Recent Posts in books
November 18, 2015
by Rob Sperry-Fromm
photo: GWAR at "Empire Records" in April (more by Sachyn Mital)
GWAR (Oderus Urungus) are always keeping busy with stuff that pushes them beyond the category of just being a band and into the realm of art collective or something like that, and as usual there's a ton of stuff going on the in GWAR universe right now. First and foremost, GWAR are a great live band, and they've been on tour for much of the fall, recently stopping in NYC for a show at Webster Hall on 11/15, where they were joined by Born of Osiris and Battlecross. GWAR guitarist Pustulus Maximus joined Battlecross during that show to cover the Pantera classic "Fucking Hostile." Though GWAR didn't play Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo's Housecore Fest this year as they have in the past, Sleazy P. Martini did host a screening of the GWAR movie Skulhedface at the film portion of Housecore, which just went down last weekend. Oh and Anselmo's other band Down did play GWAR-B-Q this year, so clearly they're all still friends.
Speaking of GWAR covers, they've been frequent contributors to the AV Club's "Undercover" series, but yesterday the tables were turned when Iron and Wine covered GWAR's "Sick of You," which was about as quiet and acoustic and funny as you would expect. GWAR contributed a cover of Cundi Lauper's "She Bop" to the series back in October. Watch both below.
And in terms of expanding their universe, current lead singer Michael Bishop aka Blothar has started a marketing firm with Richmond-based artist Joe Adkins called Misery Brothers, who have made their first ad for the Richmond-based "Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix." It seems like a GWAR video even though Adkins claims that Misery Brothers are technically not affiliated with the band. The spot was shot in GWAR BAR (which is, you know, their bar in Richmond) and is a gory, hilarious commercial that features the character TOMATOFACE, who might as well be a GWAR member, as his costume was created by Corrotted Artistry, the Richmondy company that builds all of GWAR's costumes. These guys have their hands in a lot of things down there, and this is just the latest example.
And finally, GWAR also have a book out, because of course they do. It's called Let There Be Gwar, and is a sort of art-book/comprehensive history of GWAR and all related projects and companies and such. It was spearheaded by Bob Gorman aka "Muzzle Slave" (people associated with GWAR who aren't actually in the band are known as " GWAR slaves", just so you know) but features input from a bunch of people and supposedly took about 17 years to put together. It has a bunch of photos, interviews, posters, art and apparently a lot of blood, and is currently available for purchase.
Check out the Pantera cover, the Iron and Wine cover, the Cyndi Lauper cover, and the bloody mary commercial below...
November 11, 2015
by Rob Sperry-Fromm
Vulture recently talked to a bunch of musicians who compiled a list comprised of their favorite music memoirs. Many of the musicians, like Questlove, Paul Stanley, and Nikki Sixx interviewed have written memoirs themselves.
It's a varied list that covers a fair amount of ground and provides some interesting nuggets about what the different musicians like in their music writing. Anthrax's Scott Ian likes Gregg Allman's memoir because "From the murder of his father to his brother trying to hang him from a tree when they were kids to the insane levels of rock-and-roll excess, this book has it all." Bethany Cosentino is a fan of Storms: My Life With Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac because "There is also an intense amount of emotional shit you go through while you're touring and living your life in the public eye. I think this book does a really good job of reminding people of that."
Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis recommends Will Hermes' Love Goes To Buildings On Fire, which is not a memoir in any way but is still a pretty great music book. And Questlove directs us towards Carrie Brownstein's new book Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, which we just talked to her about. That was an easy one for Questlove, as he just talked to her about the book at at Saint Vitus.
Books that got multiple mentions: Jewel and Aerosmith's Joe Perry like Bob Dylan's Chronicles; Def Leppard's Phil Collen and The Zombies' Colin Blunstone both rep Keith Richards' Life, and Michael Stipe and Garbage's Shirley Manson both recommend Patti Smith's Just Kids (not a surprise, Michael).
