Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review: "Crash and Burn" by Artie Lange


Artie Lange is one of my all time favorite comedians.  From his year on Mad TV (the debut year, when the show was actually fresh and funny), to his movies Dirty Work and Beer League, to, of course, his stand up and 9 year stint on The Howard Stern Show, Artie Lange has been consistently hysterical and brutally honest in his comedy.  His first book, Too Fat to Fish, highlighted those traits excellently.  Also in this book, he talks about what a fanatic of Bruce Springsteen he is.  But mostly in Too Fat to Fish, he is completely open about his demons and vices.  The book ends with him giving the details of him overcoming his addiction to heroin.  The epilogue of the book seems to paint the picture that he might have relapsed but without him admitting it.

That is where this book picks up, with Artie in full blown relapse with pills, alcohol and heroin.  And it never really gets much better for him for the rest of the book.  This is a dark and depressing book.  Throughout the entire book, Artie lies to everyone in his life, promising to get clean only for him to almost immediately relapse.  It culminates on January 2nd, 2010, when Artie attempted to commit suicide.  Artie talks about how burned out he was at his life and career, and basically just wanted to go to sleep for a long, long time.  It isn't until the end of the book, that he finally admits to the readers, and to himself, that he really just did not want to live anymore.

However, it is during his recovery from his suicide attempt, where he is horribly depressed, that he gets a call from Bruce Springsteen.  Artie and Bruce met at the funeral of a mutual friend, who Artie refused to name, and had a brief chat.  It ended with Bruce giving Artie giving advice to clean up his life, because Bruce didn't want to have to go to Artie's funeral.  Bruce came incredibly close to doing just that.

Just when that seemed to be the end of Bruce Springsteen in Crash and Burn, Artie tells the story of going to Paris with his girlfriend to go to see Bruce in concert.  The concert, of course, was great and afterwards Nils Lofgren was able to get Artie backstage, where Artie was able to hang with The E Street band.  After spending some time with them they invite him back to the Four Seasons, where they were staying, for the after party.  It's there that Artie finally gets to have a heart to heart conversation with Bruce.

I bought this book without even knowing Bruce's name would be mentioned, let alone that he would play some an essential part in it.  The Bruce story from this book is worth the price alone.  It ends with Artie finally taking stock in his life and noticing how at the end of the night, a sober Bruce walked his mother, Adele, up to her hotel room.  Artie compares that to his own mother discovering his body after his failed suicide attempt.  After one more alcohol relapse, Artie finally gets clean for what is, hopefully, the final time.

I really hope Artie stays sober, the world is a funnier place with him in it.  I know Bruce would agree with me on that.