Spiros's Reviews > Dino

Dino by Nick Tosches
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's review
Apr 01, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: bins, cantbelieveineverread
Recommended for: those with an appreciation of cool

I grew up in a time when Dean Martin, like Elvis, had ceased to have any relevance. I vaguely remember the Dean Martin show, and slightly more clearly remember the Roasts, but by and large the stream of time had pretty well carried Dino out of the zeitgeist, at least in San Francisco of the '70's. To this day, RIO BRAVO is the only one (out of the very few of his many movies that I have seen) of his films that I can ever imagine myself watching again. As for his music, I actually prefer Sinatra, and I don't even like Sinatra. So how is it that I can have given a voluminous biography of someone I don't care about, a man who was, in any event, a cipher, five stars? The answer, my friend, is Nick Tosches.
One thing that is manifest from this book is, that however jejune and inane Martin's surviving output may seem to me (don't get me started on Martin and Lewis), the man was an avatar of cool, and Tosches cogently assesses this cool as built of a combination of "lontano", the distance Martin kept between his emotions and the world around him, and "menefreghista", which Tosches defines as "one who simply did not give a fuck". This was Martin's crowning achievement, and it accounts for his attractiveness as a character. Ironically, for a man who so thoroughly renounced his past, the deaths of his parents in the late '60's caused his wall of cool to crumble, and began a sordid descent into ill-advised marriages, and live performances in which he took a subsidiary role that finally allowed Sinatra to eclipse him. The final chapters of this epic are almost unbearably sad, not because Dino becomes a tragic figure, but more because he becomes a farcical one.
"What more could one ask of life than a bottle of scotch, a blowjob, and a million bucks?" is the formulation Tosches frequently repeats to summarize Dino's creed, and surprisingly, the millions seemed to arrive commensurately with the scotch and the blowjobs. In purely financial terms, Martin had to have been one of the most successful performers who ever lived, and surely that is the only way he ever would have measured success. If posterity might feel let down by the dearth of quality in his recorded output, well then surely the joke is on posterity.
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Reading Progress

March 29, 2012 – Started Reading
April 1, 2012 – Shelved
April 1, 2012 – Shelved as: bins
April 1, 2012 – Shelved as: cantbelieveineverread
April 6, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Marc Horton The best biography I have ever read.

Spiros Pretty amazing; it kept me going for 446 pages, and I never cared one way or the other about Dino. And unlike KING OF THE JEWS, Tosches pretty much sticks to the subject of the biography.

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