Bohea, the aroma of tire fire, Mob Wives, smugglers, “bro” tea, and what it all means to the backstory of the American Revolution. Malcolm tells the real story on what happened in Boston on the night of December 16, 1773.
United States


00:00:00What do you want to start with? We have to start with green? Okay, just like if we were doing wines, we start with whites and go to Red's. I don't think we should blow out of pallets too early. I mean if you do you want to get to most of this do you have time?
00:00:18Not long ago a man named Tony Ghibli came to my apartment young guy dark hair grew up in New Jersey. He runs something called T Epicure, which does for specialty tea what Robert Parker did for wine analyze it and rates in a big backpack with him and carefully unwrapped its contents a thermometer to make sure we didn't overheat the water a mini Chinese teapot call the guy want some special Norwegian teacups and T6 kinds green yellow white and black and fermented. Oh and seventh kind will get to that. So this is called lubell move out and it's from guangxi Province. And it says this tea was producing 2009. I do you have to steep for magic tea for a long time.
00:01:09No, typically not. I mean it instantly color the water right look at that. You called out the liquor liquor. Yes.
00:01:20If somebody put milk and sugar in Dusty you would.
00:01:24She would shoot them. I do not like to see snaps. Like I I am against he's not very special it came from this famous collector. You're down to your last little bits of it if I would have walk-in and poor like, you know, a big step big chunk of half and half in it in a 2-2 to sugar cubes. You would feel upset you're not fully appreciating this tea, but I respect your your preferences Tony inhale deeply into his and looked thoughtful or LSU you both just lift up the lid in and then sniff that
00:02:14I'm getting a little bit of a spinach e.
00:02:17Feel from that.
00:02:22Oh, yeah.
00:02:25Almost like a Swiss chard.
00:02:28haven't got enough material for
00:02:32We had had a lot of tea by this point me my producer Jacob Tony. Tony says it's an actual phenomenon called being tea drunk Jacob and I would definitely tea drunk. I always interesting.
00:02:45Okay, tell me Tony. There's like a of a forest leaves like a mad on the forest floor brown leaves. I've get that get that bit of earthiness with the
00:02:58it's like a roasted carrot going on in there for me. That's the vegetal note. I'm getting from it and then a little bit of like tire fire.
00:03:08Just like that's the that proves you're from Jersey the tire fire.
00:03:22My name is Malcolm Gladwell your listing to revisionist history my podcast about things overlooked and misunderstood. This episode is a special production in honor of America's birthday the 4th of July.
00:03:38It's about the Boston Tea Party. What are the first and most critical steps on the path to American independence December 16th 1773 when dozens of bostonians dressed as Mohawk Indians dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.
00:03:57Wait, wait, hold on. Hold on. I know what you're thinking. The Boston Tea Party was a protest against British oppression. It was an act of principal the gang that threw the tea overboard called themselves the Sons of Liberty no taxation without representation blah blah blah. We'll get to that but that start with a fact that is so glaringly obvious that it stuns made it. So many Americans have overlooked it. It was the Boston Tea Party not the Molasses party not the Pewter Mug party the whole thing was about tea.
00:04:33We should we go to set the scene don't even want you to I want you to be ready. It is it is 1770. We are in boss. We run like Newbury Street to where I don't know if Newberry was still around then but we are having our we're at the home of like to know Governor Grosvenor. We're having afternoon tea and he's served up a little booty booty the dominant T of Colonial New England shipped in from fujian Province in China from the wuyi mountain range who he is with the Sons of Liberty dumped overboard on the night of the Boston Tea Party Tony like you to tell us what is that experience for the people in Governor Grosvenor's?
00:05:18Drawing room at 3 as they have their booty. So everyone would be talking about the news of the day and and sharing snacks various sweets and pastries sweetmeats preserve fruits nuts Etc and and sipping tea multiple cups of it.
00:05:40You tell me about Bowie.
00:05:44This particular booty is very heavy on the smok. I do get an aroma of tea though under that smoke now. It has been steeped. I think I needed that that water to hit that I wasn't getting in the dry Leaf after steeping it for that long. And I put a lot of leaf in there. You saw how much I put in this than this vessel. It's about 1/2 full. It's much smoother than I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be much more bitter and astringent and really require some sort of addition of milk or sugar.
