Sunday, August 31, 2008

8/2008 Playlist

Each month, since Feb of 2006, I start a playlist in my iTunes of the tunes that catch my ear that month. I started off writing a post to my Mog page with a short review or comments of each track, not only to keep a running diary for myself, but also to hopefully point others toward these tunes. In the last several months I have started to cross post this information on other sites where I keep blogs. (If you are reading this somewhere besides Mog, you can find all the old ones at  I want to apologies for any weird formatting stuff right here and now, I type this in MS word and then post it on these various message places, some of which have…w ell formatting issues….

Anyway for this month here is what caught my ear… 

Black Tears by Miss Derringer


I think that what I really like about this song is that it have more than just a hint of the Shangri-la’s in the vocals. It’s got that bit of a march, and some very soulful female vocals.


Wolves and Werewolves by The Pack A.D.

 I haven’t really been a big fan of the modern electric indierock blues sound, the white strips, and their ilk mostly leave me bored… but for some reason this version of that sound works better for me, it’s kinda in that Black Keys territory sound wise, only with female vocals. I think this tune works for me because of it’s changing tempo and mood though out the song. It also has a bit of a wail to it, and it, it, it… just feels like watching the timber line from the porch of the cabin at sunset on an August night.

 Agent Song by Miss Monster Club  

With Thee Ultra Bimboos and The Patsy Walkers history at this point, Miss Monster Club might well be the last remaining of the all women garage bands from Finland. Musically this is that echoy, chanted garage rock with an infusion of surf and hot rod sound. It’s got the breathy vocals, and that haunting feel of a damaged engine rolling down the highway.

Thoughts, comments, spare change.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Home Is The Sailor by Day Keene

A Hard Case Crime

In my continuing quest to read though the Hard Case Crime series, I have found another winning entry. Day Keene’s Home is the Sailor is a quick Hard Bolied blow of a book. It’s the story of a sailor who has not business getting off the boat, as it’s nothing but trouble for him. He drinks to much, he falls for the wrong dame, and gets himself in trouble. I should take umbrage at the disparaging of my heritage in the fact that he is called Swede and is think, then again he is from Dumbasota, so let me just assure you that all the dumb Swedes did end up the land of gods frozen people… us Michigan Swedes are a cut above, kinda like those living 08… but anyway, what I like about the book is it’s pure unapologetic dumb muscle guy getting past a head full of booze, lust and good old fashion dumbness and figuring out how he’s being set up and how he has to get out from under… more than anything this book reminded me of the joy of reading Vikki Hendricks Miami Purity recently (see review), they had similar plots, and the same quick prose…. Speaking of prose there were two great passages in this book:

“The magic madness of the cliff was gone. Now all there was between us was flesh.”


“Love. A Will-o’-the-wisp. St. Elmo’s fire. A biological deep rooted urge of the male to propagate his kind. A packet of cigarettes. A Hershey Bar. A Ten-thousand dollar mink coat. Five Dollars.”

And this gem of wisdom:

“I had to stop spending my life like it was money”

I also have to say that this was one of my Fave Hard Case Crime covers….

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Mugger by Ed McBain

An 87th Precinct Novel

The Mugger is the second of the novels about the detectives of the 87th Precinct, and one of the original three that were written in 1956. The plot of the book is pretty simple, as the title suggests our officer and cops are seeking a mugger who have been targeting women in the precinct. It’s a short novel; it serves not only to act as an insight to the world of the 87th Precinct, but also to continue the set up of our squad room, giving patrolman Bert Kling his back-story, and really his first case. The book also serves to introduce the Meyer Meyer as one of the jokers of the squad. Over all it’s really a fast read, and it’s not really all that much of a stand out… with the exception of the Hepcat talk of a Beatnik informant, which is a reminder of how cool that patter could be…and how complex it could be as well. I also really liked the look into the idea of teen clubs, which I have only really read about, and I know the importance they held for the development of a lot of the 60’s garage rock that started to emerge around 10 years down the road from the year that this book was written.


 If you are looking to read and follow the whole 87th Precinct series this book is a required read, however if you really just want the highlights, I’d start with one of the more acclaimed entries from the 70s and 80s… however my plan and goal over the next couple of years is to read all of them in order, and so for me this was an essential part of the story.

Dear Ann Arbor,

Just a couple of quick notes

Your utopia is really a dystopia

Mind your own business

Get some manners

Everyone in this place really needs to take a bath… soap is not oppression

Keep your guilt out of my day to day life

That will be all..

If you walk though the Garden…..

