Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl Cover Mock-up

Thrilled to unveil the first cover mock-up for the novel. Except for a few tweeks it's pretty much close to perfect (all white lettering for my name being one). I must thank the talented Michael O'Neal for designing this with me.

Michael is a fellow member of The Henderson Writers' Group here in Las Vegas. A truly talented young man, he's an author, actor, artist and now, a book-cover designer. He has been named as Assistant Editor for a new Horror magazine: (www.DarkMoonDigest.com). You can also see some of his more DEMENTED art-work on his blog, www.empty-space-by-MichaelOneal.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl excerpt - Chapter Thirty-One: Guided Missiles

(from the soon-to-be published novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

A U-2 spy plane flying over Cuba photographed what experts believed to be rocket-launching sites under construction. The Soviet Union had been providing Castro’s regime with arms and defensive weapons. When questioned by President Kennedy about the missile sites, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko insisted the construction was solely for the purpose of contributing to Cuba’s defensive capabilities. Kennedy wasn’t convinced. He put the country’s military on high alert and ordered more U-2 flights.

Weeks later, new photographs showed that the missile sites could indeed be equipped with mid-range ballistic missiles and outfitted with nuclear warheads capable of reaching targets within the United States. There was no sign of the missiles themselves. The government was convinced they hadn’t yet been delivered and became determined to keep them from arriving.

Kennedy decided to go public. He addressed the nation in a news conference on the night of October 22nd. The leader who’d smiled so beamingly so many times before in his televised news conferences wasn’t smiling on this occasion. With a grim, somber demeanor he used enlargements of U-2 photographs to show the public the launching sites. He stated that intelligence reports confirmed that nineteen Soviet ships were currently en-route to Cuba. A number of them carried nuclear warheads.
“It shall be the policy of this nation…” Kennedy intoned, “…to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”

He further announced a naval blockade of the waters surrounding Cuba. Kennedy ordered U.S. warships to stop and board any Russian ships for the purposes of inspecting their cargo.
The world stood on the brink of nuclear war.


“We’re fine, Joseph, just fine.” Solomon Rabinowitz told his son when they spoke on the telephone the next day. Joseph was concerned about his parents living in a house off the intercostals causeway near Miami Beach, Florida. While he never once mentioned the missile crisis or Kennedy’s speech, he knew his father was aware that this was more than a social call.
“Say hello to your mother.” Solomon instructed him.
“Hi, Mama.” Joseph said as pleasantly as he could when Myra got on the line. Janet stood close by trying to hear both sides of the conversation.
“The whole world has gone crazy, Joseph.” His mother told him sounding more angry than frightened.
“I know. All we can do is hope that Kennedy and Khrushchev keep their wits about them and somehow back away from this.”
“We can do more than that, Joseph. We can pray. We can pray very hard”
That solution didn’t lessen Joseph’s concern. “I’m going to put Janet on the line Mama.”
He handed the receiver to his wife then stepped away to give her some privacy.
“Hello, Mama.” Janet said, smiling in the comfort of hearing Myra’s voice.
“Hello, my dear. How are you holding up during this awful time?”
“We’re okay. It’s just so weird here. The whole city seems to be holding its breath waiting for something bad to happen. The streets are so quiet…there’s hardly any traffic…everyone is glued to their TV sets waiting for news.” After a long pause Janet covered the mouthpiece and spoke to Joseph. “She says we should all pray.” Joseph simply nodded.
The two women spoke for a few minutes more before Joseph took the receiver. He told his mother he loved her, and then hung up.
He told Janet that he had to go back to the studio. After he’d gone Janet sat on the couch and cried. She recalled a time when he never would have left her alone. How he would have remained there by her side to comfort her, assure her that her he-man would protect her from any harm. Instead she sat alone with the fear of the television broadcast interrupted by a news bulletin. The shrill beeping of the emergency alert system might sound, sending her down to the air raid shelter in the basement of their building. There she’d wait for an all-clear signal or bombs to fal

The situation came to a head on October 26th when the United States Navy boarded the Russian freighter Marluca. With no weapons found aboard, the ship continued on to Cuba. The action convinced the Russians that the Americans were prepared to enforce the blockade. Castro sent Premier Khrushchev an impassioned plea to allow nuclear missiles to rain down on America. But the Russian leader had no real desire for such a confrontation. He ordered any ships carrying weapons to reverse course and head home.
The two nuclear powers negotiated a deal that would see the dismantling of the missile sites in Cuba and a guarantee that the Russians would no longer send any more offensive weapons to its Latin American ally. In return, the U.S. would soon abandon missile sites they had in Turkey. The crisis in Cuba was over.

