NEW FICTION: Bourbon & Blondes has arrived!

From the bus stations of Rt. 66 to the smoky, neon-tinged jazz dives of the big cities, these wanton tales of longing introduce us to vixens on the fringe and those shifty men that drove them there.

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Watch: The 'Bourbon & Blondes' Book Trailer

Get your shot glass ready because you're about to enter a retro world of showgirls, drifters, barmaids and thieves.

The eternal question for scribes?

In this new social media landscape, the question becomes: Is blogging dead? It just may be...

Watch: The 'Front Page Palooka' Book Trailer

Read the pulp novella that one reviewer called 'A potboiler in the style of old school writers like Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler...'

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Listen to the title track from Tom Waits’ upcoming album "Bad As Me," due in stores on Oct. 25. on limited edition deluxe CD, CD, and LP.

Via Tom The disc is Waits’ first studio album of all new music in seven years and refines the music that has come before and signals a new direction. Waits, in possibly the finest voice of his career, worked with a veteran team of gifted musicians and longtime co-writer/producer Kathleen Brennan. From the opening horn-fueled chug of “Chicago,” to the closing barroom chorale of “New Year’s Eve,” "Bad As Me" displays the full career range of Waits’ songwriting, from beautiful ballads like “Last Leaf,” to the avant cinematic soundscape of “Hell Broke Luce,” a battlefront dispatch.

On tracks like “Talking at the Same Time,” Waits shows off a supple falsetto, while on blues burners like “Raised Right Men” and the gospel tinged “Satisfied” he spits, stutters and howls. Like a good boxer, these songs are lean and mean, with strong hooks and tight running times. A pervasive sense of players delighting in each other’s musical company brings a feeling of loose joy even to the album’s saddest songs.


You’re the head on the spear
You’re the nail on the cross
You’re the fly in my beer
You’re the key that got lost
You’re the letter from Jesus on the bathroom wall
You’re mother superior in only a bra
You’re the same kind of bad as me

I’m the hat on the bed
I’m the coffee instead
The fish or cut bait
I’m the detective up late
I’m the blood on the floor
The thunder and the roar
The boat that won’t sink
I just won’t sleep a wink
You’re the same kind of bad as me

No good you say
Well that’s good enough for me

You’re the wreath that caught fire
You’re the preach to the choir
You bite down on the sheet
But your teeth have been wired
You skid in the rain
You’re trying to shift
You’re grinding the gears
You’re trying to shift
And you’re the same kind of bad as me

They told me you were no good
I know you’ll take care of all my needs
You’re the same kind of bad as me

I’m the mattress in the back
I’m the old gunnysack
I’m the one with the gun
Most likely to run
I’m the car in the weeds
If you cut me I’ll bleed
You’re the same kind of bad as me
You’re the same kind of bad as me

Tom Waits - Bad As Me by antirecords

Friday, August 26, 2011


Press play for some mood music

Havana, 1953.

I told her there was nothing worse than waiting for the hurricane. And this phone call.

She ignored me. Cracking her gum, she bopped around the room and looked for her beach towel.

"You comin'?"

I shook my head and blew her a kiss. She shrugged her shoulders, blew me a kiss and slammed the door. Suddenly the room was quiet. That glorious kind of quiet that almost hums. But man, the air was as heavy as my great Aunt Millie after Thanksgiving dinner.

I paced, played with the radio, and discovered a young musician named Tito Puente. The sweat now dripped down my neck. Even though it was barely noon, I was dying for some whiskey -- something from Kentucky. The way I felt, I'd even go for some of that rotgut hooch mixed with Passaic River sold during Prohibition. But all they seemed to have down here was Rum. Tons of it. To me, the swill tasted like coffin varnish.

But there was a storm coming and it was all I had.

* * *

Three hours later, I couldn't see a hole in a ladder. She'd been at Cafe' Sunburn all afternoon and trotted back into the bungalow looking like a ripe Jersey tomato.

"Did you fall asleep in the sun?" I asked.

She told me instead of tanning lotion she rubbed on some Cuban paprika to get some color. I'd say it worked.

"Whatcha doin'?" she asked.

I pointed to the phone. It meant that I was still waiting for the phone call that would bring me to him.

General Fulgencio Batista.

The magazine wanted me to find his human side. Whatever that meant. A dictator was a dictator any way I sliced it and this Clyde's tale was a common one: Seized power in a military coup, banned elections and followed up with right wing policies.

