Posted in books

My Top Five Favorite Memoirs You Need To Check Out

As a child, I was quite an avid reader. My parents read stories to me every night before bedtime-Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books and of course The Berenstain Bears, which I believe was the reason I was coined the nickname “Sister” after Sister Bear (which then turned into “Sis” or “Sissy”), before my brother Jacob was born.

I vividly remember my mother reading me Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House On The Prairie books, as well as Beverly Cleary’s Beezus and Ramona books. One of my most cherished memories was my mother reading me the book Socks by Beverly Clearly in my upstairs knotty pine bungalow bedroom on my twin sized bed

Whenever my family took a vacation or frequent camping trip, you could always find me with a book stuffed in my face. My mom introduced me to Stephen King at a young age, and I was hooked. During many of these vacations or weekend trips, my family found itself at used book stores or local flea markets, each one of us always finding some kind of treasure. I remember acquiring a beautiful, used copy of Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum hard cover book as well as four of the most well illustrated, gory and horrifying, Clive Barker comics.

Unfortunately, as I got older and into my college years, reading books for pleasure was no longer a “thing” in my life, which probably happens to many individuals who were quite avid readers in their youth.

Once I got on my own place and settled into life as an adult, reading became more prevalent, as I started to become interested in more diverse music and entertainment and became fascinated with the lives of the people behind the mic or movie screen. It was at this time I became a sponge for any knowledge I could get my hands on about the things I was interested in, which lead me to reading the accounts from the people who lived them in the form of memoirs.

I would like to share with you five of my favorite memoirs to date in hopes that a former avid reader such as myself will find them as interesting as I do and decide to pick up a book once again…

How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale – Jenna Jameson

How to… Make Love Like A Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale

I remember picking up this book at one of the lowest points in my life. I was in college, just started therapy and mental health medication, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin constantly. On the weekends, I would take a ride to Barnes and Noble and just browse around and occupy my mind. I remember seeing this book and my interest piqued, clearly, the name of the book alone will do that to ya.

I knew of Jenna Jameson from actually not even watching porn, I knew her from the “E! True Hollywood Story” Jenna Jameson episode which aired in 2003 (I picked up the book around 2009). I remember the episode being so enthralling and so raw, not just because Jenna was in the adult entertainment industry, because her story was truly captivating. I knew I needed to pick up this book and learn more about her life, and boy does Jenna ever deliver.

This personal account of Jenna’s life is nearly 600 pages long. She details everything, word for word accounts of conversations, personal journal entries, photos, comic strips and my personal favorite her 10 Commandments. Hands down, this is one of the best books I have ever read. I love the scrap book feel of it. You can tell Jenna really put her heart and soul into writing and creating this masterpiece.

Jenna Jameson is an incredible woman who has overcome so much in her life. She is a beautiful person inside and out. I keep up with her to this day on Instagram, and we have exchanged messages quite a few times. She is an absolutely lovely person, and I highly recommend you check out How…to Make Love Like A Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale for yourself.

You can purchase How…to Make Love Like A Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale here.

And I Don’t Want To Live This Life: A Mother’s Story Of Her Daughter’s Murder – Deborah Spungen

And I Don’t Want To Live This Life A Mother’s Story Of Her Daughter’s Murder

And I Don’t Want To Live This Life by Deborah Spungen is written by the mother of Nancy Spungen- notoriously known as the girlfriend of Sex Pistols “bassist” Sid Vicious. Nancy was known to many people in the scene as “Nauseating Nancy,” a groupie who was addicted to heroin and latched on to Sid Vicious for the notoriety. However, in this book, Deborah sets the record straight about her daughter and gives plenty of reasons as to why Nancy was the way she was.

Nancy Laura Spungen was born in 1958 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to her parents Frank and Deborah Spungen. She was born with severe cyanosis due to oxygen deprivation caused by her umbilical cord being wrapped around her neck, as well as a blood disorder in which she received multiple transfusions for in the first few days of her life. By the time she was released from the hospital, the doctors assured her parents that they had a healthy baby girl and to take her home and treat her as such. It ended up being so far from the truth, as recalled by Deborah.

