Excerpt . . .
He did much of his fixing at Lindy's Restaurant, in Times Square,
spending so much time there many thought he owned it. Half of
Broadway treated Lindy's as their clubhouse. Actors in one corner;
songwriters and song pluggers in another; gamblers in yet another.
Damon Runyon gravitated to Lindy's newspapermen's section and
wrote about those in the underworld section. In Guys and Dolls,
Lindy's became "Mindy's" and Arnold Rothstein became "Nathan
Detroit." Elsewhere, Runyon turned A. R. into "Armand Rosenthal, The
You could find A. R. in Lindy's almost any night, making deals, lending
money at rates as high as 48 percent.
Arnold Rothstein compartmentalized his whole life into various
segments, some legal, most illegal—a confusing, but profitable, mix of
legitimacy and corruption. Most knew him as a gambler. He was much
more. His "Big Bankroll" nickname revealed far more than one might
surmise. From his earliest days, he carried huge amounts on his
conservatively tailored person—eventually up to $100,000.
A big bankroll conferred immense power upon the bearer. Have a
scheme? See Rothstein. In a jam? Go to Rothstein. You'd get the
money on the spot, no paperwork, no wait. And so, A. R. fenced
millions of dollars in stolen government bonds, backed New York's
biggest bootleggers, imported tons of illegal heroin and morphine,
financed shady Wall Street bucket shops, bought and sold cops and
Rothstein wasn't merely rich, he was smart. That was how he became
rich. A. R. was "The Great Brain," smarter and savvier than those
around him—no matter what crowd he was in—the gamblers, the
reporters, the politicians, the hoodlums, the showpeople, the
"legitimate" businessman. They knew it, he knew it; he prided himself
on his overwhelming intelligence, his ability to calmly, coldly manipulate