I was instructed by Esquire to specifically ask him about a charismatic young revolutionary named Castro and what's being discussed in hush-hush circles as 'The Movement.'

She noticed the music and started to bob her head. We were dime grinding a few minutes later when the phone rang.

I was expecting The General but instead, it was Castro's people. They, too, wanted to talk to me.

Before I left the shack, I couldn't help but notice the storm clouds roll in. I wiped the sweat off my brow and took one last swig of the rum. By now, it tasted like that Kentucky nectar.

"Will you be back for dinner?" she asked.

I assured her that I would be and kissed her on her head. "Here's hoping that Castro's not such a bad guy..."

Music: Tito Puente & His Orchestra - Timbalero

Friday, August 19, 2011


Please press play for some mood music

Root Riley hitched all the way from Socorro, New Mexico.

Root was good at beatin' the devil around the stump -- which basically meant that he was lazier than a hound dog on a Sunday afternoon.

His father Buck arrived in Socorro in the Forties to con some money out of Conrad Hilton. That part worked. But when ol' Connie found out, Buck wound up on the clink and Root grew up visiting his poppa every other weekend at the pen three hours away.

Besides, it was time to leave Socorro. Just before he skipped town, some copper swore he saw little green men over a hill on top of a mesa. G-men, the Air-Force and every hack reporter from La La Land to the Big Apple swarmed into the small town.

It was too much action. Too much heat. So he split.

# # #

Laziness aside, Root sure knew how to cut a swell with the ladies. He asked the trucker he was hitching with where there was some good fandango.

That was easy, the trucker told him -- Collins, Texas. "It's as hot as a whorehouse on nickel night..."

"That'll do.." Root said.

He asked to be dropped him off in the town square. It was a Saturday afternoon and between the Gimbel's, coffee shop and pool hall, there'd be all sorts of townsfolk Root could scope.

The ride had him dragged out so he found a stool and downed a few cups of Arbuckle's. He bent an elbow for a bit, jabbering away with some bazoo who was in from Seattle. He was selling somebody something that didn't matter all that much to Bart. But it passed the time.

But then he saw them.

They were as fine as cream gravy. The two ladies looked like they were from the Old States... High-falutin. He watched them eat lunch -- one had a BLT and the other had some lemon meringue pie.

Another hour passed and Root knew that these two were it. They chirpily paid their bill and wandered across the street to the bus depot where telephone booths lined up like militia men.

The bank was all picked. That was the easy part.

All he needed now was an alibi and ditching one of these pigeons would be easy. Didn't matter which since they both looked the same.

Root entered the booth next to them and fiddled with the phone. He pretended to fuss about with the receiver before asking them, "Would either of you lovely ladies have another dime? This dang phone doesn't want mine."

He tipped his hat and let his smile do the rest.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Charles Bukowski -- The namesake of this blog -- would have turned 91 today... Enjoy these two audio readings of his poems and pour yourself a stiff one in his honor.

Here's to you, Hank...


TOM WAITS READS NIRVANA (stupendous, eerie and gorgeous)

Monday, August 15, 2011


I'm a sucker for writer documentaries and I'll be the first to admit that I can't get enough of them.

I'm compelled to watch them because as a wannabe scribe, I know first hand how hard this craft can be. Anyone who says it comes easy, is full of horseshit.

Applying our craft, throwing ourselves into a project (both physically and metaphorically), is something that only other scribes can identify with. We don't just sit in front of a computer ... and type. These films usually explore the creative process and what goes on inside an author's brain... That's prolly why I find solace in these films.

Some favorites include:
# # #

I stumbled across "My Life on Spec" on the blog of "Sideways" novelist Rex Pickett. While the video is just a conceptual promo, (shot by Marco Mannone and his brother Al), it hits every note. If you're a writer, you need to watch. If you're a fan of "Sideways," even more so... Check it out:

Says Rex on his blog: "I had an idea last December to do a kind of quasi-documentary on my writing life — my life on spec, as it were — and the promo uses footage from what would end up being the going-back-to Sideways-turf segment. Then, things just got so busy we had to put it on hold. ... We shot for three days up in Sideways country, visiting many of the locations in the movie, and some that were only in the book. It’s well-edited and moves, I think, pretty quickly. Saying anything more about a documentary on me would be too self-aggrandizing, and I’m not that guy."

He's not... But I am!

