Brody Stevens RIP – We Enjoyed It

Steven Brody Stevens RIP

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Brody Stevens performs at the last Josh and Josh Show at Bar Lubitsch

Steven Brody Stevens killed himself. He was only 48 years old.
This is horrible and VERY SAD but not unexpected. Mental Illness is not a joke.

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Brody Stevens’ Name on the Comedy Store Marquee….. RIP

We didn’t know Brody. We weren’t friends. We never hung out. We did meet Brody when he was a special guest at our comedy show “The 5 and Dime in Studio City”. We watched his reality show when it was broadcast on cable. We knew about “the incident” on Sunset Boulevard that got him arrested. We became a real fan one night when we found his Periscope channel. We saw him perform live at The Josh and Josh Show a few times, but we watched his live performances on Periscope many times, which he shared every night for a long time, before taping his comedy special. We watched his scopes from his apartment, and his “Steps with Steve” scopes, and in his car driving (while drumming) scopes. Most of the time it was just Brody being weird and real, and it was raw, and sometimes it was hard to watch because he was so f*cked up mentally. But mostly it was entertaining and sometimes pure comedy genius. He was a unique talent, brave to broadcast his comedy direct to his fans and haters (who were there with him every night too), and he knew nobody could steal his act, his off-center jokes, and his catch phrases. “Solo scene on a yoga mat”, “Leather exterior”, “Take my mom to lunch and pay half”, “She’s an UBER driver in Coachella”, just f*ckin’ great jokes and if you knew him, you knew all the punchlines and they were still funny everytime. He was also a big presence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, using each platform creatively to promote himself. I’ve peppered this Blog Post with more of his comedy in tribute to a man who shouldn’t be dead.

“You’re never alone when you’re bipolar.”

EVERYONE KNEW HE WAS “SUICIDAL” and there was nothing they could do…. all of his FRIENDS loved him and his weirdness, but it wasn’t enough.

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Brody Stevens on the road at the Cabazon Dinosaurs

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Brody Stevens at the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip

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Brody Stevens Backstage at the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip

Everyone knew he had mental health issues, it was public knowledge. He did a TV reality show “Brody Stevens, Enjoy It” you can watch on ComedyCentral’s channel and addressed the problems he was experiencing, the drugs that he was prescribed, and his recovery after being “5150” hospitalized for a bipolar incident in 2011. He was very brave to talk about mental illness, his personal issues and his feelings. He was also very frustrated and angry, he was jealous of other people’s success, and he held a grudge hard and was not afraid to air his complaint and grievances publicly. He burned a lot of bridges. He had “run-ins” with the police and other authority figures, and it cost him jobs.

“I’m intense. I get B.O. in the shower.
I get road rage at the car wash” – Steven Brody Stevens

Brody had small speaking roles in films. He was in “The Hangover”, “The Hangover 2” and “Due Date”, but he got cut out of “Funny People”. He “created Chelsea Lately!” Brody was frequent guest on other people’s podcasts and had his own “The Festival of Friendship”.

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The Brody Stevens “Festival of Friendship” – You Got It!

He was incredibly funny, he wrote clever jokes, he loved baseball, the Chicago Cubs, and drumming. He loved his mom and her dog, Daisy. He could improvise on a dime and do weird bits that other comedians would never dream of trying, and he was a master of “crowd work” and warm up. “Arms crossed, negative” was a common line as he broke down the audiences’ defense, crashing through the fourth wall, and attacked them with his aggressive comedic persona. Angry Brody unleashing on an unresponsive audience was a sight to behold! It was “in your face” and mostly unapologetic, and designed to get a real reaction. His daily Periscope broadcasts were GENIUS! He made other comics laugh, and tried to make the world a more positive place. He will be missed.

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CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

NOTE: This sequence below is from a truly creative Periscope video he shared. Using the delay in broadcast time, Brody engineered a conversation with himself using his iPhone, iPad and GoPro, while still talking to his viewers. It was BRILLIANT!

“You Got It!” – Steven Brody Stevens

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Brody Periscoping from his apartment in North Hollywood

NOTE: Brody often talked about his medication and the drugs he was taking. We read that he had recently changed medication and was taking Lexapro for his depression. He talked about adjusting to it in his last broadcasts and feeling “melancholy”. We looked it up after we heard the news and found reports online from 2005 and 2011 that stated Lexapro (and other drugs like it) can intensify suicidal thoughts and behavior in some cases. Brody was bipolar and the medication may have pushed him over the edge.

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Brody’s Name on The Comedy Store Wall of Fame

Rest in Peace now Prince of Periscope.
Thank you Brody for sharing your one-of-a-kind comedic talent with us!
May the Four Winds blow him safely home.

