Running Away With The CIRCUS #8
Philip Bashe left the world of rock writing years ago. Today Bashe is known as the author of such health/self help books as: You Don't Have to Hurt! A Leading Expert in Pain Medicine Shows You How to Treat--and Beat--Chronic Pain, co-written with Peter S. Staats, M.D., (Workman, 2004); Caring For Your Teenager, co-written in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics (Bantam, 2003) and The Complete Cancer Survival Guide, co-written with Peter Teeley (Doubleday, 2000). Bashe recalls his time working as one of X's editors at Circus Magazine in the early '80s.
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"I have a good recall for dates: I started at CIRCUS there on September 22, 1980, after having interviewed with the boss sometime right after Labor Day. At the time, I was the head editor of Good Times, a 132-page biweekly entertainment paper on Long Island. In a sense, it was the Village Voice of L.I., although the publisher more or less regarded editorial as filler in between the many ads. But with 128 pages to fill, we managed to pack in a lot of features and reviews. The main focus was the national music scene, the local music scene--what there was of it, which wasn't much, truthfully--plus film, local restaurants, and so on. Our cover stories, most of which I wrote, included (let's see now...) the Grateful Dead, the Cars, Ted Nugent, Van Halen, Dustin Hoffman, the Plasmatics, the Ramones, Elvis Costello, etc., etc.
"If CIRCUS served as something of a farm team for Rolling Stone, as you noted when we first spoke, supplying Kurt Loder, David Fricke, et al., Good Times performed the same function for CIRCUS, and not only editorially. One of our former GT ad salesmen, Steve Rosenfeld, was already working there when I arrived. Another salesman, Gary Victor, defected shortly after I did. Loder and Fricke had edited Good Times around 1977-78 or so. I was made Editor-in-Chief of the Columbus, Ohio, Good Times, in April 1979. (Publisher Richard Branciforte, who started the paper in 1969, envisioned starting up branches in cities all over the country, just like a McDonald's franchise.) Although the Island's Good Times was immensely successful, the other three ventures in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Ft. Lauderdale never panned out. In May, they pulled the plug on Columbus, and I got to return to Long Island--which had been my stated goal from the get-go; I grew up here, in Jericho--as Editor in June.
"It was a great group of people, all twenty-something. We went out a lot together, dated one another--which had its advantages and drawbacks--and (you'll see a pattern developing) formed a co-ed softball team. Best of all, I met my future wife, Patty Romanowski, there. She was one of my freelancers. Being the swell guy that I am, I always responded to every resumé that crossed my desk, including hers. I was impressed by the writing samples sent in by this Pat Romanowski fella from the Bronx, so I called him to assign him an LP review of the Police's Regatta de Blanc. That's when I learned he was a she. After a four-month phone friendship, I met her for lunch while in Manhattan to interview the Ramones. It was love at first sight, we moved in together a year later, and have been married since 1983.
"Anyway, Good Times was extremely enjoyable until an older editorial advisor arrived on the scene. Why he was hired was a mystery to all of us. In any event, he was a difficult personality, and in the summer of 1980 I decided that it was time to move on. I believe I came across an ad for an editor/writer in the New York Times, although I probably didn't know that it was CIRCUS until I called the number. I was only vaguely familiar with the magazine, frankly, having bought an issue once, in 1972. I'd been a devoted Rolling Stone reader since the age of fourteen.
"One of the best things I'd ever done was to start a music magazine while a mass- communications major--Hey! Quit laughing!--at Buffalo State College. I'd been Music Editor of the Nassau Community College newspaper, the Vignette [flashback within a flashback; is this legal?], and was disappointed to find that the Buff State Record had such a minuscule budget by comparison that it barely had room for any cultural-arts coverage. So I spent my first year there trying to drum up support and funding for an ersatz Rolling Stone type publication. Finally got a friend who ran the deservedly-ignored poetry magazine to chip in $300 for a first issue, and we were in business. The name, Foxtrot, had nothing to do with the group Genesis; we just liked the way it sounded. Plus, it was musical without being directly related to rock & roll.
