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Vetted by the Mob

It’s the summer of 1972 Francis Ford Coppola’s movie masterpiece “The Godfather” is a smash and the Mario Puzo’s crime family novel “The Godfather” on which it was based had been read by everyone and it seemed like it was still a best-seller. At last “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Godfather….But Don’t Ask” the comedy album teasing, parodying and roasting the Godfather sensation was ready for release.

The record company promotion men went upstairs to CBS Radio and dropped an album on the desk of the station manager and said something to effect of “Get us some airplay!”

“Sure, sure” he replied and then the staff listened to the album…and immediately got cold feet. They looked at each other, muttered this and that which boiled down to “if we program this album and play it on the air, will we ever see our families again”. It seems they’d seen the movie and imagined what they might have coming to them. They imagined the worst.

What to do? They had to deal with this piece of business. The big guys wanted it played. Every way they looked at it their lives were on the line. They brainstormed and developed a plan. The morning DJ was Italian and one with deep roots in the community and a rich Italian name. Of course on the air he used his radio (DJ) name and since I’m no squealer and there is that code of omerta let’s just call him Johnny, Johnny Williams.

While he was on the air spinning some discs the following morning the station manager stuck his head in the studio and said “Hey Johnny, when you finish today’s show stop in my office I need to talk to you”. You can imagine Johnny’s reaction “This don’t sound good, this don’t sound good at all”.

When he wrapped the show Johnny knew exactly what to do and headed quickly across the hall and opened the door to the stairwell for the long treck to the street. By now the station manager was wise to this one of Johnny’s gambits and was standing there waiting for him and steered him back to the office.

“Listen, we need your help, a favor. We all know that every day when your show is over you head down to Little Italy to meet your ahh goombah’s for lunch. This comedy album “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Godfather….But Don’t Ask” just landed on my desk and before we program it I need to know if it’ll be OK with the Boys…If you know what I mean”.

So Johnny hopped a cab and headed down to Mulberry Street for a lunch of comfort food, vino, pasta, clams, calamari and fungi and also, his buddies. As they sat over lunch and fresh stories seeming right out of the Godfather Johnny remembered the favor. “Hey, any of you guys got a record player in ya place? I need you to listen to this album here”. One of the mugs piped up “Yeh, yeh and my joint’s right around the corner”.

So the crew finished their espressos and cannoli “This better be fuckin funny” Tony croaked and they headed around the corner and up the stairs to Vinnie’s place. When he told the story later to the station manager Johnny said “When we got to his apartment I think Vinnie had at least two dozen record players sitting in his living room and the boxes hadn’t even been opened. You remember last week that truck heist on Route 9 near the Bridge by the turnoff? His end of the deal.”

So that afternoon Johnny’s crew, a bunch of character from right off the pages of Mario Puzo’s book sat around the living room, lit up their stogies as the more serious business of life and death would have to wait while they took a listen to this so called comedy album “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Godfather….But Don’t Ask”.

The next morning Johnny went back to the station, stuck his head in the Station Managers office “Pal you got the all clear…hilarious” he said, “They laughed their asses off”. And that’s how this album uniquely came to be vetted by the mob.