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Michael Codella p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. This issue features Michael Codella who wrote the classic New York memoir, Alphaville, 1988, co authored by Bruce Bennett. The book covers Mr Codella’s time working for the New York City police, patrolling the housing projects in Alphabet City in the late 1980s. There was a heroin epidemic in Alphabet City at the time.  


Alphabet City today has been described as “a bohemian enclave within the East Village”. And “a laid-back residential area with trendy restaurants and bars, plus craft cocktail lounges and a popular German beer garden. A mix of students, artists and young families sunbathe and walk their dogs in Tompkins Square Park.”

But in 1988, the area wasn’t so trendy. 

Alphabet City is named after four streets: Avenues A, B, C, and D, the only avenues in Manhattan to have letters for names. The blocks are close to the East River, and are part of the Lower East Side. In 1988 it was a mecca for heroin users and dealers.

In his memoir Alphaville, 1988, Mr Codella tells how he and his partner Gio were assigned to the area by the Housing PD. They patrolled the Avenue D projects, which were public housing like the Wald and Riis buildings. They cruised in a squad car, looking for action. The locals called him Rambo. 

He talked with the residents; he met tragic junkies; he mixed with heroin dealers to gather information. The partners made a lot of collars. And they saw some terrible things: One time he found a family who’d been tortured and executed in their living room by drug dealers.

And behind the scenes there were big fish heroin dealers like Davey Blue Eyes. He was the dealer who supplied gangs like the Third and D crew. He thought nothing of shooting his competitors for the heroin market.

In 1988, because of his knowledge of Alphabet City and his successful arrest and conviction rate, Mr Codella worked with the DEA on an investigation of heroin dealing in the Lower East Side. They brought down 40 major heroin dealers in 1990.

It would be hard to find a better New York book than Alphaville, 1988. And Mr Codella gives some good reading tips in this interview.

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