Saturday, June 30, 2012

Noir: "Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress."

Benjamin Franklin on Marriage

Benjamin Franklin: The Naughty Bits

by Guy Savage
Anyway, in the first piece written in 1745, Franklin, who it turns out, was both a bit of a raver and a humourist writes "Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress." Franklin argues that "marriage is the proper remedy," for "violent natural inclinations," but failing that, he advises the young man to get himself an old mistress rather than a young one, and these are his reasons:
1. Because they have more Knowledge of the World, &; their Minds are better stor'd with Observations, their Conversation is more improving, &; more lastingly agreeable.
2. Because when Women cease to be handsome they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a thousand Services small &; great, &; are the most tender and useful of Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.
3. Because there is no Hazard of Children, which irregularly produced may be attended with much Inconvenience.
4. Because through more Experience they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an Intrigue to prevent Suspicion. The Commerce with them is  therefore safer with regard to your Reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclined to excuse an old Woman, who would kindly take care of a young man, for  his Manners by her good counsels, &; prevent ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes.
5. Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part. The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing and plump as ever: so that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to tell an old one from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of Corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being, in practice, capable of Improvement.
6. Because the Sin is less. The debauching of a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her Life unhappy.
7. Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflection; none of which may attend the making an old Woman happy.
8th and lastly. They are so grateful!!

Cartoon: Benjamin Franklin (medium) by Amauri Alves tagged photoshop
Another piece in the pamphlet addresses the issue of farting and is signed "FART-HING."  And  that brings me to the question:  was Franklin a member of the infamous Hellfire Club or was he in attendance, as some claim, as a spy?... The latter sounds a lot like someone I knew who was caught soliciting prostitutes. He had the misfortune to solicit an undercover policewoman by mistake and argued he was innocent as he was merely conducting research (A la David Goodis) about prostitutes for a term paper. 

Noir: R.I.P. Mike Sheeter

This past June 5, those of us in the underground pulp fiction scene lost one of our own. Mike Sheeter was a writer in the trenches who had done it all, from having his screenplays made into movies, to editing some of the biggest men's magazine in America, to writing corporate copy to keep the lights on. He was in the process of conquering crime fiction with his own unique vision when his heart stopped working right, and then stopped working altogether. We hope that Mike, looking down or up as the case may be, will get a smile out of the dubious honor of being eulogized in Out of the Gutter.

By Brian Murphy

He was Mr. Plaid back when I first met him online. “Big Daddy Thug,” Todd Robinson, creator of the now infamous Thuglit had just graciously run my first Costa Rican story I’d ever submitted. Sheeter also had a story running in that edition - #19. We ran head-on into each other over at Thuglit’s neglected, streaming comment section. Other than my own rambling madness, the only other author also dropping comments there was Mike Sheeter. Only he wasn’t calling himself that. I would for weeks, maybe months, call him Plaid. Mr. Plaid.

Mike was batshit-crazy about secrecy – security. I guess most of that came from the years and years Mike had been in the writing game. He’d done everything from screen plays when he was living out in LA, to sitting in as editor and chief for some of Americas legendary and sleazy publications: Hustler, Soldier Of Fortune – others, too many to list here.

This guy wrote the book on hip cynicism – always told me it came with the territory. Christ. The both of us together made Céline seem gentle by comparison. Oh yeah, Mike and I, we hated everything, especial no-talent writers who were getting big breaks. That was the thing about Mike. Guy could write. Plenty of readers out there can attest to this, especially old readers of Gutter.

He and I began sending material back and forth. We became very good friends; shared in rejection and acceptance, each in our own twisted ways. Me, with a face dropped down into a pile of raw heroin powder, and Sheeter? He puffed weed and drank righteous amounts of imported beers. Our correspondence, spanning over six years, ran from hysterical-historical to low-down, gut-wrenching crime stories.

Ever the secretive one, Mike had projects galore he rarely mentioned. Most of the time, none of that mattered. We spent most of our verbiage filling in the blanks on what began to appear as one unstoppable letter. Reading some of that now, I realize all over again just how brilliant a man, and a writer, Mike Sheeter had always been.

And like many brilliant writers, he was never all that far from an eviction notice - from a "Sheriff’s writ.” I wasn't in much better shape.

But we wrote, continued to write, and let pretty much most everything else the "average bear” gives more than a shit about fall apart around us. It had also gotten to the point where I lived for another letter from Mike. We bounced off each other, ideas flew, crashed and burned with machine-gun rapidity.

