A Direct Hit.

lisa taylor by chris von wangenheim dior 1976

Ah, the seventies: Indulgent drugs and disco-decadence…and Dior. Model Lisa Taylor’s shot by Chris von Wangenheim (that is, unless she shoots first) for Christian Dior sunglasses in 1976.

Christian Dior sunglasses 1976

Leder’s “Fire Walk With Me”.

Vice 1

It’s beloved by some, reviled by others: David Lynch’s 1992 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a follow-up (a prequel, more accurately) to the ABC 1990-91 TV series Twin Peaks. As for me, I’m in the often-puzzled but still intrigued camp when it comes to David Lynch, typically glued to the screen but left unsettled or even disturbed by some of the sequences and visuals. (Okay, and occasionally groaning at some of the ‘artistic’ self-indulgence.)

Vice 2

Woodstock, New York filmmaker and photographer Jonathan Leder was presumably intrigued as well, as evidenced by his 2010 shoot for Vice magazine titled “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”, styled by Anette Lamothe-Ramos, with models Amelia Gilliam as Sheryl Lee’s Laura Palmer and Brittany Nola as Moira Kelly’s Donna Hayward.

Vice 3Vice 4Vice 5Vice 6Vice 7

See the next post for the remaining images…

 

Heels In Hand.

Noir City International

Model Victoria Mature knows perfectly well that there’s no point running in heels across the tarmac to catch that DC-3 before it takes off for San Francisco. Hats off to photographer Jason Mitchell and digital illustrator Bill Selby for the Film Noir Foundation’s current Noir City International poster. I wish I was headed west myself for that event, and not just because it’s snowing outside right now.

Death Is A Private Eye

Death Is A Private Eye

Apparently, Death Is A Private Eye – The Unpublished Stories Of Gil Brewer, a Stark House Press Noir Classics book edited by David Rachels, came out during the summer, but it didn’t get on my radar till right before Christmas. Still, the post-holiday season’s as good as any time to gift ourselves, and my Christmas stockings were woefully empty this year, so why not?

Fans of postwar era paperback original hard-boiled crime and so-called vintage sleaze books are surely aware of Gil Brewer, a kind of sad character whose life could form the makings of one of his own stories. A heavy drinker, Gil Brewer was still a prolific writer, and a promising career was launched at the beginning of the 1950’s under the guidance of former Black Mask editor and literary agent Joseph Shaw, who helped the writer sell several stories to the already dwindling crime pulp marketplace, and also sold three novels between 1950 and 1951. These included 13 French Street, which sold over a million copies. The story goes that Brewer was drying out in a sanitarium’s alcoholic ward when the publisher’s contract for that book arrived.

Only ten years later, Brewer’s mentor was gone, the writer just another me-too scribe in the notorious Scott Meredith agency roster, and his story and book sales were few and far between. Injured in a serious auto accident (driving drunk, not surprisingly), Brewer soon found himself cranking out low-pay sleaze and sex material, sales dwindling for even those with each year through his passing in 1983. At that point, his agent handed over cartons of unpublished submissions to his family, and volumes of Brewer’s papers were given to the University of Wyoming. The twenty short stories and two novellas in this Death Is A Private Eye collection were culled from that material, and the book includes an informative introduction from editor Rachels which you can read online if you want an advance look into this vintage writer’s life and work before ordering your own copy. Unlikely that you’ll see this title on shelf at your local book store, of course, but you can get it from the usual online sources or direct from the publisher at starkhousepress.com

The Adventures Of Bianca Dangereuse

The Wrong Girl

The cover art (a photocomposed piece by The Book Designers starting with a sumptuous Tetiana Lazunova photo) might make you think Donis Casey’s 2019 The Wrong Girl from Poisoned Pen Press is a romance or historical, but it’s a fooler. I saw the novel at more than one mystery fiction site, and though I hadn’t read any of Casey’s previous ten mysteries (the nineteen-teens Oklahoma-set Alafair Tucker mysteries), I planned to check it out. I was glad I did.

