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Mafia IV story idea
Note: The particularly important details and music artist names are in bold text. Licensed music track names are in italics. The year is 1973, five years after the events of the Mafia III, and 22 years since Vito Scaletta’s seen or heard from his old friend Joe Barbaro. The canon ending of Mafia III with this Mafia IV story is Vito taking over the city after Lincoln skipped town, however Cassandra and Burke are left alive and loyal to both Vito and Lincoln still. Burke was able to survive his liver cancer by getting a black market liver transplant in Mexico, like he did in his ending, except with Vito running the city. On Vito and Lincoln’s behalf, Burke and Cassandra agree to stay behind in New Bordeaux and keep the city locked down, incase Leo Galante and the Commission try anything. The beginning cutscene is Vito answering his telephone after getting up in the morning in his new penthouse, on the top floor of the New Bordeaux casino he finished that was once Sal Marcano's, and grabbing a cup of coffee. It's Alma with some urgent news. Lincoln Clay came down to the cigar warehouse to visit her after 5 years of silence, and he has big news. Joe is alive in Empire Bay and has been this entire time. However, as punishment for his actions, he's become Leo Galante's personal driver against his will and is forbidden from contacting Vito ever again, or else him and Vito will be killed. Alma then tells Vito to meet Lincoln at the airport to learn more, as he's already there awaiting Vito's arrival. When they're away from anyone who could listen in on their conversation, Lincoln tells Vito he has a friend named John Donovan he's going to introduce him to, hiding in the outskirts of Empire Bay, ready to help Vito and Lincoln with their new mission Vito gets dressed in one of his signature trench coats with a suit and tie, ready to rain down hell on the Vinci crime family and their allies, and finally be reunited with his lifelong friend he previously thought was dead, Joe Barbaro. Here is my idea for the kill list, all related to the Commission in Empire Bay and their allies.
Leo Galante - Top target on the list, Vinci family consigliere who's in with the Commission and the man you thought put Joe in the ground for the past 22 years. Bury this wrinkly old cocksucker.
Johnny Galante - Vinci family capo and younger relative of Leo's mentioned in Cassandra's ending, possibly Leo's cousin even. John Donovan knows that the two are close, and that Johnny's a valuable asset to Leo's organization. Kill him both to hurt Leo's earn and influence, and to hit him straight in the heart by taking away his family and everyone he loves
Michele Galante Jr. - Another Vinci family capo, and Leo Galante’s youngest brother. Killing Leo’s little brother will both take away one of his most reliable allies, and leave him stricken with grief and enraged, and more prone to making mistakes.
Nunzio Galante - Leo’s seasoned older brother by 3 years, and yet another Vinci family capo. He knows enough about smuggling that he worked out an ingenious plan for smuggling military grade weapons into the city. He pays off corrupt officials at Empire Bay International Airport, to allow guns to be loaded inside the walls and floors of planes, unknown to everyone onboard save for the palms the Galantes and Frank Vinci have greased to cooperate and keep quiet. The time has come to put this crafty old bastard in the ground.
Don Frank Vinci - Frank Vinci is the boss of the Vinci crime family, the family Leo's been a consigliere of for decades, and a lifelong friend of his. Kill Frank, and Leo loses more ground than he could ever imagine, and will be forced to deal with both the loss of his boss, and the loss of his lifelong childhood friend.
Don Ennio Salieri - Longtime close friend of both Frank Vinci and Leo Galante, Don of the Salieri crime family, and a third party Frank and Leo call in to crush Vito's uprising, when it becomes too big of an issue for Vinci alone to handle. Salieri was eventually able to grease enough palms while behind bars to have his life sentence overturned, and he got released from prison on good behavior in 1953, after he served 15 years of his sentence. He’s since relocated to his main operations to Empire Bay, having already had connections and men present there while he was in prison, backed by the Commission and the Vinci crime family. He's seasoned, but he’s nothing Mr. Scaletta can't handle. Give this tired old fuck the gangland ending he's had coming.
Isaac - Isaac is the personal assistant to an influential loan shark named Bruno Levine, who handles the money of the Commission, including the Vinci crime family and the Salieri crime family. He does anything from serve his boss coffee, to count incoming and outgoing money for Bruno. Because of his duties, he's aware of Bruno's location at all times. You’ll need to get to Isaac to get information on his boss out of him, and dispose of him afterwards if you want to get to Bruno.
Bruno Levine - Bruno is a Jewish-American loan shark who kicks up all of his earn to both Frank Vinci and Ennio Salieri, and the Commission in Empire Bay. Killing him kills a lot of earn for the Commission, and they loses a valuable asset. In addition to getting rid of him being practical, to add insult to injury, he gave your father that loan. It's about time to put this asshole out of business.
Mr. Chu & Mr. Chu Jr. - This old man has been leading the Empire Bay Triads with an iron fist since before you were even born. The bastard has a son too, who eventually went on to become his underboss. The Empire Bay Triads became a close ally of the Vinci crime family, the Salieri crime family, and the Commission shortly after Vito killed Don Carlo Falcone in 1951, forming a lucrative partnership with the Commission. Mr. Chu and his eldest son are valuable assets for Leo Galante who give him extra reach. Melt their iron fists and show these two pricks just who they fucked with.
Eddie Scarpa - This cocksucker used to be Carlo Falcone's underboss for as long as you could remember. After you whacked Falcone in the fall of 1951, he decided to throw in with Vinci to save his own skin. He took over the smuggling and dock union extortion that fat fuck Derek Pappalardo used to run. You know all too well how to deal with this sorry fuckin' rat.
I'm thinking Vito and Joe work with Lincoln Clay and John Donovan to split up Empire Bay and distribute territory to three other factions not unlike what Lincoln did with New Bordeaux. This time though, this is a much larger city in a much, much different part of the United States. The empire building mechanics would be a lot smoother, more robust, and streamlined compared to Mafia III. They would work similarly a more modernized version of how the game Scarface: The WorldIs Yours handled it's empire building and management mechanics, minus the whole switching to other characters lower on the ladder to do your bidding. This would be ideal for a story rich organized crime game in my opinion. Here are my ideas for those factions, all close allies of the up and coming Scaletta crime family. The Cuban mob led by Alma Diaz. Vito goes way back with Alma, and she does not hesitate to answer him and Lincoln's calls to save Joe's life and royally fuck both Leo Galante and the Vinci family. Conti crime family, led by Enzo Conti. This Conti crime family formed sometime in late 1968, months after Lincoln helped Enzo flee New Bordeaux and drop off of Sal Marcano's radar. It turns out he fled north to Empire Bay and finally formed his own family, having more than enough years of experience in the underworld to handle the job. Lincoln's tight with him and manages to recruit him to Vito and Joe's cause. The Yakuza, based out of Empire Bay's Japantown. Longtime sworn enemies of the Empire Bay Triads, with bad blood going back decades. They would greatly enjoy seeing Mr. Chu and his son's heads mounted on pikes, along with whacking everyone who's ever supported their organization. You don't know them well, and they're known to be very unpredictable and ruthless. Use these traits to your advantage when taking on the Commission of Empire Bay and their friends. I should mention as expected, this entire 1973 section where you play as Vito is much shorter than Mafia III. Vito's takeover is shown much more quickly over time than Lincoln's, and there's time skips during it, to keep it short and sweet, and to show onscreen only what's important. There is also no option for your underbosses to betray you, as to reduce confusion and keep the story consistently the same each playthrough, like the first two Mafia games. However, unlike Mafia III, after all of these tasks are completed and every single assassination target on Vito’s kill list is dealt with, the game does not end. In fact, it's not even anywhere near close to being over yet. Vito's 1973 section was merely the beginning act. It was really a lead up to an entirely new Mafia story, centering around a newcomer to the American mob. Fast forward two years following Vito’s rampage that led to him taking over Empire Bay and the Commission, in the year 1975 him and Joe now rule Empire Bay, with Vito as the Don of the Scaletta Crime Family, and Joe working as his loyal underboss. You play the rest of the game as a young up and coming soldato named Louis in his 20’s, who’s a rising star in Vito’s organization. Do right by Mr. Scaletta and Mr. Barbaro, understand kid? My basic idea for the character and his backstory is that he's a young Italian-Canadian mobster from Toronto, Ontario, or whatever Mafia's equivalent of it could be called. Let's call him Louis DeAngelo. (No relation to Tommy Angelo) His family hails from Tuscany in Italy and moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1939, shortly after World War II broke out in Europe. Louis DeAngelo was born in July 1952 in Toronto, and was raised in Toronto's Little Italy. Louis fled south to Empire Bay when the feds started cracking down on his old family and put his boss in prison, and he ended up finding a new home with the Scaletta crime family. The first few missions playing as Louis DeAngelo involve shooting your away out of an arrest by a Toronto Police Service SWAT team in Toronto in December 1974, seeing the rest of the members of your old crime family either get arrested or shot in front of you as you make your escape. You spend the next two missions fleeing Ontario through Quebec and upstate New York, before finally arriving in Empire Bay in early 1975, late January to be exact. Winter is in full force with snow everywhere, Louis' arrival to Empire Bay for the first time in his life mirroring Vito's return to Empire Bay in 1945 30 years earlier, except under far different much more dire circumstances. Louis' older brother and his father, both capos in his old crime family in Toronto, are shown to be arrested by the TPS SWAT team in his first mission, the same one that attempted to gun him down when he resisted arrested. Louis knows someone had to have ratted out his old crime family, and he wants to find out who someday. The thing is though, he doesn't just want to kill them. He wants to get out of them why they did it before he kills them. More than anything else, he just wants to find out why his crime family was betrayed and served up to the feds on a silver platter, having most of his biological family sent to prison in the process. He’s out to uncover the mystery of why his family fell apart, and he’s more than willing to help people like Don Vito Scaletta and his underboss Joe Barbaro to eventually get the answers he seeks. I came up with the idea for this character because I figured that playing as a fugitive from the law made sense for the mob life, and I'm surprised we haven't had a fugitive protagonist in the Mafia series yet. In the 1975 chapters while playing as Louis, the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon’s resignation, and the official end to the Vietnam War are both discussed on the in-game radio during news segments. In the last 1979 chapter, the beginning of the Soviet-Afghan War is also the subject of a news segment on the radio. The story eventually transitions into the 1980's as years pass, with the scenery, cars, and music changing accordingly, and historical events of the time discussed in the game. By the time the game ends, it's 1992, and significant historical events from the past few years at the time that are covered on the radio in-game include anything from the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, to the 1992 L.A. riots. The rise of the internet and home computers are briefly touched upon during news segments on the in-game radio during the early 