Racketeer Finance

The “old” Atlantic City — long before casinos and NJ Governor Christie’s initiatives — had a financial code and structure that may not have been legal, but kept the bottom line healthy. Town boss Nucky Johnson ran the rackets and reigned as financial czar, enriching himself (and associates) and returning modest chunks of the loot to the poor.

For a sense of the downside of that system, visit this video here highlighting my novel “Brother’s Keeper.”

— Jim Waltzer

Brother’s Keeper By Jim Waltzer

Brother’s Keeper By Jim Waltzer

By Jim Waltzer

The popular HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” which will soon present fresh episodes on the small screen, is based on the Atlantic City history of the same name by Nelson Johnson, a superior court judge in Atlantic City. Mr. Johnson compiled research from numerous interviews and archival written materials to produce the most complete and penetrating account of the seashore town’s political history. The TV series captures the spirit of those rollicking vintage days along the Boardwalk, admittedly embellishing fact with entertaining fiction.

My novel “Brother’s Keeper” (on Amazon and Barnes&Noble) shares some of that timeline, as it presents the racial conflict between a black dishwasher and a white man of means, wrapped around a quirky murder mystery. It was a time when the indigenous and seasonal African-American population in Atlantic City provided the services that kept the town running, and a time rich with the color of the Roaring 20s.

If you’re headed down the shore this summer, fix one eye on the towering casino-hotels, the other on Atlantic City’s past of ornate architecture and ruling racketeers. And ride at least one wave for me (and maybe a rolling chair, too).


Brother’s Keeper By Jim Waltzer


The finest shot on the planet at a time when marksmanship was prized as an international sport (second half of 19th century) was one William Frank “Doc” Carver, friend of Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody — so say both the dime novels and authentic newspaper documentation. After establishing his dominance, Carver teamed with Cody to form the first large-scale Wild West show. But as an entrepreneur and personality, Cody was superior. He became the icon, Carver a footnote.

But Doc Carver created an enduring show biz act after splitting from Buffalo Bill: the Diving Horses, that quirky yet dramatic splashdown that became the calling card of the Steel Pier in Atlantic City. I’m researching Carver’s life for a new book. Interesting character. — Jim Waltzer

Jim Waltzer’s novel “Brother’s Keeper,” set in 1920s Atlantic City, has just been published.

Cultural Heart Of USA Is Delco

Cultural Heart Of USA Is DelcoCultural Heart Of USA Is Delco — The cultural heart of America in the last century was not New York or LA but little old Delaware County, Pa. which is to Philadelphia almost as Staten Island is to the Bronx.

Feel free to laugh, who after all would call Staten Island a cultural center and the typical resident of Delco is more often perceived as what is described in this link rather than one wearing whatever it isthat happens to be in fashion on Rodeo Drive.

But the facts are what the facts are.

What brings this up is that Forbes Magazine just ranked Swarthmore and Haverford colleges as 7th and 14th best in the nation. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Villanova as the top school for its category. All are in Delaware County.  Granted all of them are vastly overrated and if one should want an education that would be actually useful in the real world, Widener — also in Delaware County — would be a much better choice. Recognition is recognition, though, and for BSing and brown-nosing ones way to power, influence and an easy workload a degree from Swarthmore can’t be beat.

None of which, however, has anything to do with the overwhelming effect Delaware County has had on American society since the end of World War II.

Arguably, the  most influential American book of the second half of the 20th century — not necessarily a good thing —  is Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  Where does it start? In Delaware County. A fictional location, yes, but a fictional location in Delaware County, nonetheless, since Pencey Prep is based on Valley Forge Military Academy in Radnor Township, the expulsion from which was the inspiration for Salinger.

Arguably, the most influential American artist of the second half of the 20th century  was Andrew Wyeth. His home was Chadds Ford  and much of his paintings were set in the area.

Indisputably, the most influential form of music on the entire world of the second half of the 20th century  is rock and roll. Credit for starting it most often  goes to Bill Haley & His Comets, who were from and worked from Chester.

The county has made a bit of a mark in music, actually. One of the two best female blues singers of the last century, Ethel Waters, was born in Chester. The other, Bessie Smith, is buried in Sharon Hill. Jim Croce and Todd Rundgren both come from Upper Darby, while Tom Keifer, leader of hair band Cinderella, and the late Robert Hazard came from Springfield.

So, Delaware Countians as you sip your Wawa frozen cappuccinos ponder the influence you’ve had on the world at large.

Cultural Heart Of USA Is Delco 

Swarthmore Celeb Author Likes His Quiet In Wasilla

Swarthmore Celeb Author Likes His Quiet In Wasilla — Expose author Joe McGinniss, whose HQ was once for many years Swarthmore, Pa. has moved his base to Wasilla, Alaska right next door to Sarah Palin.

McGinniss was a sportswriter for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin (the original one), then a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer before hitting the big time in 1969 with the Selling Of The President, which described the marketing techniques used in the successful Nixon campaign the year before. He is best known for his true crime books Fatal Vision, Blind Faith and Cruel Doubt, all of which became TV miniseries.

McGinniss generally portrays his subjects rather unflatteringly.

McGinniss, who has written a critical magazine piece on Mrs. Palin, is allegedly writing a book about the former Alaska governor, but perhaps his move to Alaska is really motivated by a desire for peace and privacy. McGinniss has placed “no trespassing” signs all over the rented property and has threatened at least one news crew with arrest after they showed up at his door. The Palins have compassionately erected a 14-foot-high fence between the homes on his behalf.

McGinniss does appear to have a fixation on Mrs. Palin, almost  like something of out a Robert Mitchum movie — think Cape Fear or Night of the Hunter. He bid $60,100 at a Ride 2 Recovery eBay charity auction in order to win a dinner with Mrs. Palin. His bid came in second.

Still, maybe the best way for the Palins to handle this tense situation would be to invite this strange person over for coffee and cookies. The kids don’t have to be there, just Todd, Sarah and the firearms. They could set up videocameras to record the conversation, ask McGinniss a lot of personal questions and make sure he doesn’t get a copy of the tape.

OTOH, the fence works pretty well too.

Here is what Mrs. Palin has to say about it.

Swarthmore Celeb Author Likes His Quiet In Wasilla

Tim Donaghy’s Tell-All Hits Roadblock

Tim Donaghy who grew up in Havertown, was graduated from Cardinal O’Hara and disgraced professional basketball by betting on games and fixing point spreads has had his tell-all book about being a NBA referee hit a roadblock. Tim Donaghy's Tell-All Hits Roadblock

The publication of “Blowing the Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA” has been canceled by Triumph Books citing libel concerns.

Unfortunately for the NBA that hasn’t stopped excerpts from appearing on the web of which if even 10 percent are true — especially regarding the treatment of Allen Iverson — would drive you to conclude that watching the league is a waste of time.

Tim Donaghy’s Tell-All Hits Roadblock