy Sales is best remembered by his many fans for his trademark pie-in-the-face gag, but in the comedy world, Soupy is remembered for his inventive, anarchic brand of riotous, television comedy. 

 Soupy and Pookie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB8e_uRzhMU

Friday, June 2, 2017

Final 2017 Terror In Ypsilanti Michigan Book Tour Schedule

2017 True Crime Category
Terror In Ypsilanti was released August 1, 2016, almost a year ago. Much has happened since. In addition to a quality paperback edition, a Kindle and all ebook formats are now available from Amazon <http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-A.-Fournier/e/B00BDNEG1C> at a reduced price. On March 31st, an audiobook was released by Tantor Media which opens up new markets for my book--also available on Amazon. And in May, the 2017 International Book Awards chose Terror In Ypsilanti as a Finalist in their True Crime category. The first half of 2017 has been kind to me.

Everywhere I speak, people come forward with stories about knowing one of John Norman Collins victims or of riding on the back of his motorcycle and living to tell the tale. I have had a couple of encounters with him as well. It is remarkable how many people are now willing to share their stories of memories long unspoken. Many local law enforcement members who worked on the Collins' case have come up after my talks and validated my work--foremost among them is former Washtenaw County Sheriff Douglas Harvey.

Jackson librarian Erin Kurtz and I.

My Michigan book tour this May was successful with talks in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and four in Jackson. The Washtenaw Avenue B&N in Ann Arbor surprised me when they agreed to carry my book as a perennial local title. Copies are also available while supplies last at Nicola's Books on Jackson Avenue on Ann Arbor's west side, Brewed Awakenings just east of Saline on Michigan Avenue, and the Ypsilanti Historical Society in their basement archives on Huron Street. Autographed copies are always available on my author website--gregoryafournier.com.


My promotional window is closing as I gear up for my final three Terror In Ypsilanti book talks. If you want to learn more about the Washtenaw County murders or have me answer your questions in person, attend one of my last Michigan venues.
  • Wednesday, July 12th at 7:00 pm, Nicola's Books--Ann Arbor's Premier Independent Book Store. 2513 Jackson Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
  • Saturday, July 15th at 1:00 pm, Adrian District Library. 143 E. Maumee Street, Adrian, MI 49221
  • Sunday, July 16th from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, for the First Annual Book Club of Detroit Bookfest at the famous Eastern Market--Shed 5. 2934 Russell Street, Detroit, MI 48207 
Bringing this dastardly tale to light has been one of the most difficult and meaningful experiences of my life. I am proud to have paid a down payment on this debt to history.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Dinner in Detroit with Andre the Giant


Andre as Fezzik the giant in The Princess Bride.

Andre the Giant was born Andre Rene Roussumoff on May 19, 1946 in France. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade thinking an education was unnecessary for a farm laborer. At seventeen, Andre trained for a wrestling career at night and worked as a furniture mover during the day to pay the bills. Wrestling promoters were quick to realize Andre's money-making potential because of his great size.

The Giant, The Hulk, and The Donald.
Andre the Giant was billed as The Eighth Wonder of the World through much of his career. His World Wrestling Federation tenure came to a crashing end during WrestleMania III in 1987 when Hulk Hogan gave Andre a body slam followed by the Hulk's running leg drop finisher. Andre's immense weight resulted in his chronic bone and joint pain. On that night at Silverdome Stadium in Pontiac, Michigan, Andre the Giant passed the torch to Hulk Hogan. In the 1980s, Andre branched out and co-starred in several films, most notably the giant Fezzik in The Princess Bride.

When Andre was wrestling in Detroit, he hung out at the Lindell AC sports bar. Over the years, people have written about Andre's gargantuan appetite for food and drink. Mel Butsicaris recalls one night when Andre came in after a wresting match at 12:45 am.


"Many people ask me if I ever met Andre the Giant. Yes. He wasn't just tall. There is a photograph of Andre holding up my Uncle Jimmy with one arm. Look at the difference between a normal person's head and the size of Andre's head. He kept a minivan at the bar with the front seats taken out. He drove from the back seat.