Last night, late, too late, I finished it… the last page of The Wire. Yes I said page, because that’s what The Wire was a big sprawling, messy, entwined novel… that just happened to be shown on HBO, that just happened to be on film, and that for all it’s faults, and it had a few, was damn near the most perfect thing that has ever been on TV.

IT was the last episode of season five, and it was as real, as human, and as flawed as the world that it was depicting. It wrapped up the story of Detectives Jimmy McNulty and Freeman, of Cedric Daniels, and the rest…. But not always in the way that you would have thought…. Or wanted, it played out the strings, and it left the viewer with the start of the next round in the game, where the children become the adults, where the once young have inherited the mantel of leadership and fallen into the roles that they once simply looked up to. There was heart break, there was forgiveness, there was lies and there was dangling threads, but that’s life… as they said so many times in the show… Yo, it’s all in the game.

I will be revisiting the series I am sure, over the years, marveling at it’s truth, at is breadth, at it’s honest snapshot of our world, of our time at the moment that it arrived. I know that there are other shows that I will love, other’s that will aspire, but to me, until I see it, this was the best that TV, even if it was cable, ever had to offer, and I trust that years from now, others will discover it and understand.

The Body of an Americanby The Pouges
The Cadillac stood by the house
And the yanks they were within
And the tinker boys they hissed advicehot-wire her with a pin
We turned and shook as we had a look
In the room where the dead men lay
So big Jim Dwyer made his last trip
To the home where his fathers laid

Fifteen minutes laterWe had our first taste of whiskey
There was uncles giving lectures
On ancient Irish history
The men all started telling jokes
And the women they got frisky
By five o’clock in the evening - correction this line
Starts with by not atEvery bastard there was piskey

Fare thee well going away
There’s nothing left to say
Farewell to new York city boys
To Boston and pa
He took them out
With a well-aimed clout
He was often heard to say
I’m a free born man of the USA

He fought the champ in Pittsburgh
And he slashed him to the ground
He took on tiny tarantella
And it only went one round
He never had no time for reds
For drink or dice or whores
And he never threw a fight
Unless the fight was right
So they sent him to the war

Fare the well gone away
There’s nothing left to say
With a slainte Joe and Erin go
My loves in America
The calling of the rosary
Spanish wind from far awayI
’m a free born man of the USA

This morning on the harbor
When I said goodbye to you
I remember how I swore
That Id come back to you one day
And as the sunset came to meet
The evening on the hill
I told you Id always love
I always did and I always will

Fare thee well gone away
There’s nothing left to say
cept to say adieu
To your eyes as blue
As the water in the bay
And to big Jim Dwyer
The man of wire
Who was often heard to say
I’m a free born man of the USA

Friday, August 22, 2008

All in the game

More thoughts to come...

Monday, August 18, 2008

It’s all in the set up

First of all…. I love that cover, if there Hard Case was offering posters of these covers, this would be on my short list of my faves…. It’s perfect in it’s evocation of the danger, sexiness and intrigue of the mystery…. And it’s the best part of the book…. The book, it’s fine, it’s solid, it’s the set up for Ms. Tree story, it’s what in the comic book biz (where Ms. Tree started off) is know as reboot… I have to say that the twist at the end…I saw it coming, I figured it out real early. I don’t think this was a bad book, it was just incredibly eh? Ms. Tree was well defined, and her story was set up well… and I hope that we get another Ms. Tree prose work that steps out from the shadow of having to set up her story and let her flex her character muscles. You need something to pass a trip, a plane flight (I read the bulk of this in the car during a recent road trip), it’s fine.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Kick ass and explore.

Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler

I grew up with the promise that the world was going to end in my life time, that some one was going to drop the bomb…. And it scared me, and then it thrilled me, but mostly it got me to watch a whole bunch of bad after the bomb flicks, and read a shelf full of Post Apocalypse book… ok not all of them were bad, but by the time I was 25 I had my fill…. And the USSR was done and pretty much we seemed to be out of the woods.. It’s safe to say that for the last ten or so years I didn’t need to read any more of these kinds of book… but I was glad that I picked up Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse.. it’s a fun fast paced little satirical adventure. The story follow Mortimer Tate and unlikely survivor of the end of civilization as we know it, who comes out of hiding after 9 years to find the world changes, and because he was holed up waiting and had a stash of stuff…. He’s a relatively rich man. He stumbles through a whole set of adventures, many of which pay homage to the best of the Post Apocalypse stories of the past…. Including in theme. Of all of those works this one most closely draws on the theme of David Brin’s The Postman (yes the book that the bad Kevin Costner flick was based on)… in that Mortimer and his crew on some level realize that society really need to have lines of connection and supply to continue…. And that there is something to be said about local people and small operators taking care of what needs to be done… anyway, I enjoyed the book a lot, as it was witty, funny and never got bogged down. I especially liked the one and a half pages that tell the story of how Jack Daniels stayed in business after the end…

