Whitey Bulger Was the Kramer of Fugitive Neighbors

The Atlantic Wire

For a while there, Whitey Bulger was one of the most wanted men in America. You would think the head of the Irish mob who turned into a fugitive rat would generally keep to himself, keep a low profile, and not to talk to the neighbors. Turns out, Whitey Bulger was an extremely nosey neighbor.

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In an excerpt posted at Salon today from their new book, Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss, Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill reveal just how much Bulger and his girlfriend, Cathy Greig, perhaps hyper-socialized in their apartment complex while living life on the run from federal prosecuters in Santa Monica, California. Bulger would knock on the door of Josh Bond, his apartment's general manager, pretty regularly and come in for a chat. Of course, Bond knew them by their aliases, Charlie and Carol Gasko, and not by their real names. At first, Josh was reluctant to have this strange man in his house so often, but he eventually complied. Through Bulger's regular visits, the two developed an odd friendship

Josh, then, was yin to Whitey’s yang—with a natural reserve that was actually refined as a result of working in the service industry. Josh’s job required a helpful, friendly demeanor as he dealt with people all day long, but as a matter of survival he self-consciously developed the ability to smile and project the appearance of being attentive when in fact he was zoning out. Plus, he’d learned to say little and ask few questions, because that would simply extend conversations. This served Whitey perfectly—talking to someone bright and youthful but without the kind of inquiring mind that might create problems. He’d arrive home in the afternoon—his lunch break when working the hotel desk—and then would come the knock, and in would come Whitey. “He would start talking,” Josh said. “Talk about anything.” Talk until Josh stood up. “Okay, I got to go back to work.”

By this account, some have drawn a strange connection. The New York Observer's Hunter Walker was the first connect Bulger an Bond to Kramer and Jerry:

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Kramer was always the annoying-but-loveable next door neighbor that Jerry put up with, not unlike Bulger and Bond. The big difference is one man was a former crime boss and murderer. The other was, well, the other is Kramer. 

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Bulger eventually started giving Bond unsolicited gifts, and he stuck by surprisingly strict rules of decorum. After receiving one Christmas present from Bulger, Bond was chastised for not writing a thank you note. Fans of The Wire are nodding, flashing back to the scenes where the Barksdale organization would run their meeting according to Robert's Rules of Order. 

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The whole excerpt eventually goes on to detail how, exactly, the FBI and U.S. Marshalls found Bulger in his sunny retirement in Santa Monica. It's one of the best things you'll read today. 

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