Posts Tagged ‘Mickey Spillane’

Did I Mention We Got in the Iowa Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

As promised, here’s a look at the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction weekend at Arnold’s Park, Iowa, perched on the banks of Lake Okoboji. (The photo accompanying this update, however, was taken at Fruitland Fun Days on September 8.) This is mostly about the rock side of my purported talents, so feel free to bail if you have no interest.

Labor Day weekend at Arnold’s Park – and the area surrounding it – is frantic with end-of-summer vacationing, and the traffic that accompanies it. The trip north was both dull and eventful, because Barb and I discovered (on an endless farmland drive best described as a green wasteland) that the credit card we had recently had to cancel and replace got our cell phone service cut off, and at one point got us locked out of our hotel room.

That was the downside. The upside was a weekend that celebrated rock ‘n’ roll, specifically the Iowa variety. The members of Crusin’ all went their own way with their respective families, in this vacation wonderland, but came together for the various band activities. The Sunday morning sound check was not ideal – each group had very limited time, and in truth that led to some problems with monitors that evening. But with a dozen bands performing, that was perhaps to be expected.

In the afternoon a formal induction ceremony was held in a beautiful high school auditorium, and I represented the band with a brief speech, off-the-cuff as usual, which led to me forgetting at first to acknowledge former band member (and Daybreakers founding member) Dennis Maxwell, who only came from Arizona. Sallie Bunn accepted a plaque for her late husband, Chuck – also a member of both Crusin’ and the Daybreakers – and Brian’s brother Jim, who was our guitarist for over a decade, also picked up his award. Other members of the band (there have been fifteen or sixteen of us, over the 43 years) who couldn’t attend should be getting their plaques by mail in a few weeks.

The big event is the Sunday night induction concert, starting at 6 pm and going past midnight, and we had a spot that was at once terrific and terrible – terrific in that we had the ten o’clock slot, which is prime time, and terrible in that we had to follow an All-Star band with some top talent in it…Megadeth bassist David Ellefson sat in for a couple of tunes, for example. The All-Star Band even played two songs that were on our 25-minute set list – “Wild Nights” and “We Gotta Get Outa This Place.”

Now here is where my ridiculous ego comes into play. As we stood waiting in a sort of doorless green room just off stage, I started smiling when both songs were performed…because I knew we did them better. They did another song from our regular list, and I wished we had played that as well.

Understand that in the garage band scene of the mid-60s – at least in my corner of the world – the combos were like street gangs. We were all scrounging after a small number of gigs (sock hops, proms, house parties), and we hated the other bands. Fist fights were not uncommon. There was nothing we liked better than pimping out another group. When we opened for the Strawberry Alarm Clock in the late ‘60s, an Iowa City band that we despised closed their set with a limp “Crossroads” – so we opened with our own blistering version. Once when a promoter stiffed us opening for the Kingsmen – saying we were lucky to be opening for a famous band, then instructing us not to play any Kingsmen songs – we opened with “Louie Louie.” (We also played “Money,” which we weren’t getting, though it was what we wanted.)

Meanwhile, back at the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction concert…

The trouble with All-Star Bands is they are under-rehearsed and they are cluttered with talent. I have no idea how many people were on stage, but there were three lead guitar players alone. And Crusin’ might be a garage band from Muscatine, Iowa, but by God we are a band.

And that was one of the big pleasures of that night. We at least held our own among a dozen bands, some of whom were really, really good and none of whom stunk up the place. I felt we killed, and so did the rest of the guys, but we may be deluded. That’s okay.

Because last summer, after our very talented guitarist Jim Van Winkle left us, and we had to replace him and come up with three sets of material in about a two-week period, we weren’t really a band. Veteran local musician Bill Anson came on board, just to temporarily help us. But he found out how much fun this group is to be in, and he decided to stick around. We are glad and grateful he did.

Crusin’ had a busy summer – busier than I intended – and most of our gigs were outside in awful weather. Just sucky, humid, shitty weather. And we are not kids anymore. I began talking about making this my last summer of gigs, with the Hall of Fame concert my send-off. We discussed limiting performances to two hours (not the standard three and hell no to four hours) if we did come back.

But what happened at the Hall of Fame concert was that we came together as a band. A real band. Any time you change a member in a four-piece configuration, it’s a new band, and it takes a while to gel (and sometimes you just congeal). I knew we had the makings, because Bill Anson is a strong singer with a very different voice and style from mine, which immediately gave us a boost. As for guitar playing, I’ve liked Bill’s work from day one; but he stands in two big shadows.

