Black and Blue

A Profile on the Success of Daniel Moore

By Gale Whitaker

June 12, 1967

           Snap. Flash. Daniel, Audrey, Violet, and Kane illuminated for a moment in time.

           “Alright. Great. And just a few more with the bride and Mother?”

           Violet and Audrey got closer together. Audrey smiled on command. Violet took a moment to straighten out her wedding dress, breathe, and follow suit.

           The photographer’s frame centered on two women, dressed in long gowns with floral embellishments. One in white. The other, maroon. Both were made up with winged eyeliner. Their hair was coiffed into voluminous displays. They froze…

           Snap.

           …and detached with the final shot. Audrey grabbed a glass topped off with merlot, and retreated to a sewing circle of Long Island trophy wives. Violet made for a sorority of pastel blue dresses sitting at a nearby table.  

           The newlyweds, Violet and Kane Richards, two darlings fit for the silver screen, deserved every inch of the reception’s spotlight. But it was Daniel Moore who commanded the room. He was hard to miss at six foot seven. His visage looked hewn from stone, like the bust of some Roman emperor. Forest green eyes projected a gracious demeanor. His formalwear fit the contemporary mold with just a slice of flavor unique to his office of “Chief Patriarch”. For this special occasion, he wore a navy-blue suit with gold pinstripes. A white sash, faintly reminiscent of a toga, draped from shoulder to hip. Clasped at the shoulder was a golden brooch fashioned into the shape of a six-pointed star, framed by a circle inlaid with astrological symbols. 

           I felt every bit the outsider. Short notice left me settling for some suit collecting dust in the closet corner. One with the pant legs hovering an inch higher than I would have liked. The argyle socks helped. This circumstance came courtesy of a more senior writer making a last minute trip down to D.C. for the Loving v. Virginia case; the outcome of which could legalize interracial marriage in the United States. And so, destiny (i.e., The Editor in Chief) dropped this profile piece on the desk of one Gale Whitaker.

Daniel paid the ill-fit no mind and agreed to an interview. That was pre-ceremony. Five hours later at the reception, we were reunited. With the ceremony well behind him, Daniel could breathe easy and watch his daughter take the next step in her journey.

           “Didn’t mean to lead you on a wild goose chase tonight. I mean I have got everyone from the tri-state area trying to kiss every inch of my ass. It is the day of days after all. The heralding of a new age.”

           “A heralding?”

           Daniel took a deep sip of his wine, with an audible “Mhmm” in response.

           “Course’ she deserves the best.” He gestured at the young, amber-skinned woman now seated at the head of the banquet hall. I saw her listen to bridesmaids, all animated and chattering with one another. For Violet’s part, the conversation looked to be a dull one. The contents of her wine glass were more interesting as she swirled it around its chamber. Next to her was the new head of household, Kane Richards. New York City’s youngest councilman and potential nominee for Mayor. Freshly shaven. Hair slicked back at a sharp angle. Tall and lean. At the time, tapping his fingers on the table. He scanned the room for a diversion. It came in the form of a couple colleagues who dragged him away for cigars on the patio. Violet paid little more than a wayward glance in response.

           “Gorgeous, isn’t she?” Daniel asks.

           There wasn’t any question about it. Violet Richards, nineteen years old, had high cheekbones, and eyes of aquamarine. Her biracial complexion struck a curious contrast to the ivory faces buzzing about. I noticed what qualities she inherited from the maternal half were blunted. Her hair was straightened in protest of a more natural curl. Her makeup invoked a rosy contrast on top of a light brown foundation.

           “Have you heard from her Mother at all recently?” I asked.

           “No.”

