Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Haines School 1963


1963. This is the year before my first meeting with Dante. Unbeknowst to me, the John Keehan and Bob Trias's World Karate Tournament took place at the University of Chicago Fieldhouse that summer. I would hear about it. I would see pictures in the paper about it. My exposure to martial arts at this time was Dick Tracy's fellow detective, the absolutely politically incorrect Joe Jitsu. There were the old Mr. Moto films; James Bond cold war era films like Dr. No and From Russia with Love; the tv series Secret Agent Man; various episodes of Ozzie and Harriet even.

The other night, as I was checking email and forcing myself away from the on-going intellectual property drama at countdante.com. I got an email from a Pat Hirschauer. She had been looking for an old teacher of hers by the name of Dorothy Luckett and came across the blog. This was one of my teachers at Haines School in Chinatown. Turns out that Pat Hirschauer is Patty Mah, a 5th grade classmate of mine. Amazing. I sent her an email and asked her to get onto AIM and we started chatting. I had been looking for a class photo from 1963 and 1964. I asked her if she had one. She did. She had her husband shoot a picture of it and she email it to me. Patty told me two things that really floored me. She said she remembered me because I was realy nice to her and she used to come over to the projects just to ride up and down on the elevators. She did what????? I never knew this. I got to talk to her more about this.

This picture is taken in October, 1963, two months after Martin Luther Kings March on Washington and 1 month before the asassination of John Kennedy. I remember most the death of those little girls in September when the American Christian Racist Extremist terrorist Ku Klux Klan bombed a church in Birmingham, Alabama. Medgar Evers was also killed that year by other Christian Racist extremist all in the name of the Lord and keeping America "White". Talk about a losing battle.

I remember this because at Haines our teacher Ms Luckett would talk about these things with us. W.E.B. DuBois died this year also. Kenya became independent. The OAU was formed, Mr. Melvin Gaynor told us about this.

In this year CLR James wrote Beyond a Boundary, a most amazing book on the the game of Cricket in the West Indies. A book which would influence my decision to do this film in some ways because of all the offbeat and colorful characters who inhabited James World as he grew into this game, a social history of sport that I hope I can equal in the making of my film.

I think I saw Lawrence of Arabia at the Michael Todd theater that year, where the Goodman Theater sits today. Chess Record was up the street and around the corner from me on 21 and Michigan. I lived at 2310 S. State St. I sold the Chicago Defender, Jet Magazine, tried to help load papers at Muhammad Speaks Newspaper on 25 and Federal Street.
I went to church at Quinn Chapel and a little jackleg Pentacostal Church run by an Elder Turner who wore a kufe in his ministry. It was where I look back to years later and would realize African religion still lived in our community.

In this picture we stand on the threshold of a changing world. The Beatles are all the rage in popular music. My father went to Viet Nam in this year. I saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on TV after he killed Kennedy. Here are we all, Patty Mah, me, Francis Bing, Susan Dee, Garrick Anders, Micheal Cheung, David Lee, Mary Ann Jackson and others whose names I cannot remember. I will get Patty to help me fill in the blanks.

Out of this decade I emerged a bit weary at 17 but ready to take on the world.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

1964 film footage...

My old buddy in Oak Park, Tom Palazzolo, filmmaker and artist gave me about 100 feet offootage he shot at the 1964 World Karate Championship at the Chicago Coliseum. that was organized by John Keehan. This is the tournament I attended after a hard says work in Chinatown at Guey Sams. As I look at the footage I am kind of confused. I do not remember the fights being in a ring in 1964.

I do remember Tigi Matali, the guy trying to break the 1000 lbs of ice. We will get these dates and tournaments correct in the end I hope. It is 40+ years ago what can I expect?? Confusion! Gotta get it all right. You get fleeced, tarred and feathered for bad history.

Tom used to shot anything interesting going on in Chicago. He would be anywhere and everywhere recording images he would then incorporate into his person works. He is retired now, spending his time painting and playing basketball with friends. He is cleaning out his basement and looking for footage I may bbe able to use

The ambiance was interesting at tournaments in those days. The audiences was diverse and varied in class. Note the Blonde seated upfront, rigside surrounded by her admirers. This could well be a normal fight card night. This was the kind of woman Dante would often be seen with.

