FOLLOW US ON:
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
Frankenstein and his Bride get mind-melting makeovers
02.19.2018
09:23 am
Topics:
Tags:


Frankenstein’s monster reimagined as Franken Berry (the General Mills cereal monster mascot) by Michael Burnett.
 
In 2011, 80 artists were invited to create their own version of Hollywood’s most famous monster of filmland—no, not Harvey Weinstein, but rather the creation of author Mary Shelley, James Whale and Boris Karloff, Frankenstein’s monster—for a charity art endeavor called the It’s Alive Project. For the show, the artists were simply required to utilize a bust of actor Boris Karloff in character as Frankenstein’s monster and do whatever they wanted. Over the next few years the It’s Alive Project would take on the monster’s better half, as famously portrayed by actress Elsa Lanchester in the 1935 film, Bride of Frankenstein. Updates to the monster’s made-to-order bride and her black and white look were quite imaginative—such as depicting Lanchester as a punk rocker with a dangerous looking blue mohawk or a sinister-looking version of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

The impressive life-sized busts were sold for equally impressive prices in various auctions—some going for several thousand dollars each. All proceeds from the sale of the various tricked-out monsters and his bride were donated to the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which provides cost-free treatment to children diagnosed with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Some of the images that follow are slightly NSFW.
 

Frankenstein’s monster as Spock from ‘Star Trek.’
 

“The Bride of Oz” by John Allred.
 

“Punk Bride” by Barry S. Anderson. Other work by Anderson can be seen in the 1986 film ‘Day of the Dead,’ and 2001’s ‘Jeepers Creepers.’
 
More monsters after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
02.19.2018
09:23 am
|
Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture
02.05.2018
10:30 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
Recently I have become rather mopey and down-in-the-mouth, to be quite honest. No, it’s not politics and it’s not due to some dumb horrible break-up either. It’s simply due to the realization that I will never have the chance to live my best life and rock out to bands like Wild Asparagus or The Ding Dings. I will never be able to see shit go down at The Sound Spot or The Stomp House.

These things have been keeping me up at night. It’s just not fair. Why can’t I go back in time to the East Village and have a drink with Beebo Brinker? And why the fuck isn’t North Beach in San Francisco as steamy, sexy and crime-laden as it used to be? I wanna get myself a grumpy-ass detective man who hates hippies and reluctantly gets dragged into investigating a drugged-out cult killing. I never got my shot to take up with some doped-up horn player who lives in a jazz club and parties until dawn, dammit.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Ever since I read the shatteringly great Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980, I am a mess! If I was once nostalgic for a past I wasn’t even alive for, I am now pining for characters and circumstances that never happened at all! Editors and authors Iain McIntyre and Andrew Nette have created something unbelievable with this volume. Something that seems almost unthinkable: it is a reference book for pulp work written in a pulp-style. What I mean by this is that it is addictive, a quick read, and it leaves you wanting more.

All pulp is of the “betcha can’t eat just one” variety and so is this book. You can’t just read the chapter on 1960s British Youthsploitation Novels and you can’t just read the bits on early juvenile delinquent pulps. It’s simply not possible with this book. The way that Girl Gangs infiltrates your senses could easily be equated to the experiences of the characters in the counterculture pulps it documents: the volume starts slow like a neatly rolled joint, then kicks off mad like a killer acid trip and doesn’t let go until the contributors page and acknowledgements, at which point you find yourself the last person to leave the party, saying: “That’s it? No more? Should I just start it again from page one? I probably missed something. Okay. Here goes!” Drop that tab. Just smoke that bowl. There’s many layers to this book. It goes down just as smooth the second time around.

There are many writers who attend the Girl Gangs shindig, and every one of them should be well praised for their hard work. On a personal note, the inclusion of the YA fiction work at the close was so brilliant as there is an entire world of literature that I treasure that (apparently) only the writers of this book and perhaps a few others have recognized as pulpy, dangerous, subversive and REAL. And no, I’m not talking about Go Ask Alice (although that is one of the books discussed).

