California IX: Chinatown


Yesterday, our last full day in California, Dad and I drove down toward San Diego for lunch with his sister. We ate at the Beach House in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Maybe not an interesting story except for this twist: Dad is 66 this year; his sister, Mary, turns 63 next month; and until this weekend, they’d never met. 

More on that story — a good one — another time. 

Last night, Dad treated me to an early birthday dinner at Campanile — my choice on the location, and while I fretted over trying to find a good restaurant, we couldn’t have done better. A delicious meal, great service, good drinks (including Blanton’s — perfect for me). We couldn’t have asked for better. 


As we fly out today, a quick quote from another of my favorite movies, Roman Polanski’s Chinatown. The year 1974 was a pretty terrific year for movies; in addition to this film (for which Robert Towne’s screenplay won an Oscar), the year brought The Godfather, Part II, The Conversation, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Amarcord, Day for Night, and both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. But amidst all that good stuff, Chinatown stands out as my favorite. 

tt0071315_largecoverCROSS: (laughs) Tell me. What do the police say?

GITTES: They’re calling it an accident.

CROSS : Who’s the investigating officer?

GITTES:  Lou Escobar – he’s a Lieutenant.

CROSS: Do you know him?

GITTES: Oh yes.

CROSS: Where from?

GITTES: We worked in Chinatown together.

CROSS:  Would you call him a capable man?


CROSS: Honest?

GITTES: Far as it goes. Of course he has to swim in the same water we all do.

CROSS: Of course, but you’ve got no reason to think he’s bungled the case?


CROSS: That’s too bad.

GITTES: Too bad?

CROSS: It disturbs me, Mr. Gittes. It makes me think you’re taking my daughter for a ride. Financially speaking, of course. How much are you charging her?

GITTES: My usual fee, plus a bonus if I come up with any results.

CROSS: Are you sleeping with her? Come, come, Mr. Gittes. You don’t have to think about that to remember, do you?

GITTES: If you want an answer to that question I can always put one of my men on the job. Good afternoon, Mr. Cross.

CROSS: Mr. Gittes! You’re dealing with a disturbed woman who’s lost her husband. I don’t want her taken advantage of. Sit down.

GITTES: What for?

CROSS: You may think you know what you’re dealing with, but believe me, you don’t.

[This stops Gittes. He seems faintly mused by it.]

CROSS: Why is that funny?

GITTES: It’s what the D.A. used to tell me about Chinatown.

CROSS: Was he right?

If you don’t already know the answer to that question… well, watch the film.

Thanks for following our trip to California; oddly, this week has brought my highest stats ever on this blog — a testament to what, I’m not sure, but both my dad and I appreciated all the attention.

See everyone back on the East Coast soon!

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