THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
If you traveled south from downtown on Las Vegas Blvd., you’d hit The Las Vegas Strip where most of the mob-run casinos and hotels sprang up. (Photo at right around 1977.) There was the Stardust, a carpet joint, that the Chicago Outfit called home. The Riviera was licensed to Ross Miller who ran an Outfit strip joint on Chicago’s Wilson Ave. His son became governor of Nevada. The Desert Inn was managed by Moe Dalitz and his Cleveland mob, as I mentioned earlier. Doc Stacher, a New York mobster, owned the Sands until it was purchased by Howard Hughes in 1967, making it legitimate. The Dunes at one time was owned by Major Riddle, a Chicago bookmaker, and Morris Shenker who represented Ray Patriarca of the New England Mafia. It’s also been said Shenker was associated with the St. Louis mob. The Bellagio now occupies the land vacated by the Sands after it was imploded. Further south on the Strip, Frank Costello and Sam Giancana had a piece of the Tropicana, just to name a few. Of course there was Ben Siegel’s infamous Flamingo. That’s just a quick recap from my own failing memory. You can probably understand why this section is so short.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
When people ask me if I’ve seen the movie Casino, I tell them not only did I see the movie, I lived it. I’m asked about the movie so often, I decided to go into a lot of detail for folks who want the inside story from a guy who was there.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
1. The Bellagio with their dancing waters that you can view for free…very romantic. (Pictured above right.)
2. The Mirage where you can watch their volcano exploding for free. (Reminds me of someone I know well.)
3. Treasure Island where you can catch a free pirate show with actors in period costumes dueling aboard a pirate ship complete with exploding cannons for free.
4. Downtown Freemont Street at night with its free laser light show. (Better just see it because I can’t describe it.)
5. You might want to give the new ultra modern CityCenter a look. It’s billed as “one of the great urban places of the world.”
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Just two hours later Moe Sedway, Gus Greenbaum and Morrie Rosen walked into the Flamingo as the new bosses. The killers headed northeast on Route 66 to Chicago. This was the beginning of the Las Vegas the world would come to know.
At that time, there were only three hotels on the Strip. On the south end stood the Flamingo, the north end the El Rancho Vegas, and in the middle the Frontier. The big man looking out for mob interests at the time was Johnny Rosselli. Later on, Chicago Outfit kingpin Sam Giancana thought he needed help, so he sent Marshall Caifano out to look after things. The other reason Giancana sent Caifano out is he kind of liked Caifano’s wife, who decided to stay in Chicago and keep the home fires burning.
In the 1950s, with a little help from the Teamster’s Pension Fund, Las Vegas boomed. Moe Dalitz came to the rescue of developer Wilbur Clark who began building the Desert Inn. Morris Kleinman, Sam Tucker, Louis Rothkopf, Thomas McGinty and Cornelius Jones—collectively known as the Cleveland Mob—gave Clark the capital he needed to complete the 238-room hotel. But Dalitz didn’t make the same mistakes attention-grabbing Ben Siegel made. Dalitz kept a low profile and stayed out of the limelight. Dalitz called it “Wilber Clark’s Desert Inn.” The place even had Wilber Clark’s likeness on their casino chips. In reality, Clark only held a minority interest and did not run the casino.
Next came the Silver Slipper. In 1952, the Sahara and Sands opened. Then in ’55, the Dunes and Moulin Rouge followed by the Tropicana and Stardust in ’56.
In order to work, you needed a gaming card, either from Metro or North LV. There were no female or black dealers on the Strip at this time. Al Sachs, a Stardust Casino shift manager at the time, hired the first woman dealer on the Strip. She had been a Stardust cocktail waitress until she was juiced into her dealer position by Al. It was all about who you knew. If you knew the right people, you could start out as a busboy and three months later wind up as a 21 dealer.
It’s been said that Marshall Caifano, the Chicago Outfit’s front man, burnt down the El Rancho in 1960. To this day, the lot stands empty on the corner of Sahara and the Strip.
In the 1970s, Tony Spilotro changed places with Caifano as enforcer for the mob in Las Vegas. Spilotro and Lefty Rosenthal, head of the Stardust, carried on one of the most interesting love/hate relationships in the history of Las Vegas. The pair had been childhood friends in Chicago, but now each believed they were top dog in Las Vegas. The movie Casino tells the story from Rosenthal’s viewpoint. You can read my slant on what happened in one of the following chapters “Casino the Movie” and in my book, Thief! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist.
