Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Gaslighting--A Sociopath's Favorite Tool

The psychological phenomenon known as gaslighting has become a colloquial term to describe a form of mental abuse where a dominant individual manipulates a weaker person's sense of psychological well-being to undermine the victim's mental stability. It is the manipulation of external reality to make someone doubt their sanity.

The term derives from the popular 1944 American film entitled Gaslight--based on a 1938 British stage play. Frenchman Charles Boyer plays the sociopathic husband of the psychologically frail Ingrid Bergman. This memorable film portrays a husband's attempt to destroy his wife's sanity by manipulating her perception of reality, so he can steal her jewels.

Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman
Sociopaths instill a high level of anxiety and confusion to disorient their victims. Information is twisted and spun by them so victims begin to doubt themselves. Targets lose faith in their ability to make judgments and become insecure about their decision-making abilities.

Gaslighting describes an antisocial personality disorder that relies on deception, denial, mind games, sabotage, isolation, and destabilization. It is a form of narcissistic abuse that occurs in all types of relationships and every walk of life. This syndrome is often associated with marital relationships, but anyone can be a victim. Gaslighting can be seen in abusive parent-child relationships and in the workplace with an aggressive boss brow-beating his employees. It is mental bullying that can escalate into physical violence. These narcissists are puppet masters who often manipulate people for their own personal gain or to play twisted power and control games.

Gaslighting is a deliberate and progressive method of covert control that imposes a form of psychosis on its victims. Brainwashing, interrogation, isolation, and torture are all forms of psychological warfare used by the military, intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and terrorist organizations. On any level, it is a human and civil rights violation. 


For more detailed information on gaslighting and a link to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, view the following link: http://www.thehotline.org/2014/05/what-is-gaslighting/

Friday, August 10, 2018

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 five 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

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Canadian Prohibition Loophole Fuels Roaring Twenties in United States

Model T stake truck breaks through Detroit River ice with overload of Canadian liquor

During the United States Prohibition period, the majority of liquor passing through Windsor, Ontario and the Border Cities into the United States came across the Detroit River. The United States Customs Department estimates that 80% of all illegal spirits brought into the country during Prohibition originated in Canada--our neighbor to the North. This "Detroit Funnel" as it became known in the press supplied liquor to Chicago, Lansing, Toledo, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City and all points in between.

When Ontario passed the Ontario Temperance Act in 1916, the province closed the bars, clubs, and liquor stores until the end of World War I. The government needed the grain for the war effort. But with the end of the war, the Canadian government repealed wartime Prohibition and liquor began to flow again in the Dominion.

Meanwhile, the United States Congress passed the 18th Amendment--otherwise known as the Volstead Act--on October 28, 1919. The act banned the manufacture, transport, sale, import, export, and delivery of alcohol spirits within its borders. The bootlegger, rum runner, and flapper were born. The easy market and close access to Detroit became the focal point for shipping illegal booze into the United States from Canada. Historians labeled the age The Roaring Twenties--when organized crime flourished on both sides of the International Border.

Under pressure from vocal Temperence groups on both sides of the International Border, Ottawa passed Bill 26 decreeing that each province could prevent the importation of liquor by holding a referendum vote. The rest of Canada voted dry leaving Ontario to stand alone. The province did vote to approve the Sandy Bill on July 19, 1921 which disallowed the movement of liquor within Ontario without an order of the Board of License Commissioners.

Jim Cooper--Belle River and Walkerville roadhouse owner and illicit liquor dealer--figured out that if he set up an export business in Detroit, he could circumvent the Ontario law. Canadians would place an order through a Detroit telephone number. The purchased goods were not imported into Ontario. The liquor was already in Windsor and Walkerville warehouses. Because the purchase was made out of the country, it was perfectly legal to be delivered within Ontario.  

During Prohibition, six distilleries and twenty-nine brewers operated within Ontario all licensed by the federal government. It is estimated that forty million dollars of booze illegally crossed the border every year. At first, there was a lot of small-time suitcase smuggling for personal use. All manner of devices were contrived to conceal bottles. Some people strapped bottles under their clothing, pints were slid into high boots, and cars were fitted with hidden compartments.

After organized crime wrestled control of the river from small-time operators, much of the liquor was smuggled in by the boat load. In the winter, old jalopies, trucks, and sleds scurried across the frozen river to engage in the illegal trade. When the U.S. Coast Guard built up their fleet with 200 h.p. patrol boats hoping to dominate the river traffic, the Purple Gang's Little Jewish Navy bought specially outfitted speed boats and mounted small cannons on their bows with Tommy Gun-toting crews to harass the authorities leveling the playing field. The Purple Gang laid claim to the Detroit River as their territory. Any freelance bootleggers unlucky enough to be caught smuggling by the gang lost their booty and often their lives. The Purple Gang alone is credited by police with the murder of over 500 people during their bloody reign of the Detroit underworld.