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Brody Stevens Backstage at the Improv

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A Sketch of Brody Steven, the Prince of Periscope

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“818 ’til I die!” – Steven Brody Stevens

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“POSITIVE PUSH!”

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, get help right away! Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

Read the previous Blog Post “Depression? Questions to Ask – Before Giving Up!”>
https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/depression-questions-to-ask-before-giving-up

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BrodyIsMeFriend – Steven Brody Stevens RIP

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There will be a Benefit on March 5, 2019 at The Comedy Store
for Brody’s Mom and Sister and Mental Health Awareness:

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Tickets are only $30 at thecomedystore.com!

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Brody Stevens RIP and Kevin Short (West Hollywood Jesus) RIP

 


UPDATE: Thursday, March 7, 2019
There was a big Festival of Friendship Benefit to celebrate Brody’s life (and death) at The Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood on Tuesday night March 5th.

Brody was so happy about getting his name on The Comedy Store wall, and was always concerned about getting his name on the marquee. Well, his name was on the marquee and his friends and the staff at the store had t-shirts made to honor his catch phrase “ENJOY IT!” (and if you knew him, you just read that in his voice with a special inflection)

His friends and fans gathered together, proceeds were donated to a Mental Health charity, there were flowers and photos, and many fine tributes to Brody. There were also other gatherings at other venues and most everyone had at least one Brody story to tell. There were also fan tributes, online tributes, and a lot of immediate media coverage. When the news broke, Brody was trending #1 on Twitter and Facebook. He would have loved that, too bad he was dead. Don’t try suicide. It just leaves a mess behind.

There is a lot of Brody Stevens available on Comedy Central, YouTube, and Social Media!
Brody was “The Prince of Periscope” and he also had accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. He appeared on television, the internet, numerous podcasts, and posted his own videos online. He was a tortured soul who left behind an enormous body of work for his fans to remember him by. #BrodyIsMeFriend

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Rest in Peace Brody.



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UPDATED March 10, 2019: There was a gathering at The Comedy Store to “celebrate” Brody Stevens, his friends and comedy friends assembled for this wonderful picture.
There will be another “CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC” gathering tomorrow night (Monday the 11th) at The Comedy Store for his friends.

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Get Your Brody Stevens Suicide Souvenir T-Shirt and Merch!



 

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HAPPY MAY DAY 2017!

HAPPY MAY DAY 2017! 

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May 1st is May Day!
Laugh, Dance and Sing, it’s May Day!
Celebrate Springtime!

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May Day is a holiday of traditional festivities celebrating springtime fertility. May Day celebrations usually include crowning a May Queen and dancing around a Maypole.

May Day has been celebrated in Ireland since pagan times as the Feast of Beltane.

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Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo!

The Dude:
It’s all a goddamn fake, man!
It’s like Lenin said: You look for the person who will benefit, and, uh, uh, you know…

Donny:
“I am the walrus”?

The Dude:
You know what I’m trying to say?

Donny:
“I am the walrus”

Walter Sobchak:
That fucking bitch!

The Dude:
Oh yeah!

Donny:
“I am the walrus”

Walter Sobchak:
That’s ex– SHUT THE F*CK UP DONNY!
V.I. Lenin! Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov!

Donny:
(to The Dude)
What the f*ck is he talking about?

May Day is an international public holiday celebrated specifically as “Labour Day” or “International Workers’ Day” around the world.

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In 1904 the International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam, the Sixth Conference of the Second International, called on “all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.” The date was chosen for “International Workers’ Day” to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago on May 4, 1886. May Day has always been a day for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups since the Second International.

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May Day is one of the most important holidays in the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Cuba and Russia. May Day celebrations usually include large parades with displays of military strength.

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Read the Previous Blog Post 
May Day! May Day! Hey Hey Hey Hey It’s The Month Of May>
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“The Chinaman is not the issue here!”

 

From GoHawaii.com:
It’s also Lei Day in Hawaii today!
Hawaiian floral leis are made by braiding seasonal flowers and ferns together.

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Traditional Hawaiian Haku Floral Lei

 



 

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

Thirty guests for the holiday feast this year! We host our large annual gathering of family, friends and friends of friends. Visitors to our home included folks from faraway places: Finland, France, Scotland, the Czech Republic and West Hollywood.

You can compare this year to last year’s pics (in the previous Blog post), it was another very good year for food. I am truly thankful for this bountiful feast and the family and friends I shared it with. I am truly thankful for many things, including you reading this blog!

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – A Dozen Beautiful Roses! “There’s gonna be a party tonight!”

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Thanksgiving dinner,
Our annual food orgy,
A friendly feast!

Preparations begin early in the week and continue all the way until the meal is served. The party was called for 4:00pm pst on Thursday and we always allow time for our guests to arrive before the dining commences.

