Every morning at 5:30 a.m., Salvatore “The Spanker” NotitalianSteroTypo is woken up by his alarm playing the theme to The Godfather. Every day is a beautiful day in Sal’s world. He has a loyal wife who’s borne him five beautiful children, a beautiful mistress who wants to remain just that, a consigliore whom he trusts implicitly and a crew of disciplined, loyal minions who’ve helped Sal become the wealthiest and most successful Don in the city. Sure, some people may think he’s living in a McMansion and that he’s “new money” (whatever that is; his family has been in America for 80 years!) but what other people think of him is not information that Sal needs or cares about.
As soon as his alarm goes off, one of his soldiers—Vincent, a young man whose father was one of Sal’s best capos right up to his murder in the meat processing plant-—comes into the room with Sal’s dressing gown and cup of tea. (Peach ginger has always been Sal’s beverage of choice in the morning—no need for caffeine; Sal’s a virile and motivated man with no need for artificial stimulants.)
As Sal slips into his silk robe he invites Vinnie to sit with him in the alcove off his bedroom. The Family has recently invested in 43 solar and wind power companies in Naples, and Sal has slowly let Vinnie become one of the point guys in the various dealings. Today Sal wants an update on how their new green venture is going. Vinnie runs him through the accounts, the employees and how law enforcement is being dealt with on both sides of the Atlantic. So far so good, Vinnie reports; creaming off millions of euros from the Italian government and the European Union through the various grants they get is happening; all parties are on board, from the manufacturers to the plant operators, and from the distributers to the end customers who may or may not understand why they’re getting such sweet deals.
After Vincent leaves, Sal begins dressing, and he’s imbued with a sense of peace and self-worth; he created many of the successes this family has seen during the past 50 years. He’s chosen the right people for the jobs, kept his various business ventures afloat and away from the prying eyes of other families and the law, and is witnessing how the grooming of his sons is starting to bear fruit: All three are working their way to associate status, and soon they’ll be soldiers.
Sal’s wife of 25 years, Jeannie, is downstairs making breakfast. Sal didn’t see her last night as he got in late after an ad hoc meeting with the capo he has running the takes on the 1400 block of South Wisteria Lane. Jeannie was already in her bedroom.
As Sal leisurely eats a typical Italian breakfast, a prima colazione, consisting of a caffè latte and some rolls with butter and jam. He kisses Jeannie as he heads out the door and signals to his driver, Monte, that he’s ready to head into town.
Sal has a lunch meeting today at Vesuvio’s with his consigliore, Boris. (Sal’s an international guy and Boris proved his loyalty to Sal when he worked over the Polish energy companies for a real nice slice of the babka before leaving the Kielbasa Posse in Philly and joining up with Sal’s familia.) Apparently, something’s going on with the six Korean laundries and dry cleaning stores owned by Cho Hee Choe, a woman whose reputation (not to mention girth) is simply too frightening for any other crime family to get involved with.
Sal has been dealing with Cho Hee for 15 years now, and before that his father dealt with her father. It’s always been the same agreement: Sal’s family protects Cho Hee from the thugs in the neighborhoods where she has her dry cleaner stores and, in return, Cho Hee offers some… appreciation every week from each of the stores.
Apparently, Cho Hee gave Sal’s best capo, Frank, some lip and attitude when he came around last week and nearly didn’t hand him her envelope. If Sal is known for one thing it’s that he is very, very good at keeping his family, his associates and the people who owe him money in line. Cho probably thought that Sal wouldn’t come around in person to… persuade her because everyone knows her new son-in-law is the Assistant Police Commissioner. And she was right. Instead, Sal asks Boris to pay Cho Hee a little… courtesy visit and try to give her a taste of what might be waiting for her if she chooses the wrong route.
That problem solved (and oh yes, it will be solved; of that Sal is sure) Sal takes his leave of Boris and heads to the club to shoot some pool and catch up with Al, his union guy. While things have slowed up a bit since all the big busts in the 1980s, Sal’s family still does a brisk business in construction. In fact, more than 60 percent of all the new buildings going up in downtown have either Sal’s fingerprints all over it or Val’s (the Boss of the South Side family). Sal and Val’s family, as far back as the 1920s, have always had a bit of a stranglehold (every pun intended) on various union leaders; bids are both exorbitant and rigged, though some non-union companies are allowed to step in every so often just to keep things looking… legit. And anyway, Sal’s not a monster.
Then the day’s coming to a close and it’s time to meet everyone—Jeannie, the kids, the other wiseguys—at Carmine’s on Penn, a family favorite and a safe place for Sal to sit at the head of the table and admire the empire he’s amassed.