Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen has a book out, a collection of essays and one diary entitled Eminent Hipsters. It's real good. The topics of the essays range from the singing group The Boswell Sisters to the influence of pulp sci-fi and semantic theory on the "work" of L. Ron Hubbard. The showcase piece, comprising over a third of the book, is the tour diary "With The Dukes of September." By turns snide, poignant, antically hilarious, and genuinely heartbreaking, it's a remarkable piece of writing: the "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" of musicians-on-the-road chronicles, I'd reckon. (I don't want to get into any kind of pissing contests with other critics who've praised the book, but I will insist that the "Donald Fagen hates his audience" reading that a number of enthusiastic critics have given this section is lamentably superficial, and a genuine mischaracterization.) On July 4, dyspeptic Donald finds himself in Ashland, Oregon, with a night off.
"In the evening, having zero interest in the town fireworks display, Vince [the tour's accountant and Fagen's de facto assistant] and I saw a film at the cute little movie theater, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, which was intelligent and carefully made, as his films always are. Walter [Becker, Fagen's partner in Steely Dan] and I once had a bizarre interaction with Anderson's fans over the Internet, which started when we posted a couple of humorous letters (we thought) on the Steely Dan website.
"I think one of the reasons we're intrigued by Anderson is that he seems to be fixated on the sort of geekish, early-sixties adolscent experience that he's too young to have had but that Walter and I actually lived through. And yet he nails the mood precisely, using comic exaggration and fantasy to do the job. Although it was no picnic, it's too bad everyone's coming-of-age can't take place in the early sixties. Seeing the scouts in Moonrise Kingdom, I was reminded of my own experience at Boy Scout camp. I remember spending a lot of time in my tent worrying over a huge pot of boiling water in which I was trying to brew just the right blend of herbal tea, mostly wintergreen picked in the forest, following some recipe in the Scout handbook."
So there you have it. I recall the "bizarre interaction," so dispiriting that I am not even going to bother finding relevant links; basically it was a lot of dumb snotty humorless kids sniffing that these progenitors oa "dad rock" didn't "get" Wes. Fagen's observations here strike me as entirely apt. (As a Scout camp kid in the late sixties, I found my own solace in making Sassafras tea.) Anyway, get the book. It's fantastic.