Audio: Michael Goldberg Previews New Novel

Michael Goldberg at The Octopus. Photograh by Wayne Hsiung

Last night (March 30, 2017) I previewed a chapter of my new novel, “Untitled,” at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland. There was a nice sized audience at this venue, which has the best atmosphere for reading prose or poetry.

Here is the audio from my reading:

“Untitled” is the third book in a rock ‘n’ roll, coming-of-age trilogy titled, the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy. Each of the books stands alone, and at the same time is part of the bigger story.

There’s a lot of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in the book.

The chapter I read an excerpt from is mostly about the drugs, or rather, what it’s like tripping on the drugs. It takes place in 1973. Nixon is still in the White House, the Vietnam War is still going on as is the Watergate investigation. But all of that feels far, far away to the narrator, Michael Stein AKA Writerman.

The excerpt is about Michael Stein and his best friend, who he calls his “freakster bro,” Jim Costello. Jim is still recovering from being dumped by his first girlfriend, Jade Kaufman, who the narrator refers to as Jaded.

I think the excerpt speaks for itself, except there is one thing you need to know. The narrator has a cigarette lighter that he calls The Dylan. He stole it from Jerry Garcia, who told him that it had once belonged to Bob Dylan. How he came to know Jerry Garcia and steal the Dylan is detailed in my first novel, “True Love Scars.”

“Untitled” will be published in August of this year.

Photograph by Wayne Hsiung
Photograph by Wayne Hsiung

I read before Larry Beckett, the poet/songwriter best known for the lyrics he wrote for many of Tim Buckley’s best songs. Larry read from his book “Paul Bunyan,” which is an epic poem that explores tall tales and the myth of America as bigger than life.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Poet Larry Beckett & Michael Goldberg to Read at The Octopus

An Evening of Poetry & Prose: Larry Beckett & Michael Goldberg

Celebrated poet and songwriter Larry Beckett will be reading from his epic poem, “Paul Bunyan,” for the first time in the Bay Area at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Joining Larry Beckett will be novelist and former Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg, who will read from his new novel, “Untitled.” The reading will begin at 7 pm.

If you are interested in attending, please head over to the event Facebook page and let me know.

Larry Beckett’s “Paul Bunyan” re-tells the legend of the giant lumberjack for the twenty-first century. Drawing on logger folklore, James Stevens’ stories and the Davy Crockett almanacs, Larry Beckett’s poem is a modern epic in ‘long-winded’ blank verse. It is a celebration of the everyday poetry of colloquial North American English, loose and rough, bragging and unbelievable.

Larry Beckett’s songs have been recorded by musicians all over the world; “Song to the Siren,” which he wrote with Tim Buckley, has been covered by David Gray, Robert Plant, Bryan Ferry, George Michael and Sinead O’Connor. Larry Beckett’s other books include “Songs and Sonnets” and “Beat Poetry.” He has translated many poets, including Heraclitus, Goethe and Li Po. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

About “Paul Bunyan,” San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman wrote: “A terrific, epic-like poem based on the story of Paul Bunyan, in which Beckett creates a gigantic working-class type who is also everything and everyone. He’s mythic and his shibboleth is: Work. Beckett has written a rollicking, truly inventive long poem whose lines are sustained by a brilliant haiku-syllablation (each line has 12-15 syllables) coupled with images that bring the Bunyan myth right into the 21st Century. Certainly Beckett’s finest work to date.”

“Paul Bunyan” publisher’s page for more info is here.

Michael Goldberg is the author of three novels, “True Love Scars,” “The Flowers Lied” and “Untitled,” which comprise the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, a rock ‘n’ roil coming-of-age story set in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

What the critics say about Goldberg’s novels:

“Radioactive as Godzilla!” – Richard Meltzer

“Kerouac in the 21st Century.” – Dennis McNally

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar…” – Simon Warner

“Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” – Paul Krassner

“Our hero drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon.” – Larry Ratso Sloman

“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg.” – Colin Fleming, Rolling Stone

The Octopus Literary Salon is located at 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: (510) 844-4120

Event Facebook page.

