Three books I've read lately:
Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics, Jim DeRogatis & Carmel Carrillo, eds.
I wanted to love this book. I'm a big fan of bad reviews, and for the most part not a big fan of the albums mentioned herein. But the reviews, many of which are more essayistic, are kind of a mixed bag. And the album selection leaves me lukewarm.
It starts out strong, with Sgt. Pepper's
, Pet Sounds
, the recently-reissued Smile
, but by the end of the book the reader has endured takes on Paul and Linda McCartney's Ram
and Lynyrd Skynyrd's Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-nerd
, both of which have been justifiably forgotten by everyone but (boomer) rock critics. They're straw men, but maybe that's the point.
And although the selection goes kicking and screaming into the post-'70s era with Born in the USA
, The Joshua Tree
, among others, one could make a good case that not enough time has passed to judge whether OK Computer
and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
are classic albums.
And while everyone will have their own opinions about what they'd like to see included, Appetite For Destruction
is an absolutely glaring omission. All in all, Kill Your Idols
was a fun read, but one I don't think I'll ever return to.
Monster: Living Off the Big Screen, John Gregory Dunne
The late John Gregory Dunne, a respected writer, and his wife, the equally-if-not-more-respected writer Joan Didion, had, for years, a sideline writing scripts, doing rewrites, etc., for mostly mediocre movies.
This is the story of how their adaptation of Alanna Nash's Golden Girl
, a book about slutty drug-addled anchorwoman Jessica Savitch, her physically abusive, equally-drug-addled Svengali and her untimely death, became, eight years later, Up Close and Personal
, a heartwarming romance starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Redford and a Celine Dion song (or, as Dunne puts it in his introduction, "no longer about Jessica Savitch").
I love Hollywood tell-all books, especially darkly comic ones that focus on the business side, but the big problem is that a lot of the people who create these books just can't write. With John Gregory Dunne, you don't have that problem. I've got a hold on his The Studio
as I write this.
Love and Death: A New and Explosive Investigation Into the Murder of Kurt Cobain, Max Wallace and Ian Halperin
Was Kurt Cobain's death a suicide, or a murder? Apparently, the answer to that question rests in Courtney Love's former private investigator's private records, and in a man named Allen Wrench that used to hang out with that guy from The Mentors that got hit by a train, and in the amount of kickback that comes from a 20-gauge shotgun, and in the difference between the dose of heroin that incapacitates a junkie and the dose that incapacitates a novice (and, therefore, in the question of just how much of a junkie Cobain was).
The authors paint themselves as crusaders, urging that the investigation be reopened and speaking at length about copycat suicides. The book is thought-provoking and well-arranged, but it will never be confused with great literature. Best for conspiracy theorists, Nirvana fans and true-crime readers.
Also, a few links of interest:
This Flash-powered Roots Manuva
magnetic-poetry thing is a hoot. (It reminds me of the Fela Kuti make-the-remix gadget
that was used to promote Red Hot & Riot
--and, by the way, Quannum/Blackalicious DJ Chief Xcel's Fela compilation, Underground Spiritual Game
, is worth hearing, and a good introduction to Fela's voluminous catalog. Real review to follow, maybe.)
And this incredulous Washingtonian article
about marijuana has been making the rounds.