Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

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!

Regards,

David

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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

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):

Chaser:

Game, set and match for Rowling.

It’s been a while since I posted anything about my Alice in Chains biography.  Here’s something to start off 2015:

CD2EAF98-B583-4D6F-A1DC-7F3CFFD58347The Book Is DONE: I’m reviewing a hard copy of the manuscript (pictured above) for final edits and changes.  Once that’s finished, that will be the final version that goes to the presses for mass production and publication.

Mark Your Calendars: The other bit of news is the book is now available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with a scheduled release date of August 4, 2015.

More updates to come in the weeks and months ahead…  I look forward to getting the book out there and for people to have the opportunity to read it.  Best wishes to all of you for 2015…

AIC Book Cover

Untouchable

Posted: December 28, 2012 in Books, Music
Tags: , ,

I recently read Randall Sullivan’s new book Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first attempt by a journalist at a comprehensive review of Jackson’s later years and all the controversies during this period, as well as the posthumous legal wrangling for control of his estate and custody of his children.

Sullivan’s book mainly focuses on the legal and financial issues which dominated Michael’s life during the final two decades or so of his life, beginning with the Jordie Chandler scandal in 1993 through his death in 2009. There is some reporting about the making of the Jackson 5 and solo albums, as well as the tours, but it’s secondary reporting that comes across almost as an afterthought at times.

This is not an easy read. The sheer volume of information Sullivan had to go through and write about – collected from interviews, police and court records – is comparable to drinking water from a fire hose. There are also a lot of characters and moving parts to keep in mind throughout the course of the story that make it difficult to for a reader to keep up. Also making it somewhat tricky to follow is that Sullivan occasionally jumps back and forth in terms of the chronology of events, from Michael’s childhood to the Jackson 5 to his solo years. Ultimately, this is editorially necessary not just because of its relevance to Michael’s life story, but to see how he grew up in the business, how it shaped his worldview, and how he built the massive financial juggernaut that he eventually became.

Very few people come out looking good by the end of the story – not Michael’s managers and handlers, his doctors, the people in his entourage, the media, the police and prosecutors who investigated him, the people on the inside or the periphery who tried to exploit their connections to Michael for financial gain, members of the Jackson family, and even Michael himself. The impression one comes away with repeatedly is that he never knew who he could really trust. He was simultaneously enabled and exploited by the people around him, from a very early age and even after his death.

This is not to say Michael was a naive and innocent victim, either. He could be shrewd, manipulative, and even show flashes of brilliance when it came to his business affairs. It was after a casual conversation in the studio with Paul McCartney that he got the idea to buy the rights to the Beatles catalog. In the late 1990s, he developed a proposal to buy Marvel Comics for about $1.4 billion and develop a Spider-Man movie. The deal fell through when Sony wouldn’t let him use the Sony/ATV catalog as collateral for the deal. Michael’s business instincts were ultimately proven correct a decade later, when Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion and four Spider-Man movies had grossed hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.

One of the few who does come across as a decent and honorable person that was truly looking out for Michael’s interests was Tom Mesereau, his defense attorney during the Gavin Arvizo trial from 2003-2005. Not surprisingly perhaps, he was also a key source for Sullivan.

Perhaps the most tantalizing details in the book for fans of Michael Jackson’s music are the comments from musicians, producers, and record executives hinting at just how many songs he had written and recorded – potentially in the hundreds – but ultimately shelved, for a variety of reasons. If released, those songs could potentially generate millions, if not tens of millions of dollars for the estate. Example: When Michael Jackson found out Tim Burton was working on a remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he went into a studio and wrote and recorded a soundtrack for the movie to offer to the studio, on the condition that he be offered the lead role of Willy Wonka. The studio didn’t want to give him the lead role, but were willing to work him into the movie for any other role. Michael turned down the offer and wound up shelving the album. Whether it will ever see the light of day or not remains to be seen.

Bottom line: it’s a terrific read, but it requires an attention span because it’s not the easiest subject matter to follow. It’s not a hagiography for Michael Jackson’s fans either.


Entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp, August 2008

The Atlantic just published my story about Witold Pilecki, a member of the Polish resistance during World War II who volunteered for an assignment inside Auschwitz. Check it out.

Also, I would highly recommend buying a copy of The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery, an English translation of Pilecki’s report about his time in the camp.