Saturday, February 25, 2012

NoirCon 2012 -- Will You Be There?

NoirCon 2012 is this coming November. Pulp Serenade will be there. If you love all things Noir, you should strongly consider attending. Without exaggeration, I can say that NoirCon 2010 was one of the best trips I've ever made. There I met in person a number of people I had been corresponding with online, and made a number of new friends that I still keep in regular touch with. The setting is small and intimate, so everyone is able to interact with each other and get involved. You might just wind up using the urinal next to your favorite author, chatting about the previous panel -- hey, it happened to me!


What: NoirCon 2012: An extraordinary convention specializing in the noir genre in books, film, etc.

When: November 8th, 9th, 10th & 11th

Where: Society Hill Playhouse, 507 South 8thStreet, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Society Hill Playhouse will once again host the literary convention, NOIRCON 2012, in November 2012. Distinguished guest include David L. Goodis Recipient, Lawrence Block; Jay and Deen Kogan Award Recipient for Literary Excellence, Otto Penzler; and Keynote speaker, Robert Olen Butler.

The official NoirCon 2012 hotel is The Hilton Garden Inn located at 1100 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, 215-923-0100 or Room rate is $115/night. Mention NoirCon at the time of your reservation.

Registration fee is $250. The registration form can be found at or at Attendance is limited to 200 participants.

For more information or questions please call 215-923-0210 or emai

Deen Kogan

Lou Boxer

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2012 Retreat to Goodisville NoirCon David Goodis Memorial Video

Here is a slideshow video I made from pictures at NoirCon's 2012 David Goodis Memorial, aka "Retreat to Goodisville." This year, we convened on January 7 in Philadelphia, PA. Unlike last year, however, it was freezing cold and the streets weren't covered in snow or ice. It looked strangely like spring... Anyway, we all still had a blast spending the day driving around the city in the NoirConMobile (aka a big bus filled with booze), listening to Lou Boxer, Duane Swierczynski, Ed Petit, and others talk about Philly's rich noir heritage, from Charles Brockdon Brown and Poe (thanks, Ed!) up to Goodis himself.

The song I'm using in the video is one of my own. "Adagio" by Modern Silent Cinema, from the album "Fresh Elk." I'm not sure why I called the album that, but I think it had something to do with an amazing Shepard's Pie I ate while visiting Maine...

If you didn't make it out to the 2012 Goodis Memorial, start making your plans now for next year's celebration. Saturday January 5, 2013!

Monday, February 20, 2012

2011 NoirCon David Goodis Memorial Video

Here is a video slideshow I put together of pictures from the 2011 NoirCon David Goodis Memorial in Philadelphia, PA. January 9, 2011 was a freezing cold day, the ground was covered in snow, and wind ripping through out clothes -- in short, it was perfect, Goodis-appropriate winter weather. The song in the video is one I recorded a few years ago called "A Dirge For Goodis." It appeared on the Modern Silent Cinema album "Goes Awry."

Thanks to Lou Boxer, Duane Swierczynski, and the NoirCon vets for making it a memorable outing!

Friday, February 17, 2012

New EP: "The Passion Killer Whose Prison Romance Set Off a Scandal."

Howdy folks,

Advance apologies for the brief digression away from crime fiction...

Outside of writing, one of my main interests is music. I've been playing and writing music for most of my life (got my start when I was 7). Since 2004, I've been recording an experimental instrumental rock side project under the name Modern Silent Cinema. It originally started as just some guitar chords for me to practice bass over when I was between bands, but over time the progressions got more complex, and they eventually became full compositions. I write, record, and play all the instruments on the songs.

Last spring, I recorded 3 EPs, and they've been sitting on my computer collecting digital dust. So, I decided to break them out, master them, and post them online. The first one is called "The Passion Killer Whose Prison Romance Set Off a Scandal." The title and cover come from an old true crime magazine. Boy, were those headlines something!

The EP is free to stream or download at my Bandcamp page, and I've also embedded a player in this post so you can listen without leaving the page.

Thanks for listening, and I promise that Pulp Serenade will return to its originally scheduled programming soon...

Donald Westlake Day: The Jugger (1965)

Today, the literary blogosphere is honoring Donald Westlake. Leading the tribute is Patti Abbott over at her blog, pattinase. In honor of the celebration, I'm reprinting my review of one of my favorites: The Jugger, written under the penname Richard Stark. For more tributes, check out Patti's blog.

Richard Stark’s sixth incarnation of Parker, The Jugger (Pocket Books #50149, 1965), find his anti-hero looking to avoid trouble, for once. When Parker receives a letter from Joe Sheer, an old-time “jugger” (slang for safe cracker) who was supposed to be hiding under an alias in retirement, he begins to worry. Someone is on to Sheer, and in his old age he seems to be cracking. And if he cracks, that means he will expose Parker. So, hoping to preempt any major problems, Parker heads to the small town of Sagamore, Nebraska. However, it is too little too late – Sheer is mysteriously dead. To make things worse, an annoying amateur crook is also hanging around, convinced that Sheer left behind a big score—and that Parker knows where it is. And as if Parker didn’t need any more worries, the local sheriff seems to have the same idea and won’t leave Parker alone…

The Jugger is everything we’ve come to love about the Parker series. Stark’s streamlined plotting, devoid of excess complications, plays out like an architect’s blueprint, but without ever feeling overly deliberate. There’s spontaneity to the action, which demands Parker’s split-second intuition. Guided by professionalism, it’s fascinating to watch him assess his situation, the different options available, and finally execute his plan. There’s something admirable about his levelheaded logicality and ability to improvise and change his course at any moment. His choice of profession and willingness to do away with anyone who stands in his way, on the other hand…well, I don’t think Stark wants us to admire Parker too much.

Without Stark’s permission, Jean-Luc Godard adapted The Jugger to the screen as Made in U.S.A. in 1966 with Anna Karina playing Parker. Notoriously unfaithful, it’s actually somewhat close for Godard standards (remember his version of King Lear?). Still, those looking for a recognizable Parker had better look elsewhere. Godard’s film is more of an abstract meditation on genre and aesthetics than a hardboiled crime story. I elaborated more on the adaptation in a piece I wrote for The L Magazine on remembering Donald Westlake.

Always one for great first lines, I’ll have to start the list of favorite quotes with the opening sentence.

“When the knock came at the door, Parker was just turning to the obituary page.”

“The room stank of flowers and death. Orange light bulbs shaped like wrinkled mosques shone dimly in wall fixtures on the left, gleaming on the tangled pattern of the wallpaper, muting and deadening in the thick maroon rug and the heavy dark draperies around the doorways. To the right, rotting flowers in green wicker baskets stood around a coffinless bier; a few white rose petals had fallen onto the flat table-top of the bier and were slowly browning and curling into tiny fists.”

“A man who won’t give up comfort for success is a bad partner.”

“The voice was a centipede, a long twisty bug with needle-sharp feet, running back and forth on the left side of his face, driving its needle feet into the bone beside his eye and into his cheekbone and into the bone above his ear. His face hurt like fury…”

“His clothes fit him like an impatient compromise…”

“There was nothing to say. Younger was a moron with a title, that’s all; give a moron authority and after a while he forgets he’s a moron.”

“The local law was three dough-faced farm hands in rumpled blue uniforms, standing around the room looking for traffic to direct.”

“Joe Sheer was just an old jugger now, turned shaky and rusty – he’d said it himself – shaky and rusty and scared, an old jugger ready to trade every man he’d ever worked with for a nice soft mattress and a nice warm radiator and a little peace of mind.”
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