The Last Gamble of Tokyo Joe

The Last Gamble of Tokyo Joe

Now in Print and Online, Published By Chicago Magazine

Some people spend five years training for the Winter Olympics, hoping by the time the beds are made up in a city like Nagano or Lillehammer, they'll be ready to luge like a champion. Other people spend five years working on the same 1973 AMC Javelin in their driveway, without ever seeming to fix it, the rust just migrating from the battery tray to the hog troughs.

In my case, I spent the past five years with a hustler, killer, and gangster named Ken Eto. Not literally—I have never met the man. I've been a paleontongist excavating a dig site, one which stretches from Southern Japan to the San Joaquin Valley, from the saloons of Montana to the Hawaiian coast. I don't know how quite to describe the life of a man who was the only Japanese-American to ever rise to prominence in the Chicago mafia—a true godfather, the Outfit's point man on Puerto Rican, Chinese, and Black gambling rackets in the city. What I do know is that the mystery of Ken Eto seems to encompass everything from the horrors of WWII-era internment to underworld greed to the anxiety of living each day on the verge of death. In 1983, when Ken Eto was shot three times in the head, all this would boil over and erupt.

You can read my article, produced under the kind auspices of Epic Magazine and published (in print!) in the May issue of Chicago Magazine, here. I hope you'll enjoy it and consider subscribing, or at least pick up a copy. And I would be eager to hear from you about your reactions/thoughts at my email address. Enjoy!


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