Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator (ludickid) wrote,
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
ludickid

Two Culture Things

1. A while back -- so long ago that I forgot I had done it -- I ordered an XXL Akercocke zip-front hoodie. (Akercocke, for those who do not know but might possibly care, are a very fine British metal band.) It finally arrived today, and I discovered that (a) it is not XXL, but rather XL and (b) it is not a zip-front, but rather a pullover-style hoodie.

Now, neither of these are a big deal, really. I prefer XXL sizes, but I'm not yet so fat that I can't wear an XL. And the pullover is fine; I can just wear it on days when it's cooler out. Akercocke hoodies are kinda hard to find, so I'm not willing to send the thing back just because of those minor discrepancies between thing-ordered and thing-received.

But -- and this is entirely my fault for not paying closer attention -- I like to have clothes that I can wear to my day job if I need to. Yellow Rectangular Border Publishing is very casual, and I can wear all my hip-hop gear with nary a second look. I occasionally get the fish-eye from the VP for some of my metal gear, especially my Johnny Fever "Black Death Malt Liquor" tee and my Terror hoodie, but she's never come right out and said I can't wear them. I even figured I could get away with wearing this thing, even though it, technically, contains the word 'cock'.

Unfortunately, I failed to notice, when ordering it, that it has a big, white, shiny, woman's ass right on the back in glorious full color.

2. Even a while backier, my fine friend thaitea, who, like me, enjoys old-time radio, introduced me to a 1940s detective show called Pat Novak For Hire. I'm pretty sure I've talked about it here before; it (mostly) starred the supremely laconic Jack Webb as a luckless schmuck who works as a boat renter and is constantly being framed for murder by the loud-mouthed jerks who hire him to do odd jobs. Not only did every episode follow the same deranged pattern, but the show featured the most insanely over-the-top hardboiled dialogue in the history of the English language. I have no idea who wrote the fucking thing, but almost every episode read like it was written by a drunken giant who had just eaten Daishell Hammett and Mickey Spillane for dinner. I would give a lung to be able to write that kind of crazy shit.

On the way home from work today, my iPod burped forth an episode I don't think I'd ever heard before called "Murder in Herald Square".


Down on the San Francisco waterfront, the only use they have for sentiment is to pick your pocket while you’re saluting the flag. You hang around there as long as I have, you even learn to sleep with one hand on your cash box. So I wasn’t expecting any cascade of lilies when Joe Adams drove down to Pier 19. He told me he was in a hurry and would stop by and pick me up in his car. He said he had a quick job for me to do; that was about all I knew about it. I wasn’t worried about that, either; in my job, you get used to odd-shaped hires, including those from guys who look like bundles of twigs with shoes attached and who drive like they own the keys to the city.

“Novak, this is a soft buck. All you gotta do is watch the joint.”

“You keep driving through red lights like that, we’ll both end up watching the ceiling of the morgue.”

“So I disagree with the Traffic Department. Look, the joint’s in North Beach, Vallejo Street. Here’s the number, I wrote it down for you.”

“So you can read and write.”1

“Whattya mean?”

“What’s the pitch? You afraid of mice?”

“No. And there’s no extra cards in this deck.”

“Yeah? So far it makes as much sense as an eight-fingered glove.”

“Look, I have to meet a guy in Los Angeles. I haven’t got much time to make my plane. I lost my keys, so I had to bust in a door to get into my place. It was too late to get a locksmith. So I want you to watch it ‘til I get back tomorrow. Is that hard?”

“The way you’re driving, breathing’s hard.”

“You scare easy.”

“I scare plenty. I like to live.”

“Give me a good reason.”

“You wouldn’t understand. You expecting visitors tonight?”

“I got some stuff I’d like to see still there when I get back. Now quit tryin’ to read between the lines in this deal! It’s all in the black type.”

“You can say that about a funeral speech.”

“You still worried about the way I drive?”

“No. Only why take a plane when this is faster?”

“Okay. If you can quit shakin’ long enough to walk, you can start here.”

“On the way back, I’ll look for your brains.”

“Grab a cab, I’ll pick up the check for 'em. And don’t knock, go right in. I’ll be seein’ ya.”

“Probably in four pieces.”

“And keep awake, will ya? Some of my neighbors would steal the handle off a blind man’s cup.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll keep both eyes open.”

“You sound like you’re sayin’ one thing and thinkin’ something else.”

“About keeping awake?”

“Yeah. What’s worryin’ ya, ghosts?”

“I’m not buying this the way you’re selling it. Something’s souring the deal. But that’s all right too, as long as you don’t get any fancy ideas about making me the patsy2.”

“Boy, you do scare easy.”

“Yeah, and I pay off bum debts, too.”

“Now I’m gettin’ scared. So long, sucker.”

Adams’ place turned out to be one of those nice wooden flats. A walk-up joint that made you feel like you wanted to run for the fire barn3 every time somebody flicked an ash on the floor. The door was busted, all right, and all the lights were out. I found a switch and began to look around – it showed four rooms full of fancy furniture and decorations that made you wonder about Adams’ private life4. After I found out where the whiskey was located and pried three cushions loose from the easy chair, I looked around for something to do. There was a bookcase full of mystery stories and this and that. I passed the mysteries up without studying them; I knew that in every one of them, the detective would come out on top. Yet I knew four such private eyes who had started out on just such trails and ended up in urns in Cypress Lawn. There was one book with a purple cover called Reckless Moonlight -- with pictures. I was on page 30 – with pictures – when I was interrupted5.

***

1: One amazing thing about this show is that every single character -- I mean, all of them -- competely hates all the rest of the characters. It's unbelievably misanthropic and hilarious.

2: This is funny because someone makes Pat Novak the patsy in EVERY SINGLE EPISODE OF THE SHOW. He's like the official patsy of the city of San Francisco.

3: FIRE BARN!

4: I wish you could hear the intonation the actor (not, in this instance, Jack Webb) gives "private life". It's an utterly contemptuous mix of hatred and sarcasm that makes you think Adams is into...I can't even think of something so bad it would invoke that reaction.

5: The reading he gives "with pictures" is almost as creepy and disturbing as the one he gives "private life". This show is constantly borderline pornographic.


And that's, like, the first five minutes of the show! Amazing.
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