A lot happened in the 1970s. Women and blacks were finally able to work as casino dealers on the Strip. Vegas and Metro police departments became one, which made getting a gaming card much easier. The only thing that didn’t change was the mob still ran things. But slowly they began to lose their grip on Sin City as people with deeper pockets entered the scene. The change of power began when Howard Hughes started buying up choice hotels and casinos. The mob just didn’t have the capital to compete.
Now, you’d have to live on Mars not to have heard of Las Vegas. In fact, the astronauts joke about being blinded from space by the city’s major wattage display, especially the powerful halogen beacon beaming up from the Luxor’s pyramid.
Friday, December 4, 2009
William "Slick" Hanner, George Joseph & Cherie Rohn
Who is William “Slick” Hanner?
Me and my friends sneaked into the movies to see our favorite actors—James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Paul Munie, George Raft and Edward G. Robinson. Hollywood glorified gangsters, making them the idols of my day. But even real gangsters had their good sides. During the Great Depression, they sponsored soup kitchens and gave to the needy who included practically everyone I knew.
One thing didn’t change…I still wanted to be a gangster. With that sort of goal, it wasn’t long before me and my buddies ended up as convicted armed robbers. Now I was a felon, a lot worse than a gangster. As a convicted felon, you lose your civil rights. The state of Illinois owned me and my felony cost me my wonderful wife.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:06pm EST
Treasury, Fed delay Internet gambling ban 6 months
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve on Friday delayed the implementation date for a new Internet gambling payment ban for six months, a move that gives lawmakers time to overturn it or end confusion over illegal practices.
In a joint statement, the Treasury and Fed said the December 1 implementation date for the law passed in 2006 would not be achievable for some financial institutions. They set a new compliance deadline of June 1, 2010.
"Commentators expressed concern that the act and the final regulation do not provide a clear definition of 'unlawful Internet gambling,' which is central to compliance," the two agencies said.
In addition, they said certain members of Congress have "expressed an intent to consider legislation that would allow problematic aspects of the act to be addressed."
The 2006 law, which cost European Internet gambling companies billions of euros in lost market value, prohibits credit card, check, and electronic fund transfer payments by U.S.-regulated financial institutions in connection with "unlawful Internet gambling."
But rather than define what types of gambling are illegal online, the bill relied on existing federal and state laws to answer that question. It also still allowed any online horse race betting permissible under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.
FRANK SEEKING TO OVERTURN BAN
Congress passed the anti-gambling legislation in 2006, when Republicans still controlled both the House and Senate. The final regulations issued to enforce the ban were issued by the Treasury and Fed just before former President George W. Bush left office in January.
Representative Barney Frank, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, in October urged a 12-month delay in the implementation because of confusion over what kinds of online gambling were illegal under the bill.
Frank's committee in September 2008 passed a bill to overturn the ban, but the full House never acted on the measure. Frank earlier this year reintroduced the bill, which would effectively overturn the ban and create a framework for the Treasury to license Internet gambling operators, collect taxes from them and enforce rules for transparency.
On Friday, Frank praised the Treasury and the Fed for delaying the regulations, which he said would "curtail the freedom of Americans to use the Internet as they choose" and put unrealistic burdens on financial institutions.
"This will give us a chance to act in an unhurried manner on my legislation to undo this regulatory excess by the Bush administration and to undo this ill-advised law," Frank said in a statement.
Frank has scheduled a hearing next Thursday on the legislation, dubbed the "Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act."
The six-month delay will allow banks to establish policies and procedures to require gambling businesses to document the legality of their activities, the Treasury and Fed said.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry)
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Rising from a swampy flatland a little more than a century ago, Miami has grown to become a trend-setting metropolis known for tourism, fashion, nightlife and style. Miami is also the city of Hollywood's "Scarface" Tony Montana, television's Miami Vice and popular culture's "Cocaine Cowboy." Ron Chepesiuk's Gangsters of Miami (Barricade Books, November 2009) digs beyond the headlines and fantasy to provide a close up look at the real role that mobsters, gamblers, hit men, drug lords, con men and other gangsters have played in making America's youngest city also one of its most fascinating.
