Yellow Hooker believes that all the really romantic moments involve a subtle reminder of one’s own mortality.
The dinner table against the left wall in the dining room of Danzas on 18th Avenue is where Sammy “The Bull” Gravano performed one of his famous hits. If you look on the wall, you can still see the bullet marks. It is also the table where I proposed marriage to my wife.
“The bullet holes might be fitting,” she said. “We still have to run this by my mom.”
Sometimes it is good to know your family lives in a different state.
We made the move from Danville, Pennslyvania to Bensonhurst only one year earlier, and expected a place more like the one depicted by popular culture — meaning we expected wiseguys on every corner, horse heads in every other bed, and, of course, John Gotti pulling strings from the grave.
Five years later, a lot of Starbucks, sushi, and crazy people yelling at me on the N train, but nothing to connect me to the Gottiland that I imagined in my youth — but that was before I got word that the Gottis themselves were making their way to Bay Ridge for a book-signing. I couldn’t resist my chance to see a piece of historic Gottiland and the Gottaniacs who were sure to follow.
I quickly rubbed out the irony of Victoria Gotti signing copies of her Italian cookbook at the same table where her son Frank Agnello Gotti would be signing copies of his diet book.
After all, these were the Gottis.
The word “Gotti” was once synonymous with toughness, blood, and of course Kings County. John Gotti, a.k.a. the Dapper Don, grew up in Sheepshead Bay — a self-made man who went from mobster to boss of the Gambino Crime Family.
His personality quickly made him the national figurehead for mobsters, and soon after, the whole borough. Crowds, including actor Mickey Rourke, would gather outside the courthouse before his conviction in 1991 to lend support.
Since his death five years ago, Gottaniacs have been left with pale substitutes: daughter Victoria and her kids, Carmine, John, and Frank, who had their own reality show, “Growing up Gotti.”
I was excited to meet the living-breathing Brooklyn icons, then my hopes were whacked: The Gottis had canceled “due to an emergency,” said a sad counter worker at BookMark Shoppe on Third Avenue.
But in the end, it didn’t matter. There are, after all, no Gottaniacs in South Brooklyn anymore. Brooklyn has outgrown the Gottis.
“No one cares about them anymore,” my friend’s girlfriend told me, as we stood outside of Vesuvio’s on Third Avenue and 75th Street, devouring a mozzarella and tomato on thin crust.
“Some girls think they are kind of hot, but now almost everyone thinks of them as a complete joke.”
It could be that killers have gone out of vogue, or perhaps we have evolved to the point where we don’t need an icon to worship anymore. Maybe, we just want to eat real Brooklyn pizza at Vesuvio’s, and leave the gold chains and hair gel at home.
At least I know there is one place on earth where a piece of Gottiland still exists.
I called up Danzas to reserve a table for my four-year anniversary, and asked the guy who answered the phone for the table where “Sammy The Bull” made his mark.
“I am not really sure what you are talking about,” the guy answered. “Are you sure you are thinking of the right place.”
On second thought, maybe this is a good time to renew our vows.
The Kitchen Sink
Ran into a Community Board 10 member who believes that new chairman Dean Rasinya is starting his reign on the wrong foot. “He has turned everything upside down and on its head,” the peeved CB10 member told The Stoop. “It is going to be interesting to see how they function.” We think a little change is good, so keep fighting, Dean! …
We love getting takeout from Panda Chinese on 97th Street, especially the sweet and sour chicken lunch special, but it’s sad to say goodbye to Mr. Tang on Third Avenue and 75th Street, which recently lost its lease after 28 years. Thankfully, they will still be available for take-out. …
Overheard at the annual Conservative Party brunch honoring Rep. Peter King: Bob Capano, an aide to Rep. Vito Fossella, trying to convince community activist Craig Eaton to make a run with him to Atlantic City. Don’t worry, Capano did not plan to bet the Medicaid trust fund on 20 black. …
Councilman Vince Gentile secured $13,000 for an independent test of the air quality at the Owls Head sewage treatment plant. …
A source informed us that our Kitchen Sink got a bit clogged last week trying to keep up with those wacky Mirones brothers. It turns out it was Matthew Mirones who decided not to run for another term in the state Assembly, not brother Steve Mirones, who was recognized for his humanitarianism (even though he and his brother both run Arimed, the prosthetics company that got the award). Got that? …
Ridge resident David Scheffler was on hand at last week’s CB10 meeting to videotape the event. He plans on posting the footage online for public consumption. We can see it now: Josephine Beckmann becomes an instant YouTube celebrity!