cover image Wrecking Crew: The Really Bad News Griffith Park Pirates

Wrecking Crew: The Really Bad News Griffith Park Pirates

John Albert, . . Scribner, $23 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-4632-3

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.)