Sigh

Goddammit, this book came out almost nine years ago – and I completely missed it! (I blame Fat Elvis.) If’n yer curious, it’s a collection of all the interview transcripts Jon Savage used for his 1991 masterpiece, England’s Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond.

753 pages!

In The England’s Dreaming Tapes, Jon Savage has gone back to the source to re-create, in original interview form, the extraordinarily disparate and contentious personalities who emerged in the mid-70s as the harbingers of what became known as punk.

Here in uncut form is the story of a generation that changed the world in just a few months in 1976. In interviews with all the major figures of the time – including all four original Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Chrissie Hynde, Jordan, Siouxsie Sioux, Viv Albertine, Adam Ant, Lee Black Childerss, Howard Devoto, Pete Shelley, Syl Sylvain, Debbie Wilson, Tony Wilson and Jah Wobble – Jon Savage has produced a book huge in scope, vision and generosity of perspective.

The England’s Dreaming Tapes will surely become the final word and the must-have oral history of the music, fashion and attitude that defined this influential and incendiary era.

I have a sickness.

This One’s for You, Monkeystador

So there’s a British fellow named Thomas Morris. He was a BBC radio producer for 17 years, but he’s a full-time writer now – with a blargh. I’ll just let him tell it …

I began writing this blog while writing my first book The Matter of the Heart, a popular history of heart surgery … The book traces the evolution of the discipline from its origins in the late nineteenth century to the present day, and looks at some of the most exciting recent developments in the field. Researching that book entailed many hours spent reading early medical journals. These publications are full of extraordinary and often scarcely believable stories, which though irrelevant to the book seemed too good to waste. In my spare time I’ve collected some of the most quirky, bizarre or surprising cases I’ve encountered, all drawn from the pre-twentieth century medical literature.

Here’s his most recent entry (and trust me, that’s a pun), A Watch Spring, a Bean and a Clove of Garlic. And may I just add, OUCH.

Morris has a new book that I’m about to buy. It looks a bit like this …

Thief or Hermit?

Did you ever think to yourself “fuck this shit! I’m checking out of society…”? Well, this fucker up in Maine did, and he checked out for 27 years until he got caught. he basically set up camp in the woods not far from some cabins around a lake. To get by he stole food and fuel from the nearby cabins. He kinda freaked out the locals, because not one ever saw him.

Eventually he was caught in the act and went to jail for a short period of time. He just couldn’t handle society. The sad thing is that the author has now made this guy the most popular man in Maine, and it wouldn’t surprise me if someone makes a movie out of this.

I basically told you the majority of the book, but it’s an interesting story and a fast read if you want to delve a little deeper.

我在读什么

I picked up something a little different after finishing John Dies At The End. Jernigan is David Yates’s 1991 debut novel about a brilliant loser. Check out this uplifting description …

Well conceived and well written, this book examines the tragedy of a man whose life epitomizes failure on every level. A victim of circumstances, Peter Jernigan is now emotionally crippled and psychologically impoverished. His already distorted personal relationships, skewed further by a dependency on alcohol, sweep him forward, with horrifying swiftness, into a nightmarish cycle of failure, loss, and spiritual death. Bright but unsuccessful, Jernigan drifts through a bleak life that only becomes worse. He has lost his father and wife in successive accidents and now must deal with the adolescent traumas of his only son. His encounter with the divorced mother of his son’s girlfriend promises to lighten his life but instead complicates it even further. A disturbing first novel, Jernigan will cause readers, especially men, to shake their complacency and perhaps reevaluate their own circumstances.

What’s not to love?

Oh! My copy of There Was A Light: The Cosmic History of Chris Bell and the Rise of BIG STAR showed up yesterday, too. And of course, I jumped right in.

One surprising thing I’ve learned so far is that Chris Bell’s family lived in a house across the street from the one I grew up in. I missed them by about ten years, but still, what are the odds?!

There Was A Light

Today on the Please Kill Me blargh, Bruce Eaton, author of Big Star’s Radio City (33 1/3 series) chats up Rich Tupica, author of There Was A Light: The Cosmic History of Chris Bell and the Rise of BIG STAR, the recent Chris Bell biography.

Check it out here!

Just as an aside, when social media first made me aware of the Chris Bell book, I didn’t make any plans to read it. The whole thing seemed rather sketchy, a paperback written by an author I wasn’t familiar with, published by HoZac Records. I wasn’t a huge fan of that cover (it’s growing on me), and besides, it was $40.00! For a paperback! When it sold out, I figured that was that.

But since then, all I’ve seen are glowing reviews. So when I read the PKM piece this morning, I checked the HoZac site for a status update. Second printing is shipping now, and I’ve got a birthday coming up.

After FIVE solid years of painstaking research and hard work, Rich Tupica’s epic tome on the deep end of the BIG STAR story is ready. At 400+ pages, There Was A Light is stocked with a wealth of previously-unseen color photos, personal ephemera from the Bell family’s archive, as well as everything Ardent Studios could jam in, it’s nothing short of breathtaking stuff! Starting with intense coverage of Bell’s childhood bands and continuing deep into his post-Big Star solo work, this book delves into the details beyond the documentary, distilling countless hours of minutiae into a riveting oral history of one of rock’n’roll’s most beloved cult bands, and a trip through Memphis underground music history like no other.

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
I look like a monkey
And snobby rock books ain’t free

Reading Is Fundamental

What are any of you bastards reading these days? Believe it or not, I put down the band bios for a minute and I’ve been enjoying the hell out of John Dies At The End. It’s got kind of a MIB vibe, if the agents were a couple of twenty-something college dropouts.

In this reissue of an Internet phenomenon originally slapped between two covers in 2007 by indie Permutus Press, Wong — Cracked.com editor Jason Pargin’s alter ego — adroitly spoofs the horror genre while simultaneously offering up a genuinely horrifying story. The terror is rooted in a substance known as soy sauce, a paranormal psychoactive that opens video store clerk Wong’s — and his penis-obsessed friend John’s — minds to higher levels of consciousness. Or is it just hell seeping into the unnamed Midwestern town where Wong and the others live? Meat monsters, wig-wearing scorpion aberrations and wingless white flies that burrow into human skin threaten to kill Wong and his crew before infesting the rest of the world. A multidimensional plot unfolds as the unlikely heroes drink lots of beer and battle the paradoxes of time and space, as well as the clichés of first-person-shooter video games and fantasy gore films. Sure to please the Fangoria set while appealing to a wider audience, the book’s smart take on fear manages to tap into readers’ existential dread on one page, then have them laughing the next.

Get Me This

Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made

He read hundreds of books on the man and broke the information down into categories “on everything from his food tastes to the weather on the day of a specific battle.” He gathered together 15,000 location scouting photos and 17,000 slides of Napoleonic imagery.

He would shoot the film in France and Italy, for their grand locations, and Yugoslavia, for their cheap armies. These were pre-CG days, and he arranged to borrow 40,000 Romanian infantry and 10,000 cavalry for the battles. “I wouldn’t want to fake it with fewer troops,” he said to an interviewer at the time, “because Napoleonic battles were out in the open, a vast tableau where the formations moved in an almost choreographic fashion. I want to capture this reality on film, and to do so it’s necessary to recreate all the conditions of the battle with painstaking accuracy.”

You could make it yourself if you want, as every single bit of information pertaining to the project has recently been published in the form of a book called Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made. 

Please Kill Me Radio Documentary

And if you haven’t read the book, we can’t be friends anymore.

Please Kill Me: Voices from the Archives
Two one-hour documentaries that explore an America that birthed the new order of today.

20 years ago journalists and music historians Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil recorded interviews with the icons of Punk for their New York Times best-selling book “Please Kill Me – The Uncensored History of Punk.” Now, these rare, candid interviews have been meticulously restored for Public Radio and compiled to create an oral history of the Punk movement in Please Kill Me – Voices From the Archives.

The stories of these bands are more than music, they’re the cultural evolution of America:
the end of the 60s
the ferment of the 70s
Watergate to the Women’s Movement.

Part One -The Pioneers of Punk
How the Warhol 60’s morphed into the Punk 70’s, marginalized inhabitants of a near-bankrupt New York City, changed 20th century culture, and influenced the World.

Part Two – The Punk Invasion
The music of the Velvet Underground, Iggy and the Stooges,The New York Dolls, and others were meeting fierce resistance in the US. With no other options open to them, during the July 4rth weekend of 1976, as America was celebrating it’s bicentennial, the Ramones went to London and launched punk rock. In England, punk would explode and become a cultural force to be reckoned with.

Features exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, the Ramones and many more.

Back in Print!

Ian Hunter’s Diary of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star is back in print, as of this past August. Out of print copies can go for three figures on Amazon, although one is currently listed at $3,214.79 on some site called Books on Demand. (More like Dealer on Drugs.) Anywho, the new paperback is $17.25. Cheap!

Ian Hunter’s Diary of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star has received a litany of plaudits and been described as “an enduring crystallization of the rock musician’s lot, and a quietly glorious period piece” by The Guardian. A brutally honest chronicle of touring life in the 1970s, and a classic of the rock writing genre, Diary of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star remains the gold standard for rock writing. This edition includes new content from Hunter and a foreword from Johnny Depp.

Great article and interview in The Guardian here.

BONUS! Because I really wanna hear this song now.

It All Began As a Summer Vacation …

Burnt Offerings, the 1973 inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, was made into a movie in 1976 starring Burgess Meredith, Bette Davis, Oliver Reed, and Karen Black. I’m almost certain it’s one of those horror flicks that scared the everliving shit out of me when it aired on network television back in the day.

The story concerns a family who moves into an old house that regenerates itself by twisting the life force of the occupants who become violent and either kill each other or are killed off while the member of the household who becomes possessed by the spirit of the house survives and becomes a sentinel (in this case “elderly Mrs. Allardyce”), awaiting the next family to be lured once the powers of the existing sentinel wear down and a successor must be found.

We watched it on Amazon Prime the other night – for nostalgia more than anything. It’s pretty slow by today’s standards, but suitably creepy. I kinda want to read the book now, which is recently back in print.