File this under random gossip. David Berman, best known as singer of the Silver Jews and author of Actual Air, just "announced that he will quit his band and continue on as muckraker and screenwriter. It doesn't say anything about whether or not he'll continue to write poetry. I hope he does since Berman is a hit with the college students. He's a good gateway drug for that stubborn student who hates poetry. I could bury one of his poem in the back of a packet, and they will say, "I find the rest of these poems boring but I LOVE DAVID BERMAN." Can they sniff out, through his laid back, laconic lines, that he's also in a rock band?
He also outs his family secret. Apparently, he's always had a curdling secret about his father being a food industry lobbyist: "My life has been riddled with Ibsenism. In a way I am the son of a demon come to make good the damage." So I guess one can interpret his decision to turn to muckraking as some serious Oedipal revenge shit.
To conclude, I'm sad about the music. I liked the Silver Jews. But one must move on.

Originally Published: January 26th, 2009

Cathy Park Hong is the author of Translating Mo'um, (Hanging Loose Press, 2002); Dance Dance Revolution (W.W. Norton, 2007), winner of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize; and Engine Empire (W.W. Norton, 2012). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the NEA, and the New York Foundation for the...

  1. January 26, 2009
     michael robbins

    David Berman was never in Pavement. Much of Pavement played in the Silver Jews.

  2. January 26, 2009
     Guillermo Parra

    As far as I recall, David Berman was never a member of Pavement. S.M. and Bob Nastanovich played with him on several Silver Jews records, but Berman was never officially part of Pavement.

  3. January 27, 2009

    I'm sad about this, too, but simultaneously psyched for a Berman-crafted screenplay and/or muckrake. Especially if it were a magical musical muckrake that played "Party Barge." Okay I'm still sad.

  4. January 27, 2009
     john sakkis

    regarding "outing" his father...either DB is a total unhinged moron or he's making a big (bad) joke...i'm going with the latter...doesn't this come off as jokey and over the top to anyone else...?

  5. January 29, 2009

    Sad too, because "San Francisco B.C." and "Suffering Jukebox" were some of my favorite songs this summer. "Romance is the douche of the bourgeoisie," and "she had sarcastic hair," being some of my favorite lyrics to marvel over on my walk home. He's a fan of Zukofsky! Say what you will about him, the man is deliberate in all things...lyrics, band decisions, father outing..I don't think I can agree with John on the "unhinged moron," comment.

  6. February 5, 2009
     Dusty Road

    Why is this news? Why is any of this of any importance? Is this Star Magazine?

  7. February 5, 2009
     Travis Nichols

    Dusty Road: Listen to American Water, read Actual Air, come on back and answer the question for yourself.

  8. February 5, 2009
     michael robbins

    The odds of Star Magazine's running a story on David Berman are approximately the same as their running a story on my dead grandmother. (But, come on, Actual Air's a weak book of "poems," no?)

  9. February 6, 2009
     Travis Nichols

    Why put poems in quotes? What's the other standard for Actual Air? A book of recipes? Knock knock jokes? Traffic citations? Comments?

  10. February 26, 2009
     Don Share

    Check out this article: "Family Ties: The David Berman, M.I.A., Tupac Connection" by Howard Wyman, over at the legendary Crawdaddy magazine site.