Book Trailer For Madam President

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Never Listen to a CD of your own Book

The CD of my books usually come a couple of weeks after they are published. It is kind of cool to see a miniaturized cover of the book on the case and you put it on the mantle and there it sits. The other day on my way to a speech I grabbed it for a ride up to the North Shore. The woman who read the book was fairly famous and very good. Her voice was melodic and soothing and the first six chapters flew by. But I noticed I was growing tired. My book Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson has a lot going on and my brain was getting fatigued.  By the time I reached the venue I was intellectually exhausted.

So I arrive at the speech and set up the PowerPoint.  My speeches basically consist of me retelling the book but I had that women's symphonic voice still in my head and I wondered vaguely if I might mix her up with my recitation of the high points of the book. I was introduced and I went up and grabbed the microphone confidently and made a few wry comments about the book and I clicked up the first slide. It was a Bull Moose. 

Now when this happens you have a few seconds to find your footing. This slide should have been at the end and here it was at the beginning. So I clicked again. There was an old car. I still have that woman droning on somewhere in the early chapters of my book. I click again and see the sheep Edith Wilson bought for the Red Cross during World War I.  The PowerPoint had lost its mind and the lady was still reciting my book. 

I made my way back to the podium and put the microphone into the holder. Then I explained something about the PowerPoint not working and with the sheep still on the screen I started over and gave the presentation without the PowerPoint. By the time I reached the end people had forgotten about it and the speech was a success. But I didn't . I found out later that by importing the Powerpoint into the computer of the venue it had scrambled the slides. But I knew the real culprit.

When I reached my car I ripped the CD out of the player and put it back in the case. Never to be opened again.

Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson

Friday, November 10, 2017

How the Thompson and Valentines Day made Chicago get rid of Capone

It was Valentines Day in 1929 that sealed Capones fate. The German Shepherd tied to a bumper was the only witness and he wasn't talking. The smell of gunpowder still lingered in the air when the cops arrived. The Thompson Machine gun fired .45 ACP cartridges and fired them one after another. General Thompson wanted a gun to kill the Germans in World War I and so he invented The Annihilator. That's what he called it but everyone else called it The Thompson. Soldiers called it a trench sweeper. 

Whatever the name the angry gun fired one bullet after another from the gas of the last one. The war ended and the annihilator was very rarely used and it was expensive for civilians at 400 per gun. The British thought it was too loud. But a new group of men really liked it. The cost wasn't a factor and it fit nicely in a violin case. Just like a man going to a recital of death. So the Thompson did its dirty work in that garage on Clark Street on St Valentines Day and killed off seven of Bugs Moran's men. 

The brick wall behind the men would be sold to a restaurant in Indiana so people could sit and stare at the chipped brick. The Annihilator fired like a garden hose and that's how the two men dressed as cops fired it. One low and one high so they could be sure each man was shot at least a dozen times. And that is what made Chicago realize Capone was out of hand and had to go. The Annihilators rendezvous with Americas holiday of love. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Selling Books in Barnes and Noble in the year 2017

Its amazing how many authors still sit behind their table. That is what happens when you arrive at your signing. There is a chair and a table and your books. There is also a sign announcing your book and a picture of yourself. So the author then takes a seat behind the table and waits for the hordes to arrive. They don't. Even NY Times Bestsellers don't pull in the people. Yes if you are Erik Larson you will get a crowd but even that can be a crapshoot. Selling books in the year 2017 is just different from before. If you don't have a television show then you better not sit in that chair.

I just had another signing and sold 27 hardcovers at 32.00 a piece. The reason I bring this up is that no one was there to see me or to find my book. The difference is I never sit down. The whole passive experience of selling books is responsible for many good bookstores going away. People come into a bookstore to look for a book, to look for a great story. I tell them a great story and out of three people one of them will buy. It is not hard to tell the story of our First Woman President, or how Teddy Roosevelt went to the Badlands after his wife and mother died on the same day or how Chicago held a fair in the worst year of the Great Depression and had to get rid of Al Capone ad the same time.

The author who sits behind his table will be asked if he knows where the bathroom is or if he knows where that new Harry Potter book is or if he knows where the magazines are. But he or she will not sell any books. You cant blame bookstores for not wanting to have book signings. Most authors just don't sell. Which is sad when writers are really story tellers and really all people want to hear is a really good story. And they are really happy to get a book signed by the author.

Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Woman Who Charged in Naked to the 1933 Worlds Fair

Sally Rand looked like something from the heavens on her white horse, her bare skin painted white. Holding onto a bridle, she sat bareback atop the skittish horse and glided across Lake Michigan toward the back of the fairgrounds. The lake whooshed softly against the gurgling motor as the pumping horse blood warmed her thighs. The fair’s colored lights jumped in the cool, rushing water. Sally was pimply with goosebumps, even though it was late May.

