Last night, despite a raging headache and total exhaustion from my first day back to work after vacation, I finished Nerd Girl Rocks Paradise City: A True Story Of Faking It In Hair Metal L.A. by Anne Thomas Soffee (Chicago Review Press 2005).
For some reason I wanted to hate this book. I can't really explain it, but maybe it was an overwhelming sense of jealousy that another girl, very similar to me in so many ways, had the experiences I dreamed of (alcohol abuse notwithstanding).
So, Anne makes her way from her childhood home in Richmond, Virginia to Los Angeles all the while clutching an English degree from the College of William and Mary. Yes, punk rock Anne sticks out like a sore thumb at the college of presidents, but never strays from her ultimate goal of becoming the next Lester Bangs.
Perhaps the best part of the book is the snarky asides and impromptu Q&A sessions Anne has with her readers. Her authorial voice is so clear, it's like listening to a friend recount a wild night of debauchery. Despite my best attempts at hate, I found myself laughing out loud at this book and at Anne and her wild attempts at making it as a rock journalist.
Yes, Anne talked her way backstage. Yes, she wrote for weekly papers without pay. Yes, she took crap jobs as a "publicist" and no, she never single-handedly resurrected CREEM. Anne embarked on her journey at the end of the 1980s, while there were still plenty of "hair gods" on the Sunset Strip, even with the horrors of grunge threatening the never-ending party.
Eventually, our heroine grows disheartened with her lack of writing success and becomes more enamored with drinking and after parties. Anne has a string of wild romances, too wild to be fictional. I can only imagine how she felt. Every day that passes, I grow a little more hurt and a little more frustrated with my stalled writing career. I feel like Anne. She felt she could take the world by storm and change the face of rock journalism. I think I can do the same. Is this logical? Probably not. Dreams never are logical.
As grunge and riots literally changed the landscape of rock L.A., Anne packed up and headed for graduate school. Been there, done that. I need to hunt down Anne Thomas Soffee and compare notes. We really are kindred spirits.