"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nicky Norks

Erroll Impellizieri was a successful businessman who grew up in Newark, had a house in Mantaloking, and was building a “mansion” in Matawan where his wife was from. No matter where he moved, he was still a Nicky Nork. In Newark if you didn’t have a house in Neptune, you had one at Omaha Beach. If you had a little bit of money, you moved to Mantaloking, your wall-to-walls were a little bit thicker, you had more convertible furniture, but you were still a hot-combed, manicured, goomba with a high-roll collar.

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Erroll’s father ran a smoke shop in Newark when he was a kid, the kind with girlie magazines in the back behind the cigars. Erroll kept his eyes open when he wasn’t whacking off in the can with a copy of Pussy Cat, and learned enough about sales, inventory, customer demand, and product to get him started in the production end of the Jersey porno business. He moved up in the porno world, then got Larry’s Lugno’s father – his brother – to bankroll him with some family money. He set up Erroll Productions, fronted with a lot of soft porn, but as hard core as you could get in the late 50s. He got into mail order, sex paraphrenalia, and rubbers; then built a roofing business which made him a millionnaire.

With piece of the profits, Erroll had built the Matawan mansion. Out of sentimentality, he fashioned the back patio to look exactly like the Down Neck house he grew up in as a kid. He even bought the back siding and patio storm door from the owner of his old house, layed down a plastic grass carpet, and build a vinyl roof just like Down Neck.

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Erroll’s oldest child, Flora, went into the roofing business with her father, but they soon began to squabble. He wanted her to be in charge of the Central Jersey operations, but she refused, saying she had had enough of his Nicky Norks when she was growing up, and wanted to try her luck farther south, on the Main Line. Her father gave in, and she took over the Philadelphia office. A few months later she was caught in flagrante with a Maytag sales rep in a motel in Neptune. Her father had heard of her fling and had her followed.

The pictures the private eye had taken of the motel surfaced a week later in the Jersey Journal – Erroll was always big news. The paper had juxtaposed a picture of the motel with one of her back patio – the motel in Neptune was a commercial version of her house in Matawan – and basically said “once a guinea, always a guinea”. She had been devoilee and never made the news again.

Erroll’s wife, Angela, never got over it, but rather than sulk, she made it her business to rehabilitate Erroll’s name. She became involved in charity work and, with Erroll’s money, worked her way down the Jersey Shore towards Philadelphia. By that time Erroll had made his millions, and his wife spent more and more of it for good causes.

She financed the Angela Erroll wing of the Lower Marion Mother of Mercy Hospital, the Angela Erroll Pavilion of the Upper Darby Little Sisters of the Poor Convalescent Home; and finally, her goal of acceptance and reconstruction of the family name complete, the Angela Erroll Pavilion of the Bryn Mawr Sibley Memorial Hospital.

She, like her husband and daughter, however, could never completely shake off their past. Although her picture was always in the Jersey Journal and increasingly in the Upper Darby Sentinel, it was always with the wrong people. Alderman Paluzzi, for example. He had gotten a breaking-and-entering charge against her middle son dismissed, and she had never forgotten him or the good times the families had had together at Asbury Park.

Paluzzi, however, had had one hand in Ocean County’s till and the other up the skirt of the Country Treasurer for years, and the state was getting wise. He had befriended the Treasurer on a Jersey Shore Renaissance Weekend and cooked up a scheme with her to siphon off more than Matawan’s share of road money to his contracting business.

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When the money was finally all in his bank account, Paluzzi dumped her. Enraged, hurt, and pissed, she talked to state prosecutors. Paluzzi was indicted and the papers were all over it. Paluzzi, however, had gone into hiding, and the only pictures the Jersey Journal could find were archival shots of Paluzzi – and, of course, Angela Erroll – cutting ribbons.

