Saturday, March 31, 2012

Noir: Goodis is finally recognized!

The Library of America Recognizes David Goodis as an All-Time Great Noir Writer

David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 1950s
The classic Library of America look...with a splash of color.
Thomas JeffersonHerman MelvilleMark TwainZora Neale HurstonKatherine Anne PorterPhilip Roth. These are just six of the classic American authors collected in gorgeous, limited-edition volumes by The Library of America (LOA). The aim of the Library is to “preserve the nation’s cultural heritage by publishing America’s best and most significant writing” in scholarly, authoritative volumes.
Now, these big time authors are being joined by the poet of skid row, the guy who’s always on the outside looking in, but who doesn’t actually want to go in, an author who crafted some of the darkest, most self-destructive narrators in American literary history.
David Goodis.

LoA has collected five Goodis novels (Dark PassageNightfallThe Burglar,The Moon in the Gutter, and Street of No Return) as their latest entry in what Newsweek called “the most important book-publishing project in our nation’s history.”
This is a significant milestone for Goodis’ legacy. One of the nation’s leading cultural institutions is recognizing him as one of the great American writers, worthy of standing on a bookshelf next to former presidents and Nobel Prize winners.
It’s a little surprising, even unsettling, to see Goodis getting the academic, highbrow treatment. My most cherished editions of Goodis’ work are the lurid paperbacks. Feeling the heft of the LoA volume and the thin, Bible-like paper, almost makes me think this is a big joke. Like the establishment is baiting Goodis and his legacy, only to snap it back and say it was all a big mistake.
But it’s not a mistake, or a joke, and LoA realizes what so many Goodis devotees have long known—there’s no one else quite like this mystery man from Philadelphia. The LoA praises Goodis for bringing “a jazzy, expressionist style and an almost hallucinatory intensity to his spare, passionate, uncompromising novels of mean streets and doomed people.” Hard to argue with that.
I would have liked to have seen Cassidy’s Girl in there, but this collection is a great starting point for anyone interested in Goodis. Dark Passage andNightfall were two of Goodis’ most successful books, and they’re relatively cheerful compared to the darkness of the next three. By the time The Burglarcame out in 1953, Goodis had already been broken by Hollywood, and his work became increasingly bleak. (I explored Goodis’ time in Hollywood in an earlier post.) The Burglar, The Moon in the Gutter and Street of No Returnare classic examples of the tortured Goodis protagonist. These are guys so beaten down by life that they can barely rouse enough interest to be mad at the terrible things happening around and to them.
Goodis’ most famous novel Down There (filmed by Francois Truffaut asShoot the Piano Player) is not in this volume because it appeared in Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s alongside books by Patricia HighsmithJim ThompsonCharles Willeford and Chester Himes—none of whom have their own LoA volumes.
The Library of America has published other “genre” writers in the past.Philip K. Dick recently had three volumes devoted to his work. Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler each have their own volume, as doH.P. LovecraftPoe and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Hopefully the Goodis volume signifies not only a renewed appreciation of Goodis’ work, but also the willingness of the Library of America and other organizations to recognize the importance of noir writing in American literary history. This is a gorgeous book and it belongs on the shelves of every serious fan of crime fiction.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Noir: Every Dog Has His Day!

