Tour: Sunday June 11

In the pic above, The Dashiell Hammett Tour of that moment stands on the northwest corner of O’Farrell and Larkin, taking in the perfect 1920s blocks rolling down O’Farrell to the east (until you get to The Hamilton, a large white apartment house of post-Hammett vintage — and beyond, the new Hilton Towers). Behind the group on the left, fronted by the sign for The Great America Music Hall, is the façade of Blanco’s, where the Op eats a meal in the last Op novel, The Dain Curse.

Anyone who wants to show up and join in this month has one shot at it on Sunday June 11. Bring $20 per head. Shoes made for walking. Noon start. Allow four hours to negotiate the Hammettian mean streets.

Don’t think I’m completely goofing off as summer rolls in — groups by appointment keep hiking up and down the hills.

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Hammett: The Lewis Mania Continues. . .

Evan Lewis leads off his post today with the image above, a bronze figurine of Bogart as Spade that sold at an auction of Lauren Bacall’s stuff two years ago for $16,250 — compared to the loot hauled in from sales of the Black Bird figurines from the Bogie flick, pretty cheap.

Anyway, if interested surf over for Evan’s 37 Different Looks at The Maltese Falcon (1941), which continues his new burst of Hammett mania — and if you’re just now looking, go back a few days for more visual and even audio treats, and keep going until Evan moves on to the next thing after he runs pages from the Golden Age comic book of the Falcon.

He popped me a note explaining how he got himself lined up to jump into the deep end of this particular pool:

Here’s the skinny.

My Falcon burst was spurred by the fact that — after ten years of searching boxes in my storage unit for the Maltese comic book — I found it in my top desk drawer, buried in a stack of 3-D comics. It was right there the whole time, about two feet from my nose. I’ve been wanting to post it on my blog ever since I started the thing. I was going to start the comic on May 27 in honor of the Birthday, but decided to kick off on the 26th, when I’ll get a lot of traffic from the Forgotten Books crowd.

Hey, I know that feeling — just the other week I stumbled across my copy of Irving Rosenthal’s novel Sheeper, which I was going on about in the recent radio interview with Burrito Justice.

Evan mentions that he wasn’t yet aware of the “new” Spade story: “And no, I didn’t know The Hunter had a Spade fragment. I have a copy here from the library, but haven’t got around to inspecting it.” Me, I’m not sure that the Spade item actually is a fragment, as described — it feels like it could be a full story to me, but with lots of the plumping-up left out.

Among other things Evan thought up to do, he reports, “I’ve also been wanting to post The Kandi Tooth for years, and only recently found my old cassette tape. Thought I was going to have to post it myself to YouTube, but I see someone did that a couple of months ago and saved me the trouble.” If you don’t know, Kandi Tooth is a sequel to the Falcon performed on radio — kind of goofy, but fun. Punch it into YouTube and find out for yourself.

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Hammett: Birthday 123 Coming Up

Dell 411 (1950). Cover Art by Robert Stanley

I can’t tell if Hammett’s upcoming birthday — no.123 — on May 27 is what triggered a burst of posts on Evan Lewis’ blog, or if he just suddenly felt like it. But if you care to surf over and follow in his wake, he indicates he’s building up to presenting the old Maltese Falcon comic book “beginning Friday, May 26.”

Who knows what he might sneak in before then?

Already up for viewing is an image-laden rumination on the Sam Spade short stories (I also can’t tell if Evan knows about the “new” Spade short, or fragment, presented in The Hunter and Other Stories, or if he’s just dealing strictly with the contents of The Adventures of Sam Spade collection).

Next up he presents a gallery of covers for The Maltese Falcon — some, but no means all.

And we’ve got a whole week to go before lighting any candles.

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Hammett: Jeopardy! Does Another Lightning Strike

Good grief.

After the recent use of Hammett on Jeopardy! I thought I was safe for awhile, especially during the currently airing Teachers Tournament. Surely they wouldn’t be posing Hammett-themed clews for the nation’s educators.

But on May 9 during the Double Jeopardy Round, the $1600 clew in the category People on the Page:

The archetype of the hard-boiled detective, Sam Spade was created by this author & featured in “The Maltese Falcon”

The teach named Mary rang in first and asked, “Who is Dashiell Hammett?”

What next?

Hammett clews during the Teen Tournament?

Will they expect Celebrities to field deep-deep Hammettian concepts later in the year?

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Frisco Beat: Naming The Names at Milkbean

Mark Murphy, one of my operatives always on the ground, constantly reporting on the Tenderloin Beat, tells me that Milkbean — a sandwich and coffee joint which opened recently in the space in the Sam Spade Building once occupied by the What a Grind coffee and sandwich joint — just did a major nod to plying their trade in 891 Post by naming a roster of their Crafted Subs after characters familiar to fans of The Maltese Falcon.

A regular patron of What a Grind — more commonly referred to by the in-crowd as Sam’s Place, since it was run by a guy named Sam — Mark understands things move on, and feels “the new proprietors deserve at least a little credit for giving homage to the fact of the building’s connection to Hammett, and to his most famous novel specifically.”

Most customers clicking in to Yelp might never realize the significance of ordering a Sam Spade Sub, or a Ruth Wonderly or Iva or Effie or Dundy, but in those names lurk the Hammett legacy.

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Hammett: The Black Bird Cracks Jeopardy! Again

On May 1 Hammett got in on the Jeopardy! action yet again.

