Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Count Dante and Incredibly Strange Wrestling

His name is Bob Calhoun and he is also known as Count Dante, west Coast rock and roll star. He is an extraordinary writer who has collaborated with Gene LaBell on his biography and written for numerous online publications.

His new book, Beer, Blood, and Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling was just released last month and I have been having a great time reading it.

Bob spent seven years of his life living deep inside one of San Francisco's bizarre counter cultures, The Incredibly Strange Wrestling League(ISW) and lived to tell about it. ISW featured a cast of lucha libre-inspired characters who would step into a makeshift ring and battle it out, while bands like NOFX, the Dickies, and the Donnas provided the live soundtrack.

Fight spectacles included bizarre wrestlers likethe Ku Klux Klowns in heated battle against Hasidic Jews, and a flock of Christians being "fed" to the lions. Count Dante would battle the Poontangler over paternity of her soon to arrive baby. It was some way out stuff wrote with humour, affection and a keen eye for the absurd detail and histories of all involved.

Meanwhile, I got some great assistance in England from a young man name Karl Kraft.who wants to help me with the film. So he had designed some posters to be distributed to Dojos tracking down people for stories about buying the World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets. I have a way to record stories about the buying the book online.

Some of video testimonies will be included in the film and others will be in a section of the new website that is presently under construction.

Things are moving forward. We are back in court May 9th. Aguiar notified the court he would continue to act Pro Se, on his own behalf, asked for a jury trial and said he is open to mediation.

The film moves forward....

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Hall of Kung-Fu: McVicker's Masters

I was walking down Madison Street past the site of the old McVickers Theater at 25 West. In the 70s the McVick was where we got to see triple-feature Kung Fu and Blaxploitation films for $1.50 and $2.00. In the 1980s I would have an office in the Chicago Building on State and Madison.

I ran into yet another acquaintance from those martial arts days. George, whose name I did not remember, reminded me about how people would get into fights during these really badly done films. The excitement was just too much for some people, it seems.

We called the joint McVicker's Masters Hall of Gung-fu back in those days. Some folks came to see the films, some came to be IN the films. The inherent contradictions were sometimes resolved by a beat-down. "Southside Boxing" tended to reign supreme in those situations. No real masters hung out at Kung-fu movies all day, right?

There were few of these Hong Kong films I grew to love. I liked 5 fingers of Death, but it was more for the curiosity than quality. It was not until Brice Lee came along that the action got more exciting and stylish in Hong Kong films for my taste.

I was wild about the chambara films presented at the monthly Japanese Cinema screenings. Omar Kaihatsu, a Japanese American Insurance salesman, did the programming at Francis Parker High School , an independent private school on the North Side that had 35mm projectors in the auditorium.

Kaihatsu-san played the best of the Samurai Cinema as well as classic Japanese arts films and family films like Tora-San. I usually had to sit through the occasionally enjoyable, tear-laden Toro-san film series to get to Zatoichi's madcap bloodletting adventures.

This is where I saw Kurosawa's Sanshiro Sugata and Masaki Kobayashi's Samurai Rebellion.

I saw Shohei Imamura's Vengence is Mine and Hiroshi Teshigahara's Woman in the Dunes, all are films that influenced the ways in which I saw and interpreted cinema.

I was always disappointed that the Hong Kong films of the late seventies never matched the Japanese action films in look and feel. What was great about them was the scene itself. I got a real education and introduction to global cinema by going to Kaihatsu's programs. By the time Hong Kong Kung-fu came along I was throughly jaded by the stylizes images and well choreographed action of chambara.

Our conversation went back to who is still working out, teaching, alive and sane. Of course the name John Keehan arises, per usual. He asks me if I heard about this film being done about Count Dante. I guess the word is really out.

He gave me the names of some people to talk to and went on his way, but not before offering me his provate detective services should I so need them in future.

Meanwhile I have been hearing of a black Shao-lin Society based someplace on the Southside. They held an event a few months ago and I am a bit curious about them. From the description I got of the event they seem to practice a type of cultural immersion. It will be interesting to find out more about them. I put George right on it.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Note From Master Woodrow Edgell

The following letter from Reverand Woodrow Edgell is in response to claims made on the Fall River Black Dragon Fighting Society Blog regarding Master Joe Dodaro. Mr. Edgell was a long time student of John Keehan who split with him when he became Count Dante. Edgell is Joe Dodaro's teacher and they were both student of Shaolin Poison Hand Master James Lee(not James Yimm Lee) in Chicago's Chinatown when few non-Asians were accepted for training. My whole purpose with my film is to present an accurate history of John Keehan and the world of martials arts in Chicago and America during the 1960s to mid-1970s. The following letter from Rev Edgell is a great help in doing that.

April 2, 2008

Floyd Webb,

A person studies Martial Arts for protection, health and to understand his purpose in life. A Master will only advance him to a high-level if he believes the student has good intentions and respect for the Art. When the student becomes a Master, he takes on great responsibility and sets a good example for his students.

