In which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. The Autobiography of Fidel Castro, by Norberto Fuentes.
Communism was cool (Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, etc.), until it was totally discredited (Stalin, Mao, Kim Jong Il, etc.). But was it really discredited? Or is human civilization simply not advanced enough (the industrial age is less than three centuries old, some human societies are still hunter-gathers [The Gods Must Be Crazy, etc.], some human societies are ungovernable [Somalia, etc.], there is still no global language, there is still no global currency, there is still more colonial surplus-value to exploit, etc) to make communism an achievable dream? And, in this context, is Castro a totalitarian killer, or a cool dude? Guess I’ll have to watch the Godfather II—-again—-to find out.
2. Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear (Technologies of Lived Abstraction), by Steve Goodman.
Books with parenthesis in their subtitles are best avoided, unless that parenthesis includes the word “abstraction.” Because there’s nothing that the ladies love more than a Bentley, a bottle of Dom Perignon, and that near-sighted dude who haunts architecture section of the campus library reading DeBord, Marcuse, and books about the violent properties of sound. I hear that guy circuit-bends and has ProTools 8 on his laptop in his dorm room, too, and has never had sexual intercourse.
3. Ambrose Bierce’s Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic’s Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers, by Ambrose Bierce.
I don’t like linking to Wikipedia (though I frequently find myself insisting that I don’t like linking to Wikipedia, then linking to it), but a Wikipedia link is the best way to appreciate the rich hints, allegations, and rumors that swirl around the life of long-dead (?) grammar snob Ambrose Bierce. Just like Michael Stipe said: “If you believe/There’s nothing up his sleeve/Then nothing is cool.”
4. Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism, by Alison Piepmeier.
In the 1990s, I usually hustled by the zine portion of the merch table at punk rock shows, because reading zines seemed an oft-unfun, mandatory part of participating in punk rock culture when I just wanted to see Bikini Kill or Unwound or whoever. But, then again, I was always a lousy feminist.
5. Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” by David Bianculli.
I guess it’s strange for a 32-year old to feel nostalgia for the Smothers Brothers, who made a show that debuted over a decade before he was born, just because he saw reruns of their show on Nick and Nite.