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  • Convention Report

    Hopefully,other members will contribute a post or brief essay describing their experience at Baltimore three weeks ago...

    Here's mine.


    A Step Up...The 2006 RipCon

    Being probably just as nervous or excited as anyone else attending the Baltimore Conference and having assured my daughter for the umpteenth time that like Gen.MacArthur, I would return,I headed off for the drive down south towards Washington on Thursday,the day before the Convention started,to pick up fellow Ripper enthusiast,Ms.Kelly Robinson,my fellow JTR Forums.Com co-reporter and examine the Phillips Gallery art exhibition of pastels by Degas,Lautrec,and a fellow named Walter Sickert.

    Being personally somewhat severely short on insight and understanding regarding the world of art, Kelly tolerated my ignorance and whining ( you try wearing cowboy boots that have somehow shrunk a size or so in 30 years ) about terribly sore feet and made some notes and observations,.which should accompany this brief overview of the Convention,which, as you can see I have entitled, A Step Up....The 2006 RipCon

    Thankfully,this has nothing to do with my feet ,but everything to do with the wonderful experience of commiserating with likeminded people for 3 ( or 4 in my case ) days in an environment free of "real life" responsibilities,rigors and routine. It was probably the most enjoyable and profitable weekend ( outside of familial events) I have ever had.

    The Phillips Gallery experience:
    Blue haired women... ...and knowing,not just feeling,that I was the ultimate fish out of these waters were not the only highlights of my experience at the exhibit. The fact that I could actually get "that" close to the paintings of Sickert and look for the signs that Mrs.Cornwell claims are self evident in his painting ( or is it pasteling ?) made Kelly’s suggestion to go there in the first place well worth it.
    Despite my limited understanding of art ( especially the Impressionists ), my understanding of hogwash,hoopla,and hype is somewhat better....
    To claim that the Sickert painting "Ennui" displays the " shadow of a man" ready to pounce upon the apparently bored woman in that portrait and that this " shadow of a man" represents Sickert-as-Ripper is preposterous and perhaps more ridiculous than the notion that a woman committed the Whitechapel Murders from my point of view. I selected this particular painting out of the numerous works of art by Sickert as it was the most explicit example of anyone,not just Mrs.Cornwell,seeing things that are simply not there.

    When we see posts on,here at The Rip,or Ripper Notes,Casebook, or anywhere as a matter of fact....which contain jpegs of Sickerts’ paintings and personal assessments of these "damning" works,we don’t really and truly grasp how much Mrs.Cornwell is grasping and clutching at imaginary straws with her theorization that the art indicts him. It also dawned on me how bizarre it must have been for anyone in her company watching Mrs.Cornwell rip and render to shreds the work of this man in the search of evidence. I suppose it was like watching me tackle Karaoke night singing Madame Butterfly. Truly an embarrassing proposition.

    It occurred to me,albeit it briefly,that I might have wanted to leave my thumb print on one of these artworks,in case Mrs Cornwell got her hands on these untouched-as-yet watercolors. I imagined that Pat Cornwell lifted my print...ran it through APHIS.... the results coming back with a match to me....waking up to the " three o’ clock knock on the door " by Interpol.....and being charged with complicity with Sickert....but just briefly. Enough damage has been done by Mrs.Cornwell to Sickert’s reputation as an artist. I also was informed that the Gallery was told they were exhibiting art by "that Jack the Ripper guy" from an unimpeachable source while in Baltimore.

    One of the highlights of each day at the Convention was the trip to the pub. It was there that I,along with Kelly, was fortunate to hear numerous Ripper related stories and bits of useful information from the likes of Andy and Claudia Aliffe,Adam Wood,Alan Sharp,Bob Anderson,Stan Russo and Robin Odell,just to name a few of the many fine people I met. The one feature that stood out from all of the discussions over many pints of ale was the total and complete agreeability of everyone towards each other. I picked up on this point very early on as I am sure others did as well,as the usual bickering which appears on Internet boards over misunderstandings were simply nonexistent. Its going to be a fine day indeed when Internet boards are capable of face-to-face on line chats....think of the possibilities!
    Christopher-Michael DiGrazia was the man behind the microphone for opening ceremonies. CMD handled this task with ease throughout the three day event. Thanks again for the cigar,CMD !.... It was top shelf.
    Day One’s opener was with the very warm and talented lady Jana Oliver,whose book "Sojourn", a fiction of the Ripper murders,has been recieved rather well by pre-release reviewers. The official launch of her book,like Mr.Robin Odell’s "Ripperology" was done at the Convention. Much success is hoped for to Jana in her book sales and in future endeavors. A very genuine lady indeed.

