Sunday, October 16, 2011

In 1938, A High Profile Murder At 1213 Washington Ave. N.

Geek squad logo used as part of First Amendment comment and criticism, blog post by John Hoff

Currently, 1213 Washington Ave. N. is the site of a Best Buy "Geek Squad" facility. There is no exterior indication that, in May of 1938, the street in front of that address was the location of a high profile murder...

Here in Afghanistan, I do a lot of Googling to find out what's happening in North Minneapolis. Well, Google News has an interesting little function at the bottom of the page--a news archive. So it was I learned of the death of William S. Brown, president of General Drivers' Union No. 544.

(Note the excellent use of the plural possessive, above. Back then, people who called themselves the "media" actually knew how to write)

Though the Brown murder is a Minneapolis story, the most convenient online source is apparently the Schenectady Gazette, which briefly states the facts like so:


May 25 (AP) --William S. Brown, president of General Drivers' Union No 544, was shot and killed as he sat in his parked car in front of 1213 Washington avenue north shortly before midnight tonight.

A window on the right hand side of the car had been lowered and the front wing adjustment was open. Brown was found slumped over the wheel, several bullets apparently having entered his body.

Brown was the head of the same union with which Patrick J. Corcoran, who was slain November 17, 1937, was affiliated. Corcoran was a member of the executive board of the union, which is affiliated with the American Federal of Labor.

Corcoran was ambushed in the rear of his North Minneapolis home as he returned from a meeting at union headquarters.

(Keep in mind wire service stories are written in "pyramid style" so paragraphs can be chopped from the bottom to fit available space in a newspaper. So it is the same story ran in the St. Joseph Gazette, but with the following two paragraphs at the bottom)

The scene of the Brown shooting was just around the corner from the headquarters of General Drivers.

Police said they believed the killer opened fire on Brown just after he had entered his car after leaving headquarters and before he could get the motor started.


An archived Time Magazine blurb notes that William S. Brown held the office of president for 17 years and actually tells us who committed the murder:

Died. William S. Brown, 43, Minneapolis labor leader and for 17 years president of the potent General Drivers Union No. 544; from a shot fired by his bodyguard, Arnold Ralph Johnson; in Minneapolis. Johnson, who had been drinking all afternoon, told police: "Brown flashed a roll of bills. I asked him for a share and he refused. I drew a gun and shot him. He was my best friend."


Anonymous said...

Neat story. Didn't end the union/mob/hitman situation one would suppose.

Didn't the Barker-Karpis gang know off a bank in that area in the 30's? I think it was at Plymouth and 2nd St N.

Johnny Northside! said...

You mean "knock off a bank" I assume. You accidentally typed "know off."

I couldn't tell you. A great deal of North Minneapolis history is a mystery to me. When this stuff comes to my attention, I write about it with a sense of discovery, not a sense of being an expert.

If you have some good historical stories, feel free to put them on appropriate comment threads, like this one.

Wishnick said...

It is interesting that you write, "Geek squad logo used as part of First Amendment comment and criticism".
I find your lack of understanding of this issue amusing.
It appears, from reading your blog, that you lack knowledge and understanding of the full scope of the First Amendment, and the numerous legal decisions that have established what is currently acceptable.
Your use of a registered trademark logo without permission of the holder shows you know little or nothing about intellectual property rights.
In short, you may not use a trademarked logo without permission of the registered owner. There is no "parodic commentary" exception to this.

My sense is that you research web sites until you find one that grants the permissions you are looking for, and then you consider that the gospel. Which I imagine is where you got your, "Used as part of First Amendment comment and criticism", line from.
Unfortunately, there is no catch-all line that grants you permission to use trademarked or copyrighted material whenever you feel like it.
While legal decisions allows use of some protected images and or writings for parodic commentary, you receive remuneration from the advertisements on your blog, therefore you give up the right to use certain images and writings belonging to others.
While big companies generally don't bother to go after bloggers, I suspect that one of these days you will attract the attention of a unhappy trademark or copyright owner and find yourself in a little bit of hot water. I suggest you respond to the polite request to remove the offending material.
The last thing you want is to find yourself is civil court over trademark or copyright infringement. It can be very costly, and not worth the fight.

yes I know you said...

JNS - do you feel tough correcting spelling of someone who asked a question? Wow!! So impressive.

Funny how you seem to have so much more time to post on the internet compared to the real soldiers I know who are overseas.

Perhaps your story isn't quite as honest as you claim?

NoMi Passenger said...

@yes I know you,

Let me tell you how when I first started hanging around with John and then writing a lot with him, his constant habit of correcting my grammar or spelling was so annoying and sometimes came off as insulting, as if he thought he was so much better because he had better grammer or spelling habits than me, and it was irksome.

But then I realized it's not that John thinks he is better, it's just ingrained in his brain, he is an English major with a good amount of teaching experience as well, and it's just really, like REALLY, important to him that our society agrees and tries to uphold high standards of grammar and spelling. So it's just a core value of his. And I began to look upon it as a free service that came along with all the other joyful traits, habits and benefits that knowing or being around John brings to my life (sarcasm joke font, people). So I began to find it a personal challenge to take his pointers and improve my writing or grammar or whatever. It's like getting college level English class for free. Freegan English (there's a school for that, no?) {inside joke}

So anyways, just considerate it an extra bonus of using the comment function, you can get a free English lesson on your (perhaps awful) spelling and grammar. And you'll be better for it! Just think of the job prospects that might open up if you cleaned up your resume and cover letter a lil' bit!

