BostoNoir

BOS: : Photographs/Expatica : :TON

T Photos: Public Transporn September 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — DLR @ 8:50 pm

Disclaimer: All the photos in this post are copyright to Shawn Dufour, who currently has some photos in a Kingston Gallery exhibit in the South End of Boston. Thanks Shawn!

In the absence of original photos for the time being (film-development money pending), these photos of abandoned subway tunnels in Boston, mostly on the older stretches of the Green Line, are mighty cool.

Disused Green Line tunnels near the Boylston T stop

One of the older Green Line trains

Signified by colour coded names, the Green Line is the oldest individual subway line in the US; this is a fact that can’t escape your notice if you often have to ride it, but nonetheless, these images are pretty cool. The Line splits into 4 separate tracks after a certain point (A, B, C and D – yes, it’s that simple), and there are old lines which used to run into Watertown and Medford – two towns a fair distance from Boston proper.

The streetcar nature of the trains themselves seem incongruous with the larger city, but the Green Line itself runs into the less built-up, more residential parts of Greater Boston whilst the more modern fast-tracks run in Boston, Cambridge and more central areas.

Tracks at the North End station, looking towards Boston.

Photos coming soon from the hands of BostoNoir, so stay tuned.

 

Inspiration quotations #6-#8: Chandler/Marlowe, from The High Window (Penguin, 2005) July 2, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — DLR @ 6:30 am

#6: from The High Window (Penguin, 2005 pp230) 
            “He’s the fellow for whom they coined the phrase, ‘as ignorant as an actor’.”

 
#7: Ibid, p235
            “I want to tell you about it,” she said breathlessly. “I—”

            I reached over and put a paw over her two locked hands. “Skip it. I know it. Marlowe knows everything—except how to make a decent living. It doesn’t amount to beans.”

 
#8, Ibid, pp247-8
            “All right,” he said wearily. “Get on with it. I have a feeling you are going to be very brilliant. Remorseless flow of logic and intuition and all that rot. Just like a detective in a book.”

            “Sure. Taking the evidence piece by piece, putting it all together in a neat pattern, sneaking in an odd bit I had on my hip here and there, analysing the motives and characters and making them out to be quite different from what anybody—or I myself for that matter—thought them to be up to this golden moment—and finally making a sort of world-weary pounce on the least promising suspect.

            He lifted his eyes and almost smiled. “Who thereupon turns as pale as paper, froths at the mouth, and pulls a gun right out of his ear.”

            “That’s right. We ought to play it together sometime. You got a gun?”

 Thoughts: The first time Chandler seems to be playing—and having fun—with the more ridiculous elements of the genre he’d begun to define, as well as with the filmic quality which imbued all of his writing. For example, he uses the adjective ‘hard-boiled’ far more than in any of the previous novels, and he also refers to Marlowe in the third person more often.
Many times he (e.g. pp247-8) pokes fun at the stock ‘noir’ scenes only to use them nonetheless, with Marlowe as a kind of author-figure who realises that they’re ridiculous but also realises that, as the tough-guy hero, he has to play the role designated him.
At the same time, Chandler’s screenwriting work allows him to comment on the movie industry (‘Hollywood’s full of them’; ‘I’ve been in pictures’; ‘as ignorant as an actor’), going nearly so far as to have Marlowe/Bogart repeat Rick’s line in Casablanca (‘it don’t amount to beans’).

            Chandler’s still playing. But by The Long Goodbye, this sense of fun has almost disappeared with Terry Lennox, a drunk, down-on-his-luck author whom only Marlowe can take under his wing and attempt to save. By this point, Chandler’s wife was dead, he’d attempted suicide, and he’d become disillusioned with working in Hollywood.

