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Stephen Strausbaugh's Picks

 

By day, Stephen Strausbaugh works efficiently in the City of Books's Foreign Languages section. But once the moon is up, he heads out to one night spot after another, spinning tunes and answering to the handle "The Incredible Kid." The strain must be getting to him; his picks are all over the map. There are the expected titles about music and the art of DJing. So far so good. But gardening? metaphysics? fiction? Hong Kong film? — Henry Miller? Get it together man! No good can come of such eclectic reading tastes. Next thing you know you'll be advocating "democracy" or, heaven help us, "diversity."

 

Books on Music

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey by Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton

Last Night a Dj Saved My LifeThe authors of this book attempt a grand feat of music history revisionism by positioning the figure of the disc jockey at the center of music development and technology throughout the course of the 20th century. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life presents a convincing argument while remaining a fascinating look at a number of fabulous dance scenes filled with legendarily over-the-top characters. One of the most thought-provoking sections examines the emergence of the disco scene as a self-empowering community for Black and Latin gay dancers, years before it was discovered and polluted by major corporations. This book spans an entire century, beginning with the first phonographs and ending with the superstar DJs of today. No matter what your interest in DJing is, this book will expand your understanding and appreciation of the scope of this wonderful art.
 
Have Gun Will Travel: The Spectacular Rise and Violent Fall of Death Row Records by Ronin Ro

Have Gun Will Travel Rap music sales have surpassed that of Country music in recent years making it the most popular music in America. One of the most successful rap companies of the nineties was Death Row Records, headed by the infamous Suge Knight. This book exposes the gangster dealings, beatings, and murders surrounding the 100 million dollar enterprise which furthered the musical careers of Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Tupac. The story concludes with Suge Knight behind bars, but not before the tragic murders of rappers Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. An engrossing read that makes it clear just how bad getting into business with the wrong people can be.
 
Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture by Simon Reynolds

Generation Ecstasy: Inhto the World of Techno and Rave Culture For those of you who think that the related electronic music scenes of house, techno, disco, rave, etc. are a "white" thing, this book will set you straight. Disco and house music emerged from the underground Black and Latin gay dance scenes of New York and Chicago respectively, while the unprecedented prosperity of the integrated Detroit auto unions had some very special middle class African-American youth turning to the new sounds of Germany's Kraftwerk for inspiration in creating the music they called "techno." This book details the electronic dance scenes of the last 25 years, through their many fracturings and transformations leading up to the present, where electronic dance music reigns as the dominant popular music of Europe and Britain. The book flirts with ideas from postmodern philosophy in its explications and ruminations while remaining a lucid and compelling history.
 
Looking for the Perfect Beat by Kurt B. Reighley

Looking for the Perfect Beat This book is perfect for any DJ with zero to one year of experience open to thinking about how to approach their art. Mr. Reighley, a DJ of only a few years, presents his thoughts on the artform, as well as a host of interviews with legendary DJs from the last 25 years. The book contains introductions to many working DJs as well as chapters arranged thematically and is stuffed with engrossing quotes from a eclectic range of DJs working in a variety of styles/genres. Know your art.
 
The Complete Guide to High-End Audio by Robert Harley

The Complete Guide to High-End Audio Recorded music only sounds as good as the technology used to reproduce it. Since one can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars assembling the "perfect" sound system, it pays to know as much as possible about the world of high fidelity audio before making any purchases. Mr. Harley has written a comprehensive yet inviting introduction to this arcane and intimidating world. He tours the reader through all the various component options explaining the pros and cons of different designs thus enabling the reader to make an informed decision about what will best suit her needs. The book has its share of technical information but is written in a way that enables one to glean as much information as desired without having to work through and understand all the science involved.
 

Healthy Home

Clean House, Clean Planet: Clean Your House for Pennies a Day the Safe, Nontoxic Way by Karen Logan

Clean House, Clean Planet Karen Logan, a professional house cleaner for years, invented her own alternatives to toxic and expensive household cleaning products. This book shares her recipes for every cleaning situation one may possibly encounter in a domestic existence. Whether it's silver polish or stain removers, Ms. Logan will provide at least one recipe (and often several) along with all sorts of essential tips for cleaning up a problem and not making it worse. Since her recipes have been tested in the field for years, she gives you effectiveness ratings to help you determine how well a given recipe will work compared to the commercial alternatives. It is not necessary to buy poisons or to spend a lot of money on commercially marketed natural alternatives. Karen Logan will show you the way.
 
Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades: The Complete Guide to Natural Gardening by Steve Solomon

Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades This is the bible as far as gardening in the Pacific Northwest goes. The text is filled with thorough scientific discussions of all matters related to growing your own food. Solomon explains how his approach to growing vegetables comes from the marijuana farmers in Southern Oregon and their interest in maximizing yield and growing plants to their fullest. This can be an overwhelmingly technical guide for the beginning gardener, but even for novices it is great to have as a reference book when particular questions arise.
 
Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Square 
Foot GardeningIt is so easy to get bogged down in the stages between desiring a garden and actually planting it. It can be tough to find a book that will provide enough information to give you confidence in your first steps without overwhelming you with more details and instructions than are helpful. This is a great book to get you started. It makes gardening seem simple and straight forward, and Mel's ideas on garden set up are practical and effective. The supportive and encouraging tone will get you on your way towards a rewarding harvest.
   

