Book Expo America 2017 (Part 4)

Article by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Part 4 of 4

More children’s books at the Book Expo America 2017 attracted my eyes for their value as teaching life lessons while entertaining the child. One of them is Hey Mom, Can I Be Big?, an appealing story aimed at toddlers or early readers by Cari Pointer and illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla. The tale is simple and to the point: sometimes it’s easier being small and let someone big take care of you or protect you.

Erik Orejel and Jennie Wren

Erik Orejel and Jennie Wren

Another great writer for children was present with her last effort, Slicker McQuicker and the Rescue, where she emphasizes that friendship and safety are important. This book, written by the well-known Jennie Wren is one of the Slicker McQuicker series, deftly illustrated by Erik Orejel. An appealing character that has found great success among children, Slicker will be appearing in many more books…

In Rockstar Monkey, a great new book by Tiffany and illustrated by Alonzo, the main character Charlie dreams of being a rock star! Unfortunately, the other monkeys didn’t believe in his dream and discouraged him. Thank goodness he had a friend that encouraged him to believe in himself and know he could be anything he wanted to be! Rockstar Monkey encourages its readers to “Push to Achieve, Even When Others Don’t Believe!”

Julian Lennon’s (yes, that Julian Lennon) Touch The Earth is a marvelous story aimed at making kids 3-6 years old  aware of the importance of water and how the lack or the poor quality of it may influence people’s lives. Excitingly illustrated by Smiljana Coh, the book is written at four hands with Bart Davis and it also contains a poem by Julian Lennon. A portion of proceeds from book sales will go to support the environmental and humanitarian efforts of The White Feather Foundation.

Geoph Essex

Geoph Essex

Geoph Essex’s Lovely Assistant is an offbeat adventure of modern magic and mayhem, in which a reluctant magician’s assistant discovers the secrets of life and death, slowly and awkwardly, just in time to save the world from the oncoming apocalypse: a program into itself. Readers will love its quirky humor and outlook on life.

Written with a different perspective, The Curse Of The Werck Family, a series of two books, claim to have been given to the author by the spirit of a woman who accompanies her as a guardian angel. Written originally in Portuguese by Valeria Lopes, the books are quite interesting, especially for readers who like mysteries, and follow the events unleashed by the killing of a whole family during the French Inquisition.thecurse

New York Times Best-selling author Jennifer Probst reveals her path to success, from struggling as a new writer to signing a seven-figure deal in Write Naked, in which she intermingles personal essays on craft with down-to-earth advice on writing romance in the digital age. This book will teach you how to commit to your current work-in-progress, get focused, and complete it on schedule, overcome writer’s block and also how to reveal raw emotions, develop themes, and write the most difficult elements of romance with skill and style. It’s practically a manual on writing romance novels, and a good one at that.write_naked

Another manual of sort is What You Need To Know to Go Global, A Guide to International Trade Transactions, by Stephen Creskoff. Obviously aimed at a limited readership, this book is a valuable implement to comprehend all the insights of international trade and could easily be used as a textbook in that subject.whatyouneed







A thought-provoking book that answers very thorny questions regarding the use of fossil fuels and its damage to the environment, offering simple strategies to help you reduce your carbon footprint without abandoning common sense is The Carbon Code, How You Can Become A Climate Change Hero by Brett Favaro. The author claims that people don’t need to be climate change experts to be part of the solution, and that he will show you how to take ownership of your carbon footprint and adopt a lifestyle of conspicuous conservation that will spur governments and corporations to do the same. A great book for people who believe the Earth is worth saving. Bravo Brett!!

