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Guybrush
19-12-2008, 02:06 AM
So LA Times reports (http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-fg-tijuanadruglord18-2008dec18,0,6984908,full.story) on the ongoing drug war in Tijuana, Mexico. By all accounts, it’s a sanguine affair, with beheadings, involuntary acid baths and wanton killings the rule of the day.

Reading the article, what strikes me the most is the way in which the supposed mob leader – one Teodoro Garcia Simental, a first-class twat – is described, and more interestingly, how his murderous deeds supposedly separate him from mob leaders of yore. Says one of the anonymous officials cited in the article:


“Criminals earn respect and credibility with creative killing methods,” said the official, who requested anonymity for reasons of security. “Your status is based on your capacity to commit the most sadistic acts. Burning corpses, using acid, beheading victims. . . . This generation is setting a new standard for savagery.”

To me – not that I have ever encountered a real-life mob leader – this sounds like pure fiction: I cannot imagine the mobsters of the 1920s – to pick an obvious example – being any less sadistic. Rather, it seems to me, people have bought into some illusory Hollywood version of what things were really like. This also reminds me of what a professor of criminology once said about how every small-time crook he ran into always strove to emulate the ways and manners of the mafiosos on the white screen – your Corleones and Sopranos – often to hilarious effect. The two phenomena aren’t exactly two sides of a coin, of course, but they both illustrate what a bizarre influence cinema’s gangster mythology exercises.

nomadthethird
19-12-2008, 02:29 AM
So LA Times reports (http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-fg-tijuanadruglord18-2008dec18,0,6984908,full.story) on the ongoing drug war in Tijuana, Mexico. By all accounts, it’s a sanguine affair, with beheadings, involuntary acid baths and wanton killings the rule of the day.

Reading the article, what strikes me the most is the way in which the supposed mob leader – one Teodoro Garcia Simental, a first-class twat – is described, and more interestingly, how his murderous deeds supposedly separate him from mob leaders of yore. Says one of the anonymous officials cited in the article:



To me – not that I have ever encountered a real-life mob leader – this sounds like pure fiction: I cannot imagine the mobsters of the 1920s – to pick an obvious example – being any less sadistic. Rather, it seems to me, people have bought into some illusory Hollywood version of what things were really like. This also reminds me of what a professor of criminology once said about how every small-time crook he ran into always strove to emulate the ways and manners of the mafiosos on the white screen – your Corleones and Sopranos – often to hilarious effect. The two phenomena aren’t exactly two sides of a coin, of course, but they both illustrate what a bizarre influence cinema’s gangster mythology exercises.

Hmmm. But this article isn't about old time mobsters.

And I do think the person quoted has a point.

The most powerful "mob family" (the family depicted in the Sopranos, the goddamn DeCavalcantes, were a joke. They were not very powerful at all, and they eventually hit their own leader without putting it before the other NY families just for being gay. They're all in jail now, or dead. The Calabrese/Silician mob is dead in general.) or gang in the world right now, outside of any cartels, is the Mara Salvatrucha 13. They are known for their very public, ostentatious displays of overkill. I've heard that they'll go into neighborhoods where someone owes them money and decapitate all the pets. If this doesn't work, they kill the children.

In the Italian mafia, the object was not to get caught. Killing and chopping someone up was supposed to be an efficient process, not a "message" with pictures in the newspaper. Also, there was a vague "honor code" where you didn't kill random women and children.

Edit: MS13 is also known to leave their tags near the bodies they kill by way of taking credit for the murder.

scottdisco
19-12-2008, 06:12 PM
certainly out of all the gangs on American soil, the FBI are currently the most concerned about the MS13.

somewhat OT: there is, arguably, an easily refutable trope in parts of Britain (to narrow my focus) re the Kray twins and what have you.
'yes you could leave your doors open in the old East End' and all that jazz, 'they only hurt those who had it coming to them' etc.

admittedly bringing it up in the way i have seems a bit straw-mannish perhaps, on my part, but we all know what British tabloid newspapers are like and so take what i say bearing in mind the sort of prism through which organised crime is sometimes reported in the populist, conservative sections of the British dailies..

