Tuesday, July 26, 2016

And now a brief musical interlude

With all the talk of Russia and Putin trying to influence this year's Democratic national convention, it seems appropriate to take a look at a fascinating piece in this week's new Republic by James Cockayne on the role the Mafia played in the 1932 convention.

Seabury quickly exposed significant Tammany graft in the New York administration. The city sheriff had amassed $400,000 in savings from a job that paid $12,000 a year. The mayor had awarded a bus contract to a company that owned no buses – but was happy to give him a personal line of credit. A judge with half a million dollars in savings had been granted a loan to support 34 “relatives” found to be in his care. Against the backdrop of Depression New York, with a collapsing private sector, 25 percent unemployment and imploding tax revenues, this was shocking profligacy and nepotism.

By September 1932, the mayor had resigned and fled to Paris with his showgirl girlfriend. In early 1933, Roosevelt moved into the White House and broke off the formal connection between Tammany Hall and the national Democratic Party for the first time in 105 years. He even tacitly supported the election of the reformist Republican Fiorello La Guardia as New York mayor.

This call to mind a song I heard years ago called "Little Tin Box." I didn't know anything else about it (including the fact it was from the Pulitzer Prize winning musical Fiorello – – I'm not much of a musical theater person), but with the miracle of Google, a name or a lyric or even a vague description can bring you multiple versions of almost any song you can think up.

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