Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Saturday, July 31, 2010

DOC speaks ... and some more kind words on Johnny Porno ...

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Late Rain by Lynn Kostoff ... Joe Barton II (Kenneth Feinberg) ... the DOC ... then the DOC again ...

“Masterful writing, spot on dialogue and insight to the human condition more often associated with literary works than crime fiction, Lynn Kostoff’s Late Rain is one of those rare novels that transcend genre fiction; it is writing at its very best, brilliant from start to finish.” —Charlie Stella

That’s my blurb for Lynn Kostoff’s latest, Late Rain, a great read from a great writer.

I’m a long time Lynn Kostoff fan. We go back to the year I was first published at Carroll & Graf about the same time Lynn’s The Long Fall (a truly terrific read) was published by the same publisher. Lynn has since become even more literary in his approach and we get into some of that in an upcoming Crimeculture Interview so I won’t repeat it here.

I recently commented on a crime writing blog that dealt with “good writing” vs. “bad writing” and how commercial success often has nothing to do with either. Well, for what it’s worth, Late Rain is GREAT writing. I’ve reread it twice already ... and like reading Steinbeck or Dostoevsky, it only gets better.


The background: A woman (Corrine Tedros) with a past she’s running from has met and married (all in 3 weeks) the nephew of a soft drink company about to go national. Her hubby is a soft touch and a bit of a bumpkin, but the uncle is anything but. He’s in his 80’s but sharp as a tack and he spots Corrine for what she is and what she’s after. The big brands want to buy him out and if he sells, the family will be rich beyond Corrine’s dreams. But the old man (Stanley) is also old school and concerned for workers who’ve been loyal to him from the get-go. It’s a moral dilemma for everybody but Stanley; he ain’t a sellin’. Corrine sees light at the end of Stanley’s tunnel and resorts to the ways of the wicked. A female Raskolnikov or just another opprotunist?

Then there’s Ben Decovic, the protagonist haunted by ghosts of his own; his wife was randomly killed by a nutcase out on a killing spree. That was in his Ohio detective days, after which he started boozing and eventually quit the force to move to fictional Magnolia Beach, South Carolina. He’s a patrol officer now and still can’t sleep and is forced to mark the beers he drinks on his wrist to remind himself of the count.

Rounding out the essential players are Anne, Paige and Jack Carson (daughter, granddaughter and father). Jack has Alzheimer’s and he witnesses a murder, how on earth does one pry the information from him?

Lynn Kostoff has written a wonderful novel about life’s desires and the choices we make in pursuit of them. One of the most literary of all crime novels I’ve ever read, Late Rain is laced with intelligent, beautiful prose ... like these (for instance):

At that moment, Anne’s smile held the promise that March made to April and May collected on, an old promise that unexpectedly opened onto an earthbound grace which arose simply from the business of living.

Half a page later:

He was needed, and being needed was both an aphrodasiac and sacrament. Ben and Anne finding each other in the dark each night, an urgency of hands and mouths and breath and flesh, and on the other side of the bedroom door, three lives and now a fourth that were joined in an equally fundamental way.

Flesh and family.

He’d found a place in both.

There’s a two page paragraph (a Hemingwayesque Kostoff trademark) at the end of the book that is equally as beautiful and somewhat more powerful, but that would be providing a spoiler of sorts and I’m not about to do that. It is truly magnificent writing, real writing (something I couldn’t reproduce with a gun to my head).

Lynn recently had a reprint of one of his earlier novels, A Choice of Nightmares (reviewed here). Credit New Pulp Press with the smarts for reprinting this terrific read.

If yous buy a summer read, amici, Late Rain is the one to purchase. I’ll say it again:

“Masterful writing, spot on dialogue and insight to the human condition more often associated with literary works than crime fiction, Lynn Kostoff’s Late Rain is one of those rare novels that transcend genre fiction; it is writing at its very best, brilliant from start to finish.” —Charlie Stella

And now back to the stuff that makes my stomach turn ...

No, not my fantasy connections, amici … POLITICS … focking POLITICS.

If this clown in the White House could be any more late out of the gate, or absolutely out of touch with those out of work, it’d be near impossible to tell. Just when I thought it was safe to avoid political blogging at all costs, one of The One’s hand-picked CZARS goes and gaffs ala Joe Barton. Whatever Barton handed the Dems with his apology to BP, Kenneth Feinberg passed the baton right back to the Republicans with this:

U.S. "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg on Friday declined to request 17 financial firms that doled out $1.6 billion in "ill advised" executive compensation to return the excessive payouts, saying to do so would be unfair to the companies and could trigger private lawsuits and additional Congressional investigation.

What a CZAR he is … this joker pissed me off when he started double talking on the $20 billion rip-off fund BP put in place (to see their stocks skyrocket the day after President Clueless accepted it). But this one (below) almost equals my obsession with the Fredo Administration’s excusing bailed out companies $38 BILLION in tax revenue (while my wife and I had to pay an extra $26K last year – because I was stupid enough to work 7 days a week the year before and she worked full-time and did a lot of OT so we could put up some bucks for a down payment on a house and help in some small way with my daughter’s wedding). Let’s see, nobody gave us any “bail out money” we “wouldn’t have to pay taxes on as income” but Goldman Sachs, et al, got to take OUR money and NOT PAY tax on the profits they made from it.


