‘Like a Schnook’

It’s a bit belated but just a few thoughts on Henry Hill, the subject of Nicholas Pileggi’s classic Wiseguy and the Scorsese classic Goodfellas (the latter of which should have won the Best Picture Oscar, in my opinion, and not Dances With Wolves). Hill died on June 12.

For Goodfellas aficionados, I highly recommend the DVD with commentary. Hill reminds us that at the end of the day, we are all better off being “goody-good people who worked shitty jobs for bum paychecks and took the subway to work every day, and worried about their bills.” It beats taking a bullet to the head, not to mention stabbed with an ice pick and chopped into pieces.

NPR has republished the 1986 interview with Pileggi. Much of what we know about Hill’s world comes from Hill. I’ve always wondered if he really never whacked anyone.

I devoured the book Wiseguy in the summer of 1992. It’s hard to put down. The details surrounding the Lufthansa heist are much more elaborate than in the movie. (Likewise, the fallout after the heist and Jimmy Burke’s murder spree is extensively laid out. To wit, a girlfriend of Tommy DeSimone’s was killed—her torso was found floating in Toms River—my hometown! And no, Tommy was not whacked by Tuddy and Vinnie—in reality John Gotti is the prime suspect. Tommy’s body was never found.)

If you haven’t read the book, you should. It makes for great summer reading.

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