I am fortunate to have talked to Tom about the project. I see him very rarely these days.

I am intrigued by the style of fighting and demonstrations. Some of the footage is a bit dark. I may be able to salvage a few things. I hope to identify some of the people in the footage as well.

I see a lot of kung fu grip hands in stances. Was this a Chicago thing or what. Look at this guy's hands. Where does it all come from in Chicago. At first glance we could say Keehan. I hope to discover a lot more about Dante's influences as I ask the questions and as I get more footage. Someplace out there is a wealth of 8mm film footage. I know Jimmy Jones has hours of footage.

Demonstrations were at the heart of every tournament. It gave various schools and styles the opportunity to show off thier best techniques for self defence, breaking, weapons use, seemingly magical powers to a 11 year old.

My pals and I loved the breaking and fancy flying kicks.

This kind of footage is important to this kind of film. I need something to illustrate points in my interviews and break up the talking heads.

I need to put out a call for midwestern images of martials arts in the newspapers all over Illinois. Keehan's story is best served by having a clear historical perspective of the times he lived in.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Struggling to make sense...

And now we come to the chapter in which I describe the internet wars over the legacy of Dante and the Black Dragon Fighting Society(BDFS). What's it all about? The conversation is going hot and heavy at their site right now

After the blackballing of Dante in Chicago, primarily because the death of Jim Konsevic in the 1970 Dojo/Dragon War, he was befriended by Bill Aguiar, a karate instructor from Fall River, MA. They became very close, with Dante going to Fall River to help Aguiar open another school to teach the Black Dragon concepts. In several articles in Black Belt Magazine it was reported that the leadership of the Black Dragon Fighting Society was passed on to Aguiar as well as development of it's concepts. Aguiar claims not only leadership of the school but ownership of all intellectual property and copyrights as well. Yet I have an interview with Crista Dante that was emailed to me in which she states all business interest were signed over to her. She is nowhere to be found presently but I have a feeling she is going to turn up at some point. Then the truth with come out.

This ownership of copyright and ownership has led to conflicts with "Ninja" Ashida Kim and rock singer, Count Dante of San Francisco. Ashida Kim was forced to remove all references of Dante from his site. The Count of San Franciso continues his tribute band to this day. And he continues his study of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for the day he may have to defend his right to do so it seems. :-)

The present head of the BDFS wants to be paid for an interview. He has an archive of materials that may or may not be invaluable. I have not seen an inventory list so I cannot say. I suspect so, but the proof is ALWAYS in the pudding.

Paying him for the interview is not something I am going to agree to. Paying for the use of archival materials is another story. I am not going to go deep into this at the moment.

There seems to be some fear that I am going to disrort the role of Fall River in the documentary. Why? I have no idea. Fall River is not my primary concern for the moment as I am struggling to get the story here in the midwest and on the west coast locked first.

How and why Dante went to Fall River will be covered throughly. I know where everyone is and how to reach them. Whether they want to talk is up to them. Was Dante making a come back. Was he preparing to disappear? Did he really want to become a priest or was it more theatrics and smoke screen? Is there a connection between Fall River and the Puralotor Vault Robbery? Questions abound and it is overwhelming to think I can answer them all.

There seem to be possibilities of connnections between the Amur River Black Dragon Society and the BDFS through an Indiana sensei Dante was associated with. One of the old Instructors out there seems to have been associated with the Amur River Black Dragons at some point before World War II.

Then there is the information about Dante and Anton LeVey, chief San Francisco Satanist, both pet lion owners. What next?

There is a still a lot of passion in this tale of Dante that reverberates 30 years after his death.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Frisco, Peace, T.Y. Wong and Dante's Orphaned Son???

Still on the hunt...

Of late I have had a few more connections between Count Dante and Satanism.
All I can do is gather the information and evaluate it after I cross-reference and look for evidence. How we got there....please do not ask.
I guess it is all part of the legend.

