Monday, July 13, 2015

LOVE, LABOUR, AND THE ART OF REJECTION

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.
So wrote Oscar Wilde over a century ago, in the preface of his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. This amuse-bouche almost seems out of place in a work that many consider a Victorian horror novel. Oscar Wilde was a man of wit and knew first-hand the fickle whim of societal tastes. He would spend the end of his life exiled from England after serving two years in a British jail for "indecency."
Wilde would later go on to write in that preface: Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
And:
Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.
And:
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.
And most importantly:
All art is quite useless.
Oscar, like myself, was not one to suffer fools. Aside from The Picture of Dorian Gray, he went on to pen several standards for the stage. Among them, The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband, and the controversial Salome. And that stint in jail I mentioned earlier? No sooner had he been set free than he set fire to his enemies with the epic poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Perhaps folks didn't get what he was trying to do, and perhaps they didn't approve.
That doesn't mean it ever stopped him from getting it done.

I also think it was elegantly stated by another gentleman from across the pond.

"Rejection is one thing, but rejection from a fool is cruel."
- Stephen Patrick Morrissey

Or if you're looking for something a little more red, white, and blue...



Rejection is something that builds an artist. It adds a thicker layer of skin. It opens one's eyes a little wider to the process and the bullshit. Someone can argue that it adds a different perspective to the work, but what if the work needs to operate in complete ignorance of that perspective? How are we supposed to gauge which criticism is helpful and which is not? Is the criticism pure?

Who gets a say in your work, or the interpretation of your work?

DO NOT GET ME WRONG. I am not saying all criticism should be ignored. There are professional people out there who sincerely wish to see people's work made better. I have received very kind feedback from people who wanted to help me get a leg up and, to these people, I am forever indebted. But sometimes there are mean, petty people out there who come from a very dark place of their own and feel like taking a sledgehammer to other people's work because their own work is shoddy, makeshift, and suspect.  

And I know what you are thinking: "But Eryk, what the devil do you know about being rejected? You've got plenty film festival awards and published stories, novels, etc. The world must be handed to you on a silver platter."

Au contraire. I get my fair share of rejections, even still. Ever so often, I still encounter some grumpy, foul troll who steps from beneath his bridge to check the Inbox for submissions and, perhaps he has neglected his medication, perhaps the old pecker isn't firing on all cylinders... Regardless, something's got this guy's knickers in a bunch and, lo and behold, he receives my query and FINALLY he has a proper forum into which he may vent his aggressions! Nothing more could possibly soothe him than to send me curled into the fetal, awash in salty tears.

For those kinds of people, a simple form rejection letter would hardly suffice, would it?

So, with no further ado...

TOP FIVE REJECTION LETTERS I'VE RECEIVED

5. FROM AN AGENT WHO DIDN'T LIKE DIRTBAGS.
"I really tried to like this, but there was not one single likable character in this book. I also felt the enthusiasm in the book did not match that of your in-person pitch. Furthermore, you told me the book was funny. The situations in this book could hardly be described as 'funny.'"
THE REPLY I WANTED TO SEND, BUT DIDN'T
Hey lady, thanks for reading my book. I am a long believer that there's something for everyone in this world, and it turns out DIRTBAGS was not for you. Looking back, I should have divined as much during that in-person interview you referenced. I heard the uppity accent and the way you looked down your nose at me, but I was totally hungover and I thought you didn't like the smell. It was a writer's conference, and this is how I was told to behave. Also, I was completely distracted by your legs, which were quite fit and didn't seem to match the rest of you. Overall, I kept thinking how, with a good honest roll in the hay, you might actually be someone worth having a conversation with in real life, and therefore didn't listen to much of anything you said with your mouth. So I could be excused for misreading your sensibilities, given the circumstances. I am glad I left such an impression on you, however. And furthermore, as far as my book not being "funny," allow my man William E. Wallace to tell you at which platform you may debark.

