Archive for the . Chinatown Category


Posted in . Chinatown, bank robbers, biography, Bonnie and Clyde, Book Reviews, bootleggers, boxing, Chinese gangs, Cosa Nostra, crime, criminal, criminals, crooked cops, crooks, FBI, FBI, FBI informant, Gangs, gangsters, gangsters. mobsters, Italian Americans, killers, labor unions, Lawyers, mafia, mobs, Mobsters, murder, murder incorporated, New York City, New York City murder, organized crime, police, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2017 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

Nothing is cheaper than FREE! “Lady Lawbreakers – Virginia Hill and Bonnie Parker” is FREE for the next 5 days.

“Lady Lawbreakers – Virginia Hill and Bonnie Parker” also contains a third FREE BONUS BOOK: “Mob Rats – Bald Jack Rose,” and a fourth FREE BONUS BOOK “Snakeheads,” making it FOUR books for FREE!” No strings attached. Just download and read.


“Virginia Hill and Bonnie Parker: Mob Molls – Beautiful Broads With Brass Balls – Volumes 3 & 4: is now available on Amazon Kindle.

Posted in . Chinatown, bank robbers, Bonnie and Clyde, bootleggers, criminal, crooks, Drugs, gangsters, Mobsters with tags , , , , on March 27, 2015 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

It’s FREE if you have either Amazon Prime, or Kindle Unlimited.

Product description:

“Virginia Hill was a knock-around broad who bedded down the biggest gangsters of her time. It was said Hill spent more time on her back than Michaelangelo did painting the Sistine Chapel. The word on the Las Vegas streets was that she was the exclusive property of mobster Bugsy Siegel, and it was plain to everyone in the know that Bugsy was just crazy about Hill.

But was Virginia Hill really a Trojan horse in Siegel’s camp; put there by the mob to make sure Bugsy was giving them an honest count on their Las Vegas ventures?

The answer is not that cut and dried.”


“Standing less than five feet tall and never weighing more than 95 pounds, Bonnie Parker was a malicious animal with a taste for blood; from the time she was old enough to inflict damage on another human being.

When she was ten years old, Bonnie exchanged insults with a boy named Noel. Noel had the good sense to walk away from the confrontation. But Bonnie followed him into a drug store and proceeded to beat the crap out of him. Her cousin, Bess, was with Bonnie, but she was powerless to prevent her cousin’s vicious attack.

Bess later said, “When a passing neighborhood woman separated them, Bonnie had a razor blade in her hand and was threatening to cut Noel’s throat, if he ever made her mad again.”

When she was just days short of her sixteenth birthday, Bonnie married a hardened gangster named Roy Thornton. With Thornton frequently being in and out of jail, and also possessing a roving eye for other women, Bonnie soon gave up on their marriage.

Although she never divorced Thornton, months after her nineteenth birthday, Bonnie hooked up with a short, skinny, pimple-faced, homicidal maniac named Clyde “Schoolboy” Barrow, who longed to be a mobster in the mold of his idol, Pretty Boy Floyd.

In the early 1930s, Bonnie and Clyde, employing a revolving crew of killers, committed murder and mayhem in mid-America; robbing banks, gas stations, and stores, and leaving numerous people dead, including nine law enforcement officers.

There is no doubt that Bonnie was just as brutal a killer as Clyde. In 1934, after the Barrow Gang killed two highway patrolmen, Bonnie hovered over one of the dead cops and fired another bullet into his head.

Then, while giggling, she said to Clyde, “Looka there! His head bounced just like a rubber ball!”

Finally, Bonnie and Clyde’s luck ran out. When they were ambushed and slaughtered while they were riding in their stolen Ford, a total of 150 bullets were fired by lawmen. Clyde was hit 17 times, and Bonnie was riddled with 26 bullets.

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer couple.”

To get your copy, hit the link below.

International Best Selling Author Joe Bruno has 3 of the top 6 and 21 of the top 100 Best Selling Books on Amazon/United Kingdom in the category “True Crime – Hoaxes & Deceptions.”

