Bonanno stare-down


Bonanno Stare

The Mafia have a reputation for being intimidating. I know this. But at the funeral of Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno today, I found out that even the youngest members of a family can be so.

Bonanno, son of the New York Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, died recently at age 75 in Tucson, Ariz. It just so happens that I was in Tucson at the right time to be brushed by this man and his family’s legacy.

It was Monday morning, Jan. 7, and at 11 a.m. Salvatore Bonanno’s casket was set to arrive at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church along with hundreds of his family and friends. In town for The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, I was sent to cover the funeral. This was my first funeral, and I was nervous.

Bonanno’s grandsons acted as his pallbearers. I could see in their body language that they were deeply affected by their grandfather’s death. My camera was up and I was firing off frames as they carried the casket to the hearse after the ceremony. Everything seemed normal, but a young boy near the center of my frame, not older than 10, caught my attention. This kid was giving me one of the hardest faces I have seen from an elementary school enrollee. I kept shooting, and he kept staring. At first I thought he was interested in my gear, but then I realized that he was showing me who was boss — this kid was was staring me down.

To be honest, I was a little intimidated, especially with all of this child’s family surrounding me and my cameras. The funny part is, The Times had sent a freelancer out to cover the story. In the shot The Times ran on its Web site, the boy can be seen, a bit from the side, giving me the eye. In my shot you can see that eye straight on.

So keep in mind that there are interesting stories behind the photographs you see in the newspaper.

— Aaron Montoya

Funeral photo 2

Norma Jean Gargasz for The New York Times

4 Responses to “Bonanno stare-down”

  1. Elsa Cade Says:

    Great picture!

  2. Olivetti Royal Says:

    More power to you being able to get this close to the Bonanno funeral. But, buddy, don’t mess with the family, capiche?

  3. pat Says:

    doesn’t look like much of a “stare-down” to me … more like a questioning look – “what the hell do you want?”

  4. Donna K - Texas Says:

    Are you kidding me? Did you forget that you were shooting a funeral? The young man that you choose to sensationalize as ‘intimidating’ and ‘hard’ happens to be extremely charismatic and loving. He is adored and respected as a positive role model amongst his peers – a personality trait he can attribute to his Godfather – the man in the casket. Instead of reaching out to a beautiful, young soul for his story, you elected to fabricate a scenario worthy of any supermarket tabloid. Hopefully your continuing education will instill in you a desire to write unbiased, intelligent, and concise information worthy of an educated audience. Good luck, Aaron!

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