What makes McIntyre and Nette’s book such an achievement is the fact that not only does it include actual passages from extremely difficult and impossible to find pulp novels, many works are not US-based. Due to the fact that many of the contributing writers are UK or Australian-based, this book has one of the most uniquely international looks at pulp I have ever come across, period. It is glorious.

I have seen plenty of coffee table books on pulp cover art, academic publications, and merchandising galore (who hasn’t seen the card holders/compacts/cigarette cases for Don Elliot’s Hot Rod Sinners or Edward De Roo’s Go, Man, Go!) but I have never met a book that is as pleasingly exhaustive as Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, And Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980. I have never been so aware of Australian crime, women pulp writers, queerness in pulp and the influence of social/political events on the genre. I was well aware of how subversive the genre was, but the interviews with authors floored me and the amount of deep research in this book on a rather obscure literary genre blew my mind.

I don’t care who you are you this book will thrill you. It’s a bookcase necessity. If you have any interest in rock ‘n roll, lesbians, cult murder, car racing, leather jackets, skinhead violence, surfing spies, girl gangs or adolescents trying pot for the first time, THIS IS YOUR BAG, BABY. You will not get most of this material anywhere else. Trust me, I’ve looked. I have a list now of the things I want to read/find but I know I will be screwed when it comes to getting them. Most of them are either out of my price range collectibles or simply nowhere to be found except in the hands of exceptional weirdo wonderfuls like Iain McIntyre, Andrew Nette and their fearless crew. As an archivist, I trust them with these treasures implicitly. And await their next title with bated breath!
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Ariel Schudson
|
02.05.2018
10:30 am
|
That time Bill Murray interviewed William S. Burroughs on Ken Kesey’s farm
01.19.2018
10:46 am
Topics:
Tags:


Bill Murray, Ken Kesey, and the video crew at the First Perennial Poetic Hoo-Haw, 1976 (photo by Clyde Keller)
 
“Everybody with his fucking hand out,” William S. Burroughs slurs, deep in his cups. He and Bill Murray are discussing the custom of bribing officials when traveling south of the border.

Murray calculates how much it will cost to keep things friendly in TJ. “We figure we’d buy off everybody in Tijuana, just give ‘em two dollars every time they came by.”

Burroughs shakes his head. “No, listen—as soon as you give ‘em two dollars, the next time they come back, they want four dollars. It’s geometric!” He pulls another smoke from his pack of Senior Service. “See, you do not get rid of people by giving them money.”

The occasion, I learn from RealityStudio, was Ken Kesey’s First Perennial Poetic Hoo Haw, held on Kesey’s farm and the University of Oregon campus in June 1976. Photographer Clyde Keller says Murray was there as part of the crew from Eugene’s KVAL-TV, and the gig may also have been related to Murray’s work with the TVTV video collective. Too bad the clip of this historic meeting, with Murray in between The National Lampoon Radio Hour and Saturday Night Live, is only a minute long.

But wait—there’s more! Keep scrolling down for the full, hour long documentary Murray and crew shot at the Hoo Haw, which turned up on YouTube about a week ago. The video includes the moment Burroughs and Murray met in Kesey’s blueberry patch, Burroughs’ reading of “When Did I Stop Wanting to Be President,” and performances by Anne Waldman, Allen Ginsberg, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

Watch it all, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
|
01.19.2018
10:46 am
|
Photoplay Editions: A forgotten generation of movie tie-ins and novelizations
01.16.2018
04:29 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
Everyone loves paperback movie tie-in novels. If you don’t, you really should. From their accessible prices and lurid covers to their not-always-screen-accurate content, this literary genre has provided joy for its fans for many decades. Reaching its peak in the 1970s as mass-market paperbacks along with genre novels of the romance, horror and sci-fi variety, the popular conception of media tie-in literature has been that it belongs to the more contemporary era of film and television work. Pop culture fandoms and collector advocacy have accelerated the idea that film novelizations are a recent phenomenon. Due to the observable vividness of their covers and the familiarity (or fucked-up bizarreness) of many of their titles,  the movie tie-in paperbacks published from the 1950s onwards have become the standard by which we define the “movie novelization” or “movie tie-in” paperback.

