Short, funny and sweet, by an author that I did not know of until this book kind of fell into my lap. It's a middle-aged person's recollection of her...moreShort, funny and sweet, by an author that I did not know of until this book kind of fell into my lap. It's a middle-aged person's recollection of her childhood and adolescence, growing up with weird parents (aren't everybody's) and a bunch of sisters, experiencing and thinking a lot about sex, drugs, family, relationships and some about the Circle Line in London, as this is, after all, a book that is part of the big London subway project that Penguin issued a bunch of books on in 2013.
All in all: sweet, heartfelt, made with sensibility and a lot of humor. One of the better in the bunch, so far.(less)
This was a speedy, pop-crime read. It's a simple take on the life of Griselda Blanco, a purported physical murder emporium - although quite few bodies...moreThis was a speedy, pop-crime read. It's a simple take on the life of Griselda Blanco, a purported physical murder emporium - although quite few bodies can be attributed to her name - and drug lord (which she was, at the top of her game), and should be taken as such.
I got this because it was at the top of the Amazon Kindle Singles list and very cheap, but despite that, I regret the purchase; this is well-written but in total, not engaging to me, and should have been edited well.(less)
One of my favourite films, ever. It's possible to quote endlessly from this book, but what this screenplay does add beyond the film, are the explanati...moreOne of my favourite films, ever. It's possible to quote endlessly from this book, but what this screenplay does add beyond the film, are the explanations on the characters' intents, notably during the final scene. Also, Robinson's explanations of the scenes are wonderfully humorous (and tragic, put it that way). Very well worth the cash.(less)
Even though this book is a big ole reminisce on 1981-1992, it's not only whining on how things have become...
But for us, 1992 marks the end of MTV’s G
...moreEven though this book is a big ole reminisce on 1981-1992, it's not only whining on how things have become...
But for us, 1992 marks the end of MTV’s Golden Era, which was brought to a close by a series of unrelated factors. Video budgets rose steeply, leading to wasteful displays; digital editing arrived, making it a snap for directors to flit between shots and angles; all the good ideas had been done; record labels increasingly interfered in video decisions; many of the best directors moved on to film; Madonna made Body of Evidence. It’s also the year MTV debuted The Real World, a franchise show that sped a move away from videos, the network’s founding mission, and into reality shows about kids in crisis, whether an unplanned pregnancy or how to un-marry Spencer Pratt. The Real World was the culmination of the network’s initiative to create its own shows and was also the last time MTV could claim to be revolutionary. MTV created the video music industry, then abandoned it, leaving behind a trail of tears—disgruntled music-video fans have stamped the phrase “MTV sucks” and “Bring back music videos” all over the comments pages of YouTube.
...but shows how history has repeated itself, and mainly, I think Lady Gaga hit the nail on the head with this quote:
LADY GAGA: I do miss when MTV played more music videos. However, it’s important to be modern and change with the times. As MTV changes, so does the Internet, and we all change with it. It’s now up to the artist to re-revolutionize what it means to put film to music.
There's a lot of teenage reactions recorded from artists who experienced MTV when it first came:
JANET JACKSON, artist: I loved watching it. How exciting back then, being a teenager and having something so creative, so fresh, so new. It was about waiting for your favorite video, and not really knowing what hour it would hit, so you’d have to watch all day long.
We remember all that we liked and what we disliked:
ROBERT SMITH, the Cure: “Bohemian Rhapsody” was number one every fucking week. I fucking hated it.
...and on how lack of experience but love of music seemed to permeate the entire MTV infrastructure:
FRED SEIBERT, MTV executive: When I was six weeks into being a chemistry major in college, I was learning how to kill a rat so I could dissect it. I looked at my lab mate and said, “The Beatles are more important to me than this,” and I walked out. That was it for being a chemistry major. I marched uptown to the college radio station at Columbia University, because I heard I could get free records if I worked there.
And yes, videos existed way before MTV. But...
TOM FRESTON: When we went on the air, we had something like 165 videos. And thirty of them were Rod Stewart.
...Van Halen and their ilk (including bands like Duran Duran) changed this. In wrong ways, at times:
PETE ANGELUS: I stood on the set, going, “Seriously, can anybody find the little people? Where are they?” After twenty minutes of searching for them, I thought, I’ll walk around and see if I can turn up anything. I got to the transvestite’s dressing room and I opened the door. This is what I saw; I don’t want to be held accountable, it’s just what I saw. The little guy was wearing a black cape. He was holding the transvestite’s penis, which seemed kind of erect, and he was pretending it was a microphone. And he was singing “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones while doing a Mick Jagger impersonation. I thought, This is not going well. Then I closed the door and let him finish whatever the hell they were doing.
And there are anecdotes everywhere in this book.
SHARON ORECK, producer: Prince’s “1999” and “Little Red Corvette” videos were just smoke, then Prince’s face, then smoke, then Prince’s butt, and then smoke. Prince was interesting, and I liked the songs, but the videos were profoundly bad. They were, like, porn bad. His videos were so filled with smoke that everyone on the set would get diarrhea, because mineral oil was so thick in the air.
BILLY JOEL: For “Uptown Girl,” the director told me, “Look at the picture in your locker as if you’re in love with this woman and then dance around with a wrench in your hand.” I said, “Are you fucking kidding me?”
DON LETTS: I was in Texas with the Clash to shoot “Rock the Casbah,” and Mick Jones showed up one day wearing red long johns, because he was in a mood. I said, “You really want to wear that for a video? If you look like a cunt on film, you’ll look like a cunt forever.” So he changed what he was wearing. I’d hit playback and the Clash would just go, go, go. They were like four sticks of dynamite. Putting a Jew and an Arab in the video was just about breaking taboos. Yes, the Muslim in the video is drinking a beer. They pull into a petrol station and the Arab makes the Jewish gentleman pay for the gas. These days, with all the sensitivity towards religion, you wouldn’t get to make that video.
MICK JONES: We were showing how people can get along—by drinking beer and going to Burger King. The idea of the video was about oil, really. We were in America, so we went to the oil fields in Texas. That was the subtext of it. I wanted to wear red long johns, but Don wouldn’t let me. That’s why I put a mosquito mask on my face, ’cause I was in a bad mood.
