Now that I have identified Thomas Pynchon as the ‘King of the Nerds’ who ripped off the Pulp Fiction authors he loved, in order to write Faux-Hip Neo-pulp fiction to make a living, is it possible to influence, and save this shitty Beatnik movie being shot down in Venice.
For starters, get Tim O’Conner on the set just to give the cast a taste of reality, and, beg Tim to do the soundtrack. Tim lived in Venice, partied with the Doobie Brothers, and grew up with Hollywood Brats, his father a well known actor. Tim also is world champion Pot Smoker who would love to smoke Pynchon under the table.
Also, Tim would yank that stupid straw hat off Doc’s head, and stomp on it. Who put this Narco Clown Costume together? Doc looks like a Narc, because he is a Narc. Why would Hip folks go see a cool movie about a Narc – who would be spotted a mile away! How can any Beat identify with this guy, least get near him, or be his friend? To be a PI, you got to interact with people, pretend you like folks. You had to mingle a whole bunch in order to be a Beat of Hippie. We were not LONERS! Phynchon is a Loner and has rewritten our peace, and people loving history – and he get’s the Nobel Prize. What a rip-off! Even gangsters have to get along, and be sociable. Readers are loners! When you read a book, you are alone!
And, don’t look now, but here step Reese Witherspoon from a cab looking so cool as she talks on her cellphone?? Did we have cellphones in 1970? Is she going to text someone, rather then study her role? Know the era! Hang up that phone and do your job – Toots!
Knowing this faux film Noir is Pukeville, Bad-dude Brolin is brought in to wrestle a pitbull or two over a Big Stash. Where’s the tension? If the audience doesn’t feel some tension, they are going to walk! You need a guy like me in this movie, a guy who get’s on Doc’s case, corners him in a alley with his Fun Boys, and shaves off one of his fucked-up looking sideburns. Consider ‘Chinatown’ and the cut nostril.
The only thing that saves Pynchon and his Disaster Flick, is his kinship to Royal Rosamond who was friends with members of Black Mask. Tim was close with my family who adopted him when he was fourteen. He was Rosamond’s lover, Mary Ann’s ex-sister-in-law. Pynchon is in The Family Tree. Don’t let us down.
That green army coat has got to be burned on the beach by the drunken film crew, who will be set upon by the cops, which should be filmed. Let’s see some real bloody head bandages! Real hippies took some real beatings, while Tom was still trying to find himself! Inherent Vice is just another failed attempt. In this trailer, we hear from the Eternal Lost Soul Child…….Peter Pan the Very Private Detective Man.
Buy one of Tim’s tiny books – NOW! Get hip! Tim played at our wedding reception held in Oakland. Tim played for dollars on the Venice Boardwalk. Tom should hire Tim to take him on a tour. I want Tim to do the soundtrack to my Tom and Mary Ann Zardoz flick. Play ‘Broke and Stinky’ to turned down Zardoz. Tim was a house painter. Tim is the real deal.
Above are pics of Vic Presco, with his friend Ernie down in Mexico. Ernie’s brothers were the Mexican Mafia in San Quentin. Vic has his wife smuggled from Mexico in a Marijuana shipment. My father interviewed Bruce Perlowin to see if he had the right stuff to help work his loan shark business. So, Tom has some real bad-ass folks to fall back on when folks begin to question him about his fake PI Pot Noir.
There is a movie in the works about Bruce, who married a infamous Russian spy who seduced an FBI agent.
Hey Tom! Give me a call if you want me to come down there and save your ass!
An original Irish American Folksinger / Bluesman. Born in Chicago, grew up in Hollyweird. Tim spent an eight year period of his life hitchhiking over 300,000 miles in 26 countries. O’Connor has three songs in the feature film “Dead Calm”. A high seas chiller thriller, starring Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill and Billy Zane. I…n the summer of 1999 Tim made a solo crossing of the North Atlantic Ocean in his sail boat “Theanna”. From Nantucket Island to the Netherlands. He lives on his boat in Holland. He has recently completed writing ten books about his mad adventures. The Hitchhiking Poet’s songs and stories go together like a hot dog and a bun, the books are done. So are the CD’s And the DVD’s. ” I’m a late bloomer with a sense of humor.” Tim O’Connor the Hitchhiking Poet makes his living by singing and playing his songs and the Blues.
Created by John K. Butler (1908-64)
Although he wasn’t really a private eye, STEVE MIDNIGHT sure acted like one. Steven Middleton Knight earned his nickname from the moneyed days of his youth when he had a rep as a”midnight playboy on a nation-wide scale.” But the depression hit, and his father committed suicide, after losing everything. The sole support of his sainted mother and sickly sister, Steve now jockeys the cabs he used to ride on the midnight shift, for the Red Owl Cab Company of Los Angeles. And when Danger! Mystery! or Murder! flagged his cab, he always gave them a ride.
Perhaps because he once had money, Steve no longer has much use for it, and refuses to be bought off. He usually takes a case for personal reasons, to collect a fare he was owed, or to get himself out of a jam.
Ultimately, honest, working-class Steve usually finds himself going up against wealthy but crooked members of the upper classes, whose smooth, respectable surface hides all manner of greed and corruption, lending a sense of political and class consciousness to the stories. He comes across as a refreshingly honest, compassionate hero, not at all cynical or venal, unlike so many of his contemporaries, and his description of Los Angeles ranks right up there with Chandler’s.
One of the great lost series, rarely if ever reprinted, at least until 1998 , when a small publisher, Adventure House, evidently released At the Stroke of Midnight, a complete collection of all nine of the Steve Midnight stories, all of which first appeared in Dime Detective.
Butler created non-P.I. P.I., telephone company investigator Rod Case, who starred in four stories in Black Mask.
