Recently ballistic plastic design advanced to a level where Crackro-American people could be filmed in the wild. So, Julien Nitzberg lived spent a year among a Clan of mountain folk in order to examine the habits and rituals of Jessco White aka “The Tap Dancing Outlaw” and his kin.

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia studies each member of the White family tree with detail and empathy reminiscent of William Faulkner’s treatment of the Snopes Family. Follow the White Family Tree up from the roots of tap dancer D. Ray who knew 52 more tapdance steps than any other dancer through the trunk of Jessco who kicked those steps until he was the most famous man in West Virginia to the present branch of hyperactive great grandchild, flicking the camera off and vowing to commit patricide.

Nitzberg examines the traditional rituals of mountain folk such as “Mousey” White’s mission to rape her husband upon release from jail. We are also allowed to witness the mourning rites of this Noble Clan which may include murderous “rampage” accompanied by a three-day shootout with police, or run into traffic and “just get run over.” For the Whites there is no in between.

The music and choreography are original. The costumes are excellent. The dialogue is comparable to the best of Rudy Wurlitzer.

Please take the time to see this groundbreaking documentary before domestic stabbings, crushed-up pills and unsupervised gunplay kill off the last Rebels in an increasingly conformist society.


GIFT IDEAS FROM ARTHUR MAGAZINE NO. 3: "Nog" by Rudolph Wurlitzer

Click on the cover to go to a page on amazon where you can order the item…


“Rudolph Wurlitzer is the author of the novels The Drop Edge of Yonder, Quake, Flats, and Slow Fade, as well as the nonfiction memoir Hard Travel to Sacred Places. He wrote the screenplays for such classic films as Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Two Lane Blacktop, and Walker, among others, and co-directed the film Candy Mountain with Robert Frank.”

Read the introduction to the new edition of this “headventure” classic by Arthur columnist Erik Davis: download PDF

May 28, NYC: Rudy Wurlitzer, Gary Indiana read at 192 Books


From the 192 Books site:

Thursday, May 28, 7PM

Rudy Wurlitzer and Gary Indiana
Nog and The Shanghai Gesture
(Two Dollar Radio, 2009)

Originally published in 1969, Nog became a universally revered cult novel and symbol of the countercultural movement, famously inspiring Thomas Pynchon to declare that “the Novel of bullshit is dead.” In Wurlitzer’s signature hypnotic and haunting voice, Nog tells the tale of a man adrift through the American West, armed with nothing more than his own three pencil-thin memories and an octopus in a bathysphere.

The Shanghai Gesture is internationally acclaimed author Gary Indiana’s sixth novel, and his first since 2003- Do Everything in the Dark. While the signatures of Indiana’s prose style are at play in this work- his aggressive satire and the astounding poetry of his language- they are turned to an altogether new frequency, that of the notorious, the diabolical, Fu Manchu. The Shanghai Gesture is a clever, hilarious, and daringly perverse new tale in which Gary Indiana reasserts himself as a true original.

Seating is limited, please call 212.255.4022 for reservations.

192 Tenth Avenue at 21st Street, New York City

Rudy Wurlitzer was interviewed by Joe O’Brien in Arthur No. 29 ( 2008).

Read article online, here.

Purchase actual mag here.

ON THE DRIFT: Rudy Wurlitzer and the Road to Nowhere

ON THE DRIFT: Rudy Wurlitzer and the Road to Nowhere
by Joe O’Brien

Originally published in Arthur Magazine No. 29 (May 2008)

“The horizon,” Rudy Wurlitzer says on the commentary track of the new Two-Lane Blacktop dvd, “is everything that the rear-view mirror isn’t. It’s the unknown.”

Wurlitzer has been an itinerant traveler all of his life, between Los Angeles, New York, India, Greenland, Burma, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Nova Scotia. On and on. Sometimes alone, sometimes with a film crew, often with his wife, photographer Lynn Davis. His books and films are mythic reflections of that journey.