Lost dreams is a collection of short stories that were winners of a contest requesting nonfiction portrayals of loss in less than 4,000 words. The book wants to illustrate that dreams are lost in many ways and each will produce its own manner of grief, and by collecting these stories the editor, Dawn M. Bell, wants to encourage compassion for all types of loss, no matter the measure. She claims that ‘all loss is the loss of a dream. The dream is the path thought their life would take, how they envisioned their future. The path is irreversibly altered by the loss. While some losses may be deemed less painful, the first loss is ground zero for the sufferer. It’s the worst pain that person has ever felt and should not be minimized.” These stories offer a brief but significant view of how it is to walk in another person’s shoes.lostdreams

Another three days of scrambling through the booths to discover the hidden gems of the Book Expo America has gone by, but they were fruitful (though really shortened to two, thanks to the organizers) and these four articles proved it. Some authors’ interviews and book reviews will follow in time, but in the meanwhile I leave you with the recommendation to read and read again, because books are precious and so is your mind.

The French Connection: Oldies But Goodies Movie In Yonkers With Real Stars

Article by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

On November 14, Alamo Theaters in Yonkers presented, on the 45th anniversary of its release, the Oscar winning film The French Connection, which played to a large audience of enthusiasts, a rather unusual occurrence for a Monday night. The reason for the large crowd was also the presence of Randy Jurgensen, an actor and Police consultant for the movie.

french_randy-512x252The spectators were not disappointed. After the experience of viewing this wonderfully directed film, which offers a realistic and endless car chase among the many thrills, Mr. Jurgensen, a retired police detective, spoke about the little known unusual features of this movie. Some of these will surprise the reader as much they surprised me.french_connection-512x718

In a scene in which drug dealers are making a purchase, for example, the money in the briefcase is actually real money, or at least the visible bills are… The drug that is being tested by the dealer is real and there are no computer effects in the car chase; what you see is all real. The collisions, obviously, were staged, all but one, but when you see the car driving at 60 mph under the el and missing other cars by an inch or two, well, those were real stunts performed by Randy himself, except when Gene Hackman was visible in the car by the camera; in that case, Mr. Hackman was performing the stunt himself. Once, the famous actor hit a telephone pole and crashed the car; he was brought to the hospital for that incident… A subway train wreck was achieved by placing the two cars next to each other, backing one of them away from the other at high speed, film it and then reverse the film; simple, no?french1

In another scene, the detectives enter a bar full of apparent low lives; well, in reality most of them were real undercover cops and not actors. Would you have guessed it? The night club in which the duo goes to have a drink is the Copacabana and the performers are really the Three Degrees, and not some unknown act….

The music in the movie was purposely dissonant to raise the tension of the narrative, but there was no music whatsoever during the car chase and all you could hear was the sound of the car engines, the screeching of the tires, the bangs of the smash-ups, all 100% real sounds; no sounds were prepared in the editing booth.french2

Another interesting fact was that when acting in his scene, staged in a garage where towed cars were brought, Randy was told to just act as a cop who wanted to waste time, allowing the reassembly (or replacement) of a car which had been taken apart; be natural, that’s all! He did just that, and what came out was the only humorous scene of the movie! It was another great choice by the Director, William Friedkin.

Mr. Jurgensen also explained that he had strongly objected to the scene in which Eddie Egan (A.K.A. Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle) shot the unarmed French killer in the back, because that would have been a murder, but the Director told him not to worry and reminded him that he was just a consultant and not the Director. At the opening of the movie, the audience stood up and cheered after that shooting scene, and at that time Mr. Friedkin told him playfully, “I told you so…”

img_0084Mr. Randy Jurgensen (third from left) and a group of retired detectives from the Bronx at the event.
Randy Jurgensen (left) in a scene from the movie.

Randy Jurgensen (left) in a scene from the movie.

There were many other interesting facts that Mr. Jurgensen and Mr. D’Antoni (son of the producer and a producer himself for other movies with Mr. Jurgensen) offered to the excited public, but I will leave the reader with just one more: the movie was turned down by Movie Studios three times and it was finally when Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation was practically bankrupt that they offered $2 Millions to start the production of the film, a mere small change left over after their enormous and disastrous financial loss with the historical movie Cleopatra; the movie at the end cost $32 Millions.