RUSSELL MULCAHY: I collaborated on the storyboard for Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with Jim Steinman, who wrote and produced the song. Jim is fabulously, fabulously crazy. We would banter ideas over a bottle of red wine. I’d say, “Let’s set it in a school and have ninjas in one scene,” and he’d say “Let’s have a choirboy with glowing eyeballs.” We shot it in an old abandoned insane asylum in London. We had one sequence, which was Steinman’s idea, where a shirtless young boy is holding a dove and he throws the dove at the camera in slow motion. Bonnie came around the corner and screamed, in her Welsh accent, “You’re nothing but a fucking pre-vert!” And she stormed off. There was nothing perverse intended. The imagery was meant to be sort of pure. Maybe slightly erotic and gothic and creepy, but pure. Anyway, the video went to number one, and a year later Bonnie’s people rang up and asked if I would direct her new video. And I told them to fuck off, because I was insulted about being called a fucking pervert. And I was a little mad because pervert wasn’t pronounced correctly.
DAVID MALLET: “Let’s Dance” was Bowie’s big comeback, pretty much a straight pop song as opposed to introverted, darker stuff. It was a superb gamble on his part and it paid off handsomely. He said, “I want to go to Australia and film videos.” He came up with this concept of two Aborigines in the modern world who were a bit lost. The videos has these mystical red shoes—if you had them on, you could dance. He got that from the Emeric Pressburger film The Red Shoes, an early Technicolor film that’s haunting and surreal. We shot in a bar in the morning and it was one hundred degrees outside. The people in the bar hated us, absolutely hated us. We were faggots from somewhere, and they were horrified that we had a young, attractive Aborigine girl in there, because they thought Aborigines were lower than dirt. She was dancing, and in order to show their hatred they started imitating her. I said, “Quick, film them.” It looked as if they were enjoying themselves. Actually, it was a dance of pure hatred. Why do the two Aborigines stomp the red shoes at the end of the video? People have asked me forever. I don’t know! Because it’s a music video, that’s why. End of story.
ADAM HOROVITZ, Beastie Boys: The first time we went to LA as a band was when we opened for Madonna. That was the greatest. Kids were literally in tears when we were playing. It was one of the most punk rock things we’ve ever done. And Madonna is the best. After the first night, her manager, Freddy DeMann, said, “These guys suck.” “No, seriously, they suck. They need to go home.” And Madonna was like, “These guys are staying.” She put her foot down. We didn’t realize until later that the audience’s hatred for us worked in her favor. When she got onstage, they couldn’t have been happier to see her.
On The Jacksons "Torture":
JEFF STEIN: I’ll take the blame for many things, but not for that video. We were constantly waiting around for everybody to be ready. It was endless. I don’t even know if there was a budget. I mean, it was not my company, I was not the producer, I did not make the deal. I have no idea what it ended up costing. For certain videos, I remember the cost only in terms of human lives. One of our crew members lost control of her bodily functions while we were making the video. The crew motto used to be “Death or victory.” I think that was the only time we ever prayed for death. I had a gut feeling Michael wasn’t going to show up. So I had the foresight to get a wax figure from Madame Tussauds to double for Michael, and that proved to be a good decision. That wax figure was put through the ringer. Its head ended up in the salad bowl at lunch one day.
And on how wonderfully weird the videos became:
NIGEL DICK: Roland Orzabal told me what he envisioned for “Head Over Heels”: “I see myself in a library, there’s a beautiful girl, we’ll grow old together, and there’s all this random stuff like a rabbi and a chimp.” And I’m rapidly scribbling on a piece of paper: “Chimp. Rabbi.”
HOWARD JONES: When I was playing clubs as a one-man synth band, I had a mime, Jed, who danced onstage. That’s about as un–rock n’ roll as you can get, really. Jed’s in the “Things Can Only Get Better” video, doing a Charlie Chaplin character, and I also had a magician—people had never seen that before.
B-REAL: My favorite hip-hop video is “Night of the Living Baseheads.” When I saw it for the first time I went ape-shit. I liked dark, aggressive, in-your-face shit like that.
HANK SHOCKLEE: If Public Enemy was going to do a video, we wanted something outside the norm. My thing is, I hate literal translations. The video should always tell you what the lyric doesn’t.
LIONEL MARTIN, director: I didn’t even know who Public Enemy was.
HANK SHOCKLEE: The song was about drug addiction, especially crack. The crack epidemic was destroying the black community. Everybody I know, including myself, had close family members who were on crack or trying to recover from it. The fact that the song was disjointed gave us the impetus to create skits within the video. I didn’t want to make light of crack, but a video needs to have entertainment value.
LIONEL MARTIN: They had some crazy ideas. Hank Shocklee said, “Could we stop the music and insert a commercial?” Flavor Flav was a mess. He was full of surprises, like when he said, “Kick the ballistics.” He was always late, and he would disappear for drugs or for girls. He was just a crazy dude.
CHUCK D: “Baseheads” was brutal. It was my first video, it took a long time, and we had a lot of different locations. We knew we had to go over and beyond, make something that had never been seen before.
LIONEL MARTIN: When you’re in telecine doing color correction, there’s a term you use: “crush the blacks.” I like my blacks to be dark and deep and rich. Flavor and Chuck were in the room and I kept telling the colorist, “Crush the blacks, crush the blacks.” Flav jumped up and said, “What the fuck are you talking about? Yo, Chuck, I gota problem with this dude.” So I explained it to them.
ANTON CORBIJN: Courtney knew my Echo & the Bunnymen videos, and Nirvana asked me to do the video for “Heart-Shaped Box.” Kurt was fantastic. He wrote most of the ideas for the video. He sent me a fax, very detailed, of how he saw it: the field, the poppies, the crucifix, the fetuses hanging on a tree, the girl with the Ku Klux Klan–type outfit. I’ve never even seen a director be that detailed about a video. It was very long finishing that video, because we shot in color, then transferred to black-and-white and hand-tinted every frame. Kurt wanted to shoot in Technicolor, and Technicolor had been sold to China, so he wanted to shoot it in China. My producer didn’t like that idea very much. So we used colorization, a technique Ted Turner used for old black-and-white films, which created really vibrant colors. Because it’s so colorful, it got past the MTV censorship board. They didn’t ask for a single change.
And the end:
JEAN-BAPTISTE MONDINO: I thank God it’s over now. I’m happy that MTV doesn’t play videos. As soon as they stopped, music came back. People are making music for the pleasure of it, not to make money, because money’s not there any longer. There are good videos on the Internet, done by kids with no money, that are poetic and beautiful. Videos now are better than videos were in the’80s, because they are not made as packaging.
