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everybody was kung fu fightingBesides the Cooles, the cousins and distant cousins, the old aunts and uncles from the old country and the new ones from the borough itself, the old friends and acquaintances, there were others who had come to the wake too, too. Bakers, caddies, cops, private eyes, insurance brokers, gamblers, bookies, priests, Franciscan monks, and waiters from chophouses in dowtown Brooklyn. They were generally little potbellied men just like the old man— all the people who came to pay their last respects to Insepctor Coole. Though some were— like the ex-jockeys— little and skinny. There was even a retired giant from the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, a fellow the old man helped through customs once. Even a few of the old Italian gangsters from East New York were there, a couple of the wise guys from the piers, which flabbergasted Rory and Parnell because the old man never said a kind word about “the goddamn guineas,” as he always called them, though it was one of his contradictions that he spoke a beautiful Itlalian (Florentine accent). Even a few Cuban wise guys from the neighborhood showed, not so much for the old man, be because he was the brother of La Bella Eileen (aunt, not sister), wife of the late Jorge Panaqua, the darling of the Cubans still.

—  Michael Stephens, The Brooklyn Book of the Dead (1994)

Junius Van Sinderen, Ombudsman, adds: For more on the history of East New York & thereabouts, please click over to “Welcome To The East,” Brian Berger’s epic Highland Park piece for beloved Irish-American Kevin Walsh’s always lively Forgotten New York. The great movie director, mensch & so much more, Allen Baron, is an East New York native— New Lots Avnue & Logan Street, baby— also. Berger wrote about Blast of Silence for Stop Smiling magazine. Like a true Brooklyn street kid, Allen is still scheming, at the age of 81. Shout to Allen Baron: what’s good, Hollywood? (This question, like the guns that shot Frankie Yale to death in 1928, is loaded.)

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