Friday, November 7, 2014



An early architect of punk rock’s sound, style, and fury, whose lip-curling sneer and fist-pumping persona vaulted him into pop’s mainstream as one of MTV’s first megastars, Billy Idol remains, to this day, a true rock ‘n’ roll icon.

Now, in his long-awaited autobiography, Dancing with Myself, Idol delivers an electric, searingly honest account of his journey to fame—from his early days as front man of the pioneering UK punk band Generation X to the decadent life atop the dance-rock kingdom he ruled—delivered with the same in-your-face attitude and fire his fans have embraced for decades. Beyond adding his uniquely qualified perspective to the story of the evolution of rock, Idol is a brash, lively chronicler of his own career.

A survivor’s tale at its heart, this sometimes chilling and always riveting account of one man's creative drive joining forces with unbridled human desire is unmistakably literary in its character and brave in its sheer willingness to tell. With it, Billy Idol is destined to emerge as one of the great writers among his musical peers.

Personally, I think that most of the music that came out of the 80s was pure shit! With the exception of Billy Idol that is...I've always felt that Billy was the epitome of the the great sex, drugs, & rock and roll musician/writer. For my money, first it started off with Jim Morrison, then Ronnie Van Zant, on to Steve Earle (clean and sober these days but still a top notch performer) and finally Billy I. 

Back around 2002 or 2003 when The Doors did their "reunion tour" I thought that Billy would have been the ultimate stand in for the Lizard King. Could you imagine what those concerts would have been like? All those classic Doors songs with Rebel Yell, Eyes Without A Face, Blue Highway, White Wedding, Cradle Of Love, & my personal favorite Crank Call thrown into the set. I could shit my pants just thinking about it!

So I was happy as hell when I saw that Billy would writing be his biography. And even happier when I realized that he wrote the book himself without the aid of a ghost writer! And let me tell you he is a damn fine writer! I think Billy is the writer that Jim Morrison would have been if he had decided to stick around with us a little longer.

Using a beautiful style of prose, Billy leads the reader through the early days of punk along with his band Generation X, and then continues on with a fast paced ride straight through to the recording of his current album - Kings & Queens of the Underground. And in between is all the sexual escapades, drugs, booze, motorcycle wrecks, busted up hotel rooms, lawsuits, & other acts of debauchery that you would expect from a rock star of Billy Idol's stature.

This is the story of a true rock & roll survivor that is unbelievably well written. This book is insightful, funny, sad, and surprisingly at times - somewhat spiritual.

Every true rock and roll fan will want this baby on their book shelf.

“I am hopelessly divided between the dark and the good, the rebel and the saint, the sex maniac and the monk, the poet and the priest, the demagogue and the populist. Pen to paper, I’ve put it all down, every bit from the heart.
I’m going out on a limb here, so watch my back.” —Billy Idol 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Escape from Bellevue: A Dive Bar Odyssey

(a dive bar odyssey)

Indie rock raconteur Chris Campion—one of the few patients ever to escape from Bellevue's locked ward—recalls his band's tumultuous ride, his plummet into addiction, and the strange road back to sobriety.
Chronicling more than twenty years in the life of a Long Island kid who became a hardcore fixture of Manhattan's indie rock scene, Escape from Bellevue is a coming-of-age tale like no other. As the lead singer of New York—based indie rock band Knockout Drops, Campion got a taste of fame (but, alas, no fortune) on a wild ride that lasted from the early 1980s through the 1990s.
Charting Campion's extensive experience in the music industry alongside his personal tales of struggle and survival,Escape from Bellevue puts the spotlight on the collective psychosis of twenty years spent in a rolling bacchanal. Just as the Knockout Drops reached the height of their success, having toured with headliners such as Soul Asylum and Violent Femmes, Campion began his downward spiral. Campion was eventually able to come to grips with his addictions, molding his songs and stories into a sold-out off-Broadway musical, Escape from Bellevue. Now presenting these tales in a memoir of madness and redemption, Campion once again proves to possess the creative genius of a die-hard front man.

