Saturday, December 13, 2014

What I learned staring at the walls (of California restaurants)

Photos by Peter Rozovsky, your formerly
humble blog keeper.
It was no shock to discover on my recent Bouchercon-and-after travels that restaurant food is spicier in Southern California than it is in my part of the country; I'll chalk that up as a benefit of Mexican influence. Eaters here also know their hot sauce and will express preference for Tabasco or Cholula without in the least sounding like an East Coast foodie.

I was surprised, however, that those nostalgia photos that constitute the decor of so many restaurants on the East Coast actually mean something in California. Rather than the patently generic, sepia'ed after the fact, "instant ancestors" obtained in bulk from a restaurant design house, photographs here might depict surveyors laying out the town that became the city that would eventually include the restaurant where you're eating your chipotle steak.

That, I suppose, is because California is so new and its history so fresh in the minds of the people who live there. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts might have been the same had photography been around in the seventeenth century. As it is, I was happy that California restaurant walls offer something to study rather than sneer at.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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11 Comments:

Blogger R.T. said...

The Gaslamp Quarter photo tells me you were in San Diego, the city where I would prefer to live again (i.e., I lived there for about 6 years) if only I could afford to do so.

As for San Diego and crime novels, I can think of none off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are plenty -- the settings for crimes are plentiful. If I were writing one, I would begin with a body in one of the canyons in Balboa Park; perhaps a sequel could put a body in the Globe Theater; then another one could put one hanging from the Coronado Bridge. And the list goes on and on.

December 14, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., in re Balboa Park, I remarked on my visit that I would gladly spend the rest of my life there, camping out in a sleeping bag under a tree in one of those canyons. It is one my favorite places in the world.

I can think of no crime novels in San Diego off the top of my head, either. It likely got lost in the literary shuffle between San Diego and the Mexican border, and I'm not sure the city was of much account before the second World War. Also, I read or heard a passing reference recently to the unlikelihood that someone fleeing from Mexico would hole up so close to the border. Hence, exit San Diego.

December 14, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T.: Here’s notice of a San Diego crime novel, courtesy of a friend who prefers anonymity. The title, Kitty With a Whip, is evocative, and the author(s) is one of the bigger names in paperback original crime writing.

December 14, 2014  
Blogger R.T. said...

Very interesting . . . and it gives us a new version of an old phrase: kitten whipped.

Of course, as I should have remembered earlier, we have crime fiction writers who live/lived in San Diego: Ross Macdonald is one. Didn't Chandler and Hammett also live for a time in the area? I will have to check on those two.

I'm still pondering a novel about being kitten whipped.

December 14, 2014  
Blogger R.T. said...

Oops! I may be wrong about Macdonald. Ignore my errors. Let's write it up to post-op medications.

December 14, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Chandler lived for a while in La Jolla, where, I think, one of his neighbors was Dr. Seuss. I don't know about Hammett or MacDonald.

December 14, 2014  
Blogger R.T. said...

I apologize. Bing and Wikipedia tell me I was wrong about Hammett and Macdonald. But Macdonald did live in Santa Barbara, another great California town worth visiting but too expensive for being a resident.

December 14, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's probably the case with much of Southern California.

I like the idea of Dr. Seuss and Chandler as neighbors. If only they had collaborated.

December 14, 2014  
Blogger R.T. said...

Well, the Grinch was a thief, and God only knows what the Cat in the Hat might have been capable of doing in violation of the law.

And then you have the possibility of Chandler writing children's books. Yikes!

December 14, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The recent Noircon in Philadelphia included an exhibit of Dr. Seuss noir paintings by an art student from Philadelphia--Thing 1 and Thing 2 as street toughs, and so on.

The Cat in the Hat as a criminal impresario leading a gang of young street urchins? I could imagine that.

December 14, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Make that Kitten With a Whip, not Kitty.

December 14, 2014  

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