Lots has been happening, but not that much connected with books … until I got this e-mail from Kathi Kamen Goldmark (who’s added “Barry” to her name, having married HarperCollins SF’s Sam Barry recently). She is famously the creator of the Rock Bottom Remainders, the garage band comprised of best-selling authors (Amy Tan, Stephen King, Matt Groening, Mitch Albom, Scott Turow, Roy Blount, Jr., Dave Barry (Sam’s bro), and many others).
The Remainders do fundraising concerts for literacy-related organizations. About ten years ago, Kathi decided to try and raise more money by doing an offshoot of the Remainders, on CD. She rounded up a bunch of writers on the west coast, roped in a few Remainders and other ink-stained pals, including Norman Mailer, Maya Angelou, Molly Ivins, and Jessica Mitford, and issued a 32-track, two-disk set called Stranger Than Fiction. Musical ringers including Jerry Jeff Walker, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of the Doobie Brothers and Warren Zevon. The late, great Zevon also wrote scathing liner notes, describing the authors’ skill levels as ranging “from the amusingly inept to the downright catastrophic.”
But Kathi and “the Wrockers,” as she named the crew on the CD set, may have the last laugh. As she emailed her fellow participants: “Believe it or not, that Stranger than Fiction CD I produced years ago, on which you appear, has caught the eye of the folks who run the 2009 Just Plain Folks music awards…
”We were nominated because ‘the project did a great job demonstrating our Just Plain Folks motto,’ which is 'We're All in This Together!'...though what it is we're actually in was not clarified.”
Whatever it is, it’s the closest any of us may get to a Grammy moment. The awards are handed out in late August in Nashville.
And why was I notified? I did a tune, “Rainy Day Bookstores,” one of my earlier send-ups on “Rainy Day Women 12+35,” for the CD. It’s notable mainly for the fact that, while in the studio doing my Dylan impression, I lapsed into my Elvis during a break. Kathi and the session musicians got a laugh out of it, and we wound up splitting the song between Presley and Dylan. Even though I had next to no singing experience at the time, I think I came off…amusingly inept.
The CD, by the way, is still available at www.dqydj.com. Besides me and the aforementioned, you’ll hear Ken Follett, Bob Greene, Louis B. Jones, Leonard Maltin, Greil Marcus, Dave Marsh, Peggy Orenstein, Ridley Pearson, Amy Tan snarling “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” and Stephen King doing “Stand By Me.” Kathi’s no doubt still sending any proceeds to the Pen Writers Fund and other charities.
RANDOM NOTES: My pal Michelle Richmond, whose blogs are a highlight here at Redroom, is one of the “City Brights” you can find at the San Francisco Chronicle’s site, SFGate.com … She gets to write about whatever she likes, including answering a mixed review she got for her novel, No One You Know, that was published in…the Chronicle … I just MC’d a fundraiser for Paul Williams, the founder of Crawdaddy! Magazine—the first serious rock magazine (born in 1966, a year before Rolling Stone). Williams also wrote several highly acclaimed books chronicling Bob Dylan’s on-stage career. Because of injuries from a 1995 cycling accident, he requires full-time medical care. A bunch of rockers, including Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), John Easedale (Dramarama), Debora Iyall (Romeo Void), John Doe (X), Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon, performed at the Red Devil Lounge, and Wolfgang’s Vault, the rock memorabilia site that publishes the online Crawdaddy!, raised some $4,000 for Paul. A good chunk of that came from a signed photograph (of Johnny Cash flipping the bird) donated by Jim Marshall. Much more is needed, and you can learn all about Paul—and how you can help—at PaulWilliams.com … In the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s death, I dashed off a piece about him for the S.F. Chronicle, which threw it on the front page of the June 27th edition. Along with a couple of photos from a visit the Jacksons made to my home in late 1976 for a TV interview, the article is at SFGate.com … And Rolling Stone is excerpting my 1971 cover story on the Jackson 5 in its tribute issue.
Causes Ben Fong-Torres Supports
Susan G. Komen For The Cure Rocket Dog Rescue