Cohen Rich - Tough jews

Author : Cohen Rich
Title : Tough jews Fathers, sons, and gangster dreams
Year : 1999

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Nate ’n’ Al’s. THEY ARRIVE IN German and Italian sports cars. They double-park and discard the ticket. They come through the door of Nate ’n’ Al’s, a delicatessen in Beverly Hills, they come in from the glare of Rodeo Drive expecting friendly faces. They are not disappointed. They float in on Italian-made shoes. They jam the aisles, fill the air, talk pseudo-Yiddish. They ask for the pickles, the ketchup, the herring, and they never say please. It’s always gimme, gimme, gimme. “C’mon, you heard Asher,” says Herbie, folding his arms. “Give ’em the herring.” Asher gets the herring, lays it on his bagel, and never says thank you. It’s okay. It’s understood. There are lots of things Asher never says. They sit each morning at the same booth in back of the restaurant. They look over crowded tables and booths, over mingling bigwigs and hustling waiters, over the cigar case, where toothpicks and mints can be had for free. They blink in the half-light known to all true delis, where every morning is the same morning. They sit among Jews who have moved from the East - Baltimore, Chicago, Brooklyn - and are now looking for something that got lost on the way west. They arrive at the hour agreed on the day before. “Nine A.M. tomorrow,” Sid had said, tapping his watch. “Last to come, pays. Agreed?” Heads nod. Agreed. Today, Sid is the last to come. Sid will pay. Sid is a man of his word. He follows the rules. “Especially when they’re my rules,” he says, sliding into the booth. “A man who breaks his own rules is no man at all.” Sid is a few inches under six feet tall and broad shouldered and burly, but size is not the first thing about him you notice. The first thing you notice are his eyes, which are full of mischief. “Good eyes see the present and the past right at the same time,” he says. Sid has good eyes. Over the last several decades he has moved west with the country, from New York to Los Angeles. He has passed time at real estate conventions in the Midwest, drink in hand, corn and rye ripening all around. He has been to seminars, talked PTA, the future of the Rust Belt, computers, the explosion of the Southwest, the Internet. Still, in all these years, in all the houses with all the women, he never took his eyes off Bensonhurst, the neighborhood in Brooklyn where he came of age fifty years ago. Wherever he goes he surrounds himself with people who remind him in some vague way of those kids who formed his world in Brooklyn, where every son was an immigrant’s son, every dream the pipe dream of an immigrant’s son. In Los Angeles, where so many of his boyhood friends have also landed, he runs with the old crowd. “Hello, fellas,” he says, reaching for a menu. “Happy to see everyone looking so happy.” Sid is a millionaire. He was in real estate. ...

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