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
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
...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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