Monday, October 04, 2004

Tony Soprano takes to writing children's books.

To the extent that The Sopranos takes story lines from real life, you may be seeing this next season...
John A. (Junior) Gotti has been called many things: a thug, the Junior Don, boss of his late father's crime family. But he's trying on a new one - children's book author. In an attempt to get out of prison on bail, the son of the Dapper Don mentions performing several works of charity, including writing a book, "The Children of Shaolin Forest," to raise money for neglected kids. Daily News.
Well, desire to get out of prison may motivate many things. But Junior seems genuinely to rue the day he was called upon to play Michael Corleone to his father’s Don Vito.
"I know my father loved me, but I got to question how much, to put me with all these wolves ... This is the world you put your kid in? So much treachery ... My father couldn't have loved me, to push me into this life."

On March 14, 2003, the FBI began taping Junior's prison talks, listening in as he described a complex father-son relationship of love and regret...

When [a friend] warns him about coming back to the mob life, Gotti makes it clear he will not be making such a mistake: "I would rather clean up s--- in Central Park ..."

And perhaps more than anything, he is worried that his son would follow in his footsteps, much as he followed his own father.

"If you told me my son is involved in the street, I'd rather hang myself," he said. "If you told me my son was involved in this life, I couldn't do another day in jail." And he says a good deal more.
Of course, John Jr. and his dad were hardly the real life match to the Corleones that Senior, at least, seems to have imagined them being.

Jack Newfield, in his list of the ten things that contributed most to the decline and fall of the mafia, gave...
#5. The stupidity of John Gotti.
#6. The stupidity of John Gotti Jr.
and went on to explain...

John Gotti did almost as much as RFK and Valachi to bring down the modern mob ... When Gotti seized power in 1985, by killing Paul Castellano, he dragged the mob back 60 years to a primitive past of extortion and strip clubs. Gotti had vanity, grandiosity, arrogance — and limited intelligence...

Castellano had spent more time in banks than in social clubs. He was penetrating legitimate businesses. He was a relative sophisticate with white-collar criminal schemes.

Gotti was just a brutal dope who loved publicity because of his vanity. When he strutted down Mulberry Street, he probably heard the theme from the Godfather playing in his head. Gotti, who had grown up watching the Godfather movies, talked about “my public.”

Carlo Gambino and Meyer Lansky didn’t have “publics.” My favorite picture of Meyer Lansky was taken in the 1960s as he was walking his dog along Collins Avenue. He and the pooch were snarling at the photographer.

Vincent “Chin”Gigante, Joe Masino, and Florida’s Godfather, Santo Trafficante, were so cunning and low profile, their voices were never recorded by the FBI. In contrast, Gotti was captured on tape bragging about ordering three murders.

On the witness stand this week, Sal Vitale described discreet Joe Massino’s harsh view of his partner in crime. “John destroyed his life, John set us back 100 years,” the Bonanno boss confided to his underboss. He was referring to the intense scrutiny that Mr. Gotti’s celebrity lifestyle brought down all of New York’s crime families.

John Gotti imposed his son, John A. “Junior” Gotti , as boss of the Gambino crime family when he went to prison.

Junior was a mook, so stupid that when the FBI raided his home they found typed membership lists of three crime families in his basement. In 100 years of raids, the government had never before found a typed membership of a secret criminal society.

In 1998, the Daily News reported this mother load of mob members, with the front-page headline, DUMB FELLA, above a photo of Junior scowling under a baseball cap.

There was a classic Sopranos episode two seasons back about how the new immigrant Russian gangsters were tougher than the yuppified, suburban mobsters of today. This point was validated by a government recording played at a labor racketeering trial in Brooklyn a few years ago.

A Genovese family associate, Pasquale Falcetti, can be overheard complaining, “These Albanians! If you have a beef with them, you have to kill them right away. There is no talking to them!”

Maybe we need the Sopranos to get our nostalgia fix...

NY Sun, 7/2/04