Humanity & Inhumanity

 

I was not going to write of memories, still too painful to bear, of 9/11.

 

I was just going to post the picture taken by Carol of me and our son Matt, when he is 5 years old, and we are standing on the deck of the Ferry to the Statue of Liberty and the Twin Towers are benignly winking at us in the background. I wasn’t going to say any more.

 

Then my son, asked me to fill in some of his remembrances of that terrible time, and it brought so much rushing back, not counting the eight years I worked in Two WTC, sleeping over in my office during snowstorms. The most tortuous night terrors I still have are of the days after, with the rubble of the Towers still simmering, bodies melted inside, when Carol and I walked 70 blocks from our Uptown apartment, to get near the mass gravesite and pay our respects.

 

Stupidly, we stopped at St. Vincent’s Hospital on W. 14th Street, to see the thousands of 8 ½ x 11 “Missing” photos of peoples lovers and children lost in the attack; an entire wall of the hospital, now gone, covered with humanity, incinerated. Young faces smiled out at me from the photos, and in each bright smile, I saw my son’s face, and cried uncontrollably at the thought of losing him, and the unimaginable losses of the parents who lost their children, smiling at them forever, from the walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital, or from the deepest recesses of their hearts.

 

Then, I read the White House’s website this morning, on the 16th Anniversary of the tragedy, and saw the news reports of Trump presiding over a Memorial Service, and my unending grief turned to unbridled anger.

 

In 2001, Donald Trump, New York businessman, took advantage of the deaths of the nearly 3,000 human beings he calls upon us to remember today, by sucking $150,000 out of a 9/11 Emergency Relief Fund meant for small businesses that suffered in the immediate aftermath of the attack. The Trump Organization was neither a small business, nor suffered from the 9/11 attack.

 

He never apologized, never gave the money back, never offered to pay for the school costs, or mental-health counseling costs of the chlldren of those damned to death in the Twin Towers that day. Trump used that unfathomable tragedy to his own personal benefit in his typically grotesque way, by profiting from the hardships of others.

 

A human being, with the faintest heartbeat, would have paid that money back and redoubled his efforts to comfort the families of those forever lost to us in the attack on 9/11. I am angry when I look at Trump’s smug face, and am reminded of the photos of all the young, beautiful faces, full of life — photos that ripped my heart out 16 years ago. I think of their faces — bright lives I can never forget — and my fury at Trump’s inhumanity, is made even deeper by my despair, which knows no end.

Is Mueller’s Goal to Get Trump to “FLIP” on Russian Mobsters & Crooked Banksters? Is Trump a mere “minion?”

 

 


For weeks, I’ve been stumped on a key question concerning Trump: Not IF he’ll have to resign to avoid indictment, conviction and imprisonment for a lifetime of financial crimes, but WHAT the conditions of that resignation will be.

Knowing Mueller’s track record in sending John Gotti away for life by getting Sammy “The Bull” Gravano–a man who murdered 19 people–to turn state’s evidence, I couldn’t accept the concept of Mueller accepting a simple Trump resignation in exchange for wiping out his financial crimes. It’s just not in Mueller’s M.O. to let someone off the hook so easily.

Then, I realized the flaw in my reasoning: Trump is not the Big Enchilada Mueller is after; Trump is simply an underling, a bagman, a low-level money-launderer for a HUGE international criminal enterprise operating through Russian mobsters and oligarchs and an international illegal banking network, led by the Bank of Cyprus, an embargoed Russian Bank close to Putin, and Deutsch Bank.

So, in my judgement, here’s how the deal with go down over the next few months: Mueller will deal with Trump to resign and NOT face criminal prosecution (either for himself or his family) IF he turns State’s evidence against the Russian Gangsters, and the International Banksters at Bank of Cyprus, the Russian Bank tied to Putin and Deutsch Bank. Those are the Big Fish Mueller is after.