1990's section of the story, but not greatly delved into given their relative infancy in that time period. During this entire 1975-1992 stretch of the story, Vito is no longer playable, and Don Scaletta takes a backseat in the story as a main supporting character, similar to Don Salieri throughout Mafia: Definitive Edition. You now play as the Italian-Canadian Scaletta family soldato Louis DeAngelo, who is later promoted to being a capo in 1985. However, unlike Don Salieri, Don Scaletta has much more integrity, and has more genuine loyalty for his men and his associates. If you've beaten Mafia 1 or Mafia: Definitive Edition, you'll know this is something Salieri lacked in the end. The game will include a number of hit music from the 70’s that played on the radio back then, such as Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street and Tony Christie’s (Is This the Way to) Amarillo, The Grateful Dead's Casey Jones and at least a few songs by the then new American rock band Cheap Trick, as well as popular songs from the 1960’s people still listened to at the time, such as Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ Wooly Bully, King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man,Zager and Evans' In the Year 2525, The Zombies' Time of the Season, and Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made for Walkin'. When you progress through the game, especially after you switch to playing as Louis DeAngelo for the rest of the story, years change, and the music changes. Different songs start playing on the radio, such as Sylvester's You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),Randy Crawford's Street Life, and The Village People's Y.M.C.A., Cheryl Lynn's Got to Be Real, Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive, and the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive start playing in the 1979 portion of the game. After you've completed the 1975 section of the game, Foghat's Slow Ride starts playing on the radio. Starting in the 1977 section of the game, Cheap Trick's I Want You to Want Me and Heart's Barracuda start playing on the radio. In the 1980's portion of the game, Thomas Dolby's songs Hyperactive! and She Blinded Me with Science, in addition to Night Ranger's Sister Christian also start playing on the radio. If Hangar 13 can afford the licenses, I also think a few Michael Jackson and Madonna songs should definitely be on the radio during the 1980's portion of the story, given the immense popularity and regular radio airtime those two had in that decade. If this ended up being possible, I imagine that Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal, Beat It, Bad, and Billie Jean being on the radio in the 80's sections would be a must, Smooth Criminal especially because of how well it suits the series. Madonna's Lucky Star, Burning Up, Like a Virgin, and Borderline would also be perfect for the 80's portion of the game to me. Also mentioned by NPCs and civilians in the game are topical events of the time period, such as the release of the groundbreaking 1973 horror film The Exorcist at the end of Vito's playable portion of the game. Other music of the 1980's segment when playing as Louis DeAngelo for the remainder of the game includes hits of the era such as Joe Jackson's Steppin' Out, The Buggles' Video Killed The Radio Star, Corey Hart's Sunglasses at Night,Laura Branigan's Self Control and Gloria, The Weather Girls' It's Raining Men, A-ha’s Take On Me, Men at Work's Down Under, Kim Wilde's Kids in America, The Gap Band's You Dropped a Bomb on Me, Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon, Twisted Sister's I Wanna Rock and We're Not Gonna Take It, Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive and Bad Medicine, Loverboy's Working for the Weekend, Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) and That's the Way (I Like It), Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now, Daryl Hall & John Oates' Maneater, Aneka's Japanese Boy, Mötley Crüe's Dr. Feelgood, Girls, Girls, Girls and Kickstart My Heart, Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire, Huey Lewis And The News' Hip To Be Square, Bill Medley's (I've Had) The Time of My Life, The Police's Every Breath You Take, Whodini's Magic's Wand, Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me, Regina's Baby Love, Nena's 99 Red Balloons, Earth, Wind, and Fire's Let's Groove and September, Billy Idol's Eyes Without a Face and White Wedding, Rick James’ Give It To Me Baby, Wham!'s Everything She Wants, George Michael's Careless Whisper, Toto's Hold the Line and Africa, Blondie's Heart of Glass and Atomic, and Mai Tai's History. Note that not every single year and moment of the 17 year 1975-1992 section playing as Louis DeAngelo is playable or chronicled. My idea is it would be handled similarly to how the time skips in Mafia 1/Mafia: Definitive Edition were handled. Time skips of two or more years, or in this case, even longer such as 4 years sometimes, the game skipping from 1979 to 1983. This is to keep the game and story length ideal, and not risk it getting boring or repetitive, or going on for too long. Repetition was a big problem in Mafia III even if I still thought it was a superb game, so I think it'd be best to learn from that for the next big entry. The games story will skip ahead and show onscreen only what's significant, similar to the first Mafia game and it's remake, as well as certain aspects of Mafia II. Louis starts his section as a 22 year old fugitive soldato who got picked up by another crew south of the Canadian border, and in the epilogue of the game in 1992, is promoted to the consigliere of the Scaletta crime family at the age of 40, being set to take over the family once Vito and Joe become too old to run the day to day on a regular basis. The years chronicled in the main gameplay segments are as follows: 1973 1975 1977 1979 1983 1985 1986 1987 1989 1990 1991 1992 Much more of the rural areas and countryside outside of Empire Bay are included than what was available in Mafia II. The way rural environments are handled for this hypothetical Mafia IV is akin to how Mafia: Definitive Edition and Mafia III handled their rural environments outside the main cities, except much larger in scale, given the increased power of the current new consoles such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X. This region is based off of upstate New York and the surrounding areas across multiple states in the Northeastern US, and includes forests, fields, mountains, rivers, lakes, beaches, and small towns. Also included are other cities and towns, based off of other large cities in New York like Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester, where other story missions, business activities, and side missions take place, along with smaller notable places like Ithaca, Binghamton, and Utica. The entire states of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, and Ohio are also included, including places based off of all of their major cities and most of their notable towns in between. Large portions of Pennsylvania are included as well, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. Large portions of the eastern half of the Canadian province of Ontario are included as well, including cities based off of Toronto, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls. There's even a small portion of Quebec included, including Montreal and the surrounding countryside of the province outside that city, including a few small towns in southern Quebec. The player must pass a quick border patrol check when crossing the US-Canada border in a car or other ground vehicle. Wildlife is present in the game, mostly to add to the background, scenery, and immersion in rural environments on the map. These are all animals native to the Northeastern US, ranging from white tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats, Canada lynxes, rabbits, hares, groundhogs, gophers, beavers, raccoons, opossums, bats, chipmunks, red and gray squirrels, mice, and rats to more formidable and potentially dangerous animals that may sometimes attack the player, such as grey wolves, black bears, mountain lions, and moose. These last four animals are known to spawn in the mountainous regions, especially in New York, Ohio, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Ontario, including the rural regions based off of the Catskills and the Adirondack mountains. Dogs are present in the cities, towns, and settlements where humans live and keep them as pets, being walked and sometimes found in people's yards. Some are used as guard dogs by enemies and are aggressive towards the player on sight. Domestic cats are also present in the background of residential areas, and both Louis and Vito own them as pets throughout the game in their safe houses, as well as other onscreen characters we see the homes of throughout the game. Aircraft make their first usable appearance in the Mafia series too, from airplanes to helicopters. Vito cannot use planes or helicopters in his playable 1973 portion of the game, as he does not know how to pilot, being a paratrooper in World War II who never actually flew any of the planes himself. Aircraft are unlocked to use when Louis DeAngelo gets his pilot’s certificate offscreen in 1977, and at the end of a chapter set that year, Louis has to fly Vito in a helicopter to a penthouse in Downtown Empire Bay acting as a family safe house, equipped with a helipad. Louis frequently serves as a personal driver and pilot for both Vito and Joe afterwards, having done a lot in his time serving the family to earn their trust and respect. Melee weapons also make a return from Mafia: Definitive Edition, with even more variety this time. In their respective sections of the game, Vito and Louis may use anything from baseball bats, pipes, shovels, brass knuckles, golf clubs, police batons, switchblades, kitchen knives, bowie knives, ice picks, 2x4s, claw hammers, crowbars, tire irons, chain links, machetes, meat cleavers, pickaxes, hatchets, sledgehammers, to fire axes. This amount of melee weapons is so no matter what environment the player finds themselves in during a mission or any other game activity, there is usually a weapon of some sort nearby. If the player has obtained piano wire, you may also strangle an enemy to death with it from behind as a stealth kill, this being a classic assassination method infamous for being used by the Italian Mafia. Rope can also be found and used for similar strangulation stealth kills, appearing in the gameplay environments where piano wire can’t be found. There is a wide variety of new guns and explosives to use in this concept for Mafia IV, going with the new weapons of the time the game takes place that criminals quickly got their hands on. This includes the SPAS-12 combat shotgun, the Beretta 92 pistol, the AK-74 assault rifle, the mini uzi, the MAC-10 submachine gun, both suppressed and unsuppressed variants, the Beretta 92 pistol, the Taurus raging bull revolver, Glock handguns, the TEC-9 machine pistol, illegally modified to be full auto, the Ruger Mini-14 full auto variant, and even Vietnam war era flamethrowers, which I think is only natural given that as of Mafia III, we already have RPGs and grenade launchers. Late in the game from the 1989 section and onwards, the Benelli M3 combat shotgun becomes available. The Milkor MGL grenade launcher becomes available beginning in the 1983 portion of the game. Attached grenade launchers are also available for the AK-47, AK-74, and M16 assault rifles. Free ride makes a return in Mafia IV, with the player having the options to change the weather, time period, and an option to play as Louis, Vito, Joe, or Lincoln. Naturally, a multitude of new free ride missions are available as well. I previously posted a much earlier and less detailed draft of this on the old Mafia3 subreddit 3 years ago back in 2017 as an idea for a hypothetical Mafia 3 expansion where you play as Vito, but have since updated and revamped it to a possible Mafia IV plot, and fixed any plot holes I noticed and made it much more fleshed out and in depth, and focus on more than just Vito in the end. You may view my original here if you so desire, to compare. https://www.reddit.com/Mafia3/comments/6sldhp/spoiler_mafia_iii_vito_dlc_basic_plot_idea/ Feel free to give me constructive criticism on this, as I encourage this discourse and believe it is integral to growing and improving, to build upon or improve these ideas I've come up with, or say whether or not you think something like this should happen in the future. Thank you for reading!
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For those that need a list in response to "What evidence is there that Trump is a racist?"
