Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, March 9, 2020


Openers:  Thick sticky heat came gushing from the Indian Ocean, closed in on Ceylon, and it seemed to Clayton that he was the sole target.  He sat at the bar of a joint called Kroner's on the Colombo waterfront, and tried vainly to cool himself with gin and ice.  It was Saturday night and the place was mobbed, and most of them needed baths.  Clayton told himself that if he didn't get out soon, he's suffocate.  But he knew he couldn't walk out.  If he walked out, he's be killed.

David Goodis, "The Blue Sweetheart" (Manhunt, April 1953)

Philadelphia-born Goodis (1917-1967) was a master of the noir novel.  Critic Robert Polito felt that Goodis was part of the second great movement in crime fiction (following Hammett and Chandler), which he called the nouvelle vague, "in which the attention switches to the criminal."  Polito goes on,"Goodis always seems poised for rediscovery, and he's virtually a cult figure's cult figure...Goodis just puts the sadness and loss out there...yet I always hear so much joy and exuberance, even joy, in the cunning rhythm of his lines."

Goodis was a year out of college when he published his first novel, Retreat from Oblivion.  He then began writing prolifically for the pulp magazines -- Battle Birds, Daredevil Aces, Dime Mystery, Gangland Detective Stories, Horror Stories, Terror Tales, Western Tales, and others.  Using a number of pseudonyms, Goodis produced some five million words in five and a half years.  Goodis then wrote for radio, including Hop Harrigan, House of Mystery, and Superman.  A stint in Hollywood had him woking on Universal Pictures' Destination Unknown.  In 1946 The Saturday Evening Post serialized his novel Dark Passage, which soon became the classic noir film directed by Delmer Davis.

His novel Cassidy's Girl (1951) sold a million copies.  Other notable books included Street of No Return, Nightfall, The Moon in the Gutter, The Wounded and the Slain, and Down There.  In 1960 Francois Truffaut filmed Shoot the Piano Player, based on Down There.

Goodis was 49 when he died in Philadelphia of a stroke.  He had been beaten in a robbery a few days earlier and it is suspected that this may have led to the stroke.  It is also said that he collapsed while shovelling snow.    Following his death, his work went out of print in America, although he remained very popular in France.  In 1987 Black Lizard Press began reprinting many of his novels.  Hard Case Crime reprinted The Wounded and the Slain in 2007, and Millipede Press reprinted Street of No Return and NightfallDown There was included in American Noir in the 1950s from Library of America, which also published David Goodis:  Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 1950s in 2012.

Corona:  Covid19 is getting a bit close to home.  One of the two Florida fatalities is in Santa Rosa County where I live.  Driving home yesterday I heard that a case had been discovered in Okaloosa County, one over from Santa Rosa.  Of course, I happened to be driving through Okaloosa County when the news came over the radio.  I have a good friend from the D.C. area who suspects she may have the virus but has been unable to get tested due to a lack of testing kits; she's one of the leading captioners in the country and often captions for professional, educational, and government groups.  She has been exposed to large groups of people who fit the travel profile, including three auditorium meetings with over one hundred international students each -- all of whom seemed to be coughing; shortly after that she became sick.  I hope that testing kits will soon become available for her and others.

Panic buying and hoarding now seems to be the rage.  I anticipate a change in the commodities market...pork bellies, Purell, and toilet paper.

I suspect that soon we all will have someone we know come down with the virus.  The government's response has been slow and ineffective.  The president's disinformational blathering has not helped one whit -- quite the opposite.

Let me just add this be cause I seldom pass up a chance to rant about him:  I find it interesting that Representative Matt Gaetz, who represents Santa Rosa County, recently showboated his way through the Capitol wearing a gas mask to make light of the Corona virus; a few days later he had to announce that one of his constituents had died from the disease.  (Gaetz is a rabid Trumpinista and a waste of protoplasm who seldom met a far-right conspiracy he did not adopt.)

We are in for a bumpy ride, my friends.

