Thinking of Razor Blades: The Ultimate or Utopian Razor Blade (1 of 2)

King Gillette the founder of Gillette was a good man for South Boston. He set up his factory on its eastern edge and gave many of the people who lived in Southie jobs. I believe my aunt Mary worked there. If I’m wrong others in my family will chastise me for saying that.

Mary got a job because even though King was a Yankee, whose ancestors came to Boston in the same year when the city was founded, 1630, he was not the type of Yankee that had the “no Irish need apply” mentality.  He hired many Irish who lived in South Boston. I suppose I should not be using Mary as an example because she was Lithuanian but she did marry an Irishman.

If King were around today, by the way that’s a pretty cool name for a boy, there’s little doubt who he would be supporting for president. It would be Bernie Sanders. King was, like Bernie the Dodger, a Socialist. You may think I call Bernie a Dodger because he was born in Brooklyn during the time the Brooklyn Dodgers were playing there and he was a big fan of them as a kid. Not so. I’m referring to his ducking the draft.

It is reported that King was a Utopian Socialist.He “fiercely rejected the corrosive effect of capitalist competition on society, claiming it led to a general loosening of the social fabric or ‘social drift’.” He advocated a single corporation that would manage all of society. Its headquarters would be near Niagra Falls. He drew up plans showing the type of living quarters he would construct. A typical living space would have four bedrooms with each one having a 15’ by 20’ sitting room along with a library, parlor and music room which would be adjacent to an outside veranda. His design did not include a kitchen or eating area. Perhaps, in the utopian future his people would not have to eat.  

Once King lost control of the company that bore his name the new people who took over were not so interested in a utopian future. They were concerned with a present profit.

Boston Magazine did an article a couple of years ago telling us why razor blades are so bloody expensive. As I understand the article the Gillette Company has 150 scientists with PhDs in topics like physics, materials science, and engineering in Reading, UK,” who are watching people shave every day. The article’s author tells us that people with PhDs “don’t work cheap.” Imagine going through the vigors of earning a PhD and then spending the day watching people shave. I wonder what the suicide rate is in Reading, England?

One thing reading about this subject that surprised me was that those who followed King Gillette in his company did not have his genius. They were not so good at inventing but at copying.  And then, only when it became absolutely necessary. Gillette’s secret at making money was to give away the blade free, some say King invented the Freebie, but charged for the individual blades.(Polaroid with its camera and special film followed this plan.)  Up until the 1960s razor blades were made of carbon steel. Anyone who used a Gillette Blue Blade knew you could get one good shave from it and then you’d have to put in a new one. The idea was to have the blade give only one good shave.

What I found surprising was that Gillette was not a company that invented anything like its founder, it copied others. It +had to make a better blade after Wilkinson Sword began selling blades made of stainless steel. It copied them when its market started to crumble. Wilkinson  invented its “Bonded Shaving System” a cartridge razor system which is what most use today and it copied them. BIC created the disposable razor and it copied them.

In copying them Gillette did it one better. It is the razor to use today. It is, as advertised, “the best a man can get.”

18 thoughts on “Thinking of Razor Blades: The Ultimate or Utopian Razor Blade (1 of 2)

  1. Matt
    I agree there was no justice served when Martorano did ONLY 12 years for 20 murders. I look forward to you discussing this and the other 2 amigo deals in future posts. Its a head scratcher as Whyshak, Kelly, and no one else in DOJ explained WHY they made these preposterous deals. In the history of law havent people been placed on death row and executed for far less murders?

  2. Matt — Stick to criminal matters. You know zilch about razor blades and the razor blade business. Gillette never copied anyone. Check the patent files on razor blades. Gillette holds 90 % + of all the major razor blade patents. All the others copy Gillette, and cannot come close in terms of quality of result.

    By the way, it may come as a shock to you but every business, big and small, strives to make a profit. Otherwise they would not exist. Profit is their reason for being. Just like newspapers, doctors’ offices, hospitals, lawyers’ offices, elected officials, etc., etc. Even ADAs try to earn a salary and make a profit to support themselves and their families. UNBELIEVABLE !!!

