Friday, September 29, 2006

"Where Bush Street Roofed Stockton"

Christine picked the City by the Bay for a getaway, and for me that meant looking up a few noir locations. She should have known that was coming.

Hard boiled detective fiction provided some of my earliest reading enthusiasm.

It was with a little help from San Francisco Noir by Nathaniel Rich that I found the plaque identifying the location of Miles Archer's death from The Maltese Falcon.

(I guess it has a bit of a spoiler so don't look if you're planning to read the book.)

I can remember reading about the monument's placement in the '70s in one mystery mag or another but for some reason I've never made it to San Francisco until now.

I can't say why it took so long, but I was glad for an opportunity to travel in the footsteps of Sam Spade.

At Hotel Rex
We were staying at the very cool Hotel Rex, which has a Maltese Falcon passage mixed in among literary quotes that decorate various floors. We were actually about a block and a half from the spot "Where Bush Street roofed Stockton before slipping downhill to Chinatown."

So of course it was the last night in town I actually found Burritt Alley, even though I'd spotted Dashiell Hammett Street on our first night, when we were heading to Chinatown for a festival and dinner.

Finding noir
It's not hard to find, but earlier in the week I'd managed to pass on the wrong side of the street almost every time.

A girl in a chef's jacket was talking on a cell at the mouth of the alley when I located it--something you wouldn't have seen in Spade's day--but otherwise it looked about like it's described in the novel.

She offered to take a picture of Christine and me together, but I opted for us to do separate poses.

The sun was still a little high, I guess, for the perfect experience which would have called for night and fog, but it was still nice to be there, almost inside a great literary work.
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Stewart Sternberg said...

That is sweet. There is something magical about going on vacation and stopping places that resonate in your dreams and memories.

When I was young, the song "Dogtown" by Harry Chapin fascinated me. In 1976, I ended up heading east in my car and found my way to that lonely moor. Little remained of the old shacks where the whaler's wives lived while they waited for their husbands to return safely to Glouchester. However, making my way through the dense vegetation there, I felt transported back and made a magical connection.

I felt the same way, walking through Marblehead and Salem and thinking of old H.P. Lovecraft.

Good posting. Thanks for the smile and the memory.

Sidney said...

Ah, Harry Chapin is another artist I loved and mourned his passing.

"Dogtown" does evoke a lot of imagery - I can see the sad sailor's widow pacing seaside in her long black dress.

Charles Gramlich said...

Unfortunately, the only really literary vacations I've ever taken have all been to Cross Plains, Texas, which was Robert E. Howard's home. I enjoy it immensely, but would like to get in a few other literary journies.

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