Poisoned Heart: A Punk Rock Love Story by Vera Ramone King (Book)

It’s clear just a few pages into it, that Poisoned Heart, Vera Ramone King’s memoir of her time with Ramone’s bassist Dee Dee, was not easy to write. The book comes off as part therapy, part twisted love letter to the clearly disturbed rocker. King, who met and fell in love with the punk rocker in 1977, just before the band helped introduce punk rock to the world. Her relationship with Dee Dee lasted for decades, despite the tour bus full of baggage he brought into the relationship.

Manic depressive, violent, a struggling drug addict, but also insanely talented, the Ramone’s primary songwriter was clearly not a joy to be around. King’s memoir is revealing without being exploitive and entertaining, without sugar coating Dee Dee’s exploits. There are some amazing revelations in the book – like the fact that Dee Dee and Vera were supposed to hang out with Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen the week Nancy was stabbed to death by Sid. King’s writing, however, is a bit distracting though out with her abusive use of clichés and not so subtle habit of dropping names at any given chance. Regardless the stories are compelling. A handful of others in the band come off as unsympathetic or simply oblivious to Dee Dee’s violent abuse of Vera, with Johnny Ramone coming off as little more than a tyrant who lived to make Dee Dee miserable. The book goes into some detail on the bassist’s fatal heroin overdose in 2002, after years of sobriety. Poisoned Heart could have very easily been just another sleazy punk rock tell-all, but is handled delicately by King. The writing may be a little stilted, but the story and emotions behind them come out loud and clear.

Poisoned Heart: A Punk Rock Love Story by Vera Ramone King/Phoenix Books/167 pages/Hardcover

Vicki Pettersson – City of Souls (Book)

City of Souls is the fourth book in the Zodiac series, and the title itself shows further evolution and explication by Pettersson of eir alternate reality. The title goes by quickly, the rich prose of Pettersson going down like the sweetest drink. The story line that is weaved through this title is fleshed out but does not feel unnecessarily dragged down or wishy-washy; events, characters, and actions taken by these characters all are understandable when put to real life.

For those readers that have not had the chance to delve into Pettersson’s realm before, City of Souls focuses around Joanna Archer. This individual struggles to defeat evil (established here as Shadow), despite having inside eir part of what makes eir home city (Las Vegas) so decrepit. Where previous works in this line really showcased the depths of Shadow in Las Vegas, a child comes upon the scene that may change the entire way Archer understands the world and looks to change it.

City of Souls is a title that does not require that readers have already familiarized themselves with the preceding titles, but gives those readers that have a tremendous amount of further insight into the storyline here. In much the same way, getting a chance to sit down with City of Souls will ensure that readers will be amped up for the next title in the Zodiac series, whenever it may be destined to be released. Where I have found myself moving away from these styles of novels in the last decade or so, I find my interested piqued dramatically by City of Souls. If you are in the same boat, plop down the $8 and see exactly what you have been missing.

Rating: 8.8/10

Vicki Pettersson – City of Souls (Book) / 2009 EOS Books / 352 Pages / http://www.eosbooks.com / http://www.vickipettersson.com

Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your favorite Music Scenes – From Punk to Indie and Everything In Between by Leslie Simon (Book)

Ever wondered exactly which Haagan Dazs Henry Rollins used to work at in D.C.? Or, how about what San Francisco collective local punk rockers can visit to take classes on underwear making? Neither have I, but thank God Leslie Simon has. In what has got to be the best guide book on punk rock… well ever, rock journalist Simon answers a slew of questions never asked about punk rock and indie scenes across the U.S. in her latest book Wish You Were Here. Simon, who coauthored Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture, brings back the same snarky tone that made her last guide such a fun read. Continue reading “Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your favorite Music Scenes – From Punk to Indie and Everything In Between by Leslie Simon (Book)”

Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myth of Republican Politics By Glenn Greenwald (Book)