David Goodis, the “Poet of Losers,” Finally Gets His Due

David-Goodis-Noir-NovelistWhen the Library of America’s republishing of five books by the author David Goodis hits the street later this week, it will reaffirm this writer’s preeminent place in the realm of “noir” fiction.
If David Goodis is a novelist almost no one recognizes, it’s not hard to figure out why. He was an author who worked in a genre of fiction writing that was popular from the late 1930s to the early 1960s that’s somewhat difficult to classify. Not quite mystery, not quite thriller, these “noir novels” take on the sober work of describing the grubby reality of life.
Cultural historian Geoffrey O’Brien says it well: “David Goodis is the mystery man of hardboiled fiction … He wrote of winos and barroom piano players and small-time thieves in a vein of tortured lyricism all his own.” The way O’Brien sums up Goodis: “He was a poet of the losers.”
O’Brien seems on target. Goodis’ 17 novels are filled with characters who epitomize the three Ds of disaster: Depressing, down-and-out, desperate souls who can’t ever seem catch a break. Many of them have experienced a fall from grace. Most have made wrong choices at seemingly every fork in the road.
Just consider some of the titles of the novels in the Goodis canon:
 Street of No Return
 Black Friday
 Night Squad
 Down There
 The Moon in the Gutter
They tell the tale all by themselves.
As Brian McManus, a writer for Philadelphia Weekly magazine put it: “This is noir: a literary genre that does the sobering and thankless work of describing the life you’ve been dealt, not the one you wish you’d had.”
Several Goodis books were considered good enough to be made into screenplays, and one – Dark Passage starring Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart – made it to the big screen in 1947. But in some respects the Hollywood connection to David Goodis led to the author’s own downfall.
In fact, Goodis’ life almost reads like a character in one of his novels. He was born in 1917 and raised in a middle class section of Philadelphia. After graduating from Temple University with a degree in journalism, he began his career as an advertising copywriter with a Philadelphia ad agency while moonlighting as an author.
His first published book, Retreat from Oblivion, came out in 1939, following which Goodis moved to New York City to pursue a career in writing.
Goodis was soon active in the pulp fiction-writing business, penning as many as 10,000 words a day under numerous pseudonyms for periodicals like Dime Mystery Magazine. He also wrote scripts for radio serials such as Hop Harrigan and House of Mystery.
In a major coup, in 1946 Goodis’ novel Dark Passage was serialized by The Saturday Evening Post and later came out in book form – the same work that would be produced by Warner Brothers as a film. This newfound success enabled Goodis to travel to California and try his luck at screenwriting.
And here’s where the trajectory of Goods’ life begins to turn downward. Fame and fortune were destined to slip through Goodis’ hands like so much sand. Not only was his screenwriting career wholly undistinguished, he found himself ill-suited to and socially awkward in Hollywood society. A short-lived California marriage to a transplanted Philadelphian would prove no less fulfilling.
By 1950, Goodis was back in Philadelphia, living with his parents and taking care of a younger brother diagnosed with schizophrenia. For the remaining 17 years of his life, Goodis would spend his days at home writing paperback originals for publishers like Gold Medal and Lion … and his evenings plumbing the depths of Philadelphia’s infamous Southwark skid row district that once ran along the banks of the Delaware River, in the truest “don’t ask, don’t tell” fashion.
If a Goodis novel seems to capture the realism of its bleak atmosphere with uncanny authenticity, it’s because Goodis actually “lived and breathed” that very atmosphere – nightly.
During the last few years of his life, Goodis was engaged in a legal challenge against the producers of the TV series The Fugitive, claiming that they had stolen the idea from his novel Dark Passage. His suit appears motivated, at least in part, to gain monetary compensation he would use to support his brother’s institutionalization (by then his parents had died). But the suit would drag on for years, long past Goodis’ own death.
In the “no hope left” school of living and writing, it would seem that Goodis had no peer. In fact, his own death could have been ripped from the pages of one of his novels: He died at age 49 from injuries sustained in a nighttime mugging that occurred outside a grubby diner in North Philadelphia.
Appropriately enough, his last novel, published posthumously, was titled Somebody’s Done For.
Within a few short years of his death, none of David Goodis’ books remained in print in the USA, and it seemed as if his name and legacy would be destined for the literary dustbin.
Except for one thing: France. As it turned out, Goodis’s noir novels took off like a rocket with French readers. Most of his books were translated, and their existentialist nature proved highly appealing.
Brian McManus believes that without the French connection, Goodis would have probably been forgotten forever. “They threw a giant croissant tied to a line into the abyss … and they fished him out. Plucked him from the obscure fate of so many pulp novelists of the past,” he writes.
In fact, famous French filmmakers like François Truffaut would adapt several Goodis novels for the screen.
And today, the circle is now complete. Goodis is finally getting his due here in his native land. Not only are many Goodis novels back in print, the author’s fame has taken on a mild cult status.
There’s a David Goodis website devoted to his life and work. And the city of Philadelphia, whose bleak neighborhoods and seedy streets were the hardscrabble backdrop for nearly every Goodis novel, plays host to NoirCon, an annual gathering of genre fans that includes film screenings, lectures, literary awards, and “Goodisville” field tours of the city’s now-gentrified former skid row neighborhoods.
Should you wish to take the night train to Philadelphia, the next NoirCon event is scheduled for November 8-11, 2012.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Noir: Dark Passage Reviewed