Watching the movie, with its hair raising scenes and frenetic rhythm, rediscovering visually in it the old ’70s New York, and also listening to the commentary by Mr. Jurgensen and Mr. D’Antoni was a tremendous, unmatchable experience, and I wish more of these anniversary film projections were undertaken with similar results. Certainly, knowing that in the real French Connection sting, $489.000 and plenty of drugs were recovered by Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso, the two detectives in charge of the case, and meeting some of the heroes of that story made it even more rewarding.

A moment of the presentation

A moment of the presentation

“Il Giardino Delle Infinite Possibilità” di Alex Acquarone.

giardino4 Recensione di

Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Reminiscenze varie di altri libri vengono alla mente leggendo “Il Giardino delle Infinite Possibilità” di Alex Acquarone; “Il Piccolo Principe” di Antoine de Saint-Exupéry e “Il Profeta” di Kahil Gibran sono due di queste. Non che l’autore imiti lo stile o il contenuto di questi libri, anzi, tuttavia vi è sempre nello svolgersi della storia quella sensazione di voler passare al lettore un messaggio importante usando il meccanismo delle emozioni e della logica. Il tutto offerto in una magica e poetica narrazione. Come nel delizioso libro di Saint-Exupéry, le illustrazioni, anche se qui più limitate in numero, donano al libro una certa originalità e lo rendono più appetibile per i bimbi che lo volessero leggere.


Un’apparizione, che si fa chiamare Blu, dà al protagonista lezioni di vita che sembrano come una serie di livelli emotivi dettati dall’esperienza, una lezione al giorno, e il bimbo applica queste lezioni nelle proprie attività, eventualmente scoprendo la loro veridicità. Il libro si conclude con un finale a sorpresa molto ingegnoso e simpatico, degno di lode.

Un libro pieno di tenerezza ma che a volte usa forse un linguaggio un tantino troppo da adulto, pur se consideriamo che il bimbo in causa è un tantino precoce e quindi è possibile che usi tale linguaggio, togliendo un poco quella naturalezza che l’autore ottiene in buona parte del libro, grazie ad uno stile scorrevole e naturale. È qui che forse Acquarone usa un approccio simile a quello di Gibran, forse più adatto o adattabile ad un adulto, pur ritenendo, proprio come ne “Il Profeta” un linguaggio poetico eccezionale. Sono convinto, inoltre, che molti adulti trarrebbero beneficio nel leggere questo libro se non altro per mettere a fuoco le proprie incertezze e rendersi conto delle molteplici possibilità che la vita ci offre.


giardino_EnglishL’adulto che scelga questo libro per un bimbo, tenga presente che vi sono degli insegnamenti che toccano argomenti un poco delicati, nel senso che possono essere non accettabili o addirittura discutibili per chi non ha una mente aperta alla teologia orientale, e alla reincarnazione in particolare. A difesa dell’autore, “Blu” ripete molte volte che le risposte che lui offre sono solo delle possibilità e il bimbo può anche non accettare questi insegnamenti e crearsi idee diverse al proposito.

Un ottimo libro, quindi, ma con delle limitazioni legate alla filosofia di base, che ha chiari legami con il Buddismo e che può risultare un tantino differente da quella del giovane lettore medio italiano, e quindi creare un poco di confusione e la necessità di chiarificazioni da parte dell’adulto.

Nota: Esiste già una versione in inglese del libro per chi fosse interessato…

Il Numero 100 De “La Vallisa”: Una Fantastica Avventura.


