I grew up on Brady Bunch reruns. And I secretly wished I could be a real part of that fun faux family, tossing the football with Greg, riding my bike with Peter and Jan. Oh, and I'd want to just hang out with Marcia. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. (I'd ignore Bobby and Cindy. They were annoying.) And I wasn't alone. Millions of kids longed to be a Brady. That includes the actress who played Marcia -- Maureen McCormick. The television run of the Brady Bunch was the highlight of her young life, not just because it gave her money and fame. But it gave her the only stable family she knew. McCormick's book tops this week's Playlist, followed by a couple of musical geniuses.
Here's The Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice. Maureen McCormick. This book has been tagged as one of those gossipy tell-alls. Yes, there's quite a few good nuggets in there -- McCormick's date with Steve Martin, Florence Henderson's habit of walking around her house topless, and the pages and pages of McCormick's coke use. She details the disasterous therapy she received from the controversial Eugene Landy. Landy, our Weekly Wikipedia link, was most know for his work with Brian Wilson. And there were more nuggets we already knew -- Robert Reed's running arguments with the producers and the Greg-Marcia lusting.
As the Brady Bunch run ends, not only is McCormick looking to escape Marcia Brady, she's trying to cope with her own family's dysfunction and her mother's long-kept secret. By the time Maureen feels good about herself, strangely enough after an appearance on a celebrity weight loss show, she finds her family truly falling apart. Her mother dies and her drug-addled brother is controlling or, possibly, abusing her father. It makes for gripping reading -- something beyond the usual Hollywood bio.
Arena. Todd Rundgren. Upper Darby's own Todd Rundgren hit 60 a few months back. But you'd never know by listening to his latest album -- the aptly titled Arena. This is loud, turned-up-to-11, fist-pumping rock, full of massive riffs that we haven't heard from Todd in almost 20 years. No doubt about it -- Todd is a musical genius. But if you haven't been following his career lately, I don't blame you. The keyboard-heavy Liars, his "interactive" persona, the bossa nova With a Twist and the embarrassing New Cars would be enough to drive any fan away. But he's back. No, this isn't another classic, but it is something you don't see much these days -- a great hard rock record. Atmospheric Disturbances. Rivka Galchen. When Reva comes home one day with a dog, pyschiatrist Leo Liebenstein's realizes that his younger wife has been replaced by someone who looks exactly like her. He wants to find the real Reva. A man losing his mind? Or is he involved in some strange conspiracy with groups that aim to control the weather? Although it's most likely the former, Leo winds up in Pategonia, seeking out work with the Royal Academy of Meterology and its departed leader Gal-Chen along with his patient Harvey. The use of photos of Gal-Chen (I'm guessing their photos of the author Galchen's family) lends an eery feeling to the book. I expected a little more from this clever premise. Galchen's debut novel is smart. And quite odd, though sometimes weighed down by thick prose. Still, it's worth checking out if you're an adventurous reader.
Imaginary Diseases. Frank Zappa. There's the novelty/dirty Frank Zappa. Then there's the pure musical genius Zappa. File this under the latter. Great guitar work. An excellent10-piece band playing everything from jazz to blues with ease and originality. If you liked Frank's Grand Wazoo-era work, you'll live this live recording from that period.