"You would not believe how much he could eat and drink. I remember one night when Andre ordered a cheeseburger with fries and two beers. We reminded him we were going out to dinner as soon as we closed the bar. Then, he ordered another and another.... In less than an hour and a half, Andre ordered nine cheese burgers with fries and two beers each. Our burgers were 1/3 of a pound of ground round. That's three pounds of meat, not to mention potatoes, bread, and eighteen beers.

"Then we went to the Grecian Gardens restaurant in Greektown. Uncle Jimmy ask the chef to make Andre a special plate of food. They took a serving platter and filled it with a whole chicken, a couple of lamb shanks, pastichio, stuffed grape leaves, rice, vegetables, and all the Greek trimmings. Enough food to feed a family of four. Andre ate it all. We jokingly asked him if he wanted dessert. He replied, 'Not yet, I'll have another one of these,' pointing to his empty platter. I don't remember what he had for dessert."

Andre's huge size was the result of gigantism caused by excessive growth hormone. The condition is known as acromegaly. It causes pronounced cheekbones, forehead bulges, enlarged jaw protrusion, enlargement of hands, feed, and nose. Internally, it causes a weakening of the heart muscle.

Andre Roussimoff died on January 27, 1993 from congestive heart failure in a Paris hotel room at the age of forty-six. He was in Paris to attend his father's funeral and celebrate his mother's birthday. Andre's body was shipped to the United States for cremation. His ashes were scattered on his ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina. Andre is survived by one daughter, Robin Christensen Roussimoff born in 1979.

Billy Martin's Detroit Fight Night:
http://fornology.blogspot.com/2017/04/billy-martin-fight-night-in-detroit.html

Saturday, May 6, 2017

2017 Michigan Terror in Ypsilanti Book Talks


Soon, I'll be wrapping up my Michigan Terror In Ypsilanti booktalks. I'll be at the Ypsilanti District Library on May 11th and the Ann Arbor Barnes & Noble on May 13th. To round out this mini-tour, I'm giving four talks for the Jackson District Libraries as well.

After a forty-five minute presentation, I'll take questions from the audience. Books will be available for purchase before and after the talks as long as supplies last. 


Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked is available on Amazon in a quality paperback edition. Kindle and all ebook formats are reduced to $6.95. Now, an audiobook can also be purchased on Amazon. Makes a great vacation or airplane read. Click on the book cover in the right sidebar for more details.

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 Free five minute listening sample of audiobook:<http://www.audible.com/pd/Nonfiction/Terror-in-Ypsilanti-Audiobook/B06XSKGMMJ?action_code=AUDORWS0424159DCE>

Autographed copies of Terror In Ypsilanti are available at the sale price of $20 on my author website <www.gregoryafournier.com>

Friday, April 28, 2017

Billy Martin Fight Night in Detroit

Many Detroiters remember Billy Martin when he managed the Detroit Tigers from 1971-1973. He took an aging team of veterans and guided them to their first American League Eastern Division Championship in 1972. Better known to some fans may be the fistfight Billy Martin had with his star pitcher Dave Boswell at the Lindell AC sports bar when Martin managed the Minnesota Twins. Who better to tell that story than Mel Butsicaris, who was tending bar that night.

"I called him Uncle Billy. Billy Martin and my Uncle Jimmy (Butsicaris) were close friends. Martin was best man at my uncle's wedding. He was Uncle Billy to me.

Anyway, Billy Martin was managing the Minnesota Twins in 1969 when he told his players to take a lap around the field before heading to the locker room--a common routine for any sports team. His star pitcher Dave Boswell refused and Uncle Billy said you will if you want to play on my team. Boswell refused a second time and was benched. When the Twins came to Detroit to play the Tigers, Boswell was supposed to start the first game, but Martin benched him.

After the game, the whole team came to the Lindell AC sports bar as usual. Normally, coaches don't go to the same watering hole as their players, but Uncle Jimmy and Billy were close friends. They were sitting at the end of the bar quietly talking. The team was sitting at tables in a large group. Dave Boswell had a few drinks and started bad-mouthing Martin. The more he drank, the louder and more vulgar he got. He started yelling at Martin about his heritage and his mother's character if you know what I mean.


Billy Martin hard at work in a Yankee uniform.

