Recent Posts in books
January 17, 2015
Marky Ramone will take the stage at the Gramercy Theater on 1/17 to celebrate the upcoming publication of his memoirs, Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone. Sitting behind the drums for one of the greatest bands in rock history for fifteen years provided more than enough perspective for the Brooklyn native who will turn 59 later this year. The timing is especially poignant given that last July saw the death of Tommy Ramone who'd been the last surviving member of the original lineup. It was Tommy who would recommend Marky to replace himself when he left the band in 1978, setting in motion another chapter for a band that had already established itself as one of punk rock's most iconic groups. I recently spoke with Mark to discuss the book release show (featuring Andrew W K), his earliest days with another genre-defining band, and why punk rock is still the best form of exercise.
BV: Let's talk about the book for a second, Mark. What made you feel this was the right time for an autobiography?
Marky: Well, it took five years in the making, and the process of writing it was a year and a half. I read all the Ramones books, and there were a lot of exaggerations, and I just wanted to clear them, so in my book I did. I just don't like when people try to change history for their own reasons. I'm not gonna mention names. I'm just saying that I believe what happened happened and that's what happened. To change history for one's idea of sensationalism I think is wrong. On the Internet, especially these days, a blog or a writer can say anything and then everybody believes that, y'know what I'm saying? I'm sure you've experienced that. That's where a lot of people unfortunately get their news. In my book it's my whole life story beginning with the music scene plus growing up in Brooklyn, New York, and then later on after me, Johnny, and Joey decided to retire in '94 and then our last show was in '96. It's a lot more informative. Obviously it has a lot to do with time being in the band for fifteen years and doing 1700 shows. I absorbed everything and what you read, that's the result.
January 9, 2015
Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, no stranger to authoring books, is releasing a new memoir on February 24 via Dey Street Books called Girl In A Band, presumably named for the ill-advised question female musicians are often asked in interviews that Kim sarcastically sang about on "Sacred Trickster" ("What's it like to be a girl in a band? I don't quite understand!"). She's now announced a book tour in support of it, which has her being interviewed by different people at each stop.
The tour begins around release day, with two NYC appearances. First, she'll be at Brooklyn's Greenlight Books/BAM Cinematek on February 23 with Margaret Bodde (executive producer of a 2011 George Harrison documentary), and then at The Strand on February 24 with novelist/Vanity Fair contributing editor Elissa Schappell. To get into the Strand date, you need to purchase a copy of the book or a $15 Strand gift card. Stay tuned for more info on the Greenlight Books date.
Other stops on the tour will have Kim interviewed by Carrie Brownstein, Aimee Mann, Jon Wurster, Sub Pop's Bruce Pavitt (who also just released a book), and more. All dates are listed below...
January 2, 2015
by Bill Pearis
I do not read as many books as I'd like (or should) but I did manage to finish a couple of post-punk related memoirs over the holidays, both of which I highly recommend. The first was Viv Albertine's Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys. Albertine was guitarist in The Slits, who also dated Mick Jones pre-Clash (and during), and later became a filmmaker (and a solo artist). While her being in The Slits is what got me to read the book, there's definitely much more to it than music, including her heartbreaking attempts to have a child (which she finally did, her daughter is now 15). It's also funny, very frank and you don't even have to know who The Slits were at all to find it compelling. Highly recommended.
The other book I read was The Big Midweek, Steve Hanley's recounting of his 20 years as bassist in The Fall. While the Fall's frontman Mark E Smith is known his revolving door policy on bandmembers, Hanley was the rock during the band's most prime years. (His brother, Paul, was on drums, for many of them). Hanley's a level-headed and very funny man, and the book goes from his pre-Fall teenage years, through joining the band, countless tours, countless Mark E Smith girlfriends/wives, multiple bust-ups, trips to Iceland and America, dozens of other band members, and the infamous onstage fight at NYC club Brownies in 1998 that ended his two decades in the band. You also get some insight on The Fall's songwriting process (and MES's often inscrutable lyrics). Maybe not for the casual Fall fan, but The Big Midweek is very well written with more than a few laugh-out-loud moments and is miles better than your average rock memoir (Bernard Sumner, I'm looking at you).
In related news, the writing of The Big Midweek reconnected Hanley with Brix Smith-Start, who was guitarist (and MES' wife) during The Fall's most high-profile (and I say best) years in the mid-'80s -- the ones which gave us such classic albums as The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall and This Nation's Saving Grace. She and the Hanley brothers are playing together now as Brix & The Extricated, doing songs from their years together in The Fall. Their first-ever show was for The Big Midweek's release party last month in Manchester. The set included "Big New Prinz," "2x4," "Cruiser's Creek," "Lay of the Land" and "L.A." which there's video of (and "2x4") below. Brix & the Extricated are playing UK shows this year, and those dates are listed below...