"Our first issue--24 pages, on newsprint, folded in half like the original Rolling Stone--came out in March 1976, with Roxy Music on the cover. It was very much a labor of love. I did the bulk of the writing, edited everyone else's pieces, and handled all the design, photo selection, layout, and paste-up. While my then girlfriend, Carrie, and I were pasting up our first issue over a grueling eighteen-hour day and night, a surprise ice storm had socked Erie County. We were too busy to even notice until we walked outside at 4 A.M., completely exhausted and covered in wax from the headline waxing machine, and sticky little scraps of border tape, to drive the mechanicals (mechanicals: how quaint!) to the printer in nearby Lancaster. Everything shimmered with ice, and cars were sliding off the road around us. We had no business whatsoever driving in such conditions. But we were on a mission! All the while behind the wheel I envisioned a giant truck skidding into my 1969 Dodge Dart, hurling the two of us from the vehicle, and sending the mechanicals wafting down upon me page by page as I bled to death in a snow bank. All for rock & roll. Very romantic.
"The magazine was so well received that when I graduated from Buff State in December 1976, I decided to take it off-campus as a DBA (doing business as). See, during my senior year, we'd had local media types come in as guest speakers for a class called 'Ethics in Broadcasting.' Almost every one of them sounded a similar, ominous theme: Ain't no jobs in Buffalo media, ya earnest little bastards! In retrospect, I realize that they were just trying to do whatever they could to abort as much of the future competition pool as possible.
"Just two months later, I was hired by the local progressive-rock radio station, WBUF-FM. (I'd been voted best DJ on the Buff State radio station, which could be heard only on campus. Actually, only in one room in one dorm on campus at certain times when the wind conditions and atmospheric pressure were just right. I could have broadcast to a wider audience using two paper cups and a long piece of string.) As much I loved publishing Foxtrot--now from the bedroom of the house I shared with another guy and his girlfriend--radio was infinitely more fun. Especially this! Fifty-thousand watts, total free-form; the last of a dying breed. I loved the immediacy of it. Meanwhile, I published five monthly issues of 'trot independently, breaking even, but after five months of 80-hour weeks--including renting a U-Haul every month to deliver 35,000 of those suckers around Erie County; by day's end, my girlfriend and I would be covered in black newsprint--I decided to bury Foxtrot and focus solely on radio. Our last issue, in October 1977, featured Cheap Trick on the cover.
"Six months later WBUF-FM got bought by some chain from Bay City, Michigan, which was going to turn it into a soulless AOR (Album Oriented Rock) station, with a play list, for God's sake! Everyone got canned, which was okay by me; that kind of radio didn't interest me. I held the honor of being the first to be fired, because, in a fit of depression over our beloved station's impending demise, one afternoon I'd played an expletive-laden track called 'I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk' off the Tubes' new live LP. An older woman called the studio to complain, and I launched into a tirade about how she should be more concerned about the crap her kids were probably watching on TV. When she huffed that she would contact the FCC, I snapped, 'Fine!' and gave her the number. Probably not my best idea ever.
"I remained in Buffalo, writing concert reviews and lifestyle features for the Buffalo Evening News, which I really enjoyed, thanks to an adventurous editor there named Terry Dolan, who took me up on most of my ideas. I'd written two reviews for Long Island's Good Times, in 1976 and 1977; in April 1979, while home on Long Island to visit my mother, Richard Branciforte called to offer me the editorship of his paper in Columbus. I drove back to my Ratso Rizzo-like apartment on Buffalo's seedy West Side fully intending to turn him down, but when I discovered the door to my apartment torn from its hinges and the place ransacked, I had an abrupt change of heart and took the job in Ohio. Let's see, first Buffalo, then Columbus. Next stop Pittsburgh?
"My purpose in telling you this is that, thanks to Foxtrot, at the age of twenty-three I could waltz into an interview clutching a professional looking magazine, plunk it down on an interviewer's desk, and say, 'I did this. All of it.' It was probably a bit more impressive than merely handing over some raggedy clips.
"Now, my wife is the only person I've ever told about this, but I was actually hired as a Senior Editor--i.e., equal to Richard Hogan, the other editor at CIRCUS. Although the boss liked Richard's writing, he didn't feel that he was organized enough to handle assigning stories and photo shoots, getting copy and galleys to production on time, etc. Richard was a legendary procrastinator and pack rat. Every six months or so, the boss used to make him clean the area around his desk, which would be piled high with God only knows what. One time a bunch of us pitched in with helping Hogan find his desk; the stacks of crap on top of it included unopened press releases with year-old postmarks.
