A highly entertaining account of one of rock’s most colorful tours.

CARAVAN OF PAIN

Alderman, the author of Get Off: The Sordid Youth and Unlikely Survival of a Queer Junkie Wonder Boy (2020), describes his long-shot attempt to launch a tattoo-themed rock tour in this memoir.

Staging a festival that combined heavy metal and the art of tattooing was not on Alderman’s bucket list back in 1998. He had some tattoos of his own, and he’d previously worked as a promoter and club owner, but he describes the impetus of the Tattoo the Earth tour as a moment of crisis during a period of stress rather than a long-held vision: “I thought it might be an aneurysm, or my head rocketing completely off my shoulders, but what came out was the idea for Tattoo the Earth.” At the time, tattooing had not yet become a ubiquitous form of expression—it had only just become legal again in New York state in 1997. With his friend and noted tattoo artist Sean Vasquez, Alderman set out to recruit other luminaries of the art form, including Filip Leu and Bernie Luther. The hardest part, though, would prove to be booking the bands: Alderman set his sights on the biggest names in heavy metal, including Metallica, Slayer, and, later, a new group whose debut album, in 1999, went platinum: Slipknot. Alderman had no idea just what it would take to turn his late-night impulse into a reality, but the resulting ride, during which he struggled with a health scare, was a wild one, and the Tattoo the Earth tour finally launched in 2000. The author’s prose is red-blooded and energetic, as in this passage in which he describes his enthusiasm over the Bernie Luther–created sleeve he got while recruiting artists for the tour: “My tattoo made me feel like I had a bionic limb, and I held it awkwardly and stared at it, trying to get used to its power.” Over the course of the book, the author offers some typical but still diverting music memoir escapades: celebrity encounters, industry negotiations, and carnivalesque episodes from the pit and backstage. It’s most notable, however, for offering readers a rare chronicle of the era in which tattooing went from an underground activity to a part of the mainstream—a shift that Tattoo the Earth can lay claim to having energized.

A highly entertaining account of one of rock’s most colorful tours.

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-578-34424-9

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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