Mike Sheeter died of complications after a heart surgery, on a steamy Tuesday, on June 5th. Reading the note kindly sent by Mike’s younger brother, I felt like a huge part of me had gone missing.

Thought I’d go back into my Sheeter files, pick out something which I felt summed the man up. As if this could even be a possibility? However, the piece of correspondence I turned up actually does do a fairly decent job of providing some insight into a very brilliant, complicated, hilarious and magical man and writer.

Mike. Sure but you’ll be missed. If it’s hell you ended up in, try and get us a room with cable – the Discovery Channel.

Thanks, brother. Thanks for making me a better writer.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Noir: Zombie MAX Ammunition

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

R.I.P. Nora Ephron

What I Won’t Miss
Dry skin
Bad dinners like the one we went to last night
Technology in general
My closet
Washing my hair
Illness everywhere
Polls that show that 32 percent of the American people believe in creationism
The collapse of the dollar
Joe Lieberman
Clarence Thomas
Bar mitzvahs
Dead flowers
The sound of the vacuum cleaner
Emails. I know I already said it, but I want to emphasize it.
Small print
Panels on Women in Film
Taking off makeup every night.

What I Will Miss
My kids
The concept of waffles
A walk in the park
The idea of a walk in the park
Shakespeare in the Park
The bed
Reading in bed
The view out the window
Twinkle lights
Dinner at home just the two of us
Dinner with friends
Dinner with friends in cities where none of us lives
Next year in Istanbul
Pride and Prejudice
The Christmas tree
Thanksgiving dinner
One for the table
The dogwood
Taking a bath
Coming over the bridge to Manhattan
Excerpted from "I Remember Nothing" by Nora Ephron. Copyright © 2011 by Nora Ephron. Excerpted by permission of Vintage, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Noir: Atomic Noir is Out Of The Gutter!


NOIRCON 2012 is going slumming with Out of the Gutter Online to highlight new authors and new crime yarns that hearken back to the era when David Goodis grinded out his grim, moody tales and Jim Thompson introduced the world to psycho noir. 

Between July 1 and October 15, one story between 5,000 and 8,000 words will be selected each month for a prime spot inATOMIC NOIR: Four Dark Original Stories Inspired by Post-World War II Crime Fiction. Winners get $50 and a copy of the book, and even better, they get their work distributed to the biggest names and biggest fans in current crime fiction at NOIRCON 2012, the toughest noir event in America, held every two years in a theater basement in downtown Philly.

Among others luminaries, Lawrence Block will be there, slumped over the bar next to Otto Penzler, and should you win, your story, included in this slim, handsome volume, will be placed in these men's hands by the event's organizer and the lead figure in the current David Goodis revival, Lou Boxer. 

Lou himself will be in charge of assessing and accepting stories, and helping him to judge and organize the material will be none other than Philadelphia's own crime fiction master, the phenomenal Duane Swierczynski.

It can't get much better so consider that the end of the pitch. Here are the details:

*Submissions for the first round open July 1 and close July 21. Submissions for subsequent rounds open the first of the month and close on the 15th.

*Send original work that has not been previously published.

*Send work as a Microsoft Word document, using the standard manuscript format. To receive your complimentary copy of the book and the prize money, include your real name and a mailing address, as well as instructions to deposit money into your PayPal account if that's how you prefer to receive funds.

*Stories must be no less than 5,000 words, and no more than 8,000 words.

*Send work by email only, to Lou Boxer, here.

*We're specifically looking for work reflecting the style and sensibilities of the geniuses who revolutionized crime fiction between 1950 and 1970. Think Goodis, Thompson, Woolrich, Willeford, Himes, McBain, MacDonald . . . Think of Gold Medal paperbacks containing seedy worlds of cheap murder and cheaper sex . . . Think of a Utopian era darkened by the threat of nuclear obliteration, its shadows haunted by disillusioned vets, mobsters sucking wealth from a booming economy, backstreet tramps, smalltime hoods, desperate schemers . . . Your story doesn't absolutely have to take place in this period, but you must capture the moods and themes that define its crime writing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Noir: Not to be missed - OLD AND COLD

