Red Hook is going to the mattresses — and we’re not talking about Ikea.
A biographer who detailed the life and death of the iconic South Brooklyn mobster “Crazy” Joe Gallo will lead a May 9 walking tour that will highlight the gangster’s former haunts and hangouts, and remind attendees that the now twee Columbia Street Waterfront District was once the site of a bloody Mafia war.
“When you walk down President Street today, it’s hard to believe that this is the place where the Gallo Gang waged a revolution against the Mafia,” said Tom Folsom, whose book “The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe Gallo and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld,” profiles the racketeer who was known as a cold-blooded killer — and a socialite with a penchant for Camus and Sartre.
“I’m hoping to give people a sense of what this neighborhood was like back in the day,” said Folsom, who co-wrote the 2007 book, “Mr. Untouchable,” with Harlem drug lord LeRoy “Nicky” Barnes, a heroin dealer who befriended Gallo while in prison.
The tour will bring Mobphiles to the block where Gallo — who was immortalized in the Bob Dylan song “Joey” — coined the term “going to the mattresses” when he ordered his ramshackle gang to hole up in his grandmother’s tenement at 51 President St. between Van Brunt and Columbia streets for protection in his underdog fight against the Profaci family between 1961 and 1963.
The building that housed the “Gallo Headquarters” no longer stands, but the walking tour will showcase at least one landmark that has hardly changed since the celebrity mobster was famously gunned down in Umberto’s Clam House in Manhattan in 1972.
The mob excursion will include a visit to the Morgan Room of FG Guido’s Funeral Home at the corner of Clinton and Carroll streets, where Gallo’s sister Carmella allegedly predicted the coming war between the fallen mobster’s soldiers and the Colombo family when she shrieked: “Blood in the streets! The streets are going to run red with blood, Joey!”
Crazy Joe Gallo walking tour will start at Carroll Park (Smith Street between Carroll and President streets in Carroll Gardens), May 9, 1 pm. For reservations, call Freebird Books at (718) 643-8484.
©2009 Community News Group