Bruce Springsteen would like you to know he's an asshole. And thank God for that, because the whole notion of "St. Bruce" really needs to be dispelledBruce Springsteen would like you to know he's an asshole. And thank God for that, because the whole notion of "St. Bruce" really needs to be dispelled - this coming from a big fan of his for the past 30 years - and I'm sure Springsteen would concur. Bruce is what a bio should be, a warts and all account, yet respectful of its subject to understand that behind the curtain is a person laden with doubts and insecurities, someone who'll give you the shirt off his back one moment, then last out at you vehemently over a perceived slight. In other words, normal, just like you and me.
What sets Bruce apart from other Springsteen bios, especially the fawning 1987 Glory Days is the unmistakable notion that Bruce's story is really the story of the E Street Band, and Peter Ames Carlin gives all members of the E Street Band, past and present - Carlin was able to interview Clarence Clemons, at full length, just before the Big Man's untimely death in June 2011. It's no surprise to learn the heartbreak, dismay, and bitterness the band learned when Bruce fired them in October 1989, yet when he called back for them, they set aside their lingering hostilities and answered their boss's call.
Bruce reads a lot like a Springsteen concert: it's muscular, thrilling, lengthy, surprising, and memorable, and the biography the greatest rock n' roll star America has ever produced - no disrespect to Elvis or Chuck Berry or Bob Dylan - truly deserves. ...more
Ellen Forney does a masterful job of creating a visual of the manic highs and the depressive lows of bipolar disorder, in this frank, funny, often harEllen Forney does a masterful job of creating a visual of the manic highs and the depressive lows of bipolar disorder, in this frank, funny, often harrowing, and yet affirming memoir of her struggle with bipolar disorder. She uses her chosen medium to great advantage here, and what comes out of this is a terrific study of an artist struggling to make sense of her mood disorders, while trying to maintain her creative side. It's her fear that should she find "balance," she would lose that creative side of her. Thankfully, Ellen Forney doesn't, and we're the better for it.
Eloquent and heartfelt. Highly recommended....more
Pete Townshend has led a seemingly contradictory life. Eloquent and empathetic one moment, crass and insensitive the next. A spiritual soul that nearlPete Townshend has led a seemingly contradictory life. Eloquent and empathetic one moment, crass and insensitive the next. A spiritual soul that nearly succumbed to the pleasures of the flesh. A doting family man whose extramarital affairs inevitably destroyed his marriage.
A brilliant guitar. A gifted songwriter. A lousy bandmate. A pretentious asshole. All of the above.
I wondered for a while what it would take for Pete to finally publish his memoirs. As rock stars go, Pete Townshend has staked his claim as the thinking man's rock star, and rock's thinking man, a deeply sensitive, highly creative soul who's never been shy to bear his self and his soul to his public. Who I Am is exactly what one would expect, and expect nothing less from Townshend: a warts-and-all autobiography, a mix of maudlin and praise. Modest? Hardly. Brutally honest? Very much so.
Townshend doesn't lavish much type on the Who as a band; there are countless tomes on the 'Orrible 'Oo, the best of which are Dave Marsh's Before I Get Old: The Story of the Who, and Richard Barnes' illustrated/oral history of the band, Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere. Those expecting more salacious stories and triumphant tales are advised to read elsewhere. Instead, and wisely so, Townshend gives up many a glimpse into his thinking, his emotions, his reactions to life inside the Who and as a solo artist, all the while chasing the personal demons that have haunted him throughout his adult life. He doesn't shy away from the sexual and emotional abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his deranged grandmother and "father figures" that did not have Pete's interests at heart. One listen to Tommy, and it's clear the two Townshends are evident: the brash, articulate, spirituality-seeking man, and the frightened, anxious boy. Who I Am is the story of the two Pete Townshends, at time hilarious, other times cringe-inducing. But this is Pete Townshend we're talking here. The man's never been known for his filter, and that's what we love about him. Even at his most arrogant, or his most vulnerable, Pete Townshend has never been anything more than honest, even if it means being brutally so.