4. FROM AN UNNAMED FILM FESTIVAL IN AN UNNAMED FOREST COMMUNITY
"No."
THE REPLY I WANTED TO SEND, BUT DIDN'T
Hey man, I was a little put off by the simple, one word rejection of my film and couldn't help but think there was a little anger boiling behind those two letters. I couldn't, for the life of me, think of why and I decided to google your name to see why on earth you could be so angry at poor little me. I saw we went to the same college, but I still couldn't place you. So I asked an old friend if they knew you and if they knew how we might know each other and all my friend said was:
"Seriously? You really don't remember?"
That's never good. 
Turns out, one night I went trolling for townies and took up with a girl that turned out to be your girlfriend. I'm really sorry about that. I was in Party Mode back in those days and, since I don't remember half of them, really think my behavior ought to be excused. Best I can tell, nobody got pregnant so we should let bygones be bygones. I have another film coming out and I would really like to screen it there, if possible. Is there some way we can settle this before the early deadline?

3. FROM A LITERARY MAGAZINE
"This is a great story with great moments, but I really think you could trim it down from its size. I'm
thinking if you get it down to 8000 words, I could find a place for it."
MY RESPONSE: "Excellent. Thanks a lot. Here it is, trimmed from 12000 words to 8000 words. Thank you for your help."
HIS RESPONSE:
MY RESPONSE: "Hi. It's been one month since I heard from you regarding my story. Were the cuts adequate?"
HIS RESPONSE: "Sorry. I thought you new [sic] that by not responding, it meant we were rejecting it."
THE REPLY I WANTED TO SEND, BUT DIDN'T
I was kind of hoping when you didn't respond it was because someone ripped your head off and stuffed it down your toilet. Just checking.
Or maybe you were too busy to reply because you were busy reading that 8000 word story which was later serialized in Pantheon Magazine. Who fucking knows.

2. FROM A ORGANIZATION AWARDING A GRANT
"The judge and panel thought your work showed great promise and agreed that working with you might be valuable, but our main concern is the sheer volume of your writing. You work in film and fiction, and we fear that working on so many different projects does not seem to encourage you to find time to really dig deep into the craft of writing."
THE REPLY I WANTED TO SEND, BUT DIDN'T
Please thank the panel for their time. Also, please assure them that while many of my rejection letters end up in the wastebasket, this one is going into a frame and will be hanging on my wall. So often, while writing 8-10 hours per day, I find I need a little levity, or a break from taking things too seriously. I believe this letter will serve to do just that.
(Note: OK, I lied. I actually sent that one.)

1. FROM A FILM FESTIVAL
"Do you have another cut of your film? Perhaps a nine minute version? I see a pretty good film in there, but as it stands, I wonder if this length will allow it more traction. Most films are made in the editing suite, you know. Use the film form to tell this story, don't tell it the way people enjoy reading it!"
THE REPLY I WANTED TO SEND, BUT DIDN'T
Dear Dipshit, I am glad you asked if we had another cut of the film lying around. I didn't know you wanted the nine minute version. It's sandwiched right here between the eight and ten minute version. I don't know what kind of crap-tastic films you've been forcing people to watch, but the ones I make have pictures locked and sound mixed and music scored... I wasn't slick enough to remember that I would have to recut it for entry into your festival. And thanks for the extra tidbit, that movies are made in the editing suite. I had no idea. I was too busy doing things like WORKING ON THE FILM IN THE EDITING SUITE WITH THE EDITOR. Thanks for the e-correspondence film school lessons! I'll get cracking on that alternate cut tout suite!

The above example best illustrates my point. A simple rejection letter would have sufficed. I work hard and have worked hard my entire life. I have sources where I can find constructive criticism and I seek them out. I exhaust them. So many of my most valuable friends have been haunted by me in a late night phone call or a flurry of text messages, begging their opinions of a project. My poor wife, listening as I measure every sentence or piece of dialogue. The kind and generous souls in my writer's group who offer their unrestricted opinions. To all of these people I have trusted and depended upon and they have helped me immensely. Todd Keisling, Monique Velasquez, Piper Kessler, Nick Karner, Bob Walters... I better not start naming names or we will be here all day. 
What about my own experience? I have a degree in Literature. How do you like that? Also, a degree in History. I have been reading stories for as long as I can remember and I have developed my own sense of taste. Like Hank III says, "Not everybody likes us..." It's true. I write what I want to read. I make the films I want to watch. If it's not for you, please don't bother with it. I do not have the time to stop and consider your past and your experiences and your body of work and your tastes. I wish to high heaven I knew them before I paid your festival fee or I would have saved the money. I wish I knew not to wait for your reply, because you ain't going to send it. I wish I knew if it was a film or literary professional standing at the gate, or if it was just some clown with an attitude.

