Your chapter on hip-hop mentions an artist named Simeon and his crew, Lastrawze. Did you ever hear about them again? And why doesn't this chapter focus on your devotion to a particular artist?

I never heard about Lastrawze again... and I didn't want the book to be a bunch of profiles of musicians I worship. I was more interested in telling the story of how music helps certain people reach certain feelings. And the year I spent in the Canyon was a big deal to me. Hanging out with those kids and watching what they were going through made me realize, in a very concrete way, how much suffering and hopelessness was plunked right in the middle of Miami. And it made me realize where hip-hop was coming from and what it meant — that it was a way for sad, powerless people to feel happy and powerful.

What qualities in a performer unlock your Drooling Fanaticism?

Feel Steve Almond's fanboy pain.
Feel Steve Almond's fanboy pain.

I couldn't care less about what performers look like or call themselves. I'm just looking for musicians who make me feel the feelings I can't reach by other means — the sorrow and rage and exaltation that most of us spend our days running from. I'm not a big fan of sophisticated poses in music. I tend to go for bands that are openly trying to fuck their fans up, to free their asses from the ass cage.

Because my DNA is basically Beatles DNA, I also tend toward big, juicy melodies and rhythms. But the point of the book is that everyone has their own DNA as a Drooling Fanatic and their own emotional needs when it comes to music. We all dig different stuff, but we can all agree that music is basically the one giant thing that people have done right, amid all our stupid sins.

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