Sunday, October 26, 2008

"The Gangster Squad"

Crusaders in the underworld: The LAPD takes on organized crime - Los Angeles Times

In today's issue of the L.A. Times, the paper starts (with a front-page position of honor) Paul Lieberman's story of an off-the-books squad of LAPD officers who operated to "gather intelligence" in the post World War II years on east-coast mobsters who moved into town. According to the article, "gathering intelligence" appeared to include routinely violating civil rights, escorting thugs to the county line, and driving mobsters up to Mulholland, sticking guns in their ears, and inviting them to sneeze.

The first installment features several great accounts of how these cops put the skills they picked up fighting the war into service harassing the mob -- including how gangster Mickey Cohen's love for early television resulted in Cohen paying huge tips to a TV "repairman" for actually maintaining the bug planted in his set. ("You know," the fake repairman deadpanned to Cohen, "there's a lot of bugs in televisions and stuff you have to work out.")

So there's really no need for an over-the-top, overripe paragraph like this one:

"Noir L.A. was a time and place where truth was not found in the sunlight, and
justice not found in marble courthouses, and where not a single gangland killing
was solved, not one, for half a century. Not on paper, anyway."

The article tastes just fine without a side of cheese.

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