Monday, June 29, 2009

Bill and Sam

Sad news from a recent Leah Garchik article in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Since December 1993, Bill Arney ... has lived at 891 Post, Apartment No. 401. That was the 600-square-foot residence of Dashiell Hammett when he wrote "The Maltese Falcon," and it's where the writer had Sam Spade living. The rent-controlled $680 a month apartment is a national Literary Landmark ...

But Arney has lost his job, and money worries mean he will have to give up the apartment. His wife owns a small house in Marin (sic - they rent, actually); they won't be homeless. But - this is an innovative plea - he wants either a new job so that he can continue as "keeper of the shrine" or to find a new tenant who will take care of it as he has. If he were to move, he says, the landlord would surely modernize, removing all he has tried to protect.

"It's almost a crime to move out of here," says Arney. But if a new tenant emerges, "I'll leave 'em the rug, the padded rocker, the photos on the wall of Hammett and of Hammett's daughter."
Bill has been a good friend to me, recording the first chapter of my novel Candy from Strangers for a KQED production, and more recently, reading the first chapter of my latest, The Big Wake-Up, in the very same apartment.

I hope he finds a new job quickly ... I can't imagine another tenant who would appreciate the place as much as Bill.

Click here to take a tour of the place in better times.

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