*     *     *

 

 

Inspiration quotations #2-#5: Chandler/Marlowe July 1, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — DLR @ 2:56 pm

#2: from The High Window (Penguin, 2005 pp152-3) 
            “What I like about this place is everything runs so true to type,” I said. “The cop on the gate, the shine on the door, the cigarette and check girls, the fat greasy sensual Jew with the tall stately bored showgirl, the well-dressed, drunk and horribly rude director cursing the barman, the silent guy with the gun, the night-club owner with soft grey hair and the B-picture mannerisms, and now you—the tall dark torcher with the negligent sneer, the husky voice, the hard-boiled vocabulary.”

            She said: “Is that so?” and fitted her cigarette between her lips and drew slowly on it. “And what about the wise-cracking snooper with the last year’s gags and the come-hither smile?”

 *     *     *

#3: Ibid, pp181-2
            The room had that remote, heartless, not quite dirty, not quite clean, not quite human smell that such rooms always have. Give a police department a brand new building, and in three months all its roo,ms will smell like that. There must be something symbolic in it.

 *     *     *

#4: Ibid, pp100-200
            Sure enough the door of 1354A was pulled open and a small bright-eyed woman looked out at me. […] The heart-rending dialogue of some love serial came out of the room behind her and hit me in the face like a wet dishtowel.

            The bright-eyed woman said: “You a friend of theirs?” In her voice, suspicion was as thick as the ham in her radio.

*     *     * 

#5: Ibid, p224
            Silence. Then the sound of a blow. The woman wailed. She was hurt, terribly hurt. Hurt in the depths of her soul. She made it rather good.

            “Look, angel,” Morny snarled. “Don’t feed me the ham. I’ve been in pictures. I’m a connoisseur of ham. Skip it…”

*     *     *

 

Endings: The Lost Delaney Manuscript’s significance & Faber’s Fin-de-siecle June 30, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — DLR @ 3:11 pm

            The lost manuscript, which comes into Faber’s hands (in part at least) meshes with some of the recordings Faber has been listening to [see above]. Thornton’s disillusionment with what he describes as “the arrival of those thorns and stingers”—the fin-de-siecle sensibility which pervades his last months alive—bleeds into his last attempt to write a full length Delaney novel.

Though left unfinished at time of death, Ray is investigating a case involving an all-powerful Bad Guy™ whose identity remains concealed until the final pages. Throughout the novel Ray is becoming disillusioned with his career, feeling that he was duped into his role as PI by the flashy, colourful and resolution-heavy world of fictional detectives. As a child, Ray read all of the famous noir novelists’ books, and watched—like Thornton—a lot of movies, even marrying a wannabe movie star, Angeline Sexton (a name chosen herself because of it’s overtones of ‘angelic’ innocence coupled with those of ‘sexy’ seductress).

The manuscript takes a turn toward the post-modern/fantastical, as Ray becomes more and more convinced that his life is being controlled by some force which has fitted him too snugly into the role of ridiculous similes and PI-noir. He returns to Hamburg, Germany—where he cracked his first case and Angeline lost her life trying to help him—investigating a book which seems to be of some value and power, and which is published by an obscure and cultish publishing firm called Lichttrager Verlag. The final showdown comes, and Thornton portrays an all-out post-modern fantasy of a denouement. It is revealed that Lichttrager is controlled by none other than Angeline, whom Ray had long thought dead. Angeline moulded Ray, like many others, reducing him to nothing but a caricature, a self-parody of the stories Ray had read as a child.

They face one another, and…

Here the manuscript stops. Faber does not find out whether Ray Delaney defeated Angeline, and is somewhat glad not to have to. A Ray Delaney who does not wisecrack? Does not simile his way out of descriptions? Unthinkable. But either way, it would not have been a happy ending, he realises. Either Delaney is a broken man, stripped of all that he once was, left with only the knowledge that none of it was real, or he remains trapped as a caricature, a cipher of the dead detective genre.

