Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Professional Idiot. A Memoir by Steve "Steve-O" Glover

Over the years, lots of people have said that my grammar and spelling are too good for it to actually be me writing the words I post. The fact is that I grew up attending super top-notch schools (I was the son of a corporate executive, who wasn't initially thrilled about my career path). My dad also gave me two choices the summer I turned 16: get a summer job, or go to secretary school to learn how to type. I skated to secretary school so fuckin fast it was incredible. In short, it's me, it's always me-- I think anybody who ever authorizes another person to communicate as them is a fucking moron. Love, Steve-O
From Steve-O's Ask Me Anything on Reddit.

Just a couple of entries ago I said I don't read biographies. Well, here's my second one in a short while!

If you are unfamiliar with Steve-O, please don't Google Image his name because... yeah, just don't. He is one of the guys in the hit MTV series Jackass, where guys kicked each other in the nuts, rode trikes off skating ramps, and made each other puke on camera. 

The reason why I even clicked on Steve-O's AMA was because of my guilty pleasure: I love watching Jackass, or even better, Wildboyz.

Wildboyz was a ridiculous show where Steve-O and Chris Pontius traveled the world in pseudo-David Attenborough nature documentary settings, only to get their rightful comeuppance from wild animals. So when I saw Steve-O's words above in the AMA--you know, the guy's who walks on stilts and gets coconut crabs to nip at his butt cheeks--I had to read this memoir that was mentioned in the AMA thread.

It is so good.

Now, you might expect it to be a high-fiving tale of becoming famous for doing stupid crap on TV while possibly high on a variety of drugs. Well, it is very much that, but it displays a level of humility I was not expecting at all. It's as if Steve-O sat in front of his computer to type up this memoir as an exercise in paying his dues to people he screwed over in the past because he was so selfish and out of control. It takes a lot to admit that you have behaved poorly, instead of blaming the behavior on anyone or anything else around you.

I guess that's what I found refreshing in this memoir. It's well written, extremely entertaining and funny, but it's also self-deprecating and honest. You can tell it's his story in his own words, expletives included when they are needed--once you get over him having a tone of voice that is not just raspy laughter. The man lived many of his formative years in London, so you even get a bit of British dry humor in the mix. Just as you think his attempts at being famous can't get any more absurd, there's a chapter titled OK, Who Wants to Hear Me Rap?

Although I had some good laughs, the bits toward the end are pretty rough to read: Steve-O has to largely quote other people, including his dad and sister, as he has barely any recollection of the time himself: he was constantly high on a cocktail of drugs, paranoid about voices and raving about other dimensions. Classic Philip K. Dick stuff. His former cast members had to arrange a fairly aggressive intervention and have him committed, which no doubt saved his life.

Professional Idiot is probably not the first book people would think of buying as a Christmas, birthday or Valentine's gift to anyone (the photos in it... sheesh!), but it's a great reflection on the desire to be the center of attention. In its core, it's about a kid who convinced himself early on he would just disappoint others around him with his actions, so why not go all the way and be the craziest person anyone could ever meet if that granted attention.

By the way, Steve-O is still goofing around and doing crazy stunts, so don't think that he regrets everything.

If you need a gateway to reading Steve-O, here is short HuffPo post about writing the memoir.

Also, a library plug: if you have an eReader and you do not venture to the library that often, check to see if your library has made eBook borrowing available. The paper copy of this memoir had multiple holds on it, so I downloaded it straight to my Kindle from the Seattle Public Library as an eBook loan. Perfect!

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