Italian Americans Are Not Welcome at the Palm Aire Country Club in Sarasota

Wednesday night, May 18, was Brooklyn Night at the Palm Aire Country Club in Sarasota, Fl. So I dressed up as a Brooklyn gangster, thinking it was some sort of a costumed affair.

Nobody said a word until I was finished with dinner. Then, someone calling himself “Larry the Bar Manager” came over to my table and demanded that I take off my $6 costumed gangster hat. Larry had a deep Irish brogue, like he just came over from the old country.

Several other people in the dinning room had the same style hats on, but “Larry the Bar Manager”, didn’t say a word to them.

I refused to take my hat off, telling Larry it was Brooklyn Night and I was just in costume (I also had a black shirt and a $5 white polyester tie with a mobster-like black pin-stripped sports jacket. I went all the way).

“Larry the Bar Manger” then hovered over me (he was standing and I was sitting), and said, “If you don’t take it off, I’ll take it off for you.”

I stood up and met “Larry the bar Manager” nose to nose and said, “You touch me, you skinny Irish prick, and you’re going to have a big problem.”

He then said “Fuck you, you fucking guinea bastard!”

Now I did call him a “skinny Irish prick,” and had he called me a “fat Italian prick,” I would have had no problem with that.

But calling me a “guinea” is the same thing as calling a black person a “nigger.”

In spite of all my anger, rather than cause a huge problem, I left the club, but not after I visited the bar and asked for an audience with “Larry the Bar Manager.”

I waited five minutes, and “Larry the Bar Manager” never showed, so I bit my tongue and went into the night.

What is it that makes people think they can slur Italians by calling them names like “guinea,” but would never dare call a black person the N-word?

Needless to say, I will never go back the the Palm Aire Country Club again, but it galls me Italian-Americans like myself have to put up with this garbage.

I guess it would be better if I were Swiss, or Norwegian or even a Martian. Then, maybe the bluebloods that run places like the Palm Aire County Club would afford people like me a little more respect.

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15 Responses to “Italian Americans Are Not Welcome at the Palm Aire Country Club in Sarasota”

  1. Well the whole thing seems to have escalated beyond what was necessary. He had no right to use the “G” word but you did ,in an unkindly fashion ,call into question the size of his Irish ding dong.

    Maybe his GF had just laughed and pointed at his skinny , as you harshly put it, body part and you stuck the knife in a little deeper.

    Why not give Larry a call suggest you guys get together and probably he will Agree. Then you two can go to the local faux Irish pub for a few pints and some good craic.

    But don’t call him a “Paddy” whatever you do since that could reignite the flames!

    Then the next night take him to the best Italian restaurant in town and wow him with all that superlative food.

    And maybe you should include his GF in the group.
    But if she’s black I’m sure you know what word not to use.

    • Larry the Bartender will be a very lucky man if he never sees me again. Anyone who know me knows I don’t take spit off anyone. My wife is Irish, for Pete sake. He lost any chance at respect when he said if I didn’t take the hat off, he’d take it off for me. Fat chance. He would have put his hands on me, I would have thrown the skinny punk through the plate glass window onto the Palm Aire Golf Course.

      In the past, because of prejudicial insults like this, I’ve done worse to people. But that was 30-40 years ago. I didn’t expect something like this in 2016

  2. mike katz Says:

    Was this written in the 40s? It’s hard to believe that this type of steotyping still goes on.

    One can assume only that our education system and church leaders are failing our Democracy.

    • And the kicker is, they advertised the night as “Brooklyn Night. Leave the gun but take the cannoli,” accompanied by a photo of Mafia white vest with a black pinstripped shirt, and a white tie with a pink carnation; almost exactly what I wore except I had on a Mafia-type fedora. My daughter is a partner in a Sarasota Law Firm and a member of the Palm Aire Country Club. She invited me and my Irish wife to this affair .They will be hearing from her.

  3. Maria Lombardi Says:

    I can definitely appreciate a good mobster themed party. I’m Italian American and know every line of the Godfather/Goodfellas/ and Sopranos. I’m sure your costume made you the life of that event. I have to say…I think what Larry did was extremely unprofessional. In customer service the customer should always be treated with respect and there should never be an instance where a customer, or in this case a member or members family, should be yelled at. That is horrible.

    However, I don’t think this is an issue about race or nationality. When you called him a skinny Irish prick, as witty as it may be, you got the nationality issue started. Him referring to you as a Guinea was just in response to your racial jab. And I must say, although I understand the origins of the word may be offensive, especially when our people were immigrants in this country, I think all in all in this day and age its just a word. And I don’t think you should take that seriously or take offense to that. The yelling at you in public and use of threats, that’s troublesome… But specifically calling you a Guinea, to that I would say, ya? So what?! Personally, whenever I hear the word it makes me think of the godfather and one of my favorite parts:

    Jack Woltz: Now you listen to me, you smooth-talking son-of-a-bitch, let me lay it on the line for you and your boss, whoever he is! Johnny Fontane will never get that movie! I don’t care how many dago guinea wop greaseball goombahs come out of the woodwork!
    Tom Hagen: I’m German-Irish.
    Jack Woltz: Well, let me tell you something, my kraut-mick friend, I’m gonna make so much trouble for you, you won t know what hit you

    Now…. That just makes me proud to be Italian.