March 22, 2012, 9:30 am
David Goodis’s Dark Passage was first published in 1946, serialized in The Saturday Evening Post before being published in hardback and adapted for a film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Dark Passage was Goodis’s big break as a noir writer, and is being reprinted as the first of five novels in The Library of America’s David Goodis collection.

The novel is a claustrophobic, sometimes downright trippy, following of Vincent Parry, a man who escapes from prison after being incarcerated for the murder of his wife. Parry has claimed his innocence all along, and in his escape hopes to find his wife’s real killer. This is a novel in which nothing, and no one, is unimportant. Every person that Parry meets is somehow central to Goodis’s plotting, even if they at first seem little more than background color. There’s a sort of hyperrealism at play here, as Parry’s history, his relationship with his wife, his relationship with the woman who aids him after his escape, and every event between his escape and novel’s close, is exaggerated. Characters’ speech somehow has an element of terseness even at its most verbose, and there is a serious pleasure to watching the speed with which characters are drawn and developed in the pressure cooker environment Goodis has loaned to them.

Goodis early establishes not only Parry’s innocence, but an innocence to his spirit that provides a sharp contrast to his surroundings.
He had an idea that he might be able to extract some ounce of happiness out of prison life. He had always wanted happiness, the simple and ordinary kind. He had never wanted trouble.
As clearly as Goodis here draws Parry’s character for the reader, other characters of Dark Passage are able to guess at his motives and movements. Most notably, there’s Irene: a woman whose father was wrongfully convicted of murder and died in prison, and who has followed Parry’s case since his trial. Hearing of his escape from prison, she manages to intercept him and drive him to her apartment in San Francisco, where she urges him to remain in hiding until the manhunt dies down. Irene and Parry develop an odd and intense intimacy, forced by Parry’s lack of options, her money, and her inexplicably strong desire to see his name cleared.
Things, of course, can’t be so simple for Parry as holing up for a couple weeks in the home of a beautiful woman. Insistent that he leave her apartment, he finds himself in the backseat of a cab whose driver has his own interest in helping Parry – and who has a backstreet plastic surgeon for a friend. After getting his face redone, Parry goes to the apartment of his best friend only to find that he’s been murdered. It’s here that Goodis moves into high gear, as Parry attempts to evade law enforcement, the murderer of his friend (and presumably, also, his wife), negotiate his relationship with Irene, and learn who murdered his wife, and why.
The energy coursing beneath Goodis’s writing sometimes belies the coarseness of the prose; but this, like so many other elements to the story, seems perfectly fitting here. The descriptions of violence, the attention Goodis gives to blood in all its shades and spatters, are both gorgeous and representative of his prose:
There was blood all over Fellsinger, blood all over the floor. There were pools of it and ribbons of it. There were blotches of it, big blotches of it near Fellsinger, smaller blotches getting even smaller in progression away from the body. There were flecks of it on the furniture and suggestions of it on a wall. There was the cardinal luster of it and the smell of it and the feeling of it coming up from Fellsinger’s busted skull and dancing around and settling down wherever it pleased. It was dark blood where it clotted in the skull cavities. It was luminous pale blood where it stained the horn of the trumpet that rested beside the body. The horn of the trumpet was slightly dented. The pearl buttons of the trumpet valves were pink from the spray of blood.
Dark Passage is a novel that asks its readers to suspend belief, and rewards them, handsomely, for doing so. This is a novel that bristles with tension, in which every character and every moment is of the utmost importance. It’s one so heavy with atmosphere that it at times feels hard to catch a breath. And whether Goodis takes Parry anywhere other than we expected, it’s a joy to accompany this character as he struggles to clear his name and find freedom, or even happiness.