In the Double Jeopardy round, the $400 — a.k.a. easiest — clew in the category 1940 Movie Quotes:

Humphrey Bogart: “If you kill me, how are you going to get the bird?”

The champ of the moment buzzed in and said, “What is The Maltese Falcon?”


I guess all you have to do to pop up in quiz after quiz is write at least a couple of novels that get made into classic movies and become embedded in the culture.

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Tour: Sundays May 7 and 28

Keeping the roll going, anyone who wants to show up palming a $20 with four hours to kill can join in on Hammett Tours set for Sunday May 7 and Sunday May 28.

No appointment needed, just show up by noon, ready for some gumshoe action.

Someone hauling in from out of the burg asked for another just-show-up walk for Sunday June 11 — we’ll see if more dates pile up for June, and July.

(And of course any groups by appointment leave the station at the desired dates and times.)

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Rediscovered: Another Correct Answer for Jeopardy!

Terry Zobeck just read the most recent post about a Hammett question on Jeopardy!

To the statement about the PI hired by the “fragrant Miss Wonderly” Terry says, “I wonder what Alex would have said if one of the contestants had replied ‘Who is Miles Archer?’

Good one, Terry.

I imagine a moment of hesitation, perhaps even a “No” — but the clew team would have had to inform Alex that that response was as correct as hell, right?

If not, there’d be protests and rioting on the Mean Streets, for sure.

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Rediscovered: Jeopardy! Double-Dips the Black Mask Gang

And good old Jeopardy! has hit the Hammett Clew Pile again!

April 5, the category Avian Literature — you don’t have to be an expert in hard-boiled lit to just yell out “The Maltese Falcon!” before any hints get dropped.

Sure enough, the $800 clew: “In ‘The Maltese Falcon,’ this detective is hired by the fragrant Miss Wonderly.”

Amy from Denver rang in and said, “Who is Sam Spade?”


(I admit contemplating the use of “fragrant” in the statement for a few minutes, just long enough to check the novel but not long enough to pop the DVD of the Bogie version into the machine — my guess is that the clewsters kind of mixed up Brigid with Joel Cairo. Cairo is quite notably fragrant. Chypre in the book — maybe gardenias in the flick?)

I figured that was it for the episode, but they dipped into the gang of writers for Black Mask again before the end. Like Hammett, Raymond Chandler pops up in clews pretty often, but offhand I don’t recall a single show where they referenced both titans of that wood pulp.

The category “Before,” No After — $800 slot again:

It completes the title 1001 Books You Must Read. . . of which “The Big Sleep” is one

Again Amy from Denver answered, “What is ‘Before You Die’?”

Correct. I suppose The Maltese Falcon comes up in that list of 1001 books, too.

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Two-Gun Bob: Appreciating an American Tough Guy

John D. Haefele told me I was way off the other day when I said that one of his chapters in the upcoming Lovecraft: The Great Tales ran 50,000 words, at least in rough draft. He figured it probably was more like 20,000 (maybe it was the chapter covering At the Mountains of Madness, and it just felt like 50,000 words). In any case, he’s plunging toward the finish line and estimates a word count of 300,000 or so when he breaks the tape.

Our pal Brian Leno is moving a tad slower with his book on the boxers of Robert E. Howard’s era, but he’s plugging along, round after round on the machine, and reports 30,000 words logged so far. If he didn’t have to check weigh-in stats for one fight after another, double-check all the guys who crossed fists in a thousand blood-spattered rings, he might have a higher word count.

In any event, he’ll get there. No one in Howard Studies knows as much about boxing as Brian. And while I’m willing to concede the possibility that someone out there might know as much about the pugilists of the era as Brian, I’m sure they wouldn’t know anything about Robert E. Howard.

Here’s a tidbit Brian came across in pursuit of those brawlers of yesteryear — a little tipoff that his boxing book won’t be for the faint of heart:


The pic above is of William “Bill the Butcher” Poole of Gangs of New York fame — Daniel Day-Lewis played the role in the movie. Poole certainly was a tough nut.

I know many Mean Streets readers appreciate tough guys, as did Robert E. Howard, who wrote in a September 22, 1932 letter to Lovecraft:

There have been, however, few more desperate rogues than those living in old New York, from all I can hear. In the days of the Hudson Dusters, the Dead Rabbits and other gangs. Bill Poole, the leader of the ‘native Americans’ must have possessed incredible vitality, to have lived fourteen days. . . with a bullet under his heart.

Howard also writes, “I’d have given five dollars to have seen the fight John Morrissey had with Poole.”

Wikipedia states that Poole was the founder of the Bowery Boys — obviously not the Hollywood rendition in which the name lives on. And Wiki quotes the New York Daily News about the incident in 1851 when Poole and another noted pugilist, Thomas Hyer, entered Florence’s Hotel:

It appears that Thomas Hyer, William Poole, and several others entered the above hotel, and while one of the party held Charles Owens (the bar-keeper) by the hair of the head, another of the gang beat him in the face to such an extent that his left eye was completely ruined and the flesh of his cheek mangled in the most shocking manner.

In an earlier paragraph, the newspaper reported that Owens’ face was “beat to a jelly.”

When he cashed in his chips, Bill Poole supposedly said, “Good bye boys; I die a true American.” 

Posted in Boxing, REH | Tagged , , , |