I write mostly about counterculture history and conspiracy theory and I’ve just collected the best of my conspiracy reports into a new ebook and you can download from Amazon, iTunes or Smashwords. It’s a fun and easy read and provides a valuable introduction to the machinations of some powerful secret societies. When people say “I don’t believe in secret societies” just show them this book and watch their eyes go wide. You can instantly gift the 20% excerpt to anyone for free.
Of course, there’s a lot of nonsense written on this subject, but I try to stick with the facts. There have always been secret societies and by now they must be part of our DNA. However, only a handful of these societies become what I call “brotherhoods of death.” These are those few societies willing to apply murder to advance their agendas. You can find that sort of club at any level of society, from the immigrant cultures arriving penniless from Europe, to the elaborate temples of the Eastern Establishment, epitomized by Yale’s Skull & Bones society.
The Sicilian men of honor society was transplanted along with the waves of Italian immigrants that entered North America from the 1840s and on, but it did not surface in the public eye until a New Orleans chief-of-police fingered dagoes as his assassins shortly before dying in 1890.
An initial wave of anti-Italian mafia paranoia took place around the turn of the century. Meanwhile, working quietly behind the scenes, this brotherhood of death established a national Commission of Peace, which held authority over replacing family heads, as well as a general assembly of several hundred made members, which was to be held once every four or five years. They also created an initiation ritual involving a human skull pierced by a stiletto upon which drops of fresh blood were dripped during the ceremony. This was all in place by the early 1900s and continues today in some form, although the skull was soon replaced by burning paper saints. The Commission was created to prevent outbreaks of violence like New Orleans, where two Sicilian clans started fighting over who was going to unload fruit from Italian-American owned ships, resulting in the death of that police chief.
The society was criminal from the start. In fact, counterfeiting provided the initial wave of capital, the profits of which could be invested to grow legitimate businesses, like shipping and olive oil. Another source of income was murder. Since this society was, in fact, a brotherhood of death, and drew its initial power from its masters of the art of the stiletto, these talents were for sale, although revolvers and sawed-off shotguns soon replaced the knife as the preferred instrument of death.
There were clans everywhere, but the main families were in New York, New Orleans and Ohio-Pennsylvania. If a member committed a murder in one town, the Commission just moved that person to another town. There was very little coordination of police activity and no central FBI. In other words, for many years, the Sicilians were more organized than the police.
In 1969, Joe Valachi became the first member to break omerta and live to tell about it. Joe was a trigger-man, a street level enforcer with zero access to the inner core of the society, so the picture he painted was the image held by most people at his level. Valachi was not Sicilian, by the way, which made him an outsider of sorts.
Don Peppino’s son was the first insider to talk, and a slew of books followed, until, eventually, the great Don wrote his own story, a masterpiece and the best mob book ever written, although it gets little credit today. The book is called Man of Honor by Joseph Bonanno.
Francis Ford Coppola got The Godfather project dropped in his lap shortly after Valachi testified, which is what got the whole mafia ball rolling again. So many people were amazed such a powerful secret society could remain hidden for such a long time. The first post-Valachi mob films bombed, including one with Kurt Douglas. None of these films conveyed the spirit of Italian life. Coppola blew that spirit into his film with the scenes involving major family ceremonies.
The march of history is actually orchestrated through alliances and conflicts between secret societies like the men of honor. The social register operates much the same way as the Sicilian brotherhood, in that it has chapters located throughout the major cities, all of which hold regular ceremonies. The listings contain 30,000 names and each member belongs to numerous societies and clubs, all of which are notated in brief initials hard for outsiders to even decipher. This is the old money society and it would be absurd and naive to think they would not have their own secret brotherhoods of death embedded into their cultures, well hidden somewhere way in the background. In fact, Skull & Bones at Yale might be a primary example. The social register is aligned primarily with the House of Lords, so there’s another brotherhood of death to bring into the circle of influence. And lately, the Mossad has emerged as the deadliest and most effective of all the brotherhoods of death, so there’s another secret society to bring into our current circle of influence. All these secret societies are cooking up profit schemes all the time because the only real rule is big dog eats first.
If you understand the men of honor, you begin to understand how similar brotherhoods exist in other levels of society. These societies are interacting over who gets the most skim, while making every effort to insure their children inherit the worlds they command.
I love Coppola’s film, which had a powerful psychic influence around the world, as big as Wizard of Oz or Star Wars. In fact, it almost instantly rearranged the mob leader from evil to good in the initial wedding scene, a masterpiece of pro-mafia propaganda, in which the Godfather declines to do murder for hire, but he will beat up this guy up for free if you promise to be his friend, call him Godfather, and kiss his ring like he’s the Pope.
