Saturday, January 3, 2009

"Don’t Stop Believin’"

Brian Raftery's features, profiles, and criticism have appeared in such publications as Wired, Spin, GQ, and Entertainment Weekly. His favorite karaoke song is Night Ranger's "Sister Christian."

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, Don't Stop Believin': How Karaoke Conquered the World and Saved My Life, and reported the following:
I moved to New York City in the summer of 1999, attracted to the promise and pressure of living in a city where epochal moments—cultural, personal, financial—seemingly occurred on a daily basis. At 23, my first job was a bottom-rung position in the magazine industry, a field that had always seemed noble, sometimes even glamorous; like most aspiring writers, I’d been consumed (duped?) by Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney’s tale of a hard-living fact-checker. It was a premise that seemed painfully anachronistic by the time I got to the party: In the late ’90s, New York’s star recruits were no longer aspiring hacks, but IPO-intoxicated dot-commers. These were twenty- and thirtysomething millionaires who were shedding cash, and the city was theirs: Downtown lofts, bottle-service nightclubs, the occasional Puffy sighting.

I couldn’t afford to be in this world (which, to be honest, seemed like a total drag). So instead, my friends set off to discover our own scene, which we found, oddly enough, through karaoke. Which is why, on a hot night not long after my arrival, I found myself at a tiny nightclub on the Lower East Side, singing an early-‘80s punk song by the Misifts to a room full of strangers. Standing behind me were the members of the Punk Rock Karaoke Band, a power trio that allowed audience members to play vocalist; in front me of was a throng of yuppies, punks, burn-outs, spazzes, and squares. It was New York City in all of its egalitarian weirdness, and everyone in the audience got a chance to recast themselves, albeit temporarily, as stars. Every time I performed with the band—which was terrifying and intoxicating—I’d look into the crowd and be reminded why I’d always wanted to move to the city: The possibility of community. Even if said community was bound by something as weird and tenuous as karaoke.

Page 69 of Don’t Stop Believin’ tells the story of these connections—of the hook-ups, flare-ups, and ego trips that occur when people are brought together by a love of music. The band is now called the Original Punk Rock/Heavy Metal Karaoke Band, and 2009 will mark their ten-year(!) anniversary. If you’re ever in New York City, I encourage you to check them out, and maybe even get on stage; much like the city itself, there’s always room for newcomers.
Read an excerpt from Don’t Stop Believin’ and learn more about the book and author at Brian Raftery's website.

Watch the Don’t Stop Believin’ video.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue