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jimgoad.net :: which is the coolest mafia?
Which is the Coolest Mafia?
When you get right down to it, “organized crime” refers to groups of criminals who weren’t well-organized enough to become governments themselves. But the fact that they don’t have to pretend they’re the Good Guys means they are free to look, talk, and dress COOL, and cool is what it’s all about.
Organized crime figures are part of almost every nation’s popular culture, and often in a romantic sense. Since they tend to be more honest than their partners in government, to wear their predatory motives on their well-tailored sleeves, they also achieve a sort of ironic Robin Hood folk-hero status rarely accorded to more “legitimate” public officials.
All Mafias are cool, but some are cooler than others. And a Mafia that’s REALLY cool to one person might not be very cool at all to another. Therefore, THIS IS NOT A CONTEST. THERE WILL BE NO WINNER SELECTED. The title “Which is the Coolest Mafia?” is merely intended to stimulate thought and discussion. I’ve given you three main contenders (the Dagos, Nips, and Russkis) plus a smattering of smaller, yet still enjoyable, Mafias. I’m not sure I have a favorite Mafia, and if I did, I sure as fuck wouldn’t tell YOU.
You decide which is coolest, and leave me out of it. Maybe your favorite Mafia isn’t mentioned here at all. You may have noticed that I’ve listed no Irish Mafia here, no Jamaican Posses, no Chinese Triads, no Cali Cartel. If you like those Mafias, I’m fucking ecstatic for you, bud. I don’t happen to think any of them are particularly cool, at least compared to the ones I’ve chosen here with my highly developed sense for what’s cool and what isn’t.
LA COSA NOSTRA
Mama mia, does the Mafia get any cooler than this? This is almost the default Mafia right here. It’s the only Mafia where you can simply say “the” Mafia, and people know which Mafia you mean. It’s the Cadillac of Mafias. It’s hard to go wrong with this Mafia. It’s a safe Mafia to choose. This Mafia is so cool, you almost want to pick another Mafia just so this Mafia doesn’t get a swelled head.
Major props (and a medium-sized shout-out) go to this Mafia for its tendency to give its members highly colorful nicknames. Peep the picturesque sobriquets accorded these big-league mobsters: Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, Benny “Eggs” Mangano, Tony “Roach” Rampino, Gaeton “Horsehead” Scafidi, Peter “Pete the Crumb” Caprio, Carmine “The Snake” Persico, John “No Nose” DiFronzo, William “Potatoes” Daddano, Ronnie “Balloon Head” DeAngelis, and Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano. If coolness were measured by cool names alone, this Mafia would already be the coolest, and we could just end the article right here!
La Cosa Nostra means “our thing” in Italian, and this loveable “Family” of goons and goombahs, of leg-breakers and cement-shoemakers, of “made men” and wiseguys, has made their thing our thing for so many years, we sometimes forget to thank them. The Italian-American mobster is imprinted into popular American mythology via The Godfather, Goodfellas, The Sopranos, and even the Budweiser “How Ya Doin’?” commercials.
SUMMARY: When one considers their sexy oaths of silence, their entertaining synonyms for “to kill” such as “to whack,” “to ice,” “to clip,” and “to tune up,” their impeccable-though-greasy fashion sense, their savagely terrifying reign of bloodlust both in Sicily and America, and their somber dedication to the Holy Roman Church, one could do a whole lot worse than to choose this Mafia as the coolest Mafia.
In Oicho-Kabu, a Japanese card game similar to blackjack, the highest score you can receive before going “bust” is 19. In Japanese, the word Yakuza is actually three numeralsya (8), ku (9), and za (3)which add up to 20, meaning a worthless card hand. The Yakuza are Japanese society’s worthless ones: the misfits, paupers, and criminals with no hope of ever fitting in, who join a “family” of other worth-less ones and proceed to TATTOO THEIR ENTIRE LITTLE YELLOW BODIES as a stark emblem of their difference.
These cats are hardcore. When a Yakuza member has disobeyed or displeased his Kumicho (the Yakuza’s equivalent of an Italian Don), he is required to slice off one of his fingertips and send it to Kumicho as an apology. He is commanded to do this every time he offends him. Jerking off becomes really difficult after a few offenses.