Coppola was a real outsider however, working almost exclusively with Valachi’s testimony and Mario Puzo’s potboiler novel. He mixed up details from all the five families and turned Valachi into Salvatore Tessio, a caporegime leader of his own clan, who commits an honorable suicide to preserve his family’s standing with the Commission. That, my friends, is not the real story of Valachi, a thug who spent the remaining short years of his life in prison fighting for his life and even killing an innocent dude he suspected of being his assassin. Yes, the real story is not so glamorous as Coppola painted it.
Someday maybe we’ll get the real story on other brotherhoods of death, all of which carry a terrible psychic toll on members. Arranging murder is a toxic endeavor that pollutes the soul. Although our culture glamorizes these societies, they never show the PTSD, or the spiritual degeneration. It only took 120 years before someone inside the men of honor society revealed their hidden structure. Since Skull & Bones began around the same time, I wonder how long we’ll have to wait for a whistleblower to emerge from within that culture?
I didn’t post a blog yesterday on 9/11. Instead I watched the survivors’ memorial from Ground Zero, thankfully free from politics this year (although I could have lived without a stern policeman’s face between all reader’s of the names). The bell ringing and silence at moment of impact is a fine ritual. I carry much grief from that day, especially since I was in New York City, and, although I lost no personal friends, I shared the grief that consumed the city.
In the wheel of life, the same basic dramas get played out over and over by every generation, although once in a while a giant wave probably appears, some intense uptick (or downtick) in energy, like what happened in Congo Square in the 1800’s, for example.
While Skull & Bones and the Sicilian “men of honor” were just creating their Brotherhoods of Death, black African slaves from French plantations on Haiti were mingling with Native Americans to create the foundations of blues, jazz, rock’n’roll and hip hop and create a culture free from racism. Ceremonies from both sides transformed this country, although in much different ways and the two sides have been in conflict almost from birth, as when Harry Anslinger went after the jazz musicians, or J. Edgar Hoover went after the hippies.
When you run a power center that has existed for hundreds of generations, you probably get a better feel for the generational ups and downs in energy that take place, as well as the impacts of war and other disasters. Isn’t it strange those slaves were brought in to create the world’s sugar cartel, the first white powder drug to rearrange the global balance of power (but not the last)? Another strange reality: those two brotherhoods of death actually conspired together to create an explosion of heroin and cocaine into America, another rearranging of the world’s balance of profits.
I find it odd so many Americans refuse to accept the reality that 9/11 was a huge op, involving many intelligence agencies, and we desperately need a new investigation to clear the country’s karma. Certainly there is no down side to such an investigation, although I’m sure every effort will be made to compromise it before it even starts. Refuge and protection for all the whistle-blowers who have suffered so far for coming forward and refusing to tow the government line would be a step in the right direction.
But what’s really needed is a new generation that wants to turn away from the violence that permeates our culture. When hippies become respected cultural icons and Obama invites Stephen & Ina May Gaskin to the White House, you’ll know we’re headed in the right direction. Just to see some hippie activists get treated with respect for a change (instead of being ignored) would do a world of good in helping inspire a new hippie generation.
And before I stir up all you punks out there, let me school you on something: The punk generation always had a left and a right, and the left side were hippies in punk outfits, just like Joe Strummer eventually admitted. The original punk is not Legs McNeil. In my town, his name was Jim Cole, founder of the greatest garage band in the state, The Finchley Boys.
But the real reason I wrote this blog is to answer the question: how could people in the government be so evil as to let thousands of innocent Americas die? For people that stage war for profit, the deaths of civilians or military forces has never been a consideration, why would this generation be any different? Trillions of dollars were involved in 9/11: Federal Reserve securities were destroyed, massive insider trading went down. For someone making a few billion dollars that day, you really think the deaths of a few peasants, useless eaters, makes any difference if it helps cover up the crimes? To me, those victims were like the people left to suffocate in the tombs created to hide the trillion dollars in stolen gold after WWII, the money nobody ever talks about, money that was captured by Skull & Bones, and used to foment changes that could be mined for profit around the world, and maybe even help foster a violent, dumbed-down culture easily hoodwinked and led to war by a transparent false-flag operation. Imagine if that trillion dollars had been used in a positive manner, to help the starving, uneducated masses of the world. What a different place this would be. And you know something, a new investigation of 9/11 just might blow the lid on the Black Eagle Fund scam that’s been going on.
Oscar Durante, publisher of a Chicago newspaper, exploded: “This is all sheer nonsense, stupidity, imbecility! Every time a drunken row among Italians occurs, the people and press cry ‘Mafia! There is no such organization and never was!'”