Fiction

Anything by Henry Miller

Tropic of CancerMany people might think they know what to expect with Henry Miller before they have ever read him. He is truly a man whose reputation, for good or ill, precedes him. Henry Miller is one of the most rewarding reads in the English language. Always writing in a semi-autobiographical vein, he takes you through the amazing convolutions of his life in France and the United States. He writes dialogue so well that one can always see the conversations as if they were occurring that moment, no matter how outlandish the characters. There is often sex, but not always, and his writings are an evisceratingly insightful look into some of the uglier aspects of male sexuality. It is possible not to like the image of himself that Mr. Miller presents, but few authors have succeeded as well in conveying the joy and liberation of living life to the fullest. For those that imagine that their life can be much greater than it has been thus far.
 
The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander

Includes: The Book of Three
The Black Cauldron
The Castle of Llyr
Taran Wanderer
The High King

The Book of Three Many children's books claim to be equally enjoyable for children and adults. That is certainly the case for these volumes. Whether you are in elementary school or those years are a distant memory, these books are smart, funny, and quite capable of evoking a range of strong emotions in their stories of fantasy adventure in the land of Prydain. The stories move at a brisk pace while always staying in touch with the emotional reality of the characters. Taran is the main protagonist but Princess Eilonwy is a wonderful character along for the adventures. She is also a reason why girls (and women) like these stories as much as the boys.
 

Miscellaneous

Anything by Wilhelm Reich

American OdysseyWilhelm Reich studied under Freud in Vienna and was a respected psychotherapist before his unorthodox ways got him kicked out of that particular circle. Reich viewed ALL neurosis as a result of an inability to experience full sexual release. He developed techniques to liberate the trapped emotional energy in the body he called "character armor." Reich saw how psychological health was inseparable from political and social realities and his work with the Communist Party caused the Nazis to evict him from Germany. He pursued his research in many countries, deported from all of them, before ending up in the United States where he was imprisoned in 1954 and a federal judge ordered that his books be incinerated. Modern body work and energy practices borrow many techniques from Reich, who is rarely credited. All but his latest books are currently in print and all provide a window into the ideas of this remarkable man.
 
Anything by Robert Anton Wilson

The Illuminati PapersRobert Anton Wilson inspires quite a devoted cult following. He endeavors to take his readers outside their normal consciousness and the loyalty of his readers says much about the effectiveness of his efforts. Though he is known primarily for the science fiction epic The Illuminatus Trilogy, it is his nonfiction works that provide the clearest access to this man's formidable array of ideas. Many readers thrill to his willingness to pursue the varied tangled threads of conspiratology with both an open mind and a rigorous skepticism, but his writings involve far more than this. Integrating ideas from quantum mechanics, neuropsychology, Buddhism, and various esoteric ways of knowing, Wilson attempts to free us from our conditioned ways of thinking in order to put us back in touch with life. He will find your personal taboos and calcified neural pathways, and if he can offend you, he will. He will also take the time to introduce you to James Joyce, Alfred Korzybski, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Fort, Timothy Leary, and Wilhelm Reich, if you haven't already made their acquaintance. Once you've read Wilson things will never quite seem "normal" again.
 
TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone Ontological Anarchy Poetic Terrorism by Hakim Bey

Looking for the Perfect Beat Since the WTO, anarchism is once again a household word. This book introduced a whole new generation to the enticements of the anarchist lifestyle when it was released in the early 90's. Still a password for acceptance in many circles, it is an incitement to begin living fully now, without waiting for a hypothetical "revolution." Hakim Bey (a pseudonym) gleefully offends everyone, including anarchists of all stripes, while always seeking to inspire critical thinking in readers looking to break from the stultifying constraints of modern life.
 
Anything by John Keel

Operation Trojan HorseJohn Keel is a one-of-a-kind paranormal researcher who can rationally and convincingly explain away a standard hypothesis in his field only to suggest something far more outlandish and bizarre. Whether its UFO's or giant monsters in the woods, Mr. Keel will convince you there is something out there and that we will probably never be able to understand it. The X-Files wouldn't exist without the pioneering paranoia of this investigator of the unexplained. Watch out or he just might convince you you are currently under the control of malevolent dwarves living inside the Hollow Earth. For those who can entertain the wildest of ideas this man is a hoot.
 
Hong Kong Action Cinema by Bey Logan

Hong Kong Action CinemaThe book publishing world discovered Hong Kong cinema several years ago. Despite the torrent of publications released over these years, this title has not been surpassed as an exciting and comprehensive introduction to the most stunningly outlandish cinema on the planet. Filled with the best collection of Hong Kong film photos yet published, this book charts the history of this island's action cinema from early martial arts epics through the films of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-Fat and a host of others far more obscure to Western audiences. Unlike other Hong Kong film books that reveal entire movie plots, this book presents enough information to send one running to the nearest Asian video store still anticipating all the fabulously unpredictable turns for which Hong Kong films are known. A great book that will keep any fan of HK film up late into the night making notes about which movies to rent next.
 
Practical Nomad, 2nd Ed. by Edward Hasbrouck

Practical 
Nomad, 2nd Ed.If you want to travel the world for months on end with nothing but a backpack then this is the guide written expressly for your needs no matter where you choose to travel. If you are considering galavanting across the globe pick up this comprehensive book, written by a veteran globetrotter, and let an expert take you in hand. Mr. Hasbrouck has thought of everything and talks you through all your options from the perspective of someone who has been there many times. Whether deciding what to pack, or how to get a Visa, or how to deal with all manner of emergencies in far-flung places, this book will provide you with the information you need.
 

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