what I’m reading

Quite simply – the most recent is always  the top. Wifey and I live pretty isolated – down a dirt road way out of town – I am burning through a lot more books audiobooks.  About 2 to 3 books a month.

Reading is invaluable!  If you are spending your daily commute listening to whatever corporate rock Clear Channel err… I heart radio monopoly  then you are missing a golden opportunity.  Spend that time being entertained and learning. I think books are so important that I don’t care of you are just reading Danielle Steele. You are still engaging in your imagination and learning new words.  Personally,  I feel life is too short for fiction.  

I am not reading high brow literature. Mostly I read all the mafia biographies, rock biographies, and pepper in some business philosophy and popular culture.  Fiction is great, and it is where the most creative minds are.   But, I want to learn about real minds and people. Real people and great people and what was their day like?  Why are they so great and I am no so great. I want to imbibe their awesomeness and life experience. To that point, 90% of what I read listen to is read by the author. ALWAYS choose that if you can.  Their passion and understanding of the content really comes across in their narration.

Start today for free, getting books virtually through your library, and using the free Overdrive App on your phone.  You borrow books from the library without ever stepping foot in one. They download an audio file to your phone, and it auto expires and deletes itself after three weeks.  The next logical bump is Audible.com

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** update Aug 2016 – I have finally made the leap to Audible.com.   I was just using the library, and the Overdrive app (both free).

Their basic plan is $15 a month.  Is $15 fair?  For one single virtual book?  Not really.  Since a real life book doesn’t even cost that much, and you are really just selling me at big MP3.  I think what we are paying for is people don’t buy books like they used to.  That was a juicy profit margin… but this is even better.   I hope the authors get a better cut of these audiobooks than musicians get for CDs sold (which is about 25 cents per CD sold).  Seems steep in that it isn’t unlimited access.  You basically get one book a month.  I am puzzled why they do not  have an unlimited option.

Now I have had it for  3 years, I have to say I am quite pleased with Audible.com

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Update Feb 2019 – for a decade or so, I have been meticulously linking the books to an amazon page so you can buy them.  But, now I am listening to the books, not reading them…  I will instead likely link the Audible link.   Assume every book mentioned below in the last 3 years was an audiobook.

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My Song

Harry Belafonte

I cannot say enough good things about this man.  He may be the second most important catalyst and advocate for Civil Rights than Harry Belafonte!  Secondly only to Dr King.  Harry was the only who personally bankrolled the ‘freedom riders’ who went down South to register black voters.   Remember how civil rights were all the rage in the late 60s?  Perhaps you remember the work Kennedy & Johnson did in the early 60s?  Belofonte was leading rallies and protests in the late 40s and early 50’s!  I a SO thankful that as I write this in 2019, Harry is still alive.

Remember Dr King getting arrested?  it was Harry Belafonte to bailed him out every time.  He also discovered Bob Dylan!  I wrote a bit about him here, but I am eager to know more.  That is why I am listening.  God bless this man!  Aug 2019

Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert Heinlein

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I have had a copy of this book for about a decade.  It was tough to get into, and starts a bit dry.  As I mentioned a few books below, I am getting back to fiction.  I am not a science fiction guy at all, but I know this is one of the great books of all time.  So, of course, I am listening to it.  It is LONG.  I feel like it is about 40% longer than most books I listen to.  So much so I walked away for about a month, because it’s a slow start.  I am back into it, though, and enjoying it.  Rather than try and describe, I’ll leave that to the pros >

Raised by Martians on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith is a human who has never seen another member of his species. Sent to Earth, he is a stranger who must learn what it is to be a man. But his own beliefs and his powers far exceed the limits of humankindRaised by Martians on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith is a human who has never seen another member of his species. Sent to Earth, he is a stranger who must learn what it is to be a man. But his own beliefs and his powers far exceed the limits of humankind

You know I prefer when books are read by the author, but this was written in the 60s.  The reader/narrator guy is pretty great, though.  I am getting the feeling there are only like 4 of these guys doing all the books.  There area  lot of characters in this story, though ( I guess as with all stories), and this guy does a great job of creating different voices and personas for each.  That isn’t easy, or a ‘gift’.  That is hard ass work.  Let’s find his name and give him some love, eh?  Christopher Hurt.  Here are some other books he does of Audible.  I am so impressed my next book may just be chosen from that list.  Speaking of readers, no one beats Fisher Stevens.  This guy does a bunch of the Christopher Moore books, and he is amazing.  You’ll recognize him, he is a C-list character actor from the 80s and 90s.  Was most recently in Lost.  Do yourself a favor, drop everything you are doing, and listen to a copy of Chris Moore’s A Dirty Job.  It’s a perfect book, and made even better with Steven’s narration.  Review down there somewhere.  Ore than any other audiobook I have read, it was a movie in my mind.  Pretty sure in my review I cast the whole movie with real life people.  That book is ‘theater of the mind’, as most of Moore’s books are.  Grok that!

Sorry, got off topic.  This book, Stranger in a Strange Land (you forgot we were even talking about that, didn’t you?  So did I.)  Its great so far.  I am about 6 hours in, but I feel like its going to be 70 hours.  Where I am at as I write this?  The part where he is at teh scientists house and they are filming his levitation and such.

I have shelved it.  It is just entirely far too long, and seems to be jumping he shark every chapter.

July/August 2019

The Quiet Don:  the Untold Story of Mafia Kingpin Russell Bufalino

Matt Birkbeck

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Another mafia book.  Normally, as you can see from below, I LOVE mafia books.  Not this one.  IT was dry.  Really dry.  The whole book as written like a newspaper article.  It bored me.  How do you take such and interesting and crazy life and make it boring?  Ask the author.  Shelved!  June 2019

*** cool sidenote.  Russell Bufalino is a major player in the whole Jimmy Hoffa saga, and so will be featured in the upcoming Marty Scorsese pic ‘the Irishman‘.  He is being played by notorious mafia stereotype actor Ray Romano.  I read, and review below, the book this is about ‘I heard you paint houses‘.  It is the uber mafia true story book.  ‘Painting Houses’ was mafia slang for being a hitman.  Apparently, when Hoffa met Frank ‘the Irishman’ Sheeran, his first words were “I heard you paint houses”.

Appetite for Self-Destruction – The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age

Steve Knopper

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This is the crazy story of the music business.  Literally, the business of it… accounting and stuff.  It is a deep dive that is very interesting. By the title, you can see it is a narrative about the gross ineptitude and short sightedness of the record industry.  It gets going when we see them fight CD with all they had. Once it is adopted, though, they make billions. That closes to door to any subsequent innovation. In fact, as you can imagine, it sets the stage for an upstart… which becomes music piracy.  I thought I knew this story very well, but there was an aspect i did not know about. We all know that the record industry ignored and then fought digital music distribution. While they stuck their nose in the air, billions went by in potential revenue from music fans.  In the days of Napster, Audiogalaxy… etc etc… you could not buy music online. They wouldn’t sell it to you, as it didn’t exist. 

But there was a separate angle I didn’t know about until this book.  Right around this time, early 90s, the music business eliminated singles.  This was a peak ear for one hit wonders. In order to hear Chumba Wamba’s song ‘I get knocked down’, you had to plunk down $16 to get the whole CD.  Same for Brittney Spears, and all the boy bands. It was cruel. Instead of spending $3 for some kind of single, kids had to buy a full CD. So, things were ripe for the picking.  I lived during that golden era of musical piracy.  I remember, an a uber music fan (seriously, I am… why else would I read something this academic?) i remember with puzzlement watching the record industry shoot itself in the foot through their demon proctor Hillary Rosen.  If you downloaded music, the record companies were going to sue you.   AND THEY DID.  All while never offering an alternative.   Gee… people seem to love the convenience and access of digital music, maybe we should change our business model.  HA.  That conversation never happened.  It took Steve Jobs to create iTunes.

I didn’t want the record companies to totally fail, because I need music.  I was hopeful to see them get a smiting and comeuppance.  Well, instead it was a death blow.  Reading this story doesn’t make it easier to root for these fuckfaces who charged $16 for a CD that cost the 5 cents to to make… and the artists would get about 20 cents of that.  Watching the get robbed blind  did not exactly keep me up at night.  Obviously, this issues is MUCH more complex and rationalizing stealing is still stealing.

It’s quite a story, but a bit dry.  This could have used a really abridged edition.  June 2019

Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel: Questions, Answers, and Reflections

Patrick Smith

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This is just exactly what it sounds like, and its great.  Imagine you concern a pilot at a really lame party.  Imagine you spend 6 hours grilling him about all things flying… and airports… and weather… and myths.  This is that book.  The author culled this mostly from the most common questions coming to his very entertaining blog, AskthePilot.com

yes, we are both bloggers… and so really just peers at the end of the day.  No surprise, this was done on audiobook.  He has another book called ‘Ask the Pilot’, but its not on audiobook.  If you have ever flown, this book is for you.   Take every thought you have had at an airport of ‘why in the wold do they _____?’ he has an answer.  He is also candid, and will tell you if he thinks it is also stupid (like our faux security tactics that just annoy and humiliate).  Great listen so far!  I am pre-sad that it will be over in a few days.  June 2019

OH>.. and I would be remiss in my duties if anything about flying was discussed and I didn’t post this picture.  It’s a VERY early photo-shoppe example, from the late 90s.  My god how I love this photo.

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The Unknown Mongol 2:

Scott ‘Junior’ Ereckson

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As I mentioned below, this was going to be a trilogy.  As I was reading the first book. Unknown Mongol, two other books popped up in Audible as recommendations.  One as the book below about the officer who went undercover infiltrating the Mongols.  That was a very good read.  It also mentioned there was a sequel to the Juniors book.  I thought I would read all three, with the undercover story in the middle.  I listened to the just the intro of this book and had to walk away.  It promised to be a gritty and real tale behind the scenes of an extended prison stay.  No thank you!  Between the motorcycle and the mafia books I have read, I feel I know more than enough.  This means it was going to be 300 pages of talking about where to hide stuff in prison, and how senselessly mean all the guards are.  No shit, it’s prison.  Stop killing people.  Plus, reading Queen’s book below opened my eyes.  In Junior’s biography (Unknown Mongol) he romanticizes everything.  We are all just mis-understood outcasts getting hassled by everyone, bro.”

except you aren’t.  The records clearly show y’all are drug addled thugs and bullies with dangerously violent contempt for everything and everyone.  Let’s stop celebrating and romanticizing this behavior.  The bike clubs, especially the self described ‘1 percenters‘ are just thieves and assholes and jerks.  and my god the misogyny is sickening.  Women, to these guys, are property to be beaten and raped for sport.  As you look through the dozens and dozens of books below, you can see I have some kind of passive anti-authoritarian streak.  But disrespect of women?  fuck you then.  I can’t let you celebrate or normalize that.  Shelved!  May 2019

Under and Alone:

The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America’s Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang

William Queen

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this turned into a nice little trilogy.  While listening the book below, Audible popped up the book above as a suggested read.  yes sir > cops and robbers > both sides of the coin.  It was freaky how well these books nested together.   The last chapter of the Junior’s Mongol biography is him sitting in court with his trusted buddy Red Dog.  This book, in the very first chapter, begins with Queen lamenting dealing with Red Dog as an undercover Mongols Prospect.   Red Dog?  I know that guy.  He was just sitting here yesterday!  Right were you are!  I mean, different book, but the same guy > a bigwig at the Mongols.  I thought about embedding to a photo of Red Dog right about here.   But, if I do that… I get my ass kicked.  If you click on that link, then he is gonna kick your ass.  To have the courage to go underground with any club that is a ‘one percenter‘ is insanely courageous.  and dumb.  These cases never stick, look at Operation Black Biscuit.

I have reason to believe my website is very big with the ‘One Percenters‘.  Kidding, of course.  My real target audience turns out to me… well… me.

This ATF officer tells his candid and harrowing tale of infiltrating and joining the Mongols.  Lemme tell you, he has a WAY different version of what does on with these guys.  To read Junior’s story, the Mongols are just some misfits who want to be left alone to ride their bikes and get get fucked up.  Mr. Queen sees a violent and dangerous criminal organisation.  The author acknowledges that the Mongols are not an organized drug (er… meth, specifically) drug distribution ring like the Hells Angels are.  His concern, and it would appear that of law enforcement in general) is the violence.  There are plenty of gun sales and drug sales, he witnesses himself.  It all seems for personal use, though.  I am not taking anyone’s side.  I don’t own a motorcycle, and my relationship with police is more that I fear them than see them as protectors.  I am not a fan of either, really.  BUT… they both have great stories!  Getting n opportunity to here both sides of the exact same crazy ass story is too good to pass up.

Quick editorial aside, here.  The Feds, very understandably,  spend millions and risk everything to bring down these gangs.  Being a middle aged white guy, I am MUCH more likely to get killed by a motorcycle gang than a cop.  SO, their work is good.  However, the killings done by biker gangs seem to pale in the wake of killings done in school and church shootings.  No one is doing anything about that.   Retired military kill themselves at an astounding and terrifying rate.  No one is doing anything about that, either.   This is unthinkable.  Our service men and women deserve a lifetime of care on every level, and that is unforgivable how they are cast aside.  Ironically, the funding is almost always cut by the righties… the ones who want to spend all out money on defense… but not a single penny to defend and protect those who defended and protected us.  They do this oftenOver… and overProve me wrong.

Really, the gun lobby is killing far, far, far more citizens that cops and mafioso and biker gangs combined.  These books have such diverse protagonists.  I have to admit, when I was reading Junior’s book (below), I was rooting for him.  Too much Sons of Anarchy, I guess.  As I am reading listening to this book, though, I am all for the cops.  Get these sick bastards!  Don’t act like you are any different, though.  You rooted for Jax all along.  Same with Tony Soprano and Walter White.  But don’t tell me you can watch something as well done as ‘End of Watch’ (a really well done cop movie) and say you have no compassion for our boys in blue.

As I mentioned below, Junior Ereckson wrote a sequel to ‘Unknown Mongol’, brilliantly called ‘Unknown Mongol 2‘.  Odds are, I will read that next.  May 2019

 The Unknown Mongol

Scott Junior Ereckson

mogols cover edit

This is the autobiography of a once president of Mongols motorcycle club gang.  The book is exactly what you would expect it might be.  The narrative of a young, intelligent, and tough as nail biker guy.  I am very much enjoying it, and I think I am nearing the end.  An add just popped up for a sequel he wrote to this.  Odds are, I will hit that next.  As I often mention, the reason for my read is I want to know the daily life of a ________ (everything:  gangster, NFL player, genius trampoline trainer…)  I don’t want the headlines of ‘5 killed in biker brawl’ you get in the paper.  What led to it?  What came from it?  Were they scared?  Are these folks really a menace to society… or just to each other?  Are they just some mildly enlightened rouges?  Drug addicts dealers who wish to be left alone?   Revolutionaries, perhaps?  I think it is most of those things, and I am way over romanticizing and overthinking this.

Reading this, and I do’t know why it took me this long… I see this is the same as mafia.  Motorcycle gangs and mafia are two sides of the exact same coin.  They are both violent, and unrepentant monsters who aggressively don’t believe in the social contract.  Same dudes, mafia types just dress a lot better.  Well, a motorcycle gang is must more likely to beat your ass for no reason whatsoever.  Generally, though, its just a beating.  Mafia seem to kill more for resolution.  i am deeply afraid of them both.  That is why I write from behind this computer and under a pen name, rather than some proper field investigation.   Must also admit I kind of admire all these folks… their fearlessness.  To live entirely by the ID, and live entirely in the moment with only regard for what feels good or seems like fun… i am indeed jealous.  Thing is, neither types live long lives.

 

A good read.  May 2019

 

The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks

Rob Sheffield

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This is an Audible exclusive, just like the book below.  Rob Sheffield is a great and well regarded writer for Rolling Stone.  He is also one of the premier minds and writers of the Beatles saga.  He produced and wrote this very closely with Stevie.  As always, he is also the narrator.  This is about a 4 hour biography about Stevie Nicks, of Fleetwood Mac fame.  What I loved about this book is the tone of the narrative.  Sheffield is FAR FAR FAR from an objective storyteller.  He just worships and loves Stevie, and doesn’t try to hide it.  I really appreciate that.  It’s a love letter to Stevie cloaked as an academic biography.  No sir.  It’s a love letter to Stevie that also happens to function as a biography.  It is very well told, and the pacing is great.  I have a love/hate relationship with Stevie Nicks myself.  Briefly, she went to the same high school as I did, and grew up in Phx, AZ.  I felt we were connected.  However, I also feel she is a mid-level talent at best.  I feel Stevie owns 90% of her success to Lindsay Buckingham.  He is the talent and musical gift… she is his beautiful public siren and face.  Lindsay is the Phantom, Stevie is his Christine.

I have tried to come around on Stevie, and give her the dues she richly deserves.  Then, she pulls shit like getting Lindsay Buckingham fired from the band last year.  Man, I am more than pissed off about that, I am puzzled!  EVERY Fleetwood Mac song you know likely came from Lindsay Buckingham.  Rumors is the second best selling album of all time, only behind ‘Eagles Greatest Hits’.  Note… the Eagles are kinda cheating here… using a Greatest hits.  I have often said you could simply re-title the 1977 masterpiece Rumors as ‘Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest hits’.  Before Lindsay (and to a lesser degree, Stevie), Fleetwood Mac was an under the radar and over the bill British Blues band.  Once Peter Green left/went crazy/disappeared… the group floundered for years.  Quite amazing, and amusing, that this group of kinda washed up British blues became the quintessential ‘California’ sound.  Last year, in a prototypical Fleetwood Mac moment, Stevie told Mick “Either Lindsay goes, or I go!”.   To me, there is no discussion here.  By Stevie.

BUT… this terrific little tome gave me new love and respect for Stevie.  It is definitely worth a listen if you are a fan of Fleetwood Mac. – May 2019

Heads will Roll

Kate McKinnon & Emily Lynne

Heads Will Roll Starring Kate McKinnon and Emily Lynne. It's not easy being queen. Listen now.

This is an Audible original audio story.  Like… a radio play.  I am stupid excited about this.  I have said this before, but now I am putting it in writing.  Kate McKinnon is the greatest and most valuable SNL player ever.  Not the best female… the best ever.  and sadly, I am a pretty serious SNL scholar.   We went to NYC and the only thing I wanted to do was get to 30 Rock to do the tour to see the SNL set.  I got to see it, it was a great moment for me.  Also, I am really hot for her.  I don’t care that she is gay, i LOVE her.  Kat wrote this with her sister, Emily.  They are both the primary voice talents, and an amazing supporting guest cast.  Super excellent bonus?  Yet another Alice in Wonderland reference.  Glad to see the world is finally catching on!

Oh… the review?  Don’t know,  It just started today.  As usual, come back in a few days and I’l likely have it wrapped up – May 2019

the Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland at age 42

Barbara Silkstone

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I am really, really breaking out here.  I don’t read fiction.  I am not sure if you will find more than 2 fiction books in the entire ten year list down here.   Ok… the book was not very good.  The storyline was a hot mess.  About 6 different plot points get ‘resolved’ in the last two pages.  It didn’t feel clever, though, just desperate to finish. BUT… I really DID get something out of this book… a love of fiction again.  Having only read biographies for the last decade… I pretty much always knew the ending.  I just wanted the details.  With this story, though, I found myself waiting to get back in the truck to find out the next storyline.  I admit, I was very invested.  I guess it was better writing than I wanted to admit.  Oh, and I really liked the narrator/book reader lady.  Her name is Karen Krouse.  I think it was her reading that really kept me engaged.

So, I just want to say loud and clear > I was wrong about fiction.  I thought it was a waste of time.  That is dumb.  Especially wen you consider my favorite authors and most everyone I studied getting my literature degree (yes, I just had to mention that.  Worked hard for it, and it has no other use than getting to mention it once in a while) was all fiction.  Heck, my favorite book in the world  –  Alice in Wonderland – is fiction.  Speaking of that, this book caught my eye because of the Alice reference.  I was disappointed in the total lack of Alice related anything.  The author was simply a superfan, as I am.  I can respect that.   April 2019

Life Will be the Death of Me

Chelsea Handler Image result for life will be the death of me

Didn’t even know she had a book coming out until it popped up as an ad today.   I don’t even know when it came out, but my guess is sometime in 2019. I LOVE Chelsea Handler!  I have read all her books, seen all her specials.  She is hilarious and tough and dangerously candid.  I am also super attracted to her.  Sure, there are the attributes above, but let me be honest.  She is HOT.  Proof is here, NOT safe for work.

Interestingly, though, this book isn’t comedy.  This book, so far, is introspection and therapy.  She reads it, thankfully.  There are parts where she gets so real and is so vulnerable that she was crying reading parts where she talks about losing her brother.  I was in the car crying right along side her.  That vulnerability is more about why I love her.  As an entertainer and public figure, she is fearless.  Just like Kathy Griffin who I also love.  I also used to tally have the hots for her, too.  What can I say, I am a shallow bastard.  I am about halfway through it, but I can already tell you to get it.  The book lightens up a little, but this is not your typical Chelsea fare.  Once finished, I’ll likely come back and tell you more.  I just think she is terrific on every level.

Finished the book.  It was good, but not classic Chelsea.  It is basically her narrating her therapy to us.  It’s done well, but its not the book we expect.  If you are interested in her stuff… and you should be,.. my favorite is ‘lies Chelsea Handler told me’.  I have read that a couple of times, and its very rare I read a book twice.  I chose this because I have had a bit of a run of heavy books of late.  I wanted light and springy.  No nutritional content… just sugars and sprinkles.  This book was not that.  Kathy Griffin is my other go to for content like this.  I am willing to bet her next book will be even darker.  She has had a tough run of things the last couple of years, but is clawing back.  April 2019

America, I could really use some mindless blather for a bit.   Jon Ronson is usually good for military grade weirdness, and his last audiobook was a deep dive into suicide., OOOH… I heard Dave Barry has a new book.  Guess what, its about aging and the death of his beloved dog.  Wait, here is a blurb calling the book hilarious.  and its from Steven King.  Jesus, when the horror guy is the one to call you funny… I am concerned for our silly compass.

What the fuck did you do to America, Mr Trump?  Does anyone laugh anymore? Even the humorists are driving me to introspection.  Not cool, bro!

Bound for Glory

Woody GuthrieImage result for bound for glory woody guthrie

I found this book going down another Bob Dylan hole.  Dylan created this persona of a ramblin gamblin train jumping hobo.  When he came to NYC in 1960, he pulled a Jim Morrison and erased his past totally and completely.  He was no longer a middle class Jewish kid from the suburbs.  He didn’t just change him name, he fabricated a history.  That he was a jewish middle class kid was kept so secret that it wasn’t until about 4 years later (after he he was a huge star) was his past uncovered.  He told reporters he grew up a carnie, traveling all over the Southwest.  Every interview was different, too.  He made  up a different story each time, just to amuse himself.

The stories he told were a completely true life… just not his.  He was telling the tale of Woody Guthrie.  Woody Guthrie was a depression era train hopping hobo.  Pretty much everything we know about folk music and the itinerant hard luck guy from Woody Guthrie.  He lived the mythos.  Not out of romantic ideology, but because that was his life.  That is what this book is about.  Dylan was brilliant in articulating the romantic idea of it all.  Riding from town to town stacked up illegally in freight train cars.  You may think of the freedom and the adventure of such a life.  Just think of it:  no bosses, no debt, no wife or mortgage.  No car payment, and no alarms to get you out of bed.  Love ’em and leave em.  This book tells that story beatifically.  Guess what?  It wasn’t romantic.  I was a living and waking fucking nightmare.  Constantly plagued by hunger, violence, disease.

Woody had the gift of being able to tell that story through songs.  We know that Black Sabbath didn’t go home at the end of the day and kill goats.  Their image was calculated show business.  Not for Woody (and the great Pete Seeger).  This was simply their reality.  Another point to the mythos of it all – Woodstock.  Woodstock has been so romanticized, and every music fan would give their left nut to be able to go back to that concert.  Woodstock was a shit show!  The sound was horrible.  There was no food.  There were no toilets.  I rained all weekend.  You couldn’t get in to, or out of, the venue.  Whatever you think of the 60s, you think Woodstock.   Don’t.  The scene was pretty spent by then.  Wanna go back in time?  Go to Monterrey Pop.  It is most of the same bands, but 3 years earlier.   As you can imagine, this book is dark.  Woody Guthrie’s life was basically every single Cormac McCarthy book… bleak.

Now, there is something wrong with the audiobook.  If you want o read it, get the book.  For some reason, the audiobook is missing about 70% of the book content.  The audio book doesn’t say ‘abridged’ or ‘selected works of’.  The book is 426 pages.  426 pages is a VERY big book.  The Evel Kneivel book I read years ago is about that long.  398 is an 18 hour audiobook.  I know, I have done LOTS of them.  I mention this because the audiobook is only 4 chapters and clocks in under 4 hours.  This Woody Guthrie audiobook is missing about 75% of the content and it shows.  The first three chapters are about teh struggle during the depression era.  No mention of folk or music or guitars.  Stuff like 10 pages in a freight car stacked with about 70 people all nearly dying  because the train had previously been carrying concrete.  They were all getting poisoned from the tons of lye in the air.

Then… the 4th chapter is a HUGE jump.  All the sudden, he is backstage about Carnegie  Hall thinking about his recent breakthrough at the Rainbow Room in 30 Rock.  No mention of learning guitar, writing songs, or his deep deep connection with lifelong friend Pete Seeger.  It’s a great and very well told story.  I kinda feel like picking up the book to read the whole story.  BUT… 426 pages of men literally hacking up lungs, crossing the country looking for work… getting to eat maybe a candy bar a day, at best?  I can’t handle that, man.   There is a great aspect of the book I must mention, though.  You know I am pretty obsessed about having the actual writer read the work?  That was’t an option here, but we have the next best thing – his son reads it to us.  our narrator is the great Arlo Guthrie!  You don’t know him as Woody’s son, though.  You know him from Alice’s Restaurant.  You know him from ‘Comin in to Los Angeles‘  April 2019

Tarantula

Bob Dylan

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Forgive me, Bob.  This is just some nonsense.  Total dreck.  Dylan wrote this in the mid 60s.  I had a copy of it back in high school, and so must have romanticized its content.  It’s a ‘novel’, but there are no stories or characters or continuity.  It is verbal diarrhea.  I can say this, because I LOVE Dylan.  You know that by now.  In reading listening to the book below, Tarantula comes up.   Realizing I had long lost my copy, I rushed to the internet to get  a new one.   I did not audiobook this one, thank goodness.  I want to demonstrate to you that I am not jut being dismissive, or holier than thou.  There is just no context for anything… from sentence to sentence.  To illustrate my point, I am going to open the book right now to a random page and type you an entry

Are you afraid of twelve button suits?  how come youre so afraid to stop talking?

your valve cleaner

Tubba

page 40.  Not typos above, direct transcription.

All is not lost, though.  We have the reviews.  The whole thing is worth it for the reviews.  This first one so perfectly encapsulates everything.

Only people obsessed with Dylan will enjoy this absolute nonsense. I am one of those people.

Spontaneous bebop prose poem. As with Naked Lunch, I can only absorb 10 pages at a time and then my head hurts gloriously. If you love Dylan, buy it, dog ear it, highlight, and rave.

I gift this book to people all the time. What is it about? Probably nothing.

I think he took us for a ride on this one. I think he just wanted to have fun with the reader, never letting his true thoughts or feelings be known, and not really trying too hard to achieve much of anything by writing it–that’s what I call real talent and genius!!! You go and try that!! Ha Ha. He just gives you a glimpse into his overachieving mind back then. He is obviously brilliant, and his writings give you this glimpse into his creative mind–whichever direction it wanted to go . . .

I am a true Dylan fan and have 25+ albums of his all of which are great. That said, this book is a non-sensical stream-of-conscienceness work that is hard to swallow. It has some interesting turns of phrase that remind you of his late ’60’s tracks, but is hard to handle for more than 10 or 20 pages.

Those above were all lovingly stolen from the review page on amazon.com for the book.  You can find them here.

Ok, final thoughts – The book feels like a high level art prank.  When Dennis Rodman married himself in times square > when David Blaine buried himself alive > when Chad Johnson legally changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco > when Abby Hoffman tried to levitate the White House Pentagon with spiritual goodness?  That is what this feels like.  Dylan just following his odd and wonderful muse.  In any normal context, I would declare this book ‘shelved’.  Alas, it is not.  It lives in the bathroom, which is perfect when you just want ta 20 second or 10 minute read.

I don’t fault Bob for this.  Such a release is so perfectly a Dylan thing to do, I kind of admire the move.  I am just disappointed it isn’t better.  Or even good.  Aesthetically, the book is just beautiful.  I bought it used on amazon for $4.  It is a hardcover pressing in very nice shape from 1971.  Interesting side note to that, the price is printed inside – $3.95 retail.  Almost exactly what I paid for it.  I use this cool site almost weekly when reading older books – that book cost ($3.95)  is $24.95.  That seems a little steep.  By the way, I am not anti poetry.  I am not ‘hey rock star, stay in your lane.’  Jim Morrison did poetry book.  Guess what?  It is fantastic! To his credit, he wanted the book (The Lords and the New Creatures) to stand on its own.  He published it under his formal name – James Douglas Morrison.  He did no press, and didn’t even let them use his picture.

April 2019

Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña

David Hajdu

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As the cover implies, this is the story of 4 individuals.  Thing is, I think we are all here for one person’s story… young Bobby Dylan.  It’s almost unfortunate that the book is so fair in telling the story of all four. *** to not acknowledge the story of Richie Farina.  He is a part of this foursome.  The four in the story are sisters Joan and Mimi Baez.  In the early 60s, Joan has taken up with Bob Dylan, and her sister the prettier (I mention that because it is very pertinent to the story) Mimi marries Richie Farina.  Richie plays a hanger on, legend in his own mind type.  Slowly, he comes into his own and a musician and a writer.  I don’t see him as being worth an entire book, but he is rightly worthy of 1/4th of this excellent book!

I think I have learned more about young Bob Dylan in this book than any before it. This is the story of Robert Zimmerman becoming Bob Dylan, through sheer force of will.  If you know much about Dylan, you know he doesn’t come off as much of a protagonist. In short, he was pretty much a dick. He very resourcefully used those around him. He stole their stories, their records, their songs, their friends, and their girlfriends.  To be fair, he was pretty open about it. It’s incredibly well told. I highly recommend this is you are nuts for Dylan.

“I’m only Bob Dylan when  have to be”

One thing we learn is Dylan is even more hidden than I imagined.  Dylan only lets you know what he wants you to know. It is very rarely the truth.  All of his life is his art, not just in the songs. His first album was almost all covers, except for this gem of perfection.  Let’s stop here and enjoy it.

What i didn’t know is most of his second album is largely repurposed or straight out plagiarized classic folk tunes from the around the world.  How can I forgive this? How can I continue to canonize him as the greatest? Because he did all of this, and used all of this to create the amazing music that would be thoroughly his own.  His music throughout the 60s is so good and impactful in my daily life. I recommend the amazing Martin Scorsese documentary ‘No Direction Home’ as a companion piece to this.

I am about 40% through the book, and at an interesting scandal I did not know about.  I knew for years that Dylan made up his own myth about who he was and where he came from. He told folks he was a carny, a gambler, a hobo. His backstory to everyone was basically a character in a Bob Dylan song. Apparently, this is all anyone knew about him during his rise and his first few albums.  In 1964, Life magazine (or something like that) ‘outed’ him as a regular middle class kid from the suburbs of Minneapolis. He was really Robert Zimmerman, an average suburbanite Jewish kid of successful parents.

This hit Dylan like a ton of bricks.  He freaked out and ‘went into hiding’.  See, he told everyone his hobo story. I don’t know that anyone in his circle, girlfriends or whatever, knew his real name of background.  The book tells the story of ‘Bobby’ and ‘Joanie’s friendship, working relationship, and eventual romantic relationship. I feel compelled to tell you I never liked their singing together.  It is just grating to me. Same with Neil Young joining CSN. Both are WONDERFUL apart, but musically make no sense together.

Ok, that is all for now.  Since I am only halfway through, odds are I will be back.  GREAT book so far. I can’t help but think that instead of 300 pages on the intersection of these 4 folks… we could have had a tight and concise 150 page Dylan story.  Sidebar – though the book was written by a male, the audiobook is read by a female. And I love it. She does a great little Dylan impression on the audiobook when she is quoting him directly.  It’s lovely! It isn’t condescending, or a caricature. Also, its helps the book narrative of the book flow better. April 2019

Hillbilly Elegy: a Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

JD Vance

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This is my third review.  The first two are here, I spared you.  But, its there if you want it. I tried to opine on poor working white class.  This book is a memoir/autobiography of JD Vance.  He is now a super successful venture capitalist and amazing philanthropist trying to kick start economies and opportunities in the bible belt.  He is a very good man.  He is a hero.  This story isn’t about that, though.  It is about his upbringing.  He was raised dift poor and miserable.  His life was every stereotype you have about the south.  Separated parents, childhood being  passed between grandparents and aunts and uncles.  family violence.  Drugs and drug abuse.  Shitty jobs, and a horrible work ethic everywhere around him.  Almost everyone in his family didn’t work.  These communities depend entirely on govt handouts.  These same folks spend the days complaining about freeloaders, which I think is code for black folk.   He turned all that around, as you can imagine.  He was just featured  60 minutes last weekend.  That is how I learned about this book.   He was touring across the heartland trying to generate opportunities and jobs and factories for small towns.  God bless this man!  March 2019

Allen Klein – The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll

Fred Goodman***

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Now a very great man once said, some people rob you with a fountain pen.  Didn’t take to long to find what, just what he was talking about – Bob Dylan ‘Talkin’ NYC’

This is a story about the business of music.  Specifically, music business accounting. Though I a terrified of math, this topic fascinates me.  I LOVE this shit.  Some, like myself, would call Allen Klein the most hated man in all of music. Allen Klein went about getting musicians their fair cut of money from the record companies.  To be fair, he absolutely did that. However, at the end of the day, he was robin hooding to himself. Let’s say you got 1 percent of each record sold (a standard deal at the time, in the 60’s).  Actually, the deal Epstein signed for the Beatles was FAR worse.  One quarter of 1 penny was their cut on singles.  Then, the manager got 25% of that.  Of what was left, the band split the money 4 ways.  Of course, they  didn’t own their music.  

Before we go any further, just watch this.  This is a beautiful and eloquent and plan spoken explanation on how the greatest selling acts in history have all filed for bankruptcy at some point. This three minutes explains 50 years of music business law and contracts.

Most artists never even saw that 1%. The record companies worked exactly like the ‘company store’ in the great Tennessee Ford song ‘you load 16 tons, and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.  St Peter don’t you call me, cause I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store.’ record company contracts never favored the artist, not then, or now. Allen Klein could get you 2%. Great, right? Until you find out that Klein actually negotiated 5%, and was keeping the other 3% for himself.  And charging you half your cut of the 2% etc etc etc.   Jesus, can someone explain this better than me?  YES!  Let’s hear from noted celebrity and known music legal expert Courtney Love.  Yes.  She is more than just a mauled face.  Oh, and I am kinda obsessed with her.

He is most famous for bankrolling, and then bankrupting, the Stones and the Beatles.  Many would say (and I won’t argue against it) that he broke up the Beatles. Wait… actually, I DID say that already.   Well this is his side of the story, and its pretty darn interesting so far.

I can’t leave without giving you some examples of record company oddness and evils.  These have nothing to do with Klein, but speak to the bigger picture. Remember when Prince changed his name to a symbol?  It was because of VERY bad blood with his record company, Warner Brothers. He wanted to release more music. They said no. He wanted to own his masters, they said no.  He said he would go elsewhere. They said no. They explain to him he could never leave WB and record under the name Prince. They owned ‘Prince’. Crazy thing? Prince is his actual fucking name.  In order to keep recording, and dodge his record company, he was simply no longer Prince.

Here is another interesting one, that is now happening all over the place.  About 10 years ago, Toad the Wet Sprocket got the rights to the publishing of their back catalog.  This meant they now owned their own songs. However, they didn’t own the recordings. What they did is BRILLIANT.  They went out on their own dime and re-recorded all their hits.  They re-recorded them to sound EXACTLY the same as when they recorded them 20 years ago.  Then, they put out a greatest hits album of these songs. Now, if a movie or tv show wants to license a Toad song, it isn’t up to their record company.  Also, instead of the band getting a check for $5,000 for being used in a Toyota commercial, they now got ALL the money (would be closer to 50K).

In short, all during the process of writing and recording and touring, an artist is a ‘work for hire’.  That is legal speak to point out that if someone paints your house… do they own your house? No. When an artist records a record.  The record company owns the song. Not the recording, but the song… the melody and chord progressions and lyrics. You wrote that song as an employee of Sony.  the record company also owns the recording. The piece of music you made in their studio. They also own the ‘masters’, which is the rights to the original recording.  In the legal world of recording, these are three completely different things, and can each be negotiated separately.

Whether or not you like Allen Klein, this is an absolutely fascinating look at the underbelly of the record business.  It’s very well told, and thankfully not academic at all.

Ok, I will probably come back and say a lot more.  I am only a couple hours into this book.     March 2019

         *** editors note:   This author has a great deal of respect for Klein, and speaks if him in glowing terms.  It’s a hagiography. I think we can just assume ‘Fred Goodman’ is a pseudonym for Allen Klein.  tee hee hee.

I wrote almost ever word above before I cracked the book.  This book is amazing.  I am halfway though.  Come back in a week or two, we have a LOT to talk about.  Obviously, you can see I am quite passionate about this topic.  The book is fantastic, whether you are a fan or not of Klein, it is an amazing read… and I’ll have some nice and fair things to say.  It is safe to assume ALL music business accounting was changed by or influenced bye Allen Klein… the good and the bad.  He is the Bill Romanowski Ndamukong Suh of music accountants.  If he is on our team, its all good.  We look the other way.  If you aren’t, you clearly see him as the dirtiest player to play the game.  In the book, I haven’t even gotten to the Beatles stuff, yet.  March 6th, 2019   we’ll talk again soon about Mr. Klein.

