Aug 9, 2020

Courtesy of Terry and George, We Zoomed With a (Executive) Hoodlum

For MBC’s July meeting, we were treated to an hour Zoom “sit down” with John Costello, the author of our latest book, Executive Hoodlum: Negotiating on the Corner of Main and Mean, an “inside baseball” autobiography of growing up in a mob connected family and straddling the line between the corporate world and the underworld.

John graciously answered our questions about his life, the book, and what it was like to be a regular guest at the Playboy Mansion – and yes, it sounds a lot like the party scene from movie, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.  At the end of his hour, we all felt a bit more braggadocious.  But all posturing aside, John admitted that writing the book – which took over 5 years – was a cathartic process -- to come clean with his corporate friends about his not so savory Chicago family’s roots.  While he has lived “large”, the loss of many family members and childhood friends to addiction, the judicial system, and “questionable circumstances” has taken a toll. Perhaps John’s life is best described by the old adage that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.  But the flip side is what does kill you, kills you. 

John also said the book was a legacy for his young children (two sets of twins) and in the end how the birth of his children helped him move away from his Chicago mob ties.  Finally, he hoped the book would serve to help those feeling trapped in their place in society based on their family’s history see that there is a way out.

Frankly many of us coming into this meeting were ready after reading EH, to give it a mediocre score based on Costello’s writing style.  But after an hour with him, we knew John and the book were the real deal.   Maybe Costello is not the greatest literary talent MBC has read, but certainly he is the most straightforward and fascinating author we have encountered.  Of course it helped that John’s Zoom hour with us felt like being in an afterhours lounge bar with John regaling us with story after story of his upbringing around Chicago’s organized crime figures to his eventual success in corporate America.   His verbal retelling of several passages from the book were so much better than his words on the written page.   John’s willingness to give us an hour of his time and his engaging responses to our questions earned EH an extra point on the MBC 10 point rating scale – a first in MBC history.  It might have even been two additional points had we had access to cigars and whiskey snifters.

John ended his portion of the MBC program with a teaser about a possible sequel.  We won’t give away any details about the second book except to say it involves more family members and the US Attorney for the Sothern District.  John – an unsolicited suggestion from the MBC is to include your experiences with making a TV deal based on the book around control, monetary considerations (points, percentages) and all the people in between (book publishers, agents, producers etc.).  We think that would make for fascinating reading.

John -- The MBC appreciates you taking the time to talk with a bunch of privileged hot tub soaking, white wine drinking Marinites.  And a big shout out to MBC George for using his college rowing connections to entice Costello to attend. 

Attendance at July’s MBC meeting was light with only eight or nine attendees.  Terry, the MBC host for July, who recommended EH, set another MBC first by not showing up to tout his own selection for 45 minutes.  There was some concern that his absence was harbinger of a “no knock” Fed raid on our Zoom meeting with Terry ending up in a witness protection program in Spain, but show up he did, tardy and as far as we can tell, not wearing a wire.  Tom attempted a phone Zoom connection from Grey Lodge but was “disappeared” after asking John Costello a question.  Jack, in his faux Zoom library, learned he could join Dan’s Saturday early AM golf fivesome by strolling out his back gate.  George and the pugs attended from Nevada having just escaped the latest COVID upsurge in Arizona.

Otherwise no major changes in the status of the attending members. 

Dan, next month’s host, signed in late from the “man cave” and with his excuse -- aside from not reading the book -- the plethora of Zoom meetings he already attended that day and then having to “pick up the dog”.  Which, by the way is a great segue to the next MBC meeting on August 10th, method of attendance TBD.  Next month’s book and 1996 Man Booker (now just Booker) Prize winner is “Last Orders” by Graham Swift, which, according the accounting firm of Dan, Dan and Dan won with a total of five votes.  With so few votes, one wonders if Andrew somehow stuffed the ballot box again resulting in another English writer/(Man) Booker winner on MBC’s reading list?  P.S. Don’t watch The Last Detail, the 1972 movie.  While a fine Jack Nicholson flick, it is not based our next book.

Hope to see/view more of you in August.

-- Larry


  1. Although I did not read that book, I must say Larry that was by far the best summary of a MBC meeting!!! πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

  2. I take great exception to Dan's comment. That said, yes, Larry's write-up was a welcome and timely change from the status quo!!!

    1. 🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣

  3. Larry -- great writeup, thanks! Of course, any writeup at this point is welcome given the recent dearth of them.

    I really appreciated having John join us to talk about his book. While it's not high literature, and we knew that going in, the story is pretty amazing. It's hard to imagine what it was like for the first couple decades of his life. I'd like to say I know what it's like more recently but I never got that expected invite to the Playboy Mansion.

    I think having the author attend whenever possible is a great idea though I guess we shouldn't make it mandatory or else we will eliminate most of the classics from our list.

  4. Gentlemen - again thanks for your time! Yes it's true I'm no Shakespeare. However, writing an authentic book about true crime in the first person using the queens English, would have resulted in losing my man card. Ball breakers! Good luck gentlemen!