Monday, April 01, 2013
Taking a day off...
Once a month, I try to get out of the shop and do something new. The good news is - there's always something to explore here - whether it's a new restaurant, the farmer's markets, an exhibit or a museum - whatever.
This week, I stopped by The Mob Museum. I'd heard a lot of mixed reviews, and decided it was time to check it out.
You start at the top - the third floor and enter a police line-up area.
You can even pose for a picture in it, with your friends.
Luckily, there are guards everywhere, protecting innocent citizens from being muscled. (That's a joke.)
Apparently, it was Spring Break for kids here in Vegas, so the place was bustling with children everywhere. That struck me as odd, considering the graphic content of violence at the museum.
Like this barber chair where a famous Mob hit took place.
You can read about the hit here.
Or these "tools" of the trade."
I didn't realize there was such a huge "Cleveland connection" with the Mob. Hell, I lived near Cleveland when some of the bombings and hits took place - but I was a kid, and oblivious to the violence back then. Here's an ID of a prominent mobster, with his Cleveland address clearly written on it.
Each floor of the museum was devoted to a different theme - the top floor was mostly history of the Mob - how it started and was formed through the years. I never realized that the Hoover Dam played a pretty big part in establishing Las Vegas as a resting place for the Mob.
The cool part was all the memorabilia - like these old comic books,
or this Tommy Gun that you could shoot.
I was going to say - one thing that bothered me, but I don't think that's the right way to put it - was the desensitization of the "hits" that this museum depicted. There are hundreds of photos of dead bodies. As you walk through the halls, you're seeing corpse after corpse - and normally - that would make you squeamish, right? After a while - those images just seem routine, and that struck me odd. Of course, watching all the kids play with the machine guns, or sit in the electric chair, seemed odd too.
WTF kind of person would bring their kid here? I don't get that.
Did you know the mob tried to smuggle drugs into the country using these canned tomatoes? You can't make this shit up!
This Italian restaurant was a front for much illegal activity,
but looked like a regular "mom and pop" operation.
Far from it!
The building that houses the museum is the actual old federal courthouse, and the second floor is the actual courtroom where the Kefauver hearings took place in the 1950s. This isn't a great picture of it, but here it is -
they play an interesting film while you're sitting in the courtroom.
It's hard to ignore the history in that room.
The room stacked with money was pretty impressive! I love this address book - I forget who it belonged to , but there - plain as day - is Oscar Goodman's address.
He was the mobster's lawyer at the time, but later became the mayor of Las Vegas. Oscar - people either love him or hate him - but he was instrumental in getting this museum built.
Again - it's hard to ignore the sheer violence contained in this building. Umm - read this sign below and tell me if kids should be here?
The wall commemorating "The Mob's Greatest Hits" featured photos of dozens of assassinations. Bizarre.
Did you know that when casinos close up and are imploded, they actually take the old chips and destroy them? In this case, they actually added them into the concrete used in the footer of the new casino going in its place.
You know the first thing that leapt into my head was wondering what else was cast into that concrete footer!
The bottom and final floor of the museum was devoted to more recent Vegas connections with the Mob.
Cassius Clay was the first boxer not controlled by the Mob. You might know him as Mohammed Ali.
There was a fun wall of Hollywood depictions of the Mob, including my favorite - Carmella Soprano
The last floor also featured modern day government methods for fighting mobbed up businesses - which now includes the broader influence of women.
There was a fascinating film clip discussing the ties between Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby and the assassination of JFK and the influence of the Mob. Wow. Hard to ignore that connection.
Four and a half hours later - I ended the tour in The Mob Museum's gift shop - a fitting way to end the day, since it features capitalism as its best. Who can resist a Brass Knuckle Meat tenderizer?
Or the Soprano's cookbook with Carmella's famous Baked ZIti recipe? I may have to go back and buy this!
This mug was pretty nice, too -
but one of my favorite items was this tee-shirt.
I SAW NOTHING AT THE MOB MUSEUM
All in all - a terrific way to spend the afternoon. Las Vegas locals get in for ten bucks - but it may take a bit more money with a therapist to get all those images out of my head.
Dr. Melfi - where are you?