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.

Subscribe for the latest updates

Sign up to get Anthony's newsletter featuring news on his new books, stories, events and pop culture musings

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...'

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Willis from Brad Heaton on Vimeo.

If you don't know bourbon-soaked scribe Willis Gordon, it's about time you did.

I've had the pleasure of being in his company as an Revolutionary Voice over at Adam Schirling's Drunken Absurdity, the underground (and underrated) sanctuary and asylum for writers and poets. Upon reading perusing his work, I became interested in his voice almost immediately.

What can be said about the charismatic author that the above video doesn't show? Not many creative people are willing to channel (and hone for that matter) an honest sincerity and blunt bravery in their work. Like Gordon, more writers should be willing to express the nature of what pains them by digging deep and essentially tapping into the only honest frame of reference they have.

Hailing from Canton, Ohio, Gordon is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces (Navy) — and shit, let's just thank him for that. When he isn't scribbling in Moleskines, he is also a biting political columnist and essayist where no one is safe. The moment he referred to undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. as a "spoilsport prick" in an interview with Horror, Sleaze, Trash, I was further hooked. The man is simply not afraid to call it as he sees it.

His first two books, 'The Long Road Home' and 'The Empty Boulevards' are available at Amazon (in both digital and print form). Check 'em out. His next effort, 'Cowards and Thieves: Sex Drugs Politics and the Search for American Salvation' is due out in Fall 2013.

For more, visit his blog, 'Like' his Facebook fan page or follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I've been tardy this year with my 'Boardwalk Empire' recaps re-posted here on Monday mornings. While they all live at (my day gig) via The Star-Ledger, I've normally posted them here every week since the show debuted in 2010.

Alas, here are the links to all of the episode recaps in season 3. They're chock full of historical information, videos, music from the era and a lively forum.

As always, enjoy...



Season 3, Episode 1


Season 3, Episode 2
'Spaghetti & Coffee'


Season 3, Episode 3
'Bone For Tuna'


Season 3, Episode 4
'Blue Bell Boy'


Season 3, Episode 5
'You'd Be Surprised'


Season 3, Episode 6
'Ging Gang Goolie'


Season 3, Episode 7
'Sunday Best'


Season 3, Episode 8
'The Pony'


Season 3, Episode 9
'The Milkmaid's Lot'


Season 3, Episode 10
'A Man, A Plan'


Season 3, Episode 11
'Two Imposters'


Season 3, Episode 12
'Margate Sands'

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Greetings one and all.

As you may have noticed, I haven't updated Bukowski's Basement for quite some time. Between being harried at the day job and gathering thoughts and research for my upcoming Fight Card novella 'Union of the Snakes,’ things have been getting dusty round these parts. For that I apologize.

Funny enough, the daily traffic here has maintained a steady level of visitors (261,000+ page views). Reason? I can only assume there's a healthy selection of posts to keep new visitors busy and old ones entertained. Well that and I suppose good ‘ol fashioned search engine optimization where a few standout posts have been ranked high by Google.

That particular fact has brought me to an interesting question to ponder: Some time ago, I was having a conversation with a writer colleague online. We were chatting about maintaining blogs to which I was told, "Blogs are dead..."

At the time, the statement didn’t register but ever since, the more I thought about it, the more I discovered there may have been something to it.

Look, the great thing about blogging is that there'll always be a need for interesting, thought-provoking, informational or humorous content. Bearing this in mind, however, it’s a no-brainer (to me at least) that casual bloggers an the dawn of 2013 don't present their content the same way anymore.

There’s been an evolution.


Back in 2008 when I started Bukowski's Basement, it was the perfect home for a YouTube video I wanted my readers to see or an aggregation to a particular news story or blog post that I found compelling.

Then convergence happened shortly after.

Again, over the past few years, I noticed a shift in blogging patterns from many of my writer friends as well as myself. Funny thing, I don’t think many of us were aware the tide was turning.

I'm about to say something blasphemous so get ready: Whether we like it or not, our online visibility is now fueled by social networks. That's the bottom line. WE ARE WHAT WE POST. You could have the best blog content this side of NPR but it wouldn't make a difference because people will judge you by your Twitter feed or Facebook wall. Those two social networks, behind Google search, are the primary turnpikes to your blog content.
Our blogging visibility online is now fueled by social networks.

Are you that person who posts funny cat memes on Facebook or tweets your every waking thought while stuck in traffic? During the election, were you a politico propaganda machine? You get where I’m going...

Through our updates and tweets, we become and cultivate a brand whether we like it or not and, as writers, it’s important to maintain a level of exposure and engagement that will ultimately drive traffic to our blogs as well as give a hint to readers what we’re all about.

It’s simple math. Need more proof? As long as everyone on the planet has a smartphone in their pocket, they're taking their online lives with them. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. That fact that I've connected with so many writers on social networks allows me to follow their musings so much more than I would I were still poking around their sites on blog news readers. What’s more, I’m finding we're using these said social networks - Twitter, Facebook or even Google Plus - to share the tidbits we'd be normally putting on our blogs in years past. Someone who does this brilliantly is Paul Bishop of the stupendous pulp crime fiction blog Bish’s Beat.

Again, it's all about convergence.

It’s no shock that Facebook and Twitter are the top-tier networks. Second-tier upstarts like Pinterest, tumblr, Instagram all can feed into a top-tier network cleanly. In addition, Google Plus and YouTube are joined at the hip and do a respectable job knocking on each other’s door. So what am I getting at? It’s easier than ever to build a visible platform as a writer on a social network so when we DO have content (#FridayFlash etc), readers may be more apt to visit your page.


Before you think this is some half-cocked Jerry Maguire food-poisoning memo, I'm not saying that writers shouldn't have blogs. Absolutely not. There's always be a need for a self-promotional home base to pimp a sample chapter of a new work, essay, book or film review, poem or even a weekly flash fiction piece. This is where I still think blogs shine - when we, as content creators, have premium material to share.

But let's face it, keeping up with blog reading has become a chore for most and it's much easier to peruse a Facebook news feed or twitter scroll than to muddle through a Google news reader backed up with weeks of unread blog posts. So, yes, in the traditional sense, blogs may be on the ropes.

