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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Chicagoans Romanticize Mob Culture

From washingtonpost.com: "There he is, there's Calabrese and there's the Indian and there's Joey the Clown," said Lee Anne Roggensack, excitedly pointing out three of the elderly defendants in the Family Secrets mob conspiracy trial, where closing arguments conclude Thursday.

The 10-week trial has spawned a subculture of its own: Chicagoans who feel as if the mob was a shadowy but ever-present force as they grew up in this city, and who wanted to see some of its most flamboyant characters in the flesh -- and put behind bars.

Decades after its heyday, the Chicago mob is still famous around the world. Untouchable Tours buses weave through the city daily, showing the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and other notorious locales. When the Biograph Theater reopened last year, much was made of its fame as the spot where federal agents gunned down John Dillinger.

Mobsters are often romanticized and glorified, but most people at the trial had a decidedly negative view of the five defendants -- Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Paul "the Indian" Schiro, James Marcello, former cop Anthony Doyle and Frank Calabrese Sr. -- who among them are charged with 18 murders, racketeering, extortion, loan-sharking, gambling and other crimes. The alleged victims include Outfit members Michael and Anthony Spilotro, brothers who were beaten and buried alive in an Indiana cornfield in 1986.

"It's been undermining the integrity of our city forever," said Pat Reynolds, 73, who spent 24 days in the courtroom and fears that a planned vacation to Telluride, Colo., will make her miss the verdict. "I've always had to explain my city, that it's wonderful and beautiful in spite of this." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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