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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fifth calendar year
    PCR #204  (Vol. 5, No. 8)  This edition is for the week of February 16--22, 2004.

Book Review: "Welcome to Paradise"
 by Will Moriaty
 by Mike Smith
Music News...Letter Re: Missing Persons
 by Andy Lalino
30 Bands That Made The '80s NOT Suck, PART II
 by Terence Nuzum
The Return of "Horror"....R.I.P., Julius Schwartz
 by John Lewis
Hate Groups in America
 by Joshua Montgomery
Super Commercial Sunday – Follow up....More on Why EW is Full of Idiots....A Night Out with Uncle Creepy....Slushpile
 by Brandon Jones
Masters Of Horror Axed....The Monster Classics Are Back!
 by Matt Drinnenberg
In Defense....Movie News....The Brits Award Show....A Plug....Mel's Movie....Oscar Time....Meet The Beatles, Part 5
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2004
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Archives 2001
Archives 2000
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Welcome to ParadiseBook Review –-
“Welcome to Paradise”
by Laurence Shames
1999, 238 pages,
Fawcett Books, New York, N.Y.

America, Meet Alan Tuschman, Furniture Salesman Supreme
Sometimes known as "Big Al" due to his large and muscular carriage, Tuschman, formerly a high school jock, finds his fourth decade on the planet plying his trade selling dinettes and sofas at Kleiman Brothers Furniture on Route 66 in Springfield, New Jersey.

Al is a good person. He works hard and he works honestly, and his reward for being such a good and hard working man is an all expenses paid vacation, which to the chagrin of his fellow employees, he seems to win on an annual basis.

A divorcee, Al, along with his shih tzu "Fifi" and war wounds of torn tendons, broken bones and aching muscles from his varsity years pile into his lease Lexus with its "Big Al" vanity plate, and head to America's southernmost continental city, Key West, Florida.

America, Meet "Big Al" Marracotta, Seafood Mob Middleman
Conversely, and heretofore in a totally different universe, we have "Big Al" Marracotta, a man as small in demeanor as he is in stature. Against the wishes of his Big Boss, "Tony Eggs", Marracotta takes his twenty nine year old mistress, Katy Sansone, and his cowardly rotweiller, "Ripper" in his big Lincoln that also sports a New Jersey vanity plate that spells out "Big Al".

Destination? You guessed it, Key West!

Other Colorful Characters From the Seafood Syndicate
Enter fellow mobster Nicky Scotto. Scotto once had Maracotta's position and wants it back bad - - real bad... Bad enough to pay his Hialeah connection Charlie "Chop" Parilla, so named for his South Florida chop shop operations, good money to make "Big Al" Marracotta's vacation in Key West a living Hell. Chop Parilla insists that Scotto allow him to bring along an artist in torture, harassment, intimidation and even murder, Sid "the Squid" Berman.

The "Fun" Begins
After receiving Scotto's verbal phone instructions, Chop Parilla and Squid Berman park Parilla's Jaguar at the Key West end of the Cow Key bridge waiting for the car with the "Big Al" vanity tag from jersey to come blasting by into town. It does - - only the first car to do so has al Tuschman at the wheel, and Scotto never managed to tell Chop Parilla the make of the car, just that it would have a "small guy with a big dog in it".

Not being the sharpest tools in the shed of organized crime, Chop Parilla and Squid Berman decide to follow Tuschman although he is a big man with a small dog. They follow him down Elizabeth Street almost to its end at the Gulf of Mexico to Tuschman's final destination, "Paradise", a cypress wood structure that was probably a former Key West house converted into a bed and breakfast.

From here Chop Parilla and Squid Berman begin their own unique form of torture that has you feeling sorry for poor Al Tuschman, yet Shames's work is so eloquently and understated, that you find yourself grinning at the outrageousness and irony of it all at the same time.

I was unaware of this fine author until Roothee at Tropic Star Cruises in Pineland recommended his work to me during the December 2003 vacation that my wife Karen and I took to South Florida (see Issues 195, 196, 197 and 198. I was fortunate enough to find this book at Key West Island Books, 513 Fleming Street in Key West two days later. I will also add that Key West Island Books has the finest collection of Florida noir I have seen anywhere. Hiassen, McDonald, Dorsey, White, Barry, Corcoran, Hall, you name 'em, just about all of 'em are there.

"Welcome to Paradise" is a delightful novel that highlights how a good and decent man deals with and invariably conquers the malevolent nature and motives of others, none of which he was ever deserving. I laud Shames for this fine work and advise that you check it out.

"La Floridiana" is ©2004 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.