Known as the Magic City, Miami has always been the home for a colorful variety of gangsters. They include the notorious smugglers of the Prohibition era, such as Gertrude Lythgoe, Bill McCoy, James Horace Alderman, the Ashley Gang, and Red Shannon; famous mobsters like Al Capone and Meyer Lansky who helped make Miami a gambling Mecca, the Cuban Mafia and its syndicate, La Compania, led by godfathers Jose Battle Sr. and Jr.; the marijuana traffickers of the early and mid 1970s, most notably the legendary Black Tuna Gang; drug lords of the Medellin and Cali cartels and master minds of the cocaine explosion, such as Griselda Blanco, the so-called Black Widow Blanco, Pablo Escobar, the "King of Coke" and Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela; the Russian Mafia with colorful characters like Ludwig "Tarzan" Feinberg, who came to America after the fall of the Soviet Union; and the street gangs that plagued Miami after the advent of crack cocaine in the mid 1980s, led by such vicious gang bangers as Anthony "Little Bo" Fail and Corey "Bubba" Smith.
The book also provides details of headline making cases and characters like the tourist murders of the early 1990s, the Operation Swordfish money laundering investigation; the Yahweh Ben Yahweh investigation, the Don Aronow and James Callahan murders, the Andrew Cunanan murder of noted fashion designer Gianni Versace, and the rise and fall of Chris Paciello, the so-called "King of South Beach." Gangsters of Miami also investigates the police and governmental corruption that has plagued the Magic City since its early days.
Gangsters of Miami is a lively and well-documented account of Miami's gangs and gangsters, showing that fact can be more riveting than fiction. The praise for the book has been lavish:
Steve Morris, Publishers of the New Criminologist web site, said "Chepesiuk's aptitude for revealing the inner workings of organized crime within a community is once again on display here as the reader is cast into Miami's bloody underbelly. A remarkable achievement by the author."
Scott M. Dietche, author of The Silent Don: The Criminal Underworld of Santo Trafficante Jr. calls the book "one of the most complete looks at crime in South Florida."
Lew Rice, Former Special Agent in Charge, DEA and author of DEA Special Agent: My Life on the Front Line hailed Gangsters of Miami as a "must read for anyone interested in an historical and colorful account of crime in the Magic City."
Ron Chepesiuk, an award-winning investigative journalist, has been described as "the master of high octane journalism." He is the author of Gangsters of Harlem and Black Gangsters of Chicago, Drug Lords, a Fulbright Scholar, an adjunct professor in the journalism department of UCLA's Extension Division and a consultant to the History Channel's Gangland documentary series. He has also been interviewed by the Biography Channel, Discovery, the History Channel, Black Entertainment Television, and NBC's Dateline.
Monday, November 2, 2009
In my last blog I mentioned the decline in Las Vegas revenues. Here's further news on the topic in this Associated Press story:
"The world's largest casino company said Tuesday that it lost $1.6 billion during the third quarter as fewer people gambled, fewer groups visited and the value of its assets fell.
The loss at privately held Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. for July through September reflected a $1.33 billion drop in the value of its assets.
Harrah's $1.6 billion quarterly loss included a $1.05 billion loss from operations plus the cost of interest expenses and taxes. It said its operations income would have been $278.4 million if it hand't written down the value of its assets."
We visited the Paris which was located right across from our suite. Sure looks great on the outside.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
(Photo at right: The LV Strip as seen from the Jockey Club roof.)
It was a whirlwind trip, just 5 eventful days in Sin City. Here's the rundown:
My best friend, JJ Gamble (her real name!), and I flew to LV for free compliments of her son-in-law who flies for Southwest Airlines. Since we used his buddy passes, we promised we'd refrain from besmirching his good name, i.e., no sex on board, etc.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
In my last blog I mentioned a story that appeared on the Website, New Criminologist. I've posted it here in its entirety with express permission of editor Steve Morris at New Criminologist. Hope you enjoy it.
- Ron Chepesiuk
What is it that attracts us to Mafia movies like steel clips to a magnet? Most of us have seen The Godfather, a movie considered by many to be the greatest ever made. But it’s just one of a long line of great Mob flicks that extend back to Hollywood’s early years where we had such classics as Public Enemy Number 1 and Little Caesar. Just in past two decades or so Hollywood has released such great flicks as Casino, Donnie Brasco, GoodFellas, Jackie Brown, A History of Violence and The Departed, among others.
The Midwest Book Review described To Kill an Irishman as “must reading…a true life story more dramatic than anything ever to come out of Hollywood.”
According to news reports about the movie, Actor Ray Stevenson, the star of The Punisher, looks forward to the challenge of playing the complex Danny Greene character.
## Based on Rick Porello’s book, “To Kill an Irishman” (Available from Simon and Schuster Publishing in 2010)
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
On my list is checking out some of the bigger casinos on the Strip, off Strip casinos such as the Rio and maybe Glitter Gulch, see how Fellini's Restaurant on the West Side is faring, and get out to an old haunt, Lake Mead, now gasping for life.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
October 2009 $23.95 Hardcover
Since the turn of the century, Miami has been a pivotal destination for emerging criminal organizations: the Mafia, Colombian cartels and local street gangs. Ron’s latest well written tome, Gangsters of Miami, accurately depicts their dominance, control, and method of operation during Prohibition and their progression to gambling and narcotics. This book is a must read for anyone interested in an historical and colorful account of crime in the Magic City!
Ellen Poulsen, author, The Case Against Lucky Luciano: New York’s Most Sensational Vice Trial and Don’t Call Us Molls: Women of the John Dillinger Gang.
Lew Rice, Former Special Agent in Charge, DEA, and author of DEA Special Agent: My Life on the Front Line.
Meet the real Tony Montana’s and flinch at their ruthless capacity for extreme violence and murder. Chepesiuk’s aptitude for revealing the inner workings of organized crime within a community is once again on display here as the reader is cast into Miami’s bloody underbelly. A remarkable achievement by the author.
Scott M. Deitche, author of Balls: The Life of Eddie Trascher, Gentleman Gangster and Silent Don, The Criminal Underworld of Santo Trafficante Jr.
Chepesiuk provides another fascinating portrait of organized crime in an American city whose uniqueness and location made it a spa for a variety of colorful crimes and criminals. Miami stands as a stark contrast to the comparatively staid underworlds found in the East and Midwest.
Steve Morris, Publisher, The New Criminologist.
Chepesiuk provides another fascinating portrait of organized crime in an American city whose uniqueness and location made it a spa for a variety of colorful crimes and criminals. Miami stands as a stark contrast to the comparatively staid underworlds found in the East and Midwest.
Stephen Brodt, Editor, Trends in Organized Crime Journal.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I'm a day late (if anyone's noticed.)
Here are the answers to Slick's Q & A:
Q: What separates a professional gambler from an amateur? A: When you can quit your day job and gamble full time with always something to fall back on.
Q: Is there a dealer's union in Las Vegas? A: A few casinos weak unions exist, but the casinos are trying vigorously to keep unions from forming. Check out this link for more complete information: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/1999/nov/03/vegas-unions-ponder-effort-to-organize-dealers-cas/
Q: Where did the saying "Bet your bottom dollar" come from? A: In the 18th Century, poker players stacked silver dollars instead of chips. When a guy wanted to bet everything, he "bet his bottom dollar," meaning the whole stack down to the last dollar.
Q: Who made "The buck stops here" a household phrase? A: Harry Trueman, an avid poker player, kept the saying on his desk.
Q. Who made “The buck stops here” a household phrase?
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
In 1985, Sonny was convicted of racketeering under the RICO statute by Rudolph Giuliani’s office, which led to another stint doing maximum time (7 years) in federal prison. It was during this incarceration that Sonny took up writing and penned his first novel, Blood of Our Fathers, 1991, Simon & Schuster followed by Sins of Our Sons. Girard is also author of Snake Eyes about a hedonistic bookmaker. A fourth book is in the works.
Girard, a savvy and knowledgeable ex-mobster, has the knack of communicating intelligently about his life in organized crime. These qualities make him a sought-after guest on TV shows such as ABC’s Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, Fox News Channel’s The Edge with Paula Zahn and as a consultant on the movie Mickey Blue Eyes with Hugh Grant and Jeanne Tripplehorn. More recently Girard appeared on Fox’s National Enquirer TV, analyzing the authenticity of HBO’s hit The Sopranos.
The above was taken from an interview which appeared on http://www.americanmafia.com/ and has been edited for space by Mobwriter.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg with regard to Sonny’s multifaceted life of crime and beyond. In order to get a better idea of what makes Sonny tick, I studied his Web site, Sonny’s Mob Café, http://www.sonnysmobsocialclub.com/, and listened to several online archived radio interviews.
Intrigued, I contacted Sonny and asked him if he’d do a Q & A on Mob Speak. Much of what I learned about Sonny will become evident by reading the interview that follows. I purposely avoided the more mundane topics and picked others that give a better insight into this complex and principled man. My questions are few. I hope the answers will be long.
MOBWRITER: What’s obvious from my research about you is that you’re an intelligent guy with a broad perspective of life—a Renaissance Man—to be sure. So I’m gonna jump right to something that’s been nagging me. You claim to be an “unmade” made guy and dismiss the notion that a guy’s made for life as a myth. Can that really happen? Did you actually quit the mob?
SONNY: Occasionally, one friend or another will call to complain that some documentary or book got something wrong. My answer is always, “Aren’t they supposed to?” One of those things they get wrong is that you can’t get out. Yes, it’s rare and not the rule, but it does happen. One old man I knew was shot when his bosses, the Mangano Brothers disappeared. When he left the hospital, he made a deal to save his life: his “badge” would be “put on the shelf,” as long as he participated in no mob activities. He became a successful restaurateur for the rest of his days, without ever getting involved in an outside deal. I went through a discussion that sort of landed me on the “injured list.” I gave my word to stay on the legal side of the line and, if I decided to return to the street life, would go back on the active roster. While my old pals are still my best pals, I’ve stayed out of action.
MOBWRITER: It’s evident to anyone who seriously studies your comments that you hate snitches. Sounds like a lot of guys want to protect snitches on the premise that they’re making money together and they believe the guy won’t rat them out. Eventually, many of these guys get stung by the snitch.
William Slick Hanner (whose story I wrote) told me how little he thought of Frank Cullotta for ratting out Frank’s boyhood friend, Tony Spilotro, to the Feds. Slick said snitches are the lowest of the low. In your opinion, is there ever any justification for snitching?
SONNY: I could have saved a number of years in prison if I’d believed there was justification to rat others out. All those who do snitch make excuses, but I know better. Henry Hill, for example, told Nick Pileggi about how everyone turned on him and threatened his life, leaving him no choice. Hill was always a scumbag. When he had a bar on Queens Boulevard, no one liked Hill, but they respected Paulie Vario, who loved Hill like a son. They used to say, “You respect a dog for his master,” when referring to Hill. I didn’t see that in “Goodfellas.” Did You? Finally, he ratted Paulie out for getting him a no show job to get out of a halfway house. Paulie died in prison because of it. All the rats are pretty much the same. They’ve decided to transfer the punishment for things they did from them and their families to others and their loved ones.
On the other hand, I have seen two instances where I could understand the guys who became rats. One was the guy who sent “Crazy Joe” Gallo to prison for extortion. He was not a tough guy, but a millionaire businessman, Teddy Moss, who stepped over the line into illegal deals. One of Joey’s guys told Joey about Teddy, and that if Joey pressured him, the businessman would come to him, they’d have a meeting, and Teddy would come up with money that he’d share with his boss. Everything went as planned until Joey, not satisfied with the gentle extortion, smacked Teddy and read him the riot act. Scared, the businessman had nowhere to go except to the cops.
The second was Tomasso Buscetta, the Sicilian Mafioso who ratted out everyone in the Pizza Connection case. In a way that is uniquely Sicilian, his enemies slowly tightened a noose around him, executing those friends and relatives of his, and saving him for last. Finally, alone in South America and captured by Italian authorities, Buscetta broke. Do I think he was justified? Of course not, but, with an American mobster’s sensibility, think that his enemies played with fire too long, and left themselves open to his turning bad. To me, he fell apart like a prizefighter who’s had his body broken down with shots and just about gives up without a final blow. They should have rid themselves of him early on. Who knows, maybe they enjoyed the game?
MOBWRITER: On your blog you devote quite a bit of space to addressing misconceptions about the mob. For instance, you say cosa nostra (our thing with no name) was made into the more popular concept of La Cosa Nostra by Joseph Valachi. And thereafter it is always used in its capitalized form as the official name of the mob. You seem to feel this new usage is a negative or false usage from the original?
