BERNIE THE BOOKIE: From The Heart of a Gangster

Marshall Frank

By Marshall Frank

Most people who are introduced to my history as a 30-year law enforcement officer in Miami-Dade, Florida, immediately draw a conclusion that I’m a tough guy.

Not true.

I hate guns. Hate fighting. I was terrible at sports. I’m reluctant to call anyone “Sir,” especially those who had not earned the moniker. My six-year nightmare in the U.S. Marine Corps (reserves and active duty) was an exercise in utter misery. Yet, I was able to fake through it.

When people hear that I authored fifteen published books (fiction and non-fiction) and had over one-thousand op-ed articles published in various newspapers, they draw a conclusion that I’m an intellectual.

But I never ever saw myself as an intellectual.

I do not read for recreation, nor anything I don’t want to read. As a kid, books were a bore. Adults accused me of having “ants in his pants.” I flunked high school English, two years in a row. I did not graduate because I rarely attended classes. My tenth-grade English teacher, a humble old woman, didn’t want to see me flunk so she offered me a special assignment to read any fiction book of my choice and write a report citing story-line, characters, plot and publishing details. A month later, the teacher reminded me that my paper was due the next day. Oy!

I had yet to write one word of the assignment. I had no book. With one day to go, I concocted the false title of a book (that never existed) and wrote a detailed story-line with people and places that never existed and character struggles that were totally fictional. I invented the title as I did the name of the publisher, and of course, the characters.

I got an A plus.

Forty years later, some scientific brainiac labelled a new-found psychological condition which replaced “ants in pants” and now called it, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).”

I could not sit still. Neither could I concentrate on classroom learning if it didn’t stimulate. I dreaded boredom.

My mother insisted I learn music, so she bought me a violin. (half-size) She had been a classical pianist as a young girl, but now we were living in a small hotel room on Miami Beach amid the post-war world of thugs and gangsters. No room for a piano. My Italian-born teacher named Atillio Canonico, said I had talent. c. 1947

My mother was also an accomplished dancer. As a twice widowed mother in 1949, she needed a job and began working for a dance studio. As a bonus, I was awarded free lessons. Yes, I learned the art of ballet, tap and Paganini at a young age. My mother had good intentions, but the rough-tough kids in school thought otherwise. At age eleven, I became the repeated subject of a classical bullying campaign. Kids surrounded me in the school yard, chanted dirty names, kicked and punched my face, and took my violin, the case, and my leotard, throwing things in the woods, while I wept.

It was a nightmare.

I pleaded with my mother to let me quit dance school. But I had to continue violin. Apparently, I was lucky to be born with an amazing ear for music.

In 1955, mom remarried her third husband, another former New York gangster known as Bernie the Bookie. He was good to her and to me. What he did in his other life was no business of ours. I was the son he always wished he had. He loved telling me stories, about his friends, Bugsy and Meyer. He’d lay back in his bed, wearing only his underwear, puffing on a cigar despite the oxygen tank on the floor near his bed.

A few years later, at age 20, I knocked up a girl in the back seat of my Pontiac. She was gorgeous. Mom was irate, but we had to get married nevertheless. I needed a regular job, so I asked Bernie if he knew any place where I could play violin in restaurants or maybe, the Miami symphony. That’s when he smirked at me and said, “I’ll tell ya what, kid. You’re gonna be a cop.”

A pall of silence cloaked the room. I was stunned. Bernie smirked, puffing the cigar. He couldn’t get over the startled look on my face.

“Bernie, that’s impossible. I can’t be a cop. Are you kidding? I’ve had some trouble with the law.” (traffic)

“Fuhgettaboutit, kid. You’ll make a good cop. Good pay, good insurance, job security.”

I still had acne pimples. Being a police officer was inconceivable. “Bernie. They’ll never hire me.”

“Yeah they will.”

“How do you know?

Bernie chuckled, like all gangsters chuckle. “Heh. I got connections.”

The rest is history. Of thirty years on the job, sixteen were assigned to Homicide where I rose to the rank of captain. It was important that no one in the department ever knew I had family connections to hard corps mobsters. I worked closely with future Attorney General Janet Reno heading up a most tragic investigation of a black motorcyclist chased down for speeding in the night. When apprehended, the cyclist was beaten and killed by several out-of-control cops. I ended up as arresting officer of five officers. After their acquittal, the Miami riots exploded in May of 1980, leaving 18 innocent people dead.

I was eventually invited to testify before the U.S. Congress in 1980, about crime problems in the United States. I also headed Homicide during the Cocaine Cops investigations, and the arrests of many corrupt officers by federal authorities. Then came the Mariel Boat lift incursion of 125,000 desperate and/or handicapped Cubans fleeing the communist dictatorship headed by Fidel. Bodies were everywhere, every day; car trunks, beaches, Everglades, trash bins and death falls from tall buildings. Miami became the murder capital of the nation, for four years.