Of interest with regard to the film DARK PASSAGE,  Stephen King appears to have borrowed large chunks of Dark Passage for his novella THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. 

 Vincent and Irene talk on the phone from the bus station, where he's crossing the Mexico border on his way to Peru. Their conversation is reminiscent of the one between Red and Andy in "The Shawshank Redemption," where the person on the run tells the one they've left behind what little remote town they'll be in, even making Irene repeat the name back to her. In the last shot, they're reunited in a beach-side club.

Noir: David Goodis Occupies The Wall Street Journal

The Grace of a Shadowy Street


A few years ago in Paris I happened to pick up, at one of the bookstalls along the Seine, a shabby volume in English. It was an old paperback collection of American crime stories. I barely remember the titles or the authors now. But I've never forgotten the atmosphere—gloomy, monotone, cynical, as emotionally austere as Formica. It made me intensely homesick. For days afterward I sat out on our balcony in the Latin Quarter, with the spindly spires of Notre Dame almost close enough to touch, and read happily about anonymous boardinghouses and shadowy warehouse districts and all-night diners where doomed men planned one last heist.

It was an ideal introduction to a peculiarly American literary genre: the hard-boiled story. People think "hard-boiled" automatically means a wisecracking private eye and an icy femme fatale (or, more often lately, a wisecracking private eye who is an icy femme fatale), but the genre used to be a lot more interesting. The Library of America has an excellent two-volume set called "Crime Novels," which surveys the field in its glory years—roughly from its first sproutings in the pulp magazines of the late 1920s through its efflorescence in the cheap original paperbacks of the 1950s—and there isn't a private eye in sight. The 11 novels collected in the set are about small-time chicanery and shuffling criminality—a seedy panorama of con men, carnies, outlaws and losers. It's less like "The Maltese Falcon" than a WPA documentary on American hard times.