A few useful definitions: a novelization is a book based on a cinematic property. The writer uses an early version of the script or screenplay and, like movie tie-ins, these works are active parts of the film’s marketing. Tie-in novels are re-publications of previously written literary properties that films have adapted but with a “tie-in” feature to the upcoming movie. This could be a new title, a star on the book cover, etc. If a studio has changed the name of said book, the tie-in will carry the new name, not the original literary title (although the original name might be there as a “formerly known as”). A tie-in will also refer to books written after a film’s release in order to continue making money off the film property but have no connection to previously written literature. Both novelizations and tie-ins are pretty interesting. Obviously, some are more faithful to the, uh, original material than others. 

Novelizations and tie-in paperbacks are still some of the most widely available of such items due to their large publication runs. You could buy them anywhere, put them in your back pocket, and they were cheap (in quality and in price). These titles, from the most cultish to the most famous, are the most talked about, well-known and collected movie-related books. Some of the older titles have even been reprinted. But these works were not the first in movie tie-in history. For that, you’ll have to start in the silent film era.

From the 1910s into the 1940s, Grosset & Dunlap and A.L. Burt were two of the main publishers of what are known as Photoplay Editions. This title came, of course, from the fact that they were designed to be released in tandem with the photoplays (aka films) that they were connected with. Yes, these were the first novelizations and movie tie-ins. These hardcover volumes had a similarity to their paperback brethren: they were rather plain on the inside. There was no gilding, no special binding, no ribbon bookmarks or dignified artwork, unlike many books of the time. On the other hand, they did include pictures from the film!!! Cool, right? These books were a brilliant marketing concept and the money the publishers saved on the fancy binding and silk endpapers? That got spent on the MIND BLOWING book jacket art.
 

 

 
The most incredible part of these Photoplay Editions is that many still exist whereas the actual films they were promoting are considered lost. As a film archivist, I get the same tired jokes about finding Tod Browning’s London After Midnight (1927) all the time. Look, if it happens? You’ll be the first to know. But it won’t. The closest we may get is the beautiful Photoplay Edition that was released in conjunction with the film. And London isn’t the only lost film that we still have the book for. Murnau’s Four Devils (1928) also exists. And many more. Photoplay Editions are a virtual treasure trove- for movie tie-in fans, for film nerds, for art lovers. Enjoy these images!
 

 

 
More movie tie-ins and novelizations, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Ariel Schudson
|
01.16.2018
04:29 pm
|
Surreal sci-fi-horror artwork by prolific Dutch painter Karel Thole
01.11.2018
09:52 am
Topics:
Tags:


Here’s looking at you, kid. An intriguing piece of work by Dutch painter Karel Thole.
 
Karel Thole was a massively prolific Dutch artist with a flair for combining both surreal science fiction themes with horror. For much of his career, Thole’s inspired artwork appeared on the cover of the number-one-selling Italian science fiction magazine (at the time) Urania. The magazine featured stories from premiere American sci-fi authors such as Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Alan Dean Foster, Philip K. Dick as well as English great, J.G. Ballard. Italian authors also contributed, though they were widely published under aliases.

Thole was born Carolus Adrianus Maria Thole in Holland in 1914. He attended an arts-focused school in Amsterdam and would find work in and around the Netherlands as an artist until he relocated with his family to Italy in the late 50s. Once in Italy Thole’s work was embraced by the Italian art community. Thanks to his notoriety in Italy, it wouldn’t take long for images of Thole’s illustrations and paintings to reach the eyes of publishers in the U.S., Germany, and France—further solidifying his legacy as one of Europe’s most popular science fiction/horror artists.

Thole’s work has been compared to other influential, instantly recognizable artists such as Salvador Dali, Hieronymus Bosch, and German Dada pioneer Max Ernst (in particular his color palette), and with very good reason. Thole’s work possesses distinct surrealist qualities—visualized in his transcendental alien landscapes or in his beautifully crafted covers for modern publications featuring the work of of H.P. Lovecraft. Surprisingly, there has yet to be a book focusing on Thole’s way-out artwork. Let’s hope that happens soon. For now, you’ll have to dig on the images in this post and then perhaps hunt down a few vintage novels which feature Thole’s artwork to add to your collection. Some of what follows is NSFW.
 

