An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
Dig it, Bookworms - Better get your summer reading done before the next round of suicide bombers comes in and you waste another six months watching CNN twenty four hours a day. And what contemporary author goes down nice and smooth with rampant conspiracy theories better than James Ellroy? "Tom Clancy"? Who said that? Get that old guy some Maalox and get him the hell outta here! James Ellroy is THE Two Fisted Tough Guy Novelist for these paranoid times and . . . Hey, look out the window and make sure that old dude isn't waiting for me out in the parking lot with a baseball bat.
Crime is Ellroy's thing and if he was as good at the real thing as he is writing about it by now he would have taken the shirt off your back and sold you mine without bothering to clean off the chili stains. But Ellroy is no Paperback Writer schmuck. The Big Question in his books is not so much "Who done it?" as "Jesus Christ! What the fuck is gonna happen next!?! OH MY GOD!! It's a jar full of pickled DICKS!!! Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit! What is that sick bastard gonna do next!?! I gotta lay down . . . My head hurts." Ellroy's main characters are almost always Policemen. No matter what you may have seen in movies like "Beverly Hills Cop" or "Lethal Weapon", police work is actually very dull and tedious - Like "Beverly Hills Cop 3" or "Lethal Weapon 3" - so it takes a writer of real talent to make it as exciting as Ellroy does. For one thing, the cops in an Ellroy book have such screwed up personal lives that they are just another cup of coffee away from doing something as horrible as the killers they are searching for. And Policemen seem to have as much to fear from other Policemen as they do from criminals! To hear Ellroy tell it, there's more backstabbin' intrigue going on in any Precinct House than in a Jacqueline Suzanne novel. It's a wonder they manage they get anything done. Saleeby pauses while the Commie Faggot Scumbags say bitchy things like "Oh, when did THEY ever manage to get anything done!?". Now we know who they are, Men! I knew that Jackie Suzanne reference would get their attention! Let's go fuck em up!!
And the Bad Guys in Ellroy's books aren't the kinda crooks we are used to reading about in crime novels, actually they're a lot more like the monsters in cheap old Fifties Drive In movies where the producers didn't have a lot of money to spend on make up and special effects. Like The Wolverine - The illegitimate son of a Commie Faggot Scumbag who, apon being reunited with his son, promptly takes the kid to the plastic surgeon to have him turned into an exact replica of himself at that age so he can sodomize himself! Well, Sonny Boy quickly has his fill of that Song And Dance and goes back to that malpracticin' boink of a plastic surgeon who gives him a New Fresh Look by puttin' up his dukes and breaking every bone in the kid's face whereupon Junior freaks out, chops up a whole henhouse full of chickens with a razor blade, and drinks up all the blood. And this sad sack is transformed into The Wolverine - Terrorizing Los Angeles by raping and killing his victims and then ripping them apart with a pair of specially made dentures brandishing A COMPLETE SET OF WOLVERINE TEETH!!! Oh God! Oh God! God Damn You, James Ellroy! God Damn You Straight To Hell!!!
