My favorite thing I’ve read this year

One of the residual benefits of scanning the trades—Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist—for reviews of University of Illinois Press books is tripping over the title of a book I might like to read. Special Topics in Calamity Physics caught my attention in Publishers Weekly a while back and became one of my favorite books of 2006. I recently saw a review for Dan Kennedy’s Rock On: An Office Power Ballad (Algonquin Books), which is “equal parts This is Spinal Tap and The Office” according to the text on the back of the book. No disagreement here. Most of the book chronicles Kennedy’s days on the job for Atlantic Records in New York as the major record labels are trying to forestall the end-game of the digital revolution. My favorite chapter is Kennedy’s account of attending an Iggy Pop concert, an experience that was the antithesis of his daily interaction in the business of music.

“You suddenly realize every punk band you thought was blowing your mind back when you were sixteen was simply a cute little messenger delivering a wadded note to you from this man, wherever he might have been that night.”

If I ever write a book, and happen to do an author reading, I think for one of my segments I’ll want to “cover” Kennedy’s Iggy chapter. An evangelist for these seven-and-a-half pages titled “The Salvation of Stooges,” I read aloud to my wife last night.

“Iggy is screaming for everybody to come up on stage! Um, unfortunately, Mr. Pop, I am paralyzed and almost crying like a . . . housewife in the front row of Tom Jones at Caesar’s Palace, so I’m not gonna be able to get up there with the others.”

I don’t think it quite worked coming out of my mouth but I’ll keep practicing. Oh, and that original sealed copy of The Stooges Funhouse LP that I had planned to sell on Ebay? I’m holding onto it for at least another week.

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