Posts Tagged ‘Seduction of the Innocent’

Still Offensive After All These Years

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Before I talk about my band Crusin’ appearing at the Riverside (Iowa) Casino last Saturday night – and offending delicate sensibilities – I need to take care of some writing business.

Crimes By Moonlight

Recently I completed “Encore for Murder,” the second Mike Hammer audio novel, and got a lovely phone call about it yesterday from Stacy Keach, who said it contained “the best voiceover ever written for Mike Hammer.” When I stopped crying, I thanked him.

I am working on NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU, the second J.C. Harrow novel right now. Work goes well, not quickly, but steadily. It’s a big book.

Two new short-story anthologies are worthy of your attention.

First, CRIMES BY MOONLIGHT, edited by the rich and famous Charlaine Harris (as Steppenwolf once nonsensically said, “Sookie, Sookie, Sookie, Sookie, Sookie, Sookie, Sue!”), is a supernatural-themed collection from the Mystery Writers of America. It includes the story “Grave Matter” by me and Mickey Spillane. Mickey gets second billing, which has never happened before, but the story has an unusual history.

“Grave Matter” was originally a Mike Danger short story that was written at the request of the comic book company who were then publishing the DANGER comic book. They never did anything with it, for reasons unknown. A few years later, I used the plot for a third-person novella; but the original story went off to live in limbo. Now it has been turned into a Hammer story (which essentially meant doing a universal search-and-replace, Danger into Hammer) for this anthology. Back when it was a Danger story, Mickey’s contribution was a few notes and his approval, so for once I took top billing.

BLOOD, GUTS & WHISKEY from Kensington is a collection of short stories from Thuglit, noir stories from new writers, edited by Todd Robinson. I have provided an introduction that traces the history of the hardboiled short story from Black Mask to the internet. Check it out!

A very nice overview of MS. TREE, with a focus on the trade paperbacks of yore, has popped up on the web. Terry Beatty and I get questioned on this all the time, and we admit to being frustrated that it’s taking so long to get new reprints of the MS. TREE material out there in book form. I can only say that we are again in very serious talks with a reputable publisher.

Blood, Guts, & Whiskey

Probably a good number of the visitors to this site could care less about my rock ‘n’ roll endeavors. Nonetheless, “Psychedelic Siren” – the 1967 Dial Records (an Atlantic subsidiary) by the Daybreakers, written by yours truly – continues to attract cultish attention. Check out this blog entry from musician Bill Kopp.

At our recent Riverside gig, we were announced as having had the “hit single” “Psychedelic Siren” – though the song was only a regional hit, and appearing was the latest version of the band known as Crusin’, not the Daybreakers. So the first thing I did was tell the audience we wouldn’t be playing “Psychedelic Siren.” No riots broke out.

We had determined to do an eclectic bunch of songs, though we led with a pandering “Mony, Mony” (catnip to Midwestern baby boomers) before doing stuff like “She’s Not There” by the Zombies, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” by Dusty Springfield, “No Matter What” by Badfinger, “Easy to Be Hard” by Three Dog Night, and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Vanilla Fudge (my favorite heavy band). Not too many bands have ever played both Vanilla Fudge and Bobby Rydell (we also did a blistering “Wild One”).

We were part of a Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Music Association “Hall of Fame” show – our one-hour set was one of four. The other bands were solid, but our song choice set us apart (the Wise Guys of Chicago did soul stuff, very well, and the other two bands did solid ‘50s rockabilly).

As with the appearance of the original Daybreakers at the 2008 Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction concert at Arnold’s Park, we differed from the other acts by doing a certain amount of original material. We have always taken pride in being a “real” band. This included a song by the late, great Bruce Peters (“I Need Somebody”), and another by Rob Gal (“I Feel Better”), who is alive and well and I assume still cheerfully deranged. The band began in 1966 and has gone through many changes and members (beginning as the Daybreakers, briefly called Rox, then Crusin’, then the Ones, then Crusin’ again); and along the way some very good songs were written and recorded. Here’s where you can buy a CD collecting a lot of that material. [Prices are post-paid for the continental US. – Nate]

[2013 EDIT: All options temporarily sold out! We’ll recheck our remaining stock and make a new post soon!]

