It's a weird but compelling mix of airbrushed memoir, mild gossip column, and righteous political manifesto. While its author's ego is oversized, his heart is in the right place, and once you get past the navel-gazing "Danny Goldberg: The Early Years" of the first 60 pages or so, the book is tough to put down. It's like junk food for thought.
Goldberg's central point, which isn't particularly original but gets reinforced here with one damning example after another, is that the American Left — more specifically the Democratic Party — has completely lost its way because of the misbegotten leadership of elitist liberal snobs, who squabble with each other and can no longer connect with the party's once-key youth constituency.
Beyond making a lot of people a ton of money and working closely with name-brand bands from Led Zeppelin to Nirvana to Bruce Springsteen, Goldberg's main claim to fame is as Tipper Gore's nemesis during years of battle over the labeling of music products, so it's not surprising that Al and Tipper don't come off well here. But one of the things that makes the book so appealing is that Goldberg names names as much as he drops them. The book is full of good guys and bad guys, hypocrites and true believers, politicians and statesmen. Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson and John McCain come off the best; Joe Lieberman, devastatingly portrayed as a fussy, self-righteous, close-minded prig, by far the worst.
Though Goldberg continually — and rightfully — bull's-eyes the hypocrisy and hyperbole of politicians, he usually lets performers slide. When Russell Simmons pretentiously declares, during a conversation with Hillary Clinton, that "DMX is a profound poet — his lyrics will someday be taught like Shakespeare," Goldberg lets it pass without comment. It's this blind spot that is the book's biggest weakness: Like many in the biz, he confuses performers for artists but expects every politician to be a statesman. Still, Goldberg's greatest success is his ability to lead by example: He argues that progressive politics should more enthusiastically embrace popular culture and has turned out a book that is both edifying and extremely entertaining. If the DNC doesn't pay closer attention to what he's got to say, they're fools. But Dispatches From the Culture Wars, shows them mostly to be fools already.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at [email protected].
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.