Now, about John's use of his free time. And his status of a "real soldier" or not. What do your propose that John does with his free time on an FOB in Afghanistan?

How do real soldiers spend their down time in Afghanistan, anyways? Maybe since you are so in the know you have some pointers on how John might become one of those real soldiers you speak of.

Because certainly right now John is on a pretend base in a pretend war, with a pretend uniform and pretend rank symbol on his pretend patrol cap with his pretend Sgt barking up his pretend bee-hind (Ok, John's sergeant doesn't bark at his bee-hind anyways so no pretense needed)

So do you think right now John gets a pretend paycheck from the pretend U.S.Army? Do you think that big gun he has to cart around with him everywhere carries pretend bullets? And that he spends his time in a pretend guard house watching for pretend insurgent suicide bombers?

And one more question, yes I know you, do you feel tough nipping at the heels of a real soldier as if he is somehow less of a soldier because he spends (some of) his free time on the internet trying to connect with his neighborhood he left behind?

Wishnick said...

I'm curious. Where are my comments?

Mr. Putz said...

You spelled "grammer" wrong in the first paragraph. I'd give you the benefit of the doubt that it was simply mis-keyed, but the E is too far from the A.

Johnny Northside! said...

To Wishnick,

Blah blah blah. First of all, the blog post in question says nothing about Geek Squad except to publicize their convenient, well maintained North Minneapolis location at 1213 Washington Ave. N.

If anything, I suspect Geek Squad would be grateful for the free advertising.

If, in the highly unlikely event I get a letter on Geek squad letterhead threatening all kinds of bad things for putting that logo on top of that particular article, I will pay attention. Until then, I doubt very much that Best Buy has anonymous commenters named "Wishnik" dishing out their legal "cease and desist" requests.

I might also note that my kid has a shirt with a Geek squad logo that I published on this blog. (It's actually one of his favorite shirts)

You want to say something about that, too?

I give you no more thought, Wishnik. I dismiss you. Consider yourself dismissed.

Johnny Northside! said...

To Mr. Putz,

She spelled "grammar" wrong in the first paragraph? And that's the ONLY mistake you caught?

You're fired as Professor Northside's teaching assistant.

Johnny Northside! said...


NoMi passenger has it right that I simply care about language as a foundation of our civilization. I didn't consider my attempt to correct the sentence of the second comment poster to be overly harsh.

Unlike some typos, where the intended meaning is immediately clear, it took me a second to realize when the poster typed "know off" the poster meant "knock off." I wanted the meaning to be clear to anybody else following the discussion.

About a decade ago, I had a copy of a movie called "The Second Civil War" that was on HBO and starred James Earl Jones. In that movie, America is torn apart by civil war because, at a key moment, the president of the United States doesn't know the difference between the word "succession" and "secession."

Horror stories about terrible mistakes made because of misunderstood meaning fill the pages of history. Check out a book called "Eats, Shoots And Leaves."

If I took the time to point out the many mistakes made in comments, it's ALL I would do all day. I feel I only do it in certain instances, such as:

1.) The distinctively atrocious mistakes lead me to believe the anonymous commenter is Don "Shakedown Blogger" Allen, he who robbed the bed-ridden vet at the Veterans Administration hospital. (I don't agree with the VA's attempt to simplify English by dropping the apostrophe which SHOULD appear in their name, but doesn't. However, "Veterans Administration" is the official rendering of their name and so I feel compelled to use it)

2.) It's necessary to correct a mistake so the discussion can be clearly followed. This is a judgment call. It requires me to ask myself, "Does the mistake garble the intended meaning or is the intended meaning clear to most readers?"

3.) The English skills of the poster in question are so lacking that it's necessary to make that part of the discussion, as when "thug English" is the poster's bastardized native language.

And shit.

Furthermore, the record will show that I even call out MYSELF. I will post a comment, then post another short comment apologizing for a typo.

Also, readers don't realize the number of times I publish a comment, see my mistake, and "copy paste correct" to fix the mistake.

In short...

This is a blog operated by an English major, and it shows.

Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old thread, but I thought you may be interested to know "wishnick" (doubtful spelling here) is Norwegian for "troll".

Anonymous said...

...and nishwick moonlights as Big Wilbur under the starry sky. Alas, poor Nishwick, i knew him well. Nishwick wants to know "Where is everybody"?

Anonymous said...

Yo brothas iz ova at da Gomez family info center an' jail roster wif meme. we's is waiting fo' Johnny ta git back ta regular posting. His bandwidf has been ta low lately fo' him ta join in. He iz far away really working fo' da da system, unlike some who is away making license plates an' doin' laundry fo' da da system. we's expect ta spill some mo' o' da beans on da Gomez family's crime wave, an' jail an' prison staffing stimulus by criminality plan. Some o' us gots been working on geneology an' family histories like we's is mormons. Which we's aren't! and shit.

we's is checking in here every so often ta see what iz up peep this shit

Check on da other recent threads where people wif incredibly long criminal an' jail records who wuz in da midst o' turning ova new leaves when dey either died violently or committed another violent act against yet another victim.

Yo Just peep fo' da posts wif pictures o' parked po-po cars an' officers working behind da yellow crime scene tape Ya' know what I'm sayin'?

Hurry back Johnny!

Katschen said...

I"m having difficulty posting a comment to the entry, so it if appears more than once, I apologize. I merely wanted to state that William S. Brown was my great-uncle. Thank you for providing some more information to a part of my family's past that I've had difficulty in locating.