    Andy Aliffe provided an excellent "virtual tour" to the sites throughout the East End entitled "An Indoor Ripper Walking Tour". Too bad Andy wasn’t around to give a "virtual tour" for me and my poor feet the day before in Washington....

    Andy covered all the murder sites,as well as some additional streets and spots of interest,from a "then and now" perspective. I found Andy’s presentation skills and deep knowledge of the East End a definite asset regarding a topic like this. Big hats off to Andy for an excellent presentation and introduction to the fabled neighborhood for one and all....Andy and I got along like we knew each other for twenty years. Just a terrific man.

    Stephen Ryder was in charge of the crew who laid out a fantastic spread of Ripper books,magazines,videos,memorabilia,newspapers,post ers, hand made goods, and other items of interest to both the collector and researcher alike in the Open Book room after Andy’s speech and before many hit the pub for more revelry. One of the few,if even that, frustrating moments of the Convention was decision-making-time-in-the-book-room....which books to purchase and which books to leave behind ?! Probably the lone moment in the entire Convention that grieved one and all mutually.

    Sitting and chatting for hours with fellow Ripperologists was such a wonderful experience that I hope was shared by one and all. I truly enjoyed each person’s enthusiasm in Ripperology which each person made clear whether they were discussing Kosminski, the GSG, or the possibility of John McCarthy knowing more than he let on about the tragedy in Millers Court... . There’s a lot of passion in this field which came out in an extremely positive way at this Convention.
    Day Two for those who made the 9:15 speech by Alan Sharp,author of JTR and The Irish Press, they were treated to a biographical talk on Sir Robert Anderson.

    Entitled, "Commissioner Anderson", Alan’s audience was treated to many aspects of this important figure in the Whitechapel Murders. Drawing no conclusions,Alan provided the information that for a 5 day stretch in October of 1888,Commissioner Anderson was in Ireland for his father’s funeral, a fact previously unknown. Well presented and a well recieved presentation by a talented gentleman.

    The next speaker was Dr.James J.Badal, the only other man wearing cowboy boots and a trademark moustache besides me ( and I’d kill for his brand... his moustache too.....dammit !!!) and the author of " In The Wake Of The Butcher", the book that is considered non-pareil among books dealing with the infamous Cleveland Torso Slayer....a.k.a.....The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run.

    Dr.Badal can work a crowd. Accompanied by two professionals documenting his presentation for film posterity,Dr. Badal pointed out several similarities in the CTS crimes ( they have a canonical 12 ! ...and WE complain !!! ) to the WM that are noteworthy.

    He also brought up the subject of his new book that he has written which also parallels the WM in several ways. In this 1951 event,the disappearance of a young girl of 10 in his native Cleveland,Dr.Badal showed the impact of the press on how a crime or series of crimes can be percieved by the public at large by the manipulatory techniques of the press,similar to what W.T.Stead and his Pall Mall Gazette ( for one example ) attempted to do in London. Dr.Badal discussed how this child’s disappearance is part of the local northern Ohio folklore even today some 55 years later.

    Dr.Badal inferred that while Ripperologists may get testy about how the press in London reacted to the crimes of 1888, that we should be somewhat happy that they didn’t occur in New York during the tenure of the inventor of yellow journalism himself,the incendiary literary force behind the Spanish American War, William Randolph Hearst. Just imagine Citizen Kane in London in 1888 !!! Dr.Badal credits the field of Ripperology,dating back to Messrs. Odell and Rumbelow among others, for the increasing interest worldwide in "true crime" research which Kent State University Press has been instrumental in encouraging for aspiring authors. An A+ speech as far as I was concerned.

    Then after a couple of Reuben sandwiches for lunch......Donald Rumbelow gave a very interesting speech entitled " I Spy Blue"
    Mr.Rumbelow, one of the founding fathers of contemporary Ripperology and a man who undertook extraordinary measures to protect and preserve vital materials from police archives and the possible well as the preserver of the Mary Kelly photographs......wrote a book in 1971 by the name "I Spy Blue" which achieved,according to Paul Begg’s A to Z ( which I have learned may be revised and updated to everyones benefit !!! ) critical acclaim. Mr.Rumbelow outlined the history of the British constabulary with wit,erudition,and ease. More on Mr.Rumbelow later....when we cornered him.

    Next up was a man who is the absolute epitome of the stereotypical British gentleman in every way possible...another founding father of our field,Mr.Robin Odell.

    Mr.Odell,who came accompanied by his lovely companion,Nan,
    covered the North American connections and interests in the WM,with his excellent speech entitled, " JTR,American Connection".