So, Angela Erroll went the way of her daughter Flora, and was never seen in public thereafter.
None of this bothered Erroll. He was too busy making money, and for him, the thrill was in the making, not the spending. He never counted the millions his wife spent on hospital wings, charity balls, and Mantoloking galas. He had written Flora off at the time of the Neptune scandal, not because of the scandal itself, but because the Philadelphia roofing operations which she was supposed to have managed had gone disastrously in the red. “Out fucking when she was supposed to be managing”, Erroll had told Larry.

The result of all this was that Erroll looked upon Larry as the son he never had. Fed up with his daughter, he showered all his attention on Larry, and when he returned from Idaho, Erroll got him a half-show job at the Newark Redevelopment Authority. He apologized to his nephew for not being able to get him a no-show job. The Authority’s payroll was already stretched because half the people on it were no-shows and no work got done by the other half. Lou Bazano, the Executive Director kept adding no-shows because they kicked back half their salaries directly into his pocket.

Bazano “hired” all the deadbeat brothers-in-laws of Newark City Councilmen, so they never complained; but even Bazano couldn’t keep the Feds out of Newark, and they were beginning to ask a lot of questions. The no-show scam was chump change as far as Bazano was concerned. His big money came from the business of urban renewal – razing perfectly good North Ward housing and replacing it with shoddy high-rises. Bazano was in bed with all the Jersey goombas in the demolition and construction business and the Mafia bosses who kept the non-goombas quiet.

In fact, the only reason why Larry Lugno could even consider the Idaho scam was because of Lou Bazano. Larry remembered Uncle Erroll and his father sitting in the parlor of the Jersey Shore house, telling stories about Lou Bazano’s genius in the double scam. Bazano put no-shows on the payroll, used the kickback money to get the building inspectors to stay home on inspection day, got them to kick back a piece to the councilmen who rubber-stamped all contracts with his goomba construction friends.

“I’m sorry”, Erroll said to Larry. “Maybe next year Louie will move you up to a no-show. For now, I got you a job with Joe Lucca in Supervision. They don’t supervise nothing because Louie’s paid off all the inspectors that you’re supposed to supervise. Just punch in in the morning, come back at 4:30, and go home”.

Absolutely nothing got done at the Authority. Monday all Sunday’s NFL games were discussed. Tuesday, the NFL analysis continued, and talk of Thursday’s bowling night started. Wednesday and Thursday were all bowling; and Friday was bowling post-mortem.

Every week was like this. Football bullshit on Monday after the NFL games. Fucking shine this, fucking monkey that. They not only Monday-morning-quarterbacked every play of the Giants’ game, they turned it into a soap opera. Andy Robustelli’s niece had cancer; Charlie Conerly left his wife because she was fucking a Baltimore Colt.

Bowling bullshit on Tuesdays, two days before Bowling night when the goombas went down to Jersey Lanes to have bowl-offs with Social Welfare, Finance, or the Teachers…….scores, who made the 8-10 splits; and who Dolores from Tax was screwing. Where Irene from Curriculum got her hair done and how could she bowl with those long nails which she got done by the same beautician who gave Mike Manfro and Joe D. blow-jobs on her lunch break.

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More bowling bullshit on Wednesday and Thursdays. Post-mortem bullshit on Fridays. Goomba recriminations about the Sanitation guy’s personal bowling ball that wasn’t regulation size, how Louie the manager needed to get some new lighting over Lane 3. How you could see Elaine Petrucci’s cunt crack, her jeans were so tight; and how come her husband let her bowl alone looking like that?

Monday it started all over again with football bullshit.

Everybody had a scam going. Mike Mullo owned the local that ran the east piers at Port Newark, and every third Friday was bazaar day. Mike could get anything - new Italian shoes, Irish whisky, French cognac, even a complete bedroom set of genuine Empire furniture. “I can get youse shoes”, Mike would say. “I just can’t guarantee youse no size”.

Mike took orders and three weeks later, your package was in the file room. Mike knew a guy in the Port Dispatcher’s office who told him when an interesting shipment was coming in; Joe D’s uncle Charlie told the union guys to pay off the ship’s captain and to be sure to leave the hold open on their way home, and Mike and Joe D. helped themselves.

