The Power of Cod compelled me to call up the food delivery service and tell them that container of fish was compromised. Wasn’t my fault, unless I blanked on the part where I opened up the fridge to the meat drawer and stabbed the container repeatedly. For a few days we had noticed a powerful fish stink in the kitchen, and I couldn’t locate it until I looked in the bottom of the drawer and found Fish Water. Whew.

Scrubbed everything and put in a box of baking soda, but the smell still went through the doors. Sent a letter noting that this had happened.

Daughter: “of COURSE you did” because she is used to me threatening to send a Strongly Worded Letter.

Within an hour they had comped the entire week’s meal and given me 50% off the next one.

Oh ho! That’s customer service, isn’t it? It never hurts to kindly complain. I can't muster fury and elevated dudgeon in something like this; fish happens. If you phrase it as an “FYI, problem in the warehouse, k, thnx” you don’t come off as an antisocial lunatic who’s used to screaming on social media about everything. Even if the end result is the same I don’t want to be that nasty person. It has a cumulative effect, yelling on social media. You’re on a stage you built in your own spotlight hollering at the dim human-shaped objects in the audience, and you get a scattering of applause. You tend to shape your self-image in terms of validation - not because you are right, necessarily, but because others assent.

Well, that certainly doesn’t apply to any other situation.

  The thing I like least about Twitter, some days, is showing up and seeing six unrelated people discussing the same guy.

Bernie Wrightson. I loved his work. Marvel started two prestige horror mags in 1969, the peak of my comics fandom, and it was a great time to be alive: the first issue of the other had Steranko, and Chamber of Darkness had Bernie. His faces set his work apart:

You could identify his panels a mile away:

The comics had storyteller mascots, like the old EC horror books, complete with bad gruesome puns. Because horror had to have bad puns.

. . . and that tradition continued for a long time, and probably to this day, for all I know. Why? Blame Raymond. I'm reasonably sure that the pun tradition began with Inner Sanctum. Didn't know it at the time; I just thought it was expected of the hosts to crack painful jokes with morbid intent.

Also thought it was pretty stupid.

The same day, I think, everyone was mourning Chuck Berry. Nothing to add to the praise for his influence and innovations; I'm listening to some right now. (Too Much Monkey Business was always a fave; it's the way he spits out a gust of disgust at the end of every series of obligations expected of him. Almost Grown, which is to your relief not about chatting up someone underage! Until it is, but so is the narrator . . . ah, he'd have been better off coming up for lyrics about Almost Home, because there's something about adults singing in teen personas. School Days is a great song, but he was thirty.

I came along too late to appreciate it as something new; it was retread music in the nostalgia films. American Graffiti, you have to remember, described an era long ago and far away - an era on the other side of the Great Divide that stood between our time and the tailfin / drive-in / girls who actually wear skirts / short-hair / doo-wop jangly guitar time, the era of brooding guys who rolled their smokes in their shirt sleeves, et cetera.

Imagine a movie released this year about 2006.

American Graffiti, released in 1973, was about 1962. The Chuck Berry songs on the soundtrack are from 1956 sessions, and it was ancient - it was 17 years ago, older than we were, but it sounded like a different time because it was a different time.

Now vs. 2000? Not the same.

Also, the thing about Berry: loved the music. The man gave me the willies.

Breslin was the third. Lots of eulogies from people who would like to be regarded as Breslin's kin but wouldn't last a minute in a newsroom with harsh lighting, loud phones, clacking typewriters, and a cigarette haze. I remember coming back from lunch in New York with my book editor, and he found a Breslin manuscript on his desk. Typewritten, not word-procesed.

The letters were pounded deep on the page. You could read the intensity like someone yelling in Braille.


That was the question asked by a 1930s mag. These were the hot-cha dames, the ones who set scalps glistening amongs the menfolk paging through the Police Gazette. or whatever cliche you want to use about old-timey things. Anyway, here's a lass whose last name was really Froidevaux.

Hazel married a toothpaste magnate; he kicked in '32 and left her millions. Three, says Wikipedia; four, says this article. It's still a lot of lettuce.




I'm sure someone will call this an underrated noir:

It’s one of those “This is Your FBI” style movies that gives you a documentary style look at crime-solving. Because that’s what people used to say when they went out for the night: how about an FBI-approved movie that isn’t a documentary but acts like one? That’s a guarantee of the worst of all genres.

Our heroes: Ephram Squarejaw:

Dr. Lloyd Welby:

Of course that's Lloyd Nolan, but he played a genial doctor on TV when I was growing up. I thought he was in a medical show, but turns out it was Julia.

Stringbean McG-Man:

Once the story gets rolling, it has some great inadvertent documentary - in this case, the TAWDRY STREETS of . . . “Center City.” It’s LA, of course. But where? Skid Row was knocked down years ago. What’s the chance we can find this street?

Oh, 100%.

The Regent Theater is our friend. That fixes the location at Main and Fourth, so we can reproduce the shot.

Well, look who walks in to make it interesting.

Now it’s a picture. He’s chewin’ on some fruit. He sniffs an inhaler, which somehow makes him even more malevolent. He smiles! He’s all bad:

The FBI agents meet at the 1950s version of PornTube:

More skid row: 305 Main. Then:


I’m sure someone regarded this as an improvement.

For fun, let’s add a few details to Widmark’s bad guy: he’s married, and when the boys are over for a card game, he plays the piano.

Some more Noir locales: the obligatory late night hash-house with a waitress who's neither bright nor friendly:

As much as I'd like to visit this world, I know that place smells and people spit on the floor.

The diner was probably from the late 20s. This would be from 1941:

I could swear that light pole is following me

The Los Angeles Maritime Museum now. It looks smaller.

Los Angeles simply doesn't look as seedy as it did.The bones are all there; you can walk up to this light pole and give it a pat.

I found it, based on the Regent and the hotel rooms the FBI men used and all that. Some of the stuff's still around. Some of it isn't. What's changed entirely is the character of the neighborhood. It's probably better now, and getting nicer and more prosperous. Was this really that great?

No. It really wasn't. Was it really better when the following voice-over could be consumed unironically, without hearing everyone who ever mocked and imitated it?

Probably, yes.

That will do! Here we go again. Another week. Fun stuff coming, believe me. Believe me.



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