Arrivare al numero 100 per una rivista di cultura è certamente oggidì una rarità. Che questa rivista abbia poi ritenuto i fondatori in corpo alla propria redazione è un’altra singolarità che mi ha incuriosito. Leggendo le varie poesie e i brevi saggi dei vari redattori sono rimasto colpito dalla varietà dei temi, della stilistica, dell’espressione di questi artisti della penna, e ho compreso la vera ragione della longevità di questa rivista. I poeti de La Vallisa sono più che una associazione, sono una famiglia, quasi una corporazione medievale che trova nel gusto del prodotto (in questo caso letterario) in sé la raison d’etre della loro esistenza, sono dei letterati che amano scrivere più di tutto e amano anche condividere con altri letterati i loro dubbi, i loro lavori e le gioie legate alla loro produzione letteraria. Sono dei poeti in profondità perché le loro poesie rispecchiano veramente i loro sentimenti e le loro devozioni, i loro desideri e le loro delusioni, ma anche perché amano la poesia in sé, anche quando non è la loro; sono, cioè, dei veri poeti. L’unico mio dispiacere è stato non comprendere appieno le poesie in pugliese (non potei capire di che città fosse il dialetto) nonostante la traduzione a piè pagina. In genere, le traduzioni dal dialetto, sfortunatamente, non contengono mai il vero ‘sapore’ della poesia originale e di conseguenza non possono avere sul lettore l’impatto che ha l’idiomatica dialettale. Per questa ragione condivido in parte le opinioni espresse da Domenico Amato nel suo saggio “Il dialetto, la lingua del cuore”, dove l’autore dichiara che “il dialetto ha una capacità di assonanza e di sintesi che la lingua ufficiale non possiede. Ha una lirica, una musicalità e una destrezza che l’idioma nazionale si sogna di notte…”. Anche l’idioma nazionale può avere quella musicalità e destrezza che il dialetto possiede, solo che il prodotto finale sarà sempre diverso, non migliore o peggiore, ma diverso, così come pezzi musicali di vari periodi hanno un fascino differente.  Il dialetto ci riporta alle nostre origini, alle nostre radici e ci permette di comunicare con più semplicità ed immediatezza i nostri pensieri, ritenendo una sua freschezza unica che perderebbe molto in traduzione. Il dialetto è, insomma, uno strumento diverso dalla lingua italiana e come tale deve essere trattato e rispettato.

Interessante il gemellaggio con i poeti serbi, dei quali parla Gianni Antonio Palumbo in un piacevole saggio (“LA VALLISA” E LE VOCI DELLA LETTERATURA SERBA) all’inizio di questo particolare numero, un saggio consistente che ripercorre sia il rapporto tra La Vallisa e i poeti serbi sia la produzione letteraria di questi poeti.


Ogni altro componente del comitato di redazione ha voluto scrivere una specie di capitolo di un “Manifesto de La Vallisa”, offrendo in un breve saggio una visione personale e intima della relazione tra loro, la poesia e La Vallisa. Da ciò nasce un vero e proprio manifesto, nel quale possiamo trovare i legami della poesia con vari aspetti del mondo esterno e con varie emozioni e vedute su ciò che stimola il poeta a scrivere, e con questo gesto condividere i propri sentimenti, atto che porta ad un rapporto intimo tra il lettore ed il poeta. Nonostante tutti questi scritti siano validi e piacevoli, quanto vari nella loro impostazione, alcuni di questi mirano di più ad essere commemorativi che non altro, mentre altri spiegano la poesia come messaggio. Ed è qui che troviamo, per esempio, la “Poesia come ricerca del Sacro” di Giulia Poli Disanto, che esalta la spiritualità della poesia, asserendo: “La ricerca della verità al di là delle cose, inserita all’interno di una intensa ispirazione religiosa, dà alla realtà una carica misteriosa che induce il poeta ad osare. E la poesia, in quanto manifestazione dello spirito, canta la vita nel bene e nel male e traccia quel confine che separa la realtà quotidiana dall’oltre sognato”. Altro saggio che esamina un aspetto della poesia e contemporaneamente della loro associazione è “La scrittura come sentimento che unisce” di Angela De Leo, che afferma: “Ci conosciamo in quello che scriviamo anche al di là di divergenze di vedute, di discordanti interpretazioni, di valutazioni su meriti o limiti letterari e umani di ciascuno. Perché ogni successo dell’altro diventa nostro. Ogni sofferenza è dolore di noi tutti. Perché ci anima e sorride il “sogno”: scrivere per amore e con amore sulla “nostra “rivista”.