One word of warning: Who I Am is at times uncomfortably graphic, and he spares no detail in his harrowing story regarding his arrest, and acquittal, over child pornography charges. Even though Townshend was exonerated, he demonstrated great intent in exposing credit card companies too eager to approve charges made by pedophiles viewing child porn online, he also demonstrated shocking naivety in thinking he was simply doing the right thing. A massive misunderstanding - Scotland Yard was immediately convinced, upon his arrest, that Townshend was guilty of absolutely nothing - which led to his very public crucifixion. Townshend is still haunted by the incident, but his resolve is still absolute.
It's taken Pete a long time to write this memoir - something he once claimed he'd write in his early 20's - but the wait's been worth it. As eloquent and heartfelt as he's been lyrically and on stage, Who I Am is equally as eloquent, as to be expected from rock' Man of Letters.
Upon final read of Pete Townshend's well-stated memoir, you get the feeling that what Pete Townshend really needs is a hug.
I swear, I'm going to get this tattooed on my left forearm.
Two topics near and dear to my heart: running, andPain is inevitable. Suffering is optional
I swear, I'm going to get this tattooed on my left forearm.
Two topics near and dear to my heart: running, and Haruki Murakami.
In this sparse, controlled memoir, Murakami smartly draws parallels between running (in his case, running a marathon, something he's been doing for more than 30 years now, even more impressive considering he's now in his early 60's) and writing. Both are solitary endeavors (Murakami, like me, isn't fond of having a running buddy; I mean, seriously, I'm sucking air while trying to complete a 5K, and the last thing I really want is some inane conversation with a well-intentioned yet motor-mouthed friend), and both will challenge you mentally. When you run, he writes, you're competing against yourself. The same applies to your writing. You're challenging yourself to complete something arduous, frustrating, yet ultimately rewarding. As expected, Murakami avoids hyperbole, but he's also quick to recognize that talking about running and writing in the same sentences is rife with cliche. No matter. After all, there's always a semblance of truth to a cliche.
What I took from Murakami's memoir is that writing is a lot like running a race. You're always tempted to come out of the blocks like gangbusters, but you're best to remember that the finish line is a long way to go, so you're better off pacing yourself. And, yes, there's a lot of pain involved, so you better learn how to control the pain, how to tell the pain to fuck off and let me finish my race. And my writing. The pain will always be there. It's how you handle that pain, i.e., the suffering, that defines you as either a runner or a writer, or, in his case, both.
A confession: it was a feature article on Poets & Writers on Cheryl Strayed that led me to Wild. Her back story (more on that later) and her recouA confession: it was a feature article on Poets & Writers on Cheryl Strayed that led me to Wild. Her back story (more on that later) and her recount of her emotional hike through the Pacific Crest Trail caught my attention. And my admiration.
Unlike so many memoirs of "finding oneself," (I'm looking at you, Eat, Pray, Love) Wild is the story of a woman who made a sudden decision - actually, it wasn't that sudden; Strayed reveals a lot of the preparation she undertook to make sure her journey through the PCT wasn't going to end up all Into the Wild and stuff - to hike 1100 miles in the hopes of losing herself. And she did. ALONE. In a stark, honest, and assured voice, Cheryl documents the events that led her to embark on her journey. The death of her mother, at such a young age, left Cheryl devastated and anchor-less. Without her mother's support, she found herself drifting from her siblings and their stepfather. It wasn't long before Cheryl began to slowly self-destruct; her marriage was now falling apart, thanks to several affairs she'd engaged in, and though she and her ex-husband Paul attempted a reconciliation, the marriage was soon often. Worse yet, a dangerous dalliance with heroin.
(One particular passage regarding her divorce hit me like a sucker punch to the solar plexus: "I didn't exactly want to get divorced. I didn't exactly not want to. I believed in almost equal measure that both divorcing Paul was the right thing to do and that by doing so I was destroying the best thing I ever had.")