Most novelists work in Hollywood as hired guns. They do it for the money and there’s not much connection between their fiction and the scripts they produce, unless they’re adapting their own books. Wurlitzer is one of the few exceptions. He came on the scene during a very short-lived and now almost magical-seeming time—the Easy Riders, Raging Bulls days—when mainstream publishers like Random House and Dutton would put out defiant, challenging fictions like Nog or Quake, when Universal would not only release a glacial, plotless tone poem like Two-Lane Blacktop but Esquire would see fit to publish the script in its entirety and feature the hippie-looking cast on the cover of the magazine. In those days, ensconced in the Tropicana and various other LA motels, Rudy’s contemporaries and cohorts in the film world were people like Sam Peckinpah, Monte Hellman, Hal Ashby, Robert Downey, Jim McBride, Harry Dean Stanton and Warren Oates. The books written during that time—Nog, Flats and Quake—were heralded by pioneers such as Donald Bartheleme who described Flats as “an excellent book, full of unhealthy mental excitement” and Thomas Pynchon, who famously heralded Nog as evidence that “the Novel of Bullshit is dead.” Today, his literary influence is apparent in writers as diverse as Sam Shepard, Dennis Cooper, Patti Smith and Gary Indiana.

Rudy is a renegade descendant of the Wurlitzer jukebox dynasty, founded in the 1800s when they originally made pianos and theatre organs. Coincidentally, musicians have been a fixture in nearly all of his films. In Two-Lane Blacktop, Beach Boy Dennis Wilson plays The Mechanic and James Taylor (before he was bald and marked for death by Lester Bangs) is The Driver. The most famous case is of course Bob Dylan’s involvement in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, featuring his monumental score and his enigmatic acting debut as Alias, a member of The Kid’s gang. Candy Mountain, which Wurlitzer co-directed in 1984 with Robert Frank, features a rogue’s gallery of left-field musical figures—David Johansen, Dr. John, Tom Waits, Arto Lindsay, Joe Strummer, Leon Redbone—all of whom add oddball color to the road movie about a man trying to scheme his way into the music business by tracking down a reclusive guitar maker.

Frank, the Swiss-born photographer best-known for his book The Americans, the Kerouac-narrated short film Pull My Daisy and the banned-by-Mick-and-Keith Rolling Stones documentary Cocksucker Blues, was a longtime collaborator with Wurlitzer and a great figure in the music world. In Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where they both lived, Wurlitzer and Frank collaborated on bizarre, little-seen short films like Keep Busy and Energy and How to Get It. Candy Mountain is their only feature-length collaboration and the only film Wurlitzer has directed. Ten years later, Wurlitzer took the music connection a step further, writing the libretto for Philip Glass’s version of Kafka’s In the Penal Colony.

For most of the ’80s and ’90s, Rudy’s film work was mostly outside of the United States, working with European directors. He wrote Voyager for Volker Schlondorff, Little Buddha for Bernardo Bertolucci and the anarchic, anti-imperialist gem Walker for Alex Cox. He also collaborated with Michelangelo Antonioni on Two Telegrams, a project which unfortunately never materialized. On the literary front, he released Slow Fade in 1984, a dark, masterful novel written in a more straightforward style than his earlier work. It is set in the divergent worlds of Hollywood and India, and finally Nova Scotia, and exudes a spiritual exhaustion tied in with frustrations with the shuck and jive of the film business. This theme is carried further in 1991’s Hard Travel to Sacred Places, a heartbreaking Buddhist road memoir recounting Rudy and wife Lynn’s travels through Thailand, Burma and Cambodia on a photography assignment after the death of her young son.

Now, after 40 years of writing books and scripts, there’s a bit of a Rudy renaissance happening. Two of his classic films—Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop and Alex Cox’s Walker—have been given the deluxe Criterion Collection treatment, both with Wurlitzer commentaries and, on Two-Lane Blacktop, a book-size reprint of Wurlitzer’s script. He also has a new novel, his first since 1984, out on Two-Dollar Radio, a small Brooklyn publishing house. The Drop Edge of Yonder is an epic Western and a sort of summation of all that’s great about Wurlitzer’s novels and film scripts. All the hallmarks are there—the cryptic dialogue, the outlaw milieu, the love triangles, the Buddhist overtones, the cinematic drift. Patti Smith describes it as “a book you watch as you read, cast the film as you reread, and create a sequel as you sleep.”
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