Friday, August 19, 2011

The only History Paper I got an A+ on. Ever.

A day in the life Pravat Kositsawat, June 1st, 1954
Dear Andrew,
                        It has been a long time my friend! I feel like we lost touch after leaving Oxford four years ago. I hope the time has treated you well. I only write to tell you about our friend Benoit. He wrote to me not too long ago when he was stationed nearby with his troops. He turned out to be a paratrooper, just like he always said he wanted to be. He only had time to write me once. He said he was being moved to French Indo-China[i] to reinforce some of his brothers, to spread around the “√©lan vital” he was always bragging about in the dorms.
It was strange to get a letter from him after so long, and such a serious one at that. The paper has been talking a lot about this place called “Dien Bien Phu,” where the French are being overrun by the communists. For the past few months there has been more and more talk of peace over there, especially when the French keep dying. I mean, two months ago today the front page in the Bangkok Post said that 1,350[ii] men were killed. You studied military science, right Andrew? I remember I took that class with you. 1,350 killed probably means twice that many injured, that is if the paper has their story straight.
And then the next day, April 2nd, the paper said that these men were desperately calling for reinforcements, and that the 11,000 men stationed there were up against 40,000 communists![iii] Can you believe that Andrew? When Benoit wrote me, he said he was only with his company.[iv] That is not very many people Andrew. That is two hundred people maximum. What chance does Benoit have? He is so young, just a lieutenant and that place is already so dangerous. I hope he makes it out of there.
The paper also says that the Americans, your countrymen, are helping out the French. It says your airplanes are dropping people like Benoit, paratroopers, into this place. I read that the communists are digging holes all around Dien Bien Phu, and that they are pushing the French so far back that the paratroopers hardly even have a place to land[v]. Have you heard anything about this? You said at graduation that you were going to be in the air force, wouldn’t you be working with things like this?
I hope the U.S. helps out. At this point, the French are losing more and more ground, and even more men. Even when it seems like they are getting closer to battling back, like last month when the weather finally cleared, not very common in monsoon season, and the French gunboats and airplanes bombed and shot the communists all day long[vi], but the next day, the very next day the French commander was talking about surrendering.[vii]
Navarre said that with all the peace talks back home, it is hard to ask the French troops to fight.[viii] Why kill more boys like Benoit when peace is just around the corner? The paper is always talking about this Geneva conference, which is supposed to be a meeting between everyone involved to decide the fate of the whole area to the east of Thailand[ix]. I guess the French are not just getting beat up in Indo-China, but in Cambodia and Laos too. [x]
Yeah, it says here that the communists crossed the Mekong River and are near the place where Cambodia, Laos and Thailand meet. They are fighting the French there, in Laos less than forty miles from where my father was born.[xi] I bet his sisters are scared. They married and stayed in the town to farm with their new husbands, but my father came to Bangkok to work at the University here. Since he died, I have not heard anything from these aunts of mine. They are probably too busy, and they only came once when I was a child. Remember Andrew? You thought it was funny because they spoke Thai, but cold not write or read it, so they could not understand why we had all those books and they would stand there and look at them and hum to themselves.
I am lucky my father moved away from that town. I would have made a very poor farmer. You remember my bad back, don’t you? How some days I could not even roll out of bed in the dorms, and you would have to sneak food out of the cafeteria for me. And Benoit would always tell me to go to the infirmary, even though it was really called the hospital. Benoit always talked like that, he was made for the military. You would always have to translate what he was saying into simple English for me. You always knew how to make his army-baby talk understandable for a city boy like me.
I think if the communists invade, they will kill my aunts. They are not that pretty, and their farms are small, so they will be useless to the communists. I hope the French can hold out until the meeting I was talking about. I read in the paper that the communists are holding the French garrison hostage. The paper says that the communists could have destroyed them a long time ago, but are sparing them to have a bargaining chip at the big meeting.
It has been like this for a long time around here. In America, you are all pretty much the same and safe. In my area, we have almost every big country left over from World War II trying to expand and influence our neighbors. Thailand has never been occupied officially, but one of the things my father moved to the city for was a better opportunity for me and my brothers and sisters. We learned English from the teachers, and even got a chance to study in England or France or America! I am grateful for everything I have received from the west, but mostly for you and Benoit.
