Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Two New Interviews...Dojo War info

On Sunday I met with and interviewed Peter Mikalajuanas, cousin of James Konsevic. As I said before, this was going to be hard for me. I had little information about Konsevic I did not even know where to start. So I am grateful that Peter contacted me while he was working on family history. Peter was able to obtain the police report for the Dojo War and now crime scene images.

He has also given me some photos of Jim that allow me to humanize him. I was very concerned that I find a way to give Konsevic life and not just perpetuate the idea of "hapless victim." Peter speaks honestly about his cousin in the interview. Iy is important that we hear the repercussions his death had on his family.

I also interviewed Chris Pieschala, 4th Dan Tae Kwon Do (Ji Do Kwan) & Hap Ki Do. Chris also has 2 years of study in Diato-ryu Aikijujutsu while in Okinawa.

Chris has been acting as a consultant for the film. He has been around awhile and has helped me to fill in some blanks and dead ends. He has led me to some interesting sources and helped me establish some leads to Dante's possible training in California and presence in the Bay Area, and possibly Seattle in the early 1960s.

Friday, February 22, 2008

On Pins and Needles....meanwhile back on the film

There seems to be a lot of tension and expectation of the outcome of my little dilemma with the BDFS Copyright Infringement case. The Judge has spoken. Thee are deadlines for Feb. 29 amd we hav a conference with the judge March 6 with proposals and intentions.

Bill Aguiar is the only one with material in his possession and who has control over the material. Ownership is the question. It is all up to him regarding how this goes down right now. Anything else on the table is pure exploration

I managed to get another interview while I was in Boston. A vital part of the film is finding people who bought the book and made some use of it. Not necessarily to rip off ears, rend tear and maim. The way this is all going I am sure someone might have tried it and is sitting in a penitentiary somewhere right now.

I drove out to Berean Baptist Church in Guilderland Center, NY to see a guy by the name of Paul Anobile, the Reverenad Paul Anobile to be more accurate. Paul had written me an email sometime ago in which h ecounted to me burning the World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets on the curb after beating up his brother.

The good news is that this is not a tale of a kid brother send to the hospital with his ear missing and an eye poked out. It was one kick ot the stomach and him puking all over the carpet and Paul going to do some soul searching because he felt really bad about doing it and looked for the source of his violence.

He identified World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets as part of his desire for violence and he sat down under a street light and burned it. Paul still practices martial arts, he studies kenpo. I asked him how he ereconciles his religion with his practice of a violent skill and he gave me a very interesting answer. I am not telling, you will see it in the film. I am moving full speed ahead on the last of the interviews. More later.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My right to Fair Use upheld in Federal Court, but the beat goes on....

In a nutshell, here is what happened in Court.

I am being charged with copyright infringement by Grand Master of the Black Dragon Fighting Society, William V. Aguiar III, over use of images from Count Dante's World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets and film footage from his instructional video set. Aguiar filed a settlement proposal for $500,000.00 against me, $100,000 against the Sheppards and $1 million against Ashida Kim. You can see details of the actual court case at - WIlliam Aguiar Vs Floyd Webb.

We appeared before Judge Mark Wolf in Federal Court on February 15, 2008, in Boston, MA. The charges for trademark violation were dropped from the suit before the case started. Trademark abuse was on of the justifications for usiing a DCMA to take down my website. Aguiar had failed to renew trademarks and was not granted a renewal.

Here is what happened in court. I was represented by the Stanford University Fair Use for Documentary Film Project (FUDF), founded by Lawrence Lessig. My representation, Anthony Falzone, Julie Ahrends and Brandy Karl flew in from Stanford. I was also represented by David Kluft and Walead Esmail of Foley Hoag in Boston.

My co-defendants, Barron and Wendy Sheppard, were represented by Aaron Silverstein and Radford Davis aka Ashida Kim, was represented by Amy Brosius and Mark Fischer of Boston.

Aguiar presented his case, Pro Se, "on behalf of himself". I am no lawyer, but let me take a second to outline the perils of Pro Se litigation. Marshall H. Tanick of Mansfield, Tanick and Cohen, P.A. says this about Pro Se:

"The venerable tradition of self-representation in legal matters is also embedded in the U.S. Constitution. Although pro se is not expressly covered in the Constitution, courts have held that an individual is legally entitled to self-representation.