Social Media Influence may have said it best:
"Last month we looked at growth trends for each of the big social media publishing channels, namely, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Not all of you agreed with our conclusion: that blogging is an activity that, at best, is leveling off. At worst, it’s an activity in decline. The New York Times is now jumping on this discussion meme, declaring that today’s twentysomethings no longer blog, a further sign that fewer people can find the time."
They go on:
"...Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family."
Boom! Waning writer momentum coupled with new (and easier) consumption methods are drastically changing the blogging landscape.

Noticing, even The New York Times has weighed in:
"Blogs went largely unchallenged until Facebook reshaped consumer behavior with its all-purpose hub for posting everything social. Twitter, which allows messages of no longer than 140 characters, also contributed to the upheaval."
... No longer did Internet users need a blog to connect with the world. They could instead post quick updates to complain about the weather, link to articles that infuriated them, comment on news events, share photos or promote some cause — all the things a blog was intended to do."
So as writers, what do we do now that blogs are not as popular as they once were?

That’s easy. Build a compelling presence across a few social media platforms. Engage with readers and writer friends alike. Retweet them. Engage friends on Facebook (that all helps with their own algorithm). Build a compelling profile akin to your work as a scribe. Become a respectable content creator (and sharer) that people look forward to seeing. You're a curator just as much as you are a writer.

Need an example? There isn't a writer currently that I think does this better than author Caleb J. Ross. The guy is simply everywhere and he makes sure that all roads lead to Rome – his more than impressive web page and yes, his own blog. He does a stupendous job of being visible on social networks so his blog can thrive. In short, he's easy to stalk.

Above all, it’s important to keep writing. Share your own links and your blog traffic shouldn't suffer too much.

So there it is... Are blogs dead? Maybe the way we initially thought them to be. They’re still there but nowadays, we must ensure that our visibility online cultivates the kind of traffic we want.

So with all this said, I'd love to hear and discuss other writer's opinions regarding their own blogging practices or how others are adapting on this emerging online landscape. Sound off below and feel free to share...

Friday, October 5, 2012

THE DOLL (#fridayflash)

Press play for some mood music

It was about two years ago when I found it buried within the walls of the attic as if it had been left behind by mistake. Looking back now, it had to be on purpose. Someone a lifetime ago wanted the doll gone and I let it out with one swing of a sledgehammer.

Don't get me wrong. The doll wasn't Chucky. At least that red headed little bastard had a sense of humor. Mine was just creepy. Odd things had a way of happening around the doll. Like the time the bookcase nearly crushed the puppy. Or when the fishbowl spilled near the outlet.

Or my heart attack.

I felt it's presence almost from the moment I would walk into the house. And call me crazy, but a few times I would swear that it changed outfits overnight. One afternoon about a year ago, I decided to toss it into a drum and burn it along with the autumn leaves. A cat howled in the distance. It was that little baby kind of howl that makes your skin itch with fear. But the doll was gone.

My friends all said I was nuts. Afraid of a little doll. If I had a family, I'm sure they'd say the same thing. But in my defense, the sun started shining again. My house felt nimble after a long dry spell. Eventually, I even finished the attic.

The first  mistake I made was not going to Ikea or some big box furniture outlet. I decided that antiques would finish the room better than that Swedish bullcrap wood. When I first saw the doll in the vintage shop, I went numb. Was this really happening and was I actually buying it? It was all kind of hazy after that.

I remember throwing it onto the front seat and fastening its seat belt as if she were alive. After that, I blasted my radio. The one thing I can recall was the smell of chicken from the Cluck-Amuck Chicken stand. I remember wanting some but the doll told me no. Maybe she was Chucky after all.

At least, that's the last thought I had before I hit that telephone pole.

Music: 'A Taunting Voice' by Død Beverte. It can be downloaded HERE

Sunday, September 30, 2012


'I got a gun ... HE got a gun ... He got a gun ... EVER'BODY GOT GUNS!

THIS WEEK: Written by Howard Korder and directed by 'Empire' first-timer Alik Sakharov, the tension in this episode progressed nicely with — shockingly — no body count which is a rarity these days on 'Empire.' As always, take heed... Massive spoilers ahead.

Here's what went down:

• Nucky meets a new 'associate' in the form of U.S. investigator Gaston Bullock Means, courtesy of Attorney General Harry Daugherty.

• At St. Theresa’s, Margaret, still trying to get a handle on playing the dutiful benefactor, clashes with both doctor and patient.

• Gyp Rosetti finds an odd solace with Tabor Heights when he realizes how strategic the town is on a map.

• Chalky White and daughter Maybelle (Christina Jackson) disagree on her future with potential husband and current med student beau Samuel.
• Eli, sprung from jail, comes to terms with his absence from home and goes to work for a most unlikely boss.

For my full scene-by-scene annotated recap, historical footnotes, episode videos, tunes from the era and other thoughts, visit

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Character actor Bobby Cannavale explodes on the screen as gangster Gyp Moretti.

THIS WEEK:  The more things change, the more they stay the same. Around a year has passed and Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) is long gone. Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) — no longer Atlantic County treasurer — keeps busy by playing benefactor and philanthropist by day while supplying the region with plenty of alcohol by night. Written by showrunner/executive producer Terence Winter and directed by 'Empire' veteran Tim Van Patten, the action in this third season premiere flash-forwards to the dawn of 1923 on New Year's Eve.

Here's what went down:

• We meet this season's newest loose cannon: Gyp Rosetti, a Sicilian hothead who wastes no time in becoming a fly-in-the-ointment.

• At his lavish New Year's Eve bash, Nucky declares that he will be no longer supply liquor to the masses and will be selling to only one customer.

• Margaret gets (a little too involved) at St. Theresa’s Hospital where she and Nucky are benefactors and have built a new wing.

• Gillian Darmody embarks on a new business venture while caring for Tommy, her late son Jimmy's orphaned little boy

• In Chicago, Al Capone locks horns with Irish mobster Dean O' Banion

• Stumblebum Nelson Van Alden, now on the lam in Illinois, peddles irons door-to-door by day. But will it be for long?

For my full scene-by-scene annotated recap, historical footnotes, episode videos, tunes from the era and other thoughts, visit

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Well ... It's back. It's been a long wait.

The third season of HBO's prohibition drama "Boardwalk Empire" kicks off Sunday night at 9 p.m. and we're prepping our best small batch bourbon for the return of Nucky Thompson and company.