Like everything else in this world, the way in which words are used is constantly evolving. Like it or not, that’s life. If we go back even further in the Sicilian history books and elsewhere for that matter, we see many more examples of words which have been “bastardized” and evolved into new meanings. Therefore, can’t one say that there is no such thing as a “pure” language? Please comment.
SONNY: Yes, you’re right. The difference is that in this age of mass communication we don’t have the daisy chain that words and terms used to follow and change. It was like whispering something to someone at the beginning of the line and having it change as it’s repeated to those behind him. This was said publicly, on television. No daisy chain. I understand that no one wanted to step forward to correct it, and I don’t care that the world believed the idiot, Valachi. What gets me is that guys in the street, who did not know any better, especially younger mobsters, accepted it. I couldn’t believe it when I heard John Gotti say it was going to remain a Cosa Nostra after he died. It reminded me of a Jersey guy who had his crew play the Godfather theme endlessly on a diner jukebox while he was there. The old days were more gritty; more down to earth.
MOBWRITER: Also on your blog, you talk about a book proposal you’re working on with Meyer Lansky’s nephew, Mark Lansky, about his uncle the so-called “brain of modern organized crime.” Having recently collaborated on a Lansky book with Sandra Lansky Lombardo, Meyer’s only daughter, I learned that Lansky took only a few people into his confidence. Sandra (as well as her husband Vince), was the only family member Meyer trusted. Sandra claims that during the last 10 years of her father’s life, he spent most of his time with Sandra and Vince, dinning at their home many times a week and talking about Meyer’s past. So, with all due respect, where does Mark claim to have received his information? In asking this question, I have no particular allegiance to individuals, only to the truth.
SONNY: Mark says he drove Meyer around during those days, and has introduced me to people who knew him from that time. I will forward your question to Mark and get his response. Mark’s response will appear in a future Mob Speak posting.
MOBWRITER: If there’s one thing you could change about your past, Sonny. What would that be? Or maybe there’s nothing you’d change.
SONNY: After my first book was published, an old friend once asked if I wished I had become an author earlier in my life. I told him no, that I was happy for the life I lived and happy I was out of it. Why the latter? Because I couldn’t stand the unraveling of that life. Yes, we committed crimes, but there was an honorable component early on; an ability to put an umbrella over people and protect or help them with their lives. One friend, Funzi Mosca, told me that when he was young someone in his family had to become a mobster so that their influence would allow the other brothers to have legitimate productive lives and pull themselves out of poverty. It was those ghettos that produced really tough guys who had LOYALTY to each other. Today, when wannabe mobsters grow up in suburban areas, where they do not ever need anyone to get them through life, they have no loyalty to anyone. That’s why it’s so easy for them to rat out others. One of my old pals used to say that everyone could be a toughguy as long as the shoe fit; that it was when the laces got tight that you’d see who screamed. Yes, I would like to change things; I would like to have the world exactly as it was in our “good old days,” but then, I wouldn’t be interviewing for you now, would I?
MOBWRITER: Your interview on Heal Yourself Talk Radio reveals you as a guy who seems to accept your past—the good and bad—with no axes to grind. You say that the world doesn’t necessarily revolve around each of us. And you give examples of how people have pent up anger in them. Now that you’ve gotten the “poison out of your system,” you can laugh many things off. (Please correct me if I have any of this wrong.) You seem to appreciate what you have, especially your grandkids, having seen the raw underbelly of life.
Sensing your humility in that interview, Sonny—and the fact that you have experienced so much—I ask what would you like to accomplish with the remainder of your time on this earth?
SONNY: My humility is built of necessity…and advancing years. I had a drink with a friend, Bobby Pellegrino, who owns Pellegrino’s restaurant, in Deerfield Beach. Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” came on the jukebox. Bobby Pellegrino started complaining about how bad things are today. I told him that instead of complaining, he should realize how lucky we were to have wonderful memories, like Bobby Darin and all things in our lives at that time. I asked what our kids and grandkids would have to look back at with fond memories in thirty or forty or fifty years? Realizing that, I spend my remaining years building memories for my grandchildren. When I have a special or great day with one or more of them, I actually smile inside, knowing I’ve put another memory in the bank for them.
MOBWRITER: Mob Speak would like to get your take on this provocative interview with Sonny Girard. Be sure to check back to see Mark Lansky’s response.
Thanks for your time, Sonny. Best of luck to you and your family.