Finished the book, so I have to update a few opinions.  He did not break up the Beatles.  They were pretty much toast by the time he finally got in the door.  He did, though, create an unfixable wedge that kept the Beatles apart in an lawsuits.  John broke up the Beatles.  He did it by being an insufferable prick about everything.  Mostly, John did this by bringing Yoko everywhere.  And then he hired Allen Klein.  Historically, Paul comes off as the cute and cuddly one.  The victim.  In this book, we learn Paul is a bit more alpha than that.  Klein also didn’t steal any Beatle money.  He raped George Harrison in the most insane court case ever.  and he totally fleeced the Stones.  He ended up owning half of their catalog.  Dude was savvy.   OH… and we learn we could have had a Beatles reunion at the concert for Bangladesh.  The sticking point?  Yoko demanded to be a part of it.  This was a great great read, and it changed my perspective on Allen Klein.  A teeny tiny bit for the better.  And confirmed John was just impossible to deal with at the time.   Drugs had kinda ravaged his mind, and fueled his paranoia.  What drugs?  Depending who you ask, and what day we are talking about… there was a LOT of LSD.  and heroin.  O, that is all for now. I think I have said enough.  March 2019

As Time Goes By

Derek Taylor

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I wanted a great behind the scenes Beatles book.  I thought this would be it.  Derek Taylor truly was in insider.  Not just the band’s publicist, but I understood him to be a critical confidante with the passing of Brian Epstein.  Perhaps we has, but it isn’t apparent in this book.  Not so far, and I am about half way through.  It appears he is working hard not to cash in on his Beatles fame.  BOO!  This was written and released in 1974, and then disappeared off the market until recently.  His writing style, especially considering he was literally the mouthpiece for the greatest band of all time is stilted and awkward. There are far too many passages like this:  “Burt an I had lunch.  Burt commented on what a crazy year it was, and I agreed.  He then mentioned he was worried about Bill.  I was, too.  Then, I had a great desert, and he did too.”  Though it clearly wasn’t meant to be, this book becomes a tale of Apple Corps.  Apple Corps was a business umbrella designed to handle and house and organize all the things Beatles.  The Beatles, like all bands, were getting hosed.  The most successful band in history was not rich.  See, (agian, like most bands) they did not own their songs.  Not the songs, nor the recordings.  On top of that, the British govt was taxing entertainers around 95%.

around 1968, the band formed Apple Corps to address all of this.  Problem is, it was far too late.  Worse?  It wasn’t set up as a business. It was set up as an artistic utopia. Money was thrown everywhere.  Did you know a guy, who knew a guy, who knows a gal who knows Ringo Starr?  You want 100K to make a documentary about ant communes?  You got it, mate!  Rather than recouping the Beatles leaking finances, and further drained them to nothing.  This further strained an already strained band.  As much as I love to loathe Allen Klein, he did come in and right the ship… er… submarine?  In doing so, he also robbed them blind and pitted Paul against John.  You can’t run a business an empire on good intentions, high art, and democracy.  Well, the Dead did it,  But, that was an anomaly. The Dead also invented all the solutions to concert audio that kept the Beatles from touring.

Because of my regard for everyone’s regard for Derek Taylor, and my hopes it will turn into some kind of Beatles tell all… I will stick with the book.  BONUS – he just got to talking about Allen Klein.   Klein may be the worst person in the history of music management.  Not surprisingly, no one has a single kind word to say about the man beast.  More about that monster here.

reader, at this time I went on a several paragraph rant about Allen Klein and what a monster he was.  I thought about leaving it here, but it isn’t fair to the Derek Taylor book.  I thought about deleting it, but why waste a perfectly good tirade.  It has been moved here.

Here is why i can’t stop writing about the Beatles.  Note, I hardly even touch the music in my writing.  The Beatles changed everything!  Everything about the business of music, the performance of music.  How it is bought and sold and consumed.   *** editors note, I did get that Allen Klein book.  Review above, and also mentioned here.  This book is a mess.  Do not bother reading.  Ironic that the mouthpiece and writer for the greatest and biggest band in history penned such a boring and confusing book.  Someone get Anthony Bozza in here to clean this mess up.  Shelved Feb 2019.

Ghost: My Thirty Years as an FBI Undercover

Michael R. McGowan

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Sounds interesting, huh?  I just started it. I loved reading about crime, I can’t help myself.  I just realized, though, that I am almost always reading these stories from the bad guy’s perspective.  Why is that? Hmm. It all started with law enforcement book, Mind Hunter. Just about everything after that became me reading the criminal versions.  I guess I trust the word of the criminals more. Plus, their stories are way better!

side fun note > in researching the book for this review, I needed to know what they guy looked like.  I came across his official photo.  This walrus was elite special forces?  An FBI NOC?

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Lets just assume this guy is deep undercover in this photo in ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>prosthetics.  I really shouldn’t talk shit, though.  If this guy did half the stuff he has claimed to, he is probably standing right behind me ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>disguised a a couch or something.

I can’t tell you much, am only 2 or 3 hours in.  So far, though, it promises to be a hell of a read.  Jan 2019

Crash and Burn

Artie Lange

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This book is dark.  I doesn’t promise to be otherwise.  This is Artie’s follow up to his wildly successful ‘Too Fat to Fish’.  This is Artie telling about his life as a junkie from around 2008 to 2012.  It includes his last days with Stern, his bloody stabbing suicide attack, and about 50 other tales of drugs and bad judgement.  I like Artie, and its tough not to root for the guy.  The book is honest, and Artie still keenly self aware, and super funny.  Artie, is a mess, though.  He has been on my deadpool list for about 5 years, and he isn’t come off anytime soon.  I don’t see Artie making it to 2020.  Though this book ends several years ago where he is briefly clear and lucid, we all know that didn’t last.  This is the last time we saw Artie in public.  He showed up a few months ago to drug  court, and he was high on cocaine.  He admitted it.  He knew he would be tested, it wasn’t a random drug test.  It was the drug test he was schedule for for he last 6 months.  It was his drug court trial, and he was wasted.  How do you get popped for cocaine when you are scheduled for a drug test?  Doesn’t that stuff go through you in like 24 hours?  This means he couldn’t clean up for 24 hours.

See his nose?  That sure takes some doing.  To see the shape Artie is in, note that the picture above isn’t a booking photo.  It was his scheduled and planned court appearance.  You know, the kind where you shave and comb your chair and look apologetic and dress really nice?  He shows up like this, and fails his drug test.  They give him probation.  Jesus, lock this guy up for his own good.

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If Artie isn’t jailed SOON, for a LONG time, he will be dead.  I expect to hear it any day now, which is sad.  While it is a very interesting read, I am not sure I can finish it.  I don’t have the heard to watch anyone to this to themselves, or their families.   Over and over.  For 20 years. Oddly, and sadly, Artie did not narrate this book.  It loses a LOT not being in his voice.  Odds are, Artie was too rucked up to sit for the recording.  In fact, the books is clearly not even written by Artie.  It was written ‘with Anthony Bozza’.  He is the ghostwriter to all the rock stars.  This means he hung out with Artie for about 6 months and Artie just told him crazy story after crazy story.  The ghost writers’ job is to take those hundreds of hours of tapes of Artie telling stories about being fucked up into a coherent narrative.  In fact, odds are, Artie was still fucked up as he recounted these stories.  This is likely why he couldn’t even record the audiobook.  Lets be honest, Artie probably has zero memory of ‘writing’ this book.  Anthony Bozza, you are a saint!

Good luck, Artie.  We are all rooting for you.   I had to shelve this book, though.  It’s too dark.  Jan 2019

Fantasy Man:  a former NFL player’s descent into the brutality of fantasy football.

Nate Jackson

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This was not heavy lifting.  I was looking for light reading, and this book was perfect.  This is Nate Jackson’s second book. His first is ‘Slow Getting Up’ about his life in the NFL.  It is reviewed below, and you should read it. No need to read this, but lemme tell you about it.  Nate Jackson was a NFL player. Specifically, he was a receiver for the Denver Broncos. He was not an extraordinary player, and will never be in the hall of fame.  You have not heard of him. That is what makes his tale SO important. His tale is that of the rank & file in the NFL.  No TV deals, no shoe endorsements, and probably never made more than a million a year.  He was john q average football player.

Well, his first book was. This book is ostensibly about his love of fantasy football.  So am I, but so are most American males. Really, though, this book is about him navigating his post NFL life. That is the heart of the story, and its heartbreaking. In his story, which is autobiographical (just like the first one) he is now about 5 years out of the NFL.  What that means is no more health care front the NFL (it runs out 3 years after you retire).

In case it’s not implied, yes it was an audiobook, and yes it was read by the author.  Jan 2018

Up on Game: from Robbing Banks to Stacking Bitcoin

Richard Stanley

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This guy is an insufferable douche.  He is a creep, and a jerk, and a narcissist, and I cant recommend this book to you.  I don’t say this because of the bank robbing.  I LOVE the bank robbing, and he wrote very well about it.  It takes up about half the book, and that made it a good read.   I really enjoy reading about bank robbery.  On so many levels, every robbery is identical across every book and documentary.  Guy walks into a bank with a half decent disguise.  Three minutes later, he is away scott-free with about $3,000.  Apparently, it is very addictive.  They keep going, making  getting better at it.  Better disguises, better research of banks and get away routes.  They learn to look for tracking devices and making sure there are no dye packs.  They simply can’t stop themselves.  After a few months, it gets a little too routing, though, and they start to sip.  They get caught.  According to the robbers, it is nothing like a movie.  They are very un-notable.  They are in and out i a few minutes.  They are discreet about everything, and most times the other people i the bank didn’t even know it just got robbed.  It seems the methods have absolutely not changed in a 100 years.

I just recently read that bank robberies are down 70% in the last 30 years.  I am asking you to take the up the mantle here and get to work.  and then write about it.  Let’s be very careful how I word the following.  Am I, Lono, directing you to rob a bank?  Yes.  Yes I am.  Don’t be a pussy.  Get in there, get out, and write about it.  When you get caught, and you will get caught… just tell them ‘Lono told me do to it’.  That is a valid legal defense in 13 states currently.

But don’t read this book for that, you don’t need to.  Read these amazing Longform articles collected on bank robberies.  Each piece is probably 15 to 20 pages long, and very well told.  There are about 10 stories on that link.  To prove to you just how comelling these stories are, start with this one – the Last Ride of Cowboy Bob.

He wore a Western hat, never spoke a word, and robbed bank after bank. When the feds finally arrested him, they discovered that their suspect was actually a soft-spoken woman. They thought they’d never hear from her again— but she had other plans.

PEGGY JO TALLAS WAS, BY ALL ACCOUNTS, the classic good-hearted Texas woman. For much of her adult life, she lived with her ailing mother in a small apartment in the Dallas suburbs.

Yeah, that is your teaser.   The book?  It was interesting, for sure.  It was also a rare moment where I was happy the author was not the narrator.  The narrator was the great ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Mike Dawson from ACS.  I have read more than a couple books just because he was the narrator.  Dec 2018

How We Got to Now

Steven Johnson

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This is a book about the history of 6 or 7 very specific things… and their evolution.  Each chapter stands alone in its history.  An example – sand.   Earth is covered with it, seems kinda useless.  Until someone hundreds of thousands of years ago found some that was fused by volcanic heat.  Hey, we can do that with fire.  We can shape it into bowls.   We can put it into shapes and have windows.  Think how great windows are!  You can see outside, and you don’t lose heat or deal the wind.  Now, it gets polished so it can be a mirror.   That is a BFD.   People had no idea how they looked unless there was a standing body of water nearby.  Now, let’s ground it down… it’s a lense.  Now people can see.  Think of eyeglasses.  How did people in hunter gather societies do without great vision?  Well, you mostly died.   Wait… play with those lenses more and it magnifies.  Now we can see the stars, and figure out time.  Yeah, sand is a BFD.  That was just a single chapter.  It’s quite a read.  Not even sure if it is the author reading it… but wouldn’t it be rad if Malcolm Gladwell read it?   It’s all quite Gladwellian.

Oh, and playing with melted sand, which led to art and mirrors and glasses and telescopes… also gave us microscopes.   Think how much of your life is tied to glass – windows, warmth, mirrors, eyeglasses, telescopes, microscopes > it is used every day in every aspect for your life.  That is just one of six chapters.

If you enjoy this book, and you will (it’s not as academic as it seems it might be… but it is a little more academic than I would prefer)… I recommend another book with is amazing and even better.  I am sure I reviewed it below, but in case I didn’t… this book ROCKS.

I dare say if the book above interests you, read this one first.  It is just as interesting, but not as academic.  It is called ‘Why Things Are: answers to every essential question in life”.  Like I said, not just super interesting, but less academic.  One of his chapters goes deep into why McDonalds’ fries are the best.  Almost everything I read listen to always serves two purposes – to be entertained, and to learn.  If you are reading fiction, that is great.  However, there is SO much awesome and interesting and weird things in real life… I always start there.  Dec 2018

Springfield Confidential

Mike Reiss

This is a behind the scenes look at the great classic wonderful show ‘the Simpsons’, which I used to be mildly obsessed with.  This guy was a showrunner, writer… everything.  Has been with the show since day 1.  It is a great look inside, and a pretty funny listen.  I very much enjoyed it… except… the narrator.  Know how I am always saying a book is better when read by its author?  This one bucked the trend.  The author reads it, and his voice is grating.  Like, Sarah Vowell grating… but with a nebbish jewiness that makes you want to beat the guy up.  I realize that looks like a hate statement, it ain’t.  I love, and prefer, Jewish people.  Just not this guy’s voice.  If you love the Simpsons… and you should… this is a great read listen.  Listen, I know this means mean and elitist and pointless to point out how terrible a narrator he is.  I am NOT here to make fun of him for that.   For that, we have Jon Ronson.  He is probably my favorite working writer… but even the Dalai Lama wants to punch that guy when he hears his voice.   🙂

In putting this review together, I just noticed he used a ghostwriter.  Really?  He is a professional writer, by trade!   Writing a book with a ghostwriter is a DREAM.  He/she asks you pointed questions, and you tell them stories.  Then, they piece it together, and you cash in.  They work for a flat fee (often about $10K to 25K).  It’s a very good gig.  Don’t ask me how I know, but know that I am available… for either!

Nov 2018

A Ladies Life in the Rockies

Isabella Bird

Holy moly is this great writing!  My wifey recommended this to me, and I am SO thankful!  This is the best writing I have read in years.  I am so glad it came from a women author.  I have been repeatedly trying to engage more woman author’s… but they rarely take.  Maybe I don’t get their point of view… even though I want to.  Isabella ROCKS, and is a total bad ass.  This book is the very true story of a prim and proper English lady… from 140 years ago, riding alone through the Colorado Rockies.  Just for fun.  All by herself in the wild west in the Winter of 1873.  The story is told entirely through these beautiful letters to her sister.  They are long and descriptive and perfect.  Each letter was probably 5 to 8 pages handwritten out.  Her writing is so vivid and perfect.   As you can imagine, I did this through an audio book.  Obviously, the writer is no longer alive, but they had a fine older English gal read the part and it was just perfect.

She looks as buttoned down and frumpy as you would expect an Englishwoman to have been 145 years ago.  Yet, she traveled the length and height of the Colorado Rockies… for fun… by herself… on a borrowed horse.  Through her travels, she gives her opinions matter of factly, but they all seem ‘spot on’.  In Pueblo, I think it was, she discovers they have this thing called a ‘street’.  Now, that perplexed me.  I know there weren’t cars yet, but surely you had some kind of avenues of travel though towns… would those not be ‘streets’?  Dunno, never got to the bottom of that one.  I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this listen.  I would often stop listening for a few days, just to stretch it out.  What’s more fun is her descriptions of things seem that most could have been written yesterday.   She was groundbreaking on SO many levels.  One is, she road forward in the saddle, ‘like a man’.  See, back then, women rode side saddle.  Yes, it looks and was stupid.  I assume it was a modesty thing about women not spreading their legs.  Obviously, you can’t ride up a snow mountain range like this.

Ms Bird never set out to write a book.  It was a keen eye of a friend who saw these letters to her sister and though to share them.  She is grand insight into the psyche of the West a 150 years ago, and I hope she is studied and taught.  There are more books from her, of her letters while traveling in Asia.  You can bet those books will be coming up in 2019 for me.

She was a true Forrest Gump of her time, running into all the names we Coloradans know.  We used to board our horses in Perry Park, and she talks about staying with the Perry’s while there.  Ok, apparently it was named after a rich family who had a horse lodge or something there.  Cool!  She became mildly famous across the state as newspapers began telling the curious account of  the Englishwoman riding through Colorado.  In WINTER.   Mind you, there is no heat, no electricity of any kind.  You room didn’t have a fireplace, either.  No sir, homes usually had one fire place and it was in the family room.  As she describes it, the homes were made very poorly back then.  Just stacked logs, but no kind of insulation (hay and moss were commonly used around the world to stuff the joints and keep wind and such out).  As a result, if it was negative 10 degrees outside, it was negative 10 degrees inside where you slept.  She said the ‘beds’ were loose piles of hay, and she often opted to sleep outside.  In WINTER.   She never once even mentions wearing a coat, and she just loves the cold.  SO bad ass.

I want to give you a taste of her voice, so here are some select quotes:

“Yet, after all, they were not bad souls; and though he failed so grotesquely, he did his incompetent best.”

“people live more happily than any that I have seen elsewhere.  It is very cheerful to live among people whose faces are not soured by the east wind, or wrinkled by the worrying effort to “keep up appearances,” which deceive nobody;”

“I still vote civilization a nuisance, society a humbug and all conventionality a crime.”

And on discovering Estes Park – “I have found a dream of beauty at which one might look all one’s life and sigh.”    Nov 2018

Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

Elvis Costello

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this is his autobiography.  Am only a couple of hours into it, so can’t tell you much, yet.  It has been recommended to me many times by people I respect.  So far, so good.  once again, and most importantly… read by the author.

I am impressed that this was clearly written by Elvis himself.  Trust me, that is big deal!  NO ONE writes their own books.  Springsteen did, and you could tell.  Pretty much every other musician uses Anthony Bozza.  So, it is good that he wrote it himself.  BUT… it is all over the place.  The timelines jump freely from childhood to present day with no warning.  While it felt freeing at first, now it is dizzying t track when we are talking about.  My guess is the physical book may have had chapters with years.

and here s another thing  I know it is his story, but its kind of a pompous telling – what you wold expect from Sting.   Also, young Elvis Costello was a total dick… just a monster.  He was literally for being such a horrible person.  He was known as ‘the angry young man’.  I wanna know more about that.  He doesn’t copy to any of it, not so far, anyway.  In fact, there is a great story from one of the brightest rock minds I know of – local DJ Brett Saunders.  He knows FAR more about rock than I do, and I have never said that about any other living person.  Anyhow, Brett Saunders was talking about finally meeting his hero Elvis Costello.  He explained how when he recently met him, Costello was a wonderful and delightful person.  Saunders explain how totally disappointed he pleasant he was.  I point all that out to say the library is going to expire this song off my phone any day now, and  I don’t know if it is worth the trouble to track it down again.  Oct 2018

It’s a Good thing You’re Funny: How Life Becomes a Sitcom

Phil Rosenthal

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If you don’t know the name, you can be forgiven.  Phil Rosenthal is a beloved TV creator, a la Gary Marshall or Neil Simon.  This is his memoir, leaning heavy on his epic success creating and running ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’.  It’s a very good read, ecause he isn’t just sper funny, he is so wildly likable it hurts.  Like… Henry Winkler & Mr Rogers combined, but (again) truly funny.  Best part for me it is was read by the author.  I spend a couple weeks with a favorite Jewish uncle telling me stories.  He is currently doing another food show.  He has a couple – I’ll have what he’s having’, and ‘someone feed Phil’.  Both enjoyable.  Sept 2018

American Desperado

John Roberts

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this book is pretty fucked up.  Actually, the book was very good.  this guy is fucked up.  That is saying a lot when you look at the stuff I read.  I don’t think you should read it.  If you must, skip the first half, and everything about his time in Vietnam.  It will give you nightmares.  Oh… about the book, sorry.  John Roberts (nee John Riccobono) was one of the big time cocaine guys in the early 80s in Miami.   They were called the ‘Cocaine Cowboys’.  If you are interested, and you should be,, I recommend instead a great doc on the whole thing called ‘Cocaine Cowboys’.  It is streaming free on Amazon if you have prime, and probably Netflix, too.  In that doc, you will learn more about Griselda, ‘La Madrina’.  She was truly the godfather of that era, and just a more interesting tale told by everyone who wsa there, including 2 or 3 of the guys she managed to somehow not kill.  Prolly because they were her hitmen.  Sept 2018

God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*cked: Tales of Stand-Up, Saturday Night Live, and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem 

Darrell Hammond

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this is a memoir by one of the greats of Saturday Night Live.  Nuff said, for now.  You know the face.  Famously, he was Bill Clinton on SNL for a decade.  Now, interestingly, he has replaced teh one and only narrator/host of SNL…  the late great Don Pardo.  It was enjoyable, but not great.  I would say you can skip this one.

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August 2018

Sleeping Where I Fall

Peter Coyote

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details coming shortly…   In the meantime, just appreciate the coolest jacket cover in history.  Hey, at least it isn’t a mafia book, I am done with those for a while.  They started getting into my psyche, not good.   I just gushed about him on the main page, so let’s use that for now.  Ok, I’ll leave you with this taste to get a feel of his hippy bona fides –

In accordance with the times,  everyone on the road trip took acid.  That included the driver and the 2 year old baby and the dogs.

I don’t think he was kidding, or being hyperbolic.  Note, he does NOT condone this… just repeats it as a matter of fact.  It’s an amazing and truly candid tale of his youth as one of the great and true original ‘hippies’.  He looks back with honesty.  its all there, drugs and sex and revolution.  But, he also acknowledges the damage they caused… especially the emotional damage of the free love era.
We are only up to about 1971, and I see the book has just a few chapters left.  this makes me sad.  It was written back in 1997, but is as valid today as it was then.  He was there for everything!  Altamont?  He wasn’t just there, he remembers the famed murder victim Meredith Hunter.  I have read many accounts of people who were there, and Meredith was a bad person. He caused trouble all night, and he was warned multiple times to stay away the stage and away from the Hells Angels and especially stay away from their bikes.  He took it all as a challenge.
The last time he (Meredith Hunter, the guy killed at Altamont) was confronted, he pulled a gun on the Angels.  He shot into the crowd (of half a million people), and was captured and attacked from behind.  The Angel’s got a bad wrap on this one.  Granted, they didn’t need to murder him, but you pull a gun on anyone… ESPECIALLY the Hell’s Angels… it won’t end well.
I could go on about that, but the guy was literally asking for it.What made it so egregious to history is it was white Hell’s Angels, and they killed a black guy.  There are bad guys to that story, but it isn’t the Angels.  it’s the Rolling Stones… at every turn, they could have done more.
focus, this is about Peter, not Altamont.
He (Peter Coyote) is, and has been for 30 years, a successful actor.  Maybe you think he is like Jerry Rubin, or countless others who ‘sold out’, joined the mainstream, and put his past behind him.  Now he is another soulless suit, right?
  You shut your mouth when you are talking about Peter Coyote.  Of course he is an actor, look how beautiful this guy is.   Oh, and he never sold out.  He kept his beliefs and is now a Buddhist Monk.   Most notably, the bulk of his work in the entertainment business has been voice over work.  His voice is just heavenly.
Note, he does NOT condone this… just repeats it as a matter of fact.  It’s an amazing and truly candid tale of his youth as one of the great and true original ‘hippies’.  He looks back with honesty.  its all there, drugs and sex and revolution.  But, he also acknowledges the damage they caused… especially the emotional damage of the free love era. This was a great quote in the afterward that summed up this era quite well –
The failure to curve personal Indulgence was a major collective error
Here is how I read that.  We could have taken over the world with good, and love, and cooperation. We had all the right intentions, and the youth and energy and smarts and love to make it happen.  Sadly, we kinda blew it by spending all of our time and energy getting laid and getting wasted.    I think we can agree that would sum up the whole movement of the late 60’s. The book was written in 1997, but the story only goes up to about 1980.  I am so glad I found this book, having always been a big admirer of his.  He is an American Treasure, and thank goodness he is still alive.  Last words?  His voice sounds unnervingly like Kevin Costner’s.  I was 10 hours into the book until I pieced that together   August 2018

Rabbit – an Memoir

‘Ms Pat’ Williams

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I heard this gal on Marc Maron’s podcast.  She is fucking hilarious, and an absolute delight on every level.  She also has an INSANE past, which she has always been up front about.  I thought her book would be great.  It isn’t, for two big reasons.  1) it’s not narrated by Ms Pat (who is now a professional comedienne), and 2) it is more grim than a Cormac McCarthy book.  She is 12 so far, family beats here and she has already been raped by a family friend.  I know this will be a triumphant tale 20 years later… but I can’t dig through another 2 weeks of depressing ass shit that is the reality of being a poor black woman stuck in a cycle of poverty and abuse.  I thought I could handle it, I was wrong.  Had the DELIGHTFUL Ms Pat read this, I might have made it through.  The woman speaks for a living telling her life story… how was she not qualified to read her life story.  You dumb-ass suits really blew this one.  The narrator of the book is joyless and soulless.  Shelved – July 2018

Mafia Prince:  Inside America’s Most Violent Crime Family and the Bloody Fall of La Cosa Nostra

Phil Leonetti

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Its written by his nephew, Crazy Phil Leonetti (and a ghost writer).  Phil was the underboss to his uncle, and complicit in ALL of this.  He ended up taking a plea deal and rolling on his uncle (Nikki Scarfo).  Phil only did a few years.  For the most part, he absolves himself of all this murder.  His story is that it was his uncle who ordered everything.  Phil is still alive, and apparently not in the witness protection program.  His uncle, Littke Nikki Scarfo (who the book is about) just died in prison last year.  I don’t believe in heaven or hell.  BUT… this dude is positively rotting in hell.

This wasn’t little Nikki.  All he wanted to do was kill everyone, and he did.  The killings just get senseless, like Stalin.  They both killed the enemy, then their own people, then build and army, and then kill them all. It is why he was banished to Atlantic City.  Before Atlantic City legalized gambling in 1978… it was just a very dead and abandoned town.  This book is violent.  It gets disturbing, and I have learned not to listen to it before bed.  Just like the local news, which we NEVER watch before bed. It’s just people getting killed.  I prefer the morning news:  light, fluffy, and covers the weather.  This will be my last mafia book while.  Unless Sammy’s book gets to audiobook… I need a break.  Speaking of Sammy, he is in the book.  This was the era before John Gotti, for the most part.  The audiobook must be unabridged, as they cover literally every single murder over about a 20 year period.  It runs long, and gets a bit tedious, but still a great and compelling read.   July 2018

Fare Thee Well: the final chapter of the Grateful Dead’s long strange trip

Joel Selvin

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This is a fascinating story that has never been told.  It is the story of the Grateful Dead after Jerry Garcia’s death.  The band kept on making music, in many many different formations and bands:  7 Walkers, BK3, Furthur, Phil and Friends, the Dead, Ratdog, Scaring the Children, Dead and Company, Bobby and Phil, Bob & Rob… and several other incarnations.  But this book doesn’t so much focus on that.  It focuses on the chaos and collapse of all internal relations following Jerry’s death.

The Dead were viciously anti-authoritarian.  There were certainly anti-corporate anything and everything.  Yet, for the last 20 years leading up to Jerry’s death, the Grateful Dead were on of the biggest and most successful corporations in America.  Playing nightly to sold out football stadiums of 70K people for 20 years created a big business.  When Jerry died, the band wisely retired the name.  Then, shit came crashing down around everyone.  People had to worry about making money for the first time.  It was briefly a power vacuum, and then a big power struggle.  The book, quite fairly I think, shows Phil Lesh in a very bad light.  Phil (and his new wife) felt the Grateful Dead name, and spirit, and business holdings… belonged to them.

The book is filled with the surprising tyranny of Phil & Jill, but here are a couple examples that stood out.  Basically, even since Jerry died and the band broke up, there has been bad blood… and most of it directed (deservedly in my, and the author’s opinion at Phil.  When the various incarnations of the bands would tour, Phil and Bobby would compete for market share and audiences.  Phil had ‘Phil and Friends’, and Bobby had ‘Ratdog’.  You may know that New Year’s Eve shows were always a VERY big deal in the Dead culture.  Phil told his band and fans he was taking that New Years off, and was going to relax in Florida.  Bobby booked a Ratdog show for San Francisco for New Years Eve.  Once the contract was signed, but tickets hadn’t gone on sale yet… Phil announced a New Years eve show just 3 miles away from Bobby’s.  And, the promised a ton of guest stars.  This poached at least half of Bobby’s audience.  Just to be a dick

The other story that interested me was about John Kadlecik.  He was the leader of the biggest and best Grateful Dread tribute band of them all – Dark Star Orchestra.  Dark Star was also getting a big share of the Dead fan base, while the real Dead members were too busy infighting.  Phil hired Kadlecik to lead his ‘Further’ band.  I was at that tour, but I have been to ALL of these tours.   Seemed like a cool idea bringing Kadlecik, who is just wickedly aggreable.  He knows the songs (there are about a thousand they pull from at any time), and he has his own build in fan base.  BUT… that isn’t why Phil hired him.  Phil hired him to cripple their biggest competitor.  Without Kadlecik, there is no Dark Star Orchestra.  He had to leave that band, and promise never to write.  He also had to sign some pretty hefty NDA and non compete clauses.  Basically, Kadlecik agreed to never be in another Dead cover band ever.  I honestly have inside first hand knowledge of this situation.

I feel it’s ok for me to shit talk Phil, because I remain a HUGE fan.  I can’t think of a better bass player.  How Phil plays is really odd.  He is 100% his own thing.  He gave the band the melodic slinkiness that allowed them to move around musically so fluidy.  I often get asked what my dream band would look like if I could build it from anyone living or dying.  I am a lifelong guitarist, so you can imagine I just drool at the idea.  Chris Cornell would be my singer.  I would be on rhythm acoustic guitar.  Phil Lesh would be on bass.  Jeff Chimenti would be on keys, and Jimmy Chamberlain on drums.

I was lucky enough to see many Dead shows while Jerry was still alive, and I have been to a ton more since then. I had been to so many shows while Jerry was alive that one of my biggest highlights was getting to see Bill Graham.  Bill Graham may be the most important person in rock history that never touched an instrument.

All those offshoot bands I mentioned above, I have seen most of them, many times.  This summer, going to see the Dead and Company in Boulder, as well.

It is a hell of a story, for sure.  I am about halfway through.  Also, you learn a bit about Deborah Koons Garcia.  She is shown to be a total monster, which was truly common knowledge.  She married Jerry VERY close to the end.  When he passed, she just took control and took all the assets. Then, she fired everyone on the payroll who had been with the band for 30 years.  Then, she cut off all financial aid to Jerry’s ex spouses and children.  Then, she wouldn’t even let his first wife, Mountain Girl, along for the funeral.  She was with him for 35 years!  Koons Garcia was with him for 2.  Lot’s of drama, from a team who specialized in absolutely no drama.  It was clearly Jerry that held everything together.

The book dwells very little on Koons-Garcia.  I actually just gave her more airtime than the book does.  Why?  Well, Phil comes off as a pretty big dick in this story… over and over again.  BUT… Phil is a big part of the Dead.  He was there from the beginning.  So, he gets to have a say.  Koons-Garcia just comes in a rock and roll carpet bagger and grave robber.

It just came out two days ago, and I have been eagerly anticipating it.  In reading the press kit for the book, the timeline apparently runs up to the big official 50thnniversary reunion in Chicago a few years ago.  I was there, and wrote about it here. 

Sorry.  Focus, man.  What about the book?  The book was really great, which is why it unleashed all this stuff.  It is thoughtfully told, and it moves at a nice pace.  Like all the great books (especially audiobooks)… it wasn’t so much a guy narrarating a story as it was a great passenger on the long ride just telling me all kinds of cool stories.  AND… letting me pepper him with questions.   Totally a great read for any Deadhead.  June  2018

Access All Areas:  Stories from a hard rock life

Scott Ian

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this is a second book from the guitarist of Anthrax.  At their peak (25 years ago) they were easily as good as Metallica.  Unfortunately, while they have the body of work, it is very consistent.  This was an enjoyable book, but it was no deep insight.  This is buttered popcorn reading, as I had to step away from the mob for a little while.   Of course, and awesomely… it was read by the author.  June 2018

The Boss Always Sits in the Back

John D’Amore

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it’s a mob story, and a great one.  Though it is technically fiction, it is clearly entirely true.  Names are changed to avoid lawsuits or getting ‘wacked’.  It goes quick.  If you have read any of these summaries, you know my obsession with what life is like for any iconic person (NFL, mobster, rock star, politician) what is their day to day life.  What, exactly, are the mundanities of that life.  For an NFL player, I don’t need to know what it’s like on the field.  I want to know what it’s like to go to McDonalds, how your relationships are.  This is one of those.  It’s good.  It’s not the first book you should pick up for mafia insight.  For that, go with Michael Franzese’s book ‘Blood Covenent‘.  I am certain there is a review below.  If you have read a bunch, though… then also read this.  Of course, I did the audiobook.  and of course, it was read by the author.  These days, I will hardly even consider a book if its not read by the author.  June 2018

What Does This Button Do

Bruce Dickinson

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Dickinson is the singer for Iron Maiden.  I am a BIG fan of Maiden.  Seen them probably 10 times over the years… all the way going back to high school 30 years ago.   Had to sneak out to that show and tell my mom I was as work.  For some reason, she didn’t think it would be wise to send a 16 year old to a death metal speed show.  haven’t missed them since.  To be fair, i have always been on team Steve Harris.  He is their bass player, but SO much more.  it is his band, on every level.   He writes the songs, hires and fires, and most likely owns the name Iron Maiden.  Good on him!  This book is the first from anyone in the Maiden camp.  While I am a big fan of Dickinson’s singing, I always thought he was a dick.  He is well known as a dick.   I was listening to a nice long form podcast with him recently on the Eddie Trunk show.  I was very impressed.  He is not a bad guy at all.  Difficult?  Probably.  He leads one of the most successful bands in the world.  They still tour, still have mostly the exactly same line up as they did 30 years ago.  He is uncompromising, sure.  But, he isn’t going to push you down the stairs like Sharon Osbourne would (and… has).   He comes across as grateful and fascinated by life.

also, it is bitchin to note that he is the band’s pilot.  I am not talking about a cessna, here.  He pilots their 757 jumbo jet.  it is awesomely named ‘Ed Force One’.

IRON MAIDEN - A Rare Look Inside Ed Force One With BRUCE DICKINSON

Also, like the Neil Young book, he doesn’t use this platform to excoriate his enemies.  In fact, he points out he will not tell you any juicy secrets about groupies or band members.  He explains this is his story, not the story of the band.  Am about 30 to 40% through with it, and very happy so far.   As always, this book has the most important attribute of any autobiography on tape… he reads it himself.

when we talk Ed Force One, I have to show you this.  This is a piece their long time artist did for the first tour.  This artist is Derek Riggs, and he is amazing.  May 2018

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Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin

Hampton Sides

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I just realized the assassination of Dr King was almost exactly 50 years ago. In fact, it may have been the day I ordered the book.  I bought it for my trip to Europe, but never had time to read.  So, I downloaded the audioboook.  It is a very thorough telling of the background of James Earl Ray.   VERY thorough background.  I am on chapter 27, and they just got to the actual killing of Dr King.  Another 25 chapters left, about (I assume) the manhunt.  Even though they knew exactly who did it, pretty much within hours, it took them at least a month to capture him.  I’ll update more when i finish, but so far it is quite a compelling story.  May 2018

The Curse of Lono

Hunter S Thompson & Ralph Steadman

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This was Hunter last long form proper book.  What is odd about that is he lived another 30 years.  I can only assume he was just too rattled by drinking and drugs to get much done.  Though his books are hugely influential to me… dude only wrote like 4 books.  This is one of my favorites.   Like all Hunter’s writing, it’s impossible to tell how much happened and how much is in his head.  The story revolves around Hunter visiting Hawaii to write a piece on this new social phenomenon… running.   Yeah, that is how hols this book is (1980).  This is a re-re-read.  This book is also a VERY rare moment where I am telling you to read the actual book.  the art by Ralph Steadman is stunning.  Also, uniquely, they were able to embed the text over his art.  Another cool Steadman bonus is that he was there with Hunter for the whole trip.  Ralph got famous for doing the art for ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘.  However, Ralph wasn’t there for those stories.  This time, poor bastard was in Hawaii.

Now, you can buy the regular edition.  It is out of print, and you would pay a $50.  But don’t.  Buy the AMAZING and gargantuan ‘Taschen edition’ just to fully appreciate the genius work of Ralph Steadman… the unsung hero of Thomas’ work and fame.  Without Steadman’s work, I don’t know that Hunter would be as fully appreciated as he is.  I do not make a claim like that light, Hunter is a BIG deal for me.  You may have noticed I write only under the pen name ‘Lono’.    That is a direct result of Hunter’s influence on young me.  Hell, I had vanity plates in Arizona that just said Lono.  They are hung up in my studio now, but take a look.

lono plates

I don’t have any tattoos, yet.  When I do, though, I know exactly what I am getting.  It will be this – Ralph Steadman’s interpretation of the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

The White Rabbit, from 'Alice In Wonderland'

It’s everything I love:  Ralph’s art and sensibility, my favorite book in the world, and an homage to Hunter himself.   April 2018

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Never Say No to A Rock Star

Glenn Berger

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This guy was the recording engineer at A&R records in NYC during a great heyday off rock and roll – early to mid 70s.  He recorded Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and a bunch of others.  A quick word about an ‘engineer’ versus a ‘producer’.  An engineer is the person actually twiddling the knobs during a recording session.   A producer is the idea guy, who says things like ‘great intro, but let’s cut that down to 16 bars.   Take the second verse and move it to just after the bridge.   I think we could use on more chorus on the outtro.   Basically, the musician provides his own producer (Rick Rubin,  Brendan O’Brien, Butch Vig… these are all iconic producers) and the studio provides the engineers.  These guys don’t get famous.  However, he was there, and has all the stories and memories (probably because he was the only one there not wasted).   He is no fawning fanboy, either.  While he talks with great reverence about watching the genius of Paul Simon record, he also notes that (inter-personally) Simon was a standoffish dick.  Everyone was terrified of him.  Dylan came off the same, but we expect that from Dylan.   Coming up sometime in the next couple of days are Frank Sinatra stories.  That should prove to be pretty excellent.

