Whitey Bulger: And it’s no, nay, never, no, nay, never, no more. Will he play wild rover. No never, no more.
Just as we’re settling down from our 24/7 obsession with/saturation coverage of the Stanley Cup Boston Bruins - Where does Zdeno Chara live? What’s going on in Marc Savard’s head? Just how much did the Bruins’ bar tab at the Foxwood’s Casino run? When will the championship caps be back in stock somewhere? – Boston is now visited by 24/7 obsession with/saturation coverage of a less pleasant sort.
Since James “Whitey” Bulger - number one on the FBI’s Most Wanted List since Osama bin Laden was taken down – was captured in Santa Monica after 16 years on the lam, it’s been all Whitey, all the time on TV news and in the newspapers.
And I’ll confess that I’m one who, at least a few days into it, can’t get enough of it. Forget Bulger’s gangster bona fides: involvement in at least 19 murders, at least a couple of which involved victims who’d had nothing to do with criminal activity. The South Boston “protection” racket he ran, that protected nobody so much as it did himself. The drugs he let ruin his community, as long as he stayed at arm’s length from the street transactions, as long as he got his baksheesh. The “romance” of his involvement with some IRA gun running.
There’s all the rest of it.
After all, it’s not every day that a psychopathic criminal – or, if I must observe journalistic niceties, an alleged psychopathic criminal - gets caught after spending 16 years hiding in plain sight with his girlfriend. Especially when he’s managed to evade prosecution for much of anything during the many years during which he ran the Winter Hill Gang, Boston’s Irish mob, largely because he was cozily cultivating his position as an informant to the largely Irish-American Boston FBI office by ratting out his competition: New England’s Mafia. And when, once his boy-o luck ran out and the po-po finally started to close in on him, he then managed to get out of town quick, thanks to having been tipped off by a corrupt FBI agent (Nice job, Zip Connelly!), who’s now doing 40 years for his involvement in a Bulger-sanctioned hit. And especially when the (alleged) psychopathic criminal is the older brother of the former, long-serving President of the Massachusetts Senate, not to mention the former head of UMass. (This “tale of two brothers” could only have been improved on if the third brother had been a Catholic Church potentate, rather than a flunky with some nepotic state job.)
As far as I know, I never laid eyes on Whitey Bulger. My brother Rich did live in Southie for a while, so I may have passed Whitey. Unknowingly – just as well.
Living near the Massachusetts State House, I’ve seen Whitey’s bro Billy Bulger plenty of times walking around. Not to mention that, on a couple of occasions, I tuned in to the televised broadcast of the St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast that Billy B used to preside over, which was a combination of Wild Colonial Boy paddywhackery and political roast. Billy B could be funny, but his wit often edged towards the cruel, and he absolutely gave off a don’t f’ with me vibe. Must run in the family. (Few would dare to roast back at himself.)
The husband of a friend of mine worked for years in the State House, and, at some point in time got into William Bulger’s cross-hairs. I can’t remember all the details – I suspect my friend’s husband was collateral damage to someone else’s political tiff – but he lost his job.
My other claim to Bulger-ite fame is that my niece Molly attended pre-school for a while with one of William Bulger’s grandchildren. In Boston’s Federal Court House, no less, where Whitey Bulger and his consort, Catherine Greig, were arraigned, or pre-arraigned, or whatever it was that happened to them the other day when they were flown back from California to face the music that won’t be Mother Machree and Danny Boy, that’s for sure.
Boston is abuzz with Conspiracy Theory.
No one believes that within a couple of days after the FBI ran some ads on women’s shows (like The View) asking for help in finding Greig, someone miraculously stepped forth to dime her.
Instead, the theory goes, the FBI finally decided to bring Whitey back in, now that he’s so old he can plead “can’t remember” when it comes to the as-yet-uncaught past and present agents that are compromised by their association with Whitey. (Rumor has it that at least 14 FBI agents could have done him “favors”.)
Or the last potentially compromised FBI agent is now dead, so there was an “all clear” for reeling Whitey back in.
Or Whitey’s dying, so he set things up so that someone could call in the tip from overseas (Iceland, they tell us. Ireland would have been just too obvious), take the $2.1M reward – $2M for Whitey, $100K for Greig – and hold on to it until Greig does her (short) time for harboring a criminal – although it’s not clear who was harboring whom.
I’m sure that the Boston journalists who had books out on Bulger and/or Bulger are now madly typing up new final chapters for the inevitable reissues. And I suspect that more than a couple of all-new novels, true crime stories, and screenplays are in the works – although is any screen play going to improve on The Departed, in which Jack Nicholson chewed the scenery playing the character based on Whitey.
Since I doubt we’ll ever get to the real truth about what happened, we’d all be spared if Whitey is, indeed, on his last legs, and the next we see of him is in a hearse pulling up to Gate of Heaven Church for his funeral.
I sure don’t want to be on the Whitey Bulger jury. I don’t want to sit in a courtroom with this despicable, stone killer bastard. I don’t want to hear any romanticizing about what a Robin Hood he was to the good souls of Southie, any mention of his vaunted role in taking down the Mafia – as if Italian mob = bad, and Irish mob somehow = good. I don’t want to see Billy Bulger sitting in court every day out of confused and misplaced loyalty to his brother. (In truth, I almost but not quite felt badly for Billy Bulger when reporters were attempting to interview him outside the courthouse where he’d gone to see his brother for the first time (presumably) in 16 years. At 77 (to Whitey’s 81), he’s an old man, too. For all his Triple-Eagle (Boston College High, BC, BC Law) “aura” of Latin-dropping erudition, I want to believe that he’s finally coming out of deep denial about just what his brother has done over the years – a denial that I think most of Boston has beaten him to the punch on. Understandable, that: he’s not our brother, after all. On the other hand, we just learn that Billy Bulger’s daughter lived in Santa Monica, a few years before Whitey fled, not too far from where Whitey and Catherine had their flat. Which may have been rented out to them years before they took off. So now we get to play endless rounds of ‘what did Billy know and when did he know it’.)
In any case, I sure am interested in seeing how this one plays out.
And, when it comes down to it, I’m just as glad that Whitey was hiding out in Santa Monica, not somewhere in Ireland.
However it ends up: dead before trial, life (however short) in state prison, death sentence in Oklahoma or Florida (where he could be tried for murder), I suspect that Whitey Bulger’s wild Irish
rose ruse, wild colonial boy, wild rover days are over. At least I hope so. It’s not possible that this guy will be able to cut some sort of scot-free deal with the Feds, is it?
I'll go home to me parents, confess what I've done,
And I'll ask them to pardon their prodigal son.
And if they forgive me as oft times before,
I never will play the wild rover no more
Labels: where we live