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 #57

Original Caption:

Chicago -- The body of Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti, is shown being removed from a squad car by two policemen, who are not identified. Nitti took his own life after a Federal Grand Jury had indicted him along with five others on charges of extorting more than two million dollars from four movie companies. (1943)


Max Allan Collins said...

Whether Nitti really took his life is a matter of conjecture. Despite the witnesses on the caboose of a passing train, the circumstances are at least suspect. Nitti had multiple bullet wounds in his hat, for example, and it took place in high weeds where assassins could lay in wait.

I feel he may taken his life when cornered. I wrote about this in two novels, THE MILLION-DOLLAR WOUND and ROAD TO PURGATORY.

Interesting man, Nitti. One of the first CEO-type mob bosses.

Christopher said...


Vanwall said...

Interesting the indictment was for messing with movies - murders and other more heinous crimes bedamned, you don't mess with Hollywood.

Tommy O'C said...

I don't care how many bullet holes he had in his hat. The man committed suicide, I tell you! :)

Great info, Max!

Christopher said...

soo!shoot a guy in the HAT will ya!!??"

Brent McKee said...

Great books Max - I'm a huge fan of the Nate Heller novels (want more!!!) but the character of Nitti as you presented him was always a favourite, regardless of how important or unimportant he really was in the grand scheme of things. As you know there are different opinions on the matter.

Vanwall said...

In "The Departed", when Mr. French offs himself in extremis, I thought of Nitti, as portrayed by M. Collins - deliberate reference?

Max Allan Collins said...

I doubt that was a specific reference. THE DEPARTED was a remake of a Hong Kong film, and I think the scene was in that as well (didn't check tho).

I appreciate the nice comments about my Nate Heller books. Heller will be back in at least two more books, one appearing next year (assuming I get it written).

Bob said...

And then they just stuffed him in the trunk of their car? Yeesh!

Different times.

I remember back in '68, the Sheriff's kid just walked into Science class with two SHOPPING BAGS FULL OF HUMAN BONES!

Deputies had found the skeleton by the riverbank some years before, and they had never been matched up with a case.

For all I know, it's still there.

rookgaroo said...

Let me get this straight. You're telling me Frank Nitti wasn't launched from a roof by Kevin Costner?
You see what happens when you don't keep Hollywood in line?