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 Brain."
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 politicians.
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 any situation.