From nothingness, her journey on the PCT became a lesson on letting go. Letting go of the grief from her mother dying. Letting go of the guilt over the end of her marriage. Letting go of the doubt that nagged her. Just letting go. Not so much losing herself, but losing the baggage that she'd been dragging along. The baggage itself is played up in a wonderful and ironic manner, via the ginormous yellow hiker's backpack that accompanies her throughout her hike, one that she christens "Monster." With each day on her hike, "Monster" grows lighter and lighter - of course, that's because of the supplies she'd had to use and/or discard - but it's not hard to see the subtext of such a metaphor. The backpack as a metaphor. Hell of a metaphor there, if you ask me.
In her words, Cheryl's motivation for hiking the PCT is quite clear: "Each day I felt as if I were looking up from the bottom of a deep well. But from that well, I set about becoming a solo wilderness trekker. And why not? I'd been so many things already. A loving wife and an adulteress. A beloved daughter who now spent holidays alone. An ambitious overachiever and aspiring writer who hopped from one meaningless job to the next while dabbling dangerously with drugs and sleeping with too many men...but a woman who walks alone in the wilderness for eleven hundred miles? I'd never been anything like that before. I had nothing to lose by giving it a whirl."
This isn't a travelogue, although Strayed's writing regarding the natural scenery found on the PCT is reminiscent of Bruce Chatwin's travelogues. This isn't a book about hiking. It's a memoir, and it's one of the most engaging memoirs you'll likely read in a while, thankfully devoid of cliches, false sympathy, and woe-is-me melodrama. Well, sometimes...Cheryl Strayed's memoir oftentimes, like the unpredictable and winding trail she braved, funny and heartbreaking at once.
And in case you weren't aware, Cheryl Strayed was revealed to be the anonymous advice columnist on The Rumpus known as Dear Sugar. It was her words of advice to a struggling writer - WRITE LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER - that resonated with me when I read it. Those words are like my literary mantra, one that I repeat when I'm writing. So much so that I have a little something to remind me of those words when I'm writing. Don't believe me? See for yourself:
In Frank Brady's study on Bobby Fischer's life, he clearly makes the case that Fischer's decent into madness was inevitable; after all, chess is the kIn Frank Brady's study on Bobby Fischer's life, he clearly makes the case that Fischer's decent into madness was inevitable; after all, chess is the kind of sport that lends itself into obsession and madness. However, no one, even Brady, who is recognized as one of the foremost experts on all things Bobby Fischer, could ever imagine just how mad Fischer would become. And because of his madness, his megalomania, his childish tantrum and irrational beliefs, one has to work very hard to separate Fischer the undisputed genius of the chessboard with the vile anti-Semite and, let's face it, 100% pure fucking weirdo.
Brady gives us an excellent overview of Fischer's life, using both his inside knowledge of Fischer (having been friends with him from an early age and remaining friends long into their lives), along with countless articles and documents detailing his life inside chess, and the turbulent life he led outside of it. Well-written, without being too overly exhaustive, yet very compelling and fascinating.
I should point out that my review of this book may be slightly biased, as I know Frank Brady. As the head of the Communications Department at my alma mater, St. John's University, I came into contact with Dr. Brady while doing some freelance work for the Torch, the student newspaper. Brady was the E-I-C for the official St. John's newspaper (whatever the hell it was called), and he wanted to use some photos I'd taken during a lecture given by Chuck D on campus (that sonofabitch hit on my girlfriend; hindsight, though, tells me I should have let Chuck do whatever the fuck he wanted to do with her); however, it was his policy that the newspaper did NOT give credit for any photographs he used from outside sources. I dug in my heels: no credit, no photos. Sorry, Dr. Brady, but you should have sent one of your flunkies to take some shots at the Chuck D lecture, and not try to swindle me.
Inevitably, Dr. Brady agreed to give me the credit for the photos he used. So there it was, my name under the Chuck D photo on the front page of the newspaper. All was well.
