With the imminent publication of my book on August 4, I have created a new official site, for my books as well as any future articles or blog posts. This site will not shut down, but will remain in a state of suspended animation.  Hope to see you all at the new site and thank you for your readership over the years!



We are now two months to the day from the release of Alice in Chains: The Untold Story. One bit of news about the book I am pleased to announce: it was included in the “Summer’s Music Must-Reads” list in the new issue of Billboard magazine which came out last week. The article is behind a paywall, but here’s a scan:

Billboard Excerpt

What I’m reading:

  • David Hume Kennerly’s photo essay about the final days of Vietnam. (Politico)
  • ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ 15 Years On: How Eminem’s Stark, Violent Portrait Of American Life Shook the Mainstream. (NME)
  • Far From Home: A brief history of Central American immigration to the U.S. (Global Post) Full Disclosure: I am a graduate of the USC Annenberg School, which contributed to this project. 
  • Stephen Curry’s next stage: MVP has Warriors closing in on the NBA Finals. (Sports Illustrated)
  • 60,000 Irish expats traveled home to vote on same sex marriage ballot initiative. (Vox)

As the August 4 publication date for Alice In Chains: The Untold Story approaches, several people have discovered this site or my book for the first time within the past several days and weeks.  I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to (re)introduce myself and my previous work about Alice in Chains to date, and address recent developments and some of the feedback I’ve received so far.

First, I have no knowledge of or involvement with a possible Alice in Chains book by Duff McKagan.  Beyond that, I won’t comment on it until I’ve had an opportunity to read it, if it should come to pass. I would also refer you to this recent tweet from Duff himself:

Second, several people have contacted me and told me they’ve already pre-ordered the book.  I am profoundly thankful to each and every one of you for spending your hard-earned money on the unreleased first book of an unknown author, and for your trust.  It means a great deal to me.

Several others have contacted me to ask questions about the book or to express their skepticism, such as if the band members were involved with the book (they weren’t), or asking why they should buy it, or telling me I shouldn’t expect people to buy it just because it’s about Alice in Chains.  All of these questions and critiques are valid, and I will address them as best as I can for the time being.

I am well aware of the fact Alice in Chains and their fans have been burned by other writers in the past, so I can understand these questions and doubts you have about me.  I can’t say anything about what’s in my book until it’s out, but I can refer you to my background and my body of work. In particular, I would refer you to this story I filed for The Atlantic several years ago, which I think is the best example of how I write and put together a story.  Although it is about a very different subject, try to imagine a book length version of that story about Alice in Chains. If I felt I couldn’t write something about the band of that quality or better, I wouldn’t have done it, or I would have abandoned the project.

If you still have questions or doubts, I would say wait until the book is out and skim through it at your local bookstore, and make up your own mind if you think it’s worth buying/reading or not. I’m happy and confident in how it came out after three years of hard work and I am eagerly looking forward to everyone finally getting an opportunity to read it.

A comparative case study involving two bestselling authors…  First, Jon Krakauer, with video:

After the interview, a man who introduced himself as Thomas Dove took the mic and began giving his background. Krakauer requested the man ask his question.

The man persisted in a lengthy presentation about documents the author had acquired, and the audience booed him. Eventually, Krakauer took away the man’s microphone, and the audience was invited to leave.

To Mr. Dove’s credit, he publicly identified himself by name and profession, and chose to address his criticisms of Mr. Krakauer to him in person, rather than hide behind the veil of online anonymity.  But that still didn’t give him the right to hijack the event or to treat it like his own personal deposition of Krakauer.

On the other hand, we have J.K. Rowling (some NSFW language here)

Shot (screenshot via Huffington Post):


Game, set and match for Rowling.

I was fortunate to be able to see Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck this weekend in Hollywood, and I can’t emphasize enough how good it is – good enough that I saw it twice.  The second screening I went to also had the added bonus of a Q&A with director Brett Morgen, who spent eight years working on the film.  Based on interviews with a handful of people who knew Kurt best, as well as access to a treasure trove of personal effects owned by the Cobain family, this film is probably the closest people are going to get to a Kurt Cobain autobiography.  With the exception of a handful of soundbites from interviews with his parents, sister, ex-girlfriend Tracy Marander, bandmate Krist Novoselic, and wife Courtney Love, most of the film is narrated by Kurt himself, collected from audio recordings he made for himself as well as interviews, home movies, excerpts from his journals, and his artwork.

His life story – and that of Nirvana – has been told and retold many times, so in terms of factual content there isn’t much new that most Nirvana fans didn’t already know.  Without giving anything away, Morgen does an outstanding job of trying to portray such a complex, contradictory and revered figure as Cobain within the confines of two hours and fifteen minutes.  Worth noting are the rearrangements of Nirvana songs like “All Apologies” and “Lithium” by composer Jeff Danna (you can hear a few snippets of these in the trailer), and the animated sequences created by Hisko Hulsing and Stefan Nadelman, who animated some of Cobain’s artwork as well as create original sequences to illustrate life experiences recounted by Cobain himself on his audio tapes.

I would strongly recommend people go see this film in theaters if they can – mainly for the sound. During the live performance sequences, it feels like the closest thing to actually being at a Nirvana concert, and sounds absolutely incredible. For those of us who never got the chance to go to a Nirvana show, this is probably as good as it’s ever going to get.

Update: One more thing worth mentioning – the companion book to the movie has scans and photos of the artwork, journal entries and artifacts, as well as outtakes from the interviews which were not used in the film.  I have a copy and highly recommend reading it.  There is supposed to be a soundtrack for the project with material from Kurt’s tapes, but no release date or further details yet.

Update II: Here’s a blog post from a few years ago.  During the course of my Alice in Chains research, I found a copy of the November 1988 issue of Backlash which had the review for the Love Buzz/Big Cheese single – Nirvana’s first single.  Enjoy!

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner was one of several people who were approached for the book Getting There: A Book of Mentors. In this excerpt, he shares the story of his long path to success, with some inspiring words and anecdotes for anyone who has ever wanted to succeed in writing or the entertainment industry.  Here’s one:

“It took seven years from the time I wrote Mad Men until it finally got on the screen. I lived every day with that script as if it were going to happen tomorrow. That’s the faith you’ve got to have.”

The whole article is worth reading, and I suspect the rest of the book is as well.