Without those chances, I would not have any friends outside of the small school here, and my apartment building. Even when my father died, you two were the only two who sent regards. That was the last time you and I wrote each other. I guess we got busy with our own lives. Are you are in the air force, like you said you wanted to be? I hope you don’t end up like Benoit, parachuting into a huge mess of dead brethren and defeated countrymen, dodging bullets and saying rosaries in your foxhole.
I am not worried for you. I read in the paper that the U.S. wont need to send troops. Joe Martin says that the people here can defend against communism, as long as we get the “materiel and moral support from the people of the free world.”[xii] I am not so sure though. If you look at it from where I am, one of the people here, it is daunting to say the least. I mean, the French are here. They are getting help from America and England, and they are fighting, and still losing. They beat the Germans and the communists are beating them now, what are we going to do?
If the U.S. does not come to help, I think we will all be forced to be communists. I wont be able to write to you anymore, and if Benoit survives, he could not come visit. I mean, without the U.S. people like me will have to fight. That scares me, because of my back, and also because the communists have been fighting for ten years and they know how. Plus, if they get beat, they have China and the Soviets just to the north, less than two days’ train ride away.
Thailand has never been conquered, never been invaded. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a new group of people running our country. I mean, the only thing close to that happened right before you and I were born, when my father still lived in the east. It was pretty different from an invasion, but some people like me, those Thai who were fortunate enough to get a European education were against what King Prajadhipok was doing. Long story short, he was holding the nation back from advancing towards a more democratic state; holding pay raises for non-royals and placing royal family members in high level, merit-based positions. Most Thai people were indifferent, until the depression, then the lack of money made them join the radicals who had a solution to end the problems that were blamed on the king. There was a coup and a lot of confusion, but the military ended up taking control, and the king abdicated. Leaving power in the hands of the young radicals and the military group, but still young Thai radicals and Thai military, not some communist foreigners who lack any knowledge about how things work here. [xiii]
I am torn Andrew. On one hand, I want us all to be safe; you, Benoit and I. but on the other hand, I want these communists to stay away. Judging by what the papers have been saying, Benoit is probably dead, and I am next because the communists are so close and the U.S. wont get involved. But if the U.S. gets involved, that means you may have to come and fight the communists. That does not make sense to me, to have two of my friends fight and possibly die for my freedom on my soil and me to not help. I wish these communists would lose Andrew. I wish they would all just sneak back into china one night while everyone was sleeping. If not, I wish that peace comes at that meeting the papers have been talking about. I hope Benoit makes it out of Dien Bien Phu. I know he has my address. Do you think he knows how close he is to my home? Do you think he is still alive? I don’t. Be safe Andrew.


[i] “Bangkok Post.” April 8, 1954. “Paratroops Reinforce; VM Nearing Thailand.”
[ii] “Bangkok Post.” April 1, 1954. “3 divisions hit fortress; 1,350 killed.”
[iii] “Bangkok Post.” April 2, 1954. “’Help! Urgent,’ FU Appealing.”
[iv] “Bangkok Post.” April 8, 1954. “Paratroops Reinforce; VM Nearing Thailand.”
[v]  “Bangkok Post.” April 2, 1954. “’Help! Urgent,’ FU Appealing.”
[vi] “Bangkok Post.” April 30, 1954. “Nine Hour Air Raid Hurts VM.”
[vii] “Bangkok Post.” May 1,1954. “Navarre asked to state terms of Armistice.”
[viii] “Bangkok Post.” May 1,1954. “Navarre asked to state terms of Armistice.”
[ix] “Bangkok Post.” May 1,1954. “Navarre asked to state terms of Armistice.”
[x] “Bangkok Post.” April 8, 1954. “Paratroops Reinforce; VM Nearing Thailand.”
[xi] “Bangkok Post.” April 8, 1954. “Paratroops Reinforce; VM Nearing Thailand.”
[xii] “Bangkok Post.” May 4th, 1954. “’U.S. Won’t Need to Send Troops.”
