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Murder at the club 365---Do the Houdini
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 Posted: Wed Jun 30th, 2021 04:20 pm
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fasstrack
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After reading (and re-reading) T. J. English's riveting account of the grisly doings of the once-powerful and very violent West Side gang known as the Westies I decided that their doings should be chronicled in a long musical piece. Black humor might leaven it somewhat, take away some of the horror.

'Do the Houdini' was gang leader Jimmy Coonan's expression for making a body 'disappear': 'No corpus delecti, no investigation'.

One site of what the song alludes to, the Gemini Lounge in Brooklyn, was a joint I actually performed in with a horrible group, ca 1978---contemporaneous with what was going on upstairs. When I found out what went on---years later--my little joke was 'While we were murdering music downstairs....'

For this one I envision a gangster dance (a la Kiss Me, Kate's Brush up Your Shakespeare)---hey, DO THE HOUDINI!

Do the Houdini Joel Fass (c) 2021 Exemplar (ASCAP)

(Chorus) Do the Houdini, no corpus delecti,
No investigation---nothing to fear
When you do the Houdini---and make 'em disappear!

It's business, nothin' personal
Won't be breakin'---our hearts
To slice and dice anyone, anytime
Then 'redistribute' the parts

(V 1) Little Ricky Tasselio,
He didn't pay up what he owed
So one fine day we called on Ricky
And made his head explode
And then we

(chorus 2) Did the Houdini
With shiny filet knives,
Bagged him up nice and tight
Then went home to our wives

(V2) Old Ruby Stein, the 'juiceman',
We knew his black book'd be of use
So we did a little 'extracting'.
Now Ruby got no more juice!

And then we

(Chorus 3) Did the Houdini,
Took off his head and hands,
Then worked hard for so
Many more hours
To tear out his torso

Do the Houdini,
Do the Houdini,
The dirty deed need not be traced
C'mon do the Houdini,
To be rid of the mug you just erased

Do the Houdini
That West Side dancing craze
C’mon, do the Houdini
The dance that’s done with guns ablaze
(Gangster dance begins)

To be continued...

Last edited on Wed Jun 30th, 2021 11:10 pm by fasstrack



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 Posted: Wed Jun 30th, 2021 09:51 pm
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A particularly gruesome part of the saga is when Coonan instructs the gang on proper dissection etiquette.

Thus, this solo turn (also just started):

The Lesson Joel Fass © 2021 Exemplar (ASCAP)

(Verse): Gather ‘round, you mugs, and take heart
I got some important dope to impart:
It’s that when you take a body apart
My friends, well there’s an ART!:

Use a saw to remove his craw
Or, I should mentch: a handy wrench
To disembaw-el we use an awl
A filet knife, with ease tears off the knees
A pocket knife, I suppose
Is the best tool to hack off the toes
And a sponge must be used to clean
Any evidence of spleen

But the thing I must most make clear:
When you’re done he gotta DISAPPEAR!
That’s the most important lesson
Pay attention, or you may be confessin’

Chorus): So listen, boys, to me:
When on a killing spree
You got to do the right thing
Or be whacked too, and so fast it's fright'ning
Or, worse, have to cop a plea
Way worse, lads, to cop a plea!


(Gang): Our leader’s teaching us
How to take apart some unlucky cuss
‘Cause if the job we muss
The next ones might be us!
And no one wants to be ‘us’!

Last edited on Tue Jul 13th, 2021 11:40 pm by fasstrack



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 Posted: Wed Jun 30th, 2021 09:58 pm
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fasstrack
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I'm hardly the 1st guy to try to dig for humor and itemize details in grisly murders: one of Lorenz Hart's last lyrics was about how a (presumably wealthy) widow eliminated all her ex-husbands. The ironic title: To Keep My Love Alive...

Last edited on Wed Jun 30th, 2021 10:41 pm by fasstrack



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 Posted: Wed Jun 30th, 2021 11:27 pm
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A bizarre twist in the real story: Ruby's torso washed up at Rockaway Beach after his body parts were dumped in the brisk waters off Ward's Island. Seems Coonan forgot that hearts and lungs inflate. Ruby's did, and the torso surfaced and was identified by a scar---leading eventually to Coonan being charged and convicted for the murder.

(A protagonist I haven't gotten to yet, Mickey Featherstone, 'sang' an opera to save his own skin from heavy time and b/c he believed Coonan and others set him up to take a rap for a murder he was innocent of committing)...

