Old Friends, Old Stereotypes

April 7, 2007

Italian-American groups are suggesting that Republican presidential front runner Rudolph Giuliani cut the comedy, and put his Vito Corleone imitation on the shelf for the rest of his campaign. Gangster references in a couple of recent speeches, the groups say, are not doing Giuliani or them any good.

“Thank youse all very much for invitin’ me here tuh-day, to this meeting of the families from different parts’a California,” Giuliani said, recycling his old New York gag to laughter and scattered applause.

Then this week, Giuliani used the reference again, invoking the mob’s code of honor to explain why reporters should lay off his wife. “I am a candidate. She’s a civilian, to use the old Mafia distinction,” he said.


giuliani-and-kerik.jpgThe candidate would face a much more difficult test if, as expected, his old friend Bernard Kerik is indicted on federal wiretapping and tax evasion charges. Giuliani made Kerik his police commissioner in New York City, took him on as a business partner when Giuliani finished his term as mayor, and recommended Kerik to President Bush to become homeland security secretary, a nomination that had to be withdrawn when possible ties to organized crime were alleged.

Giuliani, who is in fact a godfather (to two of Kerik’s children), says he’s learned from his failure to fully investigate his old friend’s background.


There Goes HoJo’s

April 7, 2007

howard-johnson.jpgEver eat at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant? It used to be that the orange roof with a spire on top was a landmark for travelers in search of reasonably priced, reliably edible food as they toured the country by car.

From more than a thousand outlets in its heyday, HoJo’s is now down to three restaurants, nationwide- two of them here in Upstate New York- after one in Waterbury, Connecticut lost its franchise this week.

The Brass House Restaurant has a new sign and the 20 employees have new black and burgundy uniforms, but the roof is still orange and the menu items are still mainly the same.

(The owners) were ordered to stop using the brand name, leaving Bangor, Maine, and Lake Placid and Lake George, N.Y., as the only towns that still have Howard Johnson’s restaurants.

The Associated Press

The restaurant company is hoping to rebuild, starting with the upcoming launch of a new ice cream brand in New York City and Puerto Rico. Founder Howard Johnson (yes, he was a real person) built his business on inventing, promoting and serving 28 flavors of ice cream- a fact proudly announced by a sign on every one of his restaurants.