Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bus Ride To Hell - January 5th, 2013

"True Thug-4-Life": One of the highlights of every Goodis tour.

It's back! And bigger than ever! What used to be a humble graveside tribute to Philly noir legend David Goodis has blossomed into a full-on noir adventure on wheels we call "Retreat to Goodisville," and this year's installment promises to be even crazier.

Here's the deal: at 10 a.m., Saturday January 5th, 2013 (nearly the 46th anniversary of Goodis's death) we'll be meeting just outside The Grey Lodge Pub, 6235 Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philly. A coach bus will take 30 of us up to the Goodis grave in nearby Bensalem, PA. Bring your favorite Goodis passage, because at the man's grave we'll be paying tribute to him by reading excerpts from his work. Then it's back on the bus for a tour of prime Goodis locations, including the house where he lived with his parents (and wrote most of his novels), his birthplace, street corners and landmarks mentioned in Shoot the Piano Player (a.k.a. Down There). Plus, on the bus we'll have guest speakers, prizes, and beer. (Yes, we're allowed to imbibe on the bus. Lou checked!) Finally, we'll end up back at the Grey Lodge for beer and snacks.

Want a seat on the bus? We're asking for $50 per person to cover transportation, beer, soft drinks, bus snacks, prizes and incidentals. Seating is limited, so drop me a line at duane DOT swier AT verizon DOT net (with the subject line, "Retreat to Goodisville 2013") and I'll send you an address where you can send a check to reserve your seat.

Don't want to enjoy the warmth and camaraderie of the bus? No worries; Goodis's characters were loners, too. Meet us at the grave site and we'll give you a list of our tour stops so you can join in. But trust me: the bus is going to be worth it. Early January in Philadelphia tends to be pretty damn cold.

Lou and I hope to see you many of you guys there. Any questions? Drop me a line. I'll post a follow-up when the bus is full, which based on our early head count, should be fairly soon.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Noir - Send in the Clowns

Next to clowns, the one thing that small children fear most is a doctor. In their eyes they're demented, lying psychopaths with a PhD in stabbing people with syringes to make them "feel better." So what's the worst possible thing one can do? Combine the two into one mentally scarring amalgamation and pretty much throw it at an unsuspecting audience in the least likely of films: Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Looking back, this was a real rotten trick to play on people. How were they, back then, even supposed to know that director Tim Burton (somewhat of an unknown at the time) has a penchant for creatively expressing his childhood fear of clowns in his work? We're also pretty sure that the younger members of the audience weren't even given enough time to recuperate from Large Marge before the clown doctor pulled down his surgical mask, revealing a horrendous rictus grin. Granted, this scene did teach kids a harshly valuable lesson: roving clown doctors -- aside from street punks and junkies -- will run off with your bike if you don't chain it down properly. 

We take back what we said about that alien race of techno-organic clown heads from Aqua Teen Hunger Forcein the seventh entry of this list. Contracting a transformative clown disease beats getting hunted down and eaten by them any day of the week in our opinion. Hailed as a masterpiece of schlocky '80s horror comedy films, Killer Klowns from Outer Space is what it is: an alien race that, by sheer coincidence, look and behave like clowns on a mission to feast on the human race. Not only making clowns scary, the film even turned a family outing to the circus into a frightening prospect. After seeing Killer Klowns, who wouldn't be on edge at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey out of fear of being ensnared in a cotton candy cocoon, bludgeoned to death with colorful baseball bats, or taken away in their circus-tent-shaped spacecraft? But any warmongering alien races out there that plan on conquering Earth in the near future should take note! Why brandish high-tech weaponry and don fearsome body armor when clown noses and rainbow wigs can bring humanity to its knees even faster?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Retreat To Goodisville - January 5th, 2013

It is almost time again to get on the bus to HELL.

Go to for more information and to make your reservation on the bus!

Noir: Jack Taylor Takes PrimeTime

Crime Time Preview

Jack Taylor: The Guards starring Iain Glen 


Jack Taylor looks for a missing daughter in Galway. Pics: Channel 5
Story: Beautiful Anne Henderson comes into Jack´s local pub and asks him to find her missing daughter. Before long, former cop Jack is submerged in the grimy secret lives of Galway´s outwardly respectable middle class citizens.  

News that Irish author Ken Bruen’s terrific series of books about former Galway cop Jack Taylor were getting the telly treatment may have tempted a few to reach for a beer and chaser. Or several.

Would the drama capture the character’s battered personality, or would he be stripped of everything that makes him compelling – booze, bad attitude and beatings.

Well, Channel 5 is stepping outside of its comfort zone of interminable US buy-ins – The MentalistCastleNCIS, etc – for this series of three Irish acquisitions. And, while not perfect, they take a decent stab at capturing the books’ specialness.
Jack (Iain Glen) and Anne (Tara Breathnach)
Jack Taylor – aka Iain Glen
The opener is based on the first novel, The Guards, introducing us to the bloodyminded, dishevelled, boozy, unshaven Taylor, recently turfed out of the Irish police because ‘I’m risk-taking and don’t kiss arse’.

