March 29, 2015

Leary is still the same person he was when I was 11: Dennis Leary's "Why We Suck"



I used to really like Dennis Leary. His “No Cure for Cancer” album was something that I listened to a lot, and could recite the routines and sing the songs by heart. I was maybe a little young to be listening to it, so it had this illicit air about it. Leary was unapologetically who he was, and no one could take that from him. I wanted to be just like that!

But that was the 90s. Maybe it was a backlash to the perceived PC movement or something, but what worked for him on that album is carried over on this book, and it doesn’t work. I know the book is dated, so I don’t know if this is true of Leary now, but he just seems like a sad reactionary here. The world has changed and it’s different, so he’s mad. It is a little more complex than that, but that was how I felt reading this document. Leary makes a point to have anecdotes that show just how smart he is, so he has “intellectual” bonefides (plus he was riding on the “Rescue Me” accolade when this was coming out). 

Leary is smart, that is not at issue. He just wants things to be the way they were when he grew up in terms of gender roles. When he writes of these, he feels like the embarrassing uncle at Thanksgiving. But as I said, he’s complicated. Leary writes with an enlightened view on race relations, so it’s confusing. He doesn’t seem to like either party, so it is hard for me to just categorize him and then dismiss him, but his stich hasn’t aged well. The only reason I kept reading the book to the end was to see if it got better, hoping that it would but not optimistic about it. It didn’t. It reminded me that I wasn’t the same person I was when I was 11. For better or worse, Leary is still the same person he was when I was 11.