This column has a little to do with boxing, but a lot to do with right and wrong in the streets of New York City.
I was abjectly disgraced by fellow paisans Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro at the 1999 Academy Awards. The duo who brought us the Academy Award winning boxing film “The Raging Bull” (DeNiro also played sleazy lawyer/boxing promoter Harry Fabian in “The Night And The City”), drastically shrunk in stature when they accompanied disgraced Black List Informer Elia Kazan onto the stage to receive his controversial Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy. Kazan spilled his yellow guts in 1952 to a Congressional committee investigating Communist influence in Hollywood. Kazan cowardly named the names of people who along with him belonged to a pro-communist group 20 years earlier. Those people were blacklisted and never worked under their own names in Hollywood again. Some even committed suicide.
For me pal, this one was personal.
In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, although we were not friendly, I grew up on Baxter Street in New York’s Little Italy, just scant blocks south of Scorsese’s Elizabeth Street apartment building . DeNiro grew up a few blocks west and to the north in Greenwich Village. If there was we learned one thing in the old neighborhood is that you just don’t tolerate rats. Even multi-talented rats like Kazan.
The true men in the audience were ones like Academy Award nominees Ed Harris and Nick Nolte, who sat on their hands during the tribute to Kazan, maybe as an alternative to giving the 89-year old canary the Italian salute.
Comedian Chris Rock said earlier in the show as he stood at the podium presenting another award, “I saw DeNiro backstage. They better keep DeNiro away from Kazan. We all know he hates rats.”
Boy, did Chris Rock miss the boat on that one.
What’s next for Bobby Ba Da Bing and Marty the Mook? A tribute to Sammy the Bull Gravano?
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- Sitdown at Forlini’s
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- The Warwick Drive-In
- Firework Season
- Seward Park High School
- Fid Big Fat Fanny Fast–Chapter One