Sunday, July 24, 2005

The pleasures of false crime



From the David Mamet film Heist:

Danny DeVito: This other thing? This Swiss thing? If I was a publisher, I'd publish the plans.

Joe: So why don't you publish the plans?

Danny DeVito: Yeah, no, that's what I said I would do if I was a publisher. Unfortunately I'm a thief, so I have to do that thing.


Well, I do love Mamet ("Yeah, no" ... Love that construction). What I really like about that exchange is that while DeVito is a thief, and so has to do that thing, I (and if I may presume, Mamet himself as well) am the exact opposite: I have to do that other thing. I spend my days reading and thinking about crimes, even planning them in my head (I live about two blocks from Montague Street's bankers row, so my mind is in overdrive right now). But I will never commit one. Hopefully, I will publish the plans some day.

Which is a long way of saying I'm edging around restarting the long dead (and so, so bad) crime novel that I've been neglecting for a long time. But I'm also thinking of the gulf between me and most of the crime bloggers I talked about below. They study crimes they find horrible, and rightfully so. They focus on victims, rightfully so. I do find the "classic" true crime of horrible crime, innocent victim, justice hopefully served to be interesting. But you won't read much about it here.

I still find many aspects of crime romantic, and I think that's fine. I certainly don't romanticize serial killers or anyone like that. But I (and once again, I think Mamet as well) find people that walk that line, who commit themselves to being (nonviolent) robbers and con men who live beyond the lines of society, to be fascinating (Once again, I'm aware of this being mythical). Mamet and I (see how I've worked us to be old chums) watch from the sidelines and study and laugh, but we'll never join in. No, we have to do our thing instead.

(I kept watching my DVD of Heist while I was writing the above. Some other choice lines:

Jimmy Silk: How long has he been with her?
Pinky: How long is a Chinaman's name?
Silk: What?
Joe: You ever notice that? How Long is a Chinaman's name.

Silk: Is your man cool?
Pinky: My motherfucker's so cool when he goes to sleep, sheep count him.)

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