May 21, 2007 12:35 PM   Subscribe

What would Rudy Giuliani Do? I'm looking for any sorts of guides that explain the culture/life/upbringing of Rudy Giuliani, specifically in regards to the life of a Italian, Catholic, New Yorker.

I am working on a writing project about Rudy and am looking for more information to help me understand the cultural factors that shaped his life, his family, his culture, etc. I have read his Wikipedia entry and looked at some other sources that were autobiographical, but now I'm looking for broader cultural portraits of where he came from. As far as sources go, anything online is best, but widely accessible books that someone could recommend are good as well (I have access to a university library), and movies (fiction or documentary) that are set in 1950's-present New York with Italian or Catholic themes would also be useful.

I am also specifically seeking out a list of any Italian slang that might be commonly used in New York and any guides about common habits and interactions among family, friends, coworkers, etc. [For instance, I read somewhere that it would be unremarkable if Rudy had a mistress, because that was common where (culturally) he came from.] Finally, I would prefer to be overly broad, as opposed to narrow, in terms of what I'm looking for, so expanding out to the Bernie Kerik, mobbed-up/gangster side of Italians in New York over the recent history (since the 80's) would also be helpful.
posted by davidstandaford to Society & Culture (9 answers total)
The Italian word for mistress you're thinking of is goomah
posted by poppo at 12:42 PM on May 21, 2007

Best answer: There's a Giuliani Time documentary (L.A. Times review).

Personality profile done for the New York Observer.

Newsweek's "Master of Disaster" has some background info.

Rudy!: An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Guiliani by Wayne Barrett, an investigative journalist and senior editor for the Village Voice.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:55 PM on May 21, 2007

Response by poster: kirkaracha: Your links were great, and will be useful for me, but weren't exactly what I'm looking for. Although materials that explicitly mention Guilianii are ok, I would be happy to read stuff that isn't about him, or doesn't even specifically mention him. Instead, I want to find stuff that is about him, in the sense that it explains that culture that he grew up in.

poppo: Thanks for the vocab reminder. I'm hoping that will help me to find some more slang lists about terminology that might give some insight into what Italian life was like in New York.

Any other general resources are appreciated.
posted by davidstandaford at 1:19 PM on May 21, 2007

Response by poster: Poppo: Conveniently, the first google result for goomah is a list of mob-speak from the Sopranos which will be very helpful for my project.
posted by davidstandaford at 1:26 PM on May 21, 2007

You'll pardon my saying so, but I find your fundamental question offensive. A person is not a slave to their upbringing, and their personality and characteristics are not determined by the "group" to which they nominally belong. All Jews are not money grubbing. All Arabs are not suicide bombers. All blacks are not gangster drug dealers.

All Italian Catholics from New York are not the same, either.

The things you say you want to study ("the culture/life/upbringing") are perhaps worthy of being studied, but they do not necessarily explain or predict his current behavior or attitudes. It is bigotry to think they would. (I'm sorry for being so harsh, but there's no other word for it.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:35 PM on May 21, 2007

[I figure there's about 9 chances in 10 of the previous being deleted, but I really felt as if I should post it anyway. Why is bigotry evil and wrong when directed at "persons of color" but totally OK when directed at old white men?]
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:37 PM on May 21, 2007

First, I think that there a number of good biographies of Giuliani (I'd add "America's Mayor, America's President?: The Strange Career of Rudy Giuliani"), but I think there is another direction to go to in your research and that is the role he played in ramping up gentrification and gunning up the police. There are a million holster sniffers out there who would write critical, but sycophantic, things about him, kerik, kelly, and safir, but there's also whole communities that suffered under his rule. These communities were the homes for writers, historians, poets, etc and there is a whole history of what it was like to live in New York under Giuliani from this perspective. Steven's comments I find troubling, but he is right to point out that Giuliani shouldn't simply be painted as the product of an Italian-Catholic community, but as a complex figure who, with an air of loud bullying and quick boasting, helped design and efficiently execute the near total transformation (ahem, many of us would say for the worse) of the metropole. His personal upbringing may provide some color, but his indictment deserves the voices of the communities he attacked.
posted by history is a weapon at 5:24 PM on May 21, 2007

That Giuliani Time movie was good.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:46 PM on May 21, 2007

SCDB: When understanding a person, knowing their cultural background is essential, as how they fit and do not fit that background is as informative as anything else. This applies especially to native New Yorkers, as NYC is such a bastion of etnocentrism. (a fact of which you may be largely unaware, seeing your profile says Oregon. Folks is not folks, in greater NYC).
posted by Goofyy at 12:31 AM on May 22, 2007

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