If you ever read Philip Carlo’s Gaspipe, which is about Lucchese boss Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso, you can flip to the center of the book and see a picture of the attached house where I grew up. My mother and I lived in the ground floor apartment (where the Cassos used to live) for much of my early childhood. When she got remarried, we moved upstairs into the bigger apartment; she was in that upstairs apartment until late last year when she moved next door with my grandmother. My grandfather used to tell me Gaspipe stories, mostly about him selling hot items off a truck. The Carlos were our neighbors and friends. Philip, who also wrote The Night Stalker (about Richard Ramirez) and other true crime books, was living in the city when I was growing up (and, according to his old man, hanging out with his good friends Robert DeNiro and Tony Danza all the time), but he was the first real writer I knew of and knew. I’d talk to his father Frank and ask a hundred questions, pressing him for the straight dope on the writing life. I don’t think I knew at the time how close Frank was to Gaspipe. I never asked him about Gaspipe, I’m pretty sure, even as my interest in mobsters and outlaws grew. But I definitely spent a lot of time as a kid wondering about Gaspipe; I’d sit in our little apartment and try to imagine things that had happened when he lived there.





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