A young professional's take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
By Nina Pajak
Is anyone else having as much fun as I am with this Bonnano crime boss trial? It's fascinating, lurid, funny, and gruesome all at once. They've even got a cranky judge! It's like an episode of "The Sopranos" meets an Abbot and Costello bit with a one-episode sweeps week crossover with "Ally McBeal." That is to say, I'm enjoying it a great deal. So is The New York Times, whose coverage has given me endless minutes of enjoyment and from whom I am sourcing all my knowledge. Well, them and any episode of "The Simpsons" featuring Fat Tony.
Joseph Massino, the real star of the show, is a former (I assume) Bonnano boss testifying against reputed fellow boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, who has a totally, perfectly awesome mob name. I guess when you're already serving life in prison and you're facing the death penalty, as Massino was, you have very little to lose. So he has the stugots to be the first crime boss of one of the five families to cooperate with Feds , and he is just letting it all hang out. He's ratting on his former a-sso-ci-ate (please enunciate every syllable in the manner of Nathan Detroit) and giving up all sorts of super top secret mafia information, which makes me think that perhaps he is still facing a death penalty of sorts. Maybe that's why he's doing it in such style (and in sweatpants). For instance, Massino's j'accuse:
"It wasn't him, but it really was him."
Compelling! Gritty. Real.
Massino has also educated and entertained with his colorful metaphors (comparing people to ground meat to be used to cook sauce), explanations of extremely indecipherable mafia terminology like, "to clip someone," and matter-of-fact delivery of his testimony. For example, according to the Times, he referred to someone as having been "a boob" in a recording. The prosecutor asked him to explain what he meant by that, exactly:
"That he was a boob," Mr. Massino responded.
"What did you conclude about that?" she pressed further.
"That he was a boob," Mr. Massino repeated.
You simply cannot argue with that. This man is here to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. If the prosecutor is too dumb to know what a boob is, well, she's a boob.
I'm guessing his agent is already fielding calls from Bravo about shooting a reality series. Paulie Walnuts will come on to direct.
Massino isn't the only reason this trial is great, though he is making it greater. Basciano has been thrown out of court for his fabulous temper and has been accused of plotting to murder a prosecutor and the presiding judge, the Hon. Nicholas Garaufis.
If you haven't been following the case, you still may recognize his name. He's the judge who sentenced that racist and/or stupid Asian girl to jury duty for INFINITY YEARS for writing that she hated "African Americans, Hispanics and Haitians" on her juror form. This story just has it all, doesn't it? I'm guessing that in addition to actually being a racist, she was trying not to get empaneled on the jury which may decide whether a prominent head of a major organized crime family gets the needle. But now instead of learning all sorts of cool mob slang words for killing people, she's probably deliberating on her tenth personal injury lawsuit. What a meatball.
Hey, fuggedaboutit, Racist Asian Girl. Fuggedaboutit.
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I'm always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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