Of course, unlike Sammy the Bull, Trump would never go into a witness protection program and keep silent, so the agreement would have to include more Secret Service protection for Trump & his family against Russian/Bankster retaliation.

Things will start to get even more unbelievable over the coming weeks. But, the takeaway is that Trump is a minion, not the big target of the Mueller investigation. He will be nothing more than a means to Mueller to achieve the greater end of bringing down an International Criminal Cartel of Russian Gangsters and Crooked Banksters committing massive bank fraud and money laundering, as well as murder, and monumental theft worldwide.

Sammy “The Bull” as a role-model for Trump, anyone? Are we about to witness Trump’s biggest downfall yet? I only wish Wayne Barrett were still alive to write the final chapter of this horror movie.

 

 

Heliotrope Books’ Author, Steve Villano, Selected to Read at National Conference

PRAISE FOR TIGHTROPE: “BALANCING A LIFE BETWEEN MARIO CUOMO AND MY BROTHER;”

BOOK NEWS:

For Galleys, Review Copies, or to interview the author,

contact: Naomi Rosenblatt, heliotropebooks@gmail.com, 212-674-0008

 

NEW YORK CITY, NY, – Steve Villano, whose newly released memoir

Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother, is

already receiving praise, has been selected by the Italian American

Studies Association to read an excerpt at the 50th Annual Italian

American Studies/National Italian American Foundation Conference

in Washington, DC. The honor is one rarely accorded to new

authors, especially those who’ve written books for a general audience.

 

The Italian American Studies Association conference 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 is expecting hundreds of attendees, is being held in

Washington, DC, November 2-4. It’s theme is: Faith, (Ir)reverence,

and the Italian Diaspora: Fifty Years of Italian American Studies.

Praise for “Tightrope:”

“Rich and insightful, probing the mysteries of the divergent paths of children, the consequences of their choices and the blood bond that holds them together against the odds, and possible against all common sense…It is a book about the Italian-American experience that is also about any immigrant family’s journey.”
—Chiara Coletti, former vice-president of Newsday

 

Villano’s book is being called a “memoir that reads like a thriller.” It is the true story of two brothers living dramatically different lives, with one working for former Governor Mario M. Cuomo of New York, while the other was associated with John Gotti and the Gambino Crime family.

Congratulations are coming in from renowned writers like Gay Talese, and former colleagues from the Administration of Mario M. Cuomo like Sara Lundine. Legendary WNBC-TV Newsman, Gabe Pressman—who died this summer after more than sixty years of reporting on New York & national stories, winning anEdward R. Murrow and Peabody Award—gave a powerful endorsement for the book, and its author:

From Gabe Pressman:

 

Steve Villano is a passionate and compassionate man with whom I’ve worked over the years—following
the political trials and tribulations of his then-boss, Governor Mario Cuomo. Steve’s loyalty to Cuomo
and his deep understanding of Cuomo’s character and his leadership skills is what gives this book special
meaning for me. His depiction of this period in history is spot on, and especially powerful for me is his
careful recounting of the moment I informed Steve of a death threat on Mario Cuomo’s life. He handled
that high tension with grace, while also balancing the knowledge of his brother’s association with
Gambino Family crime boss John Gotti. Tightrope is of special interest to me—to learn the fascinating
story of how Steve managed the love he had for his brother, with the love and devotion he had for Mario Cuomo.”

 

A former labor journalist, speechwriter, essayist, poet, and documentary film writer, with his work appearing across numerous national media outlets and platforms, Steve Villano worked for GovernorMario M. Cuomo of New York, from 1985-1993. During that same time, there were several national boomlets for Cuomo to run for President. Meanwhile, Villano’s brother was associated with JohnGotti of the Gambino Crime family.

Within days of of each other in December, 1985, Gotti became the head of the Gambino Crime Family, following the murder of Paul Castellano—and Cuomo, upon Ted Kennedy’s withdrawal from consideration for the 1988 Democratic Party’s nomination for President, became a national contender for the Presidency, in the judgment of many politicians and members of the media.

In Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo & MyBrother, Villano shares the wrenching conflict between his family’s ties to organized crime and his love for his brother, his own integrity and his commitment to Mario Cuomo and public service.

That commitment to public service and to Mario Cuomo, was underscored by former Administration colleague Sara Lundine:

From Sara Lundine:

 

“I finished Tightrope last week. It was a quick read for me because once I started, I couldn’t put it down. I
found it to be honest, brave, well-researched, well-documented, gripping & compelling. . . You captured
beautifully the essence of Mario Cuomo, as well as the intimacy of family struggles. Bravo!”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: STEVE VILLANO, a native of Brooklyn, New York, is the former head of Governor Mario M. Cuomo’s New York City Press Office, with decades of experience in public service, public education, public health, and as CEO of several national, non-profit organizations.

His writing has appeared in mass circulation newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, Newsday,The Albany Times Union, The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the Napa Valley(CA) Register Newspaper Group, the North Shore (Long Island) Newspaper Group, Working Mother Magazine, Associations Now Magazine, and Today’sEducation. His essays have been published on-line on the WritersDigest.com, www.thenationalmemo.com,, with a subscription circulation of 300,000; on Medium.com., and on his blog, Radical Correspondence, (www.socialvisionproductions.com.

Villano has authored major pieces on ethnic stereotypingin Ambassador Magazine, (the National Italian American Foundation’s100,000 circulation magazine) about actors Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, and the HBO series “The Sopranos.”

Villano presently lives in Northern California.

###

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

978-1-942762-42-3 trade paperback; 268 pages; $16.50

heliotropebooks.com

 

New York Publisher, Heliotrope Books, Announces Availability of “Tightrope” in Kindle & Paperback Versions, on Amazon & Barnes and Noble.

 

Heliotrope Books  ( www.heliotropebooks.com) announces a new memoir by writer STEVE VILLANO, formerly on Mario Cuomo’s Staff which is now available in Kindle and Paperback forms on Amazon.com, and in Paperback on BarnesandNoble.com:

TIGHTROPE: BALANCING A LIFE BETWEEN MARIO CUOMO AND MY BROTHER

NEW YORK CITYTightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo and My Brother is the true story of two New York brothers who travelled dramatically different paths. Though author Steve Villano and his oldest brother Michael lived in two separate worlds, they shared love, loyalty, a sense of duty and personal sacrifice.

 

The author’s lifelong quest to work in public service, partly as penance for his family’s background with both the Genovese and Gambino crime organizations, became a precarious tightrope on which he struggled for years to find his balance.

 

“Steve Villano paints a complex, intimate portrait, intertwined through the two worlds of himself and his brother: Steve, a staffer for Governor Mario M. Cuomo of New York State, and his brother,a reputed bagman for mob boss John Gotti. The story is both brave and jarring. Can one love a person but hate his choices? Describing his relationship with his brother, Steve argues powerfully that one can. The result is a narrative rich both in emotional detail and in his- torical nuances…” —Sasha Abramsky, author of The House of Twenty Thousand Books, The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives, Inside Obama’s Brain

 

A former labor journalist, speechwriter, essayist, poet, and documentary film writer, with his work appearing across numerous national media outlets and platforms, Steve Villano worked for Governor Mario M. Cuomo of New York, from 1985-1993. During that same time, there were several national boomlets for Cuomo to run for President. Meanwhile, Villano’s brother was associated with Gambino Family organized crime boss, John Gotti, Jr., at the peak of Gotti’s power.

 

Within days of each other in December, 1985, Gotti became the head of the Gambino Crime Family, following the murder of Paul Castellano—and Cuomo, upon Ted Kennedy’s withdrawal from consideration for the 1988 Democratic Party’s nomination for President, became a national contender for the Presidency, in the judgement of many politicians and members of the media. In Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother, Villano shares the wrenching conflict between his family’s ties to organized crime and his love for his brother, his own integrity and his commitment to Mario Cuomo and public service.

