Mob Wives and Honor

Karen Gravano was on 20/20 Friday night, promoting her book “The Mafia, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano and Me!”  For those of you who watch, you already know that Karen is a member of the cast of ladies who comprise the “Mob Wives” on VH-1 .  She is also the daughter of Sammy the Bull, probably the most famous Mob informant to have ever been placed into the Federal Witness Protection Program.  Sammy was responsible for at least seventeen murders, but only served five years for racketeering.  He is currently serving a twenty year sentence for running an “Ecstasy” ring.  Perhaps he didn’t realize that the Feds only give you one “get out of jail free” card.

“Mob Wives” is a popular reality show, and I, along with many others,  watch it for a number of reasons.  I am as fascinated by the mob culture as anyone else is.  They have their own ways of doing business, and have been at it for a very long time.  The mob and its’ wiseguys have changed how others run their businesses and labor unions.  There are honor codes, known within their circles as omerta, which is the Cosa Nostra’s code of silence.  There is an actual pledge of this oath that must be made if someone wants to be a made man.  Sammy must have been absent from class that day.  The upside of Sammy’s act of self-preservation is that it brought a whole bunch of wiseguys to justice, including the Teflon Don himself, John Gotti.

We don’t often hear or see much about the women who live in this world, and that was how it was meant to be until recently.  The women don’t get involved in the business. Suddenly, they are everywhere.  It might be that they have a lot of free time while their men are in prison.  They certainly aren’t sitting around watching soap operas or sewing badges on scout uniforms.  These women have their own wars and their own soldiers.  They also are guilty of some other aspects of their behaviors.  I am not visiting the sins of their fathers or grandfathers or husbands on them, although the women come from families that have earned their place in the mobsters’ Hall of Fame.  Their part in the family business is simply staying silent.

These women absolutely love their wiseguys and their lifestyles.  They are showered with houses, cars, jewelry, and clothes.  They just don’t want to know where or how it was obtained.  It’s the mob wives’ version of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.   Each and every one of them is aware of the crimes their men have committed, and it’s an extensive list.  Murders, bank robberies, drug dealing, extortion, illegal gambling – but none of this matters when you are handed a new fur or the keys to an Escalade.  Angela “Big Ang” Raiola appeared on a special sitdown version of “Mob Wives” with fellow cast mates Renee Graziano and Drita D’Avanzo, and gushed about the boots, fur and jewelry she was wearing, all courtesy of her favorite made man.  Drita nearly swooned talking about the swagger that the wiseguys all possess.  I wonder if any of these women has ever asked the question, “How was work today honey?”

The women also have a particularly interesting standard as to when they are no longer going to tolerate their men’s activities.  Lee D’Avanzo, Drita’s soon to be ex-husband, has served prison sentences for both bank robbery and drug trafficking.  That didn’t seem to bother Drita very much.  No, the straw that broke the camel’s back was his history of infidelity.  Guns and bank tellers are alright, cheating is not.  Renee Graziano is madder than hell right now at her ex-husband, Hector “Junior” Pagan.  Junior turned informant against Renee’s father, Anthony “TG” Graziano, and Anthony was arrested on January 28, 2012, partly due to the information provided by Junior.  Renee doesn’t mind that her father was a major player in the Bonanno crime family or that he’s still a loan shark.  I’ll bet that she’s rethinking that reconciliation thing, though.

These women are enchanted with their status and all of the things that come with it.   The problem is that they know that none of what they own was the result of their men teaching school or painting a house or selling insurance.  The life that they so enjoy, all too often, was and is the result of some very innocent people being hurt.  Money and fame – no remorse, no responsibility – the perfect combination for reality TV.

Laurie Kelsoe with Dr. Drew

Also on Friday night, Russell Armstrong’s sister, Laurie Kelsoe made an appearance on Dr. Drew.  She did not command the hour-long segment granted to Taylor Armstrong, but, then again, Ms. Kelsoe is only trying to defend her deceased brother and try to find some answers.  I’m afraid that she wasn’t given the opportunity for either.  Drew Pinsky is squarely on the side of Taylor Armstrong, her champion of sorts in her crusade.  If you happened to see it, well, you were probably as put off as I was.  If you didn’t, then you really didn’t miss anything.

Dr. Drew gave Ms. Kelsoe approximately fifteen minutes of his time, because he was very excited to tell us about some guy who is in love with his car.  He interrupted her answers,  came to Taylor’s defense, again, and talked about her problems with drug addiction.  He then went on to give his diagnosis of Russell’s problems, which he claimed were a form of bipolar disorder, a combination of hypomania and depression.  I don’t believe that Dr. Drew ever even met Russell Armstrong, so I am left with the notion that maybe he and Dr. Sophy shared more than coffee in the CNN cafeteria.

Ms. Kelsoe attempted to explain her confusion regarding the circumstances regarding Russell’s death, as she and her family have been left completely in the dark by Taylor.  She also harbors the belief that Russell was murdered, something about which I am not quite as certain.  I’m no psychiatrist, but this sounds much more to me like a loving family member whose grief is overshadowed by an infamous sister in law, and whose pain might really come from a suicide survivor’s guilt.  It wasn’t something Dr. Drew was interested in discussing in any open and honest way.  She and her family are irrelevant, and Taylor is selling commercial time.