It is very surprising to me that he just wrote this last year (2017).  He is discussing day to day memories of 1974.  Here is a nice little press piece he did around the release.

Interestingly, this book is almost the exact same length.  it is 10 hours an 19 minutes.  Yet, if feels far too short.  Each album/rock star gets a chapter.  He gives Phoebe Snow and the New York Dolls equal time with recording Dylan’s ‘Blood on the Tracks’, or working with Paul Simon.  Come on, Glenn – how about 5 chapters about recording with Dylan and zero about New York Dolls?   I have about halfway through so far, and supremely enjoying it.  It is very well written.  For a guy telling his own story, he is keenly self aware of his own limitations or douchiness.  That is rare in an autobiography.  Near as I can tell, there is no ghost writer here, and the book benefits greatly from that.  A great read, only wish is was longer.  I never say that about audiobooks these days.  We REALLY need the option of  abridged choices.  In fact, since you already recorded the whole damn 20 hours… you could release a 10 hour version, a 12 hour… etc.  not this book, though.  Every page and story was enjoyable.  April 2018

Down the Highway:  the Life of Bob Dylan

Howard Sounes

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I have a friend at work who loves Bob Dylan more than me.   Wait… let’s back up.  I have a friend.  That is news right there, isn’t.  He lent me this book and I loved it so much I had to buy my own copy.  This is a book book, not an audio book.  So far, it is a VERY good telling of Bob’s story.  I am most interested in the mid 60’s New York City era.  I am excited for this book, because Bob Dylan is very tough to know.  You can’t interview Bob Dylan and get anything of substance or truth.  Not now, or then.  In fact, when he finally wrote his life story in ‘Chronicles’… astute journalists found out the whole thing was just a series of fabrications.  We even found out Bob’s acceptance letter for the getting the Pulitzer was lies and plagiarism.  Good for him.  He is an artists, and plays no ones games but his own.  Getting an answer from Bob is like trying to get an answer from Charlie Manson.  You might say “Hey Mr Dylan, what do you think of cd technology versus classic vinyl?”  Bob would weave a tale about his days as a hobo riding the rails, when all he had was a lousy transistor radio…  listening to old Hank Williams songs.  not only does that not answer the question… he was never a hobo, and never ‘rode the rails’.  I don’t mind it, though.  Once you know that about Bob, it makes for fun reading.

and if you have the desire to watch Bob Dylan eviscerate the press on film, there is a whole DVD of just his mid 60s press conferences.  In the early 60s, he paid a documentation to follow him around for about a year.  The end result is a really terrific film called ‘Don’t Look Back‘.  Here is the fun, and perfectly Bob Dylanian*** way of handling things.  When Bob saw the final cut, he sued to have it blocked from distribution.  His concern was the film made him out to be a total dick.  The judge dismissed it, saying basically “maybe you come off as a dick because you are a dick.  Plus, this wasn’t a sneaky hatchet job.  YOU are the one who hired this guy to follow you around.”

*** I totally just invented that expression, and I think you are welcome to use it

More than any artist I can think of, Bob Dylan embodies ‘fake it until you make it’.  Bob had a regular boring perfect middle class life in Minnesota before moving to NYC in his late teens.  Every interview he gave back then, he gave a different back story.  Mostly romanticized tales of being a rambler and a gambler and a tramp…. etc etc.  What he did that rises above it all, though, is he wrote songs in that voice.  So much so, and so well, that he became the character he invented.  I can’t say enough about Bob Dylan.  I listen to him almost every single day of my life.  In the 25 or 30 pages I have read so far, this is the best telling of his story I have found.  You may note this is the same author as the book below.  I have a feeling I am not done with this author any time soon.

I also want to say this.  Though I only enjoy earlier Dylan (1961-1966, and then BOTT in 1974)… I am NOT one of those people who gave up on him when he went electric.  Y’all are mis-remembering his acoustic era.  it wasn’t that long at all.  It was about an album and a half.  Plus, his first album was entirely covers, except for the very last song.  Bob’s best work was in the mid 60s, but it was never just his acoustic stuff.   Play around with this release to find peak Dylan… when he was cranking out so much music that he INVENTED the double album.  yeah, the Beatles copied it years later.

thank you, Patrick, for loving Bob Dylan like me.  There is literally no one else on Earth I know who loves to sit and chat about Bob.  Thank you for the lead on the book. and thank you for also believing that his motorcycle accident is total bullshit, and was a great excuse to get him off the road and reset for a while.  If you are interested, I have written about Bob a lot on my music writing page.  Here, I sorted them for you.

Am I prattling on?  You are damn skippy.  You get me started on Bob Dylan, or Alice in Wonderland… and I will talk your damn face off!

Super awesome bonus?  I bought this used off of Amazon.  the copy I got is not only in great shape… but it is a first edition hardback.  March 2018

Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life

Howard Sounes

Charles Bukowski is a great writer.  He reminds me a lot of Hunter Thompson.  Not in their writing style, but how they lived what they wrote.  They both thrived on the underbelly of society and culture.  Yet, they both had a way to beatify life the underground.  Interestingly, they were both just absolutely horrible people.  This book pulls no punches, and is an absolute brutal portrayal of the man.  I am only about halfway through, admittedly.  I have no reason to believe the author isn’t telling 100% of what he knows.  There is no judgement here, just anecdotes and stories from those who knew him well.  The book is also very well cited with Bukowski’s own words, journals, and published pieces.

Before reading this, read Bukowski’s works, first.  Get a feel for the man.  I also very highly recommend the odd and wonderful biopic done about him in the 80s called Barfly.  It stars Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway, and I really think it nicely captures the man in an hour or or two.  Again, I strongly recommend the man’s writing, before studying the man.  In fact, don’t study the man… he was a monster of a misogynist.  To his credit, he never pretended otherwise.  He simply wrote life as he experienced it.  He was an eloquent drunk… like so many greats before him.  I could list famous and great writers who were dirtbag jerks…. But it would be quicker to try and name some who were not.  To give you a feel for his style, here are some of his better known titles:

Love is a Dog from Hell

 A Hell Called Ohio

Whiskey: a Novel

What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through Fire

Pleasures of the Damned

Notes of a Dirty Old Man

Tales of Ordinary Madness *

  • God how I love that title. That sums it all up, doesn’t it?

Ok, you get the idea.  Great book so far but don’t read it.  They say never meet your heroes, they will let you down.  Yeah… that first here.  Again, DO read Bukowski, and DO watch ‘Barly’.  I think it is an excellent movie… and a fair look.  Interestingly, he lived a long and fruitful life.  Against all logical odds.   Here is a great quote from the Barfly, but I can’t say if it’s Bukowski original, or a clever screenwriter.   Someone asks him ‘Don’t you hate people?’.  He says “No.  But I seem to feel better when they are not around.”    His writing, again like Thompsons, is almost 100% autobiographical.  Of course, he punches it up, and you are left to wonder what is real and what isn’t.  I am FAR from an expert on Bukowski, but I am on Hunter Thompson.  After reading thousands of pages from him, and everything printed about him… I found the weirdest and most absurd Hunter tales were not just completely true, but often worse.  I haven’t seen Barfly since college.  We watched it OFTEN.  I am still quoting it.  As a companion to this review, and the book I am listening to… I am putting it on now to watch over the next few nights.  Looking now, Netflix doesn’t have it streaming, bug Amazon does.  It’s $3.  Get it.  You don’t need friends over for this.  It probably stands up better if you watch it at home with several drinks.

Funny side note.  As you know by now I am pretty concerned with who does the reading of these audiobooks.  This was is read by the author.  This is odd because the writer is English.  To here an erudite and literate British voice narrate the story of one of the great degenerates of all time is kinda surreal.  I recommend listening to, and watching, his interviews and his natura cadence.  Here is a nice snipped from youtube you can enjoy.

I have to admit, like reading HST when I was younger, I assume Bukowski was writing a romanticized version of his life.  Perhaps Hunter’s was.  Not Charles.  I don’t even think his horrible interpersonal relationships were meant to be so cruel.  I don’t think he wanted to be mean.  I think he had a shitty childhood, and never developed much social skills.  I think he went through life journaling his adventures.  And his adventures were being drunk, avoiding people, and women as a ‘necessary evil’ that he didn’t understand.  Didn’t you feel that way when you were 16?  That women didn’t care about you and you would forever be alone?  Didn’t you feel that while woman always say ‘they want a nice guy who will take care of them and make them laugh and feel good about themselves’. THEN… go on to date and sleep with dirtbags who had no real character.  Those of us who loved women and treated them as something special… but us fools lived in the dreaded ‘friend zone’  No?  Was that just me… and every rock song ever written?  In time, we learn to love and worship women and appreciate the gift they are that holds our lives together?   Well, Bukowski never quite made it to that graduation level.

Maybe you think a movie like Barfly is going to have a Hollywood romanticism, especially with two of the move beautiful people starring like Faye Dunaway & Mickey Rourke.  Nope Bukowski wasn’t just unpleasant underneath; he was a genuinely ugly man.  You may remember that Mickey Rourke was one of the most beautiful people alive when this was made.  I think they tell a fair telling of 2 broken drunks who got ‘rode hard and put away wet.   This review is long, and it because I am struggling to piece together who he was just I am a trying to explain it to you.

Here is one of my favorites, from ‘Run with the Hunted’.  I believe it was one of his last long form books.  I picked it up on college, while he was still alive.  It’s a first edition hardback, which excites the hell out of book nerds like me.  Prolly best it wasn’t signed… it wouldn’t have been anything nice for say.  Anyhow, he closes the book with this poem, here is an excerpt:

there’s a bluebird in my heart that

wants to get out

but I’m too tough for him,

I say, stay in there, I’m not going

to let anybody see

you.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that

wants to get out

but I pour whiskey on him and inhale

cigarette smoke

and the whores and the bartenders

and the grocery clerks

never know that

he’s

in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that

wants to get out

but I’m too tough for him

This was written around 1992, shortly before he passed in 1994.  I still remember that day.  The book was good, but a little too thorough.  An abridged version would have been nice.  The book described in both painful, and unknowable detail… nearly every day of his life.  At least, it felt that way.  Especially since every day of his life for about 40 years of it involved him drinking as much as he possibly could, then getting into fights so he would have interesting stories to write about.  Looking at my phone, a quick calculation tells me the audiobook was about 10 hours.  I swear to god it felt like 40 hours.  Due to the monotony of his daily routing, it got to feeling like homework.  I was also disappointed that the iconic movie Barfly, which changed everything, got about 3 minutes of airtime.   March 2018  * editors note to self.  It was exactly 10 hours and 37 minutes.  Good guessing, but next time just do the research

The Sociopath Next Door

Martha Stout, PHD

See the source image

It’s time for you to rethink, and re-understand, the term ‘psychopath’.  I am going to use these terms interchangeably… because they almost are:  psychopathy and sociopathy.  First, pronounce the first like this:  SY-kopathy.  Not… si-KOP-ahty.  Being a psychopath or sociopath doesn’t mean wielding and ex and eating babies.  It certainly doesn’t mean hearing voices, or committing violent acts (though they can be tied together).  I am going to use the term sociopath, because it carries less stigma and baggage.  To be a sociopath means to have no feelings… basically.  You have no shame, no fear, no regrets.  You truly do not give two shits about people.  Not even your own mom.  It isn’t so much behavioral as it is medical.  Think of it that way.    Sociopaths are able to manipulate people with great ease… because they have no conscience.  A true sociopath could trip and old lady and watch her fall to her death and feel nothing inside.  Here is where it gets fascinating, to me.  You are more likely to find a true sociopath in a board room in corporate American than behind bars.  The great Jon Ronson wrote a book a few years ago called ‘The Psychopath Test’.  It is mentioned and reviewed below.

A true sociopath gets their jollies from manipulating people.  Does it seem to you that large corporations don’t give a shit about you?  Sometimes, it is because they are genuinely run by sociopaths.  Sadly, this is a character trait that is often rewarded in the business world.  Ronson did a study and found the CEOs of the biggest companies in the world display the tell tale signs of sociopathy.  You might be thinking Donald Trump is one.  I don’t think so.  He cares TOO much what people think.  However, he only considers the positive attributes of himself.  I think his principle defect is that he is a pure narcissist.

I can’t tell you too much about this book as I just started it today, but it is very promising so far.  Being an amateur self-appointed freelance neurologist… this stuff fascinates me.  There is another book further below called ‘Confessions of a Sociopath’.  I HIGHLY recommend this book, as it is written by a genuine full blown sociopath.  This is super rare.  Most socio/psychopaths don’t know they are sociopaths.  If they do, they genuinely don’t give a shit.  Oh, they know they are different, but don’t see a problem with it.  So, to have the experience told to you eloquently and thoughtfully like she does is a rare treat.  Because she is a high powered business woman, she writes using a pseudonym.  It is also unique because it appears this affects more men than women.  This is a disease, basically.  It comes at birth, and can not be cured.  Are you a psychopath?   Well, one in 25 are.  There is a test you can take online, free.  It’s called the ‘Hare Test’, named after the doctor who pioneered the work (Dr Leonard Test’.  Get it?  I made a funny.  Obviously it was a Dr Hare.  Here is a free online test.

What is super cool about the gal who wrote ‘Confessions…’ is she has a website and an entire support group for folks afflicted.  It is just a wonderful save haven for people affected to be able to talk to each other without judgement.  Again… what does that have to do with this book?  Ask me in two weeks.  Sociopath World.  Like Canadians, you could be standing next to a psychopath this very second and not know.  That is precisely why both are so dangerous.  This book focuses on regular sociopathic behavior that is more likely around you.  Not the CEO or cereal killer, but the co-worker or horrible ex lover.

In closing, I am not a sociopath, and I can’t think of anyone I know who might be.  And I know some pretty bad dudes.  A good book.  I would start with the books I mention above, first.  March 2018

Spy Handler:  Memoir of a KGB Officer

Victor Cherkashin

Image result for Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer
This is the autobiography of a very high ranking KGB officer from the 70s and 80s through the worst of the cold war… and the end of the cold war.  It’s an amazing read so far.  Oh… and it’s a book!  I real book!  I haven’t read a book in a couple of years.  This book looked amazing, and wasn’t available on audiobook.  Super cool stuff.
I was really enjoying this, but I left it at my mechanic’s last week.  See, I don’t even know how real books work anymore.  March 2018

Scores: 

How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History

Michael Blutrich

I was dipping back into Mafia… then had a hunger for some spy stuff.  This book has it all.  Pretty much the entire summary is in that title.  It is quite a tale.  What is interesting and surprising is this guy handed the mafia their biggest indictments in decades (or possibly ever.)  He rolls on the Gambino crime family here with great detail, and wore a wire for the Feds.  Yet, he isn’t dead.  He is still alive, and clearly not in hiding.  Lucky guy.  This was an enjoyable read for sure.  March 2018

Somebody to Love

Grace Slick

grace

I love Jefferson Airplane, which is the band she famously fronted in the late 60s.  Yes, you know her and the band.  She is ‘Somebody to Love’, and ‘Don’t you want somebody to love?’  Interesting side note – she brought those songs to the Airplane.  AND?  She didn’t even write them, her brother did.  Anyhow, the book is enjoyable, but not great.  She covers a life’s work in just a few hours (remember, I am a book on tape guy).  Another thing… she is kinda a jerk.  Again, it is a good book. But… would benefit from more tales of the pertinent early days.  Also… she could benefit from some self reflection or therapy.  I still love her, and once got to see her in person.  Didn’t get to meet her, mind you… but stood in her presence.  That was pretty great.  She is an important icon in rock… and an absolute frontier builder for women.  Oh, here is another thing. She is an incredible artist, the painting kind.  There was maybe a sentence about that.  I would bet if Grace chose the cover, it would be this.  Remember, more anything… she is a survivor.  She is still alive, and kicking (someone  🙂  Many of her contemporaries and friends from then are all dead.  That has to be a major bummer.  I am sad she isn’t singing anymore… and hasn’t for a good 25 years.  Oh, and last time she did… it was ‘We Built this City’.

Awesomely, all of the principles from Airplane are still alive, except Paul Kantner.  We need a reunion.  Grace, Jorma, Jack, Marty, and anyone of the 23 drummers they had.  I think Spence is gone as well.  It’s appears this was ghostwritten, which also makes me sad.  I know I said before that ALL rock star bios are ghost-written (except the Boss), but she has a great voice and perspective.  Why use the ghost-writer?  That is just lazy.  Do you know how those work?  The artist hangs out with a ‘ghost’ writer for a few months, and tells them stories.  The writer will fill in the blanks with pointed questions “tell me about your relationship with _______”.   Then… the writer disappears for a few months and stitches all of this together.  I still I love you, Grace.  Feb 2018

older Grace

I love you, too, Lono – Grace Slick   (well, probably she would say that.  Who knows?)

Arguably

essays by Christopher Hitchins

Ok, I guess I deserve this one.  I kep reading gumball pulp, and bitching about it.  Well, Paul found something cool for me  Paul is a good and smart and interesting dude… so I trust his judgement.  Hitch can  be a tough slog of a read.  I can call him ‘Hitch’, btw… you can’t.  Mostly, what he writes about is atheism.  He is super really extra obsessesed with atheism.  Being an atheist myself, people bring me his stuff.  He has written thousands of pages explaining why there is no god.  this doesn’t make a great read for me, because I am on the same team.  Does this make sense?  Let me try another analogy.

Hitch thinks houses should have rooves.  I mean, it is really really really important to him.  I agree houses should have rooves, as well.  So, people just love to send me his treatises on rooves.  Ok. so, I kinda gave up on him.  This book is a book of essays, and I gotta say dude is a nihilist.  it is a series of essays on why everything we know is a damned lie.  While interesting, it is a bi depressing, too.  I have no doubt this will be a fine book.  However, it would appear that dude is a first rate narcissist.

Oh, and I have done you a BIG favor.  How?  Why?  I found a better book cover.  You want to see the real book cover?

https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1426386037l/10383597.jpg

Anyhow… I ended up shelving this guy… again.  This is a book of him telling you everything you know about famous people and things is wrong.  Potentially a fascinating topic, but he just comes off boorish and know it all.  Imagine hanging out with Sting, but he just spends the evening correcting your grammar.  Shelved Jan 2018

I Killed Pink Floyd’s Pig: Inside Stories of Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll

Beau Phillips

https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1422584376l/24753842.jpg

You know me, I can’t resist rock trivia books.  This one was just ok, and not the place to start if you want a great rock read.  If you seek such, ALWAYS go with rock manager books.  I would imagine the publicist for this book would say something trite like ‘Beau was the Forrest Gump of rock and roll.  In the right place, at the right time, for the glory years of rock and roll.  I would not say that.  Dude was a station manager at a Seattle rock and roll station (KISW).  What this means is he has the same stories that every station manager has.  Drank with Van Halen?  Backstage to see nekkid groupies?  Find me someone in rock who doesn’t have those stories.  Jan 2018

Someone, please give me some good book ideas.  I am in a rut here.  I prefer only non fiction, and love love love a great autobiography.   This would be a great guy to corner at a keg party, but that doesn’t mean you get a book deal.

Waiter to the Rich and Shameless: Confessions of a Five-Star Beverly Hills Server

Paul Hartford

Image result for waiter to the

I gotta tell you, it was just ok.  An impulse buy.  I’ll let them describe it

In order to become Hollywood’s top Waiter to the Rich and Shameless, Paul “Pauli” Hartford had to abandon his long-haired rocker dude persona and double down on his dedication to five-star servitude. After several turbulent years at the top of his waiting game, Hartford comes clean in this daring confessional, dishing about everything from debauchery to deification at the Beverly Hills hot spot he’s cleverly calling the “Cricket Room” to avoid being sued to hell and back.

It’s entertaining and insightful enough.  I really need better books.  These hot pockets are just vapid.  Time to get back into history stuff.  Jan 2018

Lucky Bastard

Joe Buck

Somedays, you want a meaty book.  A book that will consume you.  A four course book, where even the salads and the deserts are expertly chosen.  This is not that book.  Some days, you just want McDonalds.   This is that book.  Veteran sports announcer tells his story.  it wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t good.  I really did, however, enjoying him reading it.  He had more passion in that book as he read it than he does on air.  You know the whole Jim Gaffigan bit on ‘Hot Pockets’?   Yeah, it’s kinda like that.  Dec 2017

The Ice man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer

Phillip Carlo

This book is about Richard Kuklinski, the most prolific mafia hit man in history.

I admit this book was a mistake.  I wanted to know about the (wait for it…) day to day life of a mafia hitman.  I wanna know what he is doing when he isn’t killing.  Hoping for a behind the scenes look into the mafia, as always.  So far (about 6 or 7 chapters in, though), it is not about the mafia.  It is about the art and business and science of murder.  There are entire swaths of pages devoted to explaining just exactly where he hits your skull with a screwdriver for the most effective kill.  This guy killed for sport, literally.  He would take vacations to NYC to murder hobos, just to test out new techniques.  I didn’t want to know the specifics of how exactly to murder somewhere.  Especially not 325 pages of that.  As a result, I think I will shelve this one and find a different mafia book.  BTW, if you are interested in mafia books, and who isn’t, I recommend Michael Franzese.  Of course… when it comes to hitman stories… start with ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’ – Nov 2017

Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses

R Gary Patterson

Ok, enough about lawyers, and the White House, and the NFL.  Let’s get back to my roots.  This is a legendary rock trivia book, but just now made available audiobook.  I haven’t listened to a word of it yet, but am pretty confident it will be amazing.  How amazing depends how much I learn.  Seriously, with these books, I know about 80% of their stories.  No, really.  I was actually reference as a source in one of these books.

Lastly, I LOVE the narrator.  He is a big part of why I am listening to this book.  Mike Dawson.   He did the ‘Mistrial’ book below, which is one of the reasons I got it. Nov 2017

NFL Brawler: A Player-turned-Agent’s 40 Years in the Bloody Trenches of the National Football League

Ralph Cindrich

ok, I panicked.  I didn’t want another NFL book, and this one isn’t that interesting.  See, below the president swing I was on earlier in the month, I was on an NFL ‘insider’ binge.  Here is what happened, I didn’t have a book ready after the one below.  So, this was in my audible wishlist basket… for books to further investigate.  See, that second book about the White House (that had NOTHING to do with the White House… which you can see I am still annoyed by) turned me off my ‘behind the scenes of the White House phase’.

ok, focus… about this book.  It is exactly as it describes.  Problem is, i very often drags.  This audiobook telling is an ‘unabridged’, which means it is verbatim from the book.  BAD IDEA.  This book could have been edited down to about half it’s length.  You know the showbiz dictum ‘always leave ’em wanting more?’  And then there is this thing, where he keeps talking about how he is a different agent  because he doesn’t do all the sketchy stuff.  Then, it’s an entire book about all the shady shit he does.  I don’t resent that, it is exactly the job of an agent. Just don’t spend half the book talking about how principled you are, and the other half explaining what a crafty and resourcefully deceitful negotiator.

It’s not a bad book, just a bit long on the tooth.  Also, may be the most narcissistic tale since Bill Clinton’s book (obviously, not counting rock star books).  update – just found I have like another 5 hours of this.  Him talking about how great and honest he is… and ten detailing what a crafty bastard he is.  If I wanted to hear someone blow themselves for 10 hours on audio book, I’d listen to Sebastian Bach’s book again.  SHELVED – Nov 2017

Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works…and Sometimes Doesn’t

Mark Geragos & Pat Harris

an inside behind the scenes look at day to day life (sensing a trend, yet?  These books are my flat Stanley’s into different worlds) of the legal system.  I listen to a Geragos podcast, he is wildly likable and crazy smart.  Yet… on the other hand… he represents some of the worst people ever.  Like… Chris Brown, and Scott Peterson.  I truly can’t think of 2 worse people.  I also can’t wait to hear Geragos tell their story.  He’ll prolly say everyone deserves justice.  Let’s be honest, though… dude is kind of a fame whore.  Bonus fun!  I was thinking of making an analogy to Gloria Allred here, about Geragos being an attention whore.  I didn’t though, and wanted to take the high road.  I have read that Allred actually does a TON of great work for women’s right (but is also an attention whore).  Anyhow, in this book, the writers LOVE calling her out for being an attention whore.  This tickles me.  I am about half way through now, and really enjoying it!

Still, though, he is so likable and interesting, I surely want to spend a week or two driving to work with him.  Just started it today, but you know I’ll keep you posted.  The scary thing is this – knowing myself; I’ll go down a 5 lawyer biography hole before I am out.  This is my Walter Mitty life… getting a chance to live in the shoes of great minds for a week or two at a time.  Oct 2017

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

Alyssa Mastromonaco

This is an audiobook (read by author, which is always best) by a staffer in the Obama white house.  Like the David Litt book below, it is a behind the scenes look at a day in the life of a white house.

Update – I am not pleased about the book at all.  The book has very little about the job, or life in the White House.  Or… insight into being a woman in significant power in what is largely a ‘boys club’.  Instead, it is simply her story.  That is fine, I guess, but no more fascinating than my story.  Am I saying this right?  I don’t care about her story or experience.  I only care about her story or experience in the White House.  They did not give this nice lady a book deal because she is a scheduler.  No sir.  They have her a book deal because she is the scheduled for the president.  You could be engaged to this gal and never know she is senior staff for the White House.

I had hoped it would be more like the Litt book, below.  Litt gets that no one cares about him… we care about his job, and his White House experience.  He totally delivered that, and made me interested in the guy in the process.  Now that is good biography work!

Shelved!  BIG UPS TO AUDIBLE – i listened to 9 of 11 chapters and they let me return it.  That is great customer service.  Why did I read so much if I was so disappointed?  I kept assuming the book would get to White House stories, and it never did.  I drive so much I didn’t realize I had already dumped about 10 hours of my life into it before I realized that not only does this book have NOTHING to do with Potus and the White House, but it never would.  See that cover?  As the great Cheech Marin would say – “Hey man, that’s false advertising!

Oct 2017 -shelved

Thanks, Obama:  My Hopey, Changey White House Years

David Litt

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I just started this, but I am very much enjoying it so far.  As for a description, I’ll let professional blurby writer people describe – Now, in this refreshingly honest memoir, Litt brings us inside Obamaworld. With a humorist’s eye for detail, he describes what it’s like to accidentally trigger an international incident or nearly set a president’s hair aflame. He answers questions you never knew you had: Which White House men’s room is the classiest? What do you do when the commander in chief gets your name wrong? Where should you never, under any circumstances, change clothes on Air Force One? With nearly a decade of stories to tell, Litt makes clear that politics is completely, hopelessly absurd.  Sept 2017

Collision Low Crossers: a Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL football

Nicholas Dawidoff

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Yet another football book.  My third in as many weeks.  Once I get into a topic, I like to go deep.  I find the best way to do that is to hit it from many angles.  Rather than a single 1200 page book on football (Bill Simmons, I am looking in your direction)… I would rather read 6 200 page books.  Take Jerry Garcia.  He is no easy study, and not an easy to understand man.  I’ve read a solid ten… just to try and get and Jerry.  See, everyone wrote a book, except Jerry.  So, the only way I can know him is through his friends and their stories.

Ok, back to football.  I think I have read all the players books  There aren’t many… 4 or 5.  So, now I am reading this from a dude who was embedded with the team (the NY Jets, 2011 season).  I’ll let Amazon blurb this better than I:

Most of what happens in today’s NFL takes place at team facilities, walled off from fans and, until now, from writers. The New York Jets issued Dawidoff a security code, a locker, and a desk in the scouting department: for an entire year he lived with the team, from early-morning quarterback meetings to edgy late-night conversations. Dawidoff makes an emblematic NFL season come alive for fans and nonfans alike.

Here is something nice about the book; it doesn’t promise ‘dirt’, ‘mud’, or ‘the real uncensored truth’.

The book is written by a journalist who embeds himself with the NY Jets for a year.  FULLY embeds… is there 12 hours a day every single day with all the coaches and stuff.  We learn Rex Ryan is both beloved and respected.  We learn Mark Sanchez is probably even worse then we thought at QB.  At least he comes off likable.  Sept 2017

*** Done with the book, and I still don’t get the title.  If nothing else, reword it >  Collision of the Low Crossers.  How about that.  You can’t put a colon or semi colon in a book about football.

The Dark Side of the Game – My Life in the NFL

Tim Green

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Another ‘day in the life of the NFL’ books from an NFL player.  it’s ok, but it’s pretty tame.  I can only imagine this was a good book before the lawyers got a hold of it.  It wasn’t chronological, but a series of essays.  Of the 4 books I have on NFL here and below… this would be the lowest.  I don’t want to say ‘worse’.  He didn’t do anything wrong, it’s a plenty fine book.  It just feels too clean.  Also, and this may have a bearing, the book was written 20 years ago.  I don’t think the players life has changed at all, in that time.

Ok, I am changing my song.  I had finished my little review and was looking for a book cover to put in place.  I found one, and look at that blurb: “shows the realness of life in the NFL without exagerration”.  Wrong, it doesn’t do that.  This is the book you would give your grandmother if you were a player and she wanted to know the gritty truth.  Maybe 20 years ago, there weren’t a lot of NFL books.  Maybe there weren’t any.  Well, of course we have the iconic ‘Paper Lion’, but is probably until this book came along.  Sept 2017

NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football

Johnny Anonymous

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I love football.  Not just watching football, either.  I am even more fascinated in the behind the scenes… everyday aspect of being a football player.  What’s it like?  The non-football part?  Can you go to a movie, for example?  Or… do you get bothered by too many people?  Or… are you just too large of a human to fit in those seats?  Since you are all stupid rich, for now, do you get like special screenings of new movies in big ass theater at your headquarters?  Does the team charge you to eat in their cafeteria?  What if you bring friends?  Are you really always in pain?**** Is it tough to remember all those play codes?   T7, T7, Jefferson, Lincoln, Omaha!  How did you memorize all those complex plays?  Everyone tells us you are a dumbass lunk.   You turned 32, you are now done for LIFE at the one thing you really loved and excelled at.  Shit.  What do you do now?  Are they all wife beaters?  Is every wide receiver a prick (that one I can answer.  Yes).  What is it like to be famous?  What is it like to be marginally famous?  How complex is your life just specific to your body size?  Seriously… maybe of these guys are 6’7” and 350 pounds.  I assume you need a big ass truck.  Do you have some kind of reinforced bed?  Jesus, what happens to your poor little 90 pound mistress when you have sex?

These are just the things I think about when I watch football.  This book is a decently candid look at the day to day live of an NFL player.  Think of it as a diary, basically.  It’s not the best, but it is a very enjoyable listen so far.  If you like these books, and you should if you love football… let me recommend 2 other.  ‘Slow Getting Up’ by Nate Jackson, and the amazing and also incredibly well researched ‘a Few Seconds of Panic’ by Stefan Fatsis.  Shameless plug, these last two books are from Broncos players.  I can’t get enough of them… just like rock star autobiographies.  I am just fascinated with the other 99% of your time when you aren’t playing football.

The author wisely calls himself Johnny Anonymous.  Why?  Because the NFL is very, very, very, very, very concerned with it’s image.  The NFL (and more specifically, Roger Goodell) does not care if football players beat their spouses routinely.  They know about it.  They sat on that Ray Rice tape for 6 months before someone in the media leaked it.  You know the tape… its basically attempted murder caught on video).  Point being, our author takes a very non romantic look at the NFL.  It is simple.  He doesn’t like his job.  But, he is smart enough to know it is a really great job.  In order to tell any kind of truth about the NFL, he can’t say his name.  the league would run him out of town.  It doesn’t take more than 30 seconds on google to figure out who he most likely is.  I didn’t know the name, and have already forgotten it.  I could publish it here, but that would be a dick move.

This guy isn’t a great writer, and I really like that.   Know why?  I can’t tell he didn’t use a ghost writer.  You have no idea how common ‘ghost writers’ are.  I bet 60% or more of the books in your house were written ‘with’ another name.  I already talked about ghost writers in the Norm McDonald piece below, though.

wow, sorry about all that tangential stuff.  Can you believe this is the edited down version?  Shall we actually chat a bit about the book?  Initially, I was put off by the constant swearing and clear narcissism.  It sounded like a guy desperate to sound hip and connected to popular culture and social norms.  Remember Dr Evil trying to connect with Scott?   That was the initial tone I felt… but I was wrong.  I am about half way through and he has really grown on me.  That doesn’t mean he isn’t a narcissist who swears too much for no real gain (remind you of anyone, dear reader?)… but in time you simply see this is his self.

He isn’t trying to appear to be an smarter or talented or more interesting than he is.  He might be the super rare animal that says “I don’t care what people think about me” and actually mean it.  This is the perfect temperment for an author, and I envy it deeply.  I know that 99.9% of people who say that say that are full of shit.

At no time does he take the high road in telling his story, nor does he sugarcoat it.  However, I don’t think he demonizes the sport, either.  He tells it almost like a documentary.  He will say stupid and sexist and racist things.  He acknowledges it, though. Imagine if your big brother was in the NFL.  You talked to him weekly by phone, as he just told you about his days.  That is this book.  His position is important to the story, as you can imagine.  He is an offensive lineman.  This means he protects the QB for a living.  This means he gets hit… hard… on every single play.  Yet, he will never touch the ball, score a touchdown, or get a shoe deal. if the NFL had a proletariat class… it would be them.  Nameless and faceless meat puppets.

Listen, I know I seem to do little more than bitch about the NFL while I keep telling you how much I love football.  I bitch because football literally means that much to me.  It is a big part of my life.  I want football, and it’s players, to succeed and do great things in life.  So, like a parent, of course I get mad when I see it do such stupid and self-destructive stuff. Sept 2017

*** about the pain question.  Yes, a pro football player is pretty much always in pain.  Boo Hoo, you cry.  They are rich, and have the best doctors in the world.  Yes, that is true… but they don’t use them.  The team doctor works for… the team.  Players are terrified to go see the team doc… for fear he will rat them out to the bosses… who would cut them.  The NFL is like the Army, in that sense.  You can’t, and won’t show weakness

Them: Adventures with Extremists

Jon Ronson

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This is (I believe) Ronson’s first breakthrough.  It’s from 2003, but the content is truly timeless.  He finds some very interesting stuff.  Here is a perfect example of the stuff he uncovers > there has always been legends of the people who really run the world meeting in secret to run everything.  The Illuminati, or Yale’s Skull and Bones, Freemasons.  You know, dark cigar-smoke filled rooms of old white men discussing who will really: be the next president, win the next superbowl, change stereo eqp back and forth from silver to black every few years (ok, this is my own thing, but it drives me nuts.  They all collude to do it.  Black is still all the rage as I write this in 2017… so just watch.  In two years, they will ALL be back to Silver).

Sounds like nonsense, or paranoia, right?  It isn’t.  They DO meet, it IS real, and he finds them!  Here are two that are very, scarily, real:  Bilderberg Group, and Bohemian Grove.  On the most recent season of House of Cards, President Underwood heads to one of these retreats that is very, very based on Bohemian Grove.

For the most part, you find they are just nuts.  But, there are some kernels of absolute truth in much of this stuff.  As you should know by now, I am obsessed with Jon Ronson reading his work, and his voice.  I figured out why >  he has this very genuine curiosity that comes across in his voice.  It is infectious, and also reminds me of Gladwell reading his own work.  It is because of these two, and especially Ronson… that I basically only consume books read by their writer.

The book is full of this stuff, from nonsense of the lizard people secretly ruling the other… to him being chased down the road by Bilderburg Security (spoiler alert, he calls the cops, and they tell him to get away… and that they can’t help him).  This is a re-read for me.  I love Ronson so much, and it’s been a good 10 years since I read this… I am ready for me.  Update – I had to table it.  I got too deep into Ronson.   Between this, and the amazing audiobooks series ‘the Butterfly Effect’ I was listening to Jon Ronson gently tell me about crazy people for 3 hours a day every day for a couple of months.  Bad idea jeans… i literally started to think in his voice.   I’ll keep the book on my phone, though, so I can go in and out.  Odds are, though, I am about Ronsoned out for 2017.  Aug 2017

Jon Ronson sidebar >

I’d like to recommend a companion piece to this book.  About 15 years later, he wrote a book called ‘the Psychopath Test’.   I recommend everything Ronson writes, but especially this book in tandem with ‘the Psychopath Test’.  In the latter book, he studies very carefully psychopathy/sociology (they are much much closer than you think).  He finds psychopaths in great concentration in two sectors of society:  felony prison population, and Corporate CEOs.  I am 100% serious, and so was he. It’s fascinating.  These two groups have succeeded in their own by literally not having feelings about people’s feelings.  Ronson is great!  I love you Jon Ronson.  Let’s just stop and celebrate this mousy faced little genius!  You see his genuine curiosity in this picture.

Jon Ronson Bullseye

btw, he has some movies out.  “Men who State at Goats“, starring George Clooney.  It’s a true story, about a DARPA group who on pyshcically killing animals (and so then eventually enemies) by staring at (and so being able to kill) goats.  This is a true story.

Don’t worry, all his stuff isn’t that dark.  He has another movie, also a true story, about a band he was in when he was younger.  This is a fun and tender movie I totally recommend, called Frank.  Sadly, neither of these features include Jon Ronson in person.  Why?  Probably because he looks like a curious and genuine mouse.  Aug 2017

  • ok, that picture above wasn’t fair.  I looked through a LOT of photos and used that one because that is exactly how he sounds… that face.  Normally, though, he doesn’t look that dumb.  Actually, I stand corrected.  I can’t find a single picture of him online that doesn’t say ‘punch me’.  Obviously, I am projecting… but tell me if I am wrong – Jon Ronson google image search

Butterfly Effect

Jon Ronson

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This is basically a book on tape.  It is a (roughly) 7 hour audio book available only through Audible.  It traces the ‘butterfly effect’ of porn consolidation, and the impact of widely (and wildly) available free streaming porn.  What is does to the people, the business model, the family members, the economy.  It is fascinating, as is everything Ronson does.  I have read everything by him, and you can find out more below by doing a Control F on his last name.

