Category Archives: Writing

Michael Goldberg’s Third Novel, “Untitled,” Coming August 1, 2017

Cover art, “Untitled,” by Leslie Goldberg.

Love, Truth, Innocence & Loyalty

Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll & Betrayal

In the third book of the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, “Untitled,” you’ll read about 19-year-old Michael Stein’s affair with 35-year-old feminist college teacher Susan “Simone” Braveheart, his unexpected reunion with Thee Freakster Bro, Jim Costello, and a crazy road trip to Big Sur with Simone that signals the end of their summer fling.

And you’ll be there when mysterious trouble girl Harper reappears, moves in with Michael Stein at Simone’s beach house and causes all kinds of, you guessed it, trouble.

Michael Stein is obsessed with sex. Only the sex is more than sex. Sex is the door to intimacy, and transcendence.

For Michael Stein, the Sixties ended in the nut house. Where they put the crazies. His parents blamed his erratic behavior on drugs. Michael Stein just blames himself.

Aware. Michael Stein is aware he has lived through one of the biggest social changes America has experienced. The trouble is, Michael Stein’s not aware that the biggest social change has already changed, moved on down the line.

The love is gone and all that’s left is the drugs.

The Freak Scene Dream Trilogy is one long deep breath. The exhale is obsessive, transgressive. How macho meets feminism. How second chakra rises up to third. Through all the women: Sarah, Elise, Jaded, Simone, Harper, Eve. A puff, a party, a tragedy—from marijuana to angel dust, teenage heartbreak to addiction, from “All You Need Is Love” to the junkie garage rock of the New York Dolls.

How the dream died and what there is left after.

If you dug “True Love Scars” or “The Flowers Lied,” come along for more of the ride as Writerman struggles to escape his past and invent a brave new life.

And if you didn’t read the first two books, never fear, “Untitled” is a stand alone novel that can be read and enjoyed without reading the other books.

“Untitled” by Michael Goldberg

Available August 2017.

Praise for the Freak Scene Dream trilogy

“Michael Goldberg is comparable to Kerouac in a 21st century
way, someone trying to use that language and energy and find a new way of doing it.” MARK MORDUE, author of “Dastgah: Diary of a Head Trip”

“Goldberg presents us with a beautiful evocation of the Seventies where the music wasn’t just the soundtrack to our lives but the auteur of them. Writerman, our hero, drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon. Oh, oh, oh, oh Writerman!” LARRY RATSO SLOMAN, author of “On the Road with Bob Dylan”

“Radioactive as Godzilla. RICHARD MELTZER, author of “The Aesthetics of Rock”

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar, its narrative is fractured and deranged, often unsettling but frequently compelling, an unsparing portrait of the teen condition: assured then despairing, would-be sex god then impotent has-been, an only child battling the wills of his domineering father and interfering mom in the anonymous, suburban fringes of Marin County.” SIMON WARNER, author of “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture”

“So who is this protagonist anyway? Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” PAUL KRASSNER, author of “Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture”

“‘True Love Scars’ reads like a fever dream from the dying days of the Summer of Love. Keyed to a soundtrack of love and apocalypse, Writerman pitches headlong into a haze of drugs, sex and confusion in search of what no high can bring: his own redemption. Read it and be transformed.” ALINA SIMONE, author of “Note to Self” and “You Must Go and Win”

“True Love Scars is deeply dialed in to rock’s dichotomy of enlightening powers versus stonered party time.” GREG M. SCHWARTZ, PopMatters

“Michael Goldberg reminds us of the difficulties of remaining true to our own visions amidst the powerful exigencies of young adulthood.” JOLIE HOLLAND, recording artist, whose albums include Catalpa, Escondida and The Living and the Dead

If you want to keep up with what I’m up to as a writer and blogger, please sign up for the Days of the Crazy-Wild Communique at:

www.daysofthecrazy-wild.com/novel/email

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 –

There’s Nothing Humane About Whole Foods Turkey

One of the maltreated and sick birds found in a barn at Diestel’s Jamestown, CA farm, 2015.