Another user that has since deleted their account submitted this as a comment reply. I think it is worth revisiting. There is an entire Wikipedia article called "The Racial* Views of Donald Trump" Some examples are: "In 1973 the U.S. Department of Justice sued Trump Management, Donald Trump and his father Fred, for discrimination against African Americans in their renting practices." MORE Taking out a full page ad calling for the death penalty of 4 falsely accused black teenagers who allegedly committed a violent rape. The evidence that they were innocent was and still is overwhelming. When they were exonerated, Trump didn't back down. In October 2016, when Trump campaigned to be president, he said that Central Park Five were guilty and that their convictions should never have been vacated, attracting criticism from the Central Park Five themselves and others." MORE "In a 1989 interview with Bryant Gumbel, Trump stated: "A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market." MORE In his 1991 book Trumped! John O'Donnell quoted Trump as allegedly saying: I've got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. [...] And it's probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks." MORE "During the early 1990s, competition from an expanding Native American casino industry threatened his Atlantic City investments. During this period Trump stated that "nobody likes Indians as much as Donald Trump" but then claimed without evidence that the mob had infiltrated Native American casinos, that there was no way "Indians" or an "Indian chief" could stand up to the mob, implied that the casinos were not in fact owned by Native Americans based on the owners' appearance, and depicted Native Americans as greedy." MORE "In April 2005, Trump appeared on Howard Stern's radio show, where Trump proposed that the fourth season of the television show The Apprentice would feature an exclusively white team of blondes competing against a team of only African-Americans." MORE "In 2011, Trump revived the already discredited Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories that had been circulating since Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, and, for the following five years, he played a leading role in the so-called "birther movement"" MORE Here are a FEW examples of his racism during and after his campaign and presidency. "At a rally in Birmingham, Alabama on November 21, 2015, Trump falsely claimed that he had seen television reports about "thousands and thousands" of Arabs in New Jersey celebrating as the World Trade Center collapsed during the 9/11 attacks." MORE "In August 2016 Trump campaigned in Maine, which has a large immigrant Somali population. At a rally he said, "We've just seen many, many crimes getting worse all the time, and as Maine knows — a major destination for Somali refugees — right, am I right?" Trump also alluded to risks of terrorism, referring to an incident in June 2016 when three young Somali men were found guilty of planning to join the Islamic State in Syria." MORE "Prior to and during the 2016 campaign, Trump used his political platform to spread disparaging messages against various racial groups. Trump claimed, "the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our cities is committed by blacks and Hispanics," that "there's killings on an hourly basis virtually in places like Baltimore and Chicago and many other places," that "There are places in America that are among the most dangerous in the world. You go to places like Oakland. Or Ferguson. The crime numbers are worse. Seriously," and retweeted a false claim that 81% of white murder victims were killed by black people." MORE "During the campaign Trump was found to have retweeted the main influencers of the #WhiteGenocide movement over 75 times, including twice that he retweeted a user with the handle u/WhiteGenocideTM." MORE "Trump also falsely claimed that, "African American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they've ever been in before. Ever."" MORE "Trump also suggested that evangelicals should not trust Ted Cruz because Cruz is Cuban and that Jeb Bush "has to like the Mexican illegals because of his wife," who is Mexican American." "Speaking in Virginia in August 2016, Trump said, "You're living in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed – what the hell do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump?"" MORE "On January 27, 2017, via executive order, which he titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, President Trump ordered the U.S border indefinitely closed to Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war. He also abruptly temporarily halted (for 90 days) immigration from six other Muslim-majority nations: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen." MORE "In June 2017, Trump called together a staff meeting to complain about the number of immigrants who had entered the country since his inauguration. The New York Times reported that two officials at the meeting state that when Trump read off a sheet stating that 15,000 persons had visited from Haiti, he commented, "They all have AIDS," and when reading that 40,000 persons had visited from Nigeria, he said that after seeing America the Nigerians would never “go back to their huts."" MORE "The U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history. The illegal tactics that he was using included "extreme racial profiling and sadistic punishments that involved the torture, humiliation, and degradation of Latino inmates". The DoJ filed suit against him for unlawful discriminatory police conduct. He ignored their orders and was subsequently convicted of contempt of court for continuing to racially profile Hispanics. Calling him "a great American patriot", President Trump pardoned him soon afterwards, even before sentencing took place." MORE "In his initial statement on the rally, Trump did not denounce white nationalists but instead condemned "hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides". His statement and his subsequent defenses of it, in which he also referred to "very fine people on both sides", suggested a moral equivalence between the white supremacist marchers and those who protested against them, leading some observers to state that he was sympathetic to white supremacy." MORE "On January 11, 2018, during an Oval Office meeting about immigration reform, commenting on immigration figures from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and African countries, Trump reportedly said: "Those shitholes send us the people that they don't want", and suggested that the US should instead increase immigration from "places like Norway" and Asian countries." MORE "In August 2018, Trump sent a tweet stating that he had ordered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into land seizures and the mass killing of white farmers in South Africa, acting on a racist conspiracy theory." MORE "In May 2019, the Trump administration announced that there was no plan to replace the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill with that of Harriet Tubman, as had been planned by the Obama administration." MORE "On July 14, 2019, Trump tweeted about four Democratic congresswomen of color, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. This group, known collectively as the Squad, had verbally sparred with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a week earlier: MORE I HAVE NOW EXCEEDED THE REDDIT COMMENT WORD COUNT.
The next Detroit: The catastrophic collapse of Atlantic City
With the closure of almost half of Atlantic City's casinos, Newark set to vote on gambling and casinos or racinos in almost every state, it seems as if the reasons for the very existence of Atlantic City are in serious jeopardy. Israel Joffe Atlantic City, once a major vacation spot during the roaring 20s and 1930s, as seen on HBOs Boardwalk Empire, collapsed when cheap air fare became the norm and people had no reason to head to the many beach town resorts on the East Coast. Within a few decades, the city, known for being an ‘oasis of sin’ during the prohibition era, fell into serious decline and dilapidation. New Jersey officials felt the only way to bring Atlantic City back from the brink of disaster would be to legalize gambling. Atlantic City’s first casino, Resorts, first opened its doors in 1978. People stood shoulder to shoulder, packed into the hotel as gambling officially made its way to the East Coast. Folks in the East Coast didn't have to make a special trip all the way to Vegas in order to enjoy some craps, slots, roulette and more. As time wore on, Atlantic City became the premier gambling spots in the country. While detractors felt that the area still remained poor and dilapidated, officials were quick to point out that the casinos didn't bring the mass gentrification to Atlantic City as much as they hoped but the billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs for the surrounding communities was well worth it. Atlantic City developed a reputation as more of a short-stay ‘day-cation’ type of place, yet managed to stand firm against the 'adult playground' and 'entertainment capital of the world' Las Vegas. Through-out the 1980s, Atlantic City would become an integral part of American pop culture as a place for east coast residents to gamble, watch boxing, wrestling, concerts and other sporting events. However in the late 1980s, a landmark ruling considered Native-American reservations to be sovereign entities not bound by state law. It was the first potential threat to the iron grip Atlantic City and Vegas had on the gambling and entertainment industry. Huge 'mega casinos' were built on reservations that rivaled Atlantic City and Vegas. In turn, Vegas built even more impressive casinos. Atlantic City, in an attempt to make the city more appealing to the ‘big whale’ millionaire and billionaire gamblers, and in effort to move away from its ‘seedy’ reputation, built the luxurious Borgata casino in 2003. Harrah’s created a billion dollar extension and other casinos in the area went through serious renovations and re-branded themselves. It seemed as if the bite that the Native American casinos took out of AC and Vegas’ profits was negligible and that the dominance of those two cities in the world of gambling would remain unchallenged. Then Macau, formally a colony of Portugal, was handed back to the Chinese in 1999. The gambling industry there had been operated under a government-issued monopoly license by Stanley Ho's Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. The monopoly was ended in 2002 and several casino owners from Las Vegas attempted to enter the market. Under the one country, two systems policy, the territory remained virtually unchanged aside from mega casinos popping up everywhere. All the rich ‘whales’ from the far east had no reason anymore to go to the United States to spend their money. Then came the biggest threat. As revenue from dog and horse racing tracks around the United States dried up, government officials needed a way to bring back jobs and revitalize the surrounding communities. Slot machines in race tracks started in Iowa in 1994 but took off in 2004 when Pennsylvania introduced ‘Racinos’ in an effort to reduce property taxes for the state and to help depressed areas bounce back. As of 2013, racinos were legal in ten states: Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia with more expected in 2015. Tracks like Delaware Park and West Virginia's Mountaineer Park, once considered places where local degenerates bet on broken-down nags in claiming races, are now among the wealthiest tracks around, with the best races. The famous Aqueduct race track in Queens, NY, once facing an uncertain future, now possesses the most profitable casino in the United States. From June 2012 to June 2013, Aqueduct matched a quarter of Atlantic City's total gaming revenue from its dozen casinos: $729.2 million compared with A.C.'s $2.9 billion. It has taken an estimated 15 percent hit on New Jersey casino revenue and climbing. And it isn't just Aqueduct that's taking business away from them. Atlantic City's closest major city, Philadelphia, only 35-40 minutes away, and one of the largest cities in America, now has a casino that has contributed heavily to the decline in gamers visiting the area. New Jersey is the third state in the U.S. to have authorized internet gambling. However, these online casinos are owned and controlled by Atlantic City casinos in an effort to boost profits in the face of fierce competition. California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Texas are hoping to join Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands in offering online gambling to their residents. With this in mind, it seems the very niche that Atlantic City once offered as a gambling and entertainment hub for east coast residents is heading toward the dustbin of history. Time will tell if this city will end up like Detroit. However, the fact that they are losing their biggest industry to major competition, much like Detroit did, with depressed housing, casinos bankrupting/closing and businesses fleeing , it all makes Atlantic City’s fate seem eerily similar.
Hey all, I work at a casino in New Jersey. And I just heard Philly closed their casino all with their other restrictions, but the rest of PA did not close. Since PA, NJ, and NY are working together am I about to lose my job again? EDIT: I work full time at a casino, so the only way I would lose my job is if we shutdown for a time period again - as I was already lucky enough to come back the first time around. I was/am newest staff in my department.
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Did The Mafia Blackmail FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover About Being Gay?
M. Wesley Swearingen, an FBI agent from 1951 to 1977, writes in his memoir FBI Secrets: An Agent's Expose about the long-standing rumors within the Bureau concerning the relationship between FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Associate Director Clyde Tolson which include allegations that Hoover ignored the Mafia for decades because the wise guys had incriminating goods on the supposed lovers:
One year after arriving in Memphis, Hoover transferred me to Chicago, Illinois. I was thrilled – my mind was full of gangsters, Tommy guns, and the FBI's famous machine gun battles of the 1930s. It was clear to me from Chicago's newspaper headlines that gangsters ruled a Chicago underworld element in the 1950s because gangland style murders averaged close to 100 a year in the Chicago area. * * * But when I told my colleague and veteran agent Vince Coll of my big plans for Chicago, he said that Hoover did not recognize the existence of a mob in Chicago. According to Coll, Mafia leader Meyer Lansky's organization had enough on Hoover and Tolson, as closet homosexuals, that Hoover would never investigate the mob.
