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Mar 7 / admin

Dirty South in Oxford American

Oxford American has an excerpt from Dirty South in their latest edition. If you’re not familiar, Oxford American is “The Southern Magazine of Good Writing,” and a few years back published perhaps the best music story I’ve seen, “I Will Forever Remain Faithful: How Lil Wayne helped me survive my first year teaching in New Orleans,” by David Ramsey.

The excerpt from Dirty South comes from its introduction, about my hunt for cross-dressing rapper Ms. Peachez. The magazine’s tag line for the piece is, “Is Southern hip-hop more offensive than Birth of a Nation?”

Ha! You don’t get it, but you will.

The article is not available online, but you can see a preview here.

Feb 15 / admin

First review of Dirty South

It’s a good ‘un.

Publishers Weekly says: “Journalist and hip-hop enthusiast Westhoff delivers a fascinating exploration of the musical and personal terrain of what has come to be known as the Southern sound of rap by such artists as Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, and Ludacris. Westhoff convincingly details how Southern rap music–“party music, full of hypnotic hooks and sing-along choruses”–took over from dominant East Coast and West Coast rap styles by replacing “[f]ormal rap structures and metaphor-heavy rhymes… in favor of chants, grunts and shouts.” In fact, the beauty of Westhoff’s descriptions of the genre as a whole and various songs in particular will make old fans as well as newbies want to search out and play classic CDs such as OutKast’s “Aquemini” and “Kings of Crunk” by Lil Jon. And Westhoff’s personal trips to the home bases of each artist he presents show how the personalities of the artists reinforce their music, which leads to scenes such as Lil Wayne’s equally impassioned and hilarious defense of his fast-paced, workaholic lifestyle: “What am I supposed to do, take a vacation? This is the vacation right here.”

Jan 21 / admin

Dirty South coming soon

Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop comes out on May 1, and it’s already getting some great advance notices. More details to come, but you can see announcements of the book on the sites for XXL and Respect magazine. It is also available for pre-order.

If you’re interested in a copy for review, please contact Meaghan Miller, mmiller [at] ipgbook [dot] com.

Dec 14 / admin

New York City’s Best Dive Bars on the Radio

Have you ever wanted to hear my voice, but didn’t have my phone number? Well now you can. I was on WFUV recently, a guest on George Bodarky’s excellent program Cityscape. You can hear it here.

Dec 8 / admin

A bunch of dives are closing, and some have already shuttered

New York City’s Best Dive Bars has only been out for a couple of months, but already many of the bars I chronicled have closed down. Freddy’s, course, went under just before publication. That was just the beginning.

I tried to stop in for a drink at Lazy Catfish in Williamsburg not long ago, only to see it shuttered.

Beloved Coney Island spot Ruby’s was evicted not long ago.

The legendary Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge is no more.

Now, it looks like Mars Bar may temporarily shutter, and then move to a bigger space, which would mean it would, essentially, not be the Mars Bar anymore.

Oh, and The New York Times thinks Nassau Bar is threatened by gentrification.

Also, anyone heard from Puerto Rico USA Bar? I haven’t been by recently, but their web site is down, and no one answered when I called.

I guess the bottom line is, don’t put off visiting that “legendary” dive you’ve always heard about. Because it might be gone tomorrow.

Oct 26 / admin

Your boy in the news

I have been on a publicity tear for my new book, New York City’s Best Dive Bars.

I was on a podcast called Keith and the Girl, which is downloaded one million times per month. (Seriously.) I play both the “straight man” and the “funny man” at times.

I was interviewed for a very good web site called Serious Eats. Some of the food on that site makes me salivate. Likely my picture had the same effect on some people.

A great fella named Adam Poor spent an evening drinking with me in Brooklyn, and our experience is chronicled in his article for Williamsburg Greenpoint News + Arts.

A jerk whose name I forget tried to diss my excerpt in the Voice, but I put him in his place on New York magazine’s Grub Street blog.