Rock and Roll quote of the day: Treat me right, must you run now. For the nights just begun now. Honey please...won't you stay awhile with me?" From: "Stay Awhile" by Dusty Springfield.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl excerpt-Chapter Twenty-nine: Camelot

(From the soon-to-be published novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

...Since its inception, Rock and roll music always had a massive impact on the dance culture. Many youngsters, especially males, preferred slow dancing to ballads and love songs. These dances were called the fish and the grind where boys were said to shine their belt buckles by pressing against the bodies of their female partners.
But the most popular dance of the day was by far the Lindy Hop, a dance comprised of intricate moves, turns and flips with names like the whip, hijack and the windmill. The dance derived its name from the famous aviator, Charles A. Lindbergh, nicknamed Lindy who made his historical solo flight, or hop, across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Paris in 1927. The dance itself had undergone several name changes over the years eventually known as, the jump, jive, boogie-woogie, and the bop.
New dances started cropping up all over the country. Cameo-Parkway Records in Philadelphia signed a new artist named Ernest Evans. A chance meeting at a recording session saw Evans introduced to Dick Clark and his wife, Barbara. On learning that his boss at a local produce market had given Evans the nickname Chubby, Barbara Clark suggested a new stage name for the singer. She reasoned, if there could be a Fats Domino why not a Chubby Checker? The big break in his singing career came when the record company gave him a Hank Ballard tune to record called the Twist.
The tune was catchy, Checker’s performance exuberant, and the dance easy to learn. One simply mimicked the action of putting out a cigarette with the balls of your feet, at the same time, swinging your arms and hips from side to side in a twisting motion as though drying your backside with a bath towel. Soon everyone was twisting the night away in malt shops, sock hops, and even posh nightclubs.
Follow-up songs and variations soon populated the record charts as companies created a new batch of dance moves and singers generating millions of dollars in revenue.
Ironically, Leo Klein came up the idea for the dance that would represent Chanticleer Record’s entry into the dance craze mania.


“We can call it the Caterpillar.” He pitched the idea at a meeting of executives one morning as they were discussing possibilities. Leo rarely ever made a suggestion with regard to creative content, so his idea caught everyone off guard. His younger partner wondered if he should take the suggestion seriously.
“And just how do you do this – Caterpillar?” Joseph wanted to know.
Overcome with embarrassment that he must demonstrate his idea to the others, Leo timidly rose from his chair. He fumbled through movements clearly making them up as he went along.
“Well, you can just sort of stand in the middle of the dance floor with your arms out, bent at the elbow like the legs of a caterpillar…”
“Maybe snap your fingers a little?” Mickey jokingly interrupted.
“Yes, certainly,” Leo took it as a serious suggestion “snapping your fingers is fine. Then you would just kind of wiggle your ass back and forth sort of in a slinky motion.”
“Do you get to move your feet at all? It is a dance, remember?” Curtis commented stifling a grin. Leo knew all the others were ribbing him.
“Of course! You can do some turns, slink around the floor…whatever a caterpillar does for Chrissake!” Leo shouted.
“You think we could get away with something like that?” Joseph asked Curtis.
“Maybe with some refinements here and there.”
“Of course it needs some refinements.” Leo chimed in, happy to sit down again.
“Who do we give it to?” Curtis asked.
“A girl group.” Mickey offered after Leo’s demonstration.
“Definitely.” Again, Leo whole-heartedly agreed.
“The Pixies?” Curtis opted. “It could be just what they need to put them over the top.”
“I agree. I’ll work up some lyrics and charts and have it all ready for you by tomorrow morning.” Joseph told him.
“Another all-nighter?” Leo asked with some concern.
“Looks like it,” he replied.
“Do you really think it was such a good idea?” Leo asked.
“The best idea we’ve had around here since…coonskin caps.” Joseph smiled.

Two days later Joseph ran through a rough arrangement of the perky little tune for the Pixies in one of the rehearsal halls.
“Is that the best you can offer us, Joseph…‘the Caterpillar’?” Evie wasn’t impressed.
“I didn’t come up with it. Leo did.” Joseph smiled.
“Mr. Klein? Mr. Klein wrote this song?”
“No, I wrote the song. Leo invented the dance.”
“I don’t like it,” Evie pouted.
“Oh, come on…” Her sister Althea challenged, as their cousin Roberta shook her head. “…Why do you have to be so danged contrary to everything? Can’t you at least think about it? What’s wrong with you, girl?”
“Yeah, Evie. The tune is real catchy. I’ll bet we could work up some real good dance movements to go with it, couldn’t we Mr. Rabin?” Roberta asked.
“Absolutely! The steps, the choreography…I’ll leave all that up to you girls. I want you to have fun with it.”
Evie wavered but she had conditions.
“Would it be too much to ask for a nice, slow ballad for the b-side?”
“Did you have something specific in mind?”
“There’s a song from Janet’s catalog, ‘Seven Ways to Sunday’?” Evie said without hesitation.
Janet wrote the song for Teddy but he didn’t live to record it. Evie asked for it once before when things between she and her boss were different. He refused her then and he thought badly of her to ask again now.
“Okay. It’s yours,” then he stressed, “on the B-side.”
“Okay, girls,” Evie preened, “let’s go find us a full length mirror and see if we can learn to shake our asses like caterpillars.”

