Portrayed in New York in the late 60’s/early 70’s,i Mean Streetsii depicts a group of Italian-American mafioso in the days when such types were still slim and trim enough to run from the police. Just compare Mean Streets with The Sopranos to see what I mean here. The former has but a single obese character, and he’s not even the Don, while the latter lacks even a notable eating scene, though there’s no shortage of time spent at the bar, drinking and smoking. It was a different time, you could say.
Speaking of different times, having grown up watching Robert De Niro on screen as an older man, often a grey-haired father figure typecast as the disapproving if humorous stick-in-the-mud,iii seeing him bounce around the screen with all the charisma of Casanova in his role as Johnny Boy was a delight, and a present reminder how aging slows one’s activity. De Niro really is a gem here, his love of the moment and his inability to see beyond it are so perfectly balanced with his silver tongued purchase of one sunrise after another. The man can act.
As to the film’s themes, while it’s ostensibly about sin, forgiveness, and redemption – littered as it is with firey red liturgical allegories – it struck me as a case study in webs of trust. Take Harvey Keitel’s character, Charlie, who finds himself limited in his professional aspirations for as long as he chooses to align himself with ne’er-do-wells like Johnny Boy. So while Charlie has correctly chosen to associate himself with gentlemen of influence, and also desires to work his way up their ranks, that he’s unable to sever the anchoring ties of Johnny Boy and her sister, also his lover, prevents his luftballon from taking flight.
Charlie’s struggle at the margin between two immiscible worlds is not materially unlike any number of Bitcoin would’ve-could’ve-should’ve-beens who have and continue to refuse to fully answeriv the call of the #b-a WoT, and even those in the #b-a WoT who still willingly live in USAschwitz.
From a slightly different angle, Mean Streets also depicts the naïve stupidity of those who look to conduct business without a WoT. The following scene says it all :
Two YOUNG BOYS about 15 years old walk up to CHARLIE.
BOY #1: Hey, you sell firecrackers?
CHARLIE: Firecrackers! No…no.
BOY #1: You know where we can get some?
CHARLIE: Sure, see that guy over there…
He points to MICHAEL.
CHARLIE: …him. He’s got the best.
The BOYS go over to MICHAEL.
BOY #1: Hey – fella…you sell firecrackers?
MICHAEL:v Sssh! Quiet. (He looks around) Y’know that’s illegal.
BOY #2: Well the guy over there said…
MICHAEL: Yeah, yeah, never mind. You gotta be careful.
BOY #1: We went down to Chinatown but they don’t have any.
MICHAEL: Yeah, well, keep away from those chinks. They don’t have shit.
BOY #2: Well, we got $40, and we wanna buy…
MICHAEL: All right! Quiet! For $40 I could give you…
BOY #1: Well, I don’t know if we want to buy all $40 worth…
MICHAEL: Hey! You want good stuff, or you want shit?
BOY #2: Well, we want good stuff.
MICHAEL: Well, my stuff comes from Maryland… you know what that means?
BOY #1: No.
MICHAEL: That means it’s good.
BOY #1: You got sparklers?
BOY #2: And cherry bombs…ash cans…and rockets?
MICHAEL: Ok. For another $5.00 a special on the packs.
BOY #1: No, all we got is $40.
MICHAEL: You sure?
MICHAEL: Ok. Wait here.
MICHAEL goes to TONY, who has been standing in front of the
cafe with a group of boys. They talk for a minute, and go
back to the waiting boys.
MICHAEL: (to the boys) C’mon. Get in the car.
The four of them get into TONY’S car. They drive to
CHINATOWN – DAY, IN TONY’S CAR
MICHAEL: Ok, you guys get out, and wait here for me.
MICHAEL: I gotta get the stuff.
BOYS: Can’t we come with you?
MICHAEL: Nobody sees where I get the stuff. That’s good business. I’ll be back in thirty minutes.vi
They start to get out.
MICHAEL: Hey hold it! Gimmie the cash.
BOYS: Uh…can we give you a check?
MICHAEL: A check? What the…hey, where you kids from?
BOY #1: Riverdale.
MICHAEL: (contemptuosly) Well, maybe they do that in Riverdale, but down here we take cash. Now, you got it or not?
They give him the money.
MICHAEL: Ok. Now wait here…and keep your mouths shut!
The car pulls away.
TONY: How much?
MICHAEL: Not bad. $20. Here, $5.
TONY: Can you spare it?
TONY: (sarcastically) Thanks.
LOWER EAST SIDE – DAY
The car pulls up at TONY’S PLACE. TONY yells to CHARLIE,
who is standing outside.
TONY: Hey Charlie. Get in.
CHARLIE gets in.
CHARLIE: What’s a’matter?
MICHAEL: Nothin’. Just stiffed those kids. Don’t want’em comin’ back and
findin’ you…start asking you questions.
CHARLIE: How much?
CHARLIE: Let’s go to the movies…on you.
MICHAEL: You guys better enjoy yourselves. It’s costin’ me a lot of money.
The moral of the story is thus : choose your WoT very, very wisely.
___ ___ ___
- Though mostly shot in LA due to budgetary considerations. [↩]
- Directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Jonathan T. Taplin, 1973. [↩]
- “I have nipples, Greg, can you milk me ?” [↩]
- That is, to pledge solemn and mortal allegiance to La Serenissima, Bitcoin’s Sovereign. [↩]
- Played by Richard Romulus. [↩]
- Sound like Ethereum, or any other forum scams ? It should. [↩]