The Unimaginable

 

(Artwork by Ezra Jack Keats)

 

I heard the first news reports about the massacre of 20 first graders–babies, really–at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, after I just walked out of court in Marin County, California.

 

I had just secured a restraining order from a judge to prevent a mentally deranged individual, who bragged he had a gun, from coming onto the campus of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) which I was running at the time. He had threatened several of my staff members, and starting ranting to the judge that the CIA was after him.

 

The judge asked me if I had anything further to add, and I rolled my eyes and said “No, your honor. I think my case has been made.” The Judge immediately granted the restraining order.

 

If only swift, stern legal action was taken against the deranged young man who slaughtered 20 innocent babies–26 people in total–that terrible December 14, 2012. Things have only gotten worse since then, with the election of a tool of the NRA as President, the greater proliferation of assault weapons which can assassinate hundreds in a mere few minutes, the passage of a piece of legislation in the  GOP controlled House of Representative which would allow mentally unstable gun owners to conceal the carrying of weapons in every state in the nation–despite any local gun laws–and, the perpetuation of the grotesque lie advanced by Alex Jones and other Fascist fanatics, that those murdered at Sandy Hook were paid actors.

 

Tell that to a parent who lost a beautiful baby 5-years ago.  I was with with my three granddaughters–ages 8, 6 and 2–on the 5th Anniversary of that horrible moment in all of our lives.   I’ve hugged them and kissed them even more than I usually do, imagining the unimaginable, and grateful for every blessed moment I have with them.  I only wish the same for every single parent and grandparent, aunt and uncle, who cherish life and the right of those already born to live it without violence or harm.

 

C-SPAN Airs “Tightrope” Reading December 3, 2017, from Coast-to-Coast

So there it was: On C-SPAN’s “Book TV” schedule for this week:
BOOK TV SCHEDULE: FOR THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 3…on there with the same listings with HBO, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and with the new books of Matt Tiabbi and Katy Tur.

 

We were at my son’s home, with my granddaughters looking on, and their father logging on to C-SPAN to see if my book reading was listed in C-SPAN’s upcoming schedule for Sunday, December 3, so my son could DVR it. No sooner did he get it on the screen, when my oldest granddaughter, Age 8, shouts, “There’s Grampy’s name,” and we all froze.

 

We knew it was coming, but seeing it on my son’s big video screen just kind of stopped us all in our tracks. Now we knew that C-SPAN’s airing of my reading of “Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother was real.  No longer was it a speech I delivered that was taped by C-SPAN at the 50th Annual Italian American Studies Association Conference in Washington, DC.  There it was, up on the big screen, in living color.   Now, thanks to C-SPAN’s Book TV, you can watch my reading, wherever  you live in the country.  The times to watch or record are this Sunday, December 3: On the East Coast: 8:10 am and 11:30 am; On the West Coast, 8:30 pm. Tune in to hear me read from the opening chapter of Tightrope.

 

If you like what you hear and want to order a copy of Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother (Heliotrope Books, NY, NY, 2017) you can do so on the homepage of my website at www.socialvisionproductions.com, or by going directly to amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.

 

But, don’t just take my word for it.  Read what The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta had to say about Tightrope:  

“What an amazing book you’ve written. Mario Cuomo would have cheered. As impressive as your writing style, what blew me away was the honesty, your willingness to dig deep and share with readers your love and distain for the mob choice your brother made, your unabashed admiration for Mario Cuomo,and your inner turmoil throughout. To weave all this into a book, plus the stereotyping of Italian-Americans, is quite a feat. Congratulations!” — Ken Auletta

 

 

 

 

Salvator Mundi

Circa 1490-1519, oil on panel, 45.4 cm × 65.6 cm (25.8 in × 17.9 in), private collection. (Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

 

 

Salvator Mundi

Born on Sunday,

Forgotten Tuesday

On a very slow newsday.

 

 

Moore’s young girls

Made him weep on Wednesday,

Ryan’s bloodsuckers sold him out on Thursday.

 

 

Salvator Mundi,

Crucified Friday,

Lies & hypocrisy hammered him away.

 

 

Salvator Mundi,

Saturday’s dump,

Rose from the dead,

Saving us from Trump.

 

 

 

 

Kleptocrats & Pedophiles

 

Kleptocrats & Pedophiles,

Dazzle us with lies and smiles.

Hands in pockets, mostly ours,

Hands on genitals of fragile flowers.

 

 

Kleptocrats & Pedophiles

Steal from all, ‘specially chiles–

Take our money, take their honey,

Turn victims bright days dark, not sunny.

