"I have 50 guys who will kiss me like that"

No wonder New York is such a goldmine for Hollywood! You don't have to know Brooklyn or Italians in Brooklyn, and you don't have to know about Marlon Brando, but maybe it's better if you do. Now, if only the large and small screen stories could read as well as Chris Hedges' story on Sabasto F. Catucci, an incredibly successful businessman who began as a trucker on the Brooklyn docks.

The best "scenes" are these:

He is a rich man now. He has a big house in Westchester and seven Mercedeses, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a summer house in Spring Lake, N.J. He and his second wife, Lorraine, make their own wine. He employs more than two dozen of his relatives among his 1,000 or so employees. He has the rounded, bulky build of a man who has spent a lifetime lifting weights. He has the flashy diamond pinky ring, with his initials in diamonds, that speaks of success. And he is proud: of his company, of America, of the largely Italian-American neighborhood around the docks and of a new treatment he is undergoing for baldness.

. . . .

He grew up in a world in which bravado and fists often resolved disputes. He was thrown out of his Roman Catholic high school for hitting one of the brothers who taught him. And he did not make it through public high school because of "the same thing."

"I had a run-in with a teacher," he said, taking a drag on a slim cigarillo. "I picked him up by his throat."

. . . .

Later, seated in a small Italian restaurant where he goes to eat three days a week with several of his employees, he announced over a glass of red wine that he could take on anyone at the table. No one disagreed. As he spoke, Guy D'Anna, 36, a waiter who also works for him as a longshoreman, came up and kissed him.

"Without Sal," he said, using Mr. Catucci's nickname, "we would all be out on the street."

Mr. Catucci beamed.

"I run my company like a family," he said, as he sat with his arm around Mr. D'Anna's waist. "They got a problem, I got a problem."

. . . .

He does not want to take his companies public. He likes to make decisions with speed, without going to committees and boards that can stymie decisions for months. And he trusts his three sons, his brother, his nephews, two brothers-in-law and his son-in-law to keep an eye on every aspect of the business.

. . . .

He could retire, he said. He has made enough money. He loves his home and said he had just put in 200 tomato plants.

"I have 20 animals," he said. "I used to have 150. I had sheep, goats, cows, ducks, geese and chickens. Now I have 2 horses, 2 cats, one goat, 2 ducks and 15 geese. I love animals. I love looking out the picture window and watching them graze. It is like some people who like to look at the lights and people on 42nd Street."

But he will never retire, he says.

"I have 50 guys who will kiss me like that," he said, when Mr. D'Anna left. "It's not the money. It's the power trip."

About this Entry

Published on May 22, 2003 1:54 PM.

previous entry: F.B.I.-run gay bordello in New York

next entry: the new Downtown