    Also, for the record, your aunt Margie also worked for Gillette and like aunt Mary retired after 20+ years of service — Margie from R&D and Mary from Packaging. Furthermore your own Mother and her sister Catherine also worked at Gillette during the Summer months. You too benefitted on at least two occasions from Gillette generosity by attending gratis the Gillette family picnic at Canopy Lake Park. So in the interest of truth, fairness, and family affection, please stop denigrating one of the greatest institutions in the U.S. and more importantly your old hometown, South Boston.

    1. Dave:

      There’s only so much one can write about Whitey and the FBI and the DOJ. Sometimes I have to see that other things exist around me.

  3. Matt: I recall reading that Gillette knew all about stainless steel razors but kept them off the market to preserve it’s blue blade business. Only when its hand was forced by the increasing popularity of stainless steel did Gillette begin selling the new blades.

    1. Dan:

      That seems to be the story in many industries. They stick to the old until they are forced to change. One of the great court decisions in the U.S. was the breaking up of AT & T. If that had not been done we might still be using rotary dial phones.

  4. Matt
    In a previous comment you explained that there was enough evidence to send Martorano, Flemmi, and Weeks away for 20 years to LIFE without making any deals. You also explained that there was enough to send Whitey away too without making deals with the 3 amigos. But you didnt explain (or I didnt see it posted on the blog) WHy Whyshak and Kelly made these ridiculous deals. Best case scenario they tried all 3 seperately WITHOUT any of them testify (since no deals) and MOST LIKELY the juries find them guilty. So they all go away 20 years to Life. Whitey Bulger fled and gets captured in 2011, goes to trial, and he ends up in jail the rest of his years.

    With all that said the ONLY positive aspect of the deals with the 3 amigos (from the prosecution viewpoint) was that Martorano, Weeks, and Flemmi ALL TESTIFIED in the John Connolly trial which sent him to jail for 40 years. I mean what was Whyshak, Kelly (and Foley?) trying to sell the public when it made deals with the 3 amigos?

    1. They were protecting decades of willfull ignorance of murders, IRA bombings, extortions, and rigging cases by the hierarchy of Federal, State, and Local law enforcement, and political leaders.

    2. Jerome:

      The RICO charges against all of them could give them up to 20 years. I’m not sure about the life sentences since that would be up to the judge but they could have received substantially more than they did after making the deals.

      Wyshak made the deals because he wanted to get Billy Bulger – that is his Moby Dick. Wyshak was also urged on by the media with which he has had a close relationship.

      Flemmi did not testify against Connolly – the other two did. Neither one was believed but there was other evidence that the jury used to convict Connolly – there is a pattern with jury’s not to believe the type witnesses Wyshak uses without corroboration even though sometimes the corroboration is slight.

      Wyshak and Kelly were trying to demonize Whitey to hurt Billy.

      1. Matt
        Could you expand on what you mean when you said Wyshak made the deal because he wanted to get Billy Bulger. I dont see a connection to Martorano deal nor Flemmi deal nor Weeks deal in relation to Billy Bulger. None of those deals involved Billy Bulger or led to Billy Bulger being brought up on charges.

        Here is what Tom Foley said:
        When he agreed (Martorano) to cooperate, did you take a proffer from him?
        Foley answers “Yes”. Foley explains what a proffer is to the jury and says that Martorano admitted participating in 20 murders. Foley then says that was the first time they had enough evidence to charge OTHER individuals with participation in those murders. Foley then tells about the numerous cold cases form the 60s 70’s and 80’s.

        Foley says ” We were sick over making the deal with Martorano. But. as the case started languishing, Bulger was a fugitive and we were at a crossroads. We had an opportunity-if a guy like Martorano came in first, other people would follow. We knew he would be able to give us a lot of murders going back to the 1960s that were never going to be solved. There was no activity on those at all. If we let him walk- the public corruption part of this would not have been resolved. There would have been zero closure. We solved FIFTY MURDERS because of teh information Martorano brought in.”

        This Foley quote is out of the book WHITEY ON TRIAL. Foley said this in an interview with the authors of the book.

        What I am trying to understand is what Whyshak, Kelly, and Foley GOT out of the 3 deals made with Martorano, Weeks, and Flemmi. I also want to know the REAL reason those deals were made according to your insight Matt.