The allegations were fleshed out in Official and Confidential: the Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover by Anthony Summer. A review of the book ("Partners For Life") by Sidney Urquhart for Time magazine summarizes one alleged incident as follows:
Perhaps Summers' most bizarre revelation is an account provided by Susan Rosenstiel, the wife of a liquor distiller and gambling crony. Rosenstiel recalls attending what she thought would be an elegant private party at New York City's Plaza Hotel in the company of lawyer Roy Cohn, Hoover and others. Instead, Cohn introduced Rosenstiel to a woman named "Mary," dressed in a fluffy black dress, lace stockings and high heels. It was obvious Mary was no woman. "You could see where he shaved. It was Hoover," said Rosenstiel. Joined by Cohn, Hoover stripped down to a tiny garter belt and proceeded to have sex with two young boys. Cohn later joked about the evening. "That was really something, wasn't it, with Mary Hoover?"
The "two young boys" with whom Hoover allegedly had sex perhaps were provided by Ed "the Skull" Murphy who was a long-time Genovese associate involved in the crime family's gay bar and boy prostitution rackets in New York City. In Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked The Gay Revolution, David Carter writes:
John Paul Ranieri, a former prostitute interviewed for this history, provided critical testimony for corroborating and better understanding the larger implications of Murphy's criminal enterprises for gay history. Ranieri said that as a youth from Westchester County he had been forced by blackmail and Mafia-supplied drugs into a prostitution ring in which he remained active for three years before he escaped the mob's control. He claimed that a number of youths in the ring had disappeared after they got careless with talk, for while most of the customers were more or less average homosexual men with money, the regular clientele, according to Ranieri, also included famous men such as Malcolm Forbes, Cardinal Spellman, Liberace, U.S. Senators, a vice president of the United States, one of the most famous rock musicians, and J. Edgar Hoover. The mob's order, according to Ranieri, was strictly "Keep your zipper open and your mouth shut." Ranieri said that he met J. Edgar Hoover at private parties at the Plaza Hotel and that Hoover's name was never mentioned. Hoover was always in drag, and Ranieri said he could tell that the FBI director was sure that no one recognized him. Ranieri said that he had ensured his own survival by having in his possession a photograph of himself with Hoover, given to him by the photographer. How does the preceding information link Ed Murphy with J. Edgar Hoover? The connection is made evident in a news story written shortly after Hoover's homosexuality and transvestism became public. When [Anthony] Summer's book [Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover], was published [in 1993], a newspaper story about the 1960s national homosexual blackmail ring suddenly appeared after a quarter of a century of silence on the subject. Without mentioning Murphy's name, it quoted law enforcement sources who had worked on the case as saying that their investigation into the nationwide blackmail ring had turned up a photograph of Hoover "posing amiably" with the racket's ringleader and had uncovered information that Clyde Tolson, Hoover's lover, had himself "fallen victim to the extortion ring." After federal agents joined the investigation, both the photograph of Hoover and the documents about Tolson disappeared. * * * Very suggestive in this context is that Murphy would publicly say in 1978—before it became public information, as it did in the 1990s, that the Mafia had photographs of Hoover involved in sex acts—that he knew that J. Edgar Hoover "was one of my sisters."
Murphy's boys did have a habit of disappearing. For example, one Puerto Rican youth known as Tano with whom Murphy was sexually involved was kidnapped right off the streets never to be seen again according to one eyewitness to the incident as recounted by Carter in Stonewall. Curiously, Murphy also was a long-standing FBI informant according to a May 8, 1978 article ("Skull Murphy: The Gay Double Agent") by Arthur Bell for The Village Voice. Indeed, this article contained the interview in which Murphy expressly speaks of J. Edgar Hoover as one of his "sisters": "He was the biggest fuckin' extortionist in this country. He had presidents by the balls. He had a record on everybody and his brother." The allegations that Meyer Lansky had incriminating evidence against the FBI Director are particularly credible in light of the relationships among all the parties with political fixer Roy Cohn -- a fellow closet case who died of AIDS in 1986 -- at the center of it all. Cohn was a personal friend of Hoover during the 1950s and 1960s, and the two shared extensive correspondence directed to each other on a first-name basis including a September 1957 exchange on an article published by the Director entitled "Let's Wipe Out the Schoolyard Sex Racket." Ironically, only months earlier an apparent obscenity indictment against Cohn had been dismissed according to an FBI memo dated June 28, 1957 from Assistant Director Louis B. Nichols to Clyde Tolson:
Roy Cohn called 6-27-57 to advise that Neil Gallagher of the New Jersey Turnpike Commission represented him in connection with the return of an indictment charging the sale of obscene literature. Gallagher went before the Superior Court judge in Union County, New Jersey, Thursday afternoon and moved the dismissal of the indictment. The district attorney joined him in this recommendation and issued a public apology to Cohn.
Cornelius "Neil" Gallagher later became a U.S. Congressman from Bayonne, NJ until he lost the seat in 1972 after Life magazine ran an article alleging mob ties. The relationship between Hoover and Cohn is particularly troubling given that the FBI was fully aware that Cohn had ties to the most powerful bosses in the Mafia. For example, in 1964 federal prosecutor Robert Morgenthau was trying Cohn on corruption charges, and at the trial introduced excerpts of earlier grand jury testimony by Cohn. A March 27, 1964 article from The New York Times which the FBI contemporaneously clipped for its files on Cohn states:
The excerpts contained admissions by Mr. Cohn that he was acquainted with Geralde (Jerry) Catena, described by the Senate Rackets Committee as "No. 2 Man" in the Vito Genovese unit of the Cosa Nosta, and with Meyer Lansky, gangster. Mr. Cohn said he scarcely knew Lansky but that he had played golf two or three times with Catena.
Cohn further had represented the Stork Club which was Hoover's favorite stomping ground and Schenley Industries which was one of the country's largest liquor distillers. Louis Rosensteil was the president of Schenley Industries, and he had close ties to Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello. "In fact, on several occassions, Hoover was seen at the Stork Club fraternizing with people like Costello and Rosensteil" according to Peter J. Devico in The Mafia Made Easy. After Hoover's right-hand man Louis Nichols left the FBI in 1957, Cohn allegedly secured him a plum job making $100,000 a year at Schenley Industries although Nichols insisted in Hooveresque fashion that Rosensteil shunned the mob. Of couse, the best evidence that Meyer Lansky had the goods on the FBI Director is that the storied agency never laid a hand on the gangster who was a bootleg kingpin during Prohibition, later founded Murder Inc., and finally ran gambling operations in Las Vegas and Havana, Cuba for the Genovese family. At the time of Lansky's death in 1983 the FBI estimated that he had a net worth of $300 million, and yet during his long criminal career the G-men never nailed him on a single charge or recovered a single penny. Indeed, the FBI did not even start a file on Lansky until the 1950s, and a review of the file's sparse contents illustrates that the agency's efforts to target him -- a purported top hoodlum -- were half-hearted at best involving little more than the occasional wiretap and a sometimes surveillance. Indeed, the newspaper articles on Lansky which the FBI clipped were more informative on the mobster's activities than the investigator reports. Ironically, Lansky only was arrested in 1972 -- the same year Hoover died -- as a result of an IRS investigation involving an alleged skimming scheme from a Vegas casino, and even that indictment conveniently was dismissed because Lansky was considered too ill to prosecute.
John Gilbride Jr.-murdered on September 7, 2002 in Maple Shade, New Jersey- “He's been raised by MOVE his whole life. I hope when he gets older, he'll ask questions. I want him to know that his father fought for him.”
The execution-style murder of former MOVE member, 34 year old John Gilbride Jr., in Maple Shade, New Jersey on September 27, 2002 remains unsolved. MOVE is a black liberation group founded in 1972 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by John Africa (born Vincent Leaphart) and Donald Glassey, a social worker student from the University of Pennsylvania. In a 2018 Guardian article about the group, MOVE's political views were described as "a strange fusion of black power and flower power which melded the revolutionary ideology of the Black Panthers with the nature- and animal-loving communalism of 1960s hippies.” John’s father, Jack, believes the organization has “blood on its hands” and had his son followed after he fled the movement. Alberta Africa (now Wonderlin), John’s ex-wife and the ex-wife of MOVE founder John Africa, claims that John is alive and “forgoing any contact with the son he was fighting for in court for a life of seclusion, courtesy of the U.S. government” surmising “maybe he went off the deep end or something and is hiding somewhere….he seemed like he was deeply involved in the government.” Jack stated that it is hurtful Alberta still makes those kinds of statements since he identified his son's body, attended his funeral, and buried his cremated remains saying he “could only wish…she knows more than anyone else that it isn't true." According to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s office, the case is still an open investigation. John, a baggage supervisor for U.S. Airways, was found dead inside his Ford Crown Victoria at 12:08 a.m. outside the Ryan's Run apartment complex in Maple Shade, New Jersey. The killer fired multiple bullets into John’s head and chest at close range from an automatic weapon after which the individual then disappeared into the highways adjacent to the apartment complex leaving behind John’s personal belongings. Police believe the killer knew his schedule because “they were there at the perfect time” noting they shot him just as he was coming home from work late at night and “the purpose was to take his life, nothing else.” John was scheduled to have his first unsupervised visit with his 6- year old son Zackary later the next day-a visit that Jack claims Alberta and other MOVE members had threatened to stop. After a Philadelphia judge decided that John should have unsupervised time with Zackary, MOVE vowed to fight the order and boarded up windows at its Philadelphia headquarters. They also held a rally at the Cherry Hill municipal building protesting the custody order saying the judge’s order was “an attempt to persecute the group and that Cherry Hill police were helping.” John had mentioned to his father that he felt his life was at risk and he knew “he was taking a big gamble.” Before Alberta married John, she was the widow of John Africa, founder and leader of the controversial radical group MOVE. John Africa and 5 other adults and 5 children died in May 1985 when Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on MOVE’s Osage Avenue rowhouse headquarters after a day-long standoff. Given the group's turbulent history, Alberta said police would have arrested MOVE members by now for John’s death if they had evidence saying “we are not murderers.” John first learned about MOVE as a student at Temple University in the late 1980s and later joined the organization. During one of John's visits from college, Jack suspected John was under a "new influence" as during a drive around the neighborhood, John mused "this is nothing...these big houses, this money, it doesn't mean anything; this surprised Jack as John's "goal in life had always been to become a millionaire and drive a Cadillac." In 1991, John announced he was going to live in MOVE's headquarters and seeing that they could nothing to dissuade him, Jack decided to "keep communication open and maintain whatever relationship John would allow them" using an 800 number to keep in contact. In the fall of 1992, John married Alberta, who was twice his age, against his family's wishes; the family, nonetheless, felt the wedding should be celebrated so they all went to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Philadelphia. Jack noted that "at no time did we sympathize with MOVE but in order to have a relationship with John, we did what we had to do." The name of the group (MOVE) is not an acronym and was chosen by John Africa “to say what they intended to do” as in "everything that's alive moves…if it didn't, it would be stagnant, dead"; as an example, when members greet each other they say "on the MOVE.". The group combined revolutionary ideology with animal rights and “advocated a return to a hunter-gatherer society” based on vegetarianism while remaining “opposed to science, medicine, and technology.” John’s followers changed their surnames to Africa to “show reverence to what they regarded as their mother