There's been a deluge of music memoirs lately, from Carrie's book to new tomes by Chrissie Hynde, Kim Gordon, Grace Jones, John Fogerty, Elvis Costello and Travis Barker. And there's more exciting stuff on the way from Tom Petty, Laura Jane Grace, John Doe and Carly Simon, just to name a few.
Check out the whole list at Vulture.
October 30, 2015
St. Marks Place in New York City has spawned countless artistic and political movements. Here Frank O'Hara caroused, Emma Goldman plotted, and the Velvet Underground wailed. But every generation of miscreant denizens believes that their era, and no other, marked the street's apex. This idiosyncratic work of reportage tells the many layered history of the street―from its beginnings as Colonial Dutch Director-General Peter Stuyvesant's pear orchard to today's hipster playground―organized around those pivotal moments when critics declared "St. Marks is dead."Ada Calhoun's new book St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America's Hippest Street is out now (description via Amazon above) and it's being celebrated with a pretty cool release party at Cooper Union on Monday (11/2).
In a narrative enriched by hundreds of interviews and dozens of rare images, St. Marks native Ada Calhoun profiles iconic characters from W. H. Auden to Abbie Hoffman, from Keith Haring to the Beastie Boys, among many others. She argues that St. Marks has variously been an elite address, an immigrants' haven, a mafia warzone, a hippie paradise, and a backdrop to the film Kids―but it has always been a place that outsiders call home.
Ada is giving an illustrated talk about St. Marks Place at the party and there will be free beer from Brooklyn Brewery, but most excitingly from a music standpoint, there will be a performance by the St. Marks Zeroes. Who are they? They're a one-night-only punk cover band featuring Ada's husband, aka rapper/performance artist Champagne Jerry, Champagne Jerry's collaborator Adam Horovitz aka Ad-Rock of Beastie Boys, and Carmine Covelli of Adam's wife Kathleen Hanna's band The Julie Ruin. Special guests are promised, including drag king legend Murray Hill.
According to an interview with Bedford + Bowery, Ada said having a band play was Ad-Rock's idea. "I was at his house, and he said, 'I was thinking about your book party, and I think you need a band."
The party goes from 6-8 PM on Monday and there's an afterparty at the Barcade on St. Marks Place. More info here.
Carrie Brownstein's creative versatility might otherwise be astonishing were it not for the fact that the actor, musician, and writer, is grounded to a familiar commonality in which her fans continue to find comfort and even catharsis. From Portlandia to Sleater-Kinney and everything in between, the trajectory of Brownstein's creative mind remains a vulnerable place of self-awareness and a rare kind of honesty concerning her perspective of her own celebrity. That characteristic is especially present in her newly released memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl. A humbling, bare, hilarious, and altogether moving recounting of her life and the challenges both past and present she faces, the book is simply yet another perspective on Brownstein's powerful simplicity and candor.
Season 6 of Portlandia is due in 2016 (with Danzig) and Sleater-Kinney will be going on another tour this year, five December NYC shows included. Currently touring for her memoir, Brownstein just made two NYC appearances this week -- the Barnes & Noble in Union Square on Wednesday (10/28) with Gaby Hoffman and Saint Vitus on Tuesday (10/27) with Questlove. Guests on other upcoming dates include Amy Poehler, Dave Eggers, Jessica Hopper and more.
I recently caught up with Carrie and discussed the tour, the challenges of writing her memoir, and why music remains a sacred space for her:
BV: You've got a number of interesting and influential guests that you're collaborating with on your book tour. Was that something you wanted to do from the outset once you'd finished Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl?
Carrie Brownstein: Yeah. I had interviewed both Lena Dunham and Kim Gordon on their respective book tours, and I really liked the conversations I had with both authors. I felt like what I wanted was to bring together a group of people that would each have a different perspective or take on the book, so that each night I was essentially having a different kind of conversation, so that I would never sort of be on message. I'm not somebody that feels I'm on message or on point very much in terms like a politician. [Laughs.] But at the same time I thought, well, this will at least highlight different elements of the book, or potentially veer of into a tangent that might be interesting or exciting every night.
