Published November 8, 2010
Now, y'all, regular listeners know Phillip Carlo
Philip Carlo was born and raised on the mean streets of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, ground zero for the New York Mafia. As a youth, Carlo was quite literally surrounded by mafiosi. He quickly learned their walk and talk, their culture, rhyme and rhythm. When sixteen years old, Carlo was shot in the head in a gang war on Avenue X. That bullet turned Carlo's life around. While recuperating from the severe wound, he began reading voraciously. He discovered the magic of books for the first time.
I remember the first time that I spoke w/Phil . I had him on re:
THE ICE MAN: CONFESSIONS OF A MAFIA CONTRACT KILLER
-about serial murderer, killer for five mafia families: Richard Kuklinski. I had told Phil that The IceMan should come with a warning : DON'T READ WHILE ALONE, IN A QUIET HOME OR APARTMENT ! EVERY sound makes you jump ! Phil and I connected on the first interview-that IceMan interview. Phil became, not only a personal favourite, but an audience favourite. We did hours on The IceMan as audience,host,and,I dare say Phil, wanted more. Phil even connected with The IceMan's ex-wife and we did a three-way interview. All eyes were teary as the former Mrs Kuklinksi talked about the violence at home and living in terror. I remember playing The Rabbit,by Jimmy Wayne the song I often play about domestic violence-during the interview breaks,and the former Mrs IceMan being 'impacted' by the song. Well,after over three hours of IceMan with Phil, we were bonded.
Phil and I spoke more off air than on. I spoke with him when he was in NYC-I spoke with him when he was in Florida. Phil became a dear friend that I've never had a chance to put my arms around.
Phil made many visits to the show--his words, both written and spoken, keeping us on seat's edge with stories like:
Through many phone calls,I got to know Phil's devoted, loving wife,Laura. Phil encouraged Laura to write. Laura was filled with frustration as her father ,
New York contractor Eddie Garofalo, was murdered by
Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano,
who confessed to murdering 19 people during his long, vicious career as a New York Gambino Crime Family hitman and later underboss to John Gotti.
Both Laura and her sister Karen came on the show and read from their, yet unpublished book--at Phil's urging. We were able to get a glimpse into their lives and their pain resulting from our government's 'cutting a deal' with their father's murderer-Gravano, and releasing him from prison.
Some time ago, I received a call from a friend in NYC who works with extraordinary artist Michael Colavito who said " the shoot with Phil Carlo went great-Michael got some really interesting shots....Phil being wheelchair bound..."
I immediately called Phil, who told me, "yes,Louie....I have ALS,Lou Gehrig's..."
Phil did many interviews with me from his wheelchair,to his bed, to his wheelchair on the sands of Florida's beaches.
This summer I apologised to Phil - I hadn't called in awhile and told him that I, selfishly got caught up in my federal legal issues. Phil said " Louie,Louie, I know you love me, don't worry, I'm fine, tell me how YOU are doing..." That from a wheelchair bound man, unable to move from his neck-down, on a breathing machine.
Those privileged to hear Phil's interviews of the past years could hear the ever-present sound of his 'breathing machine'. Phil would say "Louie, does it sound ok or is the machine too noisy?"
I already miss the sound of Phil's 'breathing machine'. I received this after today's show:
Philip Carlo was born on April 19, 1949 in Brooklyn, New York and died on November 8, 2010 in Manhattan, a victim of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease...
I called Phil last Friday and his assistant was unable to connect us-something about his machine...I remember saying to her "Please give him a hug for me" I didn't know that would be the last hug.
Through the fish-eyed lens of tear stained eyes
I can barely define the shape of this moment in time
And far from flying high in clear blue skies
I'm spiraling down to the hole in the ground where I hide.
If you negotiate the minefield in the drive
And beat the dogs and cheat the cold electronic eyes
And if you make it past the shotgun in the hall,
Dial the combination, open the priesthole
And if I'm in I'll tell you what's behind the wall...
Thought I oughta bare my naked feelings,
Thought I oughta tear the curtain down.
I held the blade in trembling hands
Prepared to make it but just then the phone rang
I never had the nerve to make the final cut.