Ellroy – White Jazz

Ellroy – White Jazz

Ellroy – White Jazz

James Ellroy

White Jazz

To Helen Knode

In the end I possess my birthplace

and am possessed by its language.

–Ross MacDonald

All I have is the will to remember. Time revoked/fever dreams–I wake up reaching, afraid I’ll forget Pictures keep the woman young.

L.A., fall 1958.

Newsprint: link the dots. Names, events–so brutal they beg to be connected.

Years down–the story stays dispersed. The names are dead or too guilty to tell.

I’m old, afraid I’ll forget:

I killed innocent men.

I betrayed sacred oaths.

I reaped profit from horror.

Fever–that time burning. I want to go with the music–spin, fall with it L.A. _Herald-Express_, 10/17/58:



Yesterday, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles announced that Federal agents are probing the “gangland infiltrated” Southland prize fight scene, with an eye toward securing grand jury indictments.

U.S. Attorney Welles Noonan, former counsel to the McClellan Rackets Committee, said that Justice Department investigators, acting on information supplied by unnamed informants, are soon to question colorful Los Angeles “mob fringe character” Mickey Cohen. Cohen, now thirteen months out of prison, is rumored to have attempted contract infringement on a number of local prizefighters.

Currently being questioned under hotel guard are Reuben Ruiz, bantamweight contender and regular attraction at the Olympic Auditorium, and Sanderline Johnson, former ranked flyweight working as a croupier at a Gardena poker establishment. A Justice Department press release stated that Ruiz and Johnson are “friendly witnesses.” In a personal aside to Herald reporter John Eisler, U.S. Attorney Noonan said: “This investigation is now in its infancy, but we have every hope that it wilt prove successful. The boxing racket is Just that: a racket. Its cancerous tentacles link with other branches of organized crime, and should Federal grand jury indictments result from this probe, then perhaps a general probe of Southern California mob activity will prove to be in order.

Witness Johnson has assured my investigators that boxing malfeasance is not the only incriminating information he has been privy to, so perhaps we might start there. For now, though, boxing is our sole focus.”


Some skepticism greeted news of the prize fight probe. “I’ll believe it when the grand jury hands down true bills,” said William F. Degnan, a former FBI agent now retired in Santa Monica. “Two witnesses do not make a successful investigation. And I’m wary of anything announced in the press: it smacks of publicity seeking.”

Mr. Degnan’s sentiments were echoed by a source within the Los Angeles District Side 1

Ellroy – White Jazz

Attorney’s Office. Queried on the probe, a prosecuting attorney who wishes to remain anonymous stated: “It’s politics pure and simple. Noonan’s friends with (Massachusetts Senator and presidential hopeful) John Kennedy, and I’ve heard he’s going to run for California Attorney General himself in ’60. This probe has to be fuel for that run, because Bob Gallaudet (interim Los Angeles District Attorney expected to be elected to a full term as DA ten days hence) might well be the Republican nominee. You see, what a _Federal_ probe implicitly states is that local police and prosecutors can’t control crime within their own bailiwick. I call Noonan’s grand jury business a political steppingstone.”

U.S. Attorney Noonan, 40, declined comment on the above speculation, but a surprise ally defended him with some vigor. Morton Diskant, civil liberties lawyer and Democratic candidate for Fifth District City Councilman, told this writer: “I distrust the Los Angeles Police Department’s ability to maintain order without infringing on the civil rights of Los Angeles citizens. I distrust the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for the same reason. I especially distrust Robert Gallaudet, most specifically for his support of (Fifth District Republican Councilman) Thomas Bethune, my incumbent opponent. Gallaudet’s stand on the Chavez Ravine issue is unconscionable. He wants to evict impoverished Latin Americans from their homes to procure space for an L.A. Dodgers ballpark, a frivolity I deem criminal. Welles Noonan, on the other hand, has proven himself to be both a determined crimefighter and a friend of civil rights.

Boxing is a dirty business that renders human beings walking vegetables. I applaud Mr. Noonan for taking the high ground in combatting it.”

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