The American dream personified: Joey Vento



Joey Vento of Geno's Cheesesteak

GLENN: And I said, what's wiz? And you just looked at me like, oh, you rookie. Joey Vento is here, and he's in trouble. He has been for how long? How many years has this been?

VENTO: It's five years now it's going on.

GLENN: Five years. You put a sign up at Geno's Cheesesteak that says?

VENTO: This is America. When ordering, please speak English.

GLENN: The problem is nobody likes that. Nobody wants that. How dare you, you racist hate monger you. And you've been, for five years you've been fighting and you've won. Have they ever taken you actually to court?

VENTO: The human relation committee took me to court and I won.

GLENN: Okay. But it doesn't stop there.

VENTO: Oh, no. Every day they come back still to thwart me, to call me a racist. And the biggest thing is that it's the Mexicans now come. They wave their Mexican flag in front of the store or they call me a racist. In fact, I just got notice the other day, people were coming up telling me I'm known now as the racist steakhouse in Philadelphia because of my stand on English.

GLENN: Hang on just a second. Hang on just a second. It is really interesting that a guy from Philadelphia — do you have the audio from the Black Panther from yesterday? Because I believe he's from Philadelphia, is he not? Yeah.

VENTO: Yes.

GLENN: The guy who says speak English is a racist.

PAT: But wait. What race is English? What race is that language?

GLENN: I'm not really —

PAT: I was just curious.



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GLENN: Okay. So he's a racist, but this guy? No, the government has no problem with this guy.

VOICE: I hate white people, all of them. Every last iota of a cracker, I hate him. We didn't come out here to play this game. It's too much serious business going on in the black community to be out here sliding through South Street with white, dirty cracker whore [ BLEEP ] on our arms and we call ourselves black men with African garb on. What the hell is wrong with you, black man? You had a (inaudible) with a white girl on your damn arm. You want freedom? You are going to have to kill some crackers. You might have to kill some of their babies.

GLENN: Okay. So going to kill some of their babies and again you're — I don't know if they are going to continue to let us broadcast. Joey, your hate speech was again?

VENTO: My hate speech? Speaking English? How did that become a hate speech?

GLENN: Whoa, whoa, whoa!

PAT: Speak English.

GLENN: Slow down! Slow down! Jeez, listen to the hate speech coming out of that guy! By the way, the kill cracker babies, that's fine, but Joey —

PAT: That's okay.

GLENN: — you are a menace to society.

VENTO: Isn't that amazing?

GLENN: It's amazing.

VENTO: It's amazing.

GLENN: The same city, the same city. Now, what is happening with you? Because they are coming in and they're fining you? This is my favorite law, ever. Go ahead.

VENTO: All of a sudden Geno's Steaks, everybody knows I have the cleanest joint in the city. But all of a sudden —

GLENN: It is, it's amazing.

VENTO: All of a sudden — you know, the city came out one time not long ago where they say they were lucky if they can get around to inspect every restaurant every two and a half years. I've already had four different inspections in less than a year.

GLENN: Four of them.

VENTO: Four of them. Oh, yeah. I told you one of the violations was I had my bracelet that my mom gave me before she passed away and the necklace that my wife bought me and that was considered excess jewelry making the steaks. So that's a violation.

GLENN: Excess jewelry?

VENTO: Excess jewelry.

GLENN: All right. Hang on just a second. I want you to turn the camera to the other side and I want you to be able to see — show everybody the medallion for the Insider Extreme. I mean, that is as big as my son's head.

VENTO: There's the bracelet from my mom.

GLENN: There's the bracelet from your mom. And that's excess?

VENTO: That's excess jewelry making your steak sandwich.

PAT: What if those had fallen right into the steak? I mean, could have killed somebody dead.

GLENN: You'll never be able to fly again: I'm sorry, sir, the metal detector is going off. I know, I've got a giant medallion.

PAT: Geno's medallion. Joey Vento dropped a medallion in my steak.

GLENN: All right.

