Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Old Postcard Wednesday--The Mayfair Hotel, Los Angeles, California

Aside from some trees that now grow along the building and some additional awnings, the photo at the website of The Historic Mayfair Hotel shows a building that looks now much like it did when new. This info is from the main page:
Welcome to The Historic Mayfair Hotel, located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Built in 1926, the hotel incorporates the finest modern amenities while still maintaining the original details and Old World elegance that reflect the grandeur of the era with glass etchings, brass fixtures, skylight and frenzied pillars.

The charming historic Hotel is just blocks away from the prestigious Financial District, Civic Hall, Grand Central Market, Staples Center, Club Nokia, Grammy Museum, Congo Lounge, @ LA Live, Walt Disney Concert, China Town, Little Tokyo, Jewelry District, Fashion District, Los Angeles Convention Center, Korean Town and Union Station. 
At the hotel's website I learned that Raymond Chandler stayed (and partied) there and that he set his short story, I'll Be Waiting, in The Mayfair Hotel (he called it The Windermere in the story). Published in the Saturday Evening Post on October 14, 1939 (wow...nearly 71 years ago), I'll Be Waiting apparently had a bit of a nice revival on Showtime in the early 1990s:
(Main character) TONY RESICK only appeared in one story, Raymond Chandler's classic, "I'll Be Waiting", but it was a memorable appearance.

Tony is markedly different from Chandler's other detectives, who are either Philip Marlowe or Philip Marlowe-clones (Mallory, Carmady, John Dalmas, etc.).

Tony is "a short, pale, paunchy, middle-aged man with long delicate fingers" who wears an elk's tooth on his watch chain, and works as a hotel dick at the Windermere Hotel. He has an ear for classical music, believing, "Mozart was the greatest man that ever lived--and Toscanini is his prophet."

Although mild-mannered, Tony is a brave little guy, putting it on the line for an ex-con who's staying at the Windermere, while "the trouble boys" are waiting outside to finish him off.

"I'll Be Waiting" has been included in a few recent anthologies, and Tom Hanks directed and appeared in an excellent adaptation of the story for the TV series, Fallen Angels, which starred Bruno Kirby, Dan Hedaya, and Marg Helgenberger.

Both the story, and the adaptation are well worth checking out.

Inside The Historic Mayfair Hotel; photo from hotel website

Well, if believes that I'll Be Waiting is well worth checking out I can think of no better time to read it than when The Mayfair Hotel is in my view and on my mind. I'd love to have you read it with me! The (6,000 word) short story begins.......

Raymond Chandler
I'll Be Waiting

At one o'clock in the morning, Carl, the night porter, turned down the last of three table lamps in the main lobby of the Windermere Hotel. The blue carpet darkened a shade or two and the walls drew back into remoteness. The chairs filled with shadowy loungers. In the corners were memories like cobwebs.

Tony Reseck yawned. He put his head on one side and listened to the frail, twittery music from the radio room beyond a dim arch at the far side of the lobby. He frowned. That should be his radio room after one A.M. Nobody should be in it. That red-haired girl was spoiling his nights.

The frown passed and a miniature of a smile quirked at the corners of his lips. He sat relaxed, a short, pale, paunchy, middle-aged man with long, delicate fingers clasped on the elk's tooth on his watch chain; the long delicate fingers of a sleightof-hand artist, fingers with shiny, molded nails and tapering first joints, fingers a little spatulate at the ends. Handsome fingers. Tony Reseck rubbed them gently together and there was peace in his quiet sea-gray eyes.

The frown came back on his face. The music annoyed him. He got up with a curious litheness, all in one piece, without moving his clasped hands from the watch chain. At one moment he was leaning back relaxed, and the next he was standing balanced on his feet, perfectly still, so that the movement of rising seemed to be a thing perfectly perceived, an error of vision.

He walked with small, polished shoes delicately across the blue carpet and under the arch. The music was louder. It contained the hot, acid blare, the frenetic, jittering runs of a jam session. It was too loud. The red-haired girl sat there and stared silently at the fretted part of the big radio cabinet as though she could see the band with its fixed professional grin and the sweat running down its back. She was curled up with her feet under her on a davenport which seemed to contain most of the cushions in the room. She was tucked among them carefully, like a corsage in the florist's tissue paper.

