Ep #13 – The Big Sleep

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progressive.com price and coverage match limited by state law hi it's Phoebe I'm very happy to announce that criminal is coming to the Carolina theater here in Durham on October 5th for a live show and we'd love for you to come and say hi we'll have brand new criminal stories plus a few surprises you can find out more at this is criminal calm will hope to see you now here's the show I don't think I ever in my own mind think anybody's his own they don't find any anyone really all bad this is the only surviving recording of crime writer Raymond Chandler's voice it's from a 1958 interview a year before he died he's a little hard to understand because as the story goes he was extremely drunk he was drunk a lot especially near the end of his life but what he said here is that he doesn't ever think anybody is a villain you don't find anyone that's all bad tomatoes the real mystery is not who killed Sir John in this study but what the situation really worth what the people after but other people who were it seems to me that the real mystery is not who killed Sir John in the study what the situation really was what the people were after what sort of people they he wrote seven crime novels including The Long Goodbye in the Big Sleep and introduced the world to Philip Marlowe a clever hard-drinking Los Angeles private detective Marlowe doesn't have the genius of Sherlock Holmes or tuxedos like James Bond he's just a guy a little bit philosophical and a little bit flirtatious but always very very calm as Marlowe says in the novel play back guns never settle anything they're just a fast curtain to a bad second act with a writer as big as Chandler with archives at Oxford in UCLA if you think there wouldn't be much left to discover about his life but as Lawrence pourer found out there was one last mystery and the only people who could solve it were a couple of 70 runs in love with each other and obsessed with Chandler I'm Phoebe Judge this is criminal he said Los Angeles had the personality of a papercut yeah and I think he's at some point he also said that somebody had the personality of the inside of a shoe box the sole lauren lacquers been reading chandler since he was 17 years old and he's now 72 so a long time here he is talking to his wife Annie Theo what about the one about the blonde that caused the bishop to feel she's long as a blonde to make a bishop kick in a stained-glass window yeah that's his that's Chandler are the one is noticeable as a tarantula on an angel food cake he he was a master at simile this is my favorite thing about Chandler he wrote crazy sentences like I belong to an idol valley like a pearl onion on a banana split or I felt like an amputated leg he had a way with words definitely Lauren has always been a Chandler fan but Annie says she was more of a casual fan before she met Lauren he was completely mesmerized dan Chandler and devoted to him and I'm devoted to Lauren so it was a way of really wanting to to understand how Laurens it was like okay if I can really understand and read enough Chandler I'll know how he thinks – and then I kind of stepped into Laurens Chandler world Laurens Chandler world doesn't just involve rereading the novels and biographies it's hands-on he's photographed all the spots in Los Angeles where Chandler lived and all the places that he wrote about and he's tracked down anyone he can find who knew Chandler the first person that we met was was Dorothy his secretary and she was 82 news and he's got much better people skills than I do we invited her for her brunch and that's how we got to know her more in Porto ver the biographies that have been written about Chandler's life and what he realized was that every single one has basically the same ending and not one of them got it right so here's what you need to know about Raymond Chandler in order to make sense of what Lauren found when Chandler was young long before he became a writer he fought in World War one with a friend of his named Gordon Pascal this friend Gordon is important because shortly after the two of them got home from the war Raymond Chandler fell in love with Gordon's stepmom stepmother yes pearl Eugenia but she went by the nickname sissy and since he was 18 years older 17 or 18 years old says he lied about her age to almost everyone she cleaned the house in the nude Lauren and Auntie describers bohemian a free spirit eventually she left her husband and became sissy Chandler she really enjoyed cooking for him and they also had this glass menagerie of animals and they didn't they had a lot of fantasy between them they played with those little glass animals like there were children and they would make up stories and and they would hop in their car and they would go up into the said Brenda do you know we're up and into the most local mountains and it was quite a romance what do you think that she liked about him I think that she liked that that he had the soul of a poet and that he was handsome and that she was very called him remiel Raimi oh she's very sexually attracted to him they were crazy about each other what some people refer to as soulmates I think Chandler didn't start writing crime novels until after they were married he published his first one The Big Sleep at age 51 they were married for 30 years and when she got sick he waited on her hand in foot he'd check her into the hospital and she'd call right away and say come get me out of here and he would even if it meant she had to go right back because she couldn't breathe cystic fibrosis of fibroids or something that was turning the lungs too stoned essentially sissy was 84 years old when she died and Chandler fell apart he wrote for 30 years ten months and four days she was the light of my life my whole ambition anything I did was just the fire for her to warm her hands at he attempted suicide after she died he was deeply deeply depressed always was an alcoholic but he drank even more there was a small funeral and sissy was cremated Chandler was sad and apparently going crazy in the years after sissy died some say he was so lonely and so drunk that he would propose marriage to any woman with an earshot he died in 1959 just five years later because no one could find burial instructions he was buried at public expense by the city of San Diego and Mount Hope Cemetery well about 2010 I was doing some further research and read that Ray had wanted his eyes to go to an eye bank he wanted to be cremated he wanted to be with sissy and I knew that hadn't happened I didn't know where she was at the time I knew that she was had been placed in Cyprus view and that he was in Mount