continent.” John Africa and MOVE members lived in a communal house in the Powelton Village section of West Philadelphia. As activists, they staged bullhorn-amplified, profanity-laced demonstrations outside their homes against institutions that they opposed, such as zoos, circuses, “Three Mile Island”, “puppy mills” and police brutality. MOVE made compost piles of garbage and human waste in their yards which attracted rats and cockroaches that they refused to kill as they "considered it morally wrong to kill the vermin with pest control.” MOVE activities were scrutinized by law enforcement particularly under the administration of Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, a former police commissioner known for hard stance against activist groups. Mayor Rizzo threatened in 1978 to dispatch his Police Department to MOVE's Powelton Village headquarters "to drag 'em out by the back of their necks." In 1978, complaints from neighbors about "profanity-laced tirades, arms stockpiling, garbage piled in the yard, and naked children" led to a standoff with members of the group who had not vacated their rowhouse headquarters; a resulting shootout took the life of a police officer and put nine MOVE members in prison for life. In 1981, MOVE relocated to a row house at 6221 Osage Avenue in the Cobbs Creek area of West Philadelphia. Neighbors again complained to the city about trash around their building, confrontations, and the obscene political messages by bullhorn. In 1985, the police obtained arrest warrants in 1985 charging four MOVE occupants with crimes including parole violations, contempt of court, illegal possession of firearms, and making terrorist threats; by now, Mayor Wilson Goode and police commissioner Gregore J. Sambor had classified the group as a terrorist organization. Residents of the area were evacuated from the neighborhood and told to return after 24 hours. On Monday, May 13, 1985, nearly five hundred police officers attempted to clear the building and execute the arrest warrants. Water and electricity were shut off in order to force MOVE members out of the house and Commissioner Sambor exhorted them to come out stating "Attention MOVE: This is America. You have to abide by the laws of the United States." When the MOVE members did not respond, the police decided to forcibly remove the members from the house. There was an armed standoff with police who lobbed tear gas canisters at the building. The MOVE members fired at them, and a gunfight with semi-automatic and automatic firearms ensued. Police went through over ten thousand rounds of ammunition when Commissioner Sambor decided the rowhouse could be bombed. From a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter, Philadelphia Police Department Lt. Frank Powell dropped two one-pound bombs made of FBI-supplied Tovex, a dynamite substitute, which targeted a fortified, bunker-like cubicle on the roof of the house. The resulting explosions ignited a fire from fuel for a gasoline-powered generator stored in the rooftop bunker. The fire spread and eventually destroyed 61 nearby houses. Officials said they feared that MOVE would shoot at the firefighters so they were held back. John Africa and 5 other adults and 5 children died. There were only two survivors; a child, Birdie Africa and an adult woman, Ramona Africa. John Gilbride eventually left the movement and filed for divorce from Alberta in 1999 which led to years of heated court battles over custody of Zackary; John also filed for bankruptcy. John had gone deep into debt paying for in-vitro fertility treatments as they were desperately trying to have a child. John had also grown frustrated with "MOVE's meddling in his marriage" which "staged hours-long interventions" whenever the couple argued. According to Jack, the timing of the murder and the custody dispute is “more than a coincidence.” Philadelphia Police Captain William Fisher, the head of the department’s civil rights division who knows the MOVE leaders well, stated that John’s murder “seemed like a textbook mob hit” and John had a gambling problem and other enemies as well; Jack dismisses Captain Fisher’s claims saying he did a "disservice to the investigation" and “was simply trying to ease the department’s relationship with MOVE”. Captain Fisher continues to doubt that MOVE was involved saying Jack wants to think that “MOVE did it because it solves his problem…I’m a parent too, and it’s an emotional thing.” He believes a professional gunman could have known of John’s problems with MOVE and could have timed the murder accordingly saying if MOVE was involved, they would not have “outsourced the job to someone outside their organization.” He acknowledges “there was a lot of rhetoric and everything else, but keep it in perspective, it's a child custody thing” saying MOVE's members "defend themselves when needed but do not go out and kill people." Captain Fisher suggested a trip to Las Vegas a few days before his death needed to be looked into further; Jack avers John went to Las Vegas for an Earth, Wind, and Fire concert. John also had a "secret..and brief" second marriage to Rosario Bienvenida Arias-a 24-year-old casino dealer from the Dominican Republic. They married in Maryland on April 25, 2002, but, according to the annulment initiated by John May 19,2002, "she used him and then fled the country." The marriage had not been "nullified by the time John died, so as his widow, Rosario-not Zack-collected death benefits." Others disagree such as former MOVE supporter Tony Allen who runs an anti-MOVE blog; he believes MOVE would never have put someone in their closest family circles at risk by killing John and would have given that task to a supporter saying “my hope is that there's people in and about MOVE whose consciences will eat away at them." Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi mentioned that MOVE members had been questioned in the investigation but did not comment further. In 2012 the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that John had told friends and family that he had recorded incriminating evidence in a notebook as "security against a hit" by MOVE. John said he had placed the notebook inside a locker for safekeeping. Jack confirmed one of John’s coworkers had contacted him and he tried to get police to search the locker but to no avail. At the time, Prosecutor Bernardi had no comment when pressed on the topic. It is unclear if the locker was ever searched. In a 2009 news article, Jack mentioned that he continues to speak with investigators every three weeks but acknowledged "they get tired of telling me there's nothing new." Zackary, at the time 13 years old, was “a happy home-schooled teen, active in swimming and fencing.” In the interview, Alberta admitted that her son continues to miss his father recalling how they “found a picture of his dad, and he just fell into me..he's a big boy, but he was in tears. She also says "the tears she cried for John were real in 2002" and she continues to feels his absence noting that she remarried after John’s death, “not out of love, but to give her son a stable home.” Jack said “his life has been anything but stable” since his son's death. His wife, Fran, died of cancer two years after his son was killed, and he speaks to Zack only once every three to six months. He knows that “wishing his son were still alive is pointless” so he focuses on resolving the case so Zack can come back into his life saying “he's been raised by MOVE his whole life. I hope when he gets older, he'll ask questions. I want him to know that his father fought for him." Anyone with information about John’s murder can contact the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office at 609-265- 7113. Questions: Do we know more about John's gambling debts and other enemies he supposedly had? There is much discussion on the MOVE angle but I really couldn't find much information on any other theories besides the statement made by Captain Fisher. Was John's locker ever searched? Links: https://www.inquirer.com/philly/news/20090926_Slaying_of_ex-MOVEr_still_roils_feelings_7_years_later.html https://www.theintelligencer.com/news/article/Man-in-Custody-Battle-Shot-to-Death-10572580.php https://www.inquirer.com/philly/blogs/inq-blinq/A-clue-hidden-in-a-lost-locker.html https://www.inquirer.com/philly/hp/news_update/20140928_A_slain_man__a_lost_son_and_a_grandfather_s_quest.html https://culteducation.com/group/1060-move/14601-breaking-silence-over-a-sons-slaying.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOVE#2002_murder_of_John_Gilbride http://antimove.blogspot.com/2012/09/?m=1 https://www.religionnewsblog.com/4623/unsolved-death-angers-move-grieves-parents https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/8/8/20747198/philadelphia-bombing-1985-move https://www.inquirer.com/philly/entertainment/20131020_A_haunting_look_at_when_Phila__burned.html https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/movies/let-the-fire-burn-relives-1985-siege-of-the-move-group.html https://www.phillymag.com/news/2014/02/27/birdie-africa-lost-boy/ http://kalamu.com/neogriot/2015/05/13/history-lest-we-forget-today-is-the-30th-anniversary-of-the-bombing-of-move/ MOVE has been “an anomaly in Philadelphia ever since it was founded, in the mid-1970s, by a white graduate student who became enthralled with the musings of a local black handyman who took the name John Africa and held beliefs ranging from vegetarianism to odd bathing rituals to preparation for worldwide racial conflict.” Several city officials were reprimanded in an investigation which called “dropping a bomb on an occupied row house…unconscionable” but none were criminally charged for the bombing. The 61 destroyed homes were rebuilt with government funds ($35 milion) but the houses were eventually condemned since a potential carbon monoxide leak was found in the heating systems. In 2000, the city paid again to buy out the residents and move them. Ramona Africa, the only adult who came out of the house fire alive (along with 13-year old Birdie Africa), served seven years in prison for her role in the confrontation. As she stood outside MOVE's current house in 2013, she dismissed the notion that the home had code violations stating “they say it is a fire hazard but the only fire MOVE has ever been involved with is the one the city of Philadelphia set on May 13, 1985."
Golden Nugget (Atlantic City) Commercial With Fake Million Dollar Check
There is this relatively recent commercial that plays constantly on News 12 New Jersey for the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, NJ. It probably plays in PA and NY as well and is for online gambling (New Jersey allows it, but you technically have to be physically in the state). The owner is on a virtual Zoom call (evidently recorded during COVID-19) and is announcing in an almost passive aggressive and mocking tone, to paraphrase, that "I hate to give up a million dollars, but I am so happy that a long time customer is getting this". He then "hands" over a fake million dollar check to a very bloated but clearly content gambler. When you see this guy's tone and demeanor, especially his fake and nearly sarcastic "I am so happy", he comes across as almost threatening and menacing, like he is Robert Deniro in "Casino", wagging his finger and smirking while implying, "You mutha-####, you got me dis time, enjoy it while it lasts, you fat bastard." I do not know what viewers are supposed to take away from the commercial. A guy who is a "long time" gambler, who sort of looks it, too, "just" won a million dollars. The guy probably lost close to as much money as "a long time" gambler. The owner clearly tries to vocally emphasize that he is happy that a "long time customer" won, implying that some schmo who wins on his first try will clearly tick off the owner. He is almost saying, "I want the habitual gamblers to come here, and if they happen to win, I will be ok with it just once, but don't push your damn luck." When he says he is "so happy", he is clearly anything but happy based on the tone of his voice. What is odd is that with a commercial you get many takes to get it right. This looks like it was done on one take and the guy was doing a bad job hiding his displeasure. I understand that Golden Nugget probably has many "million dollar winners" and the guy isn't going to cry about that every time someone happens to win. But he really does come across as if he is in emotionally retching pain telling the guy he's getting a million dollars. I have also read that entrepreneurs are extremely thrifty and many will actually bemoan the loss of even small amounts. In any case, the commercial does not present anything novel or interesting about the casino, while really showing more about the owner, who comes off as bitter and even angry. Maybe they were trying to show a "personal side" to the owner? Maybe he was aiming to come across as a "buddy" to gamblers who is "in it for them". But that is clearly not what came across. Had the owner wanted to appeal to (1) the public at large or (2) long time gamblers more specifically, he could have done the same thing but avoided the unnecessary commentary where he says "I am so [effin] happy". But his face, tone, and demeanor all say "I am so unhappy". A lot of these people don't realize that people are not stupid and they can tell when they are being told a lie. Narcissists, in general, are bad at realizing that people can see their lies through them, because they think that people buy into all of their b.s. I am not sure if the guy is a narcissist or not but he must have thought, looking at the finished product, that "Damn, that looked good", which clearly it did not.
