WRECKING CREW: THE REALLY BAD NEWS GRIFFITH PARK PIRATES by John Albert (Simon & Schuster), 279 pages, $31.75 cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
You might be wondering what happened to those friends of yours who were in love with romantic squalor, hard drugs and aimless rebellion in the 80s and 90s.
John Albert, an early member of the seminal goth-punk, cross-dressing band Christian Death, writes about what comes after the narcotics, basement club gigs and close encounters with death and near stardom: you play amateur baseball.
Wrecking Crew is an autobiographical account of post-punk Hollyweird washouts saved by America's favourite pastime. In his mid-30s, struggling in recovery and working odd jobs while nursing collapsed veins and collapsing dreams of stardom, Albert decides that an amateur league baseball team is needed to spread some hope. It's a Bad News Bears story for the blank generation, and it works.
Albert clips along in literate and chatty style as he interweaves the many storylines of his fellow bush leaguers. As they gather steam toward a championship game during the winter season, they also battle relapse, fading tattoos, psychotic stripper girlfriends, hep C, deviant sexual tendencies and half-hearted attempts to climb back on the ladder of showbiz success.
Winning against teams of arrogant college jocks and L.A. policemen, it turns out, is about more than baseball. It's a vehicle for sweet revenge and vindication. Albert recounts his sadness when a fellow teammate slides back into heroin, but admits that he envies him, too. Former junkies are advised to read this with their sponsor's phone number on speed dial.
The narrative meanders a bit and at times can read as a relentless junkie anecdote, but beneath its lengthy digressions into the sordid underbelly of L.A. lies a solid heart.
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