ADAM CURRY: I quit on the air in the summer of 1993. I was doing the Top 20 Countdown, Beck was number one with “Loser,” and I said, “Beck is number one. That’s it, I really think the Internet is the place to be, I had a great seven years, I’ll see you on the Internet.” I walked out and never went back.
ADAM HOROVITZ: I fucking love Jersey Shore. “You’re excluded from cutlet night!” That’s one of my favorite lines ever.
JOHN SYKES: If you look at MTV recently, they were belly-up, until Snooki saved the network.
All in all: minutiae that's of great interest of novelty-hunters re. music (like myself) and of purveyors of pop culture. After all, MTV was part of The Big Change of pop culture, not only in the western lands, although this book is about Northern America and a tad about bands from Europe. Recommended.(less)
I bought this in search of interviews that could be illuminating on James Brown, but I really got a biography. This is a collection of articles, essay...moreI bought this in search of interviews that could be illuminating on James Brown, but I really got a biography. This is a collection of articles, essays and interviews that were written on James Brown, Mr. Dynamite, The Hardest Working Man In Showbusiness, The Godfather of Soul (also abuser, tyrant and one of the most influential people ever, in popular music), ranging from the 1960s to the 2000s, displaying James Brown as the crooked, self-righteous, brilliant, crazy and very intelligent man that he was.
While James Brown is often described as a power-monger who controlled his bands with an iron fist, it's a double-edged sword. Take, for instance, the incredibly important song named "Cold Sweat". That syncopated rhythm paired with the horns, Brown's way of singing and the fact that your ass won't be able to stay still as you're digesting it... Brown actually wrote all of that. And used musicians like Clyde Stubblefield to do it.
From the throat of Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis, one of Brown's former band leaders:
"James called me in his dressing room after a gig, said we were going to record soon and for me to have the band ready" [...] "He grunted the rhythm, a bass line, to me. I wrote the rhythm down on a piece of paper. There were no notes. I had to translate it.
James gave us a lot to go by. You got a musical palette from hearing him, from seeing his body movement and facial expression, seeing him dance and from being up there with the band, seeing the audience. So you get a picture of that, and you write it."
"To be in the audience when James Brown commences the James Brown Show is to have felt oneself engulfed in a kind of feast of adoration and astonishment, a ritual invocation, one comparable, I'd imagine, to certain ceremonies known to the Mayan people, wherein a human person is radiantly costumed and then beheld in lieu of the appearence of a Sun God upon the Earth. For to see James Brown dance and sing, to see him lead his mighty band with the merest of glances and tiny flickers of signals from his hands; to see him offer himself to his audience to be adored and enraptured and ravished; to watch him tremble and suffer as he tears his screams and moans of lust, glory and regret from his sweat-drenched body -- and is, thereupon, in the act of seeming mercy, draped in the cape of his infirmity; to see him recover and thrive -- shrugging free of the cape -- as he basks in the healing regard of an audience now melded into a single passionate body by the stroking and thrumming of his ceaseless cavalcade of impossibly danceable smash Number One hits, is not to see: It is to behold."
And Brown wasn't only a self-proclaimed sex machine, but a quotation machine, throwing off stuff all the time. For example:
"Soul is when a man do everything he can and come up second. Soul is when a man make a hundred dollars a week and it cost him a hundred and ten to live. Soul is when a man got to bear other people's burdens. Soul is when a man is nothin' because he's black."
"Don't terrorize. Organize. Don't burn. Give kids a chance to learn ... The real answer to race problems in this country is education. Not burning and killing. Be ready. Be qualified. Own something. Be somebody. That's Black Power."
"I'm not hung up just on black, I'm hung up on right. There's a lot of white kids out there that are really together. It's tradition that we are fighting. We're not fighting white, we are fighting tradition."
The later is a quote from a statement made on national TV during the 1968 riots in Washington, DC, after the Martin Luther King assassination. Brown is often single-handedly credited for stopping the riots in Boston by delivering a broadcast concert and speaking out to people.
Another thing on freedom from the book:
He walked over and put an arm around a chubby white chick deejay. She, being emotional, started to blubber.
"We got to free up people until she and I have a chance. The man has the white woman and the black man uptight. She's trapped in the home and I'm trapped in the field. We're going to break loose. Until a black man and a white girl can walk in here and nobody thinks about it, we're in trouble."
As Brown's empire grew - e.g. he bought the house that he once was shining shoes in front of, a restaurant and three radio stations - he made larger and more boastful claims by the minute. Those claims often rang true, but towards the end of his life he was seen more and more as a weird man, which often was a correct assumption. For instance:
Brown rates his work with the greatest American musical innovations of the 20th century. He maintains that his music has been so far ahead of its time that he had no choice but to restrict the complexity of the compositions and arrangements. Otherwise, James says, we never could have understood it.
And he made songs like "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" at a time where there was nothing like it.
In the radiant article named "Papa Takes Some Mess" by Pat Kelly, written in 1975, it's obvious what a tyrant Brown is, and how little he is revered by his musicians, who follow his every single move and were fined by Brown for things, like missing one of Brown's signals during a show, or showing up late.
The highly personal essay named "James Brown Meets the Nine Nobles" by Ron Courtney, written in 1986, is one of the best pieces in this anthology, describing how Ron's life was changed by hearing James Brown.
King Records released the "James Brown Live At The Apollo" LP and our lives suddenly acquired purpose and meaning!
Heading into the 1980s, the articles turn more into the weird, from the incident where Brown reportedly threatened an entire company with a shotgun while accusing them of using his private bathroom to his troubles with the IRS and his conviction of abuse against several of his wives.
"Havin' that IRS problem kept me from having other problems. Because if they see you owe money, other people don't sue you."
"He scoffed at allogations that he was high on PCP at the time of his arrest--"Not in my life," he said of hard drugs in general--but then he added, "Well, I wouldn't say as I did buy PCP. It might've been in the marijuana. And, if it was, I sure wish I had some more."
There are no computers in the offices of James Brown Enterprises. "He's got this strange notion that they can see back at you," Maria Moon, one of his staffers, explained." [...] Mr. Brown put it slightly differently: "I don't want computers coming feeding direct off of me, 'cause I know what I got to tell a computer that it ain't got in there, and I don't want to. If the government would want me to be heading up the computer people, I would give 'em a basic idea what we should put in a computer -- not just basic things, you know, but things that will be helpful in the future. We don't have that, but I could tell 'em a lot of things." He didn't elaborate, but he told me that on several occasions, while watching television news, he had foreseen the deaths of people on the screen.
