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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Harlem Nocturne

Twenty-five year old Joseph Amastasi was well known in Harlem’s Little Italy as a“liberal spender whose source of income was unknown”. At 11:00pm, eighty-four years ago tonight, two employees of a coal company heard a couple of shots and went to investigate. They found Amastasi dead with two bullets in his back.Why was Amastasi killed? Let's check with the magic 8 ball....."ask again"...Why was Amastasi killed?..."Outlook not good". I don't have time for this someone else give it a shake and let me know what it says.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Meet John Doe

Four score and five years ago this very day in New York City three fellers sat in a sedan. Passing pedestrians paid them no mind until three shots rang out then all eyes turned to the car as two men jumped out and high tailed it away. Left inside was a man with two bullets in his person.

Cops arrived on the scene and found that the man was still alive. He was rushed to the hospital where he gave the name John Doe. He said no more and passed out of this life. Since he refused to talk, the police were forced to turn to his finger prints. Never ones to withstand a police interrogation, the prints had absolutely no trouble divulging his true identity.

According to the ink-stained digits, the deceased was forty year old Nate Gordon, a life long criminal with a record spanning back to 1905. During his midnight rambler phase he was arrested for grand larceny and sent to Elmira. Periodic arrest and prison terms followed over the following quarter century. But why he was killed, his fingers remained mum on that.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hey kids, play inside where it is safe

Eighty-three years ago today in Harlem a group of children came face to face with gangland when they encountered twenty-four year old Anthony Sancione in the hallway of a tenement with two bullets in his head. The kids fetched a policeman who found that Anthony was still alive. An ambulance was called but the wounded man died en-route to the hospital. His record showed that he had been arrested numerous times but never convicted.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Spy Who Bored Me

Statistically speaking I have more sunsets behind me than in front of me so now when I invest time in a movie that blows I feel the need to howl. Not since the debacle that is World War Z have I been this let down by a film.

The cause of my current misery - Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I remember seeing the previews for this back when it came out and thinking it looked good. Saw that Netflix has it now and that was last nights viewing. Should have just left it at the trailer. I can 't remember ever seeing such a non-thrilling spy thriller.

Plot- One of the UK's top spies is a Russian mole, but which one???!!! Who cares because there is nothing at risk. No impending nuclear strike, no terrorist attack that needs to be thwarted. Nothing of importance other than the fact that one of England's top guys is a mole.

[Spoilers] Confusion was also in abundance. John Hurt's character dies but they don't tell us or show us, we just have to figure it out. There were flashbacks that weren't obvious flashbacks, then when you catch on that they are flashbacks they show a guy who was supposedly killed so you assume that the later scenes with him are also flashbacks until you learn that he wasn't actually killed after all.They discuss the top Russian adversary but we never see him or learn anything about him. So there is really no villain so to speak. No direct threat and no villain makes Jack a dull movie.  In the end it turns out that all along the Russian's were using the mole to get close to the American's, who play absolutely no role in the film whatsoever.

There is also a plethora of shots of Gary Oldman's character walking, swimming, sitting and  performing other actions that do not push the story line further. Since  I like Gary Oldman and some of the co-stars I sat through it.

The only positive thing I can say about this film is that I learned that actor Stephen Graham, who plays Al Capone on Boardwalk Empire and who has a small part in this film, is actually English. I didn't know that.

Paranoia will destroy ya

And it goes like this, 'ere it goes-

Three nefarious fellas, Thomas Abbruzzo, Mathew Casselli and Thomas Costello, robbed a Fourth Avenue saloon and then fled to Boston with the loot. While in Bean Town some bad blood arose between Abbruzzo and Costello and the former killed the latter in front of Casselli. Minus their Irish partner the two Italian hoods returned to New York.

Once they were back in New York however, Abbruzzo started to worry about his partner. Would he be able to keep his mouth shut about that little piece of business back in Boston? After pondering it for a while Abbruzzo decided that the best way to keep Casselli quiet was to silence him for good. So, to that end, ninety-seven years ago today he lured his partner in crime to a room in mid-town Manhattan and slit his throat. Abbruzzo was subsequently arrested and found guilty, not for the murder of Costello for which he was worried about, but for the slaying of Casselli which was supposed to guarantee his safety.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pulpy goodness

"I told that numb skull that human heads needed to be sent priority. What a lame brain....numb skull, head, lame brain...hee hee hee what a deliciously funny moment for me, hope nobody ruins it by sticking a gun out their window and shooting me."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Miami Vice

One hundred and six years ago today in New York City Pasquale Miami, said to be a “barber”, was walking down the street when a man stepped out of a doorway and shot him. A beat cop who was nearby gave chase but the gunman ran into a tenement and escaped over the roof tops.
Miami was rushed to Bellevue Hospital where he died half an hour later. His body was identified by his friend Nicola Giaroffa who stated that the two men had been in the States for three years and that Miami had been involved in an Italian feud for the six months leading up to his death.

Lt. Petrosino

After viewing the body, America's first mafia busting cop, Lt. Petrosino of the NYPD Italian Squad stated that Miami (which wasn’t his real name. His real name wasn’t given) was one of the leading Black Hand agents in the city. Police felt this was bore out when twenty-five men came to the morgue to view the dead man and almost half of them raised their hands and vowed to avenge his murder.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rub-a-dub dub five guys in the Tub

There used to be a saloon in the Bowery known as the “Tub of Blood”. Guess what happened there one hundred and one years ago tonight? Go ahead guess...alright I'll tell ya. Five men entered and blew past the bartender and two women patrons (ah to meet a gal who would hang out at the T.O.B.) and entered the rear room. A moment later the women and bartender heard one of the men yell, “You’re a squealer! You sent him to Dannemora! (a prison in upstate NY)” the yelling was followed by a series of shots. The shots in turn were followed by the quick exit of four of the five men who entered.

The police were summoned and in the back room they found the body of one Thomas Murphy the assumed squealer. There was also a trail of blood leading out of the saloon so police figured some one else had been injured in the shooting. A short time after the killing a man named Michael Matera walked into the Mulberry Street Police station and said that he had been shot in the leg while exiting the subway but the police decided that he was probably the wounded guy who made a separate exit and held him for the Murphy slaying. After all they had to pin it on somebody.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hollywood Homicide

Was back on this date in 1933 that Tinsel Town lost one of, if not thee, top bootlegger. Booze baron Harry Meagher, said to have a number of Hollywood stars as friends was pulling up to his home when neighbors heard a series of bangs and then a crash. See what happened was somebody gave Harry the works while Harry was pulling up to his abode, then this somebody, who was in the passenger seat at the time, turned his gun and killed James North who was in the back seat. Or did he give North the works first and then kill Meagher? Either way the result was the same. The car jumped the curbed and crashed into a light post. The killer, well he got away. As per usual.

Why did Harry get dead? Three reasons were offered so you can pick one:
1) Gangsters from Chicago (or other eastern parts) were muscling in on the lucrative L.A. scene and it was just to bad for the local boys.
2) Harry himself was expanding into Arizona and Utah and them local fellas there weren't to keen on the idea.
3) It was an attempted robbery gone wrong.

As for me, I don't believe any of them because I once spoke with a Hollywoodland old timer who told me that Harry was the man who killed William Desmond Taylor and that the gun-person who put Harry and North on the spot was none other than

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Angie Folds

Known as “Angie the controller” twenty-nine year old Angelo Pezzulo worked in the policy racket as a foreman over a staff of number runners and was described by the police as a “petty operator”. Chances are, since Angelo was operating in the Bronx/Harlem territory, he was either working for Dutch Schultz or Ciro Terranova and ripped them off or, if a renegade was visited a few times by ambassadors of the Dutchman and/or Terranova and told that if he knew what was good for him he would turn over his policy business or pay for protection. Either way it appears that Pezzulo didn’t know what was good for him and paid the ultimate price.

The end for “Angie” came on this date back in 1934 in the rear of his brother Fred's candy store. Just before 6:00 am Angelo, brothers Fred and Dominick and two other men were playing their last hand of an all night poker game when two men, one of whom had a gun, entered. “Line up and face the wall.” barked the gunman.  Assuming it was a run of the mill robbery the men dropped their cards and did as they were told. After the men put their noses to the wall the gunman walked the line pulling back each head to inspect the face. When he got to Angelo he fired into the back of his head and his back. When Pezzulo hit the floor the gunman took another look at him, then, satisfied with his work, placed the gun in his pocket and he and his partner walked out.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Come And Get The Bull By The Horn

                                                         Who needs a metal detector when there is treasure on Youtube. Rockin' duet plus unfunny banter. TV used to be so cool.                                                                                                                                                                                        

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Shots for a Big Shot

On this date in 1933 Chicago big shot Ted Newberry was found alongside an Indiana road near Lake Michigan. He had some pistol bullets in his head and his right hand was hanging by a thread due to a shot gun blast. Ted rose in gangland ranks as a member of Chicago's North Side gang. After the the St. Valentine's Day massacre however, Ted figured that working for Al Capone might be healthier than working against him and switched allegiances and reportedly managed the gangs North Side liquor concern. Apparently Al was fond of Ted as the latter was found wearing a diamond belt buckle that Al was known to give to his pals.
   Guesses were made as to why a high level Capone guy was erased from gangland. Perhaps it was in retaliation for a hijacking. Perhaps. Or, now that Capone was gone and not coming back anytime soon, perhaps there were some young turks looking to overthrow the old guard. Perhaps. Capone historian Mario Gomes tells us that Ted had a hand in setting up Frank Nitti who was shot by Chicago police the previous December 19, in an attempted assassination made to look like a police raid. Nitti survived and his camp learned of Newberry's role in the plot and well...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A short new year for Larry Fay

1933 lasted all of twenty and a half hours for Larry Fay, who was designated New York City's Public Enemy #3, I think it was #3, let me check my book Gangster City...yes there it is pg. 258 Public Enemy #3. Anyways by the end of 1932 Larry was part owner in a night club called the Casa Blanca (he seemed to have a thing for Spanish names, a previous club was called the El Fay) Like a lot of business' during the Depression the Casa Blanca saw some financial hardships and on New Year's Eve Fay informed the staff that they would be receiving a 30% pay cut (Happy New Year!). This didn't sit well with one of the club's doormen who spent the first day of 1933 drinking and being angry. After stewing for a number of hours the doorman did what a number of angry Americans do when they are mad at their employer. He returned that evening with a gun. He confronted Fay in the lobby of the club and demanded some money. Fay, a reported nice guy and easy touch, was going to comply but before he had a chance to do so, Mr. Drunk Angry Guy pulled his pistol and shot his boss a number of times killing him.

You can read more about Larry Fay in Gangster City: History of the New York Underworld 1900-1935... in ebook form anyways.