There's a fundamental problem with Michael Azerrad's book. Namely, what is the subject matter of his study, the cultural scene of the times, or the muThere's a fundamental problem with Michael Azerrad's book. Namely, what is the subject matter of his study, the cultural scene of the times, or the music of the indie revolution? Those readers who think this book is about the latter need to be warned. A heck of a lot of the best indie bands from the 1980s aren't even mentioned here, and you need to be told this.
So if you're going to trot eagerly off to Youtube to look up these bands with the idea of listening to some great music, I have some bad news for you. As someone who was listening to a lot of great indie rock during this era, I can assure you that most of the bands profiled in this book just plain suck.
There has always been a fundamental distinction between two types of bands, namely the Musicians and the Scenesters. The Musicians have always put their music first. The Scenesters, by contrast, have another goal entirely. For the latter, being thought cool was always more important than having music that was actually any good. But the Scenesters get the good press--indeed, they get nearly all the press, period. Why? Because people who are socially adept and who have a lot of attitude and grit make good copy. Scenesters impress nerdy-wordy types who become rock critics and writers. Yet in real life, it's the awkward introverts who make most of the best music, and they do it by the hard and unglamourous work of writing a lot of songs in their bedroom and by practicing a lot with their bands, not by slaying the dragons of the industry. Daring and confident people are often too shallow to have any artistic depths worth the plumbing.
Out of all the bands in this book, only three of them are musically first-rate, namely The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr, and somewhat patchily, Husker Du. This is a basic truth that was accepted among indie rock fans back in the 80s, but this fact is going to be new to young people who are just learning about this era with only Azerrad as a guide.
Read this book only as a cultural study. If you want to learn more about the rest of the high-quality indie rock of this era, you're going to have to delve a lot deeper than Azerrad does.
I found this enjoyable reading, though it only goes up to about 1948. He spent much of his youth annoying his teachers and obsessed with martial arts.I found this enjoyable reading, though it only goes up to about 1948. He spent much of his youth annoying his teachers and obsessed with martial arts. He saw the destruction of the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, and includes some potent rants against the censorship that the Japanese military inflicted on filmmakers....more
This is the second biography I've read by Anthony Everitt, and it's quite good. Cicero as the greatest legal advocate of his day, and he wrote a ton oThis is the second biography I've read by Anthony Everitt, and it's quite good. Cicero as the greatest legal advocate of his day, and he wrote a ton of letters to a friend who carefully preserved them. These letters give an intimate view of the nasty mess of Roman politics from the bloody dictatorship of Sulla to the murderous rise of Augustus, the latter being the man who would order Cicero's death. It's not a time period a normal person would want to live through, but it makes for fascinating reading....more
A well-done book about alcoholism, though there was one thing the author never learned about herself. From her description of her behavior and thoughtA well-done book about alcoholism, though there was one thing the author never learned about herself. From her description of her behavior and thoughts, she also had Borderline Personality Disorder. The latter was undoubtedly the fundamental cause of her alcoholism. Many alcoholics have an undiagnosed psychiatric condition that can make achieving sobriety unusually difficult unless it's treated....more
The book starts a little shakily--the author admires the Mongols almost gushingly--but it improves from there. He makes a good case that the Mongols cThe book starts a little shakily--the author admires the Mongols almost gushingly--but it improves from there. He makes a good case that the Mongols created the first 'international' culture. They made no real attempt to force their own culture on their conquered territories, but instead adopted those of others. The Mongols were very practical-minded, and when they saw a good idea or a better way of doing something, they spread it every corner of their kingdom. To give you an example, though the Chinese invented printing, it was the Mongols who spread it west all the way to Europe.
The author also includes a good description of Mongol military tactics, which can be pretty blood-curdling. When they captured a city, they'd start by killing all the warriors. Then they'd kill all the aristocrats, though they seem to have spared the women. Then they'd round up everyone who had a useful profession, from lawyers to craftsmen to musicians, and ship them to other cities where their talents could be put to use. As for those not lucky enough to be in the above categories, the Mongols turned them into cannon fodder. These people would be herded en masse towards the next city, where their huge numbers would swell the population and help starve the next target into submission, or they'd be shoved into the city's defensive ditches to fill them and make a human bridge for the next Mongol attack, or they'd serve as human shields while the city was being stormed.
It's a very interesting book in its own way....more
Enjoyable book. The author does skimp a bit on Edith's personal life and concentrates on her professional career, though that may make logical sense.Enjoyable book. The author does skimp a bit on Edith's personal life and concentrates on her professional career, though that may make logical sense. Edith was one of those persons who arrived at work before everyone else and left last at the end of the day, so she really didn't have much of a personal life. Be warned that the book has a number of very large pictures that don't show well on an ereader, and you need either a hard copy or a large computer screen for the best viewing....more