Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Maltese Falcon

This time on Tapes on Books…bourbon, babes, and bullets abound in Dashiell Hammett’s iconic detective novel The Maltese Falcon. Sardonic P.I.’s, foreign creepers, bumbling cops, unhinged henchmen, and slippery seductresses compete for a jewel-encrusted birdy antique. A moody and fast-paced mystery that takes the lid off life and lets you look at the works.

Like a stranger in a fedora down a foggy San Francisco alley…the mix waits for you.

Spade & Archer Private Investigators: Solo Dancer A – Charles Mingus
We’ve always thought The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady would have been great soundtracking a film-noir crime movie. This is, unfortunately, the best it gets.

Sam Spade: Keep a Cool Head – Desmond Dekker
I like my detectives like I like my eggs: On top of a big plate of bacon. Err – I mean hard-boiled.

Archer & Thursby Shot: Killing Moon – Echo and Bunnymen
Nice night for a double murder. Like a quiet Tuesday in Detroit.

Iva Archer: I Wanna Be Adored – The Stone Roses
Nothing like a clingy mistress bugging you to come over the night for some quality time after her husband’s been murdered and you’re the prime suspect. Women.

Brigid O’Shaughnessy: Femme Fatale – Ty Segall
That girl is poison. If only someone wrote a song that clearly and succinctly expressed that sentiment.

Joel Cairo: Dandy in the Underworld – T. Rex
Two great Joel Cairo mysteries: 1. What is a Levantine? 2. Why the hell won’t my wife let me get a Peter Lorre circa Maltese Falcon tattoo? (Update: Thanks to Wikipedia, Mystery 1 solved. Mystery 2 still looms large.)

The Kid: With A Gun – Steely Dan
If I was a crime boss, all my henchmen would be forced to listen to Steely Dan. Don’t ask me why, it just seems like a good idea to test your thugs’ loyalty and/or jazz-rock sensibilities.

Mr. Gutman: Big Boss Man – Thee Headcoatees  
I don’t know about you, but I prefer my oversized criminal masterminds to be sporting a fez. What gives, Mr. G?

Drugged/Beat Up: A Little Drop of Poison – Tom Waits / Black Eye – Uncle Tupelo
I just hope that the next time I get mickeyed and mugged, I can do it with as much pizzazz and wit as Sam Spade. Dude is stone cold. Me, I’d probably just wet myself.

SFPD: Police on My Back – The Clash
Hammett writes every policeman in his books as if they were rejects from the Keystone Cops: “Hey, what’s that in your hand?  It’s just a water gun? I guess that’s okay. Wait! What was that noise? Oh, you guys just wrestling? Well, be careful then. And you may want to use some club soda to get that ketchup stain off the rug?” Sounds more like Milwaukee cops to me.

The Maltese Falcon: Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen / King of Spain – Galaxie 500
“I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, its possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.” I pretty much feel this way about my Alf lunchbox. Somedays, I might feel that way about whatever happens to be in my Alf lunchbox, but please don’t tell my son.

Murdered Ship Captain: Sailor’s Lament – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Rough day for the cap’n. Your ship is on fire, you get betrayed by a lady, shot several times, and then you stumble and die. Maybe he should of took that job on the Titanic; or for BP.

Bathroom Strip Search: Underwear – The Magnetic Fields
I agree it is always important to have a compulsory frisking. Of course, Spade didn’t make any of the men go down to their skimpies. Even though Cairo probably would have really loved to.

Electing a Fall Guy: The Fall Guy – The Cautions
“Um, can’t we at least draw straws or roshambo this?”

The Fake Statue: Bad Cover Version – Pulp
I am surprised the “Made in Taiwan” stamped on the foot didn’t give it away. Probably shouldn’t have used eBay. Hey, wait a minute . . . that’s not even a falcon. Were we even ever looking for a Maltese Vulcan?

The Plan/The Set-Up: The Proposition – The Budos Band  
I love it when a plan comes together. If only someone would create a TV show and use that as a catchline. I am full of these great ideas today!

Spade turns in O’Shaughnessy: Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus – Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin
My favorite part of TMF is Spade’s goodbye to Brigid as he is turning her in: “Well Toots, if you get out in 20 years, we can bang then. Or if they fry you, I’ll remember the good times we banged”.

Back to the Business/ The End: Detective Instinct – The Fall
In the end, you kind of get the feeling that the whole thing was just playtime for a Spade. Take the case for a laugh and few bucks.  He figured everything out in first few pages of the book. He’s like Columbo, but with both eyes.