Note, this audio book is not about porn.  It is about the impact of porn, and it’s a hell of a story.  Even Fabian would agree to that!

The story is told in a serialized way – thing ‘serial’, or ‘S-town’.  It is free to Audible folks.  This guy is my favorite working writer right now (with all do respect to Chris Moore, and Malcolm Gladwell).  Not even sure if we can count Gladwell, as he only does about a book a decade.  His books, though, are always amazing.

I can’t say enough good things about Jon Ronson, but I sure am gonna try!

Go find this (audio)book!  It does not exist in print.  You don’t want it in print, though.  You want Ronson reading it to you.  I would be willing to bet that EVERY reference of Ronson below mentions his voice.  It is just the best.  If you don’t have audible, you are a damn fool!  Stop listened to Clear Channel I heart radio and educate yourself on your drive to work.  At least… entertain yourself.  Like Netflix, Audible began by peddling audiobooks.. but have now branched into original content.   Aug 2017

Buddhism 101

Arnie Kozac

You could call me finding this book ‘fate’.  Jung would say so, and I know enough to not question Jung.  I think it is maybe more confirmation bias.  I keep getting  gently guided in this direction, and I couldn’t be happier.  Uniquely, this is an actual book book.  I love it because it is designed for quick reading and digestion.  Think ‘Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader‘.  Yup, the only book reading I do or have time for is in the bathroom.  Very slowly, I am learning and studying Buddhism.  Real slow.  Like, I have been loosely chasing this for at least a decade… and I probably know less than I did in college (when I read voraciously).  I still read like crazy… but on my drive.  In the last 3 days, I have driven over 700 miles.

I am not going to go into the content, you can imagine what it is.  So let me tell you why I said this is confirmation bias.  I am finding more evidence of that every day.  Imagine you are thinking of getting a pick up truck.  You never wanted one or cared.  Now, though, you see them everywhere.  and everyone is talking about them.  Strangers come up to your doorstep and ask you about trucks.  I keep finding this.  I remember a Vegas trip where this first happened that I noticed it.  Last year this time, we were kicking around the idea or going to Cuba.  All the sudden, it was everywhere.  it is the kind of thing where you seriously say ‘the world is sending me some kind of message’.  Look for red cars, and it’s all you will see.  Well, right now, that is happening with me for Buddhism.  It’s getting to be that time for me now.  I’ll put a date here, but that isn’t when it was finished… just started.  August 2017.  This book is dense, and every few pages hits me hard with something really thoughtful.  I have had it a couple of months now, and am only about 20 pages in.  I basically read a little every night before bed.  Just about a page, which usually gives me something pretty thoughtful to sleep on.

The Art of Happiness

Dalai Lama

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His Holiness means a lot to me.  His story is incredible.  Perhaps you know that.  Here is what is really, really crazy, though.  His Holiness has lived in exile for 50 years, STILL unable to return to his homeland and his people.  He travels the world teaching.  Do you know what he wants from you?  Not for you to pray.  Not even for you to do good and be a good person.  Doesn’t want you to learn about Buddhism and the teachings that lift all boats.  He wants you to be happy.  Just… smile.

Sure, he would like that other stuff.  In happiness, though, he feels you can be your most effective.  He was born a holy man, right?  More so even than a King, he was born a leader and a demi-god (yes, I said that and it’s super not Buddhist to think like that.  It’s why I am an ‘aspiring Buddhist’… I am still learning and opening.   Here is the funny thing about it, though.  He wasn’t born to be a world leader.  He was born to lead a specific and tiny sect of Buddhism… Tibetan Buddhism.  He was to lead… like… 3 guys named Karl and several oxen.

Had China not come in and run him out and killed everyone left… we would never know his name.  Had things gone fine, he would just be some freakshow in a dress on a mountain on top of the world.  Things went bad, though, and we are lucky for it.  Oh, Buddhism would probably say there is no luck, I don’t even know.  I don’t pretend to know the Dharma.  I just pretend to know that it holds lots of answers to things I have been asking.   The teachings and content are so thoughtful that this is not a book I can ‘burn’ through.  I listen about an hour a week, and then digest that.  Aug 2017

Ok, let me share a little of his personal dogma.  He doesn’t love religion.  He is fine with any belief system, and doesn’t see ANY of them as competition.   He doesn’t love religion because he feels it divides more than  brings together.  Another pet peeve of his is just prayer.  He, quite rightly, wants action.  Want _______?  Praying for it won’t do you shit.  You have to act, and take action.  I LOVE that.

Waging Heavy Peace

Neil Young

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Neil Young is many things:  curmudgeon, rock star, renaissance man.  This book, like Neil’s life, wanders all over the place.  That is a good thing.  It is a far reaching tail, and one well told.  Sadly, it isn’t narrated by Neil himself.  Things I have learned so far (about a third through the book) is Neil has had a LOT of health problems all his life.  He had polio, and that is just the first chapter.  Also has back problems, nerve problems, arthritis, and even epilepsy.  You get a feel for his kinda flaky and difficult reputation.  He explains it as simply ‘following the muse at all costs’.  Let me be more specific, maybe people talk about only doing what they want to do, or only doing what they feel is right… damn the rules.  There are only 2 rock stars in history who truly follow their muse and no one else.  Prince, and Neil Young.

Note… sometimes ‘following the muse’ looks a lot like being a narcisstitic asshole.  When Axl Rose cancels tours and starts multiple city-wide riots… he was not following the muse.  When he shows up 4 hours late to a show, that is not following the muse.  Neil has done some similarly dickish moves.  He doesn’t tell the story in the book, but he once notoriously quit CSN on tour, backstage at a heading to a gig.  He wrote it on a napkin, and passed it up to the band.  Ending with, quite famously, “eat a peach“.  Neil does this kind of thing a LOT, and doesn’t really ever cop to it in the book.  In fact, in one passage he famously said “Sometimes you just gotta see things through!”  That coming from Neil is pretty funny.   I just finished the book, and I enjoyed it.  However, it is too long and rambling.  Here is what I mean by rambling, about half the book or more is about cars.  every chapter is kind of based around a car, that he has named.  While I am sure it makes complete sense to him, to the reader, it is super confusing.

There is another great story that Neil leaves out that I remember.  He was asked to speak at the Rock Hall of Fame one year.  He said he would be honored to.  Then, VH1 told him they needed a copy of his speech a day ahead of time, to run it by the lawyers.  Neil refused to budge, and ended up walking away from the whole ceremony.  Good for him!  He won’t let the suits and lawyers take everything out of rock.  In Neil’s epic history of obstructionism and dropping out of things… that one is prolly my favorite.  It’s a perfect example of how he lives on his terms only.   It explains why the book feels completely unedited.

Also, it jumps around in time a LOT.  Like, about every 5 or 6 pages near as I can tell.  I say that, because it happens with no warning of any kind.  Perhaps in the printed book, there are years above chapters.  As it’s read, though, it will jump 50 years through time and then back.  I don’t regret reading it, but it could have been edited and condensed down to something a third of the size.  Just like Neil’s catalog, really.

Might as well take this opportunity to cross promote my writing on Neil from my music site.  July 2017

Giant of the Senate

Al Franken

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I love Al Franken.  He’s a literal liberal, (funny moment of Google Subtext© there.  I initially typed out ‘literal)’ and he’s from SNL.  I can not overstate my love of SNL… but let’s try.  I don’t think I have ever missed an episode.  I can name cast members from most seasons.  How about the doomed early 80s?  Gary Kroeger, Tim Kazurinsky, Brad Hall, Julie Louie Dreyfuss, Mary Gross, Joe Piscopo, and (of course) Eddie Murphy.  Do you know how to get tix to SNL?  You can only request them in August, and you won’t get them.  I have been trying for 20 years.  It is a very small theater, and only holds a couple hundred folks.  When I finally made it back to NYC, my chief goal was the pilgrimage to 30 Rock… just to see the studio.  I got to do that.  As a result, Al Franken has a lot of cred with me.  He is also a Deadhead.

This is, as you can imagine, his story.  It’s an autobiography, but emphasizes his time running for, and serving in, the senate.  I am about 4 hours in so far, and it’s great.  It’s read by Franken.  You ALWAYS want your audiobook read by the author… whenever possible.  Al is funny, and peppers in his wit and insight really well throughout the book.  Like me, he is very self aware of his faults and how he is perceived, and I appreciate that.

I am very excited to get to the Senate stuff.  No, really, I truly want to know about the day to day workings of what a senator does.  Do you drive to work?  Is there a cafeteria on site?  Do they really sleep in their offices?  Do they have a bathroom in their office?  At this time, I absolutely recommend the book.  BUT… I must mention a downside.  This is a personal pet peeve of politicians.  They have this way of explaining vast and complex problems by taking the macro down to the micro.  Instead of saying ’25 millions do not have healthcare, and another remaining 45 million are woefully under-insured.  I guess that stuff is boring.  To make it relatable, they instead tell a story about Billy.  Billy is a small legless, faceless American, with no access to healthcare. Billy served in all 4 world wars, raised 13 beautiful and perfect children.  Billy volunteers for toeless veterans of the great civil resistance.  Having no face, literally, Billy has had to struggle for everything he has.  Billy never lost hope, though.  Billy was in the trenches every goddamn day making sure seniors had access to porn.  Also, he saved a fortune in eyeglasses and skin creams.  Do it for Billy!  Keywords:  Ted Cruz pedophile, Ted Cruz pain in the ass.

Maybe you don’t think everyone deserves health care.  Maybe 25 million is too big a number to rap your head around.  You can do this for Billy, though… and the thousands of faceless veterans across out great country.  Sure… faceplants® are available.  Problem is, his insurance company does not deem it medically necessary.  You get the point.  All politicians do it, and I just do not care for it.  Remember John Edwards?  He was the worst at that tactic.  Turns out, he was the worst at lots of things.

Ok, I am sorry.  Perhaps you wanted to know about the book, or maybe about Al Franken.  All I did was prattle on about SNL and political tropes.  That is what you get for reading me.  If you want to know about the book… well just read the book.  Or… go to amazon and read the reviews.  I think it is an important read, though, for bigger reasons.  As we know, the Democratic party is a collosal shit show right now.  Right now, I see to big rising stars in the DNC:  Elizabeth Warren, and Al Franken.  I don’t know if Warren has written a book yet, but if she hasn’t… she will.  I am sure it will be great… but I will be dry.  I think over the next 5 years you are going to hear a LOT from these two.  I think that is a good thing.  They are both passionate, and effective.  Each for very different reasons.

Right now, he is talking about the health care mess.  How the GOP sued over 60 times to try and stop it.  NEVER ONCE trying to fix it, or make it better.  Well, they won.  The President’s bill not only eliminates health care for about 25 million, he is also working to defund and eliminate Medicaid.  So, the GOP philosophy used to be ‘don’t get sick if you’re not rich.’  And… ‘don’t be a woman… or unwhite… or gay’ Now, they would also prefer you not get old, either.  Anyhow, this part was SO frustrating to listen to (and basically, live through again) I had to walk away from the book for a couple of days.  You learn a LOT about GOP obstructionism.  The great thing, though, is he does it with specifics, and wit.  It takes humor to get through this life, and it certainly takes humor to survive the Senate.  I am very happy, and thankful, we have Senator Franken fighting for America.

Ok… we need to talk about the cover real quick.  I think it is supposed to be satire, along with the title.  Problem is, I don’t think people get that.  I don’t think I get it.  Instead, it comes off as pompous and self aggrandizing.  Knowing Al (we’re kinda close now), it is meant to be satire.  For someone strolling through the bookstore at the airport, it just looks like another douche old white guy running the country.  Al is a good guy in there fighting every day.

Just get the book.  June 2017

So Many Roads: Life & Times of the Grateful Dead

David Browne

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I need to stop reading these Grateful Dead books.  It’s just too depressing.  Get comfy, this will probably go long.  I have read a lot of the books on the Grateful Dead.  I dare say most of them.  You can find them all here, on this page.  Just do a control F and throw in ‘dead’ or ‘garcia’.  This book is better than most.  It is very well researched, and nearly exhaustive (about 12 hours on audiobook).  It tells a tale of monster dysfunction.  I don’t think the author set out to do that at all, it just emerged.  Think of the dysfunction of Bad Brains, for example… then spread that over 30 years.

In short, you have one of the biggest corporations in America being overseen by 1) a junkie… who 2) refuses to make decisions of any kind.  A tale of the Grateful Dead is inevitably a tale of Jerry Garcia.  It was his band, and his songs, and his vision.  Problem is, he didn’t want any of that.  He just wanted to be left alone to play guitar.  He sure as shit didn’t want be a messiah figure leading 70,000 people a night in football stadiums.  But… he was, and he did.  Most believe it’s why he did the drugs… to escape the burden of being Jerry Garcia.

Jerry Garcia is a musical genius.  I think one of the most important in history.  He was also, sadly, a huge fucking mess.  He had so much trouble dealing with decisions and reality that at 1 point in time he had 3 wives.  A quick look at that.  Mid 80s, he is back with the real love of his life, Mountain Girl.  They have kids together, and are married.  Jerry gets bored, and falls for a hot young hippy fan named Manasha Matheson.  He bolts on Mountain Girl.  NO warning.  Leaves a note and is gone.  He marries Manasha and they have a kid together.  The kid is barely one and Jerry reconnects with his childhood girlfriend, Barbara Meier.  He is smitten, and is rushed off to Hawaii with her.  Manasha isn’t warned, and didn’t even get a phone call.  Just a note.  She has a KID with him, mind you.  Ok, so we are on wife 3?  He marries here, Barbara, in Hawaii.  She confronts him about his drug use, worried for him.  She didn’t even tell him to stop, but she wanted to talk about the elephant in the room.  He listened, and said “I understand, I think it’s time you go.”  That relationship, and marriage, is now over.  He goes back to Mountain Girl for a year or so until he reconnects with another old girlfriend… Deborah Koons.

Wanna guess what happens?  Right.  Married… right before Jerry died.  I tell this story as a microcosm of the macro that was Jerry’s life.  Somehow, the band persevered, and left some absolutely amazing music.  I can tell you they were a big mess at the end.  I had been going to shows since 1989.  Wifey and I made our annual pilgrimage to see them in Vegas in Spring of 1995 (the year Jerry died).  The show was so bad we left at the set break.  Have never done that.  We spend a LOT of money, and drove across damn near the whole southwest to see the band.  After that show, I stopped listening to them for a long time.

Wait… lemme tell one more personal anecdote about Jerry before we go.  The day he died, the news broke in the morning.  I was staying at my mom’s house in Phx with my then girlfriend (now wife).  I had the radio on, and heard while half asleep Jerry had died.  I immediately went to the one place that all of America went to for news… CNN Headline news.  Back then, it was a half hour news cycle.  The biggest stories were up front, and by about the 25 minute mark… it was entertainment fluff news.  So, it was basically a throw away story at the end of the cycle.  They thought it was a non story.  By the end of the day, though, it was THE headline story.  Even the president spoke about Jerry.  Sorry, I got distracted.  It was a great book, and I recommend it!

In closing, a note about the author.  He also wrote this book (which is reviewed below), which I enjoyed even more.  Didn’t even know it was the same guy until I was researching for this review.  June 2017

The Magic Fingers of Frankie Presto

Mitch Album

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This was recommended to me by my masseuse.  It is wonderful and odd.  It is a fiction tale, but so well told it need not be.  Really enjoying it so far.  It is too singular and odd for me to describe, so I will let the pros handle it:  A Spanish war orphan born in a burning church and raised by a blind guitar teacher, Frankie Presto was gifted with extraordinary musical abilities that shape not only his life but the lives of those around him. At nine years old, Frankie meets the love of his life, Aurora; that same day, civil war tears apart his home and he is sent to America, smuggled in the bottom of a boat with only guitar and six strings imbued with the power to change lives.  May 2017

update… it was quite a good book.  However, it was FAR too long for the 2 weeks the library let me have it.  the book is really far too long.  Also, the timeline jumps constantly.  It seems like a clever device at first, but after a while I got kinda carsick.  It got ‘shelved’ by virtue of the library expiring the audiobook… but I am not sure if I will re-borrow it.  I probably still have another 13 hours left.  This will make an amazing movie.  I have already cast all the principles in my mind.  I don’t always do that with books, but when I do… that means it was a vivid and interesting story – June 2017

Furiously Happy: a Funny book about Horrible Things

Jenny Lawson

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This book is a VERY funny memoir about crippling depression.  I know how absurd that sounds.  I love this book so far.  Am listening on audiobook, as always, and it’s amazing.  You really want this gal’s inflection and asides, as it is (most importantly) read by the author.  I can’t wait until you read or listen to it.  The cover will make SO much sense, and will have you laughing for the rest of your life when you see a stuffed raccoon high fiving you.   I had just done a search on great biographies and this came up.  They were right!

This gal, per her own admission, is rather add.  As Kitty once said to me, she has the ‘ooh shineys’.  The book is a series of wonderful and beautiful and odd observations.  Thing is, there are literally thousands of them.  It was really nice to have her ride with me for a few days, but it gets overbearing.  I walked away for a week, and just came back and enjoyed her anew.  I am like 8 hours in, and only half way through.  Odds are I will do another day or two… then hop back over to Franky Presto.

Also, I thought ‘is this an act?  Is she really that manic and all over the place?’  I found her youtube page.  She was delitefully charming, but even more all over the road.  Good luck, Jenny.  I love you, and your husband is a SAINT.  🙂     May 2017

Letterman: the Last Giant of Late Night

Jason Zinoman

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Dave!  I love David Letterman.  As I have written about, I am a night owl.  Very much so.  Dave was my ally, and my only ally.  See, there are probably thousands of choices of things to watch right now at midnight, not counting what’s on your DVR.  Well, 35 years ago, there wasn’t dick-all.  Fox didn’t even exist yet.  My programming choices were news, or Dave.  Not only is Dave great… he kinda had a monopoly on audiences under 50 from 1980 to about 2000.  Just started this book, but I am super excited.  I was kinda raised by Dave.  So far, very well written and entertaining.

Here is how far back I go with Dave.  I was at a taping of one of the shows.  His morning show.  Did you know he had a morning show?  I did, and I was there.  I must have been 7 or 8 or something.  I am OGL!

Wanna here something cool?  The book I am reading?  It’s a first edition hardback, signed by the author, and inscribed… to ME.  True story!  How did this happen?  Well, without giving away too much info, I’ll just say this.  The author is Bobo’s next door neighbor in NYC.  I know more, but won’t tell you to respect their space and privacy.  I’ll come back in the next few days and upload the inscription.    Ok, finished the book. It was great, and incredibly insightful.  We knew Dave was withdrawn, we knew he didn’t socialize with anyone.  We knew he didn’t even meet with guests before taping.  That wasn’t the half of it.  He was so reclusive he didn’t even meet with his writers.  They worked in isolation, several floors away.  Literally, they never even saw the guy.  The show did rehearsals, and he didn’t do those, either.  It’s really a very sad tale.

But the book missed soemthing BIG in my estimation.  Having watched Letterman ALL of those 20 or 30 years, I saw a slow but seizmic shift.  In the last ten years, he changed very much.  It was slow, and you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t there every day.  Be (very very very) slowly managed to become a somewhat happy and passionate man.  Our terrific author feels this was related to his heartattack and successful surgery.  Or being married.  No sir.  David changed, and it comes down to 1 word.  Harry.  To say Letterman was distant and disintered in absolutely everything would be a dreaful understatement.  Until Harry, his son.  After Harry was born, Dave would have opinions, and take stands on things.  He got perspective and value that the show or fortune couldn’t give him.  It humanized it, and it was great.  Seeing Dave’s amazing Pearl Jam introduction last month reminded me how funny and talented he was.  Here, watch this… it’s incredible.  it’s vintage Dave on every level.  I was overjoyed watching this.  Dave and Pearl Jam… all the things I love in life together and happy and healthy.  May 2017

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Spoiled Rotten America: Outrages of Everyday Life

Larry Miller

Larry Miller is a comedian, and this is him ranting about stuff.  It was a cheap audiobook, and I enjoyed it.  Mostly, though, I am STILL cleansing my pallet from that Cormac McCarthy book.  It was 3 or 4 hours of humorous ranting for about $6.  That is a solid value.  Needless to say, I hope, it was read by Larry.  Larry is great.  Used to listen to him for years on the Carolla show.  He isn’t just funny, but he is so warm.  I have nothing but nice things to say about this guy.  May 2017

Based on a True Story

Norm McDonald

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Norm is fine and all, and I am very much enjoying the (audio) book… mostly because Norm is reading it.  But that isn’t why we are here today, is it?  Let’s talk about Blood Meridian below.  What the fuck?  I have consistently heard and read that this is one of the most important books ever written.  Maybe it is, but I can’t take it anymore.  I listened  to about 4 or 5 hours and I just can’t take it anymore.  Bleak?  Bleak would be too cheery of a descriptor for Mr McCarty’s writing.  I had also listened to ‘the Road’, and similarly gave up half way through, knowing my eventual suicide was the consequence of finishing either book.

ok, the writing itself is beautiful and incredible.  But, in both stories (the Road, and Blood Meridian) virtually nothing happens for hundreds or thousands of pages.  Reading (or, more lazily… listening) to his books is more punishing that homework.  It’s medicine, but without the cheery Julie Answers parts.  I own the book now, so I can finish it anytime, but I don’t see that happening soon.  You know this guy’s style, too.  Cormac McCarthy wrote ‘No Country for Old Men‘.  That’s a fucking Disney story compared to the other two.

Wait… I guess we should talk about the Norm book.  It was ok.  I expected a funny autobiography.  Kinda got neither.  This is a long form fiction tale, with Norm putting himself as the main character.  There is zero useful or real info.  How did he get SNL?  By shooting up Lorne Michaels.  Granted, that is funny… but I would really like to know more about him.  If this were a book, I would have shelved it long ago.  300 pages is just far too long for a silly short arthouse film about Vegas.  But, all I do is drive… so I may as well.  I don’t think this is worth reading.  Now, if you want SNL content… read Jay Mohr’s excellent book ‘Gasping for Airtime‘.  That is likely reviewed somewhere below.  Read it about ten years ago.   April 2017

Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy

Bleak.  so    very      fucking              bleak

shelved.   April 2017

 Ghost in the Wires

Kevin Mitnick

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this guy is the most famous hacker EVER.  This is his story.  It is very much a real life nerd caper.  Have you seen the movie Sneakers, with Robert Redford & River Phoenix?  It is amazing, and you need to see it NOW.  Seriously, one of the great all time caper movies, and funny and silly as hell.  Combine that with ‘Catch me if you Can’, and you have the Mitnick story.  This guy was so good, just like Abagnale (of ‘Catch me if you can’ fame) that both of them now make a living teaching companies how to keep out people like them from their systems.  I am only an hour into the book, but so far very enjoyable.  It si scary to think how incredibly powerful these two guys were at their peak… Abagnale and Mitnick (note the serial killer glasses).  Luckily, I consider them both ‘white hats’ or ‘grey hats’.  You don’t want to know about the black hats.  Seriously, don’t even mention the term, or ‘anonymous‘ will crush your life in a way that makes ‘the Net‘ seem adorable.  Now go watch ”Sneakers.  Seriously, do it now.  If you don’t LOVE it, I will give you back the $3 it is in Amazon.  Its’ from 1992, but I think holds up incredibly well.

*** ps.  I am listening to this on audiobooks, as I do with most books.  I had no idea how long it was, just looked interesting.  got it free from the library via my Overdrive app.  I was loading this picture above and saw it looks really really think.  Like… 3 to 4 hundred pages.  Guess I better settle in, which is no problem.  Even on my days off I drive about 150 miles. April 2017

*** just finished it, it was really enjoyable.  It had a rather odd and cool side effect.  the book is chronological, of course… but is told entirely in hacks.  Each chapter tells his story through a specific system break in.  It had the effect of me feeling like a secret agent, and feeling really paranoid and watched while I drove around.  In reference to above, I was right… it was really long.  But, what else do I have to do?  Ok, one last thing.  He is kind of a douche and a narcissist.  He cost companies millions cleaning up after his messes, but he feels he has done nothing wrong.

Thank you for coming to Hattiesburg

Todd Barry

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This is a travelogue book of Todd Barry.  It’s basically his diary from a brief 3 month tour.  I like Todd Barry, but this book is a little too precious.  Like, I assume this was a book written in hipster coffee shops, while working hard to look down on same demographic.  Don’t get me wrong, he is funny.  This book, though, ain’t.  If you want some Todd Barry, watch his Netflix doc ‘the Crowdwork Tour‘.  This book, sadly, is a serious sleeper.   You know how ‘the White Album’ could be really really great if they cut it down to 1 record?  This book is almost 300 pages.  Could have been a brilliant 60 page book.  I mean… just look at the title.  Even that is boring and pretentious.

it’s silly, though, right?  I should be raving about this guy.  He is getting paid to do what I do for free – telling snarky observations sneakily implying he is better and smarter and funnier than us… yet working hard not to come off as elitist.  This guy should be my god.

Shelved!  ok, this has been my go to book.  Good podcasts seem to be drying up, I think the market is too saturated.  Since I don’t want to spend another $18 for a book… I wait until my April credit loads from Audible.  At which time, I have Dave Grohl’s mom’s book to enjoy.  Btw, I actually now miss listening to Todd Barry.  He was a constant companion for a LONG time.  Really, I think that book must have been about 10 hours. March 2017

I heard you Paint Houses

Charles Brandt

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this is a book about the mafia of the 70s in America.  Specifically, hit men.  See, ‘I hear you paint houses’ was the code for needing a hitman.  ‘I heard you paint houses’ is code for ‘i hear you kill people.’  When our protagonist first meets Jimmy Hoffa, by phone, those were Hoffa’s first words to him.  How is that for a tease on this book?  I loved this book because it is also about the minutia of being in the mob.  What is an average day like?  What is the thought process and motivations?  I think the movies gloss over this stuff, understandably… to me it is the most interesting.  Michael Franzese’s book ‘Mob Covenant’ (reviewed below) is a similar excellent and compelling tale.  However, Franzese is a bit more of a narcissist.  This book here, by and about ‘the Irishman’ is not.  This guy is ONLY telling his story because he is dying and he thinks if he lets out all of his demons he may get to heaven.  Read them both.  Even though Franzese comes across as a douchey fella, he still has a hell of a tale to tell.

Not unlike what you see in the movies, everyone was bugged back then by the Feds.  Even if they weren’t, you had to always presume you were being bugged and tracked.  I just started the audiobook, but it appears this is focused around Jimmy Hoffa and his dealings… and disappearance.  Supposedly, this is being made into a movie with deNiro and Marty Scorsese.  Problem is, this rumor has been around 15 years.  It is in what we call in the business ‘development hell’.  I’ll fill in more as I get further through the book.  March 2017

Born Standing Up

Steve Martin

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This was a great score.  Been thinking about reading it forever, but I keep forgetting.  So I was at the yoga studio getting a massage (yes, the whitest transition sentence ever) and I saw this in their little book club nook.  It was one of those ‘take a book or leave a book’.  I took it, and I will bring it back.  Steve Martin is the man.  You know that already.  I can’t tell you more about the book because I just started it.  I expect it to be amazing.  Wait… know what?  I should have audiobooked this one.  I bet it would be pretty compelling to sit in the car with Steve Martin for a couple of weeks.  Yes, this is an actual book book.  Sadly, I hardly read books anymore… just for time reasons.  Assume this book was great if I haven’t added anything after this.  If I shelve it, I’ll come back and tell you.

How could it not be great, though?  I mean, dude wrote ‘the Jerk’!  Go ahead and name a better movie.  You may remember he plays banjo.  He is really, really, really in to banjo.  That is his full time job for the last decade.  Most recently, he has been working with my high crush and my secret wife Edie Brickell.  That also means, by deductive reasoning, he hangs out with Paul Simon.  * editors note – I was Correct. Here, enjoy some of them together.  Lord how I love Edie Brickell.  I had a WICKED crush on her for a long ass time.  Seen her concert many times.  Once, believe it or not, I saw open for the Grateful Dead.  Jerry and Edie worked together, and here is the fruit of that.

What were we talking about again?  Oh, Steve Martin.  Obviously, he is great.  He gave us SO much brilliant comedy and content over the years.  And, he gave us this- Claire Danes perfect and wonderful butt on film.  nsfw, doy.   March 2017

They Call me Supermensch

Shep Gordon

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As you know, I love rock autobiographies.  Know what I love more?  Boobies!   But let’s focus – what’s better than rock star stories is manager stories.  Music managers and promoters have the BEST stories.  They are the real insight into the rock and roll mind, and the rock and roll experience.  Here are some names you should check out: Bill Graham, Chris O’Dell, Barry Fey, Kenny Weissberg.  All great books.  And… they all have stories about what a horrible person Chuck Berry is.  He has literally screwed over everyone in the business.  Over and over again.4

Anyhow, focus – Shep is most famously Alice Cooper’s manager.  Over the years, of course, he has had many many famous clients.  Fairly recently, Mike Myers made a movie about Shep, called ‘Supermensch‘ about Shep.  It’s great, and is streaming free if you have Amazon Prime.  It’s a great documentary, and this is a great book.  Shep is a great man.  It is time I finally acknowledge it – I LOVE Audible.com.  It’s not cheap at $15 a month.  I also think for that it should be unlimited access to books, instead of just one a month.  Still, though, I am quite happy.  Their catalog is insanely deep.  This is a great read.  Did you know that Shep also invented the celebrity chef?  He did.  Shep is also the one who brought Sammy’s ‘Caba Wabo’ tequila to  market.  Just finished the audio book.  March 2017

a Life in Parts

Bryan Cranston

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this was a great listen, because this guy is SO likable.  Of course, he reads his story himself.  A must for any good autobiography audiobook.  You know him as Walter White, or Heisenberg, or perhaps Hal from Malcolm in the middle.  His love of just the craft and the work is inspiring.  Reminds me of Mike Rowe and his philosophy that there are no bad jobs in your history.  If it wasn’t a job you liked, hopefully you learned from it.  Maybe learned what not to do, or maybe it pushed you to better things… or expect more from yourself.  At least take something away from the experience and let it drive you forward.  Feb 2017

Black Spring  

Henry Miller

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I had just finished the book on HR.  I was looking for an easy to navigate book for the bathroom, to read before bed.  I didn’t want anything too thinky. I save those books for the drive.  No, I am thinking celebrity memoir this.  Then, I read somewhere someone said ‘Black Spring’ was better than ‘Tropic of Cancer’.  Well, fuck me running!  How is that even possible?  Miller’s Tropic of Cancer was a game changer.  Even better, I knew I had Black Spring.  I don’t even know if I have read it, but I know I own a copy.  THEN…  I read that Black Spring is the first in the trilogy of the Tropic Books.  What the hell?  I had no idea Black Spring went with Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

How could I not know that?  I’ll tell you how.  There was no internet, and they certainly didn’t teach books like this in school.  Tropic of Cancer is what opened my eyes to literature being great and free.  Same with Hunter S Thompson.  I am sure the only list his books ever landed on was banned books.

I haven’t been able to get through the first chapter.  The writing is totally Henry Miller… and dense, too.  Ie, his writing would never say ‘Mak lived in Brooklyn down the street from me.  I was a warm, if unusual, summer.’  Oh no, not Henry Miller.  You are going to get ‘the city is a dark metaphor for the oppression of my cock and balls by a sweaty and specific bourgeois.  I did not so much ‘live’ in the city as they city lived in me.  Nay, is festered quicker than my repressed needs for a long lost grandmother who knows of snows in Arizona.”

Ok, Henry… we get it.  Lots of big words and metaphors to set the stage.  So…  sadly had to shelve it.  For sleep, I went back to a Chelsea Handler book.  Always funny, and no thinky.   To attack this book properly, I need beach time… where I can just sit and read and relax for a few hours a day.  Feb 2017

Pimp

Iceberg Slim

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My drive to work would to be pretty dry.  Mostly listening to podcasts, rock stories, or academics pontificating.  My drive these  days is much more vibrant.  I am now carpooling with this guy who calls himself ‘Iceberg Slim’.  He rides shotgun, and tells  me his amazing and insane history as a real life pimp.  All he asks of him is to be quiet and listen to him.  Fair deal!   All I ask of him is  to neither ‘shiv’ nor ‘shank’ me.  This always gets us down a linguistic and etymological wormhole.  He explains that a ‘shiv can be a shank, but never every shank is a shiv’.  I have learned NEVER to ague the fine points of semantics with someone who knows the difference between those two words.

With any great theater of the mind, I am picturing what a pimp really looks like.  I don’t need the Hollywood hipster elite showing me what they think a pimp looks like.  I don’t need racists guesses of guys in purple Cadillac.  I then assumed I was probably just using a racist and outmoded model, like Hollywood!   You know where this is going, right?  I get home, I google… and this guy pops up.

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oops.  stereotype  confirmed, baby!   They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  This pic is worth something to the effect of ‘what are you starin’ at, honkey?’  However, there is a reason why he looks like the archetype of a pimp… he IS the archetype of a pimp.  This book came out in the 60s (editors note: 1967) , and was the first book ever by a pimp.  So, every jackass you have seen since 1967 trying to look like a pimp is trying to be Iceberg Slim.  I haven’t even finished the book, but Lance turned me on the a documentary about the guy.  This is big stuff, and goes WAY beyond prostitution.  This became a a movement, and a moment, for young black americans.  It was a role model they could hang their hat on.

I had no idea I was reading this during black history.  Unlike your cracker ass, I celebrate black history year ’round.  Ok, maybe not Oct.  Do they have to have everything?

So… Iceberg Slim is telling me his amazing and psychotic and beautiful and horrible life story.  He does it every day, for exactly 2  hours a day.  Sounds unsafe, doesn’t it?  Well, technically, it is a book on tape.  My wife doesn’t let me drive pimps around anymore.  As you can imagine, this is a very intriguing tale that I am enjoying very much.  I would assume this started out as a print book.  DO NOT READ THIS.  No way.  This is one you HAVE to do by audiobook.  The guy who is reading it sounds very black, and the  language is not censored.  So far, just an hour in, this is very compelling.

I think you should read this if you are curious about the mentality of young black american men.  If you want to know what every rapper and gangster and criminal has held themselves to be?  It’s Iceberg Slim.  Remember Huggy Bear, from Starsky and Hutch?  He was the streetwise black guy who it was implied he was a pimp.  Take a look at these screen shots.  This is some Iceberg Slim shit.  I won’t give away the ending, but definitely consider this cool amazon documentary as a companion piece.  Iceberg Slim: Portait of a Pimp.  Feb 2017

Power of Myth

Joseph Campbell & Bill Moyers

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This is the amazing and landmark sit down with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.  This was a PBS special about 20 years ago.  If you have not seen it, drop everything and go find it now.  It is probably the single most impactful thing I have watched.  This (audio) book is a transcript of that amazing series.  Here is a taste of that very conversation.  This is an hour, but a very important hour.  Have a seat.   Jan 2017

Finding Joseph i

HR, Howie Abrams, James Lathos

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This is the authorized biography/auto-biography of HR.  HR is the very interesting singer of Bad Brains.  I say interesting because he was one of the great rock singers and front men of all time.  Not anymore, sadly. I wrote about them more extensively over here, on my music site.  He has a lot of mental illness issues, which this book talks about.  The book is an ‘oral history of HR and Bad Brains’.  What does this mean for you?  It is all told in vignettes, about a paragraph each, from HR and those around him and the scene, of the rise and fall of Bad Brains.  Good news is they are all alive and occasionally even try and gig.  The bad news is you will never get to see Bad Brains.  Even if HR was willing to sing, he can’t anymore.  At least , there is no evidence of it.  It is a good time to be a Bad Brains fan, though.  There is this book, a documentary related to the book, and they were just nominated to the Rock and Roll HOF fame last year.  They didn’t make the cut, sadly (and wrongly).  Should you read it?  I would instead recommend you spend the time and money and buy the Bad Brains album ‘I against I’ from 1985.

It is heavier than anything you have ever experienced.  It is… lesse… speed metal reggae about the glory of God.  They are all Rastafarians, so I guess I should say ‘Jah/Haile Sallasi’.  Oh… about the title.  Apparently, Joseph i is what HR is calling himself now.  He was born Paul Hudson, a young angry and talented black man in Washington DC.  Jan 2017

Born to Run

Bruce Springsteen

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A read a lot of rock autobiographies.  I mean, I listened to the Sebastian Bach (he is exactly as you would picture him).  So far, this is the best written one I have read by far.  This is no ghostwriting job.  By the way, every musician’s autobiography you have ever read is ‘ghostwritten’.  Perhaps it is no surprise, but my god this guy can write.  It’s huge, btw… like 500 or 600 pages.  However, I am digging it.  This may take me into summer, but it will be worth it.

You see, here is what is important to me.  Not that he a ‘voice of a generation’.  Not that he wrote the greatest rock song ever.  What is important to me is he is a sweet and wonderful guy. Even if you aren’t a fan of the ‘the Boss’, it is still a great read.  I am relatively early in the story.  He is just leaving Jersey to head to LA to make it.  It didn’t take.  But, I am only like 100 pages in.  Pretty sure it turns out ok for the guy.

It was an AMAZING book.  Not even because of his story, or his music.  It is his storytelling.  This guy has a way with words so significant that I dare say it is almost a waste that it goes only to lyrics.  This guy is an amazing storyteller.  Here is a brief example of his insane poetic voice – when Clarence Clemons died – he described it as ‘losing the rain’.  I teared up, I will admit.  Now, this book is thick!  It’s a good 500 pages.  If at home, it would have taken me 5 years to read.  Luckily, I was just on the beach in Mexico for a week… and that book (like any great book) was the perfect companion. Jan 2017

Celebrity Run Ins

Kathy Griffin

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I love Kathy Griffin.  She is hilarious, and insanely candid.  I can pay this, my highest compliment.  In all the books I have read… many hundreds I would guess, there have been only 2 books that I was dreading finishing… because that meant I wouldn’t have it to read anymore.  Does that make sense?  Kathy’s first book, which was brilliant (and should be reveiwed below) was so good that I was sad reading it.  I was sad because with each page turned, I knew I was closer to not having that book to read.  The other book was… well… everything by Christopher Moore.

