HITLESS WONDER

A LIFE IN MINOR LEAGUE ROCK AND ROLL

To quote another rock memoirist, Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter: “Rock ’n’ roll’s a loser’s game / It mesmerizes and I can’t...

From obscurity to music’s majors and back again with the Ohio band Watershed.

Oestreich (Creative Writing/Coastal Carolina Univ.) looks back on the long, checkered career of his power-pop group, which he founded in Columbus, Ohio, in his early teens after attending a Cheap Trick concert with pal Colin Gawel. The narrative seesaws between the band’s salad days—local gigs, indie releases and, finally, a major-label contract with Epic Records—and city-by-city details of a grind-it-out 2007-08 U.S. tour. Watershed never hit it big: Despite a devoted local following and growing airplay, the band was dropped by Epic after a live EP and an expensively produced album. The book follows the band’s fortunes as they regrouped to cut independent releases on shoestring budgets and drive their van from town to far-flung town. The narrative climaxes with a kind of Pyrrhic victory: a rapturously received hometown show in a less-than-half-filled hall. Oestreich has an eye for telling nuance, and his knowing recounting of life in an ascendant band in “the Pros” is juicy stuff. He’s equally adept at depicting day-to-day humiliations in music’s minors, like a pay-to-play gig with a bunch of no-name Baltimore acts. He’s candid about the toll the rock life takes on relationships; his long-suffering mate Kate emerges as the most sympathetic figure in the book. But the author fails to supply a compelling answer to the question almost certainly on every reader’s mind: Why would a bunch of men pushing 40, with families, day jobs and mortgages, continue to haul their gear in and out of run-down rock clubs, often playing for a loss, long after success has eluded them? Oestreich compares Watershed to “an old battleship that doesn’t easily change course,” and offers a few homilies about friendship, brotherhood and sheer love of the game. But neither he nor his sketchily delineated musical comrades-in-arms offer the reader a true understanding of why they continue to ceaselessly travel the rock ’n’ roll road.

To quote another rock memoirist, Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter: “Rock ’n’ roll’s a loser’s game / It mesmerizes and I can’t explain.”

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7627-7924-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

STRANGER TO THE GAME

One of the great pitchers in baseball history (and one of the most outspoken and disagreeable), Gibson recalls his storied career with the capable help of Wheeler (I Had a Hammer, not reviewed) and shows he's not done being ``difficult.'' A ferocious competitor who made his living pitching high and tight, Gibson had a reputation throughout his 17 years with the St. Louis Cardinals for being just as uncompromising and angry off the field, especially concerning racial matters. Gibson was raised in an Omaha, Nebr., housing project, where his older brother was hero, mentor, and coach. After college, Gibson, who claims that he was better at basketball than baseball, signed a contract with both the Cardinals and the Harlem Globetrotters, playing one year for the latter. He calls his first professional baseball manager, Johnny Keane, ``the closest thing to a saint that I came across in baseball.'' When Keane replaced Solly Hemus (whom Gibson despised) in 1961, it turned the Cardinals', and Gibson's, fortunes around. Known for his extraordinary performances in the postseason, Gibson had a World Series record of 7-2, with a 1.89 ERA and an incredible 92 strikeouts over 81 innings. He won 20 games in five different seasons and in 1968 posted a 1.12 ERA in 305 innings. Gibson offers some fun and insightful recollections of big games, friends, and teammates such as Tim McCarver, Joe Torre, and Bob Uecker, and legendary matchups with Juan Marichal (``the best pitcher of my generation''), Sandy Koufax, and Don Drysdale. Despite his Hall of Fame credentials, Gibson claims he's been ostracized from the game and hasn't held a baseball job since 1984. Though he grouses a lot about being slighted by major league baseball and rehashes all-too-familiar racial difficulties, it is refreshing to get the fiery Gibson's take on the grand old game. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First printing of 75,000; $75,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-670-84794-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

PIT BULL

LESSONS FROM WALL STREET'S CHAMPION TRADER

A Wall Street trader exercises a rich man’s prerogative and offers financial advice and his life story. “See how much money I made!” is the message. “I’m pretty smart and damned tough, too.” To be sure, Schwartz (“Buzzy” to his pals) is the prototypical hard driver, a truly successful day trader, buying and selling in lightning strokes for his own account. His is a talent for exquisite market timing, a tricky game for even the most proficient professionals. His specialty is S&P futures, a technique using the marvel of leverage to greatly multiply the chances for gain—or loss—on each tick. It requires an inordinate amount of research as well as stamina, acumen, and nerve, but it can be worth millions every year. The alternative, as Buzzy frets, is “going tapioca.” Buzzy dearly wanted his kids to say, “ ‘My daddy’s the Champion Trader!’ That was all I cared about,” he admits. With success came Lutäce lunches, expensive artworks, Armani suits, Bally alligator shoes, and other trophies. Schwartz essays a little false humility, but the book’s evasive charm is based on chutzpah. In an effort to leverage with OPM (other people’s money), the author established his own hedge funds until investors (the bastards) pestered him about their money. Don’t be surprised to learn the result was heart disease. Now in Florida, trading again for himself, the quondam Champion Trader reveals, with some repetition, his story. It moves nicely, though, with a certain egomaniacal verve. An appendix gives the author’s daily schedule (e.g, “7:20-7:30 Clean out the plumbing”). His investment methodology is also appended, but only the most devoted professional will utilize this rigorous lesson. An archetypal text, true to life on the Street, destined to be discussed over drinks at trader hangouts after the market closes—and better than going tapioca. (Author tour; radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-88-730876-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1998

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