December 4, 2014
Lookout! Records pop punk vets The Mr. T Experience haven't released an album since 2004, but this week they dropped a new song, "King Dork Approximately," that you can stream below. The song shares a name with MTX frontman Dr. Frank Portman's new book, which is the sequel to his previously released King Dork. The book comes out on December 9 and can be ordered here.
To celebrate the release, Dr. Frank is having a release party in Oakland on Sunday (12/7) and another in NYC the day it comes out. The one in NYC happens at Housing Works, and will feature him playing live. Joining Frank is the always busy comedian Chris Gethard, punk everywhere-man Mikey Erg, musician/writer Zachary Lipez (Publicist UK, Freshkills), former MTX member Joel Reader, and a handful of other writers including Emily Gould, Jami Attenberg, Beth Lisick, Gayle Forman, Liz Prince and Maeve Higgins. The event starts at 7 PM and admission is free.
Stream the new Mr T Experience song below...
October 22, 2014
The Strand is a NYC institution, selling "18 miles of books" for 87 years. They've just announced that some of that yardage will now be devoted to vinyl:
We cater to bibliophiles, now we need to cater to audiophiles. Stop by Strand's main floor and basement to browse some of our carefully selected LPs. You'll find 140gram,180gram, and colored vinyl, classic rock LPs from The Beatles to the Rolling Stones, contemporary artists like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Modest Mouse, and Fleet Foxes, not to mention all the classic R&B, Blues, and Jazz that you've been craving to hear in high-fidelity. So sit back, put the needle to the groove and crack open your favorite book from the Strand.You can check out their (what looks to be new) wares at The Strand's website too which also sells music related readables like The Pitchfork Review and Bob Stanley's great Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop.
October 3, 2014
by Bill Pearis
As mentioned, New Order singer Bernard Sumner has just released autobiography Chapter & Verse (which some retailers are listing the title as Divided Joy: Chapter & Verse) that goes from his childhood through his time in Joy Division and New Order, including his contentious relationship with ex-bassist Peter Hook. Billboard has a review of the book up today, written by... Peter Hook who, unsurprisingly, didn't think much of it and found "a disappointing lack of revelation and attention to detail." An excerpt:
Reading the book I began to wonder if Bernard ever had an argument with anyone who wasn't called Peter Hook? He neglects to remember that in 1993 he fell out with Steve and Gillian over an interview where they said they wrote most of Republic. Bernard went mad and refused to speak to them or work with them again. He used to fall out with Rob [Gretton, the band's now-deceased manager] all the time -- mainly about money -- and he used to fall out with Tony [Wilson, the late co-founder of Factory Records] all the time too. Yet, according to Chapter And Verse, he's never had an argument or a mardy strop with anyone but me? Come on Barney....Read the rest at Billboard. Hook, who is also writing a memoir about New Order, says he did enjoy the parts about Sumner's youth in Manchester borough of Salford. The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club, Hook's memoirs of the famed Manchester club New Order owned with Factory Records, is an entertaining read, honest and funny, recommended. He's also written a memoir on Joy Division, which I keep meaning to pick up.
In my opinion, the thing that he hated in New Order is that there was someone who would not go along with everything he wanted to do. We banged heads all the time and always have done ever since we started out. That's what always made our music so exciting and intense.
New Order, minus Hook, have signed with Mute and will release a record sooner than later. Meanwhile, Peter Hook & the Light will be touring soon, playing New Order's Low-Life and Brotherhood in full, stopping in NYC at Irving Plaza on November 7. Tickets are still available.
October 2, 2014
Best known by your dad as shady lawyer Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad, comedy fans know Bob Odenkirk as one-half of Mr Show, a writer on SNL, and all-around secret weapon character actor. Bob's about to release his first book, titled A Load of Hooey, which is out next week (10/7) via McSweeny's. From the back of the jacket:
This book, his first, is a spleen-bruisingly funny omnibus that ranges from absurdist monologues ("Martin Luther King, Jr's Worst Speech Ever") to intentionally bad theater ("Hitler Dinner Party: A Play"); from avant-garde fiction ("Obituary for the Creator of Madlibs") to free-verse poetry that's funnier and more powerful than the work of Calvin Trillin, Jewel, and Robert Louis Stevenson combined.Bob will be going on the road to promote A Load of Hooey, including a show in NYC on November 9 at Gramercy Theatre. Tickets are on sale now and come with a copy of the book. That's part of the NY Comedy Festival. Earlier that day, Bob will be signing books at McNally Jackson Books in SoHo (95 Prince St., 1 PM).