           I knew better than to press Daniel for details. They were, after all, recounted in the limited “Wedding Edition” of his “Apollo” magazine, a publication he founded back in 1965. The magazine had proven to be instrumental in promoting “Divinism”, a modern branch of Christianity founded by Moore in the ’40s. The divinely inspired brainchild from which he built his success. In Apollo, the Chief Patriarch’s stock portfolio was typically what readers flipped to first. Otherwise penned as, “The Almanac”. It proved to be a popular weathervane for getting a sense of where the wind blew over Wall St. In Apollo, you could also get a reading of your horoscope, the approaching month’s ephemeris, stock returns since last issue, interviews with up-and-coming figures in the Church community, and a letter from the publisher (Daniel) addressing whatever zeitgeist stirred the country’s hivemind at the time.

           For Violet, it read as follows:

           She was born on the 4th of January, 1947, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama at            4:56 PM. Apollo Incandescent had laid down to rest his golden head in the West. Off on the            Eastern horizon, where the heavens meet the Earth, Chiron with bow in hand, raced to herald            the arrival of Violet Moore. She who would usher in a more virtuous, enlightened era.                       She who is the harbinger for the age of Aquarius.

           Until her birth, Daniel feared he was doomed to a life of poverty. Word spread fast of his fathering a child of mixed birth. A eugenic faux pas in the minds of Alabamans. And one still locked in permafrost to this day. Finding work proved difficult. Neighbors would sooner spit in Daniel’s wake than look him in the eye. No more than a month later, the mother absconded in the dead of night. What prompted her to do so, Daniel never knew. There’s little detail provided. In “Apollo”, he wrote how between the birth of Violet and her leaving, the mother became possessed by some spell of deep depression. Her laughter was stifled. Her smiles faded. Household duties were neglected. She looked at Violet with vacant eyes. As if her daughter were a stranger, not a child of her own making. And so the mother left. 

           Daniel makes it clear he could not and would not forgive her. Her name is not mentioned.

           But Violet. In her, I saw the golden hour of my life bloom over that blackened pasture. And            before me laid a new frontier. One so much greener than I thought possible. One of family and            fortune. For I knew that in my arms, was the child of Aquarius. The child of God, reborn. Our            holy harbinger for a more enlightened age, when the boundaries of nations will recede, and            our peoples unite as one. When our brightest minds will conjure miracles from the fruits of            science. In this age, we will ascend on the wings of human ingenuity to the heavens above. We            will touch those celestial bodies from which we have divined our fortunes here on Earth. From            the moon, to the stars, to the very void itself perhaps. 

           For all the pontification with which Daniel’s filled “Apollo” over the years, the man had certainly put his money where his mouth was. The wedding had been a testament to just how far Moore had come since Violet’s birth.

           “I spared no expense. Not on her. Not Violet.”

           Spared no expense indeed. Not at the Château des Étoiles. A palace of marble, glass, and limestone exceeding even Long Island royalty. About three hundred quests filled the banquet hall around me. Staff, gloved in white, maintained military-grade discipline with trays balanced on one hand while the others nimbly trade glasses of wine and champagne. Meals of lobster, filet mignon, and herbed fowl were served on sterling silver platters. At the head of the hall were the remaining foundations of a wedding cake. Once a gaudy tower of sugar, covered in a flowerbed of icing. Then a rubble of crumbs and one 35-degree angled slice.

           The wardrobe of those around me didn’t go unnoticed either. Next year’s fashion line was tailor-made for every guest attending (apart from yours truly). Save for the addition of one accessory. Like Daniel, many wore sashes of white pinned with brooches indicating their respective, astrological houses. Trademark regalia of Divinism.

           Founded in 1948 from within the empty shell of an abandoned warehouse in Tribeca, Divinism had since spread to every corner of the tri-state area. From Trenton to Westchester to New Haven. At the time, no less than a dozen churches were open for folk of all walks of life to participate. Those who were among Daniel’s first disciples had since ascended to head these churches as pastors themselves. These men, in turn, had recruited a host of souls to attend service. By donating a small tithe of at least 500$ and agreeing to an auditing of their accounts, these converts were given a lifetime membership with the church and a reward for their donation after a year in service. In time the interest compounding members’ accounts left a healthy surplus, kept safe and secure in the church’s vaults.

