When I headed out for the tour on July 23, I knew it was birthday number 123 for Raymond Chandler, courtesy a quick blurb on The Rap Sheet. The media at large was covering the discovery of Amy Winehouse’s body earlier that day — yeah, both Chandler and Winehouse were big drinkers, and while maybe the coincidence might help me remember the date in a year or two, I couldn’t make too much out of it.
But then on Monday July 25 I got an email from my pal Richard L. Tierney with the unexpected news that Philip Rahman also had died on the 23rd, and it kicked in the memories. Rahman made his mark with the publishing firm of Fedogan & Bremer, issuing many nice titles in the day. I suppose I have about half of all the F&B releases, and was especially happy to see them getting out long-awaited books by the brothers Donald and Howard Wandrei — when I did the October 1999 article on collecting Don Wandrei for Firsts magazine, I made sure to give F&B a nice section in the coverage. They deserved it.
I was thinking Philip was a few years younger than me, but I see that he trailed my age by less than a month. I’ll always think of him as a young guy, someone who came into my sphere when I was living in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1975 and 76, hobnobbing with Wandrei and Tierney (and meeting Weird Tales writers Carl Jacobi and E. Hoffmann Price). I met him not long before I left to return to San Francisco, and recall that we made a couple of excursions to see noir movies, specifically The Big Sleep — my introduction to Chandler, and from there I went on to read all the fiction. When I think of Chandler I always think of Rahman — now, I guess, more than ever.
Rahman and his publishing pal Dennis Weiler came out to Frisco a couple of times in the 80s on short visits — one time I took them around on a Hammett tour, and the next time they had us all go on one of the stair street tours led by Adah Bakalinsky. The next — and last — time I saw Rahman was in 1988, when I went back to the Twin Cities to be a Guest of Honor at a little convention, alongside Robert Weinberg. Phil put me up at his house, drove us out to visit Wandrei’s grave. Twenty-three years ago — almost a whole lifetime for Amy Winehouse.