In the late-1800s, a conspiracy theory was born that a brotherhood of death headquartered in Sicily had been installed in every major American city, a theory that was laughed at by most, but did result in eight Sicilians being lynched in New Orleans in the 1890s, another three in 1896, and five more in 1899. Meanwhile, there were outbreaks of mafia “paranoia” in Denver in 1892, Milwaukee in 1897, and San Francisco in 1898. The New York Times dubbed the organization the “most secret and terrible in the world,” and had no doubt of its existence in 1898. If you want to read about the real origins of the Sicilian “men of honor,” (which go back further than most people realize) The First Family by Mike Dash is a great place to start.
A pretty spooky ritual was reported by one who decided to back out at the last minute. According to court testimony in New Orleans, inductees took a blood oath to commit murder on request of this order and did not become full-fledged members until such murder had been committed. This oath was sworn on a human skull with a stiletto driven through it. The stiletto, in fact, was a huge icon for the order and usually the preferred instrument of death. The induction ritual revolved around pricking blood from an inductee to sprinkle on the skull. In later years, the skull was replaced by the picture of a saint, which would be burned after being bloodied. But none of this would come out for decades, and in the early 1900s, most Americans viewed the mafia as a kooky conspiracy theory, and by the mid-1900s, this secret society was a forgotten thing.
Holy cow! You mean there really was a brotherhood of death that took control of immense power in North America through selective murders? Imagine that.
Now some people say there is an even more powerful brotherhood of death, one that manufactures ritual on a much grander scale. The stiletto has been replaced by C-4. This brotherhood of death is a German society with a chapter at Yale University known popularly as “Skull & Bones.” And wouldn’t you know it, the Bonesmen swear an oath on a human skull, just like the ritual that launched their somewhat less-well-heeled Italian cousins? Some people say Skull & Bones helped foment all our world wars, played both sides for profit, and then set-up Communism. Doesn’t get much more kooky than that, eh? But then, there’s a book by Antony Sutton that actually provides the evidence to prove those bold statements? Only that book never got reviewed by any media outlet and Sutton died practically unknown.
That’s the thing about brotherhoods of death. They work! When you go as deep into the dark side as you can travel, you finally arrive at the door of the brotherhood of death because there is nothing darker than murder. Probably your first will be difficult beyond belief because instincts scream out against it. Eventually, however, you learn to enjoy this ritual and take energy from the souls of the recently departed.
And if you think this darkside is something small and not well populated, well, think again. Every soldier swears an oath to commit murder on command. Why else would they carry a weapon? Every drill instructor is a dark magician implanting sigils into their recruits. Every jihadist is a member of this order, as is every crusader. I’d have to say dark and light are pretty well balanced, and dark seems to have the upper hand these days, although I would not have said that in 1968.
This world of light and dark is crisscrossed with thousands of secret societies, most of which have little power or influence. The brotherhoods of death, however, quickly achieve immense power simply because they are willing to fight to win by any means necessary. And it’s so easy to sheep-dip yourself as a goodie-two-shoes, while keeping your order and its dark secrets way hidden in the background. Just ask Warren Buffet or G.W. Bush. They know the real story and could probably help lead you to where some of the bodies are buried.
Albert Pike and Abraham Lincoln were both lawyers, and both played key roles in the Civil War, although on opposite sides and deploying much different tactics. Along with fellow Freemason John Brown (who was supported in his efforts to spark the Civil War by the founder of Skull & Bones), Pike was a terrorist leader, only instead of rallying blacks he rallied Native Americans to attack and plunder Union settlements. Lincoln may have won the war, but Pike won the peace.