           “Prosperity awaits the faithful.” Noah was proud to say. “I’ve heard all kinds of stories from members of the flock. From the rafters to the pulpit. And I don’t just mean matters of the heart and soul. Real, material gains have been made. Mortgages paid off. Children’s education, secured. I have brought prosperity to godless souls who were desperate enough to rely on government crumbs. Poor creatures who’d sooner wallow in their own sorrow, drowned in vice. I have saved these people.”

           Those without the means to pay need not be left behind. They simply incurred a minor debt to be paid off at Church locations at a later date. According to Daniel, labor in lieu of funds could include house cleaning, handing out pamphlets, administrative tasks, and even dog walking.

           “Folk are still shaken up from getting their nest eggs sacked in The Depression. Then you had a whole decade of red tape and slap-dash legislation cobbled together in Washington, making people even more scared to invest. People’s faith has to be restored. For decades, what cash flowed into the topography of the market was little more than a trickle. But with each year that watermark grew higher and higher. Today when I look to the stars and the markets after, I see a network of tributaries. Soon they will unite into a mighty river which will power the engines of God and Capital. And we will be its master.”

           Master. The word came easily to the Chief Patriarch. One he sounded practiced in proclaiming with a steady timbre. To whom? His pulpit? To Violet? Or just himself?

           “In any case, I see no point in keeping my gift, or my faith, reserved only for those who’ve got time to muse over charts while sipping cocktails uptown. Each one of us has a part to play in the days to come. Even the less fortunate.”

           Only a couple days before I attended one of Daniel’s weekly ceremonies out in Newark. A modest location in a church built with 1930’s modesty in mind. Those attending fit the bill without question. Suits off the rack. Hair combed with tar oil, for all I knew. One man came dressed in bowling shoes. But the Chief Patriarch insisted that that working man’s well-being be kept in mind. And to that end, he’d spread Divinism wherever he could.

           The inspiration for his rebranded piety took root in the heat of combat. A military Chaplain at the time, Daniel’s duties rarely went beyond performing religious ceremonies and providing moral support for other service members. For him, the war was one conducted in whatever makeshift pulpit or confessional was available. He was the island of faith for men lost in a sea of fire.

           That metaphor took on a new meaning at Midway.

           At 14:30 on the 6th of June, while assisting on the deck of the USS Hamman, an Edsall-class destroyer, a wave of heat and air lit the world around Daniel Moore. He was tossed into the air by a combustive force powerful enough to rend the ship in two. For a moment he was weightless. Then the sea rushed up to embrace him. His world was nothing but brine and blood in that moment. Breaching the ocean’s surface, Daniel looked back to find his ship scarred with fire and smoke. Ugly innards were exposed to the sea air. Its buoyancy had already begun to founder. His own life had been reduced to treading water and searching for what flotsam he could. The sky had erupted into a furious orchestra of combat between his own fleet and the Japanese air force. The percussive beats of mounted machine guns, the tenor of Zero planes crying out with every nosedive, the bass-tones of torpedoes hitting the Yorktown carrier.  All that, a backdrop to Daniel’s own battle for survival.  One he was on the brink of losing. His lungs became more and more waterlogged with every gasp for air. His body struggled to reject the sea’s advances. But soon his vision dimmed. A final cry for help drew the attention of men nearby on a fleet tug named the USS Vireo.

           When pulled to safety, Daniel’s skin was said to have paled to the color of curdled milk. Onboard was Petty Officer Norman Keene, whose faith had been ministered to time and again by the Chaplain. To Officer Keene, he knew it was a debt that had to be paid.

           “The boys I was with, all they saw was a corpse. But I- I had a feeling that God wasn’t done with him.” Keene later mentioned when I had a chance to interview him at the wedding. “And so, in lieu of any proper medic, I did what I could.”