I visited San Francisco two weeks ago to look for evidence of associations Dante claimed with Ed Parker, T.Y. Wong and Jame Yimm Lee. I also hooked up with and interviewed the California Count Dante who gave me a great interview.

I was told that the old TY Wong School was at 880 Sacramento St. in San Francisco. John Keehan says he was introduced to Sifu Wong by James Yimm Lee, so this would have to have been before the argument over the $10, Lee and Wong had. This meeting makes sense because of James Yimm Lee"writings about poison hand and dim mak might have attracted Keehan to SF.

Oddly enough I passed a Y.C. Wong School of Kung Fu at 819a Sacremento on the way to finding 880. I will let you know what I find out about any connections between the two. At first investigation there seems to be none that was admitted to me. I have not spoken to Master Y.C. Wong as of yet. I never assume anyone is going to just tell me what I want to know. The first step is always starting a conversation. Not as easy as it sounds sometimes...

I also got to chill for an afternoon and saw Michael Franti and Spearhead at Power to the Peaceful. 50,000 21st Century California activists partying all afternoon in Golden Gate Park. It was a great concert that included Blackalicious and Sila and the AfroFunk Experience. Gotta have some Yin in the middle of all this yang I am immersed in.

A quick call to the the great Bob Wall at World Black Belt got me a few people to call in the San Francisco area, specifically Sid Campbell. I went looking for Ralph Castro, but he was in Hawaii. I did end up speaking with Sid Campbell who cleared up a few unsolved questions about another Killer Kung Fu ad that came out of Chicago same time as Keehan was running the Count Dante Ads. The Killer Kung Fu guy was called "EL Shaitan." Shaitan is an Islamic term for Satan. His name is definitely popping up a lot in my research. Well just so you know, I have not been feeling any more evil than usual. I am not about to run out and start living that Dante life so stop worrying.

Dan Kelly sent me this ad while he was researching the Reader Article. Sid is a wealth of information. I am adding him to my interview list.

It has been a whirlwind month. Had the Jazz Festival, Jazz Club Tour, shot a PSA with 3to1, did a panel at UC Irvine and a new trailer for the film. I still have my day jobs(gotta keep that when ya got kids).

Had a break in my office, someone took my laptop. Disastrous. Good thing the most important stuff is backed up and kept under lock and key. Please no conspiracy theories...I got enough issues to deal with reagrding this project. LOL

I have been looking at some scholarly types to talk to about the martial arts period and was introduced to the work of Vijay Prashad by Irene Chien in San Francisco. Vijay wrote a book called Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting and Irene Chien is a PhD candidate at Berkeley doing some similar works. I am interested in discussing the impact of martial arts on American culture and cross influences from Muhammad Ali to Wu-Tang Clan.

A buddy of mine is working as a the Rza's stand-in in American Gangster so I am trying to get to the Rza as well. I need this kind of input in telling the tale seeking social meaning regarding these intersecting cultures.

This weekend I am due in Dallas Texas to a martial arts Roast hosted by Gary Lee. I will be in Dallas this weekend. Should be a lot of people there for me to talk to.

I compiled a list of my completed interviews for a producer and they are as follows:

**Sensei Bob Brown - Chicago*
Former Chicago Policeman, Brown studied with John Keehan from 1962-1967. Bob was with John from South Ashland and the School on Rush Street until he opened his own school, the "Tang Soo Do Academy." He tells of life in the Rush Street dojo above Mr. Kelly’s Jazz Club, the lion either jumping or being thrown out the window and landing on the back of a horse pulling a surrey and John’s womanizing.

**Nganga Tola-Na(Raymond Cooper) - Baltimore*
One of the greatest fighters of the 1960s, Tolo-na fought as Ray Cooper and was a prized student of Dante. Tolo-na was involved in a controversial fight with Mike Stone at the 2nd World Karate Tournament in which Master Robert Trias, head of the Unites States Karate Association blatantly robbed Ray Cooper of the Championship. Mike Feldkoff, martial artist and Dante confidant accused Trias of blatant racism in his officiating at the tournament. This event leads to Keehan resigning from the United States Karate Association and starting the World Karate Federation.

