Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

by Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill

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Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

Unread postby fireflydances » Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:09 pm

Although Black Mass is nonfiction, it has many elements of good fiction. What is the nature of story however? Are we looking at a simple crime chronicle or something larger? Good stories also leave us with questions. Share your thoughts about the story and your impressions after reading it.
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Re: Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:29 am

Black Mass,for me, is not the Whitey Bulger story. For me the most interesting part of the story is the FBI agents involved -- Connelly and Morris and the rest. What motivated these men to violate their oath and become so involved with the Irish mob? Did they continue to do good jobs in other areas of their FBI work? Did they suffer guilt? Were they so torn at times they considered bringing the whole operation down? Or did they really believe in the path they chose as being for the greater good?

Those are the kinds of questions that have lead me to think that of the Bulger brothers, Billy was the more interesting. How did he balance his life as a public servant and his relationship with his brother? How did he justify his strong arm policies in government with being the father and husband and church-going member of society?

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Re: Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

Unread postby Liz » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:30 pm

Those are good questions, nebraska. Wish we could hear from some Southies on the subject.
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Re: Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:14 pm

My response: the authors wrote a very straight accounting of the travails of the FBI as concerned Whitey Bulger and clan. I really believe that their story is impenetrable for those who are not from Boston. We don't care about half of what they carry on about, but we do want to know -- why is this guy considered so bad? And Black Mass -- why that title?

I have to admit that I don't buy that Whitey is the devil incarnate. He is a smart guy, a very good strategist and cursed with a nasty temper. There is a story buried here that involves a heck of a lot more people than the guys that took the fall. Corruption is a blight that spreads and covers all. I am intrigued by the way the case was organized to focus so tightly on Whitey and his minders. And I believe that Whitey's erstwhile buddies sold him down the river--as he would have sold them--crime is a very uncharitable undertaking. Boston appears to be a sewer.

It would have been exciting to compare Whitey to other Irish gangsters and to look at the New York FBI and how it handled the Irish, and the Italians.
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Re: Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

Unread postby Liz » Wed Oct 22, 2014 1:39 am

fireflydances wrote: Black Mass -- why that title?


Black Mass is defined as: the inversion of the traditional Latin Mass celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church.

And this story is about Irish. And wasn't Whitey and most of South Boston Catholic?

Also, note that the original title of the book was Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob. And later it was changed to Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal I think that the original title fits the juxtaposition between a good practicing Catholic who keeps the commandments (e.g. thou shalt not steal, thou shall not bear false witness, thou shall not kill) and the mob.

And I take it further to mean a tarnished Irish Catholic community.
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Re: Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

Unread postby shadowydog » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:32 am

Liz wrote:
fireflydances wrote: Black Mass -- why that title?


Black Mass is defined as: the inversion of the traditional Latin Mass celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church.

And this story is about Irish. And wasn't Whitey and most of South Boston Catholic?

Also, note that the original title of the book was Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob. And later it was changed to Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal I think that the original title fits the juxtaposition between a good practicing Catholic who keeps the commandments (e.g. thou shalt not steal, thou shall not bear false witness, thou shall not kill) and the mob.

And I take it further to mean a tarnished Irish Catholic community.



I thought Black Mass was the "mass" celebrated by devil worshippers. That is why I thought the title rather strange.
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Re: Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:15 am

I think Black Mass refers to the initiation ceremony in the Mafia, but I can't remember at the moment where I read that.

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Re: Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:39 am

I believe that the authors chose the term "Black Mass" specifically because Boston remains a culturally Catholic city. People are familiar with the term, and the authors decision to relate it to the collusion between Whitey Bulger and the FBI would be quickly understood. At the same time, I have read that many in Boston are uncomfortable with the title because it dilutes the original meaning of the phrase.

I hope they change the title, particularly if they veer widely from the book. It's a title that either confuses or offends. What is the purpose of that?
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Re: Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:10 am

For me the primary story really is about the Unholy Alliance between Bulger and Connolly, and between the FBI and the Irsih mob. So no surprise then that I prefer the first title. As far as the use of “Black Mass”, I think they probably chose it because it evokes immediate and strong emotion, especially among Catholics. And as if ripped from today's headlines... did anyone else happen to see this segment on Nightline last night?

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Re: Black Mass Question #20: What's the Story?

Unread postby Liz » Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:14 am

RamblinRebel wrote:For me the primary story really is about the Unholy Alliance between Bulger and Connolly, and between the FBI and the Irsih mob. So no surprise then that I prefer the first title. As far as the use of “Black Mass”, I think they probably chose it because it evokes immediate and strong emotion, especially among Catholics. And as if ripped from today's headlines... did anyone else happen to see this segment on Nightline last night?

I didn't see the segment, but I did see mention of it on Google when I Googled "Black Mass today." :lol:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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