Part 6: Amazing In Depth Essay About Sopranos Symbolism and Subtext (credit: FlyOnMelfisWall source: thechaselounge.net)
Kennedy and Heidi: Vicarious Patricide as Tony’s Decompensation
At the risk of needless redundancy, I think it’s helpful to summarize Tony’s state of mind going into the episode Kennedy and Heidi. His consciousness is teeming with ancient but recently-agitated memories showcasing his father’s violence and toxic influence, like Johnny shooting a hole through Livia’s hairdo and baptizing him in the act of murder. He’s unable to shake stories of parental neglect leading to tragic outcomes for children. He’s painfully aware of Christopher’s hatred of him and desire for murderous revenge, feelings ultimately rooted in the fact that Tony guided him into the same corrupt existence into which he himself had been led by Johnny, Junior, and company, suggesting a reciprocal, if unconscious, rage by Tony towards those men. His subconscious mind is under constant assault from hats and movie posters and coffee mugs bearing the image of a bloody meat cleaver, an emblem of his own lost childhood innocence and inculcation by his father into his brutal, ugly vocation. He is racked with acute but intense guilt over the role he thinks his life’s example has played in shaping his son’s values and poor sense of self-worth. And he is still repressing a mountain of hurt over the fact that his uncle and second father tried not once but twice to kill him, a repression Melfi warned would someday result in a total collapse of his defense mechanisms, that is, a collapse of his paternal hero-worship and related quest for the macho validation that has prevented him from critically examining his father, uncle, and the men upon whom he modeled his life. Now consider the circumstances immediately before the crash. Tony and Chris are on a routine drive back from business in Christopher’s new black Cadillac SUV (the first Cadillac Chris has ever owned, incidentally.) The conversation turns to life priorities. Chris, conspicuously clad in a Cleaver hat, specifically mentions how Kaitlyn has changed his priorities, and Tony mentions the “shit with Junior”. So the context is immediately pregnant with the fact that Junior shot and nearly killed Tony within the past year and with the fact that Chris is in a new place of responsibility, a position where he is, for the first time, truly the custodian and trustee for another life. In a perfectly-timed illustration of just how ill-equipped Chris is to live up to those responsibilities, he nervously and repeatedly fiddles with the car stereo, fidgets, and widens his eyes, telegraphing to Tony that he is high as a kite on drugs. “Comfortably Numb” swells on the sound system as Tony stares at him, the lyrics underscoring that, in that moment, he does not see Chris as a youngster, as the “adorable kid” he once road around in the basket of his bicycle, but as a grown man: When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpseOut of the corner of my eyeI turned to look but it was goneI cannot put my finger on it nowThe child is grown, the dream is gone Chris swerves, and the crash happens seconds later.
Tony as the Child in the Carseat
It’s critical to note that Tony initially manifests every intention of helping Chris, even as he’s fighting his own injuries. “I’m comin’,” he says as Chris asks for help. His expression and demeanor only change when he realizes what Chris means by “help”. “I’ll never pass a drug test,” Chris moans. “What?” Tony asks incredulously as Chris is inhaling his own blood. Almost simultaneously, Tony turns towards the back and sees that a tree limb has penetrated the passenger compartment, lodging in Kaitlyn’s car seat like a spear. While Tony would somewhat exaggerate the size of the branch in later narrations of the event, there’s no question that it was large enough to have impaled or seriously injured an infant. Even after this warning shot over the bow, Tony apparently intends to help Chris, coming over to the driver’s side and breaking the window when he couldn’t get the door open. He draws his cell phone to call for help but stops when Chris again mentions being doped up, which suggests that Chris is more concerned about the legal consequences of his intoxication than about the fact that he is drowning in his own blood, completely belying his claim to a life newly ordered around the lofty priority of fatherhood. That’s the moment when Tony forms a genuine murderous intent, an intent that has little to do with Christopher’s animosity towards him or the danger that he might flip. Those are conscious, background motives that help Tony rationalize and make sense of his actions later. But the factor impelling him to end Christopher’s life is his own, fundamental identification with the child who might just as easily have been killed or seriously harmed in that carseat. To objectify this point, there is a slow pan of the limb sticking through the seat as Tony performs the suffocation, clearly not a shot representing Tony’s vision or gaze at that moment but objectively corroborating the earlier angle when Tony glances back and we see the seat from his point of view. The juxtaposition of these shots – subjective and objective – tells me the carseat is not just a convenient excuse for Tony. This is what he’s really feeling. In this moment, he is the phantom child in that carseat, a child whose safety and well-being come second to his father’s corrupt values and reckless self-indulgence, a child whose soul and humanity are metaphorically impaled by riding in and being taught to drive his father’s black Cadillac. The exclamation point on the symbolism is provided by Christopher’s hat. Incredibly, it remains on his head throughout the crash and suffocation, its bloody cleaver logo pointing towards Tony when the car comes to rest. As Tony acts consciously on behalf of an innocent child, the symbol of his own lost childhood innocence is directly before him. And, for good measure, the cap and logo stare back at him in the hospital from the gurney laden with Christopher’s bloody clothing and the black bag containing his dead body. (The logo antagonizes Tony a final time from his coffee mug the next morning before he angrily tosses the mug into his backyard woods.) Several points about the suffocation itself are remarkable. First was the look of absolute depravity on Tony’s face as he watched Christopher struggle to breathe. This look was unlike any ever seen on Tony’s face at any other moment in the series. Even when committing other personal and deadly acts of violence, his face and demeanor had always betrayed a commensurate level of animus, an active, passionate intent. In contrast, he reached through the window and pinched Christopher’s nose – and maintained that hold – with remarkable calm. His face and eyes throughout the suffocation were paradoxically both incredibly intense and completely devoid of human emotion, a look far more disturbing than any look of mere rage he’d ever worn before. Second, although this act was, in my judgment, clearly about the release of Tony’s pent up rage towards his father figures, the method of killing evokes Livia. Besides her conspiracy with Junior to kill Tony (which she rationalized was for his own good) and general obsession with stories of child deaths, she had once threatened to “smother [her children] with a pillow” to save them from a fate she deemed even worse. Tony grabbed a pillow intending to smother her in the season one finale before nursing home personnel intervened. In Members Only, Tony spoke of being smothered with a pillow as a suitable form of euthanasia. Its functional equivalent at the scene of the crash had a definite vibe of putting Chris out of his own – and everyone’s – misery. So, in killing his “father”, Tony was also paradoxically suffocating his “son”, thereby channeling Livia’s filicidal urges and concept of mercy killing. The most spine-tingling resonance with the scene comes from two season four episodes where Tony’s deep identification with “innocents” – be they children or animals – once again comes to the fore, as does his appreciation for the consequences of Chris continuing to use drugs. In Whoever Did This, Tony warns Christopher that he “can’t be high on heroine and raise kids.” And in The Strong, Silent Type, after learning that a doped-up Chris accidentally smothered and suffocated Adriana’s dog, Tony ominously snaps, “You suffocated little Cossette? I oughta suffocate you, you prick!” It’s such perfect foreshadowing that the earlier episodes seem to have been written with the outcome of Kennedy and Heidi in mind.
Righteous Retribution as the Explanation for Tony’s Lack of Sorrow
As previously noted, the most troubling aspect of the episode from the standpoint of character consistency and plausibility was not the fact that Tony murdered Chris. It was his vacuous expression during the killing and the fact that he never betrayed a moment’s genuine sorrow or regret afterwards. He remained, in fact, defiantly happy and unconflicted about it, especially to Melfi, and was sincerely troubled that neither she nor anyone else could see how Christopher’s death rescued Kaitlyn from a lifetime of risks and harm that she would naturally suffer as the daughter of a drug addict (and mob captain). In his therapy scenes with Melfi, real and dream, Tony even makes the very contrast I raise, noting that he’s never felt this way after murdering any other person close to him. He alludes to his sorrow over Pussy and specifically allows that murdering Tony B left him “prostate [sic] with grief.” In effect, Tony himself is revealing that this killing feels righteous and justified to him on an instinctive level and is therefore not one about which he can feel guilt or sorrow. That sentiment makes no sense if his dominant motives were those he talked about in therapy: Christopher’s animosity and resentment towards him after the Adriana hit and his drug-use and consequent risk to flip. Whatever weight those factors carry in justifying murder in the corrupt “ethics” of the mob (which, in any case, is less than the weight of the transgressions by Pussy and Tony B), they carry absolutely no legitimate moral weight outside it and could not sustain in Tony the sense of just triumph that he felt in response to Christopher’s death. What could inspire that sense of triumph is the perceived liberation of a child from a dangerous and toxic father, experienced subconsciously as vicarious retribution for the abuse and harm he himself suffered at the hands of his own father and uncle.