Pike was a great spook you see, and surely had deep connections into a secret society called “Knights of the Golden Circle,” of which John Wilkes Booth (a spook himself) may have been a member, as well as Jesse James. Pike was the most influential Freemason in the history of American Freemasonry, and designed 30 initiation rituals for the advanced degrees he created inside Freemasonry, investing great ceremonial magic into the culture, which he soon dominated as its American Grand Master. Here is how the indispensable Ten Thousand Famous Freemasons describes him (most entries are two or three sentences, while his is among the most extensive):
Albert Pike (1809-1891) Lawyer, poet, soldier, adventurer, author and 8th Grand Commander of the Southern Supreme Council, AASR. b. Dec. 29, 1809 in Boston, Mass. He entered Harvard in 1826, but financial problems prevented the completion of his education. Nevertheless, he became one of the leading intellectuals of that era by self-education. After a time as principal of a school in Newburyport, Mass., he set out for the partially explored regions of the West, traveling by stage to Cincinnati; by steamer to Nashville; on foot to Paducah; by keel-boat down the Ohio; by steamer up the Mississippi; and in 1831 he left with a caravan of ten wagons as one of a party of 40 men under Capt. Charles Bent, q.v., en route from St. Louis to Santa Fe. He arrived at Taos on Nov. 10, 1831, having walked 500 miles from the Cimarron River, where his horse ran away. He remained at Santa Fe until Sept., 1832, and then started with a party down the Pecos River and into the Staked Plain, to the headwaters of the Brazos. Pike, with four others, then made their way to Fort Smith, Ark. Here he again took up the teaching profession, and in 1833 became associate editor of the Arkansas Advocate, purchasing the paper a year later. He then took up the study of law, and being admitted to the bar, sold the paper. In 1839 he contributed to Blackwood’s Magazine, a poem, Hymns to the Gods, which established him as a poet of reputation. As a lawyer, he was recognized throughout the Southwest. In the Mexican War, he was commissioned a captain of cavalry in Archibald Yell’s, q.v., regiment. After Yell’s death, Pike had several differences of opinion with the new commander, which resulted in a bloodless duel between them, but ended his cavalry career. For the next few years he divided his time between the law and his writing, and his residence between New Orleans and Little Rock. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he cast his lot with the Confederacy, and was named Indian agent and brigadier general of the area, which included the Indian Territory. Once again he differed with his superiors, and when accused of insubordination, he resigned, serving the rest of the war period as a judge of the Arkansas superior court. He practiced law in Memphis, Tenn. for two years before moving to Washington, D.C. at the beginning of his term as sovereign grand commander of the Southern Jurisdiction AASR. He was raised in Western Star Lodge No. 2, Little Rock, Ark in Aug., 1850, when he was 40. Two years later (Nov. 4, 1852), he became charter member and first master of Magnolia Lodge No. 60, Little Rock. On Oct. 4, 1880 he affiliated with Pentalpha Lodge No. 23, Washington, D.C. While in Arkansas he served on many grand lodge committees, including Masonic Law and Usage; Foreign Correspondence; Library; By-Laws, and was a trustee, and subsequently president, of St. John’s College, established by that grand lodge. Exalted in Union Chapter No. 2, R.A.M. of Little Rock, Nov. 29, 1850, he became the first grand scribe of the Grand Chapter of Arkansas, and grand high priest in 1853-54. He was first commander of Hugh de Paynes Commandery No. 1, K.T. of Little Rock. Received the R. & S.M. degrees in Columbia Chapter, R.A.M., of Washington, D.C. On March 20, 1853 he received the AASR (SJ) degrees, 4°-32° at Charleston, S. Car, from Albert G. Mackey, q.v., and received the 33° in New Orleans in 1857. The following year he was elected an active member, and sovereign grand commander (Jan. 3, 1859). In this position he did much for that rite. As one has said, “He found the Scottish Rite in a cabin and left it in a temple.” He rewrote the AASR ritual, as well as many Masonic books, including Morals and Dogma. d. April 2, 1891, and is buried in the House of the Temple, Washington, D.C.
Although Freemasonry began as a haven for the enlightenment, spreading the doctrine of liberty, equality and fraternity (while often secretly plotting an end to royalty and religion), it would appear that royalty and religion got their meat-hooks into Freemasonry fairly early in the game. The secret societies in Europe engaged in hidden vendettas and secret warfare for centuries, and almost none of this activity has ever surfaced in the mainstream. Many lodges began to wonder what hidden machinations might lurk in the minds of their Masonic masters, or which side they truly represented. The two major combatants in historical secret society warfare are supposed to be the Jesuits and the Freemasons, one side controlled by the Vatican and created the Illuminati, while the other became rules by the English House of Lords, although the English Grand Masters always held a slippery hold on their connected lodges around the world, many of which were packed with the leading business people and intellectuals of their respective locales. And then, of course, France created its own form of masonry, as the English were never trusted. In design and execution, the Freemasons and the Sicilian men-of-honor are not very far apart, although the masons have been celebrated for their good works, while adeptly hiding their evil intentions, while just the opposite is true for the Sicilians. In reality, however, many of those Sicilians got their inroads with local politicians and judges by becoming Freemasons, and masonic temples were the place where people of all faiths and walks of life can meet knowing all their conversations will remain secret. Masons, after all, are pledged to secrecy and to assist each other whenever possible, a bond of brotherhood as strong as any on earth. The Illuminati may have been a Jesuit conspiracy to infect masonry from within, and I say that because the University that created the Illuminati was run by Jesuits, who realized early on that controlling education was the key to molding the future. So it’s possible the Vatican and House of Lords conspired to foment the bloody French Revolution.
