July 22, 2020

From Gerald R. Lucas

Reelin’ in the Books 🎶 covid-19: day 134 | US: GA | info

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I finished Donald Fagen’s memoir Eminent Hipsters, and it was just what I needed right now. It was smart and snarky, showing just the Fagen I would expect, or what Seth Stevenson calls “a portrait of the artist as a grumpy old man.” I cannot disagree with this sentiment, but as a fellow grumpy old man, I like that.[1] And while I know the possibility is pretty non-existent, it makes me think twice about ever approaching him in public, even to express my profoundest gratitude for his work’s meaning in my life. As a “TV Baby,”[2] I’m not sure he’d like me much, but we do share some enthusiasms, like Norman Mailer as the prophet of hip. He even credits Mailer with influencing the composition of “Deacon Blues,” one of the only times Fagen even discusses Steely Dan.[3]

If I have any complaints about the book, it’s that Fagen does not really discuss his own work at all. Yes, the whole second part of the book is a travel journal from a 2012 summer tour with The Dukes of September. Yes, it was interesting, but, dude, howabout your journal from a Steely Dan tour? Man, that would be gold. Even so, I can’t help but think David would like this book. I wish we could have read it together.

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I started reading John Scalzi’s Old Man's War, and so far it’s great. The premise is far out—on your 75th birthday, you can join the colonial military and leave earth forever. The rumored payoff, however, is renewed youth. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m excited to see where it goes. I don’t know why, but I expect it to turn a bit darker, maybe go along the lines of The Forever War or Starship Troopers. I’m keen to find out.



Notes

  1. I will say that I do not agree with other of Stevenson’s assessments, though I do realize that Fagen’s memoir will strike many the wrong way. Could this possibly have been his intent? I think any serious fan of the Dan would be keen for just that kind of joke coming from Fagen.
  2. This is what Fagen calls those of us, born after the mid-sixties and were raised in front of the TV—making us less, what? Maybe just less. I’m not offended, though I was raised in front of the TV.
  3. OK, I linked to “Deacon Blues” and realized that the article needed to be updated, so I just spent the last hour or so doing that. I noticed, too, that Fagen’s entry only mentions his memoir. Maybe I should add a bit about that?