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:)


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.”


Authors Ken Auletta, Gay Talese & William Kennedy Lead Chorus of Praise for “Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother.”




Multi-state tour continues as Heliotrope author Steve Villano addresses major national conference

NEW YORK, NY. – Legendary writers Ken Auletta, Gay Talese &William Kennedy—who have published more than 40 book among them—have offered their kudos for Tightrope, agreeing with fellow author Peter Quinn (Banished Children of Eve, and the Fintan Dunnetrilogy) that Steve Villano’s book Tightrope: Balancing a Life BetweenMario Cuomo & My Brother “is a triumph!”

Kennedy, whose book Ironweed won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, attended Villano’s book reading at The Book House in Albany,NY, praising Tightrope as a “fine book.” Talese, Villano’s mentor on his non-fiction story going back 25 years, expressed his “congratulations on the completion of Tightrope, after years of dedication.”

And Ken Auletta, the author of five national bestsellers, and the writer of The New Yorker’s “Annals of Communications” since 1992, offered this high praise for Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo and My Brother:

“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

Villano’s book is being called “riveting” and 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.

The author has done a series of book readings and appearances across six states at book stores, universities, public libraries, house parties and hotels, and will begin a second national book tour this month where Villano will talk about Tightrope on Long Island, NY, in New York City, Philadelphia, North Carolina, Maryland and Washington, DC. The book tour will culminate at the 50th Annual Italian American Studies Association Conference in Washington, DC, where Villano has been invited to read from Tightrope, on Friday, November 3.

Just as the Heliotrope author embarks upon his new book tour which brings Villano to NYC during the Columbus Day weekend, Barnes & Noble purchased hundreds of copies of Tightrope for its bookstores throughout New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. Barnes & Noble’s Founder and Chairman Leonard Riggio is the Grand Marshall of this year’s Columbus Day parade being held in NYC. The book is also available on BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com.

The Italian American Studies Association conference at which Villano has been invited to 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 is expecting hundreds of attendees, is being held in Washington, DC, November 2-4. Its theme is: Faith, (Ir)reverence, and the Italian Diaspora: FiftyYears of Italian American Studies.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to address academics from EthnicStudies 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.”

Former Newsday Vice-President Chiara Coletti has underscored Tightrope’s importance to the Italian-American experience:

“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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: STEVE VILLANO, a native of Brooklyn, NewYork, 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’s Education. His essays have been published on-line on the WritersDigest.com, www.thenationalmemo.com, with a subscription of 300,000; on Medium.com., and on his blog, Radical Correspondence, (www.socialvisionproductions.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, JohnTurturro, 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.


BOOK NEWS • October 1, 2017 For Galleys, Review Copies, or to interview the author, contact: Naomi Rosenblatt, heliotropebooks@gmail.com, 212-674-0008

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


Deranged Dotard Donald Descends Deeper into Delusional Madness


Every fall, which corresponds with Rosh Hashanah, we Jews take an assessment of our lives and of the world around us. We ask ourselves “Who Will Live? Who Will Die?” and what will be the manner of our death.


This September, 2017, it’s appropriate to pause and assess the erratic and dangerous behavior of the individual in charge of the largest nuclear arsenal in world history, and how it effects the lives of billions of human beings.


In the past week, as Robert Mueller has aggressively stepped up his investigation vs. The Garbage Pail-in Chief and his Garbage Flies (aka, Manafort, Flynn, Donald Trump, Jr., et al), the Deranged Dotard Donald has further provoked his fellow lunatic leading North Korea as “Rocketman.”


He has threatened Nuclear annihilation of a member nation of the UN from the podium of the General Assembly — a first in the 70 year history of the United Nations.


He has again trashed a true American Patriot, John McCain, who actually fought in a US War, rather than imagining that he did by going to military school and dressing in a prep-school uniform.


He has called an NFL player quietly exercising his Constitutionally protected Right to Free Expression a “Son-of-a-bitch,” and has dis-invited the World Champion Golden State Warriors to the White House, despite the fact that the great Steph Curry and his teammates said they want no part of the flaming racist who thinks WHITE HOUSE should be taken to mean “WHITE SUPREMACISTS” House.


So a few facts to place things in perspective:

1. As the legal & investigative straight-jacket tightens around him, Deranged Dotard Donald is flailing out at everyone, despite the fact that he controls more nuclear missiles than anyone in the history of the earth;


2. Deranged Dotard Donald has defended the Confederate Flag and its monuments to racism which are direct insults to the American Flag, and to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have fought for freedom against facism and murderous fanaticism over the centuries, and to tens of millions of Black Americans to whom the Confederate Flag symbolized hatred, slavery and death.


3. Deranged Dotard Donald has no problem defending the “SEIG HEIL” salute or the Swastika — direct insults to my father, my wife’s uncle and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who fought or died battling the Nazi’s and Anti-Semites in World War II. Trump’s defense of the Nazis and Anti-Semites of today is a knee to the groin of all Veterans of foreign wars, of all Jews and to the memories of the millions annihilated by hate.


4. Deranged Dotard Donald has never gotten over his rejection by NFL owners to become one of them, and purchase an NFL team. Trump’s rejection lead him to run to the failed USFL, another expensive & flamboyant TRUMP Failure, which of course, he still blames on the NFL owners.


5. The TRUMPS have always acted out their hatred of Black people. The father, Fred Trump, was arrested at an anti-Black, anti-Jew, anti-Italian, anti-Immigrant KKK Rally in Queens, NY, 90 Years ago. Both Fred & Donald were nailed by the Federal Government for discriminating against Blacks in their housing complexes — built with Federal funds. Deranged Dotard Donald hates Mexicans (including Mexican Judges), and he especially cannot stomach Black people with more money than he actually has, like Barack Obama, Steph Curry, Stevie Wonder and LeBron James.


Some food for thought as we start the Jewish New Year and take stock of our lives.

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.