nomadthethird
19-12-2008, 08:54 PM
certainly out of all the gangs on American soil, the FBI are currently the most concerned about the MS13.

somewhat OT: there is, arguably, an easily refutable trope in parts of Britain (to narrow my focus) re the Kray twins and what have you.
'yes you could leave your doors open in the old East End' and all that jazz, 'they only hurt those who had it coming to them' etc.

admittedly bringing it up in the way i have seems a bit straw-mannish perhaps, on my part, but we all know what British tabloid newspapers are like and so take what i say bearing in mind the sort of prism through which organised crime is sometimes reported in the populist, conservative sections of the British dailies..

MS13 are based in El Salvador, I think, and they're growing.

I think it's to be expected that drug dealers and mafiosos might be killed, but random citizens? What could you possibly do to deserve murder?

scottdisco
20-12-2008, 11:20 AM
Nomad:

MS13 are based in El Salvador, I think, and they're growing.

I think it's to be expected that drug dealers and mafiosos might be killed, but random citizens? What could you possibly do to deserve murder?

yes the thing about randomly decapitating all the pets in a neighborhood seems a good example of their extremity
:(

re the MS13 being the biggest gang head-ache for the FBI on US soil, i have no sources for that, but was told it in a conversation i had in DC recently with somebody who is familiar with these things.
:(

there's a Wiki article on them.

from four years ago this month, the following is one crime linked to them:

Police said they believed the Mara Salvatrucha gang could be responsible for the killings on Thursday in the northern city of Chamalecon.

The bus was driving through a busy neighbourhood when it was surrounded by gunmen and sprayed with automatic fire.

BBC link (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4124133.stm).

to get back on-point, i think Guybrush pretty much said it all re the myth of the noble mobster in their opening post.
isn't it said, anecdotally, that Italian-American mobsters in real-life enjoy watching a lot of their cinematic counterparts?

scottdisco
20-12-2008, 11:26 AM
though i also agree with Nomad about the Mexican gangs, re the quote from the Times.

from everything i've read and watched about them in the last several years it does seem that some of the drug-lords there are repeatedly setting new lows, in terms of what they mete out, and we all know how bad this year has been for Mexico

scottdisco
20-12-2008, 01:05 PM
and re American mobsters of Italian heritage, well, i always thought that the story arc in The Sopranos where Meadow appreciated, well, i'll leave it to this Wiki article to phrase it better than i could, it was always an interesting story with Meadow


in closer circles rationalizes Cosa Nostra as a cultural tradition borne out of discrimination against her ancestors' social and national origins

from here. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meadow_Soprano)

just saying like.

petergunn
20-12-2008, 09:37 PM
how can you post something like this on probably the exact day that two bit mob guys all over the world are probably having their neighborhood christmas party "for the kids"?

;)

ripley
22-12-2008, 02:38 AM
Yeah, I'm with scottdisco (& wikipedia I guess :/ ) I think there is more to that myth in the context of immigrant narratives.. in the US at least.

I don't know how it is elsewhere, but in the US many "mobs" of the past, particularly Irish and Italian ones, were immigrant family organizations that set up partly because the police and other institutions were closed to them. They were survival networks, not just businesses or havens for sadists to get their kicks.

not to say they were havens of wonderfulness, but that there may be historical reasons why there is an idea of a different role or ethic...

Also not to say that they stay as ethnicity- and family-based survival networks even if that's how they start..

Mr. Tea
22-12-2008, 01:31 PM
Probably worth mentioning that southern Italians, esp. Sicilians, were historically discriminated against by the much wealthier and more 'developed' north of Italy for centuries before there was mass Italian immigration to the USA. So the culture of poor communities banding together to protect themselves because the authorities were at best uninterested, if not actively hostile, is a pretty old one.

nomadthethird
22-12-2008, 05:43 PM
Yeah, I'm with scottdisco (& wikipedia I guess :/ ) I think there is more to that myth in the context of immigrant narratives.. in the US at least.

