Chicago gangster Ted Newberry says: "He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." Ted was rubbed out on January 7, 1933

Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

Meet Kiki

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Eighty years ago this morning the aforementioned seven gents you met over the course of this past week, and Highball, all converged in the Northside gangs garage at 2122 North Clark Street. As the gang, and Schwimmer, hung out in the back by the trucks what looked like a police car pulled up front. Two uniformed cops got out and went inside. Assuming it was a simple police raid the Northsiders followed the order to line up against the wall. While facing the brick two more guys armed with machine guns entered and all four gunmen blew the Northsiders into history.
In honor of the 80th Anniversary of the St. Valentinetine’s Day massacre we thought we would celebrate by interviewing the one man who knows more about the massacre, and Chicago gangsters in general, than anyone else alive, Al Capone. But since he’s dead we got the next best thing, Mario Gomes. Mario is the owner and host of and the internationally recognized authority on Prohibition Era Chicago gangland. Mario has appeared on the History Channel’s Home & Bunker/ Al Capone as well as Man, Moment, Machine/ Al Capone, numerous other programs and newspaper stories and made it three rounds in season four of American Idol.

Dead Guys In Suits. Thank you very much for stopping by the studio Mario. So let’s start at the beginning. About six billion years ago there was an explosion, six billion years later you are the go to guy for Al Capone and Chicago gangster information. How’d that happen?

Mario Gomes. Well, I went to see The Untouchables movie with Robert DeNiro and was amazed by his powerful screen presence so I thought what's the real Capone like? I went to the library and picked up Kenneth Allsop's the Bootleggers and here we are!

DGIS: Today marks the 80th Anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. There have been numerous theories on who the killers were. Personally I believe it was the wives and girlfriends of the victims themselves, POed because, on what is supposed to be a day for lovers, they chose to hang out with Reinhart Schwimmer instead. Am I close?

MG: Could have been plausible as victim Frank Gusenberg was found to be married to two dames at the same time. Actually ,Capone's killers for hire were ballistically linked to the crime.

DGIS: Thanks to the soft rock band Paper Lace there has been much confusion about Capone and Chicago. The books say that Capone paid off the police and the politicians and therefore was able to operate, yet according to Paper Lace “…A man named Al Capone tried to make that town [Chicago] his own. And he called his gang to war with the forces of the law.” Who is right?

MG: Paper Lace were good musicians, but full of sh&* as historians. Capone never fought the law, just other gangsters.
Paper Lace also states "Daddy was a cop on the East side of Chicago"???? Where was his beat? in the freaking lake?

DGIS: You have quite a collection of Al Capone artifacts in your museum. Among other things, you have his phone, his fountain pen, a signature. I heard that you actually went out and contracted syphilis and left it untreated just so you could experience the “full Al” is that true?

Editors Note: After gazing forward for eight straight minutes with glassy eyes, lips slightly apart and gob of drool hanging down to the second button of his shirt Mario finally answered.

MG: DUUUUH? Who are you? I don't know no Potsy Downer!! Book Good! Me know how to read, PFFFFT!!! French Canadian bean soup aaaaaaaaahhhhhh Isn't that Dutch?
Okay, I'm better! Nothing a little bismuth can't fix. Now just what the hell were you talking about?

DGIS: Al Capone once said, “Nobodies gonna Zuta me.” I got Zuta’d once in Tijuana, it wasn’t that bad. What’d Al have against it?

MG: In Zuta's case it meant being plugged full of holes. This was the new term for Zuta.

DGIS: Back to the SVDM. Now that was the hit with the highest body count. What is the second largest body count from that era?

MG: Probably the Fox Lake massacre of 1930. Three gangsters in one swoop.

DGIS: Oh, before we continue, is it true that you Zuta everyone that signs your guest book?

MG: Only the negative reviews. I have everyone's ip and track them down.

DGIS: Let’s play word association. We will name some infamous Chicago characters and you say the first thing that comes into your head. Here we go- Frank McErlane

MG: Psychopathic nutcase!

DGIS: Spike O’Donnell

MG: Mr. Showman

DGIS: Hymie Weiss

MG: Mr. Spontenaiety

DGIS: Bob Newhart

MG: The Bob Newhart show. Did you know that the guy who played Michael on that show (Peter Scolari) was a porn star in the Swedish Erotica series??