The low-riding wooden Chris-Craft could barely contain the horse, and as water slapped up, she leaned close to his ear. “It’s fine . . . it’s fine, baby. We are almost there.” She pulled the white velvet cape around her and felt the wind pass over her loins and breasts. Except for the ankle bracelet, her blond wig, some makeup, and the cape that barely covered her breasts, Sally Rand, a.k.a. Harriet Helen Beck from Missouri, was naked from her painted toes to her dimpled smile. Who would turn away this gliding nymph approaching the opening of the 1933 World’s Fair?

The boat bumped the dock, and the horse stepped down from the low bow as if he had done so all his life. Sally Rand clamped his sides with her legs and dug her heels in. The horse jumped to life as her blond hair flew back. They raced down the deserted streets heading for the grand opening, where people gathered around the stage. A Century of Progress, the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, was about to open during the worst year of the Great Depression, with a gangster-ridden city at its back. It was a perfect setup for a naked woman on a charging white steed.

Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Myth of Elliott Ness and the Untouchables

It was a good movie.  Kostner as Elliott Ness was perfect and his wife was beautiful. She would later pop up on House of Cards as a power player but no one can forget the closeups between her and Kostner. He was the honest man in a world of vice and corruption. Sean Connery was the cop seeking redemption who helped him. Of course Deniro was Capone. Mamet wrote the script and The Untouchables played out as the way Al Capone was convicted. Except none of it was true.

A sports writer named Oscar Fraley cooked up the whole thing with a down on his luck alcoholic named Elliott Ness. Ness had been a prohibition agent and had written a twenty page memoir that Fraley took and then changed for a bestselling book that sold 1.5 million copies. He then sold it to television for a series with Robert Stack. And then of course it was sold to Hollywood where it was immortalized for all time. But again, it wasn't true.

Fraley came up with the whole concept of the Untouchables; a group of incorruptible cops and investigators who would get Capone. Ness had died before the book was even published and that left Fraley as the only guy who could set the record straight and he wasn't talking. Writers bend the truth to make a story good. That's what we do. The sports writer got a lot of mileage out of the twenty page dogeared manuscript Ness had given him. The real story is how the Secret Six got Al Capone but no has told that one...yet.

Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Series

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Madam President Ruled in 1919

Whenever I do signings for any book I always sell a lot of Madam President The Secret  Presidency of Edith Wilson. I start by telling people we already had a woman president. Usually people laugh but then I tell them to go to .gov and read about first ladies because there in Edith's bio is the statement that she ran the executive for two years. She did. It was a great cover up of a sitting Presidents inability to govern and his wife taking over and running the United States for two years.

Hard to believe really. The next question is how come I don't know this. A lot of history is papered over with mythology. The facts get lost under agendas and historical bias. Historians are loathe to say that Edith Wilson was President. It does not fit in the Wilson historical context. It is also too fantastic to believe. How could this be pulled off? No radio for one thing. Newspapers were the primary source of news and people were not used to seeing the President.

A press that was complicit in the cover up. Or at least a press that didn't question. Yet there were papers that did speculate that Woodrow Wilson had a stroke and his wife was running the country. But it didn't get much traction. Then Edith herself made sure her tracks were covered in a 1939 memoir where she said she never made any decisions but was just a steward. None of this is true. The fact is Edith Wilson was the President in 1919 albeit unelected and ran the country until 1921. Believe it or not.

Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Chicago's Forgotten Fair of 1933...Hold the popcorn

Microwave popcorn. That is among the many things the 1933 Worlds Fair in Chicago brought to the populace 33 years after the turn of the century. That and a star in the flag of Chicago. There are four stars in the flag, one for Ft Dearborn, one for the fair of 1893, one for for the fair of 33 and one for the incorporation of Chicago into a city. But because the fair was held during the Great Depression it is overshadowed by HH Holmes and the Devil in the White City fair.

You could make a long distance call at the fair. Call anywhere in the United States. You could see yourself on a crude television. You could watch popcorn appear out of the air from microwaves. You could watch peas get canned and get a souvenir can yourself. All you had to do was press a button. Or you could watch your next car get built. Chrysler had a whole assembly line at the fair and cars rolled off the assembly line every hour. You could watch a woman in grease paint hide her body behind two huge ostrich feathers .

And if this wasn't enough you could ride on the Skyride 625 feet up across the lake to Northerly Island. You could watch the Zephyr the first diesel electric train set a new speed record from Chicago to Denver. And you could do all this for a nickel unless they threw the gates open on "kid days" which they did frequently because a lot of people didn't have a nickel. And you could go to the fair secure int he knowledge Al Capone had just  gone to prison and there was less chance you would get shot by some Thompson machine gun toting gangster.

You could even watch an unknown singer named Judy Garland.  She would bump into a man at the Biograph and get his autograph right before he was gunned down by the police. John Dillinger would not make the 33 fair.

Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair

Books by William Hazelgrove