Thursday, August 25, 2011

When Addressing St. Peter "Speak Aramaic"

A sad day here in the Burro Hall family. Philly cheesesteak king Joey Anthony Vento (of the Mayflower Ventos), the first nativist knucklehead mocked on this blog back in 2006, has died of a massive coronary brought on by a lifetime of eating Philly cheesesteaks.

Obituaries seem to be painting him as some kind of straight-talkin', colorful crank, so we thought we'd link to Michael Currie Schaffer's excellent 2007 New Republic piece:

A born showman, Vento mugged for the cameras all the while. He told a reporter that Mexicans carry disease into the U.S. because they "play and drink out of the same water." He defended himself against critics with a quick recourse to that last refuge of the demagogue: "I say what everybody's thinking but is afraid to say." When the cameras finally left his restaurant, he took his show on the road, traveling to a rally in the northeast Pennsylvania town of Hazleton, where GOP mayor Lou Barletta championed anti-immigrant ordinances that have since been struck down in federal court.

...Before he put up his English-only sign, Vento's most prominent political statement came in outfitting Geno's staffers in t-shirts calling for Mumia Abu-Jamaal's execution. In interviews, Vento has maintained that his own ancestors were disadvantaged because no one ever forced them to learn English on arrival from Italy. A veteran big-city pol like Giuliani might well have admired his ability to waltz from white ethnic griping to high-minded public policy reasoning. A little staff work, though, ought to have demonstrated that Vento was more than just another simple restaurateur with his mind helpfully focused on integrating non-English speaking immigrants into the modern U.S. economy. They might, for instance, have simply checked out his arm, which has a tattoo of the confederate flag. Vento says it's an homage to the old cartoon character Johnny Yuma, the rebel. He must have liked that show a lot, because he also had the flag on several of the Harley-Davidsons he keeps across the street from his restaurant.

The Burro Hall Editorial Board never wishes death on anyone. But we don't mourn every death, either.


Dave said...

He may be the first you've mocked, but fortunately for BH, there's an endless stream of miscreants to follow.

dorita loca said...

Live by the Cheesesteak, die by the Cheesesteak.

Amiga del Lorax said...

que descance en paz y con muchos pugs