Come with me to the Casbah – LuRain on the Great Depression, part 1

LP younger 3

I was a teen-ager the first time I saw Algiers, starring Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr.

Even in the hard times, films were the best value for escapism; having less effect on the body than hooch, hop or ciggies.

For just a few simoleans, all day could be spent in the movie house, especially if they was showing a double feature.

I went with a bunch of friends at least once a week.

We’d pool our dough to buy Crackerjack and Green River, then share between us.

Some like to sit in the balcony; the petting pantry.

If you wanted to see the film, weren’t no good to sit up there.

Too much heavy breathing and lip smacking.


First came the Movietone News Reel.

That’s how we found out things was brewing across the World for Global War.

Then the cartoons.

My favorite Looney Tunes character was Porky Pig.


 We all knew he was a milk-toast fruity from the get.

He and Daffy lived a fussy little domestic scene.

Porky apron on, sweeping and tidying. Daffy kvetching and being a devil, but he always paid for it.

Porky’s innocence saved him.

My favorite one is the rocking chair over the big hole in the floor.



I never liked Tom and Jerry.

 After cartoons, hours of entertainment.

Sometimes a one-reeler showing Buster Keaton or the Keystone Cops before the big picture.

In a twink, another dismal day evaporated.

Absorbed in others troubles, we could forget our own.


Algiers came out in 1936. I didn’t know that until today when the lady I live with, looked it up on the Wikipedia.

I not so good with dates. Most of my early life is a hopeless jumble to my mind at this stage.

I remember well working at the brothel when I was 14.

I wasn’t one of the girls, on account of being too fugly for even masochistic blind men.

I was a dogs-body; the squirt who did fetching and carrying, mopping up and heaving to. We had an expression – Got to see a man about a dog – that meant; to go for booze.

First taste of likker I had was bringing back suds in the big pail. I used to take a few swigs to lighten the load. When zozzled, that old bucket seemed like to weigh nothing at all.

The Madam of the brothel had breasts the size of the pink tufted pillows on the settee in the parlor.

To this day, every time I see a big round tuck and roll with a button in the middle, I think of Bovina Brink’s tits.

Prohibition, the 19th Amendment – Volstead Act, the Noble Experiment; began before I was born, and weren’t repealed until ’33.

I never got to go to a Speakeasy, because by the time I was running for it, every corner store was a juice joint, though I think the booze was still cooked in the sink.

The curtailing of spirit drinking strengthened Organized Crime, which flourished as an underground pipeline for folks addictions.

In my neighborhood, several gangs held sway when I was growing up. As bad as today’s gangsters are, the coppers had no control back then.

There was drive by shootings morning, noon and night. Too many officials and police on the take.

Lawlessness ruled.


In Algiers, Boyer plays Pepe Le Moko, a suave bad boy, who comes undone by falling for Hedy Lamarr. Her character is a swank; togged to the bricks in glittering diamonds and pearls.

All us youngsters wanted to be dark and exotic like her, though we didn’t trust foreigners.

We wanted to have pretties, even if they come with a smug boring rich guy like in the movie.

We figured it would be worth it.

‘Course at that time, we didn’t know nothing about sex.

I mean, I knew some of the girls complained, and cried. That there was fights and fellows got tossed out for some besmirch. But I didn’t know what it was all about then.

Took another couple years for me to get the lowdown.

All my illusions was shattered.

 I didn’t give up trying to get them back until 1962.


Charles Boyer had heavy eyelids.

He looked very snakey to me.

Naturally I was suspicious of him, no matter if he played a good guy. He was a convincing villain.

During the War, there was talk about that he collaborated with the Germans, and was a Vichy.

That meant he bent low when they rolled into Paris, and kissed shiny boots.

Since America was never invaded, we had no conception of what it would be like to be over-run.

Many folks held that against him, though I think they forgot just as quickly, people being like that by nature.

We didn’t read nothing about it in the Wikipedia, so maybe it was an ‘urban legend’, as is said now.

Errol Flynn got the same talk, when supposedly, he was actually doing some spying for our government.

But nobody ever forgave him, on account he was an mongrel cake-eater who liked his females young, very young.

I thought him wonderful.

Just goes to show.


Mr. Boyer was married to the same woman for 44 years, and other than the preceding, nary a breath of scandal about him.

Two days after she died of cancer, he overdosed on Seconal. Ended himself to be with her.

That makes me feel kindly towards him after all this time.

Of the many suicides in Hollywood, his is perfectly understandable. Must have planned it while she was ill.

Couldn’t be apart. Tragic and lovely.


At the end of the film, Pepe Le Moko is killed. He wants to escape the Casbah and succeeds.

In those troubled times, we envied him his freedom, even as to Hell he must go.

Hades had to be better than starvation, uncertainty and fear, we thought.

Looney Tunes added another character to its roster; Pepe Le Pew.

A French skunk. That played to politics and stereotype.

I loved him.

He always pursuing felines. Freak accidents painted them with the white stripe of his kind, so he attracted.

They ran in horror, until their sense of smell got masked by perfume or blocked by head cold.

Then he fled from them. At heart, a fraidy cat.

How ironic.


It is hard to be brave when you are sick with dread.

Nowadays, we know too much and never get a moments peace.

Turn off the modern world when you can.

Seek out that which takes you far away.

Be grateful for every minute of safety.

Things could be worse.

They always get better.


Tha..tha..tha..tha..that’s All, folks!

For now.





The lady I live with looked up Hedy Lamarr in the Wikipedia for me.

She invented a missle guidance system that was 20 years ahead of it’s time.

Isn’t that amazing?!

Not just a pretty face.



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