One of the songs we did was a shirt-tail hit of ours. It’s an infamous number called “Pussy Whipped,” which is the story of a henpicked husband. We didn’t write it – it was a Barnes & Barnes tune that Bill Mumy (its co-author) contributed to the band Seduction of the Innocent, which became a crowd pleaser (and stirrer) at various comic cons in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and was featured on our CD GOLDEN AGE. (Band member Steve Leialoha’s relationship with the great artist/writer Trina Robbins somehow survived her feminist-fueled hatred of the song.) It’s sung on the original album by the incredible Miguel Ferrer, and a fine live version is available here.

[2013 EDIT: All options temporarily sold out! We’ll recheck our remaining stock and make a new post soon!]

When THE GOLDEN AGE came out (it’s out of print, unfortunately), KFMH, a very popular eastern Iowa radio station, with a notorious and controversial dj (Steve Bridges – whose antics earned him a TOMORROW SHOW appearance with Tom Snyder) began to play the Seduction of the Innocent version of “Pussy Whipped.” It became a regional hit. I played keyboards and sang harmony on the cut, and this was played up by Bridges. Crusin’ was very active in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and we began to get requests for the song, and wound up learning it, with me filling in for Miguel as best I could. We even played it live on KFMH on three or four occasions.

The current version of Crusin’ has been paying a lot of attention to our history, doing songs from the Daybreakers to the Rox era (Bruce’s originals were done then) to the Ones version (when Gal was dominant songwriter, with me absent for a year or two), on to the present. Since “Pussy Whipped” was the band’s biggest hit (in its shirttail way) since “Psychedelic Siren,” we have put it back on the list.

We don’t always play it. You don’t want to play the song at a wedding (even as a warning). Nor to you want to make it part of a Valentine’s Day dance. But at a casino – where I understand people are gambling, and children aren’t allowed, and where even smoking is sanctioned – I figured we had an adult audience.

Of course this is the Heartland, and it’s America, where you can get yourself a reality show by having a big butt or sleeping with Hugh Hefner or having way too many kids, where you can form an unintentionally obscenely-titled movement protesting the taxes that have been lowered by the president you despise. So it’s always up for grabs.

Anyway, as for “Pussy Whipped” at Riverside, well, the crowd loved it – we got cheers and applause and there were lots of smiling faces, if mostly male. I made sure my diction was good so that the entire tale got heard, as the emasculated narrator tells his sad story in an amusingly ballsy fashion. Sure enough, while we were quickly tearing down to make room for the next band, a middle-aged woman with glasses and a stony expression approached the stage.

She said, “I want to make a statement. If you have to apologize for doing a song, you shouldn’t do that song. Some people were offended!” She seemed on the verge of tears.

I said, “I wasn’t really apologizing when I introduced the song. That was a joke. It was all meant in good fun.”

She didn’t know what to say, and disappeared off into the crowd.

What can I say? I am 62 years old, still playing “Pussy Whipped,” and offending older women who are probably younger than me.

I must be doing something right.

M.A.C.

Bogus Best Of’s…And Exceptions

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

I despise year’s best lists. They are completely arbitrary and invalid, as the critics cannot have read everything out there. There are exceptions to this rule, however — those exceptions are the lists that include work by me.

Quarry in the Middle Bookgasm honcho Rod Lott, who chose THE FIRST QUARRY as last year’s best novel (regardless of genre) has honored QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE as one of his top ten for 2009.

By the way, a couple of weeks ago, Bruce Grossman at Bookgasm did a nifty retrospective review of my 1984 Mallory novel, KILL YOUR DARLINGS. He calls it the second in the series, but it’s the third (THE BABY BLUE RIP-OFF and NO CURE FOR DEATH precede it, though those two were written in reverse order).

Jeff Pierce at January Magazine has an extended list of Best Crime and Mystery novels of 2009, and QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE made the cut.

The Wildsound site has a top ten comic-book films of the decade, and ROAD TO PERDITION is the top choice.