We'd be lying, however, if we said we weren't a bit worried. After last season's shocking body count of major players, will HBO's lavish critical darling rebound from not only the loss of a main character but continue its upward momentum while maintaining it's rich period detail?

I have questions.


Thursday, August 16, 2012


I know, I know... the blog has been a tad lonely of late. Reason? The day gig has been a tad intense this summer. But alas, regularly scheduled posts will return as well as goodies from a guest poet, new film noir suggestions and oodles of flash fiction and Americana fun.

And what better time to let Basement Dwellers know this than on Hank's birthday...

To celebrate the occasion, enjoy the video below, the COMPLETE Bukowski documentary "Born Into This," a stupendous look at the life of this blog's namesake. The movie is well worth a watch so grab your best hooch and settle in for an hour or so:

Friday, July 27, 2012


One night last week, I was watching a documentary about the Library of Congress and the National Film Registry's effort to preserve American motion pictures and was immediately struck by a short film called "Cologne: From the Diary of Ray and Esther."

This charming piece of Americana, shot by Minnesota residents Ray and Esther Dowidat, documents the people and everyday life in Cologne, Minnesota, circa 1939. Compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 18 American film archives, "Cologne," was one of the 50 films in the four-disc DVD set called "Treasures from American Film Archives."

A stunning portrait of a bygone era, Raymond Dowidat used the narrative tool of his wife writing in her diary as a tool to drive the images in "Cologne." The short film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." More on the film HERE.

Thankfully preserved by the Minnesota Historical Society, a description on it's home on Daily Motion reads as follows: "Cologne: From the Diary of Ray and Esther is a 1939 short documentary film which deals with the German-American community on the eve of World War II. It was directed by Esther Dowidat and Raymond Dowidat."

It's quite simply a snapshot to another time, a portal to the past and, for my money, an Edward Hopper painting come to life.

Enjoy it below...

Cologne: From the Diary of Ray and Esther (1939) by Lost_Shangri_La_Horizon

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Clockwise from top, Philip Baker Hall, Michael Madsen, Kim Dickens, and Alec Baldwin

My rule: The best thing about noir as a genre is that it can be bent a thousand ways from Sunday. I've said that once and I'll continue.

While most classic noir films we've come to love have stemmed from the 40s and 50s (too many to name), plenty of neo noirs have been delivered in the modern day from director Roman Polanski's take of the private eye film in "Chinatown" to the burnt-neon world of Ridley Scott's sci-fi "Blade Runner." Those are givens. But what about the flicks off the beaten path?

Just as in parts one and two, I'm going to recommend four more neo-noirs that some of you may have missed the first time around.

Zero Effect (1998)

The gist: Jake Kasdan's feature-film debut centers on Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller) and Daryl Zero (Bill Pullman), with the latter being a damn near genius when it comes to the art of sleuthing. Their newest case comesin the form of finding a shady tycoon's missing keys. But Zero never counted on being bitten by the love bug in the form of unlikely vamp Kim Dickens.

Why I loved it: If this isn't a modern take on Sherlock Holmes I don't know what is. Like most, I was leery upon seeing the often-predictable Stiller in this - but he delivers as the metrosexual Watson-type. And Pullman? Otherwise a fly-under-the-radar thesp, he owned the movie as the awkward detective. And stunning Kim Dickens? Her femme fatale is a tad unconventional but more than effective. Pretty much hard to find these days (usually it's on cable), the video above has the film in its entirety.

Heaven's Prisoners (1996)

The gist: Based on the crime novels of James Lee Burke, former New Orleans cop Dave Robicheaux (Alec Baldwin) returns to the grit of the French Quarter when he stumbles upon a suspicious plane crash and saves the life of a young girl. Caught between rampaging federal agents and a drug-running former friend (Eric Roberts), the twists and turns come fast and furious.

Why I loved it: Roughly a decade before he scooped up scores of Emmys on NBC's "30 Rock," Baldwin had a minor run as brooding leading man. Lord, one can only imagine what he could've done in the late 40s-early 50s. Eric Roberts is pure fun (even with the scenery-shewing) as the baddie who used to know Baldwin.

Kill Me Again (1989)

The gist: Set within the steamy Nevada desert as well as casino towns Reno and Las Vegas, this feature debut of neo-noir stylist John Dahl ("Red Rock West," "The Last Seduction"), centers on Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, a vamp who tries to break free from her mob connections by faking her own death. The patsy in all this is private eye Jack Andrews (Val Kilmer), who quickly gets spun into her web of woe and seduction.

Why I loved it: While Whalley-Kilmer plays the femme fatale for all it's worth, a pre-'Reservoir Dogs' Michael Madsen steals the show as her psychotic boyfriend on her trail. Kilmer may have been slightly miscast as the modern gumshoe, but Whalley-Kilmer, Madsen and Dahl's steamy neo noir direction more than make up for it.

Hard Eight (1996)

The gist: Visionary director Paul Thomas Anderson's first film chronicles the relationship of John (John C. Reilly) and professional card sharp and gambler Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), who takes John under his wing after showing him how to exploit the casinos' perks. Flash-forward a few years and the duo enjoy life as successful gamblers. All is grand until John falls for a cocktail waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow) and gets mixed up with a shady stranger (Samuel L. Jackson).

Why I loved it: This simple little film delivers in spades and Baker Hall owns the movie as the fatherly gambler. The real star, however, is the gritty city of Reno itself which bleeds onto the screen.

Friday, June 22, 2012

EARTH ANGEL (#fridayflash)

Press play for some mood music

My conscience was beginning to hold me hostage and the ransom was my future.

Despite what we were taught by Father Flynn, some people were expendable. They just didn't matter. I was a crook born and raised in a cold, Catholic orphanage and quickly learned that even I didn't matter. She was no different. I could tell she didn't exactly have a high opinion of her own footing in life.

It was easy for people like us to fall off the map. Bus depots, train stations, truck stops, ports of call - they were all breeding grounds for skirts with lonely hearts and creeps with one eye on their drink and the other on the door.

I met her at one of these destinations and, to be honest, it really didn't matter which one. I sold her a bill of goods and she bought them willingly. All I had to do was wink my wink and promise a little cabbage when our grift was done.

A suitcase of diamonds. That's what the road to kismet thought she was worth. And it worked. Greed tapped me on the shoulder that day and I figured one less future whatever-she-was-gonna-be didn't matter in the grand scheme of the universe. She already had one strike against her looking down the barrel of my gun.