David Goodis: Five Noir Novels

Edited by Robert Polito
Library of America, 804 pages, $35
Ragged gray flakes of cigarette-ash dotted the yellow top of the desk and the green blotter and the papers that were there. A buff-curtained window, eight or ten inches open, let in from the court a current of air faintly scented with ammonia. The ashes on the desk twitched and crawled in the current.
It's as radiant as an Edward Hopper painting, and as eerie. It means nothing in particular, and yet it seems to hold within it the silence of the entire American landscape. Hammett's deadpan brutality inspired generations of truculent, thuggish, bullying private eyes; because of his influence, the average hard-boiled novel is like the world's surliest Internet comment thread. But his more enduring legacy is in the way he was able to infuse the flatness of the American vernacular with this strange visionary cool.
The best of his successors have been able to pull off something similar: They take the hard-boiled style and twist it into something wholly personal. The setting might be a cliché, but the language and the sensibility are distinctively original—such as this passage, from the little-known writer David Goodis's "Street of No Return" (1954):
Up here along Skid Row there were a lot of bright lights, varicolored and sprinkling the darkness with the all-night glow from eateries and cut-rate stores and pawnshops. But where Skid Row ended the bright lights ended, and down there south on River Street there were no lights at all, only the hulking shapes of four-story tenements and three-story warehouses, and here and there the masts and funnels of freighters docked in the river.
Its elegance is in the way the sentences grow less gaudy and the adjectives surreptitiously drop out, as though the prose itself was enacting its own move into dimness. "Street of No Return" is one of five Goodis books collected into a volume from the Library of America. He is a quirky choice for republication, even given the Library's admirable willingness of late to forgo the literary establishment and wander through the meaner streets of American pop culture. (They've done three volumes of the lunatic outsider sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick, none of Hemingway.) Goodis (1917-67) wrote 18 hard-boiled novels between the 1940s and the 1960s, almost all of them paperback originals and most distinguished by his peculiar, seedy, downbeat sensibility—as though Hammett were being rescored by Tom Waits.
His plots are genre boilerplate. He writes about the innocent man framed for murder, the professional burglar looking to retire, the famous singer who has lost his voice and, inevitably, the down-at-heels hero seduced into one deadly trap or another by a sinister femme fatale. What makes his novels striking is the neurotic intensity he brings to the dreariest clichés. His heroes' standard-issue taciturnity masks an inarticulate longing for self-destruction. The hero of "The Burglar" (1957) is continually aware of "something twisting around in his insides, something getting started in there." He can't name it and claims that he wants it to stop, but it's always consuming him. Toward the end of the novel, he and his beloved are on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, and the sight of the passersby prompts him to offer this tender aria: "Look at them walking. When they take a walk, they take a walk, and that's all. But you and I, when we take a walk it's like crawling through a pitch black tunnel."
[goodisMoon]Library of America
As you might imagine, things don't end well for this couple. But the most striking thing about Goodis is that you feel worse when everything does work out. In "The Moon in the Gutter" (1953), for instance, he has his morose hero—Kerrigan, a dockworker this time, who is in perpetual mourning after his sister's suicide—drawn into an increasingly perverse relationship with a pair of rich, dissolute siblings. But even as the sinister signs of impending doom mount up, the hero mysteriously loses interest. Kerrigan, like Goodis himself apparently, turns out to be just too depressed to keep the plot going. Instead he drops his sinister friends as though it were just a matter of refusing to return their phone calls; he never does find out what the deal is with them and instead falls back into the stasis of his ordinary life as though sinking to the bottom of the ocean. (As it happens, there is another Goodis novel where the hero and heroine actually do sink to the bottom of the ocean.)
A classic noir plot unraveling due to sheer ennui—it sounds rather French. In fact, the one criticism I had of Goodis after reading this collection is that he seems too much like a French idea of what an American hard-boiled writer should be: not a tough guy at all but a slumming intellectual, a Baudelaire-style street poet elaborating a melancholy epic of Skid Row. It's no coincidence that Goodis really is a popular writer in France, much more so than he is here. There have been six French movies based on Goodis novels, including Truffaut's classic "Shoot the Piano Player"; the only book-length study of him is Philippe Garnier's "Goodis, la Vie en Noir et Blanc." (Goodis's life, as you might guess, was not happy—failed marriages, heavy drinking, stays in mental wards and some hair-raising sexual peccadilloes kept him consistently miserable.)
I regret that I didn't have Goodis to read when I was in Paris. There's a line from Guillaume Apollinaire's great urban poem "Zone": "I love the grace of this industrial street" (J'aime la grâce de cette rue industrielle). It could be the epigraph to Goodis's work. But then, it could work just as well for the best of the hard-boiled American tradition in general. It has always been about finding the poetry where most people just see a gray functional landscape.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Noir: Ken Bruen's MURDERATI - Woof!


I’m side-stepping my usual post, yeilding the floor to two others whose voices need to be heard today, both former Murderatos. The first is Ken Bruen, who surely needs no introduction here, and the second is Alafair Burke.
Their words speak for themselves:
In Ireland today, doctors are being paid for treating 513 dead patients.
Due to serious flaws in the HSE’s notification system.
In 2010, 5 million was written off by The Health Authority, when they discovered that 20,000 dead Medical card holders had been paid.
How seriously fucked is that?
And we wonder why, after Greece, we are in such serious financial shite?
But lest I begin to grim, we can get back to that later, here is my own grave story.
Last November, the sole remaining member of my family, my brother Declan, was found dead in his flat. His body was lying there for 8 months!
I kid thee not.
Always a very private person, disappearing for months on end was his gig. But he lived in a gated community, surrounded by pubs, his mates and right in the centre of the city.
After I had identified the remains, we had the funeral on a wet bitterly cold late November morning. Just before I was due to hold the rope that would lower the casket, the manager of the cemetery said
‘I need to speak to you urgently.’
I snapped
‘Could it like wait, five minutes?’
He whispered
‘There’s no room for you.’
‘Room, where?’
He indicated the open grave, where five of my family rested, said
‘When Declan goes in, it’s full, there’s no room for you.’
Jesus, how unhealthy did I look?
And I asked
‘Did you have to.. I mean absolutely have to tell me now?’
He was affronted at my tone.
Stalked off.
A metaphor if you will. As there’s been no room for me in my family in life, I was now banned from the grave.
Perfect for a writer.
The ultimate outsider.