This was the party of the people that permitted that, am I right? This was the Change We Could Believe In Party? This was the YES WE CAN man … too bad he didn’t provide the other half of the sentence. To wit: SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS.

When, I ask (again and again), is the so-called "left" going to realize the Democratic Party is a planet away from what they claim to seek? Would it really make a difference if they broke away to join the Green Party (or any other party) to force the Democrats to quit IGNORING them? Has this president acted any differently to the money powers that be than the last president? This one was against earmarks the day after okaying 9,000+ of them ... he added 33,000,000 customers for insurance companies who can take a $100 a day fine for refusing pre-existing conditions (as opposed to paying millions for the coverage they need), he enacted half-assed regulations against Wall Street nearly two years after giving away the store and neglecting to protect the American worker ... and now his Pay Czar feels it would be unfair to ASK bailed out companies to return some of the "ill advised" bonuses they rewarded themselves with (again our money). Feinberg is HIS Czar … and although Obama took Bush’s lead on bailing out banks/firms that gambled and lost (and brought it to the outer limits of reason), this statement was every bit as insensitive as Joe (the pin cushion for big oil) Barton’s apology to BP. It is just absurd. Obama and his party represent the working man? Really?


From here on out, the DOC’s trademark name wins out. Here at TK President Obama is now officially President Fredo.

“UNFAIR” to bailed out companies? Subjecting them to another Congressional investigation is UNFAIR?

President Fredo …

Oy vey, Amici ... oy fucking vey ...


The DOC and his delayed deadline …

Well, we went to some stupid water park yesterday even though I have a freaking 17,000 gallon pool in the back. Then today the babysitter's family dropped by (all 5 of them) and Natasha couldn't survive without them, so they get treated like royalty.

Finally, the blockbusters don't debut on Sunday afternoon.

And who are you to talk? You wrote nothing last week. You published an email of mine that began with "I've got nothing"

And finally, finally I'm reading "Angela's Ashes" you should be checking up on me every few hours. I read another 20 pages... another dead baby. This morbid fuck is running out of characters. The last 100 pages must be a monologue.

But I have been thinking about my retort. Be patient. The amicis aren't like us. They have lives.


And FINALLY, the DOC says …

You know, Chaz, every time I hear you outraged about how the Dems screw the little guy I wonder how you ever survived the mean streets of Canarsie. When you were in street finance did a lot of guys pay you off with hundred dollar bills with Joe Dimaggio’s picture on it? The Bamster has surrounded himself with Goldman Sach’s guys. I don’t know how they get away with it, but Wall Street donates most of its money to the Dems, and yet the Reps are the “party of big business”. It’s the same way when a Rep jaywalks the Dems demand that he resign… and he does. Charlie Rangel is being investigated for 9 different offenses. There is no talk of him stepping down.

Moving on to more pressing issues.

Can you believe Fredo is selling tickets to his birthday party at $30,000 a pop? I mean really, Chaz, what kind of a weenie charges people to come to his birthday party? That said… I really want to go. I was thinking if each reader of Knucksline sent in $1 we could have our own delegate present. Okay, I’ll get more realistic. If each reader of Knucksline sent in $10,000 I could go. How cool would that be? I could be the Minister of Information of Knucksland. Bear in mind this is the president who visited 57 of the states and still had 3 to go. I’m sure that muppet would claim that he had been there. I might even be able to sell Michelle on those diet shakes that rocketed you down from 335 pounds to 333 pounds in only 6 months.

Have a good week

Thursday, July 22, 2010

DOC reviews a book his brother lent him ... Double DOC ...


DOC is picking up the TK slack (as I try hard to continue losing tonnage and write a few books--I'm down to 312 this morning and close to finished with 2 new books). DOC's much more enlightened brother sent Mr. Charm a book to read (no doubt to try and soften the piece of lead in the middle of DOC's chest cavity). And, of course, DOC forgot to mention the author's name of said book, Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt.

Hey Chaz,

I’ve got nothing for you. There’s hardly anything going on in the news except for that Sherrod clusterf*ck and I have noticed that whenever I delve into racial issues you start to sweat heavily and consult lawyers.

I did write a book review of sorts. My brother’s friend gave me a copy of Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes”. This is the note I sent to him.

Hi Omar,

I just started reading Angela's Ashes. It's quite the light summer read. It has poverty, homelessness, prejudice, sickness, bed bugs, alcoholism, two dead babies and I'm only up to page 60. I can only imagine what frivolity is in the next 300 pages.

I hope you don't mind, but I wrote the phone number for the Suicide Hotline on the cover. It might come in handy for me or anyone else you lend this page-turner to.

Thanks a lot, brother

This book was on the bestseller list, so I’m sure you never got around to reviewing it. I’ve noticed you have a certain disdain for any book that sells more than 28 copies.

Don’t be glum, buddy boy. The Bamster just finished his 7th vacation and his Broadway party, so next week he might actually do something and we’ll have fresh material.