But I remember that even in death, she looked like an angel - even with the Lucky Strike hanging from those puffy rosebud lips. Three hours later, she slept in the Earth.

Some people are expendable. At least that's what I told myself as I patted the dirt with my shovel.

The problem with that logic is that eventually, if we live long enough, guys like me develop a stab of sympathy. Our damned wisdom gives us a frame of reference. And then it all becomes clear.

I have to chuckle because the man upstairs cursed me. No, he didn't get me pinched. I have all my limbs and I can see through both my eyes. I felt snakebitten by Ol' Totem because I met the woman who would be my wife not one day after I put that sweet young thing down.

I've lived a lie my whole life and now when I look at the face of my teenage daughter I hope that my earth angel doesn't take it out on her.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Nothing like simple, but effective teasers... Enjoy these very quick black and white spots for the third season of 'Boardwalk Empire' on HBO. Recaps, as usual, will come Monday mornings at in September.

Prep your bourbon...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


The Flash Fiction blog Liminal Fiction and its owner, Richard Bon, was kind enough to bestow upon me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Mucho thanks for that, Richard! Thanks, as always, for reading.

In order to accept the kudos, I have to share 10 things about myself with my basement dwellers and pass it along to a few blogs that I feel are worthy. OK ... So here goes:

1) I can only watch noir films at night.

2) I'm a sucker for old radio dramas.

3) I still maintain that my favorite job was my first - in the stock room at Barnes & Noble. Oh, the books...

4) I hate the warm weather and all that comes with it.

5) As a child, I never had a pet.

6) I certainly have pack rat tendencies but obvious Rat Pack style.

7) My first REAL shot of any kinda hard booze was after a fight with an old flame well into my twenties. No worries, I've more than made up for lost time.

8) On my first and only Boy Scout camping trip, me and a bunch of the other young scouts got tied to a tree. Um... Yeah. Never went camping again.

9) If there's a marathon airing anywhere on TV, I'll usually watch. That said, I try to avoid VH1 on Sundays.

10) I once did a ridiculous amount of freelancing for Men's Health magazine and as someone who now covers many facets of entertainment, lemme just say that it's easier to get celebrities on the phone than doctors.

Now that THAT'S out of the way, I'm passing along the Kreativ Blogger Award to three completely different animals:

Bish's Beat: One stop shopping for pulp, noir, hard-boiled and retro goodness. Bish, a retired cop, has been at the blog game a while and more than brings the goods.

Alt Disney World: I've said it before. I'm a sucker for the Americana of Walt Disney and his theme parks. For an alterntive look at life within the parks and Disneyana, this is the only blog you need to read.

Drunken Absurdity: The blogger blog of counter-culture madman Adam Schirling, founder and editor-in-chief of Drunken Absurdity, the revolutionary ezine that features alternative literature, poetry, art and movies. Soon to be a print venture.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Clockwise from top left: Joe Pesci, Gina Gershon and Billy Zane, Woody Harrelson and Robert Mithum.

The best thing about noir as a genre is that it can be bent a thousand ways from Sunday. I've said that once and I'll continue.

While most classic noir films we've come to love have stemmed from the 40s and 50s (too many to name), plenty of neo noirs have been delivered in the modern day from director Roman Polanski's take of the private eye film in "Chinatown" to the burnt-neon world of Ridley Scott's sci-fi "Blade Runner." Those are givens. But what about the flicks off the beaten path?

Just as in my prior post, I'm going to recommend four more neo-noirs that some of you may have missed the first time around.

PALMETTO (1988) 

This gist: Woody Harrelson as a noir schnook borders on pure genius. Here's the gist: Jilted reporter Harry Barber (Woody Harrelson) is framed for for exposing corruption in City Hall in Palmetto, Fla. Once he's sprung, Barber is quickly seduced by the devil in a dress named Mrs. Malroux (Elisabeth Shue). She lets him in on a lil' fake kidnapping scheme: For pretending to abduct her stepdaughter, Harry snags $50,000. The officer in charge of the case hires Barber as the police spokesman, but their simple plan runs into complications and unexpected twists.

Why I loved it: Woody is fabulous and the humid Florida atmosphere drips off the screen. And Shue... Wow. Was she born to play a femme fatale. A solid neo-noir.


The gist: What's a noir list without a Marlowe film? The second big screen adaptation of Raymond Chandler's novel, is much closer to the source text than the original 1944 film " Murder, My Sweet." The film centers on Hollywood detetcive Marlowe's attempts to locate Velma, a former dancer at a seedy nightclub and the girlfriend of Moose Malloy, a petty criminal just out of prison.

Why I loved it: Robert Mitchum, for my money, is one of the best Marlowe's I've seen. Dare I say, he might be better than Bogie? Shot in lush, period detail, everything about it works. Look for a Sly Stallone cameo. Trivia: In 1978, Mitchum reprised the role of Marlowe in "The Big Sleep" but the drama was oddly set in the present day and in England.



The gist: Undoubtedly the oddest of this lot, the neo-noir is based on a posthumously published Jim Thompson story in all its seedy glory. And I DO mean seedy. Billy Zane stars as Marty Lakewood, a reporter forced to leave Chicago because he had uncovered too much police corruption (sounds similar to 'Palmetto.') He returns to his small hometown on the California coast to his ailing mother and prostitute sister (Gina Gershon), with whom he had an incestuous affair. The scheming begins...

Why I loved it: This is by far the kinkiest noir I've ever seen. And yes, kinkier than Thompson's other adaptation, 2010's 'The Killer Inside Me.' This B picture is filled with gangsters, policewomen and LOTS of double-crossing. No doubt, the film feels icky. A real neo-noir, but be warned. Caveat: This is a tough film to find. While some may be able to find it on VHS, I was able to snag it a few years ago on cable.


The gist: When the mob bears down on a widowed nightclub owner (Barbara Hershey), she enlists the help of New York City's most reliable crime scene photographer Leon "Bernzy" Bernstein (Joe Pesci), who agrees to get involved in exchange for good pictures -- and a potential romance. 