A piece by Thole for German horror novel series Vampir-Horror-Roman.
 

Cover art by Thole for an issue of Urania.
 

Artwork by Thole for Galaktika #34, 1979. The magazine was published in Budapest from 1972-1995.
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
01.11.2018
09:52 am
|
Erotic illustrations for Baudelaire’s ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’
12.21.2017
01:54 pm
Topics:
Tags:


An illustration from 1935 by Italian-born artist Carlo Farneti for a posthumous edition of Charles Baudelaire’s book of poetry ‘Les Fleurs du Mal.’
 

“That heart which flutters like a fledgling bird,
I shall tear, bleeding, from his breast, to pitch
It blandly in the dust without a word
To slake the hunger of my favorite bitch.”

—a passage from Charles Baudelaire’s poetry book, Les Fleurs du Mal.

When French poet Charles Baudelaire first published his poetry book Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) in 1857 it caused quite the scandal. Baudelaire, his publisher Poulet Malassis and the book’s printer were all prosecuted for creating “an insult to public decency.” Baudelaire would eventually be convicted on two charges—obscenity and blasphemy. He was also forced to remove several poems from the book when it was republished in 1861. Below is a portion from Les Fleurs du Mal “Une Charogne” (“A Carcass”) in which Baudelaire beautifully romanticizes a decomposing corpse:

“The blow-flies were buzzing round that putrid belly,
From which came forth black battalions
Of maggots, which oozed out like a heavy liquid
All along those living tatters.

Then tell the vermin as it takes its pleasance
And feasts with kisses on that face of yours,
I’ve kept intact in form and godlike essence
Our decomposed amours!”

 
The controversy over Les Fleurs du Mal would eventually lead to the demise of Baudelaire’s career as a poet. Heartbreakingly, Baudelaire would pass away in 1867—ten years after the publication of Les Fleurs du Mal, addicted to opium, penniless and in a state of perpetual paralysis. Les Fleurs de Mal was published yet again in 1868 to include previously unpublished poems written by the poet. This publication would reignite interest in his work which would continue to grow in the years following his death. In 1935 Italian artist Carlo Farneti created a series of evocative illustrations for Les Fleurs du Mal for Parisian bookstore Gibert Jeune. Farneti had relocated to France in 1926 and quickly became a sought-after artist creating illustrations for books by renowned French novelist Émile Zola and Edgar Allen Poe (who Baudelaire referred to as his “twin soul.”) Twelve of Farneti’s exquisite illustrations for Les Fleurs du Mal follow—some are gorgeously NSFW.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
12.21.2017
01:54 pm
|
Ho ho ho! Here’s Andy Warhol as Santa and Truman Capote with a lollipop on the cover of High Times
12.14.2017
11:06 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
It won’t surprise anyone to learn that the December 1978 issue of High Times went with a holiday theme. More surprising might be the identity of the two models masquerading as Santa Claus and one of his elves, those being, respectively, Andy Warhol, the most dominant artist of the postwar period, and Truman Capote, one of greatest literary writers the U.S. produced in the same timeframe.

Especially in 1978, Tru and Andy were more or less synonymous with the fabulous goings-on at Studio 54 and elsewhere. Both men were known to hang with an illustrious and sparkly group of personages, and both were public figures at a moment when TV had deepened its clutches on the middlebrow slice of America—hence, more creative and bizarre media opportunities for everyone.

The cover was supposed to feature Capote wearing a “little girl outfit,” but he was drunk and not in the mood to go drag that day. In The Andy Warhol Diaries, for the date of September 26, 1978, we find this:
 

Truman was coming to the Factory at 3:00 for the High Times Christmas cover photograph of him and me. Truman was early, 2:30.

...

