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bigross86
12 Dec 03,, 08:47
13 Lessons A Bronx Tale Can Teach You

By Mr. Mafioso

Buona sera boys.
Let's cut to the chase. A while back some kid sent me an e-mail, bitching and complaining about this and that, and how he wants to start his own crew, etc. Then he wrote something worth a dime -- he wrote that I taught him a lot about life, and the only other thing that ever taught him as much was Robert De Niro's A Bronx Tale.

It was a freaking coincidence too. A few weeks ago, I meet Chazz Palminteri, one of the main actors in the movie and the guy who wrote the movie based on his one-man play. He was a stand-up guy and knew what he was talking about it, so I decided to see the flick again just to see if this kid that e-mailed me had any brains.

And guess what? He was right. The movie is like the Bible, full of lessons about life, with lots of baseball bats and fat guys playing cards. On top of that, it was a f*cking good movie. It was Bobby D.'s first movie as a director and he knew what he was doing. It wasn't my biography or anything, but parts of the movie gave me flashbacks.

All right, enough with the sentimental crap, let's get back to business. A Bronx Tale was a good learning tool, but if you see the movie, don't get caught up in the "gangster" lifestyle and forget the lessons it teaches you. And just in case you're too dumb to know what I'm talking about and can't recognize those lessons, I'll recap them for you, without even hurting your kneecaps.

Lesson 1: The importance of family
The kid in the movie doesn't listen to his father and you can't hold that against him; we all have to make mistakes. But the kid always knew that what his father told him was in his best interests. Love is sometimes communicated in strange, harsh ways, but that doesn't mean it isn't love.

Despite all the crap this kid went through, his family was always there to support him. It was the values that his father taught him that kept him from turning into a stronzo, buried six feet under before he was old enough to shave. Never forget how important family is.

Lesson 2: It's better to be feared than loved
Like Chazz Palminteri's character Sonny says, "It's nice to be both, but very difficult." He goes on: "Fear lasts longer than love... it's fear that keeps them loyal."

Power and money help instill fear in others and allow you to take control and become a father figure to your crew.

"I treat my men good, but not too good, or I'm not needed. I give just enough so that they need me, but they don't hate me," says Sonny.

Love is fleeting, that's why I don't trust it. Friendship? It's BS. Most friendships in my business are based on money and are meaningless once the money stops. The guy who laughs at my jokes only does so because I give him a paycheck. I know that and he knows that. Same thing goes for those skanks who ask about your job and your car before they ask your name.

Keep your crew together by making them fear you. I already wrote about this in a past column so I won't waste more time on it.

Lesson 3: It costs $20 to get rid of a problem
In the movie, some punk owes Calogero, or C (Lillo Brancato), $20. Since the movie took place in the '60s, breaking a few fingers might have been worth it. The punk always avoids C and he wants to break the punk's head. But before he does, he gets some good advice from Sonny.

"It costs you $20 to get rid of him."

The point was that for $20, this punk from the neighborhood would never ask C for money or bother him again. For the rest of C's life, this guy would fear him and stay out of his hair for good.

Your lesson? Sometimes you have to take a loss, but in the end you're better off cutting your losses and moving on. Get too hung up on the past, especially on small things, and you'll never move ahead.

Lesson 4: Availability
Sonny talks a lot about availability. He chooses to live in his neighborhood because he can stop trouble immediately. The people that love him in the neighborhood see him every day, and they feel safe. His enemies think twice about getting cute, because they know he's close.

This is a universal lesson to stay close to the things that are important in your life. If you are some hotshot manager at a company, don't stay away from your troops; keep your ear to the ground. If you are a father, make yourself available to your kids.

Staying close to the action lets you spot problems before they become cancers.

Lesson 5: Sinatra is a great singer
What? I have to explain this to you? What's the matter with you?

Lesson 6: Never rat on no one
C had a life-altering decision to make when he was young. He could have ratted on a murder Sonny committed but he knew better. He knew better than to be a rat because as he said, "A rat is the lowest thing you can be in my neighborhood."

Lesson 7: Sometimes you do good things for bad people
When C doesn't rat on Sonny, he is not only saving his reputation, he is saving his own life and his father's life. There are times in life when you'll have to do things you know aren't right for the greater good.

It's life. It's not a goddamn fairytale. People have a hard time understanding this -- they see things in black and white, but there are plenty of gray zones.

Here's a quick example for those missing a few screws. If the local tough guy gives you a gun to hide for him, hide it and shut up. Don't be a wise ass and go to the cops with your little piece of evidence. Capisce?

Lesson 8: There's nothing sadder than wasted talent
I've always said, a loser isn't someone who's stupid; he never had a chance, God made him stupid.

A loser is a guy who could have made something of himself but didn't. A loser is a guy with wasted talent. Don't be that loser.

Lesson 9: The "Mario" test
One of the young turks in the movie talks about doing a test on a girl by taking her on the highway, getting the attention of a truck driver and seeing if she blows you in front of him. If she does, don't make plans to marry her.

The test sounds stupid, but it's legitimate. If a girl has no respect for herself, especially in public, she's no good. Drop her like a bag of yesterday's bread.

Lesson 10: Nobody cares
Sonny teaches C that nobody cares. Nobody cares about anyone but themselves. You should do what you want because nobody cares about you anyway.

Sonny tells C that he shouldn't care about Mickey Mantle, because Mickey Mantle doesn't care about him.

Some people are obsessed with other people's opinion. Who gives a damn? Nobody cares. Take care of yourself -- no one else will.

Lesson 11: Never underestimate your enemy
In another scene, some fat bikers walk into Sonny's bar and disrespect him and his establishment because Sonny was polite. They underestimated him, and it cost those cafones.

Don't mistake patience or a gentleman's demeanor for weakness. Always assume the worst in your enemy and never underestimate the lengths he'll go to, to destroy you.

"Now yous can't leave."

Lesson 12: Guns don't make you tough
If you think owning a piece is going to make you a tough guy, think again. Toughness is what you show when a gun is pointed at you. A gun will never give you respect, importance or, outside of the moment you point it, any power.

Lesson 13: The "door" test
I've been doing this one since I stole my first car back when I was 14. The "door" test basically boils down to this: When you take a girl out for the first time, lock the door on your side of the car, open her door first, walk around the back, and see if she unlocks the door for you. If she does, she's a keeper. If she doesn't, she's a selfish bitch and you should consider yourself lucky to have recognized that early on.

It's all in the little details; remember that.

That's it for today.

Watch your backs and keep your noses clean.