The Wild Rumpus

October 16th, 2009

resizedFor me, Maurice Sendak's "Where The Wild Things Are" is mixed up with the wild rumpus of my parent's divorce.

I don't remember when Sendak's creatures first appeared in my life; his fifteen-page book was always present.

I do remember wandering the wide, book-strewn aisles of the Oak Park Mall's Kracht & Brentano's with my family (when we were one), pawing at books like "Scruffy" and "Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing." And I remember spotting a Wild Thing there, high on an off-white, corrugated-steel shelf. And I remember that I ...

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Gateways To Science

September 30th, 2009

resizedMy writing and photography has garnered a fair dose of newspaper column inches, a few magazine and website articles and, well, more than 3000 of my own blog posts, but not much by way of good, old-fashion, hard-cover books.

In 2004, my pal Ron Lieber hooked me up with some expat pals of his, Mike Ogden and Chris Day, who were compiling a collection of inspirational essays called "2Do Before I Die". They helped me edit my original, somewhat rambling remembrance of Mister Rogers, "Mister Rogers & Me," into the version you read today (and the ...

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Hit Hard

June 22nd, 2009

resizedSuch is my rock bio jones that, not only was I the only person in the office to grab a copy (an unproofed gally, natch) of Joey Kramer's "Hit Hard" out of the mailroom, but surely the only to read the Aerosmith drummer's tale of drug addiction and recovery in a measly 24 hours.

Listen, anyone with any proximity to Toxic Twins Steven Tyler and Joe Perry has a story worth reading. But Kramer was there from the beginning. What's more, he had his own crosses to bear.

The oldest of four children born to Eastern European immigrants, Kramer ...

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Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock & Out

July 21st, 2008

resizedEven within the context of my well-chronicled rock bio addiction, this is an anomaly: 608 pages about neither a singer, guitarist nor even a bassist or drummer.

Nope.

Six hundred and eight pages about a rock 'n roll promoter.

That said, Bill Graham was no run of the mill rock 'n roll promoter.

Until his death in 1991, he played a role in almost every major moment in rock 'n roll, from The Grateful Dead's first club show (part of what would come to be known as The Acid Tests) to Woodstock to Live Aid.

Along the way, he ...

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My Life Inside Rock (And Out)

July 2nd, 2008

resizedFor me, browsing the music section at the local book store is a little like an alcoholic ogling the top-shelf at the local tavern, or a sex addict wandering 4th Street in the Meatpacking District.

I have an unnatural (though entirely understandable, I think) compulsion to consume rock bios, memoirs collections and compendiums. I've read a ton: "The Dirty Life And Times Of Warren Zevon," "Black Postcards," and "Everything I'm Cracked Up To Be," "Hammer Of The Gods," "Conversations With Bono," and "So You Want To Be A Rock & Roll Star?" -- ...

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The Dirty Life And Times Of Warren Zevon

May 13th, 2008

resizedI'm pretty sure I'm not a tortured artist, though I may be a masochist.

Most readers flock to best sellers, pap like Joseph Hellerman, Dean Koontz, or Scott Turow. Nothing wrong with that; I enjoy a blockbuster page-turner like the guy in the next seat on the plane.

My pap, though, is the rock bio.

Last year, I devoured "U2: At the End of the World" by Bill Flanagan (a CBS Sunday Morning contributor and MTV SVP over whom I emphatically and somewhat embarrassingly gushed when I bumped into him in an elevator recently).

A few weeks ...

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Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance

April 7th, 2008

resized"Waking their latest triumph, 'Penthouse,' from its mordant and mellow foundation, Wareham and Sean Eden's wall of swirling, simmering guitars blared a full-tilt, cosmic radio clamor."

That's my review of Luna's September 1995 Tramp's performance. I especially like the phrase "cosmic radio clamor." I wanted to be Lester Bangs so badly.

That concert review was one of my first for Rolling Stone Online. I didn't know the band terribly well at the time, though I had a copy of their new CD, "Penthouse," and had heard their "Luna Park" ...

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Benjamin Braddock, Holden Caulfield & Me

February 19th, 2008

resized There's a great article in Vanity Fair's Hollywood Issue on the making of one of my all-time favorite film's, The Graduate.

Of course, the film, released in 1967, somehow captured the zeitgeist of the late '60s, especially the generation gap between parents weened on Eisenhower-era prosperity and optimism, and their increasingly disillusioned kids; Kennedy had been assassinated, MLK, RFK would soon follow, and Vietnam and Nixon were all just getting good (which is to say, bad).

And of course, the film, an adaptation of Charles Webb's ...

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Trying To Tell Me All Along

January 12th, 2008

resizedThere are a few authors whose books, based on their bibliography alone, I buy as soon as they hit shelves.

Tobias Wolff is one. He was my creative writing professor at Syracuse. His PEN/Faulkner Award-winning memoir, "This Boy's Life," came out my freshman year there, and premiered on the big screen (starring Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio) my senior year. It's a template for what I hope to finish someday. He peers through the fog of memory with clarity and efficiency while retaining some patina of what was lost in the passage of ...

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Sky Blue Sky

May 15th, 2007

I'd been out of bed just three minutes, but already I'd dropped a ten spot.

Sleep was fitful again, at best. Maybe it's the loratadine. Maybe it's the blue agave. Maybe it's all this change I keep talkin' about. Either way, I was wide awake and clock watchin' at three o'clock. I lay there tossing, turning, and trying to blot out the clamor of traffic and the din of my worries. I even turned on Abbi's white noise machine. Nothing worked.

So, at 4:38 this morning, I poured a glass of water, sat down on the couch, and began reading

...

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