        I am confused because Martorano, Weeks, and Flemmi would have done at least 20 years IF CONVICTED on the RICO charges alone according to you Matt. Is it possible they made a deal with the 3 amigos simply to solve murder cases that were never going to be solved?

        1. Matt
          I thought Wyshak made the deals with the 3 amigos to get John Connolly (so John could be the scapegoat on the law enforcement side). I also thought Wyshak made the deals to guarantee that the 3 amigos went to prison without having to go through a long lengthy trail in which the prosecutors run the risk of losing at the trial. I dont see Billy Bulger being hurt at all by the 3 deals with the 3 amigos.

          1. Jerome:

            Yes, Connolly who was known to be connected to Billy — he had a close relationship with him and brought the FBI agents in to meet him — was targeted by Wyshak using Morris, Martorano and Weeks. The latter two as I mentioned were not believed by the jury. The prosecutors had little chance of losing any of the cases against Weeks, Martorano or Flemmi. You never give the shop away if you think you are going to lose – better to lose than to give unconscionable deals.

            As I said Billy wasn’t hurt (Wyshak hoped they could give him something on him but they had nothing that could be substantiated and you would think if Billy had any type of off base relationship with Whitey those guys would have known about it) but his reputation was damaged severely by the whole episode especially the leaking of his grand jury testimony prior to the time he was to testify before a congressional committee.

            Look at the books that have been written about Whitey by people who Wyshak had connections with; you will note the extent to which they connect Billy with Whitey based on rumor and innuendo.

        2. Jerome:

          You don’t see the connection because for one thing you think Foley is on the level. He was the trooper who investigated John Naimovich and after he found out Naimovich was not a leak as the FBI alleged he went on to try to find something else on him working with the FBI to set him up by using Naimovich’s informant and a captain on the state police to do it. Fortunately Naimovich was acquitted.

          Foley says that they got evidence from Martorano to charge other people — who did they charge for being involved in those murders? They were not sick of making a deal with him judging from the way they played the straight man for his jokes in court when he testified during the Connolly case. Foley is trying to rewrite history. The case was not languishing since they had Martorano, Salemme, Flemmi under indictment for racketeering. It was languishing if they were after someone else.

          How do you get “closure” on murders when you give the guy who committed them a pass. The theory of Foley and the prosecutors was if they knew about a murder that was great – they had no desire to prosecute those involved in the murders. The goal is not to “solve” the cases it is to prosecute the people who committed the criminal offense. If I murdered you and hid your body would you feel some justice resulted if I told of doing it ten years later and disclosed where I hid you and I was not punished for it.

          Wyshak was hoping to get Billy Bulger. His used Martorano and Weeks to go after John Connolly hoping that he would give him Billy. Connolly was in a jam because as he said to me when I went up to him during his trial and told him I had a feeling that the whole case was intended to get Billy and he responded “Billy is a man of integrity. I could give them nothing on him.” He told me how they wanted to deal with him if he would also give him some higher ups in the FBI which he also said he had nothing on.

          In effect Wyshak and Foley and others got the knowledge of murders from the deals but to get them they had to give great deals to the defendants and also promise that they would not be required to testify against others involved in the murders. They got the bodies and no prosecutions (outside of Connolly and Whitey)and gave the defendants less time than they would have received if they prosecuted them straight up. The deal with Flemmi just gave them an additional witness against Connolly in Florida and Whitey in Boston.

          They suggest that is one of the reasons they made the deal to solve murder cases based upon a promise of not prosecuting the murderers. Is that a smart deal? What good is it? Look at Flemmi, he didn’t give them anything they did not have about the murders. Why did they deal with him?

          The reason Billy Bulger was not charged with anything is because there was nothing to charge him with. That did not stop Wyshak from having Martorano testify that Whitey said that Connolly said that Billy said take care of Whitey. That was a total lie but the newspapers ran with it the next day impugning Billy. The whole Whitey prosecution was done so that shots could be taken at Billy – the guy was willing to plead to life in prison; they had charges in California that could have put him away for life. It was also done to parade Martorano, Flemmi, and Weeks before the stand so they could try to justify the deals with them.