Interessante pure “…ed io leggo, anche ad alta voce” di Zaccaria Gallo, nel quale l’autore afferma che è “facile assistere, allora, ad una sorta di analfabetismo poetico” e che “offrire poesia è un atto d’amore e, nello stesso tempo, è imparare, tutte le volte, a stupirsi della grandissima forza emotiva che hanno le parole: conoscere, e riconoscere, poeti noti e dimenticati o sconosciuti, prendere coscienza che questo viaggio, esteriore e interiore, porta chi legge e chi ascolta verso le terre della meraviglia, della bellezza, del mistero. Che grande energia si sviluppa dalla parola poetica detta ad alta voce!”

Le molte poesie che seguono offrono una reale panoramica della eterogeneità di questo gruppo di letterati; si passa dalle poesie ermetiche di quattro righe ai poemi di lungo respiro, dalle tematiche d’amore a quelle esistenziali, dal linguaggio semplice e diretto a quello complesso e volutamente “intellettuale”; insomma, una vera antologia rappresentativa di questa associazione, ottima per la scelta delle poesie, delle quali ne pubblichiamo una del poeta Gianni Antonio Palumbo per i nostri lettori per la sua immediatezza descrittiva.


Per te, che sognavi cavalli e regine,

il mondo era un lontano

specchio stonato.

Come una campana

che abbia suonato tardi il giorno.

E si ostina

a rintoccare

nel silenzio.

Concludendo, questa rivista ha superato un traguardo invidiabile e merita di essere letta e conosciuta dal grande pubblico. Da parte mia e della nostra rivista ci congratuliamo con tutti i membri di tale associazione e porgiamo un cordiale augurio di buona continuazione.

NUVOLE PER COLAZIONE, Un Libro Che Stimola La Fantasia Dei Bimbi…


NUVOLE PER COLAZIONE, scritto da Laura Eisen ed illustrato da Kent Cissna.

nuvole1Con un linguaggio simpatico e mirato ai più giovani, Laura Eisen presnta una storia semplice e allo stesso tempo accattivante, che certamente sarà apprezzata sia dai bimbi sia dai loro genitori. Il concetto iniziale è di avere l’opportunità di mangiare nuvole a colazione. In realtà, avere nuvole a colazione rispecchia la fantasia umana al più essenziale. Chi di noi, difatti, non ha osservato le nuvole e immaginato di riconoscere personaggi delle favole oppure oggetti di tutti i giorni? Chi di noi non si è perso mai in queste fantasticherie? Elaborando su questa nozione, l’autrice ci presenta una vista poetica ed invitante di una giornata nella vita di un bimbo.

nuvole2Leggendo la storia ad un bambino, lui (o lei) si immedesimeranno immediatamente con la storia, come se fosse stata scritta esclusivamente per loro. I magnifici disegni, delicati e immaginativi, di Kent Cissna non solo aiutano, ma rinforzano l’idea della scrittrice, rendendo questo libro sia piacevole sia uile a chi voglia usarlo per stimolare la fantasia dei propri figli.

Altra opportunità importante è di avere il libro in lingua inglese (Clouds for Breakfast) e di permettere ai bimbi di leggere il libro nella lingua straniera dopo averlo letto nella lingua madre.


“Soltanto Il Cielo Non Ha Confini”. Un Altro Magnifico Romanzo Di Guido Mattioni.


soltantotitleCon mia grande sorpresa, il secondo romanzo di Guido Mattioni, Soltanto il cielo non ha confini, si stacca completamente da quello del suo esordio,Ascoltavo le maree, da me precedentemente letto e recensito in lingua inglese. Mentre il primo riteneva anche in traduzione un’impronta italiana nell’impostazione sia stilistica sia intimistica, questo suo ultimo lavoro si presenta come se fosse stato scritto in inglese e poi tradotto. Mi spiego: il ritmo del libro, lo stile ed anche la scelta del linguaggio sono più americani che italiani; si può asserire che lo scrittore ha assorbito il gergo e lo stile americano dei thriller a tal punto che il suo libro, che tratta una storia prettamente americana, ha il sapore dell’America in ogni suo rigo, proprio come se fosse stato scritto qui negli USA.

