The Whitey Bulger arrest: A goldmine of future news
The arrest of Whitey Bulger
, whose California apartment was apparently crammed with cash and guns
, is just the beginning of a probably years-long sorting out of what the hell happened in this city in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. It can go any number of directions. Whitey loyally clams up. Whitey lashes out at the FBI. Whitey continues to play cutesy with the facts. There will be confessions and trials and books and movies. It ain’t going to end soon.
Not surprisingly, Whitey’s tale has long captivated Bostonians, but it's never really registered with the rest of the nation. There are just too many complicated, local nuances to the distinctly Boston story. I loved Howie Carr’s recent book Hit Man
, a terrific overview of the Boston Irish/Italian underworld as seen through the eyes of hit man Johnny Martorano. But I tend to sympathize with one Amazon reader’s non-Bostonian review of Howie’s book: “There is nothing but murder after murder with very little information to make such an act or acts captivating. It was like reading a series of newspaper articles on these less than successful gangsters.” In other words, we, as Bostonians, are too close to this Whitey story. Most of us know why it all fits into Southie and Somerville and Billy Bulger and State House hacks and “old Boston” and “new Boston” and class and ethnic grudges, and the list goes on. Occasionally, someone outside Boston gets it, such as Martin Scorsese, but he’s the exception, not the rule.
Hopefully, Whitey’s arrest will help straighten out the narrative, for lack of other words, and make clear how Bulger was both a distinct product and shaper of a corrupt city and state, not to mention a corrupter of the Boston FBI field office. So let all the news stories pour forth, There’s still a lot to be learned before this story can be fully understood and told right.