Songs From the West Coast Sixties, Part One

Jim Morrison performing at the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, June 1967. Photo by Michael Goldberg.
Jim Morrison performing at the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, June 1967. Photo by Michael Goldberg.

My good friend David Monterey, a singer, songwriter and musician who leads the band, the String Rays, writes the Song Dog Music blog. Recently, the two of us had a long discussion about the Sixties West Coast Music Scene, particularly what we experienced as kids in the Bay Area.

You can read Part One of our conversation here.

Below I have posted video and song clips that compliment our words. Enjoy.

The Doors, Soul Kitchen, The Matrix, 1967 – the initial footage in this video clip is from the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, June 1967

Big Brother, Down On Me, 1968

Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit, 1967

The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man, 1965

Pete Seeger, If I Had A Hammer, 1956

Bob Dylan, Blowin’ in the Wind, 1963

Sly and the Family Stone, Dance to the Music, 1969

Grateful Dead, Jack Straw, 1972

Jefferson Airplane, Plastic Fantastic Lover, 1968

Grateful Dead, St. Stephen,1969

Grateful Dead, Dark Star, 1969

Grateful Dead, Black Peter, May 15, 1970

Grateful Dead, Friend of the Devil, 1970

Robert Johnson, Hellhound on my Trail, 1937

Grateful Dead, Sitting on Top of the World- 1966 Trips Festival SF

Howlin’ Wolf, Sitting on Top of the World, 1957

Jefferson Airplane, Chauffeur Blues, 1966

Memphis Minnie, Chauffeur Blues (probably written by Minnie but credited to her producer lester Melrose), 1941

The Charlatans, Alabama Bound, 1965

Leadbelly, Alabama Bound

Lynn Hughes (who sang this song with The Charlatans), Devil, 1969

Skip James, Devil Got My Woman, 1931

Quicksiler Messenger Service, Who Do You Love?, 1968

Bo Diddley, Who Do You Love?, 1956

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Investigating China’s Infamous Dog Meat Trade

Pau at Chinese dog meat farm. He was rescued and brought back to the U.S. this year.
Pau at Chinese dog meat farm. He was rescued and brought back to the U.S. this year.

[On Tuesday night (Sept. 20, 2016) the Berkeley City Council passed a resolution in solidarity with Chinese activists condemning the killing of dogs for food in China, and asking China to end the dog meat trade there. I thought this would be a good time to publish my recent article about activists who went to China earlier this year and rescued three dog meat dogs. This article originally appeared at The Daily Pitchfork.]

By Michael Goldberg

There was no sink, no bed, no toilet. The walls of the Chinese jail cell, in which US animal rights activist Wayne Hsiung found himself, were painted a bright blue. The lights were never turned off.

“I thought I could be held indefinitely, particularly when they claimed we were spies from the US government,” Hsiung said during an interview.

In early May of this year, six Chinese interrogators took turns going at him for 15 hours. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t sleep. Hsiung, co-founder of the international animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), faced questions about why he had planted hidden cameras at a slaughterhouse in Yulin, China, now infamous for its annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival.

Meanwhile, his activist colleague, Julianne Perry, an MBA student at Dartmouth, faced her own interrogation in the same jail.

“I thought of the suffragettes jailed dozens of times, freedom riders sending dozens of students to be jailed,” Perry said. “I took comfort that I would be in good company if I was kept in jail for speaking out against social injustice.”

Hsiung, a lawyer who had taught at Northwestern School of Law, was worried about what would happen not only to Perry, but the third member of his investigatory team, Chris Van Breen, a deeply compassionate activist from San Jose whose day job is working as a plumber and who was waiting for Hsiung and Perry at their rented apartment in downtown Yulin. Just as pressing on Hsiung’s mind was the fate of the three dogs they’d rescued a week earlier from a Yulin dog meat farm.

“My main concern was the safety of the dogs,” Hsiung said.

A week earlier, on April 25, 2016, Hsiung and the other two DxE members had arrived in China to investigate the dog meat trade.

“It was partly redemption,” Hsiung said, explaining one of his reasons for the investigation. “I remember seeing dogs suffering [in China] when I was 9 years old. I wanted to save some because I couldn’t when I was a child.”