[xiii] Chandler, et al… Modern Southeast Asia. University of Hawai’I Press, Hawaii, 2005.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Sicilian Mafia’s Honor Code: a Moral Umbrella (my thesis for B.A. in history)

When anyone thinks of honor, the mafia is sure to be a major dwelling point. Due to Hollywood movies and over-romanticized tales, people think that the mafia is a group of men obsessed with money, how to obtain it, and how to obtain it honorably. This is not an entirely inaccurate assessment of the mafia. However, it begs the question: how did the mafia view and define honor, and how does that compare with other honor societies in the same area? First I will examine exactly what the mafia was, what it did, how it operated and how one became a member. Primary evidence exists thanks to recent betrayals of the unwritten honor code that has recently been broken more and more as trials of mafiosi: members of the mafia, have become more common and public. Second I will use primary and secondary sources to simply and effectively break down this unwritten code and explain it. The fact is, although unwritten, the honor code of the Sicilian mafia was extensive and held the utmost importance in the eyes of the members of the group. It was a mafiosi’s primary concern to uphold this code of honor. It is through this extreme and self imposed code of honor, that is, an amplified version of normal conduct in the region with increased penalties, that the mafia was able distinguish themselves from common criminals and thus justify their delinquency and rationalize their wrong-doings as acts of honor, and this is how they were different than common criminals in their area, and other groups in the same part of the world.
The Mafiosi saw their honor as the most important thing in their lives. They were more concerned with being honorable men, and distancing themselves from common street thugs who may be misconstrued as being part of their group. The difference was not so much in the crimes that were committed, but how and against whom they were. The mafia is a secret society made up of so-called “men of honor.” To be in this group, also known as the Cosa Nostra, one had to uphold the group’s ideas about what it meant to be honorable, and what it meant to lose that honor, to be shamed. It was because the Cosa Nostra saw itself as a group of honorable men that they took such care in cultivating within their ranks a sense of this honor and its importance, distancing themselves, in their eyes, from common street thugs. Antonino Calderone, a former mafiosi whose story of his Cosa Nostra experience was published by Pino Arlacchi, apologizes for, “the distinction [he] draws between the mafia and common criminals, but it matters…. We are men of honor, and not so much because we have taken an oath, but because we are the elite of the criminal world. We’re vastly superior to common criminals. We’re worse than everybody!”[i] The case in point of his distinction is illustrated perfectly in Calderone’s explanation of prostitution. “It’s an unclean activity,”[ii] moreover, he relates a story in which a man who was the brother of two mafiosi, as well as a son and a nephew of mafiosi and was never admitted, “precisely because it was said that he was a pimp.”[iii] This story shows how fervently the honor of the group was guarded. This man was not officially a pimp, but people had heard something to that effect, and that was enough to keep him out of the Cosa Nostra. Arlacchi gives another example, which also illustrates the prevalence of violence, where the son of a prostitute was, “killed by a group of young men…. The youths had made the child their target in a shooting competition.”[iv] Even the offspring of unclean individuals were not respected.
A code of honor is a complicated and almost unexplainable entity for most groups who are concerned with it. There are a lot of little things that one could only understand by being raised in or around that group, or by intense anthropological study. However, on the surface, the honor codes of the Cosa Nostra of the twentieth century strongly resemble those of other groups from the Mediterranean. The Greek Cypriots, studied by J.G. Peristiany in essay, “Honour and Shame in a Cypriot Highland Village,” which appeared in the book that he edited entitled Honour and Shame [v]were somewhat different than the Cosa Nostra: the men of the village are born there, and so have no choice but to participate in the honor struggle. This is also true for the Greek men described by Gallant[vi] and the Turks described by Eck[vii], they do not enter into their honor societies by choice, they are born into them.