The turkeys are thawed and prepared the night before. This year we had two 18 pound organic turkeys, seasoned with a herb & butter rub under the skin. One bird cooks at our house and the other at my sister’s kitchen. She also makes the garlic mashed potato, chocolate bread pudding and fudge. This year her vegetarian friend was visiting so they made the summer squash as well.

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – Turkey #1 BEFORE

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – Turkey #1 AFTER

Thanksgiving 2015 Dinner Menu:
Two 18 pound organic turkeys, gravy, two kinds of stuffing, garlic mashed potato, corn pudding, yam puree, asparagus, creamed spinach, mixed grilled vegetables, summer squash, fruit compote, cranberry sauce and cornbread muffins.

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving Feast 2015!

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Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving Feast 2015!

And there was some wine and other beverages:

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – Wine and Finnish chocolate brought by our guests from Finland

Thanksgiving 2015 Dessert Menu:
Pumpkin, pecan and apricot pies (we also had an apple but didn’t bake it); chocolate chip cookies, 2 kinds of fudge, blondies, chocolate bread pudding & fresh whipped cream, Czech cake with marzipan, a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream (someone brought a flourless chocolate cake but we didn’t even put it out) and Grandma’s Cherry Cheesecake!

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – the Dessert Table is waiting!

I did a little baking the night before as I mentioned in the previous Blog post:

Thanksgiving 2015 - Baking (the night before)

Thanksgiving 2015 – Baking cornbread muffins & Grandma’s cherry cheesecake (the night before)

2 Dozen Cornbread Muffins and 1 Dozen Mini Cornbread Muffins:

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – A Bowl Full of Cornbread Muffins!

And this year, by request, I baked my Grandma’s Cherry Cheesecake:

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – Grandma’s Cherry Cheesecake!

It was a great meal! And complete dessert overkill as usual. I had a full plate of tasty food for dinner and then only had a small piece of cheesecake and a couple pieces of fudge for dessert. And a good time and meal was had by all.

We have the whole process down and this year we used plastic (for dinner) and paper (for dessert) plates, so there was less to clean up and we saved some water in exchange for creating some additional trash.

I finished eating, helped with the clearing and clean up, watched the end of the Bears-Packers game and fell asleep. When I woke up, most of the final cleaning was done, the guests were gone and the tables and chairs were put away. So, BIG THANKS go out to my Step-Brother for helping out while I was napping!

It was an okay day for football. Detroit beat Philadelphia and Carolina beat Dallas, but Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers couldn’t finish and lost to Chicago, so I went 2 out of 3 on my picks. Bad news for Cowboy fans because Quarterback Tony Romo was seriously injured in the game and is out for the rest of the season. Sorry Bob.

Thanksgiving 2015 - Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Thanksgiving 2015 – Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Okay, we have “to go” boxes for our guests to take home leftovers from the feast if they are so inclined. I had cranberries with my brunch leftovers, but there wasn’t enough left for dinner the next day… we also sent most of the desserts home with our guests too.

Day After Leftovers for Brunch: turkey, stuffing, garlic mashed potato, cranberry sauce, gravy and cornbread muffins. (repeated for dinner without the cranberry)

Thanksgiving 2015 - Leftovers for Brunch the morning after!

Thanksgiving 2015 – Leftovers for Brunch the morning after!

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All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” to view previous Blogs:
Grandma’s Cherry Cheesecake Recipe – Read the Blog> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1SV
Read last year’s Thanksgiving 2014 Blog> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1mW

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Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – Pretty flowers on the dining tables too.

Throwback Thursday – Flashback Friday again.

Throwback Thursday! Flashback Friday!

Feeling grateful as I look at old photographs. Remembering the many trips and vacations I was fortunate to take and the wonderful places I visited growing up. Here are just a few:

First time at Disneyland! In the Dome of the Monorail with cousin Danny 1970

First time at Disneyland! In the Dome of the Monorail with cousin Danny 1970

Every year, Grandma would take all the grandkids to Anaheim for 2 days at Disneyland and a night at the Disneyland Hotel. Grandma also took me on many trips: Glacier National Park, Montana, Niagara Falls, Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton and all across Canada, London and Scotland. And of course Chicago and New York City:

New York City and Liberty Island with Grandma!

New York City and Liberty Island with Grandma!

I also traveled a lot with my family. Vacations to New York, Washington D.C., Virginia and Philadelphia in 1976 during the nation’s Bicentennial; Hawaii, Big Sur, Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, Lake Tahoe and northern California, San Diego, the Grand Canyon and “Four Corners”, Chicago, Kenosha, a very weird Thanksgiving in Arizona, Mammoth, Palm Springs (where my Grandparents retired), Park City, Utah and even Las Vegas.

Skeet shooting at the Greenhorn ranch

Skeet shooting at the Greenhorn Ranch in Northern California!

