The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Michael Wolraich's picture


    Hello dagbloggers! Anyone still here? (I mean, besides artappraiser and PeraclesPlease, bless you both.)

    If you have visited dag lately, you might have noticed some new marketing material in the margins. Yes, I have exploited my power as the last remaining founder of dagblog to shamelessly plug my new nonfiction book, The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz, coming to a bookstore near you on February 6!

    The book recounts the 1931 murder of a prostitute and blackmailer named Vivian Gordon in the Bronx. The sensational homicide case induced Governor Franklin Roosevelt to expand a state investigation into corruption in New York City. Led by Judge Samuel Seabury, the investigation ultimately forced Mayor Jimmy Walker to resign and precipitated the downfall of Tammany Hall.

    Danny Cardwell's picture


    Earlier this summer I partnered with the local arts association to create a documentary about the impact COVID-19 had on Bath County, Virginia. 

    Bath County had the highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth of Virginia; over 40% of Bath Countians woke up either unemployed or underemployed through no fault of their own. 

    Lonely is a multimedia look at how three people dealt with a "new normal". 


    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Fatherhood at Fifty-One

    One year ago last night, as my spouse and I were getting ready for bed, she complained that her waistbands were feeling tight although she hadn't gained any visible weight.

    "Could you be pregnant?" I asked, and she told me that was ridiculous. She was probably right. We were too old. We had missed the window for having children and reconciled ourselves to growing old together as a childless couple. So I went to sleep.

    One year ago today I woke at 5:30 in the morning and found my wife had already been awake for hours. My question had nagged at her until she dug an old home-pregnancy test out of the bathroom closet. Positive. A baby was coming.


    Black Like We

    Chapelle's full monologue

    The one thing that hit me, with all the Kahnemann and Malcolm Gladwell I read this year, and other personal stuff going on, is all these people walking around, these bodies, me, are still 9/10 chemistry and raw emotions and psychological traumas and a bit of intelligent consideration, maybe a tiny bit of enlightened thinking thrown in, and perhaps humor or orneriness to scramble it up. I look at the Rayshard killing, and for 40 mins things were ok, and then in 15 seconds it went to shit. Most of these "Karens" videos (*not* the woman walking her dog in Central Park) are likely women running around doing thankless work, and someone with a phone catches them in their worst frustrating moments, situations that maybe they didn't understand or were too flustered to control, or had more of an explanation than we see. I have my moments, but no one so far has a camera in my face to record it for all time, all humanity. "Humanity" - we use that word to sound noble, but it's just one batch of troubles after another.

    Though actually things aren't that bad. Aside from Covid, the Trump years have just been about pissing us off every minute of the day. But there were no gas ovens. There was no drawn out Iran-Iraq War killing millions (though Xinjiang is bad). There were no famines in Ethiopia with wasting away babies (though pictures of cages from the border are bad). Gladwell talked about how people in London during the Blitz became immune to fear and troubles and danger. And under Trump, we became rather immune to good news. That cop putting his knee on George Floyd's neck, strangling him, and pretty much the entire world thought that was evil, even our usual racists. And even *that* was more or less criminal negligence, vicious uncaring mistreatment, sure, but not the ending that cop expected, was trying for. Those girls in that Birmingham church when I was a kid - those guys were *trying* to kill them. Those activists disappeared in Mississippi - those guys actively killed them. And the whole community largely approved, covered it up, denied these poor murdered souls justice.

    Roanoke discovery gives clues to American mystery

    Recent archaeological finds on America's East Coast appear to have pinpointed remains of Roanoke settlers who apparently split up and secretly moved the colony to 2 new locations, thereby avoiding a Spanish fleet sent to destroy them.

    The discovery could help political scientists determine the fate of North Carolina voters and election officials after the 2020 presidential election, when apparently the whole election infrastructure grew unresponsive and simply disappeared amidst one of the most heated electoral races of modern times.

    More intriguing is the possibility that the 2 sides in the political contest may have engineered their own disappearance to avoid external threats, including the possibility of a never-ending series of recounts and a general loss of who-gives-a-shit, and perhaps may be peaceably hiding out in an undisclosed location even talking and working together.

    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Now that Biden has defeated Trump, it's time to pretend none of this ever happened

    Joe Biden is the President-Elect and I'm feeling pretty good myself, as the saying goes. Biden's epic victory puts America back in steady hands. It means we can be proud of being Americans again. And it means we can start pretending that none of it ever really happened.

    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    America may survive the Trump sickness, but can it beat its diseases?

    It is becoming more clear that America's first real experience with a populist demagogue is going to end in a historically satisfying way. Donald J. Trump's political career is about to look like this:

    2016: Loses popular vote by 3 million, wins Electoral College.

    2018: GOP loses 30+ House seats.

    2019: Impeached.

    2020: Loses popular vote by 6-8 million, loses Electoral College to Joe Biden to become a one-term President.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Arrivederci, Columbus

    All statues, like all politics, are local. They're about the place where they are put up, and they change that place (which is to say, they're political). It's a mistake to think a statue is put up to represent some eternal truth; they're a local statement about the politics of the moment. So it is with Christopher Columbus, who got statues and a national holiday for political, and progressive reasons. Those statues don't seem progressive anymore, for a simple reason: they worked. So they've outlived their purpose.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    He Knows He's Losing: Trump as Mike Tyson

    The most obvious thing to me about last night's toxic sludge fire of a debate is that Trump knows he's losing. Bigly. And he has no idea what to do about it. Many pundits are confused on this point, because they treat Trump as a conventional politician or as a media figure rather than as a psychiatric patient. And if you don't view Trump through the lens of his maladies, you misunderstand him. Trump is not a serious politician. Comparing him to other Republican presidential candidates doesn't help you understand him. This is not Mitt Romney.

    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    The Shockingly Unbelievable Case of What the Man-Eating Monsters Ate

    The town of Rock Springs, Wyoming has a violet past. Violent to the point it was long ago called "The Murder Capital of America," and it was a moniker deserved. The years have passed and the population has dwindled and with that, the violence has slowed down. Not stopped, mind you, as at least once a year someone shoots someone else for reasons fair or foul. But the residents didn't get shaken up about these sort of things. They had seen it all. At least, until the monsters came.


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