          1. Matt
            Thanks for the excellent clarifications. Heck I think the whole subject of each deal with each of the 3 amigos and what Whysak was really after is worthy or a series of posts.

            Question: wouldnt Whysak have learned that Weeks, Martorano, and Flemmi had nothing they could give him on Billy Bulger BEFORE making deals with them?

            Why, in your estimate, did Martorano open up about all the murders he did to make the deal? He had nothing else to give them to get out of the RICO charges? The Feds claim it took 1 year to work out the deal with Martorano.

            You are right in that no charges were made to anyone BESIDES Whitey Bulger in connection to Martorano murder confessions.

            Finally, just WHY do Whyshak and Kelly hate and want to vilify Billy Bulger? From what I have learned Martorano, Flemmi, and Weeks were basically USED by Wyshak and Kelly to get at Connolly, and the Bulger Brothers. No more. No less

            I am curious as to what would have happened had no deals been made with the amigos. None of those murders would have been “solved” or discussed at all. Flemmi, Weeks, and Martorano and eventually Whitey would have gone to prison for 20 years minimum on RICO charges? If none of them “ratted” then we (the public) never would have known about ANY of these murders and who did them and why?

            1. Jerome:

              I will post about some of the stuff we are discussing. I do McIntyre murder starting Monday, I hope.

              I have a great difficulty why it is considered a good thing to know about who murdered another person when you get the information from the murderer and he not only is not punished for it but gets a deal that is better than what he should have received in the first place. In other words, he was rewarded just for telling about the murders he committed. Does that make sense? Do you think a person like Ralph Veranis, who is a friend of mine, is happy that he learned that Martorano murdered his brother Tony and that nothing is being done about it? Not only to him but to those who were with him when Tony was pistol whipped. Were the prosecutors and investigators thinking of justice or seeking to get publicity for themselves? How do you account for them giving $20,000 to Martorano upon his release from prison knowing he has murdered 20 people?

              Wyshak was buddies with O’Neill and Lehr who hated Billy and were determined to bring him down. They, and others like Dershowitz, convinced him that Billy was behind Whitey and that the reason nothing had been done against Whitey over the years is that he was protected by Billy. In Wyshak’s mind Billy was Professor Moriarity the ultimate criminal hiding behind a veneer of goodness while deeply involved in criminal activity. He would never admit he was wrong.

  5. Matt
    I spent some time recently in Quincy. What a great area. Passed a few places where I think Bulger and Greig lived in Quincy and Squantum. Whatever became of the Quincy investigations into Bulger and your wiretaps? When will you be posting on the rest of the murders Bulger did (supposedly did included too)?

    I know you are NOT a Howie Carr fan in the least and probably detest him. With that said I still recommend you read his book RIFLEMAN. That book is not written in the format of HITMAN. RIFLEMAN is darn nearly word for word the depositions that Steve Flemmi gave as part of his agreement. It starts from his early crimes till the end. It would be a treat if you read the book and highlighted where you think Flemmi is lying.

    Of course thats IF you still have an interest in what Flemmi had to say as part of his deal. Curiously, I read somehwere that Flemmi CONFESSED to doing 10 murders but there were another 10 murders that he said he would take the Fifth if asked about them in a court of law. Dont understand the rationale behind that strategy.

    1. Jerome:

      Whitey was too disciplined to be caught on a wiretap. I had one chance where I might have gotten much closer to him but the state police blew that when they did not follow up on a meeting. As for the pointed investigation into him that was done by the Quincy police and the DEA. They ran into leak problems. Keep in mind throughout this that the FBI was protecting Whitey and advising him who to avoid and who was after him. How else would he be complaining about my office having a “vendetta” against him.

      I’m going to post the McIntyre murder next. It has taken me a little longer than I hoped because it has more facets to it than the others.

      I’ll look at the Rifleman again. Carr did copy what Flemmi said to the feds. Another leak by our federal prosecutors.

      There is little rationale behind the Flemmi taking the Fifth since the deal he had he could have cleared up all his murders, or at least the murders others knew about, in his dealing with the feds. The only reason to do it is that they involved murders of women or people that would really sicken people if they were paying attention.

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