The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Friends and Family #17

On the scene at Joe's Restaurant in Cliffside Park, Bergen County Attorney
General Nelson Stamler looks down upon Willie Moretti, recently deceased
gambler and longtime associate of New Jersey rackets overlord Joe Adonis (1951)


Vanwall said...

Come out blasting, kid, and remember, two shots to the head.

Tom Sutpen said...

That was the golden age of mob rub-outs, wasn't it?

I mean even the most noteworthy execution in the last 30 years (Big Paul Castellano outside Sparcks Steak House in '86) had almost no elan. You need the checkered table cloths, the tile flooring, the oblivious customers, the bemused cops on the scene who've seen it all. Add to that a New York Mirror front page headline as big as all outdoors (HUNT CLUES IN GANGLAND SLAYING) and . . . the heart just swells with nostalgia.

Of course, having been born in 1965 I didn't get to see any of this firsthand so there's no way I can feel any pangs of nostalgia

Yet . . . I do.

Vanwall said...

The topper to the Colombo/Gallo wars, which were pretty damn spectacular, what with links to Black Power notables and an era of showmanship as gangster chic, the wonderfully named Umberto's Clam House in 1972 will always be the one I remember. Joey Gallo, the "Ubazze", decided at the spur of the moment to satisfy his craving for scungilli at a little family restaurant on Mulberry St, not knowing it was owned by Matty "The Horse", of the rival Colombo family. Wrong menu choice, and his last - as old fashioned a hit as ever was.

Me and a pal used to eat after school at a pizza joint near our HS that year, and he pointed out someone as a local soldier he'd heard of thru some cop buddies, and speculated on the ownership of the place. Less than a week later, that guy was gunned down outside that very pizza joint. We took to calling it Umberto's, and it had a special place in our list of favorite eateries. We were bummed when it closed down a year or so later. Seems they had accounting problems...who'd'a thunk it? ;-)

Tom Sutpen said...

The Colombo hit was probably the most audacious in history. I mean, it's one thing to take out a boss in some steak joint between courses, but at an Italian-American Unity rally?? You ask me, any kind of unity gathering involving an exclusively White crowd is sinister by default. The event was doomed.

Then that bizarre moment when Joey Gallo was actively courted by New York literati (who you'd think might have sense enough to stay the hell out of his proximity after the Colombo hit). Yeesh . . . what some people won't do for diversion.

I guess the 70s were a pretty good time for Organized Crime lore, after all.

Vanwall said...

An excellent read is "Chief!" by Albert A Seedman, the tough nut who was the NYPD Chief of Detectives during the late sixties and early seventies. It actually covers his whole career, including the Kitty Genovese murder and the various radical bombings from that time, and is illuminating just for that, but his insider tidbits about the Families and their conflicts is fascinating, as he was primary on many of the incidents. Written with Peter Hellman, I consider it to be one of the ten best non-fiction books about crime, period.

moosekarloff said...

Mama mia!!! Look atta all the vino he a-spilled on de floor!!! Whatta dat? Bordolino or chianti?

Tommy O'C said...

"You ask me, any kind of unity gathering involving an exclusively White crowd is sinister by default."

Well, I didn't ask but since the subject came up, would you say that about an exclusively black or hispanic crowd? But, hey, if it makes you feel superior.

By the way, it was an Italian-American rally, so it wasn't the an event that would normally interest too many people of non-European descent.

At least the hitman was black.

For pure audacity, the hit on Castellano was some piece of work. Much more complicated and daring. Unlike Umberto's, a public hit done indoors, this was done by a hit squad all dressed alike and using walkie-talkies in full view of a Manhattan rush hour crowd in a neighborhood heavily patroled by police. On the spectacular-hit meter, this one edges out Crazy Joe.

Gallo showing his face in public was just asking for trouble. Doing so in Little Italy was an act of suicide.

Tom Sutpen said...

"You ask me, any kind of unity gathering involving an exclusively White crowd is sinister by default."

Well, I didn't ask but since the subject came up, would you say that about an exclusively black or hispanic crowd?

No. In all seriousness, I would not.

But, hey, if it makes you feel superior.

Oh, calm thyself.

I know it's Open Season on this blog in some quarters, but if you can't see when a statement is made sardonically, then you're really in for a long haul here at Gunslinger Central.

Tommy O'C said...

Oh, I noticed the sarcasm in your original remark--and the inherent double standard. Now, if you want to apply a little Sutspin after the fact and say you were being ironic, that's another story.

"Open Season in some quarters...long at Gunslinger Central..."

Whoa, get over yourself, pardner.