Here is a perfect example of her humor, and why I love her.  When she wrote her first book, too long ago, Oprah’s book club was ALL the rage.  Seriously, Oprah was a kingmaker.  Kathy wanted to be on that.  However, as a vulgar and brilliant outspoken personality… she did the next best thing.  She actually named her book ‘official book club selection‘  It’s BRILLIANT.  Anyone walking past it in the airport would just assume the seal was referencing Oprah’s book club.  It is rather subvserive, and completelu undermines the work Oprah has done building a brand.

This book so far, I am guessing I am about half way through, is as advertised.  She goes through and tells great anecdotes about beloved celebs.  She is also fearless.  If someone was a dick to her, for whatever reason… she will dish.  Mostly, though, it reads as a love letter to show business.  I have this one on audiobook, which is most excellent, as she reads it.  I’ll give you a couple teasers to get you started:  Simon Cowell is a friend and confidant.. and John Hamm is an asshole.  Jan 2017

18 and Life on Skid Row

Sebastian Bach

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I am not a fan of Skid Row.  I possess zero of their CDs, and know 2 or 3 songs.  I certainly won’t pretend to be above hair rock.  Hair rock was definitely one of my phases.  I seen most of the great hair bands live.  Skid Row, though, always struck me as super shallow and contrived.  They still do.   Because I track everyone in rock, I have loosely followed Sebastian Bach for years.  He is an interesting dude.  So, why am I reading this?   I love rock autobiographies, even from dipshit narcissists like Sebastian Bach.  His life plays out exactly like you think it might for a brief hair rock superstar.  I certainly would not have sat down to read the book.   But, since I drive 120 miles a day… it made a fun week in the car listening to him.  Should you read it?  There are too many better ones, like the Dirt from the Crue.  That is a great fucking rock story.

I did very much enjoy the book, though, and Bach comes off as roguishly likeable.  ** ALERT ** I just typed the most pretentious thing I have ever typed.  Glad you were here to see it.  My lit degree rears it’s fat little head.  If you listen to the book, you too will enjoy it.

It is interesting to note that his Skid Row heyday was incredibly short lived.  Like, just 2 or 3 years.  The band was basically already broken up by the time they were headliners.  Bach remains totally oblivious of it pretty much all being his fault.  The band broke up because he was an unbearable prick.  It’s not unusual, all lead singer are.   Eddie Van Halen calls is LSD – Lead Singer Disease.   Anyhow, back to the break up, because it bears discussing.  Bach tells you in the book that the band is broken up because he got dicked on songwriting royalties.   I don’t doubt that happened, but that didn’t break up the band.  Then, Bach might tell you the band broke up over and argument about opening for Kiss.  Sure, they argued about the Kiss show, but that isn’t what broke them up.  See, he mentions in passing that by the time of their headline tour, he was traveling in his own bus.  The guys in the band refused to ride with him.  THAT is what broke up your band, dumbass.  You were probably an insufferable prick.

On that note, his lack of personal accountability is stunning.  In discussing drugs and booze and girls and his other generally boorish behavior***, he caveats it all with ‘it was a different time’.  As if to say, sure I was banging everyone but my wife and alienating everyone on earth close to me… but ‘it was a different time’.  That bothered me.  Look, I don’t care about your terrible behavior… you are a rock star.  It’s why I read your book.  I expect this stuff.   BUT… don’t justify that behavior with ‘it was a different time’.

*** cool.  That was the second most pretentious thing I have ever written

Best part, as always… he narrates it.  That is what saved it for me.  He tells his tale well.  I ALWAYS prefer biographies where the author reads his own stories.  Gladwell’s voice, for example, is half the fun of reading him.   So, skip this book and get this one instead.  December 2016

A Perfect Union of Contrary Things

Maynard James Keenan

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Maynard is a rock star, but much more than that.  You know him as the singer for Tool, and to a lesser degree of ‘a Perfect Circle’… and to an even lesser degree, from the band Puscifer.  Maynard is an odd and interesting guy, as you might expect from a guy named Maynard.  Fun fact, that isn’t even his name.  His name is James.  You might also be surprised to know he was a military guy.  That is where the band name ‘Tool’ came from.  It is military slang for people like you.  Tee hee hee.

Though he is famous for Tool, that isn’t what he does.  For the last decade or so, he has spent his time as a wine maker.  He owns ‘Caduceus Cellars’ in Jerome, AZ.  Ah yes, the high desert of the Arizona mountains, where all great wine comes from.  He is not a silent partner.  He is very much in all the business day to day.  He actually was in a documentary about wine called ‘Blood into Wine’.  Here is a great little youtube short promo piece about that.  In fact, let’s just stop here and appreciate the poster for the movie.

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So…  this book is his autobiography.  I can’t tell you much about it,  as I just started it.  I expect it to be amazing, just like Maynard.  He is a wonderful and odd and complex guy.  I also suspect he is freakishly, and off the charts, smart.  He also has a great sense of humor, and a great sense of self.  I dig that, needless to say.  I can only hope one day folks say such things about me.  Except the off the charts smart, part.  If I were that smart, why would I waste my time writing to all you tools?   December 2016

Secondhand Souls

Christopher Moore

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OMFG I love this author.  I have to imagine more than once below I have said ‘this is my favorite contemporary (meaning: alive) author.  Those were all lies, and I was a damn fool to say so.  Whatever you are doing now, stop it.  Working?  Sitting on the shitter?  Making love, but actually discreetly reading this blog?  It’s more common than you think. At least it is what I am usually doing.  This book is a sequel to ‘A Dirty Job’ reviewed below… about 2 years back.

Before you do anything, read that book.  I am serious.  Stop what you are doing, leave work if necessary, and find these books.  The first one I read in Thailand.  This one I am doing on audiobook.  At this time, I can’t say I prefer one over the other.  I can say that I have about 2 hours a week to read, and about 15 hours a week to listen.  I drive an hour each way to work, so audiobooks are great.  Listening to this book, I am completely taken back to hotel room in Thailand where I would read nightly.  Both means of ingesting leave me the same… I am not just seeing the story  in my mind, I am casting the film.  No spoilers here, just character names.  Minty Fresh?  Michael Clarke Duncan.  Yeah, I know he’s dead… but this is a book about dead people, ya square!  As Lilly?  The character of Haley from American Dad.  Yeah, I just cast a cartoon character in my movie, and I defy you to tell me she is the wrong choice.

Who plays Charlie?  He is too pivotal to put a face on, I’ll leave that to you.

I just couldn’t be any happier than to be in my truck in traffic for hours with this book at my side.  It is narrated by the awesome and weird Fisher Stevens, who has done a few books by Moore.  The only complaint I have is soon… probably in the next week, I will be done with this book.  I am pre-dreading the time when I don’t have this story to come home to.  Believe it or not, I can only think of ONE time I felt that way.  Meaning, I loved the storytelling so much, I was afraid to read more… knowing that I was expediting it’s end in my life.   That other book?  Kathy Griffin’s brilliant ‘Official Book Club Selection’.

Below, when I talked about the first book ‘A Dirty Job’, I said to read ‘Lamb’ first.  That is my absolute second favorite book ever (behind… what else?  You should know by now… Alice in Wonderland).  I stick to that, I think.  But then, read these.  I talk about other authors I love, like Jon Ronson.  Read everything he does. Same with Malcolm Gladwell. BUT… start and end with Moore.  God, for the first time ever I wish I was a lit professor (my degree is Literature… so I am nuts about books) so I could teach and discuss this book.  I would make my students break off into teams and choose scenes in the book and make them stage them in class.

Even cooler?  The author seems like a great dude.  He is very engaged in his website, he blogs, and if you email him he will email you back.  My next audiobook will be another Christopher Moore book.  Dunno which one, but it will have to be narrated by Fisher Stevens.  You should sorta recognize him, he is a character actor that has been around at least 20 years.  Plus, in his rolls and his looks – he is a living Christopher Moore character.

Sept 2016

What if We’re Wrong?

Chuck Klosterman

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review coming soon.  In short, shelved.  I love Klosterman, but his writing here is just labored and forced.  Reminds me of Penn Gillete’s book.  He was so busy trying to prove both how humble and smart it was it drove me nuts.  heck, no review needed.  There you go, case closed.  Now go read some Christopher Moore already!  Oh, and the cover it upside down on purpose.  I do dig that, that was a fun idea that I bet he spent a year fighting his publisher on.  If you get the chance, catch him on ANY podcast or speaking engagement he does.  He is on Bill Simmon’s stuff a lot.  Dude is an amazing conversationalist, but his last two books just kinda bored me to death.  Too much navel gazing and false humility (Penn Gillette, I am looking in your direction).  Shelved – Sept 2016

Piece of Cake

Cupcake Brown

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This is a harrowing and brutal true story of a young gal  I’ll let the pros describe it, I am only about half way true.  It’s an autobiography that will rock your foundation.  Or, as Amazon says –

There are shelves of memoirs about overcoming the death of a parent, childhood abuse, rape, drug addiction, miscarriage, alcoholism, hustling, gangbanging, near-death injuries, drug dealing, prostitution, or homelessness.

Cupcake Brown survived all these things before she’d even turned twenty.

And that’s when things got interesting…

I think I am about half way through the audiobook.  I finally made the jump to Audible. As much as I drive, I need a better dealer, basically.  So far, it is fascinating… and heartbreaking.  – Aug 2016

A Thousand Naked Strangers – A Paramedics wild ride to the edge and back

Kevin Hazzard

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I found this just roaming a great book store with my niece.  Caught my attention.  Of course, I didn’t buy it (sorry, Mr Hazard)… but took a pic and reserved it from the library.  It is a great and quick read.  It is a paramedic telling his story of a year in the life of the back of an ambulance.  It is a great read, and exactly what you might expect.  Dude is a great writer, and i look forward to more stuff from him.  July 2016

Ruthless

Ron Miscaviage

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This is a very recent tell all about Scientology by Ruthless

This is a very recent tell all about Scientology by the father of it’s leader.  I am fascinated by all cults, and scientology fits the bill.  Closed compounds, where people may NOT leave.  There are no days off.  You are told where to go and when to do it.  You take away their money, and their need for money.  Everything is done in total secrecy… etc etc .  This book, interestingly, is NOT a bash on Scientology at all.  In fact, the first half is an absolute love letter.  The author speaks of the wisdom and his respect for Scientology, and it’s benefits.

This book is very specifically an indictment on what Scientology has become under it’s new leader, David Miscaviage.  Basically, when L Ron Hubbard died, Miscaviage orchestrated a careful and brilliant takeover of the church.  Think of Hitler here, and ‘the night of the long knives.’  You wonder how Hitler got to power, read this story.  In one evening, he managed to have every political enemy murdered.  Even better?  Framed someone else up for the whole thing.

The point being that Miscaviage ruined Scientology, and twisted it for his own purposes.  I read a lot about this stuff, and everything I have read and see from ex Scientologists is consistent with the author’s perspective.  Remember that time the leader, David, got mad at his wife for talking in public?  So… he banished her from ever being seen again in public, for ten years?  She was only proven alive when an ex Scientologist filed a missing report on her behalf.  It sure is odd that a father would write a brutal tell all about his son.  He claims that this is only to tell the world how bad things are for Scientologists, a noble goal.  I believe his stories, and I know how bad things are for Scientologists.  Though alive, these people literally live in worse conditions than either Jonestown OR Brand Davidians.  That isn’t hyperbole.  These are people made to stay awake for days cleaning dumpsters with toothbrushes because of a perceived slight.  This is family members being absolutely forbidden from talking to ex members of the church… EVER.  Even if it is your mom, or dad.

Is Miscaviage Sr, the author, all that noble?  Is his son all that evil?  I do believe the son is that twisted because of the insane stories I have read from ex-Scientologist’s.  The dad, though?  Kinda comes off as an attention whore and bitter apples.  Because of this, if I hadn’t read everything this guy claims elsewhere and before… I wouldn’t believe a word of what he says.  I slam that religion a good bit around here.  Why?  My central beef has nothing to do with the insane original story (volcanoes, space gods, secret netherworld Boeing 747s zooming around with your repressed unconscious baggage).  I don’t mind it, because it isn’t all that dumber than most other religious origin stories.  I resent they charge for classes and wisdom in knowledge.  Never in any history I am aware of did any prophet or messiah charge for the message.  It’s quite often the opposite.  They are SO brimming with confidence and love and excitement that they found the answer that they want EVERYONE to know.  Not Scientologists.  It takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to get ‘up the ladder’ to ‘clear’.  What this basically means is you eventually reach a high enough level of Scientology that you are promised eternity and immortality.  This body and life is simply a spent shell casing.  If you are interested in cults, this is a good read.  It was a good bit longer than it needed to be, but I still very much enjoyed it.

Outing Scientology is all the rage these days, and it makes me quite happy.  If you are looking for a good dish from another OT (operating Thetan, duh)… chase down Leah Remini.  Since she fled the ‘church‘ cult, she has made it her life’s work to talk about the atrocities that Sea Org members live under.

As I understand it, here is the trick to all of it.  It is psychology,  the e-meters and auditing and all of that.  The idea of Scientology is to confront past traumatic issues head on.  Work through every single aspect of them, emotionally and otherwise, until they no longer hold that power over you.  It is about confronting your subconscious and trying to flush out all the repression that keeps you from being fulfilled and happy.  It is that simple, and I agree with it, mostly.  Now, send me 100K, muggle!  June 2016

Siddartha

Herman Hesse

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This is Herman Hesse telling the story of the Buddha.  These may be my two favorite artists.  I am a BIG fan of the Buddha, and his teaching.  I am an aspiring Buddhist.  Even more, I love Hesse’s writing.  I think I read everything he wrote back in high school and college… including this.  It is a re-read, but I think of it more like mu Buddhist tune up.

As I a a few hours into the book, I have some super key question; is his supposed to be an on the those historical biography of the Buddha?   Or, is this a whimsical re-interpretation of the Buddha’s story… a la Lamb, or the Book of Ladder Day saints?  Also, I am SUPER confused about our characters so far.  Perhaps he means it this way, but our three main protagonists are:  Gotama, Siddhartha, and Buddha.  here is why this is a problem – the Buddha is historically regarded as one man – Siddhartha Gotama.  A very real man with a real story… yet they broke his name into 3 names, and made them three different people.  Why are you confusing us?  Hesse is so awesome, though, that I fully trust he has it like this on purpose for us to have a greater moment down the road.  I just started it today, but will likely be done this week sometime.  April 2016

  • funny story I don’t have the time for right now, but below I kinda complained about missing the Dalai Lama, and knowing it was a lesson for me in attachment.  I let go, let it go, and let him go… and it worked.  He (the Dalai Lama) is coming back to Boulder.  He rescheduled and I have tickets to see him.  I was also (most importantly) able to get extra tix and gift them to a friend.  Gunga.  Gunga, Galoonga!

Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell

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Great stuff, as always.  I mean, it is Malcolm Gladwell.  That, to me, is enough said.  He is the greatest and most important writer alive, with all due respect to Jon Ronson.  He not only reads his own audiobooks, which are amazing, but all his writing is his own.  It is important to note again why he reads his own audiobooks.  He doesn’t do this because he is a narcissist most fascinated with himself (like the great Bill Clinton book.  Great book, but man that guy sure is a fan of himself.

You might imagine if David Lee Roth could write, and did… he would most positively read his own audiobook.)  Books that are just starfuckers for narcissists are called ‘Hagiography‘.  This means the hard ball questions to get be things like ‘how did you get so handsome?’  He reads them because I think he wants to make sure no point is missing.  He reads with such joy and perfect inflection… you get why he is such a curious mind.  When he reads the book, it is like he is sitting your couch and riffing with you. He has NO staff.  No ghostwriters.  Doesn’t even have a research assistant. It is 100% him, which is probably why he only shits out a book about once every ten years.  When he does, though, sit back.  They are big, and meaty, and thinky.  I’ll let them explain

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is the debut book by Malcolm Gladwell, first published by Little Brown in 2000. Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point”.[1] The book seeks to explain and describe the “mysterious” sociological changes that mark everyday life. As Gladwell states, “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do”.[2] The examples of such changes in his book include the rise in popularity and sales of Hush Puppies shoes in the mid-1990s and the steep drop in New York City‘s crime rate after 1990.

Excellent and compelling like everything he does.   Don’t let this be your first Gladwell book, though.  Start with ‘Outliers’.  It is goddamn amazing, and was the book that pioneered the famous ‘10,000 hours or practice.  It is fat from my favorite of this work, but he is still heads and shoulders above all other modern writers.  March 2016

The Management Myth

Matthew Stewart

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I wasn’t looking for a leadership book when I found this (though you can see I do keep up on them). I was looking for any audiobooks by Joseph Campbell that my library had. They didn’t, but this came up in the search. Looked good. I was hooked early. This guy spent 20 years in the management consultion business. He spends the next 15 0r 20 hours debunking everything about the management consulting business. He explains businesses pay hundreds of thousands for their executives to hear a bunch of obvious truisms. Said he was paid thousands of dollars to tell CEOs things like ‘happy employees make happy customers’, and things like ‘80/20 rule (there are many things that go to this magic business number) – 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customer base. Or, 80% if your problems come from just 20% of your customers.

He spends the next couple hundred pages debunking the specifics of every great management philosophy. I haven’t gotten to the end, and I likely won’t. Library only lends these audiobooks out for 2 weeks at a time, and this book is WAY longer than I anticipated. It’s interesting, but not worth starting over or waiting another couple of months. Feb 2016

I’m the Man – story of the guy from Anthrax

Scott Ian

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This is just as it sounds; autobiography of the founder and main guy in metal band ‘Anthrax’. Great band, and I have seen them a few times. In fact, first time I saw them, I got to meet the band and chat with them for almost an hour before the show. This was on the tour for ‘Among the Living’, which is a stupidly excellent album. I heard Scotty Ian on Maron’s WTF podcast, and was reminded how that afore mentioned album is. Also realized I didn’t have it anymore… so I found an remaster reissue with tons of extras and a live DVD. Quite excited about that one coming soon. I haven’t even started the book yet, but I am confident I will dig it. Scotty Ian is a smart and thoughtful guy. If it turned out terrible, I’ll come back and update this. So, if you are reading this, it means I loved the book. March 2016.

Garcia on Garcia

Edited by Dennis McNally

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This is basically a box set of Jerry Garcia audio interviews. It’s 5 discs… or maybe 6. Dunno, I scored it from the library. I am enjoying this, but mostly because I have an hour drive to work each way, and I got it free. It’s nothing revolutionary or mind blowing. There are tons of tiny cool moments, insights, and nuggets of gold. Jerry is pretty darn interesting in discussion… WICKED smart, too. Unless you are nuts about Garcia, you don’t need this. If you are a deadhead, though, and you have a road trip coming up; NOTHING on earth bears a book on tabe. Well, maybe a book on tape about boobs. A pop up… uh… book on tape. About, well, boobs

I’ll leave you with my favorite ‘Garcia-ism’.  Magic is what we do.  Music is how we do it. Jan 2016

Don Quijote

Cervantes

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Been meaning to read this forever, so I cheated. Book on tape from the library. Genius, right? Nope. I auto expired about a third of the way through it. Just need to re-borrow it, but can’t yet. I have a hold on, and then they email me when it’s ready. Weird, though, right? I mean… it’s virtual. Can’t you let us all borrow it? I am sure its not a bandwidth thing, but more likely a rights issue.

The narrator is weird. It is an old English guy. At first, it was very distracting. Then, I finally realized a few hours in this was the perfect voice. Also great is that it wasn’t this guy. The narrator is a BIG part of the audio book experience. I did some googling and came up with this guy’s name – Barret Whitener. He has been the narrator of about 75% of the books on tape I have done. Jan 2016

Stories I tell myself – Growing up with Hunter S Thompson

Juan Thompson

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By now, you know about my love obsession with Alice in Wonderland, and Hunter S Thompson. Hunter is a big part of why I moved to Colorado. This is a book by his son. As you may have guessed, he was a TERRIBLE father. Really, bad. I am only a third of the way through, and it is heatrbreaking. Hunter was not a nice man. We all knew that. I know at this point in the narrative that Juan is at his lowest point with his father (whom he calls Hunter, not dad), and I knew they grew very close over the years. Juan was there when Hunter killed himself (another supremely narcissistic move. He shot himself in the kitchen, while his wife was on the phone, and his son (Juan) and his grandchild (Juan’s son, Will) in the other room. I have met Juan on a few occasions and talked with him. Really a nice and smart and engaging guy. Really, the anti-Hunter. Jan 2016

What the Dog Saw

Malcolm Gladwell

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I love Malcolm Gladwell!  I think he is the best writer in America.  You should be reading Gladwell.  He is so big and influential, you are literally missing out on the conversations happening in America if you aren’t familiar with his work.  Ever heard about the 10,000 hours it takes to be truly great at anything?  That was Gladwell.  Now, sure, he tried to kill Bart… a lot… but this guy manages to research and explain things so beautifully.  It is like he is the lost third partner of the great Freakonomics team.  I love Gladwell SO much that I can do what those pussies at the New Yorker won’t do… criticize him.

This is listed as a book of short stories.  They are no short stories.  The book runs roughly 100 hours on audiobook.   That is too long, Malcolm.  Especially when you consider that I only get the audiobook for 14 days.  The book is mostly about the history of a few interesting research and marketing trends.   Want 6 hours on Ketchup?  No. No, you don’t. On the other hand… 3 hours on Ron Popeil and how he built his empire… yes please!

The best part about Gladwell books is he reads his own for the audiobook.   This is really great because you hear his interest and love of the subjects he discusses.  By time he is reading a book, he has probably researched it for about 5 years.  Yet, as he reads it, it is like he is finding these things out himself just in the time we do.  I always prefer an audiobook be read by the author.  Only they have the proper insight and inflections on their words.  Exception?  Ozzy.  Not surprisingly, they had to have someone read that for him.  Subtitles don’t work on an audiobook.  Dec 2015

A Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy O’Toole.

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I have been hearing about this book for years, from people I respect.  I am about 4 hours in (to the audiobook, almost half way) and I am bored.  It’s very well written, for sure.  Fiction, though, just doesn’t do it for me anymore.  I feel life is too short to waste on fiction, isn’t that terrible?  I want to know about every great mind in history, and every great event.  What happened, why?  What made them so great?  What in their history and make up gave them the confidence and insight to make the decisions they did?  I feel these insights could help me to be a better person.

I am bored of the book, and shelving it. I used to love fiction, and when I would write, I would write fiction.  I was quite good, too.  Every time I dive into fiction, no matter how good, I lose all interest.  I spent 20 years trying to slog though ‘the Great Gatsby’.  It’s the great American novel, right?  Hunter Thompson loved it so much he would re-write passages by hand, just to see how it felt to execute such amazing passages.  I never got more than halfway though, though. Saw the move, though, and I enjoyed it.  But, I get why I kept giving up.  Nothing really happens.  I don’t need, or even want, Michael Bay explosions… but an evolving storyline that reaches past total narcissistic and belly button exploration would be nice. I would, however, see the movie (Confederacy of Dunces) in a minute.  Dec 2015.

*** a note on the cover above.  I did a GIS on the book, and found every cover portrayed the protagonist as a big fat white doofy guy.  In listening, I always assumed the protagonist was black.  In fact, it was discussed a LOT about him being black, and how he felt that limited his opportunities.  Why is this being white-washed?  Look for yourself.  Am I missing something, here?  Please do let me know if I am.  As with all audio books, I have been casting this movie in my mind for a couple of weeks now.  The only person I saw in my head as being white, anywhere in the story, is the doofy cop, Mancuso.  To be fair, I am limited a bit by the reader of the story.  The reader is clearly a white guy, who seems to be doing a stereotypy old time black guy voice.  This guy reads ALL the books.  I don’t like it, as it clutters the characters in my mind from past books.  The author, though, sadly died long ago.  So he is not here to read the book, or set me straight on this race issue of Ignacius.

Miss O’Dell – Hard days and long nights with the Beatles, Clapton etc etc

Chris O’Dell

another rock memoir. Pretty good so far. It’s interesting because she is not a groupie, or a paramour, or a manager.  She was a friend and personal assistant to Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Eric Clapton etc etc.  Most all rock books come under those arenas.  She was a ‘gal friday’ for Apple.  Perhaps you could call her an ‘admin’?  Here, this reviewer says it pretty well – If there were such a thing as a female Forrest Gump of rock ‘n’ roll, Chris O’Dell would be it.  Not great, but I am not too far in yet.  I’ll let Amazon describe it from here.  No sense re-inventing the wheel.

Conclusion, I was wrong!  I thought this was just an interesting tale of a lucky groupie.  Chris O’Dell was way more than that.  She ended up being an amazing and successful concert producer and manager.  It is all in the book, and it is all great.  I wondered how I had never heard of (arguably) the most successful and influential female concert producer by now.  I went back through my collection of books on the topic, and I found she was EVERYWHERE.   Problem was, my sexist mind assumed ‘Chris O’Dell’ was a dude… so I never stopped to appreciate her significance contribution to women and culture. Oct 2015

The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA

Annie Jacobsen

Annie, you got quite a set of balls on you.  This is a very comprehensive look at the amazing and shady business that is DARPA.  Remember how a few weeks ago I was complaining how that other Darpa book had no secrets revealed.  It came off more as a pro govt leaflet.  That other book was the official book on Darpa. OMG it was so boring.  This one looks like they are really going to tell the story.  DARPA, by the way, is a fairly secret Govt Military experimentation department.  You have never heard of them, yet they invented the internet, GPS, and did this.  Too unspeakable and weird to even discuss.

Here, let Wiki explain

MKUltra used numerous methodologies to manipulate people’s mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as various forms of torture

So… uh… yeah.  That is the kind of stuff they do.  They would dose civilians and army enlisted men without telling them.  This was to test mind control, and could they create the ultimate killing machine in man.  THAT is why I have been gunning to find the whole story about these guys.  If there are aliens of flying saucers… these would be the guys who know.  You know the old expression “if I told you, I would have to kill you!”?  Yeah, that is DARPA.  Remember Area 51?  It was denied for a long time,  Then, Clinton finally copped it it, but said it was closed.  I hear that a lot, that Area 52 is closed.  However, if you have ever been to the airport at Vegas, you see these planes.  These are the commuter jets that take the top secret workers to work every day.  That is a crazy and interesting commute.

I was a little disappointed in this book, initially. It is a very fat book, like 600 pages. So far, it has just been a clinical and insightful look at DARPA. It is the research wing of the defense department. I was looking for the really fucked up things… like MK Ultra. I know I have mentioned it a couple of times, and it bears repeating. The Govt was dosing military people AND citizens with LSD to see how they would react. They were never told what had happened to them, even after it ended. The idea was could immersion in LSD could create a remorseless killing machine… like that movie ‘the Manchurian candidate’. Also, if you have any interest in that story. See that super awesome and very f’d up Tim Robbins movie called – ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. THAT is the kind of stuff I was looking for. Just as I am about to give up the book.

Then his happens. Drones, which are little robotic flying devices. But… this is Darpa… so hang on. These are drones with biometrics and cameras. So, they know exactly who you are. Don’t put on a fake beard, this little drone scans your eyeballs. Oh, and it looks like a fly, or a pigeon. That means, it could be sitting on your shoulder right now recording everything you say…. And you don’t even know it… because to you it looks like a fly.

Oh wait… it IS a fly. They have genetically engineered insects that are part natural insect, and part nano-machine.   But… what if our little fellow runs out of gas, or poo, or whatever it runs on. The flies are fit with solar panels. So, these insects can tell who you are, track you, recorded you, and that is all.   A ha ha ha ah ah ah. Just kidding. It is also a fucking bomb. Now THAT is the kind of Darpa stuff I was looking for. Mind you, this is only the stuff we know about. What is happening now, we won’t know about for 30 years, and that is for the best. In closing, remember this – Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they are not after you. Sneak into your local library, find this book, and then read pages 405 to 420. Then, never sleep again.

Just you reading this puts you on a govt watchlist.  Oct 2015

Freedom in Exile

Dalai Lama

This is a re-read.  I am brushing up on my Dalai Lama everything.  Not just because I am a BIG BIG fan, but because I have the opportunity to see him speak next month in Boulder.  An audience of ANY kind with the Lama is big on my bucket list.  For years I have been tracking his travels waiting for him to get close enough.  Like finally getting to see Hunter Thompson in person (also in Boulder), patience paid off.  He is doing a speaking engagement in Oct.  I knew the second it was announced that I needed to volunteer.  Not because I am noble, but because it is my only way in.  I was Correct.   Tickets gone in seconds, selling online for thousands.  As an atheist, you know I don’t believe in hell.  However, anyone scalping tickets for the Dalai Lama… yeah… you are going to hell.  His Holiness wouldn’t say that, though.  He would smile and be proud of their resourcefulness… and then chide us for worshiping money above human compassion.

Who are your gods?  Could you imagine an afternoon spent with the Pope?  How about lunch with Christ?  This is my chance at that.  People who follow these things (the late great Joseph Campbell, for example) point out that throughout history, there have been many faces and avatars of Christ-like figures.  Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, Abraham, Haile Salassie,  Vishnu, Xenu?, the Angel Moroni… a Mt Rushmore of mortal men who became, or began, as something so much more.  I put Nelson Mandela on this list, and most certainly I put his Holiness (the Dalai Lama) on that list as well. Even though I am an not a religious person, Tenzin Gyatso – the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama – is one of those people to me.

Anyhow, the book is an AMAZING and harrowing story of the Dalai Lama’s childhood, the vicious and violent Chinese occupation of Tibet, and the Llama having to flee under cover of darkness on a three week horse ride across the Himalayas to get the f out of Tibet.  If the Chinese would have caught him, they would have imprisoned him.  To this day, they are STILL trying this stuff. It’s ugly, and literally spilling into the afterlife.  It’s a complicated and sad, sad story.

I highly recommend this read.  Whether or not you are into Buddhism, his story is a remarkable and wonderful and powerful tale of strength and faith and joy.  – in closing, think of the Platinum rule >  Yes, you know the ‘Golden Rule’, but to really have compassion- try the Platinum Rule:  Treat others not as you would like to be treated, but as they would like to be treated.  Follow your Bliss!  Sept 2015

 The Department of Mad Scientists; how Darpa…

Michael Belfiore

An astute reader might notice I didn’t even bother typing out the long ass title of the book.  Luckily for all of us, you are not that astute.  Why?  Because this book sucks!  This book is the official telling and explanation of DARPA.  DARPA is the top secret Govt agency that handles all the crazy shit.  Making our own flying saucers?  Check!  Mind control with LSD to secretly make better killers?  Check.  Invisibility?  We can only assume.  When shit is weird, AND needs to be top secret, this is who you call.  That you have never heard of them is proof of their success.  They invented the internet, and GPS.  Likely, 90% of the stuff they have invented we won’t ever know about.  They are awesome!  These are the guys who look at Area 51 as being too obvious, and too transparent.

The book doesn’t talk about this stuff.  I don’t want to know about the official stuff.  I kept waiting to get to the real juicy stuff, the top secret stuff... the ‘if I told you, I’d have to kill you’ stuff.  It looks like this book is where I need to be.  if I can find it at the library, I’ll have a review up here stat.  This book reads more like an official press relesae from the organization itself.  This isn’t journalism.  This is being a butt-boy for the man!  Aug 2015 (audiobook)

This is Gonna Hurt

Nikki Sixx

Nikki Sixx isn’t just the guy from Motley Crue, he IS Motley Crue.  Seriously, he is basically the entirety of the band.  He writes the music and lyrics, and handles all that is the business of Motley Crue.  He always has, which is impressive, since he was admittedly wasted much of the time.  Odds are Nikki actually owns the name ‘Motley Crue’.  Now, there are a LOT of good Crue books.  Like all good rock bios, I have read them.  There is ‘the Dirt’, the ‘Heroin Diaries‘, and this one… in that order.  Read them, but in that order.  I love Motley Crue, and not this version.  By then, I was over them and into harder stuff.  I mean this CrueToo Fast for Love.  I bet you can’t tell the difference.  I bet that to you, they all look like overcompensating half gay dandies with daddy issues.  See, you are just looking at the picture.  This first album, it is VERY heavy.  It is aggressive, and today would not qualify as hair metal at all.

This isn’t great lyric writing, but the guitar here (from Mick Mars) just fucking kills!  It is important to note this lyric from the song ‘Public Enemy #1’.  He also gave us this – ‘tigh taction, rear traction.  So hot, you really blow me away’

Don’t think about nothin’

Don’t think about nothin’

Tragedy

Runnin’ the red light

Hear the screams

Another one dies tonight

Don’t think about nothin’

Don’t think about nothin’

See, a couple years later, this happened.  From the guy who is singing this line.  He ran a red light, while wasted, and killed a guy.  Don’t worry, he wasn’t punished.  Back then, once you murdered someone, you had to do a public PSA about the dangers of whatever you were on.  Yup, vehicular homicide, and you do 2 hours in front of the camera crew.  That will teach young kids about consequence.  Well, let’s let Vince explain –

This Crue invented the whole sunset strip whoring and drinking thing you have read about in ALL other rock bios.  They were first.  I would also argue the band invented hair metal.  Yet, they are not in the R&R HOF.  As juvenile as these lyrics are, I love this band, and this album.  Keep in mind, I was likely about 13 when I discovered it.  Now, how are they not in the R&R HOF?  Apparently, they have not yet offered to blow Jann Wenner.

Tangent Alarm: Yes, I am saying that the R&R HOF is a vanity project for Rolling Stone magnate (and inventer, owner… etc) Jann Wenner.  Getting in to the HOF isn’t about being great, or selling a lot of albums.  It is entirely about appeasing to Jann Wenner and his ego.  Note when I say that I am very Pro Jann Wenner.  I love Rolling Stone, and have been a subscriber for at least 20 years.  If he wants the R&R HOF to be his personal library, he can do it.  He invented it, and financed it.  Just know it doesn’t represent rock and roll. as a whole.  Really, it should be called ‘Jann Wenner’s personal Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’.  Sept 2015 (audiobook)

Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock

Sammy Hagar

Sammy is an amazing story.  You know him as the guy in Van Halen, but he is so much more.  He is older than you think.  He was 20 at Monterey Pop, and counts the guys in the Grateful Dead as close friends… and isn’t far off on age.  He is also WILDLY successful in business.  Like, he may be a billionaire.  On the business side, he is mostly known for Cabo Wabo tequila.  The book was great.  A lot of it, obviously, was about Van Halen and the break up.  He basically blames it all on Eddie Van Halen, which squares with everything I already knew.

Eddie fires Roth.  We can see that, Roth is an a-hole… I believe it.  Then, he fires Sammy, same story.  I always thought that was weird, because I have never heard a bad word about Sammy.  Then, Eddie fires Cherone, same story.  Then, Eddie fires Michael Anthony.  We have STILL not forgiven that nonsense.  When you look at the common denominator, it is always Eddie.  Obviously, there is much more to the story, but you will have to read.  One thing that bothered me, though.  He uses the term ‘pussy’ a lot.  We all like girls, no question.  But, ‘pussy’ is not a term I have used for women in about 20 years, so hearing it from a 67 year old half billionaire.  I mean, I appreciate the uncensored nature of it, but your kids are going to read this, man.

the book is great, and I have always been a Sammy fan.  I absolutely prefer Sammy Van Halen to Roth Van Halen.  However, I think that is entirely a function of age, Roth was the 70s.  I didn’t get in to rock until the 80s (being born in ’72).  Plus, history agrees.  Sammy is a better singer, wrote better songs, had more hits, and sold more albums.  To me, here is the most interesting thing.  No band has successfully replaced a lead singer mid success, when the original singer was still alive.  Every rock band has tried to replace their a-hole lead singer, and it never takes.  Motley Crue, Ratt, Iron Maiden, Styx, Journey, Doobie Brothers etc.  Somehow, Van Halen broke the mold and had two wildly successful incarnations with two wildly different singers.  Impressive.  August 2015

June 1941 – Hitler and Stalin

John Lukacs

the time for frivolous reading is over.  I have been super fascinated by WW2 as of late.  There are a several cool, streaming, docs on Netflix.  I knew I needed to go deeper, though.  Movies are nice, but I had to buckle down and actually read about history.  😦

See, you don’t understand how super duper close Germany came to running the Earth.  No one does.  Yeah, the whole goddamn Earth was damn near theirs.  I am also interested in super weird alliances that were born out of necessity.  You have heard the term ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’?  It comes from this.  Everyone hated Stalin.  Stalin was a very bad man.  What Stalin did in killing people makes Hitler look like a pussy pacifist.  NO ONE trusted him, for good reason.  Yet, both Germany and the US had to buddy up to him in WW2.  I started with Germany.  They made a couple smart allies early on, when they were planning to take the Earth.  They signed ‘non-aggression pacts’ with Italy and Russia.  Hitler knew not to mess with these countries, so he wisely got them out of the way early.  However, Hitler being Hitler, he changed his plan and attacked Russia shortly after.  Bad idea jeans.  It’s how he lost the earth.  Once Hitler attacked Russia, we (the US, and President Roosevelt) realized it was in our best interest to keep Russia safe and afloat.

