"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bande a part: New York Underground 60's, 70's, 80's

Without a doubt i think the last big cultural explosion in the U.S. took place in New York City during the mid-20th Century. The music scene was not only intense, but also has a lasting greatness with bands like The Ramones, Television, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Heartbreakers (no not Tom), Blondie, and others. There was also things happening in the film and art world as well. "Band a part" is an excellent sampler of great images from that era. New York Dolls to R. Hell, to Warhol, to Bowie. All of it captured by photographers who were part of the wall paper that was NYC. Lee Childers, Billy Name, Anton Perich, Maripol, Roberta Bayley, Godlis, Bobby Grossman, Danny Fields, Stephanie Chernikowski, Marcia Resnick, and Gerard Malanga.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Video Vault

We've had a smorgasbord of fun events lately. Here are some highlights from David Cross, Lisa Lampanelli and fantastic slam poet, Taylor Mali.

ALSO: Stephanie Kuenhert, awesome author of Ballads of Suburbia and I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, was kind enough to send us a What's Your Story video explaining how she discovered the book Almanac of the Dead as a kid during a heatwave.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two New Art Books That Knock Me Out

Arthur Danto's fascinating yet totally accessible study on the art of Andy Warhol. It is one of those books that one picks up and has a hard time putting it down. There are many fine books on the Warhol myth and his iconic art, but Danto cuts through the bullshit and writes about what makes Warhol tick for him. Incredibly insightful, smart, and never talks down to his readers - an essential book on Warhol and his art.

I knew nothing of Steve Wolfe's artwork till I picked up this book today. Ok, if you are a book and vinyl lover you are going to love this book - because Wolfe loves the same thing as you do. And what he does is do exact reproductions of classic and cool book covers. You can smell the obsession off the pages of this book. Beautifully produced, beautifully put together - and I think this is a major work. Masterpiece.

The Impossible Dream: The Story of Scott Walker & The Walker Brothres by Anthony Reynolds

For the Scott Walker fan, this is one amazing book. For one, it focuses on the Walker Brothers years - which is early 60's to late 70's. And it does deal with the Scott solo albums of that period. Saying that this is a well-written biography of a band who was always not part of their time.

Three guys from California who decided to make fame and art in swinging 60's London. At one moment they were as huge as the Beatles, but even with that, they stood strangely from the pack. While everyone was tripping out on the merits of the Rubber Soul, Scott was getting into Jack Jones!

Scott at this time was obsessed with Foreign films, classical music, jazz, and....of course Jack Jones. He was very much of a man who was not part of his times - and to this day he is either not with the generation thing or apart from it. Yet him and his music is way ahead of almost everyone in the music world.

This is a beautifully designed book, and Reynolds did a really good job on The Walker Brothers legend. And of course since reading this book I have been spending a lot of time listening to old Walker Bros. albums, but the ones that stay with me are the Scott solo work. And his last two albums are brilliant

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Possibility of Everything

I find that most book trailers are stale to a pretty absurd degree, BUT this one for Hope Edelman's "The Possibility of Everything" really gets me excited to take a look inside when it arrives on our shelves September 15th. As Hope herself explains in the narration, it is the true story of how she, a rather rational and skeptical person, wound up traveling to see a Mayan healer in Belize in an attempt to save her young daughter from being tormented by an imaginary friend.

Take a look.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Suburban Balladeers

In the 1960s Hubert Selby, Jr. introduced us to the underbelly of the American city, the prostitutes and drug addicts, the pimps and theives.  He gave them faces, names and personalities.  On the other side of the board in the same decade, Richard Yates introduced us to the dark side of Suburbia.  He perfectly captured the discontent, the restlessness, the boredom, and the pretty face that gets plastered on all of it.  Cut to today, television shows, movies, books, stories, they all have plot lines that revolve around suburban housewives addicted to prescription pain killers, mood elevators, muscle relaxants and everything in between.  

And yet, for me, there was always something missing.  Whether I was huddled in my room reading of junkies, pimps and whores, or watching the original Beverly Hills 90210 (where the rich kids always had problems), there was an element that seemed missing to me.  My element was missing.  Where was I in these stories?  I wasn't a rich kid in Beverly Hills, I wasn't a junkie on a street corner.  I could appreciate all these stories, but could I relate to anything more than fleeting similarities?  Absolutely not.

That is, until I read Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert.  If you scroll back in the archives of this blog, you'll find my review of Ms. Kuehnert's first book, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, and as much as I loved that book, Ballads of Suburbia hits on something so raw and so unspoken that at times it was almost shocking to read.  This book doesn't shy away from the unsavory behavior of teenagers, nor does it fail to capture the extreme tragedy befalling many of America's teens as their parents cart them off to the safety of suburban wastelands.

Ballads of Suburbia bridges the gap between Yates and Selby, Jr.  It brings the dark, gritty reality of teenage culture in suburban America to the surface through a cast of characters that are hard not to love.  Like Last Exit to Brooklyn, Stephanie Kuehnert puts a face on the drug addled and disaffected youth of the quiet, tree-lined streets of Oak Park, Illinois.  Like Yates, she puts a dark and dystopic spin on the outwardly beautiful face of the suburbs.  

This book is an achievement and solidifies the place of Stephanie Kuehnert as a powerhouse writer, and one that is unafraid to tackle hard and tender issues.  I can't wait to read what she writes next.  

Happy Reading,

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tosh Talks

There is something for everyone in this episode of Tosh Talks. Are you a brooding modernist in early 1900's Italy? Try Futurism. Are you trying to start your own avant-garde art movement? Andre Breton can show you how. Interested in collage and pop music? Peter Blake is your man. Do you like naked women but find mere pornography distasteful? Check out Prestel's Erotic Sketchbooks from artists such as Klimt, Dali, Modigliani, Matisse and Degas.

Reitman to Adapt Maynard's Latest Novel

SlashFilm reveals that director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno) is in talks to develop Labor Day into a feature film.

"Maynard's inventive coming-of-age tale indelibly captures the anxiety and confusion inherent in adolescence, while the addition of a menacing element of suspense makes this emotionally fraught journey that much more harrowing," declares

Reitman's adaptation of Walter Kirn's novel Up in the Air is scheduled to hit theaters later this year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hell is damned good

Hell is not so bad, actually its quite a lively, fun place... if you're Satan that is. If you happen to be newscaster Hatcher McCord, it can be a little rough. Hatcher delivers the Evening News From Hell, forced to improvise every word since the teleprompter only displays inane obscenities, his girlfriend, headless Anne Boleyn, is obsessed with her old beau, Henry VIII, and he can only get in touch with his boss, the Devil, through voice mail.

Just as in his previous works Severance, historical figure's internal monologues the instant of their decapitation, and Intercourse, monologues of famous couples as they... couple, Butler is a master at making impossible insights come off as perfectly reasonable.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Generation A by Douglas Coupland

Eighteen years after the publication of Generation X comes the sequel to Douglas Coupland's groundbreaking novel.

Praise for Generation A:

"Coupland scatters his smartly satirical observations throughout....This is a clever, brilliant book -- and it's loads better than Generation X...funny and profound." Esquire UK

"Coupland still satirizes pop culture better than anyone. This globe-spanning tale, set in the near future, is masterfully told and often hilarious." GQ UK

Order a First Canadian Edition while they last!