The Other Meaning of Syndicate

The Other Meaning of Syndicate

This is not about RSS, or Atom.  Nor is it about that meeting in the Bay Area a week or so ago.  This is about a different kind of syndicate, The Syndicate, as it was known, well before people had feeds and blogrolls, link love and the like.

It started long before Mario Puzo published The Godfather.  It was around well before Joe  Valachi began to sing.  Goodfellas (based on the Henry Hill/Nicholas Pileggi book) and some other films encouraged it.  The Sopranos certainly increased it, by a large degree.

Mobwatching, a spectator sport.

then there's mob hinting and alluding, a game played by lameweights who
like to think they can bullshit regular Joes into thinking that they're
somehow connected to the
mob.  Usually these are wannabe bullies, or just plain idiots who
think that by inferring, implying or suggesting that they are connected
to the Mob, that people will cower, fear, cooperate . . .or perhaps, in
their minds, respect them due to this purported connection.  These
are also people who either don't watch The Sopranos, or don't realize
that the low level foot soldiers are simply hired hands.  And that
anyone who might really be connected would surely not be stupid enough
to drop hints about it to anyone outside of the Omerta circle.

there are people who claim to be mobbed up, either by marriage or by
in-laws or by their cousin who knows a guy who useta live in
Jersey.  For reasons that escape me, there are people who get some
sort of vicarious pleasure, a titillation of sorts, to speculate or
imply that they are to the mob what Kevin Bacon is to almost every
living actor: removed by no more than six degrees of separation

this is not the sole province of Italian-Americans, either.  I've
known wannabe mob bullshitters of all shapes, size, color, national
origin, etc.

Mobwatching is actually more akin to Godfather
gossip and analysis.  It is more a game of conjecture or
fact-checking; figuring out who did what, who knew what, who went from
one family to the other, and so forth.  One time about 13 or 14
years ago I was on an early morning commuter bus into Manhattan with my
friend and neighbor Gary.  As fate would have it, Gary was in the
radio syndication business then, and now is both in radio syndication
and networks.  Sitting on the bus we began to discuss The
Godfather.  This was  sometime around or after the release of
Godfather III.  The gist of the discussion was who was related to
whom and how so (marriage, birth, etc.)?

Next thing you know,
three or four other guys on this city-bound bus have joined the
conversation.  This was a more impassioned and lively discussion
than if we were talking sports!  Everyone had an opinion, a
correction, an interesting "do you know" or "what do you think"question to open up for discussion.  As we got off the bus in NYC
one guy sidles over to me and whispers, "nunna deze guyz know shit abowt da mob, but dey sure know dere Godfadder.
His Jersey/post-Brooklyn accent gave me the shivers.  I was just
glad he didn't shiv me, right there in the Port Authority Bus Terminal

people have no connection to the mob whatsoever. At best maybe they
have a neighborhood bookie, who is umpteen steps removed from the
mob.  The bookie's closest contact is probably with a foot soldier
who collects the money, a true low-level worker bee.

mobwatching of actual crime figures is left to the FBI and other law
enforcement agencies.  They follow the organizational hierarchy
charts, and watch (or wiretap, a Bush Regime Specialty!) the flow of
money, the connected industries (for laundering of said money) and go
about attempting to prevent crime.

When real mob figures are in
the news it is usually the result of a major arrest or the murder of a
reputed crime boss.  And when a a mob boss dies.  Which
brings us to the real reason for this post.

The Oddfather

Chin," or "Vinnie The Chin" was the nickname for Vincent Gigante
A press favorite for years, he was known for strolling through the
streets of Greenwich Village in his bathrobe and slippers, wearing
pajamas, drooling and mumbling to himself.  His ruse to avoid
arrest or prosecution was that he was mentally ill, unable to
communicate, out of touch with reality.  It took years and a huge
allocation of crimefighting resources for the Feds to finally wiretap
him speaking coherently, giving orders and discussing mob business with
his lieutenants.

Mobwatchers were long fascinated by this
character.  He feigned mental illness, carried on in public, and
became known as "The Oddfather."  While "the Dapper Don," John
Gotti received all the headlines and acclaim, it was the Chin who was
running a bigger crime family, a greater success and a more storied
figure than Gotti.

The Chin died
last Monday in a federal prison medical facility in Missouri.  In
many ways he was the last of a dying breed.  Immigrant parents,
strong religious and nation-of-descent-origin ties, a social club
from which to conduct business, the Chin was the type movies are made of.

Cause of Death

The cause of death is widely reported as heart disease. But mobwatchers know better.

Chin was a proud Italian, a proud New Yorker, a man who loved and lived
in Greenwich Village.  He was a celebrated New Yorker.  It
wasn't heart disease, although it did involve a matter of the heart.

kept up on the news of his associates, of New York, and on matters that
effected his business.  Gambling being a big mob industry, for
sure The Chin was up on the latest Sports Book odds and news. 
Remember, this was a canny and proud man.

When The Chin read in the papers that Mike Piazza would be going to the World Baseball Classic as a member of the Italian team, he lost his will to live.

And there you have it.