Nancy was an inconsolable infant and would do “nothing but scream” as accounted by her mother. The crying and screaming fits concerned Nancy’s parents, who tried every avenue possible to find out what was wrong with their baby girl. At three months old, the pediatrician prescribed liquid barbiturates to stop the fits and thus thrust Nancy, at three months old, into a lifelong drug addiction.

Deborah also accounts that Nancy was a difficult child due to some type of mental afflictions causing her to go into violent psychotic episodes on multiple occasions, such as the time she threatened to kill her babysitter wielding a pair of scissors in her hand. These behaviors ultimately lead to multiple suicide attempts and later drug abuse.

It is also well reported that Nancy had a very high IQ and was extremely intelligent. She had an absolute love for music at an early age and once she got into the band scene she had a knack for knowing when a band was going to be big, and she was never wrong.

Nancy lived to be only twenty years old and was found dead under the bathroom sink, in her bra and underwear, in room 100 of the Hotel Chelsea in New York in 1978. The tale of Sid and Nancy is tragic and is overly romanticized. The relationship was a codependency on each other due to their drug abuse and mental struggles.

Deborah maintains in the book and in several interviews that the last phone call she had with her daughter, Nancy was set on getting her life straight, she had started taking methadone, and requested that her mother find a rehabilitation facility for her as well as Sid, and to let everyone know in the family that she loved them. A few days later, she was gone.

My takeaway from this book is that it is so very easy to victim shame, especially to those who have been dubbed the less dead (drug users, prostitutes, homeless people, etc.). But always remember, there is a family behind that person, a family who has gone through the addiction process with the addict and has been mourning them even when the addict was still on this earth. No matter what, that person is a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a cousin, a grandson or granddaughter, niece or nephew- to someone in this world who was loved and could not be saved.

As I said before, Deborah Spungen really sets the record straight in this book and gives her daughter the dignity she deserved. I cannot recommend this book enough, even if you aren’t a Sex Pistols fan, or have no idea who Nancy Spungen is, this book is an amazing read about a mother’s struggle with a difficult child, doing the best she could to save her from the evils of this world.

You can purchase And I Don’t Want To Live This Life A Mother’s Story Of Her Daughter’s Murder here.

I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol – Glen Matlock

I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol

I was A Teenage Sex Pistol is the personal account of Glen Matlock- The Sex Pistols original bass player, and his short time with the band. Glen was one of the founding members of the band and could actually play the bass unlike the attention seeking fool who was put in the band later, *cough* SID VICIOUS *cough.*

Glen was certainly given sh*tty treatment by the band’s “manager” the infamous Malcolm McLaren, saying that he was thrown out of the band because he “liked the Beatles.” Glen was a key player in the songwriting of the band’s only record Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, released in 1977 and maintains that the band only wrote two additional songs after he left.

A lot of misquotes and misconstrued facts surrounding the departure of Glen Matlock leaving The Sex Pistols is part of the lore based on the narrative of Malcolm McLaren who generally liked to create chaos between band members and mismanaged the band until they completely went off the rails and called it quits during a live show in San Francisco in 1978 during their first and only US Tour, luckily for Glen he was already out and doing his own thing by then.

Glen Matlock went on to form other bands and I believe still makes music to this day. He has even joined The Sex Pistols several times on reunion tours with the original members of the band. He is a brilliant musician and I actually really enjoy listening to his group Glen Matlock & The Philistines, I really like the song “On Something.”

I am really glad that Glen wrote his own account of what actually happened with his departure from The Sex Pistols as so much information has been misconstrued, and in this book he was finally able to set the record straight and tell his own story.

Glen Matlock is a pioneer of the England Punk Scene and is a very interesting man overall. I highly recommend this book and highly recommend checking Glen Matlock out, he has provided so many great interviews not only talking about The Sex Pistols, but other music related topics, and has amazing stories to tell.

