Saturday, May 21, 2011

Don't let Tommy Lee's penis scare you...
Take a trip to 'Tommyland'

I honestly had no intention of reading Tommy Lee's book when it came out several years ago - not because I didn't care, but because when I heard it was co-written by his penis, well, yeah, then my interest admittedly faded.

I have a thing for Tommy Lee - not in a man-crush sort of way (not that there's anything wrong with that), but in a way where his passion for music resonates so much that it makes me feel a connection to him like I have with some of my best friends. I've got friends who I can talk about music with for hours on end - we don't even pause to refill our glasses, we just talk louder above the clinking ice and clanking bottles. Tommy seems like one of those guys.

The thing I like most is that Tommy isn't a stereotypical meat-head rocker who likes nothing that doesn't have screaming guitars and vocals that flirt with the stratosphere. No, he just loves music - and all kinds of it. Like me, he's drawn to anything that moves him, from Cheap Trick to Massive Attack to Daft Punk and beyond.

Music, to me, is about feeling a primal connection. It's about sparking that thing inside you that makes you feel like nothing else on the planet can make you feel in a given moment. It's spiritual, and it touches your soul.

And that's almost how I felt reading Tommyland, T-Lee's autobiography. I'm not getting Biblical or anything, I just really appreciate the man's zest for life.

I got a library card a few weeks ago, and Tommyland was the first book I saw when I walked over to the racks. It called out to me, and I grabbed it. Corny? Maybe. But it happens. Like I said, I never felt compelled to read a book narrated by a penis. And to be fair, since its release in 2004, not a single person has told me that this was a book I needed to read.

Which is why I'm telling you now - if you know how to read (which I think you've got covered if we made it this far) and have even a fleeting interest in the concepts of celebrity and pop culture, I highly recommend Tommyland.

Yes, I said highly.

To be clear, his penis only makes random commentary throughout (thankfully, less and less the further and better the book gets). And given that Motley Crue released their own band autobiography, The Dirt, in 2002, there's not even a lot of talk about Motley Crue.

Instead, it's an unflinching look inside the head of what makes one of music's biggest icons tick. The chapter about his meeting Pamela Anderson is literally laugh-out-loud funny, the two recounting their very different recollections of a weekend in Mexico that led to marriage. His discussions of his children are heartwarming, there is heartache in his divorce from Pamela, and we share heartbreak in the chapter that details the death of his son's 4-year-old friend in his Malibu swimming pool.

No, it's not Nobel Prize material, but Tommy Lee would never claim to be a budding laureate. It is raw emotion, and an honest and unwavering look at a side of celebrity that most people don't take the time to acknowledge - the human side. You sit right alongside Tommy Lee in his jail cell, and rant right alongside him at paparazzi.

And, in defense of his penis, as heavy as things do get (I'm talking about the subject matter, not... well, I'm sure you've heard the stories...), you can't blame the guy for trying to lighten the mood. I read a lot, and I'm partial to biographies and autobiographies - Tommyland is one of the more engaging bios I've read.

The book has its flaws, but don't we all? If you offend easily, it gets pretty raunchy, but in the end it's the passion and honesty of the writing that prevails.

I returned my copy to the library today, but I assure you I'll be buying a copy of my own. It's one of those books I want to be able to hand to someone, with the assurance that they'll come out with a whole new perspective on a person they thought they knew everything about.

It may have taken me 6 1/2 years to finally visit Tommyland, but it's a trip I'm glad I finally took.

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