Saturday, October 18, 2008

Only in Vegas

Las Vegas Unveils Name of New Mob Museum:

LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas hopes its newest museum will be a hit.

The city is opening The (redacted) Museum: The Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, which will showcase southern Nevada's colorful and storied past in organized crime.

The City Council unveiled the name Tuesday, along with logos resembling court documents with material blacked out. The first redaction obscures the word "mob."

"I don't think anybody is able to do tongue-in-cheek the way Las Vegas can do it," said Mayor Oscar Goodman, a former criminal defense lawyer who represented organized crime figures before representing residents in City Hall.
LOL. I'll say. Only in Vegas would you find a museum that is both A. dedicated to organized crime (by a Mayor who once represented Syndicate bosses, no less) and B. is completely kitschy and ironic.

When you click on the link to the MSNBC story, the picture is of a guy named Frank "Lefty"Rosenthal who ran several casinos for the Syndicate back in the 1960's and 1970's, and was the inspriration for Robert DeNiro's character in the Vegas movie "Casino". He died this past Monday, at age 79.
Rosenthal, who was once called "the greatest living expert on sports gambling" by Sports Illustrated, is credited with bringing sports betting to Las Vegas casinos in the '70s.

Rosenthal once ordered his casino security men to crush the right hand of a card cheat he had caught.

"He was part of a crew of professional card cheats, and calling the cops would do nothing to stop them, so we used a rubber mallet -- metal hammers leave marks, you know -- and he became a lefty," Rosenthal recalled in a 2005 interview with the Miami Herald.
Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune has a nice "ode" to Lefty on his blog Rosenblog, including one of my favorite quotes from the movie:

For all that the movie ["Casino", based on Rosenthal] says about Vegas and casino gambling and sports betting -- and of course the Mob -- perhaps the best take on the way Sin City changed comes in the final monologue by DeNiro's character:

"The town will never be the same. After the Tangiers, the big corporations took it all over. Today it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior's college money on the poker slots. In the old days, dealers knew your name, what you drank, what you played. Today, it's like checkin' into an airport. And if you order room service, you're lucky if you get it by Thursday. Today, it's all gone. You get a whale show up with four million in a suitcase, and some twenty-five-year-old hotel school kid is gonna want his Social Security Number. After the Teamsters got knocked out of the box, the corporations tore down practically every one of the old casinos. And where did the money come from to rebuild the pyramids? Junk bonds."

Funny, but when they said Wall Street brought "respectability" to the old mob-run casinos, they must have been joking.

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