Fondue as history

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Mickey CohenBlogger BoifromTroy is gay, Republican and lives in West Hollywood. Blogger Tiffany Stone is (apparently) none of those things. But after he wrote of his desire for fondue, she got in touch and off they went to Le Fondue Bourguignonne on Ventura Boulevard. Naturally, both posted accounts to their websites (his/hers) -- everyone had a good time, despite she not picking up on Boi's online hint that he yearned to be dipping cheese with someone more like himself.

It's nice and all to see bloggers who visit here regularly co-mingling, but here's the point. What caught my eye about their posts was the locale. The Sherman Oaks address had a sordid previous life as Rondelli's, a mob hangout back when the Valley was where the wise guys hung.

Mickey Cohen (above) was the city's most quotable and best-known mobster. Reporters adored him. The night of Dec. 2, 1959, Cohen was at Rondelli's when someone put a bullet between the eyes of Jack (the Enforcer) Whalen, the Valley's biggest bookie. Cohen told police he saw nuthin' -- "I just ducked" -- but he was booked at the Van Nuys jail. Guns linked to his late bodyguard, Johnny Stompanato, turned up in a trash bin behind the restaurant. (Stompanato had recently been stabbed to death in the boudoir of actress Lana Turner, allegedly by her daughter).

Turns out Cohen had a beef with The Enforcer, but an associate took the fall for the murder. Cohen was finally indicted two years later and got off on a mistrial. The jury voted 9-3 for acquittal after a trial where the defense witnesses included the comedian Joey Bishop.

It's the kind of useless stuff that becomes embedded in your brain when you write a book about some place...

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