Germany was the far bigger threat.  Russia now becomes a huge ally.  We opted, quite wisely in retrospect, to back Russia to help them fight Germany.  Don’t worry, we didn’t really like Stalin, either.  BUT, we had to get Germany out of the way, first.  Well, this book is about that stuff.  I am only a few pages into it, but it looks fascinating so far.  Oh, and can I admit this?  One of the reasons I chose this book is that it was under 500 pages.  Every book on WW2 is 500 to 700 pages.  There is SO much to cover and discuss.  That is too much for me to digest, at least for now.  This book is 150 pages.  Me likey.  July 2015

The Survivors Club

Ben Sherwood

This is a book that was recommended to me at a recent Disaster Services training course.  I have been to a LOT of these.  It’s what I do in my free time.  I volunteer to learn how to save your dumb asses in an emergency.  I am trained now by FEMA, Red Cross, and my local county emegency operations team.  In fact, I am actually on that team.  What does his mean for you?  Simply, this; if something terrible happens, I will be there.  Wait for me.  But, you are in a volcano path in Indonesia?  Sit tight, I got your back!  Why?  Because I am noble?  No, because I need readers.  That means you, fatty.  This book is cool, it’s about what survivors of disasters have in common that let them live.  It’s their crazy stories, and then the take-aways from that experience.  Like, where to sit in a plane for best chances of survival in a crash.  Where is the best place to have a heart attack.  Ok, I’ll give the plane one, since you likely have already heard it.  Sit in back.  I got this from the library on a cool little flash drive thingy.  It’s a soft copy of an audio book, which I listen to on my considerable daily commute.  We have talked a LOT about books on tape here, and you need to be doing this already.  So far, this is a great read listen.  July 2015

President Me

Adam Carolla

This is Adam Carolla ranting again.  It’s great stuff, especially if you don’t know his rants.  It’s a rather thick book, but a good fluffy read.  I listen to the podcast daily, so I have noticed I know most of this content.  His opening chapter about Air Force One is great, and makes tons of sense. His books are all NYT best sellers, so he is hitting a good vein.  There are four books to date, in order – In 50 years we’ll all be chicks, Not Taco Bell material, president me, and lastly ‘Daddy, Stop Talking’.  July 2015

There Goes Gravity

Lisa Robinson

Now you know I am crazy for rock biographies of all stripes.  My absolute favorites are the books by promoters.  NEVER pass one of these babies up, they have the best stories.  That isn’t Lisa Robinson, though.  She is a rock journalist who I was familiar with.  She is a great writer, and was writing back in the heyday of the Stones, Zeppelin, Bowie, Lou Reed… etc etc.  She was in there, close.  Like, more than writing about – she had these people over for dinner.  She flew on their planes and lived in their hotels.  Not for sex or drugs, though… just to write.

This book is her memoir.  I am listening to the audio book on loan from my library, and she is reading it herself.  It’s pretty cool.  I gotta tell Vance about this book.  Her chapter titles read like his record collection.  June 2015

Everyday is an Atheist Holiday

Penn Gillette

I love Penn Gillette.  I have always been a fan.  I love his magic and his personality and his take on life.  This book isn’t about atheism so much, as it is a collection of tales and thoughts.  I enjoy how his mind works, for the most part.  The book is a fast and enjoyable read… except this.  He is really really really over bearing about his atheism-ness.  He is a fundamental, you might call it.  I too am an atheist, but not like this guy.  You know how there are super hardcore religious people who go to houses and countries to tell them about god?  You know how most reasonable people, even religious ones, find that annoying and overbearing?  Keep that thought, we’ll come around to it.  One of the things I pride myself on as an atheist, (and this is a serious principle I thought we all kinda had) was we aren’t in anyone’s business.  We don’t care what your religion is.  As Adam Carolla once sagely said “religion is like your genitals; you shouldn’t have it out in public, and you shouldn’t ram it down your kids’ throats”.  See, I don’t care if you are religious.  It isn’t my business, and it shouldn’t be.

I would never come to your house and say ‘have I told you the glory of no god?’  Most of us atheists are chill.  There is Hitch, of course.   My god,  he was overbearing.  A friend of mine knew I was a book nut, and not religious, and got me a big ass book of all his writings.  I tried to read it, and I couldn’t.  It was 700 pages of him arguing there is no god.  I am already on that team, so stop trying to convince me.  It would be like someone saying ‘you live mint ice cream, right?  well here is 700 pages on why you should like mint ice cream instead’.

the point of this tangent is Penn is just way too obsessed about his un-religiousness.  Oh, and he is all disingenuous about it, as well.  He’ll start out and say “there is no god, I don’t believe in it.  It is a non-issue.  It doesn’t even come up in conversation?” and then spend a couple hundred pages extolling the virtues of no god-ness.  It is over-bearing.  Now, I still love Penn, and I am still going to finish the book… but I wish he would shut the fuck up about his religion, since he is (obviously) a very big advocate of removing religion from the public dialogue.  It’s like the senator who passes all the anti-gay legislature and of course turns out to be gay.  Penn doth protest too much.

ok, sorry for that.  That was a bullshit rant.  I spent two three paragraphs of perfectly usable letters bitching about preachy atheists… yet I clearly do the exact same shit.  There are kids in developing countries with NO access to paragraphs, and I go and pull that.  Accept my apologies.  Next time, we’ll use those letters above for a greater cause.  I need to get back to what made this country great… picking on the Amish and people with face tattoos.  Not because I have a problem with them, but I am pretty sure they don’t read this drivel.

Sorry, that went off the rails.  It was something I was just thinking of, and wanted to express.  Then, I got madder and angrier as I kept typing.  I was like Otto trying to apologize to Ken… while he beats him senseless.  June 2015

_________________________________________________________________________

Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet

Heather Poole

I figured this would be a tome about what nutjobs people are, and so far I am not disappointed.  I can’t throw stones here.  I get VERY stressed at the airport.  Only until I am through security.  Once that is done, I am cool like a cucumber.  The whole security thing super stresses me out.  They treat you like a criminal who is guilty until proving otherwise.  I am also one of those who likes to get to the airport way early.  Flight is at noon?  I wanna leave the house at 9 am, and be on site by 10 am.  If it is international, you actually have to be there 3 weeks in advance.  This is light reading, obviously, but rather entertaining.  I am about 30 or 40 pages in.  June 2015

UPDATE … later that month.  Correction – I was wrong about the book.  I was wrong.  Hmm, sounds funny, but I like it.  The book is not an expose on crazy passenger stories, though there are a few.  It was more about the day to day life of being a stewardess, which was even better, and more fascinating.  Here is something interesting; it pertains to how poorly they are paid.  A flight attendant is only paid when they are in the air.  So, all that time dealing with security, and helping you with your stupid carry on, and checking seatbelts and smiling… they aren’t paid for that.   She also points out another thing.  You think about how romantic it is to fly to NYC, or Paris for the day.  It is glamorous and exciting.  BUT… when you get to Paris and you have a day to kill… now you have to buy lunch and dinner and a hotel room.  You make about $10 an hour.  Lunch probably costs about $60.

She is a great writer, and has a website where she still actively blogs.  It should be linked above, but here it is again just in case.  If you know me, you know I get all judgy about author’s appearance.  I am happy to report we have an outlier here, she is a bit of a hottie.

Unrelated update.  Going forward, and for the last several books, I will hyper link the author’s page on their name (if they have a website).  It is getting a little more common for an author to have a website, but not nearly as common as it should be.  Ever stranger, actors.  They never have official web pages.  Weird.  Wouldn’t they want to control their image and public perception more than anyone?  And don’t give me that ‘the work speaks for itself’ bullshit… not when you have TMZ working actively to craft your public image without your consent.

Deal:  30 years of drugs, dreaming, and drumming with the Grateful Dead

Bill Kreutzmann

Billy is one of 2 Grateful Dead drummers.  This is his bio.  I am about 100 pages in, and loving it.  That, though, is because I am obsessed with the Dead.  I have read most or all of the books by those on the inside:  Rock Skully’s book, Phil’s book, Steve Parish’s book, this cool book, and this book, too.  You can find reviews of most or all of these books below.

Billy’s story is interesting to me for a couple of reasons.  He was the early manager of the band.  Sure, he was whacked on acid like everyone, but also he kept things afloat.  He made sure the band got paid every night.  He made sure rent got paid.  He was the only one with a car.  The other thing that interests me about Billy is he is the most subtle one.  He is by far the least famous person in the band.  He could be at a drum convention and walk around and not be noticed.  He reminds me of the other 3 guys in Aerosmith.  Good life.  Super duper rich, and anonymous enough to walk down the street and not get hassled.

I am very much enjoying the book.  I ordered this 6 months ago, and just got it last week.  First edition, SIGNED, hardback.  I am already getting pre-sad realizing that in about a week I’ll be done with this book.   OOOH… that’s ok.  Next week, the Bobby Weir documentary comes out on Netflix.  Bobby seemed to intimate this movie was his autobiography.  That should hold me through until the actual Dead reunion shows in July that we are going to.  If you are a Deadhead, get this book.  If not, probably no need.  May 2015

So you’ve been publicly shamed

Jon Ronson

I just love Jon Ronson.  I love this writing and his style.  He is weird and wonderful and fearless.  He is also freakishly nebbish.  I say that because once you hear his voice and mannerisms, you can only read in his voice.  I am not here to judge, I LOVE this man.  You know, though, he must have gotten beaten up a lot!   He is the poor man’s, even nerdier, Simon Pegg.  Oh yes, you know Pegg as the handsome new Mission Impossible guy.  He wasn’t always that.  In fact, he may have been Jon Ronson.  Oh sure, you can read plenty of reviews out there if that’s all you want.  Who out there has the courage to devolve into pointless rants how about people look?  It’s an author… so who cares how they look?  I do, dammit.  I do.  Guess what, I was right.  Ronson is so good he got to make another movie.  This is the star of his movie, seriously.  Actually, it is a terrific movie.

This is his latest book, and it’s great so far (about 100 pages into it).  What’s it about?  It’s just what is say it is.  Just read it, it’s Ronson.  That is all you need to know.  Wait… if you haven’t read him… don’t start with this.  Start here, I have a review below.  May 2015

Cadillac Desert – The American West and it’s Disappearing Water

Marc Reisner

Droughts are all the rage now.  This book looks at the history, and origin, of water law in the SouthWest.  It is fascinating, and troubling.  It is a very thick book – 600 pages.  It could literally take a life time to get through.  So far, though, it is a compelling read.  It isn’t academic.  The story is told through vignettes, such as this.  How and why did the incredibly arid West get developed?  Well, it goes back a two hundred years to beaver pelt hats being all the rage.  It talks about water allocation.  This is about who gets exactly what out of the Colorado river.  Hint, it isn’t Colorado.  That water is legally promised downstream several hundred miles.  I am reading a first edition hard back my neighbor gave me.  Once I get through it, I am excited to read what has happened in the last 30 years.  The link above goes to a revised and updated version… so it will have all that info.

Before you dip your Nalgene into a cool running stream while camping, know that you are stealing water from Arizona lawns and golf courses.  Seems silly, doesn’t it?  You also learn the water allocations were set in an extremely wet season.  They didn’t know that at the time, though.  Everyone downstream gets promised, for example, 4 swimming pools of water a day to water their crops.  Problem is, only 2 swimming pools of water are consistently available.  Wanna change water law?  It literally takes a life time.  Best part, this book was written in mid 80s.  As I understand it, it is the default text for young students to learn about water allocation.  How much water is there, exactly?  Does that include underground water and aquifers?   Mark Twain said it best 150 years ago.  “whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting!”   April 2015

What I was doing while you were breeding

Kristin Newman

This is a travelogue biography by a young gal who traveled the world.  That is what the back of the book says, anyhow.  I just picked it up today from the library.  I was hooked by the title when I walked past it.  We love to travel, though, so I am confident I will enjoy it.  Will follow up with you when I am done.   Feb 2015

shelved!  I really wanted to love this book.  It’s about a young, attractive***, single gal traveling the world.  What’s not to like, right?  Plus, she is quite the randy gal.  As she calls it ‘doing the thing you are supposed to do in the place you are supposed to do it’.  I LOVE that philosophy.  It means maybe you are in Russia, and planned to leave that day for another city… and some nice person invites you to a big ass Russian family wedding.  Of course you go.  Problem is, in short, she is a woo girl.  Here is another explanation.  Both are from a TV show I only watched once… and that scene was in it.  20 years ago, a travelogue from a ‘Woo Girl’ would have been the most compelling thing in the world.  Now, I just feel like her editor said ‘take out all the thinky parts, and great anecdotes, and put in more forced and vague sex stories’.  I think it’s the vague part that hurts the most.  I’d like to read the original manuscript, before it got hacked to death by eggheads.

This sounds horrible, and maybe sexist… but it’s a poor man’s Chelsea Handler.  Have you read her books?  There is a reason she is wildly successful.  ‘Are you there, Vodka‘ is a masterpiece.  In fact, if you control f ‘vodka’ I am sure I reviewed it about five years ago.

Geesh, I got a little tangenty there, eh?  I meant simply to update that I love her spirit, but am just not interested in reading 200 pages of a ‘woo girl’ diary.  Maybe deep down I am a failed travel writer. If you are as well, here is a series I have been working on the last few months.  Its’ called the The Lono Travel Thai-aries®.     March 2015

5 languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

Gary Chapman & Paul White

I don’t know much about this yet, I just got it.  It’s an audio book, and I am pretty excited about it.  I have a 35 minute commute, so I can knock it out in a week or two.  Oh, you also have a 30 minute commute?  Awesome!  Wait… you are spending that time in traffic listening to your local Clear Channel monopoly?  wtf?  Did you doctor tell you you have a Jack Johnson deficiency?  You need more Lorde?  Spend that time learning and being entertained.  You don’t have to listen to business philosophy books.  Listen to stuff you love, and that entertains you.  I listened to Slash and Ozzy’s books on tape.  Don’t worry, neither was allowed to read them.  I would ask of you this, don’t just listen to hacky Sue Grafton shit.  Open your mind.  At the very least, read Barbara Kingsolver if you must read fiction.  Make your daily drive to work more rewarding, and entertaining.  Jan 2015

Raving Fans – a Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service

Ken Blanchard, Sheldon Bowles

This is just what it sounds like, a book on business and customer service.  I love this stuff.  It is what I do for a living, and something I can always develop better.  The book is a little sing songy… almost to the point of being dismissive.  Meaning, each page can be read in about 4 minutes.  It is designed, I think, for toilet use.  well, if it wasn’t… it sure is now.  It talks about how to up your game.  However, it does it through a fictional narrative of a business owner playing golf with an old fat hallucination he calls the ‘fairy godmother, Steve’.  It is designed for people who don’t like to read management philosophy books, I guess.  You should read it, though, because your customer service sucks.  Oh yeah, you may think of customer service as a cash register lady being nice… or a call center experience about your cable bill.

Customer service is how you also treat your spouse.  It’s how you greet your neighbors and garbage man. It’s how you love and praise friends.  Oh, that isn’t in the book, buster.  No sir, it’s the book of life that lives in my head.  Smile and be nice.  That is it, do it always.  At this point, we are most certainly not talking about the book.  It’s a good read.  However, that is easy for me to say as I got it free.  Not sure if it’s worth $20, that is your call.  Jan 2015

Off My Rocker

Kenny Weissberg

This is a memoir/auto biography of a concert promoter.  It is a great read if you love the minutiae of the business of music, and you know I do.  It was a great read, and was kindly inscribed by the author, which is rad.  Kenny was a concert booker in Boulder and San Diego over the last 30 years. If you are into this stuff, here is some further reading:  Bill Graham – BIll Graham Presents, Barry Fey – Backstage Past, Bill Carter – Get Carter.  The only piece we are missing is the great Chuck Morris.  Does he have an autobiography out?  I don’t think so, but I know it will be a great read.  Jan 2015

The One Percenter Code

Dave Nichols

Can I tell you I was disappointed in this book? The book was great, for most people. It is a VERY thoughtful sociological treatise on what makes a biker. Why do they rebel, etc.

Problem is, I know all this stuff. I studied in high school and college when I was in my ‘challenge the world, seek truth, down with the man, kill whitey, and eat lsd phase. So, I know all his parables and Joseph Campbell references. In fact, I super respect a biker writing on bikers and biker culture and uses Joseph Campbell’s classic archetype of the hero’s journey. So, I didn’t wand that. Now, if I was 18, this book would have rocked my world. What I want to know about is the specifics of the ‘one percenter’. My buddy J loaned me the book, and is active in an MC. He explained over beers one night how incredibly complex it is with one percenters, patches, rockers… etc.

Here is what I got out of this book – the origin of the term ‘1 percenter’. Back in the 50s and 60s, motorcycle riders had a very bad image. So much so, the American Motorcycle Association (or whatever they called, that was just an educated guess) put out a press release trying to appease the terrified squares of America. They wanted you to know that motorcycle gangs are prolly not going to rape your face, and your wife. They said “99% of all motorcycle riders are swell guys, and hardly ever rape.” Well, that was the subtext, but they did use that number. So, for the bikers on the fringe of society… they gladly took up that mantle of being the 1% that does cause trouble.

So, if you want to learn about the struggles of the modern day proletariat rebel, pick up this book. It you want to know the specific mechanics of this culture (which is what I wanted) pick up this book instead: Angels of Death. It is listed below. I think I am also struggling to know Paul better. What caused him to do these things, if he did do them.   Nov 2014

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A Dirty Job

Christopher Moore

I love this author. I want to start with that point, as I think it is more significant than the book. Of current authors, there are very few read. Like Rock and Roll, I am stuck with the bands from high school. My CD collections hasn’t changed content wise since college. Of current authors, I like this guy, Jon Ronson, and that guy who looks like Sideshow Bob. (editors note: Malcolm Gladwell)

This guy wrote Lamb. You can read my review below. I think it is one of the greatest books ever written in modern day. The story is about a schlubby guy (mentally, I am casting Paul Giamatti) who at middle age becomes assigned to be death. As you can imagine, antics ensue. He has great character and dialogue that just feels naturally. When reading, it is as if I am in that room.

This book was great, and you should read it. HOWEVER, if you haven’t read Lamb yet, you really need to start with that. It’s a masterpiece! I put that book up there with Alice Wonderland. That is a sentence I have never said before. If you read here often, you know my deep and weird affinity for that book. Normally, right here I would offer to loan you my copy. I can’t do that. It’s in Asia. I was on vaca in Thailand and Cambodia when reading the book. For a paperback, is a thick and heavy book. Once I read it, I knew I wasn’t going want to drag it home. So, I gave it away at the airport in South Korea. So… great book… looking to see which of his books I will read next.

Again, though, I would strongly recommend ‘Lamb’ first.  Whether you are religious or not, its a great tale.  Do not be distracted by the title, which in its entirety is stupid, and looks like it is being marketed to 9 year olds.  See, here is the full title:  Lamb, the gospel according to Bif, Christ’s childhood pal.  Nov 2014

In the President’s Secret Service

Ronald Kessler

I am fascinated by the secret service. I just think it is so cool and interesting what they do. Especially, I dig behind the scenes dirt and security secrets. So, this audio book was perfect for me, right? However, being an avid fan of the service and having read much and seen documentaries… I found there wasn’t a ton of new stuff on this. I mean, it’s good… but not great. That is my interpretation 75% through the book.  Sept 2014

Just finished the book.  It was good, but not great.  I was expecting either super cool stories of plots unknown until know.  It doesn’t have much of that, probably for obvious national security reasons.  Also hoped for a lot of dish and gossip.  Towards the end, the book did deliver, but not as much as I had helped.  Will tell you one big thing I learned, and it only partially surprised me.  Though it seems counter intuitive (to me, at least) I have had this confirmed by multiple sources across many platforms (like SNL bios). – here is the real dish; on balance, Republicans are very sweet and appreciative of the secret service and treat them like family.  Democrats are generally self righteous pricks.  I have confirmed that info with three or four separate SNL bits.  Same thing, when Dems do cameos, the treat the staff like crap.  The righties are all sweet, and have a great sense of humor and self awareness.  Interesting, huh?  Oct 2014

The Road to Woodstock

Michael Lang

Michael Lang is the guy who invented Woodstock. Seriously, it was basically all him. I have read a lot about him over the years, and much has been said. He admirers give him credit for single handedly inventing Woodstock. He came up with the idea, the location, the bands, and found the money to make it happen.

His detractors will tell you he was a con man who screwed everybody in that deal, including (eventually) himself. Really, both are true, and the real story lies somewhere in between. A few years ago, he wrote his own story. I am mostly done with it. It’s good, and straight forward. He doesn’t try to deify himself, nor does he cop to the millions he cost everyone, and the dangers he left posing all those people. There is also a really, really, really good movie about all of this. It’s not about the concert, mind you. The movie is about the run up to the festival. It’s a crazy and true story starring Demetri Martin.

I would start there. I have seen this movie a couple times, but I should buy the damn thing. Sept 2014

Law & Disorder

John Douglas & Mark Olshaker

John Douglas is the man. He is a big deal. He is the guy who invented criminal profiling. He is the FBI guy that is called for serial murders. He can look at a murder scene and say “the guy who committed this murder is late teens. Wears eyeglasses and has a limp. He drives a Volkswagen beetle. He used to work as a paperboy but is now likely in fast food. His favorite color is likely green”. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? This is what he does, and he is always right.  All the way down to the tiniest details.  “the person you are looking for dresses nicely.  He leaves a middle button undone on his shirt.  He will have a lisp.”  He can give you this information about the bad guy by looking at the dead body left behind. He has long since retired, but is thankfully still alive. He now teaches his skills to the next generation.

If this interests you, and it should, start with his book ‘Mindhunter’. It is where he lays out how he came up with profiling and tells his story. This book is him and his partner (Olshaker. I don’t know what this guy does or who he is. He is likely the typist who clarifies and organizes the books. They have done a ton together). So, in this book, he looks at cases he wasn’t involved in. Taking what he knows how, he looks at famous cases and re-evaluates them. This goes back as the Lindbergh kidnapping, and as current as the Jon Benet Ramsey murder. He also touches on the Ted Bundy stuff. That is where I am at now, and odds are it will consume another 100 pages. This is an 11 cd audio book.

I will say John Douglas is the single most important person in the history of law enforcement. There is another book with Olshaker called ‘the cases that still haunt us’ that looks super interesting to me.

coming soon, the story behind this picture.  an ORIGINAL Ralph Steadman sketch done by Ralph for me personally, in person.  Circa 2007 ***

Ralph Steadman sketch 2007

*** Oh, I’m sorry.  Not impressed?  Looks like just a doodle?  Ok, how about this;  Why don’t you show me your personal Ralph Steadman sketch he made for you right in front of you.  Oh… you don’t have one?  You never met Ralph?  Never sat and had a Scotch with Ralph Steadman while he told you old Hunter stories and drew for you?  Right. Kinda what I thought.  – Sept 2014

Reckless Road: Guns N’ Roses and the Making of Appetite for Destruction

Marc Canter

this is a book of the beginnings of Guns and Roses.  This guy was there before day one.  He was Slash’ best pal growing up.  He meticulously documented the whole thing.  This is an authorized biography.  It’s a great read, if you are as obsessed a Guns and Roses fan as I am… was. Won’t see them now, of course.  Nor will I buy Chinese Dermocracy.  Won’t give Axl a penny.  He broke up what might have been the greatest rock band in history.  They weren’t… didn’t have the staying power and body of work.  That is what makes me so angry.  I read Duff’s book, and Slash’s as well.  I recommend Slash’s book.  I really really like that guy.  Like his character, his guitar playing, his patience with Axl.  I would say this specific book is only for obsessed musicologists like myself.  Sept 2014

Secrets of the FBI

Ronald Kessler

I love true crime. Not sure why, but I am fascinated by profilers. That is the FBI work pioneered by John Douglas in his amazing book ‘Mindhunter’. Read that book, not this one. I am about a third through it, and it isn’t that compelling. So, instead of me telling you about the book, let’s play a game of profiling. The guy who wrote this book – I have no idea what he looks like or his background. I have no idea what else he has written. It’s an audio book from the library, with no author picture. So, let’s profile him. I would bet this guy wears a thin black leather jacket in all his press pics. I bet he keeps his hair dyed jet black. I bet he likes to be photographed with really nice cars. I bet he lives in Florida, and fancies himself to be America’s foremost expert on crime and criminals. He may be in fact, I don’t know. Odds are he has a minor criminal past himself. He is in his mid 40’s.   Ok, let’s google and see what we can find.

Ok, turns out I was wrong. Really, really wrong. Let’s leave this stuff to the professionals, eh? Btw, see my unfailing honesty towards you? Once I discovered I was wrong, I could have just deleted this and written another ho hum profile. See, I DO love you, and I am not always correct.  In closing, here is who I was imagining.  I recently read this guy’s book.  Great, now I am gonna get wacked for sure.  I hope y’all are happy!  Sept 2014

* update – decided to see the audiobook through.  It has gotten better.  The first couple discs were all stuff I knew.  Then it goes deeper.  One of the discs is all about the Robert Hansen case.  Very interesting stuff.  Am now watching this movie about it, which is an awesome companion piece.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

Malcolm Gladwell

Frankly, I am not worthy or smart enough to even describe the book properly, so I will use their tagline.

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.

Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there, David and Goliath examines Northern Ireland’s Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms—all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.

Ok, here is what I will add now.  The book is amazing.  Absolutely fascinating, as ALL of Gladwell’s work is.  Here is a pro-tip – listen to this on audiobook if you can.  That is what I did.  Here is why:  some of these concepts are complex and deep and very thinky.  If I read this, it would take me forever.  I would be reading the same page over and over and over again.  Well, he reads the book himself, and i think this is invaluable. You get his inflection and emphasis pauses.  I am 3 of 5 cds in currently.  About to drop the 4th CD in.  I drive a LOT, though, so I should have this knocked out in a day or so.  Oh, and here another bonus I think I mentioned it before.  He (Gladwell) looks exactly like Sideshow Bob.  Sept 2014

* got this from the library, which is ideal.  You don’t want t buy a book on tape, for something you will only listen to once.  Your library has an amazing selection of books on tape (CD, I mean).  They also have new technology.  You can get an audiobook on a little MP3 player they loan you with a headphone jack.  Or, you can download some books right from the library’s website.  I LOVE this idea, but can’t get it to work.  It isn’t Mac compatible, of course.  When this computer dies, it will not be backfilled by another Mac, I can tell you that.  I think the pricing of Macs are almost ten fold the price of PCs.  I can get a fully loaded PC laptop for about $500.  OR… I can get a Mac for for $2,000.  Oh, and for $2,000 you still don’t get office, and anything that can even READ a Word doc.  And of course Flash still doesn’t work.

Let’s just talk about that, because it super pisses me off.  Jobs didn’t like Flash, it wasn’t a secure platform.  I get that.  He said Flash would be gone within a year.  So, they never built an alternative, or a patch.  THEN, they told me “it’s ok, Flash is already almost obsolete.  Everything will be HTML 5 any second soon.  Neither has happened, and ten years later I have an incredibly expensive computer that can’t a handful of things that a $300 laptop could do.  AAARRGGHHH – Sept 2014

Living with the Dead: twenty years on the bus with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead

Rock Skully

This book is controversial.  Rock Skully was the band’s manager for 20 years.  So, he knows his stuff.  However, this book is known to be a brutal slam against Garcia’s character.  I can’t comment yet, I am not that far in… but this book is notorious in Dead circles.  See, Skully had an axe to grind.  He was also Jerry Garcia’s heroin dealer.  He was also fired by the band because of this.  So, I have been warned to take it with a grain of salt.  It is still an important book in the cannon of Garcia biographies, as few were as close to him as Skully was.  Well, many were, but precious few have written books about it.  Aug 2014 >>>>

Ok, I just finished this book and it was excellent. I don’t think the book was a ‘slam’ at all, as many have portrayed it. No, it’s not a hagiography, but it is a love letter to Jerry. It’s fascinating to see the most successful band in the world also be a total mess. TOTAL mess. Now, I say ‘most successful’… why say that? Who sold more tickets? Who played bigger arenas? NO ONE. The Eagles played some football stadiums on a couple tours. Fleetwood Mac, did too. Oh, and Pink Floyd’s last tour was in football stadiums. The average football stadium holds over 60,000 people, and the Dead played nothing but football stadiums for over ten years. No group has ever done anything like that. Now, when I say ‘mess’. Well, they hardly put out any studio albums when you consider they were together for 40 years. Most of the studio albums were crap. Also, in 40 years, they only had one top ten single – Touch of Grey. How do you play football stadiums in EVERY town in America with no hits, and no videos? Anyhow, it’s a great book, and a very good deep look at Garcia… as close as we’ll ever get… until Bobby writes his story. Also recommended along this thread is Steve Parish’ book. It’s discussed down below from a couple years ago. Sept 2014

Lost at Sea – the Jon Ronson Mysteries

Jon Ronson

I love Jon Ronson.  He is a great writer and amazing researcher.  I highly recommend his books.  However, I shelved this one about half way through.  Turns out I don’t much care for his short form.  Still, you should read this guy.  I recommend ‘the Psychopath Test’, ‘Them’ and ‘the men who stare at goats’.  I especially recommend anything you can get on audiobook.  He is this mousy British fellow, and acquired taste for sure.  However, once he gets under your skin, you will love him.  I think he is one of the best non fiction writers out there… and absolutely the best investigative journalist working.  He writes about heavy stuff, but totally gets the whimsy and surrealness of it all.  It was his work on the Bildeberg group that hooked me.  Know who they are?  Google it, it’s scary shit.  It’s a secret meeting of all the world’s powerful people.  Freemasons, Illuminati?  Nothing compared to the Bildebergs.  Also, his work on 9/11 truthers is super compelling.  Hint, they are crazy.  August 2014

They Killed our President

Jesse Ventura

Yup, another Kennedy book.  I just can’t shake this story.  I can also tell you (again) that I don’t have an explanation as to what happened.  However, I know what they are telling us is crap.  Too much science has become available in the last 50 years to disprove about everything the Warren Commission told us.  Remember, the Warren Commision published and closed the case long before anyone saw the Zapruder film.  The Zapruder film pretty much contradicted everything the Warren Report told us.  I like Jesse Ventura a lot.  However, he is also a paranoid wingnut. I like that, though.  He has the bona fides like no other American to rabble rouse.  He is a navy fucking seal!  That’s the guys who got Bin Laden.  There is no tougher group of soldiers on Earth than the Seals.  So, when Jesse speaks, I listen.  The book has some great insight, and several concerns I had not heard before.  I am about half way through, and enjoying it immensely.  Update – shelved about half way through. While I like Ventura, and love Kennedy research, this was a bit much.  Dude is paranoid.  There are many many many theories about what happened that day in Dec 1963.  It appears Jesse Ventura believes them all.  Oh, there is a cover up about the day.  I do not believe the official line, no one does.  Aug 2014

A Dog’s Purpose

W Bruce Cameron

This is an amazing and gut wrenching tale of a dog’s journey through several lives.  Some great, some not so great.  It is told from the narrative perspective of the dog.  I am about 2/3rds through the audio book.  It is a great read, but bring some kleenex with you.  Man, that took me two months to get through on audiobook.  It was so incredibly sad and beautiful and perfect that between CD (of which there were 8) I had to take a break.  Am so glad I stayed to the end, it pays off.  There is a sequel to this book, called ‘A Dog’s Journey’.  I am going to read/listen to that, too.  I need a couple months off, though.  Aug 2014

Ancient Gonzo Wisdom.  The collected interviews of Hunter S Thompson

Hunter S, and Anita (his widow) Thompson

This has been out for a few years, can’t believe I didn’t see it before. I am a BIG Hunter Thompson fan. How big can not be even explained, but I’ll try. Hunter Thompson is a big part of why I moved to Colorado. Hunter Thompson is the reason why my nom de plume online is Lono. It’s a reference to his last full book, ‘The Curse of Lono’. Find it and read it. In college in Arizona, I had vanity plates that said ‘Lono’.

I love Hunter Thompson like I love the book ‘Alice in Wonderland’. If there is only a few things you should know about me, those are in the top two.

This book is impressively comprehensive. It appears to have gathered every HST interview done… even TV bits. I am up to the mid-70’s right now. What is cool is I was able to see a bit more how his mind works. There are a few quotes from him which are timeless masterpieces. I assumed he put them together carefully, crafting each word for effectiveness. Nope, a few of them come right off the top of his head during live presentations and Q&A sessions he used to do with colleges for cash. I got to see one of these in 1997, it was amazing and weird of course.

Is this book for you? Probably not. If you want to get into Hunter’s writing read ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ or ‘Curse of Lono’. There are surprisingly few full length HST novels. You can count them on one hand. 80% of his books are anthologies of short stories or letters & correspondence.

Also, if you want to get in to Hunter but not sure you want to set aside a month to read one of his insane books… go buy the Johnny Depp movie ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. It is incredibly good and I feel 100% an accurate portrayal of the spirit of Hunter’s writing. It’s directed by Terry Gilliam, so you know it is just nuts visually. Hunter and Johnny were close friends, and Hunter was often on set through the movie. So it has his stamp of approval. So, while I am incredibly excited about this book and getting deeper in to his mind… this isn’t really a read for the casual fan. Plus, he doesn’t come off well in most interviews. He simply wasn’t concerned about regular pleasantries or courtesies. He was mean and crazy and drug addled. He was also not a profuse writer. Like I said, 50 years of writing and he has 3 or 4 decent books.

Those books, though, changed the world for me. I got turned on to Hunter in high school by Kermit. Because of Hunter I ended up being a literature and creative writing grad. To Hunter’s credit, though, he never claimed to be a great guy… or even a great writer. He just always lived on his own terms in the mountains around Aspen, Colorado

The book was put together and curated by his amazing and wonderful widow, Anita. Since his suicide about 10 years ago, she has taken up his mantel and keeps his name and work alive. She has genuinely done more work on behalf of Hunter than he ever did for himself while he was alive. She is also surrounded by an amazing cast of great minds who help her persevere with Hunter’s legacy: Douglas Brinkley, Ralph Steadman, Johnny Depp, and Juan Thompson (Hunter’s son) June 2013

Caveat ******

In closing, I am sorry for the lack of material referenced here. Normally, I would pepper the shit out of this review with awesome links and videos from Hunter. Hell, I could (and should) do a whole blog about HST. However, right now I am losing bad to a virus called ‘natvan’. It has taken my wordpress account hostage and totally fucked me. I am mostly locked out of my own account. WordPress is the website I use to build this site. I even cleared my cache and cookies and changed my password and all that jazz. So, that is why this review didn’t turn in to 5,000 words. Because I can only use my site for about two minutes at a time before it crashes, I write up all this stuff in Word. Then, just paste it and update and hope. Thanks for reading. June 2014

Todd Snider

I never met a story I didn’t like

This is an autobiography of sorts of the great Todd Snider.  Todd Snider is a folk singer troubadour storyteller.  Think of Arlo Guthrie for a new generation.  I am a BIG fan. He is terrific writer and has ZERO filter, like me.  Trust me, there was no ghostwriter on this book.  The last chapter was Todd telling a great story of doing far too much cocaine with Jerry Jeff Walker (of Mr Bojangles fame) and waking up to a discussion with Jerry Jeff’s balls.  Don’ worry, it isn’t really about sex or jail or drugs. However, since he is a bizarrely honest traveling musician…  all of those things happen for sure.

If he had a hit, and he basically hasn’t because he is more rambling storyteller then hit maker… it would be ‘talking seattle grunge rock blues’.  here is the clip, watch and enjoy.

The thrives VERY much in a live environment.  I have 5 or 6 of his albums and they are all live collections.  I have no interest in his studio work, but it’s probably great.  So, his shows are about 50% music and 50% amazing and strange and true stories.  I have been listening to and following Todd Snider for about a decade now.  Luckily, I finally got to see him play live and it was amazing!

It would seem there is not a Todd Snider story I don’t known.  Here is my problem with the book.  The book, which is very well written, is just a re-telling of all these stories.  I am half way though the book and there is only 1 story I don’t know every aspect of.  It involves a violent fruit fight and pretty ugly break with Jimmy Buffett….   but they are all fine now.  So far, we covered Trogg, KK Rider, Devil’s Backbone, many many stories involving the song ‘Mr Bojangles, Jerry Jeff, Spike, the Multnomah Country Tunnell… I am just sad because I know ALL these stories.  So, I may give it a few more chapters…. would love to know more about DB Cooper… but outside of that I have to shelf the book.  Sadly, it’s like the Chelsea book before. .the exact same stories.  I am sorry, but you can’t get 40 years out of that if you ask me.  Btw, it is important to mention what a nice and good guy he is.  On his own website, he hosts two difference bootleg piracy sites of his life shows.  no band has ever done that.  ever.  FREE.  He literally could not make it easier to steal and share his music.

So, if you were to ask my advice… and clearly you should…. either 1) get VERY into Todd Snider live stuff, or 2) read the book.  Don’t do both.  I just found this awesome video online that gives you a pretty good feel for his style and since of humor.  if you are looking for a specific single disc to buy, go with ‘Near Truths and Hotel Rooms‘.  For whatever MAJOR bummer reasons… he doesn’t do DVD.s.  You have noticed over the years I make a lot of comments about what writers look like.  I don’t know why that is, but it’s true.  Well, I have good news on that.  Todd Snider looks EXACTLY what you would think he might, and I appreciate that. Now, you aren’t ready for this yet.  But, just like enlightenment it will be here for you when you are ready.  It’s a movie called ‘Peace Queer’.

Maybe this is a better way to describe my relationship with Todd Snider and his music. There is an SNL star, Julie Sweeney, who wrote a touching biopic about her struggle with cancel called ‘and God said Ha’.

In that book, she tells a great story about Tom Waits (who I also adore). My words won’t do it justice, but I will try and express what she did. She was saying “I can’t imagine dating, or even knowing, someone who doesn’t know or love Tom Waits. If you don’t know or love Tom Waits, I don’t think we can even be friends… nor should we.”

I hope I didn’t mis-express her thoughts, but that is me and Todd Snider (and also earl Dylan and most grateful dead   April, 2014

 Shrinkage;  manhood, marriage, and the tumor that tried to kill me

Brian Bishop

As you know by now, I am big on podcasts.  I have over an hour of drive time every day, and every single day I listen to a podcast while I do it.  I shuffle between about six different ones.  My mainstay podcast is the Adam Carolla show.  Brian Bishop is one of the crew on the Carolla show.

