Remembering Manhattan's Mulberry Street In The 1980s

October 15, 2021: This story was NOT a gag, as it said at the end for the past five years. There really was a guy I called Charley P, or C.P., from here, New York City. He got cold feet about two seconds after I published and freaked out on me--begged me to take it down. I told him: how about I put a little note at the end saying it was all a joke? He was so relieved I could see the anguish visibly depart his face.

I also inserted some fictional material about the “murder” on Gun Hill Road, and some of the other biographical Bronx details were “masked” in an attempt to make the story seem like it truly was a joke.

It took years before Charley was comfortable enough to communicate with me and tell me anything meaningful. Over time he learned he could trust me (after testing me in multiple ways). When I said I would never betray him, say by naming him and writing about him, etc., I meant it.

The piece overall was an attempt to re-create Charley's personality and record some of his opinions. At the time it was written, C.P. was boggled by what he was learning about the murder of a nightclub owner by some New England wiseguys. Charley P also had issues with a certain individual and a certain place, John Gotti and the Ravenite Social Club. He knew Gotti well and truly enjoyed his company, but says he broke with him after seeing how he conducted business as a boss. That and growing legal troubles were among the things fueling C.P.’s bitterness. He had large legal problems as I recall. The kind that make someone like me praise god for avoiding becoming a lifelong felon. I watched lawyers and court filings consume his soul (and his bank account). I blame that stuff for causing us to lose touch. 

I recently learned of his passing. Charlie P. died of COVID-19 shortly after the pandemic first reached New York City in 2020. His death prompted me to revisit this for the first time in five years. In keeping with our agreement, I will never identify or write about him, except for what is noted in this preface.

Also: After rereading the following and wincing over the many errors I seemed to find in every sentence, I reviewed my notes from my discussions with Charley and plunged in and administered a good editing...or tried to.

To Charley P., wherever you are…

This story is based on notes I took during informal discussions with an old timer I will call "Charley P." I call him Charley Partanna, just to call him something. I'm hoping this can be an occasional column but Charley didn't want to commit to anything without remuneration involved.


In 2003, Winter Hill turncoat Steve Flemmi told federal and state authorities that he walked in on the May 10, 1993, murder of South Boston nightclub manager Steven A. DiSarro at the Sharon home of Francis Salemme’s former wife, according to a DEA report filed in Boston federal court.

Flemmi said Francis Salemme and two others watched as Salemme’s son, Frank, strangled DiSarro to death. Flemmi named the two other witnesses as Frank Salemme’s younger brother, John, and a friend named Paul Weadick.

Salemme later told Flemmi that Rhode Island mobster Robert P. DeLuca Sr. "was present during the burial" of DiSarro, Flemmi said, adding that Salemme had expressed concern about DiSarro’s friendship with a law enforcement cooperator....

You gonna whack a guy, why do it in front of an audience? I mean, you want your kid to do it, whack a guy out by strangling him to death, okay, I can understand that. Dumb as it is. Why have your son strangle a guy in front of you and three other people? Not to mention, you supposed to kill him before the Fed's talk to him... Once they ID your front partner as a witness and you kill him then, you might as well wave a sign cause chances are everyone but you and the dead guy are rats.

Is this brain surgery here? Quantum physics? Or killing a guy? You kill a guy, use a pistola. "Two behind the ear" mean anything? I didn't even start talking about location .... Of all places you whack a guy in your ex-wife's house, where another asshole rat just walks in on you and watches your kid strangle someone to death? That might explain the strangling, at least because you gotta be a dumbsky to shoot a guy in the head inside your ex's house. You'll never get that stuff out of the carpet.

And why bury the guy on the other side of town and get even more guys involved? Just dump him. Leave him in a trunk. Not your trunk, of course.... Then there's rivers and other out of the way places, but that requires a little effort and creativity, god forbid we have to go a little bit out of our way…

I'll tell you a few things about me. I got made at 17. And I was pissed cause it shoulda happened sooner. I'll tell you why. I was 13 when I first whacked a guy in the Bronx on Gun Hill Road. Now I always avoided the Bronx, even as a child. But my old man had trouble whackin' this one guy and it was gettin' to be like a major pain in the ass. Then a fcking nightmare. Little Phil.... Something .... Carbone? He was the heaviest heroin dealer in the north Bronx, as they said. Whatever the name, my ol' man couldn't get a clean shot. And somehow, he always seemed to be surrounded by a crowd of people. And then there'd be like twenty, thirty kids around him, too. Phil always threw handfuls of change at them. (Who the fck even thinks about doing that?)

So I get the order. They figure, Hey, the kid can do it! They was right. What I did was, I step out from behind a car and I blow his head off. I drop the gun and get lost in the crowd. Like, really fast.