Why I loved it: Pesci delivers. This was an attempt to make Pesci a real leading man after he won his Oscar for 'Goodfellas.' Sadly, the film never found an audience. This is perhaps the most conventional film of this bunch, despite all the period detail. Still, a fine and worthy movie to add to any neo-noir canon. Trivia: The film is loosely based on the famed New York Daily News photographer Arthur "Weegee" Fellig. Currently streaming on Comcast.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


The gorgeous Janet Montgomery in 'Made in Jersey.'
As the networks pimp their shows with announcements from the upfronts in Cali., I have to admit that nothing is exactly tickling my fancy. 

For the most part it's the same bumper crop of sitcoms, police procedurals and paranormal caca with the name J.J. Abrams stamped on it. Call me jaded.

Two shows, however, stood out. Since I hail from the state Tony Soprano called home, "Made in Jersey" seems intriguing enough. It centers on a young working class woman who uses her street smarts to compete among her pedigreed Manhattan colleagues at a top New York law firm. It also helps that star Janet Montgomery (a Brit playing a jersey gal!) is impossibly gorgeous.
The second a waaaay  more my speed. Fresh of the heels of successful period programs like "Mad Men" and "Magic City," comes "Vegas." The drama is inspired by the true story of former Sin City  Sheriff Ralph Lamb, a rancher tasked with bringing order to Las Vegas in the 1960s. We're so in... The fact that it stars Dennis Quaid as the lawman and Michael Chiklis as a Chi-town mobster s just icing.

The following are the trailers and official synopsis for each show.


The official synopsis: Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis star in VEGAS, a drama inspired by the true story of former Las Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb, a fourth-generation rancher tasked with bringing order to Las Vegas in the 1960s, a gambling and entertainment mecca emerging from the tumbleweeds. Ralph Lamb (Quaid) wants to be left in peace to run his ranch, but Las Vegas is now swelling with outsiders and corruption which are intruding on his simple life.

Recalling Lamb's command as a military police officer during World War II, the Mayor appeals to his sense of duty to look into a murder of a casino worker – and so begins Lamb’s clash with Vincent Savino (Chiklis), a ruthless Chicago gangster who plans to make Vegas his own. Assisting Lamb in keeping law and order are his two deputies: his diplomatic, even-keeled brother Jack (Jason O'Mara) and his charming but impulsive son, Dixon (Taylor Handley). Ambitious Assistant District Attorney Katherine O'Connell (Carrie-Anne Moss), who grew up on the ranch next to the Lambs, also lends a hand in preserving justice. In Vegas, two powerful men – Lamb and Savino – are engaged in a fierce battle for control of the budding oasis, and for both of them, folding is not an option. Nicholas Pileggi, Greg Walker, Cathy Konrad, Arthur Sarkissian and James Mangold, who also directed the pilot, are the executive producers for CBS Television Studios.


The official synopsis: MADE IN JERSEY is a drama about a young working-class woman who uses her street smarts to compete among her pedigreed Manhattan colleagues at a prestigious New York law firm. Martina Garretti (Janet Montgomery) finds her firm’s cutthroat landscape challenging, but what she lacks in an Ivy League education she more than makes up for with tenacity and blue-collar insight.

After just a few weeks, firm founder Donovan Stark (Kyle MacLachlan), takes note of Martina’s ingenuity and resourcefulness, as does her sassy secretary Cyndi Vega (Toni Trucks). With the support of her big Italian family, including her sexy older sister Bonnie (Erin Cummings), Martina is able to stay true to her roots as a bold, passionate lawyer on the rise in a new intimidating environment. Jamie Tarses, Kevin Falls, Julia Franz and Mark Waters, who also directed the pilot, are the executive producers for Sony Pictures Television in association with CBS Television Studios. Pilot was written by creator and co-executive producer Dana Calvo.

Friday, May 11, 2012

HIPPY CHICKS (#fridayflash)

Press play for some mood music

They didn’t give a flying rat's ass about poetry or jazz. They just wanted to maybe smoke and get drunk. Maybe score some of that good reefer from the new beatnik kid who wanted to be Kerouac.

They were young American girls who thought they knew it all. They were runaways but would never admit it and, under normal circumstances, would probably be pretty were it not for the vigors of bohemian life like tobacco, booze and certain mild psychedelics.

Being from a big Northeastern city, the two girls were both children of hard-working immigrants and it's pretty safe to assume that the goatees, slang and hipster clothes were lost on their parents, a generation who left their own country to build ours.

Monica, the brunette, insisted everyone call her 'Monique' while the blonde, Yelena, of Russian descent, had to endure the nickname 'Sputnik I' from all of the resident Dobie Gillises around the way.

One night while she was out, Monique's father found books on Buddhism under her bed and when she came home, threatened to throw her out. When she explained that it opened her mind, he opened his wallet, handed his only daughter a fifty dollar bill and called her an evil gypsy. She snatched the money from his trembling hand and never looked back.

Yelena left home quite differently. She began dating a journalist whose scribbled a tad too much about certain 'isms,' which, quite frankly, hit a tad too close to home for Russian expatriates like her parents. When Yelena suggested at the supper table one night that Uncle Sam should start equalizing the playing field a bit more and that men like Henry Ford were the devil incarnate, her parents suggested she enter the world that she knew nothing about. Sputnik I accepted, grabbed her beret, and embarked on a year-long couch hopping tour.

Yelena's tour ended when her journalist boyfriend's tour in the Vietnamese jungle began. Eventually, she snagged a job as a shopgirl where she would eventually meet her husband, a bank manager from two towns away. It's safe to assume that yes, she would endorse Capitalism.

And what of Monica -- err, Monique? She would eventually migrate west and couldn't afford to get past Reno. She wasn't complaining, though. As a hat check girl, she paid her bills and met many fine young suitors.

Years passed ad it's funny how times ad those doors of perception change because these two mature women would eventually give those slobs at Woodstock the stink eye.

At this point in their life thousands of miles apart, the jazz of those bohemian nights never sounded better.

Music: 'Bohemian Nights' by Adam Wojtanek. It can be downloaded HERE.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Clockwise from upper left, Denzel Washington, Michael Shannon, Billy Bob Thornton and Elliot Gould
The best thing about noir as a genre is that it can be bent a thousand ways from Sunday.

While most classic noir films we've come to love have stemmed from the 40s and 50s (too many to name), plenty of neo noirs have been delivered in the modern day from director Roman Polanski's take of the private eye film in "Chinatown" to the burnt-neon world of Ridley Scott's sci-fi "Blade Runner." Those are givens. But what about the flicks off the beaten path? I'm going to recommend four neo-noirs  that some of you may have missed the first time around. 