Significance of the Names “Kennedy” and “Heidi”
“Kennedy” and “Heidi” are the names of the young passenger and driver, respectively, in the car that sideswipes Christopher’s SUV before the fateful crash. The girls are barely onscreen a few seconds, just long enough to (somewhat artificially) learn their names in the following exchange: Kennedy: Maybe we should go back, Heidi! Heidi: Kennedy, I’m on my learner’s permit after dark! Much forum debate after the first airing of the episode centered around the significance, if any, of these names. I propose a related but even more basic question: why are the girls present in the scene at all? Tony’s windfall opportunity to murder Chris and pass it off as death from accidental injury was entirely dependent upon being unobserved by others after the crash. Given Christopher’s intoxicated state and inattention to the curvy road while he fiddled with radio controls, a mere swerve and over-correction or swerve to avoid an animal (Tony’s crash with Adriana, anyone?) would have easily sufficed to trigger the accident but without the problematic involvement of another car, the driver of which would have to be made to flee the scene illegally and in contravention of the ethics and instincts of at least 95% of the motorists on the road. So the very fact that another car is involved, complicating both the story and the filming, suggests some symbolic or subtextual design to the involvement related specifically to the momentous event occurring right after the crash. One aspect of that design is revealed and amplified when a grieving Kelly shows up at Christopher’s wake with dark hair framing her face and large, dark sunglasses covering her eyes. A member of the crew remarks, “Look at her. Like a movie star.” An odd look immediately crosses Tony’s face as he spontaneously responds, “Jackie Kennedy”, noting Kelly’s resemblance to the widow of John F. Kennedy. In my mind, this striking moment in the episode can have only one purpose, and that’s to evoke Johnny Boy in relation to Christopher via a kind of symbolic math. If Kelly = Jackie Kennedy, then Chris = JFK = Johnny Boy since JFK was the explicit parallel figure for Johnny in In Camelot, the first episode of the series depicting cracks in the foundation of Tony’s paternal hero worship. When that foundation completely crumbles inside Tony’s subconscious a season and a half later, it’s entirely fitting that the JFK/Johnny parallel is renewed. As for the name “Heidi”, most folks around these parts felt it was meant to evoke the idea of “orphan” because of the famous Swiss orphan tale of the same name and because Kaitlyn (and Paulie) both lost parents in the episode. That’s an entirely plausible analysis that requires no expansion, although I’m inclined to think there’s more to it than that, starting with the analogy of Tony himself to “Heidi”. No, Tony was never technically orphaned, though he arguably suffered more as the son of Johnny and Livia than if he had been. He was certainly deprived of real parental love and guidance, on both sides, and that roughly equates to the definition of “orphan”. Before discussing this episode for the first time, I never knew that Heidi was the story of an orphan, only that it was some kind of tale for children. And I knew that only because of the epic 1968 football game between Joe Namath’s Jets and the Oakland Raiders, the climactic ending of which (an improbable comeback by the Raiders) was cut off abruptly for television viewers at the end of its scheduled broadcast slot so that a movie version of Heidi could begin airing on time. I was only four at the time of this debacle but recall my parents talking about it – and the considerable chaos it caused at NBC and at telephone switchboards around the country – for years afterwards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidi_Game It wouldn’t become clear until the end of Made In America, but there’s an obvious parallel to the Heidi phenomenon in the wind-up of The Sopranos. Consider that, like the Heidi Game broadcast, Made in America featured an abrupt, unexpected termination of excruciatingly tense action at a penultimate moment, pre-empting audience experience of what appeared to be an imminent and momentous climax. The Sopranos ending may not have disabled an entire telephone network, but it certainly generated an enormous amount of controversy that, for better or worse, persists to this day. Beyond that, there were enough other football references in the final Sopranos episodes, and especially Jets references, to warrant further consideration of this football connotation for “Heidi”. In Remember When, Tony’s betting losses on Jets football games prompt his call to Hesh for a bridge loan. Later that same episode, Paulie annoys Tony and company with yet another old tale, this one relating how, after witnessing Joe Namath stagger drunk into a bar the night before a game, he bet a load of cash the following day on the Jets’ opponent. In Chasing It, Tony gets inside information on a Jets football game and is irate when Carmela refuses to bet money on it. The episode features a closeup of a large newspaper headline, “Jets Bomb Chargers”. In Blue Comet, then-current coach of the Jets, Eric Mangini, makes a cameo appearance in Vesuvio, with Artie informing a suitably-impressed Tony so the two can go over and shake hands. News articles at the time clarified that the cameo wasn’t Mangini’s idea but the idea of Sopranos producers, who contacted him months in advance and made accommodations in the shooting schedule around his availability. So this seemed more than a casual desire to have some generic celebrity show up. That especially seems true considering Mangini was given no dialog and that his meeting with Tony and Artie was only depicted in the silent background of a conversation between Charmaine and Carmela. Mangini’s only purpose on set was apparently to show his face briefly and to have the fact of his identity (Tony has to tell a bewildered Carm that Mangini is the head coach of the Jets) permeate the minds of the audience and the subtext of the scene, which is ultimately about chickens coming home to roost on Tony and Carmela because of the lives they chose. As alter egos for Tony and Carmela throughout the series, folks who took the proverbial “other path” in life, Artie and (especially) Charmaine engage in subtle gloating in the scene. Football coaching was firmly established as Tony’s “road not taken” in Test Dream, so having an actual football coach present in the episode where the unsavory and downright deadly consequences of his chosen vocation are crashing in all around him provides dramatic ballast. All the better to have the coach in the scene be the coach of the team involved in the Heidi game in view of the ending planned for the following episode. And speaking again of that ending, the wall behind Tony in Holsten’s is consumed with four large murals specifically brought in by the production crew for the shoot. The largest and most centered depicts a huge, light-colored building with lots of windows, somewhat reminiscent of the Inn at the Oaks in Tony’s coma dream. It’s apparently a high school, however, as it is flanked on either side by images of football players in full uniform with what appear to be names and year of graduation engraved at the bottom. To the side and extreme left is a mural of a tiger and the caption “Class of 1973” at the bottom. The tiger is presumably the mascot for the team and school represented in the other murals. So there is a strong symbolic presence of “football” in the last scene of the series, particularly of high school football from roughly the era when Tony would have entered high school. Finally, though it may be completely insignificant, when Tony tells Carm about the accident from his hospital stretcher in Kennedy and Heidi, he mentions that he re-injured his knee, “the one from high school.” That certainly sounds like a reference to an old high school football injury. If these loose strands from multiple episodes are indeed intended to connote football in relation to the name “Heidi”, what does that actually mean in the context of the episode Kennedy and Heidi? What does football have to do with Tony killing Chris or, more precisely, with him killing his father in the guise of Chris? The linchpin in that symbolism, it seems to me, is Tony’s old high school football coach, the guy who would have been his coach when he originally injured his knee, the guy Tony dreamt repeatedly of trying to silence or kill, the guy whose puzzling duality in Test Dream suddenly makes sense when he’s viewed as a classic, Freudian composite of opposites, specifically a composite of Tony’s opposing father figures with Johnny dressed in the physiognomy of Coach Molinaro by Tony’s subconscious in order to render acceptable imagery of his latent, patricidal feelings. If you further allow, as I do, that the Johnny look-alike shooting at Tony with a scoped rifle (ala Oswald/”Kennedy”) in that same dream is yet another Freudian “reversal into the opposite” by Tony’s subconscious to disguise his repressed paternal rage, then the Kennedy/Heidi connection is pretty clear. The names are presented proximate to the crash to connote that, in killing Chris, Tony has finally acted out the Test Dream imagery that haunted him for years: he has (symbolically) killed his father, the “Kennedy” and “Heidi” of his dream.
In my judgment, this explains Tony’s otherwise puzzling, peyote-induced insight when he proclaims, “He’s dead,” after winning at roulette on 3 successive spins, prompting him to fall to the floor in spectacular and uncontrollable laughter. What other, real death could have inspired such a euphoric and epiphanic reaction? What real death could Tony only have appreciated while in a drug-induced, altered state of consciousness? Many felt the line referred to Christopher because he’d just died, obviously, and because Tony’s gambling luck suddenly changed afterward. That analysis never made sense to me. First, Tony plays roulette at the casino while sober when he first arrives in Vegas and loses every round. Chris was already dead at that time, as Tony well knew and accepted. Indeed, Tony was never in any state of denial about Christopher’s death (or about having killed him.) He embraced it, both consciously and in his dream therapy session with Melfi after the crash. The “he’s dead” insight occurs only after Tony takes peyote and notices a sudden and complete about-face in gambling luck. Why would he need psychedelic drugs to suddenly realize what he already knew and accepted about Chris? And why would Christopher’s death be tied in his mind to his own gambling luck anyway? No prior connection between those two things had ever been suggested. On the other hand, Tony’s sudden escalation in gambling, which coincided with the agitation and intensification of his latent rage towards his father(s), could easily be seen as a subconscious rebellion against the stern, anti-gambling lecture Johnny imparted the night Tony witnessed the cleaver incident. To the extent that the rebellion results in huge financial losses and self destruction, it obviously fails. His father retains ultimate power and authority. To the extent the rebellion results in huge winnings, it succeeds, and Tony vanquishes his father. That conquest was the ineffable and elusive “high” that Tony was subconsciously pursuing in Chasing It but which he could not articulate to Melfi. Thus the sudden change in gambling fortune on his Vegas trip is easily tied in Tony’s drug-altered psyche to a euphoric realization that he has conquered or symbolically killed his father, none of which Tony could appreciate without a vastly altered state of consciousness. And that leads to why he went to Vegas in the first place. He asks that question out loud to the Vegas prostitute, Sonia, immediately before admitting that Christopher once mentioned taking peyote with her. Tony then confesses to having always wanted to try the drug. Clearly, then, he didn’t just happen to pick Vegas and didn’t just happen to make contact with this girl. His subconscious was pushing him to that venue because he craved the enlightenment of a peyote experience. So while Tony’s real motives for the murder, and for his otherwise inexplicable jubilance afterward, were completely closed off to his conscious mind, somehow he sensed their existence and yearned to unlock and understand them. However his peyote revelations didn’t stop with simply understanding why he killed Chris.
“I Get It. I Get It!”
