Help yourselves, dudes

In America we like to fix things ourselves. Americans also like celebrities. Therefore, it should be a safe bet to assume we like celebrity self-help books. You can look at the rash of advice guides penned by stars in two ways: 1) We are too lazy to actually look to the works of these artists for inspiration and guidance; or 2) We are really smart and efficient in our newfound desire to get to the heart of whatever knowledge an artist may possess. The explanation you prefer must depend on your gender because, according to that other self-help craze, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, men and women just can’t think along the same lines. Therefore, just like those rare and cherished two- and three-part episodes of “Happy Days” and “The Brady Bunch,” I will spend the next two columns reviewing male and female celebrity self-help guides. Since self-help books encourage us to look out for ourselves and put our own needs first, I will grant privilege to my own esteemed gender and allow the ladies an opportunity next week when we will hear from such authorities as Suzanne Somers and Britney Spears.

It’s Like That: A Spiritual Memoir
by “The Reverend Run” Joseph Simmons — $18.95

As is to be expected, this tale of a washed-up founding member of the rap group Run-DMC features the usual crap about the glory days and how great his life was until he fell into a deep depression, which, surprisingly, could not be healed with consumer goods; yet, rather unsurprisingly, this depression was lifted by the Lord (praise ’im).

Yes, once again the Lord zoomed in and redirected a lost sheep. I just find it amazing how substituting yet another opiate (as Karl Marx considered religion) for drugs, booze and cooze somehow deserves adulation and copycat actions from the reader. Unfortunately, Run failed in his mission to make me see the light, despite his inclusion of 13 Run’s House Rules, each focusing on a different theme (real deep shit like “You Deserve It All”) that Run explains in a line or two (“It’s Like This”) followed by a biblical passage (“The Word”).

Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court
by Coach John Wooden with Steve Jamison — $14.95

Here we have a generic life manual by a legendary hoops coach who couldn’t possibly have a more apt last name (he is the petrified geezer they prop up in the crowd during March Madness). This collection of wise nuggets was compiled by a former UCLA player who discovered the applicability of his coach’s message in the “real world.” And who could deny Wooden’s profound logic concerning apples? “There is a small percentage of bad apples but a large percentage of good apples.” It seems basketball isn’t the only game old man Wooden knows fairly well. He obviously knows a thing or two about the self-help book racket as he claims, “Drink deeply from those great books of your own choosing and you will enrich yourself.” Finally, men, “Control your temper and don't use profanity.” Fuck that, you stupid old bastard.

The Way Your Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin'
by Bill Zehme — $25

The compiler-author of this guide to life, Bill Zehme, argues, “Men had gone soft and needed help, needed a leader, needed Frank Sinatra.” How stiff should a stiff drink be? Ol’ Blue sez: “Nice and Easy. You don’t have to beat yourself up. Why be a hero? For what?” For more gems about broads, pallies, fighting and wearing hats, you should definitely seek out this book — unless, of course, you are squaresville, Mac.

Recovering Life
by Darryl and Charisse Strawberry — $25

There seems to be some strange, painfully slow, deadly game of chicken going on between Robert Downey Jr. and Darryl Strawberry. It is this amazing game of pop-culture brinkmanship we watch news tidbit by news tidbit. Darryl Strawberry had a brilliant baseball career, best captured in a subplot of Bad Lieutenant in which Harvey Keitel’s character keeps losing money on Strawberry and the Mets. George Steinbrenner claims this “is a moving story of a very special couple who fought side by side against the odds to achieve and preserve a remarkable comeback against dependency and illness.” George spoke too soon.

Click on over to next week's Attention Span to discover what female celebrities have to say about how to live our lives.

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