The gist: Of all directors, Robert Altman takes on Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled gumshoe Phillip Marlowe in an update of "The Long Goodbye" with Elliot Gould stepping into the iconic role as he bops around Los Angeles in the early 70s. Yes, it's odd. Between Altman (who I felt couldn't tackle Chandler), and Gould (who I felt was woefully miscast), I had reservations from the first frame. Was I wrong. In a big way.

Why I loved it: Gould gives us such a quirky, unconventional muttering-to-himself Marlowe that he makes you like him. He's not a tough guy which is oddly refreshing in any noir. What's more, Sterling Hayden, a vet himself of vintage noir films, shows up as a grizzled Hemingway-eque scribe. And finally, "The Long Goodbye" boasts one of the catchiest theme songs I've heard in a while that you'll want to own it. Easily worth a watch. (Netflix streaming)


The gist: Boozy private-eye John Rosow (Michael Shannon) is hired to shadow a mysterious man leaving on a train from Chicago bound for Los Angeles and soon finds out that he's not who everyone thinks he is. As a result, it's not long before the detective channels his own inner demons by discovering he and the man he's looking for are very much alike. If there was a quintessential post 911 noir, this would be it.

Why I loved it: Two words - Michael Shannon. Anyone who is a fan of 'Boardwalk Empire' knows that the Oscar-nominated Shannon ('Revolutionary Road') is a fine thespian and his ballsy interpretation of the typical gumshoe is first rate. (Netflix streaming) 


The gist: This Joel Coen and Ethan Coen film casts Billy Bob Thornton as sad sack California barber Ed Crane. When his wife cheats on him (Frances McDormand), he embarks on a devious blackmail scheme that eventually explodes in his face. James Gandolfini co-stars.

Why I loved it: This is perhaps the most typical noir of these neo examples. In fact, this black-and-white flick could easily have been released in 1949 and no one would be able to tell. I've said it before and I'll say it again: No one does retro films better than the Coens. Their visual aesthetic and attention to detail make each frame a virtual painting. Add in moody noir elements, and you have a damn near classic.


The gist: Based on the character created by writer Walter Mosley, the film is set in Los Angeles circa 1948. A stranger asks war veteran (and self-taught private dick) "Easy" Rawlins (Denzel Washington) to help find a missing woman and he quickly gets in over his head becoming entangled in a murder mystery.

Why I loved it: Denzel ooooooozes charisma in this. So much so, that one wishes there were more films in the Easy Rawlins cannon. Good news, however. According to Deadline ad CNN, NBC is developing a project called "Easy Rawlins," based on Mosley's best-selling series. Quick... someone call Idris Elba. Let's hope the Peacock Network doesn't screw it up in development like they did with 'The Playboy Club' and 'Prime Suspect.'

Friday, April 27, 2012

PICK ME UP ON YOUR WAY DOWN (#fridayflash)

Press play for some mood music

first hour

It had been a long drive for Grace -- like can't feel your legs long.

Somewhere between the grime of Los Angeles and the burnt palette of the Nevada border, she ditched her pumps altogether. As she drove over the cracked asphalt, she heard them rattle underneath the passenger seat and it bothered her.

third hour

She looked for a gas station or roadside slophouse. Nothing. Despite the growling in her gut, she wasn't hungry. She needed a cup of Joe. Anything would help now and she couldn't help thinking that even the mud Gus sold on his hot dog cart outside the courthouse would do. Without caffeine, the radio would have to do. Nothing but Patsy Cline and Charlie Walker for hundreds of miles. It helped for a while, but she had a deadline so Grace pressed on because she knew there'd be a reward. Especially after what she'd done.

sixth hour

She was now in Nevada and the boys would soon be by to pick her up after ditching the toaster she was driving. At least that was the plan. Or was it?

seventh hour

Sweat dripped down the back of her neck and all Grace wanted to do was rip off the deluxe over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder she bought from the five and dime. But then, that would be unladylike so unbuttoning a few extra buttons would have to suffice. Besides, who was watching?

eighth hour

By now, the sun was sleepy and she leaned against the car and wondered if there was any beer left in the cooler of the trunk. There was, but those Lowenbraus were floating in ice water hotter than a two-dollar pistol.

Then it hit her. They weren't coming. They never were. But it was okay. Truly okay.

Her plan worked. She knew those fellas were lower than the belly of a snake and she smiled at the very thought of how truly dumb they were.

ninth hour

As the sun set on Grace, she hopped back into the heap and headed back to Los Angeles to where she actually hid the money.

Music: Charlie Walker, "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down" via the Internet Archive. It can be downloaded here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I TAUGHT HER WELL (#fridayflash)

Press play for some mood music

Even though she pointed that gun at me, I wasn't scared.

You see, it wasn't the first time and truth be told, I wasn't sure if this little chickadee had what chickadees didn't to pull the trigger. In fact, I couldn't help think how it made her sexier. I tried not to smirk. She looked cute.

I slowly walked over to the bar cart and poured myself a copper delight. I raised an empty glass in her direction, asking if she wanted one herself. She shook her head. That was the extent of our communication.

At this point, the smirk arrived. "You could still have some hooch and point that gun, ya know..."

She said nothing and kept that barrel aimed square at where my heart beat. Funny since she always claimed I didn't have one. I shrugged, downed the cheap scotch she usually kept on hand and tried to calm her down.

I focused on those lips that looked like that came from pink roses. They weren't quivering which told me that she meant business. Or at least she thought so.

Her makeup wasn't smeared so that told me she wasn't losing any tears on my behalf. Somehow, I was expecting at least a small amount of water works. There I go, flattering myself again.

Also, she was also wearing black leather gloves. That little trick she learned from me. And to think I foolishly thought that trip to Gimbel's yesterday was for that bra she was now lying in. Now wasn't the time, though, to focus on that ample bosom. If I was lucky, later. Maybe.

I was mildly distracted by the Crosley. It blared a blues tune and she knew I hated blues. Acoustic no less. She got that pointer from me as well. Keep your subject disoriented. I started to think that she was up to something. I lowered the radio and found my station. Our station.

Some piano jazz, seduced with some trumpet, echoed throughout the small apartment.

