John Hughes: Mafia Maps Copyright © 2010
This phone app is a guaranteed hit.
Mafia Maps offers a tour of New York‘s mob-hunting grounds, from the barber chair where kingpin Albert Anastasia was brutally dethroned to the steakhouse where boss “Big Paul” Castellano ate a final meal of lead.
His app provides current-day photos of the historic Mafia hot spots, a synopsis of more than 70 events and a GPS for going gangster in person.
“That’s the thing for me,” Hughes says about visiting the crime scenes. “What you don’t get from a book narrative is that moment to linger at the scene, to consider the reality of what happened there.”
The five families are traced through the five boroughs, from Manhattan (“Titanic Criminal Empire”) to Staten Island (“Gangster Bedroom Communities”).
Although the Italian Mafia garners most of the attention, other ethnicities get their due: The brutal “Westies,” the Irish gang based in Hell’s Kitchen, receive their gruesome props.
Hughes is a voracious reader of mob lore, reciting the names of books with the tone of a connoisseur: “The Westies,” “Boss of Bosses,” “Murder Machine.”
His app’s mob history dates back decades, from the days of the Castellammarese Wars in the 1930s through the new millennium.
Gotti’s 1985 hit on Gambino boss Castellano is represented, along with the Carlo Gambino-ordered 1957 slaying of Anastasia.
Hughes said he spent 18 months getting the app into shape.
“I did it all,” says the 41-year-old former MTV employee. “I did all the photography, the research, the writing. It’s just simple storytelling.”
Hughes is the kind of guy who gets excited about visiting the basement of a Queens restaurant – because it was once the site of Robert’s Lounge, hangout of Henry Hill and the mobsters of “GoodFellas.”
“That’s where they put Spider!” he says enthusiastically – a reference to the purported burial of a hit victim beneath the long-shuttered saloon.
The app is available on iTunes for $4.99. Unlike many apps, Hughes said he’ll be adding info to his – and has done five updates since its October debut.
“I was thinking this is great for people who liked ‘The Sopranos,’ or still hold up the iconography of ‘GoodFellas,’ ” he said.