Day 149: Bay City Ditty

Like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler was a member of the “hard-boiled” school of detective fiction writers. He was born in England to an English father and American mother. At some point his mother brought him to the United States. During the 1920s he was an oil company president in southern California. When the company failed during the depression, he began writing short stories for a pulp detective-fiction magazine calledBlack Mask. When his stories and his detective, Philip Marlowe, became popular, he wrote some novels. Some of them were made into movies like The Big Sleep, which starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Chandler’s stories are mostly set in southern California. Many of his settings are real places with fictional names like “Poodle Springs” for Palm Springs and “Bay City” for Santa Monica.

Laetitia met her group at the Guggenheim Museum. While they were touring the exhibits, a man in her group sidled up to her and whispered that he was a writer too, and wondered if she would read the beginning of his manuscript. It was only a few lines, so she sat on a bench to read it while the rest of the group viewed the things on display. It read:

“She said her name was Angel, and it sounded like she was looking for men interested in being missionaries. But there was something about that platinum blonde hair, those inch-long scarlet nails, that dress that would make the clerks at Frederick’s of Hollywood blush, and those four-inch spiked heels that didn’t add up. Maybe it was that while we often see angels in the City of Angels, we don’t see many missionaries. Or maybe what she actually said was something about men for the missionary position.”

When Laetitia handed the manuscript back, she said, “Angel could be a Raymond Chandler blonde, though he seemed to prefer ladies with lapis lazuli or cornflower blue eyes. Before the author could comment, the docent announced that the tour was over, and the group went back to Santa Monica, where they were spending the evening.

It was shocking to all Santa Monica
When a wife by the name of Veronica
Was had by her Fred
Though not in their bed
But in their yard near their Japonica.

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