00:06:17delicious refreshing addictive there's a very
00:06:25Deep leathery taste I want to say letter E. I mean like that smell of like your mother's purse or something in a very earthy weather has smell like
00:06:40dirty almost in 7060. You're putting milk in it. Are you putting sugar in it?
00:06:52Cuz they're loading it up with sugar on it back in time. I would guess if I was colonial Tony. Absolutely your dad has his debtors attacked. I'll tell you this about Colonial Tony. He would not have put on war paint in the middle of a December night and dumped 342 chest saboohi into Boston Harbor.
00:07:18If you love tea if you yearn for that deep leathery taste 45 by milk and sugar. Why would you throw it overboard? Well, exactly. It's four questions like these that we have revisionist history.
00:07:38You remember I'm sure the history of the American Revolution that you were taught in high school.
00:07:44The British were spending a lot of money in North America. They had a big army defending their colonies against Native Americans in the French. They wanted the colonies to help with at least some of that burden so they impose a series of terrasen Duties over the course of the 1760s and the early 1770s the Stamp Act the Navigation Act and so on but the colonists object no taxation without representation based on a boycott of all imported British products principal ET because tea is big business in the 1760s, the colonists are drinking extraordinary amounts of it along souchong lots of green tea and of course puhi that deep buttery taste.
00:08:26They're addicted to it in Boston. The boycott is led by some of the town's most prominent businessman and a few years ago and historian named John Tyler wonders, who are these Merchants lead in the fight against British tea, what is the nature of their business? So he goes to the Boston Athenaeum on Beacon Street, one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States ornate High ceilings enormous letter Windows found it in 1807 full of all sorts of treasures and Tyler starts digging through old Insurance records in the Athenaeum archives. When is this a bass in a box in the mail, but it would be talking about here when we're talking about hundreds of policies during that period by a man named Ezekiel price elegant man cultivated Patrician just retired after 36 years teaching history of Groton one of the exclusive private boarding schools of New England.
00:09:24History is it Insurance records are pretty good way of finding out what someone's business really is what they're buying selling with a sourcing their goods because you may lie to the government or your competitors, but you have no reason to lie to you and sure about what you're up to. So when you go in this insurance records principle, does this mean you're the first historian to have gone to the insurance records has Tyler works his way through Ezekiel prices policies. He notices something unusual.
00:09:57At the time if you were calling me the British crown you had to import all of your products through England on English ships, but in prices records, it showed that a lot of the cargo coming into Boston hadn't stopped in England at all other times the Customs records would say one thing this ship is all the right clearances, but the insurance records on the same ship would say something completely different and sometimes the premiums were really high way too high for what should have been routine voyages.
00:10:29the Patriots of Boston Tyler realizes are Smugglers tea Smugglers
00:10:36historians are always suspected as much because there was a lot of smuggling in those days but Tyler shows that it's everywhere everyone some of the biggest names in Boston. John Hancock is in the middle of the shipping and tea from China via Amsterdam. And then on to America through some circuitous route, you could touch at some remote pork in the British Isles often times when they're coming from Amsterdam to go to the orkney islands. They allege that they have declared their their cargo there and and so therefore it's now legal they found some obliging customs officer. Tyler stumble across another Goldmine a list made up by a big colonial-era Shipping Company of every bride Andrews, they use to get T into Massachusetts in that case.
00:11:36Play land of the cargo in Plymouth. Just down the coast from Boston Thomas Hutchinson. The governor of Massachusetts was powerless to stop it. Sure there and then bring it in and wagons into Boston and there's really no way of of telling them the same thing happens. If you could important things through Rhode Island where Hutchinson refers to Rhode Island, so that abandoned Little Colony poorest place where all sorts of spoken supposedly a principled stand against taxation without representation.
00:12:29Please find that many of the same group of Smugglers. And if I'm a Smuggler, I'm delighted with non importation non-importation. The amount of legit British tea must be shrinking to almost nothing. Correct. So The Smuggler is it have free reign at this point the British are trying to raise money to defend the colonies by taxing the TV to call in his drink, but the colonists aren't paying the tax. They're all drinking cheaper illegal tea, so the British to the logical thing they passed the Tea Act of 1773 which cuts the cost of the tea imported to proper channels. The legal stuff is as affordable as the illegal stuff. So what are the Patriots do they dress up as Mohawk Indians sneak out in the Boston Harbor and throw 342 chess a perfectly good buhi into the water.
