For three summers, the Friends of the La Jolla Library have encouraged novelists manque to parody, ape or otherwise mimic a famous writer with San Diego connections.
In the first two contests, the writers were Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Now it's Erle Stanley Gardner, author of 82 Perry Mason novels and a resident of Temecula before his death in 1970.
A goodly number of contest entrants have tried to clarify the psycho-sexual dynamic between Mason and secretary Della Street. Gone is the Gardner reticence.
Several entrants even went revisionist, making Della more assertive and seductive. Definitely a Della for the 1990s, dominating Mason and making him love it.
Like this from "The Case of Fresh Strawberries":
\o7 Deli Street, efficient, determined secretary of the successful, offbeat lawyer Peary Mason, pulled her skirt over her shapely, businesslike knees...
"Honestly, Peary, I think this strawberry thing is ridiculous. Only a fruitcake would take a case like this."
\f7 And this from an untitled submission:
\o7 Della Street walked into the lawyer's office with a red rose clenched in her teeth. ... Paul Drake's mouth hung open as Della donned a veil and the (marriage) ceremony commenced.
\f7 And from "The Case of the Crocodile Tears":
\o7 Perry Mason's faithful secretary, long, lean and lanky Della Street, moving with double-jointed ease, ushered a swizzle-stick slender woman into Mason's leather-bound lawbook-lined private office.
\f7 And from "The Case of the Patient Secretary."
\o7 Della was pretty as a follies girl in a sheer pink dress that sent a glow to her face. ... "If the ring pleases you, will you wear it, Della, my love? (begged Mason)."
\f7 The winners (first prize, $200) will be announced tonight after a showing of the 1935 Perry Mason movie "The Case of the Lucky Leg," starring the mercifully forgotten Warren William.
The contest entrants may find it a bit dull. Della doesn't have much of a role.
Dodging Taxes, Cameras, Bullets
Covering the sunny city.
* Tax my patience.
Tax protester and perennial candidate Barbara Hutchinson has reconsidered: She \o7 will\f7 be a write-in candidate against Rep. Bill Lowery (R-San Diego).
She hasn't run for office since doing time in federal prison on a tax beef. But the S&L scandal and President Bush's "forget-my-lips" announcement have pushed her too far:
"If I have to ride a white horse and wear a body-stocking and a blond wig to get attention, I'll do it."
* Great moments in San Diego journalism.
Channel 8, trying to ambush interview a fleeing Bill Kolender in the underground parking lot of the Union-Tribune building.
A U-T security guard sticking his hand in front of the camera.
* And that's the way it is: really polluted.
Walter Cronkite is in town today to film a video on Mission Bay pollution for the San Diego Oceans Foundation.
* Dan Fouts has denied the leaked-out reports that he was once wounded by a jealous husband. That hasn't stopped the media jokers.
Shotgun offense, bullet passes, arm like a rifle, etc.
A San Diego City Council committee this afternoon debates whether to ask voters in November to approve a bond issue to build a new central library and expand 17 branches.
A few weeks ago the tab was put at $109 million. Now it's $140 million.
Plus, the city manager says an additional tax increase will be needed for operating expenses for the new buildings.
All of this before a site has been picked for a new central library.
Rising costs, an operating tax, site unseen? Is it likely that voters will give the needed two-thirds approval for a bond issue?
"We've got to try," says bond booster Judy McCarty.
Other library lovers prefer a slimmed-down bond issue, and only after a site is chosen. The discussion should fill pages.