Tag Archives: A New York Minute

A New York Minute (18) September 2014- Al Pacino!

17 Sep

September 17, 2014

Hello, and welcome to your New York Minute. This week’s episode is brought to you by Pharell’s big hat.

Al Pacino was born in Manhattan, but it took some Brooklyn law breaking for him to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

I live in South Brooklyn, and in more than one New York Minute I talked about organized crime and the movies. There was Kid Twist and Coney Island, the Bowery Boys, even the mob shaking down the crew filming Saturday Night Fever. Al Pacino starred in some of the greatest organized crime films ever made, The Godfather and The Godfather Part Two. Many years later, he also starred in a Godfather parody called The Godfather Part Three.

Pretty much for as long as I can recall, I had been told that one of the houses in The Godfather was actually located right around here, so the other day, just for you, I set out to find “the Godfather house” and sure enough, it was right in my backyard.

As seen in the movie

As seen in the movie

Turns out it was the house that Clemenza lived in, and although I already had the address, I found out that the neighbors are pretty good about people, like me, who still come around looking for the house and taking pictures. I’d ask if you go, please be nice and respectful, as it is a quiet residential neighborhood. It’s a narrow street, so don’t try to double park, and also, please don’t knock on the door and ask if Martin Scorsese ever drops by from some capicola. Um, not that I did that.

The house today. I took the shot on the right.

The house today. I took the shot on the right.

The most interesting thing about the house isn’t the building itself, which is pretty nice, it’s the neighborhood. It is located just a few minutes away from the inspiration for another famous Al Pacino film. Just the next year, Al, (we’re on a first name basis, we’re good like that), was back in Brooklyn filming Dog Day Afternoon, and unlike The Godfather, this was based on an infamous bank robbery that happened wayback when I was a kid. And it turns out that I pass the robbery location almost every single day.

The scene of the crime: then and now

The scene of the crime: then and now

I’m not talking about where the film was shot, this is the actual robbery scene. Back in the 70’s this was a Chase bank, but today it is vacant. Want to rent it? The way this area is going, it’ll be sure to be a hipster juice pub thing any day now. Anyway, the building has gone through a few owners, it still has the cut corner that was a trademark of Chase banks of the era.

The movie was filmed in Windsor Terrace, still in Brooklyn but with Prospect Park as a backdrop. In a nutshell, the bank robbery went bad, hostages were taken, and it turned into a police standoff with the hundreds of onlookers rooting for the crooks. In the end, the cops seem to give in to their demands but Pacino’s character gets 20 years in prison. Spoiler warning! That was a spoiler.


Interestingly, both films also starred the amazing yet odd John Cazale, and if he were born in Brooklyn this would have been a neat and tidy way of wrapping things up but he had to spoil it be by being born in Massachusetts. No foresight there, thanks a lot.

Although I was too young to see any of the filming of these movies, in 1991 I did get to see the filming of Steven Segal’s Out for Justice, and believe me, that’s not a feather in anybody’s cap.

This has been your movie star, and Steven Segal, -filled New York Minute, and like Pacino said in The Godfather III- “just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in!”

What, you were expecting Scent of a Woman? “HOOOOOO-AH!” There you go.

An audio version of this story recently appeared in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!




A New York Minute (15)

13 Feb

February 13, 2012

Welcome to your New York Minute. What’s up?

Bruce Wayne once said that “criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot.” That may or may not be true, but if Batman comics have taught me anything, it is that bad guys love their colorful nicknames. and while New York may not be as overrun with arch-criminals as Gotham City, we do have our fair share of interestingly named villains.

The list of New York City Mob nicknames includes Jimmy the Gent, Vinny the Chin, Benny Eggs, Joe Bananas, Crazy Joe, and even Johnny Cash. And while no one has been called The Joker, New York did boast Louie Ha Ha and his brother Bobby Ha Ha.

One man who would have felt right at home in Gotham City was Dart Man, and that was no silly nickname.

In 1990, at least 53 woman were victims of assault by the mysterious Dart Man.

Dart Man was the alias of Jerome Wright, a resident of the Bronx and a former thief and drug dealer. Mistakenly named Dart Man by the press, he assaulted women by shooing pins or needles from  a quote “straw-like device” at their buttocks. None of the women were seriously injured and after posting $1,000 bail the charges were reduced to misdemeanors. He was only charged in two of the cases, there not being anyone able to identify him the other attacks. Most of the needles never broke skin and there were no substances found on the pins. Although he was found competent to stand trial after a psychiatric examination, no motive was found. However, all of his women had one thing in common: They were all light-skinned women attired in business suits or skirts.

The Dart Man attacks came a few months after a gang of girls were convicted of sticking rich-looking women with pins on Broadway in 1989. Interestingly, those attacks seem to be the source of the urban legend of the pin prick attack.

The legend goes that people were randomly pricking people on the streets or in crowds with HIV contaminated needles and infecting unsuspecting people with AIDS. While the 1989 attacks had zero connection with HIV and the needles were clean, this was near the height of the 1980’s AIDS scare and it is easy to see how this legend took off. The kicker of the legend is that the attacks would take place in clubs or late night movies and the victim would have no idea they had been pricked until they found a note in their pocket or stuck to their clothes saying “welcome to the AIDS club.” For the record, there has not been a single case of anything close to that ever happening, but legends like this and of AIDS Mary persist.

New York has a lot of interesting characters. Sometimes too many.

This has been your New York Minute.

An audio version of this legend recently appeared in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!

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