Update, Monday afternoon:  The office of Matt Gaetz has released a statement saying that he has self-quarantined after becoming aware that he had been in contact during the recent CPAC convention with a person who tested positive for Covid19.  This follows three other legislators who have self-quarantined for the same stated reason.  It should be noted that Gaetz flew on Air Force One this Monday.

Election Thoughts:  The Democratic nomination race now seems to be between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.  (No, I'm not forgetting about Tulsi Gabbard although most everyone has, and who can blame them?)  It appears that the nomination is Biden's to lose -- he has the endorsements of most of the former candidates and now has Bloomberg's money behind him.  So, Biden v. Trump.

I'm interested in the VP slot.  Trump has long been rumored to be dropping Mike Pence as vice president, although he recently said that doing so would be an act of disloyalty.  (Trump saying he is not going to do something substantially increases the chances that he will do so.)  If Pence is not on the ticket he may be replaced by someone more popular such as Nikki Haley or by someone more lively such as a dead squirrel.  Time will tell.

Who will Biden choose to be his running mate.   It should be someone younger than he, narrowing the field to several million possibles.  A woman, perhaps, or a minority?  Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams are some of those suggested.  Julian Castro, maybe?  A Hispanic may lock up Bernie's Latinx supporters for Joe.

Let me suggest another possible running mate for Joe Biden.

Drum roll, please...

...Tiffany Trump!

She's female.  And Donald Trump is pretty unfamiliar with her qualifications (if any) or with her history.  I understand that she will be only 27 by election day and that the Constitution requires a vice president to be at least 35 years old, but if the last three-plus years have taught us anything, it's that the Constitution doesn't really matter.  Nominating Tiff would probably throw The Donald in a tizzy.  And despite being Trump's daughter, she has no husband to be assigned all the impossible tasks the president does not want to handle.  It seems to me that a wannabe pop star-fashion model-social media influencer-lawyer would add a certain je ne se quoi to the ticket.  And when I say je ne se quoi, I mean je ne se quoi.

Florida Couple Zip It Up:  Florida Woman Sarah Boone, 42, has been charged in the death of her boyfriend, Florida Man Jorge Torres, Jr., also 42.  Alcohol was involved to the point where the couple thought it would be funny to lock Torres up in a suitcase for a game of hide-and-seek.  As far as I can tell it was only the couple playing hide-and-seek, making locking Torres in a suitcase somewhat meaningless.  Did I mention that alcohol was involved?  So Torres was locked in the suitcase and -- because alcohol was involved, Boone evidently forgot about it and went to bed, despite the fact that Torres was yelling to be released.  (In Boone's defence, Torres' screams may well have been muffled by the suitcase, although on a video recovered from her phone, Boone could be heard saying, "That's what I feel like when you cheat on me.")  Come the morn, Boone checked the suitcase and found Torres unresponsive.  He will be just as unresponsive throughout eternity.

Moral:  If you are going to cheat on your girlfriend be sure you are too big to fit into a suitcase.

Moral #2:  Alcohol and Florida...maybe not a good mix.

As a side note:  When ever something strange or weird happens down here, people explain by just saying, "It's Florida."  It's basically just our down home way of saying, "It's Chinatown, Jake."

Da Good Stuff Is Da Bomb!:

The Bad News:  There is no key to happiness.

The Good News:  It isn't locked.

Today's Poem:
Days I Enjoy

Days I enjoy are days when nothing happens,
When I have no engagements written on my block,
When no one comes to disturb my inward peace,
When no one comes to take me away from myself
And turn me into a patchwork, a jig-saw puzzle,
A broken mirror that once gave a whole reflection,
Being so contrived that it takes too long a time
To get myself back to myself when they have gone.
The years are too strictly measured, and life too short,
Fro me to afford such bits of myself to my friends.
And what have I to give my friends in the last resort?
An awkwardness, a shyness, and a scrap,
No thing that's truly me, a bootless waste.
A waste of myself and them, for my life is mine
And theirs presumably theirs, and cannot touch.

-- Victoria Sackville-West

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