           A minute into heart palpitations, a small spout of water erupted from Daniel’s mouth. And his eyes opened.

           Treading the high wire between life and death can leave survivors with quite a rose-colored looking glass through which to view the world. Things taken for granted in the old world are renewed. Every bite is a feast fit for kings. Every breath of air is the first one of Spring. Daniel’s looking glass proved to be kaleidoscopic. Or so he claims.  

           “I saw it all quite clearly. It wasn’t my time to leave. But to be reborn. Within that same water, I was baptized. Washed. Cleansed. I was fit to tread the Earth once more. As a new man. A man with gifts given by the almighty above.”

           “I didn’t know what it all meant at first. For the next few years I had the strangest visions. Didn’t know what to make of it all. Didn’t know what to do. Not until Violet came into my life. She was my North star. My compass. With her as inspiration, I’d learn to not to spurn these visions. But use them. And I know now, that when she assumes the mantle of Matriarch, we will severe more than just the red tape of government, but the mortal coils which bind us to these mortal prisons. We, humanity, will reach our final destiny.”

           Before all that, Daniel would have to contend with a post-war reality. He would have rejoined the fight were it not for his honorable discharge. A source speaking on anonymity, however, cited Section 8; a US Army regulation stating that a service member mentally unfit to serve must be sent home. For Daniel, it was the town of Birmingham, Alabama. From there, Daniel would place bets on a stock market that was only a shadow of what it once was decades ago. At the time, the Dow had barely broken 140. But the risks he took paid off. After earning a comfortable living, Daniel would move to the city and create what is today known as Divinism. It was, as he put it, a crossroads between faith, finance, and the stars above.

           When prompted for a recap of those investments which launched him into the public eye, Daniel kept a humble demeanor.

           “I just looked at the charts, read the news, and kept my ear to the ground. All I can say is that a lot of what’s grown into a roaring success today, I had the privilege of divining well in advance. In short: I prayed. I prayed to the almighty above, and he answered back through angels sent by way of starlight in the constellations above.”

           His talents had drawn both ire and awe from those in the investor class. That self-prescribed ability to read the cosmos and turn water into wine, or rather, gold, induced plenty of eye-rolling.

           “Between a blue moon hovering in the house of ‘whatever’ and some Blue Chip dropping a dollar, are a ludicrous number of variables worth considering.” Brad Kershaw, an Economics Professor at Columbia once wrote in an Op-Ed in March the year before. “Reader, if you pulled a man off the streets wearing nothing but a sandwich board and asked him what the weather forecast was, you’ll get a better sense of where the Dow’s headed. I guarantee it.”

           But money talks. So do results. By 1960, knowledge of Daniel’s success had spread throughout the New York metropolitan area. Moore had managed to turn plenty of financiers on their heads in confusion with a prophetic ability to read the market’s every pulse. The portfolio he made available to the public reflected an ability to bridge the peaks and valleys of the Dow with decisive and timely trades. Those with the patience to dissect the dates and costs and names could find that each one in his “Almanac” had fallen well within the margin of safety.

           The proof of his success was laid all around me. Like bees to honey, the gilded ranks of bankers, actors, athletes, artists, and captains of industry have come from far and wide to pay homage. All wining and dining under Daniel’s roof.

           Nevin McGonnell, Divinism’s “Chief Holyarch of Accounts”, humored me with a brief history of the Chief Patriarch’s road to success. Albeit not without a little bit of prodding on my part. The man was a mass of nerves and ticks. Every thirty seconds his glasses got pushed back onto the crest of a hook shaped nose. His eyes darted around the room, looking everywhere but my direction. Tap water was more to his liking than any of the dozen other choices available at the open bar.

           “He hears the heartbeat of the land. Of people. Politics. War. Peace. Trade. Life. Death. Love. Lust. He sees everything. And so he- He acts accordingly.”