Also thanks to Pat Kiernan at NY1 and Jay with Minneapple In The Big Apple for their recent coverage.

Oct 12 / admin

My first ever published interview / Trash Bar reading tomorrow

The L Magazine’s Mark Asch interviewed me. Nyce.

Also, tomorrow, which is Wednesday, Oct 13, I will be reading at The Trash Bar. It starts at 6:45 sharp. Details here. There will be a drinking contest….with a twist. (And I’m not talking a piece of lime rind or whatever people mean when they say they want a drink “with a twist.”)

Oct 6 / admin

Voice cover/ Book officially out/ Reading tonight

Yo party people. Big news from dive bar land. The book is now officially out — get it on Amazon and write me a review, if you wouldn’t mind — and it is excerpted in a Village Voice cover story this week. Those three women accompanied me to every single bar I visited, incidentally.

Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:

Anyone who says that gentrified New York lacks dive bars is nuts. Sure, we no longer have McGurk’s Suicide Hall, the Bowery haunt frequented by sailors and low-rent prostitutes that was thought to be the place to take one’s own life. But we’ve still got the historic rooms, the cultural diversity, and the unquenchable thirst to make for a great dive-bar town.

Don’t forget, I’ve got my first reading tonight, 8 pm at Port 41, 355 West 41st Street (at Ninth Avenue). But it will be less like a traditional reading and more like a surreal, mind-bending journey into consciousness. Seriously, my friend Dillon, a renowned artist, is helping me put it together, and it will be fun and strange, with a lot of prizes, some valuable and some less so.

Hopefully see you there — otherwise, keep checking back here under Appearances for upcoming events, a couple of which are already planned.

Sep 23 / admin

Come to a Crazy Dive Bar and Hear Me Read

New York City’s Best Dive Bars: Drinking and Diving in the Big Apple comes out in just a few days.

If you pre-order, it should be at your house by the end of next week. If you’d prefer an autographed copy, however, there will be a number of opportunities to hear me read in the coming months.

These will not be run-of-the-mill readings, however; not only will they be held in the finest, most surreal spots in NYC, but they’ll mix in strange performances by some of the city’s finest and tipsiest artists, as well as giveaways, and, probably, something to do with the band Skid Row.

The first is Wednesday, October 6, at Port 41, a Hell’s Kitchen dive bar of the finest caliber. (Address, time, and other info on this blog’s brand new “Appearances” button.) It’s a bikini bar, but not toooo sleazy, and surprisingly inexpensive. Don’t order any of the beers on tap, however. They all taste the same, which is to say, like warm, de-carbonated Miller High Life.

But, don’t take my word for it. Here’s a testimonial from the bar’s site:

For what it is, this spot is excellent. Yes, it’s a dive bar, accept it. Lets check the amenities at this supposedly “bland” bar. A mounted hippo head. Cheap beers on tap and bottle including Guinness on tap. …Well lit, but not annoyingly bright. Plenty of infra-red security cams for all you fraidy cats and would-be criminals in addition to a 24hr NYPD security booth literally right outside the place. Low key security who get the job done when need be, but are almost invisible otherwise. A wildly varied clientele in terms of age, sex and personality. Oh and um, last but not least, attractive bartenders wearing bikinis all day every day. In addition, all the bartenders are unique personalities and very friendly unless you’re a fool or a nasty drunk (tip them well). All in all a great find in Hell’s kitchen for a quick beer before your bus or train as well as for a night of drunken madness. You’ll have more fun here than at any similar bar in the vicinity.

Here that? In the vicinity. See you there!

Aug 10 / admin

Pre-order This Book, If You Would Like

My dive bars book will be sent to the printer’s shortly, and will be available October 1. If you would like to demonstrate your true fandom, however, you can pre-order it for the odd price of $8.73 on Barnes and Noble’s web site, or, if you would prefer to pay a just as odd, but slightly higher, price, on Amazon.com for $10.36.