Because, based on my experiences, nobody likes a fucking clown with an attitude.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

BOOK TRAILER: HASHTAG by Eryk Pruitt

I know, I know...
I'm supposed to be posting like a Top Ten List or something on this site, right? Sorry man, but things have been a little hectic. I've been running around trying to finish up the last bits for our upcoming short film "The HooDoo of Sweet Mama Rosa" and attending screenings of our short films "Disengaged" and "Liyana, On Command." There's been readings for DIRTBAGS and, oh... that's right: HASHTAG is on its way as well.

To celebrate the release of HASHTAG, we're throwing a Geeky Writers party  and, if you've never been, you have to check it out. It usually involves a lot of booze and a bit of ranting and raving. We're joined by the writers Todd Keisling, Tony Rapino, and Mercedes Yardley, so it's a bang-up good time. Usually, free things are given away because, you know, people like to be bribed.

AND, if you are one of the people who subscribe to this website... guess what:

Your poor eyeballs will be the first to officially watch this book trailer for HASHTAG.




The video was shot and edited by the ever-impressive film wizard Nick KarnerHanna Brown stars as Sweet Melinda Kendall and Michael Howard is Randy, the wine salesman. If this scene smacks a bit familiar, it's because it's featured in the short story "Rather A Nice Finish," which was published in Pantheon Magazine waaaay back in 2012. Actually, Sweet Melinda has been a recurring character of mine for some time now, with appearances in stories by Severest Inks, and an unpublished number "The Return of the Mississippi Hot Mess" in SWILL magazine. I'm proud to finally give her a home in HASHTAG, and I hope you buy it, read it, and enjoy it.

The music was provided by the smoothest bluesman this side of the Delta, Mr. Mel Melton of the Wicked Mojos. Not only am I a big fan of all his music, I'm also a big fan of his gumbo. Trust me, if you ever have a chance to eat his Southern and Cajun cooking... get on it. I can't thank him enough for letting us use "Wicked," the opening song off his Mojo Dream album. It's a mood-setter and one I've often used to get me ready to write some swampy Southern fiction.

And of course this could not have been done without Lana Pierce, Tracey Coppedge, and Meredith Sause. No matter what I find myself getting into, they are always there to help me through it and this is no exception. Lana whipped up vittles for everyone on set while Tracey did makeup and Meredith ran sound.

Special thanks to Piper Kessler who let us borrow sound equipment, and taught us how to use it. Thank you Ismail Abdelkhalek for letting us raid your arsenal and lending the hazer. And thank you to Bob Walters of Local Film Talk for the strong constructive criticism and suggestions.

And thank everyone for watching the trailer and hopefully reading the book!!!

Please let me know what you think about the trailer in the comments below.

Eryk Pruitt is a screenwriter, author and filmmaker living in Durham, NC with his wife Lana and cat Busey.  His short films FOODIE and LIYANA, ON COMMAND have won several awards at film festivals across the US.  His fiction appears in The Avalon Literary Review, Pulp Modern, Thuglit, and Zymbol, to name a few.  In 2015, he's been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a finalist for the Derringer Award. His novel Dirtbags was published in April 2014, and Hashtag will be published in May, 2015. A full list of credits can be found at erykpruitt.com.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The new LEAD BELLY: SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS COLLECTION Box Set

I can't imagine life without the iPod.

I listen to music across a variety of genres. I love the opportunity to summon a song from a wide spectrum of tone, mood, and spirit. To have that itch scratched at a moment's notice.

But imagine all that within one human being. A single, solitary man who absorbed music, tradition, and verse from not just old school blues halls or medicine shows, but chain gangs, cotton fields, gospel houses, sukey jumps, New York City concert halls, folk music circles, and jook joints, to name a few. To have captured those spirits and preserved them in amber, untouched by the influence of radio.  And to be able to pick up a twelve-string guitar and call upon music traditions stretching back into forever.