I got a new pup.
Cross me bedraggled heart.
Named Polo as the vet said, I swear
‘He’s bi-polar.’
Well, he’s certainly the quietest dog I’ve ever had. Zen in his stillness. Maybe he’s read my recent reviews and feels silence is best. I, after all, dish out the grub.
So you know!
I remain convinced that one of the best treatments for depression is a dog. Very hard to be wallowing in the deep when a little pup is gazing at you in love and wonder.
And he’s funny.
Steals the case of my glasses, hides it, then looks like
‘Who me?’

To write for Murderati was one of the great joys
Of my career.
Pari and JT
Alexandra and Zoe
and now new Murderati friends
Gar and Stephen and David

The crew of Murderati are just the very best I know. To be allowed to check in at odd moments is just bliss. To writer belong. Since I gave up cigs, I’ve become a gobshite.
Truth to sadly tell.
I started cycling, 20 miles every day, and worse, cut out brews since my trip to New York in December.
(Note to cemetery manager.)
I said to Reed, next
‘I’ll be writing cat mysteries.’
(Maybe a Zen bi-polar canine sidekick?, you think?)
Reed in his inimitable fashion, emailed back
Flash fiction par excellence.
Read Craig’s El Gavilian
And the new Jason Starr.
David Corbett continues to hugely entertain on the poetic nuances. I’m re-reading The Book Thief for the sheer joy and it reminds me of David in the best way.
I’m readying me own self for The German tour.
Sounds ...posh………….The German tour
As opposed
Poor tour I guess.
The Germans have discovered my role as a dead Viking in the worst movie ever made
‘Alfred The Great.’
Which dovetails nicely
(always wanted to seem literary and dovetail)
My most recent news.
A role as an English professor in a new Irish –German TV series.
And my preparation?
Grow a beard.
And I suppose, act literary.
I’ve been doing serious and intense me whole befuddled life so that’s a give.

The pup seems bemused by this new me, and barks when I rough house in the garden with him and won’t
No way
Bring back the old ball he used to love a month ago.
Not a grave matter you might think but in the world of pups

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Noir: "Jewcan Sam" and Dr. Miami

Meet The Surgeons

A plastic surgeon's "Jewcan Sam (Nose Job Love Song)" music video may be a YouTube hit, but the tune has struck a sour note with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
The group is investigating whether Miami plastic surgeon and ASPS member Michael Salzhauer - who commissioned the song to promote his Bal Harbour plastic surgery practice - violated the ASPS code of ethics. ASPS has deemed the clip, which features a young, large-nosed and yarmulke-wearing man seeking rhinoplasty in order to win over an attractive female classmate, as "offensive and inappropriate."
ASPS President Malcolm Roth told ABC News that a physician member can be put on probation, have benefits put on hold, lose membership and face board decertification if found guilty of breaching the group's code of ethics.
The song, performed by a self-described "Jewish pop-punk band with a comic twist" called The Groggers, is intended to be "tongue-in-cheek," says Dr. Salzhauer, who's also known as "Dr. Schnoz" and "The Nose Job King of Miami."
"It's self-deprecating humor," he says, adding that he, all 4 members of the band and the video's director are Orthodox Jews. Dr. Salzhauer says he paid the Queens, N.Y.-based band $2,000 to write the song and flew them to Miami to film the video. As part of the deal, Dr. Salzhauer also gave Groggers singer L.E. Doug Staiman - who doubled as Doug, the video's lovestruck protagonist - a free nose job. The first half of the video was shot before the surgery, and the second half was filmed 6 days after the procedure, says Dr. Salzhauer.
"It's meant in jest, and it's largely been received in jest," he says, noting that he sent an e-mail with the video to his patients, and of the 1,000 who viewed it, not a single one sent a negative response. The YouTube video has been viewed nearly 100,000 times. "But I apologize if I offended anyone," says Dr. Salzhauer. "That certainly wasn't the intention."
An ASPS spokesperson declined to comment on specifics of its inquiry into Dr. Salzhauer, but did say that the organization "takes this matter very seriously, and has initiated an investigation under its Code of Ethics, which clearly requires ASPS members to uphold the dignity and honor of the medical profession."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Noir: Light A Candle for David Goodis On March 25th

