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Christopher Schobert


TommylandBy Tommy Lee with Anthony BozzaAtria, 288 pages, $26 With "Survivor," "The Bachelor" and even "The Apprentice" seemingly on the decline, a new crop of reality "stars" has bum-rushed their way into the nation's twisted heart: Sly's Amazonian ex, Brigitte Nielsen; the still clock-sporting Flavor Flav; the only sports owner to make Daniel Snyder seem likable, Mark…

These are not easy times for metal-heads, those heavy metal junkies who mainline Ratt and Winger, genuflect before the boots of Kiss and Judas Priest, worship at the alter of Sabbath and think "This Is Spinal Tap" is a documentary. Despite the continued, sometimes inexplicable success of many of these bands, most treat the genre as a joke, and a relic of musical memory.Yet…

"After I'm dead and gone, you see, well, these undergrowth'll be sayin', 'I heard of this cat, but I never seen him. Here his name and here his picture in the book!' "So said Howlin' Wolf in Boston in 1973, just three years before his death. And he was right. These words open James Segrest and Mark Hoffman's breathtakingly comprehensive and utterly compelling biography, "M…

Occasionally, even the most ordinary public figures turn out to be more complex than they first appeared. Our buddy O.J. Simpson for example, or the stunningly randy Charles Kuralt, or even, believe him or not, Chuck Barris. (Does anyone actually believe the wonderfully absurd ramblings of the "Gong Show" host?)Now, we can add Luther Vandross to the list. The soothingly vo…

Tupac Shakur, forever frozen in carbonite with Sid Vicious, Marvin Gaye and Kurt Cobain in the hall of brilliantly flawed icons, is as charismatic, colorful and cool today, years after his murder, as ever before. His name continues to command respect and sell albums, his eyes still burrow hauntingly into the soul and his words have lost none of their profundity.Yet, is it …

Sucking the energy, excitement, passion and daredevil dynamism from "extreme" sports like skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX biking and motocross might seem difficult. But David Browne's "Amped: How Big Air, Big Dollars and a New Generation Took Sports to the Extreme" manages that dubious feat nicely.Browne, the music critic for Entertainment Weekly and author of an acclaime…

Unbelievable - The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G.By Cheo Hodair CokerThree Rivers Press, 368 pages, $19.95 One of the more mind-boggling fads of the past few months is '90s nostalgia. Compilations featuring cast-offs from Candlebox to Kris Kross are flooding record bins, "90210" revivals in the form of "The O.C." are hits; heck, even O.J. is in the n…

What is an over-the-hill ex-entertainment mogul to do in the late stages of life?Irving Thalberg and his fictional counterpart, F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Last Tycoon" protagonist Monroe Stahr, died before finding out. Some, like Lew Wasserman and Daryl Zanuck, kept trudging to the office. But now, the post-career career move seems to be airing one's dirty laundry. Call it…

Higher GroundStevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield and the Rise and Fall of American SoulBy Craig WernerCrown, 352 pages, $24 Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield represent the holy troika of American soul music. The achievements of James Brown, Otis Redding and others are important as well, but in terms of musical genius, prestige, and most impo…

Escaping the DeltaBy Elijah WaldAmistad Press, 342 pages, $24.95 "Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues" is a hypnotic winding road of myth-shattering sure to ruin the day of at least a few readers for its main theory: that Johnson, long treasured as the "king of Delta blues," may not have been the genius he is now thought to be.Author Elijah…

Ordinary People: Our StoryBy the Osbourne family with Todd GoldMTV Books293 pages, $24.95 Has America's love affair with the Osbournes faded?Lately, pop culture's favorite rambling, dysfunctional Brits have been replaced in our collective consciousness by the life-size Barbie and Ken fantasy of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. And waiting in the wings are numerous other…

Post-Soul NationBy Nelson GeorgeViking256 pages, $25.95...Remember the 1980s? No? Rest easy. They're being remembered for you right now. Turn on VH1, and you'll run across the 2,375th rebroadcast of "I Love the '80s." On Nick at Nite, "Charles in Charge" and "Family Ties" await. Meanwhile, bands like Duran Duran and the Cure undergo a revival in interest.However, not all '…

Da Capo's Best Music Writing: The Year's Finest on Rock, Pop, Jazz, Country and MoreGuest editor Matt GroeningDa Capo297 pages, $15.95...It is sad that the finest music writing to appear in 2003 came from a writer who has been dead since 1982.Lester Bangs' "Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste" remains the only truly writing of genius on music to spring forth in this barr…