I also learned that there really was a Gangster Squad, a small elite unbadged corps within the LAPD given free reign to bring down Cohen. I don't know how the recently released movie tells the story, but Cohen died of cancer in 1976 at the age of 63, brought down only by disease and the IRS. Unfortunately while there might be more to the story, you won't read it here, as Tereba's account is too breezy and tabloid-superficial to dig for the story.
Still, while not great writing, this is a fun companion volume to the DVD double feature I just enjoyed: Chinatown and L. A. Confidential. The booming desert town on the edge of the Pacific was the real star of both movies, and for twenty years it was Mickey's town. The center of the action was the Sunset Strip, where the divided jurisdiction of L. A. county and city made for lax and uncertain enforcement and marginally legal businesses like those Cohen ran to front his real moneymakers could flourish. And it is fun to learn about some of the real life haunts we see in those movies, like the Pantages Theatre. And Tebera's book provides some useful background that makes L. A. Confidential's action make sense, such as the corruption within the LAPD and the police forces war against out of town gangsters, especially those from Cleveland (Cohen earned his gangster
stripes there, and may have been controlled by Cleveland crime families even during his L. A. time).
Teresa does include an extensive bibliography, where it appears that most gangsters were busier telling their stories to ghostwriters than they were strong arming legitimate businesses or muscling in on rival gangs. Much like the outlaws of the Wild West, it appears that the gangsters of the following century were at least in part products of their own publicity. So you can dig deeper and read the accounts from the primary and secondary sources Tereba cites if you really want the truth behind the headlines.
But if you just want the headlines from today's "Hollywood Nite Life" (Cohen's tabloid mouthpiece) just hit play on Chinatown and L. A. Confidential and flip to page one.
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