Friday, March 1, 2024

Black Spot

Thanks for all your thoughtful replies to yesterday's post about local news. I'm glad to see that so many of you value it and keep track of it in one way or another. Even those of you who choose not to have given me food for thought, whether local news feels irrelevant to your daily life or you have concerns about the ownership or quality of your local media outlets.

However, one thing that occurred to me while reading your responses is that we here in blogland are not a representative slice of the population. I'm sure you'll agree that we tend to skew older, at the very least, and we probably all tend to be readers. I wonder if younger people are paying more or less attention to local news, and in what form?

Anyway, enough of that. Obviously, since it's my industry, I could talk about it all day long, but we'll let it rest for now.

When Dave and I went to L.A. a couple of weeks ago, I borrowed some related reading material from the library for the trip. One of the books is a collection of writing by Raymond Chandler, a well-known mid-century detective novelist who I had never read. I'm reading Chandler's "The Long Goodbye" right now, and I am loving it. His protagonist, Philip Marlowe, is the epitome of the hard-bitten, trenchcoat-wearing, wisecracking detective, and Chandler's writing is really good. I can see how it's inspired so many parodies and imitators, but I'm impressed at his turn of phrase -- his word use surprises and delights at every turn.

In the book, Marlowe mentioned being handed a $5,000 bill bearing James Madison's portrait. I thought, "Does such a thing exist?" (Obviously I have never seen one!)

It turns out they used to exist -- along with $500, $1,000 and $10,000 notes, as well as a $100,000 "gold certificate" used only for transactions within the federal reserve. All those bills were discontinued in 1969, but you can see pictures of them at the link above. They're still legal tender and could theoretically still be circulated, but the ones that survive nowadays are probably all in the hands of collectors.

Also, at one point Chandler offered a detailed description of a woman's hands, including her painted fingernails. This reminded me that I forgot to mention another experience on our L.A. trip. We flew Virgin Atlantic from London to L.A., and we had three male flight attendants serving us in our cabin. All three of them had expertly painted fingernails -- bright red, to match their Virgin uniforms. Dave and I agreed that having one male attendant with painted nails would be unusual enough, but having three was quite remarkable. We wondered if they all went out for a manicure together before the flight! (For the record, I wholeheartedly approved.)

Here's my own fingernail mystery. This is my left thumb. Last week, in the library, I had to make a sign using a Sharpie marker, and not long afterward I noticed this black spot near my thumbnail. I figured I accidentally got ink on my finger and didn't think any more about it. But the spot stayed and stayed, though countless hand-washings and dish-washings and showers, and I thought, "Hmmmm. It must not be ink."

To be honest, I can't see it very well -- it's tiny and my eyes, even with glasses on, aren't entirely cooperative. So I went to the school nurse yesterday and said, "What IS this?"

He thinks I injured my finger somehow and it's basically an internal bruise. He said it should disappear over time. It's possible I did it while working in the garden, perhaps cutting blackberry vines, and maybe I just didn't immediately notice it. It doesn't hurt at all. I'll be keeping an eye on it, though!

(Top photo: A nighttime street scene in Vauxhall, on Sunday.)


Moving with Mitchell said...

I’ve done that kind of damage to my fingers many times. It seems to linger forever until one day I suddenly realize it’s gone. We were recently talking about US bill denominations and I actually looked it up. I saw a $500 bill once. I think it was given to me for my bar mitzvah by a gangster uncle (not really a gangster... but he was a pal). It went into the bank.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

"My industry" is in fact librarianship if indeed that is an industry. Your almost new boss might define it as a religious calling. Regarding the thumb, have you considered amputation?

Boud said...

I think you're a librarian, no? With a continuing interest in newsgathering.

It took a while to get to Philip Marlowe! I think more people at this point know his imitators and parodies than the original.

Ed said...

I have been within inches of all those bills you mentioned. When taking people around, we sometimes top at the federal mint in Kansas City where they have them on display, behind thick glass.

Sadly, the only unusual bills I have though are a stack of $2 bills. My great uncle used to give them to me every birthday and Christmas. I think banks are required to have some in stock though you can only get them by request.

ellen abbott said...

it looks like a blood blister to me. it will eventually peel off. I had a $1 silver certificate that I kept for decades. A month or so ago when my great niece and nephew were here I had him look through my dad's coin collection as that is his business, buying and selling coins. He dismissed the silver certificate, said it was only worth the $1 it represented so I put it in my wallet and spent it.

Sabine said...

Have you seen the movie version of The Long Goodbye (Robert Altmann directed it)? I recommend it and then watch The Big Sleep movie version (Howard Hawks) - or maybe read the Chandler novel first. It's a great movie with Bogart and Bacall. In my final year before uni, we had a dedicated art teacher who made us watch all Marlowe movies and we had to write an essay on Philip Marlowe as a prototype of a loner or something like that.

Ms. Moon said...

I have read some of Chandler's work and enjoy and admire it very much. I should read and re-read more of it. Have you ever read any Christopher Moore? He is a prolific author who has written novels about everything from vampires to whales. He's also written two detective novels which he absolutely credits Chandler for inspiration. "Razzamatazz" and "Noir".
I really enjoyed them.
I LOVE the idea of male flight attendants with painted fingernails! Billy gets manicures and pedicures and his nails are as much a part of who he is as his beard.

Linda Sue said...

