I took it as a warning.
The fact that the library felt compelled to post such a missive alarmed me. I remembered as a kid hanging out at the Merriam Park Public Library on Marshall and Fairview in St. Paul, grabbing a book, any book, often at random, and reading whatever it said without worrying if the choice identified me as a terrorist. Or worse yet, a liberal. Now there are plenty of people who are quite happy to do my worrying for me, who spend much of their time looking for things to offend and frighten them, things that they can protect me from whether I want that protection or not. It’s all about life, liberty, and the pursuit of their happiness. If they don’t actually burn books, it’s only because it looks bad on TV.
To use the Internet terminals, I needed a library card and a personal identification number. I showed the librarian Jacob Greene’s counterfeit card and driver’s license and said I only wanted to check my e-mail back home, which apparently happens all the time. The librarian happily logged me on with a temporary PIN and moved away.
I called up a search engine and typed in the name Granata. I received thousands of hits. I narrowed the list by adding the words “organized crime.” Four articles appeared, three published in New York and one by the BBC news service.
The first two New York articles weren’t very informative. One trumpeted the fact that the heads of all five New York City Mafia families were simultaneously behind bars for the first time. It listed the families: Bonanno. Reputed boss Joseph Massino had been indicted in connection with a decades-old murder.
Colombo. Alphonse “Allie Boy” Persico cut a deal with federal prosecutors and was now ratting on everyone.
Gambino. Peter Gotti, brother to John Gotti, was locked up on charges of racketeering and extortion a short time after Gotti’s heir, John Jr., was convicted of racketeering and gambling.
Genovese. Vincent “the Chin” Gigante remained jailed on a racketeering conviction.
Luchese. Vittorio “Vic” Amuso was doing life without parole on racketeering and murder charges.
The name Granata was mentioned only once, toward the end of the article. The sentence read: The only major crime figure who is not incarcerated or under indictment is reputed Bonanno acting boss Angelo “Little Al” Granata, a reclusive figure, who lives modestly in Queens.
The second article was a fluff piece. It suggested that while people living in the Big Apple applauded whenever a local prosecutor took down a wiseguy, they seemed to love having them in their midst and gloried in reports of the adventures and feuds. Readers were disappointed, so the article claimed, that notoriously publicity-shy Angelo Granata, alleged acting head of the Bonanno family, didn’t live up to the standards set by the flamboyant Gottis.
The BBC story was all business. It stated that the health of the New York Mafia was in decline and that starting with the conviction of John Gotti, the pressure on the Mafia clans had been relentless. It reported that hundreds of soldiers were now behind bars, along with the five reputed family leaders, revenues had been cut in half, and membership in the Mafia was waning. The exception, according to the BBC, was the Bonanno clan, which, under the leadership of Angelo Granata, is by far the strongest and most disciplined of the five families.
The final item appeared in the column of a New York tabloid’s selfstyled “crime watcher.” Little Al’s big pain seems to have been cured (take two .22s and don’t call in the morning). Prime ’vine has it that an irate co-conspirator began working for a regime change when his scheme for a Bonanno-imposed Mafia EU went PU. Yet with the capricious capo now doing his best Jimmy Hoffa impersonation, peace and tranquility has once again returned to Granata world.
There was no mention of Frank Crosetti in any of the articles. When I typed his name into the search engine, I discovered that he had been one helluva shortstop.
Since I was there, I searched for the name Penelope Glass. It took me about five minutes to discover why she had asked if I had listened to Suzy Bogguss and Chely Wright. Both country-western songbirds had sung tunes written by Glass and Heyward. Bogguss had recorded “Something Like Love” and “Gone So Long” on an album of jazz music; apparently she was switching genres. Wright had sung “Table for Two” and “The Bottom of the Sea” on an album that was essentially C&W. And then there was Bonnie Raitt, one of my all-time favorites, singing “Fire and Smoke” on a blues CD I had listened to a half dozen times already.
I really ought to pay closer attention to the liner notes, I told myself.
On the way back to the motel, I stopped at a record store and bought Suzy Bogguss’s and Chely Wright’s CDs and a machine to play them on. I listened to the songs Pen had written enough times that I could recite some of the lyrics in my sleep.