Scuba diving in Hawaii!

Scuba diving in Kona on the Big Island Hawaii!

Big Sur 1975 (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Hiking in Big Sur, California 1975

Camping in Yosemite

Camping in Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ~ Mark Twain

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Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Today, May 4th, 2015, is the last day for the Riviera Hotel & Casino, once one of the finest “carpet joints” in Las Vegas. The hotel and casino will close at noon today…forever.

Riviera Hotel & Casino

Riviera Hotel & Casino

*NOTE: THIS BLOG IS NOT YET COMPLETE BUT I WANTED IT POSTED BEFORE THE RIV ACTUALLY CLOSED. I’LL BE ADDING MORE HISTORY AND MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES SOON. PLEASE READ AND COMMENT!*

Sixty years ago, when the Riviera opened on April 20, 1955, it was the very first high-rise and the ninth resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

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Liberace was the featured headliner at the resort’s opening and for many years afterward.

4/20/55  L-R James Cashman Sr. and Liberace at Riviera opening

 

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The casino was first proposed by Detroit mobster William Bischoff as the Casa Blanca, and received a gaming license in 1952. Bischoff later withdrew from the project, which was taken over by Miami businessman Samuel Cohen. By March 1955, Cohen, was identified as a member of Miami’s S & G gambling syndicate and was no longer part of the investment group, though rumors persisted that he secretly maintained an involvement. Harpo and Gummo Marx held minority interests in the resort at the time of the opening.

The opening of the new Riviera hotel and casino, along with The Dunes and the Royal Nevada resorts within a month in 1955, was the subject of a famous issue of LIFE magazine asking “Las Vegas – Is Boom Overextended?”

LIFE Magazine 1955: Las Vegas - Is the Boom Over-Extended?

LIFE Magazine 1955: Las Vegas – Is Boom Over-Extended?

The Riviera casino went bankrupt just three months after opening. A group led by Gus Greenbaum took over operation of the property for the Chicago Outfit. Greenbaum started in the rackets with Al Capone and was in charge of the TransAmerican wire service on the west coast for the Chicago mob beginning in 1928. After the Outfit whacked Bugsy Siegel in June of 1947, Greenbaum was appointed the Flamingo Hotel and Casino’s next manager and by 1950, he was managing the Tropicana. Known and respected in the underworld as a reliable source of information on Las Vegas real estate, he had planned to retire to Arizona and initially rejected the offer to run the Riviera, but after his sister-in-law was murdered, he accepted the job. Greenbaum’s womanizing, drug and gambling addictions led to his embezzling from the casino and in December 1958, after refusing to step down and sell his interest in the resort, Greenbaum and his wife were found murdered in their home in Phoenix, Arizona. “That was Meyer’s contract” Johnny Roselli said years later.

Gus Greenbaum - Johnny Roselli - Meyer Lansky

Gus Greenbaum – Johnny Roselli – Meyer Lansky

Sidney Korshak, a lawyer for powerful businessmen, both legitimate and illegitimate, played a major role in the Riviera’s management. His reputation as the Chicago mob’s man in Los Angeles made him one of Hollywood’s most fabled and influential fixers. Korshak was heavily involved with Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters’ west coast operations when organized labor was at the peak of its activity. Law enforcement agencies suspected that he represented the Chicago Outfit’s interest in the Riviera, and was responsible for skimming the casino’s revenue and delivering the proceeds to Chicago.

Riviera Hotel Architectural Rendering

Riviera Hotel Architectural Rendering

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHICAGO OUTFIT:

The Chicago Mafia began on the South Side Chicago with James “Big Jim” Colosimo. From modest beginnings in the 1890s, Colosimo, who was involved in vice, gambling and labor racketeering, became Chicago’s most powerful gangster during the period before Prohibition. Colosimo was reluctant to pursue the rich opportunities in the liquor trade that Prohibition offered. In May 1920 he was shot and killed in his café reputedly on a contract from Johnny Torrio.

“The Outfit” rose to power under the control of Torrio and Al Capone in the 1920’s during Prohibition. Their criminal activities including loansharking, gambling, prostitution, extortion, political corruption and murder. Following Capone’s conviction for income tax evasion in 1931, the Chicago mob was run by Frank Nitti, who committed suicide in 1943 after being indicted for extortion, and then Paul Ricca and Tony Accardo for over 60 years.

During the 1940s and 1950s, when the national syndicate was dominated by what was called the Big Six, Accardo and Jake Guzik, a trusted advisor and fixer for Capone and the Outfit, flew east weekly to meet with Joe Adonis, Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky and Longy Zwillman.