*      *      *

Faber begins to write his story at this point, describing his findings—he documents the last manuscript, writing about Thornton’s post-modern deconstruction of the very genre which he defined. While Delaney was the hero Thornton wanted to be, Angeline was more complex, combining a version of Thornton himself (the all-powerful authority figure who has trapped Ray in “a cliché of a cliché” [a quotation from the manuscript]) with the lost lover-wife-movie star figure (Thornton’s first wife, Elizabeth, whose loss signified the start of Thornton’s disillusionment).

This post-modern deconstruction brings together all the elements of Thornton’s life as told in the tape recordings. Feeling trapped in this particular fin-de-siecle, Thornton writes his way out of it through Ray Delaney: Ray is trapped on his own path of thorns and stingers, so Thornton frees him from it.

 

But the story has no ending, Faber writes. He doesn’t know what happened to Thornton, but he pictures a scene with Thornton sitting at his typewriter, wanting to but being unable and unwilling to destroy his hero-character and to finish this tale. Could he have taken his own life? Or did he simply fall asleep and never wake up? Faber doesn’t know. Probably he never will. But without Ray Delaney, Charles Thornton is nothing. And without Charles Thornton, Humphrey Faber is nothing.

Faber settles in to the block opposite Thorton’s old apartment, and begins to write this book, which he hopes, one day, will be considered a final chapter for Charles DeForest Thornton.

*     *     *

 

The Thornton Tapes, Part 1 Side B (see www.danleray.wordpress.com for Side A)

Filed under: Uncategorized — DLR @ 3:06 pm

I suppose it comes to every generation, or at least to those who have lived through such a turbulent time and lived on—or should I say survived—to tell the tale. It is only so far along a certain path that we can go before we reach thorns and stingers crowding over, under, and around us, impeding our progress so that we are compelled to stop. To stand still, only able to glance through the twists of green at that which lies ahead.

We live in a post-satire world, someone once said. I forget who. Research is not my strong suit. But whoever passed on to us that particularly uninformative nugget of information was, to all intents or purposes, correct. Everything is post something, and we’ve come so far along this particular timeline—which cannot be altered, erased, reordered or accurately described—that we can only define ourselves by that which we succeed. Time pushes on against us, anticipating both physical and cultural decay to such an extent, that the modern has been twisted into an absurd, caricature-like, defiantly meaningless post-modern, no matter that defining one’s cultural existence as ‘meaningless’ is a paradox as big as they come.

Post-modern. It is a prefix which signals the arrival of those thorns and stingers and the end of progress. Fin-de-siecle, one used to call it. But at the turn of the 20th century, when we were still kind enough to lock away famous homosexual men for their private ‘indiscretions’, at least a few of us were smart enough to know that we weren’t smart enough to know very much. I never thought much of his dramas or poems but it’s clear that old Oscar knew this: all is forgiven if you spread yourself—like a shameless veneer of credibility—just thinly enough around a room of half-baked writers.

And so back to Mr Delaney’s troubles.

 *     *     *

 

Inspiration quotations #1: Chandler/Marlowe June 29, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — DLR @ 8:35 pm

#1: from The High Window (Penguin, 2005 pp104-5)

         I got down off the stool and walked to the door in a silence that was as loud as a ton of coal going down a chute. The man in the black shirt and yellow scarf was sneering at me over the New Republic.

         “You ought to lay off the fluff and get your teeth into something solid, like a pulp magazine,“ I told him, just to be friendly.

         I went on out. Behind me someone said: “Hollywood’s full of them.“

*      *     *

 

Biography and Intersection: Thornton’s life & Faber’s mystery June 28, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — DLR @ 8:13 pm

Faber arrives at Thornton’s apartment building in Kreuzberg

            It was a building like any other, all peeling plaster, peeling posters and unappealing graffiti. All of Degarmo Straße was much the same, I saw, strolling along one side then the other with an idleness hopefully befitting a local. I stopped in front of the dilapidated exterior, the plain ordinariness of the building in which he had lived so many years. Thornton’s life, led with such lazy care, had settled here, in this country, in this city, in this street, and no one knew exactly why. His final years encased in a dirty cube of concrete graffiti, alone and sick, but tirelessly writing, writing, writing. Why, I asked myself, for possibly the 900th time. A historical mystery to match the manifestly real one which was beginning to take shape around a stranger in a strange land.

