Tuesday, March 25, 2008

HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING FROM THE ELECTRIC COMPANY?

I heard someone say this when looking at an average sized book: "It's so thick! I only have FIVE WEEKS to read this!"

Seriously, people! When did five weeks become an unreasonable time frame for reading a book? It seems like the biggest concern some people have is whether or not the book is longer than 200 pages. At any given time I have at least two books that I'm reading, and I friggin' love it! And some of them even have more than 200 pages!

So for all you folks out there that dig the written word, here's some stuff I've been reading lately. Admittedly it is heavy on the pop culture, but that's how I roll.

HUBERT'S FREAKS
by Gregory Gibson

This is the story of Bob Langmuir, a rare book dealer that stumbles across a foot locker that holds a collection of memorabilia related to the legendary New York attraction called Hubert's Sideshow. The footlocker apparently was owned by the man that ran the place for a few years. Also in the foot locker was a collection of previously undiscovered photographs by Diane Arbus, who spent an important part of her career documenting the people that worked at Hubert's, and it turns out the man that owned this trunk was the middle man between her and the Sideshow folks.

The story is about Bob, but it is also about Arbus, as well as the world of sideshows. In addition to that, it is about obsession and how it can destroy a person. The book also gives insight into the art world, and you find out just what on earth makes an image valuable.

UPDATE: The author left a comment on the blog! Thanks, Greg! Also, if you would like to see the actual photos, they are being auctioned on August 8th in NYC. Take THIS LINK and you will go right to the page for the auction.

THE TEN CENT PLAGUE: THE GREAT COMIC-BOOK SCARE AND HOW IT CHANGED AMERICA
by David Hajdu

There was once a time in the history of comic books where they were regarded as the most significant menace to youth in this country. The leading critic of them even went so far as to declare they were worse than Hitler. Thank goodness time brings perspective.

This is the story of the comic book witch hunts of the 50's, and the industry and lives it changed forever. My favorite part of this story involves EC comics, and its publisher Bill Gaines. EC put out some of the most influential and creative comics of its time, and as a result it was right in the bull's eye of the scare.

The Ten Cent Plague is a great read for fans of comic books, as well as people interested in American History.

WAX POETICS ANTHOLOGY VOL. 1
by Wax Poetics Magazine

I'm a full time music geek, but there are some genres where I consider myself a novice, despite my affection for them. Mainly Jazz, Funk, and Hip Hop. That's where Wax Poetics comes in. This is a friggin' great magazine, with amazing and informative content dealing with all those genres, but it also gets into the art of DJ'ing, digging, and production. Plus, the photos kick ass, too. Every issue is a treasure trove of information, and I never finish one without feeling like I've learned something.

This book reproduces some of the magazine's great interviews in the exact form they were presented in the magazine, complete with discographies. Even though I have never heard of 95% of the people in this book, I know that by the end of it I will feel the urge to collect their entire bodies of work.

This is a great book, but spendy at $39.95. The magazine is quarterly, and is higher priced, but worth every cent. You can check them out at waxpoetics.com.

SWEAT: THE STORY OF THE FLESHTONES, AMERICA'S GARAGE BAND
by Joe Bonomo

Another great book about another band that should have been huge but never seemed to catch a break. The Fleshtones are an amazing band, and one that I fell in love with from the first moment I heard them. Then for about 20, I lost track. In the last four years they've put out some of the best music of their 30 year career, and now their history has finally arrived.

Sweat is at times inspiring, at times heartbreaking, but it is always a great read. It is the hope of everyone at the Shuffle Function Conglomocorp that we will some day scrape together enough cash to have a dream double bill of The Fleshtones and The Legendary Stardust Cowboy right here in Mankato. All we need is the cash.

So please, will one of you folks out there with cash read this book and become inspired enough to realize this dream? Thanks in advance.

EYE MIND: ROKY ERICKSON AND THE 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS
by Paul Drummond

The 13th Floor Elevators were a great band that could have become unstoppable if... well, if everything that happened to them had happened exactly the opposite of how it went down. LSD, mental illness, poor management, and a crummy record deal: All the trademarks of a classic american music story, but with seemingly more of all of those things to a ridiculous degree.

Reading this you will understand exactly how Roky ended up such a mess. It's a tough read, because the whole time I was really rooting for them, but they were either screwed at every turn or were screwing themselves. You aren't going to be inspired by this, just heartbroken, but it is still worth the read.

If you wanna be inspired, read The Fleshtones or Wax Poetics book. Or maybe The Bible or Hunter Thompson.

Alright... you only have five weeks to read something. What are you gonna do?

Shyboy



2 comments:

Greg Gibson said...

Thanks for the kind words about HUBERT'S FREAKS, Shuffleperson!

I'll be reading and showing more photos of freaks and others not seen in the book at Freebird Books in Brooklyn on Apr. 3, and at the Strand in good ole' NYC April 7. The newly discovered archive of photos by Diane Arbus, around which the plot revolves, will be auctioned at Phillips de Pury Gallery in Chelsea on April 8, 2008. Interested persons might want to go take a look at these wonderful images and artifacts from a Times Square freak show in the 1960s.

Greg Gibson

Andrew said...

And while you're at it, First Person Arts--a Philadelphia non-profit dedicated to memoir and documentary art--is running a bus trip featuring Bob Langmuir himself on April 5th from Philadelphia to NY to see the collection and get a guided tour. It's going to be lots of fun! You can find out more at
www.firstpersonarts.org