Non che Mattioni non si riconosca in questo romanzo nella sua solita scelta di vocaboli e di osservazioni ben mirate sui propri personaggi, ma qui troviamo uno stile serrato, quasi da copione per un film giallo, che soddisferà qualsiasi lettore che ama questo genere; ci sono, inoltre, anche osservazioni legate all’emigrazione, alle difficoltà legate alla vita in certi paesini del Messico, alla criminalità che diventa automaticamente una scelta per chi deve affrontare un mondo nuovo che molto spesso gli manca di rispetto e lo vuole tenere in basso, a volte sempre più in basso. L’attenta analisi della vita della frontera messicana, con i sacrifici dei molti, ignorati, e la violenza dei pochi, identificata erroneamente da molti americani come una caratteristica della massa di immigrati di lingua spagnola, dona a questo libro un valore aggiunto da non ignorare; le osservazioni dell’autore sono, difatti, spesso basate su ciò che lui stesso ha potuto vedere con i propri occhi nei molti anni passati negli USA come giornalista.

Dal Prologo del libro citiamo un passaggio che offre le premesse dietro a questa storia di umanità infranta e riconquistata:

” Gli adulti e gli anziani sapevano bene che la loro terra non li avrebbe arricchiti e non sarebbe stata in grado di distribuire dividendi o utili, ma erano altrettanto certi che non avrebbe licenziato nessuno; come del resto nessuno, a memoria d’uomo, era mai stato costretto, da quella stessa terra, ad andarsene.

Erano soltanto giovani, orfani di rassicuranti memorie, a lasciare Surco-en-el-suelo inseguendo i propri miraggi. Lo facevano da anni, abbagliati dalle lusinge di quel mondo tanto diverso dal loro e che luccicava sull’altra sponda del Río Grande. Là, oltre la frontera; oltre quell’odiosa riga tracciata dall’uomo in terra, ma priva di qualsiasi corrispettivo in cielo”.

soltanto2 Come si può notare, l’autore ritiene una invidiabile liricità nel proprio linguaggio nonostante che la storia porti a situazioni da Western, con personaggi che meritano di appartenere alla tradizione letteraria americana. L’effetto finale è un libro di rapida lettura, con passaggi entusiasmanti e una storia che certamente non è né scontata né facilmente prevedibile nel suo finale a sorpresa.



By Tiziano Thomas Dossena, L’Idea Magazine, NY, February 13, 2014

Recently we published a review on the popular book “My Father, My Don,” A Son’s Journey from Organized Crime to Sobriety, and we are now pleased to offer our readers an interview to the author, Tony Napoli.

L’Idea: What made you decide to write this book? 

Tony Napoli:  I decided to write this book with the encouragement from my mother and other family member’s when I was 26 years old; that was 52 years ago. As I got older, I gathered more and more material and I outlived most of the characters mentioned in my book. When I decided I had enough material, I hired a co-writer to help me put all my excerpts of about a 1,000 pages, into story form. My book was released on Sept.18th 2008, when I was 73 years old.

L’Idea: When you were seventeen, you were approached by the Boston Braves to play in the summer time for one of their Minor League Clubs. Your mother said “No way” because she did not want you far from home. You also were training for the US Air Force boxing team and there were talks about participating to the 1956 Olympics. This time it was your father who intervened and said “No”; and that was it. This is all recorded in the chapter titled “The road not taken”. Do you feel regrets for not pursuing those dreams? Were you ever even tempted to disobey or at least try to convince your parents? Do you believe your parents were justified in their requests? If so, why? 

