Crime: If You Like Boardwalk Empire

Find Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson in the Seattle Public Library catalog.I just finished season one of Boardwalk Empire, Martin Scorcese’s series set in prohibition era Atlantic City, and am dying for more. I love good immersive TV experiences (and saving money with library DVDs), but in the end you’re as bereft as if you’d just finished a satisfying long novel. So I put together a couple of lists in our library catalog featuring fiction and non-fiction about the place and era, or othewise redolent of the magificent blend of showiness, sin and squalor that Scorcese depicts so well.

Find 1920, the year of the six presidents by David Pietrusza in the Seattle Public Library catalog.In addition to a number of titles about Atlantic  City in its garish heyday, the non-fiction list includes Daniel Okrent’s excellent Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, as well as Ken Burn’s recent documentary on the subject and Whispering Wires, a look at our own local bootlegging history and the notorious Roy Olmstead. There are fine biographies of gangsters Arnold Rothstein (and the Black Sox scandal) and the early career of Al Capone. David Pietrusza’s 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents offers a window into the politics of the time. I’ve even thrown in an eBook travel guide to Atlantic City, where you’ll find the street names familiar if you’ve ever played Monopoly.

The fiction list runs farther afield, from Nick Tosches’ novel about Arnold Rothstein, King of the Jews, to Joseph March’s 1929 verse novel The Wild Party, from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age Stories to fine period crime novels such as Ace Atkins’ Devil’s Garden or Elmore Leonard’s The Hot Kid, as well as titles by a pair of literary Find A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion by Ron Hansen in the Seattle Public Library catalognovelists who really should be better known to crime fans: Craig Holden’s The Jazz Bird and Ron Hansen’s A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion. The maniacal, gawdy sideshow pandemonium of Kevin Baker’s Coney-Island set Dreamland is mirrored in Nathanael West’s classic Hollywood novel, The Day of the Locust, and the withering social critiques of classic noir like Horace McCoy’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? It is no mistake that the corrupt 1920s gave rise to hardboiled fiction, in the the rat-a-tat-tat prose of Black Mask stories, or the sordid pages of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, a cleansing bloodbath set in a town so corrupt it is called Poisonville. I even found a little-known novel about Warren G. Harding’s mistress.

There’s lots more, so take a look at these lists of Fiction and Non-Fiction, put something suitable on the stereo, pour yourself a nice legal soft drink (or not), and settle in with a good book (or movie) to await the next season in style.

Get Lost (Part 5)

                         (Fifth in a series)

napa2Now I don’t know what I’ll find…

          Just want to get in the car and drive…

Been living too long this way…

                                              

It’s getting me down…

               I know what I need…

                                   What I need…  

          California sun…      It’s calling me…

Next stop Calistoga and Napa: 1 day, 1 night

About this time the winding roads have settled down a bit. Not completely, but enough to catch our breath. Although we pulled into Calistoga on an overcast day it was still awe-inspiring. We paid attention to all the little nooks and crannies. The old railroad car that was turned into a flower shop and a beautiful white walled complex, which we later found out, was a spa…sign us up!

California wines haven’t always been viewed in a spectacular light. Like all great things it takes awhile to fully appreciate and admire the toil that comes with working the land; like a fine art. Consider France and Italy known the world over for its wine making and bottled nectar of the vine.  No one in their right mind ever thought to compete with the regality of the European grape until the Paris wine Tasting of 1976.

bottle-shock-dvd-cover-731541In a wonderful depiction of this event Bottle Shock takes us to Chateau Montelena to meet Bo and Jim Barrett the son and father team working against debt and each other to cultivate the California vine. For Jim this is his life having left the corporate world to start anew, but he and his son don’t see eye to eye especially when it comes to Steven Spurier the man in charge of the Judgment of Paris. Bo sees an opportunity, while Jim sees it as a way to ruin. With Bo’s lackadaisical demeanor and privileged attitude that can seem immature it’s with his and his youthful generation’s hope that Montelena recovers. Continue reading “Get Lost (Part 5)”