There are a number of reasons why individuals elect to represent themselves pro se. They include strong personal views about a particular matter, refusal or inability to work with legal counsel, and inability to find legal counsel who are willing to work with an individual, often because of the position taken by the pro se party in the litigation."

Next he goes on to say:
"...the driving force for much pro se litigation is economics. The high cost of legal representation often leads individuals to represent themselves. This trend has been branching out in recent years as legal fees and expenses continue to mount."
His self-representation is clearly a constitutional entitlement as his long-term lawyer obviously would not take the case. Tanick goes on to say:
"Litigants who are proceeding on a pro se basis usually are held to the same legal standards as attorneys. This means that if they fail to follow court rules and regulations, they are subject to litigation sanctions, and the excuse that they are not legally trained may often fall on deaf ears. In one leading Minnesota case, State v. Seifert, 423 N.W.2d 368, 372 (Minn. 1988), the Court held that pro se litigants that failed to abide by Court requirements may have their lawsuits dismissed even though they may not be familiar with some of those requirements."
In light of this opinion, Judge Mark Wolf was very patient and lenient with Aguiar. I understand this and I would want the same consideration for anyone who chooses this course, especially me. This is not an easy thing to pursue. It is time-consuming and requires a singular obsession with proving whatever point you have to make. It is a phenomenal feat to accomplish. I am not mad at the guy for taking his case to court. I am mad that it is me he choose and that, as far as I could see, he clearly has no case, in my opinion.

I am trying to look at from his side. I have nothing against Aguiar. I do not even know him. All I would say to him if he could drop the tough guy stance is that it pays to listens, to surround oneself with people who can help, who can offer good advice.

I would be up a creek without a paddle without the FUDF Project. Being a member of the Independent Feature Project, that held a panel on Fair Use in 2006 was an association that led to information that helped me survive this. It was my access to information and my willingness to reach out and ask for help that has made it possible to confront this issue head on.

Aguiar arrived to court late and requested a continuance of 90 days as he has just contacted a lawyer. President of the Fall River World Karate Federation, John Cole accompanied him to court and was doing a bit of coaching. Before court started, someone said that the courtroom was so acoustically sensitive that you could hear lawyers whispering to their clients. Well, Mr Coles words of encouragement to Aguiar did not go without the attention of the entire courtroom, let alone the judge.

The Judge advised Aguiar that he was procedurally out-of-line, asking for the continuance. He then proceeded to dismiss both the Sheppards and Ashida Kim for lack of personal jurisdiction. They were dismissed without prejudice, meaning that he can refile against them when he has a lawyer and is free to resubmit the charges to have them included in the case with me. Aguiar was cautioned that should he do so, he will be financially penalized if he cannot prove his case against them. He can also bring cases against them in their home states.

The Judge explained to Aguiar why I was entitled to Fair Use, he was very clear and gave Aguiar time to both compose himself, as he was visibly agitated, and to respond. He clearly did not understand how things worked and I think he was actually shocked that Sheppard and Kim were dropped from the case.

My right to fair use, the way in which I used the materials, and my claim to fair use was confirmed by the Judge.

Based on the materials presented to the court Aguiar has little to go on proving his claim of copyright ownership. Judge Wolf gave him until Feb 29 to appear with his new lawyer to be ready for a March 6 conference. Aguiar will inform the Judge of how he wants to proceed with the case then.

On March 6, Aguiar will tell the judge if it is his intention, with his new attorney to pursue the case with me alone, or to bring Sheppard and Kim back into the case to try us together and make his additional case of conspiracy to defraud him of his legal copyright as well as my infringement.

These are the events as I saw them. I reserve the right to make errors, but in no way intend to piss off my attorneys with my overzealousness in reporting these events. They are preparing for the March 6 conference.

There is a lot more I could say. But I will wait until after March 6.

The film continues. What I lack in production value, I will make up for with interviews and great graphics. I have strategized how to get materials I will need in worst case scenarios and the alternatives are working well.

I have just seen images of crime scene photos from the dojo war. These will not be seen here here anytime soon. But they do actually exist and I saw them. The research continues and useful information continues to come in. What a life this man John Keehan lived in 35 years.

Friday, February 15, 2008

In Boston, Court at 2:00 pm

I arrived in Boston on Thursday. I was planning on arriving in the evening but my lawyers wanted me there for a pretrial run-through and a meeting with the Barron Sheppard and Ashida Kim's layers. I landed at 10:30 and made a beeline directly for Foley Hoags Offices on Seaport Blvd.

