Sunday, April 6, 2014

Free Fall by Robert Crais




I was given this book by a sailing neighbor that enjoys reading LA detective stories. I have been criticized for being to hard on the fact checking and directions given driving around the streets of Los Angeles by noir authors. It seems common in Los Angeles fiction to describe the various routes around Southern California using the various freeway names or numbers. Some locals use the numbers and some use the names and it is hard to keep track of all of them. Elvis Cole uses his watch and often states the exact time he is leaving or arriving. He also given the distance traveled in miles and the scenery along the route and the on and off ramp names. Many authors describe the traffic and all the problems getting around. I was born in Los Angeles and have spent many hours stuck in traffic. Elvis is magical in the fact he never seems to be stuck in traffic and get from one location to another in only minutes.


Page 17, at exactly "six minutes after one" he makes a phone call, put on his Dan Wesson, goes down 4 flights of stairs and eats lunch at the deli. He then drives to Thurman's apartment via Westwood to Northridge, talks to the three women in the front yard, gets the keys and cases the place. When he leaves they ask what took him so long in the apartment if he was only dropping off something. He then drives back south on the 405 takes the Wilshire off ramp and goes west to Santa Monica via Brentwood winding up on San Vicente where he drives two miles to Ocean Ave turns south and goes to Venice and gets to Rusty bar at 26 minutes past two. He does all that in 80 minutes. WOW, pretty cool being to get off the freeway cruise Santa Monica to Venice and do the Valley search too. He mentions the bike riders on San Vicente and the bike path through the park along Ocean all that description is correct.

When Elvis is going through Thurman's apartment he notices his high school football pictures and that he was a "sixty minute" man. California High School football do not play 15 minute quarters they play 12 minute.


Elvis stops to buy bottled water and puts one bottle in his trunk. Elvis drive a Corvette (yellow 66) and trunks were not offered after 1962.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Night in Shanghai Music

Most of my past Blogging contains many of my own pictures but this post doesn't and it full of underlined links you must click on to see or hear the music.

After finishing reading Night in Shanghai I went to Nicole Mones web site where I found a very interesting series of pictures about Shanghai and the characters in the book. Then I thought why not document the music that appears within.


My two favorite radio stations are classical and jazz.

Page 9, "You think you know better than Mendelssohn?"

Listen to Symphony No. 4 "Italian"

Page 10, "About a Quarter to Nine,"

Film 42nd street

Page 11, " a few of the popular ballroom numbers, like

"Body and Soul"  Listen to it by Ella Fitzgerald

Ella played Melodyland in Anaheim, California across from Disneyland on Harbor Blvd. The show dates were June 29 to July 4 1965 with Nelson Riddle and his orchestra. Not sure how much the tickets cost back then but I had a pair of really good seats up close then.


"I Can't Get Started" Billie Holiday sings

Lyrics

I've been around the world in a plane
Settled revolutions in Spain
The North Pole I have charted
But can't get started with you
And at the golf course I'm under par
Metro-Goldwyn wants me to star
I've got a house and a show place
But can't get no place with you
You're so supreme, the lyrics I write of you
Dream, dream, day and night of you
Scheme just for the sight of you
But what good will it do?
I've been consulted by Franklin D
Even Gable had me to tea
But now I'm broken hearted
Can't get started with you
You're so supreme, the lyrics I write of you
Dream, dream, day and night of you
Scheme just for the sight of you
But what good does it do?
I've been consulted by Franklin D
Even Basic had me to tea
But now I'm broken hearted
Can't get started with you

by Ira Gershwinand music by Vernon Duke, that was first heard in the theatrical production Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 where it was sung by Bob HopeHal Kemp and his orchestra recorded it at that time and it had a bit of popularity, rising briefly to 14th place on the recording charts.


Read more: Billie Holiday - I Can't Get Started Lyrics | MetroLyrics 


Page 12, "The Rhapsody"

Rhapsody in Blue was the one piece he had memorized

I remember one weekend back when I was in high school band where we played that song over and over and over. It was at USC for a band day with maybe a dozen other high school bands. After all the rehearsals we played Rhapsody in Blue at half time in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Not sure who played the Trojans maybe UCLA.

