Re: RARA-AVIS: San Francisco

From: Jim Beaver (
Date: 02 Oct 2001

Oklahoma City is also known as "The City" to people in it, and in fact, in the whole state. A hundred miles away, in Tulsa, if you say you're going to The City, people know you mean OKC.

As to Bogart's Spade mailing a letter addressed "City" instead of "San Francisco," I recall that as being common practice in many cities and towns in olden days. I believe the practice drew on the presumption that a letter mailed thusly would be delivered within the bounds of the city in which it was mailed. In Dallas in the Fifties, we used to get mail addressed to our street address, "City." Obviously not something to do if you're writing to someone in another "city."

Jim Beaver

> Having lived in the Bay Area for 10 years (in the suburbs, Fremont), San
> Francisco is basically just known as "The City". If you say that, everyone
> knows what you are talking about, there is no other City, and no
> of their being another one to bay area inhabitants. If you say "San Fran"
> and you sound like a dork. "South City" is term I heard a lot in the past
> South San Francisco is basically a totally different place.
> I've been to a lot of cities but I have never encountered a place like
> It is really a very small place geographically with a very diverse
> culture.Hammety's and the Maltese Falcon atmosphere just add to my image
> this place.
> Rob
> > Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 00:40:22 -0500
> > From: "M Blumenthal" <>
> > Subject: RARA-AVIS: Theme of the month - San Francisco
> >
> > We are moving a little north this month. I was thinking about books
> written
> > about the two cities. Except for books with the LAPD being an important
> > element, books about LA rarely seem to be about an urban area. Chandler
> and
> > Ross MacDonald wrote about southern California but mainly their favorite
> > suburb. Most books set in San Francisco seems to have the gritty feel
> > the city. I am always struck by Bogart in John Houston's version of The
> > Maltese Falcon when he is mailing the package holding the falcon Captain
> > Jacoby gave his life to deliver. All Bogart writes is his address and
> 'City'
> > There is no possibility of there being any other city.
> >
> > I have to confess the only time I ever was in San Francisco was when I
> > picked up at the airport, driven
> > driven through it to Berkely and then driven back a few days later. My
> image
> > of the city has been formed by movies like Bullitt and the Dirty Harry
> > series. I have also read Hamett, but that's a view of a city two
> generations
> > past. Greenleaf's Tanner and Prozini's Nameless have written many books
> set
> > in the city, but they are marginally hb. Joe Gores' DKA series which are
> > almost PI procedurals have their foundation in his having worked for
> twelve
> > years as a private investigator/skip tracer. . He has written a lot of
> stand
> > alones as well. They are often set in San Francisco such as HAMMETT and
> > INTERFACE. I guess we can discuss Hammett's San Francisco of the late
> 20's
> > and the 30's or these modern writers.
> >
> > Anyone who lives in the city or knows its relevance to hb fiction is
> welcome
> > to contribute.
> > Mark
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