The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Nourish the Noirish

September 29, 2008
Fallon, Nevada

If you drive west across the country, according to the guy in overalls at the Fallon Starbucks, here in the cantaloupe country of Nevada is where your cellphone reception cuts out. Apparently, this is the place where they can't hear you now.

Vertical theater marquee with the name FALLON

Maybe not coincidentally, the Fallonians hear each other that much more clearly. Everyone seems to know each other already, thus rendering the crucial social benefits of The Big Read pretty much redundant, and allowing folks to concentrate more completely on The Maltese Falcon. Community Big Read organizer Barbara Mathews gravitated toward Hammett because she knew it would connect with those pesky hard-to-reach teenage boys, and she doesn't have to look far for proof: Mayor Ken Tedford's son Kenny is playing Sam Spade in the local production of Falcon on stage. Barbara's dedication knows few bounds. At Big Read orientation in June she suffered some minor cardiovascular event with a fancy acronym, then bounced right back home to put her absolutely topping calendar in motion.

Incidentally, isn't it sadistic of neurologists to give brain conditions forgettable acronyms, so that patients are forever suspecting themselves of relapsing when they fail to call their maladies' silly abbreviations to mind? And speaking of nomenclature, you should know that Nevada apparently rhymes with dada as in father, not -- as the Mexicans who got here first would have pronounced it -- dada as in Dadaism. Unofficial pronunciation guide for most of my native West: To sound local, however the original inhabitants said a place name, say it the other way. Colonize the name, colonize the land. Listen closely to the playoff-bound Dodgers' Santa Monica-born announcer and former right-fielder, Rick Monday, and you can still hear "Los Angeles" pronounced with a 1920s gentleman burgher's hard G. By the way, did I mention that the Dodgers are playoff-bound? The Dodgers are playoff-bound.

For all its hard work and hospitality, somehow Fallon refuses to go the extra mile, Big Read-wise -- he said facetiously. See this photo of the still operating vintage Fallon Theater (shortly to show The Maltese Falcon, natch)? How much work would it take to get a ladder, climb up on the marquee, and hotwire the sign to read FALCON?

Actually, it sounds like a lot of work. Never mind. Did I mention that the Dodgers are playoff-bound?