A couple of nights ago I was in the lounge of a fraternal organization to which I belong and overheard an interesting conversation.
The fiancee of one of our bartenders is an aspiring professional billiards player, and he’s trying to raise money to enter some tournament. He was talking to some other folks who were there as guests, I think they might have been part of a visiting dart team.
Anyways, one of these people starts talking to the pool player about how he’s got friends in his hometown of Revere, MA (my hometown too) who can provide the funds he needs to enter the tournament. I overheard the conversation and knew exactly where he was coming from. He wasn’t being particularly coy, although he was dropping hints about the his friends at the Italian-American Club et cetera, but I’m not certain that the pool player was getting the drift.
I took the bartender aside when we went out for a smoke and told her what was up, and she hopefully got the point across to her fiancee. Getting into a shy, especially for money that you’re gambling away? Jesus… I’ve got friends from Revere who got in serious trouble with loansharks, it’s a terrible situation to be in. Never, ever owe anything to a wiseguy, not even a favor.
Revere, the city I grew up in, was Boston’s version of Cicero, IL - the political apparatus had been pretty much taken over and carved up by the Mob, and the people of the city mostly knew what was up. The corruption, kickbacks, bribery, etc were rampant. There were all these private clubs that served as clubhouses for the various mobbed-up factions in the city, usually based on the Italian region of origin. On top of that, you also had Jewish mobsters doing their thing as well.
Eventually though, Irish mobsters Whitey Bulger and Steve Flemmi cut the balls off the Italian Mob in Boston - with John Connolly’s Boston FBI office and the US Attorney as their waterboys. I’m surprised David Chase never explored that narrative in The Sopranos; having crooked law enforcement carrying out the vendettas of an opposing mob.