Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Would it be alright if I peeled an orange?" Because it is Raymond Chandler's birthday

Because it is Raymond Chandler's birthday and because "Would it be alright if I peeled an orange?" is the perfect response to OUR FUCKING EVIL GOVERNMENTS THAT WANT TO MAKE FUN ILLEGAL!

For those reasons, I post the start of his 1949 classic The Little Sister. For those reasons, and the fact I just stumbled on the text of the whole book online and can't be fucked writing a proper blog post despite the fact I haven't written anything for ages.

(In other news, do you know how many Muslims were responsible for the atrocity in Oslo??? NONE.

It took the media quite some time of reporting it was an Islamic fundamentalist attack before they were forced to report it wasn't.)

Chandler was a good drinker and a good writer, who summed up the art of writing a detective story: "When in doubt, have a man with a gun walk into the room."

He inspired me to write up me own hardboiled experience about attending a talk by a wiseguy on Latin America at Sydney Uni. It really happened, just like I said. I still have nightmares about that experience.

And so...

The Little Sister

The pebbled glass door panel is lettered in flaked black paint: "Philip Marlowe . . . Investigations." It is a reasonably shabby door at the end of a reasonably shabby corridor in the sort of building that was new about the year the all-tile bathroom became the basis of civilization.

The door is locked, but next to it is another door with the same legend which is not locked. Come on in-there's nobody in here but me and a big bluebottle fly. But not if you're from Manhattan, Kansas.

* * *

It was one of those clear, bright summer mornings we get in the early spring in California before the high fog sets in. The rains are over. The hills are still green and in the valley across the Hollywood hills you can see snow on the high mountains.

The fur stores are advertising their annual sales. The call houses that specialize in sixteen-year-old virgins are doing a land-office business. And in Beverly Hills the jacaranda trees are beginning to bloom.

I had been stalking the bluebottle fly for five minutes, waiting for him to sit down. He didn't want to sit down. He just wanted to do wing-overs and sing the prologue to Pagliacci. I had the fly swatter poised in midair and I was all set.

There was a patch of bright sunlight on the corner of the desk and I knew that sooner or later that was where he was going to light. But when he did, I didn't even see him at first. The buzzing stopped and there he was. And then the phone rang.

I reached for it inch by inch with a slow and patient left hand. I lifted the phone slowly and spoke into it softly: "Hold the line a moment, please."

I laid the phone down gently on the brown blotter. He was still there, shining and blue-green and full of sin. I took a deep breath and swung. What was left of him sailed halfway across the room and dropped to the carpet.

I went over and picked him up by his good wing and dropped him into the wastebasket.

"Thanks for waiting," I said into the phone.

"Is this Mr. Marlowe, the detective?" It was a small, rather hurried, little-girlish voice. I said it was Mr. Marlowe, the detective. "How much do you charge for your services, Mr. Marlowe?"

"What was it you wanted done?"

The voice sharpened a little. "I can't very well tell you that over the phone. It's-it's very confidential. Before I'd waste time coming to your office I'd have to have some idea-"

"Forty bucks a day and expenses. Unless it's the kind of job that can be done for a flat fee."

"That's far too much," the little voice said. "Why, it might cost hundreds of dollars and I only get a small salary and-"

"Where are you now?"

"Why, I'm in a drugstore. It's right next to the building where your office is."

"You could have saved a nickel. The elevator's free."

"I-I beg your pardon?"

I said it all over again. "Come on up and let's have a look at you," I added. "If you're in my kind of trouble, I can give you a pretty good idea-"

"I have to know something about you," the small voice said very firmly. "This is a very delicate matter, very personal. I couldn't talk to just anybody."

"If it's that delicate," I said, "maybe you need a lady detective."

"Goodness, I didn't know there were any." Pause. "But I don't think a lady detective would do at all. You see, Orrin was living in a very tough neighborhood, Mr. Marlowe. At least I thought it was tough. The manager of the rooming house is a most unpleasant person. He smelled of liquor. Do you drink, Mr. Marlowe?"

"Well, now that you mention it-"

"I don't think I'd care to employ a detective that uses liquor in any form. I don't even approve of tobacco."

"Would it be all right if I peeled an orange?"

I caught the sharp intake of breath at the far end of the line. "You might at least talk like a gentleman," she said.

"Better try the University Club," I told her. "I heard they had a couple left over there, but I'm not sure they'll let you handle them." I hung up.

It was a step in the right direction, but it didn't go far enough. I ought to have locked the door and hid under the desk.

"This past spring was the first where I felt tired and realised I was growing old ... It's the middle of July now, and things are worse than they were in the spring. In the spring I wasn't holed up in some dingy hotel ducking the police." Robert Mitchum nailing Philip Marlowe in the 1975 film version of Raymond Chandler's Farewell My Lovely.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Sometimes, dreams do come true!

You know, sometimes when you look around the world, everything can seem really fucking dark -- and not just at night.

The goddamn oceans are screwed, Europe's economy teeters in the balance over Greece's inevitable debt default with only the question of whether they can force the already poor and overworked Greek working class to carry the fucking can *again* and avoid potential immediate collapse so as to collapse a little bit later when all the cuts and austerity drive the Greek economy further into recession, and, in Australia, the level of public debate in recent times on refugees has been so hysterical it has made EDDIE FUCKING MCGUIRE seem a voice of reason.