That's Lead Belly. You can buy all the Lead Belly albums you want and still probably never hear all his repertoire. Also, you could start writing today and ten years later, still never cover every artist influenced by Lead Belly, whether they know it or not.

However, a good start would be the new Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection box set
While it is a great starting point for folks who are new to Lead Belly, a lifelong fan like myself who perhaps already has a significant collection of Lead Belly music would probably ask if there's a good reason to drop a chunk of change of this box set.

I would tell them no, there isn't one good reason.

There are ten.

TOP TEN REASONS TO DROP A CHUNK OF CHANGE ON THE

10. THE PHOTOGRAPHS
It doesn't matter if your coffee table is mahogany wood or an upturned cardboard box, the 140-page large format book will look super great atop it. Girls will want to hang out and flip through the pages and guys will tell you how cool you are for having it. The last generation of music lovers probably got their exposure to Lead Belly through Kurt Cobain's mind blowing performance of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" on MTV: Unplugged. Can you imagine being the guy to turn on the following generations? These slick photographs should do the trick.

9. THE ESSAYS
I can nerd out on some liner notes, man. The best ever liner notes came off the Dylan album, Bringing It All Back Home. I really love getting four-disc themed box sets that cover entire sub-genres like rockabilly, western swing, and Detroit blues (all of which are in Lead Belly's wheelhouse). One of the best parts of the collections are the liner notes. Glossy booklets written by scholars who also like to nerd out. The book has two of such essays. One by Robert Santelli, the Executive Director of the Grammy Museum, and another by Grammy-winning Smithsonian Folkways archivist Jeff Place. The Place essay is very in-depth and compelling and well worth multiple readings. Especially enlightening is the piece "Why He Sang Certain Songs" by his niece Tiny Robinson. I'm this close to tearing that out of my book so I can hang it on my wall.

8. THEY WNYC FOLK SONGS OF AMERICA RADIO SHOWS
This is where it's at. Lead Belly sits in on two radio shows featuring his music. Lead Belly spent his later years in New York City in the nascent stages of the folk scene. He enjoyed a fine bit of notoriety and appeared on a couple radio programs. These sets on WNYC run six and seven songs, and the second one features the Oleander Quartet. This is a treat, man. You can't find that on the internet (yet).

7. LEAD BELLY NARRATION
I'm a sucker for Lead Belly's narration between songs. The dude's like a walking history book. Not only did he save entire traditions in music from history's recycle bin, but nobody explains East Texas life better than Lead Belly. Often, he explains his inspiration for the song, or the source material. In "Rock Island Line," he explains the song's refrain. His version of "Boll Weevil" is a new one, according to the engineer, and it tells the story of one of the South's biggest scourges from the point of view of a man who picked his share of

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015: The Best is Yet to Come

All things considered, 2014 did not suck.

For one, I accomplished a major goal in life when my debut novel DIRTBAGS was published by Immortal Ink in April. For as long as I could remember, I'd wanted to write a book. I'd gotten over thirty short fiction pieces published, and not to mention the recent work in film, but for the first time, I actually felt like a for-real writer. The best part is, the reviews were great. DIRTBAGS stayed in the Top 100 Rated crime books on Amazon for quite a while. It sold handsomely. There were several online reviews that said very nice things. Overall, I was happy with the experience.

I also organized and took part in two successful events in my community. In June, we held the first-ever NOIR AT THE BAR over at Mike's place at 106 Main. We got top fiction talent when Steve Weddle, Phillip Thompson, Chad Rohrbacher, Charles Dodd White, Grant Jerkins and Peter Farris came out to read and sign books. A few of us got wasted back at my place and... well, let's save that story for another day. Also, we hosted a NIGHT OF LOCAL HORROR at Motorco, screening two films I wrote along with short horror by local auteurs Christine Parker, Christopher G. Moore, Roger Paris, Alan Watkins, Jaysen Buterin, Jeffrey Moore, Dean Garris and Todd Tinkham. The event was emceed by The Lowdown Show, filmed by Local Film Talk and lots of people came out to see what we're up to.

