Don't Call This Man a Pussy

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Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute isn't one of those hypersensitive Italian Americans, but he gets madder than Mussolini on a late-running train when he considers how Sopranos creator David Chase drags the names of good people through the mud:

There's something downright low-down about how the creator of "The Sopranos," David Chase, has drawn on his weekly visits as a kid to my old Newark neighborhood to construct the general outline of "The Sopranos," in the process plucking the names of many of my neighbors, friends and relatives and inserting them into the show. Yet at the same time, Chase has conspicuously and purposely avoided any references to the real Mafiosi who peopled our neighborhood back then and ran Newark's mob, though he's made it clear they inspired him.

In the Chase-created world of the Jersey mob, it's the standup Italian-Americans from the old neighborhood who cringe because their fictional alter egos are running the family business that they never had a piece of in real life.

Talk about poetic injustice.

Amazingly, Chase actually seems more worried about offending the memory of the bad guys, even though they are mostly long gone. In a 2002 interview, he admitted that "The Sopranos" is loosely based on the crime family of Ruggerio (Ritchie the Boot) Boiardo, who ran Jersey for the Genovese crime family for years from Newark before moving to the much tonier suburban Livingston, a mob boss so powerful he actually helped fix the 1961 Newark mayoral election. In the interview, however, Chase demurs from mentioning the Boot by name—though he describes him in a way that is obvious to anyone who knew the Jersey mob—as if he didn't want to tarnish the name anymore.

Whole article, from a Daily News section tellingly titled "Be Our Guest," here.

As an unabashed fan of the anti-defamation industry, I'm a little disappointed in this article, and not only because Malanga is too clever to use the one-degree of separation trope ("Depicting Italian Americans as mafiosi is no different than burning a cross on Master P's lawn") these articles are always supposed to have. But while he chides Chase for not naming real mobsters, Malanga drops that he had a distant relative with a loose mob connection, but then he too declines to name names.

This leaves only one explanation for his disgruntlement: As he notes in the article, The Sopranos recently reintroduced a plot involving the character "Pussy Malanga." Worse still, this one was "Little Pussy" Malanga, and as we know from The Godfather subplot about a snatch-reduction operation, Italians are extremely touchy on the subject of vagina size.

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  1. This is a really crappy paragraph:

    In the Chase-created world of the Jersey mob, it’s the standup Italian-Americans from the old neighborhood who cringe because their fictional alter egos are running the family business that they never had a piece of in real life.

  2. Does he realize that the Sopranos has made household names out of a number of Italian actors who otherwise would likely doing bit parts?

  3. bit parts

    bit parts – you bustin balls here? you like your own cholo’s in your mouth? whadda fuck? Crissy, getta load a dis guy. I gotta put up wit dis wise ass? I did a very respectable Montague back in lockup. Shakespeare and shit! Bit parts my ass.

  4. I too am not a fan of the Sopranos (sappy, stupid melodrama, if you ask me) and I too agree that the depiction of these people creates a false visage of Italians in the American eye. Also, glamorizing scum, which is what these actors are playing – scum, is just poor taste, period.

    JMJ

  5. Amazingly, Chase actually seems more worried about offending the memory of the bad guys

    He hasn’t put much thought into this then. Of COURSE you don’t want to OFFEND the memory of the BAD GUYS. Their buddies will stick an ice pick through your head.

    The good guys, on the other hand, will just write whiny essays and complain.

    The choice of “whom to offend” is a no brainer.

  6. glamorizing scum

    Kinda like how Cheech and Chong “glamorize” drug use, huh?

  7. A huge Irony in this story is that David Chase changed his Italian name of his birth “deCesare,” to the Anglified Chase.

  8. I too agree that the depiction of these people creates a false visage of Italians in the American eye

    Its FICTION! It is by definition false! If you believe the images of New Jersey residents in this fictional TV series are an accurate representation of reality, you have much bigger mental problems than a few misconceptions about Italian-Americans.

  9. Worse still, this one was “Little Pussy” Malanga, and as we know from The Godfather subplot about a snatch-reduction operation, Italians are extremely touchy on the subject of vagina size.

    Now that’s a spicy meatball!

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