Old and Cold

Author: Nisbet, Jim

Review Issue Date: July 15, 2012
Online Publish Date: July 1, 2012
Pages: 160
Price ( Paperback ): $13.95
Publication Date: July 17, 2012
ISBN ( Paperback ): 978-1-59020-915-8
Category: Fiction

An aging, homeless Man with No Name takes an assignment for a contract hit in order to keep himself in icy martinis.
Noir master Nisbet (The Damned Don’t Die, 1986, etc.) slaps readers right in the face with this stream-of-consciousness rant by an alcoholic narrator who makes Clint Eastwood sound downright squeaky by comparison. Nisbet’s protagonist lives under a bridge abutment in San Francisco, where he does the math calculating how time is running out for him, pining for the daughter he thinks he has somewhere and betting whether the “smart money” will keep him in the two-to-ten martinis a day he needs to get by. “The one thing about binge drinking is that the one thing you know for sure is that sooner or later, while you know you’re going to wake up under that bridge abutment again, the question is whether you’re going to wake up there in one piece,” mulls our nominative hero. This is experimental stuff in a somewhat traditional genre, with chapters composed of unbroken paragraphs filled with the bleak but verbose monologue by a dying man. There are lots of ruminations here, marinated in Andrei Rublev vodka (an in-joke by Nisbet, naming his fictional cocktail after a medieval painter of Orthodox icons), ranging from notes on the economy to mathematical expressions of alcoholism to clinical observations on the little humiliations of one’s lifestyle, like spitting out teeth from time to time. Through the fog and psychic whiplash of this guy’s brain, we somehow learn that he’s taken one more hit, a $5,000 gig that will keep him on another bad bender for a while. There’s a couple of cops nosing around and a bartender who riles things up by raising the price of martinis to $6.50, which changes the math for our geezer killer. But plot is secondary to voice in this fractured fairy tale, where the lessons aren’t cautionary—they’re fatal.
A grim, fiercely written entry whose best feature is one baleful voice, one step from the grave.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Noir: R.I.P. Lonesome George

Noir: Matilda Tilly Devine, The Slasher

Matilda Devine, criminal record number 659LB, 27 May 1925. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW

Matilda Devine, criminal record number 659LB, 27 May 1925. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW. Matilda “Tilly” Devine used a razor to slash a man's face in a barber's shop and was sentenced to two years gaol. She was Sydney's best-known brothel madam and her public quarrels with sly-grog queen Kate Leigh provided the media with an abundance of material. Aged 25. (Photo by NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice & Police Museum, Histiric Houses Trust of NSW)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Noir: Rest In Peace R.I.V.

And Vinyly 550x593 Live Forever as a Limited Edition Vinyl Record Containing Your Ashes

And Vinyly offers a basic £3,000 ($4,700) package that includes up to 30 vinyls, the standard R.I.V. (Rest in Vinyl) artwork with your name, the date of birth and date of death. If you want something special, your family can send a photo of you and artist James Hague will paint a unique acrylic and ash portrait, or you can arrange a 1 hour sitting with James, before you die. If you’d like to be buried, And Vinyly can make the records with just ashes from some body parts you agree to have cremated. As you can see they’re very flexible.

And Vinyly2 550x550 Live Forever as a Limited Edition Vinyl Record Containing Your Ashes