There were always fuck ups. Instead of Florentine pumps or French shirtwaists, Ella Drucker and the girls often got sardines or anchovies; and this bullshit got put into the daily routine along with bowling and football.

When the girls – secretaries in Supervision where Larry was assigned – weren’t talking about Mike Mullo’s bazaar, they were shredding the guys they worked for. They ragged on Faggy Joe Reilly who, they suspected, had some sugar daddy in Trenton otherwise he would never would be in Lou’s lair; beat up on Tony Menino who drank only Metrecal and was pussy-whipped by his wife who was fucking one of the County Supervisors; tried to ruffle the feathers of Joe D’ who got his hair blow-dried down at one of the new Hair Stylists on North Broad Street. “What else d’ya get blown, Joey”, Esta would always ask when he came in, resplendent, coiffed, manicured, shaved on Tuesday afternoons.

Eileen DiMarco was a secretary at the Housing Authority with big tits, almost no hips, and skinny legs; but she knew all the guys were all fixated on her tits and knew how to use them. When Larry was hanging around the water cooler she would come behind him and ask, “How’s urban renewal?”. Then, pushing her tits into his back, and running her tongue around his ear she would whisper, “But you don’t need much renewal, do you, Larry?”

Larry put the hustle on her. He bought her grinders at Sal’s, and they had lunch in the park. They went out for banana cream pie. Her husband had a straight job and worked an evening shift, and Larry figured he could get a quick fuck anytime. It turned out, however, that despite the big come-on, Eileen was mortified that someone would find out she was cheating on Tony, and the only place she felt safe was the drive-in in Kearny and then only on Thursdays when she knew the guys were bowling and her mother was at church.

The first couple of times Larry and Eileen necked like teenagers; then she let him fondle, then suck those torpedo tits; but she never let him go any farther. “I want you, Larry. I really do. But not here. I want it to be right”. Although Larry had heard that sorry line before, suddenly it seemed the most reasonable thing on earth. “What the fuck am I doing with Eileen DiMarco in the back seat of a car in a Kearny drive in, behind the fucking Meadowlands landfill dump, sitting on top of a hundred goomba dead bodies?”

After six months of Authority bullshit, Larry wanted some action, so he and two of his goomba friends from Down Neck, Billy and Lou, started up their old car dumping business. They got rid of cars down at the port for Nicky Norks who got in debt from too much rococo furniture and needed the insurance money to cover it. They made a few bucks, and it beat hanging out Down Neck.

In recent months, however, there was a space problem. When Larry got started dumping cars, you could drop them over the side at any pier. Now, it was hard to find a spot. The economy was picking up, Port Newark got more commercial traffic than ever before, and freighters were tied up at half the piers. Goombas from the North Ward had started dumping shine cars, and the field was getting crowded; and Nicky Norks were using the port instead of the Meadowlands’ to get rid of small shit. Dumping an Olds one night Larry said he saw three pieces of a bedroom set he lifted off a kike truck sticking out of the water at Pier 47.

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Some nights you had to drive down to the end of the dock to find a place to get rid of your car. It was dark down there, much of the the wooden planking was rotted out, and it was a long way back, particularly if you had to leave in a hurry. On one night we passed pier after pier with no luck. Fifteen through twenty-five had freighters and tankers tied up. Twenty-six was where the furniture was dumped. Twenty-eight was the goombas’ dump.

“There’s a lot of fish down there”, said Billy.

“Are you crazy? It’s a fucking underwater junkyard”, said Lou.

“It’s the reef effect. I saw it on TV. Dumped cars is like coral reefs after a while. Fish like to hang out there. You could scuba dive”.

“And what do you think you would see? Fucking eels? There ain’t nothing down there but used scumbags and sofas.”