My band Crusin’ played New Year’s Eve at the West Liberty (Iowa) Country Club, and (following a couple of under-attended gigs) we had the pleasure of a packed house and a very appreciative crowd. Actually, we killed. I had almost forgotten the sheer joy of that kind of response, which was made sweeter by the crowd including a number of people I went to school with. We played four hours with minimal breaks, and my bandmates — Chuck Bunn, Steve Kundel and Jim Van Winkle — were in top form. I admit it took me two days to recover from the event, and I look back on when we would play four or even five nights consecutively (sometimes five-hour gigs) and am amazed at what I used to be physically capable of. On the other hand, not many people have been out there playing rock ‘n’ roll in essentially the same band since 1966. By the way, we still have available a handful of the DAYBREAKERS aka CRUSIN’ — THE HALL OF FAME COLLECTION CD’s signed by all five of the original members. [See at the bottom of this post — Nate]

We also have available, in better quantity but also limited, the new SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT live CD. (SEDUCTION is the “all-star comic-book band” that plays occasionally, usually at comic book conventions, and features Bill Mumy, Miguel Ferrer, John “Chris” Christensen, Steve Leialoha, and me.) The notorious cut “Pussy Whipped” from our ‘90s CD, GOLDEN AGE, became a hit at a very popular Iowa radio station in the ‘90s because of my participation (and because it’s a very funny and outrageous tune). It became a kind of shirt-tail hit for Crusin’, because the popularity was such that we had to begin performing it live. We even performed it live on that radio station (KFMH) several times for legendary DJ Steve Bridges (so popular in his prime that he appeared on THE TOMORROW SHOW with Tom Snyder). You can hear a live version of this rude tune on the new SEDUCTION live CD, but I mention this because we have begun to play it at Crusin’ gigs again. Though we are primarily an oldies band, we do pepper in originals from the band’s long (if sporadic) recording history. In SEDUCTION, Miguel Ferrer sings this sad tale of a man who informs us, “I love my wife — she tells me so,” but I take on those duties for the Crusin’ performances. So far nobody has complained about the song’s lyrical content (shall we say), but a lot of people have stared in grinning amazement. When we played at the Brew (in Muscatine), whose audience is younger than our usual demographic, a guy in his late twenties or early thirties came running up after and said, “I remember hearing that on the radio as a kid! I love that song!”

I had a very interesting and fun e-mail exchange with Peter Biegen, the talented co-writer of THE LAST LULLABY. One of the most interesting things is that we’d never had contact before, and we compared notes as to our respective experiences and discovered things about each other’s contributions that we hadn’t known. I was unaware that Peter had written not one but two drafts after my two, for example, and he wasn’t aware of the extent of my notes and conversations with director Jeffrey Goodman at the start of production, which mostly resulted in some significant cuts. As we exchanged our thoughts about the film, it became obvious that we would have collaborated well together, which is one of the unfortunate things about screenwriting — often writers brought in to do another draft are segregated from the original writer (for lots of reasons, but in my opinion few of them valid). It became clear that LULLABY (a film we are both proud of, and like very much) would have been even better had we put our heads together (independently, we both had the same idea for the final violent confrontation — only to have that identical idea passed on by the director). Sometimes Peter’s contributions have been given short shrift because LULLABY is based on my short story and the Quarry character, and I wrote the original two drafts (which became the novel THE LAST QUARRY); plus ROAD TO PERDITION is a marketable thing to emphasize. Let me go on record here to say that he did a terrific job on our co-written screenplay, and in particular made the romance at the heart of the beast more effective.

I continue to work on the third Mike Hammer novel, KISS HER GOODBYE, which is very much its own book, like neither GOLIATH BONE nor the upcoming BIG BANG. This is the lost Mike Hammer ‘70s novel and represents the ten year period where Mickey published no Hammer novels, so it’s an interesting voice and snapshot of the ultimate private eye at a different age and in a different context.

Happy Twenty Ten to all of you. A lot of exciting projects are in the pipeline, and I’ll report to you here every Tuesday morning.

M.A.C.

Seduction of the Innocent: Live @ Comic-Con 1999

Daybreakers Hall of Fame Collection

[2013 EDIT: All options temporarily sold out! We’ll recheck our remaining stock and make a new post soon!]