Julianne Perry at dog meat farm in China.
Julianne Perry at dog meat farm in China.

The dog meat farm turned out to be a former pig farm. For Hsiung, it was ironic because DxE had recently investigated one of Hormel’s Farmer John farms and documented the horrific conditions.

The owner told Hsiung he had to switch to dogs after he was essentially driven out of the pork business by huge multi-national companies like Smithfield and Hormel. But the owner also told Hsuing that whether he raised pigs or dogs made no difference, to him they were all the same. As Hsiung later said, this was one thing they could both agree on.

While Hsuing said that farms in the US are much worse that the dog meat farm he saw; but it was still a hellhole of a place: filthy and dilapidated with piles of old wood and other garbage scattered about and a rusty gate leading inside, where Hsiung’s found seven dogs confined in cement-walled pens.

Hsiung returned to the farm with Perry and Van Breen the next day to rescue three dogs, who are brothers and who they later named Pao, Lao and Xiao. “This was death row,” Van Breen said. “Every animal there was born to be murdered.”

The three dogs were covered with fleas and ticks, their skin was red, they were losing their fur and their bellies were distended. The DxE team took the dogs to a vet where they were de-fleaed and de-ticked. With Van Breen and Perry caring for the dogs at the apartment, Hsiung began part two of the investigation at a slaughterhouse in Yulin.

Read the rest of this story at the Huffington Post.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Bob Dylan Sings From the Autumn of His Life

fallen

Part two of his Sinatra sessions are heavy with meaning, and a whole lot of fun too

By Michael Goldberg

A fallen angel is an angel who has sinned and been cast out of heaven.

“Everybody knows that torch singers are ‘fallen angels,’…” – Torch Singing: Performing Resistance and Desire from Billie Holiday to Edith Piaf by Stacy Holman Jones

Bob Dylan showed up at Daniel Lanois’ house in Los Angeles sometime in the later half of 2014 with recordings of 21 songs he’d made at the beginning of the year at the legendary Capitol Records Studio B in Hollywood where Frank Sinatra, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, the Beach Boys and many others once made records.

“He [Dylan] said, ‘Let me tell you, Dan: If you have the time, can I tell you how I grew up?’ So we sat in the kitchen. I hadn’t heard a note.
“He spoke for an hour and a half on how, as a kid, you couldn’t even get pictures of anybody [the artists],” Lanois, who produced two Dylan albums, 1989’s Oh Mercy, and 1997’s Time Out Of Mind, recounted to a reporter from the Vancouver Sun in February of 2015. “You might get a record but you didn’t know what they [the artist] looked like. So there was a lot of mystery associated with the work at the time. As far as hearing live music, he only heard a couple of shows a year, like the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra might come through.

“But the music he did hear really touched him and he felt that a lot of that music was written not only by great professional songwriters at the time, but a lot of it was written from the heart, from the wartime, and people just pining for a lover. He felt there was a lot of spirit in that music. He felt there was a kind of beauty, a sacred ground for him.

“After having said all that, we then listened to the music and I felt everything that he talked about. For one of America’s great writers to say, ‘I’m not gonna write a song. I’m gonna pay homage to what shook me as a young boy,’ I thought was very graceful and dignified.”

Ten of the recordings Lanois heard that day were released on Dylan’s wonderful 2015 album, Shadows in the Night. What happened to the others is something of a mystery.

Read the rest of this review at Addicted To Noise.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Video: Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser Do Neil Young

Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser, May 7, 2016.
Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser, May 7, 2016.

Last night (May 7, 2016) myself and the amazing experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser gave a reading to a standing-room-only audience at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA.

Henry opened with a 20 minute solo electric guitar set of improvisations utilizing several guitars and a bank of effects pedals as well as a strange box that produced drum and bass based on what Henry played.

Then I joined Henry on the stage to read ten excerpts from my new rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied.

This reading was very special because Henry was accompanying me on guitar and machines. We had done this only once before, back in 2014, at Down Home Music. That was a great show, but it was totally different. Completely different vibe.

I read five longer excerpts with an “interlude” devoted to a musician or song between each. The first was about Skippy James and “I’m So Glad,” then Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and Neil Young. Below you can hear “Interlude #4: Neil Young.”