The prologue to Life pretty much sums up the tone of Keith Richards' impeccably written memoir. We're placed smack-dab in the middle of a drug bust inThe prologue to Life pretty much sums up the tone of Keith Richards' impeccably written memoir. We're placed smack-dab in the middle of a drug bust in Rednecksville, Arkansas, that turns from serious drama to flat-out farce in the span of a few paragraphs. While passing through a sleepy Southern town during the Rolling Stones' massive 1975 tour, Keith and partner-in-crime Ronnie Wood are busted by a redneck sheriff for possession of narcotics; of course they've got drugs, but not in their possession. What happens next is a matter of utmost hilarity: the Stones' high-priced lawyer calls in a favor to the State Department, no less, the drunken judge hearing the arraignment dismissed the charges in return for a photo-op, and adoring fans from all over Arkansas suddenly descend on the sleepy town of Fordyce, demanding Keef's release. Drama and farce. The driving factors in Keith Richards' life.It's a prologue that's brilliantly written, as is the entire memoir, easily the best memoir ever written by a rock musician, especially one whose influence is still reverberating nearly 50 years after he and his bandmates emerged on the scene.
I love the Rolling Stones. Frankly speaking, I love Keith Richards most of all. I simply adore the man for who he is, warts and all, and for what Keith has meant to me musically. No one talks shit about Keith or the Stones in my presence. So, naturally, I'm inclined to favor Keith's memoir. Of course I loved it. But not for the reasons you'd expect. Sure, you get the many tales of life on the road, of excesses, of loves won and lost, and, of course, of all the great songs he and Mick Jagger wrote together. Yet it's his modesty, his love of words, his casual tone that defines Life; even the title of the memoir says it all about Keith; he could have opted for a more flowing, flowery title, but Life is succinct and to the point, much like the author. What Life reveals is what's behind Keith Richards, the man, a man who's lived a thousand lives, tells you all about those thousand lives, yet remains rooted enough to remind the reader and himself that it's equal parts tenacity, generosity, and plain ol' luck that's made Keith Keith.
As you read Life, you can't help but be drawn in not by the story Keith tells - and for those who insist that for someone who's ingested more drugs than humanly possible and lived to tell about it and therefore must have his brain fried are in for a shock, as Richards' recollection of events is extremely sharp (“This is the Life. Believe it or not I haven’t forgotten any of it.”) - but how he tells his story. Richards loves his music, and he loves words; a voracious reader, he approaches his writing the way he approaches his guitar playing - sharp, concise, free of bluster and bullshit. I could see myself sitting across him, the hardened, battle-scared rock star turned country gentleman, regaling you in stories. Life is frequently hilarious - Keith's caustic wit and mock indignation is frequently prevalent throughout - yet he never sugar-coats or diminishes his years struggling with his addictions. His description of the "bunker mentality" he developed to manage and cope with his heroin addiction is blunt and chilling.
The early chapters give very lasting and deep impressions on the people and events that forged Keith's life. The only child of Bert and Doris Richards, Keith grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak, in the London suburb of Dorset. Just like all the children of his generation, Keith grew up having to endure the rationing that took place in England after WWII; he recounts the pain of rationing, of realizing his family was living below their means. Yet he grew up among a loving and extended family; his fondness for his grandfather Gus, who might be the single biggest influence in Keith's life, is touching and clearly stated. A bright boy, yet extremely rebellious, Keith struggled at Dorset Tech, destined for a life of mediocrity and cruel compromises. Then there was that fateful reunion with childhood friend Mick Jagger. And this is where Life truly takes off. The Rolling Stones are formed by the trio of Richards, Jagger, and the charismatic, unstable Brian Jones, solidified by the rock-strong rhythm section of Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman. His recollections of the early days of the Stones, their first gigs, and the struggle to bring in enough money to afford the highly-demanded Watts are refreshing and often side-splitting funny: who would have known that the image- and class-conscious Jagger was once an unrepentant slob?