Seduction Live @ San Diego / Daybreakers CDs

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

This has been a week of catch-up and recovery — the San Diego Comic Con is an intense experience, this time for Nate, Barb and me heightened by one of those nightmarish trips home you hear about. Weather delays and the need to go to an airport where our car and luggage would not be waiting had us enlisting my collaborator Matt Clemens for a ride from Cedar Rapids to the Quad Cities, and us not getting our luggage for another 24 hours.

So for the almost-a-week of the con, there seems to be almost-a-week of aftermath, writing e-mails to follow-up on meetings, sorting purchases, and just waiting for the world to stop reeling under your feet.

From the con I returned with a small stack (around ten) of signed SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT — LIVE AT SAN DIEGO 1999 CD’s. The signatures are mine, Bill Mumy’s, Steve Leialoha’s and Chris Christensen’s. (Miguel Ferrer was filming, though we hope to have the full band back together for whatever our next gig is.) Anyway, I can offer a few of these for $25 postpaid. Or you can get an unsigned copy for $15 postpaid. This was a limited edition of 200 and less than 75 remain.

We have about a dozen of the DAYBREAKERS — HALL OF FAME COLLECTION CD’s that are signed by all five original members (Collins, Bunn, Busch, Bridges and Maxwell). Those are $25 postpaid for signed ones, and $15 postpaid for unsigned (about 25 of the DAYBREAKERS CD’s are all that are left). The CD charts the history of the band from 1966 to date, and includes the songs heard in the two MOMMY films, as well as the infamous “Psychedelic Siren.”

Anyone who would like signed copies of both CD’s can get the pair for $40 postpaid.

Oh — all international orders must add an additional $5.

You can pay via PAYPAL…right, Nate?

[Right!]

[2013 EDIT: Actually….wrong!! All options temporarily sold out! We’ll recheck our remaining stock and make a new post soon!]

Some very nice reviews have appeared lately on the web. Here is a great write-up on my CSI work — books that are among my all-time bestsellers and yet have rarely been reviewed. Reading this made me wish Matt and I were still doing the CSI series:

http://somebodydies.blogspot.com/2009/08/mortal-wounds-by-max-allan-collins.html

One of the really sweet things about the con this year was the surprising number of fans who sought me out to say how much they liked the Jack and Maggie Starr mysteries. I only got to do two of those (though I do hope, one day, to do at least one more), and those books didn’t get a lot of reviews, either, so the following was much appreciated:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1574067/stripping_for_murder.html?cat=38

Quarry, however, has attracted a lot of incredible reviews — and THE FIRST QUARRY in particular has received some stellar ones. I think this one was particularly insightful, though:

http://www.helium.com/items/1349593-review-the-first-quarry

See you next week.

M.A.C.

Comic-Con 2009

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

This update is being written from San Diego, where the comic con is over, and Barb, Nate and I are about to head back to Iowa.

Before I get into a blog-ish report, let me repeat announcements regarding M.A.C. that made some news at the con: Vertigo Crime Line will be doing RETURN TO PERDITION, a graphic novel sequel to ROAD TO PARADISE and the last story, chronologically anyway, in the PERDITION saga. Terry Beatty was announced as artist, which means the MS. TREE team is back. The Vertigo Crime Line books are lovely little hardcovers of about 200 pages.

Although the ink hasn’t dried (actually, hasn’t been applied), informally it was announced that MS. TREE would be reprinted in uniform volumes with a new graphic novel. This will (if all goes well, and it will) be a Comics Mix/IDW affair. Lots of great comments from people about this, all around the con. Also wonderful comments about Quarry and especially the currently in hiatus Jack Starr “comics” mysteries illustrated by Terry.

The con, for once, has not grown. They capped it last year and it has been at capacity ever since. The aisles are packed by ten a.m., and even the preview night is like laundry day along the Ganges. Because I was a special guest this year — as part of the con’s in-house rock band, Seduction of the Innocent — I was able to score Exhibitor badges for both Nate and me. This was even somewhat legit because on Wednesday night we had to schlep in 200 copies of the new Seduction CD (a terrific recording of our most recent performance at the con…in 1999!).

