Don is leading some groups by appointment up and over the mean streets in July and August, but nothing has been set up where anyone can just show up with a tenspot and walk the walk — still, it’s not that long till September and tours every Sunday in the month. And anyone who wants to do the self-guided version can pull on some gumshoes, grab the new edition of the tour book, and hit the pavement at will. The new edition of the tour book from Vince Emery continues to glom good reviews, such as the Midwest Book Review (“a must-have for any fan of Hammett’s work”) — and veteran reviewer Jon L. Breen concurs in the Summer 2009 issue of Mystery Scene (“This is a must addition to the Hammett shelf”). Oh, yeah — and folk who missed Don’s appearance on KGO last month can catch it here, minus news and commercial breaks.
WIDE OPEN SPACES
The photo this month was shot by Fabrice Tortey from atop Enchanted Rock outside Fredericksburg, Texas — showing Don leading the way with poet Donald Sidney-Fryer at his heels along this enormous hunk of primal bedrock. In the hills outside Fredericksburg the Texas fantasist Robert E. Howard first envisioned the land of Cimmeria, and soon created Conan the barbarian. The two Dons rolled into the annual Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains last month, sat in on poetry panels and ducked out on the bad readings of Howard poetry that some genius scheduled for Friday night. The gift shop in the Howard House offered the new issue of Damon Sasser’s Two-Gun Raconteur, where Don contributed a memorial tribute to the late Howard critic Steve Tompkins, and also a second edition of the Dennis McHaney collection The Man from Cross Plains to which Don contributed an article comparing Conan and Bruce Lee. Get them if you want them. And Fabrice reports that his own long-delayed critical collection on Howard, Echoes of Cimmeria, is coming back from the printers any moment now — all in French, including a little introduction Don wrote for the litcrit section.
Longtime local hard-boiled fan Art Scott popped Don an email while he was off in Texas, asking about something that just exploded all over the web: “I suspect you’re already aware that there’s been a recent flurry of excitement online about the ‘recent discovery’ of Raymond Chandler’s cameo appearance in Double Indemnity (just Google ‘chandler cameo’). Only I’ve known about it for something like 20 years, maybe 30, and I vaguely recall that you made that discovery long ago and mentioned it, probably at a Bouchercon film program. Bruce Taylor and I are trying to convince a friend that this discovery is Real Old News to those of us who’re really in the know.”
Yep, while the guys who think they found something hot are welcome to the excitement, Don spotted that one the first time he saw Double Indemnity and has told people about it for circa thirty years. And on this front a pal of his just spotted a new clip of Hammett on film — otherwise, we believe there’s only one brief home movie showing Hammett that is known at this point (the footage of Hammett’s testimony before HUAC has yet to turn up). More news as it develops on that one.
And anyone interested gets another shot at having copies of San Francisco Noir and San Francisco Noir 2: The Classics signed, as editor Peter Maravelis hosts an evening in The Green Arcade Bookstore, 1680 Market Street near Gough in San Francisco, Thursday July 30 at 7 p.m. — a great way to ring out the month. Peter will be spinning records of the sort his bud Mr. Lucky likes to perform, mixing martinis, signing books. Various contributors to the two volumes are set to show up, and Don plans to be there to put his John Hancock on his neo-Black Mask tale in The Classics for anyone who wants to read that violent little tribute to Hammett.