After years of dingy nightclubs and drug addiction, John Albert and his hard-luck friends certainly never expected their salvation to arrive in the form of a pastime most often associated with Mom, God, and apple pie. Wrecking Crew -- a highly unusual chronicle of recovery and redemption -- documents the transformation of a group of musicians, struggling screenwriters, and wannabe actors into a competitive band of hardballers.
For over a decade, it seemed to be enough: the narcotics, gambling, whores, and aimless rebellion. But as they stumbled into their thirties, the blithe pursuit of self-destruction had simply become exhausting to these battle-scarred denizens of the L.A. counterculture. The romantic squalor of being perpetually broken-down, periodically drug-addled, and irresponsible began to lose its charm.
The idea of fielding a baseball team to compete in a hard-knocks amateur league seemed merely the latest in a string of half-hearted stabs at restoring order to their ragged lives. But this escapade was different. When these men donned their team uniforms, the old obsessions started to fade and something incredible began to happen. This is the unforgettable story of the Griffith Park Pirates.
Take the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and change the words "peanuts," "crackerjacks" and "home team" to "sex," "drugs" and "rock and roll," and you're left with a pretty good summary of Albert's debut memoir. Recounting the first seasons of the Griffith Park Pirates, an amateur baseball team made up of denizens from "the Hollywood underclass," Albert, an out-of-work screenwriter and former punk rock drummer and heroin addict, creates an engrossing chronicle of his teammates' search for the American dream. Brutally honest prose is tinged with humor and written in short chapters reminiscent of a punk rock song. While the team of junkies and unemployed musicians and actors find improbable success and happiness on the field, they struggle with their demons off the field. Being on the team affects each player differently: burly catcher Chris gains the confidence to accept himself as a cross-dresser, while the recently clean Dave celebrates with a speedball, to tragic results. But even with the players' penchant for relapses, bizarre behavior and dead-end jobs in the shadows of Hollywood's bright lights, Albert keeps hope alive as these grown, battered men continue to battle and take to the field to play the old ballgame. Agent, Dan Mandel. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 08, 2005
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