Mark Yarm’s Book Launch, 9/7/11, Brooklyn, NY

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Offbeat Seattle-Related Music Stories

Mark Yarm graciously invited me to his launch party for Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, held at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, New York last night.  He also sent me a promo copy a few days ahead of time, and I was able to get through about 150 pages of ELOT prior the event.

Mark reached out to me about a month or so ago.  Given our books cover similar material, the natural inclination is to extol one’s own work at the expense of the other’s.  He was having none of that and offered up the olive branch, recognizing that we’ve written two very different books.

I sat in the back, and while we were waiting for the event to begin, Seattle music pumped in over the loudspeakers.  Two young guys sat next to me.  Then, Love Battery’s “Out of Focus” came out of the sound system.  Of course I had to let them know who they were listening to.

Overall, I enjoyed it.  About 60 or so people attended…a nice crowd (damn, I’m kinda hoping 60 people buy my book.)  Mark took questions from Rob Sheffield (I believe it was him…Mark, feel free to correct me) for maybe a half hour or so before fielding questions from the audience.

Mark’s book (as well as this event) revisits the twentieth anniversary of the early ’90s grunge phenomenon.  ELOT opens with the U-Men and the exploding moat story (in my book as well, that’s all I’m going to say about it), but really begins with the Deep Six compilation released in early 1986.  Deep Six essentially documented the emergence of grunge in Seattle.

In contrast, my book, The Strangest Tribe, is not about the grunge phenomenon, but rather focuses on the music scene that created that phenomenon, with all of its oddities and diversity.  Further, Tribe is a narrative.  So, while our books overlap each other, they have very different focuses and formats.  I believe both ELOT and Tribe provide a valuable contribution to the understanding of the amazing music that came out of the Northwest.  So, please buy them both.

During the Q&A session, Mark responded with cogent, accurate, and often humorous answers.  One audience member did irritate me, though.  She continually had to offer commentary throughout the event (reminded me of when I have one of those college students who has to constantly offer his/her opinions while the class collectively rolls its eyes.)  I bit my lip as she exclaimed how Seattle bands were heavily influenced by Bay Area acts like Bad Brains.  I turned to the two gentlemen sitting next to me and quietly told them everything she just stated is wrong. Mark handled it well, though, tactfully moving on to another question.

I would like to offer Mark congratulations on his book release, as well as critical and commercial success.

I drove back to Philly last night, slept all the way until 5 am and am now running on fumes…all ready to teach my students about the Second World War.

  1. Mark Yarm says:


    Thanks so much for coming last night! Glad you enjoyed the event and got to school some kids on Love Battery. Looking forward to giving my undivided attention to your book. Hope you managed to make it through class today.

    Talk soon,

    • Stephen Tow says:

      I had fun. Of course, you did talk about a subject I kind of like a little bit…but you also did it in a way that combined insight, humor, and strong interaction with the audience.

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