Amongst Friends

So everybody’s heard it, that saying about “there’s no honor among thieves.” And, well, that’s a very ambivalent statement. Because it’s true, up to a point, like everything else. It depends on how you look at it.

The deal with Lucky Luciano, they were very loyal to him. The whole mafia. The whole syndicate. And that’s two different things, by the way–the mob and the syndicate.

The mob is basically another word for mafia. The syndicate is all organized crime, whether Mafia, or Dixie Mafia, or Bloods, or Crips…American organized crime.

It’s different in Italy…in The Philippines.

Different, but the same. Funny how that works.

You see, Luciano was in a very unique position. He was the boss of all bosses, but he refused to call himself that. In fact it’s the only time in American organized crime history that there really was a boss of all bosses.

Oh sure, there have been heirs to the throne, but in name only. Luciano’s the only boss who had absolute power.

And during a very small window of time, from 1931 to 1936, he ruled with impunity. Restrained impunity–which betrays a trait of genius.

That’s right, humility is a trait of genius…when you can reign in your own appetite…when you can have anything you want…but, he got himself in a serious jam, did a long stretch in the joint and got deported. Even then, he was immensely powerful.

And then, bam! Just like that, he wasn’t.

Well, to be fair, it happened over several years, but, when it did happen, it seemed like it came out of nowhere…like when Kennedy got killed. And that whole thing was years in the making.

But that’s the way life is. You’re up. You’re down. It’s a roller coaster ride.

The fact is, Luciano expected to be taken care of. And why not? He couldn’t earn. The feds watched him like a hawk, even when he was in Italy. It didn’t matter. They still watched him, so everybody pitched in. But not like Luciano wanted.

Frank Costello. Joe Adonis. Albert Anastasia. Little Augie. They were on Luciano’s side.

Everybody else was on Vito Genovese’s side. Vito wasn’t big on kicking up to Luciano…and he was in that little group that went all the way back with him, so he had clout.

Then Adonis got deported to Italy and Luciano expected him to be his benefactor. Joe got sick of picking up the check all the time…

So that’s when they all got together and put out the hit on Frankie because they knew he would never go against Luciano…that bullet just about took Frank’s ear off. Chin Gigante was the hit man.

He missed.

Costello wasn’t stupid. He retired in style. He was on good terms with everyone because he refused to identify Gigante. He got to keep his money and his life.

Anyway, then they went after Anastasia. They got him, famously. And nobody cared.

Everybody was pissed because of the way he handled the whole Lepke Buchalter thing. Lepke had a lot of friends. Plus, Albert Anastasia was a nasty guy. He really was.

After that, it was Little Augie’s turn.