Animated candle Pictures, Images and Photos

Yahrzeit in Memory of

David Goodis

is to be observed on the

Second of Nisan corresponding to Sunday, March 25th

(Light Yahrzeit candle at sunset on the evening before the above date.)

Prayer on Kindling a Yahrzeit Lamp

Eternal Rock of Ages

In hushed reverence, I kindle this memorial lamp in loving
remembrance on this anniversary of my beloved's death.
We have been taught that human souls are Thy candles.
Through them Thou bringest light into the world. For the light
of compassion and tenderness which my loved one
brought into my life. I am everlastingly grateful.
Help me, O G-d, to use the sacred memory of my loved
one as a noble spur to consecrated living. May I perpetuate and
transmit everything that was beautiful and loving about my loved one's
character. Keep firm my faith that we cannot go where You are not,
and where You are all is well.

As the light is kindled say:
"Zecher tsaddik leevrachah."
The memory of the upright is a source of blessing.


Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks Inc.

Noir: Hard-Boiled Kardashian

Call it Brand X

Following Jon Hamm’s slicing comments, another Hollywood heavyweight is weighing in on the Kim Kardashian brand. When Details asked Jason Statham, the reigning king of action films — and boyfriend of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley — if he thought of himself as a brand he said, “F--k no, why should I?” When asked if he believes people see earnings of $30 million a film as a “brand in need of management,” Statham replied, “F--k ’em. Kim Kardashian’s a brand.” Statham went on to talk about his past as a street hustler in South London and how it prepared him for Hollywood. He said, “See, it’s that necessity for a bargain, that relentless thirst for a discount, that let me create the illusion. That’s what we played on, and, you know, that’s all I ever really knew ... So much of this industry is buried in bull----. You’re pretending to be something onscreen, fine. But it’s also the way it plays out here, every day. ‘Yeah, we love you, can’t wait to put you in a movie’. It’s f--king bull----. Not to be entirely negative, mind you, because there’s so much talent here, so many people that are righteous. But believe me, there’s so much that ain’t, and you see that coming in so thick. I did it for a living. I see it before it enters the room. And usually I know just to point my compass elsewhere.” On getting an agent, he added: “F--kin’ useless that was.” And, on drama school: “Not for me.” And he described the surfing analogy he uses for an acting career, “They’re all waiting for that wave, but it may never come, so they take what’s offered, paddle back out.” But he adds, “I’m two, three duds from being back on the street. Of course I’m looking for the perfect vehicle, a more intellectual action film, perhaps.”

Noir: Life is Nothing But A Freak Show!

freak show1 The Origins of the Freak Show – Part Onehuman oddities freak circus freak
People who are visually different have always been subject to attention. In different eras these individuals were labelled as monsters, freaks and human oddities. It is human nature to speculate and obsess about those born ‘different’ and it is also in our nature to feel disquieted by their appearance. Freaks have always been studied, documented and displayed because, as members of the majority, we have a driving need to understand what we fear and do not comprehend.