Since spend an hour a day with these guys, I listen to them more than my family or friends.  So, ‘Bald Brian’ put out a book, I was there in an instant.  Just I as I have been for Carolla’s last two best sellers and by this summer I promise you ‘President Me’ will be reviewed.  It’s a great and thoughtful read, even you if you don’t listen to podcasts or care about Adam Carolla.  It is his autobiography, specifically framed around his personal experience with a brain tumor that was (and remains) inoperable. I dare say it’s a ‘chicken soup for the soul’ for a whole new generation.  This was a very good read.  May 2014

Uganda be Kidding Me

Chelsea Handler

to make an analogy here, since it is my specialty. If you haven’t Chelsea, best book of “are you there Vodka. Its me

It if funny and groundbreaking. However, for the last year years, she just sites the same book over and over. Think Tom Kincaid

EVEN better analogy. Listen to the first Coldplay album (Parachutes). It is their debut, and it is one of the great breakthrough of rock. Just incredible. Then, their second album was even better (a Rush of Blood of Blood to the Head). Five stars.

Then, something else happened. They just made 8 more of those albums. Identical… just like Radio head. So, I a halfway through the new Handler book about her safari.   It is getting shelved!   April 2014

Blood Covenant

Michael Franzese

I don’t care for the title, or the cover.  It is cheesy.  It looks like a serial trash fiction novel that your sister reads.  Here is thing, though, it’s all true.  It is the autobiography of a high ranking mafia guy.  Apparently, this is the highest ranking mob guy to EVER tell his tale.  Remarkably, he is still alive is also a very thoughtful writer.  Too good, actually.  He must have had a ghost writer. I am about half way through the book, and really enjoying it.  There are not the cliche’s you would expect, either.  There is not one use of the term ‘wack’ in reference to having someone killed.  Actually, this guy abhors violence.  He is more of a business man.  In fact, to paraphrase the great Jay Z ‘He ain’t a businessman, he’s a business, man.’  So, this guy was a ‘made’ guy’.  What made him turn on the mob and tell all?  He found God!  Now that is a twist that I didn’t see coming.

Soon as this is done, I am going to order his other books.  I hope I did them in order.  I found this guy on a Reddit AMA (ask me anything series).  Now, this is the part where I say “if you are interested in the mob, this is a great read”.  I am not going to say that.  Know why?  Because of course you are interested in the mafia.  We all are, it’s fascinating stuff!  So yeah, great book.

in closing, I want to plug that Reddit series.  Here is the link, and it is almost always a  fascinating read.  They take people from different walks of life and facilitate question and answer forums.  They are diverse, too.  It’s a mobster, cell site tower installer, a taxidermist, a taxi driver, the guy who writes those Ikea instructions.  You come away with a feel like you got to corner the guy at a cocktail party and ask him all the juiciest questions.   February 2014

Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed

Gavin Edwards

This was a very enjoyable and quick read about random rock trivia.  if you know me, you know I live for this stuff.  Literally, I bought this book to fact check the guy as much as anything.  I knew almost all the stories, but still enjoy the read and the memories.  This guy was/is a staff writer for Rolling Stone.  I came across him doing some research on Allen Klein (the business manager who broke up the Beatles and bankrupted the Rolling Stones).

If you love obscure rock history, give it a read.  Or, better yet, invite me over for a beer.  My head is SO filled with this stuff it is sad.  One thing I really did like about the book is how it constantly cross referenced itself.  Let’s say I am reading a chapter on Jimi Hendrix drug mythology.  He will have a bubble on the page that says “curious about Bob Dylan’s – Jimi Hendrix drug connection?  Turn to page 125).  I will give you an example of the rock trivia that is in the book.  BUT – this one is my own, and can’t be found in that book.  Did you know that Lemmy was Jimi Hendrix roadie?  He was tasked with handling his guitars, and scoring him acid.

Now, here is an even bigger bonus about this book.  As I mentioned, this book could have been ghost written by me.  Well, I get to an anecdote about Paul Simon discussing a song lyric.  I’ll spare the specifics of the story, but it is in the book.  Anyhow, I read this, and I KNEW it was a question I had asked Paul Simon directly, which was published in Rolling Stone.  After reading the anecdote, I told the wifey all excitedly “look, this is MY story.  How awesome is that?”.  She thought I was nuts.  Briefly, I thought I was nuts.  Then, at the end of the book, I am looking at the acknowledgements… and I was in there.  How great is that?  I am credited with knowledge in that book.  So, mad props to the writer for throwing me a bone at the end of the book.  He didn’t have to do that.  Gavin Edwards, you are my pal.

I should warn him that his book made it to my blog.  He’ll need to let the publisher know to get an extra 2 or 3 books printed.  I carry some mojo in this industry, baby!  Dec 2013

Chronicles:  Vol 1

Bob Dylan

This is Bob Dylan’s autobiography.  It’s a big deal, and here is why;  Bob Dylan is notoriously difficult in getting the history on.  He is a chronic fabricator of his own past.  He, quite cleverly, created his own legend and history.  He had a perfectly normal safe and wonderful middle class upbringing in Minnesota.  Then, he got a bug up his ass to move to NYC and become a folk singer.  When he got there, he told people he was a tramp, and a carnie, and an outlaw, and whatever else amused him at the time.

Even when the truth got out that he was a normal guy with a normal life, he took great pains to romanticize and obfuscate his past.  You can watch ‘Don’t look Back‘ for the awesome history of Dylan bullying the press.  There is no other way to explain it – he was a dick.  He did, though, to be fair, have fun with it.  Here is an example:  There is a song called ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ where the chorus says “there’s something happening here, and you don’t know what it is.  Do you, Mr Jones?”  Mr Jones is a stand in for the every man, John Q Public.  He is saying “the times are changing, man, but you aren’t gonna read about it in your staid and boring Life Magazines, man”.  The beautiful part about this hipster snub to older America was Life magazine did come calling.  They missed the boat entirely on the point, and kept asking Dylan who Mr Jones was.  They didn’t see the metaphor that they were, in fact, Mr Jones.  They thought Dylan was talking about a very specific person.  So, when they asked Dylan who Mr Jones was, he didn’t say “it’s you, man!”.  No, he gave them names and addresses.  It’s pretty great, unless you are a journalist.

The other piece is that Dylan was the voice of a generation.  Here is the thing, he really didn’t want to be.  All he wanted was to be left alone.  He wanted his songs to stand on their own.  The songs didn’t necessarily have special meaning to them, as much as people wanted to read into it otherwise.  So, he would never talk about his songs or his songwriting process.  If he did, he would outright lie.  So, this is why i say this is a BIG deal to get the real story from Dylan himself.

I am a big big big fan of Bob Dylan.  I don’t go a single day without listening to him.  Specifically, the early stuff.  Everything up to 1965.  Note, that doesn’t just mean the acoustic stuff.  In 1965 he put out an all electric album, Blonde on Blonde.  It’s an absolute masterpiece.  After ’65, though, he totally lost me.  There is an exception to that – 1974’s ‘Blood on the Tracks’.  I could write another 10,000 words just on that album.  To me, that album is like ‘Alice in Wonderland’.  It’s my oxygen.  Without those two creative works, there is no me.  Nov 2013

* update – Dec 2013 > this book is kicking my ass.  It is dense.  It is not fluffy reading.  I am not saying I expected it to be,  but I am only getting through a few pages a day.  It reminds me of Kant’s ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ book.  Go ahead and try and read that shit, it’s nuts!  Kant’s book is the kind of thing where you have to read the same paragraph 13 times to get what he is talking about.  That is how I feel about this book, but I LOVE it because I am a serious Dylan devotee.  I should say if you are not a serious fan of Dylan, avoid this book at all costs.  It would come off as self indulgent hagiography.  I am only half way through this book.  Hope to be done by Christmas.  That will be my gift to myself.

Here is another thing about the book that surprised, and kind of disappointed me.  He doesn’t talk about specific songs or lyrics ever.  He also does not kibbitz about his star buddies.  What was Johnny Cash like, you two were very close?  You toured with the Grateful Dead.  What was that like?  How was Jerry Garcia?  What did you think of his guitar playing, or unique musical phrasing.  You just don’t find any of that here.

If you seek that kind of biography, the one below is perfect.  Graham’s book is a light read, and chock full of celebrity dish.  Dylan remains obtuse.  If you want to know what I mean by that, watch his press conferences.  Links are here and here and here.  This man could speak for 4 hours and never have said a damn thing.  The book is kinda like that, too, of course.  Maybe the joke is on me.  Dylan had an amazing sense of humor, and used that in press conferences.  Not in a fun way, like the Beatles, but in outright lies and nonsense.

How about this quote from Dylan.  “I am only Bob Dylan when I have to be.  The rest of the time I am just myself”   Jesus, that is beautiful and thoughtful.  It seems flippant at first, but kind of explains Bob’s view on himself perfectly.  Is he a genius?  Is he an asshole?  For sure, he is both.  Most genius are.   Dec 2013

Wild Tales

Graham Nash

this is an auto bio from Nash, of Crosby, Stills, and Nash.  LOVE this band.  Have seen them live a ton.  You also know I love rock biographies.  So, this one was a no brainer for me.  So far (140 pages in – about halfway) it is exactly what I would expect.  A straightforward, fond retelling of his life story.  I LOVE this shit.  I love it because I read so many biographies that I dig getting different views of the same person… seen through different eyes.  Here is a bizarre example of that principle.  Years ago, Hunter Thompson wrote a story about terrifying Jack Nicholson in Aspen.  According to Hunter, he said he left a deer head and heart on Jack Nicholsons’ doorstep.  Then, he rang the doorbell and retreated to his jeep.  From there, he flooded the house with bright lights and deafening loud music.  He said it was a terrifying visage, but just having fun.

When I read this, I assumed it was Hunter nonsense.  I assumed maybe 10% was true.  When he passed, I read a ton of tributes.  Anjelica Huston wrote up a piece.  She was dating or married to Jack Nicholson at the time and was there that night.  She told the story word for word as Hunter described it.om

My ranty point being, to get a true feel of a situation, person, or environment, I like to read many people’s take on it.  Here is another example.  Everyone mocks Tom Cruise for being a scientologist, and possibly gay.  There is a TON of public derision for him.  However, as you can see below, I read a metric buttload of biographies.  From every single person who has worked with him, I have never read an unkind word.  Everyone says is the sweetest, hardest working, and most optimistic guy on the set.  That aggressively cheerful public persona he has… of being pleasant almost at gun point?  He is just likes that.  Just thrilled to be alive.  Always gracious to his castmates.  Always has a few minutes for fans.  So, stop giving him so much shit.

Back to the book.  Graham is good people.  I always knew that.  Just  sweet and happy and talented.  My favorite song of his is, without question, ‘Wasted on the way‘.  I just picked this up on guitar this Spring, and am adding it to my acoustic repertoire.  I LOVE this song.  It is so beautiful and melodic and cheerful.  Ethos, pathos, and logos.  It’s the works!  To me, it embodies Graham on every level.  Since you are clearly sheep, you more likely know him from ‘teach your children’.

Now, if we are talking about Crosby, Stills, and Nash – we have to talk about Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.  This isn’t just their finest song, it is one of the best and most perfect songs ever written.  But, that is a Stills tune.  I would LOVE to read his biography.  Stills is a differnt tale.  He is a notorious prick, but so talented he was allowed to be.  He was jimi hendrix favorite guitar player.  I have gotten to hear all these songs live, in person, many times.  Probably seen CSN ten times.

geesh, that was long.  I almost finished the book before that rant.  It’s good stuff, I recommend it.  Oct 2013

Slow Getting Up:

a story of NFL survival from the bottom of the pile

Nate Jackson

* ed note:  this is a cross post from my ‘what I am reading’  page.  It began as a book review, but crossed into so much more I thought it should stand alone as it’s own thing.

9780062108029

Let’s talk about football for a bit, shall we?  I love football.  Love love love it!  I am also torn, however.  I am torn because the NFL is an evil organization, for many reasons.  They treat their players poorly.  Did you know NFL players have no health insurance after they retire?  Yet… Ford motors employees do.  The NFL makes 8 Billion dollars a year, and they are a ‘non-profit 501C’ charity.  Charity, my ass!  So, they pay no taxes and they pay for no health care.  They are mean to the players and they are mean to the fans.  More specifics?  How about the black out rules?  If a team doesn’t sell out all the tickets in the stadium for a home game… the NFL forbids that game from being on TV in that market.

For example – San Diego Chargers rarely sell out their games.  So, that means you also don’t get to watch them at home on Sundays.  The NFL does this to force you to go see the game in person.  Yeah, that is a treat for sure – $40 parking, $100 seats (that is face value for the worst seats) $6 water, $8 beer. When the game is over, you have to navigate home with 60,000 fellow drivers… all of whom are also wasted.  No thanks, I’ll watch at home.

Another example?  ok, last month RG3 was not playing.  It was a pre-season game, and he was still dealing with an injury.  BEFORE the game, which was NOT regular season, he wore a shirt on the field made by a company other than Nike.  Nike, you see, has an illegal monopoly with the NFL.  All players HAVE to wear Nike clothes, and only Nike clothes.  I can call it a monopoly because the Supreme Court already did.  Well, for wearing a tshirt that wasn’t Nike, before a game, a pre-season game, a game he wasn’t playing in… he got a $10,000 fine.  Some fucking charity that is.

So, with that said, I still really love football.  An analogy would be my love of music and my feelings towards Ticketbastard.  One has nearly ruined the other, but it is what it is.  Football It joyfully consumes a ton of my time.  I play in a couple different fantasy leagues, and all that jive.  I watch football, I study about it, and I am more than happy to talk about it.  More importantly,  I am fascinated by the life of a football player.  I wanna know about the minutia of being a football player.  Is it weird to go to McDonald’s because people stare at you?  Do you have trouble fitting in beds and cars and clothes because you are so ginormous.  What did it do to your relationships?  Stuff like that is what I like to know about, same with musicians.

Several books below, I talked about the really great Stefan Fatsis book called ‘a Few Seconds of Panic’.  I very highly recommend that book.  This book, so far, is a similar tale about the NFL told from the inside.  Here is what I have learned so far.  For the players – football isn’t about the smell of the grass on game day.  It’s not about taking the ball 70 yards for the game winning touchdown.  It’s not about signing the football for that little crippled boy who says you are his hero.  Yeah, I know it says that on the back of every dust jacket.

Playing in the NFL is about pain.  Constant pain every waking minute from the time you are about 18 on.  You think to yourself ‘cry me a river, these guys have the best doctors on earth taking care of them!’.  Well… yes and no.  They do have the best doctors and the best everything money can buy.  But no, they are not treating the players.  Why?  Because the players are afraid to tell anyone they are hurt.  if you are hurt, you get benched.  Your ‘toughness’ is questioned, and you get cut in the offseason.  So, you play hurt always and never tell anyone.  You also say “but Lono, these guys are getting millions to play a playground game, cry me a river!”.  Yeah, they are.  However, these guys are also retired and unemployable by age 30.  They are also broke and addicted to painkillers.  Every single one of them.  Well, except the 12 guys on television.  There is no pension or health care for players.  I don’t blame that all on the NFL.  I also blame the players union who doesn’t do dick for them, but take their money.  I blame the young dumb poor black 20 year kids who spend 5 million a year like they are going to be making that for the next 20 years.  The league actually does try and coach and warn these kids about money issues.  But, you can’t tell a 20-year-old kid shit.  He ain’t listening.  He especially ain’t listening’ if he is a newly minted millionaire and has been dirt poor all this life.  He especially ain’t listening’ if a bunch of super rich white guys are telling him what to do… when in his eyes most of all his problems have been caused by white guys.

Per the Fatsis book, I learned the average NFL career is 2.5 years.  Of course, every player thinks they will be the exception.  Think of that.  You are done FOR LIFE by 30.  Against your will, the one thing you did well all your life, and the only thing you cared about is taken away.  Imagine if you told me at 30 I could no longer cook, or screw, or play guitar, for the rest of my life.  I just really started getting good at stuff at 30.  Imagine if my company came to my desk at 30 and fired me… and no one else would hire me.  Imagine if I came to work every day, and there were three guys in the office looking for MY job.  The only way any of those three guys gets to keep their job is if I screw up at work or hurt myself.  Can you imagine that pressure?  Let’s be even more specific.  I work in customer service, so I handled escalated and very visible customer complaints.  Last month I had one that I just blew.  Totally my fault, I spaced out calling the customer back.  Plus, I am 41.  Guess what, in sports, that would have been my ass.  I would unemployed, and unemployable.

I know this is all very negative, and doesn’t sound like a guy who loves football.  But, to love something you must understand and appreciate all of it’s aspects.  Like a marriage, you have to understand and live with its faults.  This is how I feel about football.  It is complex, and often horrible… but I live for it.

Lucky for me, this guy, like Fatsis below, was a Denver Bronco.  So, I get the added bonus of not just learning about the NFL’s culture… I get a peek inside my beloved home team.  Here is a small example of what I am poorly trying to explain – I am about 20 pages in so far, and the author talks about ‘the Greek’ a ton.  He says ‘the Greek’ is the team trainer/doctor.  Now, if I wasn’t a Broncos fan, I would have no idea what or who he is talking about.  But, I do.  ‘the Greek’ is long time beloved team trainer Steve Antonopolous.  So, knowing the Broncos like I do helps.  Yeah, I know our team trainer by his name, AND his nickname.  Do you know that much about your football team?  Of course you don’t.

So, I am very excited this book.  I know it will be about the smell of the grass on a game day Sunday morning.  I know it’s gonna be about free drinks and pussy wherever he goes.  I know it’s gonna be about teamwork and camaraderie and running seams and patterns.  Mostly, though, I know it’s gonna be about pain.  Not just the physical pain… but that day when he was probably about 27 years old and the assistant coach called him and said he’d been cut.  The one thing you have been working towards every single day of your life since you were ten years old… you will never ever get to do again.  Worst of all, it is almost never on your own terms.   In football, you don’t really retire so much as get retired.

Let’s say you are a musician for a living.  Sure, you may lose a recording contract… you may even have to go and get a ‘real’ job.  But, you can always play music and be in a band.  Les Paul, the great guitar player and innovator, played guitar live in a band every week until the week he died, at 94.

I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)

Chuck Klosterman

I don’t know what this book is about.  I don’t need to.  Chuck Klosterman is just awesome.  He is up there with John Ronson and Herman Hesse.  Pick any book, it will be great, I promise.  I know Klostermans’ writing about music.  He is a bigger music nerd than me.  this guy is more passionate, knowledgeable, and articulate about music than me.  There are only about 3 people on Earth who I would say that about.  This book has nothing to do with music, though.  He is also a regular column writer over at Bill Simmon’s great site – Grantland

almost done with the book, so I can now speak to it.  It is a look at villains in popular culture: oj simpson, machiavelli, bernard goetz, the eagles, kareem abdul abar, mike tyson… you get the idea.  It’s a look at how society sees, and ultimately accepts celeby assholes, basically.  It looks deep on the surface, but really is just a listing of annoying famous people.  barring an amazing last hour, which is all i have left, I would say skip this.  Audiobook  Sept 2013

What you want is in the Limo

Michael Walker

I haven’t started this yet, I just got it last night.  So, I’ll use the canned summary from amazon to describe it.  I’ll update you in a week or two with how its going.

On the Road with Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, and the Who in 1973, the Year the Sixties Died and the Modern Rock Star Was Born  An epic joyride through three history-making tours in 1973 that defined rock and roll superstardom—the money, the access, the excess—forevermore.

ok, am a little more than halfway through.  This is good, but not great.  There isn’t much I haven’t read or known about.  But, I am an anamoly.  For you, this book will be very educational.  I think it pairs nicely with ‘Fire and Rain;  the year 1971 in music’ which was a great book.  I wrote it up below, probably about 15 or 20 book ago.  * finished book.  It wasn’t very good.  The title promises salacious stage door access to rock and roll.  It was just an on the nose factual account of 3 bands at their peak in 1973.  The Who, Led Zepp, and Alice Cooper.  While I don’t regret reading it, it isn’t worth your time.  Sept 2013

I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy’s Golden Era

William Knoedelseder 

this is the story of the stand up comedy boom in the very late 70’s.  It’s an amazing tale. Almost all the great stand ups of all time came through the Comedy Store in the late 70’s. This is their tale from a guy who was there.  This book covers:  Letterman, Leno, Pryor, Robin Williams, George Carlin, Andy Kauffman, George Miller, Richard Lewis, Elaine Boosler, Tom Dreesen, Ghallagher.  It’s a fascinating tale of a whole generation happening in one place at one time, just like San Francisco in 1967 with music.

If you want to read a great rock memoir, there are TONS.  This one isn’t it, though.  Start with Bill Graham’s autobiography.  Phil Lesh has a great one, too.  Just went to see him play last night at Red Rocks with Bobby Weir.  Can you call a guy who is almost 70 Bobby?  Not sure on that one.  Slash also has a great autobiography.  August 2013

Confessions of a Sociopath

M.E.Thomas

As you can see, I have been on quite the neurology kick this year.  For your purposes, a Sociopath and a Psychopath are the same thing.  There a couple of aspects that make this memoir incredible.  The first is that it is from a female.  I don’t know the numbers, but all of the accounts we have in popular culture come from men.  The other really cool thing about this book is it is the psychopath themselves telling the story.  That is incredibly rare.  This disorder is usually explained to us by clinicians and sociologist, not from the actual sufferers.

Sociopaths and psychopaths, to be overly simplistic, don’t have feelings and emotions like we do.  It is not a nurture thing, it is a genetic defect of a mis firing (or non-firing, we aren’t sure yet) amygdala in the brain.  You may think of psychopaths as serial killers in prison.  Yes, they are that.  however, they also often tend to be CEO’s and the super successful.  It is actually more common than you realize.  You have friends who are psychopaths.  Remember, psychopathy isn’t about deeds.  Your next door neighbor could be a psychopath/sociopath… and have never hurt anyone or even gone past the speed limit.  Psychopathy isn’t so much about actions, but the intentions behind those actions.

This book is amazing, because outside of jailhouse confessions, there hasn’t been a telling of psychopathy from the person themselves.  She is a fully functioning successful person, and you likely would never know she suffered from, essentially, having no feelings.  What also makes this remarkable is most psychopaths have no idea they are psychopaths.

Really, that is all it is.  No normal feelings of regret, remorse, or worry of any kind.

By the way, the cover of this book is super cool and even more accurate.  This is how sociopath’s feel in society.  They feel they are just pretending to be regular people.

If this interests you, and it should, start with Ronson’s book below. July 2013

Mo Meta Blues

Amir Questlove Thompson

This is an autobiography/memoir, and it’s great.  Dude is incredibly thoughtful, insightful, and self aware… as well as super educated on music and it’s many cultural impacts.  I really like this guy.  There is a lot more I could say, but I fear it would come off racist and would mis-interpret me.  Well, let me try.  To me, it is rare to see this level of black pride and black history and not come off angry at all.  This book reminds me of the super awesome ‘Soul on Ice‘ book by Eldridge Cleaver, who became a leader of the Black Panthers.  There is a blurb on the back of the book from Cornell West, the angriest and the blackiest man alive.  Questlove has all that knowledge and passion and history, yet doesn’t come off angry at all.  If I were black, I would be so fuckin’ angry at white people I would have to withdraw from society all together.  Still, though, he doesn’t skirt that stuff.  Look the cover.  I just noticed this after seeing it 30 times… look at his iconic hair pic thingy.  Look closely at the handle.  It is a fist, which I can only assume is a black power reference.  I dig that!  July 2013

* post script – that Cleaver book is amazing.  You should really take some time to learn about the Black Panthers.  You probably know them as violent cop shooters.  You are SO off the mark if you think that.   It began as a legal advocacy group to protect young blacks in San Francisco from police harassment.  They also did community drives and education work.  I don’t see them as radicals or terrorists.  They are black heroes in a time that desperately needed them.

Blink

Malcolm Gladwell

blinky

I just love this author.  I love his writing style and voice.  He writes about incredibly complex stuff, but using normal words and expressions… so small minds like me can process it.  The premise of the book is your mind – basically the unconscious part – makes critical decisions for you amazingly quick.  You know the expression ‘your first hunch is the right one’?  That is what the book is about, basically… hunches.  Your rational mind will spend 30 to 40 minutes processing information to make a decision.  However, your unconconcious mind actually made that decisions in under 5 seconds.  Interesting stuff, but shelved.  Ironically, I got the gist in the first chapter. June 2013

Outliers

Malcolm Gladwell

This is a very interesting book about what creates success.  He looks deep and numbers and find some very interesting stuff.  A lot of it is luck (Bill Gates happened to go to the only school that had a computer for 500 miles around when he was 13) and a lot of it is practice – specifically 10,000 hours.  If you are a hockey great, you were born in either Jan, Feb, or March.  This is just my poor teaser for what is pretty cool so far.  If nothing else, read the book because the looks like this.  does this guy look someone who would be one of America’s most prized intellectuals?  Nope.  Pretty sure it’s sideshow Bob.  Am listening to the audio book, and the author is a great narrator.  Just like Ronson below.  I am very shallow, I realize that.  For some reason, I judge everyone’s looks as authors.  I admit it.  They are all tried together to me.  May 2013

The Psychopath Test – A journey through the madness industry

Jon Ronson

I first learned about Jon Ronson reading an article about the Bilderberg Group.  Ronson was explaining there was this VERY powerful shadowy group that included all the world’s leaders that met secretly annually.  Everyone has a theory on these types of myths.  Mike Myers’s character called it ‘The Pentaveret’ (the Rothchilds, the Gettys, the Vatican, the Queen, and Colonel Sanders).  In the X Files, it was ‘cancer man’.  Every stoner on earth believes there are secret meetings of all the world’s powerful to decide our lowly fates.  The ‘Bilderbergs’ was Ronson’s take. You know when people talk about ‘they’, ‘them’, and ‘the man’.  These mysterious super powerful silved haired charmers who did everything from fix airfare prices to the capricious changes of stereo equipment from black to silver and back every few years.  Total nonsense, right?

Had I not the internet, I would have dismissed it.  However, I do… and it turns out he was right.  There really is a secret society of the world’s powerful people called the Bilderberg Group.  Dig it!

So, when Jon Ronson speaks, I listen.  Plus, he is a likeable and interesting author.  He is this tiny little few British guy whose very voice makes you want to push him over.  He is a great writer though for sure, and an even better storyteller. This new book is his investigative take on the madness industry.

This is seriously fascinating stuff, so let’s talk about it for a minute.  You know a ‘psychopath’ as a scary and dangerous person.   A bad guy in every sense, prone to evil.  That isn’t necessarily the case.  A psychopath is someone without remorse or empathy.  In a sense, they are blameless.  This is an issue of wiring in the brain, and it can not be corrected or treated.  Specifically, it is a malfunctioning of the amygdala.  Ted Bundy is a perfect example of a psychopath, and not because he killed people.  He was wicked charming, and grandiose enough to represent himself.  He killed people, and doesn’t feel bad.  He simply can’t.  It isn’t possible for him.

That isn’t what is fascinating about this book.  This is stuff you mostly know, up until now.  He turns the ‘psychopath test’ (yes, it is a real thing) on the business world.  He finds some of the most super succesful CEO’s are psychopaths.  You can tick off the symptons; grandiose sense of self worth, no ability for empathy or regret, wickedly charismatic and likable, act with little or no forethought… it goes on and on.  You say ‘but they haven’t killed anyone’!  Ronson makes the point that their impact is more severe.  Your jailhouse psychopath kills 2 to 5 people.  A CEO who shutters 200 production factories like one studied in the book… how many lives did he ruin?  How many towns did he destroy?  How many of those thousands died from no health care, alcohol or drug abuse, or suicide?

“Serial killers ruin families,” shrugged Bob. “Corporate and political and religious psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies.”

Here is a perfect example of some of his insight.  If you are worried you may be a psychopath, then you aren’t one.  Seriously, it is that easy.  A true psychpath doesn’t worry or care if he is one. This is really important stuf, and I am only half way through the audiobook –  May 2013

Read up, it’s a great and fascinating and chilling tale.

Attempting Normal

Marc Maron

This is Maron’s memoir.  Maron is a stand up comedian of marginal success over the last 20 years.  However, he found his ‘special purpose’ with podcasting.  I very much dig his podcast, which is why I bought the book.  Also, he has a tv show right now that just started on IFC – May 2012

Maybe We’ll Have you Back

Fred Stoller

I needed a palate cleanser.  The neuroscience book below was heavy lifting.  So, was in the market for a fluffy, well written, memoir.  I am always in the market for a well written memoir.  You can see that by my choices below.  This book is terrific!  It is very well written, and super entertaining.  Fred Stoller is as titled… a perennial guest star.  He has done bit parts in every sitcom ever.  So, this is his tale in show business.  This is one of my favorite reads of recent memory.  Well, to clarify, listened to.  Mine is an audiobook.  The last time I was this sad to see a memoir end, it was Kathy’s Griffin’s book.  Incidentally, he has a story about her in the book.  She does not shine in that anecdote.  He was also a writer on Seinfeld, which is well chronicled here.

April 2013

Edison – an Electrifying Life

time magazine editors

This is good stuff.  Just a 100 hundred years ago, a small handful of guys revolutionized everything.  Within ten years we got electricity, light, record players, video cameras, and the telegram.  Edison was a BIG part of all this, you know that.  What I am learning is more about his business savvy.  The second half of his life, he wasn’t inventing anything.  He had miions for that.  He handled the business end of that, which is incredibly complex.

now, did he destroy Tesla, as is the modern paradigm of thinking?  Not sure, haven’t gotten that far.  I am, however, a super big fan of Tesla.  Tesla is WAY under rated.  The electricity in your house is not Edison’s doing… but Teslas.  Also, Tesla invented radio.  Yeah, that seems pretty great.  So, I am just beginning my quest to learn more about these two genius titans.  April 2013

A Whole new Mind – why right-brainers will rule the future

Daniel Pink

This is not a work book.  This is about left handed folks, whom are right brained.  It is about the biology and impacts of our handedness.  I am a big student of left handed knowledge.  If you scroll through  here, you will find 4 or 5 or 6 books on the subject.  This is cool stuff!  I am listening to this on my commute.  It is a bit dry, though.  I mean, really dry.  It reminds me of the atheist tome I wrote about below.  The book is 6 hours of a guy desperately trying to convince me the value of right brain (left handed) thinking and brain patterns.  He is almost combative in his tenacity.  This is frustrating.  I want to yell at the author “hey, I know right brain thinking is great.  That is why i bought the book, ok?  So,l stop telling me how important it is to accept it and just give me the data!”

I mean… am I out of line here?  That is why i dropped the Atheist book after about ten pages.  It was all about how to prove to me the possibility.  This is a waste of my time.  I am already an atheist.  So, I guess this book would be better if there was an abridged version that took out the convincing part and just discussed the science-y stuff.

I should say, though, if you don’t know about this stuff… it is absolutely fascinating.  Especially if you are left handed.  Your ‘handedness’ dictates SO much about your life and personality.  I can chat with someone, or read an email, and know instantly if they are a lefty by behaviors and quirks.

– April 2013

Banished: Surviving my years inside the Westboro Baptist Church

Lauren Drain

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This book is hot of the presses.  It is what it describes, this incredibly beautiful girl lived in Fred Phelps compound for a few years with her father (who was the true beleiver).  I am not to far into it, but am fascinated already.  The Phelps are the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas.  To sum it up, they are the ‘god hates fag’ people.  The worst people in America, barring Chris Brown.

Ok, finished.  Fascinating.  Basically, there is no one left in the church outside of immediate Phelps family.  The patriarch is mean as fuck, and truly believes everything he preaches.  That is what is fascinating.  In his mind, he loves you, and is really and genuinely trying to save you.  He speaks with god and knows god’s concerns… and he is just trying to save you.  Of course, he is batshit crazy.  But, he truly is not trying to be the monster evil dick that he is.  I also learned how these troop of cult members has survived.  They are all lawyers.  Everyone in the family is a lawyer.  So, that is where they get money, and that is how they are never driven underground.  They know their rights like a mother fucker.

Our author got kicked out for instant messaging a boy.  That was it, no kissing, no sex, never even met the guy.  They kicked her out for being ‘a whore’.  Really, though, she was run out for not being a Phelps by blood.  I also find it most amusing that she is incredibly attractive.  Really, that is probably what worked against her the most.  Have you seen the Phelps?  They are as ugly as they are mean.  There is no threat of temptation when you are that ugly.  Sorry to be so shallow, but it’s true.  Phelps help define why I am an atheist.  If there was a god, she would have smote the fuck out of that family and left them a festering crater.

Below, you will see for the last several years my book reviews where only a couple of sentences.  I am changing that.  I think I can be more informational for you, and being detailed with the reviews help me process what I have read.  It’s a learning trick that would clearly be lost on you.  🙂

April 2013

I know I am but what are you?

Samantha Bee

sambeebook

This was an impulse buy of an audiobook.  Big mistake.  it was boring as hell.  Samantha Bee is the terrific and super funny female correspondent on the Daily Show.  So, I thought it would be a wild and funny romp of a story of a female comedian breaking into the boys club of news and faux news.  Maybe some zany anecdotes of behind the scenes at the Daily Show.  Nope.  Not even a tiny bit.  No, I got six hours of boring narcissism based entirely on her boring childhood.  Normally, the link with the title on this page is always a hyperlink to buy the book in question.  You don’t want this book, and I won’t let you have it for your own good.  March 2013

March 2013

Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential

kitchen-confidential

This is a re-read of sorts.  I never finished the book.  so, I just picked it up on audiobook and burned through the second half.  This is a great book on every level.  March 2013

Why We Suck

Dr Denis Leary

Picked this up on audiobook for my drive.  it is enjoyable.  It is also exactly what you think it would be.  Its Denis ranting on and on about stuff.  Most importantly, it is read by him.  I am getting crazy into audiobooks.  I seem to always find myself in the truck… which makes me happy.  Especially, if I have good books or podcasts.  March 2013

Tough Shit

Kevin Smith

autobiography from Kevin Smith.  Am a few hours into the audiobook (read by him, of course) and it is super enjoyable.  March 2013

Rock & Roll book of the Dead

David Comfort

This book dishes on the rock’s most iconic deaths:  jerry garcia, kurt cobain, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix… etc etc.  Definately an interesting read – March 2013

Death by Meeting

Patrick Lencioni

This is just what is sounds like.  I business book on effective team meetings.  So far, an easy read with some decent takeaways.  Feb 2012

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the digital age

Dale Carnegie and assoc

This is an update on the classic Carnegie reader.  Am listening to this on audiobook.  The page is terrible, though.  For example – be a good listener, it makes you more likeable.  Ok, seems reasonable.  makes sense.  Then… I get two hours on the premise.  not being a good listener anymore, mister over explainer.  On the whole, though, these aren’t bad skills to have.  Just wish it wasn’t written so patronizingly, and I would have been through it by now.  Jan 2013

The Portable Atheist Reader

Christopher Hitchins

This is a compendium of atheist essays and think pieces by the great Christopher Hitchins, who just passed away this year. If there was a leader of the atheist movement, it was ‘hitch’. Frankly, I am daunted by this book. It looks very thinky, and is FAR from portable. 500 pages is not portable. However, I am excited to discuss atheism with these great minds. We are SO misunderstood. Penn Gillette said it best, but does not take credit for the quote. Either way. this is a very thoughtful way to describe atheism. “atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby”.

As an atheist, know that I am not a nihilist on any level. I have much faith and joy. I just don’t follow the supernatural nature of most religions. For example, I totally believe there was a Jesus, and that he was a great leader of his time. I believe about everything up until his death. To me, the story simply ends there. I could go on and on and on and on and on about my feelings on this, and I have on this blog. Anyhow, I am excited to jump into this. Dec 2012 – dumped it.  It was a ton of essays trying to convince me on atheism.  Well, I am already an atheist, with absolutely zero questions.  So, I shelved it!

How I Slept my way to the Middle

Kevin Pollack

Autobiography of comedian Kevin Pollack. So far a nice, refreshing, and fast read. Am about half way through as of this writing. It is going quick, though. Will have it knocked out in the next week. This was a great read, and I was sorry when it was over. Nov 2012

How did that Happen?

Roger Connors & Tom Smith

This is a management philosophy book about accountability. However, that isn’t what we need to talk about right now. In order to put these book covers on here, I google the image and then link it. So, I just ran a gis for ‘how did that happen’ and this stuff came up. it’s hilarious, full of things like this. Go ahead, click it Nov 2012 **** I just could not read another management philosophy book and shelved this one to look at early next year.

The One Minute Manager

Patrick Lencioni

more management philosophy stuff. This was a quick read, and had some good insight, especially on timeliness of feedback. Nov 2012

Five Dysfunctions of Team

Patrick Lencioni

Business book about the five archetypes of leaders. Discusses the strengths, deficits, and how to best deal with them. I dig this stuff. Ps, don’t tell 16 year old me that I am reading business and leadership books. He would puke his brains out, and then kill himself rather than grow up and be a ‘sell out’. What a dumbass! It sure was easy to rage against society and ‘the man’ when my parents were paying for everything. Anyhow, I am about a 100 pages in and enjoying it. Oct 2012

The Social Customer

Adam Metz

This is a book about how and why businesses can benefit from directly engaging their customer base through social media (Facebook, twitter… etc). This is my new line of business for my company. It’s a wild new frontier for big business, and I am excited to be at the forefront. Sept 2012 * update > I can’t do it anymore. This is a horrible read. Generally, I enjoy business books, but this is a cry piece of crap. Got about halfway through, and have to stop. Here are the key points. Social Media is good and important and your company should do it. Then next couple hundred pages are spent arguing why your company should be in the social space (twitter, facebook, etc). Well, I agree. I agreed on page one. So, reading a couple hundred pages of weak arguments is just a time waster. This book has been SHELVED! Sept 2012

I’ve got a Name

Ingrid Croce

This is the boigraphy of the late great Jim Croce. This was written by his wife, who he was with since they were both teenagers. So far, it’s great. Bonus, if you order through the family website, Ingrid (his widow) will personalize and sign the book. First edition, hardback baby. Well, maybe she won’t for you. I mean, look at you. But, she did it for me. August 2012

Evel

Leigh Montville

This is a biography on Evel Kneivel. Am only 45 pages in, but this guy was the real deal. This guy was nuts. Not just fearless and tough as nail (which he was) but just fucking nuts. A enjoyable read so far. It’s huge, though. Do I really need 500 pages on Evel Kneivel? I’ll let you know in about a month. August 2012 –

I really enjoyed it. Dude reminds me of Neil Cassady on absolutely every level. So, do you really need 400 pages on Evel Kneivel? I think you do. It is a piece of Americana. What, are you a Russkie? Aug 2012

Joseph Stalin: Dictator of the Soviet Union

Brenda Haugin

I figured it was time to go a little deeper and learn some history. So, I am starting with Stalin. He ran Russia in the early to mid 1900’s, and was distinguished in history by killing everyone. Seriously, dude killed everyone. I picked up 2 Stalin books at the library. They are thin, though. I am sure a proper telling of Stalin’s tale would be a 700 page book… but that would bore me to tears. So, each book is just over 100 pages. I am hoping that between 2 books I can get a more rounded feel for the dude than a single book might provide. We shall see.