I don't know how it is elsewhere, but in the US many "mobs" of the past, particularly Irish and Italian ones, were immigrant family organizations that set up partly because the police and other institutions were closed to them. They were survival networks, not just businesses or havens for sadists to get their kicks.

not to say they were havens of wonderfulness, but that there may be historical reasons why there is an idea of a different role or ethic...

Also not to say that they stay as ethnicity- and family-based survival networks even if that's how they start..

I don't know, "cosa nostra" was around for hundreds upon hundreds of years before it came to the U.S., and it stayed with certain bloodlines. The Jewish mob also predated emigration to the U.S. There were economic reasons why mafias sprang up in the first place, but you can't simply look at most mobs as beginning when the members landed on U.S. soil, because none of them did.

Some people didn't want to be in the mob but had to, that's for sure.

The Russian mob is a different story.

nomadthethird
22-12-2008, 05:45 PM
Probably worth mentioning that southern Italians, esp. Sicilians, were historically discriminated against by the much wealthier and more 'developed' north of Italy for centuries before there was mass Italian immigration to the USA. So the culture of poor communities banding together to protect themselves because the authorities were at best uninterested, if not actively hostile, is a pretty old one.

Yeah, and eventually the Sicilians completely bought out the government and they still exert tremendous influence over it. Nothing ever gets done.

STN
22-12-2008, 05:51 PM
I don't know, "cosa nostra" was around for hundreds upon hundreds of years before it came to the U.S., and it stayed with certain bloodlines. The Jewish mob also predated emigration to the U.S. There were economic reasons why mafias sprang up in the first place, but you can't simply look at most mobs as beginning when the members landed on U.S. soil, because none of them did.



I read an interesting (and doubtless inaccurate) book on this by Norman Lewis called The Honoured Society. It was written in the 50s I think (perhaps earlier - it has no material whatsoever on the states), so has no doubt been discredited in various ways by now.

There's that 19th century Sicilian short story in which the peasants use their farm tools to beat a poilitician to death on the steps of the town hall at the behest (I think) of a Cosa Nostra leader. I think it's by Giovanni Verga.

polystyle desu
23-12-2008, 02:48 PM
More honor' , burials and bit o' TV meets reality mob too ...
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/us/22land.html?scp=1&sq=Scanlon&st=cse

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/23/nyregion/23bronx.html

ripley
24-12-2008, 04:03 AM
Yeah, and eventually the Sicilians completely bought out the government and they still exert tremendous influence over it. Nothing ever gets done.

if you point is just that some versions of "the mob" have some bad effects, I'm not going to argue against it, because that's obvious.

Of course there's a lot of governments where nothing gets done without a mob to blame, too.

Mr. Tea also addressed some of your argument, regarding southern italians.
I think your point about jews and mobs or "jewish mob" answers itself, actually - I mean, people of a particular religion/ethnic group clinging together because of outside hostility... and being seen as corrupt and unfair by a larger society (that also keeps them at arms length in ways that perpetuates that personalized form of organization)? hmmmm, sounds a lot like Jews' historical position in many places..

my point is that alongside the bad things, things called "the mob' have also served social functions for particular groups, which probably accounts for some of the positive associations with the mob.

Agent Nucleus
24-12-2008, 07:56 PM
if you look at inner cities, in the states at least, the crime boss is a hero. i think it has to do with ressentiment (sp), or the master-slave dialectic. instead of a proleterian revolt you see groups form in impoverished neighborhoods who act as an exception to the market. it's a working class revolt that co-exists with the system, disrupting it and sustaining it (by introducing novelty) at the same time. any notion of heroism has to come from some kind of romantic subculture. i think as a myth the crime boss figure diffused into pop culture through the sopranos, hip hop music, even clown figures like donald trump. to me organized crime is the best model for late capitalism, much better than social darwinism (ofc some crossover there) or any of the liberal economists, or Marx for that matter. Corporatism seems like a scaled up version of (illegal) cartels in the way it kind of shadows the Law (or rather *is* the Law) and shelters money. The black market works the same way, in terms of pulling the strings while remaining invisible to the system itself. Cartels also remind me of Serres' "parasitic noise":


"Parasitic can refer to radio interference, excess noise, static in the connection or background noise—interfering sounds that disrupt a clear signal. It is parasitic noise that interferes with or devours the conveyed message."