The Outfit’s biggest moves in the 1950s concerned casino gambling outside of Chicago. Chicago invested in hotels and casinos in Havana, Cuba and later went into Las Vegas in a big way and built the Vegas Strip. By 1961 Chicago had major interests in the Stardust, Riviera, Fremont and Desert Inn. Their Vegas holdings, partly in cooperation with Moe Dalitz, were overseen by Johnny Roselli, while the Teamsters’ Pension Fund provided financing. The Justice Department under Robert Kennedy investigated the Mob dominated Teamsters Union and its national leader Jimmy Hoffa, who was convicted of manipulating the pension fund in 1964.

Around 1957, Tony Accardo turned over the official position as boss of the Chicago Outfit to Sam Giancana, and became Consigliere. Giancana still had to obtain the sanction of Ricca and Accardo for all major business. Around 1966, Giancana was replaced as boss by Sam Battaglia. In 1967, Battaglia was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Giancana was still living in exile in Mexico. Felix Alderisio took over as acting boss in the late 1960s, was convicted of extortion, sent to prison in 1969 and died from natural causes in 1971. Then Jackie Cerone became acting boss. Cerone was convicted on gambling charges in May 1970 and later convicted of skimming $2 million from a Las Vegas casino in 1986 along with Aiuppa, Carl Civella, Angelo LaPietra and Carl DeLuna. Milwaukee organized-crime boss Frank Balistrieri was sentenced to 10-years in prison in the same case in December 1985. Cerone died of natural causes in 1996 six days after his release from prison. He was followed by Gus Alex, Samuel Carlisi and Joseph Aiuppa. Alex died of a heart attack in federal prison in 1992. Carlisi was convicted of racketeering, loansharking, and arson in connection with an illegal gambling business in Chicago in 1996 and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He died there of a heart attack in 1997.

Paul Ricca died in 1972, leaving Tony Accardo as the ultimate authority in the outfit. Giancana was murdered in the basement apartment of his home in Oak Park, Illinois in 1975 after returning from Mexico. The FBI alleged that Aiuppa conspired with Johnny Roselli to kill Giancana because he refused to share his offshore gambling profits from Mexico, but another theory states that Giancana’s murder was connected to the U.S. Senate Church Committee’s investigation into the CIA’s role in the conspiracy to assassinate Castro. Giancana was subpoenaed to testify on his knowledge of alleged government-mafia cooperation just before he was murdered.

In the 1940s Johnny Roselli was involved in the Outfit’s extortion in Hollywood of the motion picture industry. By 1956, he had become the Chicago and Los Angeles mob’s man in Las Vegas. In the early 1960s, Roselli was unknowingly recruited by the CIA. In April 1976 he was called before the Warren Commission to testify about a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Three months after his first round of testimony the Committee wanted to recall him. Roselli went missing in July and his decomposing body was found  shot, dissected, then stuffed in a 55-gallon steel fuel drum floating near Miami in August 1976. Roselli was killed on Santo Trafficante Jr.’s orders and he would have needed permission from Outfit bosses Accardo and Aiuppa for the murder. Bill Bonanno, the son of mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, claimed in his 1999 memoir, Bound by Honor: A Mafioso’s Story, that he had discussed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy with Roselli and implicated him as the primary hitman in a mafia conspiracy. According to Bonanno, Roselli shot Kennedy from a storm drain on Elm Street.

Joseph Aiuppa was convicted of skimming profits from Las Vegas casinos in 1986 and received 28 years in prison. On January 19, 1996, Aiuppa was released from prison and died of natural causes three days later. In June 1986, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and his brother Michael were beaten and strangled to death and buried in a cornfield five miles away from Aiuppa property near Morocco, Indiana. It was assumed that the Outfit ordered the murders because of Tony’s misbehavior in Las Vegas. It was also rumored that Aiuppa ordered the executions because he blamed Spilotro for the skimming conviction. In a 2010 interview with Maxim magazine, Tony Spilotro’s son Vincent claimed that the real target was his uncle Michael, and Tony was killed to prevent any revenge.

Tony Accardo bought a home in Palm Springs, California in the late 1970s, flying to Chicago to preside over Outfit “sit-downs” and mediate disputes. He died of heart failure at age 86 in Barrington, Illinois in 1992.

1975

Howard Hughes and Las Vegas:

Howard Hughes began the move into Las Vegas by legitimate operators and large corporations in the 1960s, resulting in the sale of many mob owned casinos. On November 24, Thanksgiving Day in 1966, Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad and moved into the Desert Inn. Hughes bought the Desert Inn in early 1967 and then bought the Castaways, New Frontier, the Landmark and the Sands. He also bought the small Silver Slipper casino only to reposition the hotel’s trademark neon silver slipper, which was visible from Hughes’ bedroom and had been keeping him up at night. Hughes spent at least $300 million on his many properties and real estate in Las Vegas.