"So I was perturbed when my first issue came out--guess it was November 1980--and the masthead listed me as Associate Editor. I asked Gerry about this apparent mistake, and he sheepishly told me that he didn't want to hurt Richard's feelings, so would I mind staying an Associate Editor for a while; he'd 'promote' me sometime the next year. I figured there were worse things than having a boss who cared that much about one of his employee's feelings, so Associate Editor it was until 1981.
"My first piece for CIRCUS might have been a short piece about Split Enz. As the main writer, I generally wrote two to four features per issue. CIRCUS made no pretense of being hip; the boss wanted to cater to our readers' tastes, which ran toward Kiss, Van Halen, Rush, Ozzy Osbourne, Pat Benatar, AC/DC--almost exclusively hard rock. The new wave/power pop that was briefly popular at the time and that I personally loved held little interest for the people who bought CIRCUS. At first I resisted this reality somewhat. the boss, to his credit, stuck with what worked. The world didn't need another Rolling Stone, especially with Record (another Rolling Stone published by Rolling Stone to atone for the fact that it was now obsessed with [yawn!] Hollywood) soon to land on newsstands.
"Also, you have to appreciate that CIRCUS had recently entered chapter 11. After several highly profitable years, in 1978 or so the boss had turned it into a bi-weekly and had tried to move it in more of a People magazine direction. As with Jann Wenner, that probably reflected his waning interest in music. Some of the covers in 1979, as I recall, included actress Stockard Channing and the New York Yankees' Bucky Dent. It just didn't work, which was reflected in slumping sales. An office in the expensive Atrium Building on East 57th Street probably didn't help the magazine's financial situation either. Soon afterward chapter 11 beckoned. So it was understandable that by the time I came on board the boss was wary of straying too far afield editorially.
"Still, it's always fun to share musical discoveries with others, whether it's friends or your readership, and I generally managed to sneak in features on new nonmetal acts like XTC, the Vapors, Tom Robinson's Sector 27, Greg Kihn, Joan Jett, and I forget who else. Heh heh heh.
"Having quickly realized that my secret desire to remake CIRCUS in the image of Rolling Stone was futile--and rightfully so--I concentrated on trying to make the magazine as creative as possible given its somewhat limited scope. I was very big on concept pieces. Still am. My second issue, in December 1980, was built around an idea of mine called 'The People's Rock.' (I wanted to use mock Russian lettering on the cover; the boss and the production department were aghast.) The four or five feature stories were all about bands that were hugely popular with the proletariat but abhorred by critics. Rush, Kansas, and the newly popular REO Speedwagon were in there; probably AC/DC too. Maybe Triumph? Journey? We addressed that dichotomy with the bands themselves, which was pretty interesting, and contrasted critics' quotes with fans' opinions. In a way, 'The People's Rock' issue summed up CIRCUS Magazine's entire reason for being.
"Did a centerfold piece, I remember, on the local musical scenes then happening in cities like New York, L.A., and Toronto; might have called it 'Rock & Roll Travelogue.' Did another one on the musical class of 1981 (U2 and Doug and the Slugs among them), designed as a high-school year book. To me, who we covered was less important than how we covered them. If you can't find an interesting story in an artist, it's more your failing as a writer than it is a reflection on the artist's lack of newsworthiness. As I'll get to in a moment, that concept seemed to elude most rock writers.
"I thought that our audience might enjoy reliving landmark events or discovering key figures in popular-music history, so in 1982 I introduced a monthly column called 'Rock & Roll Dateline,' which profiled Jimi Hendrix, examined the 1969 'Paul Is Dead' hoax, etc.
"The boss was a sweet man; I don't think that I ever saw him get angry. He was actually somewhat shy and awkward around people, especially those of us who were fifteen years younger. One of the things that made working at CIRCUS fun was that the boss didn't stand on ceremony. The office environment was businesslike but casual. If my work was done by four o'clock, and it often was, he didn't care if I trained it home to Long Island early. One reason I stayed at the magazine as long as I did--almost three and a half years--was that it granted me ample time to play drums and sing in a new wave-y band, the Pathetics. Despite the unfortunate choice of name, we were extremely serious, and recorded two demos and played the New York/Long Island club circuit. Attracted some record company interest but not enough to win a record deal.
