Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Still Buying the Democrat Bullshit

Listen, Liberal: or What ever Happened to the Party of the People – Thomas Frank (Metropolitan Books)

Author and opinionist, Thomas Frank is out with a new political tome that has him turning his gun sites away from his traditional targets on the right and focusing his ire on the Democrat party in Listen, Liberal: or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People.

Sure to outrage lefties, anyone with an ounce of brains and common sense, aka Conservatives will see through Frank’s canard because he continues to delude himself by thinking that the Democrat party was ever “the party of the people.” I laughed out loud when I read that Frank was the founding editor of something called The Baffler (whatever that is/was) because he seems utterly baffled by reality.

Frank can’t quite resist the urge to play the smart ass liberal card when he comments on President Obama and the Clinton’s proclivities to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard claiming that “people in many parts of the country have never even heard of it.” Really?! Does this guy really buy into the liberal belief that the people in so-called “flyover country” are just a bunch of dumb clucks without the worldliness to know about Martha’s Vineyard? Now who’s the dumb ass?

Here’s a dose of reality for Mr. Frank; liberals/Democrats are not the party of the people, they are merely willing to play the class warfare card of rich versus poor, and the only reason why the rich guy is rich is because you are poor, not because he worked harder and achieved. Liberals are willing to give handouts, lie about taking Grandma’s Social Security, tell big government can solve all your problems and pretty much whatever else it takes to get elected or remain in office. In short, the Democrats are the party of bullshit and Frank is buying what they are selling. 



Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Accidental Spy

The Travelers – Chris Pavone (Crown Books)

Bestselling author Chris Pavone has accomplished an amazing feat over the course of his three fiction outings. He has offered up three very distinctly different stories that all have a common thread; they all are not only well crafted, full of characters who run the gamut from likeable to despicable they also live up to their hype by being actually pulse pounding and fast paced.

Pavone’s latest, The Travelers, is a take on the fish out of water storyline, with Will, a travel writer for a glossy magazine suddenly thrust via some bad choices and some exploits caught on video, into international intrigue. What better cover for a forced spy than being a globetrotting travel writer.

A relatively mild-mannered type, Will turns out to be anything but ordinary as he searches for answers and if there is anyone he can truly trust. Pavone will have you guessing right through the journey to the ending that will have even veteran thriller readers muttering…I did not see that coming.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Twist That Never Came

The Widow – Fiona Barton (NAL)

In the effort to seek out a fan base for a new author you will often see grand comparisons made to other successful authors or books as a way to attract attention. This can quickly become a double edged sword; if the book doesn’t really measure up to the ones it’s being compared to or it isn’t quite a perfect match, it opens the door to what may amount to unnecessary criticism.

Such may be the case for the initial fiction outing from veteran British journalist Fiona Barton. Barton’s first foray into fiction, The Widow was proclaimed to be “for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train,” and while the book is certainly at times a dark, haunting read, I kept expecting the twists and turn that the other two delivered, but they never materialized.

Barton has certainly crafted a well written tale and enjoyable read, but I found the use of multiple points of view; the widow, the detective and the reporter, bouncing around different time frames a bit disconcerting. I found myself flipping back and forth to get a grasp on where I was in both time and space.

While Barton baited the hooks along the way which kept me humming along in the story, I was left hanging as the story arrived at it’s almost obvious conclusion; the evil doer was really never in doubt.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Another Pile of Rock

Lobotomy – Surviving the Ramones – Dee Dee Ramone (DaCapo Press)

There’s a thin line between collector and hoarder and I’ve almost got my wife convinced that I fall on the side of collector. When my son reached the age of showing an interest in music he gave a longing glance at the crates upon crates upon crates of albums, singles and what I convinced myself, were neatly stacked and organized CDs.

He asked me where he should start his dive headlong into the glorious and vast world of music. Without hesitation on I slid my chair across the room and plucked the Ramones self-titled debut, some 27 years old at the time, but still a what I considered a vital building block in anyone’s journey to music fandom. Careening, powerful and raw it was a true thing of beauty as it roared out of the speakers; from that jumping off point there is a vast array of musical directions to pursue. I guessing I shouldn’t be surprised my son gravitated towards the Clash from there.


Reading the re-issued edition of Dee Dee Ramones, Lobotomy – Suriviving the Ramones brought back to the moment and to the first time I saw the Ramones live as the blasted through 27 songs in 75 minutes. I you’re expecting a piece of literary work, offering deep insights, then I have to question your sanity. Dee Dee serves up a fly by the seat of your pants look into his world, from his often twisted perspective, at nearly the same velocity as the band served up its music.

His book and his world moved at a blistering pace and he serves it up warts and all style. When he details his decent into the New York music scene it seems amazing that the avatars of what would become punk rock got their start in pink patent leather and silver lame’ of the glam/glitter rock movement.

Dee Dee is often brutally honest, especially when he seems to scratch his head in wonderment over the fact that he became a rock star.

