Thursday, January 28, 2010

#17 Raymond Chandler

#30 Hollywood Walk of Fame
#29 Yamashiro
#28 Hollywood Billiards
#27 Genghis Cohen
#26 Piano Bar
#25 Shmutzville
# 24 Loteria
# 23 The Griddle
# 22 Proximity
# 21 Hollywood Freeway
#20 Kitchen 24
# 19 The People
# 18 Sushi Eyaki

#17 Raymond Chandler

Earlier in this countdown, I mentioned how I prefer my Hollywood to be dark, smoky, and moderately subversive. Perhaps the strongest cause for this desire is my love of crime fiction writer Raymond Chandler. I'm not knocking down any literary barriers here, Chandler is one of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century, so if your familiarity with his work is limited, either skip this entry, or google Raymond fucking Chandler.

The reason I have read Chandler's books so many times, is because I want to be in them. And I don't say this in the same way that a suburban kid listens to the Chronic and wants to be in it; I see it like, if I had my choice, I would be a P.I. in 1940s Hollywood. Phillip Marlowe is more than just a favorite literary character, he is my idol. And I say that with no irony intended.

For the last eighteen months, I have lived as close to that fantasy as I ever will. My home address is a short walk from Marlowe's office in the fictional Cahuenga Building. Many of the streets and hills that Chandler writes about are in my neighborhood. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, I believe that the corner of Hollywood and Cauhenga (the real, not the fictional) has been named "Raymond Chandler Square." This is where I live!

Look, I would be a fool if I didn't acknowledge that Chandler's dark, smoky gin joints and speakeasies have been replaced by trendy boom-boom clubs and high-end gastropubs. Furthermore, it is clear that the days of P.I.s and dames in red dresses has given way to the new Hollywood era of an amalgamation of people from everywhere, looking for anything. I know. And these concessions are depressing to me. But that doesn't mean I won't miss living in Marlowe's neighborhood.

As I walk or drive through my neighborhood, the hills, the tallish buildings, the forties-era architecture, the lights, the cars, the noise, they all conjure up the same emotions and sensations that Chandler's writing does, only these are real experiences. I can't describe how much this has meant to me over the last few years. Even Chandler's work in film is nearby. Bogart's Marlowe in The Big Sleep roamed around my neighborhood going to the bookstore on Las Palmas a short walk from my house. Gould's Marlow in Altman's The Long Goodbye lived in an awesome apartment building just up the hill from my house. I know this sounds silly and hopeless, but I have lived in a world of forties-era noir pulp for the last eighteen months, and in three weeks, I leave. I can't believe I put this at 17, because I think about Chandler every morning when I get up.

It is a non-existent reality that I have constructed for myself. Moreover, I haven't even so much as lived within that reality as much as I have fantasized about it. But I have fantasized about this reality from afar before, and I will be able to resume that projection when I move downtown, another neighborhood where Marlowe did a lot of work, just not his residence. In order to truly live in that reality, even in modern times, I would have had to quit my job, set up shop as a private investigator, and begin living in a life of subversiveness, crime, and darkness, something I would love to do, but is probably not within my reach at this stage of history. So what I will miss remains a non-existent reality, or what sane people call: a fantasy. My fantasy however was a little more real in Marlowe's hood, and that I will never forget.

1 comment:

steven said...

i had no idea that you love Chandler so much-it must be hereditary