An investigation by Direct Action Everywhere finds “horrific conditions” at a Whole Foods top-rated “humane” meat supplier

By Michael Goldberg

The Diestel Turkey Ranch in Sonora, CA is a beautiful place where turkeys are free to roam on tree-shaded green pastures. “HAPPY TURKEYS AHEAD” reads a sign outside the Whole Foods meat supplier’s farm in the foothills of the Sierra.

And that’s what consumers see in promotional brochures and Whole Foods video of Diestel’s Sonora ranch, one of just three suppliers (out of 2100) to earn Whole Foods’ 5+ humane meat rating, the upscale retailer’s coveted top honor.

“There’s not a lot of secrets here,” says Timothy J. Diestel, who along with his wife Joan C. Diestel has been running the ranch since 1980.

But an investigation and report by the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) shows otherwise. A 2013 California Regional Water Quality Control Board report states no commercial turkeys have been raised at the Sonora facility since 2011. According to the report, Diestel’s turkeys come from other facilities. One of those is in nearby Jamestown, whose premises are nothing like what Whole Foods depicts in its “humane turkey” videos.

Read the rest of this story at The Daily Pitchfork.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild post –

Michael Goldberg’s Novel, The Flowers Lied, Due Soon

Just wanted to offer a preview of the cover art from my upcoming novel, The Flowers Lied.

The book, a rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, will be available in October.

If you are interested in reviewing it, let me know and I’ll get you an advance copy. Post a comment letting me know and I’ll be in touch.

Here’s some advance praise:

“There was a time when (rock) music was the living pulse of a generation, when wanting to be a rock critic was a credible dream. That is the era of the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, an ambitious and ultimately successful attempt at recasting the coming-of-age-in-the-wake-of-the-sixties-experience in innovative but authentic language, Kerouac in the 21st century. It jitters around in ever-accumulating fine detail that traces young love and desire and the pure true heart of the era, the music. It was a pivotal time, and Volume II, ‘The Flowers Lied,’ captures it.” — DENNIS MCNALLY, author of “A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead” and “Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation & America”

“Goldberg presents us with a beautiful evocation of the Seventies where the music wasn’t just the soundtrack to our lives but the auteur of them. Writerman, our hero, drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon. Oh, oh, oh, oh Writerman!” — LARRY RATSO SLOMAN, author of “On the Road with Bob Dylan”

“Aspiring rock journalist Michael Stein (aka Writerman) returns in the second installment of Goldberg’s Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, picking up the narrative where he left off and fumbling his way across the countercultural landscape of the early Seventies like some less jaded, wannabe-hippie version of Holden Caulfield. This slightly-older-but-not-necessarily-wiser Stein, along with his inner circle of equally confused post-adolescents, is more fleshed-out as a character than in the previous (though superb) ‘True Love Scars.’ As a result the scenarios he finds himself thrust into, not to mention the occasional disaster of his own making, ring with an additional authenticity that will leave anyone who lived through the same era nodding with recognition. Some will even fidget uncomfortably in their seats, as I did—credit to Goldberg’s keen ability to channel his/our own misspent youth while sketching a series of remarkably believable portraits.

“Among the more memorable scenes: a hamfisted attempt to get his rock journalism published in the college newspaper, even more awkward attempts to get laid (that include at least one success, with his best friend’s girlfriend, no less, in a gondola at the top of a Ferris wheel), getting thrown out of a Neil Young concert by one of Bill Graham’s goons, navigating a surreal Halloween party while peaking on LSD, and kibitzing with a popular Lester Bangs-esque rock-crit. Along the way we get cameos from Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart, the New York Dolls, Slim Harpo, James Brown, John Fowles, Sartre, Dostoyevsky and Godard. Settle in, crack open a bottle and/or spark a doob, and get ready for an emotional rollercoaster ride. Oh, and don’t touch the Thorens.” — FRED MILLS, editor, Blurt magazine

And a few excerpts from reviews of my previous novel, True Love Scars:

“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might have read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg… Readers from any musical era will come away with a deeper appreciation of how nostalgia can shape our lives, for better and for worse.” — COLIN FLEMING, Rolling Stone