None of the arguments put forth by Glenn Greenwald in his latest rant against the Right, “Great American Hypocrites,” is going to come as a shock to anyone who has ever made a donation to MoveOn.org. But, that’s not to say it’s not highly entertaining read full of great argument starters. Continue reading “Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myth of Republican Politics By Glenn Greenwald (Book)”

New Brunswick, New Jersey, Goodbye: Bands, Dirty Basement and the Search for Self by Ronen Kauffman (Book)

Those looking to Ronen Kauffman’s book “New Brunswick, New Jersey, Goodbye,” hoping to find a definitive history of New Jersey’s storied hardcore and punk rock scene are better served looking elsewhere. There are mentions and anecdotes of a slew of bands from the mid-90’s scene like the Bouncing Souls, Lifetime, The Degenerics and Endeavor, but the main focus is one man’s discovery and ultimately his passion for the world of underground punk rock music. Continue reading “New Brunswick, New Jersey, Goodbye: Bands, Dirty Basement and the Search for Self by Ronen Kauffman (Book)”

Rock Bottom by Michael Shilling / Black Dogs: The Possibly True Story of Classic Rock’s Greatest Robbery by Jason Buhrmester

Writing a great rock novel is a whole lot harder than it sounds. There have been countless attempts over the years and the result is usually a collection of boring tour urban legends and rejected VH1 Behind the Music scripts. It’s a pretty big feat then that both Michael Shilling and Jason Buhrmester have managed to turn in solid rock stories just months apart from each other. Shilling’s Rock Bottom revolves around a once-promising band playing their last shows of a European tour before imploding. Continue reading “Rock Bottom by Michael Shilling / Black Dogs: The Possibly True Story of Classic Rock’s Greatest Robbery by Jason Buhrmester”

The Accountant’s Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellin Cartel

Once you get past the fact that Roberto Escobar sees his brother more as a Columbian Robin Hood rather than one of the most barbaric, nefarious drug lords… well, ever, The Accountant’s Story is actually a pretty fascinating read that’s incredibly difficult to put down once you’ve started reading. Continue reading “The Accountant’s Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellin Cartel”

Things I’ve Learned From Women Who’ve Dumped Me

An anthology about relationships written by guys sounds about as appealing as…well talking about relationships with guys. But thanks to a stellar list of authors – heavy on comedians like Jon Stewart, Patton Oswalt, Stephen Colbert and Will Forte – and the comedy-prone topic of getting dumped, makes the task that much more compelling. The essays are offered as lessons of sorts, far from practical, but extremely funny nonetheless. Continue reading “Things I’ve Learned From Women Who’ve Dumped Me”

Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?: Insanely Annoying Modern Things

British comedic writers Steve Lowe and Brendan McArthur have made a career of sorts bitching about ‘modern conveniences’ through a collection of books. The best bits have been sandwiched into Is It Me or Is Everything Shit? with additional observations added in by Daily Show writer/American Brendan Hay. For the most, the book has some pretty hilarious, astute observations. Like their straight to the point take on Hare Krishnas: “Hare, hare Krishna/Hare hare/hare Bullshit/Bullshit/Bullshit Krishna/Hare bullshit/Bullshit hare/(Repeat).” Continue reading “Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?: Insanely Annoying Modern Things”

I Hate New Music: The Classic Rock Manifesto

Dave Thompson is the Andy Rooney of music criticism.

Bushy eyebrows aside, Thompson puts his stake in the ground early on in his latest manifesto, I Hate New Music, with the outrageous claim that rock music stopped being good sometime around 1978. Seriously. Like the aforementioned 60 Minutes alum Rooney rambling on about not getting as much coffee in the can as he did in the good old days, Thompson rant dismisses everyone from The Clash to Nirvana, choosing rather to dwell on bands like Boston and Grand Funk Railroad. Continue reading “I Hate New Music: The Classic Rock Manifesto”