Synopses & Reviews
You never know what's going to save you.
After years of dingy nightclubs and drug addiction, John Albert and his hard-luck friends certainly never expected their salvation to arrive in the form of a pastime most often associated with Mom, God, and apple pie. Wrecking Crew a highly unusual chronicle of recovery and redemption documents the transformation of a group of musicians, struggling screenwriters, and wannabe actors into a competitive band of hardballers.
For over a decade, it seemed to be enough: the narcotics, gambling, whores, and aimless rebellion. But as they stumbled into their thirties, the blithe pursuit of self-destruction had simply become exhausting to these battle-scarred denizens of the L.A. counterculture. The romantic squalor of being perpetually broken-down, periodically drug-addled, and irresponsible began to lose its charm.
The idea of fielding a baseball team to compete in a hard-knocks amateur league seemed merely the latest in a string of half-hearted stabs at restoring order to their ragged lives. But this escapade was different. When these men donned their team uniforms, the old obsessions started to fade and something incredible began to happen. This is the unforgettable story of the Griffith Park Pirates.
"Take the song 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' and change the words 'peanuts,' 'crackerjacks' and 'home team' to 'sex,' 'drugs' and 'rock and roll,' and you're left with a pretty good summary of Albert's debut memoir. Recounting the first seasons of the Griffith Park Pirates, an amateur baseball team made up of denizens from 'the Hollywood underclass,' Albert, an out-of-work screenwriter and former punk rock drummer and heroin addict, creates an engrossing chronicle of his teammates' search for the American dream. Brutally honest prose is tinged with humor and written in short chapters reminiscent of a punk rock song. While the team of junkies and unemployed musicians and actors find improbable success and happiness on the field, they struggle with their demons off the field. Being on the team affects each player differently: burly catcher Chris gains the confidence to accept himself as a cross-dresser, while the recently clean Dave celebrates with a speedball, to tragic results. But even with the players' penchant for relapses, bizarre behavior and dead-end jobs in the shadows of Hollywood's bright lights, Albert keeps hope alive as these grown, battered men continue to battle and take to the field to play the old ballgame. Agent, Dan Mandel. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"If Red Barber had listened to The Velvet Underground, he might have envisioned this darkly hilarious and strangely inspiring true story of baseball, addiction, cross-dressing and subversive sex. Wrecking Crew
is a brand new sports classic for the post-punk steroid generation."
-- Legs McNeil coauthor of Please Kill Me and The Other Hollywood
"A jaggedly beautiful punk-rock sports tale." Kirkus Reviews
"I loved Wrecking Crew. It is my story too. John Albert put it all together, he is a great original voice from L.A.'s wasteland." Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers
"This is the book William Burroughs would have written if he wore cleats and played centerfield on weekends. A fantastic, strangely inspiring read, full of bottom-feeding heroes who swing for the fences. I loved it." Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
"Wrecking Crew is a brand new sports classic for the post-punk steroid generation." Legs McNeil coauthor of Please Kill Me and The Other Hollywood
"John Albert has crafted an incredible, fine-tuned memoir of heartbreak and triumph infused with sly humor, unexpected innocence, and deviant sex. Wrecking Crew slays." Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill
"In Wrecking Crew, John Albert shows that the greatest addiction and the greatest recovery program is baseball. Betty Ford, it's time to field a team." Jim Caple, ESPN.com senior writer and author of The Devil Wears Pinstripes
"John Albert is a natural. The savagery, lost soul humor and heart with which he chronicles his team of dime-bag Mickey Mantles and punk-damaged L.A. badasses puts The Wrecking Crew right up there on the Hollywood Hell shelf between The Day of the Locust
This is the book William Burroughs would have written if he wore cleats and played centerfield on weekends. A fantastic, strangely inspiring read, full of bottom-feeding heroes who swing for the fences. I loved it."
-- Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
About the Author
John Albert cofounded the semilegendary cross-dressing band Christian Death and also enjoyed a stint as the drummer in Bad Religion. He lives in Los Angeles and has contributed to LA Weekly, Hustler, and BlackBook, among others. He won the Best of the West Journalism Best Sports Writing Award in 2000, for the LA Weekly article from which Wrecking Crew derived.