Mini Book Review: 'Autobiography of Red'

Yes, it's the tale of a little gay dragon-monster discovering his purpose in life, falling in and out of love, traveling to South America, growing as an artist (photographer), and . . . Well, it's hard to explain. And the fact that it's told in the form of an epic poem may make many readers worry that the book is going to be a homework-like chore to read. But, really, it's not homework at all -- after a few pages you'll get into the rhythm of the writing and discover a funny, fast, moving, disturbing, exciting, and totally unexpected story of the highest caliber.

So don't feel daunted when you hear that the "Autobiography of Red" is an experimental and intellectual book that is, as Wikipedia puts it, "a verse novel by Anne Carson, based loosely on the myth of Geryon and the Tenth Labor of Herakles, especially on surviving fragments of the lyric poet Stesichorus' poem Geryonis." True, it's that as well, but it's also a contemporary, genre-bending, fantasy-laced, oddly relatable, and very enjoyable weekend-read that you'll remember for a long time to come.

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Mini Book Review: 'Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991'

"Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991" is one of the top rock books I've read -- funny, inspiring, well researched, and insightful all at once. Since there are already tons of reviews out there on the Internetziz that go into plenty of critical and general detail, I figured I'd just give a quick summary of what's featured in the book:

The main bands profiled: Black Flag, The Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat (Fugazi), Husker Du, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Dinosaur Jr.

Secondary subjects: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Henry Rollins, Sebadoh, Steve Albini, SST Records, K Records, Sub Pop Records, the birth of punk and hardcore and straight-edge, various `zines, underground and indie scenes, and producers, musicians, influences, etc...

Quite humorous and harrowing, with awesome insider-interviews and wacky anecdotes, including a drunken cameo by Alex Chilton (of Chris Bell, Box Tops, and Big Star fame). Put this one on your bookshelf for some serious indie cred.

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Album Review: 'Skull Ring' - Iggy's POPular comeback - running rings around modern punk

Overall, this album may not be as raw, visceral, and fresh as Iggy Pop's early work -- and some of it seems a bit forced and a few of the collaborations border on sell-out territory or the completely forgettable (I'm thinking of the Sum 41 duet especially, but that ended up being one of the album's biggest hits, so when even the cheesiest track is a hit, you know the other stuff will rock) -- but in the end it's a helluva lot a fun, rocks like crazy, and brings back a power and energy lacking from Pop's more low-key solo work of recent years.

And the Stooges are back on some tracks! Such a longed for reunion mixed with cool guest stars and lots of energy. Overall, an exciting little album. Still, where Mr. Pop still rules is LIVE ... if you ever get a chance to see him perform at a stadium, club, or outdoor show, RUN, don't walk. It'll be worth every penny, even if you've never loved his live or studio albums... watching this man onstage, even in 2004, is like a fever dream of power and vitality.

After seeing some of the "Skull Ring" tracks performed live by the reunited Iggy & the Stooges (and, lately, with the great Mike "Minutemen" Watt on bass), it becomes clear that "Skull Ring" actually fits in perfectly with Iggy's seminal punk from the early '70s... somehow, this aging dude is still knocking out new material that cuts as deeply as the old... And at it's best, "Skull Ring" stands with the classics.

For your enjoyment, here's the breakdown of Iggy Pop's "Skull Ring" collaborations. If I've left anyone out, leave a note. (Also, check out the "FatherFu****" album by Peaches for another good Iggy Pop-Peaches duet):

Little Electric Chair (with The Stooges)
Perverts In The Sun (with The Trolls)
Skull Rings (with The Stooges) {alternate title: "Skull Ring"}
Super babe (with The Trolls)
Loser (with The Stooges)
Private Hell (with Green Day)
Little Know It All (with Sum 41)
Whatever (with The Trolls)
Dead Rock Star (with The Stooges)
Rock Show (with Peaches)
Here Comes The Summer (with The Trolls)
Motor Inn (with Peaches)
Inferiority Complex (with The Trolls)
Supermarket (with Green Day)
Till Wrong Feels Right {Iggy Pop solo}
Blood On My Cool (with The Trolls)
Nervous Exhaustion (with The Trolls) {hidden bonus track}

Audio CD:

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