Paul Morrissey was down, and he and Truman talked all afternoon about scripts and things. Then Toni arrived four hours late, she had a Santa costume for me and a little girl outfit for Truman. But Truman wasn’t in the mood to go into drag, he said that he was already dressed like a little boy. Truman was really drunk, hugging around.


 
Toni Brown is the “Toni” mentioned in the diary that day; she was the art director for High Times, whom Warhol had met in the spring of 1978. According to Victor Bockris’ biography of Warhol, Brown and Warhol fell into cahoots for a stretch in 1978:
 

[Warhol] had also become friendly with the art director of High Times magazine, a powerful woman named Toni Brown whose overt, humorous personality fitted his needs. Soon a lot of people at the Factory were throwing up their hands in dismay over the amount of time Andy was spending with Toni.


 
In Warhol’s diary, Brown pops up in just a handful of entries, and her appearances are entirely limited to 1978. The folks at the Factory needn’t have worried so much—Warhol’s diary entry from late September documenting the cover shoot is actually the last time her name appears in the book.

By the way, here is the final cover:
 

 
Warhol shows surprising equanimity after being made to wait for four hours—I’d've been arranging a contract hit, myself—although that may have factored into their not being as close after that; either Brown paid a price for being cavalier about Warhol’s time or else Warhol’s usefulness to Brown evaporated the moment that she had secured the desired cover photo. Or both!

Four years ago the Warhol Museum ran a note about that day on its website, in which the possible identity of the pooch is discussed:
 

An artist as prolific as Andy Warhol was bound to have their share of bizarre media coverage. In December of 1978, he and his good friend and collaborator Truman Capote appeared on the cover of an issue of High Times. Warhol is wearing a Santa suit, and is holding a dog, possibly one of his dachshunds Amos or Archie.

 
More pics from this bizarre and merry photo shoot after the jump…...
 

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
|
12.14.2017
11:06 am
|
William S. Burroughs fronts Yellow Magic Orchestra, reprograms your mind
12.07.2017
09:29 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
For 1993’s Technodon, Yellow Magic Orchestra acquired vocal tracks from cyberpunk novelist William Gibson, dolphin-dosing scientist John C. Lilly, and Naked Lunch author William S. Burroughs.

Burroughs’ contribution to the album’s first song, “Be A Superman,” is a short vocal sample, structurally integral, information-poor. But on “I Tre Merli” (“The Three Blackbirds,” an image from a Wallace Stevens poem that points directly to Burroughs and Gysin’s “third mind”), Burroughs reads a few lines from The Job. His text comes from the book’s “DON’T HAVE TO THINK” section, which describes an exercise for “becoming oneself” through liberation from mental conditioning. According to this counterintuitive practice, you find your true self by pretending to be other people:

What I am here to learn is a new way of thinking. There are no lessons and no teachers. There are no books and no work to be done. I do almost nothing. The first step is to stop doing everything you “have to do.” Mock up a way of thinking you have to do. This is one exercise derived from Scientology we have all studied at one time or another. Exercise loosens the hold of enforced thinking and extends the range of don’t have to think.

Example: You have to run the things you are going to do today write letters call so-and-so take clothes to laundry see about getting the radiators fixed. You run these items ten times when once is already too much. So mock up a run of imaginary errands. Now mock up some thinking you don’t have to do. Select a person whose way of life is completely different from yours and mock up his thinking.

(Example: You have to mock up interviews or situations in which you play an effective role before imaginary audience. Well, mock some up. Now mock up some enforced thinking you don’t have to do, somebody else’s enforced thinking what Dutch Schultz the numbers racketeer had to think, what a hotel manager has to think what a poor Moroccan farmer has to think.)

