Mickey Potus strode into the room and eyed his enemy. The crime boss was not so impressive in person as when he was pretending to be a tough guy on horseback. He sat in his tailored silk suit, hoping to bluster, trying to look like he didn’t have a care in the world, but Mickey knew his entrance had shaken him to the core. The puddle of piss on the floor gave him away, That often happened when Mickey came calling.
Mickey decided to play with this piece of human scum for a while. Real casual-like, he said to Vicious Vlad, “Let me tell you about a friend of mine, a knockout woman name Velda.” A bead of sweat broke out on Vlad’s brow. Maybe he had heard. Maybe he knew the game was up.
“My friend Velda, she’s got intelligence, you know what I mean? She’s got real intelligence. She has more intelligence in her little finger than you have in your whole nation of goons. And Velda tells me….,” Mickey stopped dead, so that next words he said would hit the little punk with the force of a sledge hammer. Velda tells me that – you’ve – been – meddling – in – our – election.” That hit home. The little man shook.
Mickey grabbed the punk by the lapels. “Now you listen up and you listen up good. Cut it out!” But Vlad was too much of a stool pigeon to know when to cut his losses. He voice trembled, but he tried to stammer back: “We didn’t me-me-medd….” He never got the words out. A smashing blow from Mickey’s fist sent blood and teeth flying everywhere.
“I said ‘cut it out’” Mickey roared. What! You think I’m taking the word of scum over my intelligence? I checked out that floozie you were with and I’m not impressed. She can’t hold a candle to my Velda, a real class act, and one of these books I’m going to marry her. There won’t be any hanky-panky beforehand either. I’m kinda an old-fashioned type of guy.”
“Now I’ve got one and only one question for you,” Mickey glowered. The little man, real cooperative all of a sudden, all the fight out of him, quavered, “Wh-What?”
“Why don’t you get me a cup of coffee?”
Yeah, I know, I know. But I can‘t help myself. One more time.
It’s just that, if you read his interviews, he sounds like he would have made such a great grampa!
Read up on him, and you will see you see his genuine interest in people (you might not notice that when Hammer is blowing em away) coupled with an absolute lack of pretence....an irresistible combination! And a classic personality trait of old-timer JWs.
And who could resist his lines? Such as when being interviewed and conversation veered into politics, which Mickey hated, but his wife enjoyed. So the wife started to hog the interview. Mickey got things back on track:
"Can I ask you a question?" he asks her.
"Sure." (she knows what's coming)
"Why don't you get me a cup of coffee?"
And I’m not sure if, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses (wasn't he in and out a few times?) he didn’t take the truth where it otherwise might not have gone.
Some pioneers were talking shop a while back. 'I’ll bet John Wayne was really rough to witness to', suggested one. [John Wayne was a super patriot, and super patriots aren't always fond of Jehovah's Witnesses, misinterpreting our stands on neutrality and flag salute] But the circuit overseer was with us that week, and he cut us short will an account we hadn't heard. Back in a prior assignment, he said, some brother had called on John Wayne, who could not have been more kind or respectful. He had the highest regard for Jehovah’s Witnesses, he said, though he himself would never become one because he felt unable to live up to their standards.
Is the story true? I have no idea. But the fact that the C.O. would relate it does give it weight.
Now, where might John Wayne have gotten such a favorable impression of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Read Mickey's words below:
I played in a movie called Ring of Fear …..This was where I got the Jag. The guy wrote and directed the picture had problems, but John Wayne who produced it, never gave up on his friends. Duke was having a bad time, going through a divorce, and they needed to fix the script. So they're thinking who could do it, and someone says, Spillane's a writer, he could do it. Now I'm playing ME in the picture, for pete's sake. They called me up in Newburgh on Wednesday, I'm already back home across the country, and said come back and fix it. So I took my Wagner records, flew West, and worked Friday, Saturday, Sunday. They set me up in a beautiful hotel suite, and I worked. …..And they wanta pay me for the script but I won't take nothing for that, it was a favour. But Duke says, 'he was looking at those Jags in the lot next to the Cock and Bull'. One night, I'm back in Newburgh, it's snowing, and out in front of my house is this beautiful Jag with a red ribbon around it, and a note that says 'Thanks, Duke'.
Starting with "I, the Jury," in 1947, Mr. Spillane sold hundreds of millions of books during his lifetime and garnered consistently scathing reviews. Even his father, a Brooklyn bartender, called them "crud."
"Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar," Mickey observed.
Spillane flaunted his lack of authorial polish claiming (mischievously) never to introduce characters with moustaches or who drank cognac because he didn't know how to spell the words.
After a screening of "The Girlhunters" (1963), he came up…..in the lobby afterward and said, "Boy, that was awful. All I did was take that dumb raincoat on and off". Mickey was right. The movie was awful, but he was so much fun.
Over the last decades (to his disgust, one suspects) he received increasing critical respect for his contributions to the idiom of crime fiction and for his having played a pioneer's role in the postwar paperback revolution.
