“The Long Dance” Podcast Review

Like most podcast listeners way back in 2014, I couldn’t get enough of Serial. I wasn’t quite as taken by Serial’s second season, but plenty of other true crime options started popping up in my feed. A couple of all-time favorites include Dirty John and S-Town.

My favorite new true crime podcast is The Long Dance. Here’s a description of the 8-part series from the show’s website:

A disclaimer before we begin. One of the show’s creators, Eryk Pruitt, is a friend of mine from the Indie crime fiction community. You’ll also hear my voice at the beginning of each episode because Mr. Pruitt and his team were kind enough to let us promote our crime, mystery and thriller fiction podcast, Writer Types, with a quick ad. If all of that will keep you from taking this review seriously, stop reading now—but definitely don’t let it stop you from checking out Episode 1 of The Long Dance. I have a feeling you’ll be hooked, just like I was.

Which brings us to my review…

Producing a podcast about an unsolved 46-year-old double homicide seems like a tricky business. Not only is the evidence old or missing, but many of the people you’d naturally want to interview have long since shuffled off this mortal coil. This includes everybody from law enforcement officials, witnesses and suspects, to family and friends connected with the victims. So it’s really impressive that Pruitt (pictured at left), Adamek (pictured below) and Kessler manage to weave a captivating tale despite the many roadblocks built up by the sands of time. Even more impressive is their ability to pull the story into the present by essentially re-opening the cold case themselves. In many ways, their dogged persistence is the real engine that moves this gripping story forward.

This mostly works because of the professional relationship Pruitt and Adamek developed with Major Tim Horne of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. If this story was one of Pruitt’s dark rural noir novels, Horne’s thorough approach, cautious optimism, and even-keeled demeanor would almost be clichéd—which makes him that much more engaging as the de facto third narrator of the series. That alone is worth investing 8 hours of your podcast-listening time, but it’s not even my favorite part of this series.

The main thing that kept me bingeing The Long Dance over the course of a couple of days was the well-developed sense of time and place. Durham, North Carolina is not the town it was 46 years ago, and neither are the people most affected by the Mann/McBane murders. Many of the interviews included in the series highlight how the world moves on, even from something as heinous as the brutal murders of a young couple. It’s possible to listen to The Long Dance as a straight true crime narrative and you definitely will not be disappointed, but the real triumph of this podcast is the way it showcases the pain, regret and anger that lives on inside the people touched by this almost forgotten tragedy.

Highly recommended.

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S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novella, CROSSWISE, and the sequel, CROSSED BONES. His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME. He is also the co-host of the Writer Types crime, mystery and thriller podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

What We Got Wrong About Ford Fairlane

I got the chance to speak with author Rex Weiner about his new book, “The (Original) Adventures of Ford Fairlane.” Fairlane was a rock n’ roll detective that emerged from the late 70s underground music scene and his adventures were originally serialized in the New York Rocker and LA Weekly. These days, people who remember Fairlane mostly associate him with Andrew Dice Clay’s performance in the 1990 movie, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.

The truth is, that movie had little or nothing to do with Weiner’s original creation. So this new book is not only a chance to get (re)acquainted with Fairlane, but also an interesting tale about what happens to fictional characters after a decade spent banging around Hollywood.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the interview:

“What I liked about punk rock and New Wave in the 1970s was how it gave a middle finger to the corporate takeover of the music business. It felt like rock n’ roll—born out of young white middle class rebellion combined with black American culture—was making a last stand at CBGBs and the downtown New York clubs on the east coast, and at the Starwood and south bay clubs, and the Mabuhay in San Francisco on the west coast. It was dangerous and threatening to many of the musicians themselves, unfortunately, as much as to the society they confronted. But economics had a lot to do with its success, as the interviews in my book with Andy Schwartz and Jay Levin testify (publishers of the alternative papers that first serialized the Ford Fairlane stories). The cheaper cost of living in that era allowed those clubs to exist and gave artists freedom to create the music and culture that now seem so radical. I believe the same indie spirit is still alive and well in cities and town across the country and around the world—especially Hip Hop on a grass-roots level—but it’s more DIY than ever, and you have to look for it. If you’re in that mood. On my end, I’m listening to early Be Bop these days, mostly.”

You can read the whole interview right HERE at Crimespree Magazine.

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). Steve lives in LA.

30 SoCal Punk Songs

My Greg Salem punk rock PI series revolves around a fictional SoCal band called BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, but the music and musicians that inspired these books are very real.

The playlist includes songs from the 70s to the 2000s, ranging from Black Flag, The Runaways, Lagwagon and Minutemen to The Gun Club, Pennywise, The Bags and Face To Face. There are thousands of other songs I could have included, but 30 seems right for now.

I’m loosely defining SoCal as the region between San Diego and Santa Barbara. Likewise, the definition of “punk” is also pretty loose because it’s one of those words that means something different to everybody.

So…save your aggression for the pit, bro. As Descendents would say—Enjoy!

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S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). Steve lives in LA.

Writer Types Podcast—Episode 17

The May episode has arrived!

This time around we interview Kellye Garrett, Alex Segura and Naomi Hirahara.

Bill Fitzhugh, Ellen Byron, Mike McCrary and Andrew Shaffer tell us their secrets for writing funny crime fiction.

And May author, Marietta Miles, helps us debut an occasional new segment called “Between The Lines.”

But, wait—there’s more!

Kate Malmon reviews Blackout by Alex Segura, and Dan Malmon reviews The Oracle Year by Charles Soule.

