Rick Porrello's ancestors prepared him for a life in crime. In 1932, his mob-connected grandfather and great-uncle were gunned down in a hit. More than 50 years later, Rick became a police officer. A decade or so after that, he started writing true-crime books. Just published, his third, Superthief: A Master Burglar, the Mafia, and the Biggest Bank Heist in U.S. History, centers on Phil Christopher, a Cleveland Mafia associate who stole $8 million from a California bank in 1972. "There's not a whole lot to like about the guy," says Porrello. "But I love his story."
Like his previous books -- The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia and To Kill the Irishman -- Superthief's cast of characters reads like a who's who of local wiseguys. "There are links to all these really important mob figures," says Porrello.
And his investigative skills come in mighty handy when he's gathering material, says the Lyndhurst cop. "Interviewing subjects helped me become a better author. And researching the book has made me a better cop." Porrello signs Superthief at 7 p.m. Thursday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (24519 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst; 216-691-7000), 7 p.m. Friday at Fireside Book Shop (29 North Franklin Street in Chagrin Falls; 440-247-4050), and 4 p.m. Saturday at Borders (30121 Detroit Road in Westlake; 440-892-7667). All are free. -- Michael Gallucci
Baroque at Christmas
Orchestra brings 70 musicians for the holidays.
When Apollo's Fire performs Christmas music by Baroque master Michael Praetorius over the next week, it will make history. With 70 performers -- including a cornetto player from France, three guest lute players, and choirs from all over northern Ohio -- it's "our most ambitious project ever," says director Jeanette Sorrell. Additionally, the concert marks the first professional-level Praetorius concert in Cleveland. The orchestra even plans to record it. "Once people hear the music, they'll want a CD." Shows are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Christ Presbyterian Church (530 Tuscarawas Street in Canton; 330-456-8113), 7:30 p.m. on December 8 at Trinity Cathedral (2230 Euclid Avenue; 216-771-3630), and 8 p.m. December 10 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church (2747 Fairmount Boulevard in Cleveland Heights; 216-932-5815). Tickets are $10 to $45; call 216-320-0012. -- Zachary Lewis
TV news correspondent reveals that Bush lied . . . about dinner.
NBC's chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell has interviewed President Bush enough times to determine that he's actually a funny guy. "He's very charming with the press corps by giving them nicknames." But he's also a liar. During his 2000 campaign, O'Donnell invited the future prez to her husband's Washington eatery. Bush vowed he'd dine there after the election. He never did. "I said, 'Mr. President, you told me during the campaign you would go to my husband's restaurant,'" recalls O'Donnell. "He said, 'Oh, Norah. That's just another campaign promise I've broken.'" O'Donnell shares other tales at 6 p.m. Monday at the Ohio Theatre, 1511 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $45; call 216-241-1919. -- Cris Glaser
Comic Steve White will talk about anything. "Anything," he insists. His repertoire includes politics, race relations . . . and real estate? "I've got a couple of investments. President Knucklehead is keeping rates low, so I'm in acquisition mode." He's at the Improv (2000 Sycamore Street) Tuesday through December 11. Shows are at 8 p.m. (8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday). Tickets are $10 to $16; call 216-696-4677. -- P.F. Wilson