She didn't turn her head. She leaned there, one hand in a small fist on her peach-colored knee. She was wearing lounging pajamas of heavy ribbed silk embroidered with black lotus buds.

"You like Goodman, Miss Cressy?" Tony Reseck asked.

The girl moved her eyes slowly. The light in there was dim, but the violet of her eyes almost hurt. They were large, deep eyes without a trace of thought in them. Her face was classical and without expression.

She said nothing.

Tony smiled and moved his fingers at his sides, one by one, feeling them move. "You like Goodman, Miss Cressy?" he repeated gently.

"Not to cry over," the girl said tonelessly.

Tony rocked back on his heels and looked at her eyes. Large, deep, empty eyes. Or were they? He reached down and muted the radio.

"Don't get me wrong," the girl said. "Goodman makes money, and a lad that makes legitimate money these days is a lad you have to respect. But this jitterbug music gives me the backdrop of a beer flat. I like something with roses in it."

"Maybe you like Mozart," Tony said.

"Go on, kid me," the girl said.

"I wasn't kidding you, Miss Cressy. I think Mozart was the greatest man that ever lived-and Toscanini is his prophet."

"I thought you were the house dick." She put her head back on a pillow and stared at him through her lashes.

"Make me some of that Mozart," she added.

"It's too late," Tony sighed. "You can't get it now."

She gave him another long lucid glance. "Got the eye on me, haven't you, flatfoot?" She laughed a little, almost under her breath. "What did I do wrong?"

Tony smiled his toy smile. "Nothing, Miss Cressy. Nothing at all. But you need some fresh air. You've been five days in this hotel and you haven't been outdoors. And you have a tower room."

She laughed again. "Make me a story about it. I'm bored."

"There was a girl here once had your suite. She stayed in the hotel a whole week, like you. Without going out at all, I mean. She didn't speak to anybody hardly. What do you think she did then?"

The girl eyed him gravely. "She jumped her bill."

He put his long delicate hand out and turned it slowly, fluttering the fingers, with an effect almost like a lazy wave breaking. 'Unh-uh. She sent down for her bill and paid it. Then she told the hop to be back in half an hour for her suitcases. Then she went out on her balcony." . . . 
(To finish reading the story, click HERE.)

What Kind Of Star? by Michael Sprouse



Nancy said...

The hotel still looks lovely. Thank you for posting the short story. I'll return to read it.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

the hotel looks great in the postcard so i'm glad to hear it hasn't changed much

I bought a video (yes, video) some time ago which was a double bill of The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep.

The story goes that when they came to make the film of The Big Sleep they asked Chandler to explain all the intricasies of the plot - what exactly WAS going on?

According to the legend Chandler shrugged and admitted he hadn't got a clue

Lydia said...

Nancy~ I don't know L.A. well, so am not sure of the neighborhood where the Mayfair is located. The building sure has been maintained beautifully!
Hope you enjoy the story.

Pixies~ (Video) is sometimes the only format you can get older films, and it sounds like you bought a great one. That legend about Chandler is so interesting. Seems he was a man of mystery in many regards. :)

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Beautiful story gorgeous old post card! Hugs my dear friend Lydia.

Fireblossom said...

Hmm...i have a sudden urge to put on pearls and a pillbox hat!

Erratic Thoughts said...

The Hotel looks great,from a distance!
Certainly an interesting story...Thanx for sharing it,Lydia.:)

Lydia said...

*****To you three below: I am SO sorry for only now realizing I had not replied to your comments.*****

Phivos~ Thank you for being such a faithful visitor to Old Postcard Wednesday!

Fireblossom~ would! And they would be stunning on you.

Erratic Thoughts~ It really does look quite good for its age. I wonder about the folks responsible along the years for preserving it. Nice work.

Annabel said...

I had no idea there is a Mayfair hotel in LA. It looks lovely. Regards from hotels in Mayfair

Lydia said...

Annabel~ What fun for us to connect in this way. Will follow your link in just a minute.....

Anonymous said...

The Mayfair is still open and offers extended stay living as well! Check out the Mayfair at its facebook page:

Lydia said...

Anonymous~ Thank you for inviting us to visit the hotel's facebook page! I am so glad it is still open. I so love that photo I posted (in 2010) of the lobby, and think it looks like a splendid place to stay while in L.A. Best wishes to management and staff of The Mayfair Hotel.



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