The article where Fred Daviss, Brown's business manager for 16 years, recalls Brown's visit to Graceland a day following the death of Elvis Presley and how Brown told Daviss to touch Elvis' corpse because "then it won't bother you no more", and how Daviss saw Brown touch Elvis' dead body and said "Elvis, you rat. You rat." - Later, Davis was the one touching Brown's corpse, saying a similar thing.
Alan Leeds' finishing essay on the death of James Brown, including his legacy and a few final words is quite beautiful, summarising most of what people have prior said about Brown.
All in all, this book is definitely one of the best anthologies based on interview articles that I have read, and it goes to show Brown as a human being, an exceptional one at that, in a variety of fields. His legacy goes on and on, as Brown's accomplishments will forever enthrall and amaze.(less)
So Graham and Damon and I met in the studio on the last day of the first term. Damon had the keys, as he was sort of an assistant there. There were a couple of things that Damon and Graham had been working on together that we bashed around for a while. I showed them some chords that I’d been strumming in my room. Graham started to play them on the guitar, there was a drum machine going boom whack and I started grooving along on the bass that was lying around. Damon started jumping up and down and saying, ‘Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! You’re a natural!’ He got his lyrics book out and started singing, ‘She is so high, she is so high.’ It all happened there and then. It was instantaneous, shockingly so. Graham wrote the lyrics for the verse, over the same chords, and sang a backing vocal on the choruses. I’d never been in a band with backing vocals. The two of them sang really well together, they’d been doing it for years. We made a tape and I went home for Christmas thinking, ‘I’m in the best band in the world.’
Even if you don't fancy Blur or even if you've never heard them, this is a good memoir. Even though James may seem to have his head up his own arse at times because of his wealth and the sheer amount of silly things he's been up to because of it - whether it be purchasing an aeroplane or wasting thousands of pounds per night getting drunk with models - his style of writing drew me in.
Short sentences telling stuff like it was, according to no-one but himself.
James saw himself as a rock star, and as such, he wanted to live up to the myth, combining alcohol and bad behaviour all over the globe.
I was really drunk by that point and I went down to the bar to have a fight. Bruce Dickinson was at the bar. I hate Iron Maiden. They’re devil-worshipping ponces. I said, ‘The devil can suck my cock and you can kiss his arse, you fucking poodle.’ He got me in a headlock and sucked the end of my nose really hard. I was laughing quite a lot, not really resisting. We left it at that.
Point to Dickinson, there.
I was still enjoying my lack of responsibilities. Being able to have whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, had made me grotesque and self-centred, but there was a huge upside to being cash rich and morally bankrupt.
From an art school background to riches as Blur recorded their first album with Stephen Street producing it, alcohol and deviant behaviour led James to be unfaithful to his then-girlfriend. A lot.
The first time I was unfaithful to Justine was about halfway through the first year at Goldsmiths. I was in London. She was in Bournemouth. I was drunk. It wasn’t premeditated. It was a brief pornographic fantasy scenario with someone I’d never seen before, never saw again. I regretted it terribly and confessed. Justine was devastated, more hurt than angry. We both cried a lot and I knew I’d never do it again. Of course, there were pretty girls at college. I flirted with one or two of them, but I never had any intention of getting involved. I suppose, if I’m brutally honest, if I’d fallen in love with somebody else, I would have been a bit stupid to stay with Justine, but I didn’t. I wanted to be with her. The second time was a real disgrace. I snogged Raych. She wasn’t going out with Adam any more, but he still loved her, I think. He was long gone, but when I thought about it afterwards it seemed like a double whammy of treachery against him and against Justine. It was only a quick affectionate snog, but I definitely fancied Raych, which made it a worse crime. I didn’t tell Jus about that. Andrea, the singer from the Darling Buds, was a pin-up platinum blonde and that was the third time. The world had started to open up to us and it appeared there was no town that didn’t have beautiful women I could have married or interesting people I could have quite happily spent my life with.
Another one-night stand. It wasn’t like I pursued these women. It was suddenly as simple as not resisting. Still, I was more than willing and it was the same act of betrayal. There were so many reasons to say yes and only one reason to say no, and she was an ocean away.
There are no swan songs re. the bad times, which is very refreshing:
The album had stopped selling and Woolworths returned quite a lot of copies. Then a really big bill came from the VAT man and we couldn’t afford to pay it. It was serious. I had no idea what VAT was. I was good at playing the bass and showing off. That was my job. We trusted our manager to make sure that those kinds of unpleasantnesses were taken care of. It turned out that quite a lot of bills remained unpaid. We owed everybody money. We brought in new accountants, who told us we were staring bankruptcy in the face and facing prison if we couldn’t come up with the cash to pay the VAT. Whenever this happens it’s time to start looking for a new manager.
And there's always a breath of fresh air when James writes about unusual stuff very up front, e.g.:
There was a bottle of Tabasco on the bar, for Bloody Marys. He said, ‘Watch this!’ and necked the whole thing. Temporarily, he went into convulsions and was sick. Then the hiccups started. They were the biggest hiccups I’ve ever seen. There was an element of sneeze in each hiccup, and each one possessed his entire body. It wasn’t deadly serious, but we were supposed to be onstage in twenty minutes. We went on late. I smashed a guitar and a few drums. Having destroyed backstage, Damon tore into the front of house. Dave swan-dived into the crowd and was devoured, so I finished the drums off. We hadn’t done that for a while. It is very satisfying to make a lot of noise and break stuff.
I’d done a fair bit of hobnobbing with famous people by this time. They didn’t seem to have anything in common, particularly. Famous people generally seemed like everybody else, only a bit more famous. Rich people aren’t particularly different from anyone else either. They’ve just got more money. Fame is just another kind of money. It can do things that money can’t, but it’s just a currency. No one ever loved anyone because they were rich. No one ever really loved anyone because they were famous, but it’s an attractive quality.
On what really matters in the end:
On Boxing Day I went back to London to get Tabitha and took her to a hotel where I’d always wanted to stay, in Corfe Castle in rural Dorset. Suddenly we were alone and it was very still and quiet. Immaculate. We walked to Kimmeridge, my favourite place, and I built a big bonfire. There’s absolutely nothing to do there, just fossils and shells and rock pools. It’s where you realise if you love someone or not. I felt a bit bored. It was surprising. She was possibly the most beautiful woman in the world. I thought success would be the answer to everything. I’d climbed a hill and seen a mountain in the distance. I climbed the mountain and I saw the moon. I somehow got to the moon and realised I’d left what I loved behind in another world. I missed Justine. I’d come all this way to realise I really was happiest with what I already had. It was a journey that had to be made. I wanted it all. I’d never felt I wanted to escape from Justine. I’d just lost her. I just wanted to sit and be quiet with her, listen to her thoughts and make her laugh.
