Friday, April 2, 2010

The geography of James M. Cain



About a mile west of Suicide Bridge, Eagle Rock rubs its eastern shoulder against Pasadena.

Here, the 20's and 30's are preserved



suspended


or hanging by a thread.



Sometimes the postman rings twice



Then leans against the bell




And finally walks away


44 comments:

  1. Wow, I love the photo of the 134 freeway through the parapets of the old bridge. But what's with the James M. Cain reference?

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  2. "But all of a sudden, she looked at me, and I felt a chill creep straight up my back and into the roots of my hair.

    "Do you handle accident insurance?"

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  3. Love the bridge photo. Looks like little mirrors. Love the old LA Confidential days. Eagle Rock is interesting. I have some friends who live on Hill Avenue across from the Pantages house. Lots of nice big old houses up there.

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  4. "Who'd you think I was anyway? The guy that walks into a good looking dame's front parlour and says, Good afternoon, I sell accident insurance on husbands... you got one that's been around too long? One you'd like to turn into a little hard cash?"

    GG

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  5. K. and Anon. clearly get this better than I do, but I do like the photos a lot.

    Are you practicing hard-boil-ed-ness for your own cop / noir novel?

    I watched LA Confidential at least once and don't remember a thing. I know it's iconic or whatever, but for me it was just one more of that genre, I'm afraid.

    Saw Shutter Island today. Now THAT was a movie . . .

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  6. I, like K, immediately thought of Double Indemnity. These are great, Karin. Very moody and atmospheric -- suspended between times, actually. Kinda like suicide bridge.

    WV: itysmis. I'm not touching it.

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  7. Aha!

    Nice work on the photos KB.

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  8. Ah, perfection. Not knowing all the answers, I will guess that Cain wrote about the Eagle Rock area, which is not its own town but part of LA. A nice part, with its own seamy side (just like all of LA's parts).

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  9. Pushing doors huh? I think our f riend Kevin is rubbing off on you. That last one gave me a shiver, Missy!
    V

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  10. I think the other side of that bridge is Pasadena. Actually I know it is.

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  11. Another thing about Eagle Rock...much like their adjacent South Pasadena, they fought hard against having the 134 cut through their city. The most elegant homes were in it's path. The freeway won out and to add insult to injury they responded by putting the on and off ramps on the edge of town therefor completely bypassing their cities and opportunities of potential commerce in favor of Glendale and Pasadena (as told to me by a pre-freeway ER long timer.)

    If you head up north of Colorado, Dahlia street comes to mind, and walk the east / west street that buts up against the hills, you can see many elegant homes.

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  12. Wanna hear the story about the house in the last three pictures? The name is Macastle, built early part of last century, and it has been deserted for some time. A couple of years ago it was selling for $925 K, now they've thrown in a couple extra buildings that are about to fall down and asking $1.2 mil. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon rented the place to write Good Will Hunting.

    All of Eagle Rock looks like a movie set to me, lots of different movie sets. The Bekins mansion is on that corner you talked about PA. They're fixing it up.

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  13. Oh yes, and much of Cain takes place in Glendale, Pasadena, and points inbetween. ER is the only place left that still looks the part.

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  14. There's that great first line from Mildred Pierce that goes something like, "On a lawn in Glendale, a man was bracing trees." Do NOT ask me why I remember that. I can't remember what I did yesterday but I can quote the first line of Mildred Pierce.

    I really should explore Eagle Rock. I'd like to see some of those old places.

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  15. So love that last photo. Conjures up all sorts of scenarios.

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  16. Love all the photos.
    "They say dreams are the windows of the soul - take a peek and you can see the inner workings, the nuts and bolts."
    -Chris Stevens

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  17. Love all that this post has conjured up!!! I'm going to have to explore Eagle Rock and find these wonderful mansions mentioned!!! Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce are both old favs of mine...though I'll be d$^*#^ if I can remember a line from either of them!!!

    And of course, AH, love the photos as well!!!

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  18. Especially love the Islander Motel sign!!!

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  19. Ah, now I know who James Cain is. Didn't know his books were set around here, wow. Though the motel sign and the old house also remind me of Psycho.