 

Genesis P-Orridge models a YMO shirt on the back cover of Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Greatest Hits’
 
A few paragraphs down, Burroughs provides a negative definition of this “new way of thinking”:

The new way of thinking has nothing to do with logical thought. It is no oceanic organismal subconscious body thinking. It is precisely delineated by what it is not. Not knowing what is and is not knowing we know not. Like a moving film the flow of thought seems to be continuous while actually the thoughts flow stop change and flow again. At the point where one flow stops there is a split-second hiatus. The new way of thinking grows in this hiatus between thoughts. I am watching the servants on the floor pointing to the map and not thinking anything about what I see at all. My mind moves in a series of blank factual stops without labels and without questions. The objects around me the bodies and minds of others are just there and I move between them without effort or comment. There is nothing to do here, no letters to answer no bills to pay no goals barriers or penalties. There are no considerations here that would force thinking into certain lines of structural or environmental necessities. The new way of thinking is the thinking you would do if you didn’t have to think about any of the things you ordinarily think about if you had no work to do nothing to be afraid of no plans to make. Any exercises to achieve this must themselves be set aside. It’s a way you would think if you didn’t have to think up a way of thinking you don’t have to do. We learn to stop words to see and touch words to move and use words like objects.

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
|
12.07.2017
09:29 am
|
The sci-fi comic book story that inspired ‘They Live’
12.01.2017
08:52 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
Ray Nelson’s short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning,” on which John Carpenter based They Live, was first published in the November 1963 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. But Carpenter first encountered the story 23 years later, in its comic book adaptation, “Nada.”

The seven-page story illustrated by Bill Wray ran in Alien Encounters #6. The comic follows Nelson’s story pretty closely, and there are strong resemblances between the stories of They Live and “Nada,” especially the “storming the reality studio” climax (of which Nelson’s acquaintance William S. Burroughs would surely have approved) common to all versions of the story. But there are differences. Only Wray’s includes a Circle Jerks poster.
 

The opening panels of ‘Nada’ (available in its entirety here)
 
More significantly, the famous Hofmann (i.e., LSD) sunglasses do not appear in Nelson’s story or in Wray’s comic. Nelson’s hero, George Nada, goes to the theater to watch a live hypnosis act, and when he hears the command to awake at the show’s end, he suddenly realizes that he’s surrounded by outer-space aliens. The Fascinators, “the rulers of Earth,” are reptilian beings with too many eyes who control human beings through suggestion. In Nelson’s story, Nada doesn’t just see their awful stomach-turning alien monstrosity after waking up from his trance, he hears the terrible croaking alien language they speak to one another, and a constant stream of subliminal commands delivered in “bird-like” voices. The aliens tell him to “obey,” “work,” and—now that he’s on to them—die:

Suddenly the phone rang.

George picked it up. It was one of the Fascinators.

“Hello,” it squawked. “This is your control, Chief of Police Robinson. You are an old man, George Nada. Tomorrow morning at eight o’clock, your heart will stop. Please repeat.”

“I am an old man,” said George. “Tomorrow morning at eight o’clock, my heart will stop.”

 

 
George Nada’s cruelty to his girlfriend (fiancee, in the comic), Lil, makes him an unsympathetic character and suggests that he might be seeing space reptiles everywhere because he is a delusional nutcase, not a possibility Carpenter’s movie entertains. When he sets out to “awaken” others, Nada first tries beating up the woman in his life. After violence doesn’t work, he steals her car, leaving her bound and gagged on the bed, alone in her apartment with a dead body, terrified. There is none of the comradely spirit or cheerful good-fellowship of the fight scene in They Live.

Ray Nelson’s bio is recommended reading. He claims to be the inventor of the propeller beanie and says that, as a young man, “he worked with Michael Moorcock smuggling Henry Miller books out of France.”

And John Carpenter still has some They Live sunglasses left over from his bubblegum-lacking, ass-withering Anthology tour. He forcefully repudiated anti-Semitic interpretations of They Live on Twitter earlier this year:

 
Read all of “Nada” at SAP Comics.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
|
12.01.2017
08:52 am
|
Raymond Chandler’s guide to prison, street, and Hollywood slang
11.01.2017
10:30 am
Topics:
Tags:

02raycslan.jpg
Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe in Robert Altman’s film version of Raymond Chandler’s ‘The Long Goodbye.’
 
Raymond Chandler wanted to call his second Philip Marlowe novel The Second Murderer. His publisher Blanche Knopf nixed the idea. So, Chandler suggested Zounds, He Dies, a line spoken by the Second Murderer in Shakespeare’s King Richard III.