October 21, 2015
Marnie doing a little proofing
Marnie the Dog has come a long way from making random appearances at BrooklynVegan SXSW parties and hosting a Red Bull Sound Select show, and is coming out with a photo book, titled Marnie the Dog: I'm a Book, which will be published October 27 via Grand Central Press. She'll be going on a book tour, too, including a couple events in NYC. On Monday (10/26) at Baby's All Right, there's a book release party that doubles as Marnie's 13th birthday party. There will be DJ sets from Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos), Josh Burgess (Yumi Zouma), Patrick Wimberly (Chairlift), as well as a live performance by Kitty Pryde collaborator Hot Sugar. That is free though there is a suggested donation of $5 to Marnie's Old Pals at ASPCA fund.
The next day Marnie and owner Shirley Braha will be at The Strand's Rare Book Room (10/27) to talk with Buzzfeed editor Katie Notopoulos. You'll need to buy a copy of the book or a $15 gift card to attend. Marnie also has appearances in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. All dates are listed below.
In other news, Marnie also has an iPhone app that will allow the user to insert Marnie into any picture.
September 24, 2015
The theme is demonology ... the left-handed path of black magic. It is about a sports relay team in 1970s America who accidentally kill a wretch who, in esoteric language, might be known as a Fetch ... a discarnate entity in physical form. He appears, though, as an omen of the immediate deaths of each member of the relay team. He is a life force of a devil incarnate, yet in his astral shell he is one phase removed from life. The wretch begins a banishing ritual of the four main characters, and therefore his own death at the beginning of the book is illusory.The Guardian has already reviewed it. The article's subhed states bluntly "it's not very good" and then goes on to say:
It's commonplace in this kind of article to tell you we're reading the book so you don't have to. It's a tease, usually. In the case of List of the Lost, however, it's absolutely true. Do not read this book; do not sully yourself with it, no matter how temptingly brief it seems. All those who shepherded it to print should hang their heads in shame, for it's hard to imagine anything this bad has been put between covers by anyone other than a vanity publisher. It is an unpolished turd of a book, the stale excrement of Morrissey's imagination.Ouch! They also offer up this excerpt from a sex scene in the book:
Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza's breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra's howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza's body except for the otherwise central zone.Oh my. Will you read it anyway?
September 18, 2015
by Klaus Kinski
By many estimations, British comedy legends Monty Python did for comedy what the Beatles did for music. Beginning with the first episode of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" back on October 5, 1969, a series which spanned 45 episodes over 4 series and ballooned into countless books, albums, touring stage shows, movies, and a Broadway musical, the Python fingerprint is all over such comedy staples as SNL, The Kids in the Hall, and Mr. Show with Bob and David. One of the most recognizable faces of the 6 person comedy machine is John Cleese. His post Python career has probably been the most robust of the 6 members, having appeared in nearly 60 films, 20 TV shows, 23 direct to video projects, video games and, of course, his masterwork television series Fawlty Towers, which ranks #1 on the BFI TV 100 list (beating out "Monty Python's Flying Circus" which landed a #5 spot).
Mr. Cleese has a few items on his plate that might be worth noting if you're a dyed-in-the-wool Monty Python super-fan like your man Klaus. Back on November 4, 2014, Cleese released, on hardcover, a book entitled "So, Anyway...." This memoir recounts Cleese's journey through his rise and mastery of the comic arts; from awkward small town lad (who was already 6 foot tall by his 12th birthday) through the 10 immediately-sold-out 2014 Python stadium shows at the 02 arena in London (to an audience of 16,000 people per night). It is an unbelievable look into one of the most prolific comedy careers of all time. A softcover version of the book is coming out on September 29. 2015. We're giving two copies away! Details on how to enter are below.