Tony’s desert epiphany is a bookend to his near-death coma experience and, I believe, can only be fully understood in relation to it. Yet exploring that relationship is a journey all unto itself, calling not only for consideration of the coma episodes and Kennedy and Heidi but the meaning of the cut to black that ends the series. While exploring the religious and spiritual underpinnings of those episodes is of even more weight and interest to me personally than the issue of Tony’s motives in killing Christopher, it deserves and demands its own, dedicated discussion. For now, I’d simply like to posit what I strongly believe Tony’s epiphany to have been with only minimal argumentation as to why I hold that belief. The epiphany is presaged when Tony enters the casino on his peyote trip and notes that the roulette wheel is built on the same principle as the solar system. The ball spins round and round the center or “sun” of the wheel because of two delicately-balanced but largely opposing phenomena: the momentum of the ball (which, without the wheel, would carry the ball away in a straight line) and the centripetal force of the wheel (applied by the rim, which continuously pulls the ball towards the center even as the ball’s momentum continuously pulls it on a path perpendicular to the centripetal force.) The antagonism (or cooperation, if you prefer) of the forces gives rise to a unified system: an orbit. If this sounds a bit like the Bell Labs scientist’s explanation of how two tornadoes are in fact just facets of one, unified system of wind, it’s likely no mere coincidence. As Hal Holbrook’s character argued, separateness is a mirage. The universe, and everything in it, is one big soup of molecules interacting in cause/effect fashion according to laws, making it one whole, not a bunch of discrete parts. “Everything is everything,” as the black rapper reduced it. That was the philosophy that really made an impression on Tony in the days and weeks following his coma. The principles of quantum physics articulated by Holbrook’s character are likely as close as you can get to a scientific codification of Bhuddism and therefore reinforced much of what the Bhuddist monks conveyed to Tony in his coma. The monks laughed when Tony claimed he wasn’t Finnerty and explained that there really is no “you” and “me, that death would bring an obliteration of individuality. Separate consciousness – and the consciousness of separateness – is an illusion of the living. So all this laid the philosophical groundwork for Tony’s Las Vegas trip. In that trip, Tony seeks out a girl with whom Chris had slept, then sleeps with her himself. He mentions having refrained from a longstanding desire to try peyote because he always felt the weight of his responsibilities, an implied contrast to Christopher, who always indulged in drugs despite his responsibilities. The idea that Tony was seeking to almost live life in Christopher’s skin in the Las Vegas portion of the episode was something several posters mentioned in first discussions after Kennedy and Heidi aired. Even the girl, Sonia, remarks how similar Tony and Chris are, a somewhat dubious observation that somehow offends Tony but which also helps define his impending epiphany. That epiphany is spurred when the rising sun flares at him over the desert mountain vista. This recalls Tony’s earlier comparison of the roulette wheel to the solar system. It also resonates completely with the fact that Kevin Finnerty was a solar heating salesman from Kingman, Arizona, a town which, not coincidentally, lies 95 miles southeast of Las Vegas and shares the same desert landscape. Also not coincidental, IMO, is the fact that in the prior episode, Christopher spoke of the perks of joining witness protection and of “living large” in Arizona. So I believe that, in that desert sunrise on the cusp of Arizona, in fulfillment of his identity as Kevin Finnerty, solar heating salesman, Tony saw his “son” – Christopher – “rise” and realized that, in murdering him days before, he (Tony) was really “rising” as a “son” against Johnny Boy. And in that linkage, he suddenly realized that “everything is [indeed] everything.” He is both Chris and Johnny Boy, both abused and misguided son and abusing, misguiding father. He is murdering uncle and would-be murdered nephew. He is both the mother that sees suffocation as mercy killing and the son who is suffocated. Christopher is both his son and his father. Johnny Boy is Coach Molinaro. “Kennedy” is “Heidi”. Opposites are really two sides of the same coin. In that fleeting moment of insight, Tony was truly feeling “one” with the universe.
The Second Coming
The episode following Kennedy and Heidi is titled The Second Coming after the Yeats poem that grips AJ in the English lit class he’s auditing. While the poem speaks to the bleakness of his depression and outlook on life at that particular time, there’s little doubt that – like everything of substantial weight in the Sopranos universe – it ultimately relates, first and foremost, to Tony. First referenced in the Cold Cuts therapy session dealing with pent-up rage where Tony’s deep shame from the cleaver incident is finally revealed, the poem seems the veritable inspiration for the storyline (as interpreted in this article) that culminates in Christopher’s murder: The Second ComingBy William Butler Yeats Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer;Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhereThe ceremony of innocence is drowned;The best lack all conviction, while the worstAre full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand;Surely the Second Coming is at hand.The Second Coming! Hardly are those words outWhen a vast image out of Spiritus MundiTroubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desertA shape with lion body and the head of a man,A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,Is moving its slow thighs, while all about itReel shadows of indignant desert birds.The darkness drops again; but now I knowThat twenty centuries of stony sleepWere vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? The widening gyre, the orbit that breaks down when the center can no longer hold, is clearly a parallel to the decompensation of which Melfi warned, the point at which Tony’s defenses after Junior’s second murder attempt could no longer hold and the underlying pathological rage at his fathers would take over. True to the poem, a “blood-dimmed tide was loosed”, inspired by a perverse compassion for the “innocent”. While “the best” all mourned Christopher and thought his death a tragedy, Tony, “the worst”, was full of passionate intensity and could not understand why no one else saw the greater good in Christopher’s death. The “revelation” occurs in a “waste of desert sand”, imagery easily compatible with Tony’s “I get it” moment in the Nevada/Arizona desert. The uniquely depraved look on his face as he suffocated Christopher is evoked by the line describing a “gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun”. “Twenty years of stony sleep” refers to the decades of denial Tony maintained, the defense mechanisms that kept him all his life from confronting and admitting that, in some very real ways, he hated his father. It’s a figurative sleep that was suggested literally in the noted fact that so many episodes in season 6B started with Tony in a deep sleep. Somnolence was suggested even in the choice of the song “Comfortably Numb” as soundtrack in the moments immediately preceding the crash, the moments right before the hour of the “rough beast” finally arrived. Even the incidentals are perfect allusions, as with the image of “stony sleep” being turned into a nightmare by a “rocking cradle”, or, in this case, by a car seat with a branch sticking through it. I’m intrigued by the line describing the emerging beast as having “lion body”. It may mean absolutely nothing. But among the story points worth considering in relation to it are the tiger on the wall in Holsten’s and the enigmatic cat in Made In America. More obscure is the fact that in Remember When, the single episode most explicitly dealing with the violent release of stifled paternal rage, Carter Chong described his grandfather as a “lion” and noted that his father owned “Grumman” stock. (Grumman manufactured a number of high-profile fighter military aircraft, most of them named for some kind of cat, e.g., Panther, Jaguar, Tomcat, Tigercat.) Carter was reviewing these facts to himself in the scene immediately preceding his vicious attack on Junior, suggesting that, in acting out on his stifled paternal hatred, he was adopting the predatory, aggressive characteristics of a wild cat. Notably, when Junior, the paternal surrogate who modeled this kind of aggressive behavior to Carter, was seen at the end of that episode bruised and literally defanged, his sunken mouth void of false teeth, he was stroking a harmless little housecat on his lap. Once a lion, the former mob boss was a lion no more.
Asbestos Dumping as a Metaphor for Tony’s Toxic Spill of Rage
Kennedy and Heidi opens with a controversy between Tony and Phil Leotardo over asbestos disposal. One of Tony’s contractors was removing asbestos from old buildings, while following none of the strict (and expensive) asbestos-handling laws regulating worker and public safety, and was seeking to dump completely uncontained truck-fulls at waste stations controlled by Phil. Phil’s guys were denying the trucks the right to dump. As a consequence, huge, openly-smoking asbestos mounds were building up at job sites. After Christopher’s death, Tony was doing little to find a solution, skipping town to gamble, get laid, and get high and leaving the contractor high and dry. Finally, near the very end of the episode, the contractor dumps heaps of asbestos at dawn in an open marsh area resembling the New Jersey Meadowlands. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that gained widespread use in the 19th and 20th centuries as an ingredient in various building industry materials – including wall compounds, insulation, and roofing materials – primarily because of its extreme insulative properties and resistance to heat and fire. In the last 40 years, it’s become better-known for its cancer-causing and toxic effects on those mining and working with it in manufacturing, demolition/remodeling, or other “raw” environments. Both the heat resistance and toxicity of asbestos make the shoddy removal/dumping storyline a compelling metaphor for Tony’s equally shoddy “dumping” in Kennedy and Heidi. The smoldering heat and flames from his hatred towards his father and uncle were contained beneath his consciousness by an insulating firewall of denial and repression. In essence, this denial and repression was Tony’s psychological asbestos, and it (more or less) contained the heat and fire within him for 47 years. But it finally broke down, allowing the flames to rage and do damage and necessitating a messy disposal. Unfortunately the breakdown didn’t happen where it should have, in his therapist’s office as the result of honest introspection and dialog about little things like his uncle trying to kill him twice and his father indoctrinating him to murder at 22. That would have been the equivalent of careful, legally-compliant asbestos removal. Instead the breakdown occurred in a roadside ravine and the resulting “waste [in the] desert sand” was every bit as toxic as the smoking piles illegally dumped in the Meadowlands immediately before the desert epiphany and which we saw reprised in the very first shot of the following episode. Think about that for a moment. Tony’s “I get it” moment was literally sandwiched between shots of noxious mounds of asbestos blowing in the New Jersey wind, a significant clue that some other kind of perversely cathartic disposal was in the middle of that sandwich.
The Orbit of the ‘Blue Comet’: Long Journey to Nowhere
It’s fair to ask: if the broad strokes of my interpretation are valid, what impact did the epiphany have on Tony going forward? After the drugs wore off, did he actually retain any specific understanding of his subconscious motives for killing Chris? Was he left only with the impression that he had enjoyed a very brief moment of enlightenment but without intellectual distillation of the enlightenment itself? Because the insight was founded upon the secret that he had murdered Chris, even if Tony had retained it, he couldn’t overtly share it with anyone. Still, I lean toward the interpretation that the specifics (at least the ones I proffered) were lost to him when the altered state of consciousness ceased. When he tried to describe the magic of what he experienced in the desert to his crew, he could only come up with the most mundane, inadequate words: “The sun . . . came up.” They all looked at him like he was half retarded. He was slightly more specific with Melfi, offering that he saw “for pretty certain” that this reality is not all there is. He couldn’t define the alternative but was still convinced there was “something else”. He did speak in therapy of appreciating a balance and unity in opposites that he hadn’t appreciated before, a “ying” [sic] and “yang”. And he offered that “mothers are like buses . . . the vehicle that gets us here,” but that, once here, we are all on our own, individual journeys (mothers included.) So, to the extent his epiphany comported with what he revealed in therapy, it seems to have had little to do with fathers and with Christopher’s murder and more to do with letting go (finally) of some of his issues with his mother. But perhaps the best clue to his residual state of understanding came when he indicated that some of what he thought he had grasped in the desert now eluded him. “You think you know, you think you learn something . . . like when I got shot,” he begins. Then, speaking specifically about the peyote experience, he reports that the insight gained is “kinda hard to describe. . . . You know, you have these thoughts, and you almost grab it . . . and then . . . ftt.” He flicks his fingers away from his chin as if to indicate “nothing”. So, to paraphrase Edna St. Vincent Millay, a fragment of what he knew remains, but, apparently, the best is lost. It wouldn’t take long for all of it to be lost. By the time Tony sits with AJ’s female therapist in Made In America, “going about in pity” for himself because of who his mother was, he has come full circle, essentially back to where he was to start the series. Like a “blue comet”, his orbit was highly elliptical, if not erratic, and carried with it the potential of veering off into deep space or crashing into the sun. But despite killing his own nephew, having a near-death experience himself, and saving his son from an act of suicide, the orbit held. The sober breakthrough never came. The repudiation of his father and of his way of life never took hold in his consciousness. And so, by series’ end, we, like Tony, were exhausted from a long journey that ultimately took us nowhere. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5
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