Here Gershwin plays Gershwin (several of the YouTube viewing here have lead in commercials)

Page 14 back on Creel Street  "Memphis Blues," by Fletcher Henderson

Page 20, "Let's start with your signature tune "Exactly Like You"

I know why I've waited, know why I've been blue 
Prayed each night for someone exactly like you 
Why should we spend money on a show or two? 
No one does those love scenes exactly like you 

You make me feel so grand, I'd like to hand the world to you 
You seem to understand each foolish little scheme I'm scheming 
And the dream I'm dreaming 
Now I know why my mother taught me to be true 
She meant me for someone exactly like you 

You make me feel so grand, I wanna hand the world to you 
You seem to understand each foolish little scheme that I'm scheming 
And the dream that I'm dreaming 
Now I know why my mother, she taught me to be true 
She meant me for someone exactly like you

Page 26, "Buck Clayton's Harlem Gentlemen" Page 87, "Beethoven's Fifth"
Page 105, "They were in the middle of a Duke Ellington piece called "Blue Ramble"


Page 107, "He turned the disc over: "One O' Clock Jump." Count Basie Orchestra

Page 140, "played the arpeggiated left-hand waterfall of Litz's concert etude Un Sospiro
Page 142, "The song was "Saddest Tale" by Duke Ellington's big band blues"
Page 161, "So he took some music from his briefcase and played Brahms, because it calmed him."
Page 193, "they were in the middle of a song called "Lovely Peach Blossom," a Shanghai standard made famous by Fan Zhang"

Page 199, "One night in February they happened on an all "Bach chamber performance by German orchestral musicians"

Page 212, "To play my favorite of Mozart's two sonatas for piano in B-Flat."


same page, "Thomas saw it was Liebesleid by the violin master and composer Fritz Kreisler"


Page 214, "He was right, for the Liebesleid and Liebesfreund brought double the tips of Mozart and Brahms."

Page 221, David brought with him Chopin's Grande Valse Brillante and one of Strauss's New Vienna Waltzes.

Page 259, "Mozart, Sonata for Piano and Violin in B-Flat, No. 454"

Thursday, January 30, 2014

White Jazz in Los Angeles

The White Jazz Copyright is 1992 by James Ellroy and the story starts "L.A. fall 1958" and again we have characters from L.A. Confidential and real life figures inserted within the telling. Mickey Cohen, Johnny Stompanato, Lana Turner, Howard Hughes and the new to the south land Dodgers and of course Chavez Ravine. After having trouble distinguishing characters at the start of previous Ellroy novels I started a list with Dave Klein the first item.

To create a sense of the period popular names, songs and products of 1958 are added to the story. But this relish only works in my opinion if the reader knows something about it. Page 51, "Those haaarbor lights" ---pure schmaltz"....."and did anyone ever tell you you sound like a homo? Like Johnnie Ray out of work?" I remember Johnny Ray songs.
After going to the Santa Monica Pier to do some drop line fishing we would walk around Muscle Beach smelling the fried foods and the sound from the jukeboxes wailing away in the various beer joint along the boardwalk. Someone must have stuck a quarter in the slot (songs were a nickel) and Ray's Cry kept repeating.

On Page 59, I not quite certain about this, "Who's is Elston Majeska?"..."some kind of silent-movie star from Europe" My first thoughts about the name was Modjeska Canyon having lived many years in Orange County, California and Helena Modjeska a famous Polish actress living there long before films.

Page 60 The mention of Scrivner's Drive-In gets Ellroy a three pointer where Mickey finds and discovers Glenda working there.
Art Laboe had an afternoon radio show at the drive-in on KRLA radio. We went there several time to Hollywood to get on his show there. Only once did we ever get on his mike as most of the locals were already there by the time we drove over from SAMOHI. That spot was located at Sunset and Cahuenga. We also drove to the Scrivner's in Inglewood on Manchester there.
 
Page 61, Yiddish words of the day, tsuris and faygeleh from Cohen.
 
