I was supposed to post this a couple of weeks ago. But, better late than never I guess. It’s time to once again discuss what I’m reading and what I’m thinking while I’m reading what I’m reading. This is the month when I finally say, “Fuck it, I’m just reading books by comedians and oral histories about the music business.”
Attempting Normal by Marc Maron -240 pages
I wrote about my full Maron immersion a few weeks ago. What I liked about this book and his previous one, the Jerusalem Syndrome, is that the stories he tells on his podcast line up with the stories he writes about in the books. Nothing gets altered or exaggerated for effect. He’s also a great technical writer. Each individual essay is full of great turns of phrase.
That’s about all I can say about Marc Maron on SCP without him getting a restraining order. Let’s move on.
VJ by Mark Goodson, Martha Quinn, Alan Hunter and Nina Blackwood- 336 pages
Here’s the oral history of the beginning of MTV, written by four of the original five VJ’s. The fifth, JJ Johnson, is dead, thus making him unavailable to participate. I was expecting cool stories about early 80’s rock, from the perspective of people who were there to watch it happen. What I got was the life stories of 4 people I don’t particularly care about who only tangentially mentioned people like Madonna, Springsteen and every other major rock act of the decade. Basically, Goodson is a dick who, at the time when MTV was the biggest thing in the world, thought he was way more famous than he actually was. And, while he now admits he was a terrible guy during that time period, he still seems convinced that he was way more famous than he actually was. Nina Blackwood was, and is, a weirdo. Martha Quinn and Alan Hunter seem semi-normal.
Here’s a weird personal coincidence. The first book I read this year was the autobiography of long time New York DJ Carol Miller. She was married to and then divorced Mark Goodson during his time as an MTV VJ. What are the chances that two barely famous people who were once married to each other would both write books about their lives in the same year. And what are the chances that I would end up reading both of them?
Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan- 288 pages
Jim Gaffigan is a funny standup. This is a book of essays about his experience raising five young kids in a two bedroom walkup apartment in New York City. I once saw Jim Gaffigan and his family on the subway. They seemed like a normal family. He and his son got off at one stop. His wife and their kids got off a few stops later. It didn’t seem like anyone on the train but me knew that he was a famous person. This is a phenomenon I have come to call being “Justin famous.” That descriptions applies to the various writers, comedians, minor actors and professional bench warmers that I see on the street during my various journeys throughout New York. They are people that I like and get very excited about seeing, but the vast majority of the population has no idea who they are. Other “Justin famous” people I’ve seen on the street include Chuck Klosterman, the guy that played James on Spin City and former Yankee reliever Jeff Nelson. Anyway, Jim Gaffigan’s fingernail were filthy!
As far as his book, I was a bit disappointed by how hacky a lot of the humor was. “Being married is hard. I’m dumb and my wife is smart. Kids are great but sometimes I hate them. I want to lie on the couch and eat bacon!”