An Offer Las Vegas Can’t Refuse

the mob museumA news hit on Mesothelioma News (yes…ACTUALLY) reminds me that the Mob Museum is on track for a summer, 2011 opening in downtown Las Vegas.

Now, there are those of you, of course — swanky San Francisco types, I’m talking to you — who like to turn up your noses at Vegas overall. I mean, Christ, have you ever tried to get a decent single-origin fair-trade half-skim half-2% double half-caf tepid latte no foam in that cultural Hiroshima? It’s a nightmare. It’s like Bergen-Belsen, I tell ya. It’s like Fairfield.

Then there are those of you who hear the word Vegas and make a joyous Fonzie sound (“Aaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy!”) and start shadow-boxing delightedly and doing jazz hands, singing Sinatra and tap dancing as you visualize yourself and your ten closest bra’s cruising Caesar’s Palace in sharkskin suits and two-tone shoes, the carnal barking sounds you make at each passing cocktail waitress almost — almost! — as clever and iconoclastic as your goddamn taste in movies.

This ain’t that Vegas.

No, strip-visiting losers with chlamydia and those who never venture East of Treasure Island except once a year to huff alkali dust and juggle sustainable bowling pins on steam-powered unicycles wearing organic rubber clown noses and lecturing passers-by about their electrolyte intake: this shit’s Downtown. It’s the part of Las Vegas half-stuck in a James Ellroy novel. It’s where they don’t let you north of East Charleston on surface streets unless you’re over 80 years of age, on parole in El Salvador, currently dodging a Federal subpoena or at risk of having your private investigator’s license revoked.

In short, it’s the part of Las Vegas that stinks like cheap cigars and the gloppy gutter-strewn T-bird-and-popcorn-shrimp-buffet vomit of those persons visiting The Big V not from Redondo Beach because their kids heard The Search for the Obelisk is really really cool, but from Cour d’Alene, Idaho because all the pawn shops in California have a BOLO out for the silverware they stole from their ex-wife’s step-grandmother, and they’re just sure they can turn the thirty-seven bucks they’ll get for it into a million using this nickel-slot system their speed-addict girlfriend’s ex-coworker at the strip club learned from her great-uncle on death row in Utah for killing eight schoolchildren when he passed out at the wheel of a canola-oil tanker after a week-long Romilar bender.

Yeah, this is that Vegas. You can smell this part of town from Bakersfield. This is the real Vegas, people, and what happens there stays Northeast of Bonneville — at least you better hope so, cowboy.

Technically the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, this 41,000 square foot facility will be installed in a former federal courthouse at 300 Stewart Avenue downtown. It’ll featuring “more than 30” “video and interactive” “exhibits” pertaining to the Mafia history that made Vegas great. But wait! Did you say “Law Enforcement?” Yes, indeed I did, because Las Vegas, in case you haven’t heard, is no longer a sleaze pit; it’s “family friendly” — has been ever since the Borg showed up. Despite the impending bankruptcy of its monorail and an enormous decrease in tourism amid rampant drunken construction of new casino-hotels on the sites of recently demolished casino-hotels, Las Vegas is not the corrupt Tangier steam bath of a city it once was. That’s why the Mob Museum will pay tribute to the “law enforcement” history of Las Vegas which, honestly, any of us give a damn about, especially the gents with the martinis who think your Smokey the Bear hat is money, officer, and they’re wondering if they could try it on.

In case you just graduated from the Lefty Rosenthal school of history, lemme tell you that the main brain behind the Mob Museum is none other than Vegas mayor Oscar B. Goodman, who claims not only a career in politics, but in the pictures, having appeared in such films as Casino and Looney Tunes: Back in the Action (could I make this stuff up?) and also has had a bobblehead of him issued by the Las Vegas 51s, a baseball team named after — that’s right! You guessed it, Mulder! He should not be confused with Oscar Goldman, who built the $6 million man.

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