Music lovers can now be immortalised when they die by having their ashes baked into vinyl records to leave behind for loved ones.
A UK company called And Vinyly is offering people the chance to press their ashes in a vinyl recording of their own voice, their favourite tunes or their last will and testament. Minimalist audiophiles might want to go for the simple option of having no tunes or voiceover, and simply pressing the ashes into the vinyl to result in pops and crackles.
The company was founded by Jason Leach, who co-founded the techno group and record label Subhead in the 1990s and has since founded a number of other labels, including House of Fix, Daftwerk and Death to Vinyl.
Leach explained to that there were a number of factors that made him launch the service, including thinking that he was “getting a bit old” and “might not be invincible”. His mother also started working at a funeral directors, which brought the whole funeral process closer to home. A third prompt was when he saw a TV programme that showed someone in America putting their ashes into fireworks, which made him think about how he might want to be remembered. And, he says, “It’s a bit more interesting than being in a pot on a shelf.”
How does it work? The process of setting human ashes into vinyl involves a very understanding pressing plant. Basically the ashes must be sprinkled onto the raw piece of vinyl (known as a “biscuit” or “puck”) before it is pressed by the plates. This means that when the plates exert their pressure on the vinyl in order to create the grooves, the ashes are pressed into the record.
The site has a very irreverent style and operates under the strapline “live on from beyond the groove”. One of Leach’s family stories, he tells, suggests why he has a practical attitude to people’s ashes.
He explains how he went out on a boat with his family members to sprinkle the ashes of his grandfather into the sea. His uncle “released them on the wrong side of the boat and so the ashes went all over us.” Apparently the same thing happened to his father, too!
And Vinyly also offers personalised RIV (Rest In Vinyl) artwork — the simple version just carries your name and your life span, or you can have your portrait painted by artist James Hague, using your ashes mixed into the paint.
The basic package costs £2,000 and comprises of the standard artwork along with up to 30 ash-flecked discs with whatever sounds you choose, lasting a maximum of 24 minutes.
Extras include “Bespook Music”, where artists from The House of Fix and Daftwerk write a song especially for you and global distribution of your record in vinyl stores.
The main challenge is choosing the music. Leach says: “It’s difficult to think of what to put on your record because you want it to be the best album you can imagine.”
What would he have on his own record? “I would definitely have a recording of my own voice as well as some ‘sound photos’ of places that are important to me and then I would have some of my own music on there. It’s something I’m working on.”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Noir: F.Scott Fitzgerald's List

In a 1933 letter to his 11-year-old daughter Scottie, F. Scott Fitzgerald produced this poignant and wise list of things to worry, not worry, and think about, found in the altogether excellent F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters:
Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about…
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

Noir: R.I.P. LeRoy Nieman

LeRoy Neiman - Artist

LeRoy Neiman (June 8, 1921 – June 20, 2012)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Noir: Goodis's Solitary Walk