There are some reminisces on alcohol and adventures:
When I woke up I was in her bedroom. I was emptying my bladder all over her dressing table. People had told me about this kind of thing. It had never happened to me before, though. She woke up and asked what I was doing. I said it looked like I’d made a big mistake. We cleaned it up. We’d only known each other a couple of hours and I don’t think anyone could have been any more drunk than I was. Usually being that drunk would make you unconscious, but with absinthe you go on expeditions. I did see her again. Some people you try and make a good impression on and nothing works, others you piss all over their make-up and they’ve decided they like you and it doesn’t seem to matter. Anyway, that was the only time I ever went to Richmond.
On being a tourist:
We live in a climate of fear, but the world is a safe place as long as you know how to behave like everybody else does. If you stand around holding a map waving a video camera with your shirt tucked into your waist-high trousers, you’re in trouble wherever you go. Millions of people live in Rio, after all, and they eat salad and have ice in their drinks and they don’t get murdered very often.
Wealth and no morale:
I’d spent about a million pounds on champagne and cocaine. It sounds ridiculous but, looking back, I don’t regret it. It was definitely the right thing to do. It was completely decadent, but I was a rock star, after all, a proper one, with a public duty to perform.
Claire was worried about me starting my new drinking campaign in January. She’d only known me sober. I assured her that I was very good at it. It was February and a nice man called Bill was saying, ‘And tell me what you remember about the party.’ ‘Well, I remember swapping shirts with the principal dancer of the Royal Ballet Company.’ ‘OK. Good. What next?’ ‘I think I snogged the dog.’ ‘Right. OK. Then what happened?’ ‘Well, I had a row with Claire and went home. I locked her out, and when she was banging on the door, I pissed on her head from the fourth-storey window.’ ‘Why did you do that?’ ‘Well, that’s what she wants to know.’ ‘Anything else happen?’ ‘No, not that night, anyway.’ Bill was kind and he listened and he helped me and I stopped drinking altogether after that and tried yoga.
And somehow, the feel of the book is stashed in a single sentence:
I sometimes found it excruciatingly funny and begged them to stop, and sometimes I just begged them to stop.
All in all: a really interesting tale of the love for music, but mainly on friendship, the loss of ethics and love due to alcohol and drugs, and little thoughts on life and what matters and not.(less)
Dave Eggers once wrote that he spent an entire month reading this when it was released. And added that it's impossible to mutter an "eh" when fin...moreWell.
Dave Eggers once wrote that he spent an entire month reading this when it was released. And added that it's impossible to mutter an "eh" when finished with it, saying the book will change your life for the better.
I think he's right about it changing things.
The first 15 pages stormed me. Then, I felt David Foster Wallace was merely trying to impress and masturbate onto pages in some self-loving way that Jonathan Franzen can be prone to coming close to; after appx. 150-200 pages, however, that went away.
This book is filled with subjects and words and places but it's coherent, funny, inspiring and disgusting, bewildering, simple and complex. At times it felt like a drag, but mostly it's really, really good.
Every sentence feels thoughtful and sincere, and at the same time, I got the feeling (which is still in-place) that's simple; all you need is genius.(less)
A Swedish anthology containing texts by Fredrik Strage, renowned pop-culture journalist with a penchant for constructing smallish sentences filled wit...moreA Swedish anthology containing texts by Fredrik Strage, renowned pop-culture journalist with a penchant for constructing smallish sentences filled with trivia. I love that stuff, especially when music is involved.
This is a plethora of interviews, articles and reviews spanning 20 years (or thereabouts). The author has commented every bit of writing and his reflections on how bad his writing used to be is quite profound and nice to read.
Where good: asking interesting questions to the people he's interviewing. It's not textbook boring.
Where bad: Strage tends to delve into the extremely odd at times, which upon reading this book in one stretch, can be daunting and in itself quite boring; all the tidbits hit me like "a tsunami of melted lead", to quote the author.
All in all: recommendable. The late part about the black metal scene is indispensable and some of the inner workings of Sweden are truly on display, e.g. where he dissects Tengil, the main antagonist of The Brothers Lionheart. (less)
This book starts with the end of Amy Winehouse. Her father receives the call from one of their security boys, who says he needs to come home at once....moreThis book starts with the end of Amy Winehouse. Her father receives the call from one of their security boys, who says he needs to come home at once. He then knew, and so the book begins from Amy's beginning.
It's a quite chronological book published nearly a month before the one-year mark of Amy's death, and it is done to draw money to The Amy Winehouse Foundation, which her father founded after her death.
The first thing that I felt while reading the start of the book, was a weird feeling that it's saturated by honesty. I know, Amy's dad could have written anything in here and is the only one to know whether it's true or not, but then again, he brings out a few of his own faults in this entire story. In the end: who knows? It's definitely not the quite horrid book on Nancy Spungen, as written by her mother Deborah.
Amy Winehouse seemed to have a very special, close bond with her father, who stayed close to her until the very end.
This book shows her as a human being, filled with laughter, brilliant song-writing and singing capacity and immense tragedy, notably through her tragic infatuation with Blake Fielder-Civil, the man she married and who turned her onto Class-A drugs.
It's actually worthy to notice that Amy Winehouse died from alcohol problems, and that she at that point hadn't done Class-A drugs in almost three years' time. Of course, her Class-A addictions might have been a in indirect reason to her death, in the end.
The book portrays her as a human being, i.e. in another way than the papers portrayed her, e.g. when she was little and misbehaving in school:
Over time Amy got worse in the classroom. Janis and I were called to the school for meetings about her behaviour on numerous occasions. I hope the head of year didn’t see me trying not to laugh as he told us, ‘Mr and Mrs Winehouse, Amy has already been sent to see me once today and, as always, I knew it was her before she got to my office …’ I knew if I looked at Janis I’d crack up. ‘How did I know?’ the head of year continued. ‘She was singing “Fly Me To The Moon” loudly enough for the whole school to hear.’ I knew I shouldn’t laugh, but it was so typically Amy. She told me later that she’d sung it to calm herself down whenever she knew she was in trouble. Just about the only thing she seemed to enjoy about school was performance. However, one year when Amy sang in a show she wasn’t very good. I don’t know what went wrong – perhaps it was the wrong key for her again – but I was disappointed. The following year things were different. ‘Dad, will you both come to see me at Ashmole?’ she asked. ‘I’m singing again.’ To be honest, my heart sank a bit, with the memory of the previous year’s performance, but of course we went. She sang the Alanis Morissette song ‘Ironic’, and she was as terrific as I knew she could be. What I wasn’t expecting was everyone else’s reaction: the whole room sat up. Wow, where did this come from?