You can purchase I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol here.

Coreyography: A Memoir – Corey Feldman

Coreyography A Memoir

Even though I am a little too young (born in 1988) to have been around during the big Two Coreys phase of the 1980s, I absolutely love Corey Feldman. I grew up with Gen X parents who introduced me to movies such as The Goonies (my personal all-time favorite), Stand By Me, Gremlins, and The Lost Boys, which I completely watched the sh*t out of. Corey Feldman holds a special place in my heart from my childhood, regardless of what anyone thinks of him. I even have a coveted “Which Corey Is Your Favorite?” mug that my best friend had me made for Christmas one year.

Corey Feldman has been a controversial figure since the 1980s due to his friendship with Michael Jackson, which Feldman maintains was “absolutely pure and innocent,” and although he stands with victims of sexual child abuse allegations against Michael, he makes it clear that no inappropriate behavior was ever made against him by Jackson. Corey is also notoriously known for his underage partying with other child stars (he was also underage) of the time and drug abuse in the late 1980s and early 1990s- which he overcame and became clean and sober in 1995.

In his Memoir, Feldman paints the perfect picture of what life was like growing up in Hollywood in the 1980s and how the sexual abuse against children was running rampant. He has become an advocate for victims of childhood sexual abuse and molestation and vowed to expose those responsible for the sexual abuse against Feldman and his childhood friend Corey Haim, who tragically passed away in 2010 from pneumonia and other heart related issues. Corey Haim struggled with prescription drug abuse most of his life, attributing to the abuse he suffered at the hands of major Hollywood players.

This book is an absolute page turner, I remember taking this book with me to work and reading it on every break and lunch period, and then continuing to read it once I got home. I remember being so freaking excited when I finally came to the part about Feldman receiving the script for The Goonies and his account of working on set with Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner and all the amazing child actors. I love the account of the child actors seeing One Eyed Willy’s ship for the first time, as Richard Donner kept the details of the mockup pirate ship quiet, so he could get a genuine, candid reaction from the actors. What you actually see in the movie were the raw reactions of the actors-It’s little things like that which make the movie even more special to my heart.

I highly recommend picking up this book if you love Corey Feldman, if you were a huge fan of The Two Coreys growing up, love movie nostalgia, or simply love the 1980s decade, this is an absolute must-read. Feldman does a fantastic job telling his story and setting the record straight on his life and his experience in the entertainment industry, you will not be able to put this book down.

You can purchase Coreyography A Memoir here.

Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol – Steve Jones

Lonely Boy tales From A Sex Pistol

Clearly, I am a huge Sex Pistols fan, and I’m not ashamed to show it. I have followed Steve Jones for years on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and listened to old episodes of Jonesy’s Jukebox on YouTube before the show was revived in 2015 on 95.5 KLOS Los Angeles. I remember the day the show came back on the air, the first song Steve played was Personality Crisis by the New York Dolls and I remember having chills up my spine and thinking I really get to listen live and be a part of this.

Steve is known for his raw, no holds barred interview style, and doesn’t really give two sh*ts if he makes someone the least bit uncomfortable, which I actually adore about him. He was such an open book, upfront and forthcoming with his life experiences and his amazing knowledge of music, I thought to myself this man needs to make a book because I will be first in line to read it no matter what.

In 2017 his memoir Lonely Boy: Tales Of A Sex Pistol was released and you better believe that I had preordered that bad boy, and it was on my doorstep the day of release.

Steve is the third member of the Sex Pistols to write his account of the happenings with the band, and he is here to do it his way, as he says, “warts and all.” He was exhausted of everyone else telling his story for him, especially what transpired within the band. Steve is the founding member of The Sex Pistols and got the band rolling with the help of Glen Matlock, Paul Cook, and some bloke named Wally Nightingale who was later canned for the notorious John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, coined the name Johnny Rotten by Steve Jones due to the state of his rotten teeth.

Steve Jones is an incredible human, he never learned to read or write until he was in his thirties, and never even knew how to play guitar until the band formed. He was an avid music buff, and essentially the music saved him from a life as a criminal. Much of the equipment to start the band was provided on Steve’s behalf due to his constant thievery. Steve notoriously broke into Hammersmith Odeon in London, disguising himself as a roadie, in 1973 and stole much of David Bowie’s set equipment, which is actually very hilarious and shows that Steve’s intentions to start this band were all there.

I loved reading the before and after the Sex Pistols information Steve provided in his book, as I was already a pretty avid Pistols fan, I really wanted to know more about Steve, his upbringing, and what happened after The Sex Pistols disbanded.

Again, highly recommend this book- whether you are a Sex Pistols fan, a fan of Steve Jones himself, or just want some really fascinating punk rock history, pick up Jonesy’s book. It is an absolute harrowing tale of how an abused and neglected child rose to the ranks and formed one of the most influential bands of all time and how music ultimately saved his life… and then almost killed him, and then saved him again.

You can purchase Lonely Boy Tales From A Sex Pistol here.

Posted in books

My Top Four Favorite Coffee Table Books

There are very few things so precious to me that I would consider running back into my home for if it was up in flames: photos, my cats, and my favorite coffee table books.

I have a beautiful collection of coffee table books that I have acquired over the years, and it has kind of become an obsession of mine-not just as a statement piece in my home, on display, collecting dust. I have read through these books, front to back, and referenced back to them for information many times.

I love the intimacy of a coffee table book, the additional information it provides on a subject I am interested in, the beautiful enlarged photos, the scrapbook like quality- it’s a personal treasure that someone just so willingly shared with you and I completely cherish them.

If a band, artist, or photographer I am interested in comes out with a coffee table book, you can bet your a** it’s already in my Amazon Wish List ready to be purchased, or I’m on the hunt for it.

I wanted to share with you my favorite and most treasured coffee table books in my collection that are definitely worth checking out if you are intrigued by the subject matter.

ANDY WARHOL Polaroids 1958-1987

Andy Warhol Polaroids 1958-1987

This, gorgeous, 408-page book inspired me to buy my own Polaroid camera and start shooting away. I remember waiting forever for the right time to purchase this book because it is so expensive, and I ended up using my Christmas money to finally get it because I knew I had to have it.

I am obsessed with the drama and conflama of Andy Warhol, his factory, the Warhol Super Stars, anything and everything Andy. I know it’s so cliché and there are so many more amazing artists than Andy Warhol, but I just cannot help myself. My Warhol obsession led me down the path to discovering Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Candy Darling, Edie Sedgewick and all the astounding things that evolved around Warhol. Although, we can all admit, Warhol was a controversial, tragic and abusive person, we can also admit so many remarkable things happened around him, and he provided a safe haven for so many people to come to The Factory and just be who they were without judgement.

Yes, we have the incredible art work of Andy Warhol and his legacy, but I think it’s more important that we remember who and what came out of The Factory besides his art.

This book is a beautiful and intimate portrayal of Andy being himself, and capturing beautiful, candid moments in time of legendary people. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during some of these amazing shots, to hear the conversations, to see the people we’ve lost over time, and to time, and just be present in that very moment as he was taking these photographs.

This book provides a very different take on Warhol and gives an amazing look into the incredible movement he helped to create, rather than just being remembered for his soup cans and Marilyn Monroe screen prints.

This book is definitely one of the most treasured items I own and if you don’t care about one other thing in this post you need to take a look at this one book for yourself. It is incredible.

You can find Andy Warhol Polaroids 1958-1987 here.

Inside The Chelsea Hotel Photographed By Julia Calfee

Inside The Chelsea Hotel, Photographed By Julia Calfee

Every time I visit New York City, I have one request, visit 222 W. 23rd st. The Hotel Chelsea.