Speaking of film, I directed two of them. That's right. LIYANA, ON COMMAND was filmed in July and snagged a "Best Actor" award for Meredith Sause when it premiered at the Carrboro Film Festival. We also filmed THE HOODOO OF SWEET MAMA ROSA in August, but more on that for 2015... Also DISENGAGED, (director: Christopher G. Moore) a horror short based on my story "A Way Yet to Go" has been winning awards at festivals across the country.

Two Pushcart Prize nominations for short fiction. Yeah, yeah, yeah... I've gotten a few pieces published here and there, but most notably my story "Houston" in Thuglit #10, "The Jack Off" over in Pulp Modern #8, and a turn in both Shotgun Honey and Out of the Gutter. I even got translated into German, for fuck's sake. Take a look on my website for the full line-up, as well as links. 

Overall, there is a huge list of people who made 2014 hum for me, but I could not have done a lick of good all year if it weren't for the following people: Lana Pierce, Nick Karner, Tracey Coppedge, Meredith Sause, Jeffrey Moore, Alex Maness, Piper Kessler, Monique Velasquez, Rudy Kraul, Jedidiah Ayres, Mike Bourquin, Raia Mihaylova, Todd Keisling, Zachary Walters, Mike Rollin, and Natalie Pruitt. This list could go on and on, but these folks especially moved heaven and earth for me in 2014. I hope I one day can repay them.

BUT LOOKING FORWARD:

2015 is lined up to rock.

My second novel is being published on May 26th. It's called HASHTAG and it's a humdinger. At present, it weighs in at 100,000 words and follows three people's descent into trouble. Get your shitting britches on, because hopefully this will separate the fat from the cream...

My director's debut, the short film LIYANA, ON COMMAND has been entered into eighteen film festivals so far. Wish us luck. The big project, THE HOODOO OF SWEET MAMA ROSA, based on my Pushcart Prize nominated short story in Zymbol, is currently in post-production and my goal is to have it done before the summer. I'm told it's doable. Again, wish us luck. And I'm most excited about KEEPSAKE, the Southern short film I wrote for Meredith Sause. It was one of the most rewarding film experiences I've ever had, and that translates well on screen. You'll see.

Valentine's Day will have my short fiction piece "Sixteenths" up at YELLOW MAMA. I have a long list of short fiction I hope will be submitted and published this year. Also, this is the year I start shopping my short fiction collection titled LUFKIN. Be on the lookout for news on that.

I've got a WIP entering its last phases. I've got an idea for an epic project I'd like to undertake. I have a month full of meetings to kick off the New Year. I'm wanting to do another NOIR AT THE BAR, god willing.

Like I said, get your shittin britches ready...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

SOUTHERN GOTHIC NOIR in FILM

I like Southern stuff.
Those of y'all who've been hanging around the Rectory for a while have heard me talking about my favorite hybrid genre - Southern Gothic Noir - for some time now. Give this kid some Flannery O'Connor or some William Gay or some Clayton Lindemuth or Daniel Woodrell and he could hole up for an entire winter, were it not for the fact that Southerners don't really get winters. 
I wrote my own book DIRTBAGS in the spirit of what I call "Southern Gothic Noir," which blends elements of noir with those of Southern Gothic. Dirty people doing dirty things in the Dirty South. 
Well, this summer I decided to up my game a little. I took on a little project called "The HooDoo of Sweet Mama Rosa," a short film based on a short story I had published in ZYMBOL #3 (Currently SOLD OUT). "HooDoo" recruits the elements of Southern Gothic Noir and employs them, same as they would in a book. In our film, Old Poke Billet is a black man who has been mowing yards in a small Southern community for as long as anyone can remember, but little George Sinclair, a 13 yr old white boy, will go to unusual lengths to try and squeeze in on his action. The film stars JW Smith, Rita Gonzalez, Tracey Coppedge, Meredith Sause, Jeffrey Moore and Logan Harrison and is filmed in the Southern town of Durham, North Carolina. It's Southern Gothic Noir through and through.
But I am hardly the first person to do this. Check it out.