VENTO: But listen, Glenn. They just picked the wrong guy. I'm too old and stubborn to back off. I put my money where my mouth is. I built that business with the $6 I had in my pocket when I started 43 years ago. And this the greatest country in the world to allow a guy like me, with diversity, with lack of money and a family reputation, I achieved the American dream. And that's what we want for everybody to come into this country. It's just that when you come in, we want you to come in the right way. You don't sneak across the border. You come here the right way, you play by our rules.

GLENN: How did your family come in? Did your family come in through Ellis Island?

VENTO: Ellis Island, the same thing.

GLENN: All right.

VENTO: And here, just want to walk across the border, I'm totally against that. I'm totally against the anchor baby problem that we have in this country. I don't know. Our government has to be as guilty as the illegals for allowing this to happen.

GLENN: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

VENTO: All you do is tell them if there's a way you can sneak across the border and pop that baby out, it will be American citizen and we'll pick up the tab for the rest of their life.

GLENN: Yeah. We're the only country in the world that does that and we started it for good reason. It was started during reconstruction. It was started after the Civil War to make sure that nobody was going to play any games, et cetera, et cetera. But that time has passed. That time has passed. We're not worried about slave immigrant — or slave children anymore. We're not worried about that. It is now being abused.

VENTO: That's correct.

GLENN: All right. So now you are doing a fundraiser in Philadelphia at Geno's next week?

VENTO: That's right, July 14th from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

GLENN: Love this. Love this.

VENTO: We're going to be doing, this here is a fundraiser because Joey Vento and Geno's Steaks supports Arizona's law and I say every chance you get, people, you want to go on vacation, go to Arizona. It's a great place. I was there myself personally. Ask your going to love it there.

GLENN: All right. So your fundraiser, you are raising funds for — I mean, you are just going to send an envelope of cash down to Arizona?

VENTO: Whatever way we can get the money there, through e‑mails, it's going to come through. We're going to have a dunk tank. Maybe I can get the mayor, put him in there, we should draw a lot of money.

GLENN: Mayor of Philadelphia?

VENTO: Mayor of Philly.

GLENN: I don't think he likes you.

VENTO: No, he doesn't.

GLENN: I have a feeling he doesn't like you. All right. So it's at Geno's all day? What day is it again?

VENTO: It's July 14th from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. at Dom Giordano's.

GLENN: All right. So we'll —

VENTO: I'd like everybody to come down.

GLENN: You got it. We'll see you again. Thank you very much.

VENTO: Thank you.

GLENN: Thank you very much and thanks for the cheesesteaks. All right. We'll be back in just a second.

(OUT 10:20)

GLENN: I'm sorry, just having cheesesteak. Sure, it's 10:00 in the morning but having a cheesesteak. Joey Vento from Geno's Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia is here and I asked him to stay because in the commercial break I went — we were having a conversation and he said, Glenn, you know, the reason why I stand up so strongly, the reason why I am the way I am is because of what I overcame. And I don't know what you feel comfortable sharing on the air here, but if you will share what you shared with me off the air. This is the most incredible story I think I've heard.

VENTO: Well, like I said, growing up, you know, I had everything, you know. Me and my dad, we had a steakhouse in that same neighborhood that I'm at now and my father's place was called Jim's steaks. And I worked at a very young age at that time, 8, 9 years old, 12 years old, I was running businesses with my dad. And at the age of 18 I decided let me go in the Service, you know, and kind of lock horns with my dad a little bit like we all do. So I figured take a little break. I'm 14 — while I'm in the Service, there's a man that evidently owed my father money and my father gets him whacked.

GLENN: Now, was your family, was this just — I mean, I've never had this conversation with anybody before. You know, I've seen him — is this a Soprano situation? I mean, how do you ask somebody that?

VENTO: Well, unfortunately my father made a bad move there. It was a bad decision. I come home.

GLENN: Yeah.

VENTO: A very bad decision.