           Daniel’s first investment was in 1944. $3,000 spent on Johnson & Johnson shortly after their initial public offering. 80 shares. The company had since grown considerably. By the time of the wedding, it had acquired McNeil Laboratories & Janssen Pharmaceuticals. A firm success story for those with the patience to hold those securities. Daniel’s reasoning at the time? Venus was in conjunction with Jupiter while in the house of Taurus on the morning of J&J’s IPO. Three celestial symbols all of which represent the role of wealth and finance in the cosmos.

           I provided another suggestion that could help explain the decision. The boom in our nation’s birth rate after the War must have tipped him off. No better firm to get behind than one selling lotion and talcum powder. Right?

           “Right. Well. You say that but you must remember that Venus, the planet of love and romance, was in the house of Libra at the time. It’s natural sign. Soo I’ve no doubt that’s what prompted all the…” Nevin stammered for a moment. “… procreation.”

           “Check and mate.” I admitted. Nevin continued, ignorant of my sarcasm.

           “Throughout the next couple of decades, our Chief Patriarch consulted the heavens above for guidance. Guidance that lead to a rise in personal wealth and securities. From H&R Block to Ford Motor Company.” 

           When he had a moment between handshakes, I was able to get a word in with the groom, Kane Richards, who had remained patio-bound with a couple alumni from his Alma Mater; carbon copies plucked from the vines of Ivy League fellowship. After a brief first impression in the form of one firm handshake, it was no wonder he was leading in the polls and on the minds of lawmakers throughout the city. Despite a few hairs out of place at that time of day, his thick mane, pearlescent smile, and boisterous tone exuded an aura of youth and virility.

           “It’s been a good year for me, no denying it.” With a bottle in hand, the merlot filling his glass spilled a little onto his wingtips. High on love and good company, Kane was none the wiser. “Bronx and Harlem are pretty shaky as far as polls go, but we’re feeling more than confident about the heartland.

           “Manhattan?” I asked.

           “Yup. That big ol’ meat cleaver” In his moment of swagger the aspiring Mayor leaned a bit too far. Merlot on my blazer this time. “Shit. Sorry about that.”

           I waved off his attempt to wipe away the stain with a napkin. It’s fine. Really. He shrugged.

           “I’m trying to make the most of what little time I have before I have donors banging on my door trying to cash in favors. Won’t be a lot of time for cigars after they crown me king of this town.”

           “It’s a foregone conclusion, then?” I asked.

           Kane’s facial features all twisted into a look of revulsion in response.

           “Guy I’m primarying’s gone all-in on that War on Poverty bandwagon. Doubled down. Jackass must have never heard of television. They got footage of crazies all across the country stoning soldiers and breaking windows. Not the best timing for notions of revolution. Then of course we got some fossil on the Republican ticket, but he’s got more than a few Achilles heels to nip at.” A dull red glow from the groom’s cigar pipes up as if it were the searing period to his line of thought. “So yeah. I’d say it’s a foregone conclusion.”

           I could think of no better time to switch to something with a little more levity. Like; how did he meet the bride?

           Kane paused for a moment. One moment a fortress of Machiavellian stratagem. The next, our hero stopped mid-charge. A beat passed. He stared at the wizened wrapper of his cigar. Another beat.

           “Audrey!” He shouted to the mother-in-law, sitting just a stone’s throw away inside. Next to her was the bride herself. “Where was it me and Violet met again? Daniel’s birthday party? His sixtieth? On the Icarus?  

           He turned to me to explain. “That’s the yacht he takes premium flock members out on for mid-night service. Gives em’ live readings right there under the night sky. Real nice party trick.”

           Audrey nodded. Violet, for her part, stared ahead, lost in thought. “She had just graduated with honors. Violet I mean. A year early if you can believe it. Takes after her father. Got a real eye for numbers. Smart girl for such a pretty face.”

           After a brief ‘congratulations’ given to the groom, I made my way over to the Audrey.