Yes, Eddie "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire -- WELL FUCK YOU I ALREADY AM!" McGuire. Eddie "Western Sydney is Falafel Land" McGuire. Eddie "Let's Make Homophobic Jokes About Athletes at the Winter Olympics" McGuire.


So insanely outrageous, so divorced from reality, so mindnumbingly racist is what passes for "discourse" in this godforsaken country over the "threat" of being "invaded" by a few hundred "boat people" each year, that it was actually left to McGuire to call for calm in a Herald Sun article against "the boring, predictable, racist-tinged appealing to the worst side of our nature and the rekindling of fear in the populace led by our politicians and news media".

McGuire said, in a startling and perhaps unprecedented recourse to actual facts in the Sun, that we don't need "scare-mongering tactics over an issue that for the year so far has seen fewer people arrive than sit on one morning train to Flinders St".

McGuire complaining about racist populism must be like hearing Goebells tell Hitler to "steady on, mate" because some of his anti-Jewish rhetoric seemed a bit extreme and what does he have against gypsies anyway?

But that is where this country is at. It is up to the president of *Collingwood* to call Australia out on racism.

Collingwood Football Club being the one whose former president, Alan McAlister, declared in 1993 that Aboriginal players were alright "as long as they conduct themselves like white people ... As long as they behave like human beings..."

That same year, it was the relentless racist abuse by Collingwood supporters against St Kilda Aboriginal player Nicky Winmar during a game that drove Winmar to run to the boundary line right in front of Collingwood supporters and, in a famous image, lift up his jumper and point defiantly at his black skin.

And it was Collingwood captain Tony Shaw who, in the aftermath of that incident, publically defended racist abuse as "part of the game".

This is what this fucking country has been reduced to. Lectures on racism from the president of Collingwood.

So, good news comes as a welcome relief and it doesn't get much better than a heartwarming tale of *another fucking royal wedding*.

Just when you thought every inbred parasite on the fucking planet lucky enough to not be French in the early 1790s had blown their broke nation's budget on stupid hats and champagne in some pointless feudalistic ritual, they found a nation far from broke for a brand new fairtytale.

And what a fairytale Monaco's royal wedding on July 2 was!

There cannot have been a dry eye in the tiny little statelet on the French Riviera as Prince Albert II wed South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock, now "Her Serene Highness the Princess of Monaco".

There is nothing like a tale of true love to improve the world's gloomy mood!

Becoming a princess is, as we all know, every little girl's ultimate dream! And the romantic story of Wittstock marrying her prince is a mighty blow to those cynics who think dreams don't come true!

On the spot, the London Telegraph's Henry Samuel sets the beautiful scene:

"The couple's glittering religious wedding drew crowds of thousands to the Mediterranean principality on Saturday and the guest list included a host of heads of state, European royals and stars of the fashion and sports world."

And the blushing bride all dressed in white?

Samuel continues:

"But sources cited by Le Journal du Dimanche said the former Charlene Wittstock, 33, tried to take refuge in her country's embassy in Paris when she went to the French capital in May to try on her wedding dress.

"Instead palace officials confiscated her passport and persuaded her to take part in the weekend's nuptials.

"Later that month she also tried to escape during the Monaco formula one grand prix, they alleged.

"Then, last week, she allegedly had her passport confiscated en route to Nice airport via the helicopter service that runs regularly between Monaco and France."

"Smile, darling!"

"Don't even *think* of jumping."

Even when on show before the entire world, the deep, heartfelt love they share shines through.

This is a tale of true love. The true love Monaco's 35,000-odd residents have for their tax-free status.

Monaco is a desperate little statelet that that exists as a tax haven for the mega-rich, but badly needs its ruling prince to produce a male heir or else the statelet will revert back to French rule -- and French tax rules.

But it seems their saviour, Charlene, was not happy by some recent news. Samuel refers to Monaco "policy advisers" who are said to have confirmed that the prince has fathered "two illegitimate children, one already born and one on the way".

But did not the princess-to-be not realise? Those kids, even if they *be* male, are *illegitimate*, born out of the sacred bonds of marriage, and therefore completely useless for the principality!

No, if Monaco is to continue being the tax-haven, grand-prix hosting paradise the mega-rich have come to love, they need a woman who has gone through a wedding to get knocked up as many times as takes for a baby boy to be born. By the prince, preferably.

Her Serene Highness may have had second thoughts about a loveless marriage of convenience to a middle-aged, balding, toad of a prince, but Monaco was not about to stand by and let such a fine breeding specimen escape...

And so they "persuaded" the rather desperate princess-to-be to go through with the marriage ... by foiling her three breaks for freedom and confiscating her passport.

No wonder they all look so happy in pictures of the crowds at the wedding. They fucking caught her before she escaped.

A forced marriage. How quaint! It is reassuring that in this day and age, there are *some* who still believe in tradition.

Now, Her Serene Highness needs merely concentrate on doing her royal duty...

"So, as soon as the ceremonies are over, we can begin our duty of trying to produce a male heir ... now come on, darling, don't cry in public."



"Oh FUCK!"

"Don't *you* even fucking *think* of touching me! What is it with Monaco and ugly middle-aged men?"

Seeing Princess Charlene on her big day in her white wedding dress really brings to mind...well, Billy Idol.

"It's a nice day for a white wedding..."