Cleveland Confidential: Three proto/punk rock greats in Brookline tonight

You should come over to Brookline Booksmith tonight at 7, where I'm fucking stoked (um, and maybe a tad frightened?) to be moderating the "Cleveland Confidential" tour.

There are a half-dozen riffs without which punk rock doesn't happen, and one of 'em belongs to Cheetah Chrome on Rocket from the Tombs' immortal "Ain't It Fun." Later, Cheetah'd go on to pen one of punk's iconic anthems: Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer." Now living clean, the hard-living Chrome recently penned a drug-fueled memoir, A Dead Boy's Tale: From the Front Lines of Punk Rock, that makes Motley Crue's "The Dirt" read like Dr. Seuss. Boston figures in it a bit -- the Rat was one of the Dead Boys' first homes outside of New York (namechecked: Thundertrain, DMZ, Mission of Burma), and in the mid-80s Cheetah spent time drifting around the Fenway and Mission Hill while getting his shit together. 

Now he's on tour with a couple of fellow Cleveland punk vets. The Pagans' Mike Hudson was a journalist before he turned punk -- and somewhere in the 12th act of a life that saw its share of misery, tragedy, and shit luck, he returned to newspapering to found the Niagra Falls Reporter. His short, sharp memoir Diary of a Punk: Life and Death in the Pagans paints the absurdity of Cleveland in the '70s -- its soon-to-be-mayor, Dennis Kucinich, industrial decay, financial collapse -- and pulls no punches when describing a life in which he gave nearly as much cruelty as he got. 

Bob Pfeiffer followed a different path: his post-punk band Human Switchboard are revered for a David Thomas-produced EP and a handful of singles, but he later became the head of Hollywood Records and worked with a who's who of rock superstars from Alice Cooper to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. His literary debut, University of Strangers, is a post-modern twist on the novel: he wrote it as a fictional oral history of the famous case in which Amanda Knox was accused of murder; the book is populated by characters real and imagined, speaking both fictionally and non-fictionally, in a tale that was written in real-time as the case unfolded. The result is a fast-paced international detective story in which a community of artists, poets, and musicians come together in shadowy ways to attempt to solve the case. 

As most of you probably remember, we excerpted University of Strangers in the Phoenix back in February, and you can check it out here.

Our bretheren at WFNX spoke to Bob the other day, and brought up the fact that I make a brief and androgynous cameo in the novel. Check the whole thing out here

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