           She was a bit more lucid when it came to conversation. Curt. Blunt. But lucid. Her pursed lips suggested a painful interview ahead. Like drawing water from a stone. Perhaps it was her migration from East Germany. Or the years spent perfecting every toe tap and pirouette during her life as a ballerina. But she was nothing if not accommodating for all guests. Members of the press included.

           “She is a pretty thing, is she not?” Audrey gestured at her stepdaughter, who pulled the corner of her mouth into a smile.

           I agreed. No contest.

           “Smart answer. Looking this beautiful isn’t cheap, is it Violet? You men have it easy. You get fitted for a tux, sign a check, and you’re off to the races.” The exaggerated rolling of eyes didn’t go unnoticed by me. “Meanwhile, we ladies have to watch every crumb we eat. And makeup? Hair? For a wedding? There goes two hours of your day.”

           Audrey turned to Violet, lifting her veil, taking a moment to look at the fit. Violet flinched before draining the last drop of her wine from its glass. As if bracing for the comment to come. “We almost made 115, didn’t we? It’s a little tight around the waist. But gowns tend to flush out the problem areas. So I’m sure no one took notice.”

           “Problem areas?” The bride raised an eyebrow.

           “Don’t be so dramatic. It’s a celebration. Stop pouting. And straighten up.” Audrey turns to me, head tilted down as if to trade scandal and gossip. Suddenly I’m a confidant? “She’s been like this all day. As cryptic as a Sphynx. Can’t say I’m surprised. When I got married to her father- You were five, right Violet? Violet? Anyway. My feet were as cold as ice. But who can blame us? Men like him and Kane? Those are REAL providers. It’s intimidating. I mean having that much power and influence tangled up in your life can be a real boon, but it also gives us ladies a lot of pressure on days when it counts. Like weddings, and fundraisers, and galas and all that nonsense.”

           Audrey limply gestured with her wrist when mentioning the constant rotation of events ladies like her had to endure.

           “When I was her age I made all kinds of stupid decisions when it came to boys. Thankfully she has a good head on her shoulders. Very mature for her age.”

           But the bride. Our child of Aquarius. What did she have to say? How was she feeling that night?

           “How are you feeling tonight?” I asked again.

           Violet stared into her wine glass. Now empty. The question seemed to washed over her. Like a stone, unmoved, she sat there. Motionless.

“I feel…”

           There was a slight quiver in the lips. Her eyes watered. I sensed something beneath the surface.

           My concentration broke when I felt a firm clasp on my shoulder.

           “How we doing, Mr. Journalist? Get all the quotes you need?”

           I assured the Chief Patriarch that yes, I had. “The food is fantastic. The band’s not too bad either.”

           “Spared no expense.” Daniel takes a long sip of champagne. “Violet insisted on some Jazz number based out of Harlem. Kane talked her out of it, thank god.”

           The host shook his head. 

           “It’s all just… loud up there. Harlem.”

           Daniel Moore turned to face his daughter, holding out his hand. She looked up at him. Nothing but a backdrop of chatter and the reception’s orchestra filled the silence between them.

           “You’ve barely said a word to me all night.” She said at last. For a moment she appeared to deny him. But a gentle smile curled at the corner of her lips. Her eyes began to well up with tears before nodding. She held out a hand.

           As the two made their way to the dance floor, the swell of string instruments blew a sentimental wind into the night. The lights dimmed. Spotlights and the eyes of guests were trained on the two. They danced together. Their every move, simpatico. Orbiting like the stars above across mahogany floorboards. Violet took one step too many and stumbled briefly. She laughed to herself. Father and Daughter picked right back where they let off, not a second later.

           Tears rolled down her eyes. She looked to him, searching for something. He smiled. For a moment. Then, his mouth stiffened.

           Beneath both eyes, Violet’s light-brown foundation had begun to bleed.

           And in its wake, beneath the right eye, was a dark cloud of black and blue.