Thursday, February 19, 2004

Clubland: The Fabulous rise and murderous fall of club culture by Frank Owen was not as good as I'd hoped. Last year I read Disco Bloodbath by James St. James (a friend of Alig's) and saw Party Monster, so I was interested in getting a view of the larger picture. Clubland purports to be about club culture of the early '90s, but it's more the story of one club owner, Peter Gatien, and his organization. Owen barely mentions other club owners and their clubs, except as they relate to Gatien, but oddly has chapters about South Beach and Chris Paciello, who began his career with Gatien. Because the book is so heavily directed toward Gatien, the South Beach stuff just feels like an annoying tangent from the real plot that never joins back with the main story and so ends up being filler. And it is a compelling storyline: drugs, sex, murder, etc. There is so much there I think he could've expanded on and made the book into a true biography of Gatien instead of one that clearly has aspirations of being a real expose of club culture. I imagine this book started life as a series of articles for the Village Voice - about the popular club drugs (Ecstasy, Special K), Michael Alig (who murdered Angel Melendez), and Peter Gatien that Owen hoped to make a general narrative, but it doesn't quite succeed in transcending those roots to become a larger statement about society.

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