The freak show was an organized venture, but long before that undertaking was organized bizarre births were recorded on cave walls and whispered around campfires. Clay tablet at the Assyrian city of Noneveh describe in great detail sixty-two congenital deformities along with possible prophetic causes and meanings. As evidence of God’s Wrath or Divine Design, freaks became the subject of great attention and, as a result, sought after. Their procurement, scrutiny and display, therefore, also became inevitable and very lucrative.
Dwarfs were sought after by Roman aristocrats and wandered the courts of Egyptian Pharaohs as symbols of status, fortune and power. In Renaissance Europe, dwarfs were court jesters and the malformed were held in royal menageries. The common folk settled for stories and ballads about monsters and freaks born throughout the land and beyond its borders. Few commoners would ever actually lay eyes on such unusual beings as freaks were quickly whisked away as infants as royal collection acquisitions or starved to death in fear of religious wrath.
This all drove the public speculation and the desire to see human oddities in the flesh.
It was the changing attitudes of the 16th century that truly made the freak show a possibility. During the reign of England’s Elizabeth I enlightened sensibilities prevailed and deformities were no longer regarded strictly as spiritual omens or objects of status. They were regarded as curiosities to behold – gifts to be shared, studied and catalogued. The floodgates where opened and freaks were unleashed upon the world. While many professional freaks came before them, the display of Lazarus and Johannes Baptisa Collerdo were the most well documented of the early organized freak show exhibits. The brothers, born in 1617 in Genoa, both horrified and intrigued the public with their dyadic presence. While Lazarus was handsome and well formed, his parasitic-twin brother was little more than a mass of deformed limbs protruding from the abdomen of Lazarus. Their popularity and financial success ensured that freak shows and human exhibition would be a worthwhile endeavour for managers and freaks alike.

Lazarus 700950 LAZARUS JOANNES   Early Parasitic TwinsAmbrose Paré wrote in 1530 of a forty year old man with a headless parasitic body hanging ‘like a pendulum’ from his belly. He also wrote of a German man, ‘born the same year that peace was made with the Swiss and King Francis’ who had a parasitic head protruding from his abdomen. These accounts and the illustrations that accompanied them serve as the earliest confirmed documentation of an epigastric parasite. One can hypothesize that many mythologies – like the gods Vishnu (many arms) and Janus (two headed / many faced) resulted from the observation of human marvels born attached to a parasitic twin.
One of the most well documented cases of early parasitic twining is the case of Lazarus-Joannes Baptista Colloredo (pictured). The 17th century anatomist Bartholinus detailed the history of Lazarus-Joannes Baptista Colloredo quite diligently and personally observed the man for the purpose of documentation. Born in Genoa in 1617, Colloredo exhibited himself all over Europe because from his belly hung a parasitic twin that had one thigh, hands, body, arms, and even a well-formed head covered with hair. Lazarus was the name the complete twin was known by and his underdeveloped sibling was Joannes. It is highly unlikely that these were their giving names as Joannes Baptista translates to ‘John the Baptist’ in English. However, interestingly enough, it was the practice of the day to baptize both twins in a parasite or conjoined twin situation. They were allegedly some faint signs that Joannes had some independent existence as movements of respiration were evident as were occasional rapid eye fluttering movements. The mouth of Joannes was said to be in a state of near constant salivation and Bartholinus himself wrote that he had seen the arms of Joannes move in response to stimuli. The genitals of Joannes were said to be ‘imperfect’ and it is unclear if any regular eliminations occurred.  Bartholinus first examined Colloredo when the twins were aged at twenty-two however he later amending his report when he was able to examine the twins in Scotland in 1642 just before they were to visit Charles I. Most accounts of the time described Lazarus as courteous and handsome man even with Joannes in tow and that must have been true because Bartholinus reported that Lazarus was married and the father of several children who were fully and admirably developed.
Matthew Buchinger (b1674)
In these early days, freak shows were presented to royalty only after well-received appearances as fairgrounds, tavern and store fronts. A single individual would be put on display, answer inquisitive questions proposed by spectators and perform displays of talent. The limbless Matthias Buchinger, for example, amazed royal and commoners alike with his displays of magic, music and rifle marksmanship in Dublin in 1720.

However, it wasn’t until the mid 19th century that freak shows truly became what we all know and equate with the greatest shows on earth. It was in the 1840′s when the freak show became a truly successful and monetized business, when people with physical abnormalities became incredibly wealthy and the viewing public lined up to pay for the opportunity to witness human marvels, oddities and freaks.