00:13:27The Tea Act was an attempt to put the Smugglers out of business. The Boston Tea Party was the Smugglers attempt to stay in business.
00:13:39Let me spell it out for you underneath the lofty rhetoric of the Patriots of New England was a criminal Enterprise Avast smuggling operation illicitly supplying the residents of the new world with their drug of choice buhi that deliciously addictive T Bridle with a dark liquor and a deep leather a taste Foundation of myth of the American Republic is not righteous freedom-loving citizens rising up against oppression know it's drug dealers defending their turf.
00:14:10You know why this episode is airing July 4th that day when Americans jump up and down and detonate explosives to celebrate their independence from Britain. It's airing July 4th because you Americans have a problem the story you tell each other about your nation's Independence is full of holes. You need a new story. So I'm going to do you a favor. I'm going to give you one.
00:14:36the first I'm curious about whether in that era in that suit of those first few generations, and people are getting to know t
00:14:46I think given instructions about how to make it are they how are they do we know how their steeping it and other to One account? I read was that someone steep the tea and throughout the liquor and then use the leaves of the butter and salt on them and eat them as a salad.
00:15:04That was in like a pipe one of the prominent families. I'm Diaries of the time really. Yeah. I tried that taste good so many questions.
00:15:19Growing up in England. My mom used to read me the classic English children's story. Dick Whittington set up for London with his cat because he heard the streets in London were paved with gold that part made sense to me because I've been to London and seemed entirely plausible the streets with gold for the part. I always had trouble with was very young dick wrapped all his worldly possessions in a handkerchief tied it to a stick and threw it over his shoulder.
00:15:52How do you fit all your worldly possessions inside a handkerchief? I mean I was 5 but already I could see how implausible that was. But now I realize it's not so implausible anymore. Why quip quip is a toothbrush for the person on the go compact enough to fit inside a handkerchief protective cover 3 month battery. So no need to log on cables and Chargers. That's what I care equipped. I just got back from a week away one random hotel room after another but at least I could come back at night until I get my teeth with quip sensitive Sonic vibrations that go. Oh so gentle on my gums and those soft bristles not like the abrasive electric toothbrushes. You may have suffered through before next time you go looking for streets paved with gold take quip because maybe the gold isn't on the streets. Maybe it's inside your toiletry bag.
00:16:51Clip starts at just $25 and if you go to get glidewell right now, you can get your first refill pack for free. That's your first refill pack free at Gladwell.
00:17:19All right. I think we need to start over take to on the real meaning of the American Revolution.
00:17:27Let me introduce you to Francis Gianni and academic who had a theory about Americans and their criminal Enterprises. Although calling ianni and academic seems a little limiting he decided I guess this is after we've been there about six months. He decided to drive to Nairobi.
00:17:46And he is I think I can't remember the exact it since it might be 6 700 miles. But Back Then There Were places were there literally wasn't a road. I don't think it was any pay for Road and you'll be driving along and all of a sudden the road. We just and Ronnie Ani, that's France. Is he on his eldest son talking about how his father moved his family to Ethiopia in the early 1960s and decided one day to drive to Nairobi. All they had was a Volkswagen minibus which isn't exactly built for off-road Adventures back then people that made the journey did it in a convoy.
00:18:23Gianni was like why bother let's go solo.
00:18:26This is a tangent because Francis Gianni is one of my favorite people that I've never met will get back to T. I promise.
00:18:34So you have to go by dead reckoning to figure out where you were to come out on the other side and your parents have how many children of the three of you you're the eldest? I'm the eldest aunt. My brothers are in 10 years younger than I am at the time they were this was 1960. So they were five and three and of course, my mother was for diets.
00:19:01Guy just I was imagining this in my mind young couple with a 12 year old girl in the 3-year old to drive in a Volkswagen minibus from Addis to Nairobi in 1960s. Gianni ended up as a professor at Columbia University what he was a professor of a stallion clear since he was the kind of person who did whatever he wanted put some combination of anthropology and sociology and Stef Francis Gianni thought was interesting.