Since there was a specific set of understood behaviors that every mafiosi had to agree to, this is as close to a definition of the honor code as possible. Every mafiosi, according to Calderone, was sworn to an oath, but there was a prelude to the swearing in; an extensive back history needed to occur before one was even considered for membership. During this time, the virtues needed to be a man of honor were studied, and older men of honor would watch the potential members to make sure that they did indeed possess these qualities in high amounts, and only then were the oaths taken.[viii]
The first and most important things according to Calderone were cleverness, ruthlessness and determination,[ix] through exhibiting these in every day events, a young man could definitely defend his position of power and honor in the Cosa Nostra as well as protecting the group from outsiders. If a young man showed enough of these qualities, he would be considered for membership. The older mafiosi would “let [them] do a few things.”[x] Which is to say, they would let him participate at levels closer and closer to those only occupied by men of honor to test them. Arlacchi echoes this sentiment by saying how much power was dependant on one’s, “ability to emerge victorious- through physical strength and through cunning- in any competition for supremacy.”[xi] That is any competition; be it fighting, games, races, anything that awarded the winner respect was essential to win at any or all cost, or the person who did not try hard enough or was not naturally strong or fast enough would simply not be considered as worthy to join the Cosa Nostra. The real life and pretend situations were necessary to prepare the potential member for the life of serious and potentially fatal contests, that was the lifestyle of the mafiosi which weak people simply could not handle. A propensity for violence is often associated with this particular virtue. In the other Mediterranean groups, this pre-screening was not a possibility because, again, the men joining the groups were entering through birth and not through an oath.
Violence was one way to get power, and to be a successful member of the Cosa Nostra, one needed power to back up his honor and defend his wealth. Without this power, both his money and his honor could be taken from him with violence either by common criminals, or by other mafiosi trying to build their own. There were no rules for these violent meetings. According to Arlacchi, honor bound battles were never popular or widespread. He says, “intermediate kinds of institutional regulation such as the duel never became established.”[xii] Therefore, the violence could occur in any way, shape or form. Even though violent meetings lacked any set or understood rules, there was a general tone of honor to all of them. For instance, Arlacchi tells of a fight that ended in a low level mafiosi wounding a mafia chief. The mafia chief recovers and murders the underling, who was a goat herder. While this may seem reprehensible, for the chief lost the initial battle, it was worth noting for Arlacchi that, “The whole town followed the brave goat-herd’s coffin, and his murderer was in the first row.”[xiii] Even though the man murdered the other out of revenge, he was still a man of honor, and therefore joined the funeral procession of the man who was also of honor, because as everyone knows, with honor comes respect, even for your victims. Conversely, Gallant’s explanation of the Greek knife fight, a local example of honor fights followed the same pattern every time. One man would call another man’s honor into question through a number of channels: either by accusing him of being a cuckold, insulting his daughter, or any other number of things that honor depended on, and they would fight. The fights would be witnessed and refereed by the other people surrounding, usually in a wine shop, and once someone was marked with the other man’s blade the fight was stopped by the onlookers. Gallant hardly mentions any fight ending any other way besides the occasional accidental killing.[xiv] The fact that the Greek group had a pattern for their violence and the mafia did not is another difference between the two, another unique facet of the mafia’s code of honor.
Once the potential mafia members demonstrated their cunning ruthlessness, determination, the penchant for violence, or ability to be violent and their ability to keep it a secret, they would be sent for, and meet at an often times secluded location for the swearing in ceremony which made them men of honor, and introduced them officially to what was expected of them as such. Diego Gambetta cites numerous variations on the central theme of this ceremony, but the general idea is this: a man who is deemed worthy by the older members of the Cosa Nostra using the above as guidelines is brought to a secluded location and officially gets initiated. Blood is drawn from a finger with a sharp object such as a knife or a thorn, and this blood is smeared onto the picture of a saint. The soon to be new member holds this picture in his hands and it is set ablaze while he recites the oath. [xv] The oath is as close as I have come to finding a clear-cut definition of what is expected of a man of honor. This oath and the subsequent definition of honor drawn from it is generally unique to Sicily, although certain points are as general as the word honor, their specific ramifications are indeed idiosyncratic to the Cosa Nostra.
