1/16/2009

Book Reviews

Beach at the Cottage



Book reviews, who wants to read some wankers book review. Well maybe you do!

I read a hell of a lot. My idea of retirement is sitting on the dock reading books all day long. So anyways I get a lot of books from family and friends. This Christmas it was Chapters gift card, with which I went and bought "Iggy Pop: Open Up And Bleed" by Paul Trynka and then a co-worker gave me Anthony Kiedis "Scar Tissure".

I started reading "Open Up And Bleed" on the Monday after Christmas, and I admit looking at Iggy/Jim Osterberg's early life was pretty boring. The time with the Stooges and the breakup of the band were just not interesting, it was like the author was retelling snippets of information that he had been given without really tying them together. It was a hard read, I spent more time putting this book down then reading it. In fact I read Naomi Novik's latest book "Victory of Eagles" and "Scar Tissue" before I came back to Iggy.

Once I finished those books I picked it up again it became fascinating, the whole Bowie friendship, the time in Berlin, recreating himself from a drugged out has been to a driven, creative artist. Getting dry or at least keeping himself straight when he needed to. Iggy toured more often than I can list, he toured with his worst albums and his best. He toured to make money, he toured to create a fan base for his music which was light years ahead of anyone else. References to early New York and London punk bands, "Search and Destroy" being a staple of auditions. The Pistols covering "No Fun". Iggy/Jim helped revolutionize modern music.

I ended up not being able to put this book down and was engrossed with the two people that inhabited the body Jim Osterberg / Iggy Pop. Jim seems to be a controlled intelligent man with insights into multiple worlds. Where as Iggy is this self destructive monster, that takes over the body when and where it wants to. Dragging Jim into uncontrolled acts of destruction on himself and everyone around him. The most telling quote in the whole book is from page 303

"In June 1996 Guren (Bob Guren) flew over to London for the much-feted show that saw Iggy share bill with the newly reunited Sex Pistols, whose rise Gruen had documented twenty years before. Gruen and Jim had exchanged a few words that afternoon, and a couple of minutes before Jim was due to go onstage, Gruen saw him walk over to a quiet corner. The photographer was about to go up and offer some encouragement when Art Collins (IggyJim's Manager) motioned him aside and warned him "I wouldn't do that now." As Gruen looked on, he saw Jim immersed in some kind of deep-breathing exercise, "and then, suddenly, it was like watching the Hulk, when some normal person, the secret identity, turns into this incredible creature." Gruen watched wave after wave of an almost inhuman energy surge through him: "You could see him become larger and more powerful; Jim had become Iggy and taken on all this mass, this power. And you just knew it was time to stay out of the way and not get anywhere near where he'd be"

The question that the book leaves me with is Iggy just a character that Jim plays and has conned people with for over 40 years or is Jim living with two personalities. I don't think I want to even guess. I just love his music.

I can say take the time to read "Iggy Pop: Open Up And Bleed", you might find it dry to begin, but it's worth it.
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Now for " Scar Tissue",
I know this book has been around for a while. Main reason why I haven't picked it up was I had heard it was mostly about who Anthony fucked this day and how much drugs he had done. I wasn't to disappointed, that is what almost all of it was, until you start realising there is a deeper theme running through the Biography. Even though you get some great sex stories, a real look at a hard partying band on tour, Anthony always comes back to the base line of every mistake he made was his own and his responsibility (and I mean he made some massive mistakes, destroying relationships, his body, irresponsible actions that harmfully affected others not just himself). He comes off being really not a very nice guy. His treatment of John Frusciante, though it may not seem harsh to many, it can be destructive to a fragile ego.

If you gloss over the sex (you may not want to, some of it is pretty good) Anthony goes on to explain his background, how he became who he is, how he and Flea came together to form the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the breakups, the deaths, the joy of making music and the tragedy of a man being sucked down into addiction.

The whole book seems to be part of his recovery from addiction and how he treated the people around him. At the end you discover a almost normal healthy person who sets up the chairs for his AA meetings, helps others who are trying to recover and is living each day to its fullest.
A telling quote is when he is talking about composing the lyrics to "Give it Away" on page 273.

Anthony is visiting his friend Nina Hagen and mentioned that he liked a certain exotic jacket in her closet. " Take it. You can have it." she said. "Whoa, I can't take this. This is the nicest jacket you have in there." I said. "That's why I gave it to you," She explained. "It's always important to give things away; it creates good energy. If you have a closet full of clothes, and you try to keep them
all, your life will get very small. But if you have a full closet and someone sees something they like, if you give it to them, the world is a better place"


Anthony goes on to describe how the band brings the music together with the interaction between the band jamming and his reactions to the music being created. In fact you get a very close look at the creative process with Chili Peppers, the music being created and then lyrics being added. It was quite interesting, but seems to be close to chaos, though the results seem to justify the means.

If you haven't read "Scar Tissue" yet, I think you might enjoy it, but hey what do I know.

I do know that if you like Fantasy and Historical Fiction you will love Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. Go out and pick up this series now!

Here are a couple of my favourite tunes by each artist. Go out and buy the CD's, purchase the MP3, or even better try to find the vinyl.

Enjoy

Iggy Pop - I am a Passenger - Lust For Life - buy
Iggy Pop - I'm Bored - New Values - buy
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Give It Away - Blood Sugar Sex Magik - buy
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Knock Me Down - Mothers Milk - buy

2 comments:

Rob (Inukshuk Adventure) said...

Thanks for your comment.
Glad you enjoyed the interview, sorry it made you yearn for the Muskokas, or perhaps the fond memories are comforting.

Have a great weekend.

Dale said...

I'd heard the Nina Hagen story and think of it every time I hear the song. It also reminds me of taking my younger sister to see her once at the Concert Hall and Nina scaring the shit out of her, haha. Nice reviews.