 

 

Kleptocrats & Pedophiles

Driven by everything that’s vile.

Rape the public; rape our young–

God spit on you, mankind’s dung.

 

Kleptocrats & Pedophiles,

Robbing families all the while–

Thoughts and prayers of pigs and plunder,

Hasten the time they’re six-feet under.

 

C-SPAN Tapes “Tightrope” Reading for Use on Upcoming “Book Talk” Series

 

(C-SPAN taped “Tightrope” author Steve Villano at the 50th Annual Italian American Studies Association Conference, in Washington, DC.)

Washington, DC – Heliotrope Author Steve Villano reached a new milestone this month for his memoir Tightrope, reading before an audience of academics and authors at the 50th Annual Italian American Studies Association Conference, a major ethnic studies conference. Villano’s presentation was filmed by C-SPAN at the conference on Friday, November 3, at the Omni Sheraton Hotel in Washington DC, for airing on their “Book Talk” Series at a later date.

 

Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother, has been called “riveting”, “amazing”, and “a memoir that reads like a thriller.” It is the true story of two Italian-American brothers living dramatically different lives, with one working for former New York State Governor Mario M. Cuomo, and the other associated with John Gotti and the Gambino Crime Family.

 

Ken Auletta, author of five national bestsellers, and he writer of The New Yorker’s “Annals of Communications ,” since 1992, offered this high praise for Tightrope:

 

“What an amazing book you’ve written. Mario Cuomo would have cheered. As impressive as your writing style, what blew me away was the honesty, your willingness to dig deep and share with readers your love and distain for the mob choice your brother made, your unabashed admiration for Mario Cuomo,and your inner turmoil throughout. To weave all this into a book, plus the stereotyping of Italian-Americans, is quite a feat. Congratulations!” — Ken Auletta

 

The Italian American Studies Association conference where Villano read from Tightrope is among the largest gatherings of Ethnic Studies and Italian American Studies professionals and academics held in the United States. This year’s conference–which drew representatives from some 50 U.S. colleges and Universities– was held in Washington, DC, November 2-4, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), with the theme: Faith, (Ir)reverence, and the Italian Diaspora: Fifty Years of Italian American Studies.

 

“I was deeply honored to have the opportunity to read from Tightrope to academics from Ethnic Studies programs across the country,” Villano said. “I will work hard to bring Tightrope into college and high school classrooms, since we need to make the next generation more aware of the pernicious effects of ethnic stereotyping and discrimination.”

 

(Excerpt from presentation to the 50TH ANNUAL ITALIAN AMERICAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE in Washington, DC, November 3, 2017:)

“THE TIGHTROPE ITALIAN AMERICANS TREAD WHEN ORGANIZED CRIME TOUCHES US:”

Federal District Court, Uniondale, summer 1988. I sat shoulder-to-shoulder with my 22-year-old nephew, Michael Jr., struck by his resemblance to JFK, Jr., and also to my brother at the same age: jet black hair, large dark eyes, and a dazzling, kind smile. Michael and I listened to federal prosecutors lay out their case against his father and my brother.

 

Earlier that morning Governor Mario Cuomo had called me at home. After three years of working nearly round-the-clock with Cuomo at the Governor’s Two World Trade Center office—even sleeping over in my office during snowstorms—I was now his “man” at the Long Island Power Authority, laboring long hours to shut down the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant for health and safety reasons.

 

“You do good work, Steve,” the Governor said. “You have great, great ability and a great future. It’s a pleasure working with you.”

 

“You have a pretty good future yourself, governor,” I said.

 

“Oh, no. I have no future, Steve,” Cuomo joked. “But you,” he said in a serious, almost fatherly tone, “you have a wonderful future.”

 

Ninety minutes later, that bright future collided with my brother’s present. I was sitting in a federal courtroom, hearing government prosecutors ask an FBI agent if it was true that my brother was a bagman for John Gotti, collecting money from union officials to “buy labor peace.” Gotti and Villano: both names spoken in the same sentence by a federal law enforcement officials. My brother linked to Gotti; I linked to Cuomo. These were only allegations, I kept telling myself. My brother was not guilty of anything; he could not be; he was my mother’s son.

 

Mario Cuomo detested the “bums” in organized crime as much as I did. He was incensed by the mob innuendos about him or anyone in his family. Even the expectation that he had to answer any questions about it outraged him, since he believed that his whole life “has been a statement against that crap.”