First, his brother Dave is a fairly legendary guitarist around here. Second, Jim Van Winkle – his immediate predecessor – is something of a genius with guitar. But guess what? At the induction concert – actually after the sound check – I had three people individually come up and comment on how great our guitar player is. “Where did you find that guy? Wow!” That kind of thing.

Another factor was my purchase this year of a new Vox keyboard to go with my Hammond-style Nord. A Vox keyboard hasn’t been produced in decades, but Korg recently put one out. The authentic ‘60s sound of it got me some great comments at the concert. And it, too, makes us a different band.

So maybe we killed, maybe we didn’t.

But we were, in a way, born. If not to be wild, exactly, wild enough to come back for another summer of this insanity…probably with a CD of new original material.

A word about the venue. We were playing at the Roof Garden, one of the Midwest’s most famous ballrooms. Among those who played there were the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Guess Who, the Shangri-Las, the Yardbirds, and Bobby Darin. We played to a capacity crowd of 1000. The building (the second in the venue’s history) is being torn down by the time you read this. We performed at the last event prior to the building of a new facility with the old Roof Garden name.

I can almost hear my old bandmate Paul Thomas saying, “We’ve closed down bigger joints….”

* * *

So originally I was supposed to be at Bouchercon in Florida this weekend. But Barb and I decided with the long Labor Day weekend, which included not only the musical responsibilities but a very long drive going and returning, that setting out more or less immediately on another big trip was just nothing we could face. Much as I wanted to see my friends and fellow authors (not mutually exclusive categories), I decided against it. Worst part was not being there to promote Scarface and the Untouchable.

But I am so glad we cancelled.

Why? On our return to Muscatine on Labor Day evening, we discovered our basement was flooded and half of the electricity in our house was out. The latter included the washer and drier, and the TV (cable box fried), though the refrigerator was running (neither of us had the energy to catch it).

We spent all day Tuesday dealing with an electrician, getting electricity back around 5 pm, and the rest of the week was taken up with dealing with our sopped basement.

Miraculously, I had – after years of putting it off – recently turned the hoarder’s nightmare that the basement’s library area had become, bringing in new and additional bookcases and thoroughly sorting and downsizing. So very few books or magazines were destroyed. And the band room had few instruments or amps on the floor, since Crusin’ had been on the road when two torrential rainstorms hit Muscatine.

Today (Sunday the 9th as I write this) we have the basement dried out enough to bring the carpet cleaners in on Thursday.

We would have had to leave for Florida and the Bouchercon on last Thursday morning. Our Tuesday and Wednesday were nightmarish enough, let alone factoring in getting ready for another major trip.

* * *

As the International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers’ outgoing president (in the sense of leaving, not being bubbly), I sat for an interview with new president, Jonathan Maberry. You can read it here.

The Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine blog has used a piece from me about Mickey Spillane’s 100th.

The Seattle Times gave Scarface and the Untouchable a terrific review. (They don’t like it if you’re blocking ads, though.)

Finally, since this update started out with Crusin’ (and Bouchercon), we’ll finish the same way. Jerry’s House of Everything mentions Crusin’ doing “Incense Peppermints” (by Strawberry Alarm Clock – their second mention this column!) in 2011 at the St. Louis Bouchercon.

Sadly, this was bass player Chuck Bunn’s last gig – he passed away two weeks later. Jerry’s You Tube link didn’t work for me, so here it is again (in a clip put together by the great Eugene George).

M.A.C.

The Scarface and the Untouchable Show Hits the Road

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

The recent mini-tour for Scarface and the Untouchable – with co-author Brad Schwartz as well as my other collaborator, Barbara Collins – went extremely well. Barb and I do very few signings these days, but all three of these – Saturday afternoon, August 18, at Read Between the Lynes in Woodstock (where both Chester Gould and Rick Fletcher lived), Sunday afternoon at Centuries & Sleuths in Forest Park, and Monday evening at Anderson’s Bookshop in Woodstock (where Dick Locher lived) – were well-attended and a lot of fun. Books were sold – plenty of them.

This was the first time Brad and I have done appearances together, and with no prep whatsoever, we were a team ready and willing to do this again and again. Brad is at ease in front of an audience and has a command of the facts that would have eluded me even at his, ahem, somewhat younger age than mine. Barb is also great with audiences, funny and comfortable with herself. Scarface took centerstage, but the Antiques series was not neglected.

To see how Brad and I interact (although I hog it a little here), check out our WGN appearance on the Monday morning of the Anderson’s signing.

And for a good write-up about the Centuries and Sleuths presentation, check out the Donald G. Evans piece on the event right here.

Several interesting things occurred. At Woodstock, a car show of vintage automobiles was in full sway around the quaint town square during our signing. The classic cars required parking places, and one such vehicle found a space right in front of the bookstore (one of the few such spaces remaining). That car had an Untouchables license plate belonging to its Ness enthusiast owner who had known nothing of the signing. He saw the signage about the book signing out front of Between the Lynes, came in to attend the event, and bought a book.