[...]


I am not an economist, but I believe that the economy is fascinated by the idea of maintaining balance. Parasites on the other hand are responsible for an unequal exchange—the disruption of that balance. In any case, the parasite takes something without giving something back in return. And the host gives without receiving something in return. The consequence is a completely unjust situation.Why are there such unfair players? Why does the principle of complete injustice exist? The answer to this concerns not only economic exchange, but also the fundamental question about life as such. It all revolves around an interesting natural law

http://www.wenteindustries.com/daten/philippwente_200708_hpc_serres_artikel.pdf (Michel Serres interview)

nomadthethird
25-12-2008, 02:48 AM
if you look at inner cities, in the states at least, the crime boss is a hero. i think it has to do with ressentiment (sp), or the master-slave dialectic. instead of a proleterian revolt you see groups form in impoverished neighborhoods who act as an exception to the market. it's a working class revolt that co-exists with the system, disrupting it and sustaining it (by introducing novelty) at the same time. any notion of heroism has to come from some kind of romantic subculture. i think as a myth the crime boss figure diffused into pop culture through the sopranos, hip hop music, even clown figures like donald trump. to me organized crime is the best model for late capitalism, much better than social darwinism (ofc some crossover there) or any of the liberal economists, or Marx for that matter. Corporatism seems like a scaled up version of (illegal) cartels in the way it kind of shadows the Law (or rather *is* the Law) and shelters money. The black market works the same way, in terms of pulling the strings while remaining invisible to the system itself. Cartels also remind me of Serres' "parasitic noise":



[...]



http://www.wenteindustries.com/daten/philippwente_200708_hpc_serres_artikel.pdf (Michel Serres interview)

This is how I've always thought of it, maybe not in the exact terms. I think it's hilarious when people get all up in arms about "gansterism" in hip-hop, and then watch The Godfather or John Wayne/Clint Eastwood films without a second thought. Sociopaths have always been American heroes. Once again, it's only terrible and society-damaging when black people do it.

I also think it's insane when people complain about frivolous law suits. So-called "frivolous" civil suits (e.g. old lady burned by McDonald's coffee) are the only check/balance against the power of corporations the average consumer has recourse to...I'm psyched whenever someone gets awarded big bucks over something stupid.

The only thing that keeps most companies on their toes anymore is the fear of getting sued and the requisite bad PR.

Mr. Tea
25-12-2008, 04:26 PM
I think your point about jews and mobs or "jewish mob" answers itself, actually - I mean, people of a particular religion/ethnic group clinging together because of outside hostility... and being seen as corrupt and unfair by a larger society (that also keeps them at arms length in ways that perpetuates that personalized form of organization)? hmmmm, sounds a lot like Jews' historical position in many places..

Yeah, exactly: a society gets insular because it is persecuted and persecuted because it is insular, ad nauseam...

zhao
18-10-2009, 02:39 PM
if you look at inner cities, in the states at least, the crime boss is a hero. i think it has to do with ressentiment (sp), or the master-slave dialectic. instead of a proleterian revolt you see groups form in impoverished neighborhoods who act as an exception to the market. it's a working class revolt that co-exists with the system, disrupting it and sustaining it (by introducing novelty) at the same time. any notion of heroism has to come from some kind of romantic subculture.

surely the heroism related to the mob and gangsterism today is a (perhaps pathetic or convoluted) vestige of the heroic anti-establishment figures and "secret societies" which occur through out history in many (every?) cultures. from Robin Hood to the Tian Di Hui (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiandihui) (ancetors of the Tongs and Triads), these criminals, the only people who were more or less openly defiant of the state and its laws, have always been folk heroes, and probably existed as long as the first centralized governments.

crackerjack
18-10-2009, 04:13 PM
these criminals, the only people who were more or less openly defiant of the state and its laws, have always been folk heroes, and probably existed as long as the first centralized governments.

and not just folk heroes, but also entertainment. people might sing flattering songs about notorious villains, but they'd also turn out in large numbers to see executed.