    For me,as a North American, I appreciated Mr.Odell’s mentioning of our interest and sincere dedication to the case. Examples of Mr.Odell’s American and Canadian "interested parties" were in abundance,not the least of which were the hard working Dan Norder ( U.S. ) and Wolf Vanderlinden (Canada),the two editors of Ripper Notes... I don’t think Dan had 15 minutes to sit still during the scheduled events,constantly working cameras and taping this prestigious event for future perusal. Being selected to door-duty as "bouncer" assigned to redirecting rowdy interloping septugenarians,lost teenagers,and wayward staff by the Bosslady Herself, Mrs. Judy Stock, I can attest to the work Dan did at this event.

    Finishing off the second day,Professor J.E.Starrs, the exhumationist of the victims of Alfred Packer, the infamous Colorado Cannibal, gave an essentially non-Ripper related speech,but nonetheless fine and filled with reminisences of many generations of working the dirt.

    Professor Starrs recalled his years of service to forensic anthropology in the twilight of this second day and focused on the Lizzie Borden affair of 1892. Prof. Starrs has a pretty good sense of humor which was helpful in what is essentially a dryer- than- the- dirt- that- he- works- with subject.

    Then it was off in search of Don Rumbelow.

    Percieving that he might be in a festive mood,my fellow East Coast comrades in crime,Stan Russo and Bob Anderson, hightailed it up to the 5th Floor for a Rumble With Rumbelow.

    We weren’t disappointed.

    For over an hour, the great Ripperologist discussed fixed point duty ( you should have seen his eyes as he brought up the Annie Chapman murder,where someone approached a fixed point officer and was told to go off and find someone else able to assist,as that P.C. was unable to move and to investigate Hanbury Street’s infamous murder )...his dismissal ( Hey ! Nobody’s perfect.... ) of the Goulston Street Graffiti...his opinion on the re-admission of P.C.Long to the force after being fired from the force....his opinions of John McCarthy and the possible connection of Ripper victims and the landlord of MJK....the possibility of Timothy Donovan fitting the bill as the Ripper which has come to him over the years coming from gut feelings ( as it made him tap his midsection for emphasis).....the unwitting enablement of the Ripper ( not Rippers...he isn’t keen on the idea of an accomplice ) by the prostitutes who knew the police beats......the likelihood of a local man being the Ripper....the awful debasement of women ( men too,of course....another set of victims sometimes overshadowed ) in this area ( a half pound of cheese cost more than a knee trembler)......his personal recollections of police duty......

    Furthermore and in particular for those on the Ripper Internet message boards that presume that Abberline was less than thorough on the matter of George Hutchinson..... Mr.Rumbelow outlined the way Abberline HAD to conduct himself based on the disciplines an 83-time honored detective would have had to do. That because there is no further documentation ( Andy Aliffe told me that there is the definite possibility that many files may have been put in OTHER individual detectives’ files in the PRO,since these other
    detectives have been known to simply place unrelated files in their own workfiles...) from Abberline regarding Hutchinson is in no way indicative of the police not scrutinizing Hutchinson in the proper fashion. Even if Andy was incorrect, Mr.Rumbelow went into detail from his experiences as a P.C. and then as a Sargeant on how the "system worked". Although speculation is fine and dandy, an 83 time recipient of one award or another over a long career making moves indicative of a rookie at a time like this ? Unlikely I think.

    The brief time with Mr.Rumbelow ( and Mrs. R as well in the smokefilled room ) was one that will stay with me for many years. In the parlance of the streets,Mr.Rumbelow is a righteous dude. Anyone who eats raisins while they drink gin has to be.

    And speaking of two other righteous dudes....

    I wanted to mention, at this point, a fellow Ripperologist....a man named John Malcolm.

    For those who may be unaware,Mr.Malcom,a New England native,wrote a self-published book entitled, "Confessions of A Ripperologist " back in 2005.

    I purchased a few books at the RipCon which I will certainly get to soon......but Mr.Malcolm’s book is the one I am reading now.
    I am somewhat puzzled that more has NOT been mentioned about his very personal experiences in the field and his open assessment of the field in general, not to mention his book.

    Mr.Malcolm expresses the intensity that Ripperology exacts from many of us. I feel his pain. He says what he feels as well as anyone in this field. He needs to be read and heard from by a wider audience in my opinion. He is a man who feels Ripperology like I do and one I consider a kindred spirit.

    When John gave,not sold,his excellent book to me at the Convention, I felt obligated to read some of it a.s.a.p.... Now I can’t put it down. Thanks very much, John. A very kind act on your part.

    The second person is Adam Wood,one of the folks here at the Rip. A more likeable human being you will seldom find. Let me just say that Adam has an acute awareness of the East End based on his family hailing from the area going back a few hundred years...notably Brick Lane. This knowledge is manifested in his series on East End life here in Ripperologist Magazine. Adam helped make everyone around him have a great time....