Uncle Billy ignored him. Boswell got so obnoxious his roommate on the road Bobby Allison, a big, strong, power-hitting center fielder, was trying to get Boswell to leave the bar and sleep it off. Boswell got louder and more abusive. Allison kept blocking him until Boswell sucker punched Allison in the face. Bobby went down bleeding. Like a bench-emptying baseball brawl, the team jumped up to get between Boswell and Martin while getting Allison off the floor.

Up until then, Martin kept out of the situation. He told Boswell, 'I don't care what you say about me, but now you're beating up the team. Enough, everyone back to the hotel, curfew in ten minutes and bed check in fifteen.' The hotel was near the sports bar. The players started to march out forcing Boswell out with them. He breaks away from the pack and throws a wild punch at Martin, who ducks. Boswell takes another swing at Martin which he blocks.

Telling Boswell, 'You're all out of warnings,' Martin took him to school. Despite being six inches shorter and weighing many pounds less than his ace pitcher, Martin was a Brooklyn street kid and pound-for-pound the best boxer I have ever seen in or out of the ring. His fists were moving so fast it looked like a Popeye cartoon. It lasted for only six seconds but Martin landed about twenty punches to Boswell's stomach and face. Power-hitter Bobby Allison picked Boswell off the barroom floor and took him to the hospital.

The sports writers from Minnesota and the Detroit newspapers were there, but they agreed not to write about the story because it would only make the situation worse. It was not good for major league baseball. A couple of days after the brawl, a young reporter who was not a witness to the fight broke the story.

Because of  growing publicity concerns, Dave Boswell called a news conference when he was released from the hospital. Boswell stepped-up and said he was drinking and out-of-line. The fight was his fault. The Twins front office did not care. They fired Martin and the Tigers hired him the following season. To all those people over the years who said they saw Billy Martin challenge Dave Boswell to go outside and fight--you are busted."

Billy Martin died on Christmas Day, 1989, at the age of sixty-one in Johnson City, New York. His pickup truck was driven by longtime Detroit friend William Reedy (53). The truck skidded off a patch of icy pavement and plummeted 300 feet down an embankment. Neither Martin nor Reedy were wearing seat belts. Billy Martin was pronounceed dead of severe head and internal injuries. Reedy survived with a broken hip and ribs.

Billy Martin was born Alfred Manuel Martin. His Italian grandmother called him "Belli" [pretty] as a child and the nickname "Billy" stuck. As a major league baseball manager, Billy Martin built a reputation as one of the game's all-time best. He was known to work wonders with difficult ball clubs and not take crap from players, managers, or umpires. He could shape up a team and get the best from his players.

Unfortunately, Billy Martin had a self-destructive side too which followed him throughout his career. Notice the baseball card at the top of this post. Martin is giving the finger to the photographer. By his own admission, "I'm a very bad loser."

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Outrage and the Nature of Truth

 
One of Paul Newman's least known and seldom shown films is The Outrage (1964). The film explores the elusive nature of truth as three conflicting versions of the same crime are presented to a frontier judge before a burned out courthouse. The film is an adaptation of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950).


Newman plays the unlikely role of Juan Carrasco, a Mexican outlaw accused of raping a Southern belle and killing her aristocratic husband. The beguiling Claire Bloom plays the violated woman, and Laurence Harvey plays her Southern gentleman. Despite the lurid subject matter, Newman, Bloom, and Harvey give tongue and cheek performances in episodic flashbacks which entertain in unexpected ways.

Rounding out the cast is Edward G. Robinson as a cynical, larcenous gambler. His performance may be one of his best as he shines throughout the film. William Shatner plays a frontier preacher who has lost his faith after he hears the conflicting trial testimony. His performance is subdued and pensive making Robinson's portrayal of the sleazy conman all the more compelling. Howard Da Silva plays a down-on-his-luck prospector undergoing a moral crisis. He has withheld important evidence by not testifying at the trial.

The three men are waiting overnight in a rundown train depot for the next train out of town. A driving rainstorm sets the somber tone for the movie. As the three men discuss the Carrasco case, director Martin Ritt intersperses flashbacks depicting the various points-of-view which have as much to do with the truth as the basic facts of the case.

The Outrage is a provocative and thought-provoking movie filmed in the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, Arizona. Every Paul Newman fan should see this film at least once.

Trailer for The Outrage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt9xrEjQZPg