Likewise, the separation of a recently-formed United States into two warring factions was quite possibly instigated by the same forces. London and the Vatican have employed spooks around the globe for just this purpose for centuries. The terrorist who helped spark the war, John Brown, was supported by William H. Russell, heir to the Russell opium fortune and founder of Yale’s Order of Skull & Bones, and you can trace a line from Skull & Bones to Illuminati central in Bavaria. What complicates matters is the Illuminati was founded by lay professor at a Jesuit university and recruited primarily through Freemasonry.
John Brown (1800-1859) American abolitionist fanatic, regarded by some northern sympathizers as a martyr. Brown’s cause was glorified by the famous marching song, John Brown’s Body. He was a Freemason who later turned anti-Mason. b. May 9, 1800, he was executed on Dec. 2, 1859 in Charlestown, Va. From 1856 on, he was obsessed with the idea of abolishing slavery by force. When a pro-slavery massacre occurred at Lawrence, Kans., Brown killed five slavery adherents at Pottawatomie, Kans. in retaliation. He next made a heroic stand at Osawatomie, Kans. against a raid by pro-slavery forces from Missouri. He conceived a plan of establishing a new state as a refuge for negroes. With help from Massachusetts abolitionists, he seized the government arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Va. in 1859, intending the action as a signal for a general insurrection of slaves. Overpowered and convicted of treason, he was hanged Dec. 2, 1859. Brown was raised in Hudson Lodge No. 68, Hudson, Ohio, on May 11, 1824, serving as junior deacon in 1825-26. His uncle was the first master of the lodge. Shortly after 1826 he moved to Pennsylvania and with the anti-Masonic movement, he renounced Freemasonry and continued to do so on every possible occasion. His son, John Brown, Jr. became a Freemason and was buried with Masonic honors. His daughter, Sarah, once told a biographer that Brown had stated that “the forms of the initiatory ceremonies of the Masons struck him as silly,” and in a negro newspaper Brown wrote, “another of the few errors of my life is that I have joined the Freemasons, Oddfellows, Sons of Temperance, and a score of other secret societies instead of seeking the company of intelligent, wise and good men.”
Lincoln got to the Presidency by becoming the favorite lawyer of the railroads, many of whom were deeply indebted to the Rothschilds, although they would soon transform into The Robber Barons, so you have to wonder what did that transformation do for the European banks that bankrolled their operations. The Civil War assisted the rise of J.P. Morgan, who dominated post-war banking, along with seven or eight others and they eventually merged their fortunes to create the American International Corporation, which soon birthed hundreds of companies to buy whatever resources were available worldwide. One of these was United Fruit Company.
Pike’s racism rivaled Hitler’s and he was a founding Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He may have lynched a few unfortunate black men in his time, so deep was his hated of the darker races, although, strangely, he became a best friend to Native America, winning lawsuits for stolen lands, and bringing some tribes into the Civil War on the side of the South as their commanding General, although his meager military victories were eclipsed by his poetry (which was quite popular at the time and well-reviewed by many scholars). His nearly impenetrable book, Morals and Dogma, is filled with the most blatant thefts, lifting freely from a wide variety of sources without bothering to re-phrase a single word, all to create the illusion of his encyclopedic knowledge of the occult and Eastern spirituality.
Most of the stolen material came from one source, Eliphas Levi, who’d been initiated into ceremonial magic by the British Rosicrucians, a German secret society that began during the Reformation by claiming access to phony ancient secrets. A Frenchman, Levi was on his way to becoming a Catholic Priest when he got sidetracked by paganism and took the name of a Jew. His biggest legacy was the creation of our modern Tarot cards.
Far as I know, only one author has accused Pike of being a secret British agent, and that would be Anton Chaitkin of the Lyndon LaRouche organization. Anton paints Pike as a Satanist, glutton and human monster incarnate, ignoring the fact Pike was actually considered one of the most gracious and well-mannered gentlemen of his time by many of those who came into contact with him.
The LaRouche organization has picked up where the John Birch Society left off, creating a wide swath of disifno all based on real conspiracy theory, but leading off into one rabbit hole or another. Just enough real info to make the disinfo go down the unsuspecting gullet. So I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions based on what a LaRouchite would have to say. Also, keep in mind LaRouche himself, is a Grand Master in French Freemasonry, a fact he never tries to conceal. Not to mention the John Birch Society was founded by Freemasons and members of the Council on Foreign Relations. In controlled dialectics, the fox is always put in charge of the hen house. Notice the Birch Society was organized similar to the masonic lodges, with 40-50 members in each cell, their identities kept completely secret. They are famous for having high-ranking masons and Mormons in their ranks.
