I've spent most of my adult life in Los Angeles, so musician/magician/actor Rob Zabrecky's new memoir Strange Cures hit home, literally. Growing up in a lower-middle-class 1980s family in Burbank, California, Rob was a shy, awkward kid who kept his wart-covered hands in his pockets. He idolized his uncle, who told Rob he was a special government agent. Rob was too starstruck and too naive to understand that his uncle was an unemployed drunk sadist, until an incident took place that made him realize just how seriously messed up Uncle Ed was.
Strange Cures is one amazing true story after another, told in chronological order. During a summer spent in a village in Scotland (where his mother was born) Rob's aunt told him he could get rid of his warts by plunging his hands into warm fresh cow dung every morning. Rob followed her advice, and to his surprise, the strange cure worked. That same summer trip also brought Rob into contact with a group of kids who introduced him to punk rock (which became one of the three things that mattered to Rob, the other two being video games and junk food).
When Rob returned home and went back to school, he was shocked to discover that the girls who had ignored him as a gawky, warty kid had taken a sudden interest in him. His love for music grew and he formed the band, Possum Dixon, which was signed by Interscope to much fanfare. He also developed a drug addiction. The combination of his fame and a reckless lifestyle makes for some great stories (which weren't much fun at the time for Rob, I'm sure).
Today Rob is a well-known magician (and sober since 1996). I've seen his act a few times and agree with the general assessment that he's a major talent in the magic world. If you ever get a chance to see his act, I urge you to go. In the meantime, read Strange Cures. Even if Rob had been a complete unknown to me, I would still have enjoyed this book. Rob's a natural storyteller, and, boy, does he have some stories to tell.