Posted in . Chinatown, bootleggers, Chinese gangs, Cosa Nostra, criminal, criminals, crooked cops, crooks, Drug dealers, killers, mafia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2015 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

Cover Five Points

‘New York City’s Five Points The Most Dangerous and Decadent Neighborhood Ever!” is highest at #2. It’s also ranked #6 in the same category on Amazon/United States.

Product Description:

“The Five Points is personal to me. In 1914, my mother, the youngest of 12 children, was born at 104 Bayard Street. When I grew up, I lived around the corner at 134 White Street. During my youth, the area was called Little Italy. But at the time of my mother’s birth, it was still called the Five Points.

The term “Five Points” was coined in the early part of the nineteenth century because the area had at its center a five-point intersection formed by Orange Street (now Baxter Street), Cross Street (then Park and now Mosco Street – Frank Mosco was my Little League coach), Anthony Street (Now Worth), Little Water Street (which no longer exists), and Mulberry Street.

Across the street from the front entrance to my White Street tenement building, and close enough to reach with three or four leaping bounds, was the imposing city prison called the Tombs. The dark and dreary structure was the third incarnation of a major jailhouse in this area, the first two being located one block to the west on Center Street. The Tombs played an integral part of the Five Points’ sordid history. Hundreds of dastardly individuals were hung at the Tombs, and hundreds of thousands more had the Tombs as their mailing address, some permanently.

In 1896, at the prodding of journalist Jacob Riis, the hideous Mulberry Bend was demolished by the city, and Columbus Park was built in its stead. Before then, the Five Points was predominantly Irish, and it is estimated that 10,000 – 15,000 people, mostly Irish, lived in horrendous squalor in the four square blocks that of “The Bend.” When the Bend’s buildings were razed, the Irish were displaced. Most moved north to Hell’s Kitchen, the area bounded by 42nd Street and 59th Streets, between 7th and 12th Avenues.

After the demolition of Mulberry Bend, the Five Points became the domain of Italian immigrants sprinkled with a few hundred Chinese, who claimed parts of Mott, Pell, and Doyers Streets as their turf. In fact, over the first two decades of the twentieth century, the Five Points district evolved into two intertwining ethnic neighborhoods: Little Italy and Chinatown. It wasn’t until the mid-1920s that the term “Five Points” started to fade from the vocabulary of the area’s residents.

Most remnants of the original Five Points are long gone. But the names of its former inhabitants still flicker across the lips of many New Yorkers, never in a flattering way.

So, fire up your Kindle and read about some of the most distasteful creatures ever to roam the face of the earth. They all inhabited my old Five Points neighborhood in times gone by.”

Amazon/United Kingdom Link:

Amazon/United States link:

Johnny Keyes – The Elected Mayor of Chinatown

Posted in . Chinatown, bootleggers, Chinese gangs, Damon Runyon, gamblers, New York City with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2014 by Joe Bruno's Blogs


In 1924, just as the area was being transformed from the Five Points into Little Italy/Chinatown, my uncle Johnny Keyes (real name Canonico – he married my mother’s oldest sister, Mary) was re-elected the Mayor of Chinatown for a second time term by a paper-thin margin.

According to the June 21st issue of the New York Times, my uncle’s opponent was Le Chung Wei. But with the backing of New York City Mayor, John Francis Hyland, “Red Mike” to his pals, Johnny Keyes came out on top by a whopping 67 votes out of more than 4,500 votes cast. World heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey also contributed mightily, in the form of greenbacks, to my Uncle Johnny’s campaign.

Also a former boxer (not very good), and fight manager/trainer of international renown, Johnny Keyes handled over 100 fighters, including my mother’s brother and Johnny Keyes’s brother – in-law – Oakie Keyes (real name Daniel Mucerino). Five of Johnny Keyes’s fighters, including Pepper Martin and Midget Wolgast, became world champions.

Explaining how Johnny “Keyes” Canonico, an Italian/American, could become the Mayor of Chinatown, the New York Times said:


The Mayor was born on Bayard Street when it was called the Five Points. He was a local leader from public school days and was deemed the heir-apparent to the late Chuck Connors in the latter part of Connors’s administration. When Chuck died 12 years ago, Chinatown regarded Johnny as the logical successor.