He gets by as a ‘finder’, and is approached by the Anne Henderson at his local, who asks him to find her daughter. 

Iain Glen certainly looks the part of the rundown cop, and while the Scottish actor’s Irish accent is elusive, his trademark low, smooth voice – familiar in everything from Game of ThronesPrisoners Wives to Downton Abbey – works for the character. And he is versatile and charismatic enough as a performer to win us over as the man battling demons within and without. 
With friends like these… Sutton
Taylor's dangerous 'friend' Sutton
Anyway, the bodies of three young women are washed up in the river. The word is suicide, but Jack suspects something more sinister, and Anne Henderson fears her daughter may soon be among them.

Jack teams up with an old paratrooper mate, though, like many boozers, he does not always show good judgement of character. Sutton turns out to be a nasty piece of work who jeopardises Jack’s inquiries with his brutality.

The investigation leads to a factory that illegally employs plenty of young women. It turns into a very dirty business indeed, featuring well-connected people with criminal secrets.

Vivid and tragic anti-hero
TV likes to focus on the plots of crime novels, often discarding interesting characters for the mechanics of whodunit. Ken Bruen’s novels are plot-lite, with digressions and observations from Taylor that make them so vivid and tragic.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NoirCon 2012 at Pulp Serenade

Pulp Serenade

NoirCon 2012 Sunday Panels

Lou Boxer, bless his soul, programmed Sunday's first panel a little later than normal -- 10AM. An inspired idea, as Saturday night involved a couple of bars, lots of noir talk, and several goodbyes to NoirCon attendees and friends that were heading home early Sunday morning before the last two panels. Even with a solid 6 hours of sleep, however, somehow I managed to run late and not have time to get breakfast before the first panel of the day. So -- as soon as I hit the lobby, I scoffed down 4 donut holes, 1 red velvet cupcake, and a nice hot cup of coffee before taking my seat in the front row.

William Buffy Hastings of Farley's Bookshop took the mic first and spoke about Farley's Bookshop, the need to support indie bookstores, and some of the great books they brought out to NoirCon. More than just the authors as the convention, Farley's brought out a diverse selection of contemporary books they feel are important and urgent to know about. They brought out a number of politically-themed books from PM press, including Gary Phillips' The Underbelly (which I bought). Buffy also highly recommended East Bay Grease by Eric Miles Williamson, "behind Woodrell, the great American novelist." High praise indeed, but coming from Buffy, it's an endorsement I take seriously. I'll be checking out East Bay Grease soon.

Next, Buffy interviewed Kent Harrington about his new novel, The Rat Machine, which had its world premiere at NoirCon. The Rat Machine is an epic novel of global political intrigue about the international drug trade and how high-ranking Nazi officials were placed into positions of government authority instead of being prosecuted. Instead of compromising with major publishers, Harrington decided to self-publish the novel and craft the narrative as he saw fit. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Frank De Blase Inked at NoirCon 2012

The World Famous Frank De Blase Gets Inked For NoirCon 2012

Frank DeBlase hosts Sunday Night Shakedown - Photo of Sunday Night Shakedowndo not try at home
do not 

Frank De Blase is a writer, photographer, ex-rockabilly crooner, social contrarian, and all-around troublemaker who always leaves room for dessert. His work has been published regularly in Leg Show, Leg World, Swank, Ultra, Temptress, Rebel Ink, Retro Lovely Taboo, Ol’ Skool Rodz, Car Kulture Deluxe, Rebel Ink, Skin and Ink, Urban Ink, V Magazine, Downbeat, and City Newspaper. He is a lifelong slave to the bump ’n’ grind and has covered Burlesque conventions in New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and San Francisco where he danced with Dixie Evans (the Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque). In 2009, he presented the lecture “Peel and Squeal Appeal: Frank De Blase’s History of T&A in the USA” at the Dryden Theatre in the world famous George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. An avid noir short story writer, De Blase peppers his prose with pretty peelers, torrid torso- tossers, femmes with extra fatale, and gals that dispose of clothes and pose. His first novel, Pine Box for a Pin-Up is due in early 2013.

Frank DeBlase Hula Hooping at his anniversary party in Rochester, New York

Frank sporting his NoirCon 2012 Leopard!

Frank with Lulu Lollipop on the Burlesque Noir Panel at NoirCon 2012.

Lulu Lollipop has been with the Peek-A-Boo Revue since 2000. She entered into the wonderful world of Burlesque as a performer. She now directs, performs and costumes Philadelphia’s Premier Burlesque Show. Lulu has since performed for many people at many great events, including Chris Noth’s birthday party, Jennifer Tilley (Bound Over Broad Street) Criminal Convention, and Cirque de Soleil’s post-premiere party. She has also toured with “Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad” and “Frank, Dino and Sammy, Night at the Casaba.” She has also starred in one feature length film and many shorts. She has been written up in Bucks Magazine, Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly, Hampton Press, and Art Forum. She has been working on her own line of lingerie and vintage styles costume pieces.