Have a good week, big guy

And the DOC says (again) ...

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Thursday signed legislation intended to slash by $50 billion the taxpayer money improperly paid to dead people, fugitives and those in jail who shouldn't be getting benefits. – ABC News

While this sounds like a worthwhile endeavor there are a few questions banging around in the lovable old Docster’s brain. To put this in perspective, the amount of money improperly paid to dead people, fugitives and jailbirds is 110 Billion dollars.

Q1: Did we not have legislation before that discouraged sending out checks to make believe people?
Q2: If we know that the figure is $110 Billion we must know which are the fraudulent payments. Couldn’t we just stop paying them?
Q3 Since he is the smartest man in America couldn’t Fredo set the bar a little higher and sign legislation to stop ALL fraudulent payments. It would seem that $60 Billion is an acceptable level of fraud for the White House.

This is the problem with having 500+ lawmakers working (almost) full time in Washington. They feel to justify their ridiculous salaries they must be writing new laws all the time. Let’s face it, how many new crimes are being invented everyday? After 200 years of lawmaking wouldn’t you think we have everything just about covered? Wouldn’t the above $110 Billion be covered under existing fraud and theft laws.

Unfortunately, enforcing existing laws is not as glamorous as writing new laws. You don’t get to put your name on it when a law is enforced.

The “Are You F*cking Kidding Me” Segment
GM has just acquired an automobile loan company to (in their own words) give car loans to people with bad credit ratings.

The new financial regulations that were just passed totally exclude regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

The Bamster’s 8th vacation of the year will be in Florida.

The iphone4’s only known glitch involves making and receiving phone calls

Lindsay Lohan is in the Big House and Charlie Rangel is writing our tax laws

Fredo just threw Tom Vilsack (Dept. of Agriculture) under the bus. Wow! Who saw that coming?

And for the Friday musical interlude

Have a great weekend

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reviews ... Still Missing, Manon Lescaut, Brothers, The Messenger & Jimmy Bench-Press ... DOC says ...


The Brothers Judd on Johnny Porno:

Currently cruising just beneath mass media radar is the next big thing in crime writing, Charlie Stella. When critics and readers describe him they invariably resort to comparisons with the greats of the genre--Elmore Leonard, George V. Higgins, and Donald Westlake. [That would be Westlake writing his Parker series, as Richard Stark, making it appropriate that Mr. Stella's latest is the first original title from Stark House Press.] But, at least here in Johnny Porno, you might also compare him to a historical novelist, because what he's offered up is a pitch perfect look at 1973 and the birth of the mainstream porn industry in a book packed with a wide cast of characters, numerous subplots, entertaining dialogue, enough factual/historical context for a documentary, and plenty of action. And if that's not enough for you, the novel is leavened with healthy doses of humor.

At the center of the tale is John Albano, an essentially decent guy who lost his union carpenter card when he punched out a foreman. Nor is that the only trouble his fists have caused him. He got a job collecting receipts from local porn theaters when he decked a corrupt cop in a local mob bar. Once that would have been a really minor job, but Deep Throat has just been banned in New York, so, of course, everyone wants to see it. Suddenly, the seedy movie houses are doing brisk business. At the same time, John made an enemy of the mob boss's nephew when they fought over a supposed pass John made at the hood's wife. And if Johnny Porno--the unwanted nickname that his current employment has won him--didn't have enough problems, he has to deal with his bitchy ex-wife if he's going to see his son and her first husband has hatched a plan to rob him of the cash he's collecting for the mob. Those are just the storylines that touch John directly, percolating along in the background are additional subplot ranging from a pair of honest cops trying to bust the crooked one to an effort to track down a 1970 Cadillac Eldorado that features in the film, for a mobster who just has to own it.

By the end of the novel there are so many guys gunning for each other that it's an impressive performance on Mr. Stella's part just to be able to orchestrate all the action coherently. That narrative dexterity, the entertaining dialogue, and the likable title character, in particular, not only make this a novel you'll want to read, but Charlie Stella an author to watch.


Grade: (A+)

The Kindle experiment is proving a much more expensive venture than physical book buying because I can now read while working out on the elliptical machines. The ease of reading has become undeniable (especially on crowded subways). I’m up to a steady 3-4 books per week since we purchased the thing and although I’m opting to use their “free books” option more and more (partly to offset the initial cost ($303 fazools)--equal to 3 months of my buying books), I’m still purchasing books. A few weeks back I saw a review in the New York Times that intrigued me. I only read the first few paragraphs (rather than spoil the read for myself) but immediately knew I’d be buying the book (Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens). Monday I made the purchase at work after finishing another free-bee Kindle purchase (Manon Lescaut--yeah, DOC, the book the opera was based on). I started reading at lunch while at work and was hooked before I returned to my computer. It is a debut novel that became as stunningly compulsive reading as was Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, except I found it to be much better writing start to finish.