TOP TEN SOUTHERN GOTHIC NOIR FILMS

10. GEORGE WASHINGTON (2000, directed by David Gordon Green)


This film takes place in an impoverished North Carolina town. It's gritty and surreal and extremely tragic. What's really tragic is the dude that directed this stunning flick went on to direct Pineapple Express, but I guess we're all just squirrels trying to get a nut in the end. Casting Nick Cage for the title character in Joe probably wasn't a great move, either, but he did a damn good job in George Washington so for that I commend him. 




9. ANGEL HEART (1987, directed by Alan Parker)


Alan Parker made some pretty good flicks, from Midnight Express to Pink Floyd's The Wall and even another great Southern flick, Mississippi Burning, but this hot, steamy flick will forever be remembered as what got Lisa Bonet kicked off The Cosby Show. This movie is Bad Ass. A detective story about a guy who descends into the depths of Hell... er, New Orleans to find the missing Harry Angel and... well, too many spoiler alerts to continue. 



8. SLING BLADE (1996, dir. by Billy Bob Thornton)


It's a strong testament to this film that no human on Earth can watch it all the way through without talking like Billy Bob for the next several hours. The film that gave way to "French Fried Potaters" and "Not Funny Ha-Ha, but Funny Queer" is also well known for its expert use of Southern accents without being farcical. Little Lucas Black kept that accent his entire career and is still working today, bless his heart.





7. THE KILLER INSIDE ME (2010, dir. by Michael Winterbottom)

I've waxed long and hard about how much I love this adaptation of Jim Thompson's novel, especially in this guest post over at Hardboiled Wonderland. This gritty, sociopathic film is steeped heavy in Southern noir tradition. And the darkness and insanity in Lou Ford's head offer a grim hand toward the "grotesque" elements of Southern Gothic. Most folks don't like the movie, but I ain't most folks. 
And neither are you...





6. BLACK SNAKE MOAN (2006, dir. by Craig Brewer)


This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Hot, gritty, sweaty, sexy... The music is amazing. Samuel L. Jackson actually learned to play guitar on Highway 61 by Northern Mississippi bluesmen... The title is taken from an old Lemon Jefferson song. The mix of race and religion and sex is a lethal recipe for something dangerous and this fuse gets lit at the very beginning of the movie. 





5. THE APOSTLE (1997, dir. by Robert Duvall)

In one of the stellar acting performances of all time, Robert Duvall is a fucking dynamo as exiled Pentecostal preacher Sonny aka The Prophet E.F. If this flick comes on, I can't look away until well into the ending credits, as this movie refuses to quit. Catch an early performance by Southern stalwart Walton Goggans, and even an excellent turn from former Angel Farrah Fawcett, but don't kid yourself, this movie is all about Robert Duvall.





4. MUD (2012, directed by Jeff Nichols)

I'm calling it now: Go see everything by Jeff Nichols. After the brilliant Take Shelter and then the soon to be classic Mud, this guy is turning out to be my kind of storyteller. Mud is almost color-by-numbers Southern Gothic, and the Mud and Sam Shepard character are straight-up noir. This movie came at the beginning of the "McConassaince," before True Detective and Dallas Buyer's Club, so it's awesome to see him slumming on an indie film again. And bringing it.




3. FRAILTY (2001, dir. by Bill Paxton)


Wha...What? Two movies in a row starring Matthew McConaughey? What did you expect? This film here is one of my all-time favorites. It's got what you need: grotesques, religion, mystical realism... Questioning right and wrong. Dude, if you've never seen FRAILTY, get thee to a Redbox immediately. I don't want to say anything for risk of spoiler alert.





2. WINTER'S BONE (2010, dir by Debra Granik)

This one has everything you need. Early Jennifer Lawrence, a mess of cast members from Deadwood, and a script based on one of Daniel Woodrell's best novels. The entire film oozes despair and the backstory of the Dolly-Jessup feud could potentially fuel fifteen feature films. John Hawkes plays one of the most terrifying Southern characters and I can't say enough about how kickass this film is.






1. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (2012, dir by Benh Zeitlin)


A stunning film and story. I won't ruin it with my words. Go see it and prepare to be blown away.