Tony Napoli:  My father never said NO to my boxing as an Amateur in the Golden Gloves and on the Air Force boxing team. He said NO after I was Honorably Discharged from the US Air Force and I wanted to turn Pro as a Boxer. He said I was management material, and he only wanted me to learn the art of self-defense to protect myself in the streets of Brooklyn. He also felt that a strong mind needs a strong body to accomplish and get things done the right way. I continuously disobeyed my parents when they tried to make decisions for my future. I loved my mother dearly and I listened to her when she asked me not to travel with the Boston Braves Minor league Baseball team in the summer time when school was out, because I was only 17 years old and I didn’t want her to worry about me traveling across the country on a broken down bus.

Jimmy Nap Napoli - Tony Napoli

Jimmy Nap Napoli – Tony Napoli

L’Idea: You name quite a few entertainers who you had the opportunity to meet, for good or bad reasons. Who was the one who impressed you the most and why?

Tony Napoli:  The entertainer I was most impressed with was Frank Sinatra. I liked the way he hired former athletes to travel with him. He made them earn a living in an honest way by putting them on his payroll and use it as a tax write-off. They traveled all over the world with him, not only as bodyguards, but mostly as close friends who had no other way of making a living due to their lack of education. I became Sinatra’s drinking partner on many occasions, especially when he entertained at Caesar’s Palace, in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was a Casino Host in charge of entertainment at the time. Frank was very generous with people he was close to. He never wanted to get close to strangers. He was very rude to those who tried to overpower him with autographs. He had his men get the names and address of his fans who wanted his autographed picture. He’d rather mail them a picture with his autograph when he spent time alone in his room. He always traveled with a bookkeeper. As a matter of fact the last wife he was married to, Barbara Marx, was also his bookkeeper before he married her. Frank was also an Amateur boxer before he became a singing star.

L’Idea: What was, in your opinion, the difference in style between Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Roselli?

Tony Napoli:  Frank Sinatra, whose birth name was Francis Sinestra, was  flamboyant, with great magnetism in public and on the stage. Jimmy Roselli, whose birth name was Michael Roselli, first worked for me when I was 24 years old. My father bought me a night club in Union City, New Jersey in 1959. The name of the club was “The Club Rag Doll.” I paid him $300.00 to sing on weekends. His very first song was “I’m Alone Because I Love You.” I was supposed to go to contract with him and be his manager. My father put a stop to that immediately when Roselli asked for a loan to cover his part of the deal. Before Roselli died, he called me from his home in Clearwater, Florida. He read my book, I mentioned him in Chapter 17. He remembered the night I was locked up after working over that crooked cop; Roselli was singing on my stage the night it happened. He complimented me for pulling no punches and giving the reader everything in detail the way it happened. Roselli was very independent when it came to promoting himself. He never reached the level of stardom like Sinatra because he wouldn’t cooperate with the Wise guys; and, in those days you had to deal with the Wise guys, to get anyplace in show business. The Wise guys were behind all the top clubs and were very influential with Hollywood Producers, The Wise guys controlled the union (SAG) Screen Actors Guild. If you wanted to get high paid jobs as an entertainer, you had better cooperated with the Big Guys.

tony Boxer

Tony as a young Boxer

L’Idea: Why was your father’s nickname “The torpedo?”

Tony Napoli: When my Father was a young teenager, he was the leader of a neighborhood gang called “The Lorimer Street Boys” In those days there was a Gang in almost every Italian and Irish neighborhood, in the Brooklyn area. The Lorimer Street Gang was located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. To be the leader of a gang you had to fight and beat up the leaders of the other gangs. About three nights a week, boxing trainers used to put on boxing shows at the old Military Armories that were built during World War One for Military training. Folding chairs were used for seating arrangements. They would hold up to 1,000 people in the Armories. The gang leaders would fight against each other. If one gang didn’t like the decision, they would throw the folding chairs into the air to show their disagreement with the official scorer (the referee). When my Father (Jimmy Nap) fought, he always knocked his opponent out with a straight right hand. That’s how he got the nickname “Torpedo.”

