April 30, 2003

On the hunt for reading material for my upcoming trip to the Kentucky Derby, I picked up the new Donna Gaines memoir, A Misfit's Manifesto: The Spiritual Journey of a Rock & Roll Heart. Normally, a title like that is reason enough to stay far far away, but Gaines authored a great book with a similarly shitty title: Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead End Kids (a nonfiction piece about the mass suicide of four Bergenfield, NJ teenagers in the late '80s, the "burnout" culture that spawned them, and the way the community and media responded to the teens' death). If I mention Teenage Wasteland a lot, it's because I feel a strong connection with those kids (my blue-collar Brooklyn wasn't much different from their blue-collar New Jersey, which wasn't much different from Gaines' blue-collar Queens -- it's a pretty unified regional identity), and I've taken a great deal of creative inspiration from the book. I'm not sure whether I'll like this new memoir, though... just flipping around I'm seeing dozens of variations on "I'm punk! AND I'm a sociologist! I'm punk too! Look, here's a picture of Johnny Thunders! Now HERE'S a picture of August Comte! And check out this blurb by Legs McNeil saying how cool I am! And I'm a sociologist too! Yep, a 'turnpike intellectual', in fact. It's true!"

I'll let you know how it is.