Mickey was one of the most friendly and disarmingly pleasant people that I've ever met. - Alan Rode
And please don't go thinking that Mickey was one of those JWs who, after he hit it big, never talked about his faith, as if he considered it a career liability. Get a load of this interview:
You were raised a Catholic, right?
No I wasn't raised either one (Catholic or Protestant). I'm one of the Jehovahs Witnesses.
You joined in the fifties?
You don't join that, you have to be a witness. Witnessing is an active word.
The word apocalyptic keeps coming up in criticism of your work. Do you believe in the second coming?
The word coming is a misnomer. The word used is parousia in Greek, and it means 'presence'. Take President Clinton. Do you know him? No. But you feel his presence, all the taxes he lays on you. We feel his presence because we have to live under his direction. So when these things were asked of Jesus they asked 'what will be the sign of your presence, and the end of the system of things...now that was translated in the King James Bible as the end of the world. Now the word 'world' and the word 'earth' are two different things...the Bible says the earth abides forever. It's the simplicity of it, religion has turned everything inside out! Someone says how'd you like to be able to live forever? You say, oh boy would I liketa live forever, there's so many things I'd like to do, I used to be able to pass a football with either hand, now I can't throw from here to the wall...there's so many things...I think the best time for me was around 35...but if you're not a wise guy you can put up with those things...I know too many guys my age, they walk around, like they're crippled. I try to stay in good physical shape, I don't smoke, I don't drink...I'll have a beer once in a while. People say,' you have a beer, you're a Jehovah's Witness...but the Bible doesn't proclaim against drinking, it proclaims against drunkenness...anyway, someone says how'd you like to live forever...we know what death is, you can kick a dead dog, it won't bite you...but Jesus makes the greatest remark I think it's so funny nobody pays any attention, he says 'this means everlasting life', and they say what, 'you gotta stand on your head, you gotta pay knowledge, what', and he says it's taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and that's so easy...I get so excited about this, I'll keep talking to you like this if you don't say that's enough, but this is why people think you're a nut, they say, don't people turn you down, I say 'they don't turn me down, they turn God down'. That's why people can't stop drinking, do drugs, that's why the world's the way it is...do you know a stable country in the world?
Okay. That’s my third Mickey Spillane farewell. I’m done.
Some quotes are taken from the following sites:
Vanity Fair December 2003
Here's the first. Click here.
Mickey Spillane’s Black Alley…a book review:
If private eye Mike Hammer takes some lead in the gut and needs a doctor to patch him up, will he get a loving sincere TV doctor? Or will it be the fallen skid row bum type… some has-been doctor clawing his way back to respectability? (Hint: Mike likes to swill beer with his doctor.) Is Black Alley to be a tale of redemption?
Or is it a love story? For at long last, Mike proposes to his knock-out secretary Velda….violating doctors orders….he is not supposed to get excited, but how can you not with a woman like Velda? She’s long hoped, but never thought, the day would come. But there will be no shacking up before the knot is tied….Mike is an old fashioned type of guy. And it’s going to be one heck of a courtship.
See, the mob has lost all their money, and they’re not too happy about it. Turns out they think Mike knows where the dough is. The Feds think so too, and they want the money for taxes. So Mike has to dodge them both and beat them all to the stash. Oh, did I mention that he’s recuperating from a near fatal wound, and the dead beat doctor has to show up now and then to patch his guts with duct tape? Will Mike be up to the challenge?
As Mike himself would say, don’t be a jerk! You know very well he’ll be. This is Mike Hammer! It’s the mob that better watch out!
This is a crime story, and it may sound over the top, but writer Spillane pulls it off with flair. He’s doing what he does best…writing cops and robbers. He’s was doing it while I was still….well…he’s been doing it a long time, and it shows. His first novel sold in 1947, and he has mastered his craft. No cardboard, techno-thriller characters in Black Alley. Love and redemption subplots operate in the background. Here are characters with depth that you can care about. If they’re not entirely believable, they are nonetheless riveting, well-sketched. The bad guys are bad, the good guys are good, and they are all well worth the read.
The preceding is the book review I wrote a while back to be released someday, and now that Mickey Spillane has died, (July 17, 2006) it seems a good a time as ever.
Mickey was one of our people, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He may have been in and out once or twice….I’m not really sure….but he died faithful.
A worthy pastime, if you are going to read any of his novels, is to find in them references to the faith. You have to bypass the first super violent Hammer novels, written from 1947 on, because he didn’t become a JW until 1952. And I’ve only read three, one of which doesn’t count: (pre-1952) I, the Jury, Black Alley, and Something’s Down There. I, the Jury was his first. Black Alley and Something’s Down There were his last.
Mako, in Something’s Down There, speaks of the nutty evolutionists. That’s a clue. Evolutionists aren’t nutty….they’re revered. Thus, the book’s author is either a JW or a fundamentalist Christian. If he is a fundamentalist Christian, the characters will spend lots of time in church. No one does in this book, so the author must be a JW.