“Steve’s book is a frank and unvarnished account of the long struggle in his New York Italian-American family… Steve took an upward path in his career, becoming an impeccable civil servant, working for one of America’s most distinguished Italian-American governors, Mario Cuomo. His brother took an oppo- site path, associating with the most feared Italian-American mobster of his generation, John Gotti. Villano dealt with these opposing forces of light and darkness, abhorring his brother’s choice but still feeling love for him, hiding the truth from friends, and teetering on a tightrope between two diametrically different worlds, is a gripping tale—like a Hollywood story, but it is all true.” —Stephen C. Schlesinger, co-author of Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatamala (with Stephen Kinzer), Act of Creation: The Found- ing of the United Nations, The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.,Edited by Stephen C. and Andrew Schlesinger.

 

The story, while intimately focusing on the struggle of this one Italian-American family at a particular point in history, is a universal one, applicable to many immigrant families and their journeys, and the destructive human consequences of stereotyping and divided loyalties.

 

“Tightrope is a richly insightful, deeply moving account of love, loyalty and family lived out in the complex intersection of organized crime and big-league politics. A true story told with all the narrative power of gripping fiction, there’s not a false word in these pages. Villano writes like an angel as he wrestles with the devil. Tightrope is a triumph.” —Peter Quinn, author of Banished Children of Eve: A Novel of CivilWar New York, Hour of the Cat (1st Installment of the Fintan DunneTrilogy), Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish Americans, The Man Who Never Returned (2nd Installment of the Fintan Dunne Trilogy), DryBones (3rd Installment of the Fintan Dunne Trilogy)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: STEVE VILLANO, a native of Brooklyn, New York, is the former head of Governor Mario M. Cuomo’s New York City Press Office, with decades of experience in public service, public education, public health, and as CEO of several national, non-profit organizations. His writing has appeared in mass circulation newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, Newsday, The Albany Times Union, The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the Napa Val- ley (CA) Register Newspaper Group, the North Shore (Long Island) Newspaper Group, Working Mother Magazine, Associations Now Magazine, and Today’s Education. His essays have been published on-line on the WritersDigest.com, www.thenationalmemo.com,, with a subscription circulation of 300,000; on Medium.com., and on his blog, Radical Correspondence, (www.socialvision- productions.com).

Villano has authored major pieces on ethnic stereotyping in Ambassador Magazine, (the National Italian American Foundation’s 100,000 circulation magazine) about actors Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, and the HBO series “The Sopranos.” A labor journalist for the National Education Association for a decade, Villano has written about censorship, the rise of the Far Right in America and about sweatshop conditions at cap and gown factories in New York. Villano presently lives in Northern California.

### 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, June, 2017 by Heliotrope Books, LLC heliotropebooks.com

 

A 30-Year Writing Journey Finds Publishing Partner at Writer’s Digest Conference

 

(reprinted from WritersDigest.com, Brian A. Klems’ Writer’s Dig blog)

This guest post is by Steve Villano. Villano worked in the Administration of Governor Mario M. Cuomo from 1985-1993, serving as Director of the Governor’s NYC Press Office during two presidential boomlets concerning Cuomo. Villano’s first-book, We, Haiku, is an interactive digital e-book of Haiku and received a QED (Quality, Excellence & Design Award) from the Digital Book Publishers of America in 2014. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and via Pronoun. His narrative non-fiction book, Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo and My Brother, has been published in 2017 by Heliotrope Books (NY), and is available in both e-book and paperback format.

 

I was nervous when I arrived at the 2015 Writer’s Digest Conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. This professional gathering could clinch thirty years of work on one manuscript.

