|Intl. Notebook||Jul 27 2009|
|Swindles & Scams||Jan 27 2009|
The American television show Dateline has decided to dig into three-and-a-half year old missing persons case involving singer Olivia Newton-John. Newton-John’s boyfriend of nine years, Patrick McDermott, vanished from a fishing boat in June 2005, and was presumed dead, though his body was never found. Now the producers of Dateline have hired a team of private detectives in an attempt to prove McDermott staged his own death.
McDermott had filed for bankruptcy in 2000 and was reportedly five figures in debt when he disappeared. He had a $100,000 life insurance policy of which his son was the listed beneficiary. Philip Klein, who is the lead investigator on the case, said during a Dateline interview, “[McDermott is] alive, there’s no doubt in my mind, he’s alive. Maybe in his mind if he stages his death, the insurance policy will pay off all his debts and he can leave his child a gift by pretending he’s dead.”
Klein went so far as to launch the website findpatrickmcdermott.com, which has yielded two important pieces of information. First, because the website was designed to track visitors, he says Olivia Newton-John or her “camp” logged on from every hotel in which the singer stayed during a recent tour of Asia. But more importantly, he is now sure that McDermott himself has logged on repeatedly from South America, possibly from a boat on which he lives. Klein’s team is currently scouring the region for clues.
|Politique Diabolique||Dec 19 2008|
Famed whistleblower Mark Felt aka Deep Throat died yesterday of heart failure in Santa Rosa, California at the age of 95. In 1972 Felt was instrumental in helping Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein break open the infamous Watergate scandal, which remains one of the most important events in American history.
At the time, Felt was an FBI operative frustrated by the slow pace of investigation into a break-in at Democratic Party Headquarters at Washington, D.C.’s Watergate Hotel. It seemed clear to him that Republican operatives—possibly directed by President Richard Nixon—were likely involved, and that they were sabotaging the FBI investigation. Felt took matters into his own hands by secretly meeting with Bob Woodward during the Post’s investigation of the crime.
At these meetings, which took place in the dead of night in a Virginia parking garage, Felt gave Woodward crucial FBI information. They agreed that Felt’s identity could not be revealed, and that was when Woodward coined the Deep Throat moniker. Felt coined his own immortal phrase: “Follow the money.” That advice helped keep Woodward and Bernstein moving in the right direction during their investigation, and today is a mantra for investigative reporters seeking the truth behind political scandals, as well as an almost universal insight into human motivation.
When the Watergate scandal broke, Nixon resigned the presidency rather than be impeached. The event is often cited as the first major blow to the American public’s belief that their presidents were incorruptible. In that way, Mark Felt helped usher in an age of political cynicism. When he finally revealed his true identity in 2005, the Watergate saga was replayed and he was criticized and praised anew for his role. But whether hero or traitor, he is without question one of the most important Americans of his time.
|The Naked City||Dec 16 2008|
Italian police carried out a large raid today against organized crime figures suspected of having links to gangster Matteo Messina Denaro. Denaro, along with other aspirants, is vying to be the first to rebuild the Sicily-based Cosa Nostra, which collapsed after the 2006 arrest of then-boss Bernardo Provenzano, and the 2007 arrest of heir apparent Salvatore Lo Piccolo.
Altogether, police made around 100 arrests in the Sicilian capitol of Palermo, and on the Italian mainland in the Tuscany region. The operation, nicknamed Perseus after the mythical Greek hero who killed Medusa, was carried out with the backing of helicopters and police dogs, and was the culmination of a nine-month investigation. Those jailed will be charged with variety of offences, including extortion of arms and drug trafficking.
Anti-Mafia prosecutor Pietro Grasso said at a press conference that, “While the 2006 operation had brought Cosa Nostra to its knees, Perseus prevented it from rearing its head again.” Meanwhile Denaro, who is sometimes described as a playboy and is famous enough to have earned a L’Espresso cover and an infamous Warhol-style tribute from an anonymous Italian graffiti artist, remains at large.
|Intl. Notebook | Vintage Pulp||Dec 6 2008|
85 year-old former pin-up queen Bettie Page was hospitalized in Los Angeles this week after a heart attack and is critically ill. Page rose to fame as an erotic model during the 1950s, posing for scores of magazines, and appearing in more than fifty short films. She worked extensively with sister and brother publicity team Paula and Irving Klaw, who sold Page’s material from their firm Movie Star News. In 1955, Irving Klaw came under investigation during the U.S. Senate’s Kefauver Hearings, which were a politically motivated attempt to draw a link between pornography and juvenile delinquency. Under pressure, Klaw shuttered Movie Star News, and Page’s modeling career ended.
Page dropped from public view, spent time as Christian missionary, and married twice more (she had wed and divorced twice already). In 1979, Hollywood’s Belier Press reprinted some Page photos from private camera club sessions for which she had posed in 1950. The shots rekindled interest in Page, and in time a full-blown web-cult formed. In 2005 a motion picture entitled The Notorious Bettie Page was released by HBO with Gretchen Mol in the lead role. The film received wide acclaim, and further cemented Page’s legacy.
As one of the first mainstream nude models, Page is credited with helping usher in the women’s movement. At that time frank depictions of female nudity were considered empowering, and Page’s popularity, as well as her special gift for embodying nudity as a natural state, dovetailed with the movement’s goals. Photographer and fellow pin-up Bunny Yeager, who shot the Modern Sunbathing & Hygiene cover above, offered an opinion in 1956 about Page’s appeal: “The first thing I noticed was that for some reason when she’s nude she doesn’t seem naked. [snip] Bettie’s attitude toward her lovely, healthy body is the essence of nudism.”
Today, millions of fans are hoping health returns to Miss Page.