“Cruising the foggy night streets of Los Angeles in his Red Owl taxi, dodging blondes, bruisers, and bullets in a series of rapid-fire, fast-paced novelettes from the 1940s, his complete adventures are gathered her between book covers for the first time. This is one cab ride you won’t want to miss!”
–William F. Nolan
Background/History: Steven Middleton Knight was born into the wealthy Knight family sometime in the first decade of the Twentieth Century. Sadly, he did not choose to devote himself to a study of science, or a nighttime habit of fighting crime (yet.) Instead, he chose to become a drunken playboy. Even the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and the subsequent suicide of Steven’s ruined father didn’t pull him away from his lifestyle of drunken licentiousness.
But at some point the money ran out. Steven woke up one morning sober, broke, and with an aging mother and invalid sister to support. He swallowed his pride and begged for a job at a local taxi service. (As it happened, he was a pretty good driver.)
Steven got stuck on the graveyard shift, and between that and a wish to protect what was left of his family’s reputation, he started going by the nom d’auto “Steve Midnight.” Strangely enough, during the early 1940s, Steve became involved in a number of murder cases, which he solved.
Steve lives and works in Pacific Park, a seedy suburb of Los Angeles near the ocean. Its primary attractions are a Coney Island style amusement pier, and an assortment of downscale nightclubs and honkytonks.
Personality/Motivation: Steve Midnight likes to pretend he’s a hard-boiled, cynical sort, but in reality feels honorbound to help innocents in trouble, and will even give known criminals chances to redeem themselves. Though he needs to send a constant supply of money to his relatives (living on a rest farm in Arizona), Steve will not take large bribes, but tries to gain his money semi-honestly. While Steve is irritated by the cops’ tendency to arrest him and apply the third degree on general principle, he understands that they’re just doing their jobs. He usually gets to show them up at the end in any case.
While Steve was a drunk for many years, he is not an alcoholic, and can abstain from booze at will. He also no longer dates, or even flirts! He also never smokes while he’s driving.
Quote: “I had the bulge on the cops,” I continued, “because I used to be a playboy, a matinee dancer, a teacup balancer. So I know more about women’s clothes than the average cop.”
Powers/Tactics: Steve is a healthy adult who gets quite a bit of exercise, especially considering he sits down and drives a car all night. He’s quite knowledgable about Los Angeles and the surrounding suburbs, especially the streets and nightlife. He’s so familiar with alcohol that he can make a good guess as to brand just from the smell. While he doesn’t normally carry a gun, Steve is a decent shot, and knows quite a bit about firearms and the wounds they cause. He keeps a Colt in his apartment for emergencies. He’s also a darn good detective.
While Steve has a remarkable talent for getting in the first punch, he’s not really much of a scrapper, being no match for even a mediocre professional boxer. He prefers to make that punch and run before his opponent can recover. Failing that, he gets knocked out a lot. He can roll with the punch pretty well.
Note that while Steve often has access to a taxicab, it belongs to the Red Owl Cab Company, not him, and any damage to it comes out of his salary.
Campaign Use: Steve Midnight is a taxi driver, which is an useful contact for any pulp character who happens to be without their own transportation. He might not let you ride for free, but you know he’s got your back. A wealthy character might know him from his old playboy days, as might nightclub entertainers. If used as a Contact, the GM will probably want to de-emphasize his detecting skills and emphasize his knowledge of the streets (both literal and metaphorical.)
Steve is easily adapted to any modern big-city setting, you simply need to edit his background a bit. (As did the original writer, in the final known story. In that one, Steve had been hacking since before 1929!)
The Milieu: A few words about the Red Owl Cab Company: As of 1940, there are no radios in their taxis. While radio cabs do exist, they’re an innovation Red Owl isn’t willing to upgrade to yet. Instead, the drivers park in specified locations near callboxes. When the dispatcher receives a request for a taxi, he calls the callbox of the nearest taxi driver, and hopes they pick up. If not, then calls the next closest and so forth. The usual reason for a taxi not responding is that it’s got a fare (It’s supposed to be the only reason.) Steve’s corner is an unusually cold street near the Corinthian Club (also spelled the Carinthian Club.)
Pat Regan: Chief dispatcher for the Red Owl Cab Company. He’s greedy, cowardly, hypocritical, likes bullying the drivers and is highly concerned with the effect the drivers’ behavior/appearance has on the reputation of the company. You remember Danny DeVito’s character from Taxi? Like that, but of Irish descent. Pat has a habit of firing Steve whenever the taxi driver gets into trouble, only hiring him back when Steve once again covers himself with glory.
Captain Hollister: Homicide detective with the Pacific Park police. He’s an old friend of Steve’s father (even when the backstory changes), and is pleased to see Steve earning an honest living. Captain Hollister is also pretty impressed with the way Steve is able to solve cases. This earns Steve a lot of leeway from the captain. It doesn’t, however, mean that Hollister will pull Steve out of the room with the rubber hose until he’s absolutely sure Steve didn’t commit the latest atrocity. Captain Hollister is a large man with graying hair. He likes smoking cigars down to the last nub, and is a huge boxing fan.
Ollie Greenberg: A fellow taxi driver who appears in several stories. He’s rather chubby, is married, and thinks he’s a comedian. No one else agrees. He likes to tease Steve about the latest mishaps the other driver has gotten into.
Appearance: Steve really isn’t described in the stories, beyond being “broad-shouldered.” The illustrations show him as on the tall side of average, with close-cropped black hair. While on duty, he wears his taxi driver’s uniform, which is described as “whipcord” and is reminiscent of a chauffeur’s getup, and his pink taxi driver’s cap.
(Steve Midnight created by John K Butler, character sheet created by Scott Jamison)