I was halfway through the book when I commented on the author’s page about how much I was enjoying the book. I had told many at the office (where I’m a book club member) about how I couldn’t stop reading (and was sneaking reads throughout the work day). I was almost finished while taking the Staten Island Ferry ride home Friday night, but then had our weekly date with the Principessa Ann Marie at our favorite Mexican restaurant and wound up too full and tired to finish reading last night. I finished it this morning, though and it is a truly compulsive read.

The thing that I learned at the author’s page, by the way, was Still Missing has already received FOUR STARRED REVIEWS. In my short and humble word processing/crime writing “career” the reviews I’ve been most proud of are the six starred industry reviews we received over 7 books. We were rarely reviewed by all four (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Library Journal), but we did pretty good over the span (I’d thought); out of the 21 industry reviews we received those 6 starred reviews. Still Missing, a DEBUT novel, scored FOUR (and all, in our humble opinion, very much deserved). This is a GREAT read, amici.

I won’t provide spoilers (ever) but here’s the concept that hooked me (again, I wouldn’t read the full Times review once I found myself intrigued): A real estate broker is showing a house and is abducted. It isn’t the usual formulaic thriller/rapist/serial killer novel. It is much more than that. It comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. A page turner from start to finish, it will leave you wanting more from this author and fortunately for all of us, there’s more coming down the road (Never Knowing, Summer of 2011).

Manon Lescaut ... The read was fast enough, it’s a small novel by Abbé Prévost, but being an opera buff (or buffoon), I prefer the opera by Puccini. I think it may have come too soon on the heels of reading The Red and The Black by Marie-Henri Beyle a/k/a Stendhal. Both reads were worth the price of admission (one freebee and one $3.99 purchase) but perhaps should have been spaced a little further apart by moi (in that French mode). My bad in that regard. Manon is the poor one in this tale of class mingling woe, but she’s beautiful and that hooks more than one fish. le Chevalier Des Grieux (more French) is the son of privilege who first falls for Manon. He can’t get enough of the woman or the abuse her desires lead him to. In the Stendhal novel mentioned above, you can flip the classes/genders but the psychological torment for those in love are pretty much the same (why I should’ve spaced these babies apart better--but that’s what being cheap will get you, brothers and sisters). Like I said, I prefer the opera ...

Okay, by now DOC has upchucked his Miller Light ... so back to the reviews.

Brothers ... a terrific movie with some excellent writing by David Benioff. Toby Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and Sam Shepard were incredible. Absolutely terrific. MaGuire plays the war hero, a great father, husband and son. Gyllenhaal is the screw-up brother, son and uncle. MaGuire returns for a second tour of duty to Afghanistan and is captured. He goes through hell (you’ll have to watch it to understand that over simplified definition). When he’s assumed dead, Gyllenhaal assumes a bigger role with his brother’s family (and starts to grow up). He maybe gets too close? Excellent. See it.

The Messenger ... on a similar tragedies of war theme, Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Jena Malone are equally wonderful in this poignant and gripping tale of the poor SOB’s who have to inform the families of soldiers killed in war. There will no dry eyes early on and all through this baby.

Finally, a wonderfully kind review of Jimmy Bench-Press from author Mike Dennis for Patti Abbott’s Forgotten Book segment over at her site.

And here’s some great blues from the Allman Brothers Band ...

— Knucks

And the DOC says ...

Hey Chaz,

So we’re back to the opera? That means whining about that $38 Billion fazools can’t be far off. Actually, I liked that clip. I made it up to the 2:25 mark which is almost double my personal best. I think that girl used to be in “Cats”, then her career obviously tanked and she started singing Guido show tunes to pay the rent. Since it was opera, I’m assuming she is either dying, going mad or recently discovered that she had slept with a close family member. That’s why opera will never catch on in the U.S. Granted, we did dabble in the motif for a while… we had Bobby Goldsboro (wearing his hair helmet).

Last week, the First Lady was performing her “Junk in the Trunk” tour through the Gulf States. She told everyone to do down there for vacation and promptly packed up the family and went to Maine. Obviously, she is not too smitten with the prospect of running into her fellow Americans. They realized that they had forgotten to bring their dog and sent a private jet to pick him up. Really, that’s just wasteful. Couldn’t they have simply put him in a limo?

When the oil spill first started the Bamster used to mention BP at least twice in every sentence. Now that it seems to be capped all you hear is “I” and “me” and “my administration”. I was expecting to see photos of Fredo in a diving suit holding a giant cork. If only he could do something similar to the First Lady.

Joe “why would I put hair plugs in the back of my head when I can’t see the back of my head” Biden claimed that although many people felt the Tea Party was racist, he didn’t think so. So, why bring it up Joe? This seems to be the new strategy of the Libs for dealing with the movement. Expect the following report of a Tea Party demonstration on MSNBC in the near future:

Chris Matthews: So Arianna, have there been any incidents of lynching African Americans yet.
Arianna Huffington: Not yet Chris, but the small turnout of African Americans probably has something to do with that.
Chris Matthews: And have you seen any signs denouncing the practice of lynching African Americans.
Arianna Huffington: Not a one, Chris.
Chris Matthews: So it would appear that they condone the practice?
Arianna Huffington: What other conclusion could you make, Chris?

And here’s a little Mickey Rourke content to cheer you up, big guy.