Anyway, that meant Nate and I could get in every day for an hour ahead of the rabble, I mean, other attendees, and that was a joy. A dream-like sensation, walking down wide nearly empty aisles bathed in air-conditioning, surrounded by pop culture imagery absurd and sublime.

I did not abuse the guest privilege, but asked for three things: helping get Nate into a panel on which one of his heroes appeared, Hayao Miyazaki; getting Barb, Nate and me into the jam-packed, a thousand-turned-away Riff Trax performance (front row!), and — this was very tough — getting to privately meet with probably my favorite actor on the planet, Canadian star Paul Gross of SLINGS & ARROWS and DUE SOUTH fame. Paul was as gracious and friendly and warm as he was charistmatic — for example, I used my all-access pass to get into the green room (Nate, also a fan, could not get in). Paul had no problem leaving the safety of the green room to go out into the hallway and talk to Nate for fifteen minutes. Incredible guy, and the experience I will treasure from this con — he would make a great Nate Heller, by the way. (He has a new show, in America, coming up, and that’s what he was promoting: Eastwick.) What did I have him sign? The Blu-Ray of PASSCHENDAELE, the Sirk-like Canadian war epic he wrote, directed and starred in, which inexplicably has not received distribution in the USA.

Seduction of the Innocent: Live @ Comic-Con 1999

This was easily my most hectic con. I’ll start with the Seduction of the Innocent stuff. First, Miguel Ferrer had a filming conflict, but I was there with Bill Mumy, Chris Christensen and Steve Leialoha, debuting our LIVE AT THE SAN DIEGO ComicCon 1999 OFFICIAL BOOTLEG CD. Though we did not play (we weren’t asked), we sold around 100 of the limited 200 edition, meaning you’ll soon be able to snag a copy here (we will have around 10 signed copies available). We spent much of the con together at various events and signings, and I was reminded by how much fun it is to be with Bill, Chris and Steve. Bill also debuted the first new Barnes & Barnes album in 18 years — he is talented, funny guy, sweet and witty but be careful not to get sent to the cornfield…it CAN happen. Chris knows music better than anybody I know, and I get a warmth being around him that reminds me of my late buddy Paul Thomas. Steve Leialoha, whose FABLES racked up several Eisner awards, is as slyly funny as his smile is sunny.

Seduction presented a couple of Eisners at the awards and were well received. We do not really understand why they would invite us, a rock band, and not have us play, and frankly all of us spent much of the convention being asked, and not being able to answer, the question, “Why aren’t you guys playing?” There were in fact several opportunities — a reception, the after-event at the Eisners. There does seem to be a possibility we will do so next year, and we were informally approached by another con, as well.

I did panels on noir comics, on mystery fiction, as well as the Vertigo panel and — trumpets here — the Scribes awards. Link over, courtesy of Nate, and see the winners (I was not one of them, though had two nice nominations).

I also recorded an interview for a major Blu-Ray release (all I can say at the moment) and the family ate well, saw Demetri Martin in concert, and Barb and Nate got to go to Coronado island (and experience the SOME LIKE IT HOT/SOMEWHERE IN TIME hotel and beach) while I met at the con with Marvel on a top secret project (you didn’t hear it here). I also met with several editors — gave away and signed maybe 300 copies of G.I. JOE: ABOVE AND BEYOND at the Del Rey booth — including discussing the Heller-in-progress with TOR editor Jim Frenkel. Nate entered a Find Waldo (a guy dressed up like Waldo that is) at the Capcom booth, and was the big winner of a thousand bucks worth of stash, including a 360 and a Blackberry.

Next to meeting Paul Gross, the biggest thrill for me was having the three Riff Trax guys (Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy) seek me out at the autographing area, standing there with big smiles on their midwestern mugs like an absurd mirage. I love these guys (CINEMATIC TITANTIC, too) and we made each other laugh for maybe ten minutes…and then I suggested a project that we might do together that I guarantee would interest anybody who has read this far.

More later. Time to leave the land of make believe and go back to Iowa.

M.A.C.