Friday, August 8, 2008

Classic 40’s Pulp Adventure

Plunder of the Sun

By David Dodge

A Hard Case Crime Novel

Originally published 1949

Plunder of the Sun is the first of the Hard Case Crime books that I have read that don’t fall into the category of Noir and Crime Fiction as we tend to think of it today. It has crime elements in it to be sure, but it’s much more in the vein of the paperback pulp novels of the ‘30’s and 40’s. It’s a simple tale of artifact smuggling, a treasure hunt, and of course lots of double crossing, uneasy alliances and historical mystery. The story is set in Chile and Peru, and centers on a lost Incan legend and treasure. The book is most definitely a product of it’s time in that it’s not in depth on the archeology angle as a Clive Cussler story, which really is the heir to books like this one, but it moves along quickly, it’s very readable and it’s a nice peek into a genre that really hasn’t vanished but morphed into…. Well the Cussler type of books…. This is also one of the better examples of the kind of story that Indiana Jones was (and is) riffing on and inspired by…. all and all, a nice change of pace that’s not to far off the beaten track for Hard Case Crime.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tease Me to the Sky

Hair Metal is something that was easy to make fun of, and really didn't have much depth... until you realize it wasn’t supposed to…. Not really, it’s the unholy mix of pop rock, heavy metal, glam, power pop and even a little dash of punk. It was frothy, and bright (visually at least), big, dumb, sleazy, and even a bit of fun. Now I have to admit that I enjoyed and still enjoy some of the music these bands made…. Anyway, Steven Blush has put together this book filled with photos, interview quotes from the era and a bit of  insight into what Hair Metal was all about…. The most shocking thing about this book is that Blush is best known for the book American Hardcore, which covered the second wave of punk in the US… I can’t think of two many scenes that were completely opposed to each other… on the other hand I was in a puck store a couple of years back and hair band Skid Row was on the stero and the punk kids were singing along…so yeah, it’s a fun look back, it’s got some insight and a lot of photos… really that’s exactly what Hair Metal needs…..

There are they Now or Death of Innocence

Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas

A Hard Case Crime Novel

The surface of Little Girl Lost is the story of murder and missing money… the standard stuff of pulp… however it’s the underlying story of PI John Blake and his uncovering of not only the truth of the murder of his High School girlfriend on the roof of the strip club that she ended up working it… it’s also his coming to terms with the way the way life doesn’t always work out the way you think. Or want it to. There is action a plenty, there are skuzzy thugs and low life scumbags, fallen women and even a twist ending… which really wasn’t much of a twist. The language is fine, I do wish that it had a little more zing, or edge, but as some who looks back and thinks about the past and often finds the question of …. How did I get here?…. is worth a few hours of contemplation, I found this book to be more than just an diverting time passer. Now I tend to post these reviews on multiple sites, and sometimes I have to come up with a title for my review, and partly out of laziness and partly out of trying to draw the lines of connection I often pick a illusion to another media… in the case of Little Girl Lost, I find myself torn between citing the song ‘Death of Innocence’ by LA Punkers Legal Weapon or ‘Where are they  Now’ by Brit’s Cocksparrer… so I will let you chose your own.. 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Top of the Heap by Earl Stanley Gardner

Top of the Heap by Earl Stanley Gardner

A Cool & Lam mystery

Republished by Hard Case Crime
Originally published in 1952

The Los Angles Detective agency of Cool & Lam are hired to help flesh out a sham alibi, only investigator Don Lam is to smart to just do what he’s asked. Soon he is at work uncovering the real story behind the need of the alibi, and making his way though the underworld of San Francisco. This is a thinking story; it’s a puzzle, with a hard boiled edge. The action in the book is pretty minor, the gun play off stage and the banter of the need to know variety….. all that said, this was a fun and fast read, it perfectly captures the pulp format of it’s era, and while I can sit here more than 50 years later wishing that it was a little tougher, a little more Moonlighting, and a tad more edgy, I am glad to have spent time with Cool & Lam… ok mostly Lam… and look forward to checking out more of their exploits, and seeing how their tales change and morph and they author makes his way through the 50’s and into the 60’s, dealing with and reflecting the changes not only in the expectations from the paperback market, but also the coming of rock and roll and the drug culture.