Thursday, July 20, 2017

Friday's best pop song ever


Last night's launch event for my novel Please Don't Be Waiting For Me, held at Oakland's A Great Good Place For Books, came off swimmingly. Books were signed, questions asked and answered, pictures taken, booze consumed... in other words, a good time was had by all.

I want to thank Nancy Davis Kho for being such a great interlocutor (and for asking me a few questions I really hadn't expected) and Kathleen from GGPFB for so generously making her store available to us. But, most of all, I want to thank all of you who came by to show this grizzled old hack some love.

With this event out of the way, the book's release finally feels official. The next big step is it's release as an eBook next Tuesday. In the meantime, if you would like to hold a signing and/or reading and/or orgy of unrestrained adulation in your home town, contact us via the book's website:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


That's right; it's time to stop waiting for the PLEASE DON'T BE WAITING FOR ME launch event, because it's goddamn TONIGHT! Stop by Oakland's A Great Good Place For Books at 7pm tonight to HEAR a hand-picked selection of classic punk tunes, a reading by yours truly and an interview with Nancy David-Kho. You will also DRINK the provided libations and SEE a bunch of old people who used to be cool (or just really sweaty and obnoxious--see above.) Oh, and also: you can BUY my book, which I will SIGN at your discretion--forced book signings being something that this repentant author has put long behind him. The surviving record will reflect that a good time was had by all who survived. (Photo by Erik Auerbach)

Monday, July 17, 2017

A great good place to start

I apologize for exposing you to the above image. It's harrowing, I know. But, you see, my book launch is this Wednesday, and I wanted to promote it with an image that would be memorable. And what's more memorable than something that causes you PTSD?

So the launch event for my new novel, Please Don't Be Waiting For Me , is coming up this Wednesday, July 19th at 7pm. The venue is A Great Good Place For Books, which is located at 6120 Lasalle Avenue in Oakland's Montclair District. And yes, I know that you'd love to come if only you didn't live in Podunk Holler or one of those awful cities in the middle and bla bla bla--but come on! You know you've been wanting to take a trip to the Bay Area, and Oakland has many... um, things to recommend it. Like trees and stuff. Oh, and a lake. We have a lake.

Events for the evening will be a reading by yours truly, and a chat between me and Nancy Davis Kho of the wonderful Midlife Mixtape blog. Alcoholic refreshments will be available, as will copies of my book for you to purchase. And yes, I will sign your book, if you so desire, but please heed this warning: no matter how obviously shellacked you appear, I will not sign your boob. That is a solemn act of statesmanship that only our president is qualified to perform.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Son of Ingagi (United States, 1940)

Son of Ingagi is one of approximately five hundred “Race” films made in the United States between 1915 and 1950. For those who don’t know, these were films with all African American casts that were made for primarily African American audiences. They were typically made outside the Hollywood studio system by small independent production companies—in the case of Son of Ingagi, by Alfred N. Sack’s Sacks Amusement Enterprises.

As the products of a segregated America, the Race Films, quite ironically, present us with a vision of America that can be seen nowhere else in the commercial cinema of the time. This is an America where blacks are doctors, lawyers, police detectives, scientists and a wide array of other urban professions. There is not a white face in sight, nor is any white presence even implied, and so the black actors are free from having to react to the oh-so-important doings of Caucasians and can instead relate to each other as equal inhabitants of an all-black milieu.

Of course, the presence of so many African American faces in front of the camera didn’t guaranty the presence of any behind it. Like most Race Films, Son of Ingagi was directed by a white man. Richard C. Khan directed a number of all-black pictures over the course of his 27+ year career, with a predilection for Westerns (Two Gun Man From Harlem, Harlem Rides the Range) and also a few straight-up exploitation films, like the lesbian expose The Third Sex, aka Children of Loneliness (“Every normal person should see this, an amazing motion picture!”) The writer of the film, however, was a black man, actor Spencer Williams, who wrote himself a part in the film as Detective Nelson. Though it has to be said that Williams’ portrayal of the detective draws somewhat on the jittery, bug-eyed shtick of the then-popular black comic actor Mantan Moreland.

Son of Ingagi has earned its place in the cult cinema canon by being one of the only—and, by some accounts, the only—race film in the horror/sci-fi genre. Its title might lead you to think that it is a sequel, but that title is only meant to forge a vague association with Ingagi, a popular exploitation film from 1930. Ingagi sounds as if it was a forerunner of the Mondo genre; a fake documentary that used its putative jungle setting as an excuse for lots of footage of topless native women (this at a time when National Geographic was the closest thing to pornography that a randy young lad could get his hand on.)

