The Lower East Side, Meyer Lansky, and “Keep Your Business Under Your Hat”
Posted by Stephen Lewis on June 2, 2008
I grew up in the intimidating shadows of great Lower East Side New Yorkers, from communist novelist Mike Gold (“Jews Without Money”) to comic actor Zero Mostel (“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”), from socialist congressman Meyer London to gangster and math-whiz Meyer Lansky. For a prose- and cartoon-sketch biography of Lansky and a cautionary tale about his motto of “keep your business under your hat,” see this recent piece from the New York Times (note: if you are not up to registering for the Times Online, you can view the piece without registration here).
Part of the Lower East Side side of me admires the toughness and invulnerability of those who keep their business under their hats; the side of me that is involved in debates on the nature of knowledge and the future of the internet, however, agrees with the moral of the last plate of the cartoon sketch, i.e. that, in the end, keeping your business under your hat gets you nowhere.
(Any present or ex-, real or fantasy shtarkers viewing this post might also want to click through to Six for Five).