Have a good week

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Herbert … Steinbrenner … Lebron James, Jesse Jackson, Kanye West & Racism … DOC says ...


Bob Herbert ... in his column yesterday, Mr. Herbert did a nice job of making my point about the lack of difference between Presidents Bush & Obama as regards the little folk versus the Fat Cats on Wall Street. I love this guy for his frankness, even if he does adhere to the lesser of two evils and probably votes exclusively Democrat. Herbert is at least aware that pointing fingers at irrelevant wingnuts like Palin, Limbaugh, et al, does nothing for all those who voted for the guy they placed so much faith in. Herbert expected (like at least a few on the left) Change We Can Believe In to be something akin to change of some kind for those other than Wall Street … and he’s not happy with the results to date (another George Bush and government for the money by the money).

My comment to his Times editorial: Bob, you remain my hero. As another posted directly above where I'm typing now, Bush & Obama belong in the same sad sentence ... and only one does talk nice. The bottom line is workers were given the ultimate shaft when those Wall Street bailouts ignored stipulations protecting us from layoffs, outsourcing, and maybe using our own 401K money WITHOUT PENALTY since the Obama administration saw fit to ignore $38 BILLION in tax revenues from those bailed out. Until we ignore both parties and vote ANYTHING BUT REPUBLICAN AND/OR DEMOCRAT, we'll continue to get screwed. Thanks for pointing it out.

The Boss ... there are two ways to look at George Steinbrenner. From a business standpoint, he was the epitome of the great capitalist. Paying $8,000,000 for the Yankees in 1973, he added another set of zeros and raised his Yankees net worth to plus $1,000,000,000. He changed the face of the game with his buying of free agents, often those who beat his Yankees in world series games. He was ahead of the game and his competitors in that regard and his successes (7 world championships) is undeniable. He was a tough and great owner, much the same way George Patton was a tough and a great general.

The other Steinbrenner, as viewed by some (including myself) goes like this: He was a pompous and abusive owner (who once fired a secretary for getting him the wrong sandwich) with an ego to match his bankroll. His handling and mishandling of the Yankee clubhouse and dugout, it is often argued, may well have cost his team another 7 championships (although we’ll never know one way or the other). His ability to buy championships earns him a lot less respect from this view than he’s getting the day after he died from those with the view in the preceding paragraph.

To be fair, it is claimed he was very charitable and decent to everyone who didn’t work for him (including providing the children of 9-11 firemen and policeman killed in the line of duty with college scholarships) and that’s no small thing.

Lebron ... checkmate. Duane Wade has already won a championship with the Miami Heat. Lebron couldn’t win one with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He can win 10 with the Heat (although we’ll be rooting against him all the way) and he’ll never get the credit for being another Michael Jordan or Larry Bird … or Duane Wade. His move to Miami to round out a superstar lineup completes Kobe’s legacy (not Lebron’s). In the end, the King still has no rings. Should he now “acquire” one, it's no big deal.

European Soccer Racism ... Real Sports Bryant Gumbel did a report and than a follow-up on racism in the European Soccer leagues. Too many of us (myself often included) think Europe is so much more sophisticated than the United States. The Real Sports report puts that theory soundly to rest. Monkey chants, tossing bananas on the field and racist epithets are common. In Italy, a team from Rome was forced to play two of their games without their fans. The HBO report was ugly. It is difficult to accept that such a level of ugliness goes on anywhere, but it does and apparently is rampant. We’re not talking about a group of bad apples. It was the bulk of the stadium’s capacity engaged in absolutely reprehensible behavior.

Here is an ESPN report on the same issue:

And then there's this form of racism ...

Jesse Jackson ... the NBA’s David Stern had Jesse’s ear, but I doubt anybody else does anymore. If the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers (Dan Gilbert) was acting as if he “owned” Lebron James, he sure fooled me. I like his repudiation of Lebron’s decision to flee for greener pastures, not because Gilbert is the owner and gets to say whatever he wants, but because I think he was showing support for his city and the people Lebron abandoned.

That said, I wasn’t nearly as offended by Jackson as I was by Kanye West back when he declared that “George Bush doesn't care about black people” during a CNN fund raiser for victims of Katrina, but that’s because I haven’t taken Jesse Jackson serious since his infamous “Hymie Town” comment. I was watching CNN the night of West’s short rant and immediately changed the channel. My issue with him was my having voted for George Bush; I didn’t like the implied association of being racist for it. West subsequently proved himself to be a jerk in other public verbal regurgitations and I shouldn’t have been as upset by him as I was. My bad, but it is the implied association of all things “racist” that may well cost Obama (through no fault of his own) more votes than he’ll be able to afford come 2012.

I don’t know George Bush personally, but I sincerely doubt that he doesn't care about black people. His government was a mess, as is Mr. Obama’s government (as Mr. Herbert up top often points out). For the record, I doubt Mr. Obama cares any less about white people than he cares about anybody else. Neither president’s policies seems to have benefited the poor and downtrodden while both seem to have enhanced the pockets of the already wealthy. Bush was the first Republican I had ever voted for. I was embarrassed by it (including my defense of him until 2006 when I’d had enough) ... then came Obama and now that it's 2010 I no longer feel AS embarrassed. Apparently we’re all (elites and bumpkins alike) equally as dumb as each other ...

