Nick Tosches is your classic anti-intellectual intellectual: Like his rockcrit comrades Lester Bangs and Richard Meltzer, he's a learned man who professes to value spirit and semen over "that glob of gross crenulated meat that we call mind." As a music writer, Tosches celebrated Dionysian figures like Jerry Lee Lewis and Jim Morrison while scorning the limp-dicked, peace-and-love pieties of the counterculture: He once described the Doors' "Hello, I Love You" as "a cold hard blue-veined cock right up under the tie-dyed skirts of benighted sensitivity." Tosches eventually broke free from the geeky ghetto of rock criticdom for a career as an acclaimed biographer and novelist. But whether writing about the boxer Sonny Liston, mafia politician Michele Sindona, or opium dens, his obsessions remain the same: heroic brutality, connoisseurship of illicit thrills. Then there's his increasingly curmudgeonly insistence that things were better before you were born: This is a man who believes rock 'n' roll shot its wad before Elvis appeared on Ed Sullivan and literature crapped... More >>>
By photo: Sylvia Plachy
Trash-talker Nick Tosches: Beneath the hard shell pulses the Hallmark heart of an old softie.