Earning the big money became possible because of a gaping loophole in the Canadian law. Large quantities of liquor could be bought from Canadian distilleries for export purposes if purchasers or their agents carried a Canadian Customs B-13 export clearance document certifying that the buyer was exporting liquor anywhere but a country where Prohibition was the law. Shipments were marked for Europe, Cuba, and South America. But once a boat left the loading dock, the Canadian government was unconcerned where it actually moored and unloaded. The burden of enforcing this American law fell squarely upon the United States, and the Dominion felt no obligation to enforce the laws of their sovereign neighbor.

The boxes and barrels of liquor were distributed to Ontario Border City export docks strung out along the length of the Detroit River. Rum runners from Detroit would cruise across, load up their boats, and make their river runs--mostly at night. In the winter, the shipments were loaded on the frozen Canadian river bank awaiting their mass exodus across the International Border.

Some of the diverted illegal liquor stayed in Canada by sailing directly into slips behind Ontatio's chain of roadhouses stretching from Windsor to Niagara Falls offering dining, drinking, dancing, gambling, and adult entertainment. Americans flocked to Ontario to patronize the Border Cities thriving vice economies.

For its part, the Canadian Government levied a nine dollar tax per gallon on all liquor sales. This export tax was returned when the customs department received a certificated receipt from the country where the shipment was imported. Since most of the liquor landed in America, those receipts were never redeemed. By 1928, Canada earned up to thirty-million dollars per year this way.

With the New York stock market crash on October 29, 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression, many people lost everything. Jobs were scarce and money was tight. The drunken revel was all but over. Then on December 5, 1933, the United States government passed the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition. The bill landed on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's desk and he signed it. The boom times of Prohibition ended on both sides of the international border. It would take another World War to turn the economies around for both countries.

The Rise and Fall of the Purple Gang: 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Richard Streicher Jr. School Friend Makes Unexpected Appearance

December 1934 Fresh Air School Christmas assembly. Richard Streicher Jr. is in first row marked with an X and Paul Woodside is in the second row behind him. Richard had only ten weeks to live.

On March 7, 1935--the day seven-year-old Richard Streicher Jr. went missing--his friend Paul Woodside walked home from school with him. Both boys were enrolled in a special education program called the Fresh Air School at Welsh Hall on the campus of the Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University) in Ypsilanti.

The History of Special Education at Eastern Michigan University mentions the program as for "children of low vitality." These students had various health or orthopedic conditions which were accommodated in this setting. Woodside suggested in an April 23, 2007 interview with Ypsilanti Historical Society docents George Ridenour and Lyle McDermott that he thought Richie Streicher may have had a heart or blood-pressure problem or perhaps he was hyperactive.

Woodside recounted how he was awakened by his parents the day after his friend's body was found frozen under the Frog Island Bridge. The Ypsilanti Police wanted to interview him, but he knew nothing about Richie's disappearance.

Paul said he liked going to Richie's apartment to play with his toys--many of which he and other kids couldn't afford during lean Depression times. Paul remembered Richie's grandparents giving their grandson a pedal-powered motor car but couldn't recollect anything about Richie's parents.

Eighty-year-old Woodside said he thinks of Richie often. "I sometimes wish I could go to bed at night and dream what happened and see who did this. Why would someone do this to a seven-year-old kid? Especially so close to his house. Did Richie see something he shouldn't have seen? How could someone kill him on such a busy, well-lighted street?"

These questions have haunted Paul Woodside for over seven decades. After the original news reports of the crime, Woodside said he never heard anything else about the murder. He was unaware that Richie's body was exhumed ten months after his death and that Richie was reburied in an unmarked grave in Highland Cemetery.

While signing copies of The Richard Streicher Jr. Murder: Ypsilanti's Depot Town Mystery at the Ypsilanti Historical Museum on July 12, 2018, I was about to leave when ninety-one-year-old Paul Woodside walked through the door. He rushed over from an appointment in Ann Arbor and was afraid he would miss the book signing. I was fortunate my signing went past four o'clock, so I didn't miss meeting and speaking with Paul. He was interested in my true crime treatment of what happened to his friend eighty-three years before.

Paul is the only person I have interviewed who actually knew Richie Streicher. I asked him what Richie was like.

Paul Woodside and I at the Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives--July 12, 2018.

"(Richie) was a very friendly, likeable kid who was well-behaved and somewhat shy, but he enjoyed school life and playing with friends, and he was smart."

"Did he ever talk about his mom and dad with you?"

"No, we were just kids who liked playing together and didn't talk about adults."

Then the conversation turned to Paul Woodside's family roots in the Ypsilanti area which stretch back at least five generations. If you grew up in Ypsi, you probably know a Woodside or two.

