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             Any Las Vegas resident of long standing will, without exception, tell you that when soulless corporations muscled in on the action it ruined everything, and that the world’s playground was a much better place when the mob ran it.

            Ask these same citizens who orchestrated the skim at the Stardust Casino in the 1970s.  Ask them to name the ruthless gangster who reinvented himself in the desert as a respected philanthropist after decades leading Cleveland’s Mayfield Road Gang.  Ask them to name Bugsy Siegel’s mistress.  The answers: Lefty Rosenthal, Moe Dalitz and Virginia Hill will be correct and delivered with a certain pride.  But ask a dozen citizens of Denver or Cincinnati to name their congressman and you’ll get more different answers than you have fingers on your left hand.

So why is it that the people of Las Vegas take such pride in their city’s notorious past?  Because as a city that forged its personality in the mid-twentieth century, the history of Las Vegas is recent enough that anyone born and raised there can remember it.  Or at least their parents can.  Not to mention that these mobsters who built upon the foundation laid by pioneers and cowboys have been glamorized for decades in movies and on television.

So gangsters are good and corporations are bad?  Why not?  In Las Vegas it’s a point of civic pride.  No less valid than erecting statues of Abe Lincoln in Springfield, slapping Ben Franklin’s name on absolutely everything in Philadelphia, or the Founders Day parade in your town.

By the way.  Who is your congressman?