There’s always a hook that is quick, easy and wrong

There’s always a hook that is quick, easy and wrong

If you’re going to do a hit job on an entire city, at least get your chronology right.

In its Oct. 2 issue, Rolling Stone, did a piece about Roger Dillon and Nicole Boyd, the masterminds — to use the term loosely — of a burglary at a Liberty Township armored warehouse that made them, for a few days, multi-millionaires.

The Rolling Stone writer chose as a literary device the bleakest images of Youngstown that he could find or conjure to explain why two Goth souls would resort to a burglary that would certainly put them on the FBI’s most wanted list, making the likelihood of success very slim.

The reader is apparently meant to conclude that Youngstown will drive two young people who grew up in Salem to retreat first into the escapist world of Dungeons and Dragons, and then to high-risk felonies. As if only desperately depressed Youngstowners immerse themselves in escapist games (and we thought D&D was an international phenomenon) and only armored car companies in the Mahoning Valley need fear robbers and thieves who think big (if not well).

This Youngstown bashing is all pretty tiresome stuff, and various government and business leaders have said so. We’d have been inclined to ignore the whole thing if it weren’t for this passage in the Rolling Stone piece:

“Thirty percent of Youngstown residents live below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is nearly three times the national average, and the median household income is less than half. The grim statistics reflect a state of protracted desperation that first came to define the city more than 30 years ago, on September 19th, 1977, a day known locally as ‘Black Monday.’ It was then that the region’s largest steel company Youngstown Sheet and Tube, announced massive layoffs, an event that signaled the end of the steel economy and the dawn of an era marked by the disappearance of thousands of jobs and the prevalence of so much Mafia-related crime that the term ‘Youngstown tuneup’ became common slang used to describe those assassinated by car bombs.”

One doesn’t follow the other

There is less of a connection between Black Monday and car bombings than there is between Rolling Stone, the magazine, and the maxim, “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” which predates the printing press by 1,500 hundred years or so.

In The Vindicator’s morgue there are more than 100 index cards listing various bombings of cars, homes and businesses covering a 50-year period beginning in 1952. There are no reports of “Youngstown tune-ups” in the late 1970s through today. Bombs connected to the ignition wiring of automobiles were a mob assassination tool of the 1960s, the most infamous being the bomb that killed Cadillac Charley Cavallaro and one of his sons on Thanksgiving weekend 1962 — 15 years before Black Monday.

It’s not a particular matter of pride that Youngstown gangsters found so many ways of eliminating each other, but through the various mob wars in Youngstown, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the people who died by gun, knife, garrote and having their heads wrapped in duct tape outnumber those who died in car bombs.

The point is that the Mahoning Valley has been taking cheap shots for a long time — some more warranted than others. But anyone reading the “Great Goth Armored Car Heist” should at least be forewarned that the author has no more idea what inspired Dillon to crack his employer’s safe than he has of what causes tens of thousands of other people to continue living and working in the Mahoning Valley, enjoying its advantages, recognizing its shortcomings and striving to make it a better place.

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