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I got your &quotShillelagh&quot right here

Staff Reports

Long before it was fashionable to hang Old Glory from car antennas, there was one native born son who knew a thing or two about patriotism.I speak of the original, Original Gangsta, one Bill &quotThe Butcher&quot Cutting, who held sway over the street gangs of early 19th century New York.Bill was an imposing figure, who favored a handlebar moustache and a glass eye. Skilled in the art of animal slaughter, Bill packed enough hidden cutlery to kosher kill a legion of leprechauns.When not butchering pigs, cows or the occasional drunken immigrant, Bill kept his one good eye on the toughest gang in Five Points. The position gave him time to observe the incoming filth that sought handouts courtesy of Uncle Sam.As a native born Yank and the son of a war hero, Bill hated immigrants, especially the Irish.&quotThey come off boats crawling with lice and begging for food,&quot he said of the potato eaters, who flooded New York on the heels of famine on the Emerald Isle.If Bill had his way, America would have sealed the borders 150 years ago. Instead, America turned softhearted and opened her arms to the poor, huddled masses yearning to suckle the national teat.That generous policy might have worked when America needed cheap labor, but Bill saw things differently. He knew that a slack immigration policy, sloppy intelligence on all foreigners, and porous borders would leave America vulnerable to attacks from Al-Qaeda.Of course xenophobia was intense in 1846, when New York was an apple more rotten than big. Boss Tweed thieved like an Enron CEO while Bill controlled the streets and made sure every yokel voted for Tammany Hall.This political alliance made Bill a powerful and dangerous prince of the city. As headman, Bill faced constant attack. Naturally, he rose to the occasion whenever danger lurked.Bill initiated a massive donnybrook to settle things with the pushy Limerick lovers. He even got the chance to gut his chief competitor, an Irish priest, whose only son grew into a vengeful teen-aged twerp named Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio).The gory street battle and Amsterdam’s Ahab-like passion for payback serve as the main themes for Martin Scorsese’s terribly disappointing Gangs of New York.The opening fight scene, which has Bill slicing and dicing a dozen Blarney Stone kissers, is a fine start, but from there the film decays like a whiskey drinker’s liver.Amsterdam is little more than a snot-nosed brat who falls under Bill’s wing, protects Bill from assassination, then turns on the aging crime boss in cheese-eater fashion to revenge his dead dad’s memory.The film takes nearly three hours to reach an obvious and inevitable final face off between Bill and the punk.Civil War tensions and race riots serve as side dishes for this overly lengthy yarn about street vengeance.Daniel Day-Lewis delivers as Bill. Still, one Oscar-level performance can’t save the day for a film that is far too long, far too convoluted and extremely empty.Let Rex Reed rave about the film’s &quotbrilliant set designs.&quot But I don’t go to movies to check out props. I go for plot, action, human emotion and full female frontal nudity. Gangs lacked all four.If you choose to see Gangs, you better pack a lunch, two appetizers, a six-course dinner, a dessert tray, a late night snack and some blow, because this is one long mother.How long, I don’t know. But suffice to say that women have given birth to Siamese triplets in less time.Until next time, Mr. Hernandez has left the theater to work on his brogue.Nickey Hernandez is a former private investigator who would gladly defend this county with someone else’s life.


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