Tom Folsom’s new book, The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe Gallo and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld, takes readers back to a time when Red Hook, Brooklyn called to mind a bloody guerrilla war with the mafia, and not a new IKEA store. Because he writes about the history and cultural fabric of the city in a fresh and inventive way Folsom recently appeared on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. You can also find a YouTube video of Folsom discussing what the neighborhood at the junction of Columbia and Union Streets in Red Hook was like before waterfront crime and the construction of the BQE and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
Joe Gallo’s short life as gangster, gunman, and racketeer of the Profaci crime family (later known as the Colombo crime family) drew much media attention. Joey and his two brothers initiated one of the bloodiest mob conflicts since the Castellammarese War of 1931. He was an inspiration for Jimmy Breslin and Mario Puzo, considered a threat by both Jimmy Hoffa and Bobby Kennedy, and was teh subject of spreads in Life magazine and Women’s Wear Daily. His gangster chic was the popularized by Harvey Keitel in Reservoir Dogs. His death would be the subject of Bob Dylan’s 1976 song “Joey”.
The Mad Ones tells the story of the Gallo brothers, a trio of reckless young gangsters from Red Hook who staged a coup against the Mafia. In the book, author Tom Folsom recreates the New York City Joey Gallo and the Gallo brothers inhabited. To do this, Folsom—who went inside the FBI Witness Protection Program to research the critically acclaimed “>Mr Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of the Black Godfather written with its subject Nicky Barnes, immersed himself in the strange, brutal, and sometimes poetic world of the Gallo brothers. He waded through almost 1,500 pages of unpublished FBI files, spent hours in the tabloid archives at the New York Public Library, interviewed the Federal agents and NYPD detectives who had staked out the Gallo headquarters almost a half a century ago, and culled what made sense from wiretaps of underworld conversations and leads from informants.