In honor of his recent memoir, John Cleese will be appearing live at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, November 14 at 6:30pm. Celebrating stories from "So, Anyway...", the Cleese will regale the audience with tales of projects including "The Meaning of Life", "The Life of Brian", "The Holy Grail", "A Fish called Wanda", "Fawlty Towers" and more. Tickets are now on sale. There is also a VIP option that gets you a signed copy of the paperback and a photo-op with the man himself. Get em before they're gone!
Britain's living legends of comedy, John Cleese and Eric Idle perform in their must-see new show, John Cleese & Eric Idle: Together Again At Last...For The Very First Time. The British icons will perform unforgettable sit-down comedy, blending scripted and improvised bits with storytelling, musical numbers, exclusive footage, aquatic juggling and an extended audience Q&A to craft a unique comedic experience with every performance. No two shows will be quite the same, thus ensuring that every audience feels like they're seeing Together Again At Last... For The Very First Time, for the very first time. And now you know why the show is called that, don't you?I am not kidding when I say I would kill to see one of these performances. Why there isn't a single show in the greatest of all cities, NEW YORK f'in CITY, vexes me to the point of tears. I mean, I guess I could drive to Maryland. But who wants to drive to Maryland. Gross. Anyway, tour dates are listed .
In other Python news, back on November 11, 2014, Eagle Rock Entertainment released Monty Python Live (mostly) : One Down, Five To Go on BluRay, DVD, and digital.
Filmed live on July 20th on the final night of the run of ten sold out performances at The O2 in London, "Monty Python Live (mostly) - One Down Five to Go" sees the five surviving members - John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin - together with Carol Cleveland, perform many of their classic sketches and much-loved songs. The show also encompasses film inserts from Monty Python's Flying Circus, Terry Gilliam's iconic animations, outrageous dance routines by an ensemble of twenty and a fantastic live orchestra. The show cements the Python's reputation as the most influential comedy group of all time and, more importantly, still one of the funniest. "Monty Python Live (mostly) - One Down Five to Go" is the ultimate Monty Python show.While you're at Amazon or wherever ordering that, you should, as the Python completist you are, pre-order the "Monty Python and the Holy Grail Limited Edition Castle Catapult BluRay Gift Set which will be released on October 27, 2015. This doozy of a release features deluxe packaging complete with catapult and little animals you can hurl at your enemies, letters from Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam about the film, commentary from the 5 remaining Pythons, footage of the Pythons being interviewed by John Oliver at the Tribeca Film Festival, outtakes, lost animations, and more. I'd insert a "Holy Grail" pun here, but I know better.... Watch a video of this thing getting unwrapped with other videos and tour dates and stuff below...
September 10, 2015
Thurston Moore has a new book called Stereo Sanctity, which is "a large and personal selection of Thurston Moore's poems and lyrics, both with Sonic Youth and as a solo artist, written between 1981 and 2014 and appearing in published form in 2015 for the first time."
It's out now and he'll be celebrating it with readings/Q&As at various Rough Trade locations: the one in NYC on September 22, Nottingham on October 13 and London on October 14. You have to purchase a copy of the book from Rough Trade to get in. More appearances are reportedly TBA.
August 31, 2015
Carrie Brownstein's memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, is out October 27 and the Sleater-Kinney singer/guitarist and Portlandia star will start her book tour that day, with a reading and Q&A at Brooklyn's Saint Vitus (10/27) and Questlove will be in conversation with her at that one. Tickets are on sale and include a copy of the book.
The next night (10/28) Brownstein will give a reading at Barnes & Noble in Union Square which is free though there's priority seating for those who buy the book at B&N. No special guests have been announced for the B&N appearance but most of the dates of Brownstein's book tour are "in conversation" with someone of note. SNL's Aidy Bryant in Philadelphia, Amy Poehler in Los Angeles, and Dave Eggers in San Francisco. All dates and special guests are listed below....
August 26, 2015
As mentioned, Morrissey has written his first novel, List of the Lost. We still don't know what it's about, but it will be out via Penguin on paperback only on September 24 in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. No word on a U.S. release, but that's the cover art above, looking very much like a classic Smiths single (or a box of Wheaties).