West had my back up with his comment about Bush and I took it out on the telethon (and the victims of Katrina) by not donating. Again, my bad, but that’s what often happens when people feel as though they are being accused of anything, never mind racism. They resist. Not every white person who was (or remains) pissed at Lebron James (or who supported Dan Gilbert’s rant) is a racist. Nor is every Republican (or those who might vote Republican) racists. That type of word association (or bullshit, for lack of a better term), gets old fast.

Those from the Tea Party who engaged in overt racist behavior embarrass themselves and by extension their movement embarrasses itself when they don’t denounce it. That said, I’m not sure they didn’t denounce it. I simply don’t know. Either way, it is inexcusable behavior from anybody (including Mel Gibson), but if race issues take to the forefront of the 2012 election, I doubt it will be to the benefit of this President.

Obama did a smart thing in his presidential campaign when he distanced himself as much as possible from the race card (leaving it to fellow Democrats Bill & Hillary to play instead). Somehow it bothers me more that the Republican Party didn’t require Joe Barton to resign after offering a public apology to BP, but then again, as DOC will often point out, I’m one of those "commies/new voice of right wing america" types (I'm often accused of being both) who thinks it all has to do with the structure of our society; the haves vs. the have nots, etc.; that those at the bottom of any social structure tend to eat each other (to include using racism from both sides) rather than those who do them the most harm.


And the DOC says ...

“Those from the Tea Party who engaged in overt racist behavior embarrass themselves and by extension their movement embarrasses itself when they don’t denounce it.”

I’m impressed Chaz.

That is some elegant prose. Being an avid YouTube enthusiast I’m surprised you didn’t include some clips of overt racist behavior at Tea Party functions. The NAACP didn’t show any specific examples either, but both of you just painted a big red “X” on the Tea Party movement. Andrew Breitbart offered $100,000 to any one with video of Tea Party members abusing the black congressmen. To date, no one has claimed the money.

So, Chaz, have you stopped beating your wife?

For the icing on the cake, The Bamster has just stated that al Qaeda is a racist endeavor too. He feels they do not allow blacks to rise in the organization. He says blacks are relegated to only the lowest ranks of membership. That would be the transportation and short-term modeling of explosive fashion accessories.

Put it all together:
Tea Party = RACIST
Terrorists = RACIST
Tea Party = Terrorists

The Libs have to marginalize this common sense movement. And as a side note, as far as I know the Tea Party doesn’t have any leaders. That’s the beauty of it.

A shrewd businessman to the very end… by dying in 2010 he saved his family $500,000,000. In 2011 the Death Tax goes back into effect. Slick move, George. You certainly had the last laugh (sort of).

Jesse claims the owner treated James like a slave? Trust me, Jesse, $12 million per year puts anyone in the upper-strata, Preferred, Gold Card level of slavery. Bottom line, Jesse… how much do you want the Cav’s owner to donate to your Rainbow Coalition to make you STFU?

After last week’s heated editorial in Knucksline, the White House now states that they did not tell the head of NASA that Muslim outreach was one of his top 3 priorities. He misunderstood. The man is obviously not a rocket scientist. Oh wait, yes he is.

Forget about trading 10 spies for 4. How the hell did this whole deal transpire in 10 days? It took Fredo 2 months to call up BP and 4 months to pick out a dog, but in a week and a half the spies are out of the country and unavailable for questioning.

Being a spy in the U.S. has got to be the easiest gig ever. All you need is a library card and a subscription to the New York Times.

Have a good week, brother
and a Happy Bastille Day
to all of my French friends.


Friday, July 9, 2010

The big heart of Texas ... Shakedown (the book) ... Salander ... No Mean City ... Kindle Man ... Hahvahd Math ...


A frustrated DOC hasn’t had his usual dose of picking on me and the President yet this weekend. Today he wrote me:

Hey Chaz,
No Friday Knucksline today?
Were you perhaps overserved last night with the Texas visitors?


The Texas Visitors ... they aren’t kidding when the talk about southern hospitality ... Michelle (The Godmother) Isler, her husband Tom and their son Nolan took us to dinner at the Grotta Azzurra last night (and bought me a big bottle of Chivas Regal) ... how do you repay people that generous? Well, we’ll have to keep trying via mail until they return and we can take them out. A wonderful time for us ... and it’s great when a writer can meet one of the 19 or so fans he has out there. That’s 19 NOT counting my Mom (who still refuses to read beyond chapter 8 of Johnny Porno). Oy vey ...

