Old Smoke: Power to the Papal: How Dagger John got New York’s Irish up.

Written by William Bryk on . Posted in Opinion and Column, Posts

Among the publishing sensations of 1836 was a book by one Maria Monk, entitled Awful Disclosures, which purported to be her memoir of life in a Montreal nunnery. Hot stuff by early 19th-century standards, Monk’s book claimed that all nuns were forced to have sex with priests and the "fruit of priestly lusts" were baptized, [&hellip
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Bill the Butcher: He died a true American, but not how you think.

Written by William Bryk on . Posted in Opinion and Column, Posts

My first "Old Smoke" column recounted the adventures of Hon. John Morrissey, Congressman and heavyweight boxing champion of the United States, who once, according to the Philadelphia Bulletin, told the House of Representatives that he "had reached the height of my ambition. I have been a wharf rat, chicken thief, prize fighter, gambler, and Member [&hellip
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Old Smoke: Pluck and Luck

Written by William Bryk on . Posted in Opinion and Column, Posts

In 1928, Herbert Asbury published Gangs of New York, his masterwork on 19th-century New York’s virile young ruffians, and Herbert R. Mayes published Alger: A Biography Without a Hero, the first biography of Horatio Alger Jr., author of countless moralizing books for boys whose works presented his own view of the same class at the [&hellip
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Old Smoke: The Drunkard and the Dancing Master, Part II

Written by William Bryk on . Posted in Opinion and Column, Posts

General Bushrod Johnson had anticipated a Union attempt to breach his lines through a frontal assault. Nothing had prepared him or his men for this. The earth shook for miles around. Then the ground burst like a volcano beneath the Confederate artillerists and infantrymen in the trenches in what Johnson’s official report called an upheaval [&hellip
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Old Smoke: The Drunkard and the Dancing Master, Part I

Written by William Bryk on . Posted in Opinion and Column, Posts

Even today, when people often change careers, Gen. Edward Ferrero’s resume might seem startling. The son of Italian political refugees, he was born in Granada, Spain, on Jan. 18, 1831, and arrived in New York while still an infant. Edward’s father taught dance. He opened a school at the northeast corner of 14th St. and [&hellip
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Slackjaw’s Celebrity Cavalcade!

Written by Jim Knipfel on . Posted in Opinion and Column, Posts

I’ve told a few of the stories already–harassing Jamie Lee Curtis at the Guggenheim; perplexing Gene Hackman on 3rd Ave. by whispering the magical word “tri-zeta” at him; pretending to be a potential Michael Dukakis assassin (and paying the price for my tomfoolery). Here are a few stories that haven’t found their way into print [&hellip
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