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Real Life Dog Day Afternoon; August 22, 1972
So, in compiling this list, I had a choice. I could have included a lot of crime stories with gory, sordid details, but in the end I felt uncomfortable doing so. Why? I don't know, exactly. I'd like to say there was some level of ethics and integrity involved, but I know myself a little too well to say that without acknowledging that it would be slightly disingenouous. Instead, what I think it was more about was not wanting this list to be too personal. Sometimes tragic events with greater scopes are more palatable because of how hard they are to swallow. But so anyway, I'm straying from that a little with this tragic event because this is indeed a small, personal, tragic story, but it is also one that had larger ramifications and is a good indication of how different Brooklyn used to be. Anyway, on August 22, 1972 in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn (E 3rd and Ave P, to be precise) John Wojtowicz, along with Salvatore Naturile and Robert Westenberg, tried to rob a Chase Bank in order to get money for a sex change operation for Wojtowicz's lover. The robbery was a bungled mess, leading to a tense standoff with the police and culminating in the death of Naturile and the arrest of Wojtowicz. It also led to the awesome movie Dog Day Afternoon (filmed in WIndsor Terrace). What is there to be learned from this event? That we do crazy things for love? Yes. Maybe. Also, that it probably feels really good to chant "Attica! Attica!" in front of a crowd. Try it sometime and see what happens.