There is no Green Felt Journal in this week’s Vegas Seven. But I did write the cover story, a historical dissection of the notorious Green Felt Jungle:
When Trident Press released The Green Felt Jungle on December 13, 1963, it promised to tell the real story of Las Vegas. Most residents winced; this could only be bad news.
For $4.95, readers could read tales of cash, crime and corruption. And sex—plenty of sex. Authors Ed Reid and Ovid Demaris meshed gossip, innuendo and rehashed reportage in a book whose premise—that the mob owned Las Vegas, body and soul—was anathema to Nevadans. Two talented writers—Reid won a Pulitzer in 1951 for his investigations into Brooklyn organized crime, and Demaris was in the midst of a string of best-sellers—were tackling the glitzy gambling oasis. It couldn’t miss.
I love the chance to write these in-depth feature stories for the magazine. Thanks as always to my editor, Greg Miller, who worked me through a few drafts to get the story to where it is. And Ed Walters was a fascinating interview subject–I’m looking forward to learning more about his life and times in Las Vegas.
Once Grandissimo is out, I’m going to pick my next book project. I’ve been leaning towards something contemporary, since that’s what experts say people want to read about, but the more I write historical pieces for Seven that get such a positive response, the more I’m convinced that it’s time for me to write the history of Las Vegas casinos that I’ve been talking about. I’ve gotten as far as sketching out chapter ideas, and I think that it would have a lot of material that people are interested in.
I’d really like to fill in the gaps in what most people know about Las Vegas casinos. For most, it goes cowboys–>gangsters–>corporations, without too much consideration of the interplay between those groups (and others) that created the industry we know today. Ten years ago in Suburban Xanadu, I said that there was a lot more continuity than change between the past and present of the casino business, and I think that’s true. I’d like a chance to really tell that story in a narrative, non-academic way, starting with the first gambling halls on Block 16 and ending with today. I covered much of this in Roll the Bones in summary form, but there is plenty more to say.
For now, though, I’ve got a book to publish and promote, so through October I’m 100% about Grandissimo.
And for today, you’ve got a nice little slice of 1960s Las Vegas to read about–including an appearance by Meyer Lanksy in the Fremont coffee shop. Here’s to Las Vegas history!