00:19:37He had two bowls. I had several wolves too, but he had to and I think I actually actually sent you some pictures yesterday. There's one with him with the Wolves actually call this wolves Romulus and Remus in his apartment in New York. He had a a monkey a pet ocelot a baby alligator used to be a huge point of contention between my parents because he would just bring these animals home. Anyway one day in 1964 is in Washington DC. He's working for the Department of Education at that point doing Francis Gianni kinds of things and he runs into a man in the Congressional waiting room who you would later call Uncle Phil Phillip a, a very wealthy sophisticated man in his 60s. They start chatting.
00:20:30Uncle Phil tells ianni that he's a lobbyist representing a group of Italian businessman out of New York, Uncle Phil and yannie become friends. They start spending time together Uncle Phil will introduce him to some of his clients and Deonte realizes. Oh the group of Italian businessman out of New York. Uncle Phil is talking about he's actually one of the big mafia families.
00:20:55Biyani is the man who drove his family from Ethiopia to Nairobi on a whim and you later kept wolves ocelots and alligators in his apartment ten guesses what he did next.
00:21:07You said to Uncle Phil? Can I meet your mafia clients? In fact, you think they'd mind if I studied them like join the family for a few years and because Francis Gianni is Francis a Funny Uncle Phil says sure he convinces he could be a perfect stranger to let him infiltrate of a crime family and I don't know how he did it. But but I say he he could talk his way into or out of anything by the way in the middle of his time hanging out with the mafia. He only talked his way onto the New York City organized crime task force. He became friends with a lot of the police who were working on this stuff. You know, he he knew a lot of cops in New York spend a lot of time with them and he would manage to talk to both sides and convince both sides. He was on their side.
00:22:04Gianni ended up writing a book about his experience called a family business. He called the family. He was in bed with the loophole has a pseudonym all identifying names in the book will change back in the day. There was a lot of speculation about Mafia experts about who the lapollos really were after a lot of digging. I'm now convinced that it was the lucasey's what are the largest of the five major New York crime families serious gangsters. They had a lock on the trucking unions particularly those working Kennedy Airport spent a lot of time out on Long Island with a patriarch of the family man. He called Giuseppe. I'm pretty sure that's his pseudonym for the legendary mob boss. Tommy Lucchesi who came to America as a young man in 1911 from Palermo a family business came out in 1970 to 1972. By the way, it's the same year that the Godfather movie comes out. It's like the high-water mark of America Mafia fascination.
00:23:04But his book is nothing like The Godfather. Nobody gets whacked. Nobody goes to jail. Nobody goes to the mattresses. Nobody betrays anyone. It's not a crime book to book about business.
00:23:191978 calculated that they were 42 4th generation members of the family and only four of those 42. We're still involved in the family's crime businesses. The rest are all respectable members of the upper middle-class. The kids went to fancy college has one daughter was married to a judge's son another to a dentist. When was completing a master's degree in Psychology know there was a member of The English Department at a liberal arts college. There was several lawyers a physician stockbroker Uncle Phil son was an accountant who lived on an estate in the Posh Old Westbury section of Long Island North Shore his granddaughter rode horses and was a showjumper his grandson was an up-and-coming yachtsman and Uncle Phil himself lived in Manhattan collected art and was a regular at the Opera the lucasey's had gone legit.
00:24:16Now does that surprise you the signature line in The Godfather is Michael Corleone saying just when I thought I was out they pull me back in he wants to go legit and he can't a lot of the mythology around crime says that's the pattern crime is addictive. Once you're in the Underworld you lose contact with the real world. You eject its values, but he on East Point is at the farm or typical trajectory is the one you described with the lucases.
00:24:55I'm here with my new best friend Horace Cabot's rock-bottom II with the lily-white tennis and Country Club in exclusive Easthampton course, I hear it's really hard to get into the lillywhite. The wedding was too must be a mile long. We have a pretty rigorous selection process merit-based like what kind of Sterling character strong backhand in a sense of Greater moral purpose. Where are you giri to call is Rob? Let me help you with that. I'm alright. I'm alright.
