Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Meyer & Me...

by paul

I was minding my own business, sipping Chianco Blanco tequila and watching a DVD from Netflix, “True Stories of the Miami Vice Squad.” (What did you expect, something with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts?)

Turns out, it’s an awful documentary, full of staged police raids that are passed off as the real thing. But there are a few interesting historical news clips, so I keep watching. They cut to a shot of Meyer Lansky, the “Chairman of the Board” of the Mafia. It’s grainy film, black-and-white, a corridor outside a courtroom. In the background is a young man, reporter’s notebook in hand, apparently asking Lansky a question. The young man has a big mop of hair. How big? Looks like he has a muskrat parked on his skull.


Yes, it was 1969. I was fresh out of Penn State, covering criminal court as a reporter for The Miami Herald.

[I’m posting a shot of me here in the hope that my fellow bloggers will also display their embarrassing photos. Prom night. Spring Break. You get the idea.]

As best I can recall, Lansky, the boyhood chum of Lucky Luciano, had come through Customs from a trip abroad and had some heart medicine for which he had no prescription. Yep, a bullshit charge that went nowhere. I covered the trial and tried to interview Lansky about his storied life in crime. No dice. He talked to me about his little yapper dogs...Ike and Bruzzer, I believe. He talked about the corned beef sandwiches at Wolfies. He smiled and nodded and seemed apologetic at not being very helpful to a young reporter who apparently couldn’t afford a haircut. I remember him as a small, soft-spoken, somewhat courtly man.

A few years later, Lansky was indicted in Miami for income tax evasion. Supposedly, he had skimmed millions from the Flamingo casino in Las Vegas. Again, he beat the rap.

“We’re bigger than U.S. Steel.” You’ll remember that line from Godfather II. It was spoken by Hyman Roth (played by Lee Strasberg), the character meant to be Lansky. Legend has it that Lansky once said the line at a mob gathering. Lansky died peacefully in 1983 at age 80.

I also covered the Jim Morrison trial (lewd conduct at a concert), but that’s
another story.

NEW BLOG: Bob Morris, the wacky Florida writer (is that redundant?)has a splendind new blog called Surrounded on Three Sides, Florida, get it? Bob is the talented and weirdly humorous author of Bahamarama, Jamaica Me Dead and the forthcoming Bermuda Schwartz.

JUST ASKING: What ever happened to good old chocolate mousse on dessert menus?

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The TV business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway, where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs." Hunter S. Thompson

The Big Lebowski: "Isn't that what makes a man?"
Jeffrey (The Dude)Lebowski: "Mmm, sure. That and a pair of testicles."



  1. Are you sure this wasn't supposed to be a "Separated at Birth" nomination? And I love those lapels...

  2. You haven't changed a bit, Paul...well, except for the hair.

    I'm up for the embarrassing photo challenge. Problem is, there are so many of them I can't decide which one to go with.

    And Bob, what's under that hat of yours? Hmmmm?

  3. Love the lapels, love the rest of the photo.

    And today is Hunter S. Thompson's birthday..... Also Thackerays, but I like HST better..........

  4. Paul, You are adorable!! Will you marry me?

  5. What's wrong with those lapels?

    If I recall correctly, the suit was a shimmering royal blue. Wait, let me look in the closet and see.

  6. Shoot, you look better than I did I my prom.

    At least you still got your hair.