If the Civil War was fomented to prevent Philadelphia from eclipsing London as the center of global finance, that feat has to be one of the greatest undercover mission impossibles of all time. And notice the American banking center shifted during the War to Wall Street.
But that’s the way spooks play their games. If there’s going to be a social movement against whatever you’re doing, it’s best if you secretly create and orchestrate that movement against yourself right away so that it never does any unintended damage to your personal fortune.
If you want to read more about Pike, Robert Guffey has published an entertaining book, Cryptoscatology:Conspiracy Theory as Art Form (Trine Day.) Although an admittted 32nd Degree Mason, Duffey presents a balanced portrait and has a lot of interesting material in his book. The best thing about his work is he maintains a sense of humor through-out.
One tidbit I almost forgot to mention: Pike was charged with treason after the Civil War and because he’d used the Indian tribes to foment terror against the North, he might have even been hanged had Lincoln lived. Fortunately for Pike, as one of his first acts as President, Andrew Johnson awarded the Supreme Master Mason and Magus a complete pardon for all his war crimes. Pike went from hiding out in Canada in fear for his life, to being accorded full masonic ceremonies inside the White House, recognizing his prowess in the occult. The incoming President Andrew Johnson, was, after all, a devout Freemason, and, as such, he considered Albert Pike as his guiding authority in all things mystical.
Most people think the mafia was first exposed in 1957, when hundreds of members were discovered meeting at a private estate in Appalachia, New York. Until then, FBI Director Hoover claimed essentially there was no “organized crime” in America, while concentrating most of his efforts harassing communists and pot-smoking jazz musicians. However, a little research quickly reveals that story is a fantasy. In fact, the mafia was named and identified before the turn-of-the-century, long before Hoover arrived on the scene. The “mafia” became a household word in 1888, after the murder of newly-appointed New Orleans police chief David Hennessy.
“The dagoes did it” mumbled the police chief before dying. People today have no idea of the racism that confronted the average Italian immigrant in those days. Even in a melting pot like New Orleans, Italians were not trusted nor respected by the average white citizen. At the time, unloading the banana boats was considered the worst work on the wharfs, reserved for the lowliest of stevedores, the Italians. At first, the Provenzano family controlled fruit unloading in New Orleans, but soon a rival group, the Matranga family, greatly undercut their prices and hired away their foreman, Jim Caruso. One night, the Matgrangas were attacked by some Italians with shotguns and the Provanzanos were arrested and put on trial, which ended in mistrial.
Days before the second trial was set to begin, Hennessey was murdered. A mass roundup of Italians took place, with representatives of both clans being jailed as they each pointed fingers at each other, claiming the other side was involved in a secret brotherhood of death, the mafia, with representatives in major cities across North America.
Problem is, no one could figure out which side was telling the truth.
And Hennessy had a very complicated history. He’d executed former police chief-of-aids Thomas Devereaux with a bullet to the back of the head, a murder witnessed by many but ultimately forgiven because Devereaux had just shot his cousin Mike, who’d later be found executed anyway. In 1881, the two Hennessy cousins pinched Giuseppe Esposito in New Orleans. Esposito was wanted in Sicily and is considered one of the earliest of the mafios to migrate to North America. But Hennessy belonged to a working man’s social club with both rival clans, and seems to have been sincerely trying to negotiate a truce between them.
Most of the testimony about the mafia would quickly be forgotten, however. One thing Sam Giancana used to say: if you want to know the killer, look for who survives. (Using this logic, his brother Chuck believes Santos Trafficante accepted the hit that killed his brother Sam, and even thinks Johnny Roselli pulled that trigger, as he had just defected from the Giancana outfit. I believe William Harvey is Giancana’s real killer, however. Roselli did clean-up work after the assassination, and told several people he was one of the shooters. And when Congress began investigating, both were soon dead within a few days of each other. Similar, in fact, to what occurred with Hennessey.
Employing Giancana’s logic, the Matranga family represented the real mafia, since they eventually morphed into Carlos Marcello’s well-connected outfit. So even though a Sicilian family was already installed on the docks of the Big Easy, they were swiftly pushed aside by a better-connected group that devastated wages being paid to Italian stevedores, cutting their daily pay almost in half.