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines
Nic Sheff was drunk for the first time at age eleven. In the years that followed, he would regularly smoke pot, do cocaine and Ecstasy, and develop addictions to crystal meth and heroin. Even so, he felt like he would always be able to quit and put his life together whenever he needed to. It took a violent relapse one summer in California to convince him otherwise. In a voice that is raw and honest, Nic spares no detail in telling us the compelling, heartbreaking, and true story of his relapse and the road to recovery. As we watch Nic plunge the mental and physical depths of drug addiction, he paints a picture for us of a person at odds with his past, with his family, with his substances, and with himself. It's a harrowing portrait -- but not one without hope.

The only reason I read either of these books is I picked up them up used and I'm a sucker for booze, dope, and prison/insane asylum escape books...Tweak I picked up at a library sale for 50 cents...Escape From Bellevue was found in the trade in section at Books A Million for 9 bucks. 9 bucks in the trade in section!! What the hell is up with you Books A Million? You probably gave some poor son of a bitch a buck in store credit and then you turn around and sell the damn thing for 9 dollars?? That's more than you normally sell new books for in your clearance stacks! But I guess that makes me the dunce for buying it from you in the first place, doesn't it.
Anyway, for a total of $9.50 I wasn't too damn impressed with either of these books. There aren't great but they weren't shit either. To start off they are both way too long..both of them could have been told in the form of a novella or a collection of short stories. 
The authors then seem to remember every time they went on a bender - from the day they took their first drink or snorted their first line until the day they got sober with all the bars they drank in, whores they banged, toilets they puked in, parents & friends they disappointed, ex-bosses they pissed off, & cops who busted them in between. Their experiences seem to go on and on and on.
Escape From Bellevue probably took me 2 months to read because I kept picking it up & putting it down before I finally finished it. Tweak I put down permanently like a sick dog after just a couple of days because overall it was told in such a dreary & dull manner that I found it just too damn depressing to finish.
Escape From Bellevue has a bunch of rave reviews on Amazon but I suspect they are friends of Mr. Campion or fans of his band, Knockout Drops. The book garners 4.7 out of 5 stars so I may be full of shit but I could have just read the chapter on how he busted out of Bellevue Hospital..the first patient to do that feat since 1963..and been good with it. By the way, it wasn't like he broke out of Alcatraz.
I did previously read Beautiful Boy which is is written by Nic Sheff's father, David Sheff. His book details his version of his son's journey through drug addiction and is an excellent read. But Tweak..well let me post a shortened version of a Amazon reader review and just leave it at that...
...Let me save you $10. Nic does drugs because he likes them. He complains about his parents divorce and how he was abandoned. He complains about his father and that he was raised more like an adult and didn't have a childhood. Then he praises his father for his parenting skills and his wonderful childhood. He can't find God. He thinks he found God. No, he can't find God. He sobers up. He relapses. He sobers up. He relapses. He is diagnosed Bipolar. Things make sense. He stops taking his meds and relapses. He has sex a lot. He hustles. He steals. He shoots up. He falls down. He shoots up some more. Complains about parents. Praises parents. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I'll keep "Beautiful Boy" but "Tweak" goes in the Salvation Army giveaway pile.

Maybe I can get some store credit for them at Books A Million.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sports, politics, and sex collide in Hunter S. Thompson’s wildly popular ESPN.com columns. From the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and father of “Gonzo” journalism comes Hey Rube.

Insightful, incendiary, outrageously brilliant, such was the man who galvanized American journalism with his radical ideas and gonzo tactics. For over half a century, Hunter S. Thompson devastated his readers with his acerbic wit and uncanny grasp of politics and history. His reign as "The Unabomber of contemporary letters" (Time) is more legendary than ever with Hey Rube. Fear, greed, and action abound in this hilarious, thought-provoking compilation as Thompson doles out searing indictments and uproarious rants while providing commentary on politics, sex, and sports—at times all in the same column. 

With an enlightening foreword by ESPN executive editor John Walsh, critics' favorites, and never-before-published columns, Hey Rube follows Thompson through the beginning of the new century, revealing his queasiness over the 2000 election ("rigged and fixed from the start"); his take on professional sports (to improve Major League Baseball "eliminate the pitcher"); and his myriad controversial opinions and brutally honest observations on issues plaguing America―including the Bush administration and the inequities within the American judicial system. 