Keef doesn't spend much time going over a lot of the moments that are permanently etched in the rock n' roll canon; we all know the story of how Keith came up with Satisfaction, so he gives us a few sentences and moves on. Regarding the tragedy that was Altamont, Keith sums up his thoughts by dryly noting that the whole clusterfuck could have been avoided had the city of San Francisco not pulled the plug on the Stones playing a free gig at Golden Gate Park. What he does go over, in breathless and breathtaking details, is the songwriting and production process. How does he wrench that great sound from his guitar, that guitar that gave us riffs like Jumpin' Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man, Brown Sugar,, etc.? Simple: it's in the tuning, one that he discovered through a relentless dedication to his craft. He could write an entire book on the chord changes he built for every single Stones' song, and it would be just as thrilling and eye-opening. He does spend a great deal of words, an entire chapter really, about Exile on Main Street, and with good reason: Exile was his baby from Day One, and it's the one Stones album that truly defines Keith's genius as a musician, songwriter, and composer. From desperation and excess came the single greatest album of the entire Stones discography, an discography defined by many other great albums.
Throughout the memoir, Keith focuses on the many relationships he formed, many of which were stormy and fractious. He speaks glowingly of Jagger, yet reserves much of his grief and consternation for the lead singer he christened "Brenda." (His retelling of the now-legendary story of the night Charlie Watts punched Mick in the face is one of the many highlights). Keith gives many of the people, especially his bandmates, a ton of shit, and deservedly so, but he's also extremely forgiving; loyalty is extremely important to him, something he expects from friends and family, and something he is very quick and determined to reciprocate. His stormy relationship with Anita Pallenberg is the stuff of legend, and Keith is unflinching in describing the relationship as being mutually toxic. Yet he reveals a certain fondness for the woman who bore his first two children, Marlon and Angela, and is quite pleased to note that he and Anita still remain friends, despite their relationship coming to an end. It's his other friendships that also form the narrative of his life. His partner in debauchery Bobby Keys, the great Stones sax player who also shares the same birthday as Keith, is one such relationship. He speaks with great pride and sorrow towards his friendship with the late Gram Parsons. Even his father Bert and mother Doris are revered; one would think the rebellious Keith would have resented his parents, but he actually idolized his parents, both of whom taught him the lessons, both hard and soft, about life. And then there's Patti Hansen, his wife and the love of his life. Now married nearly 30 years, Keith is still smitten with her, as if they'd first met and fallen in love. Patti's been extremely influential in grounding Keith. For cryin' out loud, they live in suburban Connecticut! Can you imagine Keith taking out the trash? Yeah.
His generosity and modesty is perhaps the biggest surprise throughout Life. It's not just material things or his time that Keith's generous with; Keith gives the people in his life the opportunity to tell their side of the story. Anita, Bobby Keys, Patti, just to name a few, tell their tale, but it's son Marlon's narrative (of which there's quite a lot of - Marlon spent all of the 1975 and 1977 tour with dad Keith) that's the most compelling. For a boy that was raised by a pair of junkies, and lived a nomadic childhood, Marlon's no-nonsense recollections are a revelation to read, and you're impressed by how he was able to not just survive, but cope and thrive in this lifestyle. And he's equally unflinching and merciless in his recollecting. I would love to read more from Marlon; perhaps a memoir from you, Marlon, soon? I'm sure your father would approve....more
Okay, so it's not The Autobiography of Malcolm X or The Long Walk to Freedom, but who's to say Ozzy's not worthy of a memoir? The good thing about I AOkay, so it's not The Autobiography of Malcolm X or The Long Walk to Freedom, but who's to say Ozzy's not worthy of a memoir? The good thing about I Am Ozzy is that it's exactly what you'd come to expect from the great Mr. Osbourne: foul-mouthed and brutally honest talk about his life, his excesses, his fears and the extraordinary things he's done and experienced. For someone who spent much of his adult celebrity life choked under a haze of booze and illicit drugs, Ozzy's memory for many of his antics and life events remains crystal clear. Inevitably, all the stories just seem to sound the same: Ozzy gets drunk, gets more loaded, does something stupid, Sharon bails him out, lather, rinse, repeat. Eventually, what seems compelling at first turns out to be crushingly boring. Still, this is one of the better rock star memoirs you'll read.
