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Friday, March 18, 2005

Drayton Reborn

As you may or may not not know or remember, I have been slowly writing a novel and posting the accumulation on a blog called Michael Drayton, Detective Guy. The problem for the average reader, though, was that, in true blog style, it was coming out in bits and pieces and each new bit would displace the bit before it and the only way to read the damn thing was backwards.

I have fixed that. I have created a new blog called Michael Drayton, Detective Guy that has an index as the first page. Each chapter is listed and linked in correct order, so all the reader has to do is click on the link to Chapter One and go from there.

Please feel free to check it out and tell your friends, especially those friends who are editors at prestigious publishing houses. It is a work in progress, so only the first nine chapters are currently posted. However, I have started Chapter Ten and will continue posting completed chapters as they occur. And I'm hoping to give this some serious attention again very soon.

And thanks to those who have kept with me through this.

27 comments:

Robert G. Margolis said...

Len,

So...it's Michael Drayton, the properly sequenced, linked, and easier read Detective Guy in a world of Comic Mystery now, is it? Chapters arranged like the circles in l'Inferno? He's Michael Drayton...Commedia Guy! Well, I'll must say I miss the original, disheveled, less Blog-correct Michael Drayton. Could this new, cleaned-up presentation be the prelude to a Drayton guest appearance on an as yet to be developed spin-off of "Law & Order", "Law & Order: Rhode Island"? My own concern: that Drayton will fall under the influence of this tidy presentation with its sequential niceties and end up making too much sense exactly when he shouldn't. Here's hoping Drayton will not forget his last shall be first, first shall be last origins.

P.S. And here's hoping too that next time I'll really have something to say!

Len said...

Well, Robert, there's actually nothing stopping me from maintaining both sites. I can still add to the one you've come to enjoy piecemeal, as chunks of it develop, and then put the completed version of each chapter on the new one. There's no law about the order, especially not in Rhode Island where law has to do with who you know and order is pronounced "awduh" and is what you do after the waitress asks, "What kin I get faw ya?"

And unlike the entrance to l'Inferno, with me you don't have to leave Hope behind. Or Crosby, either.

Robert G. Margolis said...

Piecemeal & Chunks, that old vaudeville team--they were never ones for following laws about order in their act and I'm sure they'd be pleased to see Drayton carry on their idio-sequential ways. I know I would, if I were them.

Dante says that those who are actually in the Inferno, that is who have "entered" it, as opposed to those who, like Dante and his guide, are journeying through it, have "lost the good of the intellect". Drayton is not one who is lost like that. He's journeying through the circles of Rhode Island, but, in the end, he will emerge from
them, not enter them (or so I assume). Still, whether it's Rhode Island, or Rhode Kill Island, it's good to have Hope and Crosby along, to help keep us on the sunny side of the street.

Robert G. Margolis said...

This little divertimento does spark an idea about the Commedia, Dante & Virgil (up to the point where he must leave Dante's company and Dante continues on guided by Beatrice), as the ultimate road and buddy movie--from the Inferno to the Paradiso. And Dante really does 'get the girl' in the end, although what that means in reality turns out to be beyond his imagination, conception, or comprehension. This calls for a big radio adaptation, sort of like David Ossman did for original Wizard of Oz.

I should mention that I saw Fenton Hardy (who's now retired), not long ago in Locals Bar & Grille, and he told me some anecdotes about his occasional association with Drayton. I'll write about it next time.

Len said...

Interestingly, one of the scripts I've written for the radio show uses this premise in the background. In the episode called, "The Road to Hell," a movie by that name pops up in the background on various TVs throughout. It is a Hope & Crosby picture with Crosby as "Virgil" leading "Danny" on a journey much like the one in "The Divine Comedy." Beatrice, of course, would be Dorothy Lamour, but the story never gets that far in my radio play.

Robert G. Margolis said...

So, Len, as I started to say, recently I had a chat with Fenton Hardy and the subject of Drayton came up. This was at Locals Bar & Grille (formerly Bar & Grotto, when it was owned by the Odysseus family). Mr. Hardy was his usual classy and taciturn, but with a quiet good humor. Like he's always been. And he was wearing that fedora, you know the one, the hat he was wearing when he solved his first case. The stories that hat could tell, if it could talk, huh?

Well, maybe his hat wasn't, but Mr. Hardy was doing a little talking, reminiscing about cases, about colleagues, and the detective trade itself. I asked if he'd ever heard of or, maybe even, worked with Drayton. No, he'd never actually worked with Drayton on a case, neither as a fellow detective or consultant, but, he said, he did know Drayton when Drayton was younger and just getting started. Hadn't yet had his first case, in fact.

Mr. Hardy told me that Drayton had, even at his young, inexperienced age, a peculiar and promising way of working from "back to front, last to first," (as Mr. Hardy put it). For Drayton, he told me, whatever the sequence or events or facts, he treated them, deliberately, as out of sequence, because--and Mr. Hardy paused to savor the moment of recollection as he told me, as Drayton himself told him, "the truth is never out of sequence. It can be arrived at in any order, wherever you start from."

Mr. Hardy told me that sure was different the way he'd worked and had learned the trade (or, rather, bumbled, stumbled, and learned by trial and error. He said it with a smile of modesty). "That boy had promise, I knew it, from the moment I first say and talked to him. He could always see the humor in a situation, even in the ones that were pure hell..."

Then he became quiet for a time. When he spoke again, it was with a somewhat distant, philosophical tone:

"This life of detection, it's like a flight of the alone to the Alone. That's why we detectives have to work alone, never with anyone else, no matter how much we admire them. I had my wife and family, though. But Drayton, he's gone further in the way of aloneness than I ever had to or, heck, ever wanted to...I hope, wherever he is, whatever he's doing, whoever he's helping, that he remembers what he told me, those many years ago, about the non-sequitar of truth."

Len said...

Well, as the Master said, "That's a horse on a bicycle if I ever saw one." Of course, Drayton did once see a horse on a bicycle, when he was a child looking out a lonely window in a grimy building at a parade or a circus or something. Or maybe it was nothing. he's never been sure.

I've never heard Drayton mention Mr. Hardy, but he doesn't talk about his past much. The past makes him hunger for Irish Whiskey and then he spends too much time in the past, too much time remembering. He's heard of people who drink to forget, but has never been able accomplish the feat himself.

Robert G. Margolis said...

Len,

When I talked with Mr. Hardy, and though he was, as usual, careful not to over-emphasize or exaggerate a person's abilities (that's the modesty he applies to everyone), he did almost come right out and say that Drayton had a kind of visionary ability. He almost said it. But here you attest that Drayton, when a child, saw a horse on a bicycle. Childhood is, of course, the visionary years, and children are natural visionaries, but, still, I infer now, from what Mr. Hardy said, that this horse-on-a-bicycle vision was decisively influential in showing Drayton how to 'see' things that, by the dictates of ordinary perception (whatever that is), do not go together or make sense to together. Perhaps the horse-on-a-bicycle even awakened his innate gift for detection.

One would expect to see a horse on a bicycle in, say, a Maira Kalman book about Max the Poet Dog, or, say, as an illustration for one of those arty postcards with pictures of failed, suicidal surrealists or something. But right smacki the middle of a detective's Commedia? I've got feeling Rhode Island is about to make horse-on-a-bicycle history.

I appreciate that Drayton is reticent in words about his past. Some pasts are so much present that to talk about them only amplifies their influence on the present to the extent that it seems the only future one has is already the past.

Len said...

If Fenton Hardy or anybody else is interested, they might want to check out the old Drayton blog, http://draytonnovel.blogspot.com. it's a surprise.

Robert G. Margolis said...

Len,

In the periodic table of Detective Elements, Drayton has certainly found his element to be in, or so it seems.

And speaking of periods and of being in one's element, as it happens, Mr. Hardy does not have a home computer; in fact, he does not even use a computer. A kind librarian, he told me, once showed him how to 'surf the Web', but the whole thing just seemed preposterous to him. Surfing requires water, not electricity. Electricity combined with water can kill ya! (Mr. Hardy said "you"; he never lets slang sully his measured speech.) Mr. Hardy doesn't think a computer is for reading. He won't reading anything, he told me, that he can't turn the pages of. And what can one do with a computer, when one wants to have leisurely read while on the toilet, he asked (and that's the most off-color I'd ever heard him). "A laptop?" I suggested.

When next I see Mr. Hardy, I'll mention that Drayton is up to his surrealist bicycle bars in Rhode Island Rich Criminal Intrigue. He's retired, as I said, but maybe some unusual or quirky aspect of the case will prompt him to opine on some of its still unsolved aspects, like, for instance, how the Vanishing Boy of Pacific Heights could return home without remembering how he got there, or, for anothe instance, how a horse could ride a bicycle.

Len said...

Robert, I actually agree with Fenton regarding computers and reading. Everything favors books and magazines over computers.