For locals, copies of the Streicher book are available at the Ypsilanti Historical Society on 220 North Huron Street in their basement archives. All proceeds go to the society. 

A paperback edition and all five ebook formats are available at http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-A.-Fournier/e/B00BDNEG1C

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Detroit Festival of Books Is Just Around the Corner

Take Interstate 94 to Russell St. exit (216A). Go south for a few blocks. Ample parking nearby.

For information about my books, check out my author site at www.gregoryafournier.com

Sunday, July 1, 2018

White Castle Rules!

One of my guilty pleasures when flying into Detroit is stopping at the White Castle on Telegraph Road and Northline. My favorite item is the #2 combo--two double-cheese burgers and fries with a medium soft drink. The family-owned chain services the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, so most of the country is unaware of this delectable taste treat.

White Castle slider
Their signature product consists of a thin square of 100% ground beef with five steam holes punched into it. The patty is cooked on a bed of diced onions and topped with a steamed hamburger bun, dressed with dill pickles, mustard and ketchup, and served up in a cardboard sleeve. One food critic called it "French onion soup on a bun." To be honest, either you love them or you hate them.

Walter A. Anderson began his restaurant career working at food stands in Wichita, Kansas. In 1916, he bought an obsolete streetcar and converted it into a diner. He had opened two more diners by the time he met businessman Edgar Wolds "Billy" Ingram and co-founded the first White Castle restaurant on an original investment of $700 in 1921.

White Castle #1
Since the publication of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair in 1906 exposing the unsanitary practices of the meat packing industry in Chicago, Americans were reluctant to eat ground beef. Aware of this, the White Castle founders sought to change the public's perception by stressing cleanliness in their restaurants and high quality ingredients.

Their earliest buildings had white enameled brick exteriors and enameled steel counters. By the 1930s, the chain's restaurants were built with prefabricated white-porcelain enameled steel exteriors and outfitted with stainless steel counters. Buildings were designed so customers could see their food being prepared by employees who had to conform to a strict dress code. White Castle produced the first disposable paper hats, napkins, and cardboard sleeves to package their product.

Short-order cook Walter Anderson is credited with the invention of the hamburger bun and the assembly-line kitchen which replaced experienced cooks with employees who could operate the griddle with minimal training. Chain-wide standardization assured the same product and service at all their locations. Often imitated but never duplicated, numerous earlier competitors were unable to match White Castle's success.

The fast-food industry we take for granted today was unknown in America before the White Castle chain. Anderson and Ingram gave rise to the fast-food phenomenon. There was no infrastructure to support their business expansion, so Anderson and Ingram established centralized bakeries, meat suppliers, branded paper manufacturing, and warehouses to supply their system's needs.

In 1933, Anderson sold his half of the business to Billy Ingram. The following year, the company moved its corporate offices to Columbus, Ohio, the center of their distribution area. Ingram's business savvy is credited for the popularity of the hamburger in America.

Since the beginning, White Castle has been privately owned, and none of its restaurants are franchised. Founder Billy Ingram retired in 1958 as CEO, followed by his son E.W. Ingram Jr, and then his grandson E.W. Ingram III. In December 2015, Ingram III stepped down and his daughter Lisa Ingram became the fourth CEO of the company.

The Ingram family's refusal to franchise or take on debt throughout the company's existence has kept the chain relatively small with only about 420 outlets--all in the United States. By comparison, McDonald's has 36,000 outlets worldwide with 14,000 of those in the United States. In recent years, White Castle has been selling sliders at supermarkets nationwide.

On January 27, 2015, White Castle opened its first outlet in the western United States at the Casino Royale Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip--the chain's first expansion into a different state in fifty-six years. On its first day of business, the restaurant had to close for two hours to restock their depleted supplies. In its first twelve hours of operation, the store sold 4,000 sliders per hour. It appears that I'm not the only one who enjoys this guilty pleasure.

Delray, Detroit and O-So Pop: https://fornology.blogspot.com/2014/08/detroits-ghost-town-delray-and-o-so.html

Thursday, June 14, 2018

"Richard Streicher Jr. Murder" Book Reveal

During the depths of the Great Depression in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a seven-year-old boy is found frozen to death under the Frog Island Footbridge in Depot Town after being reported missing the night before by his parents.

Upon closer examination, the Washtenaw County Coroner discovered the child was the victim of foul play. Local gossips and some police were convinced they knew who the guilty party was, but proving it in a court of law was a different matter.

At the behest of the Ypsilanti Historical Society and through the research efforts of docents George Ridenour and Lyle McDermott, I bring you the true story of this notorious Ypsilanti murder mostly forgotten for over eighty years.

The paperback is available online through Amazon and B&N, and all five digital ebook formats. Link to Amazon site: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Richard+Streicher+Jr+Murder