**Sensei Ken Knudson - Chicago*
Professional Karate competitor in 1970s, trained by Jimmy Jones and best friend Jim Konsevic, who dies in the 1970 Chicago "dojo/dragon war" between the Black Dragon Society and Green Dragon Society. Founder of Sybaris "Love Hotel" chain, Died Feb, 2006 in a plane crash.

Knudson speaks of John Keehan’s legitimacy as a martial artist and tells the story of the night of the dojo war when his sensei Jim Konsevic called him to join them in their visit to the Green Dragon society and describes the bloody aftermath and death of Jim Konsevic.

**Sensei Doug Dwyer - Chicago*
Best Friend of John Keehan. Pipe fitter and Coast Guard officer, he traveled with Dante by car to train with Bob Trias in Phoenix, Arizona, to Canada, New York and was with him through the mid-sixties. He helped with the pet lion, acquired the bull John was going to fight and was arrested with John the night of planting the dynamite caps on Gene Wyka's dojo window.

**Sensei Jimmy Jones - Chicago*
First generation student of John Keehan, Leader in training and tournament promotion in 1970s-1990. Tells the story of first meeting Keehan the day he breaks his hand breaking a brick and then joining his school. Parted ways with John over his unscrupulous business practices.


**Art Rapkin - Madison, Wis*
Studied with John Keehan when he was 17 and inspired by the example of Count Dante went on to become a hair dresser and to adventures in the jungles of South America ending up in the in the narcotics trade in the 1970s. After spending 3 years in a Mexican jail, from where he challenged Bill Aguiar to a death match over his claim to the inheritance of the Count Dante legacy he returned to the US and became a healer.

**Sensei John Sharkey - Chicago area*
Knew John Keehan as a child. Was with John when he got the bull for the tournament promotion in 1963. Talks about the prevalence of dojo rivalries in the 1960s.

**Sensei Ben Peacock - Chicago*
Student of Jimmy Jones. Kate Champion with numerous run-ins with Sensei Trias is race related situations. Meet Dante numerous times with Sensei Jimmy Jones.

**Bob Cooley - Federal Witness Protection Program*
Former Chicago Policeman and mob lawyer who turned state's evidence and worked as a mole for the FBI. He is the man who literally took down the Chicago Outfit and the 1st Ward rackets. He is presently in the witness protection program with a Million dollar price on his head. Cooley defended Dante in the Dojo War court case and hung out on Rush Street with him and shared girlfriends in the early 70s. Cooley confirms Dante's involvement in the 1974 Purolator vault robbery.

**Sensei Gregory Jaco - Kankakee*
My personal sensei. Gregory Jaco was famous for his elaborate breaking and weapon's demonstrations. Jaco is the father of rapper Lupe Fiasco. One of my fellow students under Jaco, Robert Tobias, used to periodically study with Dante. Robert is presently doing 60 years to life in an Illinois Penitentiary. Jaco gives a history of Martial Arts in Chicago, tells of Mas Tumura secretly teaching black students after hours and of his experience trying to join the Black Dragon Society and the ritual involved.

Bob "Count Dante" Calhoun - San Francisco*
Head of the Tribute Band, "Count Dante and the Black Dragon Fighting Society"
Bob Calhoun could possibly be Count Dante's orphaned son sent west after his death. Calhoun created the persona not knowing if Dante was real, alive or dead, until he put up his website in 1998. Then all hell broke loose. He was contacted and threatened by people claiming to "own the legacy" of Count and wanted him to cease and desist

Anonymous Green Dragon - Chicago*
Audio Interview with an Anonymous member of the Green Dragon Society.
He is fully vetted and documented as having been there in court documents He was present the night of the "Dragon War" when Dante paid a visit to the Green Dragon Society. He tells a very dubious story of his encounter with Dante in what was essentially a 30-45 sec fight, which resulted in the death of Jim Konsevic. He refused to be interviewed on camera but agreed to a audio interview in which he says he dislocated both of John Keehan's arms.