"He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." - Chicago Gangster Ted Newberry. Rubbed out January 7, 1933

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drive by

Who the intended victim was, is unknown but the shooting spree that took place on this date in the year that Ford unveiled the Model A is a fine example of the rampant lawlessness which took place in America’s cities during the Dry Era.
At 7:30pm while the lower Eastside streets were teeming with people, a large Lincoln sedan pulled up and five gunmen began to open fire on some one. Men, women and children ran in all directions. Having missed their target with the first volley, the gunmen jumped out onto the running board of the car and continued firing before giving up and speeding off leaving in there wake four wounded bystanders, one of whom died.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Trouble with B & T crowd

On this date in the year that Betty Boop made her debut, two cops were walking their beat on the Lower Eastside when they heard a series of shots. They ran to a six story tenement where the shots came from and as they entered the gunsmoke filled hallway lying on the floor, with five bullet wounds, was the well dressed 27 year old Brooklyn gangster Joseph Bivone. The killer(s) escaped out of the back of the building but a trail of blood led the police to believe that another person was wounded in the fracas. Bivone had a record consisting of three arrest and, probably because he was from Brooklyn, police believed he was the victim of a battle over gang territory.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Blam! Blam! Bram.

At 6:00 am on this date five years after the Prohibition went into affect, Murray Goff was driving a fare in his taxi when a large limousine rear ended him. Goff got out of his cab to investigate when out of the limousine jumped the driver and two other men who were cursing and waving pistols at Goff yelling at him to get back. The men took off on foot while Goff summoned a cop. The cop and the hack inspected the limo. On the floor of the passenger side was 37 year old David Bram with two bullets in his head. Bram had an extensive record for dealing drugs as well as bootlegging. In addition to New York he had been arrested in Detroit, Toledo, Chicago and Pittsburgh. He was also wanted in Kansas City where he escaped from custody the previous November 20, after appealing a five year sentence for a narcotics rap.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ta Da!

On this date in the year that Europe erupted into global conflict, twenty-six year old John Randazzo was shot and killed while walking in the east village. The only motives were speculative. It's possible that Randazzo was a member of the Goldmine Jimmy Gang knocked off by the Kenmare Street Gang. He may have also been related to a snitch who was found with twenty-two stab wounds in a saloon in that proximity earlier in the year(post coming in 2009). I posit that he was killed because his name sounded to much like that of a magician "Randazzo the Great!" and the underworld couldn't live with it. If you have any theories as to why JR was put on the spot please post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Watch out Casesy Kasem

For those in the NY area I'm going to be on NPR's WFUV 90.7FM this Saturday morning at 7:30 discussing Bad Seeds in the Big Apple. For those sinners and fornicators who are still in bed at that hour, or for those who live outside the broadcast area, you can get it on the their website at your convenience.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This quartet looks friendly enough, D'oh

On this date in the year that the Red Baron was shot down for good, Forty-year old Arnold Grunde was standing outside his saloon at 11:00pm. A car pulled up and four men got out. Each man drew a gun and fired a shot into Grunde. The gunmen got back into the car and took off. Rumor has it they went to a saloon and after a few drinks, one of the guys, whom was known as Charlie the Clairvoyant, went into a trance and repeated, "blog, internet, edit post" as a glob of drool hung down his chin. After thirty seconds one of his chums slapped him upside the head and he came out of it. "Did I say anything good?" He asked, "Nah, more jibberish dat don't mean nuttin', finish your suds."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The House of Corleone - A Universal Picture

"You talkin' to us?" "Whoa"
Is it just me or does the above picture look like a scene from a Saturday Night Live skit? Now I haven't seen Righteous Kill - it may be a great film but this pic looks like two self parodies - but the teaming of DeNiro and Pacino seems like a move from the old days of the movie system. "Hey, nobody is really paying to see Dracula and Frankenstein seperately anymore, but if we put them together..." If the film makes any money it'll just be a matter of time before they come out with Abbott & Costello meet the Mob. But since A&C are dead it'll be Will Ferrell and Jack Black in the comedic roles and D & P playing the Mob guys with a title like Men of Dishonor or Not So Wise Guys.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Do the Humpty Hump

A thoroughly frightened lumber man named Frederick Keller arrived at an East Village Police station on this date, 39-nine years after the Lincoln assassination, (Editors note. Tired of using the same lingo ie. "years ago") complaining that while walking past the local cemetery that the Humpty Jackson gang used as a hideout, he was accosted by about twenty of the young hoodlums who ordered him to hand over his money. One of the ruffians went so far as to press a gun against his head and pull the trigger. After the click of the empty gun, Keller high tailed it to the station house.
Five undercover officers were dispatched to the graveyard but by time they got there the gang had dispersed. Being familiar with the Humpty Jacksons the officers headed to the east end of 14th street where they found and arrested gang leader Thomas “Humpty” Jackson, along with three other gang members.
With their prisoners in tow, the cops began their parade back to the police station when suddenly they found themselves in the midst of an ambush as approximately twenty five other gang members fired at them from behind the doors and windows of the neighboring tenements. Once the shooting started the prisoners themselves drew guns and started to fire. The officers returned the fire and for several minutes the street resembled the wild west until reserves showed up and forced the gangsters to flee with the exception of “Humpty” and the original three who had been arrested. Miraculously no one was injured except one of the men arrested with Jackson whose “head was laid open” by an officer’s night stick.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hey Batto, Batto, hey Batto, Batto; Swing!

On this date back in 1929 a group of kids were in the street playing baseball. They had a pretty clear field with the exception of green sedan that had been parked on the block all that day. Sure enough someone got a hit and the ball bounced into an open window of the car. One of the kids went to retrieve the ball, and climbing on the running board, he opened the door and found himself looking into the eyes of a dead man. The lad let out scream and ran into a nearby tenement for help. The deadman was James Batto who had a record dating back over thirty years. The full story on Batto can be found in Gangster City: History of the New York Underworld 1900-1935. Coming in paperback March of 2009.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Walk This Way

And it starts with a little kiss like this- Hey all lets get some fresh air and do a walking tour. I'm dusting off my Gangsters of Second Avenue tour and inviting ya'll to come along.

Gangsters highlighted on the tour-
-Joe "the Boss" Masseria
-Paul Kelly
-Big Jack Zelig
-Johnny Spanish
-Kid Dropper and many more.

The only catch, you have to buy a copy of my new book Bad Seeds in the Big Apple. For the price of one book you get the best collection of bandits, gunmen and molls between two covers and a walking tour. Doesn't matter where or when you bought it just show up with it and you're all set. If you don't have one and don't have time to get it, let me know and I'll bring one along for you. Price $25. So lets get together, we'll laugh, we'll cry, we'll get a couple of drinks.

Saturday September 27, 2:00pm

RSVP to dgis1931@yahoo.com For meeting location.

Let me know if you'll need a book.

See you there.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Out with old

Forgot to tell you. Friday Sept. 5 was the 78th anniversary of the killing of Joe Pinzolo. Who was Pinzolo? Glad you asked. He was the man Joe “the Boss” Masseria put in charge of the Reina (or Rina or Reena, take your pick) family after he, Masseria, ordered the Ice racketeer’s death back in February. Although Reina’s gang accepted Pinzolo as their leader, quietly they planned his overthrow. We get an unglamorous view of Pinzolo from Joe Valachi who met him once when the latter was being looked over for possible membership into the mob. Valachi referred to him as being an ugly “greaseball”, which author of The Valachi Papers, Peter Maas tells us was a term used by the younger Italian gangsters when referring to the older generation Mafioso.
Pinzolo’s actual name was Pinzolo Bonaventura and his criminal career dated back to the first decade of the century when he gained a bit of notoriety in 1908 for being the first black hander ever to be captured in the act of trying to blow up a building. On July 14, of that year he was sent to blow up a tenement building because the owner, Francisco Spinella, had ignored numerous black hand letters demanding $4000. Spinella, who owned other properties that had been bombed by the black hand, turned the letters over to the police. Detective Petrosino and two members of his detective squad were staking out his tenement and at about 11:00pm they saw Pinzolo walk down the street and pass the building twice, then on the third pass after making sure no one was on the street he dashed inside. The three detectives immediately ran in after him and caught him in the act of lighting a fuse to some dynamite. Two of the detectives grappled with the gangster who reportedly “fought like a tiger” while the other doused the lit fuse. In the melee Spinella came out of his apartment with a rifle thinking he was under attack. He wanted to shoot Pinzolo but the detectives intervened and at one point the barrel of a gun was pressed so hard against Pinzolo’s face that it actually went through his cheek. Reports are conflicting as to who inflicted the wound one report says it was Spinella and another says it was Petrosino either way the young gangster was sent off to prison and after his release worked his way up in the mafia becoming a lieutenant to Joe “the Boss” Masseria.
On September 5, (not September 9 as reported in The Valachi Papers) Pinzolo was knocked off in a suite that was leased to Thomas Lucchese, who was one of the late Reina’s lieutenants, but according to Valachi another of Reina’s lieutenants did the actual shooting, Girolamo Santucci, known as “Bobby Doyle”. Who afterwards told Valachi, “I got the break of my life. I caught him alone in the office.” (More on this in Gangster City. Paperback edition coming in March 2009)

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Health to all Neapolitans and death and destruction to all Sicilians!"

That's not my credo mind you. We here at the DGIS studio maintain a Hard Rock Cafe, love all serve all mentality. The Camorra members who made up the Navy Street gang back in 1910's however...Back in the days prior to the U.S. entering WWI the title of this post was a common toast at Neapolitan drinking fest. This coming Sunday marks the 92 anniversary of the Navy Street gang putting the latter part of their motto into effect. Earlier in the month the Terranova family received and invitation in the mail, a copy of which still exist, which read:

Dear Sicilians you are cordially invited to send either Ciro, Vincent or Nicholas to a dinner we are having. Don't worry we won't kill you. Honest, you can trust us. - Yours truly, the Navy street gang.

PS Whomever you choose please have them bring Charles Ubriaca as well. - TNSG

The Terranova brothers then played rock, paper, scissors to see who got to go to the party. Nicholas won and he and Ubriaca went to Brooklyn and enjoyed a find banquet. After leaving the premises Terranova and Ubriaca were ambushed and shot to pieces. Later a Navy street canary named Ralph Daniello would sing and the murderers would be placed on trial. Antonio Vollero , one of the bosses would do about 14 years in jail and another Tony Paretti would end up in the chair. (for more coverage check out Gangster City pgs 34-36, don't have it? The paper back edition is coming March 2009)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Curse of Tanner Smith

Police felt that Michael Stenson- drilled 89 years ago today- was a member of the Marginal gang and killed as a result of the death of “Tanner” Smith. An eyewitness to the murder said that Stenson and another man had been walking together when an argument suddenly broke out. During the argument Stenson’s companion drew a gun and shot him and began to run away as Stenson doubled over. The wounded man regained his composure and drew his own gun and began to chase his assailant but dropped dead in the middle of the street between some streetcar tracks. Stenson’s murder may have been premeditated and had the ok from powerful men because, although the police denied it, a witness said that there was a cop on the corner who watched the whole thing but did not interfere.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The envelope please...

And the winner of the first annual Dead Guys in Suits art contest is...rip rip tear....receiving two out of three votes, it's entry #5. Congratulations to Scott I. and thank you to all who participated.

Hey Moe, hey Moe

On this date in 1930 a sedan containing five men and a woman pulled up in front of a residential building and, in front of a number of witnesses, tossed the bullet riddled body of Moe Howard out onto the street. He had been shot five times and a small amount of cocaine was found on him. Police say he was wanted for a murder from the previous February (what murder wasn't divulged) so perhaps it was a case of revenge. Autopsy reports also showed that prior to death the victim had also been poked in the eye and scrapings from under the finger nails showed evidence that he had recently been in a pie fight.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Take a seat boys, we'll be done playing in a minute

Antonia Zaraca had only been out of Elmira for a number of weeks and was staying in a room above Giuseppi Jacko’s café in Harlem’s Little Italy. The former rarely left the latter's premises unless he was accompanied by a number of friends. This day September 2, 1912, his friends were off at a party so Zaraca stayed in the café playing cards with Jacko. During the game four men entered and took seats. A short time later a group of about twenty more men, some of them known through out the neighborhood as gunmen, also entered. They watched Zaraca and Jacko play a hand and then cheered for Jacko when he won the game. As the ex-con and café proprietor shuffled the cards and prepared for the next round one of the onlookers drew a gun and fired into Zaraca’s face. The bullet ripped through his left jaw and tore into his head. The wounded man attempted to rise but fell over dead. Jacko kicked over his chair and turned to run but another gunman fired and brought him down with a shot to his left temple.
Seeing that the large gang of men, which included known gunmen, that entered the café did not alarm Zaraca and Jacko and that these men cheered for Jacko after he won the game, it appears that the victims were either members of the same gang or allied with them. Perhaps the victims were some how double crossers in the feud between the Morello-Terranova’s and the “Charley Bakers”. {Gangster City pgs 32-33}
One police theory was that it was a revenge killing for a gang leader known as "Coney Island". According to police it was after this guys murder that Zaraca refused to leave Jacko's without an escort of friends.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The stars that we reached were just starfish on the beach

We had joy we had fun we had dead guys in the sun. Well summer is over, but thats ok cause I always liked fall better and what better way to kick off the season than by introducing the three celebrity judges for the first annual dead guys in suits art contest. Lets say hello to, (cue theme music)

Judge #1 Matilda Downey Matilda is an actress who visitors to this sight would most likely know as Yaryna, Phil Leotardo's goomar who got whacked in the second from last episode of the Sopranos.

Judge #2 Mario Gomes Mario is an Al Capone enthusiast and researcher who has appeared on the History channel, Fox and Court TV.

Judge #3 Greg Vaccariello Greg is a Stand-Up comic, TV actor and great grand-nephew of New York City's own Five Point alumnus Paul Kelly.

The criteria for the judging is that there is no criteria. Whatever picture tickles your fancy, or fancy's your tickle. It's all for fun, games and a book. The judges will now go over the pics and when a decision is made it will be sealed in an envelope and passed to me through a Price Waterhouse representative. (are they the ones that do the Oscars? If not pretend I said the company that does the Oscars.)