As you may know, Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul is set to premiere in February 2015. AMC will debut a Better Call Saul music video this Sunday (10/5) at 7:15 PM. The song was cowritten by series creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould with Breaking Bad composer Dave Porter and is performed by country singer Junior Brown. So set those alarms/DVRs. UPDATE: Here is the music video!
All Bob Odenkirk book tour dates are listed below...
September 24, 2014
Thurston Moore at Prospect Park in 2010 (more by Lori Bally)
The ninth annual NY Art Book Fair is happening from September 26-28 at MoMA PS1 with a preview being held the evening of September 25. The preview features a live set from Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and his collaborator James Nares, as well as a DJ set from MEN/Le Tigre's JD Samson. That goes from 6-9 PM, and at 7 PM Thurston will be in PS1's lobby signing copies of his new chapbook of lyrics from his new album The Best Day. Skater/poet Mark Gonzalez will also be there for the launch and signing of Non Stop Poetry, his collection of over 145 of his zines. That's about a month before Thurston's tour with PCPC.
The fair will feature over 350 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions and independent publishers from 28 countries. Here's more details:
This year's NY Art Book Fair includes an ever-growing variety of exhibitors - from the zinesters in (XE)ROX & PAPER + SCISSORS and the Small Press Dome representing publishing at its most innovative and affordable, to rare and antiquarian dealers offering out-of-print books and ephemera from art and artist book history. NYABF-classic Friendly Fire focuses on the intersections of art and activism, and with the support of the Norwegian Consulate General in New York, the NYABF and Printed Matter presents NORWAY FOCUS: KUNSTNERBØKER, a curated selection of 23 Norwegian booksellers, institutions, artists and independent publishers.The fair is FREE and open to the public.
NYABF14 is also host to an array of programming and special events: now in its sixth year, The Classroom is a curated engagement of informal conversations, workshops, readings, and other artist-led interventions. The Contemporary Artists' Book Conference (CABC), now in its seventh year, features two full days on emerging practices and issues within art-book culture. The stage at the top of the stairs will have continuous musical performances programmed by Printed Matter, Showpaper, and Know-Wave Radio.
On the Saturday (9/27), there will also be more live music at PS1 during the fair, this time from I.U.D. (aka Lizzi Bougatsos of Gang Gang Dance and Sadie Laska of Growing), Prince Rama, Psalm Zero, Ratking, Junglepussy, Juiceboxxx, King Concubine, Dark Sister, Trollkrem, Fortunate Dad and onre more TBA.
More details on the art fair below...
September 18, 2014
The Brooklyn Academy of Music has announced:
Bestsellers, trend-setters, celebrities, visual wizards, and story-tellers converge at BAM in three wide-ranging, one-night-only events in the winter of 2015. Filmmaker Miranda July discusses her debut novel with Lena Dunham; legendary cartoonists Matt Groening and Lynda Barry compare storyboard ideas; and authors Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler present a no-holds-barred evening of camaraderie.The exact schedule is listed below:
Tickets go on sale September 29 (September 22 for Friends of BAM). For ticket information call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100 or visit www.BAM.org.
September 12, 2014
Mountain Goats main man John Darnielle has always been a storyteller, it's a wonder he's never written a book before now. Yet Wolf In White Van is his first novel. It's out on Tuesday (9/16) via Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and here's the synopsis:
Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of Trace Italian--a text-based, role-playing game played through the mail--Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America.You can listen to Darnielle read an excerpt from Wolf In White Van's audiobook below. You can also hear him read from it in person as Darnielle starts a book tour next week, starting in NYC on Monday (9/15) at Le Poisson Rouge with John Hodgman there to, presumably, coax anecdotes out of him. Doors are at 6:30 PM, it starts at 7:30 and it's free to attend. As for what to expect, here's John himself:
Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tunneling toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.
Dear anybody whose question "will there be a book tour?" I have seemed to ignore, please know that I was not ignoring you, but that there was a plan to tell people about the tour I'll be doing for Wolf In White Van. I am constitutionally predisposed to call this plan a dark and evil plan, but honestly I don't see how going places and reading from my book can really be thought of as dark and evil, though I will do my best...All John Darnielle book dates are listed, along with the audio excerpt stream, below...
...it seems probable that a number of people who like our music will also be interested in the book, but for purposes of clarity be advised that I am leaving my guitar at home for this one and will play no songs on this tour, though I can't promise that Mr. Hodgman and I won't do an a capella chorus or two of "Sing a Song About Love", or possibly "We Bite."
See you out there!