Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Book: But Enough About Me, by Jancee Dunn (2006)

Meet my new favorite book. Jancee Dunn is a Jersey girl who ended up a Rolling Stone correspondent and a VJ on MTV2, back when the network used to play videos. (Hard to believe there are now two MTVs against which that charge can be leveled.)

Her memoir, which is hysterical and reads like a breeze, is studded with tips on how to interview celebrities. Examples: always chat up the drummer when talking to a band, and drivers provide the best gossip. But the most interesting sections are about Dunn’s own life. Her suburban childhood. Her close-knit family with its possibly too-strong ties to J.C. Penney. (I still remember Dunn introducing “a video from, as my dad would say, Mary J. Bilge.”) And her eventual realization that “being hip was a full-time job, and (she) was only a part-timer.” Dunn pulls off the neat trick of being more interesting than the luminaries she’s paid to write about.

The new crop of shows covering the celebrity beat seem hell-bent on taking them down. In Slate’s words, they’re either about hostile intimacy or intimate hostility. Try to steer clear of the press, as Matt Damon does, and you get taken to task by the editor of Variety. (Peter Bart should read the disturbing section of Dunn’s book in which Ben Affleck demonstrates to her how quickly a routine task like getting lunch is wrecked by paparazzi.) Which is another reason why I enjoyed But Enough About Me. It’s refreshing to read about someone regularly exposed to fame who seems so ... normal.

Miscellaneous: Link

I’m depressed that the boys in the the Bad Plus even feel they have to explain how their improvisational covers of modern songs are not ironic. Anyone who’s heard their electrifying version of “Tom Sawyer” should know better.