David Goodis’s solitary walk

The dark end of the street
By CHARLES TAYLOR  |  June 20, 2012
CANON FODDER Five of David Goodis's novels — originally published as cheap paperback originals — have now been collected in a volume from the prestigious Library of America. 
You know, some people got no choiceAnd they can't never find a voiceTo talk with that they can even call their ownSo the first thing that they seeThat allows them the right to beWhy they follow it, you know, it's called bad luck._Lou Reed, "Street Hassle"
Because we live in a country that forever needs to be told to appreciate its native artists, Americans are in love with classification. Is this writer high or low? Are genre novels literature or entertainment? Which is why it's far more important for the critic to evoke than to classify, to let judgment arise from critical description and from what D.H. Lawrence called the account of a work's "effect on our sincere and vital emotions." That is the sort of judgment that understands both the importance of technique and why technique can be irrelevant, why uneven novels with purple passages or patches of slack narrative can be so affecting, and why the most immaculate literary precision can leave us cold. And it's that judgment that has to be applied to the work of David Goodis.
It's easy — too easy — to comment on the irony that Goodis (1917-1967), whose output from the '40s through the '50s came mostly in cheap paperback originals, is now receiving his own volume in the prestigious Library of America series. Embrace that irony and you're embracing the notion that the canon cannot make room for writers like Goodis. The implicit belief behind the existence of this volume, edited by Robert Polito — a fine poet and the biographer of another noir artist, Jim Thompson — is that good writing is good writing.
And yet, trying to explain Goodis to someone who has never read him, or even to talk about him with someone who has sunk into one after another of these hallucinatory works, the question keeps nagging at you: what the hell kind of writer was he?
"Crime writer" is the off-the-rack description used by most critics to describe Goodis, and it's true that a crime is at the center of all the books collected in Five Noir Novels of the 1940s & 50s. But the reader who turns to Goodis for the pleasure of watching a mystery solved or the mechanics of a police procedural may feel as if he's been cheated. To read Goodis is to slip into the most luxuriant of nightmares, to be trapped in a state of mind shared by the panic-stricken paranoid and the most masochistic of romantic fatalists. If you can imagine having an anxiety attack while slumped in your easy chair, sucking down cigarettes and whiskey and listening to Frank Sinatra sing "Deep in a Dream," you're close to imagining the experience of reading these novels.
That atmosphere made Goodis perfect for film noir, and each of the novels in this volume has been adapted. It also made him ripe for the kind of off-the-rails stylization of a director like Jean-Jacques Beineix, who adapted The Moon in the Gutter into an amazing disaster of a movie in 1983. The titles of Goodis's novels alone are enough to get you imaging your own noirs: Dark PassageNightfallStreet of No Return. And there are the titles of books not collected here: Down There (the basis for François Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player), The Wounded and the SlainOf Missing PersonsSomebody's Done For.
In a Goodis novel, somebody's always done for, whether they make it to the end of the book alive or not. Done for or given up. Some of the men here have slipped out of mainstream society. The innocent man convicted of murder in Dark Passage even escapes his own face, undergoing plastic surgery to dodge the cops; the commercial artist in Nightfall hides from the crooks who victimized him in a botched robbery and from the insurance investigator who think he was in on the job. Others want to slip out of existence itself. The Sinatra-like singer of Street of No Return, his throat crushed in a beating, holds himself separate from the already marginal life he's found on Philadelphia's skid row. His name, Whitey, refers as much to his spectral presence as to his prematurely white hair:
He looked at Whitey to see if Whitey was interested in the conversation. Whitey's face showed no interest at all. He wasn't even listening to the hectic noises coming from three blocks south. Whitey sat there gazing at the empty bottle set between Bones's legs, and Phillips wondered seriously whether the small white-haired man was completely in touch with the world. He decided to find out, and he tapped Whitey's shoulder and said, "You hear the commotion? You know what's going on?"
Whitey nodded. But aside from that there was no reaction and he went on looking at the empty bottle.
Only slightly more engaged is the Philly dock worker in The Moon in the Gutter (Philadelphia was the city Goodis knew best) who veers from the home where he supports the tatters of his family to the neighborhood dive bar inhabited by those even more miserable than him. But he's always drawn back to the alley where his sister cut her own throat after being raped. That months after the crime the dead woman's blood is still visible in the alley may seem like evidence of Goodis's indifference to the particulars of physical description. Or it can seem the perfect expression of how, in Goodis's work, the laws of the physical world have given way to the mental states of his protagonists:
At the edge of the alleyway facing Vernon Street, a gray cat waited for a large rat to emerge from its hiding place. The rat had scurried through a gap in the wall of the wooden shack, and the cat was inspecting all the narrow gaps and wondering how the rat had managed to squeeze itself in. In the sticky darkness of a July midnight the cat waited there for more than a half hour. As it walked away, it left its paw prints in the dried blood of a girl who had died here in the alley some seven months ago.
HAUNTING Capturing a dank atmosphere perfect for film noir, Goodis's novels have been adapted by the likes of Jean-Jacques Beineix and François Truffaut. 
That a print can be left in dried blood suggests how sloppy Goodis can be. But we don't question it because we're immediately caught up in the morbid grief of Goodis's hero:
Then there was a sound of a man's footsteps coming slowly along Vernon Street. And presently the man entered the alley and stood motionless in the moonlight. He was looking down at the dried bloodstains.
The man's name was William Kerrigan and he was the brother of the girl who had died here in the alley. He never liked to visit this place and it was more on the order of a habit he wished he could break. Lately he'd been coming here night after night. He wondered what made him do it. At times he had the feeling it was vaguely connected with guilt, as though in some indirect way he'd failed to prevent her death. But in more rational moments he knew that his sister had died simply because she wanted to die. The bloodstains were caused by a rusty blade she'd used on her own throat.
At the beginning of Nightfall, Goodis describes the air of a New York summer night as "syrupy heat [that] refused to budge." He could be talking about the atmosphere of these books. None reaches 200 pages, but none is a fast read. You wade through the resigned torment of Goodis's men, conscious that at any moment the thick, obsessive mixture of fear and guilt might close over your head.
In Goodis, psychic architecture determines not only the physical world but narrative as well. If you just go by the plots, Goodis's books make no sense. They proceed less by consequence than by the vagaries of a guilty mind, though in only one of these five novels has the protagonist committed a crime. Goodis would have been lost if he'd had to produce the concrete detail which moves a procedural forward. The cops and crooks and thugs and jilted lovers who come after his wounded, haunted men seem to have been conjured up in the protagonists' own turbulent minds. At times, it's as if we are in the world of a science-fiction author who has realized a future where people are tracked by their own brain waves instead of fingerprints.
This is how we're introduced to Dave Vanning, the artist of Nightfall, contemplating New York in a heat wave, and the possibility of ever getting out of the fright that shadows him:
Heat came into the room and settled itself on Vanning. He lit a cigarette. He told himself it was time for another drink. Walking to the window, he told himself to get away from the idea of liquor. The heat was stronger than liquor.
He stood there at the window, looking out upon Greenwich Village, seeing the lights, hearing noises in the streets. He had a desire to be part of the noise. He wanted to get some of these lights, wanted to get in on that activity out there, where it was. He wanted to talk to somebody. He wanted to go out.
He was afraid to go out.
And he realized that. The realization brought on more fright. He rubbed his hands into his eyes and wondered what was making this night such a difficult thing. And suddenly he was telling himself that something was going to happen tonight.
It was more than a premonition. There was considerable reason for making the forecast. It had nothing to do with the night itself. It was a process of going back, and with his eyes closed he could see a progression of scenes that made him shiver without moving, swallow hard without swallowing anything.
The only comparable sense of isolation in American fiction contemporary to Goodis is that of Ralph Ellison's 1952 Invisible Man. But Goodis had no interest in the questions of identity that Ellison was pursuing. Much has been made of noir — on film and in novels — expressing the doubt of postwar America, rejecting the optimism and confidence that was the country's official view of itself, and though that's true, the truth of it depends on placing noir within a broader social context. Even in the isolation that noir trades in, Goodis's characters are more apart than any other writers'. The occasional names of American cities do nothing to ground these novels. The locations of the books are, at their least bleak, cities with recognizable places like restaurants and bars and apartment buildings. At their most despairing they are tenement neighborhoods and skid rows that seem to have been built chiefly to create shadows. The recurrent image is a solitary figure walking these alleyways and sidewalks, utterly separate from even the blighted lives going on inside. In most of the books, daylight might not exist. The characters are cut off from human contact, let alone notions like family, community, society, country. These are not the stylized urban nightscape of a '40s film noir as shot by John Alton. We're closer here to Godard's Alphaville, or a ghetto at the end of the world.
And we are very far from the cynicism and sardonicism that characterize much crime writing. Goodis's heroes are so far from wised up that you couldn't imagine them making a crack if their life depended on it. Most of the time, they are too tongue-tied, too resigned to doom to say anything to save their skin. If you're looking for the tough-guy snap of a pulp thriller, this is not the neighborhood to look in. With an atmosphere that's both rich and suffocating, explicating a state of the soul both romantic and utterly despairing, these novels are the work of the poète maudit of American letters.