Here is a quick primer. You have socialism, which is where everybody owns everything. This has never worked once, anywhere. Each and every time it turns into Communism, where the govt owns everything and you own nothing. Then, you have Stalinism… which is where you kill absolutely everyone. Seriously. Everyone. That seems to be all he accomplished. His murder numbers make Hitler look like a Pederson husband. Why didn’t the world stand up to him? Because he was killing his own people. No one intervenes in the killing of your own people. They only intervene when you starting fucking with other people’s people. July 2012

The Little Prince

Antoine De St Exupery

This is a re-read. I don’t remember much about it from being young, but remembered that I loved it. So, I was putting my books back into the bookshelves last night and found it. Set it aside and am going to start into it tonight. I think it’s a kids book, so I should be able to knock it out quick. June 2012 *** update. There is an amusing side story. Read here

Not Taco Bell Material

Adam Carolla

I love Adam Carolla. He is hilarious, thoughtful, and fearlessly bold in his expression. He has been in radio for years, but I never listened… being as though I wasn’t in LA. Anyhow, a few years ago he got canned. So, he started a podcast, which was pretty new at the time. A buddy turned me on and I have been listening ever since. He does about 2 to 3 shows a week. About an hour long. Totally free, and completely uncensored. He is hilarious, and I listen to him almost every day. I listen to podcasts exclusively for my drive. I don’t listen to music. I have a bunch of podcasts I enjoy, but I never miss Adam’s podcast, or the CarTalk one.

Adam’s podcast has been incredibly popular. I see why. I have found something I like even more than music… really good conversation. He averages just under a million downloads on each show. Now, for TV that is nothing. For radio, though, it is unheard of. So, he got a book deal, and this is his second book. I am 4 or 5 chapters in, and really enjoying it. There is a link and review to his first book somewhere below. ok, just finished it. Not a short read, it was almost 400 pages, but went very quick. June 2012

The Speed of Trust

Steven Covey

Listening to audio book about how trust impacts business relationships. Good stuff… except that the narrator (Steven Covey jr) sounds like Fire Marshall Bill. So, it’s a bit disctracting. June 2012

Dave Barry Turns 40

Dave Barry

I love Dave Barry. He is my favortie humorist. I love everything he does, and I have been lucky enough to meet him. This is his writings and thoughts, obviously, on turning 40. I have had this book in my collection for about ten years now. However, I didn’t want to crack it open until I turned 40. Now I can. May 2012

Shit my Dad Says

Justin Halpern

This book is hilarious. It is brief, and brilliant. I highly endorse it, and you could knock it out in a single night. May 2012

Home Before Daylight: my life on the road with the Grateful Dead

Steve Parrish

this is just what it sounds like. A memoir from a roadie and confidant of the Grateful Dead who actually ended up being their tour manager. So far, so good. It’s a candid behind the scenes piece from the Dead’s inner circle. As you will see below, I have read a ton of books on the Dead. I rarely like the scholarly approach (except for the business book most recent). I much more enjoy great tales of rock and roll excess and zaniness. This is the stuff that makes rock stars so great. It was a great read, and as close as anything to some insight in Jerry… of which there is precious little. April 2012

The Heroin Diaries

Nikki Sixx

I love rock stars, and I love their books. I also love Motley Crue. Nikki is the band. He writes the songs, calls the shots… it is his, band. Am interested to read. I have gone through a lot of rock star books, and I always enjoy them: ozzy, duff mckagan, slash, phil lesh, frank zappa, and many more. I even love books just about the business of rock: Bill Graham, Bill Carter, Barry Fey > I can never get enough. Here is a great quote that embodies the 80’s and Nikki > “Just because we wear make up doesn’t mean we can’t kick your ass!” That was a very compelling and interesting read. April, 2012

How to Raise a Perfect Puppy

Cesar Milan

We love Cesar here, in a big way. We do not miss his show, ever. It is tough to miss, Nat Geo Wild has pretty much handed their network to him, which I love. We use all of his training, almost daily. We have a puppy coming in two weeks, so we bought his book AND his DVD. Cesar is the bomb. What would Cesar do? Ask yourself that. March 2012

Slash

Anthony Bozza & Slash

This is the story of Slash. The guy from Guns and Roses. One of my absolute favorite guitar players. He also is, to me at least, an incredibly likelable guy. Unlike Axl, who is a dickhole. I love Slash, and am looking forward to this book. I was waiting for it to come out on audio book, but it never did. If you love rock and foll, this is a great read. Slash is a good dude, and you get a pinch of insight on Axl… but even Slash doesn’t understand him… or why he refuses to go onstage on time. Feb 2012

Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson

Jesus, this book is HUGE. Frankly, I am a little annoyed by the enormity of it. Not something you can curl up in a bath or bed with. So far, needless to say, an incredibly interesting read. I feel it may take the rest of my life to finish this beast. For the record, while I am not a mac-hole, we do use Apple at home. Dec 2011 * update – I am setting this book down. It is interesting, but after 400 pages, I am a bit past half way. I can’t set aside that much time for one dude’s story. Jumping over to the Slash book now, and then puppy stuff. This book has been SHELVED – Feb 2012

Get Carter

Bill Carter

This guy was in the navy, then was in Kennedy’s secret service, and then was lawyer for the Rolling Stones. You can bet he has some sweet ass stories about it, and this is his memoir. Totally enjoyed it! Dude was in the front seat of the history of rock and roll, and the secret service, and several other stories. Dec 2011

Backstage Past

Barry Fey

You are seeing a theme here, by now, right? This guy is one of the great rock promoters of all time, only second to Bill Graham. This is his memoir about rock and roll concerts, which was his business long before it was a business. If you are to read one book, it should be the Bill Graham book, though. Bill Graham is a god, and nearly single handedly responsible for the ‘San Francisco scene’. Would there have been a Grateful Dead, Santana, and Jefferson Airplane without Bill Graham? Yes, but you would have never heard of them. Dec 2011

I am Better than your Kids

Maddox

Have you read this piece? Read it now. I am serious. It is one of the funniest things I have ever read. It’s just a short piece this guy did on his blog. Well, it got millions of hits. So many, in fact, that they gave the guy a book deal just based on this piece. So, he did a book on it… just him critiquing children’s art. I have actually, and generously, been accused of being the writer of said piece above. Alas, I am not. Nov, 2011

Everything I know about Business I learned from the Grateful Dead

Barry Barnes

This is cool. This guy takes a scholarly and thoughtful look at how the Grateful Dead pioneered so many business practices that are now common place. But Lono, you say, isn’t that everything the Grateful Dead was against? Well, kinda. but, dude talks about that. The Dead were aware of the business strength. They had a merchandising arm, a board of directors, and (gasp) meetings. Am about 100 pages in right now, and am fascinated.

This book was great! It showed that compassion and success aren’t enemies. You can be super rich and successful in business without exploiting people and the environment. This is the kind of stuff I try to explain to my Republican friends. You don’t have to be evil to get great, and that everyone should be held accountable to the social contract. The Dead embodied that, and this dude with PHDs in finance and business explains it perfectly. So, this wasn’t just a stoner writing ‘be kind, bro’ or ‘Dark Star rules.’ This guy teaches a class on this shit. Word! Nov 2011

Trust me, I’m Dr Ozzy

Ozzy Osbourne

Well, this just looks awesome. Don’t even have it yet. Ozzy rules. The book grew out of a couple of things. One is his column in Rolling Stone, where he doles out advice. The other is that Ozzy was actually studied Ozzy to figure out why he isn’t dead. Seriously, he is really supposed to be dead. Even Ozzy is puzzled on that one. I met Ozzy when I was a teen, it was awesome. He was so nice. He said to me “why are you shaking?” because I was so nervous to meet him. Nov 2011

Update, this book is nuts. I am about half way through. I had imagined it would be like that bit from Dr Demento called ‘rock and roll doctor‘. It’s not. It is people actually asking Ozzy real medical concerns. what the shit is that about? That would be like asking Hunter Thompson for 12 step advice. Don’t do it, man.

It’s so Easy

Duff McKagan

an autobiography from Guns & Roses bass player. I am mostly fascinated, of course, in Axl. I know he is moody, but what posseses anyone to fire the biggest band in America, and then not do a goddamn thing for 15 years. Now, Axl is still 2 hours late to every show, he is also too old and fat to sing. See for yourselves. By the way, I want this written on the record, so I get credit for it. Guns are about to start another American tour. I put the over/under on tour cancellation at 5 gigs. Btw, hope you don’t go to see them on a school night. Last show, Axl didn’t go on until 2:30 am.

As for this book. It is interesting. Duff is honest, candid, and sweet. Absolutely an enjoyable read. I am going to pick up the Slash book soon, as well. I guess the book I am really looking for doesn’t exist yet. It would be called ‘what’s the fucking deal with Axl, y’all?” Maybe I need to write that for America. Oct 2011

Dead Janitor’s Club

Jeff Klima

“pathetically true stories of a crime scene clean up king”. I found this writer over on HuffPo and absolutely loved his style. After I read several of his short pieces, I knew I had to read his book. Very interesting tome, so far. Funny, creepy, and super lucid and self aware. Oh, and for the record… my wife says that saying ‘Huff Po’ is pretentious. Wrong. I simply don’t have all day to say ‘huffington post’. That is WAY too many syllables. Like – African American. WAY easier to say ‘black guy’. She also thought there was no such term as ‘SNL’ to describe ‘saturday night live’. I got to prove her wrong when I showed her they owned the website ‘SNL25.com’. So don’t be sassin’ me when i get my abbreviation on. It’s not like you are paying for this awesome content (yet). Totally enjoyed it, but I am fascinated with serial killers. Plus, I loved this guy’s writing style. Sept, 2011

Writing Movies for Fun and for Profit

Ben Garant and Tom Lennon

this is a book about how to sell screenplays. These guys are very successful writers. That isn’t why I am reading it, though. I could not care less about screenplay writing. I am reading because these are two of the big guys behind MTVs ‘the State’… which was the greatest sketch show in history. it was on MTV in the 90’s. Here are a few sketches. You will also recognize Lennon as Lt Jim Dangle from Reno 911… which is an improv show born out of the State troupe.

I am enjoying it. However, if you aren’t an aspiring screenwriter or obsessed ‘the State’ fan… you can probalby skip this one. August 2011. Post Script: I LOVED this book. It was several hundred pages, but I wish it was double that.

Leader of the Band

Scott Lang

9 stories that take different looks and different styles of leadership. This was written by Scott, who is a professional speaker. So far, an excellent read. Compelling, but still reads pretty fast. Also, the author is my big brother… which is pretty cool. August 2011

Fire and Rain:

The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970

David Browne

If you are a rock scholar like myself, this book is awesome. It goes through the year 1970, and explains how pivotal is was. It was truly the end of the 60’s. The Beatles, CSNY, and Simon and Garfunkle all broke up… as James Taylor was just coming up. Their stories are woven together very well. July 2011.

Freedom in Exile

Dalai Lama

The autobiography of his Holiness. I am just a few pages in and it is c0mpelling how regular a person he seems. He is a great man, and I seek to learn much more about Buddhism. It is heartbreaking, I will tell you that. At about 5 years old, the elders show up to this kids house and say to him and his parents “Hey, your kid is the King of Tibet. He is the reincarnation of the Holy Dali Llama, and we have to take him away right now… what with him being King and all. June 2011

Lies Chelsea Handler Told Me

Chelsea Handler and friends

“My tendency to make up stories and lie compulsively for the sake of my own amusement takes up a good portion of my day and provides me with a peace of mind not easily attainable in this economic climate.”–Chelsea Handler –

I enjoy Chelsea’s books. Her best, if you haven’t read any, is “Are you there Vodka… It’s me, Chelsea”. Needless to say, this is light and fluffy stuff. At the end of the day, that is generally what I like to wind down with. May 2011

Everyone Loves you When you’re Dead

Neil Strauss

  • Makes Lady Gaga cry, tries to keep Mötley Crüe out of jail & gets kidnapped by Courtney Love
  • Shoots guns with Ludacris, takes a ride with Neil Young & goes to church with Tom Cruise and his mother
  • Spends the night with Trent Reznor, reads the mind of Britney Spears & finds religion with Stephen Colbert
  • Gets picked on by Led Zeppelin, threatened by the mafia & serenaded by Leonard Cohen
  • Picks up psychic clues with the CIA, diapers with Snoop Dog & prison survival tips from Rick James
  • Goes drinking with Bruce Springsteen, dining with Gwen Stefani & hot tubbing with Marilyn Manson
  • Talks glam with David Bowie, drugs with Madonna, death with Johnny Cash & sex with Chuck Berry

totally enjoyed the book. It was also a surprisingly fast read, for a book that was about 350 pages.

Hatter M Vol 1

Frank Beddor

This book was recommended to me by a good buddy at work when he found out that I am absolutely insane for all things ‘Alice in Wonderland’. This is a graphic novel (but you and I can call them comic books) that is a re-telling of the Alice tale. At least, that is my best guess, I am only a few pages in so far. Stunning artwork, by the way. It’s nice to have some light reading. Last few books were all heavy stuff. I need me a well written celeb bio to get me out of this funk. Kathy Griffin’s awesome book is a perfect example. April/11

Theodore Rex

Edmund Morris

Ok, here is the deal with this book. First off, I am not reading it. It is a book on tape. Easy breezy, right? No. I would not call this version ‘abridged’. It goes through his presidency day by day. It is painfully slow. Also, the narrator must read a lot of other books. Problem is, he narrated a thriller I was listening to a couple of years ago. It is completely distracting, as I keep being pulled back into that older story. So, after about 3 hours of listening (and we are only a month into his presidency), I had to table this one. March/11

Angels of Death: Inside the Biker Gangs Crime Empire

Julian Scher & William Marsden

This is a tale of the business of being Hell’s Angels… which isn’t about motorcycles. It is about meth distribution. The book also tells the tale of recently captured fugitive Paul Eischeid. I have not finished this book yet, but allow me to explain why. I do my reading right before bed, for the most part, and this book gave my anxiety dreams bordering on nightmares twice.

Update May 2011 > finally finished this book. An interesting read for sure.

Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons

Greg Fitzsimmons

stand up genius Greg Fitzsimmons does an memoir told entirely through disciplinary letters his mom had collected throughout his youth and young professional career. Great talent, and huge rage. I love this guy. Also, I listen to his podcast weekly, you should too. If you aren’t a huge Fitzsimmons fan, skip the book, though. Jan/2011

Official Book Club Selection

Kathy Griffin

an autobiography memoir sorta thing. Loved it, very enjoyable. Also, clearly not ghostwritten, like most celebrity memoirs. At around 300 pages, it went really quick, too. Wife is reading it now, and I hear her laughing all the time as I am trying to sleep. Good stuff, and I am a fan…. even though ‘life on the D list’ is crazy staged and no longer interesting to me. > Dec 2010

A Few Seconds of Panic

Stefan Fatsis

This is a story of a journalist who tried out for, and briefly got a job kicking for, the Denver Broncos. It seems his intention was more to get a book out of it than to be a kicker in the NFL. Quite a story behind the scenes of the NFL. This book is crazy good! Best book I have read all year. If you are any kind of fan of the NFL, you must read this book. The NFL is a very secretive organization, and daylight rarely escapes of what the culture inside is like. ESPN had it perfect with their show ‘Playmakers’. However, the NFL shut the show down. Read this book before Roger Goodell goes to every bookstore and personally burns them.

Nov/Dec 2010

In Fifty Years, We’ll all be Chicks

Adam Carolla

I am a big fan of Adam Carolla. I listen to his podcast almost every day. So, I know the premise of this book. It is a series of rants that point to a single thesis (which is the title). It is a salient and valid point. Dig this – it used to be gender roles were very defined. Women clean, cooked, and reared kids. Men worked on cars and in construction and knew about electricity and plumbing. Since then, the male role has evolved. Now dudes know how to cook and clean and rear kids. We participate in that. So, that part is great. But, there is no generation of women (or men, for that matter) being raised to value labor… or work on a car. Think about it. We dudes got more feminine and open minded, so the masculine is suffering in America. It is also known to many as ‘the wussification of America’. Nov 2010

American on Purpose

Craig Ferguson

An autobiography of late night’s Craig Ferguson. It is about his adventure from Scottland to Hollywood. Though thick, it is a breezy read. Not something I would buy, though. It was a perfect library rental. Nov 2010

I Only Roast the Ones I Love

Jeff Ross

I like Jeff Ross. I love comedy, and I mostly only read autobiographies. So, this was a natural choice. The book is very entertaining, causing many laugh out loud moments. It is also a pretty quick read, as far as pacing does. I started it tonight, and will probably have it done tomorrow. Definately an enjoyable book. Oct 2010

I’m with the Band

Pamela DeBarres

Pamela deBarres is the most famous rock and roll ‘groupie’ of all time. In fact, she is likely the first. I have to say, I was expeting something saucier, sexier, and more revealing about rock’s greats. However, it is more a tale of a young star struck girl who kept falling in love with rock stars. It was pretty boring, and the only person I learned anything about was Frank Zappa… and how good a guy he and his wife were to Pamela. Oct 2010

Last Words

George Carlin

This was an impulse buy. I found it today at the goodwill, along with the John Stewart book. Both hardbacks in great shape for $2.50 each. What a steal. So, I started the Carlin book and I am about 2/3rds done. It is his autobiography, and an light and enjoyable read if you are a fan. And who isn’t a fan? I should have this done tomorrow night – Sept 2010

The Great Gatsby

F Scott Fitzgerald

Ok. This book is regarded as one of the best ever written. Hunter Thompson would read from it daily. So how is that I, with a degree in English and American Literature have never finished the book? yes, I said finished. I have started plenty of times, never get more than about 20 pages in.

So, I took a different tact and got the book on tape. I had a 6 hour drive each way one weekend, and the very next weekend (Labor day 2010) I had a 12 hour drive each way. Surely, I could use that time to burn through the book. Nope, about 2 hours into it I got hopelessly bored. I have a feeling something pertinent is about to happen. Gatsby is going to ask him some great favor. However, after a hundred pages of vapid self aggrandizing rich people… the story lost it’s luster. I still have it on the iPod, and I still have plenty of big drives coming up. My goal is to finish it before the end of 2010. So, I keep it in the iPod. * update Jan 2011, never have listened to the second half, yet. The first half bored me to tears.

I should also say I am really getting to be a big fan of this book on tape business. Going forward, I would bet about 50% of these entries will be books on tape (specifically, bought through iTunes and listened to in the truck on long drives).

The Annotated Alice

Lewis Carrol, Martin Gardner

This is pretty much what it sounds like. An exhaustive footnoted version of Alice in Wonderland. How exhaustive? Well, it takes the 35 page book and adds 300 pages of notes, literally. Not for the casual reader. 7/10

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang

Chelsea Handle

This is just guilty pleasure reading. Totally enjoyable, totally vaccuos. Chelsea is a hot mess, indeed. I wouldn’t pay $20 for this, and its not something you need in your library for generations to appreciate. However, if your friend has a copy, grab it! 7/10

The Mystery of Lewis Carroll

Jenny Woolf

Well, I am crazy for the book ‘Alice in Wonderland’. It’s author, Lewis Carroll, it quite an enigma. Yes, this book is about drugs and trippy shit and was written in the 60’s. The 1860’s! By a Reverend, who was also a published mathematician. So, I know the book intimately, I picked this up at the library in hopes to know the man behind it better. This book wa dreadfully boring. Not becuase it wasn’t well written. It is that our subject matter is incredibly boring. Reading about the life of a cleryman during he 1800’s victorian England is about as interesting as it sound. He was no Ozzy, that is for sure! 6/10

I am Ozzy

Ozzy Osbourne

Not sure if this counts, since it was an audio book. I spent last weekend traveling, so this was my companion on the plane. A great read. I am a HUGE fan of Ozzy. He was a big influence on my music and passions. Got to meet him when I was younger, and he was really nice and appreciative. Before you ask, this audio book was NOT narrated by Ozzy. Like Hunter, no one can understand a word he says. Let it be known, though, Ozzy fucking rules! 5/10

Gonzo: the life of Hunter S Thompson

Jann Wenner, and everyone else

This book is a beast, about 500 pages. Am halfway through it and totally enjoying it. It tells Hunter’s life through anecdotes by friends and trusted associates, in chronological order. Picked it up for $10 at Borders on clearance. If you are a fan of Hunter, I absolutely endorse it. I have read everything about Hunter, and by Hunter. This one seems as comprehensive as anything out there. Now, that being said… don’t start into Hunter by reading about him. Read his stuff first. I recommend ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, ‘Curse of Lono’, and ‘Generation of Swine’ first. Then, read about him. It will make much more sense. He is my favorite writer, in case you haven’t pieced that together, yet. Update, just finished. You probably shouldn’t read this. It is a depressing tale, the saddest I have read of all his biographies. Yes, he was a brilliant writer who invented his own genre. He was also a tired old alcoholic and drug addict who was barely functional after about age 35. 5-6/10

Trout Fishing in America

Richard Brautigan

This is a re-read also. It is a short and wonderful book. Brautigan is a writer from the 60s and 70’s. He was a city lights guy, but never got lumped in with the beats. Not sure if that was great or bad for him. His books are beautiful, and his poetry is even better. That is saying something, because I HATE poetry, usually. His stuff is great. Dig this poem, about birth control

When you take your pill
it’s like a mine disaster
I think of all the people
lost inside of you.
So, read his stuff. It is beautiful and funny and passionate and silly. Oh, btw, the book has nothing to do with fishing at all. ‘Trout Fishing in America is the name of the protagonist.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

This is another re-read. I should say it is a re-re-read. I am brushing up on it again since the new Tim Burton movie is coming out. I can’t say enough about this book. It is my favorite book in the whole world, and I think the best written book ever. Being as though I have a degree in English Literature, that should carry some weight. I have read this book hundreds of times, and it never disappoints. When I was in college, I carried this book around with me in my backpack for years… everywhere. I gave speeches on this book, wrote thesises (sp?) on this book. I love it’s joy, it’s wonder, it’s fearlessness. I still have a copy of this book on every floor of the house. When I have more time, I will write much more about this book. To be specific, the book you are thinking of is actually two books. Did you know the second book is actually a chess game? Seriously. The whole second book (Alice’s Adventures through the Looking Glass and what she found there) is entirely full of an actual chess game happening as you read.

Alice in Wonderland features drugs. Lots of drugs, and all the crazy shit drugs do to you. Mushrooms and potions are all over the place. So, you may be thinking this was probably written in the 60’s. It was. The 1860’s. Oh yeah, and it was written by a Reverend who was a published mathematician by trade. Btw, before I close… let’s address a couple of obvious questions. A super brief F.A.Q.

  • Lewis Carroll wasn’t his real name. It is Rev. Charles Dodgeson.
  • There really was an Alice. She was a family friend. Her name was Alice Liddell
  • He was not a pedophile. Seriously. Don’t even joke about this with me.

* in closing, I am extremely excited about the new Tim Burton movie. I have seen almost every Alice adaptation you can think of, and I usually love them all. I can’t think of any better to realize the wacked out vision of the story than Tim Burton. Well, maybe Terry Gilliam. Either way, this movie will be great. If it isn’t, I assure you… you will here about it in these pages.

The Audacity to Win: The inside story of Barack Obama’s historic…

David Plouffe

This was written by one of two of Obama’s campaign manager. This guy is more than an ‘insider’, he built the campaign. So, far, quite a page turner. However, I have to confess… I am not actually reading it. I have it on audiobook on my iPod, downloaded. So, I listen to it driving around. It is 19 hours, so I will have it done in about two weeks. * I finally finished it after a few weeks. While I really enjoyed it, it was a bit longer than necessary. Dude has a ridiculously detailed memory.

Buy Ketchup in May, and Fly at Noon

Mark DiVincenzo

I will let them describe it. A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There. About 20 pages in so far, and I am loving it. It’s a great bathroom book, as it is all vignettes. Nothing more than a paragraph long. Like, do you know why movies cost less during the day than at night? It’s in here.

Confessions of a Public Speaker

Scott Burkun

A great page turner about a professional public speaker (as promised). I dig it, as someone who works to be a better public speaker, dude gives us tips and tricks, and some great anecdotes of not awesome events. An enjoyable read, and everything is promised to be.

Left Hand Turn around the World

David Wolman

this book digs much deeper into the neurological aspects of being a Lefty. This book is the most academic of all the Left handed books I have read, which is refreshing.

Left is Right

Rae Lindsay

This is a book on how the left handed brain operates. I am a lefty, one of a very proud 10% of artists, great minds, and weirdos. Being left handed is more than just a hand preference WAY more. We are literally wired differently. Ah, never mind. You don’t care.

Memories, Dreams, and Reflections

C.G. Jung

This is another re-read (which is rare for me). This is one of the most influential books I have ever read. Like Joseph Campbell, and Alice in Wonderland… this book helped shaped my perspective. Jung was the other great mind of psychology (the first bring Freud). They worked together, and were publishing contemporaries. They broke up, though. Freud theory is we are all damaged neurotic nutjobs with mother issues. Jung took a more mystical approach. He came up with Synchronicity, which is more than a great Police disc.

What I really loved about this book is it is an autobiography. So, it reads very conversationally. This is important, as Jung’s other published works are very clinical, and generally to dense to both read and enjoy. You know how every Friday, I top my Friday Fives with a mandala? That is all Jungian, 100%.

An Incomplete and Inaccurate History of Sport

Kenny Mayne

I am absolutely crazy for Kenny Mayne. He is an ESPN personality, and is hilarious. He is, quite likely, me in 20 years. I haven’t read this book yet. Just got it, but am very excited. If you don’t know Kenny’s work, go here or here. He is also the reason I get up two hours before game day every Sunday to watch ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown, to see the ‘Mayne Event’.

Another reason to love Kenny (as if you didn’t), my buddy Chris manages the band who does the music for Mayne Street, and Jeff Ament from Pearl Jam does the intro.

The book was enjoyable, but you should stick with his online free content. If you want to read this, borrow mine. It’s not great, unless you share the love I have for Kenny Mayne… which is clear you do not from your tone and how you rolled your eyes right there. Never mind, you can’t borrow it!

Things I overheard…

Alan Alda

You know Alan Alda from M.A.S.H. We all do. I saw him on the Daily Show a while ago pimping one of his books and I was taken. He seemed really smart, funny, genuine, and articulate (remind you of anyone?). I didn’t think much more of it until I found his most recent memoir at the thift store for $3. I like his tone, his passion, and I think I am influenced by the fact he looks almost exactly like my step dad Roger. I can’t possibly say enough good things about Roj, so we’ll table that for later.

Seriously, he looks exactly like Roj… one of my favorite people on earth.

How is the book? A little boring and preachy at times. Hey, who isn’t? Frankly, I wouldn’t have spent the $32 it said on the cover, but it is a good read at $3. Bonus? It is a first edition hardback. If you are gay about books like I am, you know a first edition hardback is a valuable collector.

* update. I am totally bored of this book and shelving it. Was about half way through.

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

Tucker Max

If you are not familiar with Tucker’s writing, go here > www.tuckermax.com. Oh, and not at work. He is a hilarious, and articulate, douchebag. If you are a narcissist, and a dude, I strongly recommend this book. It’s like he is the fraternal twin of Chelsea Handler.

How to Rig an Election

Allen Raymod

This is a frightening and true tale o a Republican operative who got busted by the Feds rigging elections for the GOP. yummy. schadenfreuden. yummy. This is everything you suspected politicos do to, and every fear confirmed. That it was all an expose on Republicans, and what a fraud the Christian right is… I loved it all that much more. Should be required reading for future politicos and aspiring wonks.

My Horizontal Life

Chelsea Handler

The first book from talk show hottie, and female version of me. Not nearly as good as her second book (Are you there Vodka…). I expected this book to be more salacious and dirty, it was not. She discovered her voice here, but really nails it with her second. Go ahead and skip this one.

My Custom Van

Michael Ian Black

A series of short random funny essays. A less pretentious, poor man’s David Sedaris. I am a HUGE fan of his television work with Mtv’s The State. The most influential and important sketch comedy show evar. It’s a good read, if nothing else for the essay titles: an open letter to the first girl I ever fingered… and other luminary tales. A good read, but if it were a movie i would classify it as a ‘renter’ or a ‘netlixer’. Meaning, not exactly worth $15, but a good score from your local library. Frankly, I expected something a little better. The content feels disposable.

Conversations with the Dead

David Gans

well, skippy. It is exactly what is sounds like. However, unlike most books on the Dead… this isn’t written after Jerry’s death. The interviews here begin back in 1977. By the way, if you are a fan of the Grateful Dead, I strongly encourage you to visit their site. It is terrific, on every level. Go here.

I should say I was hoping for more recent content, though. There is a period from 1990 to 1995 that really intrigues me. Some of the bands absolute best live music came from the early 90’s. There was a real resurgence in their energy. Then, Bent died in 1991 and Jerry in 1995. It seemed just as they were peaking (again), they were crashing simultaneously. I need a book to take me there.

Do Travel Writers go to Hell?

Thomas Kohnstamm

no details here, just started it as bathroom reading as a friend’s house in Seattle. Got it from the library. Details to follow, but here is the subtitle which will tell you a little more: A swashbuckling tale of high adventures, questionable ethics, and professional hedonism. I have stared and stopped this book twice now. Am about half way through it, but likely dropping it for good. It’s just a dude writing about cruising and getting drunk. That’s my life already, not exactly the escapism I am looking for in literature.

Stuck in the Box

Donna McNeely

A memoir of life’s work in local tv news. If you’re interested in that (as I was), it’s a great read. If you’re not, well then don’t. You didn’t need me to tell you that. Here, she has a website.

Are you there, Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea

Chelsea Handler

finally, a girl as funny, foul mouthed, and narcissistic as myself. Plus, she is totally hot. This is some kind of memoir/essays/autobiography. She has a late night talk show and is generally brilliant. It’s vacuous enough for late summer reading. It’s this and Olympics in grave doses. Maybe for September I should dive into something more thinky. In retrospect, I really enjoyed this one.

Hate Mail from Cheerleaders

Rick Reilly

sports writing with a strong comic bend. Think: Bill Simmons without the Boston obsession. So far, a really quick read. It’s a series of previously published pieces. Ok, I quit after I got half way through. Every essay was a feel good puff piece about how sports makes us better people and crap like that. There was humor, to be sure, but he isn’t acerbic enough for me. He is a featured writer now on ESPN.com, and it seems like every story is a feel good one. I guess that is his beat, but it gets preachy real quick.

Hell’s Angels

Hunter Thompson

This is a re-read. Just picked it up again and am really enjoying it. It is classic Thompson, pre-Gonzo. This was the book that put him on the map, 1968. This was before ‘Fear and Loathing’, or any of the Nixon stuff. he was just a journalist, but here is where he began to change to rules of the game. A great and insightful read on every level.

Riders on the Storm

John Densmore

The drummer for the Doors tells his tales of living with the lizard king. I have to imagine that dealing with Morrison was a MONSTER pain in the ass. Can’t say much about this tale, though, as I am only on the second chapter. *update Just finished the book. Jim was as big of a drunk asshole as you thought he was. He eventually destroyed the band, then went off to Paris to drink himself to death. However, he accidentally ODed. It was an enjoyable read for me, but I am obsessed with rock. For you, skip it. If you want a good primer on Morrison and co, pick up Danny Sugarman’s ‘No one here get’s out alive‘.

The music is still outstanding to me, though. After reading the book, I realized I didn’t have a cd of ‘LA Woman’ (their last and best record). Had I bought it and lost it? I realize it probably never made the jump from cassette. So, I bought it last night on iTunes.

The Kitchen Readings

Bob Braudis & Michael Cleverly

These are more collected essays about the late, great Hunter Thompson. I am a seriously big fan of Gonzo and all the good Doctor’s work. This was super enjoyable, and makes me sad to finish. The authors are very close with Hunter, no question about that. A great read, without question. I wish this book were a thousand pages. I can never get enough of these tales.

Gasping for Airtime

Jay Mohr

Jay writes about his two years on SNL during the Farley, Spade, Sandler era. As an autobiography, it is a shallow piece of toilet paper. However, as a behind the scenes piece on the mechanics of SNL (which is exactly what I was looking for), a compelling read. Also, though about 300 pages, I knocked it out in a weekend. An easy read, no thinky.

Kitchen Confidential

Anthony Bourdain

kitchen.jpg

The unrelentingly candid tv food guy (No Reservations & A Cook’s Tour) dishes on his lifelong experience in the kitchen. This is the book that got him those shows. Insightful, and he swears more than me. *ok, confession. I didn’t finish this one, as I had to read the Kitchen Readings (mentioned above) the second it was available. I had to return it to the library. I will get back to it, though. I really like Bourdain, and never miss his various travelogue shows on cable.

Dangerous Book for Dogs

Rex & Sparky

dangerous.jpg

a parody of the best selling book for boys on how to get in trouble. Don’t laugh, this book taught my dogs to read (and shoplift).

Freakonomics

Stephen Levitt

freafonomics.jpg

a strange and compelling look at society through seemingly unrelated corollaries. OK, that was my description, and it was terrible. Let amazon explain it: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. This was a really great read, probably the best over all of 2008. Though it’s rather thinky and academic, it’s written more as conversational prose… so you don’t get intimidated by all the learning you are doing as you read. That’s a good thing.

Fast Food Nation

Eric Schlosser

fast-food-nation.jpg

It is an alarming and unbiased look at fast food culture, and how it has completely shaped our society. Really enjoyable. There is also a movie out about this, but I understand they are vastly different. Read this first, if you can. This a depressing tale, but a must read. Ok, I said it was unbiased and i was kinda wrong. Though he just presents the facts… between reading this and seeing Morgan Spurlock’s amazing ‘Super Size Me‘ I am now terrified of all fast food (morally, and gastronimically). Should be required reading in America’s high schools.

Searching for the Sound

Phil Lesh

phil-lesh.jpg

Autobiography of Phil Lesh, bass player for the Grateful Dead. A good read, and probably one of about ten or fifteen I plan on reading on Jerry and the band. I still miss Jerry Garcia, and really want to wrap my head around him, if possible, and understand him better. This was the best Dead book so far, but I am expecting to find better.

Ask a Mexican

Gustavo Arrelano

askamexican.jpg

A compendium of his favorite articles from his nationwide column of the same name. A funny, and thoughtful read. This guy holds all kinds of masters in Mexican history and sociology, so he knows his culture. However, half the book is making fun of crackers and Guatemalans. As Hispanics become a more dominant influence ever day in society, this is good stuff. A great read.

The Great Gatsby

F Scott Fitzgerald

great-gatsby.jpg

I have been working on this small little book for about fifteen years. I get about twenty pages through, and then lose interest. This is beach reading for me, where I have nothing to do but read. I cracked out Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’ on a beach in Mexico one summer, and that was about 800 pages. I mean, it isn’t a bad read. It is regarded as the best American fiction by many an important egg head. I will finish this book before I die. Maybe a decent Colorado blizzard will get me focused. I mean, you can only play ‘Forrest Gump, the drinking game’ for like a day or two tops.

Fish!

fish_book.jpg

A corporate motivational book based on the teachings of the crazy fish throwing guys from Seattle’s Pike Peak Market. Point being, there probably isn’t an uglier, colder, or smellier job than being a fishmonger. However, these guys make it a party every day with a positive attitude. I have been there myself (before I knew about the management mumbo jumbo) and it’s all true.

You really need to see the accompanying video, though, to get the effect. However, it is $400 for that little gem (the 12 minute video, that is). The book, as a stand alone, is bad fiction written to a 12 year old. The principles are valid, though.

It’s ok to be the Boss

Bruce Tulgan

ok-to-be-the-boss.jpg

This is another corporate motivational book. The premise is as it sounds. Don’t work so hard to be the buddy. Sometimes, shit has to get done and people need to be held accountable. Tulgan argues the best way for this is through thorough management and feedback. Feared by many as ‘micro management’, the theme is ‘don’t let this stuff simmer. Get in and address it right away.’

Fish Tales

fish-tales.jpg

A spin on the series of violently successful ‘Fish’ leadership books. I enjoyed this one more as it was real stories told by real people. To me, that is way more valuable than the hypothetical tales of the first book. Oh, and these books are tiny. Like ‘Animal Farm’, you can crank them out in one night. Read them together, in fact, the parallels are alarming (between Animal Farm & the Fish stories). I am working to be a better manager, as you can see. This isn’t just how to squeeze more productivity out of the proletariat to please the bourgeois. It is about managing relationships with people. It works on marriage, too.

If you are looking for a good leadership read, start with the Cheese book, and then crack through the Fish ones. This can all be done in a weekend.

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24 thoughts on “what I’m reading

  1. I really enjoyed Freakonomics…I was just recommending it to someone. It is quirky but makes a lot of sense.

    Don’t tell your brother you are reading the Cheese book. He has several rants about that whole series. Actually, do mention it to him. It is rather humorous to see him get so crazy about it.

  2. You know what’s better than “It’s OK to be the Boss?” “Its even better not to be an a##-hole” or another classic, “Selling out in corporate America”
    Only kidding Kev, I know your soul is much deeper than your froofy beer suggests.

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