The Times went on further to explain how the 1924 election came about in the first place.


There is no fixed tenure of office for Chinatown Mayor. An election takes place any time an aspirant feels that he’s strong enough to cope with the administration. A date for the election is fixed, and at a number of secret polling places, the ballots are marked and counted. Those known to the clerks of the polls as natives of Chinatown and its immediate confines are enfranchised.


After winning re-election, Uncle Johnny Keyes explained his mayoralty duties to the New York Times:


This is a big job and you can’t expect to keep regular hours at it. The Mayor of Chinatown has to sleep with his clothes on. He must be ready at any hour to rush to help Mrs. Grogan keep the old man from throwing the dinner table out of the window. When an argument between children on Mulberry Bend spreads to their parents, he must be able to keep the scratches and bruises down to as few as possible. In other words, he must keep the paddy wagons and ambulances out of Chinatown.


The Chinese don’t get into too many scraps. They are hard-working and happy if they are left alone. Occasionally they have a dispute over a business matter, and this comes to me for settlement. If one steals the customer of another by giving a lower price, I am asked to stop the cutthroat competition. If a Chinaman is slow in making payments on something he bought from another Chinaman, I am asked to speed up the installments. This doesn’t happen often because the Chinese are particular about paying debts.


However, according to Johnny Keyes, the most important job of the Mayor of Chinatown was to polish the bright image of the neighborhood, and not let it be tarnished by outside influences.

Johnny Keyes told the Times:


We have no objection is people want to see a little of Oriental life in Chinatown. But we don’t want the place held up as a nest of opium dens. As mayor, I have fought to keep the moving pictures companies from using scenery in Chinatown in plays in which the Chinese are villains and white girls get kidnapped.


Of late, Chinatown has wanted its Mayor to give the neighborhood a better reputation in the eyes of the rest of the world. My men listen to the talk handed out by the guides on the sight-seeing busses, and when it gets a little too harsh we step in and tell them to stop.


The truth is there are probably fewer guns to a block in Chinatown than anywhere else in the city. The days of the hatchet men are gone, and there hasn’t been a knife thrown in years.


Johnny Keyes also told the Times, that his responsibilities as Mayor of Chinatown included helping the local parents control their wayward offspring.

He said:


Speaking to the young men who appeared headed to the Tombs is another of my duties. Parents whose boys are in bad company ask me to tell the kids they are making a mistake. The young fellows listen. I have spoken with hundreds of boys who have found it easier to steal than to work and have managed to save most of them from getting in bad.


One of Johnny Keyes first actions after being re-elected Mayor was to throw a grand shindig at Tammany Hall, which he called the Chinatown 400 Ball. The expressed purpose of the events was to raise substantial cash, intended strictly for the pockets of Johnny Keyes, after he threw a few monetary bones to the Tammany Hall brass (Keyes obviously got this idea from his mentor, the dearly departed Chuck Connors).

There was said to be almost 1,500 guests at the ball, and the highlight of the night was a grand procession scheduled for 12 midnight, which was supposed to be led by the famous writer, Damon Runyon, a close friend of Johnny Keyes. But Runyon had neglected to take his tuxedo to the grand ball, and a Tammany Hall bootlicker was sent by taxi to fetch Runyon’s tuxedo, which was at his upper west side apartment.

By 1 a.m. there was still no tuxedo. And by 1:30 a.m., a member of the Chinatown 400 floor committee rushed up to the Silver Slipper Box, where Runyon and Keyes were holding court, and said that the taxi with Runyon’s tuxedo and come and gone, but no one from Tammany Hall had been there to take possession of the tuxedo.

Disgusted, Runyon turned to Keyes and said, “This is your ballgame now, Pally. I’m drunk, my belly is full, and I’m off to grander places.”

“Hey, Cousin, you can’t do that (Keyes called everyone Cousin or ‘Cuz’)!” Keyes said.

“Watch me,” Runyon said.