I am a Public Service Gentleman And A Humble Servant Of God, so I just gotta warn you about this one Ellroy book, "Killer On The Road" - Oh no, no, it's a terrific book, a great book. But Danger Danger Little Stranger, this book will make you SHIT WHITE! The fictional autobiography of prolific serial killer Martin Michael Plunkett, AKA "The Shroud Shifter", this book had me innocently reading along, turning pages, and feeling pleasantly entertained until smackin' me upside de haid with one sentence that left me so discombobulated that all I could do for at least five minutes was just sit there reading that same sentence over and over again. Now, I have been a steady reader for about thirty five years now but nothing even close to that has ever happened before, not even with positive reviews of Stevie Nicks solo records. And that was still early on before Plunkett puts on his Shroud Shifter super hero costume, slaughters a house full of vacationing college kids, cuts off all their legs with a hack saw, and then carves "SS" into the calves so everybody will know who did it. Sample Sentence - "When she went limp, I picked her up by one ankle and twirled her around and around and around the room in perfect circles, never letting her limbs touch the four walls." It's a brilliant book - Don't ever read it! ( By the way, the "SS" he carves into them legs stands for "Shroud Shifter", not "Sample Sentence" - That would just be silly )
What would possess a man to write such stuff? Raymond Chandler, Dashell Hammett, and Jim Thompson were great crime writers, but did any of those guys ever come home from school one day at age ten to find the cops waiting to tell him that his Mom had just been murdered? Well, Ellroy did. Sigmund Freud gave us the concept of the Oedipus Complex which holds that at one point in a boy's life he has sexual urges toward his mother. If this scenario can be resolved in a positive way the boy will grow to be a healthy adult like Regis Philbin, Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling, and the guy who plays drums in The Strokes. But if the boy's mother is suddenly murdered while he is still grappling with the Oedipus mess, he will become what those in the field of psychiatric medicine refer to as a "Meal Ticket" and spend his life writing about cutting kid's legs off with hack saws and blood splattered formaldehyde stinking rooms covered with amputee porn and stocked with huge jars full of preserved human brains, hearts, eyeballs, and DICKS. And that, by People magazine journalistic standards, about explains James Ellroy ( Except for the parts about talent, hard work, and discipline. No writer wants the public to regard them in that light, it'll blow their image! Like that story about Jack Kerouac typing up "On The Road" on one great big piece of rolled up wrapping paper. How many people know that was actually his fourth or fifth draft of the book? If only Hunter S. Thompson had known that his no talent ass woulda stuck to sports writing. )
As a young man Ellroy was what my Mom and Dad used to call "a bum". Now they call em "like John". He took a lot of drugs, lived on a one hundred percent pure beef diet with the steaks he would shoplift out of supermarkets, hung around in public libraries, slept in the park, and walked around with cotton stuffed in his ears to stop The Voices (But this was when The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Randy Newman were just starting out so LA was full of people walking around with cotton stuffed in their ears) - Clearly a futile effort to get his Mother off of his mind and we can all relate to that. But there is no escape! Send the Old Lady some flowers and give her a call cause even if she gets murdered and you take all the drugs in the world she will still track you down and ruin your day.
Get ready for this - I'm not very enthusiastic about telling you this, but it's all right there on page 174 of Ellroy's autobiographical "My Dark Places" so here we go . . .
One day Ellroy was masturbating while bombed out his skull when who should pop into his little fantasy but Dear Old Mom and . . . Yeah. Uh huh. And you think it's bad when she calls you on the phone while you're trying to watch "King Of The Hill". Now The Voices were telling him "YOU FUCKED YOUR MOM! YOU KILLED YOUR MOM! YOU FUCKED AND KILLED YOUR MOM!" and variations on that general theme, The Voices can really bust mad rhymes once they've got your number, and seeing monsters coming out of toilets. I've heard monsters go into toilets but then, I eat a lot of Mexican food.
The next few years were spent in and out of various rehab clinics and psych hospitals after Ellroy made a Deal With God - He would stay straight and God would keep him from going permanently insane. Ellroy started working as a Caddy at the tres ritzy Hillcrest Country Club ("The culture clash of wealthy Jews and caddies with one foot in the gutter was a constant laugh riot." Not when you let Harold Ramis direct it, it ain't.), attending AA meetings (Where he found Jesus. Who laughed at that? Somebody laughed! That one over there! Get him, Boys!), and finally began writing his first novel. And God more than held up His end of the bargain - "Brown's Requiem" was quickly sold and published making Ellroy a successful writer from the very beginning. Well - CRAP! I lost my mind, quit drugs, ALWAYS believed in Jesus, started earning an honest living - When the hell is MY writing career gonna get anywhere? Oh, I see! I get it - I'm supposed to just be grateful for always having a MOM! You think for one second that Ellroy would be willing to make a trade? Ehhh . . .
But I kid James Ellroy because I like him and he has written my favorite book ever, "American Tabloid" - An epic saga of the White House, the CIA, and the FBI that takes us back to the late Fifties and early Sixties when America still believed in itself and we didn't even know about that Irony shit. To be honest, once you've had your hair raised by The Wolverine and The Shroud Shifter, "American Tabloid's Jack Kennedy and his punk ass little brother Bobby make a rather bland couple of villains - But with a cast of characters including J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Jimmy Hoffa, Sam Giancana, Jack Ruby, Carlos Marcello, and the guy who played Floyd The Barber on "Andy Of Mayberry", not even Bobby Kennedy can suck all the fun out of it.