And on the bottom of the page DMV records about Glenda. Her wheels are a very cool 56 red/white Corvette and later it has clutch problems so she was not driving a Powerglide. Her plate is CAL." DX 413". This often happened when an author takes the time to add lengthy details to a description then fail with the facts. California started using six places on licenses in 1947.
The 56 Vet had a 265 V8 and a power pack option that added a second 4 barrel carb and a hotter cam but those details are not included in the story.
 
Page 62 another local drive-in "Stan's Drive-In" is mentioned.
Through-out Southern California almost every city had a drive-in some had more than one. Jack's in Santa Monica was the regular hangout with good service a cute car hops. Goody Goodies farther east had male car hops, you figure. Certain nights were cruise nights and we would all hop into someone cars and go cruising. Gas was real cheap by todays standards at around thirty cents a gallon and most hot rods had to use ethyl for the higher octane, add another nickel to the cost.
 
Page 74, "forty-one hot-sheets flops Adams to Florence." The expression "hot sheets" is in reference to a one hour rental motel room used by professionals/street walkers. Last Sunday I got on the 110 at Orange Grove headed south on 1941 designed scary curved freeway towards Chinatown
exiting Hill Street, swung over to Broadway at Ord then drove the length of Broadway to Rosecrans. From what I saw there are not too many hourly motels left. (see I can talk L.A. street noir too)
 
Page 75, "High Yellow" and "colored man" You don't hear that much these days.
 
Page 75,"mousy little white girl ho' roun' here" Using hoe in place of whore doesn't fit in with my memory but I can't be sure if  this is a prochronism.
 
Page 117, "Vampira" gets mentioned as a TV hostess. I was unaware that there was this earlier Vampira and only watched the later host. Here is Marla Nurmi.
 It is nice to learn things.
 
Page 154, "Lester stirred and gargled T-Bird". Not the car but Thunderbird wine. Search Thunderbird on this blog for previous reference.
 
Same page, Glenda Bledsoe is under contract with ,"Variety International Pictures" a clear legal breach of her contract with Hughes Aircraft, Tool Company, Productions et al." Howard Hughes started in the movies business at a young man in his twenties. His father Howard Sr. was a partner in starting the tool company making oil drilling bits. His partner died and he renamed it Hughes Tool. Howard Jr. was born on December 24, 1905 and at the age of eighteen he became heir to the tool company. If you lived in Los Angeles during the forties and fifties there were no shortages of Hughes's urban legends. Howard owned RKO studios between 1948 and 1955 and he did make independent productions but why would Glenda be under contract with the Tool Company or the Aircraft Company? Funny how a little searching in the information age can dig up very interesting facts.  Howard Hughes once lived in Pasadena at the Vista del Arroyo at a bungalows before the hotel was built.
He stay there with his Aunt Annette and actually audited classes at Caltech but never was an enrolled student as he never finished high school in Texas. I can not say that Hughes wasn't a strange fellow but IMO Ellroy really paints him as evil.
 
Page 185, Pacific Bell is mentioned and that is correct.
 
Page 288, Hollywood Ranch Market is mentioned. We used to cash out Hughes paychecks when I worked there after work at a 24 Hour Market off Jefferson in Culver City but not sure if it was the same company as Hollywood.
 
Page 313, Yeakel Olds gets a mentioned. It was a dealership in Los Angeles that did a lot of on air ads including television. "Radio hum: Starfire 88's at Yeakel Olds". Again another faux or prochronism. It is what I like to call an "faux auto tech:"
The Starfire model was not available as an 88 only a 98 and it was a couple years later the 88 Starfire actually became available.
 
One of the many bad guys is found at his Airstream in a trailer park where he lives.
I usually thought that the Airstream was a travel trailer and would most likely be used for recreation not as a home but it is possible. Page 314 in the "Monster den:.... Dodger T-shirts"
 
I watched the Dodgers play with the shorted fence before they moved above Chinatown.
And again at the Ravine where they forgot to put in drinking fountains. In 1958 silk screening on cotton t-shirt have not been invented.
Warhol in 1962 started with his Campbell Soup Cans and the dissemination of commercial messages followed and I remember running in a local 10K event and the finishers were all given white t-shirts with the sponsors name on the front and I wore the t-shirt one day to play tennis. Several people asked why I was wearing a shirt with printing on the front. They had never seen anything like that and that was in the early seventies.
 