Rule number one as described by Calderone in his first hand account of the initiation ritual was with regards to women.[xvi] This rule has many facets. First of all, it was expected of mafiosi that, “As soon as [they] discovered that a man of honor has touched another’s wife, that man must die.”[xvii] This seems cut and dry. It differs from other honor codes from the Mediterranean in that it involves instant death for the perpetrator. In the Turkish honor codes, it is the wife who dies first to protect the honor of the husband who was cuckolded.[xviii] In Greece, men who suggest the infidelity of another’s wife fight the man whose wife she is regardless of whether or not the man suggesting it says he was the one who she cheated with. To be sure, the violence in Greece comes when one man is the messenger, not necessarily the perpetrator.[xix] However, even with the subtle differences, death is still a common punishment for adultery. Arlacchi makes another observation with regards to infidelity: “feminine honor typically symbolized unbroken family honor,”[xx] indeed along the same lines of most honor societies. However, the reasoning for the reaction is different. “If an outside enemy destroyed it, he gained superiority over his victims, proving himself the more powerful… he showed that he could oblige a member of another group to violate the sacred bonds of loyalty in order to satisfy his own desire.” [xxi] These sexual conquests were not normal in that they challenged the woman’s chastity or faithfulness, but in that they challenged her loyalty to the family, not just her husband. Not surprisingly, the “Blood-vendetta was the obligatory recourse.”[xxii] The woman was killed first by her male relative, and then the man who slept with her was killed. This was the only way to save face in this situation, to show that not only would one not tolerate disloyalty, but to demonstrate that your power was indeed supreme.[xxiii] Elsewhere in the region, no authors mention the concept of sex, either pre-marital, rape, or extramarital with regards to power, only with regards to shame.
Another aspect of honor and its relation to women is the forbidding of homosexuality. Partially because Sicily is a predominantly catholic, however it is definitely worth noting that without a woman and a family one was hard pressed to prove his honor. Those that are homosexual may be forbidden from joining because of the social stereotypes concerning gay men and violence, that is, that they do not have the capacity for it. Norman Lewis describes an event in his book In Sicily: essentially, he is speaking with a professor at the University of Palermo who had a student that was a child of a powerful Sicilian Mafia family. This student was not keen on the life of crime that lay ahead, so he pretended to be a homosexual. Since it was frowned upon in the Cosa Nostra, he was free to pursue whichever career he wished. He was not able to be a man of honor because he lacked the age-old quality of traditional masculinity, and so had no females whose chastity he could protect and therefore had no females from which to draw the feature of honor which would have been afforded to him;[xxiv] for as someone who is shamed becomes less of a man in the eyes of the Cosa Nostra, someone who is not manly to begin with can never be honorable, and can never have the power that is derived from honor.
If a wife or daughter is sleeping around, they bring shame to their family, and violence ensues, but when a wife or daughter does everything right according to the code of honor, there actually can be a positive impact on the group. Calderone tells a story that occurred during a family dispute that resulted in a split and a long-standing rivalry between the estranged sides. Calderone’s brother Giuseppe (Pippo) saw a girl that he was attracted to, found out where she lived and knew the owner of the building, as the owner was a man of honor on the other side of the family split. He told this man’s nephew what his intentions were. The two were married and through this marriage, the rift between the families was closed. Calderone muses on the fortitude of this pairing, “[Mafiosi] from all over Sicily had tried to resolve the conflict, and they had come up with nothing. A marriage, however, settled everything.”[xxv] This is a time-honored tradition in the area, dating as far back as the Roman Republic- where marriages were often used to cement alliances. It was undoubtedly auspicious that this marriage solved major problems, but one can see how honor is not merely a thing that you own and are able to lose, but it can be gained; as long as you follow the rules. Certainly if the two people had sex before the marriage, with the feud that was occurring, more blood would have been shed. 