A refreshingly funny read. You can just about hear Ozzy tell you these stories as you're reading this....more
This book, an oral history of the game Bird and Magic shared together, in their own words, is a fascinating look down memory lane, when Bird and MagicThis book, an oral history of the game Bird and Magic shared together, in their own words, is a fascinating look down memory lane, when Bird and Magic reinvigorated the NBA and sowed the seeds for its' tremendous global growth. We get a look not just at their rivalry but their unexpected friendship.
Growing up, as an aspiring baller, Magic and Larry were the 2 basketball players I emulated; I wanted Magic's no-look pass and Larry's long-range bombing, along with their uncanny court sense, the ability to see the game unfold before them before anyone else could. Reading their words further solidifies the fact that the Bird vs. Magic rivalry was truly a wonderful time for the NBA and their fans. Both Bird and Magic revel in that, as their words demonstrate, and we will forever be lucky to have witnessed their brilliance and artistry. A terrific read for basketball fans everywhere....more
Among Andre Agassi's impressive accomplishments - 8-time Grand Slam winner, Olympic Gold medalist, nearly 800 career wins - we can now add "author" toAmong Andre Agassi's impressive accomplishments - 8-time Grand Slam winner, Olympic Gold medalist, nearly 800 career wins - we can now add "author" to his list of accomplishments. It's his words, every single one of them in this book, and Agassi demonstrates a true gift for prose and pace. He even marvels at his ability to write a memoir; for someone who pretty much flunked out of school to pursue tennis, Agassi grew into a vocal and tireless advocate for education, a voracious reader, and now, the author of a best-selling memoir.
"Open" refers not just to the Grand Slam titles he's won, but to his desire to open up about his life and his experiences on and off the tennis court. In clear, intelligent prose, Agassi reveals how he grew to despise tennis, even as it brought him fame and fortune; essentially bullied and browbeaten by his demanding father to succeed at the game, tennis became a prison for Agassi, even as grew into becoming one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. In a breath-taking prologue, Agassi takes us inside his mind, deep into his thoughts, during his final run at the 2006 US Open, furiously coaxing his worn-out body into one more match. He takes into the solitary confinement every tennis player endures; in his words, Agassi reveals how tennis is truly a one-on-one sport, and players have no one on the court to turn to but themselves. It's the solitary confinement that wreaks havoc on a player, and throughout his career, Agassi struggled with tempering his inner demons, his doubts and his self-loathing. Yet when he's achieved more than anyone could ever expect, Agassi lets us in on the elation and triumph, however fleeting those triumphs were.
In the end, he realizes his life is more than just tennis, and that struggle he mentally endured was his search for a deeper spiritual meaning. We revel in his joy at the end of the memoir, as he relates the simple joys of marriage (to another tennis legend, Steffi Graf) and of fatherhood. He's come full-circle.
Open regales us with stories about his experiences with friends and rivals alike; he speaks more than fondly of the guidance and wisdom provided to him by his trainer Gil Reyes and his coach Brad Gilbert. Agassi's rivalry with Pete Sampras is discussed in detail, with amusing anecdotes peppered along the way - Sampras is astonishingly dull, and a colossal cheapskate, to boot. Other interesting anecdotes: Boris Becker is a major asshole, John McEnroe is less of an asshole than people think, and, most interestingly, Agassi's biggest concern during his early playing days was his thinning hair, which he compensated by donning a wig pinned down with one of his signature headbands. It's a compelling revelation, one that serves to break apart many of the misconceptions people have had regarding Andre Agassi. That "Image is Everything" ad campaign was something Agassi tentatively and reluctantly went along with. His "image," so to speak, was born out of anger and rebellion against tennis itself, and not because of some "bad boy" image Agassi needed to uphold.