"The boss rarely took issue with anything that was written. His main input came when we were planning the next issue; namely, the artists we would feature, and why. He could be stubborn, but then, so could we. Rarely was he unreasonable. For example, I argued against our habit of using candid offstage photos for the cover. This probably stemmed from the boss's fascination with and desire to emulate the success of People. Problem was, when you took cover subjects like Phil Collins and Angus Young out of their environment--the stage--and shot them in their civilian clothes, they were all but unrecognizable! I finally wore him down and from then on we used live shots exclusively, which of course improved the look and impact of our covers.
“My favorite part about working at CIRCUS was the same thing that appealed to me about all my other media jobs (Good Times, WBUF-FM, and, post-CIRCUS, International Musician & Recording World): the satisfaction and enjoyment of helping to shape a product that, overall, I was proud of, and the camaraderie among the staff. At CIRCUS there wasn't any of the animosity and backbiting that you sometimes witness between the editorial and advertising sides. We all went out together after work at least once a week and regularly played softball and beach volleyball together. These were important people in my life; they were at my wedding, and they were at my mother's funeral when she died a few days after I'd left CIRCUS for International Musician & Recording World.
"Richard Hogan and I were the two editors the whole time I was there. In 1983 we added a Junior Editor, Michael Smolen, whose primary job was to handle the music-technology section. Three writers stand out as particularly good. John Swenson wrote with genuine affection for the artists he covered and had a good sense of the music's history and when it was appropriate to invoke it. Dan Hedges was one of the most cynical people I've ever met--wickedly funny, too--but his sometimes jaded world view never got in the way of his writing, which was warm and personable. Fred Schreuers could write about anything and anyone and hand in an interesting piece.
"To tell you the truth, I generally didn't hang out socially with the rock-critic crowd ('rock critters,' me and my wife called 'em). How do I say this? Too many of them weren't fully formed human beings. I can remember one writer meeting me for the first time and solemnly intoning, 'Rock & roll is my life,' which summed up the prevalent world view in that circle. How sad for you, I thought. Another time I was at the Bottom Line for a screening of the Kinks' live movie One More From the Road. In the middle of it, a cigarette lighter comes on, and I see the scribe next to me--a legendary mooch--scavenging through my plate of fried-chicken bones, looking for something to gnaw on. This was a guy who had so many albums that he kept several hundred in his bath tub.
"It was an odd collection of inferiority complexes and social phobias mixed with megalomania and self-importance, which manifested in unhealthy ways. For one thing, I always suspected that their supposed likes and dislikes had more to do with what would make them appear hip or elevate them in the eyes of self-proclaimed 'dean of rock critics' Robert Christgau of the Village Voice (isn't that sorta like being the smartest chicken in the chicken coop?), so that they'd be included in the Voice's annual Pazz & Jop Poll. It seemed less about the music than about improving their self-image by promoting a certain critically acceptable opinion. Of course they all liked Public Image Ltd., which I found absolutely unlistenable. Of course they worshiped at the altar of Lester Bangs. Of course they despised Led Zeppelin. It was all so predictable, smug, elitist, and worst of all disingenuous.
"And all the public and private sniping at one another! Dave Marsh, when he wasn't trying to bear Bruce Springsteen's love child, seemed to be involved in a lot of these feuds. It's sad to see that little has changed; twenty years later I stumbled upon some on-line site (might have even been rockcritics.com) where one Jim DeRogatis was swapping insults with--you guessed it--Dave Marsh. I'm happy to say that in ten years as a magazine editor, I never attended a single pop-music symposium. How excruciating would that be? But I do remember reading about one such conference in the mid-1980s where Andy Secher of Hit Parader magazine stood up and challenged what he felt was one panel's elitism and deliberate snubbing of heavy metal. Sir Christgau haughtily accused Hit Parader of 'pimping' for hard rock. Maybe, but no more so than Christgau and his acolytes at the Voice pimped for Pere Ubu and that whore of whores Lou Reed.
"One of the old myths about rock critters was that they were frustrated musicians. If only they were. No, they were frustrated rock stars. There's a huge difference. The vast majority had never stood on a stage, didn't understand the creative process, couldn't comprehend how much fun it is to be in a band and make music. Because I was a musician, I always had a fundamental appreciation for anyone who had the guts to get up in public and say whatever it is they had to say, no matter how ineptly. Anyone can sit in an audience and pass judgement.