I think Drayton would rather surf a librarian than the 'Net, given the proper circumstances. For, at the end of the day, he is nothing if not a gentleman.

Robert G. Margolis said...

I was just thinking--'cause, sometimes, that's what books make me do a little bit, if Maira Kalman wrote a story about Max the Poet Dog as a detective, he would be a Snoop Dog. He could be called: Max Mystery, Snoop Dog. "Max Mystery," because he would be a Max of Mystery. He would have the intellect and erudition of Mr. Peabody and the street smarts of, well, say, any guy from a 'hood who'd name himself after a dog. He wouldn't be a surreal dog, like that Le chien andalou, for example. And he could pass himself off as a human, like Hugh Pine, who is another character who has nothing to do with Mr. Hardy or Drayton or what we've been talking about, but who can find many ways to become relevant to a conversation to which he's not a party. Alas, this is not one of them.

Len said...

There was a cartoon that I loved when I was a kid called "Q.T. hush, Private Eye," and he was a detective dog, I believe. Detective dogs can happen. Like so much else in life, it's a matter of faith.

Robert G. Margolis said...

Detective dogs can happen, sure. If nothing helse, they've got the nose for it. And, as we know from the 10 things Frankie has learned from her dog, they go right to the crotch of the matter. But, if it's a matter of faith, then which comes first the dog or the faith? This, in itself, is a very dog-like question, as to try to answer it will involve chasing one's tail round 'n round.

This talk of dogs and detectives, though, is more appropriate to Old Man Coyote (who's responsible for the whole animal-human mix up, in the first place) and not Mr. Hardy or Drayton. However, Len, I've paid my dues to the word association, and I'll tell ya this: nearby to where I reside there was, until recently, a diner, in Dayton, called the Dayton Diner. It has now been disappeared and replaced by a renovated and trendy re-do of a barbecue place. I'd often thought if this Dayton Diner was missing an "r" from its name. And now I know. The first diner to be posthumously named after a fictional detective character (not that Drayton thinks of himself as fictional or a character).

Len said...

Ah, yes, Detective Dogs! The frank that plumped when you grilled it. That is, if you had the faith that it would plump. otherwise it would merely bloat.

My association if free, which may explain a few things.

Drayton certainly likes diners, but I don't know that he'd like to be one. Although to have a diner named in one's honor would certainly be a treat. And then it can get torn down, and people will give directions to places by saying, "You know where the Drayton diner used to be? You take a left there." Which is ironic since there wouldn't be any diner left there.

Robert G. Margolis said...

...And yet another land-of-the-free association improvisation that leads--it seems, almost, inevitable, doesn't it?--to that classic line of radio noir: "You can't get there from here."

I certainly meant to honor Drayton by naming a now defunct diner (that was never good at giving directions) after him. A tribute to a gumfooted flatshoe who learned along ago, like Seizure, that a detective solves cases on his stomach.

And, as along as the association is for free here ("on the house", as we defunct dinner devotees like to say), perhaps, if professional, for pay Radio doesn't wed your livelihood to her Muse, you could own and operate a Noir Detective theme Diner.

Ah, but I digress; you wanted directions. Now, Len, to get to the end of this post, you just go up the street here and take your first right, you know, where the Drayton Diner used to be...

Robert G. Margolis said...

P.S.

For those of you following along at home, in your genuine collector's item defunct Drayton Diner menus, "Seizure" refers to Julian Seizure, inventor of "Imperial Size Fries".

Len said...

I thought he invented the Seizure Salad, something about which my wife--who has temporal lobe epilepsy--is familiar.

And now, for the theme song to "the Orange Julius Seizure Show":

Who put the "imp" in Imperial?
It's Julie! Our Julie!
What man is dictatorial material?
It's Julie! Our Julie!
Who saved us all
From the Frenchmen up in Gaul?
Tell me who else
Could so suavely soothe the Celts?
He's pompier than Pompey
And makes Cicero storm and stomp. He
Is the sportiest of sports,
And the leader of our legions
And encompassing cohorts!
Julie!

Robert G. Margolis said...

Len,

I'm sorry to be the one to have to say this--though better that I do it rather than me or my shadow, but: if we lived in Lake Woebegone and within the budget certainties of NPR, or whatever radio country they're a colony of, if, as I say, we were all that, then we'd have done a radio show everytime we develop one of these improvised exchanges.

I wish the Drayton Diner were still around; we could've broadcast live from there...

Len said...

Or we could dumb it down and go on AM, ranting about freedom of thought and scaring the bejeebers out as many people as we can.