What Son of Ingagi and Ingagi do have in common is that both prominently feature an ape man as their central boogey man. In Son of Ingagi , that ape man is N’Gina (Zack Williams), a creature brought back from Africa by Dr. Helen Jackson (Laura Bowman), an elderly scientist bent on creating a wonder drug that will be “the greatest discovery in medicine since Louis Pasteur!” Jackson has trained N’Gina to respond to a Chinese gong, and uses him to get rid of her conniving brother when he threatens to report her hidden fortune to the feds. Unfortunately, when N’Gina accidentally drinks her potion, he becomes violent and kills her.

Enter Bob and Eleanor Lindsay (Alfred Grant and Daisy Buford), a newlywed couple who, despite Bob’s position as a foundry worker, are presented as the portrait of middle class rectitude and marital bliss. We meet them at an impromptu wedding reception where they are serenaded by the vocal group The Toppers, who also appear in the same years’ Mystery in Swing. Like the rest of their town’s residents, Bob and Eleanor simply regard Dr. Jackson as a cranky old hermit. That is, until an emotional Dr. Jackson reveals to them that she had a relationship with Eleanor’s father when they were both missionaries in Africa. If you are blind to the veiled implications of all this revelation , all will become clear when, upon Jackson’s death, Eleanor finds herself the surprised heir to her considerable fortune, as well as her creepy old house avec basement-dwelling ape man.

Once Bob and Eleanor move in, the rest of Son of Ingagi plays out like a classic “old dark house” tale, with various shady individuals—including Bob and Eleanor’s crooked lawyer, Bradshaw (Earle Morris)—trying to get their hands on the hidden treasure while N’Gina slips in and out of the house by way of a series of secret passages. Throughout, Zack Williams’ mournful expressions and stooped demeanor tell us clearly that we are meant to regard N’Gina with a degree of pathos, like Karloff’s Frankenstein. And when N’Gina abducts Eleanor and spirits her away to his basement cell, his tragic arc is nearly complete. As you’d expect from any classic monster movie, there will be fire and lots of screaming, as well as a chance for young Bob to emerge as the square jawed hero of the story, rising from the ashes with the damsel in distress draped across his arms.

What is immediately apparent about Son of Ingagi is that it was made on an almost impossibly low budget. Its flimsy looking, miniscule sets call attention to the stiff, theatrical manner of its staging and make some of its action scenes awkward. In addition, its monster make-up has been the target of derision by some, though I think it benefits the film by making so much of the actor’s face visible. I’d also venture that none of the actors here have anything to be ashamed of (especially Bowman and Williams) although their performances do conform to the highly stylized manner of acting that was the standard of the day.

These problems aside, it’s impossible to dismiss the impact of seeing a film like Son of Ingagi for the first time. If there was a racial version of the Bechdel Test, this film would pass it with flying, um, colors. Unlike the blaxploitation films of the 70s, which would usually include at least one crooked white cop or venal white slumlord, Son of Ingagi presents an enclosed world of blackness, where all forces, be they good, evil, comedic, or indifferent, wear an African American face. Admittedly, I may be idealizing it a bit, but I doubt that I’m the only one who feels that all of us, regardless of race, could benefit from seeing a few less white faces on our TV and movie screens these days.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Punk Offensive?

I'm going to call Wednesday's all-punk episode of Pop Offensive an unqualified success. Jeff Heyman and I, along with our old friend Matt Harvey, had a great time reminiscing about the old days--police raids, broken jaws, and all--hopefully without stultifying our audience. If we did, they had the playlist of wall-to-wall punk classics to rouse them from their torpor. Check it out for yourself by downloading the archived version of the episode from the KGPC website. And if you can't hear the song titles over all that guitar distortion, you can read the full playlist here on the Pop Offensive Facebook Page.

Oh, and by the way, the book is called Please Don't Be Waiting For Me and you can buy it here

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


On this week's Pop Offensive, Jeff and I will be joined by our old pal Matt Harvey to rock, reminisce and remember those punk rock days of yore--this, of course, in connection with the release of my new novel, Please Don't Be Waiting For Me, which you can purchase here. The playlist for the evening will be wall-to-wall punk rock classics, from the Clash, to the Buzzcocks, to the Weirdos, to the DKs and beyond. The whole sordid affair can be streamed live from starting at 7pm this Wednesday, July 12th. Don't miss it.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Yes, you can get it on Kindle...

WARNING: Parts of my new novel, PLEASE DON'T BE WAITING FOR ME, are so shocking that it might be dangerous to read while driving, walking, operating heavy machinery, or, of course, texting. Needless to say, that has not stopped me from making it available as an eBook so that you can do all of those things while reading it on that infernal mobile device that is probably glued to your nose at this very minute. You can pre-order it now by going here. Keep in mind, though, that you will not be able to download it until July, 25th, so try not to wander distractedly into the path of an oncoming locomotive until then.