« Economic musical chairs | Main | The debates we're not having »

September 08, 2009

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00e54fdb30b988340120a5b04663970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Phoenix 101: Underworld:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My father had an unhappy relationship with Howard Woodall that, nonetheless, resulted in a happy ending. Dad apparently thought Woodall could leverage his underworld contacts to secure needed financing for a stalled construction project. Woodall told him to sign over the deed, which Dad did, whereupon Woodall got a bank loan and ran away with the loot. Dad sued the bank and got a favorable judgment, which resulted in a loan for his project from the chastened bank.

This was back in the 1970s and as crazy as it all seemed, it was one way of doing business. My father was a bit player but he had lost a fortune in legal judgments himself, and one of the beneficiaries, a Jack Cohen, was a Meyer Lansky operative. He was murdered a couple of years after the transaction with Dad.

Maybe it was the romance of the Rat Pack, the Runyonesque magic of tough guys playing liar's poker, or the era's hypermasculine ethos (Jimmy Carter was not president yet), but it was normal in its own bizarre way. After the IRE stories broke, Barbara Walters asked Barry Goldwater if he had been on the take. He answered, "hell, back then, everyone was".

This was a country that elected LBJ and Richard Nixon. We did dumb things, of course, and occasionally tragically stupid things. But there was still a core decency in our politics that almost seems quaint today. Both parties had a sense of the possible. Both parties negotiated and compromised. Things got done.

Not anymore.

Are you familiar with a old book called "The Green Felt Jungle" by Ed Reid? It's about the history of Las Vegas, but the names of prominent Arizona families pop up in the book: Rosenzweig, Greenbaum, Goldwater, etc. Al Capone's wire service ran through Phoenix and a lot of these folks hung out with mobsters at the Phoenix Country Club. People like "Icepick Willie" who murdered his victims by shoving an icepick through their ear. Has some great and gruesome black and white photos too.

When my parents moved to Phoenix in 1956, one of their first friends was a Jewish couple living in Paradise Valley. The husband, turns out, was an accountant for the mob. The Feds got him on a charge, but he wouldn't talk. He did his time, got out, moved to San Diego, and bought a yacht.

Strangely enough, I worked with a clerk at U-Totem that was paralyzed along one side of his body. The cause - a petty crook (known to him as a regular customer from the area) tried to kill him after robbing the store by shoving an icepick through his ear.

My dad was a small time developer of garden apartments back in the 1970's and my brother was his general contractor. I recall several stories of my brother being told to choose certain plumbing contractors or else he was risking his life. My brother, being the cowboy that he was, wanted to tell them to fuck off, but, my father, being from Chicago, promptly ordered him to comply.

Not sure if the Italian mafia is as ingrained in the formal economy as it once was in Phoenix. Today, Phoenix is a major HQ for the Mexican Mafia. An enormous amount of cocaine brought from Latin America is transacted in Phoenix, as are assault weapons.

Don't forget the shenanigans of an earlier time with the 1932 Winnie Ruth Judd murder trial. Apparently there were many political and police "higher ups" who did a very good job of covering their butts on that one. Enter local businessman J.J. Halloran. Investigative reporter Jana Bommersbach does a decent job of telling the story in her book, but there are still some dark crannies that will probably never be illuminated.

My grandfather was Howard Neil Woodall and i love him to this day he tought me alot of the ins and outs on how to survive in this crazy world. He also told me alot about his dealings with Ned Warren and company and for you to say he sang to the police is a little insulting. My grandpa did what was best for him and his family and our family is in a better place for it. My grandfather had nothing to do with the murders that happened, he was only the faceman, salesman of the land swindling sceme that was going on. I dont condone what my grandfather did in those days but i do respect him for cooperating with the police and stopping the sceme that robbed alot of people out of there money. One thing noone ever gives my grandfather and his Boss Ned warren credit for is that they used the system got rich and basically built the town of Scottsdale arizona in the middle of the desert, and as everyone know it is know one of the more populous cities in Arizona. So at last i will end it with grandpa i love you and you will be missed; to those he stole from i appologize.

Can you please contact me Trey. My mother married your grandfather while he was in jail.
Would like to know more

I personally knew Ned Warren and his accountant, Ed Lazzar, who was gunned down in an elevator, I believe...Tony Serra, who I knew very well, was killed in prison by the Mexican Mafia...

I was in Tony's office one day, when he asked me to wear a suit in the morning...When I asked why, he said, "I want to introduce you to the Godfather (Ned Warren)...I told him, "When the Godfather wants to see me, he comes to my office!"

I got too close to that mess in the early 70's...You could not be in business in Phoenix without becoming tainted by these guys...The glamor of organized crime figures was the hook that corrupted us all at one level or another...

The comments to this entry are closed.

Your email address:


Powered by FeedBlitz