Monthly Archives: September 2018
In recent diss tracks by Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly, both rappers lay down the claim that MGK is named after a gun. But he is in fact named after a historical poser, George Kelly Barnes, aka “Machine Gun Kelly” (1895-1954) who robbed, bootlegged, and kidnapped in the golden age of gangsters in the 1920s and 30s. His contemporaries were the Dillinger gang, Bonnie and Clyde, and the Ma Barker Gang.
MGK was unique in this line-up because he was essentially a fabrication of his wife, Kathryn Kelly. George was Kathryn’s 4th husband, with her 3rd husband having a mysterious death– he had allegedly killed himself and left a suicide note…despite being illiterate. She met George while they were both working in the bootleg biz and he was reportedly kind of a hayseed. She thought he needed a new image so she bought him a machine gun and gave him his new nickname before he even had a chance to fire the thing. Then she started a whisper campaign in underworld hangouts telling fabricated stories of how fierce, tough, and brazen the big bad Machine Gun Kelly was. Total bullshit. As a calling card, she gave people bullet casings as souvenirs.
George and Kathryn began a life of crime with bank robbing, but their spree quickly ended when they kidnapped wealthy oil tycoon Charles F. Urschel in 1933, receiving a ransom of $200,00 (about 3.8 million today). That was also their undoing– they were arrested a couple months later. George famously was reported as yelling “Don’t shoot, G-men!” as the FBI raided the farm the Kellys were hiding out at. The scene became a nice piece of propaganda for the FBI who portrayed it as tough lawmen bringing down a cowardly defeated criminal.
Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger and Babyface Nelson were all ambushed and shot in 1934. Even old Ma Barker with a tommy gun in her hands in a shoot out with the FBI in 1935. MGK, though, spent the rest of his life as a model prisoner. His fellow inmates called him “Pop Gun Kelly” to make fun of his overblown tough guy legend. This is rap battle gold!
Ok, Em, check out this flow. Feel free to drop these verses:
This looks like a job for me/ cause I’m Dillinger and you’re MG/ my wanted poster says 10k/but yours is just 3Gs/ this just makes me sneeze
No? Ok, let me try again.
You dude you got me totally laugh-a-lin/ do you even know how to hold that gun?/why don’t you go ask Kathyrn/ Bonnie and Clyde each got shot hundreds of times*/ while you were in Alcatraz calmly peeling limes
*although this number was likely exaggerated. But six G-men did shoot them repeatedly.
One more, for the Killshot!
Yo MGK/ where’d you learn to kidnap?/ You should be shouting ‘Don’t shoot G-men!’/ instead of trying to rap/ the FBI took you out in one minute flat/ you are about as gangster as the Cat in the Hat
Monday, September 24: Cull Your Collection (CBLDF Benefit), Vennture Brew Co., 5519 W. North Avenue, 6:30-8:30pm
I will be attending this event, hosted by the fine folks at the Comic Book Panel and will be selling copies of my book Heroes in the Night. All proceeds will be given to the night’s cause, supporting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an organization that has helped protect First Amendment rights of comic creators, publishers, and retailers since 1986 (Milwaukee tie-in: the organization was founded by Kitchen Sink Press president Denis Kitchen. You can read my 2003 interview with Denis here: https://riverwestcurrents.org/2003/07/the-compelling-art-of-denis-kitchen.html )
Members of the Comic Book Panel will also be selling from their collections to benefit the cause.
Saturday, Oct. 6: Sci-Fi Family Day, Discovery World, 500 N.Harbor Dr., 10am-4pm
This fun annual event has a great round-up of groups that celebrate a variety of fandoms, including Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and Lego groups, comic creators, and much more. I’ll be tabling with Milwaukee Paranormal Conference/ Milwaukee Krampusnacht and will have copies of my books Heroes in the Night and Monster Hunters.
I’m also leading Third Ward Ghost Walks here in Milwaukee. The next one is this Sat., Sept. 8 and starting next week, they are every Fri and Sat. Check out the Milwaukee Ghosts page for more details: https://www.facebook.com/milwaukeeghosts/