Christ, what these guys get arrested for! I mean it's absolutely unfcknbelievable! They don't even have to do nothin' no more! They talk about doing it instead! And then they get arrested for all these things they're gonna do that they talked about. Only thing worse than talking about what you're gonna do is talkin' about what you already did. Especially if you talk about all the guys you clipped. Or had clipped.

You don't talk about them. No, you don't talk about whacking people and you don't talk about your reasons for whacking people. Especially if you dress like a mob boss and act like a mob boss. (Meaning you get a crew of guys just focused on you... specifically, you.... meanin' you got this guy openin' your car doors, this guy puttin' your coat on for ya, that guy holdin' a huge fckin' umbrella over ya head).

Would you believe there once was a boss who actually wanted everyone to know he was a boss? I mean, Christ, old timers like Corrado woulda (and sometimes did) shit themselves. I'm not goin' there though....

Now think about that. You want the whole world to know you're a boss... so how do you do that? It's not as easy as it sounds. First you start wearing clothes that are too expensive for you to afford on the salary you tell the IRS you make. You gotta look the look, walk the walk and, here's the most important part, you gotta talk the talk.

Bottom line is guys in Cosa Nostra aren't allowed to talk about Cosa Nostra with anybody outside a Cosa Nostra. Now, I swear to fcking God, some of these guys that get made, get their button, you know what? They start to realize, wow, I can't tell Donna or what's her name what I just done ova here. And it really starts botherin' them that no one can know about it.

I mean what's the point of belonging to the secret criminal society of all criminal societies, the Mafia, if you can't brag about it? What's the point of joinin' if it don't get you laid, is the mentality of some of them out there.

So what's next? Well, ya know what that mob boss did.... You have all the guys come in and see you like once, twice a week. No matter where they are, how many miles away with whatever action they got going on, you order em all to drop whatever the fck and come in and see you once or twice a week. One guy starts acting up, he don’t come in, you do him as an example, and all the other guys gonna know you’re not fcking around.

And you have to have em meet you in the most public place possible. Like in a crowded, gridlocked city and you have em come to a social club. In fact perfect place, you wanna know the perfect place? Social club on Mulberry Street.... you get all your guys in to see you while you sit in the back of a social club on Mulberry Street. That's the perfect way to show everybody you are a boss .... Cause you're a mob boss, where else you gonna meet them? Gotta be a social club with a good espresso machine cause all these guys coming in are coming in from all the boroughs and even neighboring places and maybe some not-so-neighboring places. So they deserve a nice espresso at the very least. See where I'm headin? They're sitting in traffic for hours and hours in Cadillacs and Lincolns -- really big cars -- and then they gotta drive to this itty bitty little street in downtown Manhattan... Like squeezin' an elephant through a keyhole. And there's no parking by the parking... And it ain't like ya can just go around the block a couple times cause that'd take longer than the entire ride from home, wherever the fck that is. So you gonna have all these Caddys double parked on both sides of Mulberry Street. And the itty bitty street gets... ittier and... bittier....

We're still outside now, right? Still outside.... Now here's the icin on the cake. You're dressed like a mob boss and every single one of those guys who gets outta those double-parked Lincolns on both sides of Mulberry Street is gonna be seen walking inside the joint. But the thing is, nobody is watching inside the place. The public or the Fed's, whoever the fck is watchin, ain't gonna see you. So whaddya do? Think about it. It’s actually very simple. You get outta your chair and you walk outside the club and stand there and all the guys comin' in to see you, well, they get to actually see you, first thing. Whaddaya gonna do then? Well you gotta greet em, right? So you hug each one of them and give em a peck on the cheek. The guys who are more important to you, maybe you show them a little something extra. Like you squeeze their shoulder when they're heading past you to go inside the club while you're gettin ready to kiss the next guy and the next. You do something like that so the people watchin' know, hey, that guy's a little more important than all the other guys cause the boss squeezed his shoulder but not the thirty other shoulders that zipped by before him.

Now you can't say shit in a club, with all those bugs everywhere. Even if you dress like a gangster and act like a gangster, you start talking like a gangster inside a club the Feds gonna put your head on a stick. So you gotta go on the walk talk.... Only problem is, New York in winters gets fckin' really cold outside. You freeze your nuts off, your ears, your nose. And no wiseguys gonna wear a knit cap, actually no hat ever. It fcks the hair up.

You ain't gonna walk talk someone in zero degree weather or else you'll lose more a ya toes...I mean you try to order a hit, your nose gonna start running. Easiest thing, save it for another time and place. But NOT INSIDE THE MAFIA SOCIAL CLUB, NEXT TO WHICH THE FEDS SET UP A BASE CAMP .... this is very important stuff, there....At the same time, going up one or two flights of stairs is NOT enough of a buffer. At least that is what I think.

For one thing, talk spreads that the boss talks business above the club.... Some 90-year-old woman live there? You call the daughter, hand her a stack of bills and say, Hey, can you take mom a few days?..... would ya mind? 

It don't really matter because everyone is going to jail anyway….