Credentials and reputation are what makes the Master successful. I have been with Joseph Dodaro for forty years, I watched him take his Sandan (third degree black belt) in Aikido after thirteen years of hard study. Joe and I studied Aikido for several years together and Joe was advanced to Yodan (fourth degree black belt) after twenty-five years.

We both studied under Grandmaster Hsu Fun Yuen for several years and I witnessed him receiving his level of Master after twenty years. I helped him open his first school and taught some classes. He was required to teach for five years and have over 100 students each year before he was given his certificate. I have advanced Joe to sixth degree black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate and Grandmaster James Lee advanced him to Master of Shaolin Chuan-Fa.

Joe is the only one I taught the entire system of Shaolin Chuan-Fa, Shaolin Kempo Karate and Ju-Te. I gave Joe permission twenty years ago to run the Ju-Te system and he has taught it to only a selected few over the past twenty years. Once I retire Joe will be the sole Master and hold all rights to the Edgell Ju-Te system in the United States. He has taken many styles to great levels and never used his skills in an unlawful way. He is hard working, honest, and is successful in business.

It hurts to see people foolishly say he is not real, they have no idea of his dedication and the cost he has incurred. He is being judged entirely by his performance a You Tube video of basic techniques.

It has come to my attention that people have high rank in Ju-Te, the system I created, and it is a combination of Aikido, Jujitsu, and Karate. I did not give them rank and do not know who these people are. The only rank I gave out was about five first-degree black belts in my school. I taught Ju-Te for only five years and gave John Keehan a black belt in Ju-te and kibo. I was a sixth degree black belt in Ju-Te because I based it on my Karate rank. When I met Grandmaster James Lee I dedicated all my time in Shaolin Chuan-Fa a more superior Art than Ju-Te.

The main reason students of John Keehan never knew John studied from Grandmaster James Lee was because one of the conditions to be excepted by James Lee was it must be kept behind closed doors. John was wealthy and went to James Lee and paid him a tremendous amount of money to learn. I on the other hand was beaten for two weeks to pass a test to be accepted as a student. I found out later from one of James Lee’s six disciples that John had no test. Chinese Masters did not teach Americans at that time. I found out recently not even Doug Dwyer was not aware that John and I were studying under Grandmaster James Lee. Besides the fact that John had to follow James Lee’s rules, he felt as a businessman that students would go to James Lee instead of him. John trained in one of a more beginning system of Poison Hands and he transferred them to a Karate version because although the original version that I learned is more effective, it does not have the flash John needed to make himself look more deadly.
John did not want to be thrown, use chokes, or practice takedowns, only use fast strikes, while ripping and clawing his victim. James Lee was against John doing his book, because it had techniques that can be related to his system, and expose James Lee as his teacher. John’s short career ended with James Lee when he received unfavorable publicity.

I stayed on for several more years and completed the Shaolin Chuan-Fa System with the Deadly Poison Hands. I was allowed to work with James Lee’s disciples, three liked me and three hated me, but since James Lee accepted me, they followed his orders. When James Lee advanced Joe to Master of Shaolin Chuan-Fa, he make it clear that Joe was my responsibility for life. He said Joe and I were to continue our training with Hsu, Fun Yuen and that Joe must attain a level of Master In Tai Ji.

Joe was at Master Level with Hsu Fun Yuen, but did not receive his certificate yet. Joe was told not to say anything about James Lee or teach the Poison Hands advance levels. After twenty years in secret, he then elected to release the first five at a basic level. I disagreed that he did this, but he explained it was for Law Enforcement and only the first Five at a basic level were released. It took a few years, but I agreed because of how Joe was presenting his system. The system also included health, KI, and promoted long term study.

When John Keehan was teaching students to fight mainly in tournaments, he had the top winners in the nation. Black Belt Magazine recognized him as one of the best Karate instructors. He had an excellent style with many great fighters. When he became Count Dante, he organized the Black Dragon Fighting Society and taught a more mixed Martial Arts Style. Black Belts disapproved this new system and began to leave his organization. He lost his intensity as a teacher, and changed his life style. I did not want any part of the Black Dragons, or Count Dante, but stayed loyal to John Keehan. I always would teach classes for him when he needed me, but at that time I had my own school and style.

I have the responsibility to watch over Joe and want to see his name cleared up. He has worked full-time over the past thirty-eight years, this is not a part-time job, and it is his life. I do not care about the problems of the Black Dragons, nor do I want to argue with them. Joe approached me about contacting you to be in the Documentary film, I was against it because all the problems with Count Dante and I felt it would open a can of worms. He felt that we just show the good John Keehan by stating a secret that has been kept for over thirty years. If people knew he studied under an actual Shaolin Warrior Monk, it would bring great pride to his students and give him the respect he deserves. Joe also felt it would benefit me to have some recognition for all the years I studied the Arts, and help promote his Poison Hands. I are not trying to argue with anyone, only stating the truth. I will repeat this at an interview, but as you know I do not do well speaking live. A simple solution to end all controversy is success.