Trouble Boys – The True Story of the Replacements –Bob Mehr (DaCapo Press)

Veteran music writer and author Bob Mehr serves of an amazingly intimate portrait of the Minneapolis based power pop band the Replacements, who are easily on e of the most talented, most misunderstood and at time misguided rock bands of all time in Trouble Boys – The True Story of the Replacements.

Mehr immerses himself in his subject matter without coming off as some fan boy. Anyone who is a fan of the band knows so much of what the band was all about was based on the inner workings of their relationships with each other. There is a striking similarity to all of the band member’s upbringings; troubled childhoods, abuse, and a powerful attraction to music that brought them all together.

While the band’s front man, Paul Westerberg is often cited as a influential musical force, Mehr makes the case that it was the frenetic nature of the four member’s relationships that somehow added a raw edge to the finished work and upped the ante for the band’s influence on other artists.

There is also a detectable level of sadness infused throughout Trouble Boys; almost a longing for what could have been, about what was lost along the way and a bit of frustration that these four guys couldn’t quite manage to pull it all together and a achieve the level of greatness that they were so poised to achieve.

Small Town Talk – Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix & Friends, in the Wild Years of Woodstock – Barney Hoskyns – (DaCapo Press)

After the recent passing of Eagles founder Glenn Frey, I soldiered through the seemingly never ending (3 hours and 17 minutes!) History of the Eagles on Netflix. Aside from the nostalgic trip through the band’s oft-troubled history, there was a bit of focus placed on the musical hot bed of the Laurel Canyon scene that spawned the likes of Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and many others.

At around the same time on a completely opposite end of the country, there was a similar hot bed of music occurring in Woodstock, New York. Woodstock…one of the great misnomers of rock music history. The generation shifting music festivals occurred some sixty miles away from the idyllic town located in the Catskills Mountains of New York State. But it was in that town that that gathering of musical genius was taking place.

It is that story that music historian and author Barney Hoskyns is focuses on in his latest effort Small Town Talk – Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix & Friends, in the Wild Years of Woodstock. It struck me that Hoskyns managed to bring the Southern California music scene into the same focus in his earlier work Hotel California, which I have not read, but I couldn’t get past the synergy at play here.

Hoskyns write with a clear cut knowledge of his subject matter; he has the ability to delve deeply into his subject matter and engage those involved in the story he is seeking to tell to gain a level of trust to the point that they share inside details of the times and the characters involved in the story, making the tale ultimately accessible.

The impact of the town, the surroundings, the studios that sprung up seemingly overnight and the influence of Dylan’s first manager, Albert Grossman can be felt not only throughout the story, but throughout music history. Much like it’s West Coast sister, the interactions both musical and personal that occurred in and around Woodstock have left a lasting impression in the music.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Hang On for the Twists and Turns

The Samaritan: A Novel – Mason Cross (Pegasus Books)

There is a serial killer plying his trade on the streets of the City of Lost Angels and as the body count rises the killers signature, a jagged knife wound to the neck, connects the dots to other murder across the United States, there’s no telling how high the body count might go.

That is where Mason Cross’ protagonist, Carter Blake, the mysterious stranger with a particular set of skills; the ability track and hunt down men and predict there next moves comes into play. The Samaritan, Cross’ follow up to The Killing Season packs all the punch of a stiff shot to the gut and enough dizzying twists and turns that it’s sure to keep you guessing right to the final chapters.

Others have compared Blake to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and it’s easy to see why when you ponder the fact that both share an ability to track down the truth all the while baring a striking resemblance to the people they are hunting. Blake clearly fills the bill of The Samaritan enough to bring him squarely into the cross hairs of the law enforcement types investigating the case.

If your anything like me and you pride yourself on the ability to figure out the mystery of the story, then you may end up kicking yourself in the end for missing the hints Cross sprinkles in a seemingly stingy manner along the way.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Wellth – A Personal Journey

Wellth – How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Resume – Jason Wachob (Harmony Books)

There has been a notable evolution that has transpired over the last few decades. It wasn’t that long ago that we saw the greed is good, those that die with the most toys wins lifestyle and pursuit of material things as a way of life. Gradually over time there has been a steady transition in the way we perceive our lives and phrases like “work life balance” have begun to creep into the lexicon.

The movement has blossomed into cultural shift and in its wake has developed a lifestyle industry based around those changing attitudes, that focuses on health, wellness, diet and the choices that we make for ourselves and our families.

The hard chargers among us may view this as a bunch of touchy feely mumbo jumbo; the self-help movement come to life in a world that abounds with connectivity, smart phones and a web presence. One of the movers and shakers of this new paradigm is Jason Wachob, founder and CEO of the web outpost,

Wacob serves up his first book in the form of Wellth – How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Resume. Part memoir and part theory of what a new definition of what a successful, balanced life might look like. I think Wacob makes the case that there is no one size fits all, plug and play solution that anyone can tap into and this process is truly a personal journey.

Wellth doesn’t come off and a prescriptive to do list; a treasure map that will lead you to your ideal life, but rather an overview or guidepost that you can utilize or not in this journey we call life.