20-DEC-2011 This time my participation in the annual “Retreat to Goodisville” Goodis Tour will be upgraded from tourist to docent.

Usually a docent is someone well-versed in a subject, someone so educated that he/she may run museum tours. To be honest, we’re kind of winging it, taking a gamble and hoping people’s flasks are ready because I’m a complete Goodis and noir newb.

If you’re attending, you’ll be able to create your own drinking game from every mistake I make and be completely snockered by the time it’s over.

Last year, I joined up with scholars Ed Pettit, noir expert and tour organizer Lou Boxer, and crime writer extraordinaire Duane Swierczynski for my first time on the tour. We caravanned from one spot to another and ended up in a gloriously filled book shop the size of a warehouse with deceptively small and cozy front rooms. There was of course the aftermath celebration at the Atlantis bar across the street where Polish food was consumed by the weary travelers.

If you want a pretty good idea of what Goodisville is like, check out the videos from a previous year.

I tried convincing the gents that we should celebrate Goodis in March for his birthday rather than brave the brutal Philly weather in January but as usual the boys of crime feel the misery of the bleak weather adds to the ambiance of a noir con.

It’s just hitting 9 a.m. here in the bland cold grey day of New Jersey on a December Tuesday. There contractors downstairs making a hellish racket and I’m in my grumpy Scrooge mode as usual hating the holidays. So it’s easiest for me to simply steal the text from Swierczynski’s blog and repost it. Hey, at least I’m admitting it and giving him the credit. I’m brushing up on my cat burglaring skills of the interwebs here so that I can appropriately be dubbed the Femme Fatale of Goodsville in a couple weeks.

Here’s the deal: at 10 a.m., Saturday January 7th, 2012 (the 45th anniversary of Goodis’s death) we’ll be meeting just outside The Lost Bar of Atlantis, 2442 Frankford Avenue. A coach bus will take 30 of us up to the Goodis grave in nearby Bensalem, PA. Along the way, we’ll watch an excerpt of The Burglar, the 1957 shot-in-Philly crime noir, scripted by Goodis from his own novel. Bring your favorite Goodis passage, because at the man’s grave we’ll be paying tribute to him by reading excerpts from his work. Then it’s back on the bus for a tour of prime Goodis locations, including the house where he lived with his parents (and wrote most of his novels), his birthplace, street corners and landmarks mentioned in Down There, Black Friday, Cassidy’s Girl, Of Tender Sin, and much, much more. Plus, on the bus we’ll have guest speakers, prizes, and beer. (Yes, we’re allowed to imbibe on the bus. Lou checked!) Finally, we’ll end up back at the Lost Bar for beer and snacks. The first round is on us; the snacks are courtesy the fine folks at the Lost Bar. Plus: just across the street, the Philadelphia Brewing Co. will be offering brief tours.

Want a seat on the bus? We’re asking for $25 per person to cover transportation, bus snacks and incidentals. Seating is limited, so drop [me] a line at duane DOT swier AT verizon DOT net (with the subject line, “Retreat to Goodisville”) and I’ll send you an address where you can send a check to reserve your seat.

Don’t want to enjoy the warmth and camaraderie of the bus? No worries; Goodis’s characters were loners, too. Meet us at the grave site and we’ll give you a list of our tour stops so you can join in. But trust me: the bus is going to be worth it. Early January in Philadelphia tends to be pretty damn cold.

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