A Look at Organized Crime
by Woody Allen
A LOOK AT ORGANIZED CRIME
by WOODY ALLEN
It is no secret that organized crime in America takes in over forty
billion dollars a year. This is quite a profitable sum, especially when one
considers that the Mafia spends very little for office supplies. Reliable
sources indicate that the Cosa Nostra laid out no more than six thousand
dollars last year for personalized stationery, and even less for staples.
Furthermore, they have one secretary who does all the typing, and only three
small rooms for headquarters, which they share with the Fred Persky Dance
Last year, organized crime was directly responsible for more than one
hundred murders, and mafiosi participated indirectly in several hundred more,
either by lending the killers carfare or by holding their coats. Other illicit
activities engaged in by Cosa Nostra members included gambling, narcotics,
prostitution, hijacking, loansharking, and the transportation of large
whitefish across the state line for immoral purposes. The tentacles of this
corrupt empire even reach into the government itself. Only a few months ago,
two gang lords under federal indictment spent the night at the White House, and
the president slept on the sofa.
In 1921, Thomas (The Butcher) Covello and Ciro (The Tailor) Santucci
attempted to organize disparate ethnic groups of the underworld and thus take
over Chicago. This was foiled when Albert (The Logical Positivist) Corillo
assassinated Kid Lipsky by locking him in a closet and sucking all the air out
with a straw. Lipsky's brother Mendy (alias Mendy Lewis, alias Mendy Larsen,
alias Mendy Alias) avenged Lipsky's murder by abducting Santucci's brother
Gaetano (also known as Little Tony, or Rabbi Henry Sharpstein) and returning
him several weeks later in twenty- seven seperate mason jars. This signalled
the beginning of a bloodbath.
Dominick (The Herpotologist) Mione shot Lucky Lorenzo (so nicknamed when a
bomb that went off in his hat failed to kill him) outside a bar in Chicago. In
return, Corillo and his men traced Mione to Newark and made his head into a
wind instrument. At this point, the Vitale gang, run by Giuseppe Vitale (real
name Quincy Baedecker), made their move to take over all bootlegging in Harlem
from Irish Larry Doyle - a racketeer so suspicious that he refused to let
anybody in New York ever get behind him, and walked down the street constantly
pirouetting and spinning around. Doyle was killed when the Squillante
Construction Company decided to erect their new offices on the bridge of his
nose. Doyle's lieutenant, Little Petey (Big Petey) Ross, now took command; he
resisted the Vitale takeover and lured Vitale to an empty midtown garage on the
pretext that a costume party was being held there. Vitale walked into the
garage dressed as a giant mouse, and was instantly riddled with machine-gun
bullets. Out of loyalty to their slain chief, Vitale's men immediately defected
to Ross. So did Vitale's fiancee, Bea Moretti, a showgirl and star of the hit
Broadway musical, SAY KADDISH, who wound up marrying Ross, although she later
sued him for divorce, charging that he once spread an unpleasant ointment on
Fearing federal intervention, Vincent Columbraro, the Buttered Toast King,
called for a truce. (Columbraro had such tight control over all buttered toast
moving in and out of New Jersey that one word from him could ruin breakfast for
two-thirds of the nation.) All members of the underworld were summoned to a
diner in Perth Amboy, where Columbraro told them that internal warfare must
stop, and that from then on they had to dress decently and stop slinking
around. Letters formerly signed with a black hand would in the future be signed
'Best Wishes,' and all territory would be divided equally, with New Jersey
going to Columbraro's mother. Thus the Mafia, or Costa Nostra (literally, 'my
toothpaste' or 'our toothpaste'), was born. Two days later, Columbraro got into
a nice hot tub to take a bath and has been missing for the past forty-six
The Cosa Nostra is structured like any government or large corporation -or
group of gangsters, for that matter. At the top is capo di tutti capi, or boss
of all bosses. Meetings are held at his house, and he is responsible for
supplying cold cuts and ice cubes. Failure to do so means death. (Death,
incidentally, is one of the worst things that can happen to a Cosa Nostra
member, and many prefer simply to pay a fine.) Under the boss of bosses are his
lieutenants, each of whom runs one section of town with his 'family'. Mafia
families do not consist of a wife and children who always go to places like the
circus or on picnics. They are actually groups of rather serious men, whose
main joy in life comes from seeing how long certain people can stay under the
East River before they start gurgling.
Initiation into the Mafia is quite complicated. A proposed member is
blindfolded and led into a dark room. Pieces of Cranshaw melon are placed in
his pockets, and he is required to hop around on one foot and cry out,
'Toodles! Toodles!' Next, his lower lip is pulled out and snapped back by all
the members of the board, or commissione; some may even wish to do it twice.
Following this, some oats are put on his head. If he complains, he is
disqualified. If, however, he says, 'Good. I like oats on my head,' he is
welcomed into the brotherhood. This is done by kissing him on the cheek and
shaking his hand. From that moment on, he is not permitted to eat chutney, to
amuse his friends by imitating a hen, or to kill anybody named Vito.
Organized crime is a blight on our nation. While many young Americans are
lured into a career of crime by its promise of an easy life, most criminals
actually must work long hours, frequently in buildings without air-
conditioning. Identifying criminals is up to each of us. Usually they can be
recognized by their large cufflinks and their failure to stop eating when the
man sitting next to them is hit by a falling anvil. The best methods of
combatting organized crime are:
1. Telling the criminals you are not at home.
2. Calling the police whenever an unusual number of men from the Sicilian
Laundry Company begin singing in your foyer.
Wiretapping cannot be employed indiscriminately, but its effectiveness is
illustrated in this transcript of a conversation between two gang bosses in the
New York area whose phones had been tapped by the F.B.I.
Anthony: Hello? Rico?
Rico: I can't hear you.
Anthony: Is that you, Rico? I can't hear you.
Anthony: Can you hear me?
Rico: We have a bad connection.
Anthony: Can you hear me?
Anthony: Operator, we have a bad connection.
Operator: Hang up and dial again, sir.
Because of this evidence, Anthony (The Fish) Rotunno and Rico Panzini were
convicted and are currently serving fifteen years in Sing-Sing for illegal
posession of Bensonhurst.