Much has been made about his revelation that he briefly became hooked on crystal meth; Agassi doesn't gloss much about it, except that his brief addiction was the result of the combination of a lengthy string of failures on the court, and a failing marriage to actress/model Brooke Shields (Agassi acknowledges he and Brooke were probably doomed to fall apart as a married couple, but he speaks of her kindly). He knew the consequences, and nearly paid the price; when a random drug test reveals meth in his system, Agassi reveals how he concocted an alibi for his use, which the ATP accepted without punishment. For Agassi, this wake-up call, this second chance, was his new beginning, and what followed was a decade of excellence in the men's tour.
Most refreshingly, Agassi is blunt about himself and the game of tennis. He doesn't hold back his assessments of himself, the mistakes he made, the choices he should have made. His candor, combined with his gift for prose, makes Open one of the best memoirs around, in a market filled with memoirs and tell-alls. ...more
In Last Words, George Carlin takes a crack at writing his autobiography. Not content with the self-serving, aggrandizing tone that just about every auIn Last Words, George Carlin takes a crack at writing his autobiography. Not content with the self-serving, aggrandizing tone that just about every autobiography takes, Carlin coins the term "sortabiography" to reflect upon his storied career, his childhood, his upbringing, and other seminal events in his life. Having completed his "sortabiography" just before his death in July 2008 (and edited by his longtime friend Tony Hendra, whom you'll remember as the well-meaning but clueless manager of that legendary band Spinal Tap), Last Words is a wonderful read for the fact that, if anything, Carlin's love affair with words and language is also evident in his writing style. As you're reading the words on paper, you can hear Carlin's cadence come through, tentative and young early on, muscular and playfully belligerent towards the end.
Carlin doesn't spend much time going over some of his now-legendary routines. He name-checks Al Sleet, the hippy-dippy weatherman, and when he does finally talk about Seven Words You Can't Say on Television, it's to discuss the now-infamous lawsuit versus the FCC that the Supreme Court ruled in their favor. For Carlin to have been part of a case heard by the Supreme Court, and for that case to be later dissected and studied in law schools across America, it's a huge source of pride for him. Carlin probably figured you've heard his Seven Words riff, and other riffs before, so there's probably not much more he can add to what you already know, because, as a comedian, he's fully aware that how he tells the joke (rather than the joke itself) is what you take away from that experience.
Nor does Carlin skimp on the less-savory aspects of his life, especially that period in the late '70s when cocaine threatened to derail his career, and his foolish (his words) rebellion against the government in the form of tax evasion. Simply put, Carlin suffered from the very same big-headedness that many of his peers (especially Richard Pryor, whom George speaks of very fondly, and knowingly, considering Carlin was very aware Pryor was his only true contemporary), and his hubris nearly cost him everything. But he eventually grinned and beared it, kicking his habit and working tirelessly, without complaint, to repay all the taxes he hadn't paid. Yet he never lost that anti-authoritarian streak that was part and parcel of his act, and his comeback in the early '80s showcased a leaner, meaner machine ready to make you laugh and think at the same time.
The one thing you'll take from this "sortabiography" again is George Carlin's love of words. But that's exactly why you loved George Carlin in the first place; any stand-up can tell a dick joke, but no one told a dick joke the way George Carlin told a dick joke....more
This critical overview of Steve Ditko, the artists most famous for creating Spider-Man, does the artist justice. With Ditko's blessing, author Blake BThis critical overview of Steve Ditko, the artists most famous for creating Spider-Man, does the artist justice. With Ditko's blessing, author Blake Bell presents a visual study of Ditko's famed work, and also digs deep into his personal and professional motivations.
Even though it's "unauthorized", Tommy Chong's bio of his days as part of Cheech and Chong is woefully inadequate. It's unfocused, and it rambles on tEven though it's "unauthorized", Tommy Chong's bio of his days as part of Cheech and Chong is woefully inadequate. It's unfocused, and it rambles on too much about a lot that's really unimportant - Chong spends too many pages on expositional material, yet skims through much of the creative process that made Cheech & Chong one of the greatest comedic duos ever.
Granted, Cheech Marin's opinion is missing, and Chong tries to fill in the gaps, but Cheech & Chong merit a better biographical study than this one....more