    There was a couple that I sat next to on Sunday that told me that they were very impressed by the presentation of each days events and the quality of the Convention. They weren’t "site members" yet,but hopefully they will check out a few in the future.

    Trivia Time....I gained 8 pounds from Thursday afternoon to Sunday night....and uh,some of it was from food....

    Sunday’s two scheduled events featured Dr.Karen K.Teal who as a college educator,uses the Whitechapel Murders and Victorian period to illustrate the status and struggle of contemporary women in the classroom. Using the Bryant and May matchgirl strike ( I believe Dr.Teal might like to discuss the role of Annie Besant in the matchgirl strike,with researcher Louise Raw,who has some different views on the role Besant actually played in that memorable struggle ) as well as images of working women in the 1880's, she presented a pretty grim picture of life then. It appeared to me that she is concerned with the Hollywood version of Whitechapel and for good reason. Our youth in 2006 "get" a lot of their history from film. After all,film is propaganda in propaganda’s most effective medium.

    Dr.Teal’s message was that women may have come a long way baby,but not far enough. The insistence of using attractive women victims in Ripper ( as well as any other "slasher" type film, to be honest) based films will,despite Dr.Teal’s sound reasoning, continue as historical accuracy has seldom been a hallmark of Tinsel Town. That is,as Dr.Teal suggested,alternative film sources utilize the awareness of the reality of those times and produce its own films.

    Would films like these "sell" ? With a Liz Stride with missing teeth portrayed by a less than sultry actress? Probably not.

    But what everyone may have overlooked for one reason or the other,is that "cottage industry" films may be used in colleges and Universities to truly portray the social conditions,not only of women,but the debased men,often going barefoot as Catherine Eddowes’ mate did the day she died. Someone like Eduardo Zinna or Frogg Moody would make a good advisor for an effort like this,or the young man from Sweden who did a film on Stride,Daniel Olsson. Hopefully Dr.Teal will become active at Casebook,for instance,and discuss these matters with likeminded people.

    The last event on this day was Under The Microscope,featuring the 3 day event’s speakers. It was a terrific exhibition from every person questioned,even,believe it or not,Andy Aliffe. Just for your information,Messrs.Odell,Aliffe,and Rumbelow are canonical 5 gents,while Alan Sharp included Tabram and possibly Ada Wilson.

    So,in closing....allow me to suggest strongly that for an experience in Ripperology that you won’t soon forget,please consider attending either one of the two Conventions, here in the US or in the UK. I am already storing pennies away for the UK convention next year....and hope to make that event.

    One more thing....I used the phrase, "A Step Up", since in the lodgings we stayed at,there was a sign in the shower that boldly said...."Step Down". I almost forgot three times to do so and narrowly avoided winding up on the floor....not that I drank too much...but I was not ready for that step down. Okay,I did drink too much one night.
    Nothing about the Convention was remotely close to being a step down. It was enlightening...entertaining...and a bonding experience for many people that hopefully will last a lifetime.

    I consider that a "Step Up".

    Sincere thanks to Alegria Reineke,Stephen Ryder,Judy Stock,and Mr.Leroy Stock for their top shelf efforts.

  • #2
    Random Conference Impressions In Haiku

    After this you can lock me up. Here's what I remember, haiku-style.

    "That looks like crayon,"
    Howard disparages. I say:
    "Pastels ARE crayons."

    Aliffe -a genius!
    We've now had a walking tour.
    But sat! And ate pie!

    Appearing mortal
    With his corona obscured
    By a large crab hat.

    I wish I recalled
    Who it was that had entered
    When Wolf said, "Cheese it!"

    "Danny Boy" rendered
    Hauntingly. Sir Robert weeps-
    What a big, dumb girl.

    Feel free to add your own.


    • #3
      Ally's tiara
      sparkles with colorful lights:
      "Don't take my picture!"


      • #4
        Say it ain't so !!!!!!!!!!

        Dan Norder does....gulp....Haiku !


        • #5
          Originally posted by How Brown

          Say it ain't so !!!!!!!!!!

          Dan Norder does....gulp....Haiku !
          Add a line at the end there and you got one yourself, How!


          • #6
   asked for it.

            Say it ain't so...

            Dan Norder does...gulp...Haiku !

            I would too, 'cept I ain't got the I.Q.


            • #7
              Well, the meter's off, but nice start. Now you've been to an art museum AND written a poem. Next up: Howard Brown goes to the ballet.
              (Oh, and nice one, Dan.)


              • #8
                Moving right along....

                Kelly...thanks for the Haiku. Good stuff dear.

                Mr.Haute Couture........