But after this murder of the chief, innocent victims from both clans were shot, beaten, dragged and hanged in the streets of New Orleans by a howling, blood-thirsty mob. The best book on the subject The Crescent City Lynchings was written by Tom Smith. I particularly enjoyed reading the testimony of Joe Provenzano, as he described the initiation ceremony as told to him by his ex-foreman Caruso. At the time, there already was a national Murder Incorporated, operating across the country, and, apparently, the price for murder wasn’t even that high. And the ceremony for the made men wasn’t all that different from the one Joe Bonnano would undergo in New York City forty years later. When Hoover took power at the Department of Justice, however, he dismissed all this talk as unfounded conspiracy theory. Makes you wonder what Hoover was really up to, doesn’t it? Especially since the Sicilians were helpful in pushing the Communists out of the labor movement, just as the Matrangas pushed out the Provenzanos.
Unlike some immigrant cultures, the Sicilians clung together after immigration and kept their tribes united, even in the New World. They did not join the local political machines, but preferred to create their own. The Sicilians were so tight, in fact, that soon after establishing their communities, the most respected leaders took steps to organize on a national level. Eventually, they set-up a “Commission of Peace” to deal with conflicts like the one that had broken out in New Orleans. But in 1888 that commission was not yet functioning. And the Sicilians always broke down to one of two styles: the first rooted in the working class poor “Black Hand” extortion societies, and the other based on the landed, old money traditions and their concepts of honor and revenge. The former tended to get involved with prostitution and drugs while being completely ruthless, while the later preferred gambling and alcohol and a code of ethics that kept the animals under control.
After the Hennessey murder trial failed to convict a single murderer, however, New Orleans demanded street justice. Around 250 Italians had been rounded up, including members of both families. Eventually, a grand jury indicted 19 people, nine of whom were immediately put on trial for the murder, but the prosecution was filled with obvious perjuries and the trial ended in acquittals for all. A mob led by William Parkinson and the town blue bloods marched on the jail, busted through a wall and savagely beat, shot, dragged and lynched 11 Italians, most of whom had already been found not-guilty or acquitted and several of whom were clearly not involved in the crime. “The Italians have taken the law into their own hands, and we had no choice but to do the same,” explained Mayor Shakespeare after the savagery was over. But in 1892, President Benjamin Harrison ordered the payment of $25,000 to each of the families of the victims who were Italian citizens.
Meanwhile, in the early 1900s, the New York Police created a special undercover Italian squad to investigate the Sicilians in New York, led by Joe Petrosino. The police knew almost nothing about the inner workings of these families, so strong was the rule of omerta. Petrosino undertook a fatal mission to Sicily in an attempt to find out whether the North American families were, in fact, taking orders from Sicily. He was murdered soon after arrival, creating yet another intense wave of anti-Italian sentiment in America.
These two murders, in fact, were the reason the Sicilians set up a Commission of Peace in the first place and it was also the reason why they put a ban on the murder of policemen and politicians (a ban that held until Giancana and Roselli accepted an offer from William Harvey to assassinate JFK). After Don Peppino (Joseph Bonnano), the most respected of the Sicilian godfathers, heard about the JFK assassination he was deeply troubled and felt nothing like that could have happened had the Commission been able to hold firm. After all, Peppino had successfully thwarted Dutch Schultz’s plot to murder crusading prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, which would have provoked an all-out war with the establishment. The Commission wasn’t just about organizing criminal enterprises, it was about protecting their fellow Italians from racism and preserving their unique cultural identity.
Law enforcement has long been obsessed with finding the Capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses), even though that position seldom existed except in fantasies. Even though the clans were organized in Sicily as an underground army to resist their invading oppressors, the families were run mostly as private fiefdoms and did not interfere with each other. When a New York don attempted to anoint himself Capo di tutti capi, he was typically assassinated by rivals. Giancana eventually evolved into the closest thing to Capo di tutti capi, just based on the reach of the Chicago outfit.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that insiders began to reveal how the clans operated internally. The film “The Godfather” was one of the first peeks inside the culture, but Puzzo was not a true insider and that book and film are rife with false rumors. A better picture began to emerge after several books were published by members of the Bonnano family. Don Peppino had led the opposition to drug dealing and supported a ban on both prostitution and drug dealing that was routinely ignored throughout the culture. But the young Turks running the newer families wanted the drug money, and they plotted against Don Peppino, eventually attempting to assassinate his son, who had been put in charge of the family’s day-to-day operations after the Don moved to Arizona to escape what he called “The Volcano” (New York City). His son had been raised in Arizona, attending private schools and ROTC and he was not really accepted by some of the street thugs. Persecution of the Bonannos, the most respected family, led to the breakdown of omerta and the Commission of Peace. Reading Don Peppino’s book (A Man of Honor), the best book of the bunch, one can’t help but feel there are good and bad elements in both cultures, and after retiring, Don Peppino was hounded by some of the worst elements in the FBI until his death. The FBI attempted to turn almost every friend he made out west into a secret informer against him. Don Peppino was like an old gunslinger trying to retire but young bucks (from both cultures) wanted to make a name for themselves and wouldn’t let him. One of these was named Rudy Guiliani, who used the book to prove the existence of a Mafia Commission and successfully put the heads of the Five Families of New York in jail, using the book as a blueprint of who to go after. Despite this, Don Peppino lived long enough to die of old age at age 97 in Arizona, on May 11, 2002. His first born son, Salvatore (Bill), who had been the first to break omerta by speaking to Gay Talese, died a few years later in 2008, at 76. Bill became a successful Hollywood producer of films and TV specials about his family. Don Peppino had survived numerous heart attacks; Bill succumbed to his first.