"Wanna dance?" I asked, extending my hand. I knew she wouldn't go for it. Still I had to test whether she'd break. That was my trick in the past but here, now, she remained stoic, impressing me again. My little cupcake, all grown up.

We'd been at this Midwestern con game now a couple of years and she'd proven herself to be valuable enough. So much so that she started demanding more cabbage. That wasn't part of the deal. At the end of the day, I needed my shape in a drape to be happy with the dresses I bought and the perfume she sniffed, not a lion's share of the popcorn. Uh-uh, that wasn't the arrangement. I'd sooner put her back on a bus to whatever depot I found her at twinkly-eyed.

So here we were. Me admiring how cute she looked with the big boy gun and her doing the best Sterling Hayden impression she could muster with the tricks I taught her. Shaking my head, I reached for the scotch once more, bad as it was.

The one thing I didn't teach her? How to skate away, clean as a whistle, with all of the money. That trick was still mine. Or was it? I caught a glimpse of a burgundy leather duffel peak out from under the bed. I knew it too well. It belonged Fat Sam, my bank in the region. He held on to my dough, banked it under his name for a hearty cut. Little did I know that Fat Sam also wanted a piece of her chicken wing.

I pointed to the duffel and she cocked the trigger. That was his cue. The closet door creaked open and Fat Sam walked out and before I could say anything, she did it. God dammit, she really did it.

She pulled that trigger.

As I fell to the ground, slug in my belly and water in my eyes, I smirked my last smirk and couldn't help think that I taught her well. It gave me an odd sense of satisfaction.

She won.

Photo: Taken by photographer Marco Patino with subject Allison Grace of the grindtastic Tumblr blog Nekromistress.
Music: Smoky Babe - 'Rabbit Bues,' courtesy of the Internet Archive.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Everyone wants them some Don Draper...

As the recently-cancelled "Playboy Club" on NBC has shown and what ABC's "Pan Am" will soon learn is that it takes a little bit more than period clothing to capture that "Mad Men" magic.

The "Mad Men" formula is simple. The Emmy-winning AMC show is first and foremost a workplace show about advertising and the people who inhabit the office. The sixties era-coolness is just the setting. It's done so well, that we, as viewers, believe it to be a secondary character. That's the beauty of it.

Starz is getting in on the period action with their own ambitious new drama "Magic City." On paper, it sounds fascinating:

1959. Miami Beach. The heyday of cheap air travel brings the well-to-do cheaply and quickly to the region. Enter Ike Evans (that's a manly name, huh?), owner (or is he?) of the chic Miami hotel the Miramar Playa. He's forced to make some uncomfortable decisions not to mention some shady backroom deals with a local mob kingpin regarding the future of his joint. Five minutes in, it's easy to see there's no shortage of conflict here.

Throw in a backdrop of a falling Havana, union problems, the rise of The Kennedys and all the Rat Packy glory you can think of and it's easy to assume it sounds like a winner right out of the gate.

Not so fast.

It's obvious Starz knows what it's doing. "Boss" star Kelsey Grammer just scored a Best Actor in a Drama Emmy and the channel's "Spartacus" has been a solid performer for years. That all said, "Magic City" irked me a little bit. Not enough to stop watching by any means, but let's just say I'm going to keep my eye on it for some troubling aspects that I'll get into shortly. Think of the show as a dab of "Boardwalk Empire," a pinch of "Mad Men" and a healthy dose of "The Sopranos." Throw it all in a blender and the concoction will be this frappe.


* THE MAIN MAN. As Ike Evans, series star Jeffrey Dean Morgan has the heavy load here as the resident Don Draper. While most people liken the actor to a C-list Javier Bardem lookalike, I think he's much more of a poor man's George Clooney and that's NOT a bad thing. Morgan is pulling it off as the man who has to live with himself in his shady world. His life is his hotel and no one is going to take it away from him. Morgan easily has the charisma of an old-school leading man so I'm really hoping some other aspects of the show will do him justice. Morgan is a solid actor with solid TV and film credentials ("Grey's Anatomy," "The Losers" and "Watchmen") so it's no shock he can more than pull this one off.

* DELUXE SETPIECE. The "Magic City" sets are top notch. Gorgeous mid-century is everywhere and it's obvious that no expense was spared when it came to weaving the world of the Miramar Playa - both inside and out. This is catnip for retro junkies.

* TUNES AND THREADS. Showrunner Mitch Glazer didn't stop there. The authenticity is carried through with superb fashions and a soundtrack of REAL music from the era. In fact, we actually hear an off-camera Sinatra singing "I've Got the World on a String" towards the climax of the first episode (taken from the CD "Live at The Sands." In the first episode, 'Ol Blue Eyes was performing in the hotel's showroom and I just have to thank everyone involved that a Sinatra was NOT cast. Extra points for casting an actor to portray longtime Sinatra pal and saloon keeper Jilly Rizzo.


* 90210 SYNDROME. Part of the allure of "Mad Men" is that the cast looks TRULY like the could've lived and breathed in the sixties -- Jon Hamm aside, the ad men and women at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce don't exactly look like the leaped off the pages of a frikkin' magazine. That's my problem with "Magic City." Almost everyone is gorgeous. So much so, that a) it becomes distracting and, as a result, they all blend into one another. I know it's Miami where people are born gorgeous but ... it's just freakin' unbelievable. Give me the imperfectly perfect anytime...

* GETTIN' STALE? Every now and again, you're hit with some pretty bad dialogue...

"Rip out my heart and eat it -- I am yours."

"You built a palace, now it's time to be king...'"

"You only go around once in life and sometimes, not even then..."

"Who are you?"
-- "The wrong woman..."

A word of note to the writer's room: Less is more. What's unspoken is much, much more powerful. C'mon fellas...

* OH NO, NOT HIM. I'm talking about 'that' character... You know what I mean... Ike's screw-up, bad boy son (Steven Strait, above) who's ssooooooooooo dreamy it hurts and Ike's ruthless gangster partner (veteran actor Danny Huston, left) who a) is conveniently nicknamed 'The Butcher' and b) is juuuuuust the type to smash a bottle poolside and then act like it never even happened. These kinds of central-casting stock characters just even a few episodes in feel ridiculously one dimensional.

This all said, I'm very well aware that a new show has to find it's voice and the characters have to establish themselves so I'm willing to roll with it a bit because the production value is so high, the historical period is so ripe with possibilities and that "Magic City" star Morgan could be a compelling leading man.