After shutting her down, Dr. Drew set his sights on us, the delusional, hate driven and jealous viewers.  We are just wrong, and we don’t know what we’re seeing, reading, hearing or writing about.  We have no right to cast doubt upon or question anything regarding Taylor’s accusations.  Through the magic of television, he has also diagnosed us and we have been determined crazy.  That may be, but I do know that I have never tweeted myself.   He then threw down the gauntlet, stating that we, the doubters and naysayers,  would be responsible for those women in domestic violence situations who, because of our tweets and Facebook comments and blogs, would remain where they are and not seek help.  Their blood, according to the good doctor, is on our hands.

That may make for very good television, but it doesn’t say much for him. I think most of us know what his motives and interests in the story are.  He tells us he believes Taylor because her demeanor and words are exactly like those of other women who have been battered and abused.  I would agree with him that her words certainly sound like they come straight from a textbook, but as for her behavior, well, what do I know, he’s the doctor.  Taylor has been labeled by some as a narcissistic sociopath.  If there is any truth to that, then she is perfectly capable of pulling the wool over his eyes, never mind Dr. Sophy’s.   We are pretty much in agreement that she is a professional con artist.  Why does he have a problem believing that she might very well be playing him, too?  It wouldn’t be the first celebrity doctor-celebrity patient relationship based on lies.


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8 Responses to Mob Wives and Honor

  1. klmh says:

    I didn’t see the interview but have read from posters on other blogs and they were incensed at his treatment of her.
    I am trying to find an answer to Taylor and there isn’t one. The radiological report she listed on her Facebook page and then took down, is even controversial. I asked my husband to read it, and he is a physician, but not a radiologist. He said the report read the fracture was not new. There should have been an air-fluid level whatever, and there wasn’t. Does this mean the fracture was sustained at an earlier time and because of possible swelling, the muscle and fat weren’t involved until the swelling subsided? He felt the fracture occurred maybe several weeks before the CT was done, but who knows?
    I can’t help but feel that this is a setback for abused women, to seek help. No matter the outcome, I’m afraid Drew had a point. I guess that’s why Im giving Taylor a pass on the abuse case. She may be telling the truth in this one instance in her life. Its not my place to judge. Her story rings true and follows the pattern, if you forget about the timelines and photos, and if you can forget about all of her lies.
    She has hurt Russell’s family and friends, and for that Im truly sorry. Her daughter will be harnessed with her mother’s poor judgement for the rest of her life. Everything revolves around her though and she will never be able to see the damage she has done to so many people.

  2. windycitywondering1 says:

    Watched Dr Drew’s interviews with Taylor and Laurie. IMO, he was not rude but very gentle with Laurie and I just didn’t find her to be credible. IMO, Taylor was in an abusive relationship with Russell and all the photos and timelines don’t change that feeling. Lies are part of that and there seems to be enough going around from everyone involved. Taylor has to find a new way to live and a way to support and raise her daughter.

  3. When Rhianna made the 911 call when Chris beat her up – the issue of DV hitting even the rich and famous was brought to the forefront. There was an outpouring of support.

    What Bravo and Taylor have done for the DV issue is put it back 20 years. I do blame Bravo because they edited last season to make us think that Taylor was lying. They included clips of her castmates telling us they had doubts about Taylor’s story. They never showed us evidence of any physical abuse – instead they showed us a woman on the edge of a breakdown who was manipulative, vindictive, and lying.

    Bravo must have been licking their chops at this story line. What better than to have a housewife throw her husband under the bus. Rumor has it they tried to get Lisa Wu to do it with Ed (over their finances) and she refused and was dropped on the show. NeNe and Cynthia took note, and have made story lines of their marital messes. Shame on Bravo and shame on Taylor.

  4. Viewer 5 says:

    Re: Karen Gravano. If I hear her say “I’m gonna come for you, and I’m gonna keep comin’ for you” one more time, I just may vomit. As it is, I don’t even like the show anymore. Mostly, viewers like honesty in their reality TV ladies. (Hence, Brandi adoration.) But the petty fights and “toughness” and tearing each other apart just gets boring. Ew. Karen’s season 2 performance left me cold.

    Re: Dr. Scmü. I am not easy to shock, but his demeanor when questioning Ms. Kelsoe was disgusting. It took me a long time to scrape my mouth off the floor after realizing that, in my opinion, Taylor had snowed him, and that he was Nancy Grace-ing Ms. Kelsoe. Disgusting. He got hacked to shreds on Twitter™ for it. He could not have been more obvious. I didn’t watch his Taylor Lovefest because I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. 😦

  5. Adgirl says:

    Drew has a serious conflict of interest in the Taylor/ Bravo/Dr Sophy/Malibu Rehad center-go-round.

    Karen Gravazano is the least likable cats memeber on Mob Wives. She is just mean.
    Isn’t it funny how spot on The Sopranos was??? You could slip Carmela right into this group.

    • Adgirl says:

      Obviously, I don’t proof read before posting. Duh. Sorry! LOL.

    • I thought of Carmela when I wrote my post. There were a couple of episodes when she questioned her reasons for staying married to Tony, especially after learning about his latest affair(s). She, too, chose the money and prestige.
      The producers of “The Sopranos” knew their subject matter very well.

  6. DEBRA says:

    Dr.Drew lost all credibility with me when he proclaimed MICHAEL JACKSON as exhibiting “grandiose behavior,” by offering to help get those female journalists out of Korea a few summers ago. Excuse you Dr.Drew, but MICHAEL JACKSON was a superstar for almost his entire life and I think his offer was very patriotic myself.

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