Fifty Years and Counting

September 27th, 2016 by Max Allan Collins

Cinemax has posted the third episode of QUARRY on You Tube. Enjoy!

QUARRY Episode 3: “A Mouthful of Splinters”

This weekend was Muscatine High’s 50th Class Reunion. Barb and I both were dealing with the pertussis that had dragged us both down of late, but I am out in front of her a week and a half and was in shape to participate in all of the activities on Friday and Saturday night. This included a boat ride on the Mississippi and then a big get-together at the same Legion Hall where I once ate pancakes prepared by Presidential candidate Howard Dean.

In part because I had attended three grade schools locally, I made lots of friendships that extended beyond the tight little group of us who played poker and palled around and got in Leave-it-to-Beaver type “trouble.” So I had the chance to touch bases with many, many friends, and it was pretty great. Several of my best friends were there – Ron Parker and Mike Bloom in particular, names that mean nothing to you but the world to me – and so many others. For instance, Joyce Courtois was the alto in my high school quartet, fantastic singer and wonderful, warm person – together we set a record: three “number one” ratings that put us in the All-State Chorus three years running…only quartet in the state that ever accomplished that. Impressed? I didn’t think so. It certainly didn’t get me laid.

Crusin’ at Geneva Country Club, Muscatine, MHS 50th Reunion; left to right, M.A.C., Jim Van Winkle, Steve Kundel, Joe McClean, Brian Van Winkle (in back)

Unfortunately, Barb was still having a rough ride with the pertussis, and almost didn’t go at all…but finally she pulled herself together to go to the Saturday night event, which was the big blow-out, including Crusin’ playing for the dance. She looked beautiful despite being sicker than a dog (neither of us is contagious, if you’re wondering) and people were very pleased to see her.

I was supposed to be presenting a reunion of the original Daybreakers for the dance, but health issues worse than mine among the band members made that fall apart. So Crusin’ played, with our good friend Joe McClean of the XL’S as special guest on a dozen songs. The XL’S and the Daybreakers are the only area bands to make it into the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Joe is an unparalleled showman and he was warmly received – the XL’S had played our senior prom two years running. (In 1966, the Daybreakers made their debut at an after-prom party.)

I had a rough evening because my cough-ravaged throat was in bad shape, but I got by. We played two one-hour sets that were supposed to be separated by a fifteen-minute break. But I was afraid people of my advanced age would head for home and their jammies if we didn’t keep the party going. So we played a solid two hours – for those of you who are wondering if I’m recovering well from my heart surgery last February.

In honor of the Daybreakers, we played “Psychedelic Siren,” with Joe on bass and our regular bassist, Brian Van Winkle, on siren – an instrument Brian mastered immediately, idiot savant that he is. Discussions about how much is idiot and how much savant are ongoing.

It was a lovely night, all in all. Never skip your high school reunion (and we’re available to play there, by the way).

* * *

I am thrilled and somewhat astonished that PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY has reviewed my expanded ROAD TO PERDITION prose novel and given it a rave – and a rare starred review!

The Mike Hammer collection, A LONG TIME DEAD, continues to get terrific reviews, like this one.

Here’s a lovely LEGEND OF CALEB YORK write-up.

And CALEB is inspiring this discussion group.

Here’s a welcome if not exactly timely SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT review.

Check out this excellent interview with QUARRY TV writer, Graham Gordy, although oddly somebody seems to think the Memphis setting came from the books.

This will link you to a local interview I did on Vintage Sound 93.1, Muscatine’s first-rate classic rock station – with the great Tony Tone.

Finally, if you haven’t read BLOOD AND THUNDER, the Nate Heller “Huey Long” novel (and if so, what’s wrong with you?), you can get it on Kindle for 99 cents, as this nice write-up (scroll down) indicates.


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4 Responses to “Fifty Years and Counting”

  1. Brian says:

    Sounds like the siren player rocked!

  2. Mike Doran says:

    Noting that two of your band members are surnamed Van Winkle …

    … no, it’s just too easy …

    I dunno.
    When those WWII vintage Big Band guys made their comeback appearances back in the ’60s, it seemed that they were handling the whole aging thing a lot more naturally; of course, the musical style aided in that.

    For some reason, rock doesn’t seem to carry age well; what was “hip” and rebellious “back in the day” looks strange coming from grandpas (I came this close to rehashing my ‘John Houseman’ reference from – what was it, a year ago? – that’s how bad I’M getting lately).

    I guess your bronchial misadventures mean that you won’t be getting to Forest Park this calendar year.
    Damn and double damn, as Bill Crider still says (and thank God for that, anyway).

    Ah Well/Oh Hell … whenever …

  3. Thomas Zappe says:

    Barnes & Noble is still not showing any evidence of the new paper version of ROAD TO PERDITION, although they do have theE-book available. Any idea of when it will be available? I do all my book ordering through brick & mortar type places.

  4. Paul Schulz says:

    4 episodes into Quarry now. Obviously the quality is still high and I’m impressed how well they are maintaining the August-September 1972 background look (I’m too lazy to check if the Munch Olympic attack happened around Labor Day, but given everything else the production has gotten right, I suspect that was so. My father and I were driving back from a college tour trip when that went down and I still remember listening in on the AM radio as it faded in and out trying to figure out what exactly was happening). Another perusal of the end credits finds that George Pelecanos is listed as “Consultant”. Aside from his excellent Washington novels, he was also part of David Simon’s Wire / Treme braintrust and I believe has contributed at least one script to Bosch. A dumb question is was George brought on to give advice on interactions with the Louisiana Film Commission (Treme time), to contribute screen writing advice or just because Quarry likes having a lot of cool people associated with the series? At the rate you’re going I half – expect to see Joe Lansdale and Stephen King’s names pop up next.