When the hippie generation first emerged around 1966, they had a tremendous, global impact almost immediately. The hippies influenced the Beatles, for example, not the other way around. The movement was actually deeply ethical and spiritual, and involved respect for nature and native cultures, as well as a deep suspicion for the oil companies, who had emerged as the world’s dominant corporations. Their relentless campaign to turn everything in America into plastic really annoyed us. Plastic was a bad word to hippies. We hated it.
One thing we didn’t hate was marijuana, which was the primary sacrament from day one. All sorts of other plants and substances quickly followed. We needed people to cultivate, transport and sell these sacraments. These people were closer to priests than outlaws to us since they were providing our sacraments at great personal jeopardy.
It’s no accident that the most spiritually advanced hippie clan was also the most successful smuggling and dealing operation in North America. I speak of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love based out of Laguna Beach, California and founded by hippie saint Johnny Griggs.
The Brotherhood became known as the hippie mafia, and their story became a tale of drug smuggling and police interventions. The Godfather was John, picture at the left with his kids and a surfboard he never surfed on, but was just posing with. But the hippie mafia story is a little bit like the blind man describing an elephant by touching its toe. Nick Schou recently wrote an entertaining book on the Brotherhood and he couldn’t understand why John’s widow couldn’t relate to it. The illegal part of hippie life is like the visible part of an iceberg. The heart and soul of the culture lies submerged, out-of-view. And that is the spiritual side, known to made members. We have no official ceremony for this initiation, but we know how to recognize when one gets “zapped” by this unique, non-violent form of spirituality. But to the population at large, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love remains just another “crime syndicate.”
Which is why I can relate to the so-called “mafia.” See, the Sicilian immigrants that came to America arrived with a very strong sense of tribal culture and clung together and supported each other. The most successful among them, the man who produced the most jobs, became “the father” of his clan, and among his duties was to negotiate disputes among family members and navigate towards peace. Because Sicilians lived under conquerors for centuries, they developed a unique sense of justice. When a Sicilian feels dishonored, he does not go to a policeman or the halls of justice, both of which were historically controlled by an enemy culture. He does things the Sicilian way, which is to say in a dark alley from behind with a stiletto to the throat.
When prohibition set in, all the immigrant cultures had criminal gangs, and the Irish were among the strongest. Nucky Johnson was the grand poo-bah of that culture, but Joe Kennedy was probably a close second. But the biggest money-makers at the time were probably the Jews in Canada, the Bronfmans. But slowly, the Sicilians took power. Why? Perhaps because their spirituality was stronger and they were more dedicated to their tribes. And maybe also because they were students of Niccolo Machiavelli, who taught them the strategies of force. Those who seek only to do good inevitably lose to those willing to commit evil. The great dons of the past were often educated, well-read and deeply spiritual, although they’ve been stereotyped as virtual morons with mustaches. The reason “The Godfather” resonated so strongly is that this elaborate and ancient culture was actually investigated for the first time.
Strangely, after Joe Kennedy’s son became president, his brother launched a vicious campaign against Jimmy Hoffa’s control over the Teamsters, and Hoffa’s greatest ally, Carlos Marcello of New Orleans. For the most part, these investigations became centered on the Sicilians, as if they were the only organized crime in the country? From their perspective, RFK looked more like a political demagogue than righteous crusader. RFK called up some of the most respected fathers and treated them with the utmost of disrespect. This was done because he wanted to subvert their influence over the labor movement, when, in fact, they’d been leveraged into that position to replace the Communist Party, which, in fact, was just another intel op, part of the grand chessboard where all sides report to the same bankers. The media is always trying to paint the picture of organized crime as one grand criminal conspiracy instead of the complex web that actually exists. If there is a grand conspiracy, the perpetrators are hiding inside the halls of the Pentagon and the Wall Street banks, and scapegoating hippies running grass or even Italians running bingo parlors isn’t going to threaten that situation anytime soon.