Today, we skip through time into Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s absurdist anti-war sci-fi satire Slaughterhouse-Five. One man’s fatalistic journey back and forth from alien zoos, mind-numbing suburbia, carpet-bombed city remains, traumatic swimming lessons, and pre-determined futures. An audio mix in glorious non-linear!

Listen to the SH5 mix here, because you already have listened to it and you always will.

“All this happened, more or less.”:
Telstar – The Tornadoes / As We Go Up, We Go Down – Guided by Voices
KVj always played such a great unreliable narrator because he could seamlessly be funny, horrifying, and thought-provoking at the same time. I have trouble having any one idiosyncrasy (well, other than sleepy or boring) at any given time.

Billy Pilgrim: Once in A Lifetime – Talking Heads / Do It All Over Again – Spiritualized
Debate time: Broken soldier’s PTSD-garbled mind, misunderstood time-travelling abductee’s cautionary tale, or a parabolic representation of a desperate longing for a new model to explain away human tragedies. Any way you slice it, you gotta love that jacket.

Roland Weary: Tin Soldier – The Small Faces
Jingoistic! Gosh, I love being able to use that word.

Unstuck in Time: Trail of Time – The Knitters
Time travel is so much more efficient sans Delorean. Unfortunately, it’s also considerably less handsome without Michael J Fox.

The Alien Zoo: In a Jar – Dinosaur Jr
Shake ‘em and see if they fight! With humans, it’s usually that easy.

Tralfamadorians: Little Hands – “Skip” Spence
I can’t believe aliens that are essentially hands with plunger bottoms are the things that kill the universe. I was sure it was going to be the Republicans.

Montana Wildhack: Another Girl, Another Planet – Only Ones
Sure, if I do happen to get abducted by aliens I’d love to have naked model-actress cellmate. However, I’d probably just end up with a boilerplate probing.

Edgar Derby: Slow Death – The Flamin’ Groovies
I suppose we all know we are going to die, but not quite with the same intimacy and inevitability as the lovable English teacher’s foretold demise. He always makes me think twice when I contemplating looting me up a teapot.

Suburban Life: Everybody’s Happy Nowadays – The Buzzcocks
Wars, abductions, imprisonment, bombings, assassination, and the only time Pilgrim ever seemed miserable as when he was a successful doctor and family man.

Kilgore Trout: Books About UFOs – Hüsker Dü
My absolute favorite part of SH5 is the vignettes describing Trout’s novels (a moneytree fertilized by human murder, the robot with bad breath, the time-traveller measuring Jesus’ height). Heck, Vonnegut’s alter-ego’s ideas for made-up novels are better than most science fiction.

Paul Lazzaro: Sweet Revenge – John Prine
Cotton candy is probably the sweetest thing. Revenge is a close second though.

Lasergun Assassination: My Days are Numbered – Close Lobsters
Omniscient knowledge of the exact moment of death isn’t so bad when you know you death is a pleasant purple with a soft hum (and then you can go back to some more satisfying life event). I still would probably prefer not to get lasered in the head. Hey, you remember that X-Files with Peter Boyle where he could tell you how you’ll die? That was a great episode.

Unstuck in Time: Crazy Rhythms – The Feelies
Déjà vu all over again.

Schlachthof-funf: Underneath the Bunker – REM
The slaughterhouse is the safest place to be? Yeah, we’ve heard that one before say the cows.

Abducted for the first time again: U.F.O. – Jim Sullivan
I feel its only appropriate to include an artist that was actually abducted by a UFO. Hopefully, he is doing as well as Pilgrim in the whole forcible mating department.

Dresden: Its Hard to Believe – Glenda Collins
We always like to think of ourselves as the good guys, but, um, yeah.

The Greatest Moment: Good Feeling – Violent Femmes
Riding a cart around firebombed city might not be my selection for the moment to relive over and over. Mine would probably be my chicken wing eating contest championship 2003. Coincidentally, the moment I would least like to relive is about an hour after my aforementioned greatest moment.

“So it goes.”: So It Goes – Nick Lowe
After every time I read this book and get this three word mantra “ohrwurming” in my head, I can’t tell if Vonnegut is laughing at or crying about the human capacity to accept and dismiss the myriad of senseless horrors. Probably both.

“Poo-tee-weet?”: To Here Knows When – My Bloody Valentine
I guess a little bird song is probably about the most intelligent thing that can be said about war. If only everything was beautiful and nothing hurt…