Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekend Listomania (Special The Pen is Quieter Than the Guitar Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental Boswell sister Fah Lo Suee and I will be be heading to a mysterious mountain retreat to judge the third annual Susan Sarandon Movie Haiku Invitational Pro-Am.

In case you're unfamiliar with the SSMHIPA, it's a yearly conclave where Zen Masters from all over stop clapping with one hand long enough to craft the greatest three line poems inspired by Sarandon's filmography they possibly can.

The previous winners (from 2008 and '09,respectively):
"Thelma and Louse"
Great ad for Southwest road trip.
Except that last part.

Sequel idea
The pitch: "Harold and Kumar
Go to White Palace."
Obviously, I'll post the winner as soon as there is one. Or isn't, if you know what I mean.

In any event, and because things will probably be fairly quiet around here until our return, here's a fun little project to help us wile away the hours:

Best or Worst Rock Biography, Autobiography or Memoir!!!

No arbitrary rules at all, you're welcome very much, and I'm willing to give you a lot of leeway about the definition of memoir. Also -- band bios are totally kosher in this context.

And my totally top of my head Top Five is:

5. I Slept With Joey Ramone (Mickey Leigh, with Legs McNeil, 2009)

Been meaning to write about this one -- specifically, the 2010 paperback edition, with updates on the legal wrangling that followed Joey Ramone's death -- for a couple of months, but I kind of got sidetracked by the Keith Richards book. In any event, Mickey Leigh is Joey's kid brother and (as you may have gleaned from the song I posted yesterday) a genuine musical talent on his own. I figured I already knew everything I needed to know about The Ramones, but as it turns out I was wrong, and then some. Which is to say that Leigh's book is both a fascinating account of the birth of punk rock and a funny and ultimately very touching account of one the great sibling rivalries of our time. Highly recommended, even if you never went to CBGBs.

4. Wouldn't It Be Nice (Brian Wilson, with Todd Gold, 1988)

Not really bad, as these things go, i.e. it sounds like Brian's voice. But the pernicious influence of the head Beach Boys' probably evil shrink/adviser/claimer of songwriting credits Eugene Landy is all over it, and after a while you just want to find the guy and smack him.

3. Papa John (John Phillips, 1986)

A very creepy book by an apparently very creepy guy. I read this when it first came out, i.e. years before the really disquieting stuff alleged by daughter McKenzie became public, and even then there were long stretches of the thing where I felt like I needed to take a shower after finishing them.

2. Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n Roll (Nick Tosches, 1985)

Maybe not the best book ever written about rock, but certainly the funniest; Tosches deserves secular sainthood for the chapter on Jimmy "Rocket in His Pocket" Logsdon alone. I should also add that if you haven't read Dino -- his absolutely astounding portrait of the black hole of nullity that was Dean Martin -- you need to get over to Amazon pronto.

And the Numero Uno piece of revisionist crap -- we're talking so bad that its author should be rotting in hell for having written it -- clearly is...

1. The Lives of John Lennon (Albert Goldman, 1988).

Having deliberately and inaccurately attributed a racist remark to Sam Phillips in his earlier Elvis biography, thus inserting a bogus element of bigotry into the very moment of the birth of rock 'n' roll, the now mercifully forgotten Goldman was moved to pen a life of the martyred Beatle whose theme -- reiterated endlessly -- is that its author has a larger penis than the subject of his research. Truly, one of the most loathsome misuses of dead tree products in the history of publishing.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?