Ethan’s Column -jcr -dlh

Ethan Denault

You know what I love about New York? Aside from an amazing sports team ********– which resides in the Bronx *********– and a delightful little eatery called Carnegie Deli, I love the Italians. The Sicilians, to be exact. Such a rich and powerful heritage this ethnicity boasts. Rising from the barren soil of their native land, to persevere in the face of political marginalization, cultural, and intellectual deprivation. These remarkable individuals somehow found their way to the great land of America where they flourished in all aspects of life.
Take Salvatore Luciana for example. Born in Sicily in 1896. As a young boy Salvatore relied on his ingenuity in order to survive the often punishing streets. From selling fruit in Manhattan to running favors for more “prosperous” men, little Salvatore climbed the ladder of social mobility until, upon his death, he found himself sitting atop a tidy lump sum of over 250 million dollars. Or what about Vito Genovese, another Sicilian transplant who through hard work and diligence eventually ran an extremely successful pizza establishment which, in classified tax statements, amazingly netted nearly 40 million in its first year in business. So, what made these grubby street urchins into wealthy individuals? It all comes down to character ********– an iron clad character.
Character is what defines us as human beings. Each of us, by way of our genetic makeup and influence of the surrounding environment develops into a “unique human being,” a principle I believe is preached heavily in grades 1 through 5. As we mature and make increasingly sophisticated decisions, character often dictates if we will end up surrounded by Benjamins and Benzes, or wake up to a nasty individual in a three-piece suit squirting metal in our general direction. This brings me back to why I love the Sicilians.
The Sicilians were especially proud of their ability to groom character. One of the most prized traits learned by an individual was that of honor. Because the Sicilians were so proud of grooming within their communities they gave honor a special name. They called it “omerta.” Omerta essentially is a system which ensures that one will live up to the high moral expectations his forefathers felt were so desirable. Failing to do so could see a babbo end up “sleeping with the fishes” and this has nothing to do with snorkeling.
Another trait the Sicilians highly treasured was a man’s ability to keep his word. This ties in nicely with their reverence for honor. If a man could not keep his word then he was a “stonzo” *******– a dope, an idiot ********– useless to society and dealt with accordingly. Because the Sicilian society had been wracked by chaos and corruption as a result of constant invasions by outsiders, societal members were hard-pressed to decipher who was on the good side and who was on the bad.
Therefore, a man’s word was golden *********– it had to be trusted. If not, then the whole community system would collapse. Bugsy Siegel is a prime example of a prosperous individual who could not keep his word and was relegated to a more appropriate institution.
So, what can we learn from our Mediterranean friends? Bada Bing! You got it! Grow some balls and start working on some character. The worst you could do is end up in the sanitation industry. Until next time, Ciao cugines.