The Riviera sold in June 1968 to a group of investors tied to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp., owner of the Aladdin, Stardust, and Fremont casinos. In 1969, a deal was made to sell the Riviera to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp. but the sale was blocked by the Gaming Control Board.

Dean Martin was hired in 1969 to perform in the casino’s showroom in exchange for a 10 percent interest in the Riviera. They bought back his shares after Martin left in 1972, because management refused to cut his performance schedule from two shows a night to one.

Dean Martin - The King of Cool!

Dean Martin – The King of Cool!

In 1973, the Riviera was purchased for $60 million by AITS Inc., a Boston-based travel company controlled by Meshulam Riklis and Isidore Becker. The Riviera filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1983. Riklis pledged money to keep the business in operation and appointed Jeffrey Silver as the new CEO to turn the Riviera around. Silver shifted the Riviera’s marketing away from high rollers towards middle and working-class gamblers.

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A Burger King franchise opened in the Riviera in 1983, the first fast-food chain outlet in a Las Vegas casino, inspiring the phrase “Burger King Revolution” which referred to the trend of hotels and casinos targeting middle-class customers.

Riviera Hotel & Casino

Riviera Hotel & Casino

The Riviera underwent an expansion from 1988 to 1990 which went significantly over budget, leading to another Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1991. The resort emerged from bankruptcy in 1993 owned by Riviera Holding Corp.

In 2006, Splash, a traditional Las Vegas showgirl revue, ended an extended run at the Riviera. And in 2009, An Evening at La Cage, featuring female impersonators including Frank Marino as Joan Rivers, ended one of the longest runs in Strip history.

On July 12, 2010, Riviera Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The decline of the Riviera was caused in part by the recession of 2008. The Riviera was once surrounded by the Stardust, New Frontier and Westward Ho which were demolished to make room for construction of the unfinished Fontainebleau and Boyd Gaming’s Echelon Place projects. Under the terms of the bankruptcy reorganization agreement negotiated by Starwood Capital Group and the other secured lenders the property was leased to Paragon Gaming.

In February 2015, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority bought the Riviera hotel and its land for $182.5 million. The hotel will be demolished in the name of progress and the planned expansion of LVCVA’s Las Vegas Global Business District exhibit and meeting center.

"Crazy Girls" at the Riviera Hotel

“Crazy Girls” at the Riviera Hotel (the show and the statue will move to Planet Hollywood)

“Crazy Girls” is immortalized with a bronze sculpture based on a promotional photo for the show at the front of the casino. It was unveiled in 1997 with the phrase No “Ifs”, “Ands” or…. Since then, the thong-clad buttocks have been worn to a shine by visitors rubbing them. Riviera ads with the same photo used to appear on Vegas taxicabs back in the day.

crazy-girls

Vegas Matchbooks! Some are long gone now, some still remain…but for how long?

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

“It’s a sucker’s game. You can’t win out there, you understand. We got the percentages rigged all in our favor. The longer you stay, the more you play, the more chances you got of losing. I don’t let nobody around me who gambles. A couple thousand, okay, but no gambling!” – Chicago Outfit Boss Gus Alex on the subject of Las Vegas Casinos

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Rivera Hotel & Casino

Rivera Hotel & Casino

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino!

Sign of the Times! Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino!

 

UPDATED JANUARY 7, 2017:
Going through boxes in storage, came across a matched set of Riviera coffee mugs>

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A Matched Set of Riviera Coffee Mugs

 

 

“Fare Thee Well” = Go to Hell! If Bill Graham were alive he would kick the sh*t out of Peter Shapiro.

“Fare Thee Well” = Go to Hell!

In December 1983, I sat on the sidewalk before one of the New Year’s shows and watched Bill Graham yell at a scalper (and threaten him with violence) on the street corner in front of the San Francisco Civic Auditorium for selling tickets above face value (which was $15 for each of the 3 shows and $20 on New Year’s Eve plus service charges).

2015 is the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead! Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Band from Palo Alto became The Warlocks and they became The Grateful Dead in 1965.

The Grateful Dead early 70s

The Grateful Dead early 70s

So to CASH IN on the anniversary, the “Core Four” (Bobby, Phil, Bill and Mickey) and promoter Peter Shapiro, have resurrected the band name, retired after Jerry’s death in 1995, and announced three “final” shows at Soldier Field in Chicago 4th of July weekend.*

Here are the TOP TEN REASONS WHY “FARE THEE WELL” CAN GO TO HELL:

1. There is no Grateful Dead without Jerry Garcia.

2. Chicago in July on 4th of July weekend? WRONG.

3. Only 3 shows in Chicago… (rumors of additional shows in Santa Clara and New York at the end of June without Phil and Trey are currently circulating)

4. Trey from Phish. WRONG.

5. No Camping in Chicago on 4th of July weekend? Where are 200,000 people going to sleep?

6. Ticket availability and pricing. Mail Order. Ticket Master. VIP packages. CASH GRAB.

7. Ticket scalping. Chicago Bears ticket holders. StubHub. CASH GRAB.

(see the article at the bottom of the Blog for all the GREEDY DETAILS)

8. Phish heads = “In-the-Dark heads”. WRONG. JUST WRONG.

9. All the ingredients for a “Bad Trip”. It’s not about the music or the fans, it’s a CASH GRAB and all about MONEY. How much will you “pay-per-view”?