For me, it was so very intense to stand there before the audience, all eyes on the two of us, and read words I’d spent more than six years perfecting. I had been reading my novel aloud as I wrote it. Every day for six years I read some of it aloud. Every page was read aloud and every revised page. I knew the sound of my words, my sentences, my paragraphs. I knew the rhythms of those sentences, and the music they make.

I had read in the privacy of my office. I had read before the members of three writers groups I was in: The Dangerous Writers group in Portland in 2008 and some of 2009 where all the early work got done, another group in Inverness, CA in late 2009 and 2010, and the group I led in Oakland and El Cerrito from late 2010 to late 2013.

And yet this was totally different. There really is nothing like reading before an audience in a public space, an audience silent because they want to hear the words and the music, the music of the words and the music of the music.

Here’s a taste of what went down. This is a brief excerpt from a chapter in which the narrator and his friend go to a Neil Young concert in late 1972. The first line is cut off. So I’ll tell you what it is:

“I dig Neil the most, beginning in his Buffalo Springfield days…”

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Simon Warner Reviews ‘The Flowers Lied’: ‘Beat spontaneity meets punk insolence’

tfl-fb copy

Great review by author Simon Warner, who wrote the excellent “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture.”

Beat Spontaneity Meets Punk Insolence

By Simon Warner

4 stars

Delivered in a sparky, yet splintered, patois, falling somewhere between Beat spontaneity and punk insolence, Michael Goldberg’s The Flowers Lied picks up where 2014’s True Love Scars left off, as the second part of the ‘Freak Scene Dream’ trilogy carries his narrator protagonist Michael Stein into further labyrinths of neurotic insecurity, a campus caper where boy might meet girl but where the roses of romance are snared with the jagged thorns of rejection and betrayal.

Not that this is any mere love story: it’s the tale of the would-be rock ‘n’ roll writer who still believes that his new journalistic prose, and his passion for Dylan and Beefheart, can lead him towards some kind of elevated self-fulfilment. But will an enthusiasm for the Stones or the New York Dolls, a blind belief in the existential promises of the electric guitar, be enough to compensate for wretched affairs and failing friendships?

Achingly self-conscious, riddled with agonising self-doubt, Stein has the flavour of a re-cast Holden Caulfield, as this raw-nerved rite of passage travels some way from Salinger’s immediate post-war world and places itself in the early 1970s at a moment when the hippie dream seems to have lost its enticing glow.

The very title of the novel is a comment on the fact the hopes and dreams of the Sixties have largely evaporated and Stein feels caught on the lip between the fading utopian buzz and a decade hurtling towards a state of nihilistic disillusion. Writerman, as he styles himself, is keen to reject the cynicism of the age but the pallor of personal crisis tends to cloud his day-to-day judgement.

Goldberg’s skill in this dark comi-tragedy is to energetically convey his feelings – the gauge on the emotional candour button is set to 9 – and he does this through a variety of techniques: a version of the gonzo syntax, occasional stream of consciousness ramblings and a secondary internalised narrative providing commentary on his own inner curdlings.

For readers who recognise the names – the rock stars, of course, but also the great rock writers of the day, like Christgau and Willis, who also pepper the pages from time to time – this is an engaging affair, as hot music, the powerful influence of music criticism and the spice of emotional turbulence become entangled in a tornado of twisting moods: the brief elation of a Fender lick is quickly balanced by a carousel of catastrophe; the ups are fleeting, the downs last longer.

The Flowers Lied, like its predecessor, has an edgy, fractious manner, but once you get used to the frenetic style, the prose moves forward with impressive vigour and the story, quite self-indulgent in many ways, has a definite resonance for a certain generation. The fact that this second instalment ends somewhat in mid-air might be a criticism, but it certainly leaves you hungry for the concluding episode, due in 2016.

Simon Warner, author of “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture”

Writer Michael Goldberg Interviewed: Dylan, Rolling Stone & More

ATN MG int cover 2

Andrew Hamlin interviews me for Addicted To Noise.