In Naperville, where Dick Locher’s wife Mary could not attend because of a club meeting at her home, the gracious Mrs. Locher had left for me a Sunday page original from early in the Locher/Collins run of Tracy. Dick had never got around to sending me an original for my office wall, and when he and I re-bonded a few years ago, he apologized and said he’d given all of his art to a university. He pledged to write and get one from them for me, but the university did not cooperate. For some time now, Mary had been looking through Dick’s materials to see if she could find anything for me. No luck. Then, before the signing in Naperville, she tried one more time…and found a page, a perfect example with plenty of Tracy and famous villains, as if it had been set aside by Dick himself for me. I found her gesture – and this posthumous gift from my Tracy collaborator – a thrill and quite touching.

Check out the photos below, then return for a few more links.


Brad, M.A.C., Barb

Brad looks on as M.A.C jokes with Bob Goldsborough.

Brad and “Barbara Allan”

M.A.C. discussing a variety of topics with the notorious Mike Doran.

M.A.C. speaking with David & Cynthia who traveled from McCordsville, Indiana.

Centuries and Sleuths

M.A.C. with Nero Wolfe author, Robert Goldsborough at Centuries and Sleuths.

Anderson’s in Naperville

Andserson’s in Naperville – readers lining up to get books signed after Brad and I spoke.

Anderson’s in Naperville

At Anderson’s in Naperville, Dick Locher’s wife Mary sent over a Sunday original from the Locher/Collins period of the strip

Brad and M.A.C. pose in Naperville with Dick Locher’s incredible Dick Tracy sculpture.

M.A.C. and Brad Schwartz at the downtown Woodstock, Illinois, Dick Tracy mural (featuring images from the Fletcher/Collins period of the strip)

Brad and M.A.C. signing at Between the Lynes Bookstore in Woodstock, Illinois.

M.A.C. and A.B.S. talk to a nice crowd at Between the Lynes bookshop in Woodstock, Illinois.

Brad and M.A.C. pose with Untouchable license plate on a fan of the show who just happened to pull in right in front of the book store where we were signing — and came in, taking time out from the car show on the town square, to listen to our presentation…and buy a book!

* * *

Attention for Scarface and the Untouchable continues, as this impressive New York Daily News spread indicates.

I am honored that Quarry has been chosen one of the top ten Greatest Men’s Adventure Series Ever in a November 2017 “highly-scientific and totally statistically valid poll” of 4,000 members of the Men’s Adventure Paperbacks Facebook Group. Richard Stark’s Parker came in first, followed by Matt Helm and Travis McGee, with Quarry coming in fourth. Heady company to be in.

Oddly, Mike Hammer did not make the list, but Killing Town scored a particularly fine review, right here.

M.A.C.

Scarface and the Mickey Centenary

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

By the time you read this, Brad Schwartz and I will have wrapped up our mini-tour of the Chicago area for Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago. (“Barbara Allan” was along, too, by the way of Barb and myself.)

The reviews for Scarface continue to be strong, and several excerpts and other things Brad and I prepared to promote the non-fiction work are out there as well. J. Kingston Pierce provides links to some at his great site, the Rap Sheet, right here (scroll down for it).

The Rick Kogan Chicago Tribune review – which likes the book but hates my “unseemly” introduction – is getting wide play. That Mr. Kogan dislikes Brad and me criticizing the works that distorted both Ness and Capone – and we are specific about why – is irritating, but probably not a bad thing. Controversy, particularly generated by an otherwise favorable review, can fuel sales.

And we like that.

The Spillane centenary celebration rolls on with two previously unpublished short story publications. The Mystery Tribune, available in both print and e-book, is a high-end, beautifully produced digest-style magazine that showcases the Spillane/Collins story, “The Punk,” with lead position and an evocative cover. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine has the Spillane/Collins story, “The Big Run,” with a mention on its cover – always a thrill to be in EQMM.

The stories could not be more different. “The Punk” is a rare crime story for Mickey as it does not feature a protagonist in the Hammer mode; instead, it’s a gritty tale of the last night in the life of a heroin addict. “The Big Run,” however, is a adventurous yarn steeped in the heroics of Spillane’s world with a larger-than-life protagonist and a similarly larger-than-life love interest.