Knopf was deeply unimpressed. Eventually, the pair agreed on Farewell, My Lovely which is one hell of a killer title.

This is one of those little sidebars of information contained in Raymond Chandler’s Notebooks which were published long after the great man’s death in 1977. Chandler kept a variety of notebooks during his life. Usually small leather pocketbooks or large writing pads filled with daily events, observations, private thoughts, and details of work in progress. Unfortunately, the bulk of these notebooks was destroyed by Chandler when he was preparing to move to England after his wife Cissy’s death in 1954. Only two notebooks survived. Extracts from these two volumes supplied the content for The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler.

On occasion, Chandler has been unfairly given the rap that he was never as good as his rival Dashiell Hammett, as he made crime writing more about imagination than real hard-bitten, hard-earned experience. Hammett had been a Pinkerton detective. Chandler was a drunk oil exec down on his luck. He was a “gasbag,” according to the Demon Dog James Ellroy. His fictional hero Philip Marlowe was paraded through a series of hoops and jumps which were sometimes incoherent. It’s not a view I would ever agree with. I prefer Chandler to Hammett but think both writers took their writing very seriously.

This can be seen from what’s left of Chandler’s notebooks. He was a very serious writer, who worked damned hard at getting things just exactly right. In his notebooks, he practiced his writing and tried out his ideas. He also used them as a source book for research. From lists of street slang to working out titles, similes, and even writing parodies of other authors like Ernest Hemingway.

Among the many book titles listed in the two remaining notebooks are such unlikely gems:

The Man with the Shredded Ear

All Guns are Loaded

The Corpse Came in Person

They Only Murdered Him Once

The Diary of a Loud Check Suit

Quick, Hide the Body

Stop Screaming—It’s Me

The Black-Eyed Blonde

Thunder-Bug

Everyone Says Good-bye Too Soon

You get the idea Chandler was a fun guy if just a little too shy to get the party swinging.

What interested me about Chandler’s notebooks (well, apart from his notes on writing crime fiction) were the long lists of slang he compiled from the streets and from newspapers, a few of which I’ve shared below.

Pickpocket Lingo

(Maybe New York only)

Saturday Evening Post, October 21, 1950

Cannon—General term for pickpocket (Dip is unused, obsolete)

Live cannon—A thief who works on normally situated people, as opposed to a roller (a lushworker) who frisks drunks. Both men knock their victims. Rousters walk with the victim pretending to help; sneak workers don’t touch him unless he is passed out or near to it.

Pit worker—Inside-breast-pocket expert.

Moll buzzer—Operator on women’s handbags.

Sneeze—Arrest.

Short—Bus, street car, any public conveyance.

Stride—Walking (“On the stride.”)

Shed—Railroad station.

Tip—Crowd.

Bridge—Pocket.

Button—Police badge.

Kiss the dog—Work face to face with the victim.

Tail pits—Right and left side pockets of jacket.

Pratt—Rear trouser pocket.

Stall—Accomplice who creates confusion to fix the victim’s attention.

Right fall—Grand larceny conviction. To obtain there must be testimony that the accused had his hand in the victim’s pocket and was caught with the goods still on him. Most arrests are for “jostling,” which is a misdemeanor good for no more than six bits (months). A shove is enough when the shover is a known operator.

Hanger binging—Opening women’s handbags without stealing the bag.

Tweezer—Change purse.

Stiff—A newspaper or other shield to hide operations.

Wire or hook—The actual live cannon, as opposed to the stall.

Shot—A young pickpocket just starting to work (Harlem cant).

Fan the scratch—To locate money in a pocket without putting the hand in, i.e., by touch.

Dunnigan worker—Thieves who hang around comfort stations hoping for a coat left on a hook.

Note: A cannon never takes your money. He forks his fingers over it and moves away from it with a shove.

 
04raycslan.jpeg
The great Raymond Chandler.
 
More slang from Chandler’s notebooks, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
11.01.2017
10:30 am
|
Page 3 of 50  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›