Split between pre-Dustbowl Oklahoma in 1921 and 1926 Hollywood, The Wrong Girl tells the story of rural small-town teen Blanche Tucker and the perilous adventures that lead her to Hollywood, then later, stardom as the mysterious fan-favorite Bianca Dangereuse, a silent film era daredevil adventuress and real life enigma. Chapters juxtapose Blanche/Bianca’s trek from desolate farmlands to the Hollywood Hills in 1921, with L.A. private eye Ted Oliver’s investigation into the discovery five years later of the skeletal remains of one Graham Peyton. Oliver’s digging into the death of that notorious rake, pimp and all-around hood for a local crime lord, while film star Bianca Dangereuse takes a peculiar interest in the case.

Writers accustomed to having their knuckles wrapped about the whole “show-don’t-tell” thing might be put off at first by author Donis Casey’s habit to tell. And tell and tell and tell and tell some more. But it works because Casey’s a very good storyteller, and The Wrong Girl reads like the writer is telling the story herself. In person. Some of it reads like a traditional vintage P.I. novel, some like a 1920’s silent adventure film. Neither cozy nor hard-boiled, the novel doesn’t fit neatly into any mystery/crime fiction sub-genre, (complete with silent film style title cards liberally inserted throughout the text) and whatever type of mystery-adventure tale you decide to call it, I bet you plow through this 230-page quick-read with a smile. I did. Casey closes The Wrong Girl with some narrative threads clearly unresolved and the tease: “Join us next time to find the answers to these questions and many others as we continue the adventures of Bianca Dangereuse, Episode 2”.

Okay, I’ll be there.

Resolutions: None. Only An Agenda.

New Years Eve 2020

With that clock ticking closer to midnight, this duo looked more apprehensive than enthusiastic. Perhaps, like many, they failed to make a suitable list of New Year’s resolutions for 2020.

Count me among that lot.

I have no resolutions for this new decade (which I realize technically doesn’t commence until 2021), knowing from prior experience that I’d never keep them anyway. My vices are few, drinking modestly (if even that), donut shop coffee my drug of choice, reasonably thrifty, diligent in the day job, unfailingly (and happily) faithful in my relationship.

Confession: I smoke, and resolving to quit would be the very best resolution. But I know I won’t, at least not now, so why kid myself? So then…what else? Eat healthy? Exercise more? Be more charitable, kinder to strangers, start going to church?

I don’t do resolutions, but I do have an agenda for 2020.  Not so different than my 2019 agenda, with some tweaks to my writing endeavors: Table The Stiletto Gumshoe’s sequel temporarily, concluding it’s presumptuous to work on the second book of a planned series when the first hasn’t even been sold, much less agented yet. But the agenda includes a refusal to lose heart while continuing the humbling (or soul-crushing) querying process. It’s not rejections that sting. Those are fairly few and, often enough, come with genuinely encouraging remarks. It’s the non-responses that bruise some, and it seems they’ve become the industry norm. But the agenda’s full with short fiction projects for The Stiletto Gumshoe and other things, coupled with a renewed zeal to pay more attention to short fiction markets, contests and competitions, anemic or non-existent compensation aside. Keeping up with all that while aiming for some better balance of ‘real’ writing time and lazy-ass blog-hobbying time is enough of an agenda for my 2020. So, here’s hoping for a happy and productive 2020, for me and all of you!

A Black Stiletto.

Adeevee Piper Heidsieck Louboutin Champagne

A black stiletto worthy of the ‘stiletto gumshoe’ herself: From Adeevee, a sumptuously designed Louboutin gift set of Piper Heidsieck champagne. Probably not what your midnight toast was served in last night, I’ll bet.

Noemie’s New Year.

noemie lenoir by sergei pons newton tribute

And how did your New Year’s Eve work out? Myself, I brought a cold-that-feels-like-more back with me from a holiday-over-the-holidays, so my midnight toast was a second shot of Nyquil.

As for model Noemie Lenoir in this Helmut Newton homage photo shot by Sergei Pons, it’s unclear if she’s already given up on having a Happy New Year at all, or is recovering from the aftermath of the post-midnight bacchanal. Lets just say she’s enjoying a moment alone to reassess her 2020 New Year’s resolutions.

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