After the first rule of the oath, which is very intricate, there is the second, which is quite simple: essentially, it was do not, under any circumstances go to the press or police. If you do, you will be killed.[xxvi] A secret society’s primary concern is upholding its secrecy, and the mafia is no different. The honor code will mean nothing if everyone can follow it, all the common criminals would, and then the mafia would have no way to set themselves apart from the lowly crooks. This is fairly self-explanatory, but it should also be noted that this appears in a book, which is incredibly ironic as the person who took the oath is most certainly going to the press; it is obvious that Mr. Calderone’s life is in danger. The opposite was true in other locations. In Greece, the men who went through knife fights would often, if not always, stay and wait to be arrested and testify at their own trial. Their way of maintaining honor was to tell the whole story. “This man insulted my wife, we fought with knives, I cut him on the face.” The winner of the fight would once again have the chance to publicly shame the loser, and in so doing gain the group at large’s acknowledgement of his possession of honor.[xxvii]
The third rule is along the same lines as the second: brief and paradoxical; “stealing is forbidden.”[xxviii] It is astounding to learn that this is one of the official decrees of an organized crime society, but Calderone explains a situation where this too was cleared up. A man who was taking the oath with Calderone spoke up when this rule was announced. This man’s profession was a thief. He was told to sit down and wait until it would be explained. The explanation was circular: if you have to steal, steal. If that is how you earn a living, earn your living. Know your victim; do not steal from another member of the Cosa Nostra or his family. “From anyone else, yes.”[xxix]
This is where Calderone and Arlacchi’s accounts seem to differ. The next rule, according to Calderone says fights were to be avoided,[xxx] however I have already discussed the goat-herder’s fight and subsequent murder. Arlacchi describes the goat-herder as a mafiosi, and the mafia chief is most certainly a man of honor. I am inclined to believe Arlacchi more, as his evidence already appears in this essay, or perhaps they both are correct; as the word “avoid” may be taken very literally, and as previously stated, their were no official rules for combat as there were in Greece.
The next two rules are brief and seem like they were tacked on as an afterthought, but are still meant to maintain the secrecy of the Cosa Nostra. “Sober behavior was to be encouraged; boasting and showing off were not condoned.”[xxxi] These rules seem to go hand in hand. As drunkenness usually leads to boasting and showing off, drunkenness was frowned upon. It would definitely be a tragedy if a mafioso had too much wine at a bar and began boasting about how many men he has killed, or who else was in the Cosa Nostra, or even that such a thing existed. These rules are to keep the secrecy of the Cosa Nostra of paramount importance as to acknowledge its existence would make it less appealing to its members. Beyond that, or perhaps before, the first rule alone is a good general guideline as it is certain that a reputation for being a drunkard is never positive, and even among members of the same family, too much drunkenness is embarrassing, and surely men of honor are very far above drinking too much wine.
The last rule is a bit strange: “under no circumstances was one to introduce oneself to other men of honor.”[xxxii] This is because if one believes another man is a part of the Cosa Nostra and introduces oneself as such, and the other man is not, then the first man, the mafiosi has just compromised the secret nature of the organization. Interestingly enough, if there is a third mafiosi in the room who knows that both are men of honor, he may introduce them, and with a special secret code let them both know that the other is a man of honor, without actually saying it.[xxxiii] The secret phrase provides more secrecy, as it is almost a special language; further compounding the elitist clandestine nature of the Cosa Nostra.
The secret and the honor are the two most attractive intangible qualities of the Cosa Nostra and the honor seems to be intensified by the fact that no one outside of the group knows about it. No one outside of the mafia may judge you, because they do not know what qualities are being judged. The honor seems to intensify when you realize that even though there are other men out there with similar qualities, they are not in the exclusive club as you are. This makes the secret part of the exclusivity. A lifestyle is developed around this club, a sense of pride is derived from membership; as Calderone mentioned, “We are the elite of the criminal world.”[xxxiv] They are the most polished and practiced members of a world that is illegal. These men are not common criminals. They are very uncommon. They justify their crimes by using their honor code as a shield, a rationalization, a special case that allows them to look down on people doing the same crimes in the same areas on smaller scales, for the simple fact that they are not as organized.
You may steal, but not from mafiosi. You can only kill another man of honor if he does certain things. Violence is good. Win at all costs. Do not make money off of unclean things. With the conditional rules of honor, it would seem that the rules are only in place to protect the honor of the men within the group. Therefore, if viewed from by an outsider, these men and their actions may appear no different from common criminals. It is only through an understanding of the Cosa Nostra that one may then distinguish the two types of criminals in Sicily: the low class, low moral street thugs with no discernable code of honor, and the criminal elite mafia which are: low class high moral street thugs with an official honor code and organizational structure. They both perform the same crimes, but since the Cosa Nostra has a system in place to commit these crimes, they are better. The fact that rules for war exist does not mean that people still do not die. Similarly the fact that rules for honorable crime exist and are followed closely by the Cosa Nostra does not preclude the fact that they are committing crimes. Honorable or not, crime is crime and to distinguish between two types not only encourages the behavior, but legitimizes the illusion of the Cosa Nostra’s attitude, which seems to allow any behavior as long as it does not hurt the family.


