Eugene and I thought we'd try something new and inflict it on the MMA Nation YouTube audience. Instead of talking about cage fighting, we turned the topic to gangsters.
In the show we discuss the infamous $6 million Lufthansa heist immortalized in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and the Nicholas Pileggi book it's based on: Wiseguy. There have been arrests in the case this year for the first time (despite Henry Hill's snitching, Jimmy Burke and Paul Vario were never charged in the case).
We also talk about Lepke Buchhalter, Gurrah Shapiro and Murder, Inc. another case where a gang leader decided to eliminate most of his crew to prevent them testifying against him.
Eugene argues that Jimmy Burke (played by Robert DeNiro in the movie) was acting out of greed and Lepke was acting out of paranoia. Greed is apparently better since it has a finite object and can theoretically be satiated.
We're just experimenting here so please let us know what you think of the format, execution, etc.
If you're into this topic check out:
Goodfellas on DVD you don't own this already?
The Heist: rare out of print book on the caper that is a nice complement to Henry Hill's tale, note the comment in the reviews claiming to be from set-up man and survivor Lou Werner.
Gangsters and Goodfellas: Henry Hill's sequel to Goodfellas about his adventures in witness protection
Tough Jews : Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams by Rich Cohen very highly recommended, a 1990's take on his family's neighborhood legends -- Murder, Inc.
Murder Inc. by Burton B. Turkus written by one of the prosecutors in the 1940s original Murder Inc. case, not entirely reliable but a classic read
Murder Inc the movie with Peter Falk who's perfect as the loathsome Kid Twist. The guy who plays Lepke is perfect too, a walking peptic ulcer.
The Canary Sang but Couldn't Fly: The Fatal Fall of Abe Reles a modern re-telling of the tale of Kid Twist, murderer and snitch
The Life and Times of Lepke Buchalter another recent bio
Murder and Mayhem in the Big Apple - From the Black Hand to Murder Incorporated decent Kindle read for $0.99
Here are some of my fave pics of these crooks:
Pittsburgh Phil (on left)
I'll end this with Robert Lowell's poem about doing jail time as a conscientious objector to WWII and being in the same jail as Lepke:
Memories of West Street and Lepke
by Robert Lowell
Only teaching on Tuesdays, book-worming
in pajamas fresh from the washer each morning,
I hog a whole house on Boston's
"hardly passionate Marlborough Street,"
where even the man
scavenging filth in the back alley trash cans,
has two children, a beach wagon, a helpmate,
and is "a young Republican."
I have a nine months' daughter,
young enough to be my granddaughter.
Like the sun she rises in her flame-flamingo infants' wear.
These are the tranquilized Fifties,
and I am forty. Ought I to regret my seedtime?
I was a fire-breathing Catholic C.O.,
and made my manic statement,
telling off the state and president, and then
sat waiting sentence in the bull pen
beside a negro boy with curlicues
of marijuana in his hair.
Given a year,
I walked on the roof of the West Street Jail, a short
enclosure like my school soccer court,
and saw the Hudson River once a day
through sooty clothesline entanglements
and bleaching khaki tenements.
Strolling, I yammered metaphysics with Abramowitz,
a jaundice-yellow ("it's really tan")
and fly-weight pacifist,
he wore rope shoes and preferred fallen fruit.
He tried to convert Bioff and Brown,
the Hollywood pimps, to his diet.
Hairy, muscular, suburban,
wearing chocolate double-breasted suits,
they blew their tops and beat him black and blue.
I was so out of things, I'd never heard
of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
"Are you a C.O.?" I asked a fellow jailbird.
"No," he answered, "I'm a J.W."
He taught me the "hospital tuck,"
and pointed out the T-shirted back
of Murder Incorporated's Czar Lepke,
there piling towels on a rack,
or dawdling off to his little segregated cell full
of things forbidden to the common man:
a portable radio, a dresser, two toy American
flags tied together with a ribbon of Easter palm.
Flabby, bald, lobotomized,
he drifted in a sheepish calm,
where no agonizing reappraisal
jarred his concentration on the electric chair
hanging like an oasis in his air
of lost connections. . . .