And the next thing Johnny Keyes saw was Runyon’s back shrinking in the distance.

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, Johnny Keyes was nonplused, and he decided to head the grand march himself, accompanied by his lovely wife, Mary (this writer’s aunt).

The Eagle wrote under the headline:


Chinatown Ball Joyous

But Damon Runyon Misses “Tux” and Disappoints.

Was Scheduled to Lead March.

Oriental Setting Lacks Nothing but Chinamen


Promptly at 2 o’clock, Johnny Keyes, Mayor of Chinatown, stepped down from his box to lead the march for the guests.  Mrs. Keyes, in white georgette (sheer silk) embroidered in gold, was at his side, affecting one of the novelty Poiret dolls.


Huge bouquets of American Beauty roses were the favors of the evening. The stately march was followed by the song “Chinatown.” Its jazz not only kept the dancers on the floor, but several went atop tables to give exhibitions of the art decried by the generation not familiar with its movements.


The imposing headdress of the Chinatown 400, said to have cost $4 each,  gave the wearer a dignity alike to a potentate of the Mystic Shrine and a Chinese Mandarin.


Everybody had a wonderful time. Empty square bottles were everywhere.


And Johnny Keyes made a mint.

After my Aunt Mary died at a-much-too-young age, Johnny Keyes moved from his beloved Chinatown to Los Angeles and then to San Diego, where he opened a restaurant named Spaghetti Joe’s, which is the nickname Damon Runyon anointed Keyes with in New York City. While in Los Angeles, Keyes was also the boxing promoter at the East Side Arena.

According to a Runyon syndicated newspaper column in 1937:


Johnny Keyes, the five-foot-three-inch former Mayor of Chinatown and now over 200 pounds, lost over $5,000 last night at the new Del Mar Racetrack in San Diego. His only reply was, “Money don’t mean nuthin’ to me. It ain’t your life. It ain’t your wife. It’s only money.’


When Runyon wrote his famous play, Guys and Dolls, one of the degenerate gambler characters, Nicely-Nicely Johnson, was based on my uncle, Johnny Keyes.

You can’t make up stuff like this.





Besides being a savvy politician, Johnny Keyes fancied himself as somewhat of an entrepreneur, and an international one at that.

In 1925, with the backing of several prominent Chinese businessmen, Johnny Keyes traveled to the Canton region of China with several of his world-class fighters, including lightweight Pepper Martin, flyweight Mickey Nelson and bantamweight Terry Martin, ostensibly to teach the locals the refinements of boxing.

But, as usual, Johnny Keyes had his ulterior motives.

Keyes told the New Castle Herald in New Castle, Pennsylvania, “The Chinks are deficient, if one might not say utterly lacking in pep. A few smacks on the whiskers may stir up something in the fight business there, and then I’ll be the only fight manager on the spot.”

But, alas, Johnny Keyes’s trip to China was also deficient, if one might not say utterly lacking in pep, too.

The idea of an American staging boxing matches in China was slapped down by Chinese officials. And when Keyes proposed to the United States authorities that he should be allowed to import several Chinese boxers into the United States, he ran into the exclusion law – the Geary Act – or as it was previously called “The Act to Prohibit the Coming of Chinese Persons into the United States of May 1892.”

This act of Congress said that only Chinese laborers would be allowed to shuffle back and forth between China and the United States, and not too many of them, at that. And try as he may, Johnny Keyes, the revered New York City “Mayor of Chinatown,” and blessed with the gift of gab, could not convince immigration officials on either continent that the gaggle of Chinese boxers he wanted to bring to New York City’s Chinatown could in anyway be categorized as “laborers.”

As for the tens of thousands of dollars Keyes spent on his trip to China; which was, of course, the money of others, Keyes was again philosophical.

Upon returning empty-handed to Chinatown, Keyes told the Chinese businessmen who had financed his excursion, “It ain’t your life. It ain’t your wife. It’s only money.”

Johnny Keyes was nothing if not consistent.

Johnny Keyes in the middle of the cover of the Boxing Blade. 

Johnny Keyes