…in an Irish tragedy.
That was how James Carroll described the capture of mob boss Whitey Bulger.
“Whitey Bulger was a one man plague, infecting his own turf with mayhem, murder and drugs, poisoning the very streets that honored him as a protector. One mythic figure in Irish tradition is the informer who betrays his own people. That, in every way is Whitey Bulger”.
Whitey started out with quite a resume, living a life of petty crime in Boston, and graduating to serving time for armed robbery in Alcatraz. Meg was astounded when she heard that years ago, she merely thought the prison was San Francisco’s least attractive tourist attraction. (note: Meg does not like to spend her time in jail on vacation…) Nine years on the Rock, that has to do something to the psyche, no?
When Whitey got out, he went back home and promptly hooked up with the Winter Hill Gang, where bank robbery, drugs,and racketeering were the name of the game. Where the once mighty Angiulo family reigned, they now were all going down thanks to Whitey’s new found partnership with the FBI. You see, the FBI and Whitey were like best friends. Whitey turned on the Italian mob, and in exchange, he got tipped off and protected by our federal government. He had, in effect, a license to kill.
Meg remembers as a young college student, her friend dated a guy we’ll call Marcus. Marcus had leather driving gloves and a fancy sports car; he also had a giant money clip full of cash, and he never wanted you to say the name “Angiulo” too loud. Meg used to think that was kind of funny in a dopey college student way, but then one day Marcus wanted to fly Meg’s friend and Meg to Florida for a weekend jaunt. She told her friend no one does that unless they want something, and Meg suspected the jovial Marcus wanted them to carry a little something on the plane. That trip was never going to happen and Marcus disappeared into the sunset; but Meg always wondered about that whole gangster aura he had and those connections.
Throughout the 80’s and into the 90’s Whitey ruled Boston with with both an iron fist and a velvet glove. He shook down a couple that owned the South Boston liquor mart by merely walking in with brown paper bag with $67,000.00 and saying “I own the place now”.
Did you all see the movie The Departed, where Jack Nicholson played the depraved mob boss? (Meg has seen it six times. As an aside, she is grateful Martin Scorsese did not make Jack do a fake Boston accent).
Jack was a saint in the movie compared to this guy.
That went on for years until finally, federal indictments were in process and before they could be handed down, Whitey dropped off one of his girlfriends, picked up another, and skipped town for 16 years.
We here in Boston heard tales from everywhere. He was spotted in London, he was living in Louisiana, then a few weeks ago they claimed he had died in Costa Rica. Meg and her husband were in a pub about 8 or so years ago, and their bar mates happened to be some FBI agents. Amidst trading a few rounds of drinks, Meg asked “So boys, what’s the deal with Whitey?”
Needless to say, they sheepishly grinned and didn’t say much.
When the news came out he had been hiding in plain sight in a pretty Santa Monica apartment, it seemed improbable that he could not have been caught sooner. Meg is sure the story isn’t over yet; Whitey was smiling in court and asking for a public defender, and the families were there to make sure the hitman was indeed going to star in his very last act.
It’s so convoluted, tragic, and oh so very Irish.
What can we all do, except turn to Pabst drinking, cigarette smoking Jesus and just wonder how it’s all going to end? Jury duty for one intrepid blogger?