“Michael Goldberg is comparable to Kerouac in a 21st century way, someone trying to use that language and energy and find a new way of doing it.” — MARK MORDUE, author of “Dastgah: Diary of a Head Trip”

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar, its narrative is fractured and deranged, often unsettling but frequently compelling, an unsparing portrait of the teen condition: assured then despairing, would-be sex god then impotent has-been, an only child battling the wills of his domineering father and interfering mom in the anonymous, suburban fringes of Marin County.”
 — SIMON WARNER, author of “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture”

“Just call it a portrait of the rock critic as a young freakster bro, coming of age in the glorious peace-and-love innocence of the Sixties dream, only to crash precipitously, post-Altamont into the drug-ridden paranoia of the Seventies, characterized by the doom and gloom of the Stones’ sinister “Sister Morphine” and the apocalyptic caw-caw-caw of a pair of ubiquitous crows.” — ROY TRAKIN, Trakin Care of Business column

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

‘True Love Scars’ Makes Four ‘Best-Of 2014’ Lists – ‘a gonzo look back at misspent youth’

I’m thrilled that my novel, “True Love Scars,” made four best-of lists for 2014.

Perfect Sound Forever publisher Jason Gross included “True Love Scars” in his best books of 2014 list. (His list of best books is down past the music lists.)

Triple R Radio host/ Addicted To Noise Australia publisher Brian Wise included True Love Scars in his ten best books of 2014 list. (Brian’s list is down the page a bit.)

Former Billboard magazine columnist/ current “Trakin Care Of Business” columnist Roy Trakin included “True Love Scars” in his best books of 2014 list.

StompBeast blogger Matthew Duersten included “True Love Scars” in his “notable books” of 2014 list.

And while I’m at it, there’s a cool review of “True Love Scars” in the latest issue of Ragazine. Writer M. Sedlof manages to both write about my novel (he digs it) and provide some insight into my subtle approach to marketing “True Love Scars.” You can read his review here.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Goldberg’s virginal sex scenes unwind at the same racing-heart-awkward-self-conscious-anxious pace one can almost remember from those good old, bad old days when the forbidden fruit was all one ever wanted then-and-forever-after, only how to get it without letting it slip through your hands like sand, when all you ever did was what it took to make like you cared, when all you knew about caring was what you heard at home, an attitude you didn’t know you didn’t have that may have cost you big time. …

“This was life in California during the denoument days-months-years of Summer of Love, Altamont, the winding up-down of Vietnam, of Roman Polanski and Charlie Manson, Sharon Tate … of Haight and Half Moon Bay, of kids who didn’t surf, who confused and burned-out ended up discovering what the core of life is really like, deep inside, where if you’re lucky enough to find yourself before you die you might even claw your way out. It’s one kid’s story, and then some.”

Finally, the excellent blog, Doom And Gloom From The Tomb, just reviewed “True Love Scars”:

An excerpt:

“… a gonzo look back at misspent youth in the 1960s called True Love Scars — the first in a projected Days of Crazy Wild trilogy. It’s a crackling good read, fillled with humor, pathos, drug use and Dylan references (seriously, I think there’s one on every page). Some of the book is quite harrowing — The Wonder Years, this ain’t. But Goldberg’s freewheelin’ style captures a certain late 60s/early 70s vibe (think the autobiographical writings of Lester Bangs) that makes True Love Scars a pleasure through and through. Check it out.

Jason Gross’s blog:

[I published True Love Scars in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Santa Cruz Sentinel Digs ‘True Love Scars’ – ‘I was trying to take the rock & roll of that time and get it on the page’

This article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel about my novel, True Love Scars, was published recently.

I think the article does a great job of conveying some of what the book is about.

Writes journalist Wallace Baine:

The period of the early 1970s isn’t just a setting for Michael Goldberg’s new novel “True Love Scars.” It’s the orientation for everything in the book, the language, the tone, the references, the narrative.