If you like what you hear, please leave a review on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Soundcloud—or wherever you listen to podcasts. And please tell your friends about Writer Types on social media, at your favorite bookstore, and in the alley behind the car wash.

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Short Story in a Song— “She Doesn’t Exist”

Ever make a wrong turn in a foreign city and find yourself on an unexpected adventure? That’s how it felt to discover Robyn Hitchcock’s music in my teens. I’d travelled the well-worn boulevards of heavy metal, stomped down the back alleys of punk (finding the The Soft Boys along the way), and traveled the twisting paths of college rock—but hearing Hitchcock’s solo records was like finding a secret passage into a dark and magical world. Those feelings of wonder remain today, making it almost impossible to pick a single track. So I chose “She Doesn’t Exist,” an all-time favorite from the 1991 Egyptians album “Perspex Island.” This song would make a great short story.

Our narrator is obsessed with his ex. He’s attempted every trick in the book—from calling over and over to voodoo rituals—but nothing brings her back. So he tries to sooth his fragile ego by convincing himself that she doesn’t exist. He recognizes his mistakes and wants to do better, but knows it isn’t possible within the dynamics of their relationship. Soon it’s only singing to himself that briefly drowns out the persistent thoughts of his lost love. Hopefully his obsession doesn’t compel him to act and try to make her disappear for real.

Read the full lyrics for Robyn Hitchcock’s “She Doesn’t Exist” right HERE.

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S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.


Short Story in a Song— “Weird Boy Next Door”

The Muffs is a rock phoenix that emerged from the ashes of legendary LA band, The Pandoras. Founded by Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen in the early 90s, The Muffs went through a few configurations before landing on the solid trio of Shattuck (guitar + vocals), Ronnie Barnett (bass) and Roy McDonald (drums). “Weird Boy Next Door” is the first song from their excellent 2014 album, Whoop Dee Doo.

It’s clear our narrator doesn’t like the neighbor’s kid. In a playful mashup of Tom Waits “What’s He Building In There” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” our protagonist has a lot of justified rage about this wasted weirdo. It’s annoying enough that he still lives at home, but all his yelling and petty aggressions are too much to bear. Although our protagonist fantasizes about getting rid of him, there is no easy solution. She’s instead forced to rant to anybody who will listen, warning them to keep away. But how long will it be before her patience wears thin and she’s forced to act?

Read the full lyrics for The Muffs’ “Weird Boy Next Door” right HERE.

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Short Story in a Song— “Mr. Spock”

Yesterday I wrote about The Mr. T Experience song “Sorry For Freaking Out On The Phone Last Night.” Since MTX is playing shows with Nerf Herder soon, I decided to tackle one of my favorite songs by this Santa Barbara pop punk outfit fronted by mad musical genius, Parry Gripp. I’ve watched over the years as Nerf Herder has created an impressive catalog of music that effortlessly waffles (see what I did there?) from tongue-in-cheek to heart-on-your-sleeve without missing a beat. “Mr. Spock” is a solid song with great hooks, setting the stage for the band’s transformation into nerd rock superheroes.

Our narrator knows he’ll never be enough for his girlfriend. From money to personality to style, she’s always looking for Mr. Right. So our hero does the complicated calculus, concluding that what she wants is highly illogical. With his fanboy feet firmly planted beneath him, our protagonist goes deeper into Star Trek references to make his point as the song chugs along. In the end, his frustration is so palpable that it’s hard to know if it’s him or her wearing the red shirt.

Read the full lyrics for Nerf Herder’s “Mr. Spock” right HERE.

Like Santa Barbara punk? Here I am talking books with musicians:

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Short Story in a Song— “Sorry For Freaking Out…”

I saw that The Mr. T Experience is playing a few shows with my pals in Nerf Herder soon, including a stop at The Troubadour in LA. It got me thinking about this perfect piece of jangly pop confection. It’s like Stephin Merritt is fronting a country band that plays Grant Hart songs at an English pub in the 60s. The chorus is hooky and the punk psychedelia of the bridge is a brief refuge from the bouncy melody. But it’s the unique lyrics that bring it all together.

Our narrator is in a never-ending loop of overreaction and regret. The title seems tongue-in-cheek, but it encapsulates the petty spats that can potentially topple uncertain relationships. Couples get into ruts and we hurt the ones we love, so we’re left to apologize and try to figure out why we’re so quick to anger. Given all the things that can undermine something so fragile, there’s no better advice than this: “Let’s keep the freaking out to a minimum.”

Read the full lyrics for “Sorry For Freaking Out…” by MTX right HERE.

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Defending Your Influences

We recently had award-winning author Michael Kardos as a guest on the Writer Types crime and mystery podcast. We started out by asking Michael—who is also a drummer—about his musical influences instead of his writing influences. Michael was a good sport about it, admitting that Billy Joel and his long-time drummer, Liberty DeVitto, were two of his heroes growing up.

My co-host and I both come from mostly punk/Indie rock backgrounds, so his response gave us a (hopefully) funny bit that ran throughout our discussion. At some point we even got around to Michael’s excellent books, including BLUFF, BEFORE HE FINDS HER, and THE THREE-DAY AFFAIR.

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Writer Types Podcast—Episode 16

The April episode dropped late, but it’s definitely worth the wait!

This time around we have interviews with Gillian Flynn, Michael Kardos, John Shepphird and Robert Hartley.

We also talk about what makes for a great crime fiction short story with Rusty Barnes from Tough, Scotch Rutherford from Switchblade Magazine, and Alec Cizak from Pulp Modern.

And we have a special report featuring several crime and mystery authors from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

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