Here are all of the things Dave Holmes and I have in common:
- We went to college together and have a few of the same friends.
- We both worked as DJs at WCHC.
- We both remember what it was like to anxiously await the arrival of a new J Crew catalog.
- We can both easily drop SNL’s Gary Kroeger into a conversation.
- We both love music.
Here are some ways that Dave Holmes and I are different:
- I have never been on MTV.
- I’m not a gay man.
The similarities clearly outweigh the differences. Really, we are more or less the same person.
I don’t really know Dave Holmes. I think we would say “hi” to each other up at the radio station, and I think he knew my husband and his friends pretty well. But after listening to his audiobook, I FEEL like I knew him better than I did.
Here’s the blurb from Amazon about his debut book:
Dave Holmes has spent his life on the periphery, nose pressed hopefully against the glass, wanting just one thing: to get inside. Growing up, he was the artsy son in the sporty family. At his all-boys high school and Catholic college, he was the closeted gay kid surrounded by crush-worthy straight guys. And in his twenties, in the middle of a disastrous career in advertising, he accidentally became an MTV VJ overnight when he finished second, naturally, in the Wanna Be a VJ contest, opening the door to fame, fortune, and celebrity—you know, almost.
In Party of One, Holmes tells the hilariously painful and painfully hilarious tales—in the vein of Rob Sheffield, Andy Cohen, and Paul Feig—of an outsider desperate to get in, of a misfit constantly changing shape, of a music geek who finally learns to accept himself. Structured around a mix of hits and deep cuts from the last four decades—from Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” and En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” to LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” and Bleachers’ “I Wanna Get Better”—and punctuated with interludes like “So You’ve Had Your Heart Broken in the 1990s: A Playlist” and “Notes on (Jesse) Camp,” this book is for anyone who’s ever felt like a square peg, especially those who have found their place in the world around a band, an album, or a song. It’s a laugh-out-loud funny, deeply nostalgic story about never fitting in, never giving up, and letting good music guide the way.
I enjoyed this book. Dave breaks down the different parts of his life into chapters based on what music was popular and important to him at the time. He starts off by describing his childhood in St. Louis, moves on to his Catholic boys high school, then to college, life in NYC in his early 20s, coming out to friends and family, working for MTV, 9/11, and his current career and personal life. Dave’s a funny guy — very wry and sarcastic, which is right in my wheelhouse.
I don’t really remember seeing him on MTV in the 90s, as I wasn’t really into watching TRL or any of those crazy “Beach House” weekends. But I do remember the first time I saw Dave on Reno 911! and was all, HEY, I KINDA KNOW HIM! And I thought it was awesome. Since then, I’ve followed him on Twitter (he had that amazing threada few years ago about how he dealt with a telemarketing grifter pretending to be from the IRS), and I knew he wrote a book, but I honestly just forgot about it…
Until this fall, I went up to Massachusetts for the weekend and met up with an old friend from college, who mentioned Dave in conversation. I immediately went to audible and added this to my library.
I enjoyed driving around and listening to this. I loved his stories about music in the 1980s, and how different music consumption was back then, how hard it was to find new stuff from new British bands, and how many friendships were built upon what music you liked and owned. I loved his stories about which celebrities were awful…Kid Rock, you apparently are the worst, and I’m glad.
Mostly, I appreciated the chapters about college. He had trouble fitting in there, and I did, too. It was a very homogeneous place — lots of Catholic kids from New England in LL Bean barn jackets, and it took me a while to figure out how to handle that. We both chose the school for similar reasons — it looked so amazing on our visit, it dazzled us and convinced us that it was the place. Eventually we both figured out how to navigate it and find our people, and it looks like we both found those people at the radio station.
So, thanks, Dave Holmes, for writing a very approachable, and amusing book about growing up and fitting in during the 80s and 90s. I enjoyed it a lot and have already recommended to a bunch of people we went to college with. I wish you continued success and look forward to reading (or listening to) anything else you decide to gift us.