Home Books Bits: Aimee Mann, Michael Chabon, Gadgets and Time Travel

Yesterday came quite a few music releases: the “Bad25″ box from Michael Jackson with a must-have CD of demos and unreleased tracks; a new album from Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora that shows, as we all knew, he can sing as well as pluck those strings like a rock master; and Aimee Mann’s “Charmer” album. It’s been over 25 years since Aimee hit it big with her group til Tuesday and the song “Voices Carry.” Her Beatlesque inflections have grown and prospered, sometimes with the help of Jon Brion. til Tuesday’s “Everything’s Different Now” is a lost classic, a CD I never take out of the car or off any MP3 player.

A long time ago Aimee and her manager Michael Hausmann left the label world and started their own company. (Richie Sambora is also on a small indie.) Her CDs are self-released through their SuperEgo Records. Each new release is like getting a Christmas present you didn’t expect. So many great songs are strewn out over the collection, from her “I’m with Stupid” and “Whatever” albums through the more recent “Smilers” and now “Charmer.” If there were still a radio world, the title track would be a hit. Right now I’m also loving “Labrador,” “Gumby,” and I’m particularly fond of a duet Aimee does with talented husband Michael Penn called “Living a Lie.” They should re-record it as a country style single, frankly.

Aimee’s on tour soon, and you can read all about it at www.aimeemann.com. I will go to every New York show if I can. Her music is just too engaging to miss a minute of it. Yes, it’s a guilty pleasure. And very welcome.

…Meanwhile: last night at the still unopened Beatrice Inn, Scott Rudin through a swell book party for Michael Chabon. Rudin has optioned Chabon’s new novel, “Telegraph Avenue,” which they hope to film for HBO possibly. Chabon hasn’t had a movie adaptation since “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.” His “Kavalier and Klay” almost made it but was killed off at Paramount. No stars at the party, but plenty of publishing and media names. I met Chabon, who is very nice, and his talented writer wife Ayelet Waldman. Between “Telegraph Avenue” and Jonathan Tropper’s “One Last Thing Before I Go,” it’s a good new book season…PS Barry Diller stopped by to see his new partner, Scott Rudin. They’re publishing e-books now. Very smart…

…Wednesday morning I went to the launch of the new HTC Microsoft Windows 8 phones coming in November. They’re very light and attractive. But all they do is make phone calls, get emails, and surf the net. They do not help with time travel, flying, attracting beautiful women, or finding tax free cash. I am old now, and this phone-gadget thing is trying my patience. Were people so fascinated with vacuum cleaners or toasters when they were first invented? There is a limit to what cell phones can do–and we’ve reached it. The hype has become ludicrous. Now it’s all about the Cameras. And the material. And the shape. You’ve got to laugh. They’re just phones, people! And really: if I have to honk at more oblivious young person wearing earbuds while crossing against a light…

What do you think?

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