The Yakuza arose in the early 1600s as a reaction to the Hun-like pillaging of Japanese towns by restless, unemployed Samurai. The Yakuza were townsmen who provided protection...at a price, of course. More than perhaps any other Mafia, the Yakuza are folk heroes within their home country. They have traditionally been patriotic to the point of bald fascism. They seem to operate smoothly with Japan’s government and business sectors. Their strength ballooned in Japan’s post-WWII social morass when forced rationing by American occupational troops gave birth to a giant black market. Although their membership peaked in the early 1960s, Japan, with less than half of America’s population, still hosts more than three times as many organized crime members as the US. Some say that the Yakuza are as powerful as the Italians, if not more so.
SUMMARY: A REAL cool Mafia, but they’re really short.
THE RUSSIAN MAFIYA
Someone once summarized the difference between La Cosa Nostra and the Russian Mafiya: Piss off an Italian, and he’ll kill you; piss off a Russian, and he’ll kill you and your entire family. The Red Mafia is known for its heavy-handed shakedown tactics and its brutal torture/mutilation murders of those who’ve crossed them or refused to pay tribute.
The latter-day Russian mafioso grew out of the traditional hardcore Russian felon, or vor, who tattooed his kneecaps to show he’d bow to no man, who loyally followed a Thieves’ Code which, if broken, prescribed death for the offender.
Russian communism engendered a huge black market upon which the Red Mafia parasitically blossomed. Organized crime feasted upon the dying Soviet Union’s economy like ants on a piece of birthday cake. Aided by official corruption, the Russian Mafiya is thought by many to have become the world’s richest and most powerful organized crime group, currently operating in fifty countries. It has been estimated by Moscow’s police chief that 95% of his own officers receive Russian Mafiya bribes. Others have stated that roughly four of every five businesses in Moscow are forced to pay between ten and twenty percent of their income to the Mafiya. Some estimated that a full quarter of Russia’s Gross National Product is gobbled up by the Mafiya’s illegal activities. The Mafiya’s leader, Semion Mogilevich, has a degree in economics and has steered his minions toward lucrative schemes such as high-tech computer hacking and credit-card fraud.
There are loud murmurs that the Red Mafia also traffics in all those stray biological, chemical, and NUCLEAR weapons left scattered about after the East Bloc fell apart.
SUMMARY: All in all, it’s a pretty cool fucking Mafia!
THE DIXIE MAFIA
Southern peckerwood drug-runners and extortionists who, from 1968 to 1978, whacked more than FIVE TIMES as many victims as La Cosa Nostra did during the same period, dispassionately dumping bodies throughout Dixie’s forests and swamps. Legendary Tennessee Sheriff Buford “Walking Tall” Pusser dedicated his life to fighting the Dixie Mafia. Certain anti-government theorists claim that Bill Clinton was somehow entangled with them.
THE MEXICAN MAFIA
“La Eme” (pronounced “EM-may”), which stands for the letter “M” in Spanish, is primarily a drug cartel which controls Mexican street gangs and wields power in prisons throughout the Southwest. Actor James Edward Olmos was once threatened by the Mexican Mafia after what they felt was an unflattering portrayal of La Eme in the film American Me. Like La Cosa Nostra, you have to kill someone before you can join. Like the Yakuza, they tend to be short.
THE JEWISH MAFIA
OY, votta Mafia dis is! Primarily the brainchild of Meyer Lansky, the silently powerful Jewish Mafia (aka Kosher Mafia) should be commended for being able to keep itself out of the news better than the Eye-talians do. In addition to Daddy Lansky, the Kosher Mafia boasted other famous shtarke gangsters such as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Dutch Schultz, and Mickey Cohen. Bugsy Siegel was a murderous psychopath credited with founding Las Vegas and spawning a silly Warren Beatty movie. Jewish mafioso Arnold Rothstein fixed the 1919 World Series, resulting in the infamous Black Sox Scandal.
Note: Some anti-Semites also refer to the modern Russian Mafiya, since its ranks are said to be largely composed of Russian Jews, as the “Jewish Mafia.”
Urban-contemporary musical combo composed of now-dead super-chub walleyed rapper Notorious B.I.G. and oversexed minx Li’l Kim, among others.
A flock of “alienated” Colorado Goth kids, two of whom in 1999 smoked over a dozen high-school classmates in a violent eruption of anti-jock rage, giving hope to nerds and misfits everywhere.
THE NEW YORK LITERARY MAFIA
Bad writers blame their lack of success on this group.
THE MEMPHIS MAFIA
The moniker given to a core group of Elvis “The King” Presley’s friends and confidants from 1956 until his death in 1977.
THE GAY MAFIA
Just try getting ahead in the fashion industry without them, OK? Just TRY it.