Alfonse invested everything he did with a sense of all-consuming purpose. He knew four languages, had photographic memory, did complex mathematics in his head. He’d once told me that the art of getting ahead in New York was based on learning how to express dissatisfaction in an interesting way. The air was full of rage and complaint. People had no tolerance for your particular hardship unless you knew how to entertain them with it.

At one point, I began to think that I had a divine doorman. Lenny was the most unlikely incarnation of God I could imagine, and yet, I kept drifting irresistibly towards this absurd conclusion. Despite my staunchly atheistic inclinations, I couldn’t explain Lenny any other way. But eventually I came to my senses and realized that he was just one of those game show freaks with an encyclopedic memory. That didn’t make him God, did it? Would God proclaim so regularly how much he likes Patsy’s Pizza?

While the layman sees an opportunity and decides to take it, the professional criminal through the use of deceit and treachery, is able to create opportunities. This individual not only actively searches for a crime to commit, the professional criminal assembles teams of similar people and generates situations in which crime can be safely perpetrated in a controlled environment for maximum profit.

For those of you that truly believe there’s no such thing as the mafiya, I would be more than happy to sell you your own fast lane on the Belt Parkway, you know, so you can avoid the rush hour commute. The mafiya is real as a heart attack and, contrary to popular consensus, has been steadily growing in power since its inception in the 1920s. Italian organized crime just doesn’t operate out in the open anymore, former mayor Rudy made sure of that.

Wanting to leave communist Russia is all fine and well | Actually leaving the country is where you might run into a few setbacks. Obtaining a visa for a simple vacation outside the soviet block was a long and arduous process. To immigrate to a free society was about as easy as finding whiskey in a church.

People don’t dream all their lives of escaping the hellish countries they live in and pay their life savings to underworld types for the privilege of being locked up in a freezing, filthy, stinking container ship and hauled like cargo for weeks until they finally arrive in Moscow or Beijing or Baghdad or Kabul. People risk their lives to come here—to New York. The greatest city in the world, where dreams become reality.

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