Flashbacks: The death of GG Allin, Alan Lupo on Jew on Jew violence in Brooklyn, and “the hermit of Cleveland Circle”

5 Years Ago
July 11, 2003 | Chris Wright talked to former Whitey Bulger henchman and author of Street Soldier Eddy MacKenzie about his life after crime.

“...while you might be able to take the thug out of the ghetto, you cannot necessarily stop the ghetto from following close behind. Over the years, MacKenzie has amassed an impressive array of enemies — from jealous boyfriends to nine-fingered bruisers to those who simply cannot stand to see one of their own blabbing in a book — all of whom would be quite happy to find out that MacKenzie has met with an unfortunate accident. 'I’m like an old-time sheriff,' he says. 'Everyone wants to take me down.' "

"It seems fair to imagine that no one would like to see Eddie Mac taken down as much as the Colombian drug cartel he ratted out. These guys, after all, are not known for their forgiving nature. 'I don’t think about that,' MacKenzie says. 'But coming from the world I come from, you worry anyway. You learn to live with fear. See, my back’s to the wall. I can see what’s going on in the restaurant. I may be talking to you, but I just saw that lady over there drop her fork. I don’t do stupid things. I’m not in nightclubs. I don’t put myself out there.'

15 Years Ago
July 9, 1993 | Brett Milano chronicled a death and re-birth in punk rock.

“The baddest of all rock-and-roll bad boys, punk singer GG Allin, succumbed to a cocaine/heroin overdose after a performance in New York last week. Allin, who had long threatened to off himself on stage, made incredibly nasty music and took rock performance as far out as it's ever gone, regularly endangering his own health and that of his audiences. Rest assured that, somewhere in rock-and-roll heaven, GG is throwing piles of shit at Elvis.
“On a more upbeat but still bizarre note, Dwarves guitarist Hewhocannotbenamed has become the first rock musician to rise from the dead. According to a release issued by Sub Pop last week, the guitarist's alleged death in a barroom fight this spring was a hoax perpetrated by the band ‘because they thought it would be a punk rock thing to do.’ Sub Pop itself was duped, and the label wasn't amused: the same release announced that the band have been dropped.”

25 Years Ago
July 12, 1983 | Alan Lupo called attention to the fighting going on between two Hasidic communities in Brooklyn.
“So what goes on here now? You'll read, but you won't believe. Late in May, a Lubavitcher rabbi, Pinchas Korf, was jumped in Williamsburg. Big deal, you say? What else is new, you ask? I'm not talking jumped by some kid who wanted his wallet. I'm talking jumped by some men who cut his beard, as Nazi's used to do. These weren't Nazis. These, according to some people who talked to the New York Times, were Satmar Jews. When you arrest a guy named Yakov, you're not collaring a Nazi or a socially deprived boy from Bed-Stuy. And I don't have to tell you how important a beard is to an Orthodox Jew. It is a symbol of piety. Better they should have taken his wallet.”

30 Years Ago
July 11, 1978 | Michael Matza asked Bill, “the hermit of Cleveland Circle,” why he had originally taken up outdoor residence seven years ago on land overlooking the Chestnut Hill reservoir.

“Out of character for this uncommonly eloquent man, he shies away and begins to stammer. Through an evasive and rambling monologue come one reference to Rudyard Kipling, a second to ‘urban wildlands,’ another to ‘numbered days.’ It is a story that is vague and distracted and sad, but Bill will have none of your pity. ‘I never had any privacy, nor should I,’ is all he'll say about his open-air home, a plot he has decorated with colorful found-art sculptures and make-shift shelters...Ironically, Bill's decision to set himself apart from mainstream society has brought him more community than he expected. 'People come and they come and they come...Even if I'm a super-weirdo, I must offer them something that they can't get elsewhere,’ he muses, commanding his dogs, Kirkle and Bilbo, to quiet down. 'Perhaps, in the end it comes down to the animal sniff test. I'm different from them, so, like the animals they are, they want to see how I smell.' ”

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