Erik has always painted his nails- because he loves color. I never paint mine- the polish is too harmful and my nails freak the eff out! Seems to have become more common with the menfolk lately. I LOVE the photo of Vauxhall, the bicycles lining the railing, the night time lighting- excellent moody shot. Of course your gift for composition is exquisite.
We still get loads of local news in alternative new papers stacked by the flowers at the coop. some pretty great journalism covering local government shenanigans that would not otherwise see the light of day. Our little town is well informed, well read- indy bookshops abundant - university town.
My Mother was a voracious reader- she loved Chandler's books! I have not given them a go...yet.

Kelly said...

I've had blood blisters like that. They pop up out of nowhere and tend to vanish the same way!

I've never read Chandler, but he might be more "noir" than I usually like. I'll have to try one!

There was a time I always kept my nails well-manicured and polished. (always doing it myself) Now I just keep them as short as possible with no polish. I have vague memories of my dad wearing clear polish.

Sharon said...

I love that street scene photo! The flight attendants with painted nails is a great story. I love that they all had their nails painted. There is a news show on PBS on Friday evenings called Washington Week with a moderator and four guest reporters who talk about the week's news. Every now and then, there is one male guest reporter who joins who always has painted nails. Sometimes they are red, sometimes blue. I look forward to seeing him when he's one of the guests.
It's interesting the little things we find on our own skin. Since I am fair skinned, I have to watch for suspicious spots all the time. Your little spot does look like a bruise. By the way, aren't all bruises internal?

Susan said...

Regarding the news, I find many people have their favorite podcasts where individuals report news events directly from their home location. Manicured and painted nails always look very stylish. My nails are filed (by me) with no color. Being in the garden and loving the soil, lawns and woodlands, painted nails do not hold up well. Your thumb injury might have happened in the garden. Soil and/or a thorns could cause this injury. Watch for any sign of infection.

Margaret said...

Hope it goes away soon. I don't like any unexplained marks. I don't have my fingernails painted; they're too easy to chip. When the weather gets nicer, I love colorful painted toenails though. I give the nails a literal breather during the winter.

The Bug said...

I think I've had spots like that before and of course had no idea what I did to cause them. I'm looking at a place on my hand that looks like it wants to be a scar (it's been red FOREVER). I scraped the skin off one day & have NO IDEA when or how. I'm a mess :)

I LOVE the fingernail polish on the flight attendants! That kind of thing just makes me smile.

Jeanie said...

It can take Sharpie a long time to disappear (believe me, I've run it through more than a few tests, though not deliberately!) Still, that seems odd -- and too long. Interesting diagnosis from the nurse -- makes sense. That Vauxhall photo is a huge WOW! Love that -- it takes you there. And yes, Chandler is terrific. Haven't read him in years. Maybe it's time to renew the acquaintance!

Andrew said...

Those flight attendants, you don't think they could have been, you know, ah a bit different? I like men wearing nail polish, especially straight men as it covers up their dirty fingernails.

Debby said...

I could not reply to your post yesterday, so I will do so here. I wrote a column for our local paper for years. It was bought out by Ogden Newspapers. Then they combined our newspaper with another local newspaper in another town (AND in another state). We have two local reporters. The paper became about 6-8 pages long including the comics and the world news. Ogden news is a far right wing operation and they are big time Trump supporters. I had quite a disagreement with the editor. They were printing lies and conspiracy theories. I mean really easily disproven things. He felt that it was not his job to vet these things for truth before publishing. So yes. We quit taking the local newspaper. Mostly because it was no longer a local newspaper. Mostly because if I have to fact check my newspaper, they have lost all journalistic credibility to my way of thinking.

River said...

Well, now I have to look up a copy of The Long Goodbye! ebay should have one...

Steve Reed said...

Mitchell: That's quite a gift! My black spot is still there, alas.

YP: Well, that's true -- my former industry, I should say!

Boud: I guess I still think of myself as a journalist at heart. That's certainly where most of my formal training lies. Yes, the Marlowe parodies have overshadowed the original!

Ed: I used to have several $2 bills that I got here and there. I finally spent them all at some point.

Ellen: My mom saved a few old silver certificates, too. I didn't realize they weren't worth anything special. (My brother probably has them now, unless she spent them.)

Sabine: I've never seen a Marlowe movie. I have seen "The Maltese Falcon," which is Dashiell Hammett but similar, I guess.

Ms Moon: I have never read Christopher Moore. We have an English teacher at school by that name. Is he moonlighting? LOL

Linda Sue: I think I would have loved experimenting with painted nails when I was younger. Now it would look pretty silly. LOL

Kelly: Chandler is VERY noir. In fact, the epitome of noir, I'd say.

Sharon: Oh, yeah, I guess that's true. LOL! See, I DO need an editor!

Susan: According to family legend, one of my great-great grandfathers died from an infection caused by a thorn!

Margaret: I once got a pedicure -- it was a gift -- and the pedicurist (?) asked me if I wanted color. I said no, but I've always regretted not going for it!

Bug: I think it's really common for people to injure ourselves in small ways without realizing it. It's weird that this doesn't hurt at all, though. You'd think if I got punctured by a thorn, for example, I'd feel it.

Jeanie: I think it's definitely too long to be Sharpie. Weird how it just showed up all at once. I will keep an eye on it!

Andrew: Who knows?! What IS different anymore?

Debby: I've heard of Ogden newspapers, often in the same breath as Sinclair. Both very right-wing media chains. I find it astonishing that the editor didn't feel it was his job to vet the news for truthfulness! What IS his job, then?!

River: I'm sure they're easy to find!

Jessica Hollinghurst said...

Growing up in Scotland we called that kind of bruise a Devils Nip don't know why.