Both of these stories were originally written as TV shows. “The Big Run” was supposed to air on the classic series Suspense, as a live production, but for some reason never saw the light of day – despite a scheduled airing date and time, and storyboards by Spillane crony, George Wilson (he did the cover of the famous Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer Story record album). “The Punk,” a longer script, appears to have been prepared for the aborted Mickey Spillane Presents series that Mickey and Gene Roddenberry were planning, with Mickey hosting, a la Hitchcock. The Hammer TV producers (of the McGavin series) blocked that anthology series.

As you may recall, I have completed eight Mike Hammer stories from Spillane fragments, which spawned the collection A Long Time Dead. I now have three non-Hammer stories written and published, and am on my way to a second Spillane short story collection. It’s possible several “new” Hammer yarns will be included, working from the last few Spillane fragments about his signature detective.

Meanwhile, the comic book mini-series, serializing the Mike Hammer graphic novel The Night I Died rolls along. I just proofed the collected version, too. And an expanded version of Primal Spillane, collecting Mick’s comic book filler stories (edited by Lynn Myers and me), is due to come out soon.

As for “The Punk,” you can order the Mystery Tribune issue as an e-book from the usual suspects (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). While I have a contributor’s copy of the physical book, proving it exists, the magazine itself is out of stock at the Mystery Tribune site (and is rather hard to find there, inexplicably).

“The Big Run” is in the September/October 2018 issue, either on the stands now or soon to be.

* * *

Here is the transcript of the Reddit session that Brad and I engaged in recently. Some fun questions, and worth a look.

Finally, here’s a Scarface and the Untouchable interview with me by a knowledgeable interviewer.

As for the Chicago trip, it was great seeing all of you! Or I mean, it will be great seeing all of you…or something….

M.A.C.

Scarface and the Untouchable – At Large! Chicago Signings

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Yes, at long last Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago by A. Brad Schwartz and myself is hitting the bookstores the very day this update first appears.

Brad and I (and Barb) will be appearing at two major Chicago bookstores and another at the bookstore in Dick Tracy’s hometown – Woodstock, Illinois, starting with the latter.

Saturday August 18:
Read Between the Lynes (Website)
From 4PM till…?
111 E. Van Buren St
Woodstock, IL 60098 (Map)

Sunday August 19:
Centuries & Sleuths (Website)
2:00PM till…?
19 Madison St
Forest Park, IL 60130 (Map)

Monday August 20:
Anderson’s Bookshop (Website)
7 PM till…?
123 W Jefferson Ave
Naperville, IL 60540 (Map)

This mini-tour will be the only joint event by Brad and me in support of the book during its opening weeks. Brad heads back to Princeton in his unending crusade to diminish me by making me call him “Dr. Schwartz” (who, let’s face it, sounds like a dermatologist). We’ll be doing some solo events thereafter, and if the media wises up and books us on a national TV show, we’ll likely do that together.

We are also set to appear on the WGN Morning News on Monday morning, but exactly when I can’t say (we arrive at 8:30 AM).

We’ll also be doing a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on r/books this Thursday at 1PM EST. Keep an eye on my facebook page for a link.

The Centuries and Sleuths signing will include Barb, as “Barbara Allan”-bylined novels (Antiques Wanted in particular) will be available. This is the first joint signing Barb and I have done in some time.

Centuries and Sleuths is where Brad and I first met, when he came to a signing after seeing “Untouchable Life” live in Des Moines. By the way, work progresses on the Blu-ray of the film version. You can order it here.

In the meantime, come and see us (Mike Doran – I’m talking to you) (but no questions requiring a photographic memory of the entire run of TV Guide to answer).


Hardcover:
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes
Digital Audiobook: Amazon Google Play Kobo

The reviews thus far have been stellar, including the Chicago Tribune, where Rick Koganwhere Rick Kogan – a well-known writer and TV personality in Chicago – loved the book but hated my introduction. Why? Because I (with Brad’s help) singled out the authors (and one screenwriter) whose offenses had much to do with us feeling another book about Capone and Ness needed writing. We were very specific about what we were correcting, but Mr. Kogan found my intro “unseemly.”

Here’s what he wrote, along with links to other favorable reviews (the Kogan link is mid-page).

Now, just for fun, read what I wrote that offended Mr. Kogan, available thanks to the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine blog.

Others reviewing the book in the days just ahead of publication include USA Today, which makes us one of the top books of the week that they recommend. (Omarosa’s Trump memoir gets the top spot, though.)

Here’s a really nice review courtesy of Mystery People.

This one isn’t a review, but uses our book as a sort of tour guide to track Capone’s real-life hangouts.

* * *

Now in non-Scarface and the Untouchable news, here’s another San Diego Comic Con interview with me, on the new Mike Hammer serialized graphic novel from Hard Case Crime. It’s one of the better interviews, I think.

Finally, Gaping Blackbird continues to review the early Quarry novels, and very intelligently.

M.A.C.