 
Charles DeForestThornton—the biographical tapes & giving away the provisional ending!

            Faber’s actions are interspersed with the initial tapes he obtained in the UK. Thornton’s voice retrace his life and works as the story progresses: beginning with general musings, during which he mentions clues (the man in the Homburg hat; Helga; etc) which Faber uses, and continuing with some thoughts on Ray Delaney, a character created by Thornton to compensate—in some ways—for his own personal failings.

However, he obtains some privately held recordings from Helga, via the Poet-Friend, and they delve deeper into Thornton’s personal history. His move as a teenager to the east coast of the USA, and his hero-worship of the film stars and styles of his youth comes into full force. He wants to be Clark Gable, even growing a pencil-moustache with a view to seducing the few young women he meets in Boston, and later, New York. He reads Chandler and Hammett, watches Bogart and Bacall, and becomes enthralled with the fantasy world created by the booming Hollywood dream factory. When he is in his late 20s, he meets a woman named Elizabeth, a minor star in a number of movies. She is a plain but pretty girl with the devil-may-care attitude of a leading lady. Around the same time, he sells his first story, a melodramatic detective tale called “The Second Murderer” to a pulp magazine.

In 1940, Thornton is 29 years old.  By virtue of his British nationality, he enlists in the Canadian Army, and spends time fighting in France. He tells of the stenches, the grime, the fatigue, and the impotence of battles, choreographing death so idly that one might think it were only a film awaiting its resolution, awaiting a return to the status quo. Even to his last days, he remembers these feelings vividly, describing the strange image of a hand being wrapped in a bandage, blood flow cut off slowly but surely, leaving him impotent, unable to act. Thornton, who reaches the rank of lieutenant, is not a brave man. During one particular mission, he is blinded by smoke, its acrid taste making him gag, and his eyes water. Only to add to the confusion, his unit is ambushed, and Thornton, one of the senior officers there, fires out of fear at two figures approaching him through the haze. He collapses, blinded by the smoke, and awakes in a field hospital.

Returning to the US in 1944, Thornton is uncontrollably disillusioned. His wife Elizabeth has fallen in love and is living with another man—an actor. Thornton returns to writing, penning the first Delaney novel, entitled “Double Standard”. This tale involves the murder of a shady gangster named Nachtigall and the subsequent death of a Broadway starlet who was suspected but never convicted of his murder. Delaney eventually uncovers the truth—the starlet was not one, but two people, identical sisters who had used their double identities to cover up murder. It is moderately successful, and Thornton is able to turn to full time writing.

After a second Delaney novel, Thornton leaves the USA for Germany, living in various parts of Berlin and eventually settling in Kreuzberg. The reasons for his move come clear as Faber comes to the end of the recordings. The men whom he shot during the ambush in the war were, he finally admits, two German officers advancing through the smoke and attempting to surrender. One of the men was bleeding from the nape of his neck, from a wound in his chest, and is missing most of his left foot. The other man, grimy, sweaty, grazed and bloody, is practically carrying him with one arm over the other man’s shoulder, and one across his chest. Thornton can see their faces clearly even now, grazed and scared, just like his, the faces of comrades. No, the faces of brothers. The faces of twin brothers. Identical twin brothers.

To his final days alive, Faber learns, this one moment remained with Charles Thornton, an all-pervasive guilt which wracked him ever since. In moving to the country, and the city, from which these two brothers originated, Thornton throws himself into the midst of his guilt and anger, a self-made outsider just like Faber. And he brings with him Raymond Delaney, his character a cipher for himself made heroic, made incorruptible, brave, honest, and willing to fight to his own set of morals.

*     *     *