The New York Times reports again today from the federal testimony of Joseph C. Massino, formerly a boss of the Bonanno crime family, and the first official top dog of New York’s five families to tell the government what he knows. John Gotti, Massino says, planned with his own underboss and brother-in-law to kill him, back in the day. “If I wasn’t arrested,” he said of his 1990 murder and racketeering charges, “I probably wouldn’t be here today.” But in addition to his secret-spewing and his lingo, Massino’s affinity for “culinary allusions” continues to be the great cultural takeaway from the historic trial; they “have kept coming like so many courses on a tasting menu.” In addition to being a “restaurateur and sandwich truck operator,” Massino is also fat, according to the Times, or has “girth,” in their euphemistic words, so he knows what he’s talking about.
Just like Goodfellas, Massino explained that he ate well in prison, but only because he bribed a prison guard to feed him in the late ’80s. “He was bringing in food for us, cold cuts, shrimp, scungilli,” Massino testified.
Massino also played a tape he made of a discussion between himself and Vincent Basciano, the Bonanno acting boss he is testifying against, hoping for a reduced sentence. Of course, the conversation was partially about eating:
“I’m belching, I’ve got a lot of heartburn, a lot of agita,” Mr. Massino complained to Mr. Basciano. “I’ll tell you one thing, that sausage wasn’t bad, bo.”
“Yeah?” Mr. Basciano replied, “I left it in the room, I didn’t eat it.”
“It wasn’t bad, I swear to God,” Mr. Massino continued. “I put a little mustard — it wasn’t bad. I had no dinner last night. I had peanut butter, I couldn’t eat. Tonight, I won’t eat, it’s fish.”
Yes, these men committed many murders, but surely their grandmothers loved them.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 19, 2011