“I was trying to get at the experience of being young in that time period,” said UC Santa Cruz grad Goldberg, a long-time writer for Rolling Stone. “Not just the drugs and the sex, but the deeper stuff, trying to figure out who you are in the world. I was trying to take the rock & roll of that time and get it on the page.”

The result is an unusual story, fueled by a prose designed to evoke the rambunctious, radical music of the era, with a rhythm and poetic sensibility much more like the rock records of the time than many other novels.

And at the end of the story:

[Goldberg] talks about one scene in the book taking place on the houseboats of Sausalito. “I was listening to the Stones’ (1971 album) ‘Sticky Fingers’ over and over again while I was writing that, really trying to get the mood of that album on the page. I wanted the chapter to feel like what it was like to listen to some of those songs in that period.

“Frankly, I think the ‘sound’ of the narration is quite original. The big idea that I kept in mind as I wrote was that anything goes, that this was as if a 24-year-old and his friend went to a bar in 1975, had a few drinks and then the 24-year-old turned to his friend and said, ‘Let me tell you how my heart was broken…’”

To read the rest of the story, head here.

I’ll be doing a very special reading in the Bay Area on Dec. 13 at 3 pm. As I read, Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will improvise on guitar.

The event, titled “a post-beat happening – words + guitar,” will take place at Down Home Music in El Cerrito, CA. Be there!

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Audio: Stream Cheap Hooch Radio Podcast; Michael Goldberg Interviewed About ‘True Love Scars’

In early October I was interviewed about my novel, True Love Scars, on this cool punk radio show, Cheap Hooch, that’s broadcast online every Sunday from 4 pm ’til 6 pm.

I talk about some of the themes in the book and more. Plus you’ll get to hear “Hey Bartender,” one of the songs that shows up early in the book, as well as artists referenced in the book including The Stooges and Mott The Hoople. Holly Hooch, the DJ, also plays some great songs by David Bowie, the Flamin’ Groovies and much more.

The show begins with Holly Hooch talking about how she messed up and didn’t get directions to the studio to me in time, but then I end up calling in Holly and her friends in the studio interview me on the phone. It’s a good interview and theres good music too. I’ve become a big fan of Cheap Hooch Radio.

Stream the interview with me on the Cheap Hooch show on Radio Valencia.

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in the new issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

PopMatters Gives ‘True Love Scars’ a Rave Review – ‘a whirlwind tale of a young music fanatic’s quest’

Yesterday the pop culture site PopMatters, posted a terrific review of my novel “True Love Scars.”

PopMatters contributing editor Greg M. Schwartz writes:

…the novel is a whirlwind tale of a young music fanatic’s quest for true love, high times and “the authentic real” (not necessarily in that order).

Teenage protagonist Michael Stein, aka “Writerman”, lives in Marin County and longs to be a musician, or at least a music writer. He’s into almost all of the musical icons of the era, especially Bob Dylan. Writerman is obsessed with finding his “Visions of Johanna” chick, who eventually appears in the form of Sweet Sarah. But conflict is ordained from the start. Chapter One begins with Writerman speaking in a sort of fever dream about how he betrayed and lost Sarah and has been on a quest to redeem his crushed soul ever since.

And later in the review, talking about the narrator’s obsession with Bob Dylan, Schwartz writes:

He can analyze those Dylan lyrics all day. He and a girl who’s charmingly fond of speaking in Dylan lyrics pore over Dylan’s albums in a scene from 1965, going over his evolution as an artist. “First time I heard that Dylan song it saved my life,” Writerman says of “Like a Rolling Stone”. It’s a sentiment that speaks for several generations of rock ‘n’ rollers, from those who came of age in Goldberg’s era to the present. They get deep into Dylanology in the scene as Writerman speaks of how Dylan opened his eyes to “how almost nothing is what it appears to be and I think that’s when I got it in my head I got to figure out the authentic real, see the world for what it is and not the facade of delusional humans erect in front of the truth.”

That’s what great rock ‘n’ roll can do, and True Love Scars is deeply dialed in to rock’s dichotomy of enlightening powers versus stonered party time.

Read this excellent review of my novel at the PopMatters website.

[Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —