Sunday, March 30, 2008

Vault Robbing Martial Artists

I just stumbled over a report on cage fighter/mixed martial artist Lee "Lightning" Murray and his involvement in a £53 million Securitas robbery. Securitas is similar to our Purolator. Armored cars pick-up, transport and store money for business.
Most of those involved got caught. They had inside help and held people hostage. Murray is suspected of being the mastermind. I could not help but think of Dante and the Purolator Robbery because so many people got caught so fast. Real amateurs. One would think if you dare to steal £53 million (over $100 million) you should in no way get caught. Well Murray obviously understood this and made a beeline for Morrocco, where he was born and still retained citizenship. £21 million was recovered, £32 million is still unaccounted for and Morocco has no extradition treaty with England.

Muray while at a Shopping mall in Rabat with a friend called, "The Enforcer," was arrested but was released after serving 8 months and paying a hefty fine. Murray had a great fight record and was almost killed in a club fight when he was knifed. More evidence, folks, when you see a blade, run. No shame in it.

They just seems so coincidental that I thought I would share this with you all. I wonder if Murray ever read anything about the history of Dante's role in the 1974 Purolator Robbery.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jim Quattrocki and company enter my story in The International Documentary Challenge

The production crew above are, left to right: Vicki Parker, Michael Cowan, Angela Guido, Mariana Perin and Jim Quattrocki. I have known cameraman Jim Quattrocki (far right in the photo above) for about 2 years. He is an old student of Doug Dwyer. Doug actually remembered him from when he was about 11 years old and even had a picture of him in class. He has always been interested in the project and when I get a bit more funding I will definitely be hiring him. He helped me with an interview with Doug and interviewed me early on about the project.

While I was in Boston facing my Federal Charges on copyright infringement last week I got a call from Jim, asking me if I would be the subject of a 5 minute documentary for the International Documentary Challenge(IDC). Jim got together with the folks above to come up with an idea to shoot for the competition and my story about the making of my doc won out. Lucky me.

The IDC, "is a timed filmmaking competition where filmmaking teams from around the world have just 5 days to make a short documentary film. The 3rd annual took place March 6-10, 2008 with the finalists premiering at Hot Docs in April 2008!" In, "
its 15th edition in 2008, Hot Docs will present more than 125 from over 25 countries from April 17-27."

We shot at my office, they interviewed Jimmie Jones, we went to the site of the dojo war.
They filmed me walking around Chinatown. They were very careful to use materials that are not in dispute and create the doc clearly with original materials.

Whatever happens I will have a great promo for the film. They are a good team. They got organized over Craig's List. They have finished the doc and here they are. in the photo above, at FedEx at 10:00pm last night shipping out the completed 5 minute doc to the Challenge. With luck you can see it at Hot Docs.

Congratulations to them all.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Between Flights headed back to Chicago.

In the time that our conference in the Judge's Chambers has ended I have done one more interview for the film. I have received several emails regarding a hilarious account of my day in court by a person who was not there and who recounts the interpretation of an individual who is CLEARY out of his depth speaking of "half-truths."

I just read the nefarious BDFS Blog and find it more humorous than I do objectionable. If you have a warped sense of humor like I do you may get some enjoyment out of it. Or you might ask why I put up with this bullshit. It is all part of the story.

Mr. Aguiar has not yet realized the depth of legal difficulty he has gotten himself into. He interprets a judge questioning a lawyer on the validity of her ideas in a written document as some kind of reprimand. As we are both learning, law is a process, justice is not The People's Court. The judge did his job and Julie Ahern and all of the lawyers have clearly done theirs.

The facts are quite clear and documented by the court. I am within my rights to fair use. The gavel already fell on that one. Mr Aguiar clearly needs some legal assistance in interpreting court documents that are already on record. He persists is believing that someone has "stolen his stuff."

Aguiar, even if he COULD prove his ownership, and he clearly has not, still stands to lose the case because I have not infringed on any copyright.

Aguiar, clearly has listened to what was said in Judges Chambers. That is on his head.

He has been ordered by the judge to come up with the legal goods in writing with precedent and documentation of all infringements in two weeks. His time would be better spent making that deadline for the court than bragging about a false victory over a beer or any other pharmaceutical enhancements he might seek with his buddies. The court was quite clear about the seriousness of not making the next deadline set. This is not a late homework assignment. I doubt whether, "I'm sorry your honor." is going to cut it in future.

As for mediation, why would I do such a thing with a guy who clearly has not proven he owns anything, who clearly has a need for someone to interpret the very nature of the litigation he has initiated and get a clear understanding of why I can claim fair use and that that issue has already been clarified. I follow the advice of my lawyers not his "advisors," namely his in-house legal genius, John Creeden III.

Let's go to the record. Judge Wolf is the one who suggested mediation on February 16. Mr Aguiar came to conference ready to do so and I am my legal counsel decided against it and we state it clearly in i the following statement taken from CIVIL ACTION NO.
5. Alternative Dispute Resolution
There have been no ADR efforts to date. No settlement conference has been scheduled at this time.

Defendant Webb does not want to go to mediation at this time. While Mr. Webb is always open to reasoned proposals from Plaintiff Aguiar, he is not optimistic about the prospects for productive settlement discussions at this time for several reasons. Most importantly, Plaintiff Aguiar has produced no evidence that he is the owner of the copyrights he asserts. Indeed, he has already admitted that he is not the owner of the film footage at issue here. Without documentary proof that Mr. Aguiar is the true copyright owner of the works he alleges Mr. Webb has infringed, there is no benefit to Mr. Webb of agreeing to license such works from Mr. Aguiar. Production by Mr. Aguiar of documents demonstrating he owns the works at issue is a prerequisite to any settlement discussions. In addition, the Court has ordered that Mr. Aguiar amend his complaint against Mr. Webb to clarify the claims he asserts. Only after an amended complaint is filed will it be clear exactly what works Mr. Aguiar alleges have been infringed, as well as precisely what works of Mr. Webb are at issue. At that time, Mr. Webb will be in a better position to know what information and documents are needed to establish the ownership of the copyrights at issue.

Moreover, in Defendant Webb's view, Mr. Aguiar's inability or unwillingness to obtain professional legal advice has left him with a distorted sense of the rights and privileges of copyright holders in general, and of the value and strength of his own case in particular. Perhaps for the same reasons, Mr. Aguiar, who has filed no responsive pleading in this case, has given no indication that he is aware of or has the ability to assess the strength of the counterclaims againsthim. Under these circumstances the chances for a successful outcome to alternative dispute resolution are slim at best.

Finally, Defendant Webb is neither a corporate party nor a wealthy individual, but an independent artist. As of March 6, 2008, he will have already spent many hundreds of dollars to fly from Chicago twice to attend court hearings. In order for Mr. Webb to be able to justify investing more of his limited time and financial resources in the possibility of settlement, the prospects for productive discussions must be more tangible.
Now comes the best part. My "state of mind." This is so ludicris all I will discuss is my present state of mind. In my state of mind this evening, as I sit here in Philadelphia waiting on a delayed flight back to Chicago. A flight I payed for with my hard earned cash I should be spening on the film. My state of mind is not angry, nor troubled, but grateful. Grateful that I am surrounded by some of the best legal minds in the country.

I am grateful that they have taken my case on and that they believe in my right to fair use and to not be harrassed by the like of those who would stick me up on a whim, deprive me of my right to free speech and commentary on a subject or person by denying those rights granted to me by copyright law.

My state of mind is relaxed, focused and directed to the tasks ahead. Completing the film by any means within reason, planning, fund raising editing. I will have some great news on Monday I think. Things are already in motion.

Maybe my next blog will be on blogging, megalomania and narcissism. Don't worry I won't overlook discussing myself as well.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Back to Boston: Federal Court Part 2 and Akomfrah gets an OBE

I go back to Boston tonight for court, Thursday, March 6, at 1:00 pm. While I have clear ground and am wll within my rights for Fair Use I still have to go through the legal process. As I mentioned before, the court has clearly stated that my use of the materials in my trailer are well with the parameters of Fair Use and are transformative in nature of their use.

Just so we are on the same page, here are the results from court February 15, taken from Justia
Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf: ORDER entered For the reasons stated in court on February 15, 2008, it is hereby ORDERED that:

1. The oral motion for a continuance by plaintiff William V. Aguiar, III ("Aguiar") is DENIED.

2. The Motion to File a Reply Brief (Docket No. 39) by defendants Barron and Wendy Shepherd ("Shepherds") is ALLOWED.

3. Aguiar's Motion to Amend Reports on the Filing of Determination After Action or Appeal Regarding a Copyright (Docket No. 40) is ALLOWED.

4. Aguiar's Motions for Production of Documents (Docket Nos. 43 and 46) and Motion to Compel Discovery (Docket No. 73) are DENIED.

5. The Motion for Inclusion (Docket No. 51) by defendant Radford Davis ("Davis") is MOOT.

6. The Motion to Act as Amicus Curiae or "Friend of the Courts" (Docket No. 65) by Ronald Collins, Jr. is DENIED.

7. Aguiar's Motion to Strike (Docket No. 72) is MOOT.

8. The Motions to Dismiss of the Shepherds (Docket No. 7) and Davis (Docket No. 71) are ALLOWED and the case against them is DISMISSED without prejudice for lack of personal jurisdiction.

9. Aguiar's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Docket No. 3) is DENIED.

10. By February 29, 2008, Aguiar shall either cause counsel to appear on his behalf or file a statement that he will continue toproceed pro se.

11. By 12:00 noon on March 5, 2008, defendant Floyd Webb("Webb") and Aguiar shall file, jointly if possible but individually if necessary, a proposed schedule for this case and a statement of whether they each wish to go to mediation.

12. A scheduling conference will be held on March 6, 2008, at 1:30 p.m. Aguiar and Webb shall attend.

13. By March 14, 2008, Aguiar shall file an amended complaint clearly stating the factual and legal bases for each of his claims against Webb and any other putative defendant, and the grounds for jurisdiction as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. In light of this Order, Aguiar's Motion to Amend the Complaint (Docket No. 23) is MOOT. (O'Leary, Dennis)
That is where we are. My lawyers are filing my proposed schedule for the case and answering the Judge's request to consider mediation.

I have a very interesting interview with a Boston lawyer about an aspect of the film on Friday.
I write about the outcome on Saturday.

I would like to think this is all just about over, but we will see.

And now for some GOOD News, even if it ain't mine.

I heard from a friend and little brother of mine in London, filmmaker John Akomfrah. John just got the Order of the British Empire(OBE). That is some high order royal Pommie action, that is. I get to go to Federal Court and he gets an OBE from Buckingham Palace. Now I know these things are looked at very tongue in cheek, what with the brutal history of British colonialism and what not, but in my book that is like receiving that long lost 40 Acres and a Mule. He should have asked, "...does a diamond mine come with this metal?"

I think he should get the medal just for taking me to this nondescript African joint in London where they served this wonderful grilled fish and plaintain. I taste it everytime I hit Northeast London. Next time I go, I swear, I am finding this place again. Hint Hint, John???

If I am not mistaken this is the thingamajig he gets to wear on the right. I bet this will get him served in certain restaurants, and arrested in the wrong part of town for impersonating an OBE. Oh, the complex urban environments we live in.

Nevertheless, my congratulations to John, a brilliant filmmaker, a great person and all around good guy.

Do I have to say stuff, like 'milord' and bow and have a red carpet on hand for visits now John?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Story Everyone Wants to Know

There were no kung-fu films playing the week of April 23, 1970. Costa Gavras's political thriller Z was playing downtown at Chicago and Michigan. I later saw it at the Playboy Theater. A James Bond film, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," was the closest things to martial arts on screen we were going to get and Jon Voight was starring in "Out of It" at the Cicero Outdoor, a drive-in. Shelly Winters was starring in "Bloody Mama," but I doubt that had any influence on the likes of Dante and the fellows at Black Cobra Hall the night of April 23, 1970.

These were some odds times, the dawn of a new decade with the Vietnam War still raging, 1968 behind us, the Apollo Astronauts were preparing to come to Chicago direct from their recent moon landing and half-Jewish Frank Collin's Nazi Party getting press for being fascist wanna-be's 10 years before his pedophile charges and conviction. He is now a "hyper-diffusionist" with a bevy of women followers who dress in 100% cotton gowns. That has got to be way more fun than hanging with the fellas dancing to neo-Nazi hip-hop. You can't keep a good cult leader down and hanging with women registers as rehabilitation for him in my book but is still pretty much a scumbag in my book, but I digress.

These were the times of the dojo/dragon war. The first warm days of spring, the story everyone wants to know and one I can tell effectively now because James Konsevic will not be just the name of some guy who died.

In all the articles, there are no images of Jim Konsevic, maybe it was because the family would not provide them. Two quotes caught my attention from the newspapers. In Chicago Today:
"In his work, Keehan bills himself as 'the deadliest man in the world.' But he "went over like a ten pin," as one Black Cobra instructor put it, when hit by a whole school of karate students.
What? A man lies dead and they are bragging about multi-teaming Dante? Well there's a message about fair play. And no, no one told Dante to go start stuff at a place where weapons were readily available. This was bad judgement all around.

This part of the film now has all the elements to carry some real meaning. But don't think I am going to discover what one thing sent them over there, what started the fight itself. Ego, drugs, alcohol, bad attitudes? It was a mess that should not have happened so don't expect me to make total sense of it. All I can do is let those involved tell their stories. I am just the conduit for them to do this through.

The Value of Good Research

Today I am prompted to write about the value of good research. Folks in the other camp are making claims that they clearly have not researched. It also clearly indicates how little they really knew about John Keehan.

I have had a lot of people doubt whether he was in the military and this is one of the first issues I dealt with and resolved when I started the film.

No one I spoke to really knew Keehan's full story, not even people close to him. He was different things to different people. Even some of Keehan's closest friend's did not know he was in the military or had any involvement in the Purolator robbery.

Some of this is probably due to his dishonorable discharge from the Army, reportedly two months into his tour of duty, according to his FBI records. These records were released to me under the Freedom of Information Act. Why should he share this particular information? He told Mas Ayoob about it in 1975, before he died.

A letter I received from the National Personnel Records Center indicate John Keehan was clearly in the Marine Corp Reserves, was honorably discharged and then enlisted directly into the US Army.

His FBI records provided me with his service number for the US Army and also reported on the nature of his dishonorable discharge and his behavior during his time in stockade while in the Army.

Fall River continues to attempt to undermine the validity of my research in a way that clearly shows them up as not knowing as much as they claim. There is clearly a problem with reading comprehension, it seems.

To say that Keehan's claim to have armed Castro is bogus is fair enough. I never said I believed him, but I have found some evidence that there was an operation by the US Military to arm the Cuban Revolution in 1959, to hasten the fall of the tyrant and torturer, Fulgenio Batista(descriptions conveniently overlooked when talking about Batista and now aimed at Fidel) who was clearly politically impotent at this point and preparing to flee the country. Even Batista's best friend Meyer Lansky could not convince him to hold on and they all felt betrayed, as if there is ever any honor among thieves.

In seeking to preserve US interest and gain favor with the clearly victorious Castro it makes a certain strategic sense for there to have been an "Operation Water Buffalo."

My corroboration of this story Keehan told to a martial arts magazine can be traced to martial artist Harry Smith, head of the Marine Karate Team that attended the 1964 World Karate Tournament in Chicago at the Coliseum. Smith says he supplied Fidel Castro with arms while Castro was hiding in the Escombray Mountains by concealing them in water holding tanks. Smith says he was also assigned to Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis and Rolando Martinez and was captured at the Playa Giron, (Bay of Pigs). While I have not proved Keehan was involved in the operation I have a source to get an interview from if I need to and he choose to speak with me. He could tell me with some authority that it happened.

I got more fodder for conspiracy theories than I need right here, with Hunt, Sturgis and Martinez all being tied to Watergate and the Kennedy Assassination. Geezusssss I am scaring myself.

It is likely that Castro was perceived as another two-bit South American dictator that would be easily bought out with Swiss Villas and bank accounts. History clearly indicates Castro is an entirely unique individual and was not going to be punked the way Manuel Noreiga of Panama was, or empowered and then thrown to the wolves the way Augusto Pinochet of Chile was.

Keehan may have been been acquiring stories Smith told him and claiming them as his own. But to a national magazine? Hell, I don't know the truth, I try to get close as I can without getting embarrassed if I report it. The best part for me is I get to review a lot of history I learned back in the day and look at fresh with new perspectives. Whatever you say about Fidel, he never had to get used to the taste of ass. Ask Noreiga about that. Most importantly, he never had to be a fall guy like Saddam.

Let's face it, we have allowed our government to make some strange choices of friends. Don't believe me, look at history. I guess Castro was just not the right kind of tyrant, he preferred Cuban beaches to Swiss Villas.

But those Nukes? Castro, dude, bad bad move. Good thing, Nikita Khrushchev was feeling jolly and re-thought that shit. We actually did duck and cover drills in Haines School in Chinatown back then. Where we were, two miles from downtown, we would have been dust in the wind, all mixed up in black rain.

Call me a Castro sympathizer all you like. All I knew back as a child in those days is that Fidel was not standing in the way of my cousins going to school in Georgia, he was not bombing any body's houses for trying to vote and had nothing to do with the death of Emmet Till.

Fidel did not stand by and let Vorster and Smith run roughshod over the South Africans nor did he stand by and allow Mozambique and Angola to fight alone. Che split to Congo to help after Eisenhower signed Patrice Lumumba's death warrant and soon left calling Laurent Kabila a punk on the way out. Quite a few of the Anti-Castro Bay of Pigs guys went after Che in Congo as part of the CIA support, hooking up with the mercenary Mad Mike Hoare. Fidel was welcome in the hood, in Harlem, and if he had come to Chicago.

I know, I know...growing up under racial terror is not exactly an American conversation. But what the hell, deal with it.

Most surprising from the Fall River crew are the online public accusations he makes against a former Illinois Governor, James Thompson. Cutting and pasting a thing found on the internet does not make it true and I want to distance myself from such statements here and now. I am doing my own research and investigations and I do not believe just anything Sherman Skolnick says, and will not report idle rumors and conspiracy theories with no proof whatsoever. I knew Skolnick and he was a lovable conspiracy theorist but I prefer to find them on my own. Skolnick's claims about the Purolator Robbery never found their way to courtroom. Fall River reprinted Skolnick's internet article with no attribution in what I consider an extremely irresponsible manner.

The one person reporting all this stuff was never in Chicago and gets all of his information 4th hand. I have done the research and my conclusions will be based on what I can prove, not what I read by conspiracy theorists online and sounds good. I have so much "good stuff" for the film I can prove that I don't need to include things that compromise the character and reputations of people needlessly and that open me up for yet more litigation.

They know the truth and I don't. Every time they make these claims their aim is to enhance the urban mythology. I am seeking to demystify it in the film and define the person and mythology in a clear sense, with a focus on bringing about a richly researched social history of martial arts.

The film is about more than John Keehan, though he is at the center. It is about more than Fall River, where he spends time before the end. It is about more than Chicago, where he made the majority of his contributions and transgressions.

So in closing I say the work I am doing is no joke. This is a serious endeavor and I will not allow myself or anyone else to trivialize this story. I am wokring to uncover and examine the realities of some serious issues and history revolving around an incredible character, Count Dante.