Posted 20 hours ago

Face It: A Memoir

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Musician, actor, activist, and the iconic face of New York City cool, Debbie Harry is the frontwoman of Blondie, a band that forged a new sound that brought together the worlds of rock, punk, disco, reggae and hip-hop to create some of the most beloved pop songs of all time. Of all these illustrious bands Blondie has had the most commercial success and is still making new relevant music decades later. As a lifelong fan of Debbie Harry and Blondie, I was so excited when I heard about the book and it was top of my Christmas list.

Time flies when you're sleepwalking through life in pointless meetings and unsatisfying relationships. Their early struggling years, and rock and punk and art world friends are a Who's Who of Andy Warhol's 'Interview' and the Bowery/East Village scene, CBGB's in particular. 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. Inspirational, entertaining, shocking, humorous and eye-opening, Face It is a memoir as dynamic as its subject. Ebooks fulfilled through Glose cannot be printed, downloaded as PDF, or read in other digital readers (like Kindle or Nook).

She was a huge part of the early 70's punk scene and forged her way in a very male dominated industry. Early on, Harry offers a vivid portrait of a seedy, bohemian scene in late-60s New York in which drugs were “part of your social life, part of the creative process, chic and fun and really just there. I expected something cool and fierce, instead this is dull and unengaging, told in a rambling monotone. Inevitably, Harry’s tales of her solo ventures and Blondie’s eventual reunion lack the atmosphere and excitement of the early years, and it’s with more than a little awkwardness that she shoehorns in details of her current day-to-day life to spice things up. Beside to its commendable commitment to the environmental issue, Debbie shows great respect for others, perhaps more than I would.

Without mentioning any spoilers I think that she certainly must have had several guardian angels working over time looking out for her at times. Upending the standard music memoir, with a cutting-edge style keeping with the distinctive qualities of her multi-disciplined artistry, Face It includes a thoughtful introduction by Chris Stein, rare personal photos, original illustrations, fan artwork installations and more. The scope of Debbie Harry's impact on our culture has been matched only by her reticence to reveal her rich inner life--until now. Tell us about the drug addiction in a way that perhaps suggests a little regret or remorse- some hint of the agony she must have endured to get clean.Of course, I've since been listening to and watching Blondie concerts on YouTube for days afterward. It's the story of one person's journey through life, something that we all have in common, and the path it leads you down. In one scene she talks about how Miles Davis was a patron in a bar she worked out and all she says is that his date spoke for him and she (Harry) didn't understand why they sat him in a table upstairs. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average.

As she states in the book, people today just want to be famous but in those days it was about making something happen, which she definitely did. In Face It, Debbie Harry invites us into the complexity of who she is and how her life and career have played out over the last seven decades. There have been movies, plays, and TV shows; recordings with the Jazz Passengers; the showcase at the Carlyle (for which I would have moved heaven, earth, and Delta Airlines to have been in the audience); the activism; the friendships. As a vibrant global force and a shaper of pop culture, Debbie’s chart-topping success, fearless spirit and rare longevity led to an induction into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame for Blondie in 2006. I was disappointed by that and wish she had relayed a stronger stance against the misogyny in the male dominated and controlled music business.

But some sections read as if Harry wrote them down (including the amusing 'thumb'-themed afterword). She says almost nothing about the writing or production of her music, and she seems reticent to talk about big events like the dissolution of the group and the break-up of her relationship with Chris Stein. She is honest about the drug scene, her use, and the her life, with Chris Stein, and their struggle to make it without abolishing their punk mentality. Not being familiar with the punk music scene of the 1970s (I couldn’t name a Ramones song to save my life), some of the name dropping went over my head but I was captivated by her stories that were heartbreaking (Chris Stein's illness), infuriating (bankruptcy due to ignorance), and hilarious (Penn Jillette’s hot tub invention due to Debbie's rant). She enriched the exciting and well-written narration of her life with moving poetry, deep thought on coal and diamonds (which I also had and shared privately with friends years ago), encounters and anecdotes related to VIPs, detailed descriptions of New York, its life, districts, fashions, evolution but also on the mechanisms of show business or others purely engineering ones.

Some may dismiss her obvious femininity but it is actually a homage to her admiration for Marilyn Monroe and the smarts behind her "acting" dumb. Ultimately for me, it’s the overwhelming need to have my entire life be an imaginative out-of-body experience. She describes the albums and songwriting, but doesn’t spend much time talking about the other members of the band with the obvious exception of Chris Stein. She is devoted to environmental issues such as clean water and saving pollinators as well as the promotion of the LGBTQ community and human rights.It's like she's going along remembering various events of her life that were especially significant, or indeed rather hairy and shocking, filling in with relevant background details in a very open and honest way.

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