10. Complete SELL OUT and CASH GRAB! What Would Jerry Do?

“Come hear Uncle John’s Band by the riverside…”

There is no Grateful Dead without Jerry Garcia. PERIOD. END OF STORY.

NOTE: Historically, the Chicago Police and the Illinois State Police have a bad record with “hippies” and Grateful Dead fans. Why wasn’t a state where marijuana is legal chosen?

The Grateful Dead Movie 1977 directed by Jerry Garcia

Grateful Dead Movie 1977 directed by Jerry Garcia

NOTE: I saw The Dead in May, 2009 at the Forum in Los Angeles with Warren Haynes and it was cool, but it was not the Grateful Dead.

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It’s the 50th Anniversary of the Good Ol’ Grateful Dead!

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I got on the bus in the late 70s. Dad was in the music business. I discovered American Beauty and Skull & Roses among the Warner Brothers promotional albums that were delivered to the house. I was a rebellious young teenager, and it was just after the Grateful Dead’s historic trip to Egypt, the Closing of Winterland and “The Grateful Dead Movie” and before the 15th Anniversary shows at the Warfield and Radio City Music Hall, that I became a fan.

Before the internet, it was a simple message inside the Skull & Roses album liner notes:

“DEAD FREAKS UNITE: Who are you? Where are you? How are you?
Send us your name and address and we’ll keep you informed.
Dead Heads, P.O. Box 1065, San Rafael, California 94901.”

The first live show I saw was December 13, 1980** at the Long Beach Arena. I remember the Grateful Dead played a full acoustic set before playing two electric sets, but I don’t find any mention of the acoustic set in the historical record.

Feel Like a Stranger, Sugaree, C.C. Rider, To Lay Me Down, New Minglewood Blues, Ramble on Rose, Lost Sailor, Saint of Circumstance, Deal

Scarlet Begonias, Fire on the Mountain, Playin’ in the Band, Drums, Not Fade Away, Black Peter, Sugar Magnolia

Encore: One More Saturday Night

I saw some amazing shows! New Year’s Eve 83-84 with The Band and 84-85 with the Neville Brothers at the San Francisco Civic (now Bill Graham Memorial) Auditorium, New Year’s Eve 85-86 at Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium, the Marin Benefit shows, Chinese New Year 85 & 86, Anaheim 87 with Dylan, Santa Cruz/Watsonville 84, Ventura 82-83-84-85, UCLA 82, Laguna Seca 87, the Greek Theater 84 “Darkstar” and many more. I also saw the Jerry Garcia Band at The Stone in San Francisco a few times back in the 80s.

Grateful Dead ticket stubs (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Some of my Grateful Dead ticket stubs (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

I went to college at UC Santa Cruz and connected with fellow Deadheads there. We had a connection to first generation soundboard tapes 83-85. I became friends with Bob Thomas through friends at the Renaissance Faire and developed a list of one-named deadhead friends: Leo from Berkeley, Shorty from UMass, Jim from Santa Cruz, Dave from Humboldt, Robert & Frannie from Willets, and many others. I never met any of the band members in person, but I would see Phil’s red BMW and Bobby’s Corvette when I lived in Marin. And I did meet Grace Slick once at the movies at Larkspur Landing.

Remember cassette tapes?

Remember cassette tapes? This was how you heard live shows before the internet.

I lost it a little when Jerry got busted in Golden Gate Park for heroin. I pretty much stopped going to shows after 1988, when the crowd was overrun by ignorant “In-the-Darkheads”, and everyone was selling something instead of sharing the experience. I was saddened and disappointed by Brent’s overdose in 1990, such a waste….

The last Grateful Dead show I saw was December 18, 1994 at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles. We sat behind the stage and watched Jerry “recharge” backstage during the breaks in the show.

Touch of Grey, Greatest Story Ever Told, Althea, Walkin’ Blues, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, El Paso, Loose Lucy, Let It Grow

Victim or the Crime, Crazy Fingers, Playing in the Band, Terrapin Station, Drums, Space (aborted Spanish Jam), This Might Be The Last Time, Attics of My Life, Johnny B. Goode

Encore: It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Jerry died in 1995 and the Grateful Dead as a performing band died with him.

p.s.  If Bill Graham were alive he would kick the sh*t out of Peter Shapiro.

