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The Tenacity of the Cockroach: Conversations with Entertainment's Most Enduring Outsiders Paperback – Dec 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (CA); 1 edition (Dec. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609809911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609809914
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 18.6 x 2.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,275,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Henry Rollins' long and storied career has included lengthy stints in the legendary noise-rock group Black Flag and his venerable Rollins Band, as well as numerous spoken-word albums and acting roles in movies ranging from Lost Highway to Johnny Mnemonic to Jack Frost. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 17 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I Love Cockroaches! 29 Dec. 2002
By Squirrelygirl (Linda Ward) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While it's true that this book is a compendium of previously printed interviews, for those of us with little time to sift through the Onion seeking them out, this book is not only a time
saver, it helps focus the subject into a veritable intellectual safari.
What an interesting blend of people this book contains! Of the 65 Hollywood "outsiders" ("Weird Al" Yankovic, Penn & Teller, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Stan Freberg, Mark Mothersbaugh, Dr. Demento, Jello Biafra...ye gads...somebody stop me! There's just so many of them!) you have a chance to compare & contrast people in all aspects of the entertainment industry, and, I think, find something interesting about each of them. From the stream-of-consciousness of David Lee Roth (I like Dave, but I'm glad I wasn't the one to interview him. Yikes! No more caffiene for you Dave) to the single mindedness tackiness of Russ Meyer's ...er, "interests" (glad I didn't interview him, either but for entriely different reasons), to George Carlin's cheerful nihilism, Harlan Ellison's eternal angst, and yes, even the mysterious possibility that Al Yankovic may be harboring overdue library books, there's a wealth of humor and interesting stuff in this inexpensive book.
Granted, if you are already really au courant with the entire arts and entertainment scene, this book may not jazz you as much. However, it introduced me to people I didn't know before (or didn't know as well), and to people I wanted to know better but didn't have the time to research. It hints at a lot of new artistic avenues to explore (and most of the accompanying pictures are pretty nice, too).
I don't know if I'll ever have the time to satisfy the pop culture craving this book has started, but...all in all, I think I'd rather have an unsatisfied craving than no craving at all.
Well, it's a blustery tempest outside right now, and I want to read some more of this book before the power goes out.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Fun Collection 30 Dec. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Celebrity interviews aren't supposed to be frank. They aren't even suppoesd to be honest - not really. Celebs are generally supposed to smile and tell interviewers that everything is wonderful every minute of every day. Not so! The Onion A.V. Club has a delightful way of making celebrities so comfortable that the celebs are beyond honest - they dare to be frank.
Where else would you find Harlan Ellison bemoaning the question, "What have you been doing lately?" Ellison remarked that the emphasis on new, new, new, "is killing life for writers."
If that wasn't interesting enough, Elvira commented that she leans toward B-horror films and not the Scream-type of films because she doesn't classify them as horror at all. She said, "I classify that as the evening news."
Aimee Mann discusses the realities of the music business and how critical success doesn't automatically translate into commercial success. As she see's it, radio airplay isn't determined by songwriting talent, or the relevancy of your content, airplay is just another business decision.
The wonderfully candid atmosphere of each interview in this collection that spans the entire entertainment industry is refreshing-these entertainers are outsiders, and not only do they have something to say, they say it.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Great fun 23 Mar. 2003
By ensiform - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A very worthwhile collection, with something to entertain and inform in nearly every interview. As the title says, the subjects are mostly entertainers who've maintained their popularity over some duration without ever going totally mainstream: Tom Lehrer, Berkeley Breathed, Dr. Demento, Henry Rollins, Harlan Ellison, KRS-One, etc. There are few exceptions: what is cultural blip Vanilla Ice doing here? Some of the interviews interested me especially, for various reasons. Ian MacKaye proves himself to be a man of deep intelligence, which I already knew, but more than that: he possesses a strong, pragmatic view of the world. Rather than railing (rather short-sightedly) at the evils of record companies, as several of the subjects in this book do, for example, he sees that they exist to make a rpofit, and those musicians who wish to make their own profit by signing onto them shouldn't be surprised when they're used as dollar-generating tools rather than as artists. As he says, he doesn't want to destroy the world, just create his own little world that can co-exist within the larger system. Andrew WK, whom I envisaged as some head-thrashing meathead based on his music (and song titles), turns out to be an introspective young man, honest and full of enthusiasm for all life has to offer. He's a bit like Brian Wilson: meticulous, fragile, but wanting to bring joy to people with music. Who knew? KRS-One also turns in a surprising interview, with some rather unusual comments about the sate of hip-hop culture and how the black population is hurting it. And there's David Lee Roth, whose interview is a splendid olio of self-aggrandizing, stream of (semi-)consciousness, disjointed logic, and outright nonsense. The man's brain must be fried. But all the subjects have something of value to impart (except perhaps Russ Meyer, whose answer to every single question involves his need for well-endowed women), even if a streak of the curmudgeon runs through most of them. Good fun.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
like being at a cocktail party full of interesting people 23 Jun. 2003
By Nadyne Richmond - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I wasn't entirely certain if I would like this book. Could a collection of interviews, more than a few of which I've read before, really be all that interesting? A few interviews into the book, and I knew that the answer was yes.
Reading this book is like being at a cocktail party full of interesting people. Some of them are interesting for what they have done, some are interesting for what they have learned, some are interesting for how they have evolved and changed, and some are interesting because they're such flaming jerks. And like a cocktail party that you attend with a friend who provides running commentary on the people you meet, "Weird Al" Yankovich provides sidebars to several of the interviews with his impressions of and experiences with the interviewee. Also like a cocktail party, there is a recurring theme of someone whose story to which you keep on returning to hear where it has progressed: the comic geniuses behind the HBO sketch comedy show "Mr Show" provide five separate interviews through the course of their show's tenure on HBO.
My favourite interviews were those with Henry Rollins (whose interview provides the title for the collection), Berkeley Breathed, Joan Jett, David Lee Roth, both halves of Penn and Teller, KRS-One, and Alice Cooper. I could name my least favourite interviews, but these interviews were not least favourite because of the interview itself. Rather, they were not as interesting because the subject turned out to be a flmaing jerk, but not enough of a jerk to be funny.
This is an interesting roadtrip through pop culture. I didn't read it all in one setting, but rather between other things. It's not deep or meaningful (although the book does close out with a collection of interviews with several people who had positive messages), but it is entertaining and often hilarious.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Better than People 26 Dec. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The great thing about this book is the celebrities that were interviewed. I have never seen a cover feature in People Magazine on Weird Al, but his interview in Tenacity is great. The sad thing is, is that while I am writing this review there is an ad for People with Jennifer Aniston on the cover. I don't want to read about her. I want to read about Dr. Demento and others. Kudos to the interviewers and editors of this book for making it the best reading of the year.
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