But what about The Little Guy, The Men Who Gave Their All To Make It All Possible - The Fictional Characters? They're the ones who really make "American Tabloid" Bigger and Badder and more Beautiful the more you read it. Here's a taste of Ellroy's intro to get you going - "They were rogue cops and shakedown artists. They were wire tappers and soldiers of fortune and faggot lounge entertainers*. Had one second of their lives deviated off course, American History would not exist as we know it . . . It's time to embrace bad men and the price they paid to secretly define their time. Here's to them."
*See? Even Wil Forbis can get into this book!
TAKE THE "AMERICAN TABLOID - WHAT KIND OF MAN ARE YOU?" CHALLENGE!!!
Pete Bondurant . . . Kemper Boyd . . . Ward J. Littel . . . Which one do you love? Which do you hate? It's a test of your moral and spiritual fibre! In the forthcoming Acid Logic Production of "American Tabloid" Kemper Boyd will be played by George Clooney, Ward J. Littel will be played by William C. Macey, and Pete Bondurant will be brought to the screen with the same computer special effects used to create the dinosaurs in the "Jurassic Park" movies. This six and a half foot two hundred and fifty pound gargantua with hands so big all his has to do is raise 'em and you drop dead of a heart attack is first seen procuring morphine for Howard Hughes and then going to Florida to feed a man to the alligators as a favor for Jimmy Hoffa. But Pete's a Good Egg - He's a thug but Right And Wrong don't apply to him anymore than they did to King Kong. And like The Mighty Kong, Pete's got HEART - His relationship is the only one in the book that comes close to anything you'd want your Sister to be involved in - If your sister is fine enough to be Presidential Black mail Bait, that is.
Kemper Boyd - Good looking, witty, sophisticated FBI Agent assigned by J. Edgar Hoover (Portrayed with great admiration by that Krazy James Ellroy.) to infiltrate the Kennedy organization. But J. Edgar has sent a boy to do a man's job cause Kemper Boyd is a Southern Aristicrat! Ain't nothin' worse. Case In Point - Al Gore. Kemper's family fortune has Gone Wid De Wind and once inside of Camelot he slides down that slippery slope until he's dealing heroin and choppin' up Cubans with chainsaws with none of the grace, warmth, and spontaneity Pete Bondurant brings to that sort of thing.
Ward J. Little - Mild mannered FBI bean counter and starry eyed Kennedy admirer determined to track down the Most Deeply Held Secret Of Organized Crime and bring it back to Bobby like a bone he has dog out of the backyard. But, after many trials and tribulations including being nearly beaten to death by Pete Bondurant, when he finally does get to the bottom of it all he finds . . . The Kennedys! When you meet the enemy and he is us, you know that you have been played for a sucker. And Ward - As Pete, Kemper, and those no good for nothin' Kennedys all learn the hard way - is no sucker.
Me, I'm goin' with Big Pete. You can keep your Spiderman, your Obi Wan Kenobi, your Shaft, your Dirty Harry, even Floyd The Barber - Pete Bondurant is a real rain to wash the trash off the sidewalk. "Big Pete's got X-ray eyes. Big Pete's like Superman and The Green Hornet." The greatest character I have found in any novel since the F. Scott Fitzgerald and Mark Twain books they made me read in school, Pete Bonderant is the unholy offspring of Captain Ahab and The Great White Whale rising out of the deep to knock the shit out of everybody and make 'em do it the way it was meant to be done.
Oh yeah, Ellroy's got a sequel to "American Tabloid" out called "The Cold Six Thousand". But I'm not reading it cause, knowing Ellroy, he's gonna screw things up between Pete and his girl and I can't stand to see such a nice coupla kids busted up just on accounta some guy's sourpuss view of the world. So Ellroy better pray day and night that I stay away from "The Cold Six Thousand" cause if I ever find out that he's done anything to hurt my man Pete Bondurant I am going to track him down, rip his face off with my Wolverine dentures, pick him up by one ankle and twirl him around and around and around the room in perfect circles . . .
Here's To Bad Men. Here's To Bad Motherfuckers.
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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