L.A. Story: Shoplifters of the World, Grab Your Bongs and Bongos

In eighth grade, when it counted, I had no effing clue what Jane's Addiction or that polyamorass Perry Farrell were all about. Wasn't sure how those guys dressed, so how could I tell? "Been Caught Stealing" I got—shoplifting is cool. (It's as simple as that.) Turns out these were renaissance boys, and I'm not just referring to their antiquated attitudes regarding women: They drank, dropped acid, did coke, shot heroin, admired metal, punk, tribal . . . things, and the Dead. PF dressed like a graver before there were even ravers. They, all upper- or middle-class, hit bongs and bongos. The band was hippie-dippy and meatheaded and, most of all, L.A. And in the same way that they were cool jerks, Whores is an oral fixation in which every cigar is just a cigar no matter what you wished, hoped, or understood it to be.

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Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell and Janeís Addiction
Brendan Mullen
Da Capo, 324 pp., $26
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This being a collection of interviews somewhat carelessly spliced into conversations, we're mostly spared the critical summations that couldn't do this glorious mess justice. Jane's Addiction shared their "scene" with Fishbone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, people. This was not a movement, unless you wanna talk bowels. And nothing is shocking or sacred taken in context. Dave Navarro's mother, we find, was murdered by her boyfriend when Dave was 15, which we are told led to his rock-and-roll junkie lifestyle, which in turn, we realize, led to his reality show. Xiola Blue, one corner in a Perry Farrell love triangle, overdoses and dies in June 1987. Perry remembers: "To love two women at the same time is a pretty amazing moment in any personal history." This feels wrong. And it should. Jane's Addiction jumped on something adrift, and there we were, watching it float away.

 
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