Tuesday, November 29, 2005

529 South Broadway To-day



The 1928 Schulte United building has been downgraded to a “hut.” A shoe hut, no less.

Downtown strollers beware, indeed. Vanishing money is endemic to the area. It’s rife with grifters and dips parting citizens from their geetus. Half a block down from Schulte I espied this collection of folk.


And what were they entranced by? Why it’s that old street con, the shell game!


And Mr. Flimmflam-man had no lack of marks today. The Deep Pinch, the V-Grip, Side Steal, Inside Shift and Side Load; sharpie had it down when spieling the nuts.

There are times I wish I’d been sober during my high school Spanish classes; woulda loved to glom said spiel, which had that unmistakable rhythm of Three Card Monte patter.

6 comments:

RogerRmjet said...

Discovered your website last week while doing some research on Florabel Muir, and am glad I did. I've been visiting every day since. Wanted to send you some questions, but didn't see an email address. Perhaps others visiting this site can also help me out.

- What year did the LAND come off the HOLLYWOODLAND sign? I've read a number of conflicting dates, but the most common seems to be around 1945. Did the final four letters languish on the hillside for a few years before being taken down?

- Where was Mickey Cohen the night Bugsy bought the farm? I've read numerous books on Mickey and the Hollywood Mob, but none of them say where he was that night. Was he entertaining at home (best I've been able to figure)?

- Wikipedia's entry on Mickey relates the following: "Cohen reacted violently to Siegel's murder, later entering the Roosevelt Hotel where he believed the killers were staying, and firing two .45 automatic pistols into the ceiling of the lobby, demanding the assassins to meet him outside in ten minutes. However as no one appeared Cohen was forced to flee after police arrived on the scene." Any idea from where this story came? I've never seen it anywhere else.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
--------------------
Someone is burning down 1940s Hollywood in "The City Burns at Night." Listen to the "old-time radio" serial at www.lightningbugfilms.com.

Larry said...

By 1949, the Hollywood sign had lost the “H” and read “OLLYWOODLAND,” prompting a humorous mention by columnist Lee Shippey referring to the “OLLYWOODLAND ILLS.” (Shippey was blind so he mistakenly said the sign read: “HOLLYWOODLAND HILLS.”) The city parks department planned to tear down the sign, but the City Council overruled the demolition and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce offered $5,000 to repair the “H” and remove the last four letters.

In late September 1949, work began on restoring the “H” and removing “LAND.” The project was expected to be done in three weeks.

As for your other questions. First of all, I wouldn’t trust anything in Wikipedia I hadn’t verified myself. It’s a [[magnet]] for [[crackpots]]. Your story sounds like something from his autobiography (cited as one of the article’s references), which I read years ago. You might start there. Remember that by the time he dictated his autobiography, Cohen had been hit in the head with a pipe while in prison and wasn’t entirely coherent.

In 1947, the year of the Siegel killing, Mickey Cohen was running his haberdashery on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, although The Times never provided its precise address. The FBI is slowly posting its old files online in the FOIA Reading Room (I was happily surprised to find the buro has posted its file on Fred Otash, former LAPD officer turned private detective) but hasn’t posted Cohen’s yet.

Bonus factoid: Regardless of what you may read in the coffee table books on Hollywood scandals, Peg Entwhistle jumped off the "H," and not the (cue spooky music) 13th letter of the Hollywoodland sign. She wrote: "I am afraid I'm a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago it would have saved a lot of pain."

www.lmharnisch.com

RogerRmjet said...

Larry, thanks so much for your input. I've been reading your Black Dahlia site and have found it very informative.

Yes, I've read Mickey Cohen's bio, and it contains no mention of the Roosevelt Hotel incident. That's why I was surprised to see it. I knew better than to trust Wikipedia, which is why I've been looking for another source.

I've found Cohen's biography surprisingly accurate for a memoir dictated in his old age and after suffering a pipe blow to the head. Many incidents he relates more or less match up to my other sources, such as Florabel Muir's Headline Happy, Jimmy the Weasel's Last Mafioso, and Ed Reid's Cohen bio. The tough part I've found in researching Cohen, though, is that most of the books I've read refer back to Cohen's own book as their source.

I'm really looking forward to when the FBI posts their Cohen files, too.

Larry said...

Let’s look at the history of Mickey Cohen’s wiki page….

Here’s the link to when that story was added:
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mickey_Cohen&diff=prev&oldid=13935118

on May 19, 2005.

The author was 209.213.71.78 (meganet.net, based in Fall River, MA, which you will of course recognize as the home of ax murderess Lizzy Borden)

Here is the user talk for your friend:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:209.213.71.78

and here’s his contributions, many of them focusing on organized crime:

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Contributions&target=209.213.71.78&offset=0&limit=500

I posted a question on 209.213.71.78’s talk page. Let’s see if we get an answer!

www.lmharnisch.com

RogerRmjet said...

Larry, I had no idea you could do that. Very cool. Thanks so much for posting the question. I'll keep watch for an answer.

Larry said...

Our wiki pal has added alleged documentation for Mickey Cohen shooting up the Roosevelt Hotel.

*Nash, Robert Jay ''Encyclopedia of World Crime (A-C) Vol. I'', CrimeBooks Inc., 1989.

Nash's "Encyclopedia" is searchable online through Google and indeed the story appears, but with no attribution. Although Nash has a "bibliography," it carries this disclaimer:
"Note: Tens of thousands of sources have been consulted by the author in researching the World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime over the last twenty-five years. What follows are basic book references which the reader may find helpful in further reading and research. Space does not permit citing the tens of thousands of periodical, newspaper, pamphlet, court document and transcript sources also consulted by the author."

In other words, don't accept anything you can't confirm independently. I say it's nonsense unless it can be proved with something more substantial than a "true" crime paperback.