00:25:40If you're the lily-white tennis and Country Club of exclusive Easthampton choosing among thousands of applicants isn't that hard but if you're not totally why you need ZipRecruiter ZipRecruiter sends your job to over 100 of the web's leaving job boards, but they don't stop there with their powerful matching technology ZipRecruiter scams thousands of resumes to find people with the right experience and invites them to apply to your job ZipRecruiter is so effective that 4 out of 5 employers who post on ZipRecruiter get a quality candidate through the site within the first day of Cooter because Mommy can't do everything right now. My listener is confined ZipRecruiter for free at this exclusive web address
00:26:40Slash Gladwell that's Gladwell Gladwell.
00:26:59Here's another example of the lure of going legit Salvatore Sammy the bull gravano notorious mobster under boss of the Gambino family is being interviewed by Diane Sawyer in 1997 on ABC Primetime. Look over the list of the murders you were involved in there. How many
00:27:22Serial killers don't have 19. Where was the net is totally matter of fact your half expecting him to count off all 19 one by one on his fingers Diane Sawyer does the full Double Take then comes back at him again? What are the people on that list was gravanos brother-in-law? How could you face yourself? She asks, how could you face your wife? Have I become with that blood on my hands? What am I?
00:27:59That's exactly what I am not just a gangster. He's on TV admitting. He's a gangster his boss John Gotti in exchange for immunity for his crimes. He went into witness protection, but then he left witness protection and started up a drug trafficking ring with his wife his daughter Karen and his son that grossed $500,000 a week before it all came crashing down in the middle of this his daughter Karin meets a man named David Seabrook remembering the moment in an interview on the New York radio station Hot 97. Okay, you know cams give me the odds of the phone numbers looking at, you know, Jay or whatever Reckless eyeballing me Karen is a convicted felon attempted murder.
00:28:59Talk back and forth from Rikers Island juvenile system New York state division for Youth and then I finally went to prison in 87. I was 19. I came on March 26th. I went back. I was 32. I came on my house 41 Seabrook and Karen gravano get engaged have a daughter together named Karina, but before they can get married David Gets Sent away in the last of those convictions for a drug-dealing operation with his baby. Momma's father Sammy the bull gravano. This is a serious crime family, except they all want to go to the jet Karen gravano got probation on the drug charge and ended up on the VH1 reality show Mob Wives where Sammy the bull got to play doting Grandad me be better than me learn from me.
00:29:49You know, my nephew is great in baseball. My father's like everyday and go to be a gangster in another way. I wax people you can ride balls turn gave up a thriving career as a drug dealer for reality TV.
00:30:06David Seabrook meanwhile got a Bachelor's degree in prison and finish the business degree after his sentence then found a company that would hire him despite 5 felony convictions started at the bottom. Well, lo and behold I run the company now, it's 60 employees on the quality manager. So and we looking to expand to about 120 employees within the next 6 months. So I mean in my opinion that's the success in my opinion. I think it's how long will the gravanos actually a crime family? Well Sammy the Bull's parents would dress makers in Bensonhurst Brooklyn. They were legit. Sammy went bad as a teenager and stayed bad for his whole life. That's one generation.
00:30:51Then came Karen and David but they were only crooked until they saw a middle-aged approaching its 1 1/2 Generations. That's it. It stops there. I don't know if I want to turn in Davis daughter. Karina wants nothing to do with a crooked life. I have so much bigger James and bigger plan that I have to keep my head straight and I want to break the pattern of my family is actually briefly on a reality show herself made in Staten Island in the first episode. She takes a call from a grandfather has been out of prison on the drug trafficking rap for 2 years your whole future. You're right. This was the great inside of Francis Key on his work organized crime is not what people do when they have
00:31:51Ejected the American dream. It's the opposite people like the lucasey's and the gravanos desperately believed in the American dream, but they felt marginalized locked out. So they took a temporary. Detour is even a wonderful phrase coined by sociologist James O'Kane for that temporary detour the Crooked ladder you climb the Crooked ladder until you get high enough to get to the straight part of the ladder greatest example of it was talking to
00:32:23Sandra Lansky Meyer Lansky's daughter who wrote the book on which the movie Goodfellas based Meyer Lansky was a legend in organized crime and Pileggi. Ask Meyer Lansky's daughter Sandra about her dad's happiest moment. She said we drove up to West Point to see my brother Paul graduate from West Point. I just had to be like the 50's but Meyer Lansky was about as famous as you can get the world's worst bad guy and she said I looked over at my father was crying. Oh my God, his son was graduating for West Point. It was soaked some Meyer Lansky in the middle of West Point with all the lights going out there gloves crying it was so he was so happy until when Paul the sun Paul came over everybody hugged and kissed Meyer. She said my father reached in his pocket and gave all the keys to a brand new Fairlane convertible. And Paul would not take it gave him the keys.