"I much preferred informing readers about something that excited me musically than to trash something. As a music fan, I remain eternally grateful to John Mendelssohn, then of Rolling Stone, for turning me on to the Bonzo Dog Band and the Move at the age of fifteen. That is a valuable function. The only time a scathing review is useful is when the writer genuinely believes that an act is perpetrating a fraud on the public. But if you were a musician, you knew that was the exception rather than the rule--at least in the 1970s and 1980s. I generally found Journey, Kansas, Styx, and their ilk bloodless and unlistenable. But does anyone truly believe that they were out to con their audiences, snickering while listening to the playbacks of their new albums? They liked their crappy music. Truth is, the punk and new wave so revered by critics--including me!--produced more charlatans than any other musical movements, from Malcolm McLaren to Frankie Goes to Hollywood to Sigue Sigue Sputnik, to Bananarama. By the way, didn't the Sex Pistols recently complete a second reunion tour?
"Me, I could write features about almost anyone. And as Editor of CIRCUS, I had to, because most of my writers didn't share that view. Without mentioning any names, I wouldn't even bother to ask certain writers if they were interested in writing a feature story on, say, Iron Maiden. They couldn't transcend their personal tastes, whereas I could, because I was first and foremost a magazine person. I just happened to have the good fortune of writing about a subject near and dear to my heart, though I probably could have been just as happy writing about professional sports or politics. The acts I wrote about in CIRCUS in no way reflected what I listened to at home.
"So: No one's willing to take on the cover story on Van Halen? Fine, I'll do it. (Frankly, if you can't get excited by Van Halen, or Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, or AC/DC, some of the best proponents of hard rock, you're missing the point of rock & roll.) I loathed Iron Maiden's music, but I enjoyed interviewing and writing about the group. They were intelligent, articulate, and completely devoted to their music. What's the big problem? I thrived on the challenge of writing intelligently about groups that rarely received that sort of treatment. Of all the arts, rock music is one of the purest forms of self-expression. To a great extent it truly reflects the artist's perception of the world, which of course is shaped by his/her upbringing, experiences, and so forth. And what most interested me was to discover the connection between the person and the songs she writes or the way he plays guitar.
"I came to believe that heavy metal remained truer to the original tenets of rock & roll than probably any form of popular music. The best metal acts were completely oblivious to trends and radio formats, and proud of their outsider status. Again, what's the big problem? Although I didn't listen to a whole lot of metal, I found it fascinating as a social phenomenon--not to sound pretentious--and admired its musical values. Not that instrumental/vocal virtuosity guarantees creativity, but it's often preferable to the whole DIY (Do It Yourself) movement of inspired amateurism. For me, the most exciting rock & roll has always possessed elements of both.
"By 1983 I was ready for a change and wanted more free rein to shape a magazine. Not long after I came to CIRCUS, my wife, with her background in book publishing, became Editor of Rolling Stone's book division. Based on what I saw during her two and half years there, I knew I didn't want to work at RS--everyone seemed so grim and paranoid, always fearing that Jann Wenner would go on one of his periodic purges. My wife, Editor of all three editions of the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, decided that she didn't want to work there anymore, either, and left at year's end. She's gone on to co-author twenty-four books, including three best-sellers.
"In 1983 ad salesman Steve Rosenfeld and I approached one publisher about launching a magazine similar to England's The Face, but it didn't pan out. Shortly afterward, IM&RW decided to bump its Editor-in-Chief, Rob Bienstock, up to more of a copublisher's position. (In a situation similar to the one when I came to Circus, I assumed the title of Managing Editor, with the understanding that I would function as Editor-in-Chief. In a few months, Ron would be given a new title, and I would take over his. Once again, it didn't happen!) My last day at CIRCUS was Friday, March 9, 1984; I started at IM&RW on Monday, and the day after that my mother died.
"IM&RW was the poor cousin to Billboard's Musician. I believe that Ron and I turned the magazine around with our very first issue and gave the much wealthier Musician a run for its money. That too was a very tight-knit family of people; we were extremely proud of the job we were doing under difficult, oftentimes impossible conditions. IM&RW's British publisher abruptly decided to unload the magazine. They gave Ron Bienstock days to find a new backer. Miraculously, he did, but for the next year and a half, our financial situation was always tenuous.
