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Face It: A Memoir

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Although I was a little underwhelmed by the book, and I may have made it sound worse than it really was, I’m still glad I read it. I wasn’t submissive or begging him to come back, I was kicking his ass, kicking him out, kicking my own ass too. Her tales of life before, during, after, and beyond her time with Blondie are intermixed with interludes that capture the eclectic and electric passion she has for the creative process.

I was disappointed by that and wish she had relayed a stronger stance against the misogyny in the male dominated and controlled music business. Before designers were lining up to work with her, she would find a pillowcase and turn it into a stage outfit; later, years before Lady Gaga’s meat dress, she would step out in a gown made of razorblades.It is amazing how harrowing and interesting day to day life was for Harry as she spent her formative years in New Jersey and New York City – and she mentions several times that this was before they cleaned it all up. With all the grit, grime, and glory recounted in intimate detail, Face It re-creates the downtown scene of 1970s New York City, where Blondie played alongside the Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop and David Bowie. I enjoy tales of the early days of the New York City punk scene and Blonde certainly had an important role in it. I get the feeling that music was very much a sideshow to the wild ride of being a frontwoman for such a popular band.

Blondie was at the forefront and among the first groups, by their innovations, to break the hippie movement, which was effectively succeeded by the punk one. She emphasized a noble habit of Andy Warhol, of which she was the muse, and which I will strive to follow, making me a better man.All of that said, Debbie Harry is an icon, and although I didn’t get much of a feel for who she is, deep down, I still love her music and was glad I had the chance to learn a bit more about her history. And of course she's under no obligation to do so, but I do wish that this rock n' roll memoir had, y'know, rocked a little bit more. I cannot say enough of how sad and yet happy it was reading and hearing her tell her story- there were times she added stuff on the audio that was not in the book. Harry seems like she's holding back and trying to skate around some major events and not really telling the reader what the heck she really felt/thought at the time (or even now in hindsight).

My favourite kind of memoirs are the kind that feel as though you’re just sitting down with a friend and having them tell you a story, this is that kind of memoir.

The stories from 1945-1981 are lifted from Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie a bio published in 1982, which was written by Victor Bockris from interviews with Debbie and Chris Stein. I regret that I never got to see CBGBs or witness the late 70s music scene in New York – even though it sounds like it was not an “if” but a “when” I would have been mugged or beaten up! The first of these social phenomena had a luminous ideal, and perhaps drawing its origins from a mysterious and extraordinary event (see below), summed up by the slogan "peace and love", but which sadly degenerated into "sex and drug" missing at the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, as sung in the musical "Hair"; while the second, the punks, starting from a noble anti-system principle ended up generalizing in most cases to an antipathic and presumptuous anti "who is unlike me". I've always been a keen admirer of Debbie's so it's nice to read her story straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. Blondie fans will love its piquant atmospherics and the energy and honesty of Harry’s take on her singular saga.

I feel like I never really got to know Debbie Harry at all, having just read an entire book about Debbie Harry, supposedly written by Debbie Harry. The book also contains a lot of great pictures (not surprisingly) and artwork of her that was created by fans who send it in to Debbie.

When talking about harassment she encountered (David Bowie exposing himself in dressing rooms, a band member staring at her chest while speaking to her, producers making a semi-nude picture of her into an ad without her consent, etc. We learn how, having been given up for adoption at three months old, Harry was raised by her adoptive parents in New Jersey. She and Stein were keen to re-make the 1965 film Alphaville, and even bought the rights from its director Jean-Luc Godard for a thousand dollars. I couldn’t wait for my library to get a copy, so I listened to the audio on Scribd without the benefit of having a digital or print book to complement it- something I rarely do.

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