Among other things I talk about how Bob Dylan, Captain Beefheart and Diane Arbus changed my life, some of the most difficult artist interviews of my rock journalism career, and how I wrote my latest novel. The Flowers Lied.

Here’s how the interview begins:

From his early rock writing, to a spot as a Rolling Stone mainstay, to a pioneering Web editor/publisher, to rock as literature, Michael Goldberg, founded of the original Addicted To Noise in 1994, keeps moving and keeps his thumb pushed down deep on the blurt.

Goldberg was immersed in the punk scene in the mid-1970’s, interviewing Patti Smith and The Ramones and the Talking Heads for stories that ran in the Berkeley Barb and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The Clash nearly threw him out of a San Francisco recording studio, the Sex Pistols tried to break his tape recorder, and Frank Zappa said if Michael Goldberg was one of his fans he was in big trouble.

Prior to starting ATN, Goldberg was an associate editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications.

Goldberg has recently published The Flowers Lied, the second of three books detailing the life, work, frustrations, and passions of his protagonist, Writerman.

Who were your earliest powerful influences, literary, musical, and otherwise?

It’s rare that something you read or hear has a direct, clear-cut influence…

Read the entire interview at Addicted To Noise.

– An Addicted To Noise blog post –

Rock’s Back Pages ‘Rock Critic Excerpt’ From “The Flowers Lied”

RBP - final 2

Those awesome editors at Rock’s Back Pages have featured me and an excerpt from my new rock novel, The Flowers Lied, on the home page of their site.

In the excerpt. which is the third chapter of the book. the narrator, Michael Stein AKA Writerman, meets two of his rock critic heroes for the first time when he visits them at The Pad, the rather decrepit apartment where both critics live and work.

The introduction to the excerpt begins:

Michael Goldberg’s rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied, has just been published. Richard Meltzer wrote that Goldberg’s first novel, True Love Scars, was “Radioactive as Godzilla.” Goldberg has been called a “21st Century Kerouac” by Kerouac biographer Dennis McNally and compared to Lester Bangs by Rolling Stone. The new novel focuses on Writerman (Michael Stein) a sophomore at The University, which is located in Northern California on hill above a beach town not unlike Santa Cruz. He’s a music freak and wannabe writer – he struggles with a Captain Beefheart album review, and tries and fails to type a single word of the Great American Novel he is so desperate to write. He pursues a hip but traumatized 18-year-old artist named Elise, who introduces him to tequila and Almaden Red. And he becomes best friends with Jim AKA Thee Freakster Bro, the over-the-top, gregarious writer/poet/music obsessive stoner he first meets in True Love Scars.

Read the entire excerpt at Rock’s Back Pages. Enjoy!

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Win A Copy of My Rock Novel, ‘The Flowers Lied’

Thrashers Wheat

Today my friends over at the awesome Neil Young site, Thrasher’s Wheat, are helping celebrate the release of my new rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied.

They’ve got a review of the book. Here’s an excerpt:

“Goldberg’s rock ‘n’ roll trilogy is an innovative coming-of-age experience tracing love and music-of-an-era. While nostalgic, it’s a beautiful evocation of a distant soundtrack still reverberating across the moonbeams like a lost Jack Kerouac in a 21st century Twitterverse with a kind of staccato amphetamine grammar that is fractured, deranged, unsettling yet compelling. A Catcher in the Rye 50+ years on, Holden Caulfield is now a hipster-hippie on a trip of misadventures in a counterculture world that’s more counter than culture where the Summer of Love turns into a Winter of War. Our hero “Writerman” careens through the haze and confusion to the true high of finding redemption and transformation.”

Also, an excerpt from a chapter in which the 19-year-old narrator and his college friend Jim attend a Neil Young concert in 1973. The narrator gets caught trying to film the concert with his Super8 camera (no cell phones back then), and they are both thrown out. While trying to find a way back in at the rear of the auditorium, they run into Neil Young as he’s about to board his tour bus. Read the excerpt to find out what happens and to get sense of what the book is like.

And finally, there’s a contest in which five winners will get print copies of the book, and five will get digital copies. The contest ends March 31, 2016 at 5 PM ET.

It’s all happening at Thrasher’s Wheat right now.