PAT: Was that just a random like out‑of‑the‑blue thing or was he involved in —

VENTO: No, no, it was just out of — random. My father was a businessman, you know, and for whatever reason. But I came home, tried to salvage a business which was hard because I go visit my dad. Now, my dad, he wants me to go after the two guys that went after — that ratted on him. I said, Dad, why would you want me to do that and wind up in jail? And my father kind of disowns me there. He divorced my mom. So we kind of lost everything. In fact, I opened up a few places on my own locally, corner stores and just couldn't quite make it. And I decided to come back into this neighborhood. And at that time there was a steakhouse called Joe's steaks there, which was our competitor, along with the pat steaks and my father was Jim's steaks. And I talk about this because I love my family. I didn't condone what my family did, but I loved him, you know, and I'm doing this because I had to pay a price for that.

GLENN: You didn't, you didn't follow in the footsteps and didn't play the game that the family played.

VENTO: No, no.

GLENN: You were — and your family, I'm guessing, was not popular with police officers.

VENTO: No, because my brother, unfortunately, never got along with cops. And my brother probably invented the drug business, Steve Vento, standup guy. And I love my brother. We were tight. He had his way of life. He was, you know, he wasn't a bully type guy. In fact, later on when he died, he died in '91 at the age of 49 years old.

GLENN: Holy cow.

VENTO: Right. He was in prison most of his life for either drug‑dealing — in fact, he tried to break out of Eastern Penn with a mercenary. I think it was $700,000 he paid to the mercenary who in turn, they go to the Feds. Of course, he chickens out. Now, his son has to get involved and —

GLENN: Same story is repeating itself.

VENTO: Right. Now, his son takes over. He escaped not knowing that the mercenary is FBI agents. So they have to go through the motions to get the conviction. And the deal was he's going to lower the ladder and his father would have certain markings on it. Well, if anybody else comes up, no, no, we shoot them. And we also bring the rockets. And what was the rockets for? To blow the four towers, okay?

GLENN: Holy cow.

VENTO: But there's always something, good comes out of something and you don't realize it. Years later — in fact, it must have been maybe a year and a half ago, Dom Giordano does a show down at my store and this black guy comes in. He's got a young black boy with him. He says, Mr. Vento, he says, could I talk to you for a minute? I said, yeah, what's the matter? He says, I was in that yard the day your brother was planning that escape. He says, and all I could say is, that one crazy white boy.

GLENN: (Laughing).

VENTO: He said, I'll tell you just like it was. He says, I got my black ass and I sat down at that wall and I didn't move, he says, but after that happened, I came out and I said to myself, I'm never going back to jail and here's my son. And this kid brought up, spoke beautifully, raised him. He said, and I learned, your brother taught me a lesson. Some things bad, there's always something good comes out.

GLENN: Amen, brother.

Carter Page, a former advisor to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, found himself at the center of the Russia probe and had his reputation and career destroyed by what we now know were lies from our own intelligence system and the media.

On the TV show Thursday, Page joined Glenn Beck to speak out about how he became the subject of illegal electronic surveillance by the FBI for more than two years, and revealed the extent of the corruption that has infiltrated our legal systems and our country as a whole.

"To me, the bigger issue is how much damage this has done to our country," Page told Glenn. "I've been very patient in trying to ... find help with finding solutions and correcting this terrible thing which has happened to our country, our judicial system, DOJ, FBI -- these once-great institutions. And my bigger concern is the fact that, although we keep taking these steps forward in terms of these important findings, it really remains the tip of the iceberg."

Page was referencing the report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, which revealed that the FBI made "at least 17 significant errors or omissions" in its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications for warrants to spy on Page, a U.S. citizen.

"I think this needs to be attacked from all angles," Glenn said. "The one angle I'm interested in from you is, please tell me you have the biggest badass attorneys that are hungry, starving, maybe are a little low to pay their Mercedes payments right now, and are just gearing up to come after the government and the media. Are they?"

I can confirm that that is the case," Page replied.

Watch the video clip below for a preview of the full-length interview:

The full interview will air on January 30th for Blaze TV subscribers, and February 1st on YouTube and wherever you get your podcast.

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Subscribe to Glenn Beck's channel on YouTube for FREE access to more of his masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, or subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Use code BECK to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

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On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

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Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com