Wednesday, November 27, 2013

20 Years Since Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle

Smoke weed every day for 20 years and you too will see the light of Rastafari.

Twenty years ago this week, Death Row Records released Snoop Doggy Dogg's first album, Doggystyle.  Everybody seemed to have that album.  It was really good music for driving around, getting high.  I didn't know this at the time, but that was because the whole thing was built on samples from old Parliament and Funkadelic songs from the 1970s.

When you listen to the album now, it's striking that most of the songs are in such bad taste.  There's a lot of "keepin' it real" ghetto gangsta nonsense that had people up in arms, I guess because the lyrics were going to be a bad influence on the vulnerable Youth of America.  Except that jazz was going to do that in the 1920s, and Elvis was going to do it in the 1950s, and Metallica and Madonna and Miley and etc.


In any case, the album still sounds great, as long as you don't listen too closely to what they're saying.  Then it sounds dumb.  Embarrassing.  Still, it's hard to find fault - Snoop was only 21 at the time of the album's release, and the actual masterminds behind it, Dr. Dre and Suge Knight, weren't too much older.  I think you and I would be mortified if someone played us a tape of the things we were saying when we were 21.      

Here's an interview in Rolling Stone with Suge Knight about the recording of Doggystyle (you didn't think I actually knew, on my own, that this was the 20th anniversary, did you?):

Suge Knight interview  

And here's the first single from the album, the signature Who Am I? (What's My Name?).  Enjoy:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How did you get a book deal with Rutger Hauer?

"All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.  Time to die."

People ask me this a lot.

In early 2005, my novel SMOKED had just gotten a deal from St. Martin's Press in the United States, and a worldwide deal from Headline Books in the UK.  I had never had a book deal before, after years of trying, and now I had two big ones in one month.  So I was hyperventilating a lot.

One night, my agent called me and said, "Do you remember Rutger Hauer?"

I said, "The name rings a bell.  He was only like my favorite actor when I was a kid.  Blade Runner, Nighthawks, The Hitcher... Yeah.  I remember Rutger."

"So," he went on, "I've been trying to get him interested in doing a book for a while, and he finally said yes.  I think you're the guy to write it with him.  You guys will have to do a book proposal on spec, but once we get a deal, you'll be the one.  How does that sound?"



"Uh, sure..."

"Okay, good.  He's in New York at a hotel, waiting for your call.  Here's the number.  Give him a shout.  Let me know how it goes."

So I called Rutger.  We chatted somewhat awkwardly.  He sounded just like Roy Batty from Blade Runner.  He said, if I could be in New York in a few days, maybe I could stop by his hotel room and we could do a little work together.

That seemed weird.  I had this image of turning up at his hotel room, and then what?  The two of us, sitting on the bed together, with a notebook and a pen.

I didn't have to worry.  He was in New York shooting a movie, and the film company was paying his expenses.  The "room" was a two-story, three bedroom, two bath penthouse, with a full kitchen and dining room at the top of a hotel in mid-town Manhattan.  The sundeck gave 180 degree views of the skyline, including the Empire State Building, which seemed like you could almost reach out and touch it.

I was 34 years old.  It had actually never before occurred to me that there were hotel rooms like this.  So much for seen-it-all, done-it-all Quinlan.

Two things about Rutger surprised me as soon as he answered the door.  One is, he's old.  That was the most surprising.  Rutger is no longer the beautiful young thing from Blade Runner.  Oh, he's still handsome and all, but his face is very lined, and it appears that Rutger, unlike so many celebrities, is too modest to go in for facial surgery.

The other surprising thing is I'm just as tall as he is.    

This was the very beginning of a two year process that eventually resulted in Rutger's autobiography, ALL THOSE MOMENTS.         

Full Contact Medieval Jousting

Went to the Sarasota Medieval Festival over the weekend.  It was fun.  The funnest part was watching the Knights of Mayhem, full contact jousting.

These guys really do gear up in armor, climb aboard massive horses, and race at each other at top speed, with solid wooden lances at the ready.  The collisions are amazing.

The guy who runs this attraction is named Charlie Andrews.  He goes by the name "Sir Charles" during the show, since, of course, he is supposed to be a medieval knight.  Every time the announcer called him Sir Charles, I thought of Charles Barkley.

Sir Charles is a weird mix of entertainer, megalomaniac and menace to himself and others.  He refers to himself, and has others refer to him, as "The World Champion of Full Contact Jousting."  This is probably true, as far as it goes.  But since there can't be more than a dozen people who actually participate in this sport, it doesn't go all that far.

During breaks in the action, he was hitting on a young woman in the audience, from atop his mighty steed.  When her boyfriend took offense, he openly mocked the guy, and seemed to threaten to kick the guy's ass after the show.  Which he could have easily done.

Charlie Andrews is around the size of your typical NFL linebacker.  Big.  And he was very eager to demolish his opponent, a young jouster who, as an employee of the Knights of Mayhem, actually works for none other than Charlie Andrews.  How'd you like to have as your boss, a gigantic madman who every day is trying to obliterate you?

On his website, Charlie suggests that very soon, the sport of Full Contact Jousting will catch on, and he will be a household name worldwide.  Hmmm.  In any case, it's fun to watch.