Thank You for your time
Master Woodrow Edgell

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Recent research developments.

Plans for several more interviews have solidified for this weekend and over the next month.
I have a childhood friend and a relative of Dante's to speak with as well as a scholar who has written on martial arts and popular culture.

It has been hard to get an interview arranged in Japan with Akira Toriyama, creator, writer and illustrator of the Dragonball Z manga series. He seldom gives interviews.

I may be able to score an interview with one of the producers at Toei Animation in Tokyo. There is a character in DragonBall Z, Mr. Satan, or Hercules, who seems to be styled after Count Dante, cape, afro and specially carved facial hair. The appeal of the comic add is definitely the key to the global awareness of the legend.

The additional interviews will allow me to flesh out my themes and give substance to the idea of an urban legend who has achieved a global underground notoriety.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Defamation has it's own repercussions

Personally, I could care less what is said about me by people who oppose my making The Search for Count Dante because I refuse to paying them a blackmail fee for their attempts at copyright abuse. It has been clearly show in open court and stated by a Federal Judge I have the legal protection of Fair Use even if they ever did prove copyright over anything. They have not done so to date.

What bothers me is that individuals seek to slander and defame the names of others who are cooperating with me in the making of this film.

John Creeden III, crony and allie of William Aguiar, has continually slandered and insulted people I have written about in my blog. He uses his blog to attempt to undermine me in his deluded sense of megalomania. Like children, they seek to destroy what they cannot have. Of late they have launched unprovoked attacks on Master Joe Dodoro. This stuff has to stop.

Dodaro has doe nothing to them said nothing about them. Dodaro is a professional martial arts instructor and a successful, respected businessman. It is shameful of Creeden to constantly annoy people in order to attempt to disrupt the making of the film. It is not working.

They merely react to undermine to attempt to impose their own inflated sense of importance over a historical period of martial arts that they were not even involved in.

Creeden can claim free speech all he wants but people like Sue Scheff have won as much a s$11 million in a jury verdict "...for damages of what was done to my organization, my family and myself by an angry and obsessed woman. I fought back - I won." she reports.

He thinks there is no possible repercussion for his actions. This is so foolish. I am breaking my silence to speak about this because I feel really bad about Joe being drawn into this mess. I was silent when he Creeden attacked Lawrence Day, and Mike Felkoff. I am not being silent now.

It was agreed in Judges chambers that this crap would stop. William Aguiar asked for it to stop, not me. I am not nor have I ever been an instigator of this online harassment and defamation. My only "crime" has been to stand up against this illegal blackmail related to their attempts to abuse copyright, in my opinion.

Creeden attempts to stifle and make me reluctant to write about my experiences or people I come in contact with in the course of making the film or fear of the spin that he will use against them. He seeks to stifle my free speech by making me fearful of his idiocy. Too bad for him. All is well and the film is being made. I am using what I am allowed to under fair use and that is the end of that. He can call me a thief, crook, whatever all he wants. He can threaten me with alledged hitmen named "Just Ray" and wish me ill health all he wants. That does not change the my right to Fair Use.

Creeden, most likely with Aguiar's knowledge, seek to slander and defame people who are more qualified, more experienced than they are out of spite, jealously and some weird sense of entitlement because their dad's knew John Keehan 35 years ago. I mean, they are like the Scientologists of martial arts with no following, just a computer and an internet connection. They really believe there are few repercussions for their actions. Read the following related to Ms Scheff's case.

"A recent case showed how powerful Defamation laws, applied online, can be. In November 2006, a Florida woman, Sue Scheff, was awarded $11.3 million in damages in Broward County Circuit Court, in one of the biggest awards ever tolled. The suit was filed for Internet defamation, and the jury found a Louisiana woman had posted caustic messages against the Scheff and her company, claiming she was a "con artist" and "fraud". The jury found the charges were completely false, so the Louisiana woman had no defense. Interestingly, Scheff's attorney had offered to settle the case for $35,000 before it went before the jury."

Kelly O'Connell, IBLS Editor
Understanding Internet Defamation
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Creeden's crap online in archived forever in the history of the internet. I will not discuss this again online. Let the chips fall where they may. I cannot be stopped, nothing Creeden says will stop the completion of this film and his attacks on other people will only further confirm his lack of class and intelligence.

I don't think this entry will change Creeden's behavior. I am saying what I need to say in order to let the people who have helped me in the project with information with kindness and courtesy know that I oppose this kind of behavior that Creeden is directing at them.

I expect Creeden will find something else stupid to say after he sees this post, in all the predictable ways.

I apologize to my lawyers, but I can't allow this guy to just attack people who merely gave me an interview or who have just tried to help in the making of the film. Something had to be said.