You know how it is, you go in for triple bypass surgery and someone figures you’re gone for sure, The Defender of the Faith is down by the wayside, and it’s now safe to paint over the tragically faded lettering advertising Blanco’s restaurant. . . .
Yesterday I finally did my first Hammett walk since acquiring my Aztec Sacrificial Scar — a by-appointment deal for a guy’s birthday. Figured I had to dip a toe back in the torrent sooner or later. See if my gumshoes were ready for some exercise. . . if I had the moxie for another case.
We hiked along, swapping comments on Hammett and Dillinger-era gangsters and silent movies and Marx Brothers quotes — the usual, I guess. But when we made it up Larkin to the corner of Olive alley, whoa.
For those of the thousands of you who have walked the walk over the last forty years and may remember the one-story brick building housing the dry cleaners on the corner, where many of you got to step over classic sleeping drunks on the sidewalk in bygone days, and more recently have footed around the used needles as the junkies shoot up in a leg — well, hell, that great old building is gone. Big new apartment building going up in its footprint.
I ought to have taken that construction site as an omen, but I didn’t. I guided the group west on Olive to the back wall of what is now The Great American Music Hall so that they could look at the decades old lettering for Blanco’s, a place where the Op eats a meal in The Dain Curse.
The paint looks pretty fresh.
Sometime since I’ve been out of action, they finally covered over the old signage for Blanco’s, as seen on page 88 of the tour book. The building is the same, of course, and you’ll be able to recognize it because of the distinctive (and huge) metal pipe.
Since I began doing the tour back in 1977 I’ve always felt the Blanco’s signage was living on borrowed time, and I applaud the Music Hall folk along the way who decided to hold off on new paint, so Hammett fans could catch a piece of history.
A full forty years for fans to savor the sign in the course of the Hammett tour.
As recently — or as long ago — as 2013 I did a post about “me gesturing up to the faded lettering for Blanco’s and talking about the Continental Op. The Blanco’s lettering is going fast, so if you want to see it, take a tour sooner than later or check it out on your own.”