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He did much of his fixing at Lindy’s Restaurant, in Times Square, spending so much time there many thought he owned it. Half of Broadway treated Lindy’s as their clubhouse. Actors in one corner; songwriters and song pluggers in another; gamblers in yet another. Damon Runyon gravitated to Lindy’s newspapermen’s section and wrote about those in the underworld section. In Guys and Dolls, Lindy’s became “Mindy’s” and Arnold Rothstein became “Nathan Detroit.” Elsewhere, Runyon turned A. R. into “Armand Rosenthal, The Brain.”
You could find A. R. in Lindy’s almost any night, making deals, lending money at rates as high as 48 percent.
Arnold Rothstein compartmentalized his whole life into various segments, some legal, most illegala confusing, but profitable, mix of legitimacy and corruption. Most knew him as a gambler. He was much more. His “Big Bankroll” nickname revealed far more than one might surmise. From his earliest days, he carried huge amounts on his conservatively tailored person eventually up to $100,000.
A big bankroll conferred immense power upon the bearer. Have a scheme? See Rothstein. In a jam? Go to Rothstein. You’d get the money on the spot, no paperwork, no wait. And so, A. R. fenced millions of dollars in stolen government bonds, backed New York’s biggest bootleggers, imported tons of illegal heroin and morphine, financed shady Wall Street bucket shops, bought and sold cops and politicians.
Rothstein wasn’t merely rich, he was smart. That was how he became rich. A. R. was “The Great Brain,” smarter and savvier than those around himno matter what crowd he was inthe gamblers, the reporters, the politicians, the hoodlums, the showpeople, the “legitimate” businessman. They knew it, he knew it; he prided himself on his overwhelming intelligence, his ability to calmly, coldly manipulate any situation.