Learning that Amy suffered from an immense stage-fright and often tried to solve that by drinking before going on-stage was enlightening. Apparently, that's what caused her first and last performance in Belgrade to be a complete disaster.
Before that, though, she would be prone to break off important business meetings such as one prior to the release of "Frank", her debut album. On the other hand, one of her friends wouldn't have it:
‘I’m putting you in that dumpster until you say you’re going to the meeting,’ he told her. Amy started to laugh because she thought Nick wouldn’t do it, but he picked her up, put her in the dumpster and closed the lid. ‘I’m not letting you out until you say you’re coming to the meeting.’ She was banging on the side of the dumpster and shouting her head off. But it was only after she’d agreed to go to the meeting that Nick let her out. She immediately screamed, ‘KIDNAP! RAPE!’ They were still arguing as they walked into the meeting. ‘Sorry we’re late,’ Nick said. Then Amy jumped in: ‘Yeah, that’s cos Nick just tried to rape me.’
And then, she met someone:
After Frank came out, Amy would begin a performance at a gig by walking onstage, clapping and chanting, ‘Class-A drugs are for mugs. Class-A drugs are for mugs …’ She’d get the whole audience to join in until they’d all be clapping and chanting as she launched into her first number. Although Amy was smoking cannabis, she had always been totally against class-A drugs. Blake Fielder-Civil changed that. Amy first met him early in 2005 at the Good Mixer pub in Camden. None of Amy’s friends that I’ve spoken to over the years can remember exactly what led to this meeting. But after that encounter she talked about him a lot. ‘When am I going to meet him, darling?’ I asked. Amy was evasive, which was probably, I learned later, because Blake was in a relationship. Amy knew about this, so initially you could say that Amy was ‘the other woman’. And although she knew that he was seeing someone else, it was only about a month after they’d met that she had his name tattooed over her left breast. It was clear that she loved him – that they loved each other – but it was also clear that Blake had his problems. It was a stormy relationship from the start. A few weeks after they’d met, Blake told Amy that he’d finished with the other girl, and Amy, who never did anything by halves, was now fully obsessed with him.
And in that relationship, on working with Mark Ronson on her second album, "Back To Black":
A lot of her songs were to do with Blake, which did not escape Mark’s attention. She told Mark that writing songs about him was cathartic and that ‘Back to Black’ summed up what had happened when their relationship had ended: Blake had gone back to his ex and Amy to black, or drinking and hard times. It was some of her most inspired writing because, for better or worse, she’d lived it. Mark and Amy inspired each other musically, each bringing out fresh ideas in the other. One day they decided to take a quick stroll around the neighbourhood because Amy wanted to buy Alex Clare a present. On the way back Amy began telling Mark about being with Blake, then not being with Blake and being with Alex instead. She told him about the time at my house after she’d been in hospital when everyone had been going on at her about her drinking. ‘You know they tried to make me go to rehab, and I told them, no, no, no.’ ‘That’s quite gimmicky,’ Mark replied. ‘It sounds hooky. You should go back to the studio and we should turn that into a song.’ Of course, Amy had written that line in one of her books ages ago. She’d told me before she was planning to write a song about what had happened that day, but that was the moment ‘Rehab’ came to life. Amy had also been working on a tune for the ‘hook’, but when she played it to Mark later that day it started out as a slow blues shuffle – it was like a twelve-bar blues progression. Mark suggested that she should think about doing a sixties girl-group sound, as she liked them so much. He also thought it would be fun to put in the Beatles-style E minor and A minor chords, which would give it a jangly feel. Amy was unaccustomed to this style – most of the songs she was writing were based around jazz chords – but it worked and that day she wrote ‘Rehab’ in just three hours. If you had sat Amy down with a pen and paper every day, she wouldn’t have written a song. But every now and then, something or someone turned the light on in her head and she wrote something brilliant. During that time it happened over and over again. The sessions in the studio became very intense and tiring, especially for Mark, who would sometimes work a double shift and then fall asleep. He would wake up with his head in Amy’s lap and she would be stroking his hair, as if he was a four-year-old. Mark was a few years older than Amy, but he told me he found her very motherly and kind.
Seems she did have an acute sense of humor at times:
I pointed out that the BRIT Awards were looming, and even though she wasn’t nominated for anything, they wanted her to perform and receive a special achievement award. I explained to her, though, that unless I knew she wasn’t taking drugs, I would make sure she didn’t perform. ‘I’m gonna do it, Dad,’ she insisted. ‘Look, I’ve even emailed Ronson about it.’ She showed me what she’d sent him.
SUBJECT: My God you’re ugly. TEXT: Are you coming to the BRITS, you savage, savage man. I would prefer Maud, but Madonna couldn’t even fast-track the quarantine laws. I did everything, trust me. I go bananas over you. Levi Levine p.s. Frank Sinatra is and always will be God. I laughed. ‘I suppose Maud’s his dog? And why’d you call yourself Levi Levine?’ But Amy had drifted off to sleep.
Then came the Class-A drugs that she had been ranting against before meeting Blake:
The day-to-day changes in Amy amazed me: the next evening Raye called me from the studio to say that she and Mark had had a really good day working. He also said that she had been able to take her prescribed Subutex, as she had been drug-free for twelve hours. When it came time for her next dose, though, she couldn’t have it as, once again, she had taken other drugs. As a result, she went into withdrawal and the whole process started yet again. That Sunday, I drove down to the Henley studio to find Amy in bed. She was filthy and suffering the effects of withdrawal. I managed to get her into the shower, realizing again how painfully thin she was. If Amy had died at that point, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised. I put her back to bed and stayed with her until she fell asleep. Sitting in a chair next to her bed, I despaired. I was running out of ideas. If she took drugs she couldn’t take Subutex for twelve hours. If she didn’t take Subutex she went into withdrawal so she took more drugs. A horrible vicious circle.
