RARA-AVIS: Re: Gerald Kersh

From: Max Gilbert ( jmaxgilbert@yahoo.com)
Date: 02 Feb 2005

I'll have to check out Palmer's autobiography; he did play on a lot of great records & his solo. You might be interested in UNDER A HOODOO MOON the autobiography of Dr. John (who as a session musician played with Palmer on a number of classic New Orleans R&B cuts)--it also has its hardboiled moments as Dr. John recounts his life as petty thief, pimp & junkie. Little Richard's autobio is also worth reading, although not "hard-boiled" in the usual sense, it is full of strange ancedotes like his threesome with Buddy Holly backstage. There are some great jazz autobios out there as well, Mezz Mezzrow & Charles Mingus come to mind.


Palmer in BAKCBEAT is gutter tough, very hardboiled
> but with a hint of natural grace.
> Who was Earl Palmer? Little Richard correctly said he was the
> greatest session dummer of all time. Little Richard should know
> Palmer practically invented the R&R backbeat when he did "Tutti
> Frutti" and other hits. He was also the drummer on Fats
> Domino's "I'm Walking", Richie Valens' "La Bamba", Bobby
> Day's "Rockin' Robin", plus "You've Lost That Loving
> Feeling", "Summertime Blues", "Deadman's Curve", and a host of
> hits by Lloyd Price, Eddie Cochran, Bobby Darin, Dizzy Gillespie,
> Count Basie, Sonny & Cher, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Willie
> Ray Charles and too many others to name.
> Sitting in a session more recently with a group called Cracker,
> lead asked Palmer if he needed to rehearse. "Nah, I invented this
> shit."
> He also has a great hardboiled style, as witness this paragraph
> growing up in New Orleans:
> "Round there it was protect yourself. You came up hard. The
> (minus the accent mark my keyboard doesn't have) is the ghetto;
> gangbangers and the drug dealers will rob you there. It's not a
> place to be! Back then it wasn't like it is now, but it was
> tough. They had this chick named Ruth, she was known to be a
> chick around there. Stand up straight like a man and fight you
> her fists. On Robertson between St.Phillip and Urulines, Ruth and
> another woman fought with knives to the death. Women were
crying. I
> was crying, because I knew Ruth. People begged them, `Please
> y'all, please don't, y'all gonna kill each other. Somebody please
> stop them!' Al Dennis tried to break it up, and Big Red, big
> complected guy. These were guys you'd expect could just walk in
> there and stop it-couldn't get close. I saw the other woman fall
> down for good, and Ruth kept on stabbing her. She was dead by the
> time the ambulance came. Ruth was on her knees, groggy, looked
> she didn't have the strength to fall over. Blood running
> in the dirt. We later heard Ruth died in the hospital; she may
> died on the way there. The ambulance driver probably took his
> didn't give a shit how long it took two niggers to kill each
> Friends, if that isn't hardboiled, I don't know it when I read
> And all this from one reference to New Orleans that awakened old
> memories and then a Google search on Peter Herman plus New
> Heck, I am skipping the story of the burlesque star Wild Cherry,
> danced in Herman's club or the discovery that the fine, modern
> writer Katherine Dunn is writing for boxing magazines. But back
> Steve's post:
> > The only book of Kersh I ever read was Night & The City, and I
> come to
> > the book through the magnificent J. Dassin film (the best and
> meanest film
> > noir to my eyes) with brilliant performances of Richard Widmark,
> Francis L.
> > Sullivan and Stanislaus Zbyszko as Gregorius the Great, and the
> story of the
> > Polish wrestler/intellectual is worth reading since it probably
> inspired a
> > lot of the Kersh
> > story...( http://www.pwinsider.com/ViewArticle.asp?id=4243&p=1).
> Stanislaus
> > was inducted in the Wrestler¹s Hall of Fame in 2003 and I
> about that
> > in a French film magazine!!...
> > I read in France as a younster the S鲩e Noire version called
> Forbans
> > de la Nuit² (SN480), translated by S. Henry and R. Amblard,
> I still
> > have, and about 20 years ago bought a copy of the Dell Book
> at a
> > second hand bookstore in a small town in Michigan. This version
> a
> > picture from the film on the cover and a map of Œunderworld
> on the
> > back with a complete list of the locations mentioned in the
> such as
> > the Silver Fox Club or Fabian Promotions or East & West Caf鮮..
> > I bought a cassette of the Dassin film on e-Bay for about $5.00,
> months
> > ago since there are yet no DVD¹s of this magnificent film. The
> version is
> > farce, and a sad reminder that a sometimes interesting Producer
> should
> > remain on the phone and not behind the camera...poor Jessica
> > participated (that¹s the best one can say in that case) to this
> debacle
> > which has one redeeming value: the presence of Eli Wallach....
> >
> > Steve Novak
> > le Montois de D鴲oit
> >
> I love the old Dell Mapbacks but have never seen their edition of
> Kersh's NIGHT AND THE CITY. I also love the Serie Noire series,
> most especially SN 1925, SN 1929 and SN 1933.
> Looking over the Kersh books I have handy I see another novel not
> previously mentioned that has the hard edge. It is THE DEAD LOOK
> (Heinemann 1943) that describes in detail the Nazi atrocities in
> Lidice. Here is the opening paragraph:
> "'As long as iron can take a point, watch your backs!' Petz,
> clutching his cigar, stood in a ring of ashes. Dry, hot-eyed and
> dark, with his charred eye-sockets and his clipped grey hair and
> moustache which had the carbonized iridescence of coke, he seemed
> have burnt himself out in the night. Even his voice had a husky
> rasp, as of cinders. He said: `The trees grow cudgels: wear
> helmets! String can strangle: mind your throats! While there is
> roof for a stone to fall from, watch your step! As long as men
> toes to creep on, sleep light! Beware of strange women, shadowy
> doorways, and quiet streets. Dark nights are dangerous: don't
> alone!'"
> Ah, Mr. Kersh, I am a sucker for your stuff. And Crippen & Landru
> has in print a collection by Kersh of his Karmesin stories-
> an introduction by Paul Duncan that I highly recommend. While it
> not Kersh at his most serious, it is Kersh being quite
> Kersh was a master at the framed tale and as with so many others,
> the Karmesin stories Kersh himself provides the frame as the
> who stumbles across the person with a story to relate.
> Kersh himself considered his best novel to be 1957's FOWLER'S END
> (Simon & Schuster), which alas I have not read. I have owned a
> for years, and even picked up a second copy because it was
> autographed, but it hasn't yet made my reading schedule. Ranked
> before it on my "to-be-read" list is Kersh's THE IMPLACABLE HUNTER
> (Heinemann 1961) a novel about St. Paul.
> There is much by Kersh I do not have, most never published in the
> U.S. such as the collection with the great title THE UGLY FACE OF
> LOVE and a novel entitled A LONG COOL DAY IN HELL.
> How can books with titles like that not be great reads!
> Richard Moore

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