00:33:23That's okay pod. It would not take the car cuz he knew what the car came from the Lansky's were a one generation crime family.
00:33:33So what are the Sons of Liberty back in the 1770s? Well, the criminals is no question about that on importation movement in particular they get very nasty with anyone who dares to defy them John Tyler lays it all out intimidation black male violence when someone defies them they retaliate with Hot Tar and Feathers. It's interesting that in American history textbook starring Feathering comes out of some sort of cute little thing the Patriots do really hideous thing to have no Hot Tar all over you intend to have second or third degree burns as a result of do we have to have the star removed from your skin from your hair from the nest it was a hideous thing to do to these people were terrified of their lives.
00:34:32That's where the mob came from the streets of colonial Boston. But if they are mobsters, they are mobsters in the same sense, as of the Casey's and the gravanos and the Lansky's because the minute they can go straight they do. I mean what's the signing of the Declaration of Independence? It's a bunch of criminals dressing up in wigs in frock coats and rebranding themselves as the founding fathers.
00:34:59Isn't this the real lesson of the Great American experiment that the promise of the American dream is so powerful. So enthralling that even the most pardon criminals want nothing more than to climb the ladder to respectability. And by the way after the birth of the American Republic, what do you think the newly-formed Congress and state governments did with imported tea higher than before because what looks like a pressione when you're climbing the Crooked ladder looks totally legitimate once you're on the straight and narrow.
00:35:34Here is my suggestion for July 4th enough with the fireworks and the parades everything. We've just heard that would be a little unseemly do they have a big holiday in Miami to celebrate the anniversary of the first cocaine shipment from Columbia know they don't and the whole situation personally. I would rethink that too if you're going to be drinking anything this July 4th, it should be t
00:36:05Me I'm thinking of some lapsang souchong which is a super Smoky black tea that I love or at least I did until I talked to Tony Kelly about this and he said I'm quoting. Hopefully I can change that notion of yours. What's your you have a union issue with Smokey with Smokey T's
00:36:26An issue, I don't know if it's an issue. You gave me that look what I said. I like lapsang and then I'll be frank with you. There's a real like bro thing about lapsang souchong going on in the speciality world right now, cuz it's your at Ebro. That's what I'm saying. It's like well I get Smokey and I like a powerful Smokey punch like a kitten to like I like to grill a lot kind of thing stop right there, Tony.
00:37:03As it happens, I do like to grill a lot and I'll be grilling some steaks this July 4th with a steaming cup of lapsang souchong in my hand. As I toast the drug smugglers Thugs and Mobsters who saw in the promise of these United States a chance to go to the gym.
00:37:22Happy birthday, America.
00:37:27Vicious history is produced by me and Jacob Smith with Camille Baptista. Our editor is Julia Barton Williams is our engineer fact-checking by Beth Johnson original music by Luis Guerra special. Thanks to Carly migliori Heather Fain Maggie Taylor myokinetic Adele half a Jacob Weisberg.
00:37:55Revisionist history is brought to you by Pushkin Industries.
00:38:08check the reason why I said lapsang souchong is is a bit of a broughty is because I feel like
00:38:20males really took to that style of tea and when that happened went when the PT Cruiser saw that happening the level of smoke kept getting more and more extreme to the point where like
00:38:35It just all Smokey is a control but I'm intrigued by the notion that people like me are ruining T. That's kind of intensive guilty ID. I don't want to look like a bad guy in part of the brain apart of the Bro over smoking when you're drinking. It could be great.

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