Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My goodfellas

One of the things I miss living in Southern California is the mob. I'm sure the Mafia is out here, it's just that I don't see it and I don't have any connection to it.

That's probably a good thing.

The same was not true when I lived in NY. When we lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, my father had all kinds of mob connections. They literally lived in our apartment building. These were not the $2,000 suit-wearing made men of movie fame. These were low level guys, working stiffs, who were probably quite familiar with the ins-and-outs of nearby Kennedy and La Guardia airports.

I remember the Tuesday Night poker games in our dining room. 3 Jews and 3 Italian guys, smoking a ton of cigarettes, knocking down cheap scotch, tossing dollar bills on the table, and enjoying a night away from the wives.

It didn't make sense to me then. It makes a lot of sense to me now.

I bring this up because the other day I was out running and heard an old Todd Rundgren song on my iPod. It was the song we used to announce last call at the bar I worked at in college. (Funny how music and odors can bring back such strong memories).

I loved bartending in college.

It paid for tuition and put me closest to the two things I loved most: liquor and women. And of course, I never would've had that job had it not been for my dad and his "friends." You see, he knew the two brothers who owned the bar, Sal and Tony. Or Frankie and Paulie. Or, Sonny and Fredo. I've long since forgotten their names.

I only remember my father telling me these guys were connected (always with a small 'c') and that I shouldn't screw up. Fact is, I couldn't have screwed if I tried. These guys were the most easygoing bosses I ever had. They let us eat. They let us drink. They let us goof off. It was almost as if they set up this legitimate business and didn't care whether it made money or not.

It didn't make sense to me then. It makes a lot of sense to me now.