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "Has high blood pressure got a hold on me, or is this the way love's supposed to be." From, "Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl excerpt-Chapter Twenty-Eight: Payola

(From the soon-to-be published novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

...The year before, television was rocked with scandal. Certain contestants on some of TV’s most popular quiz shows were provided answers to questions prior to airtime. Some were even coached on how to best dramatize their response. A House Legislative Oversight Committee formed in congress. They conducted an extensive investigation, grilling network executives and former contestants. Soon, they uncovered enough evidence to prove that some of the shows were rigged. The networks tried to alibi their way out claiming the quiz shows were considered dramatic entertainment and should not be held to such a high standard of honesty. The committee disagreed. Quiz shows ratings plummeted. Many shows were cancelled.
Fueled by this success against corrupt broadcasting practices, ASCAP urged Washington to broaden its investigation to include radio. Disc Jockeys became the prime targets. The accusations were that record company executives paid radio personalities to play their records on the air. A new word entered the vernacular, a contraction of the words pay and victrola: Payola.
In all, some twenty-dive deejays and executives found themselves questioned at the hearings. Called to testify, Joseph and Leo presented their company books, open to official scrutiny. Leo’s meticulous accounting of every penny earned and spent, as well as the ability of both men to answer every question put to them impressed the Congressmen. Chanticleer Records received a clean bill.
Phil Gambetta strolled through the lobby of one of the finer hotels in midtown Manhattan with a gorgeous, provocatively dressed young, blonde party doll on his arm. They turned the heads of men and women alike as they walked along a lavender blue plush carpet to the bank of hotel elevators. They entered the next available car and rode to the penthouse floor without exchanging a glance or a word between them.
Phil was still the number two man at Alexis Records, holding the official position of Vice President. Normally, an errand such as this was assigned to an employee of much lower rank but Richie Conforti made it clear to him how important this job was. Phil assured Richie he’d take care of it personally. Exiting the elevator, Phil and his buxom companion stood outside the door of one of the two rooms on the floor. Phil knocked softly on the rich wood. Seconds later the door flew open to reveal the occupant, a tall, gaunt looking man wearing a dressing gown and rimless glasses. Strands of hair from his embarrassingly bad comb-over flew up from the slight breeze created by opening the door. His leering gaze fixed immediately on the blonde’s deep cleavage.
“Mr. Bertram, my name is Phil Gambetta. Richie Conforti from Alexis Records sent me. This here is my friend, Jo-Ann.”
“Hello, Jo-Ann.” Bertram tried to be sexy and flirtatious. He stepped aside allowing his visitors to enter. Phil looked around, surveying the lavish surroundings of the suite. An ice bucket containing an opened bottle of expensive champagne sat on a room service cart. Another empty bottle lay on the floor. The remnants of a thick T-bone steak and a partially eaten baked potato were also in evidence.
“I hope you’re finding everything to your satisfaction?” Phil asked. He couldn’t help but think to himself what a pretty penny all this must be costing the Record Company.
“Why yes I am. Thank you very much indeed.”
Phil reached into his inside jacket pocket and produced a white, business sized envelope expanded to the thickness of about one inch by whatever it contained.
“Mr. Conforti also wanted you to have this.” He said as he handed the envelope to Bertram. “Perhaps you’d like to take Jo-Ann out on the town, see a show? Then again, maybe just order up some more room service?”
“I think we’ll just go with the room service. I have rather a rather early flight back to the Capitol tomorrow. That is of course, if that’s all right with you my dear?”
“Sure, whatever you say sweetie,” came Jo-Ann’s sultry reply. “You’re so cute. We can have our own little party right here, just the two of us.”
“We’ll have a car take you to the airport in plenty of time.” Phil assured him.
“That’s very kind. I want you to assure Mr. Conforti that he has nothing to be concerned about.”
“He’ll be happy to hear that, I’m sure.” The two men shook hands and Phil let himself out of the suite. He smiled as he made his way back to the elevator. He liked Jo-Ann and didn’t envy what she had to endure for the cause. But then, he thought, what the hell, she wasn’t anything more than a common tramp. Besides she, like everybody else was well paid.
The following Monday morning, US Congressman Stanley Bertram from the state of Delaware was back in Washington DC in his capacity as co-chairman of the House Special Committee on corruption in the recording industry. The report on his recent findings indicated there was no need to call anyone from Alexis Records to testify before the committee. Payola was indeed everywhere.
The attention of the investigations soon fell on the two top disc jockeys in the country, Dick Clark and Alan Freed. Clark testified that he became involved with outside interests associated with the recording industry solely for the tax advantages they provided. He denied accepting any monies or gifts, but admitted to divesting himself of whole or part interest in thirty-three companies, after the Payola issue surfaced. This accounted for over twenty-seven percent of the records he played on American Bandstand. While his admission did not exonerate him, he escaped the hearings with his reputation intact.
The same could not be said about Alan Freed. Though granted immunity, Freed refused to admit to any misconduct. Clearly, he was prepared to be the scapegoat and take the fall.
In May of 1960, a New York Grand Jury handed down misdemeanor indictments charging Freed and seven others with receiving over $116,000.00 in illegal gratuities. Freed was soon fired from both WABC-Radio and WNEW-TV. The man credited with coining the term “rock and roll” was through in the music business.

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "Do that again, you're driving me insane. Kiss me once more, that's another think I like you for." From: I Like It - By Gerry & the Pacemakers.