In December 1983, I sat on the sidewalk before one of the New Year’s shows and watched Bill Graham yell at a scalper on the street corner in front of the San Francisco Civic Auditorium for selling tickets above face value (which was $15 for each of the 3 shows and $20 on New Year’s Eve).

**I actually first saw the Grateful Dead live around 1970 when I was taken to an outdoor festival by my parents, but it’s just a hazy memory of childhood now.

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*HERE IS A LINK TO AN EXCELLENT ARTICLE FROM THE BOULDER WEEKLY:

Ladies and gentlemen, not the Grateful Dead by Stuart Sallo

“that’s the Grateful Dead I want to remember, not a cover band that happens to have some of the original members, and certainly not a musical spectacle that serves big-moneyed interests, such as Ticketmaster, StubHub, eBay, the City of Chicago and whatever other corporate entities are in on this colossal rip off.”

RIGHT CLICK TO OPEN A NEW WINDOW!

http://www.boulderweekly.com/article-14082-ladies-and-gentlemen-not-the-grateful-dead.html

Jerry RIP

Jerry RIP

UPDATED 6 April 2015: This was posted on ebay!

DO NOT PAY SCALPER PRICES! BUY IN JUNE  Keep these auctions at 0 bids!! Scalpers are holding on to their better seats to sell later after they liquidate the crappy ones. Dead Heads stick together and wait until June, there will be lots of tickets available. Many Heads will receive their tickets and realize they can’t go and sell for a fair price. Scalper Scum will also have a ton left to sell. All these scalpers are scattered throughout the country, they will not be coming to Soldier Field to peddle them outside the stadium, they will need them sold before show dates. Most Dead Heads are NOT buying at these inflated and outrageous prices. Only a handful of people with what seems to be more money than brains are buying. Almost all auctions are ending unsold and have to be re-posted. Stub Hub have 851 more tickets to sell today than they did on March 7!! 254 more tickets on StubHub in just 3 days!!! Even with some sold, more are now for sale, does that tell you something, inventory is growing!!

More tickets, better seats, and lower prices will be what follows over the course of time. We just need to remain calm and good things will follow. Dead Heads did NOT pay over face value for 30 years when Jerry was alive, let’s not start now. Maybe a small premium but that is it. Honor Jerry and the band, we WILL get tickets. Teach the Scalper Scum that you don’t mess with Dead Heads!!


READ THE “HAPPY JERRY DAY” BLOG>> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1g1


UPDATE 12-2-2016: editing old drafts that never got published I found this:

Fare Thee Well – Not the Grateful Dead, but an incredible simulation!

“What a long strange trip it’s been!”

The farewell concerts! Two shows in Santa Clara at Levi’s Stadium (San Jose) in the San Francisco Bay Area and three shows in Chicago at Soldier Field.

I had the urge to jump in the car and drive to San Jose, but “real life” obligations prevented it from happening. My friends live 15 minutes from the stadium and by most reports, I could have scored tickets for both shows cheap. No regrets? Hmmmmm…..

Funny thing about Chicago: My father’s family has a reunion and picnic every 5 years in Lincoln Park in Chicago on the 4th of July weekend. It’s been family tradition since the 1920’s, and it was scheduled for this year. So when the concerts were announced in February, we already had an invitation and a group rate at a hotel close to Soldier Field. But after much consideration, we decided not to make the trip and/or pay the high ticket prices. No regrets? Hmmmmm…..

I also decided not to spend $100 on the five show internet stream broadcast or $30 on the “pay-per-view” 4th of July broadcast. Instead I listened to a FREE live audio stream on UStream and another on Mixlr (and on SiriusXM Grateful Dead channel which I have in the car). I also saw some of the Santa Clara video broadcast on a “bootleg” stream and then watched the post-show videos on Youtube.

I miss Jerry and Brent! Bobby was alway a great #2 guy, but he can’t lead the band. Phil Lesh is one of the greatest bass guitar players in rock and roll history, but he can’t sing!

Bruce Hornsby played with the Grateful Dead for a couple years in the 90s and he can sing. Jeff Chimenti is a great keyboard player, but neither can play or sing like Brent.

Now I’m going to talk about Trey Anastasio from Phish and the choice to have him play with the band, so Phish-heads and Trey fans get ready….

Trey did a good job playing in the band for these shows, but he’s no Jerry Garcia. I’ve never really been a big Phish or Trey fan. I always thought it was a place where “In-The-Dark-heads” went after Jerry died and the Grateful Dead decided to quit without him. There are other guitar players who know the music better and play more of a “Jerry style” than Trey. I saw The Dead in 2009 with Warren Haynes and it was cool but it wasn’t the Grateful Dead, just like this time around. Trey doesn’t have the experience of jamming with the “core four” for years and has a different musical style.