 
 

 

Monday, January 20, 2014

LITTLE SCARLET by William Mosley

This is my fifth read of an Easy Rawlins novel. This story takes place in Los Angeles in August 1965. The Watts riots started on the 11th of August at Avalon and 116th Street (which really isn't in Watts) when Marquette Frye was pulled over by the California Highway Officer Lee W. Minkus for a DUI. Apparently the arrest was going down without any conflict until Rena Price, Fyre mother got involved and things got very out of hand. After five days of "Burn, baby ,burn" where Easy stayed at his home in "West L.A." he returned to his office where on the ground floor Steinman's Shoe Repair has been destroyed.

Where I grew up in Santa Monica West L.A. was centered around Sawtelle Blvd and I used to hang out at a automotive shop there that was ran by a Japanese fellow and he used to race midgets.The district's general boundaries are the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) on the south, and the borders with the neighborhoods of Century City (Century Park West) and Rancho Park on the west. The northern border of the portion of West L.A. that is east of the I-405 is Santa Monica Boulevard (north of which is Westwood). The Los Angeles Times in it decription of the counties neighborhoods has another description. So where West L.A. is may differ between Angelenos.
Mosely uses West L.A. as the location around the May Company on Wilshire.
He goes to the Miller Neurological at La Cienega and Wilshire in West L.A. Here is one description:

Page 12, Detective Suggs drives a Ramber Marlin.
That car was manufactured in 1965 and was a AMC high end sporty model with a fastback roof. "It is my ex." is Suggs reply to Easy in regards to the seat belts installed. Wonder why Suggs isn't driving an LAPD unit. 

Page 40, Bonnie Shay's car is a new pink Rambler.
(somebody must have been a big Romney fan). There is also a sailboat in the driveway that belongs to Jesus. 

Page 55, "Cops chased Marlon Jones up into the White Front Department Store on Central," The exact address before the store was destroyed was 7651 South Central. Its always interesting to run across the old businesses in these detective novels. The first furtinure I ever purchased was at a White Front in the Valley. Later when I lived by Disneyland we shopped at White Front on Harbor Blvd. in Anaheim.

Page 164, Jackson is speaking to Easy, "I know the IBM languages called BAL and COBOL and FORTRAN. I know all the loops and peripheries and the JCL too." FORTRAN was developed by IBM but COBOL was not. It was created by Grace Hopper using an UNIVAC.
BAL is basic assembly and JCL is Job Control. In 1965 the most popular IBM was the 1401 and later in the year the first Model 360 was introduced. The 1401 used SPS (Symbolic Programming System) and RPG (Report Program Generator). Most people have no idea how small the storage was and how large it was physical. The 1401 basic unit had 1,600 memory locations.
 




The first core memory that I worked on had 256 locations and the electronics took up one side of the chassis. It has read amp circuit cards, write amps, and sense amps and lots of colorful wiring.

Easy is searching for "Harold" and Harold has several different last names so he recruits Bonnie to place telephone calls asking for Harold or his mother. "But maybe they're in the valley or down around Santa Monica. Maybe you could call those numbers." Page 236. Later Bonnie has left a message on the tape message that Jackson installed in Easy's office, "I think I have something. I called a J. Ostenberg in Pasadena. A man named Simon Poundstone answered". Both Suggs (page 239) and Mouse drive to the valley to find Harold's mother and her maid. Page 238, "I got J. OSTENBERG's address out of the phone book.

Page 240, "Jocelyn Ostenberg lived in a nice house on Hesby Street off of Muerretta Avenue" Those streets are indeed in the SF Valley not Pasadena and are actually located in Sherman Oaks and the correct spelling of the Avenue only has one "r" not two. So how did Bonnie find the house in the valley when she said it was in Pasadena?

Page 249, Raymond meets Easy and Mouse has a golden Continental. "A brand-new car."


Third new car in the book, must have been a good year for car dealers. In regards to cars of that period the LAPD police patrol unit was a Plymouth Belvedere 4 door. In 1972-1973 the LAPD used a AMC Matador for patrol.