"Plus, the lousy Brits refused to pay the approximately $7,000 it owed my writers and photographer for the previous two issues, and the new regime's attitude was 'It's not our debt.' I was always a fierce defender of my freelancers, where I was. Good Times was legendary for stiffing writers. One time, when I complained to the associate publisher that my writers needed to be paid, and he claimed that the magazine 'couldn't afford' to pay them--when in fact GT was raking in plenty--I stormed back to my desk, overturned it (like the stories you read about little old ladies who, pumped up with adrenaline, carry pianos out of burning buildings), screamed 'F*** you! I quit' and drove home. I got a call an hour later, asking me to come back; the checks were signed and waiting for me.
"At IM&RW I paid the $7,000 out of my own pocket. I felt it was the right thing to do, but in retrospect, I probably didn't need to be such altruist. To be honest, I barely received a single thank you from any of my freelancers. You're welcome, guys.
"Here's some CIRCUS trivia for you: Not long after I came to IM&RW, it became clear to me that my Associate Editor, Paul Gallota, wasn't as well-suited for our focus as Michael Smolen, who desperately wanted to follow me to International Musician. Gallota was a good writer, though; in fact, he would have been perfect for Circus. So I wrote to the boss, included some of Paul's clips, and proposed a one-for-one trade: Gallota for Smolen. Much to my surprise, he agreed, and the next Monday the two switched offices.
"We were a notch below a magazine like Rolling Stone, to tell the truth. Our only competitor was Hit Parader, which, frankly, wasn't nearly as well written. It was more of a fanzine. Each month you could count on the Scorpions being referred to as the 'Teutonic Terrors,' some other act being 'at the top of the hard-rock heap,' ad nauseam. Probably the biggest different between CIRCUS and Hit Parader was that at least our readers could write letters to the editor that didn't consist almost entirely of the word f*** and its various permutations. As in: 'What the f*** is Hit Parader doing writing about those f***ing p***ies _____________ [fill in the blank]?!! They have balls calling themselves heavy metal!' Etc.
"I think that CIRCUS brought high journalistic standards to our coverage of an area where that was rare. Strong editing, spell-checking, and fact-checking, well-researched interviews. To be honest, I long felt that 'music journalism' was an oxymoron. Few rock writers bring the skill and professionalism to their work that would be required at almost any non-music publication. Also, could you imagine, say, a sportswriter telling his editor, 'I'm not gonna cover the Yankees-Cleveland game! I hate the Indians. They used to be good--until they got popular.' Or something like that.
"The fact that I was as serious about writing as I was about music helped me to quickly make the transition to 'real' journalism--something that not all rock writers and editors have been able to do successfully. I decided early on that I would leave music journalism by the time I was thirty or so. If you want to play rock & roll until you're ninety, God bless ya! But to write only about pop music seemed, to me, awfully limiting. Frankly, I knew that I would be embarrassed to still be a rock journalist (ugh!) beyond thirty. I think it might have been David Lee Roth who once pointed out how pathetic it must be to be some fortyish writer chasing down an interview with the latest twenty-two-year-old music sensation in some shitty club. The thought of that made me shudder.
"So I knew that International Musician & Recording World would be my final stop on the way to somewhere else. Wherever where was! Fortunately for me, the latest owners of IM&RW--two clownish brothers from New Jersey who ran a couple of third-rate trade magazines--made my decision to leave an easy one. When the phones didn't work because they'd forgotten to pay the bill, or the electricity was turned off for a day or two, the entire staff of four, including me and Ron Bienstock, picked a day--January 15, 1986, to walk out. Which we did. The magazine tried to carry on but folded after two issues.
"Ironically, the day we were all quitting, I received a phone call from my editor at Doubleday Books, which had published a book of mine about heavy metal, titled Heavy Metal Thunder--undoubtedly the only book written about heavy metal to rate a highly complimentary review in the New York Times Book Review, of all places. He suggested writing an updated version of an advice book that Pat Boone (!) had written for teenagers back in the late 1950s: Twixt Twelve and Twenty. Our modern-day Pat Boone would be Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, an appropriate choice given his empathy for the downtrodden American adolescent, not to mention his own arrested development. That book, Teenage Survival Guide: How To Be A Legend In Your Own Lunch Time, paved the way for my transition to other areas of writing."