...and everything spiralling out of control every time she and Blake would have problems, plus the drugs:
All this was still going on when I got there and I had to force her on to her bed to stop her harming herself even more. I held her in my arms until she finally calmed down, then got a nurse to patch her up and to stay with her. I wrote in my diary, ‘This has been one of the worst days of my life. I don’t know what to do next. Please God, give me the strength and wisdom to help Amy.’ Every day brought a new set of horrors. The following week Amy presented herself, on schedule, at Limehouse Police Station, accompanied by Raye and Brian Spiro, to talk to them about the crack-cocaine video. Of course, she was high on drugs and drink. Amy was charged and bailed to return there later that month. When I mentioned rehab, all Amy could say, in her drink- and drug-fuelled state, was, ‘I’m not going to any facility, I want to go to Holloway,’ meaning the women’s prison in north London. Although the Bond song had now been cancelled, a couple of days later Amy wanted to go back to Henley to work on other stuff, so I arranged for her to go while I stayed in London. Over the week, I checked in regularly with Dale Davis, her bassist and musical director. Some days they were getting work done, on others Amy was being yelled at on the phone by Blake so she’d get high to console herself.
Perhaps the most difficult thing about loving and helping an addict, which most people who haven’t been through it don’t understand, is this: every day the cycle continues is your new worst day. When looked at from the outside it seems endless, the same thing over and over again; but when you’re living it, it’s like being a hamster on a wheel. Every day there’s the chronic anxiety of waiting for news, the horrible rush when it turns out to be bad, the overwhelming sense of déjà vu – and the knowledge that, despite your best efforts, you’ll probably be here again. Even so-called good days are not without their drawbacks. You enjoy them as much as you can, but in the back of your mind there’s the lurking fear that tomorrow you could be back to square one again, or worse. For me, this was life with Amy. If I was stopped by someone in the street and they asked how Amy was doing, I knew they wouldn’t understand if I told them what was going on. I’d learned that it’s nearly impossible to explain how this could keep happening. I’d imagined that, as they offered sympathy, they’d be wondering, How can her family let this carry on? Or, Why didn’t they lock her up until she was clean? But unless an addict wants to quit, they’ll find a way to get drugs, and as soon as they leave the rehab facility they’ll pick up where they left off. Long before Amy was an addict, no one could tell her what to do. Once she became an addict, that stubbornness just got worse. There were times when she wanted to be clean, but the times when she didn’t outnumbered them.
Later, Amy rid herself of the drugs, but never the alcohol. She found love again in Reg, a man who seems to have treated her with love, care and a lot of affection, and they spoke of getting married.
In the end, I think it seems that Amy was on the way to recovery from alcohol addiction, but it killed her. She had stated that trying to quit alcohol was much harder than trying to quit drugs.
At the end:
I knew that Amy couldn’t have died from a drug overdose, as she had been drug-free since 2008. But although she had been so brave and had fought so hard in her recovery from alcoholism, I knew she must have lapsed once again. I thought that Amy hadn’t had a drink for three weeks. But she had actually started drinking at Dionne’s Roundhouse gig the previous Wednesday. I didn’t know that at the time. The following morning Janis, Jane, Richard Collins (Janis’s fiancé), Raye, Reg and I went to St Pancras mortuary to officially identify Amy. Alex couldn’t bring himself to go, which I fully understood. When we arrived there were loads of paps outside the court, but they were all very respectful. We were shown into a room and saw Amy behind a window. She looked very, very peaceful, as if she was just asleep, which in a way made it a lot harder. She looked lovely. There was a slight red blotchiness to her skin, which was why, at the time, I thought she might have had a seizure: she looked as she had done when she had had seizures in the past. Eventually the others left Janis and me to say goodbye to Amy by ourselves. We were with her for about fifteen minutes. We put our hands on the glass partition and spoke to her. We told her that Mummy and Daddy were with her and that we would always love her. I can’t express what it was like. It was the worst feeling in the world.
All in all: a very moving, sad, tragic, frustrating, beautiful and interesting book about a regular person with massive talent and lyrical intelligence. Highly recommendable.(less)
Burroughs wrote this book much based on his own experience with addiction decades ago, and I think it'll forever be potent.
It's a very straight-forwar...moreBurroughs wrote this book much based on his own experience with addiction decades ago, and I think it'll forever be potent.
It's a very straight-forward, no-nonsense and no-tearjerker experience as Burroughs writes of Lee's addictions, faltering friendships, his fleeting meets with people while trying to attain drugs as quickly as possible, at times doing anything for it. He goes from selling drugs to using them, to robbing drunks on trains to escaping the law, to trying to fence stuff to get money to get more drugs to avoid The Sickness, to get to Mexico to live a better life, to avoid his wife, to get together with her, to be able to get out of bed, to try and get off drugs completely, to get into less hardcore stuff to get back into heroin.
It's very well-written, and eloquently cut-up in terms of what goes in which chapters. The descriptions of people, events and feelings aren't poetic - it's all straight-forward and I got the sense that his abuse just went on and on, a vortex that went round and round.
This book reminds me a lot of Irvine Welsh's "Trainspotting", although this is timeless and different. It's like the inspirational big brother to Martin Amis' "Money".
And it stands out. Burroughs was a very livid writer and this is a powerful and telling work on addiction, and in his desire to explain the elements that make out addiction to everybody, he dispels myths and actually writes some really stupid shit (e.g. that cocaine does not create any form of dependency), so just have an open, questioning mind when reading this (as with every written word, anywhere).
In this edition from Penguin, there are several inclusions of nice extraneous material here: appendixes, a glossary and a long introduction.(less)
From Lee Strasberg's eulogy at Marilyn Monroe's funeral:
Marilyn Monroe was a legend.
In her own lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a
...moreFrom Lee Strasberg's eulogy at Marilyn Monroe's funeral:
Marilyn Monroe was a legend.
In her own lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a deprived background could attain. For the entire world she became a symbol of the eternal feminine.
But I have no words to describe the myth and the legend. I did not know this Marilyn Monroe. We gathered here today, knew only Marilyn - a warm human being, impulsive and shy, sensitive and in fear of rejection, yet ever avid for life and reaching out for fulfillment.
This collection of letters that Marilyn never sent, notes, diary-like entries, thoughts ranging from her first, failed marriage, up to a run-through of answers to interview questions just before her death, is a very intimate collection.
In the notes - mostly written by herself but also through typed transcriptions by her assistant - and the diary-entries, Marilyn goes through an array of emotions regarding a variety of subjects, persons, projects and other matters, ranging from her psychoanalysis, her seemingly constant self-questioning and self-doubt, to happiness, being married, succeeding with her own production company and of course, on reading.
