The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld

The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld

by Tom Folsom
     
 

A POWERFUL COLLISION OF TRUE CRIME AND POP CULTURE, THE MAD ONES CAPTURES THE REVOLUTIONARY SPIRIT OF THE SIXTIES AND BRINGS TO LIFE ONE OF THE MOST VIBRANT ANTIHEROES IN AMERICAN HISTORY.

The Mad Ones chronicles the rise and fall of the Gallo brothers, a trio of reckless young gangsters whose revolution against New York City's Mafia was inspired by Crazy

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Overview

A POWERFUL COLLISION OF TRUE CRIME AND POP CULTURE, THE MAD ONES CAPTURES THE REVOLUTIONARY SPIRIT OF THE SIXTIES AND BRINGS TO LIFE ONE OF THE MOST VIBRANT ANTIHEROES IN AMERICAN HISTORY.

The Mad Ones chronicles the rise and fall of the Gallo brothers, a trio of reckless young gangsters whose revolution against New York City's Mafia was inspired by Crazy Joe Gallo's forays into Greenwich Village counterculture.

Crazy Joe, Kid Blast, and Larry Gallo are steeped in legend, from Bob Dylan's eleven-minute ballad "Joey" to fictionalizations central to The Godfather trilogy and Jimmy Breslin's The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Called the toughest gang in the city by the NYPD, the Gallos hailed from the rough Red Hook neighborhood on the Brooklyn waterfront. As low-level Mafiosi, they were expected to serve their Don quietly, but the brothers stood apart from typical gangsters with their hip style, fierce ambition, and Crazy Joe's manic idealism.

Joey aspired to be more than a common hood and immersed himself among the Beatniks and bohemians of the Village. Yearning to live the life of an artist, Joey wrote poetry, painted, and got his kicks devouring existential philosophy. Celebrated as the "king of the streets" by Dylan, Joey was embraced by the city's leading cultural figures as an antihero straight out of Camus.

Here, for the first time, is the complete story of the Gallos' war against the powerful Cosa Nostra, an epic crime saga that culminates in Crazy Joe's murder on the streets of Little Italy, where he was gunned down mid-bite into a forkful of spaghetti in 1972. The Mad Ones is a wildly satisfying entertainment and a significant work of culturalhistory.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mobsters are infinitely entertaining, but in TV producer Folsom's (co-author, Mr. Untouchable) chronicle of the infamous Gallo brothers who ruled Red Hook, Brooklyn in the 1950s and 60s, there's not only gang war, mayhem and murder, but the media sensation that was leader Crazy Joe Gallo. Immortalized in Jimmy Breslin's The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, the Gallo brothers really did keep a lion in the basement to encourage payments, and broke with the rules of the Mafia by including outsiders like Mondo the Dwarf and an Egyptian nicknamed Ali Baba. In crisp prose that can veer into the tabloid, Folsom expertly captures the color of Crazy Joey and his times. Joey, who did time in psych wards and prisons (he read up to eight books a day in Attica), mugged for the cameras while being questioned by Attorney General Robert Kennedy at the McClellan Hearings in 1959, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, held court at Elaine's with Ben Gazarra and Bruce Jay Friedman and became best friends with actor Jerry Orbach. At the time he was gunned down (at Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy) at 43 years old, Joey had a book deal from Viking: "There's something suicidal about publishers," he said later, "paying a lot of greens for the big nothing."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Novelistic study of an iconoclastic criminal in revolutionary times. Documentarian Folsom (co-author: Mr. Untouchable: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of Heroin's Teflon Don, 2007), grittily evokes the period (1950s and '60s) and the place (New York City) in which the Gallo brothers-Brooklyn jukebox magnates and low-level hoods Joey, Larry and Kid Blast-struggled to rise to the top of the underworld. Jimmy Breslin titled his 1969 novel based on the same characters and events The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, but Folsom, who takes his title from Kerouac, is able to tease some heroism out of his protagonists' antiheroic lives, particularly that of the poetically inclined Joey. Granted, he was a punk who could only plead the Fifth in answer to Bobby Kennedy's questions during the 1960 Senate hearings on organized crime. He bragged about hitting Murder Inc.'s Albert Anastasia as he waited for a shave in a Midtown barbershop, and unsuccessfully took on the Profaci crime family in a brazen but poorly executed coup attempt, spending most of the '60s behind bars on an extortion rap. So how did Joey become the toast of the town from the time of his release until his public 1972 execution at a spaghetti joint in Little Italy? Jerry Orbach, who played the character inspired by him in the film of Breslin's novel, was among the New York players who treated Crazy Joe like the "King of the Streets," as an epic song penned by Bob Dylan and dramatist Jacques Levy called him. In prose as tight and hard-boiled as any James Ellroy novel, Folsom focuses on the quirks that made Joey an unusual kind of gangster. He modeled himself after the giggling psychopath played by Richard Widmark in the film noirKiss of Death; he was fascinated bebop, action painting and existential philosophy; he made alliances across racial lines, including one with Folsom's previous subject and literary collaborator, Harlem drug dealer Leroy Barnes. Riveting, richly atmospheric pulp nonfiction. Author tour to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago. Agent: Zoe Pagnamenta/Zoe Pagnamenta Agency

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781602860810
Publisher:
Weinstein Books
Publication date:
05/05/2009
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

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Meet the Author

TOM FOLSOM is a former editor at Rugged Land Books, a writer, director and producer of television documentaries for A&E and Showtime, and the co-author of MR. UNTOUCHABLE: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of Heroin's Teflon Don written with its subject, drug-kingpin Nicky Barnes. He lives in New York City.

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