Noir: Bimbo's Initiation to the Masons

This short video from the 1930′s features beloved cartoon characters and is described on YouTube as “creepy” and “disturbing”. The cartoon is indeed very dark and bizarre but only minimal knowledge of Masonic symbolism is required to realize that the cartoon is all about secret societies and the ordeals an initiate must go through to be accepted. To the symbol-literate, it’s as blatant as it gets. 

At the beginning of the cartoon, Bimbo (a good name for a non-initiate?) walks down the street without a care in the world. Suddenly, a certain cartoon character traps Bimbo down a manhole.

Bimbo gets trapped...Mickey Mouse? Funny how this character is the recruiter that lead to Bimbo's forceful initiation. Is it a thinly veiled comment on Disney's Masonic ties?
Bimbo then finds himself in the underground lair of a strange secret society composed of  masked men with candles on their heads (symbolizing illumination?). One asks him “Wanna be a member? Wanna be a member”. When Bimbo’s answers “NO!”, he is sent to various sadistic chambers that recall the various ordeals that are imposed on new initiates in actual secret societies.

At one point, Bimbo is tricked into thinking he would die. Near-death experiences have been part of secret society initiations since Antiquity.

In the ordeal of the "Mystery Door", Bimbo faces prominent symbols associated with Secret Societies: Skull & Bones and the number 13.

After getting his ass severely spanked, Bimbo finds himself in room with a Masonic checkerboard pattern floor.

During his terrifying ordeals, Bimbo learns about the illusory nature of the material world, a fundamental concept communicated in occult initiations.
After refusing to become a member several times, the masked man reveals himself and seduces him.

It is Betty Boop! After watching her tap her own behind a few times, Bimbo realized that this secret society was aaaaalright.
When Bimbo finally accepts Betty Boops offer, he discovers that all of the members were Betty Boop clones, which makes him very happy. In other words, secret society initiation might be difficult and terrifying but becoming a member provides great rewards.
Looking at the symbolism of Bimbo’s Initiation, we realize that those who produced it were obviously “in the know”. The cartoon is therefore yet another example of occult symbolism that can be seen by all, but meant to be fully understood by few.