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If you live here in Hun City/you might remember back to the headlines of the morning of April 7, 1972, which announced the death of Crazy Joe Gallo, a Mafia hoodlum who got his in a spray of .32-caliber bullets while finishing off a second helping of scungilli salad at Umberto's Clam House in Manhattan's little Italy. Now gangsters like Gallo rarely die of coronaries or cancer and news of their demise affects most of us less than that of a neighbor's favorite mutt. But Joey -- a mobster with a talent for small talk about Camus when he wasn't icing people -- achieved a certain social prominence with a certain New York set: he was married by the same clergyman who united Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki on the Carson Show and the wedding made the New York Times ""Notes on People"" section and his war against Cosa Nostra boss Joe Profaci served as the basis of Breslin's The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Indeed, it got to the point ""where meeting Joe Gallo was as 'in' as knowing Stravinsky or Yevtushenko. Radical chic was being superseded by gangster chic."" But in the end (and this is Aronson's simple moral) Gallo died as he lived -- a hood from the Red Hook section of Brooklyn who used and then perished by violence. ""From Crazy Joey to Pal Joey"" -- some of Aronson's history of how Gallo and his family (brother Larry, grandmother Momma Nunziato, buddy Joey Jelly, et al.) got to the top of the criminal heap is as warm as a godfatherly pasta party. . .until the Colombo boys turn on the heat, making macaroni out of quite a few folks, including two innocent meat dealers. As Aronson says, it's easy to joke about organized crime, ""but it's really not very funny.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1973
Publisher: Putnam