NoirCon 2012 - True Crime Panel - True Crime Canon

If you had the good fortune of being NoirCon 2012 this weekend then you might have been doubly lucky to hear the panel dedicated to TRUE CRIME.  Members of this illustrious panel included - Megan Abbott, Wallace Stroby, Dennis Tafoya and Alison Gaylin.

SHP, 507 S. 8th Street
9:30 – 10:20 True Crime – Alison Gaylin, Megan Abbott, Wallace Stroby, Dennis Tafoya


Megan Abbott has taught literature, writing, and film at the New York University and the State University of New York at Oswego. She has a Ph.D. in English and American literature from NYU. Her first nonfiction study, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir was published in 2002 by Palgrave Macmillan. She is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels Die a Little (2005), The Song Is You (2008), Queenpin (2007), Bury Me Deep (2009), which was nominated for six awards: the Edgar® Award, Hammett Prize, the Macavity, Anthony and Barry Awards and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, The End of Everything (2012) and most recently Dare Me (2012). Her writing has appeared in Wall Street Noir, Detroit Noir, Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year, Phoenix Noir, Storyglossia, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Believer, Queens Noir and the LA Noire Anthology.

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
Executioner’s Song, Norman Mailer
My Dark Places, James Ellroy
Zodiac, Robert Graysmith 
Wiseguy, Nick Pileggi
Hellhound on His Trail:The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, Hampton Sides
Columbine, Dave Cullen
People Who Eat Darkness, Richard Lloyd Parry 
Michigan Murders, Edward Keyes
Public Enemies, Bryan Burrough
Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi
Under the Bridge, Rebecca Godfrey
Special mention: Black Dahlia Avenger, Steve Hodel

Wallace Stroby  is an award-winning journalist and the author of the novels Kings of Midnight, Cold Shot to the Heart, Gone ’til November, The Heartbreak Lounge and The Barbed-Wire Kiss. Stroby was an editor at The Star-Ledger of Newark, Tony Soprano’s hometown paper.

Little Man: Meyer Lansky And The Gangster Life, Robert Lacey.
Murder Machine, Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci
The Westies, T.J. English 
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, David Simon
Special mention: Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule

Dennis Tafoya is the author of two critically-acclaimed novels, Dope Thief and The Wolves of Fairmount Park, and numerous short stories appearing in collections such as Philadelphia Noir from Akashic Books. His work has been nominated for two Spinetingler awards and his novels have been optioned for film. His third novel, The Poor Boy’s Game, is due from St. Martin’s in 2013.

Green River Killer, Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case
My Friend Dahmer, Derf Backderf
Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi
Devil in the White City, Erik Larsen
True Story, Michael Finkel
The Poet and the Murderer Simon Worral
Go Down Together, Jeff Guinn
Public Enemies, Bryan Burrough
Death in the City of Light, David King
Echoes in the Darkness, Joseph Wambaugh
Son, Jack Olsen

Alison Gaylin is a journalist who has covered the arts and entertainment for more than fifteen years. Her first novel, Hide Your Eyes (2005) with nearly a quarter of a million copies in print was nominated for an Edgar® in 2006 in the Best First Novel category. Her USA Today best-selling book And She Was (Harper Collins 2012) is the first in a new series featuring Brenna Spector, a private investigator blessed (and cursed) with perfect autobiographical memory. Its sequel, Into the Dark, is due out next March.

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
Chasing Justice, Kerry Max Cook
Executioner's Song, Norman Mailer
Party Monster, James St. James
Small Sacrifices, Ann Rule
Hollywood Babylon, Kenneth Anger
Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi
Columbine, Dave Cullen
Special mention: All She Wanted, Aphrodite Jones

NoirCon 2012 - Day By Day

Black Mask

To see more of what you may have seen or what you may have missed at NoirCon 2012, go to

Philadelphia Mausoleum Of Contemporary Art

NoirCon 2012: Lawrence Block on David Goodis


Telling Lies for Fun & Profit

I'd just about settled in after our return from Japan when it was time to take 
Amtrak to Philadelphia for NoirCon. This every-other-year conference is wonderfully 
specialized, bringing together readers and writers who enjoy a look at the dark side;
I didn’t much feel like going anywhere just then, even by train, but had to show up 
to receive the David Loeb Goodis award, named for Philadelphia’s late poet of the 
gutter, himself recently honored with the publication of five novels in the 
prestigious Library of America.

A highlight for me (if for no one else) was my onstage interview with Duane 
Swierczynski, who based his questions on my reminiscences in Afterthoughts; 
that led me down Memory Lane, recalling the early days of pseudonymous erotica, 
and made for an interesting hour and a half. My friend Otto Penzler was there to 
pick up the Jay & Deen Kogan award, and we got to spend some good time together. 
Add in a Roman Jewish dinner with a high school classmate at a Walnut Street 
restaurant, and it made for a weekend even a tired old man could enjoy.