After roughly 13 minutes, I must say that I'm jonesing for more. "Sideways" was an important book and film for me and the story of Miles and Jack transcends that of "Oh, isn't that the wine movie." Pickett's book (and subsequent film adaptation) is about friendship, loss, pain, yearning, love and yes, writing... In fact, the tale has spawned a forthcoming play (staged at the end of the year at the Ruskin Group Theater) as well as an interesting 9and gorgeously bizarre) foreign language Japanese adaptation -- "Saidoweizu."

Pickett's road-novel sequel "Vertical," published earlier this year, follows Miles and Jack once again. It flashes-forward seven years after "Sideways" and Miles has written a novel that has been made into a wildly successful movie (sound familiar?) Jack is divorced (no shock there), has a child and is on the skids. Miles's mom has suffered a stroke that's left her wheelchair-bound and wasting away in assisted-living. She desperately wants to live with her sister in Wisconsin. When Miles gets invited to be master of ceremonies at a Pinot Noir festival in Oregon, he hatches a road trip. Needless to say, hi-jinks ensue.

While the novel started out at Alfred A. Knopf (a lit division of Random House), there were creative differences when Pickett decided he wanted to write a sequel. As a result, Pickett said 'sayonara' and found equity funding from private investor Tim Moore to go the intrepid self-imprint route.

The guy keeps busy -- currently he's writing an HBO wine-themed show and there's even a fun new Facebook page 'Miles and Jack' that's dedicated to the interaction of the beloved characters. Definitely check it out.

For even more Pickett, the fine folks at Mahalo have shot several quick vignettes where the scribe fields questions from fans. It's chock full of great stuff... Here's the PLAYLIST.

Some favorites:

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Next on my reading list and released about two weeks ago.

Via AMAZON: Tom Waits, even with his barnyard growl and urban hipster yawp, may just be what the Daily Telegraph calls him: “the greatest entertainer on Planet Earth.” Over a span of almost four decades, he has transformed his music and persona not to suit the times but his whims. But along with Bob Dylan, he stands as one of the last elder statesmen still capable of putting out music that matters.

Journalists intent upon cracking the code are more likely to come out of a Waits interview with anecdotes about the weather, insects, or medieval medicine. He is, in essence, the teacher we wished we had, dispensing insights such as: “Vocabulary is my main instrument;” “We all like music, but what we really want is for music to like us;” “Anything you absorb you will ultimately secrete;” “Growth is scary, because you’re a seed and you’re in the dark and you don’t know which way is up, and down might take you down further into a darker place . . .;” and “There is no such thing as nonfiction. ...People who really know what happened aren’t talking.  Show More

"Tom Waits on Tom Waits" is a selection of over fifty interviews from the more than five hundred available. Here Waits delivers prose as crafted, poetic, potent, and haunting as the lyrics of his best songs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Philip Levine, the Pulitzer-Prize winner known for his brooding and personal verse about the working class, will be the country's new poet laureate.

The 83-year-old Levine will succeed fellow Pulitzer winner W.S. Merwin this fall. The laureate, who receives $35,000 and is known officially as the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, serves from October through May. Richard Wilbur, Joseph Brodsky and Robert Pinsky are among the previous appointees.

"I'm a fairly irreverent person and at first I thought, 'This is not you. You're an old union man,'" Levine told the Associated Press. "But I knew if I didn't do this, I would kick myself. I thought, "This is you. You can speak to a larger public than has been waiting for you in recent years.'"

Receiving pretty much every literary honor, Levine is a Detroit native who has worked in automobile plants and for decades chronicled, celebrated and worried about blue collar life. Levine's awards include the Pulitzer in 1995 for "The Simple Truth" and the National Book Award in 1991 for "What Work Is."

We'd say Bukowski would be proud of him...

For more on Levin, click HERE. Examples of his work can be found HERE.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


... That I've posted in celebration of her 100th birthday.

Here's the scoop: The Big Street is a 1942 American drama film, starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball, based on the short story "Little Pinks" by Damon Runyon, who also produced the movie. The film was directed by Irving Reis. The screenplay was written by Leonard Spigelgass from Runyon's story.

The film focuses on busboy Augustus Pinkerton II (Henry Fonda), known as "Little Pinks," and his relationship with heartless singer Gloria Lyons (Lucille Ball), who is crippled in a fall after her boyfriend, New York City nightclub owner Case Ables, pushes her down a flight of stairs in a fit of jealousy. Left penniless by the expenses she incurs during a long convalescence, Gloria is forced to rely on the kindness of Pinks, who invites her to stay with him in his apartment.