This program is brought to you by Sheep for Men. Sheep: It's More Than a Fragrance, It's a Lifestyle. Join the expectant crowd gathering now for Sheep for Men!

Robert G. Margolis said...

Yeah, and why stop at that? We could also have one of those "meaningful" self-help confessional triumph over adversity musicals, with a title like, say, "Been Down So Long It Seems Like Dumb".

Heidi Fleece would be an effective spokeswoman for "Sheep For Men" Order now and get the complementary gift of "Abattoir". (And a whispery female voice says: "Abattoir--smell the fear".

Len said...

Well, you know, the whole gang wants Sheep. The whole crowd, the pack, the herd.

Can I interject a slab from "Boom Dot Bust" here? Mayor P'nisnose is on the phone with Dr. Infermo.

Infermo: The wells are poisoned!
Mayor: You poisened 'em.
Infermo: You made me do it.
Mayor: That's why they elected me. Shiny shiny water.

I don't know why I put this in. It just delights me.

Robert G. Margolis said...

Well, Len, as you know, ever since the emphasis and attention has been on the outflow of those rivers from the Gan Eden, it's been widely inferred, if not outright concluded, that there's 'something' in the water; meaning 'something' that was not 'there' originally. I guess, too, that's why so many people, through the ages, have emphasized the 'here' in 'there'. No wonder they can't get there.

That was a digression, actually, from what set my fingers to keys, in the first place. Which is: I just concluded a telephone conversation with Mr. Hardy (He keeps insisting I call him "Fenton", but somehow that would actually accomplish in me a feeling of distance and formality, so warmly familiar do I feel with "Mr. Hardy", from my childhood).

He doesn't get his news or the detective's 'insider lowdown' from what's available through a computer, as I told you, but he does have a lot of contacts who keep him very well informed, and, it turns out, he's been hearing about Drayton and the case he's working on. Mr. Hardy told me he'd heard that Drayton's apartment had been "roughed up", as he put it. I told him it was a mistake or, then again, maybe it wasn't. Ambiguity and uncertainty, sometimes right up to the last, hopefully not fatal, moment is our trade, he said. But he also said: following clues is like touching a spider's web: it's sticky everywhere and whichever strand you touch, the whole web is affected. Meaning? I prompted him to continue. Meaning that the strands of a particular web of complicity and guilt are woven and criss-cross through many crimes, some known, some unknown, some committed, some as yet uncommitted. Drayton's touched a web and the entire intricate pattern of strands is vibrating. Tell him to be careful not to get stuck.

Robert G. Margolis said...

The rap over the out-chorus as the song fades out (not available on the AM dumb down version of the "Orange Julius Seizure Show" theme song):

That's Julie!

(March makes him a little excitable--he's not having a seizure)

That's Julie!

(He's got one toga for business, and another for leisure)

That's Julie!

(All his life he's been Roamin', but his wife's at home,

And when at home he does what a Roamin' does...to please her)

That's Julie!

(A shout out to Little Mark Anne Toh Nette, mad props to Brutus!)

Len said...

Yes, Julie was the original top seed knocked off during March Madness. Thornton Wilder wrote a novel called "The Ides of March" that could've been a desert island book for me. I leaned on it heavily when I wrote a radio play called "The Death of Caesar" that the comedy team I was once part of recorded. It featured such dialogue as:

Crowd: Hail, Caesar!

Caesar: Ah, hail yourself.

I should type it up and publish it sometime. Leave it for the ages. (6-12)

Robert G. Margolis said...

That Julie really had some Gaul (well, actually, all of it) didn't he? See, he got knocked out, or, rather, knocked off, because he was trying to play a one on none offense while his opponents were playing a zone (in which every one on their team handled the knife). That Trojan team was pretty good, though, wasn't it. Rome and the Trojan were in different leagues, and also separted by centuries, otherwise that would have THE MATCH to go all out mad about in March.

And while we're on the history channel, did you know that: for a long time Rome couldn't really get anywhere in a timely fashion because they kept trying to hail Caesar. Finally someone (it's rumored a slave not free property owner) discovered that one had to hail a taxi. The timeline of decline really started to move after that!

Len said...

Again, from my play:

Conspirator: I hear he's crossed the Alps from Gaul.

Co-Conspirator: Sheer, unmitigated gall, and I hear he reeks of French cooking.

Email me a mailing address and I'll ship you a copy of the recording of this no-classic along with a few other tidbits. Then you'll be able to understand how I've avoided success in show business this long.