Eryk Pruitt is a screenwriter, author and filmmaker living in Durham, NC with his wife Lana and cat Busey.  His short film FOODIE won several awards at film festivals across the US.  His fiction appears in The Avalon Literary Review, Pulp Modern, Thuglit, Swill, and Pantheon Magazine, to name a few.  In 2013, he was a finalist for Best Short Fiction in Short Story America. His novel Dirtbags was published in April 2014 and is available in both print and e-formats. A full list of credits can be found at erykpruitt.com. SUPPORT HIS LATEST SOUTHERN GOTHIC NOIR FILM "THE HOODOO OF SWEET MAMA ROSA" BY CONTRIBUTING TO THE INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN: 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Music for your Piehole - Detroit Rock City

Look, it ain't no secret: I got no love for New York City. One thing that really gets my goat is that anywhere you are in America, some transplanted New Yorker (or worse, someone who spent a weekend in New York and now regards themselves more cosmopolitan than need be) will go all up in arms anytime you try and perform one of the most basic American tasks, which is ordering a pizza.

One of my favorites: "Oh, your from Texas so you don't know what good pizza is."

Want to watch a throwdown? Get some asshole talking New York pizza, then throw someone from Chicago into the mix. You know, "The Windy City" did not get its moniker because of the Lake Michigan breeze, but rather because it's a metropolis chock full of braggarts.

Look man, I just like pizza. I like to put it into my mouth and chew it up and swallow it. Why everytime folks try to eat something it has to be turned into some foodie food blog is beyond me. It makes me wonder if there's something in the water up in New York City that turns everyone into a douchebag so they can ruin grinders or knishes or Reuben sandwiches for the rest of the country. But it's pizza goddammit so please, eat it and quit instagramming it.

But I got news for you. There's another kid on the block and he ain't so much about making noise. He's about being cooked and eaten and he knows New Yorkers and Chicagoans and food bloggers and just plain old douchenozzles will freak out at the mere mention of another type of pizza.

I'm talking about Detroit.

Detroit style pizza is some good stuff fella, and it's the revolution that's quietly taking over the country. Originally cooked in auto parts pans, the pizza is crispy and crunchy and a downright pleasure to put into your face. Best I can tell, it started at Buddy's Rendezvous in Hamtramck at 17125 Conant St. (it's still there today). Other pizzerias caught on, including Cloverleaf, Jet's and the Detroit Style Pizza Co. (to name a few).

But the reach is growing. Jet's has put a few shops around the country, including some over in Raleigh. Speaking of Raleigh, you can order Detroit style pizza off a truck at Klausie's Pizza. But the best is probably found in Louisville at a shop called Loui Loui's, where owner Mike Spurlock took and accountant-slash-mad scientist's approach by systematically studying the best Detroit style pizzas and creating his own award-winning recipe. Seriously, Loui Loui's is where it's at.

So there you have it. I could post pictures of my food, or go on and on about what it tastes like by overusing words such as chewy or cheesy or even use made up words like umami or nom nom but I won't because I am not a food blogger; I'm a for-real writer.

What I will do instead is give you some music that will rock your face off. Unless of course you are from New York City. In that case, I have nothing that will help you.

TOP TEN SONGS ABOUT DETROIT
Let's just get it out of the way. It's the one you've all heard of and folks will flip their lid if it's not somewhere on this list. So here it is. But I'm sticking to my guns re: Eminem and Kid Rock. Now, let's all join the adults at the Big Table.
I double-dog dare you to talk about Detroit and not talk about race. Can't do it. Well, maybe you can, kicking it down in the urban sidewalk beaches of Dan Gilbert-ville, under the watchful eye of the video cameras, sipping on an iced latte or pina colada and saying "Ahh, now THIS is the real Detroit." But as living conditions became increasingly intolerable in the Jim Crow South, more African-Americans migrated northward to urban centers. Where most companies employed discrimination tactics, auto companies such as Ford recruited blacks to assist with labor demands, especially during the periods of World War. Songs such as this from Fats Domino sound as if they had been commissioned by the city to encourage folks to move.
There's a lot of songs about trains with Detroit in the name. It was a coin flip between this one and "Detroit