Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Passing of a Man’s Man and his Man

The Passing of a Man’s Man and his Man
Aug-2-2006
The Man On The Street


Mickey, Mike, Velda, & Besty; if you know the names, you know who they are.

It is truly a sad day in my life. Specifically not because the man that essentially created what was once, if not still called ‘the hard-boiled mystery genre’, but because it is two weeks after his death, that I learn of his passing.

When I as younger, I penned my protagonists to the likings of Mike Hammer, Spenser, and Sam Spade. Whenever anyone reads one of my stories, they almost always say that it reads like a Hammer novel. To me, that is the best compliment I could ever receive. I have fulfilled my goal.

One of the highest points of my life was when I was able to meet Mickey, Robert Parker, and Sue Grafton at a Mystery Writers convention years ago in Boston (home of Parker and his alter ego, Spenser). To have these folk’s autographs, to me, are probably the most treasured articles that I own. Mickey signed my first printing hard cover of I, The Jury, and Parker signed my first printing hard cover of The Godwulf Manuscript, his first Spenser novel. I was not able to get Grafton’s autograph, due to lack of time. Now if only I was around to get Agatha (Christie) and Dashille’s (Hammett), I'd have the essence of who I am and whom I mimic my writing style. But, alas, I wasn’t even a twinkle in my father’s eye during their time.

Mickey was a great writer, one of a kind. Sure his stuff was very popular way before I was even born. But I was able to read his stories growing up mainly due to his character's staying power. And even though the mainstream world had pretty much blackballed him during the 70’s for his “violent and sexual content”. His primary character, Mike Hammer was revitalized once again in the 80’s. The reprinting of I, The Jury, his first Hammer novel originally written in the late 40’s, was the pinnacle rebirth of Mike Hammer. Followed by the full compliment of reprints of all the Mike Hammer novels, as well as many compilation hard covers such as Hammer Strikes Again.

Even his goofy personas in the Bud Light commercials were ladened with his tough guy – blonde bombshell – film noir feel. The ending statement of these commercials’ “Ohhhhh Mickey!” by Blondie was atypical for the likes of Mike Hammer’s creator and Mike himself. Who said there ‘aint nothing good come from the 80’s’.

Three versions of his Hammer character were made into television series, with Mickey himself staring on the first version in the 50’s. Stacey Keach took the role in the 80’s. Several TV adaptations from his best novels were also made into made-for-TV-movies. In my opinion, they never did Mickey justice. The restraints of television would never allow his (Mike) to be who he really is, as Mickey wrote him. Sadly, today, in 2006, with society the way it is with gender neutrality (read woman = invincible / man = dumbass), we will most likely never see another Mike Hammer episode again. Thus, the second reason for my sorrow. Mike hammer, by today’s ‘rules’ of gender, is a dinosaur. He would never survive, sadly.

Goodbye my mentor. Goodbye Mike. Dinosaurs or not, I shall miss both of you dearly.

TMOTS

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