1300s: Glowing eyes and nocturnal behavior of the cat was interpreted by the Church as clear proof of the hapless feline’s diabolic affinity. Wholesale trapping and burning of cats allowed free rein to the spread of the flea-carrying rat causing decimation of Europe’s population by the plague.
(When they realized their mistake the Church stopped the killing of cats under their auspices. Recently the Pope indicated the condoms are ok in some circumstances thereby recognizing that human life is at least as important as a cat’s.)
TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
Recently while searching the web for two of my all time favorite movies, the Warriors and The Wanders, I came across a site dedicated to the New York City and Chicago teen age gangs of the late 1950’s, including map’s of the rival gangs’ turf.
Based on Xenophon’s history of the Greek mercenary army, betrayed by the Persians who had to fight their way through 100s of miles of hostile Persian territory to get home, the Warriors, betrayed at a gang conference in the Bronx have to fight their way along the subway from Gun Hill Road in the Bronx and through Manhattan in order to return to their home in Coney Island.
The Wanderers, although very little about it is realistic, presented the most realistic view of the gangs and gang life of the time that I knew and experienced. The movie referenced actual gangs that I had some passing relationship with, The Fordham Baldies, The Golden Guineas, and the Irish Lords.
The Golden Guineas were sort of the mob farm team and the Fordham Baldies the most feared gang in the North Bronx (they were not bald as portrayed in the movie).
I lived outside of the City and although we had our own gangs and relationships with some of the Bronx gangs we were no match for them in size or reputation.
I belonged to two gangs that I can remember, the Skull Gang, the gang my childhood friends evolved into when we passed into puberty. It was mostly social and something to call ourselves. It was a mixed group, italians, blacks and irish boys who had grown up together.
I also belonged to a gang from Mount Vernon, a somewhat more serious group. We called ourselves the Capris if you can believe it. Our “uniform” was teal bowling shirts with black velvet vertical stripes. This was a zip-gun, switch blade, tire chain wielding gang, unlike the unarmed, unwarlike Skulls who just hung out on the corner. I was consigliere since I refused to carry a weapon (fear mostly), was not known as a particularly adept fighter but I was considered the most knowledgable member of the gang.
I also associated with one or two minor gangs from the north Bronx. but I do not recall their names. I was a “war” advisor with them.
I also had a friendship with the leader of a major gang from Fordham Road called the University Avenue Gang. I could not find them on the site, so they may also have had another name. The leader’s name was “Bambi.” The gang was a mixed gang, Bambi was Italian and many of the gang members were Irish.
One evening Bambi helped in saving me and several friends from a severe beating. It seems that “One Punch Sammy Santoro” the legendary tough guy from Roosevelt High School in Yonkers had, a running conflict with Frank Santaliquito from Tuckahoe. It seems Santoro once beat up Frank for some reason. As a result, Frank spent the next two years in the Gym bulking up and training in boxing and hand to hand combat. Frank who had been a tall handsome slender young man, had in those two years turned himself into and ugly brutish looking mountain of a man. He had let the word out that he was looking to even the score.
One evening two friends of mine (Charlie DeVito and Frank Plastini) and I were at a large fast food place with pin-ball machines that teenagers used to like to go to and hang out. Located on Central Avenue in Yonkers( I cannot remember its name), it was generally considered neutral territory.
One Punch Sammy Santoro and about seven or eight of his hangers-on came in and saw us there. Someone mentioned to them that we were from Tuckahoe. Sammy assumed we were associated with Santaliquito who lived in Tuckahoe also. As a result he prepared to punish us as a message to Frank. As they started toward us, another friend of ours, Chickie Muscalino showed up and sized up what was happening. Chickie went to the same High School as Charlie and I. He knew One Punch well and was respected by everyone because in addition to being big and strong he was affable. He intervened trying to persuade Sammy not to harm us since we were not associated with Santaliquito.
Unknown to me, in another room of the place, Bambi and several members of his gang had come up from the Bronx to play the pin ball machines. He also realized that I was in trouble and came up to me to assure me that he had my back if things got out of hand.
Despite the huge load of testosterone in the air, Chickie’s persuasiveness along with Bambi’s presence calmed One Punch down and we were allowed to leave unmolested.
Sometime after this confrontation Sammy and Frank met up again and despite all his training and commitment, Frank was beaten again as badly as the first time they had met.
On the way back home for some reason we stopped at another place along Central Avenue. As we returned to our car our we found our way blocked by a group of about six teenagers led by a kid who had some sort of beef with Charlie. So with Frank and I behind him Charlie advanced to meet the other gang leader in the center of the parking lot. Frank who had not ridden with Charlie and I before, I could see was trembling. I, on the other hand, assumed that we would lose and I would be beaten up. So I was busy searching the area for somewhere to hide in the hope that I could stave off the inevitable long enough for the police or something else to intervene.
As usual in situations like this violence rarely occurs as the parties swap hormonal indicators. We called it “bluffing.” Charlie walked up to his opposition and before the other could speak said “OK start fighting or start talking.” That was enough to encourage the other kid to back down. After a bit more back and forth talking and face-saving, we left and returned home.
a. From the Princess Bride:
The Grandson: “Murdered by pirates is good…”
b. From God’s mouth to your ears:
“Stay away from the strange woman, who flatters with her words … a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart … and lies in wait at every corner …”
“Affairs of great importance shall not be transacted without the vote of the people, with whom rests the power to appoint magistrates, to condemn citizens, and to enact laws. Laws subsequently passed always take preference over former ones.”
Roman Law of the Twelve Tables. (Table XI, Law 1.)