Shakedown Review ... one of the two very nice guys over at Men Reading Books have finished the Stella collection and he couldn’t be more generous with his review than if I slipped him a few free tickets to the World Cup (which I would’ve, if I still had a scalper in my pocket like the old fantasy connected days when my brats used to see Wrestling matches (including one Wrestlemania), baseball and football and operas and theatre on the arm). For the record, TK is rooting for the Netherlands because I almost knew who Johan Cruyff was when exchanging emails with East Coast Don Kirkendall (who’s written books about the sport and injuries and knows the history of the game like I know craps ... and that’s pretty good). On my first honeymoon, my brats' mom and I stayed with some of her family from Holland. We also visited Paris and Germany (a great trip). Terry’s great uncle, Uncle William, told me all about Cruyff (this was 1977) when the soccer super star was still playing and the radio was constantly playing a song about him.

But speaking of Wrestlemania ... it was #5 in Atlantic City and I took my daughter. We were at ringside behind a couple of fantasy wiseguys. I can't repeat what they said when Run DMC stepped in the ring for their Wrestlemania Rap (but it was funny at the time--you had to be there).

While in Little Italy last night we showed The Texas crew where I used to live on Grand Street (between Baxter & Mulberry) and described some of the scenes from Shakedown that were pretty for real -- it takes place in Little Italy. It was also where they filmed some of Donnie Brasco and the condo was in a few of the opening scenes ...

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ... okay, so yous are tired of this Stieg Larsson phenomena, but honestly, it keeps getting better. I’m HUGELY against paying movie ticket prices (because at least 60% of the time I’m sorely disappointed), but last weekend the Principessa Ann Marie and I drove to Summit, NJ (a beautiful town) to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (the Swedish--original version) and we were very happy we went. Noomi Rapace (Salander) and Michael Nyquist (Blomkvist) were perfectly cast (and so was the rest of the cast) in this as close as it could get to the book-to-film production of the first of the Larsson Millennium Trilogy. The Swedes were smart with this baby and shot all three movies back to back to back ... number two (The Girl Who Played With Fire) is being released July 9th and we at Casa Stella can’t wait.

No Mean City ... Super Scottish author Russel McLean sent us a book about the mean streets of the Glasgow of yesteryear ... first published in 1935 and having sold more than 500,000 copies, No Mean City is part social commentary, part novel about a family (the Stark’s) brutalized by the economic and social realities of life in a slum. After having to deal with an abusively drunk father, the eldest Stark, Johnnie, fast makes his way to becoming the Razor King of his neighborhood (where his fighting prowess and ability to use two slashing razors earns him his nickname). The book follows Johnnie’s brutal life as a gangster, his younger brother Peter’s devastating flirtation with socialism and a friend of the family who’s become a dancer. Life in the slums of Glasgow slums is what Thomas Hobbes well termed (for the rest of us in the form of the state of nature): “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" and No Mean City does a convincing job of proving that out. I suspect life in any slum isn’t much different than that depicted in this dark tale of a Glasgow slum, but it is a compelling read about the random inequities of life reminding us all (you too DOC) that “there but for the grace of God ...”

Kindle … well, amici, I’ve gone and done it … bought a kindle and for all the same reasons everyone else has … storage space (our house is overflowing) … ease (it was a huge pain in the ass reading the 5 pound Larsson book (The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest) on a crowded subway … and last but definitely not least, affordability. My amazon bill was running close to $140 a month (the 12-step program my wife put me on was NOT working) … so, we bought a kindle with the following stipulation. To wit, NO BOOK BUYING FOR AT LEAST 1 MONTH (I’m to use amazon’s free book selection to offset the cost of this thing—which was not the advertised $189 after getting a few accessories and the warranty—it was more like $303) …

Now, to be fair, I already bought 1 book after reading 2 freebees (a Dickens and a Kipling) … For $3.99 I bought Stendhal’s The Red and the Black), which I’m about finished with and thoroughly enjoying.

I suspect we’ll probably put the first four Stella books up there sooner or latter ... if we ever find the time to format the things.

Spygate … somehow this ratio, 10:4 was perceived as an “equal exchange” … we give the Russians 10 of their spies and we get back 4 of ours.

Now I understand President Fredo’s trust in BP … the kid forget to take a FOCKING MATH CLASS while at Hahvahd!

Fredo = A DOC Nyland trademark declared by Temporary Knucksline. Yeah, it’s that funny and let's face it, way too damn accurate.

Midnight at the Oasis ...


Thursday, July 8, 2010

A DOC Nyland Editorial ...


The following is an editorial from the very bored (because he's STILL not working) DOC ...

Hey Chaz,

I think it is time for me to stop being a negative nabob and throw my support behind our president. I commend his latest move to change NASA’s priority from space exploration to connecting with the Muslim world. Our president, Mr. Obama says NASA should recognize all of the Muslim world’s accomplishments in the scientific world. I applaud that. There must be bunches of accomplishments. Right off the bat I think of Arabic numbers. Well, actually, that was a Hindu invention that the Muslims stole, but let’s not split hairs. Then there are gyros, falafel, hummus, suicide vests, and Turkish taffy.

In the grand scheme of things it is an ideal blend of the 12th and the 21st century. That averages out to roughly the 17th century. Can you envision the space shuttle with whale oil docking lights? This is definitely a goal to strive for.

Now on a practical note, you and I know there are titillating tootsies flashing their bare ankles, willy-nilly all over the country. With the old Muslim technology, you have to work up a crowd, gather the stones, throw rock after rock after rock… obviously an extremely time consuming venture for a busy zealot. When we meld our technology with the Muslim world it will go like this.

