As corny as it probably sounds, I’ve often wished it could be possible to hang out at some my favorite fictional settings.
Nero Wolfe’s brownstone, for example, on West 35th Street in Manhattan.
Philo Vance’s penthouse on East 38th.
The Busted Flush, Travis McGee’s houseboat docked at Slip F-18 at Bahia Mar Marina, Fort Lauderdale.
And the Cobalt Club.
The Cobalt Club was the swankiest, most exclusive club in New York, a frequent setting in the more than 250 pulp novels Walter Gibson wrote about The Shadow, who, when he wasn’t running around laughing and knowing what evil lurks in the hearts of men, often hung out there in the guise of Lamont Cranston.
Gibson never really described the club, offering few details other than that it was filled with comfortable chairs. Director Russell Mulcahy did right by it in his 1994 film The Shadow, even if the Cobalt Club visited by Alec Baldwin, Penelope Ann Miller, and Jonathan Winters was more of a ritzy supper joint than the sophisticated gentlemen’s sanctuary Gibson created.
While there are Cobalt Clubs in such cities as San Antonio and Colorado Springs, I prefer to frequent the one Gibson created. The Cobalt Club of the imagination. The Cobalt Club that’s a little bit different every time you visit, where you never know who will be there, what the topic of conversation will be, who’s performing in the lounge, what’s on the menu, or what’s waiting to be read in the library.
That’s why I’m exceptionally pleased that, like Brigadoon, such a Cobalt Club has emerged from the online mists here in the Magic City. It’s populated with Birmingham’s colorful characters, out-of-town visitors, and old familiar friends. As resident raconteur, I’m looking forward to introducing you to all of them.
So settle in, order a sidecar, enjoy the floor show, and welcome to the Cobalt Club. There’s always a comfortable chair here with your name on it.