Tom Nix, 65, has lots of tales to tell from his days building and running Nix Check Cashing, a chain he founded in South Los Angeles in 1978 and sold in 2007.

One old-gangster-style anecdote, which Nix lays out in his memoir, “Nixland: My Wild Ride in the Inner City Check Cashing Industry,” is the time in 1991 when he says mobsters from Chicago threatened to off him.

At the time, Nix was opening check-cashing shops in a partnership with Western Union, an apparent threat to mob rackets in Chicago. Someone showed up at a new store and confronted the manager.

“This thug tells him: ‘Open this store and you’ll pay the ultimate price. We’ll deal with you Chicago style,’” Nix said.

A month later, Nix traveled to New Orleans for a check-cashing trade conference – and brought guns, bullet-proof vests and bodyguards. On the second night of the conference, Nix and his crew went on a riverboat cruise and one of the Chicagoans approached them with a peace offering. He said they’d rather compete as a business and not resort to “Godfather”-style hits anymore.

“The guy said, ‘We don’t want to go back to the old times,’” Nix said. “So we shook on it, and everyone took their guns off.”

Radio Ride

Radio personality Tom Leykis, 57, is known for sometimes allowing fans to come into his Burbank studio to be on his Internet show.

But he’s going to new lengths next month when he will drive his Tesla to Los Angeles International Airport to pick up a fan – a frequent “Tom Leykis Show” caller known as “Dave from Detroit” – and chauffer him to the studio.

Dave won a day with Leykis in an eBay auction conducted by Leykis a couple of months ago. His winning bid was $7,800. Leykis is using the money to help fund his Internet radio firm, New Normal.

The shock jock has staged some attention-grabbing stunts in the past, but he said this is a first of sorts.

“I’ve never gone to the airport like a limo driver and taken a fan to the studio,” he said. “You have to have new experiences that people haven’t had before.

Irish Winter

Steve Watts, foun-der of Venice’s Slyde Handboards, brought two unusual items when he went to Ireland for

his cousin’s wedding

over the Christmas holiday: a wet suit and hand planes, small boards that help body surfers glide on waves.

The 36-year-old Watts wanted to surf at Ireland’s Donegal Bay, where the temperature ranges from 33 to 39 degrees this time of year – just a bit colder than Southern California.

The weather did not stop Watts, even though he said his wet suit did not offer him enough protection.

“When you

go to those places, you have to go out,” Watts explained.

He said that he had so much fun in the winter waters that he drove off, forgetting his brother at the beach. When Watts went back to pick him up, he had changed color.

“He literally turned blue,” he said. “He was not happy.”

Staff reporters James Rufus Koren, Jonathan Polakoff and Justin Yang contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at

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