 

What if my family name became “the issue?” Would he keep me on staff? Would I have the courage to leave the public service work I loved? I felt naked; nothing left to protect me: not my carefully calibrated career, not my conservative clothing, not my law degree. Nothing. That was my brother up there. We shared the same blood, the same last name. For years, we shared the same bedroom, with different dreams, at the top of the stairs in my parents’ house: Michael, my brother Vinnie and me; our lives intertwined.

 

I looked around Judge Mishler’s courtroom, and winced as I heard our name echo around the room, bouncing off a bench, a chair, the judge’s desk. If only I had a sponge, I would scrub the walls, the seats, and make our name vanish from every surface it touched. I wanted everything to disappear, but could not keep myself away from the courtroom. I had to find out what I suspected, but denied for years.

 

###

Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo and My Brother by Steve Villano

978-1-942762-42-3 trade paperback; 268 pages; $16.50 • 978-1-942762-41-6 eBook

June 2017, Heliotrope Books, LLC • heliotropebooks.com

Or, order directly via my website at www.socialvisionproductions.com.

 

 

Gen. Kelly’s Model for an “Honorable Man,” Is Not Much Different Than Hitler’s

 

Gen. John Kelly’s ignorant and racist comments about some esoteric “compromise” existing between Slavery and Freedom, and his declaration that Robert E. Lee was an “honorable man”, have reinforced the horrifying conclusions of the new book published by Yale Law School Comparative Law professor James Q. Whitman, “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law.”

 

Traveling through several East Coast states that had their own racist “Blood Laws” (miscegenation laws, like Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina) to do book readings of my own book, “Tightrope,” I voraciously read Whitman’s disturbing new findings.

 

Whitman’s astonishing and terrifying book carefully documents–through never before published material and verbatim transcripts –how the Nazis, as early as 1920, were inspired by the U.S’s Jim Crow laws–racist laws in 30 American States, and America’s anti-immigrant laws of the early 1900’s. The Nazis were so inspired by these American laws reflecting our “racial madness” that they based the Nuremberg Laws upon them–which resulted in systematic dehumanization and eventual annihilation of 6 million Jews.

 

The great Bill Moyers tipped me off to the book in a startling interview with Professor Whitman, and I read “Hitler’s American Model” while traveling through Maryland, a state which had statutory penalties of up to TEN YEARS IN PRISON, if a white person married a black person.

 

New legal documents uncovered by Whitman of debates among Nazi lawyers drafting early versions of the Nuremberg Laws, reveal that even the most radical Nazis thought that America’s anti-miscegenation laws “went too far.” Let that sink in for a moment: that’s the NAZIS , believing that Maryland went too far in it’s “race madness,” by criminalizing interracial marriage.

I finished Whitman’s book while staying in a hotel in Fredericksburg, VA, off of Jefferson Davis Highway, a major interstate named for the President of the Confederacy, a violent army of White Supremacists, who committed armed treason against the United States. Fredericksburg is, as many local residents are proud to tell you, the area of several key battles in the Civil War, including the Battle of Fredericksburg, where Southern Confederate Troops–fighting to preserve slavery and keep institutionalized racism–slaughtered thousands of Union Troops who gave up their lives to set people free. The General who commanded the slaughter of American troops– men who gave their lives to protect the U.S. Constitution and the dignity of all human beings– was Robert E. Lee, whom Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, General John Kelly has called an “honorable man.”

 

By Kelly’s standard, Gen. Benedict Arnold is an “honorable man” as well.

 

The continuing “racial madness” of the Confederacy–including the fighting of a civil war which killed 600,000 Americans, served as one of the inspirations to the Nazis when they crafted the Nuremberg Laws. But the U.S. Civil War, and America’s racist laws, weren’t the only inspirations for the Nazis that were made in the USA.

 

Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf how thrilled he was by the United States willingness to commit genocide against Native Americans in order to achieve America’s “Manifest Destiny” and acquire new territory. The Nazi’s would later use America’s “gunning down of redskins” (Hitler’s own words) as well as the blatantly racist Immigration Act of 1924 that discriminated against any but those from Nordic nations, as justification for murdering 6 million Jews and many others. In fact, in many cases, Nazi jurists–steeped in decades of conservative German jurisprudence–thought that America’s racist laws went much too far, even for Nazi Germany.

 

Apparently, Gen. Kelly hasn’t learned that dark part of American or world history, and has forgotten what hundreds of thousands of American Veterans–from the Civil War, through two World Wars, and Wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, fought and died for. There is NO compromise between slavery and freedom. And, those who fight to enslave people–whether they are Generals like Robert E. Lee or Ho Chi Minh–are not “honorable people.”