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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pop Culture Vultures

This Malaysian review of Neil Strauss's Everyone Loves You When You're Dead ties the book's significance and sincerity to--you guessed it--Paul Nelson:

Whatever doubts one has in the author’s motives for the book is dispelled by his piece on a predecessor: former Rolling Stone record reviews editor Paul Nelson (1936–2006). Strauss admits that it was hard to pen, and not just because of his respect for the late Nelson and the people who would read it. “Every word brought me closer to my own cautionary tale – or that of any writer, creative person, or dedicated follower of art, entertainment, or culture. Because it makes you ask: In the end, is it worth it?”

Probably not for Nelson. The man who’d done so much for the likes of Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart died alone and broke. A pair of baby shoes that belonged to Nelson’s son, found hanging near his bed, still haunts Strauss: “... because as someone who’s sacrificed personal relationships for the pursuit of culture and career, I know what (those shoes) symbolize: the regret of someone who has spent his entire life with his priorities wrong.” I could say the same about many of today’s pop culture vultures.

It's totally wrongheaded to compare Paul (who, as an aside, was not broke when he passed away) to "many of today's pop culture vultures." He never wrote about something simply because it was popular; it had to have some meaning--or some significant lack of meaning--for him to subject himself to the often painful process required to write about it.

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