Hey Rube gives us a lasting look at the gonzo journalist in his most organic form―unbridled, astute, and irreverent.

I like to drink Kava....

....which is the ground up roots of a plant from the western Pacific. Kava gives a delightful sedating buzz and relaxes the mind without leaving you a babbling idiot and a homicidal maniac behind the wheel like booze does. I buy my kava from Bula Kava House in Portland, Oregon which is a town I distaste. I spent a year once in that rain soaked & hippie filled city, it was like living in Gotham city. I never drank some much beer and coffee in my life but I order the kava online so I don't actually have to go there to buy it and I am getting way the hell off the trail here....

....and roam through flea markets and look at that shit that people think is valuable and sell at inflated prices even though the garbage is just the crap they found in dear old Grandma's garage or attic when they moved her into that decrepit in the bad section of town nursing home where she can wait for her check out time so they can raid her savings account next.

While digging through a pile of books that was stacked up on a ancient Hi-Fi system that had a album still on the turntable featuring the greatest hits of Don Ho I stumbled on to a first edition & mint copy of the great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's Hey Rube. I couldn't believe the fucking luck!

I've been a huge fan of HST for years. I had a Gonzo t-shirt with his famous fist, peyote, & dagger logo on it for years and wore the damn thing so much that it eventually disintegrated in the washer. I really didn't even know who he was until back in the mid-70s I caught the flick Where The Buffalo Roam starring Bill Murray....which I thought sucked then and still do....at a drive in movie in Long Beach where I was stationed at in the Navy. Long Beach is a disgusting crime filled port town and Navy housing where I lived at with my now ex-wife was located at the intersection of Santa Fe & PCH in a neighborhood so vicious & dangerous that a cabbie once refused to drive me there. Even though Buffalo was shit, the mystical draw of this drug & boozed fueled ground breaking and radical writer was planted in me as I sat there in my old VW Bug & smoked Colombian reefer and drank cold Lucky Lager...and I began to devour his writings.

Hey Rube is a collection of Hunter's articles that he wrote for ESPN.com just before and after the events of 9/11. I think they were on something called Page 2 or some other happy horseshit like that. The problem for me was back then all I had was dial up for an Internet connection and if you remember back then trying to get anything to load - porn was out of the question, movies anyway - was enough to drive a sober man to drink a bottle of Johnny Walker Red & toss down a handful of Mexican Quaaludes, so it was damn hard to ever get to read the whole article without losing your shit!

Hey Rube is half a book on sports....how boring baseball is, gambling & point spreads on the games, his love of football with the 49ers & the Raiders his two favorite teams, a great couple stories on the XFL - the defunct  and disastrous football league funded by steroid freak & WWE wrestling guru Vince McMahon, college and NBA hoops with Kentucky being his favorite team of course....and half on politics - with the Bush regime taking the hardest hits here. His take on politics is pure genius and reflects the turmoils & paranoia of the country after 9/11. This paragraph at the end of the books says it all:

This is one of the key things I learned in these years, and I learned it the hard way. Anybody who thinks "it doesn't matter who's President" has never been Drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World - or has been beaten and gassed by Police for trespassing on public property - or been hounded by the IRS for pure purely political reasons - or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts waiting to stomp your ass in the shower. Then it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted."

I don't think there will ever be another Dr. Hunter S. Thompson - I don't think anyone out there has the guts to be. And that is a goddamn shame!

Sunday, July 13, 2014




John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads “I’m Not Psycho,” he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash?
     Before he leaves for this bizarre adventure, Waters fantasizes about the best and worst possible scenarios: a friendly drug dealer hands over piles of cash to finance films with no questions asked, a demolition-derby driver makes a filthy sexual request in the middle of a race, a gun-toting drunk terrorizes and holds him hostage, and a Kansas vice squad entraps and throws him in jail. So what really happens when this cult legend sticks out his thumb and faces the open road? His real-life rides include a gentle eighty-one-year-old farmer who is convinced Waters is a hobo, an indie band on tour, and the perverse filmmaker’s unexpected hero: a young, sandy-haired Republican in a Corvette.
     Laced with subversive humor and warm intelligence, Carsick is an unforgettable vacation with a wickedly funny companion—and a celebration of America’s weird, astonishing, and generous citizenry.  AMAZON.COM

I first discovered John Waters when I was in the navy and stationed onboard the USS-Dixie AD-14. That was back before the military was so fucking politically correct. Anyway, one night they showed a flick on the ship and it was PINK FLAMINGOS!! I shit you not! I can guarantee that will never happen on a United States navy ship again! Pink Flamingos is a disgusting and insanely funny cult classic about a competition to decide who the world's most disgusting person is. 