Over decades, I nurtured and rewrote my account of working for former New York State Governor Mario M. Cuomo, while my oldest brother was associated with John Gotti. I had a unique story and was capable of telling it, but I was unskilled at bringing my work into the publishing market.

Gotti was dead, and my brother, who had served prison time, was no longer involved with the Gambino crime family. On his 70th birthday in 2011, over lunch, I told him that I was the only one who could tell this story. He was, to my surprise, supportive.

“Just don’t rat anybody out,” my brother said.

“That would be kind of hard, Michael, since everyone is dead, “ I said, smiling.

It was time to get serious. From late spring, 2015, my brother battled pancreatic cancer, which would claim his life in the first week of November and compel me to finish writing Tightrope. My manuscript had given new life to my brother and our relationship.

A long-time Writer’s Digest subscriber, I knew the Annual Conferences were a place to “pitch” work, and connect with prospective literary agents and publishers. Still, I dreaded the Beat-the-Clock set up of the one-hour-long “Pitch Slams,” where each writer is given three minutes to summarize his book to as many agents/publishers as possible. The large, rectangular shaped conference room was bordered with tables, each one hosting two agents or publishers. As soon as the doors to the session open, writers ran in, like horses bolting out of the gate at the Kentucky Derby, clutching tightly their manuscripts and maps of the “Pitch Slam” session. Lines formed quickly behind the tables of the biggest publishers; I stuck to my game plan and sought out those I thought were perfect for my book.

My pitch for Tightrope, perfected over 30 years, included a clear strategy to target genre-appropriate agents. I soared through my “Pitch Slam” session, securing interest from five agents. I was stunned by the positive reception I received, even though I knew I had a good story, and was preparing this pitch for a lifetime. Still, I was looking for more than a stack of literary agent business cards in my wallet, representing who I had to contact, once I returned home.

I wanted to connect with an agent/publisher who intuitively “got” my work, and my compulsion to not rest, until I told my story. After my “Pitch Slam” session, I signed up for a workshop which addressed the decades-long genre-hopping phases my work went through: “How, When & Why to Switch Writing Genres.” Tightrope started as a stage play, morphed into a screenplay, and then moved into novel form—to protect the living—until the author Gay Talese advised me years earlier: “You’ve got a great non-fiction story here.” I walked into the Writer’s Digest workshop, moderated by Susan Shapiro and featuring, among others, Naomi Rosenblatt, Publisher of Heliotrope Books, and sat in the front row.

Shapiro and Rosenblatt were clear, concise and encouraging, and when Naomi said to the packed room: “A long-pitch is symptomatic of not being on top of your material. Know where you are going,” I liked her directness and clear vision of how to approach a publisher. When the panel discussion ended and the seminar room began to clear out, I went up to the front table, where Rosenblatt was fielding questions, and not limiting her time to 3-minute morsels. Still, I succinctly pitched her my story—in 15 seconds—and we connected immediately.

“I love New York stories,” Rosenblatt said. I knew I found a home for my book.

Mine was the quintessential New York story, complete with mobsters, politicians, New York media and family tension. When I returned to California in late August, I quickly sent Heliotrope Books three sample chapters, an outline and a cover letter, and our creative collaboration was underway.

Within 60 days of my brother’s death, Mario Cuomo died. I had run out of excuses for not finishing my book, and getting it to market. All of the principal characters were dead, but me. An agent/publisher loved and understood the story, and was ready to be its champion, and my publishing partner.

So, in an odd way, I owe my creative collaboration with Naomi Rosenblatt and Heliotrope Books to Writer’s Digest’s Annual Conference, but not in the usual way, although the preparation for my presentation was useful in sharpening the shorthand for my story. Among a hotel full of writers, editors, agents and publishers, I found just the right moment at the Conference where I could catch my breath, listen more carefully, and take the time I needed to discuss my work. That, and finding the right creative partner to work with, has made all the difference.

(Steve Villano, pictured above)