Hotel Chelsea, New York, New York, February 2022

I would be lying to you if I didn’t admit that The Hotel Chelsea entered by consciousness due to an obsession with The Sex Pistols and of course Sid and Nancy.

Nancy, the girlfriend, of Sex Pistols “bassist” Sid Vicious was notoriously found dead on the bathroom floor of room 100, with a single stab wound to her abdomen. She bled out sometime during the night after an altercation with either Sid or a known drug dealer. It seems more likely that she got into a scuffle with someone over drugs rather than Sid killing her due to the fact that no one in the city could find any junk to get a fix, and he was passed out cold from over consumption of Tuinal due to the shortage of heroin.

Sid and Nancy are among only a few of the well known people who frequented the Hotel Chelsea in its heyday-some of the hotel’s most notable guests and residents include: Dylan Thomas (poet), Arthur Miller (playwright), Jack Kerouac (novelist and poet), William S. Burroughs (writer and visual artist, known as the primary figure of the Beat Generation and postmodern author popular culture and literary influencer), Bob Dylan (singer-songwriter), Patti Smith (singer-songwriter, author, poet), Leonard Cohen (singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist), Robert Mapplethorpe (photographer), and Andy Warhol (artist, film director, producer) just to name a few.

Julia Calfee lived and photographed within the walls of Hotel Chelsea for four years and within her book, through her photography, she answers the question we are all dying to know: “what is it like living inside the Hotel Chelsea?!” My takeaway-beautiful chaos.

This is a must-have book for anyone who is as obsessed with the lore and legend of the Hotel Chelsea and has the ultimate dream of merely getting a glimpse inside.

You can find Inside: The Chelsea Hotel: Photographed By Julia Calfee here.

Never Mind The Bullocks Here’s The Sex Pistols 1977 The Bullocks Diaries

Never Mind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols 1977 The Bollocks Diaries

Long story short, sometime around 2014, I became obsessed with the London Punk scene, and at the forefront of that scene, of course, is the Sex Pistols. Although the Pistols had a short run (1975-1978) and only one record release under their belt, they are among the most groundbreaking and influential bands in music history. The Sex Pistols are credited for initiating the Punk movement in the UK, as well as influencing bands such as The Clash, The Damned, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

I love the scrapbook look of this book as it includes press clippings, photos, documents, and everything in between-it really reminds me of something I would have made myself back in the day as a fan of pop-punk bands with all of my Van’s Warped Tour memorabilia.

This book is a must-have for any die hard Sex Pistols fan such as myself.

You can find Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols: 1977 The Bullocks Diaries here.

Mean Streets: NYC 1970-1985 Photographs By Edward Grazda

Mean Streets: NYC 1970-1985 Photographs By Edward Grazda

Clearly, I love NYC- I love the gritty streets, the culture, the history, the attitude, and all things that make NYC what it is. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be uprooting from the Midwest anytime soon to live there, however, it is a great escape if you need to get some culture pumping through your veins, and it makes you greatly appreciate your 900 sq ft. apartment for less than $800 a month, once you return.

During the 1970s, the City of New York faced many economic hardships, industrial decline and even the threat of bankruptcy. The city was forced to lay off many city workers and officials, as well as cutting funds for municipal services such as sanitation. More than 82,000 people fled to the suburbs (white flight) in desperate need of jobs. Those who were left in the city, rightfully so, became infuriated with the negligence of their government turned to violence, so much that crime rates increased at an alarmingly rapid pace with drugs, vandalism and theft becoming the norm.

PBS NYC in Chaos

This book is an amazing look into the decline of NYC during the 1970s and 1980s. It’s odd to say, but the photographs truly pop out at you and for a second you feel immersed into that very moment in time.

You can find Mean Streets: NYC 1970-1985 Photographs By Edward Grazda here.

I really hope you guys enjoyed this post and found it informational and interesting. What are your favorite coffee table books? Are you as obsessed as I am? Are you interested in any of the subject matter discussed above? Leave me a comment with your thoughts, and or your favorite coffee table books I should check out!