    Salúte!

    • Marie, the phrase “Irish prick” is not a racial slur. It’s name-calling for sure, but not a racial slur. The man was Irish with a thick brogue, like he just came off the boat. I doubt he’s an American citizen (I hope he at least has a Green Card). I’m a decorated Viet Nam War Veteran, born and raised in New York City’s Little Italy.

      And I only called him that name after he said “If you don’t take off that hat, I’ll take it off for you.” I said, “Just try, you Irish prick.”

      If he had called me an Italian prick or bastard, we would have been even.

      But no, he called me a “Guinea bastard,” which no matter which way you look at it, is a racial slur, akin to calling a black person a nigger, a Jew a kike, a Puerto Rican a spick, and an Irish person a donkey. Using words like that in New York City, or anyplace else for that matter, is a good reason for a trip to the emergency ward of the nearest hospital.

      • Maria Lombardi Says:

        Dearest Joe-

        Spoken in the words of a true trump supporter. It is offensive that you think the word “Guinea” is the equivalent of calling an African American the n word. There’s no “g word” that’s ever referred to in popular culture where people understand that to be a euphemism for “Guinea.” You insulted his cultural background and then he insulated yours. As far as I’m concerned that was tit for tat.

        I can appreciate a good Italian temper but if you’re really this sensitive about your background (are you a Pisces?) why would you chime into an argument by insulting someone else’s?

        I look to eating some cannolis together.

        -Marie

      • Of course the word guinea is just as offensive as the word nigger. What world do you live in? I guess you’ve never been called a Guinea. It’s exactly the equivalent of the word nigger. If you don’t understand that, and I can’t see why you won’t understand that, I can’t help you. Men have been beat up badly and even killed for calling a hard-working Italian-American like me a guinea. It’s probably the worst thing you can call an Italian-American. Worse than wop, or greaseball. Look up the origin of the slur and then maybe you’ll understand.

        And what does that have to do with Donald Trump? You have some nerve deducing that I’m a Trump supporter. I’m a Bernie Sanders’s man. He’s from Brooklyn too. Go Bernie!

        Only kidding!! I’m a Republican but appalled Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee. I might just have to sit out the upcoming Presidential election.

      • From the Urban dictionary – guinea

        A racial slur used on Italians, mostly Sicilians – a race with curly hair, facial features that closely resemble blacks. This racial slur is like calling an Italian, and especially a Sicilian, a nigger.

        At the time of massive Italian immigration to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centurys, most Americans lived on farms, and used a large fowl called a Guinea to keep the garden and lawns free of bugs and ticks, which they ate in great numbers.

        A flock of Guineas “spoke” in a rapid, excited manner, and the newly arrived Italian immigrants spoke in a fast emotional manner that reminded the Americans of the sound that a Guinea fowl made, so the newcomers were soon dubbed “Guineas” by the local people.

      • FYI – My father was born in Sicily as were all four of my grandparents. If anyone ever called my father or grandfather a “Guinea,” there would have been grave circumstances.

      • In case you didn’t know it, Sicily is only a few hundred miles off the coast of Africa. In the 10th through 12 Centuries, Sicily and southern parts of Italy were invaded by the Normans – Africans. The interbreeding went on for centuries.

        My father and grandfather were both darker than Barack Obama, whose mother was white. My two aunts, my father’s sisters, are darker than Obama, too. I’m dark, but not that dark. But it’s absolutely true that me and almost all Southern Italians have African blood in them.

        When I was in the Navy, southern rednecks called me, because of my Italian heritage, “a nigger turned inside out.”

        Of course, they left the conversation with a few less teeth than when it started.

      • mike katz Says:

        Next time shrug your shoulders and I understand you’re dealing with a jerk.

      • I actually walked away from the confrontation. He was still looking to escalate it. And if you know me, you’d know I never walked away from any confrontation in my life.

        I’ve received two letters of apology from the Palm Aire Country Club; one from the manager of the country club, and one from the President of the Homeowners Association.

        Thankfully, there were witnesses who saw Larry the ex-bar manager confront me and try to physically removed the fedora from my head, which started everything.

        Still, my daughter, Nancy Cason, an attorney and past President of the Sarasota Bar Association, who lives in Palm Aire and is a country club member, sent in a three-page letter of resignation to the three separate Palm Aire homeowners entities she belonged to, including legal counsel to the Home Owners Association. Tough like her father, she told them she would never be associated with any entity that would create an atmosphere where her father could be subject to that kind of treatment.

        That’s my girl!

  4. Italians represent!!!!! Forza italia!!!

  5. Jersey Joe Says:

    The sad reality is that SRQ is sadly becoming like NY Metro with Palm trees.

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