Book Reviews – October 2010

Coffee, Tea or Kool-Aid: Which Party Politics Are You Swallowing?
Erin McHugh
Street: 09.10
This book is a great read for anyone who is interested in, but could not really give a fuck about what’s going on in our “democracy” at the moment. It’s funny seeing how all the new political parties are being described in this read, and from what I can understand about the new parties, we are basically in the same boat with a few new names. I love tea, especially licorice tea, but for the most part the tea party’s antics are much like the ones of the Republican party, where they are still taking advantage of us “lower-middle class” people. Now the coffee party is akin to democratic procedures and protocol for the last few years—They are still trying to help the people, but it doesn’t seem like they actually are. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, but at least they are listening and trying to do constructive things. Kool-Aid is delicious no matter what flavor you prefer, and the Kool-Aid party is pretty tasty going down. With all that filler with no actual benefits or features besides being too easy to drink/formulate, though, it seems like there could be an underlying and hidden agenda with said party. There are also a bunch of fantastic graphs and statistics littered throughout this book that really help you form a positive outlook on the current situation. –Jonathon Livingstill

Henry & Glenn Forever
Tom Neely
Cantankerous Titles
Street: 05.10
The premise behind this 66-page comic anthology is so simple and genius that I don’t think anyone would’ve come up with it if not the Igloo Tornado art collective. Punk rock legends Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig, who are very special friends (if you catch my meaning), live together, do yardwork together, attend costume parties together and leave love notes for each other, all while maintaining their ridiculously manly public personas. Each page features a self-contained gag, and several artists employ their own unique styles, some of which work better than others. Scot Nobles’ contributions, consisting of a static image in which Henry spouts a piece of personal philosophy that Glenn immediately agrees with (Henry: “I wish I were a unicorn of death.” Glenn: “Me too.”) are definite highlights, as are the diary entries of both hardcore supermen. Neely’s contributions are probably the best in the book though, as they’re the most consistently funny and are actually pretty sweet most of the time as well. Non-fans probably won’t get most of the jokes (I won’t spoil it, but there’s an excellent “Last Caress” gag), but this is an awesome little time waster for the legions of Rollins and Danzig devotees. –Ricky Vigil

The Story of Island Records: Keep on Running
Suzette Newman and Chris Salewicz
Street: 09.07
All coffee table books about record labels should be this beautiful.  For the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Island Records, Newman and Salewicz have put together a tome that aims to tell the story of how the enormously successful label came into being.  Historical books, especially those that deal with an industry, tend to be big on facts, but thin on entertainment—that’s where this one really succeeds.  Rather than try to trace the origins of the company and the stories about how each artist came to find him or herself on the roster, the editors of this biography let photos and short essays weave the whole tale.  Label founder Chris Blackwell tells of being befriended by Rastafarians during an early trip to Jamaica.  His efforts to record and license reggae music for European sales led to his earliest forays into the music industry.  This led to releases by non-reggae artists.  In addition to this essay, other industry insiders write about their comings and goings in the Island empire: work that led to the release of seminal music by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Roxy Music, U2, Tom Waits, Cat Stevens and even Amy Winehouse, among others.  The short written anecdotes are punctuated with over 400 pictures from the Island archives.  The result is a gorgeous repository of information about one of the most successful and yet laid-back record labels in music history.  It will set you back almost forty bucks, but there really is no other way to educate yourself about the importance of Grace Jones to the 1980s disco club scene.  –Woodcock Johnson