So here I am, back at Foley Hoag's office where we have a conference room reserved. They have prepared well as you can see from the graph above. No matter what happens, I win on the fair use as I understand it. There will be 7 lawyers opposing Aguiar today including Barron Sheppard, and Ashida Kim's. This will be quite an adventure today.

Court begins at 2:00 pm. I will fill you in on details of later. I may even post a video clip or two from the pre-trial run-through we did yesterday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The film goes well...

Even with court coming up. I am making progress with the film. Even with all the personal comments meant to incite some kind of personalized reaction from me I am making progress with the film. These things will not stop it from being done.

I am at a point where the film has literally taken on a life of it's on. Every attempt to crerate a set-back becomes part of the project, a CD extra, a note for the production history. It does not matter what is said or what happens. The film goes on to completion.

Life is good.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Resolving mythology with Realities

Since receiving the DiFonzo package I have been able to contact individuals pertinent to the Purolator case. This robbery is literally the beginning of the Dante's end. This individual has knowledge from being involved in the case.

I know what people claim, I am looking for what I can prove. What do I want to prove, is merely that Dante clearly had a hand in the crime, that this bad decision is the thing that eventually led to his demise, whether by poison or the stress of trauma from bleeding ulcers.

It is ironic that DiFonzo made more money from the reward and being an informant that he would have made for laundering the money for the Outfit guys.

The inside man, Ralph Ronald Marrera, who was the lone guard on duty the night of Oct. 20, 1974, when the money, in small bills, disappeared from the money warehouse of Purolator Security, got $650.000 from Cook County for medical malpractice. There were several attempts to poison him and claims of his making suicide attempts. Marrera stood by as the reportedly, $4.3 million, 1000 lbs of stolen money, was loaded into a van and driven off. At that time it was largest cash theft in U.S. history.

This is all too much for me to go into in the film. It runs far afield of who Dante was. What matters is Dante may have participated or facilitated this event. It is a fact he was called before the Grand Jury investigating his knowledge of the case. A family member has told me his death came a few days before he was to return to the Grand Jury.

There is a peanut gallery out there in the blogosphere who will never get what I am doing. This is not necessarily about perpetuating mythologies, it is about debunking them and putting a throughly human face onto a slippery mythic character. It is about the times and his impact upon it, so much that he still invokes such praise and ire, in equal quantities.

There is a bigger story here. That is what I am looking for.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mystery Package in the Mail: Luigi DiFonzo

It does not stop. I got yet another mystery package in the mail from someone. This time it was "re: Luigi DiFonzo," Count Dante's accomplice in the Purolator robbery. There is a question about them having scammed some of the Outfit guys, making it look like they were saving DiFonzo from the Count so he would appear as a dupe. DiFonzo went on to write a book about the robbery called "Bucks." The book was hard to read.

His next book, St. Peter's Banker, that sports this photo on the jacket cover, was a better read, very detailed and a joy to explore.

I got this picture and a stack of paperwork related to Purolator, his book on the Vatican banker, his screenwriting course he taught at Harvard and his eventual demise as Count Luigi DiFonzo in 2000.

DiFonzo was able to stay in Chicago after the court case ended with his aquittal and Dante's death. By 1980, he was was back in court and eventually sent to jail for 18 months for securities fraud. I guess his time in stir gave him an opportunity to work on his writing. He even got into a fight with some Chicago policemen in Chinatown over blocking traffic.

More on him after I got over this stuff and do some background research. No return address, postmarked from Santa Monica, CA.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

More rumours, no proof....

I have to contend with others who challenge my right to make this film. They weave a tale of a character way beyond the comic book image I began to investigate. They seek to reinvent and exaggerate the last years of Dante's life with no proof. I wish them the best of luck in their endeavors.

There is only so much truth to be had here. The proof is in the telling and documentation. Sure, I could create a mythology greater than anyone could imagine regarding Dante, but why bother. The truths I discover are interesting enough in themselves. I am looking to put the urban mythologies to rest.

I did not set out to get involved in a "how sleazy a light can I cast Count Dante in" contest. And I will not. I set out to tell a tal of a man who ended up in a grave with no marker. A man who effected the lives of many and became an underground symbol in global popular culture. Simple....not!

I am close, my interviews continue, more footage and photographs of the Chicago period surface. Controversy has it uses.