DGIS: We did not know that. But now that we do he is our favorite Bosom Buddy. Ok, seeing that you are Mr. Chicago, the staff here at DGIS decided to put you to the test. So lets see how you do with our quiz.
The Four Deuces stood on South Wabash. What was the address?

MG: 2222 South wabash

DGIS: The next one is multiple choice. Complete the sentence. “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They send one of yours to the hospital you send one of theirs to the ____.”
A) Zoo
B) Movies
C) Morgue
D) Worlds Fair

MG: C- Morgue

DGIS: What song was Jack Zuta playing on the nickelodeon when he got Zuta’d?

MG: Good for me, bad for you

DGIS: What are the odds of a guy named Zuta getting Zuta’d?

MG: Very likely. He was a whoremaster and very disliked. Moran had to associate with him to fight Capone, but I'm sure good old George could have cared less when he heard of his demise.

DGIS: Last quiz question. Capone once killed a man with the last name Howard. What was his first name:
A) Moe
B) Curly
C) Shemp
D) Joseph

MG: Joseph L. Howard

DGIS: There was a third Gusenberg brother. Why do you think the Capone gang didn’t bother taking him out as well?

MG: Henry Gusenberg was low level hood and worked as a projectionist and dabbled a little in unions.
The Capone gang didn't bother you if you didn't threaten or speak of retaliation.
Did you know that one of the Gusenberg nephews was a peeping tom? He got caught because of his big feet.

DGIS:Sounds like a story for another blog. Is it true that whenever the Circus gang traveled somewhere they all crammed into one little car?

MG:Yes, and they wore clown outfits. They had KILLER gags!!!

DGIS: To your knowledge did Scarface ever see the film Scarface and if so, what did he think?

MG: Before it was in production, Al sent some goons to see what it was going to be about. They wanted to make sure it didn't ressemble to much like Al's life. He didn't get to see it when it was released in 1932, as Al was already in the Atlanta State pen.
He did okay Fred Pasley to write his bio. Al knew the public wasn't stupid. He knew they saw him as a gangster.

DGIS: Though known as Scarface to the public his real nickname amongst friends was “Snorky. It is our opinion that a gangster film called Snorky probably wouldn’t have worked. Your thoughts?

MG: No, people would confuse it with deep sea diving ala Jacques Cousteau.

DGIS: In your view, what is the biggest misconception about Al Capone?

MG: Hollywood has tagged alot of crap to Capone. In the Untouchables movie, there is a scene where a little girl gets blown up by a Capone gang bomb. This never happened! Al would personally kill any thug who would hurt a woman or child. I just hate when they lump him with the likes of Hitler, Dahmer, Jim Jones etc... He didn't kill women or children. He fought rival gangsters and they fought him. Both sides knew the rules. They had a certain respect back then. They didn't kill their foe, if he was with his family. Today they blow pretty much everyone up just to get their prey.

DGIS: And finally, does crime pay?

MG: As the great Bill Helmer once said "Crime does not pay, but it can lead to immortality." So there!
DGIS: Thank you Mario, here let me wipe that droop for you.


John D. said...

Great interview, Pat. You're even better than Barbara Walters (although, you did forget to ask Mario what kind of tree he would be).

Anyway, it was very informative.

Pat Downey said...

Thanks John,

I like to think that my brand of journalism cuts through all the bs and gets straight to the heart of things. No fluff, no softballs just hard hitting questions.

Tom Hunt said...

Nice work, Pat. Can you tell us when Mario's next album is due out? (I really appreciated the artistic integrity he showed by walking away from Idol.)

Seriously, that was one of the more thorough interviews I've ever read - all the way from the Big Bang to this very moment. Impressive!

Pat Downey said...

Thanks Tom. I thought about starting in the late triassic period but decided that for this story we had to go back to the absolute begining.

Megan said...

The wives did not murder their husbands. Mrs. Frank Gusenberg (Toots, pronounced like tootsie pop) was my great grandfathers aunt. While he lay dying in the Alexian Hospital, she waited outside the door to say goodbye. But since he never talked to the cops, the cops never let her in the room to say goodbye.