It’s Friday, and Howie Carr incorporated is in full flog for his new book, The Brothers Bulger (Warner Books).
Until this week, Howie merely had three columns a week in the Boston Herald; 20 hours a week of radio air in drive time at WRKO; the ambitious Web site HowieCarr.com; and whatever television appearances he could grab on the cable networks.
Now Howie Carr is everywhere. On Page One of the Boston Herald, the story of Howie has replaced the story of murder victim Imette St. Guillen. Headline: HOWIE CARR TO HIS WOULD-BE ASSASSIN: YOU DIDN’T HAVE THE GUTS.
Carr is about to star on 60 Minutes — “I’m on the O’Reilly Factor tonight,” and don’t forget Inside Edition, he reminds callers to a radio talk show other than his own (“Hey, Howie, great show!”). In a measure of true success, he’s now being promoted by media machinery he doesn’t control.
Even archrival the Boston Globe is covering the book and the alleged attempt by the Bulger Mob to kill the columnist who routinely refers to the Globe as “the bow-tied bum-kissers of Morrissey Boulevard.” You can see Howie on local TV newscasts, or you can go to his Web site, where he’ll show you the video of what you missed of him on WBZ or NECN. And the New York Times shows that Carr is only one book away from the top 15 on its bestseller list for nonfiction; if only James Frey would go away from the number 15 slot or Jimmy Carter’s Our Endangered Values (number 14) would go the way of endangered values.
Log on to the newest Web site birthed by Howie (thebrothersbulgers.com), and you hear the explosion of fireworks — indeed, his is a truly impressive performance by the standards of those who admire media carpet-bombing. Instead of being about the brothers Bulger, the story is all about Howie.
Kevin Weeks has only himself or his ghostwriter to blame for much of this. Weeks, an author himself — Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger’s Irish Mob — was Whitey Bulger’s right hand. Arrested and charged with racketeering several years after Bulger fled indictment, Weeks, whose loyalty to the boss disappeared after finding out that Bulger had been an FBI informant, quickly turned government witness. He led investigators to the remains of some of Bulger’s murder victims and later testified about terror, extortion, and corruption. Appearing at three trials, Weeks helped secure three convictions, including that of Whitey’s former FBI handler John Connolly, once the prince of the city, now the symbol of the FBI’s disgrace in protecting Bulger and even assisting him in eliminating rivals.
So, having been vetted and “fact-checked” better than any other author in the literature of Whitey, Weeks has made his literary bones. He has credibility when he reveals in his book that he and Bulger once staked out Howie Carr’s house, planned to blow him up with a basketball filled with explosives, and then chose to take him out from across the street with a rifle. What was their motive? “We didn’t like him because he was a piece of shit who wrote nasty stories about people.”