The two most famous (or infamous) scenes in this raunchy flick are:

# 1 Divine - a 300 lb transvestite - eating a dog turd and it looks pretty damn real!


# 2 A scrawny and naked male hillbilly (these were pre-meth days but he looked like a tweeker) steps up on a picnic table, bends over, and spreads his cheeks and then sings the surfing classic - Surfin' Bird - with his sphincter. Actually his bunghole isn't really singing but it is moving to the beat. Surfin' Bird is actually performed by The Trashmen - I've always wondered if they gave the actual rights to use that tune in the film. Surfin' Bird can also be heard in Full Metal Jacket - two very different films.

Anyway, I didn't know who John Waters was when I watched that movie and most likely I was so stoned at the time I didn't pay much attention. Years later though I was watching David Letterman and he had John Waters on as a guest. Waters was brilliantly funny and really seemed to have Letterman flustered, especially when Waters pulled out a box of candy called Dingleberries. I also discovered that night that Waters was a writer and I  have been a big fan of his writing and films ever since.

CARSICK is his newest book and it is a classic. John hitchhikes from Baltimore to Frisco and documents the whole adventure. It's really a three part book. Part one is a fictional account of what could go horribly wrong on the trip. Part two, also fictional, is what could go unbelievably great! Both parts have a real Hunter S. Thompson feel and quality to them. They're fantastic! Part three is the actual account of his cross country adventure and it will have you laughing your ass off! Waters was a very experienced hitcher prior to writing this book and has an account of going on a short hitching trip with Patty Hearst and the driver who picks them up recognizes both of them! I'll bet there isn't one person he's told that story to who believes him. This son of a bitch is highly recommended!!

-Smokey DaFino   

Friday, June 20, 2014





I actually read this book because Amazon recommended it to me. I think years ago I may have had a Todd Snider CD at one time but it probably got traded in at Electric Fetus in Duluth. I recall hearing one of his tunes on the radio a couple of times and I knew that he opened for Steve Earle (my favorite singer/songwriter of all time) on a tour but that's about it. 

I bought it because supposedly Snider is a great storyteller and I found out after I got done with the book that he definitely is.

The book is a combination of a memoir, his problems with dope and alcohol, and is filled with wild and colorful characters. My favorite story is when Joe Ely and Jerry Jeff Walker take a plane to Vegas to gamble and drink after a concert. When the sun starts to rise, Ely decides to head back to his room where he crashes for about a day and a half. After waking up and showering he heads back to the casino and finds Walker sitting at the exact same blackjack table on the exact same chair. Walker looks at Ely and says "Where have you been?" Classic!!!

Highly recommended for stoners or music lovers or just someone who likes a good story.

-Scott L. Anderson

For years, Todd Snider has been one of the most beloved country-folk singers in the United States, compared to Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, John Prine, and dozens of others. He's become not only a new-century Dylan but a modern-day Will Rogers, an everyman whose intelligence, self-deprecation, experience, and sense of humor make him a uniquely American character. In live performance, Snider's monologues are cheered as much as his songs. But never before has he told the whole story. Running the gamut from personal memoir to shaggy-dog comedy to rueful memories of his troubles and triumphs with drugs and alcohol to sharp-eyed observations from years on the road, I Never Met a Story I Didn't Like is for fans of Snider's music, but also for fans of America itself: the broad, wild country that has produced figures of folk wisdom like Will Rogers, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Tonya Harding, Garrison Keillor, and more. There are storytellers and there are performers and there are stand-up comedians. And then there's Todd Snider, who is all three in one, and something else entirely....Amazon