Welcome to L.A.
LCC Opening Remarks by Robert Crais

On Friday night, February 28, 2003 in Pasadena, Left Coast Crime Guest of Honor Robert Crais gave a speech, welcoming attendees. Here is the text:

"I want to explain where we are and why we're here, so let me give you a fix in time and place:

The year was 1958--a young woman's body was found in a empty lot 10 miles southeast of us--no, not the Black Dahlia -- this woman had a little boy, a son named Lee Earl Ellroy -- you know him as James...

Eight years before that and just down the street from the Hollywood sign, a teenager named Raymond Washington shot a Westside kid to death for a letterman jacket. Mr. Washington was the president of a little known street gang called the Cripplers, and, almost overnight, the Cripplers became the Crips, the Bloods were born to fight back, and right now we have 165,000 card-carrying, paid-up-for-life, hardcore gangbangers...

Where we sit tonight, here in the Pasadena Hilton, you are 20 miles east of where Manson did Tate, the Night Stalker went on his blood spree, and two bozoes in body armor shot it out full-auto with LAPD after a botched North Hollywood bank robbery...

...closer to home right up here in the hills of Glendale and La Crescenta--just about six miles away--is where Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi--also known as the Hillside Strangler--dumped their vics...

Welcome to L. A.

But if we have crime here, we also have crime fighters...

Fey Croaker's in the house and her daddy packs a badge. So does Charlotte Justice.

15.7 miles due west you'll find the Chandler Building at Hollywood and Cahuenga. That's where Raymond Chandler nursed a bourbon bottle as he tracked Philip Marlowe through the mean streets of L. A. ...

A half-mile past Chandler you'll find Musso & Frank Grill -- that's where Dashiell Hammett, just down from San Francisco, chased the Hollywood dream at five grand a week until he met Lillian Hellman and trainwrecked his career. By the way, not far from the Hollywood Hills where Madeline Bean works her cases.

Eight miles northwest of us in the hills of Burbank is where James M. Cain defined 'noir' for a generation with The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity...

A couple of ops named Lew Archer and Kinsey Milhone live 90 miles up the coast, but if you turn left when you reach the water, you'll find T. Jefferson Parker and Jan Burke working O. C. and the Long Beach Corridor...

Exactly 23 miles southwest of us is Watts, where Easy Rawlins makes his way thanks to Walter Mosley...and you might catch a glimpse of Aaron Gunnar and Ivan Monk, too...

It was in those same neighborhoods that Special Agent Gerald Petievich of the United States Secret Service bagged real-life counterfeiters before rolling Code Seven to write To Live and Die in L.A....

Harry Bosch lives on a hillside in the Cahuenga Pass 16 miles dead west of us...

...and on the south side of that same mountain lives a guy named Elvis Cole.

Welcome to Left Coast Crime. Welcome to these Mean Streets. You're safe so long as you don't leave the hotel."

Bob Crais is, of course, the creator of the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike thrillers, plus a slew of other great books. Reprinted by permission of the author.


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