(This is the Online column written for The Southland Times)
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner but since it’s one of those crass, retailer-invented events that falls into the same category as Halloween, I’m going to ignore it and all the mushy, gooey commercialism it brings.
The St Valentine’s Day massacre is a little more my pace and quite frankly, a whole lot more entertaining. On Valentine’s Day, 1929, the most spectacular mob hit in United States gangland history took place in Chicago. Seven mobsters working for Bugs Moran died in the hit, believed to have been organised by Moran’s rival Al Capone.
Capone was never charged over the murders but did serve time for tax evasion before retiring to Florida, where he died of syphilis in 1947.
Organised crime is a worldwide phenomenon but no group draws more interest than the Mafia.
Cleveland police officer Rick Porrello, a descendent of mob leaders, has dedicated an entire site to the past and present mob network in America. Here, you’ll find a rundown of the history of the Mafia families that operated in 26 cities throughout the US, along with the Mafia family photo album. They’re not your typical family snaps.
Gang Land, with it’s tagline claiming to be the world’s most authoritative site on organised crime, is run by reporter-author Jerry Capeci. His column — a weekly feature on the site — makes for an interesting read.
A lot of the renewed interest in all things Cosa Nostra probably comes down to the popularity of TV’s The Sopranos, featuring ficticious mob boss Tony Soprano and his colleagues. If you’ve ever felt out of the loop watching this programme, there’s a useful Mobspeak translation page on this site.