This show has tons of potential. I'm pulling for it...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


You tend to find some gems while poking around the web in the wee small hours. While hunting on YouTube for a NOIR documentary, all sorts of goodies come up -- namely some full-length gems like "Detour," "Borderline" " Cape Fear" and "While the City Sleeps." I've created a Noir playlist (a work in progress) so enthusiasts can enjoy. These are perfectly watchable on a smartphone or tab. Enjoy.

One YouTube discovery simply that simply blew me away was an audio reading of a. short story that centers on Hollywood detective Dan Turner written by prolific scribe Robert Leslie Bellem. I looked Bellem up and to say he was prolific is an understatement. He penned over 3000 pulps with Turner starring in at least 300 during the heyday of men's magazines.

When most of the pulps folded, Bellem went on to an equally prolific TV writing career for such shows as "The Lone Ranger," "The Adventures of Superman (1950s version)," "Perry Mason" and "77 Sunset Strip."

But his first person prose as Turner virtually sings on the page and this audio reading (by the gravel-voiced Steve Black) is a stupendous example. Personally, I wish Black made more of these.

Here are links to Part Two and Part Three. Certainly worth a listen. For more on Bellem click HERE and HERE.

Finally, if you like your pulp and noir in audio form, I've also stumbled across a wonderful streaming radio station called AUDIO NOIR that plays hundreds of pulps and detective stories that were heard on the radio back in the day. It supports most audio platforms. Here's the link.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Just a quick (and slightly long) post to pass along a promotion for a great new pulp series, one that I will be a part of hopefully later in the year.

If you dig the great adventure boxing tales that populated vintage men magazines and dimestore novels of yore, look no further than the FIGHT CARD series, created by Paul Bishop and Mel Odom.

Written by different authors under the pseudonym of 'Jack Tunney' (in a homage to pugilists Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney), the tight-fisted tales are pure throwback to sweaty fight halls and back alley double-crosses. Fun and quick reads.

During the month of March, if you buy "Fight Card: Felony Fists" from you can get "Fight Card: The Cutman" for FREE, or vice-versa. To receive your FREE Fight Card novel forward your receipt email from to and you will receive a Kindle file by return email to send to your Kindle email address.

Along with your FREE Fight Card novel, you will also receive a free copy of Fight Fictioneers Magazine featuring numerous articles and reviews pertaining to fight fiction and the Fight Card series.

Here's a breakdown of the titles with synopsis (via Amazon) thus far:

FELONY FISTS (Paul Bishop): Los Angeles 1954

Patrick “Felony” Flynn has been fighting all his life. Learning the “sweet science” from Father Tim the fighting priest at St.

Vincent’s, the Chicago orphanage where Pat and his older brother Mickey were raised, Pat has battled his way around the world – first with the Navy and now with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Legendary LAPD chief William Parker is on a rampage to clean up both the department and the city. His elite crew of detectives known as The Hat Squad is his blunt instrument – dedicated, honest, and fearless. Promotion from patrol to detective is Pat’s goal, but he also yearns to be one of the elite.

And his fists are going to give him the chance.

Gangster Mickey Cohen runs LA’s rackets, and murderous heavyweight Solomon King is Cohen’s key to taking over the fight game. Chief Parker wants wants Patrick “Felony” Flynn to stop him – a tall order for middleweight ship’s champion with no professional record.

Leading with his chin, and with his partner, L.A.’s first black detective Tombstone Jones, covering his back, Patrick Flynn and his Felony Fists are about to fight for his future, the future of the department, and the future of Los Angeles.

* * *

THE CUTMAN (Mel Odom): Havana, Cuba. 1954. Mickey Flynn is an ex-Korean War vet turned merchant marine. He was born in the ghettos of Chicago and raised in an orphanage with his younger brother, Patrick. He was one of several young men who received an education from the nuns at St. Vincent's. But he was also taught the "sweet science" by Father Tim, a Golden Gloves boxer and retired police officer who only knew one way to bring a troubled boy to manhood. Father Tim worked with his young charges, taught them how to jab and punch and throw a hook that seemed to come out of nowhere.

When the young men left St. Vincent's (Our Lady of the Glass Jaw), they were changed, fit and ready to take on the troubles the encountered around the world, no matter where they found them. Now Mick's in Havana, working on WIDE BERTHA, his ship. After surviving a fierce storm at sea, the last thing Mick and the crew need to do is get crossways with the Italian organized crime flooding Havana, but it doesn't take much to put him in the cross hairs of a vengeful mob boss working for Lucky Luciano. Unable to get free of bad luck and unfortunate circumstance, Mick ends up in the ring in an illegal boxing match fighting a human killing machine.


SPLIT DECISION (Eric Beetner): Kansas City, 1954. Jimmy Wyler is a fighter punching his way straight to the middle. All he wants is to make enough dough to buy his girl, Lola, a ring. And maybe make the gang back at St. Vincent’s orphanage proud.

A slick mobster named Cardone has an offer for Jimmy – money, and lots of it – for a fix. Jimmy takes the fight. The ring is almost on Lola’s finger, until Jimmy collides with Whit – another mobster with another up-and-coming fighter. Whit has an offer of his own. Same fight, different fix.

Now Jimmy is caught between two warring factions of the Kansas City underworld. He can’t make a move without someone getting mad, getting even, or getting dead. From sweat-soaked fight halls to darkened alleyways, the countdown has begun. With his girl and his manager in the crossfire, everything Jimmy ever learned about fancy footwork and keeping his defenses up may not be enough … Fight night is approaching and nobody is going to be saved by the bell.


COUNTERPUNCH (Wayne D. Dundee): Danny Dugronski has been a fighter all his life.

As an orphan at St. Vincent's Asylum for Boys, he first learned the "sweet science" of boxing from Father Tim, the battling priest. Then the Marine Corps taught him far more lethal fighting tactics before shipping him off to do battle in the hell of the South Pacific.

Now, with World War II over, Danny "The Duke" has returned home and earned a respectable ranking as a regional heavyweight in the Milwaukee area. But his record, free of KO losses, is jeopardized by a mob front man who tries to push him into a series of rigged fights.

When Danny refuses, hard push comes to deadly shove, and he must call upon all his fighting skills to stand his ground. And when Danny comes out swinging, he’s determined to put the mob down for the count.