    If I ever get to do a calendar of Pasadena, I'd like to use that Colorado Street Bridge photo. The traffic on the 134 must have ground to a halt when you took it, or else you have a really fast shutter speed.

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  20. True about the area north of Colorado Blvd., PA. Some lovely spots there. I think they may have lucked out by having the offramps skip town, though. Yeah, it would bring commerce, but commerce often trumps charm.

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  21. Bellis, love your Easter avatar. Not only was the 134 at a standstill, so was Colorado Bridge. Normally this would make me impatient, but then I remembered I had a camera on board.

    All you great local photographers should explore Eagle Rock; maybe we can do a walking tour someday. Gems all over the place.

    And speaking of movie sets, check out Laurie's photo today: http://southpasadena.blogspot.com/

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  22. DId somebody mention a walking tour?
    V

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  23. Wonderful post [so what else is new?]. Personally, I'm a fan of Raymond Chandler. To me, he is the king of hard-boiled detective language and the author of many memorable quotes. One of my favorites, not only of Chandler's, but of modern American literature, comes from Farewell, My Lovely. Private eye Philip Marlowe is lying in bed in a cheap hotel room, waiting for it to get dark enough to try to sneak onto a boat in the harbor where some very bad people are most certainly waiting. In these few lines, Marlowe assesses not only the situation, but his life as a whole. And then he does what he has to do. "I needed a drink. I needed a lot of life insurance. I needed a vacation. I needed a home in the country. What I had was a hat, a coat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room."

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  24. I recently read the Orient Express by Graham Greene...I got tired of the contemporary novels with all the grotesque serial killers and special effects writing...I think I'll pick up a couple of Raymond Chandlers...I so much prefer a bit of psychological drama/mystery!!!

    wv: I'll have the fries!!!

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  25. As if you guys weren't perfect enough, you also share my Chandler obsession. Terry, that is perfect. Chieftess, you must -- maybe start with his essay The Perfect Art of Murder. It's hysterical and brilliant. Oooooh Laurie, can't wait to check it out. I leave you with this:


    "There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Ana's that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge."

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  26. (Sorry, I think the essay is The Simple Art of Murder.)

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  27. Whenever I think of Chandler, I think of those one-story courtyard apartments or little bungalows arranged in a square that Paul Drake used to visit to interview witnesses on Perry Mason. There used to be one next to South Pas High School, but they tore it down for a parking lot.

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  28. I love those little courtyard apartments!!! There are a lot of those in Long Beach...before I got together with the Hubman, I was thinking about buying property for me to live in...and was thinking it would be cool to buy one of those courtyard complexes and live in the one at the end which is usually the bigger one...

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  29. Bumping Laurie's (So Pasadena) comment from Zane to the Chandler crowd:

    Okay, my fellow Chandler-loving friends. This BBC interview with him is pretty cool -- here's part one of four on YouTube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zj6cc0T1z7I

    I love those bungalow apartments, too. I lived in HOllywood for 2 1/2 years when I first moved here and I have fond memories of all the people I knew who lived in them. I forget which one was Chandler's -- it was called El Pueblo, I think.

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  30. Oops, I clicked the wrong comments!

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  31. Hey, no fair taking these great photos - you CAN write and photograph too! Wonderful sequence...The last shot is so melancholy.

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  32. PS - when I lived in the Highlands, Eagle Rock was the affluent WASP neighborhood. I remember a swim team competition against ER high - all blonds.

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  33. Trespasser.

    Hmm... love the Bridge photo, too. Eagle Rock is where I frequented a certain baseball diamond. On out team we had former Olympians, Yes! They got jobs with Townsend as consultants for his movie, Personal Best.

    Very hot.

    wv "owelins"

    Now I am forced to check on those little owls in SD County: http://www.ustream.tv/theowlbox

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  34. Robert Town not Townsend. sheesh Carry on.

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  35. Towne not Town.

    (endless spelling problem)

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  36. Sunday's LA TImes magazine was all about LA noir, did you see it? They must have been inspired by your blog.

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  37. Ms H, I just put Personal Best in my netflix queue last week. (Oh god, as if I'm not distracted enuf, you had to show me the owl.)

    Bellis, nope, didn't see it. I'll get it from a neighbor.

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