Bernie, nor the dirty cops on the job, ever asked me to compromise my position in any legal actions or police issues of any kinds. As far as the department was concerned, I was clean, one of the good guys.

He kept me clean. One day I was chatting with Bernie in his bedroom, as I watched him taking bets on the phone. (Using flash paper…that would vanish by one lit match if the cops raided)

The idea of a little extra money sounded good. “Hey Bernie,” I said. “I know the sporting world, let me make a couple bets on the horses and baseball.”

He turned suddenly sullen. With the cigar gripped in his fingers, he lasered his eyes directly at mine, and took a deep breath. “Let me tell ya something, kid. I do what I do, ’cause I don’t know nuttin’ else. You? You keep your nose clean, and never ask me that question again.”

In March of 1966, while my mother was suffering from brain tumors on the 6th floor of North Miami Hospital, Bernie was dying on the 3rd floor from heart failure. I stood by his bedside and helped him to raise his head, sipping ginger ale from a straw. When I put his glass back on the table, he offered me a blank stare, exhaling his final breath.

I never knew much about his sordid lifestyle from the other side. But I do know I would never have risen to my successes if he hadn’t guided my life.

Thanks, Bernie.

· “Marshall Frank has authored fifteen books, fiction and non-fiction, with more to come. He is probably the most natural crime story writer in the world today.”

— — Christopher Douglas, Author, Publisher, founder of Authorpaedia

An extension of this story is available in Frank’s book of memoirs, From Violins to Violence. Frank can be reached via his web site: www.marshallfrank.com

More details about Marshall Frank at: Marshall Frank — AUTHORPÆDIA

Marshall Frank retired as a 30-year police captain from Miami-Dade, mostly homicides. Author of 15 books. www.marshallfrank.com

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “NEWS OF THE WORLD” – 8.5

 

“NEWS OF THE WORLD” – 8.5

 

In a word:  Heroic

 

That “In a Word” refers mostly to the main character deftly played by Tom Hanks, in which the former Civil War captain starts out in a low-key role that lulls the audience until he inadvertently meets up with a lost and fumbling little blonde-haired girl who had been left behind by her adopted Indian Tribe.  Now a travelling preacher/teacher of sorts, Hanks tries many times to leave the mute child with another adult family on the prairie, but her behavior and absence of communication leaves prospective adopters at a loss, thus returning the rejected child back to Hanks, again and again.

     The movie depicts a myriad of struggles, besides the harsh elements in the Texas prairies of 1870 in which the rugged old man and the child face death, destruction, starvation and violent criminals along the way. The two eventually bond which brings the viewer into their hearts.

     This captivating film shows us the profound morality of a returned old military man who becomes a lifesaver for a ten-year old child. The scenic photography in this movie is spectacular from all angles. Hanks, a top-rate actor throughout his career, will undoubtedly be nominated for an Oscar.

     The attention given to the child actress will captivate all audiences, as this young girl, now 12, rises to a level for child acting rarely seen in our lifetimes. Her real name is Helena Zengel, who originally hailed from Germany.  She received various accolades in Europe for her 2019 role in the foreign film, System Crasher, for which she won four Best Actress awards. I foresee her not only being nominated for best supporting actress in this film, she will win.

     Rated PG. There is a scene or two with profanity but it’s not rife. The viewer is also provided a few scenes involving violence, pain and suffering.

     A slow start will bring some ratings down, but the storyline is too emotionally powerful not to give it a high rating.

I give this movie 8.5 out of 10.

News of the World (2020) – IMDb

 

A point of trivia:  What do the following movie titles have in common?   “Sully” … “Saving Private Ryan” … “Captain Phillips” … “Apollo 13” …“News of the World.”  Main stars are all cast as a current or prior military Captain by…(Drum roll please)… Tom Hanks.

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “MANK” – 7.0

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “MANK” – 7.0

 

In a word:  Boring

 

Different strokes for different folks, as they say.  Some people will love this movie, others will walk out at the halfway point.

     In a nutshell, the movie centers on the true-life misery, talent and wit of famed screenwriter, Herman J. Mankiewicz (aka Mank) who was also well known as an unabashed alcoholic.  Played by journeyman actor, Gary Oldman, the plot (if you call it that) centers on the Oldman character, in which he staggers and slurs from scene to scene among the Hollywood elite, including Orson Welles, who was to be the primary actor in the eventually released 1941 blockbuster, “Rosebud.” It would eventually become the signature role for Welles.

     First, the reader here must know that yours truly is in the minority among most reviews of this film, which frequently takes place in Mank’s bed passing out or recovering from a hangover. Matter of fact, there are hardly any scenes which depict Mank pecking on a typewriter, nor does he spend time dictating dialogue to his secretary, who does most of his typing.  That might beg the question; who really wrote the actual screenplay? (stay tuned, that’s coming)

     I was first impressed that the movie is deftly based in a late 1930’s backdrop, presented totally in black and white. That worked great for Schindler’s List, but it slowed down to a crawl in Mank.

      Scene by scene the viewer must discern the constant drone of dialogue, which could probably have been edited for brevity, and still keep the movie of interest.

     I’ve oft complimented Gary Oldman’s acting talents, which now cover a period of nearly 40 years, winning many awards, including an Oscar in 2018 for Darkest Hour, playing Winston Churchill. He now has another six movies in production or pending release.

     It should be noted that Mank did apparently complete the manuscript for Rosebud and eventually shared an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay with Orson Welles.

     This is not a great movie for anyone with Attention Deficit Disorder, because the viewer will tend to wander (mentally). The acting is very good among the entire cast, as are many other aspects of the film, i.e. period and backdrop details, photography, etc.

     I give this film a 7.0 out of 10

Mank (2020) – IMDb

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “HILLBILLY ELEGY” – 10.

“Hillbilly Elegy”  10

 

In a word: Powerful

The movie was based on the non-fiction book of the same title, authored by one of the main characters who actually drives the story, J.D. Vance.

     To begin, we must acknowledge the awesome array of class A actors, each of whom played a critical role in the film. These could not have been easy roles to play. Any of the primary cast members could be worthy nominations and/or Oscar awards, to and including Best Director, Ron Howard.

     The movie is set in two complicated periods of life first in the squalor within Kentucky in the 1990s and then Ohio later on.

     J.D. Vance is a trouble youngster (approx. age 12) constantly searching for acceptance and love in a dysfunctional family that can barely stand each other. The movie flips back and forth from this boys struggle at age 12 to his mid-twenties trying to earn credits to attend college, only to be set back over and over, facing critical episodes of survival when his drug-addicted mother goes off the rails.

     That role belongs to one of the finest actresses now or ever, Amy Adams, who clearly struggles with mental health challenges exacerbated by drugs and alcohol, and whose actions keep the rest of the family in a down spiral.

     The Mammaw role, the rural grandmother to J.D. and his sister, is deftly played by journeywoman Glenn Close, clearly one of her greatest performances ever. I’d say she’s a lock for best supporting actress.

     The main role of J.D. Vance is played (as a young man) by Gabriel Basso, who offers quite a resume, but unknown to me until this movie. He, too, could be nominated for an Oscar.

     Beware: This movie can generate a flow of tears, especially for those who have survived family dysfunction, pain, love and loss.

     Be prepared for a few scenes of violence and a smattering of foul language that fits the story. Much like I wrote in my last review of “Let Him Be,” this is an acting lesson for and by the main characters.

     Director Ron Howard will likely be nominated for Best Director.

     It terms of pure art in the world of movie making, this movie is worthy of a 10.

Afterthought: I do have partialities when it comes to actors. Do I think Amy Adams is one of the great (not just beautiful) actresses of all time?  Guilty!

Hillbilly Elegy (2020) – IMDb

 

NPR Interview with J.D. Vance: 
‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Recalls A Childhood Where Poverty Was ‘The Family Tradition’ : NPR

THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT

Theyrrr herre…

 Patrisse Cullors, mentioned in various published articles about leftist politics in America, is the Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter…well known as a devout Marxist. (easily verified).  Fellow co-founder Alicia Garza, openly admits her alliance as a devout Marxist as well.

These are not secrets. They get support from the highest of levels.  

The Marxist clan who lead Black Lives Matter have an extreme agenda which is pointed out in the articles linked below.  No surprise, I’ve studied her and her other co-founders, also Marxists. In political circles it is well-known. This is what Communists have been promising for the last half century…divide and conquer. In another few years, we just might be seeing a full-blown revolution.  When that happens, it’s Bye-Bye to the U.S. Constitution. There will be no turning back.

 According to a recent issue of News Break: 

      George Soros has given Black Lives Matter and the Antifa related revolutionary movement more than $100 million dollars. The Soros run Open Society Foundations is on record with giving Black Lives Matter $33 million dollars this year alone. This is in concert with an array of funding for a variety of Democrat and DNC related left-wing groups across the country.

What’s amazing is how certain organizational elements in America, and private individuals, support their agenda without realizing the ultimate consequences if they succeed. I’m sure many people are well-meaning, but they are also being used, exploited and brainwashed.  Here’s a revealing link about their objectives…and they’ve only just begun.

Black Lives Matter founder calls for Biden to abolish prisons – TheBlaze

George Soros gave Black Lives Matter and Antifa over $100 Million dollars | News Break