Spot the brazen hussy.

Enter GPS coordinates.

Hit the “harlot” button on your iphone.


One laser-guided rock at 35,000 feet per second… from space.

Stoning accomplished… and you still have the rest of the day free for honor killings.


I feel so much better now that I’ve seen the wisdom of President Obama’s decision. The next priority is to design pressurized burkhas for female astronauts. Only kidding! No way the Taliban will allow us have female astronauts.

Have a good week

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tales from the Dark side: The Devil vs. God ... Arrigo Boito’s, Mefistofele ... DOC says ...


Mefistofele, Arrigo Boito ... it remains one of my favorite operas and one from which I borrowed a line for the epigraph to Jimmy Bench-Press: Ah me, Faust (With [follow] me, Faust).

Enter Mefistofele (the devil) ... he places a bet with God ...

Faust sells his soul ...

The witches sabbath ...

Lontano, Lontano ...

Ah me, Faust ... for Jimmy Mangino (Jimmy Bench-Press) it was his pursuit of being a “made man” ... It’s the last line in the video below: The Devil cuts the throat of Faust’s beloved and his disciples lead him off atop the cage Margarita was jailed in. The Devil yells: Ah me, Faust!

Right over Might ... (Faust begs forgiveness, the Devil is rebuked)

The Opera Summary (from Wikipedia):

A heavenly chorus praises God the Creator. Mefistofele scornfully declares that he can win the soul of Faust. His challenge is accepted by the Forces of Good.

Act I, Scene 1
The aged Dr. Faust and his pupil Wagner are watching the Easter celebrations in the main square in Frankfurt. Faust senses that they are being followed by a mysterious friar, about whom he senses something evil. Wagner dismisses his master’s feelings of unease and as darkness falls they return to Faust’s home

Scene 2
Faust is in his study, deep in contemplation. His thoughts are disturbed in dramatic fashion by the sudden appearance of the sinister friar, whom he now recognizes as a manifestation of the Devil (Mefistofele). Far from being terrified, Faust is intrigued and enters into a discussion with Mefistofele culminating in an agreement by which he will give his soul to the devil on his death in return for worldly bliss for the remainder of his life.

Act II, Scene 1
Restored to his youth, Faust has infatuated Margareta, an unsophisticated village girl. She is unable to resist his seductive charms and agrees to drug her mother with a sleeping draught and meet him for a night of passion. Meanwhile Mefistofele amuses himself with Martha, another of the village girls.

Scene 2
Mefistofele has carried Faust away to witness a Witches’ Sabbath on the Brocken mountain. The devil mounts his throne and proclaims his contempt for the World and all its worthless inhabitants. As the orgy reaches its climax Faust sees a vision of Margareta, apparently in chains and with her throat cut. Mefistofele reassures him that the vision was a false illusion.

Faust’s vision had been true. Margareta lies in a dismal cell, her mind in a state of confusion and despair. She has been imprisoned for poisoning her mother with the sleeping draught supplied by Faust and for drowning the baby she had borne him. Faust begs Mefistofele to help them escape together. They enter the cell and at first Margareta does not recognize her rescuers. Her joy at being reunited with Faust turns to horror when she sees Mefistofele and recognizes that he is the Devil. Refusing to succumb to further evil, Margareta begs for divine forgiveness. She collapses to the cell floor as the Celestial choir proclaims her redemption.

Act IV
Mefistofele has now transported Faust back in time to Ancient Greece. Helen of Troy and her followers are enjoying the luxurious and exotic surroundings on the banks of a magnificent river. Faust, attired more splendidly than ever, is easily able to win the heart of the beautiful princess. In a passionate outpouring they declare their undying love and devotion to each other.

Back in his study Faust, once more an old man, reflects that neither in the world of reality or of illusion was he able to find the perfect experience he craved. He feels that the end of his life is close, but desperate for his final victory, Mefistofele urges him to embark on more exotic adventures. For a moment Faust hesitates, but suddenly seizing his Bible he cries out for God’s forgiveness. Mefistofele has been thwarted; he disappears back into the ground as Faust dies and the Celestial choir once more sings of ultimate redemption.

It’s a great opera, amici ... especially the San Francisco production (reproduced at the MET where I saw it many moons ago).

Happy 4th! Have a good, fun & SAFE holiday!

And the DOC says ...

Opera, Charles… Really?

This is the July 4th weekend. Today is Independence Day. This is an American holiday. There was no need to subject the amicis to your fugazy festival of foppery.

We let you eye-talians have Columbus Day although I’m not sure why. Let’s face it, your guy was looking for India and he ended up in North America which is roughly a kazillion miles away. He is on the beach sitting in one of Leif Ericson’s broken beach chairs and deduces that he is the first explorer to ever land here. That whole “India/America” mixup does sort of explain why a 30 mile road trip, with you as navigator, requires 2 tanks of gas.

But I digress.

Independence Day ... no opera!

Happy 4th of July to you, Chaz, and all the amicis (with the appropriate American anthem)