Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City in the ‘90s, by Marc Spitz

Title: Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City in the ‘90s

Author: Marc Spitz

Publisher: Da Capo Press

Publication Date: February 12, 2013

Marc Spitz book




 Music writer and playwright Marc Spitz had to know what he was doing naming his memoir Poseur. As any self-respecting Gen X kid knows, the term poseur was always spat out with disgust referring to that kid constantly trying to be something he’s not. Based on his own memoir, Spitz was a young’un from the Long Island suburbs, sent to one of the country’s most expensive Liberal Arts colleges to study Literature, who, along with his “crew” made frequent trips to the seedier side of New York obsessing over wanting to try heroin (I picture a pasty Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites complete with dirt ‘stache and sparse goatee).  Apt title indeed.

 The book, once you get past the obvious name dropping (Courtney Love! Toni Collette! A slew of ‘90s era MTV VJ’s – including, but not limited to, Matt Pinfield!) and Spitz’s own self-created drama (admittedly that last one’s a big obstacle to get over), is actually a pretty interesting and at times even a fun read. He covers his starving-writer-in-Brooklyn era (“before Brooklyn became hip”), his strung out coach-surfing days in LA as a wannabe screenwriter (complete with Charles Bukowski clichés) and finally his time as a pretty decent playwright and music writer at Spin.

It’s at Spin where Spitz crafted his admittedly obnoxious persona at the magazine to get noticed (feather boa, shades indoors and always with a cigarette between his lips).  He comes off as a real dick, but it clearly worked, as he got better and better assignments, his own column, cover stories and eventually a deal to co-write a book about the LA punk scene (We Got the Neutron Bomb, with punk godfather Brendan Mullen).

When the author’s personality isn’t getting in the way, you get some genuinely honest and often amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the writer, like his face-to-face interview with longtime idol Morrissey or having to tell the members of The Strokes that the old guy they just shook hands with backstage was Peter Wolf from the J. Geils Band (the members are genuinely clueless until someone realizes he wrote “Love Stinks” from Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer). 

Former editors to this day still carry with them their own horror stories of having worked with Spitz [You got that right.  – Ed.], so that acting-like-a-dick thing must have been honed to perfection over the years. While working with him may have been tough, at least it made for a decent book.