Virtual Program: Writing the Mob: J. Michael Niotta, PhD and Avi Bash

Virtual Program: Writing the Mob: J. Michael Niotta, PhD and Avi Bash

Date: April 15, 2021
Time: 4 to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free for attendees
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From New York to Los Angeles, and even Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the Mob’s tentacles reached into all corners of North America during the 20th century. Historians continue to explore this rich story to understand what really happened during the Mob’s American heyday. These virtual presentations will feature authors of recently published histories and memoirs.

In a story told largely through photographs, J. Michael Niotta and Avi Bash separate fact from fiction in the murky underworld history of Los Angeles. This program will be available to watch online here, on Facebook Live and YouTube Live. More details coming soon.

Don’t miss our other programs in the Writing the Mob: Chronicling Organized Crime in the 20th Century series:
April 27: Russell Shorto, Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob
May 5: Michael Cannell, A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind the Rise and Fall of Murder, Inc.
May 26: Nick Christophers, Mafia Ties: The Greek Syndicates
June 2: Marilyn Greenwald and Yun Li, Eunice Hunton Carter: A Lifelong Fight for Social Justice
June 22: Anthony M. DeStefano, The Deadly Don: Vito Genovese, Mafia Boss


Featured Speakers

J. Michael Niotta, PhD  

J. Michael Niotta, PhD


Italian-American writer-artist-musician, J. Michael Niotta, looks at the Southern California you won’t find in the palm tree infested brochures. The crime journalist and early L.A. historian has lectured at the Las Vegas Mob Museum and the Plaza Hotel’s MobWorld Summit, and appeared on the Travel Channel and NatGeo as an early L.A. crime SME.

In December 2019, Fonthill Media imprint America Through Time released his second nonfiction title, The Fight Abroad & the Fear Back Home: Italians of the California Coast during WWII, which covers the Italian story long missing from American history books.

In late March 2021, Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series will release his new pictorial on early Los Angeles organized crime co-authored with curator Avi Bash.

As the eldest great grandson of Los Angeles Godfather, Jack Dragna, delving into SoCal’s sordid past in order to clear up the errors and conjecture has become a near obsession. Years of research and interview spill heavily into his work, and has even influence his art. Niotta’s focus as a mixed-media and analog collage artist lies in crime-themed dadaism, abstract, and surrealism.

Although Niotta holds a Masters in Human Behavior and a business doctorate, the time behind a desk did not sever him from his blue collar. The son of a Teamster and a Beautician has worked as a plumber, mobile diesel mechanic, line crew firefighter, furniture mover, and bouncer. As such, it’s no wonder a working class mindset and dialect feeds so directly into his prose. Bleak yet witty, Niotta’s narrative displays a cynically funny way of looking at life and recapping history.

Avi Bash  

Avi Bash


Avi Bash is an organized crime historian and researcher who has curated one of the largest and most recognized collections of organized crime photographs and artifacts. Parts of his collection have been displayed at multiple museums and exhibitions across the county. He is also the author of Organized Crime in Miami, a photographic book within this same series chronicling the history of organized crime in South Florida.