At Pier 31 Larry could see two cars, the front half of one is hanging off the edge of the pier; the other, a Cadillac, is manoevering for position to push it into the water. Larry recognizes the car and the driver, another goomba from Down Neck, Joe Fanucci. Fanucci had let his kid brother do the dumping to give him some practice; but the the kid jumped out too soon, knocked the shift lever into reverse on his way out and jammed the transmission solid.

Fanucci gently nudged the car up to the back bumper of the goofball’s car. “Don’t take its temperature, asshole. Push it!”, yelled Harry.

But the Caddie was not much bigger than the Pontiac, and Fanucci couldn’t move it. His back tires whined and smoked, and splinters from the wooden dock shot out from behind. Lights went on in the Greek freighter docked at the next pier.

While they all stood around thinking, Fanucci went over to the warehouse behind the dock and climbed into a fork lift that was parked near some empty crates of whisky. In a few minutes, he got the engine started and in a cloud of black diesel smoke floated towards us.

Fanucci positioned the fork under the rear bumper, fiddled with the levers in the cab, and gunned the engine. Instead of lifting the rear of the car, the fork swung out from underneath. The lift whirled in a complete circle, the fork slicing towards Andy who jumped like a Cossack to avoid the prongs. Andy went for Fanucci, who shut the door of the cab. “Try it out first, you asshole. Why do you think there’s different levers?”

Fanucci figured out the levers, moved the forklift back into position under the back of the Pontiac, and began to lift. As he did, the car began to slide forward and slowly tip farther over the edge of the pier. When the back wheels were about to go over, Fanucci stopped the lift and hollered, “I can’t go no more. I’ll go over with the fucking car”. The two huge prongs of the fork were too wide for the Pontiac, had gotten impaled on the fenders, and were sticking out like cow horns. The front wheels of the forklift were now off the ground; the front end of the Pontiac half-way down the wall of the pier and suspended over the water.

“Everybody move back”, Fanucci yelled. “I’m jumpin’ out”

The cab of the forklift, however, was perched high up over the engine, and to clear the doorguards and the wheels, Fanucci would have to jump more than four feet sideways. Fanucci was even fatter than Charlie Broglio, who, after Larry’s uncle had gotten him a job with the Sanitation Department, found he couldn’t fit into the cab of the garbage truck. “He don’t even fit in the truck”, the supervisor said to Larry’s uncle. “Get him the fuck out of here”.

Fanucci revved up the engine, opened the cab door, and put the forklift in forward. The Pontiac groaned and whinged as it went over the side, pulling the forklift down on top of it. As both vehicles went down, the rotten guts of Port Newark came floating up – scummy tires, chunks of mattress, slimy, rotten shoes.

The next day, the story of fat Fanucci went around the Housing Authority. By the time it made the rounds and came back again, everything had gotten all twisted. It was not just some goofball’s car that got dumped but a connected guy’s car that Harry had stolen. He had sold it to a Nicky Nork who got cold feet when he found out who it belonged to and paid Fanucci to dump it.

According to the story, it was not Fanucci’s brother who had fucked up the transmission, but some dickhead from Queens who was just visiting him; and when he had told Fanucci that he had done a lot of dumping in his day, he implied bodies not cars even though he had never dumped more than a refrigerator.

Fanucci had been so fixated on setting up a car-dumping pyramid scheme where he would take a cut each time a goofball’s car went over the side and wouldn’t have to do it himself, he didn’t catch the innuendo, and wouldn’t have been impressed if he had. Fanucci had a reputation for dumping live bodies in the river. The cement shoes went on before the goofball was dead.

Besides, the dickhead who wanted in on the car dumping didn’t even have a driver’s licence. He had gotten it pulled by the NYPD not only for causing three crashes on the B.Q.E but because his double dickhead uncle tried to fix the citations like they were parking tickets on Mulberry Street. Not that you needed a licence to dump cars, Esta Drucker said; and you certainly didn’t need brains if Larry, Harry, and Andy could do it.

It was all bullshit. If it had been the day after bowling night, none of it would have ever come up.

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