Tod Goldberg, author of "Gangsterland," in Palm Springs, California.

It’s the mid-’80s. Society writer Jan Curran and her children arrive at Paul di Amico’s Steak House, where on any given night you could run into a wide range of characters, legit and otherwise.

The mayor, Frank Bogert, is here. Businessmen and real estate agents are seated at center tables, mingling with the movers and shakers coming in and out of the piano lounge. Regular folks and a smattering of old Hollywood celebrities occupy the cushioned booths. So do some cops and mobsters.

Mobsters don’t faze the always-fashionable Curran. She regularly regales her kids with stories of “Fat Philly” and “Jerry the Crusher.” For Tod Goldberg, the youngest of Curran’s four children, the scene at the restaurant is like a movie. The only problem is he’s watching a bit too intently when a gruff-looking patron thinks he’s eavesdropping.

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