This brings a very different image of the person, rather than the very two-dimensional, simple creature that some seem to prefer her to be.
Her honesty is key here, to me. Her writing reeks of honesty and is very interesting, especially when she writes of her fears, examining her past and considering her future, notably through the founding of her own production company (taking on MGM by doing so), which is professionally no small feat.
She seems to have been very self-critical. She doesn't dump down on anybody else in these notes.
As a poet, she is quite rough; not my cup of tea, and the lyrics don't seem to have been worked over much. Still, these are notes grabbed from a box in a garage. It's not like she attempted to get them published.
All in all, it's an accomplished bunch of pieces from a very talented, intelligent and seemingly pleasant and honest person's life. I wish she'd get more recognition for all of the things for which she's not most famous, but that's show business, I guess.(less)
This was a fascinating book, mostly because the author has described everything as it happened, which I deem to be a very hard thing to do considering...moreThis was a fascinating book, mostly because the author has described everything as it happened, which I deem to be a very hard thing to do considering a) the subject and b) how much research he has put into this.
First, Richard Ramirez is a serial killer seldom witnessed. He was intelligent, driven by simple, yet complex desires, a Satanist and had a very deranged childhood, seemingly propelled by his family troubles, including a somewhat failed father and older brothers who were all involved in crime and drugs.
Add the facts that Ramirez was grown up near a nuclear bomb-testing ground and had some head-trauma at an early age, but that's not as interesting as the following, from the book:
Carlo: [...] Your cousin Mike had just returned from the Vietnam and he was stressed because of the war, from being in three tours of duty, and got into an argument one day with his wife and shot her and killed her. Could you tell us how that made you feel, to see that—and later on when you went back with your dad—
Ramirez: Well, yes it was—
Carlo: How old were you? Ten or eleven?
Ramirez: Thereabouts. I'm not sure, ten or eleven. I can't say for sure, I was probably eleven. It was a sunny day, I had been with Mike that day hanging out and...uh...he got to his house about 3 p.m.—I was with him. The incident happened...uh...he was arrested, taken to jail, His...Mike’s mother called my father and my mother a week or two later asking them if they would go into the house and get some things for them. I remember me and my father and my mother going. We parked the truck. Me and my father went inside not knowing what we would find—(Tape shuts off.)
Ramirez: It was the strangest experience. I mean being there after Jessie had been killed. The...the aura of it was still kind of like hanging in the air. It was...kind of mystical. I could still smell her blood. Sunlight was streaming into the room and you could see particles of dust in the golden beams of sunlight.
Carlo: What kind of effect did this all have on you, you think?
Ramirez: Strange. I mean to see something like that—the line between life and death right there in front of me. Intense. When she went down I saw it all in slow motion.
Carlo: He shot her in front of you, Richard?
Ramirez: Yes, me and my two cousins, his two kids, boys three and six.
Carlo: How close?
Ramirez: A few feet away.
Carlo: Your cousin Mike also killed—raped and killed, women over in ’Nam, didn’t he?
Carlo: How do you know?
Ramirez: He told me all about it and I saw Polaroid photos he had.
Carlo: Please tell us about that, Richard.
Ramirez: He had a shoebox in his closet. It was filled with these Polaroid photographs of women and girls he took into the jungle and did.
Ramirez: Raped and killed them. Sisters, even a family two daughters and the mother. He tore off their clothes and had them naked tied to a tree. In another one there they were dead. He cut off their heads.
Carlo: Did he rape them too?
Ramirez: Yeah, of course, while they were tied to the tree, all three of them, in front of each other.
Carlo: He told you this?
Ramirez: Yeah, told me all about it... exactly what he did. We used to go for joy rides all around El Paso, smoke pot, listen to the radio and he’d tell me what he did with the women.
Carlo: You know how many he raped and killed?
Ramirez: Over twenty for sure. He had photographs of diem. Young girls mostly; but all ages. They were the enemy; they were, you know, V.C., no one gave a fuck.
Carlo: What kind.. . what kind of effect did this have on you?
Ramirez: Heavy. I used to think about them, I mean all that.
Carlo: Sexually, Richard?
Ramirez: Fuck yeah, of course, sexually. It was all about sex.
Carlo: They were a turn on? The photographs?
Ramirez: Yes, very much so.
Carlo: Do you think seeing those pictures helped you walk the road you eventually traveled?
Ramirez: It’s hard to say. I’m not blaming my cousin for anything; I want that clear. This just happened.
Carlo: He also taught you about jungle warfare, guerilla fighting; how to kill people, correct?
Ramirez: Yes, he did. How to use a knife, where to shoot someone. How to be invisible at night... the whole enchilada.
Carlo: Invisible, how?
Ramirez: Wear all black, even shoes and socks, with a black hat with the brim pulled down to cover your face so the light can reflect off it. Avoiding the reflection of light, that's the key.
Ramirez: For me it was all very interesting...I was already stealing, I mean getting into people's houses at night and stealing things and all that helped.
Carlo: Did he teach you how to shoot?
Ramirez: No. My Dad did. But my cousin told me where to hit someone for the maximum effect.
Ramirez: The head, of course.
Carlo: Any particular spot?
Ramirez: Above the ear.
Carlo: And the knife, I mean what is the best place to use it?
Ramirez: Across the throat. It's called a stab/slash wound. That is you drive the point into the side of the neck then pull it across the throat. That cuts both the windpipe and the arteries, always lethal.
Carlo: I see. (Tape shuts off.)
The book is strong in the sense that it deals with a lot of details. While the court goings-on made me restless they were detailed enough to break out the innards of Ramirez's defense team's inadequacies, Ramirez's unwillingness to admit guilt and his slew of admirers in the court-room, surrounded by the victims' families and friends. All very strange.
The strangest of all is Ramirez, though; he killed seemingly indiscriminately to please Satan. As he did, he acted savagely. Afterwards, he behaved differently. In jail, he turned nice and courteous (mostly). Today he thrives on writing with people and selling drawings with satanic motifs on them, having married one of his suitors and biggest defenders.
The book made me cry and feel completely sick at times, as the first part describes his crimes and deeds in large. His family's involvement and bereft is described in great detail too, actually painting a picture of a very versatile man, a person and - thankfully - an individual, not a Monster.
All in all: brilliant research, but I still wonder what separates "criminalist" and "criminologist" in Carlo's world.(less)