But the real giveaway is Mike Hammer eying the Mafioso’s house in Black Alley. It is heavily fortified, he observes, like ancient Babylon! Mike Hammer, tough private eye, familiar with ancient Babylon?? Not likely, but Jehovah’s Witnesses know all about Babylon. They’ve studied it time and again….it’s impregnability, it’s system of canals, it’s massive walls and gates….and it’s one vulnerability. It’s imprisonment of exiled Jews. And their unexpected, even miraculous, release.
Jehovah’s Witnesses take great interest in Babylon because its fall foreshadows events in the modern day.
Old Testament She has fallen! Babylon has fallen, and all the graven images of her gods he has broken to the earth! Isa 21:9
New Testament: After these things I saw another angel descending from heaven, with great authority; and the earth was lighted up from his glory. And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: “She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen... Rev 18:1
Every Jehovah’s Witness knows about this.
Here’s a bit of writing to brighten your day!
Caution: graphic (not sexual) stuff ahead. Feel free to skip the next paragraph. You can always come back to it if you want.
I snapped the side of the rod across his jaw and laid the flesh open to the bone. I pounded his teeth back into his mouth with the end of the barrel ... and I took my own damn time about kicking him in the face. He smashed into the door and lay there bubbling. So I kicked him again and he stopped bubbling.
Isn’t that a bit…..um….violent?
Yes, it is, and it was penned by Mickey Spillane, who died last week at 88 years of age. He was the most selling author of the twentieth century. But I’ve never heard of him, whine the twenty-somethings. That’s because his monster-sellers were written late 40’s and early 50’s, starting with I, the Jury, in which tough private eye Mike Hammer set out to avenge his pal’s murder. He’s gonna plug the sadistic creep when he finds him, instead of arresting him for trial, because…..well….the title says it all!
Spillane wrote it quickly, in just nine days, because he needed a down payment for a home. Within two years, he had achieved superstar-author status.
And then he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The guy who brought broads and blood to the reading masses is a Jehovah's Witness, a fundamentalist [group] that preaches the imminent end of the world. "There's nothing phony about them. Everything they say is true," says Spillane, a one-time "nominal" Protestant converted years ago by a Jehovah's Witness who knocked on his door.
[We would never characterize ourselves as a fundamentalist group…..indeed, we maintain a certain distance from those folks. But, alas, sometimes people confuse us with them……Sheepandgoats]
This posed a problem for Mike Hammer, because Jehovah’s Witnesses are not blood and guts people. Of course, Mike Hammer didn’t become a JW, Mickey Spillane did, but Mike, as an invented person, can’t do squat without Mickey’s okay. In 1952 he (Mickey) told Life magazine: There are more books on the way, but they won't contain the things that bolster the excuses for the moral breakdown of this present generation. I've changed my work and course of action to be in harmony with Jehovah's Kingdom. Spillane didn’t write again for 10 years.
When he did, Mike Hammer was somewhat tamer, though hardly domesticated. The bad guys, after all, are bad, and you can only be so nice in dealing with them. New characters appeared as well: Tiger Mann, (not Woods) a James Bond wannabe of the 1970’s. Spillane also wrote a couple of children’s books, The Day the Sea Rolled Back (1979) and The Ship That Never Was (1982).
I wrote those books as an exercise, they sold, they won the Junior Literary Guild Award, which made all the guys who write kids books very aggravated, 'how can you win that award?', but you know what that does, it gets you into all the school libraries, which is a lot of sales.
For about twenty years, he did Miller Lite TV commercials…. we made Miller Lite the second largest selling beer in the world and everybody said 'no one'll drink that stuff'.
High-brow authors thought his writing stunk to high heaven, but Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged) loved it. She examines a passage of his writing:
"The rain was misty enough to be almost foglike, a cold gray curtain that separated me from the pale ovals of white that were faces locked behind the steamed-up windows of the cars that hissed by. Even the brilliance that was Manhattan by night was reduced to a few sleepy yellow lights off in the distance" -- and then compares it to a passage by Thomas Wolfe -- "The city had never seemed as beautiful as it looked that night. For the first time he saw that New York was supremely, among the cities of the world, a city of night. There had been achieved here a loveliness that was astounding and incomparable, a kind of modern beauty, inherent to its place and time, that no other place nor time could match."
To Rand, "there is not a single emotional word or adjective in Spillane's description; he presents nothing save visual facts; but he selects only those facts, only those eloquent details, which convey the visual reality of the scene and create a mood of desolate loneliness." Wolfe, she argued, used only estimates, "and in the absence of any indication of what aroused these estimates, they are arbitrary assertions and meaningless generalities."
I’ve only read three of Mickey Spillane’s novels: his first, and his last two. So I have a few to catch up on. I wrote to him, but he never replied. However it was only a few months ago, and I guess he’d been in bad health. He was 88, after all. And I had to go through his publisher; my letter to his googled address came back undeliverable.
In his 80's, he knew he wouldn't write too much longer.
I'm going to write my last Mike Hammer novel...I used to write fast, but I can't now, my rear end gets tired...I can't put in 12 hours a day sitting in a chair.