from the stacks: May


Books Bought, Got, or Borrowed


Love Is A Mixed Tape: Life and Loss, One Song At A Time

-Rob Sheffield


-William Kennedy

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea


 Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang

-Chelsea Handler

Modern Baptists

-James Wilcox

Tropic of Cancer

-Henry Miller


-Robert Harris

Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock n’ roll, and Mental Illness

-Mary Forsberg Weiland w/Larkin Warren


Books Read


Bite Me

-Christopher Moore


-William Kennedy

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

-Chelsea Handler

The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness

-Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories From History and The Arts (A-D)

-Clive James

Modern Baptists

-James Wilcox


Line sitting and state skipping are the contexts in which I engaged two of the readings that I got around to this month. This year’s Cinco de Mayo reading proved to be noteworthy at least in as much as I KNOW that I was reading on Cinco de Mayo. Not gonna lie, as holidays go the 5th of May has never made a huge impression on my life. That is, until this year. My May 5, 2010 was spent for the most part in line waiting for a not so secret Jane’s Addiction show! The band announced the weekend before the show that they would be hosting a surprise gig. Turns out, the show was on the 5th at the Bardot in Hollywood. By and large it was a private show that the band decided to allow 100 fans into as well.  The first 100 fans that is. In order to ensure my entry (You’ve heard Duff is in the band, right?) I arrived by noon on the afternoon of the 5th and brought with me Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia. I did NOT bring sunscreen. Huge. Error.

Cultural Amnesia is James’ endeavor at presenting a kind of autobiography.  The tome (1000 plus pages qualifies the tome status) is a collection of excerpts highlighting the politics, philosophies, arts and ideas of the times they represent, the scope of which runs the course of James’ lifetime.  Though a massive undertaking, James’ approach is so fascinating to me (cultural historian by training) that I could not have been more excited to engage the work.

In the interest of full disclosure this book is being read in pieces. Cut me some slack, it’s huge. And, not for nothing, my experience of his approach thus far is that it has a tendency to send ( me) the reader off into tangents of cultural biography that are distinctly their own. Case in point, I could not help but pause to ruminate on the fact that:


(from my reading journal on May 5, 2010)

I’m sitting on Vine, between Hollywood Blvd. and Yucca, reading this book which analyzes (or attempts to anyway) the convergence of voices which shape a man’s life. I am waiting to be one of one hundred fans admitted to the Jane’s Addiction show at The Bardot. This show functions as the public debut of Duff McKagan, my life long hero, as the new bass player for the group. I’m ‘resting’ my ass (Note: I’ve moved it off the concrete.) in the folding lawn chair of a guy I don’t know-who’s gone on a beer run. I’m 6 months and 13 days sober, fyi. What brought all of this to my attention were the tourists who just stopped to photograph the Walk of Fame stars in front of me. My feet have been stretched across Johnny Carson. Talk about a chorus of voices that has shaped THIS woman’s present, day and life. Damn.

It is too early to tell whether or not James will be able to pull off this endeavor as a whole. It is NOT too early to know that it has made me conscious of the spirit(s) of the age in which I dwell. I love that. Not incidentally, the book is beautifully written and James’ mastery of language is reason alone to celebrate this book.

If the aforementioned reading serves as an example of reading the right work in the right place, then my reading of Chelsea Handler’s, Are you there, Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea serves as a stark example of reading the wrong book in the wrong place. At the outset of what was to be another musical adventure late last month I found myself on a very early flight winging my way to NYC. Unable to get back to sleep, I got out Handler’s book and proceeded to lose my shit laughing on the plane. Tears, cramps and derisive glares from my seatmates are what Handler’s book got me. It’s been a while since I have read a book (or in Handler’s case books) that have kept me doubled over laughing, hers did!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Note: It’s July. If I spent another moment thinking about May I just might ‘lose my shit’ on a whole ‘nother level. Ergo, this blog while not done is due. Happy reading!


2 Responses

  1. How do you manage to read so much? I’m curious, cause even when I’m really into a book I picked up, I don’t seem to manage to go through them like you do. Hell, I’m still on Harry Potter 6, which is exactly where I was a few months ago. On top of reading, you’re off to work or concerts here and there. How the hell do you do it? : )

    More importantly, congratulations on the 6 months and 13 days! Really. Believe it or not, that, in and of itself, is inspiring to this 40 year old. Umm…forget I wrote that 40 year old part. I’m still 29, dontcha know?

    • Always always always have a book with me. I read while waiting for appointments. When I’ve arrived even a few minutes early for something. There is usually a couple hours of down time on a 20 hr shift! A couple in the EARLY mornings and then again in the LATE night, so I read a bit while there. My couch practically screams read here and I hate commercials so I won’t watch them…I will read instead. Also, I am a quick reader. That is where I employ my crackhead tendencies.

      Thanks for the congrats, that was a good day. The excerpt was from May 5th though (will go in and insert the date!). This month I am coming up on 9 months!!!

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