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A few years ago, Neal Pollack was probably the least likely father you've ever met: a pop-culture-obsessed writer and self-styled party guy known mostly for outrageous literary antics. In typical fashion, he responded to the birth of his son by forming a mediocre rock band and taking it on tour. Now, in Alternadad, he tells the hilarious and poignant story of how he learned to be a father to his son, Elijah, after the failure of his short-lived rock 'n' roll dreams. Pollack and his wife, Regina, were determined to raise their son without growing up too much themselves. They welcomed the responsibility but were worried that they'd become uptight and out of touch. Through the ups and downs of the first years of their son's life their determination is put to the test, and they find themselves changing in ways they never expected, particularly after Elijah develops a biting problem in preschool. Alternadad is a refreshingly honest book about the wonders, terrors, and idiocies of parenting today. From enrolling his son in an absurd corporate gymnastics class to a disastrous visit to a rock festival to uncomfortable encounters with other parents whom he'd ordinarily avoid, Pollack candidly explores the everyday struggles and the long-term compromises that come with parenthood. Mixing ironic skepticism with an appreciation for the absurdities of everyday life, Alternadad is a portrait of a new version of the American family: responsible if unorthodox parents raising kids who know the difference between the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Wildly funny, surprising, and often moving, it just might be the parenting bible for a new generation of mothers and fathers.
Following in the footsteps of the late great Lester Bangs -- the most revered and irreverent of rock 'n' roll critics -- twenty-four celebrated writers have penned stories inspired by great songs. Just as Bangs cast new light on a Rod Stewart classic with his story "Maggie May," about a wholly unexpected connection between an impressionable young man and an aging, alcoholic hooker, the diverse, electrifying stories here use songs as a springboard for a form dubbed the lit riff. Alongside Bangs's classic work, you'll find stories by J.T. LeRoy, who puts a recovering teenage drug abuser in a dentist's chair with nothing but the Foo Fighters's "Everlong" -- blaring through the P.A. -- to fight the pain; Jonathan Lethem, whose narrator looks back on his lost innocence just as an extramarital affair careens to an end -- this to the tune "Speeding Motorcycle" as recorded by Yo La Tengo; and Jennifer Belle, who envisions a prequel to Paul Simon's "Graceland" -- one that takes place at a children's birthday party replete with a real live kangaroo. With original contributions from Tom Perrotta, Nelson George, Amanda Davis, Lisa Tucker, Aimee Bender, Darin Strauss, and many more -- riffing on everyone from Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen to the White Stripes, Cat Power, and Bob Marley -- this is both an astounding collection of short stories and an extraordinary experiment in words and music. Soundtrack available from Saturation Acres Music & Recording Co.
The hilarious true account of an overweight, balding, skeptical guy's unexpected transformation into a healthy, blissful yoga fiend. Neal Pollack was out of shape. The hair on his head was thinning and the hair on his face was pretentious-traits a New York Times critic gleefully pointed out while panning his second book. Combined with the predestined failure of his punk rock band, it was almost too much for Pollack to bear. He was willing to try anything to get his life back on track . . . even yoga. While struggling to master difficult poses without kicking other yogis in the face, Pollack actually, remarkably, began to feel better, both in body and mind. Soon he found himself immersed in the "weird and circuslike" world of yoga. He participated in a 24-hour yogathon, attended yoga conferences and Asian retreats, went to yoga rock shows, started getting regular assignments for Yoga Journal magazine, and, finally, began teaching yoga classes himself. Stretch mercilessly lampoons the bizarre, omnipresent culture of yoga, but it's also a story of profound personal transformation. Pollack started off mocking yoga. Now he's become one of its most enthusiastic proponents.
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