Last edited on Thu Jul 1st, 2021 11:21 am by fasstrack



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 Posted: Thu Jul 1st, 2021 07:28 am
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That's a wild ride, Joel!

To me it does feel like it has an over the top, theatrical flair to it, which should help with the humour.
I imagine this more like a stage show than a recording. Perhaps with blood and sausages flying all over the place.

If this is in a series of songs, or within a long single musical piece then this may not be the start, but it does seem like it could use a little setup to establish a context before going to town. The 2 lines summary of your intro comments!



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 Posted: Thu Jul 1st, 2021 11:16 am
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RainyDayMan wrote:
That's a wild ride, Joel!

To me it does feel like it has an over the top, theatrical flair to it, which should help with the humour.
I imagine this more like a stage show than a recording. Perhaps with blood and sausages flying all over the place.

If this is in a series of songs, or within a long single musical piece then this may not be the start, but it does seem like it could use a little setup to establish a context before going to town. The 2 lines summary of your intro comments!
It was gonna be an instrumental suite originally. But I just couldn't resist putting words in these guys' mouths---especially since they were already there in the book---'found' material.

Now I'm thinking musical, and the dark instrumental material starting to formulate would serve as an overture and repeated motif. Just dark, Schoenberg-like stuff to go with the dark doings. The relief will come from the gallows humor in the lyrics.

Instructing a gang in dismember 'etiquette'? Too sick! (At least the victims don't get eaten in pies, a la Sweeney Todd!)...



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 Posted: Thu Jul 1st, 2021 11:37 am
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Oh yeah! A musical is just the ticket!



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 Posted: Thu Jul 1st, 2021 12:46 pm
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RainyDayMan wrote:
Oh yeah! A musical is just the ticket!With singing; tap-dancing bad guys!

Now I'm thinking of a macabre song and dance for the murdered---let them tell their stories, plot revenge from the beyond...



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 Posted: Thu Jul 1st, 2021 04:51 pm
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Following up on that last thought: the ghosts of the murdered form a chorus line to sing and dance of their plots of revenge:

Getting Even Joel Fass © 2021 Exemplar (ASCAP)

Ballad

(Verse---the dead): You killed us, and not with kindness
I bet you think the dead are mindless
Well, damn you! We got minds and feelings too
So here’s what we’re gonna do:


Gonna get even---for what you done
Even, every last one---of us is
Running on fumes of revenge
And now’s the time to avenge!

Even though we’re long dead, lying still and quiet
There comes a time to rise up and run riot
See, what will hurt you the most
Is damage caused by hidden ghosts

(Ruby) Said ‘I’m your friend’---then turned on me
Well, now it’s my turn, and with wicked glee
Gonna give you yours, lowlife punk
Cut off your head---and then your trunk
Shoot you bang! Right in the spine
Lop off your limbs, like you did mine
And the best part of all for me:
No way they can charge a guy they can't see !

And then, oh what better chance
To do our vengeful, macabre dance? (c’mon, dead!)

(They dance)


(To be continued)...

Last edited on Sun Jul 4th, 2021 06:53 pm by fasstrack



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 Posted: Fri Jul 2nd, 2021 08:28 am
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That sounds cool!



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 Posted: Sun Jul 11th, 2021 03:51 pm
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Next up: They cut up the bodies and drained the blood upstairs from the Gemini Lounge. So what else could I call the piece but:

GEMINI LUNGE

Coming soon to a post near you...



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 Posted: Sun Jul 11th, 2021 04:05 pm
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Also, I haven't dealt yet with a key protagonist: Mickey Featherstone---sort of Sammy the Bull to Coonan's Gotti.

He came back from Nam a damaged human, and that's when the acting out and violence began. Mental hospital confinements and the beating by his lawyer of a murder rap with the insanity defense.

But when he felt Coonan and the rest set him up for a murder beef he was innocent of, and was looking at a looong stretch, he flipped---turned state's evidence.

He needs a solo turn to sing of betrayal and disappearing from the West Side into Witness Protection. I have an earlier song that, with a few adjustments, might fit the bill:


LEAVIN’
Joel Fass © Exemplar 2006 (ASCAP)
(Whistled melody intro)
(Sung): Long ago when the music first played---said I’d
Stay forever, that was
Then---but today I’m
Leavin’---this
Place I love
Leavin’---because I’m

Longin’ to lie in the shade---a
Change of scene would be like
Cool lemonade
Leavin’, for this dream won’t go

It’s been rainin’ too
Hard too long
So, my friends
One last song
Raise the glass and sing along!

And though I’m grievin’, for I’ll miss you so
It just won’t work out---
I just have to go
Grievin’---but it’s time to go
Leavin’!
(Instr. solos)

In a moment I’ll rise again
Find a friend, start a trend
Hear the music play and then:

Just maybe someday I’ll be back this way
I’ll see my love---I might even stay
Someday---but I’ve got to go!
(rit.) Leavin’

(Whistle)

Fine’


Here's the sheet music w/lyric:

Attachment: leavinfixed.pdf (Downloaded 1 time)

Last edited on Sun Jul 11th, 2021 04:07 pm by fasstrack



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 Posted: Sun Jul 11th, 2021 04:11 pm
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If he sings it to the city (as I was writing about before I left in '07) it could work. He never lived elsewhere. Then a righteous betrayal song to dovetail with...



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 Posted: Sun Jul 11th, 2021 11:02 pm
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You're on a roll, Joel!



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 Posted: Sun Jul 11th, 2021 11:44 pm
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RainyDayMan wrote:
You're on a roll, Joel!

We, um, sushi...



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 Posted: Mon Jul 12th, 2021 08:56 pm
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Just started the dark theme for the end of Ruby Stein. For now the title is Extractions of Ruby.

In keeping with my favoring gallows humor to leaven horrible doings I took the nice old chestnut Ruby (recorded memorably by Ray Charles) and disguised the 1st few bars---just enough to stop short of plagiarism---with contrary motion counterpoint very unlike the real changes, then wrapped it up with jarring chords played ff.

Like Ruby was wrapped up. I hope more than the torso of my work is discovered (;



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 Posted: Tue Jul 13th, 2021 05:29 pm
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It's gruesome and I can totally picture this working as a musical. I don't think I could stomach it any other way. But with some singing and dancing, it could be entertaining.

It's coming together nicely. Going to watch your progress :)



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 Posted: Tue Jul 13th, 2021 11:27 pm
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Andrea wrote:
It's gruesome and I can totally picture this working as a musical. I don't think I could stomach it any other way. But with some singing and dancing, it could be entertaining.

It's coming together nicely. Going to watch your progress :)
A guy on another site said he would pass on T.J. English's book b/c the thought of blood made him sick. 'But good luck with the score!'

I told him 'Funny, that's what THEY were about---the score'.

RIMSHOT...



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 Posted: Tue Jul 13th, 2021 11:28 pm
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fasstrack wrote:
Just started the dark theme for the end of Ruby Stein. For now the title is Extractions of Ruby.

In keeping with my favoring gallows humor to leaven horrible doings I took the nice old chestnut Ruby (recorded memorably by Ray Charles) and disguised the 1st few bars---just enough to stop short of plagiarism---with contrary motion counterpoint very unlike the real changes, then wrapped it up with jarring chords played ff.

Like Ruby was wrapped up. I hope more than the torso of my work is discovered (;
Working on Ruby's theme today. It's DARK. I need a funny title...



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 Posted: Tue Jul 13th, 2021 11:34 pm
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fasstrack wrote:
Following up on that last thought: the ghosts of the murdered form a chorus line to sing and dance of their plots of revenge:

Getting Even Joel Fass © 2021 Exemplar (ASCAP)

Ballad

(Verse---the dead): You killed us, and not with kindness
I bet you think the dead are mindless
Well, damn you! We got minds and feelings too
So here’s what we’re gonna do:


Gonna get even---for what you done
Even, every last one---of us is
Running on fumes of revenge
And now’s the time to avenge!

Even though we’re long dead, lying still and quiet
There comes a time to rise up and run riot
See, what will hurt you the most
Is damage caused by hidden ghosts

(Ruby) Said ‘I’m your friend’---then turned on me
Well, now it’s my turn, and with wicked glee
Gonna give you yours, lowlife punk
Cut off your head---and then your trunk
Shoot you bang! Right in the spine
Lop off your limbs, like you did mine
And the best part of all for me:
No way they can charge a guy they can't see !

And then, oh what better chance
To do our vengeful, macabre dance? (c’mon, dead!)

(They dance)


(To be continued)...
Seems to me this would dovetail nicely with Mickey Featherstone's show-stopper betrayal number. Mickey's Turn?

Why not? He cheers them on, then:

'...Everything's comin' up state's evidence...'...



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