[i] Arlacchi, Pino. Men of Dishonor, p. 20.
[ii] Arlacchi, Dishonor, p. 21.
[iii] Arlacchi, Dishonor, p. 21.
[iv] Arlacchi, Pino. Mafia Business, p. 13.
[v] Peristiany, John George. Honour and Shame, p. 171-191
[vi] Gallant "Honor, Masculinity, and Ritual Knife Fighting in 19th-Century Greece," American Historical Review 105/2 (Ap 2000): 358-82*
[vii] Gallant "Honor, Masculinity, and Ritual Knife Fighting in 19th-Century Greece," American Historical Review 105/2 (Ap 2000): 358-82
[viii] Arlacchi, Dishonor, p. 21.
[ix] Arlacchi, Dishonor, p. 21.
[x] Arlacchi, Dishonor, p. 21.
[xi] Arlacchi, Business, p. 10.
[xii] Arlacchi, Business, p. 12.
[xiii] Arlacchi, Business, p. 12.
[xiv] Gallant "Honor," 358-82
[xv] Gambetta, Mafia, pp. 262-270
[xvi] Arlacchi, Dishonor, pp. 67-71.
[xvii] Arlacchi, Dishonor, p. 67.
[xviii] Eck, Purified By Blood. pp. 9-34.
[xix] Gallant "Honor," 358-82
[xx] Arlacchi, Business, p. 7.
[xxi] Arlacchi, Business, p. 7.
[xxii] Arlacchi, Business, p. 7.
[xxiii] Arlacchi, Business, p. 7.
[xxiv] Norman Lewis, In Sicily, pp. 59-60.
[xxv] Arlacchi, Dishonor, pp. 47-48.
[xxvi] Arlacchi, Dishonor, pp. 67.
[xxvii] Gallant "Honor," 358-82
[xxviii] Arlacchi, Dishonor, pp. 67.
[xxix] Arlacchi, Dishonor, pp. 70.
[xxx] Arlacchi, Dishonor, pp. 67.
[xxxi] Arlacchi, Dishonor, pp. 67.
[xxxii] Arlacchi, Dishonor, pp. 67.
[xxxiii] Arlacchi, Dishonor, pp. 19-20.
[xxxiv] Arlacchi, Dishonor, pp. 19. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Lake

            It is just past midnight at the lake. A baby blue Cadillac pulls up right onto the sand: a new one, fresh off the line, the first model since the krauts surrendered. It turns its headlights off and coasts using the light of the full moon that is nestled on top of the soft evergreens surroundings. The car turns off and sits silent parallel to the shore.
            The driver side door opens and a gray panted leg steps out into the cool blue sand. It is followed by the other, and the arms and hands pull the rest of the body out. The man is wearing an A-shirt tucked into his pants, and suspenders off his shoulders that seem to pull the pants down a bit. He keeps his hands in his pockets; perhaps because it is cold, but more likely to keep them on his hips as whenever he takes one out, they slip off that side and reveal the border between his undershirt and boxer shorts.
            He slides the suspenders back onto his shoulders and slams the car door. It hits the frame with a metallic pop and he sighs, still looking at it. He takes two steps back, turns to his left and walks towards the front of the car. His hands go back into his pockets and he sighs again as he sits on the hood. His bowed back rises and falls, the lake water laps at the shore.
            There is no one else for miles. The lake is a summer spot, a vacation town during summer, but now in late November it is deserted, except for this man and his Cadillac. He does not move around all that much, mainly just staring at the water while shifting weight from butt cheek to the other, letting one foot dangle at a time, then switching it back to the chrome bumper and letting the other foot swing free.
            Headlights stumble by on the far bank. He jumps up and glares at the twin specters bouncing down the dirt road. He looks back at his car, and then returns to tracking the approaching vehicle. He keeps switching his focus between the two, and walking towards and away from the bank, towards the car and away from the car, away from his car and back towards it.
            The headlights bounce along and slowly turn away, the white lights change into red ones, and they get smaller. He watches them until they are completely hidden by distance and the trees that surround this nowhere burg. Then there is silence. It is just he and his car, and the moon and the lake, and the dark. He wanted to wait for sunrise.