Hope of the cemetery I had no idea where they were in relationship to each other or anything at all about that I'm thinking well gee he wanted to be with sissy he won't you know too late to have his eyes go to an eye bank but maybe I can bring the two of them together so what did you do first call Cyprus view and say you know do you have sissy Chandler there well no we can't find her Lauren kept calling and trying to get answers and each time he called he got a little bit more information one time the person on the phone said Oh sissy is here she's on a shelf it's on a shelf yeah what other other remains I was on the shelf you know I'd call again no the shelf was in the storeroom I got the idea that it didn't seem kosher Lauren couldn't actually go and see the urn for himself he needed a family member I couldn't find anybody related to Rey and I started tracking down sissy's relatives and I I found a great great grand niece and a great great great grand niece and and not contacted in law it's a great idea why don't you go ahead and do that you know we love it but that wasn't good enough Lauren needed someone closer like a daughter or son the other option was to go to court so they got a lawyer her name is Aisha Wayne coincidentally the daughter of legendary actor John Wayne and lucky for them the judge turned out to be a Chandler fan and the judge kept getting rid of all the other cases like they were just you know like ordinary cases like neighbors fighting or this out of the other thing and he kept saying OK da da da dismiss dismiss dismiss you wanted to get to our case in fact he's a big one at one point well I'm gonna dismiss this for now because I have on a very important case he was very excited about it and so there we were and and I you said and Lauren and I down at the table and there's the judge and the judge starts asking well the first thing out of his mouth was I'm not inclined to grant this right convince me convince me and so I ISA had earlier gone to the guy at the crematorium and had asked him to be available to be on the phone so it was like a fairy Mason thing because I just said well Your Honor we actually have somebody ready to talk to you on the phone and out of the phone and the courtroom came the voice of the guy at the crematorium and the judge says so where is sissy and the guy said in the storage room we tracked this guy down he doesn't work at the crematorium anymore and didn't want to be recorded but he said he remembered talking to the judge he actually said that Lauren and Annie took up a lot of his time he kept telling me that sissy was cremated there before he was even born and so he had no idea why she was in storage and then the judge looks back and he said not just sissy Chandler but no one should be left in a room like that where people can't visit them he granted the the petition with the judges okay Lauren and Annie went to Cyprus view the crematorium where sissy was being stored you walk in science all marble there was one room where they had a fireplace and the niches were like a bookcase glass fronts and he'd sit in big chair and in front of the fireplace it looked like a library except that your loved one would be in a niche behind a little glass door and you could sit and talk to them you know whatever you wanted to do and the the rest of it the interior was absolutely gorgeous all marble and what it's so the place was beautiful but what about the room where sissy was well I'm getting to that now you would bring the casket in you'd have your service and then there was this ramp at the back of the chapel that goes down to the crematorium and you come down facing these two 100 year old brick cremation ovens looked like some kind of Rube Goldberg affair with pipes and peep holes and knobs and valves and things on the front and two and a half three foot high hinged at the top with a hasp and a padlock on it and that is where sissy was and over and then an alcohol to that room was the blonde mores and brooms and the other things her ashes had been on that shelf for 57 years it's technically called long-term storage but to you or me it looks like she got put in a closet there are two reasons why someone would wind up there instead of being interred either because it was the cheapest option or because you just forgot to go collect the ashes we think that that he kind of forgot to get the cremains and bury them like he had intended to do Lauren also told me that permanent storage is a nice-sounding euphemism for tossed in a box and forgotten Lauren and Annie arranged another funeral service to bring ray and Sissy together and on Valentine's Day 2011 they held the service at Mount Hope Cemetery for about a hundred people and they got some local news coverage cypress view mausoleum could have legally thrown away sissy's unclaimed ashes and 18:59 actor powers booth play detective Philip Marlowe in a popular 1983 TV series he read his favorite Chandler quotes during the ceremony I was as hollow and empty as the spaces between stars Lauren lacquer is a Chandler buff and organized yeah Lauren I'm cured how do you feel about I mean you've kind of written yourself into Raymond Chandler's biography now yeah I guess so I'm not sure how Ren would feel about that but I was doing it the help ray all of his wishes were ignored so to me that was you know that was something that was wrong and need to be righted and so that's why I went out and did that last question and you can just say that's ridiculous but I wonder if you ever imagined like they're ghosts sort of saying thank you absolutely absolutely I don't believe in ghosts in my mind's eye I feel very delightfully that they're dancing around the cemetery yes I think I am dull Jonny on that level I like the idea that you can go to Mount Hope Cemetery to visit Cissy and Ray and also see a little bit of Lauren and Annie they had a line from their favorite Chandler novel inscribed on the new headstone it reads dead men are heavier than broken hearts that's Lawrence poor Lauren lacquer has a chandler website Shamas town comm you can see his brand new Raymond Chandler map it has 287 QR codes so you can scan it with your phone and see spots that were either important to Chandler or to his detective Philip Marlowe criminal is produced by Lauren Eric men'll and me Julian Alexander does our episode art and we have some news criminal will be putting on a live show here in Durham North Carolina on Wednesday January 21st if you live nearby we'd love to see you you can learn more on our website this is criminal calm or on Facebook and Twitter at criminal show i'm phoebe judge this is criminal you

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