Kelly's Reviews > Rock On: An Office Power Ballad

Rock On by Dan Kennedy
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Feb 26, 12

Read in February, 2012

I kind of hate that all my Goodreads reviews lately are "OMG WHITE GUYS, WHY ARE YOU SUCH ... WHITE GUYS?" but, well, here we are.

Katie warned me that I might not like this book because I have severe embarrassment squick. There were a few times when I was embarrassed for Dan Kennedy, but generally my embarrassment was obscured by my blinding white hatred. Seriously. I hate Dan Kennedy after reading this book. I might not be able to listen to The Moth anymore, because the tag at the end of every episode that says "Dan Kennedy is the author of the book Rock On: An Office Power Ballad!" will send me into a RAGE COMA.

1. So, upfront, let's address that this book desperately wants to be Chuck Klosterman, particularly Sex, Drugs and Coco Puffs, although the intercalary chapters reminded me more of Chuck Klosterman IV. This might have bothered me less before Chuck Klosterman's act started to become stale for me, but, ugh, this was when I was the most embarrassed for Dan Kennedy, seriously. Especially because Chuck Klosterman is a music critic and Dan Kennedy was in marketing, and he really, really doesn't seem to understand that there might be a difference.

2. Early in the book Kennedy mentions a type of focus only seen in "meth addicts and people who decided to become over-achievers in their mid-thirties." This is the crux of what I hated, and possibly it's not all the book's fault. There is a certain type of dude of a certain late twenties to mid-thirties age who has been sort of bumming around with his life and then says "Okay! Yeah! Time to be an adult now!" and then he just, like, MANIFESTS a career and five years later there's no evidence that he had an eight-year whole in his professional career or that he had no previous experience in the field he catapulted himself into. Kennedy even seems to be aware that this is his deal, because he mentions how his friends have told him he can't use the lovable loser schtick now that he has this job and he's aware that he must seem like a dick to the product managers who worked their way up from assist level at the record company. But self-awareness does not make you any less of a dick, oh my gooooooooood.

3. More importantly, this book was not really ABOUT anything. Theoretically it is about Dan Kennedy's experience getting a job at a record label 18 months before that industry completely collapsed, and it sort of gives you the impression that it is going to tell you why Dan Kennedy thinks this industry pancaked, but the two reasons seem to be 1) "One time I had an idea about doing something that would have been just like iTunes" and 2) "WAH WAH ALL THE EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENTS MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY." And yeah, their salaries were ridiculous. (One other thing that might be Dan Kennedy's fault: at this point the mortgage and banking industries have completely burned out my "outrageous salary in a tanking industry" outrageometer.) But I have no sympathy for Dan Kennedy's outrage because of this horrible passage at the beginning of the book where he embarrassingly freaks out about not having anything to put in his office and buys a three hundred dollar picture frame. A THREE HUNDRED DOLLAR PICTURE FRAME. I don't know, man. You can tell me that someone makes $5M a year and I will obscurely understand that this is an absurd amount of money, but a THREE HUNDRED DOLLAR PICTURE FRAME just feels more ... tangible. The combination of panic and oblivious frivolity in that scene actually made me feel kind of nauseous.
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