L’Idea: You present your father as a perfect gentleman, a great father and at the same time an assassin and a made man. How do you feel that can be possible and how does a person involved in such a complicated life manages to retain his human side?

Tony Napoli: When my father was a young man, at between 16 and 20 years old, he wanted to be like the guys who were always dressed up in suits and ties, wearing Fedora hats. He didn’t want to work as a bricklayer like his father was. As he grew older, he managed to get involved with the Wise guys by being one of their collectors and becoming a strike buster to discourage laborers not to strike by using bats and crowbars to beat them with. He worked for the companies who didn’t want to have their men striking. It was at a young age when he was considered an assassin and a bully. After getting out of jail in 1945, when he was 34 years old, he came back to my mother and turned over a new leaf. My mother took him back because he showed her a sense of responsibility to support the family. He got involved in the Numbers racket, which in those days was considered non-violent as a business. She saw him get respect from clean-cut-looking men; some he met in jail. My mother was only concerned about keeping the family together. She allowed my father to travel all over the country to do his business for all five organized crime families in the New York Area. My mother was not familiar with that part of my father’s life. She only saw in him a business man earning money, and lots of it, for people he called investors. At 34 years old my father was considered by those men in his way of life a standup guy with respect, integrity, dignity and honor. A man they could count on to give them a fair shake from their investments in his gambling enterprises all over the country. My father changed his ways from being a bully and Assassin for love of his immediate family and a great love for my mother, like I changed my ways from being a bully and Alcoholic when I found Sobriety.

L’Idea: In one of your chapters you seem to show a lot of anger at Giuliani. Could you explain why it is so?

Tony Napoli: In Chapter 27 of my book, I denounce Rudy Giuliani as a hypocrite. He tried to get me to talk against my father in the way he makes a living, knowing that his Uncle was Mob connected. Giuliani convinced President Reagan to send him to the New York Area as a US Marshall to infiltrate into the five Organized Crime families. By doing so, he was to be considered a crime buster, when all the while Giuliani was politically minded. He wanted to show the Government he would even lock up his own mother and father if he had to, and gain recognition as a future GOP candidate for a high elective office, with the backing of the Republic party, and gain the NY votes when he finally decided the right time to run for Mayor. Giuliani is Sicilian, and most of his relatives came from the Sicilian Mafia in Sicily. When I was indicted in 1985 on the RICO act and Giuliani was the US Attorney, the key witness against me in court told the jury that he was one of the gang that shot and killed a federal judge in Texas. He was sentenced to life in prison in Lewisburg Penitentiary, in Pennsylvania. He said that Rudy Giuliani offered him $30,000.00 to testify against me and he would get a reduced sentence. I was finally acquitted and when I was walking out of the courtroom, Giuliani said to me “I’ll get you the next time, Napoli”  I thought how can he possibly make such an outrageous deal with a scumbag who killed a federal Judge just to put me away for gambling. I was facing 25 years in jail before I was acquitted.

Jimmy Nap Napoli

Jimmy “Nap” Napoli

L’Idea: There is a movie being produced on your book. Could you tell us something about that?

Tony Napoli: The movie you talk about is called a 20 minute short. About 50 hours of shooting 32 scenes. This pilot was made by me, I paid all expenses so I can present it to the film people in the Film Festivals all over the country. It shows the Highlights of my story played out with real actors who play the main characters in my book. It will also be presented to potential investors leading up to a feature film or TV series. The filmmaker I hired is Hussain Ahmed, from Iraq. He’s also the Director and makes his home in Louisville, Kentucky.

L’Idea: You now have a lot of activities, which you defined as “giving back to society”. Could you tell us what they are?

Tony Napoli: For the past 19 years I’ve been a Veterans Advocate, helping disabled veterans with compensation for their service-connected injuries. I’m also a recovering alcoholic helping other alcoholics find sobriety like I did nineteen years ago, when I left the Mob life behind me. I also help indigent boxers with their medications, when they can’t afford it because they retired from boxing with brain and physical injuries and unable to work to support their selves. The spirit of my father lives on through me.