Preference Personnelle
Saturday, March 29
A little while ago, my friend R hosted an all-covers-mix-cd swap. Here's one of the songs I included on mine.

Irish Man - Part Time Lover (Stevie Wonder)
I don't know too much about this song, other than that it's a Stevie Wonder cover, and that it appeared on Queen Majesty's Trilla dancehall-covers mixtape (not to be confused with the Rick Ross album of the same name). I'm not real familiar with the original, either--the '80s are about my fourth-favorite Stevie Wonder decade. In any case, Stevie's version, on 1985's In Square Circle album, went to #1 on both the pop and r&b charts. But I think I prefer the cover. (Bonus: here's the original, which I only now learned features Luther Vandross, Philip Bailey and Syreeta.)
Monday, March 17
"Raymond H. Ramsay was born in Manitoba, Canada, and grew up on a Red River Valley farm in North Dakota, the son of a beekeeper. Since 1953 he has been a resident of central Berkeley, California Bohemia, and from 1965 to 1969 wrote the 'Roving Ratfink' column for the Berkeley Barb. A pipe-smoking, beer-drinking cat-fancier, wrestling buff and Scrabble champion, Ramsay specialized in early English travel literature while a student at Concordia College, Missouri, but has most recently turned to acting and appears in the movie Roseland"--author bio from Raymond H. Ramsay's No Longer on the Map, a book about geographical myths.
I was pretty out of control at the time. I remember showing up to meet the contractor to talk about redoing my bathroom and thinking that breaking out a few lines would be a good way to break the ice.
He and I stood in the bathroom as he walked me through the work that needed to be done.
"Yeah, yeah, cool, man," I said. I slapped down the toilet-seat cover and cut out four thick lines of coke. "You want one?"
He looked pretty uneasy. "No, no thanks. I'm on the job," he said.
"Okay, right, that's cool," I said. "I'll do yours, then."
"It's not just that, it's also eight o'clock in the morning," he said smiling apologetically.
At that moment I was every single nightmare cliche of what that guy had ever heard about rock stars, rolled into one: even more so because he had been hired to turn my extra bathroom and its huge corner Jacuzzi into a massive snake terrarium that took up a quarter of the room.

--Slash, in his eponymous autobiography. It's not too bad, if you like that kind of thing. My two favorite things about it: first, he spends a surprising amount of time talking about BMX. Second, he totally goes out of his way to be evenhanded and fair and respectful of people's different viewpoints and opinions and whatnot. I can't count the number of times that, after telling some story about how Axl is crazy or Steve is drunk or whatever, he'll add a sentence like 'Of course, this is just how I remember it, and the other guys probably have their own versions of the story.' For whatever reason, I think that's pretty neat.
Friday, March 14
At my library, we've got 'Staff Picks,' which are just books that a staff member has chosen to single out for one reason or another. Here's an incomplete list of mine:

Body Marks: Tattooing, Piercing and Scarification, by Kathlyn Gay.
Body Bizarre, Body Beautiful, by Nan McNab.
These are both young-adult books, and my standards for young-adult bodmod books are a little different than my standards for adult ones. These books are fairly even-handed (cultural-relativist, even) and not full of misinformation. For the kids, that's about right.

Jazz My Love, by Guiseppe Pena.
Beautiful, expensive coffee-table photo book. Not the kind of thing I'd usually buy for myself, which is one reason it's a good fit for a library collection.

Michael Jackson's Great Beer Guide, Sharon Lucas, ed.
Pocket-sized, kinda, but well over 500 pages. And quite a few of the beers in here are ones that I've never seen in my life. Because of both those things, it seems to me that this is the browsing kind of reference book.

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time, by Michael Shermer.
If Dawkins and Hitchens are the vinegar, then this is the honey. Smart, thoughtful and empathetic, Shermer makes a great public face for skepticism.

The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook:, by John Vrattos and Lisa Messinger.
I'm such a sucker for a bread bowl.

It's Not Easy Bein' Me: A Lifetime of No Respect But Plenty of Sex and Drugs, by Rodney Dangerfield.
Pretty typical for a comedian memoir, except that it's Rodney Dangerfield. What can I say--I'm a huge fan.

Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, by Jeff Chang.
Music is the Weapon of the Future: Fifty Years of African Popular Music, by Frank Tenaille
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned both of these books here before, so let's just leave it at this: these are the best books about their respective genres ever written.
Thursday, March 6
Found inside a library book:

So little

So little Why would you expect loose yourself
Have respect abundance there is more better life
go explore left behind so unique intelligent
Stand on your feet, attention where are you
So little faith in true you Second change get it right
Attention Time to fight
You're the head not the tail testimony
Story to tell A brighter life Better you Destiny
Do what you do
Expect more you can achieve
Stay focused Believe
Dreams do come true
not Just a simple basic Riddle
Why do you expect so little
Wednesday, March 5
Miami Blues; Wild Wives; The Shark-Infested Custard, Charles Willeford.
Okay, I already knew about his Cockfighter (made into a 1974 movie with the megaton tagline, 'He came into town with his cock in his hand, and what he did with it was illegal in 49 states'), but I had no idea that he was such a great crime writer. If you like that gritty, hard-boiled kind of fiction, he's definitely worth reading. I'll excerpt here the last two paragraphs from one of his books (it doesn't really spoil anything, and you can probably tell just from this sample whether he'd be up your alley):

There isn't any use to tell about the trial. It was in all the papers. The only defense I had was the fact that I was a good soldier during the war. My lawyer passed my medals around the jury box, and they were closely examined.
They didn't help a bit.
Sunday, March 2
Somebody is eBaying a bunch of stuff that used to belong to Lou Pearlman. Besides the expected gold records from third-world countries and obscure entertainment-biz awards from ten years ago, there's also a lot of blimpiana, Concorde stuff, all kinds of crap. I hope somebody buys me this painting, or perhaps this blimp in stained glass, or this framed Trivial Pursuit game. It's all pretty great.
Fight: everything you ever wanted to know about ass-kicking but were afraid you'd get your ass kicked for asking, Eugene S. Robinson.
He sings in a heavy art-rock band, and he's into combat sports. Robinson seems like an interesting guy, and I feel confident he's got an interesting book in him. But I'm not sure this one is it. It reads like an extended piece of magazine journalism, somewhere between Vice and Maxim. There's a target audience for this kind of thing.

First and Fifteenth, Steve Powers.
Graf writer/renaissance man Espo, well-known for his The Art of Getting Over, has also published this bright, funny book, which he calls 'pop art short stories,' and Random House's blurb writer calls 'brief urban stories which straddle the line between graphic novel and work of art.' Recommended for graf fans and comic fans, and people who like pigeons. Check out his Studio Gangster while you're at it.

The Octonauts & the Sea of Shade; The Octonauts & the Only Lonely Monster, Meomi.
Very cute, lavishly- and lovingly-illustrated children's books from the SF-based design team. Very, very cute, and highly recommended for hipster parents, people who like Sanrio, children's-lit nerds and my pal Bryan.
A lagniappe of cultural kitsch and B-movie claptrap

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