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Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives Paperback – August 27, 2013

4.9 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The cast of characters in Sullivan’s entertaining book are an eclectic bunch. Most are not famous. They include deejays, singers, “bar stool” poets, dancers, and guitarists. This is also the story of one too many beers and way too many drugs. All the action takes place on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where the city itself “stopped making sense.” The star of the story is Stefani Germanotta. Sullivan was an up-and-coming deejay in 2006 when he met Germanotta, who is known today as Lady Gaga. Then she was a go-go dancer with big dreams: “Behind her dark bangs she had the delicacy and eye makeup of the tiniest eggs in a set of Russian dolls.” Sullivan describes hanging out with the soon-to-be-famous singer in her bare-bones apartment, their circle of friends, and their neighborhood haunts along Rivington, a bar- and restaurant-studded street that Gaga has referenced in several of her songs. An intimate portrait of a specific time—before stardom struck—and a particular place. Fans of Gaga and the downtown New York music scene will find this fascinating. --June Sawyers

Review

” Equal parts insightful, funny, romantic and poetic, this is a book that’s not just about Gaga but about the magic of the city. Brendan’s writing makes you feel like a fly on the wall while history is being made all around you.” ("Captain" Kirk Douglas, guitarist for The Roots)

“A fascinating and vivid insight into the cauldron that formed a great musician. It’s a slice of New York history, go and buy it!” (Andy Rourke, bass guitarist for The Smiths)

“Brendan Jay Sullivan is a writer’s writer. Yes, he’s that good.” (Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story)

“Through charm and wit and sheer force of will, Brendan Jay Sullivan has insinuated himself into New York night life, and through his talent with words, he has brought you along as his plus one.” (Joe Garden, writer for The Onion)

“Sullivan delivers a delectable romp through Stefani Germanotta’s early days - and offers a unique window into the process by which she became Lady Gaga.” (Zack O'Malley Greenburg, author of Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office)

“Richly detailed, funny and poignant. Who knew Lady Gaga’s lower-Manhattan dance-club scene of the late 2000s needed a ‘Bright Lights, Big City’?” (Steve Knopper, author of Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age)

“Brendan Jay Sullivan is the voice of our generation.” (Leila Sales, author of This Song Will Save Your Life)

“Brendan Jay Sullivan is the Lena Dunham of the Lower East Side - if Lena Dunham were a male aficionado of rock and roll music.” (Lauren Oliver, author of Delirium)

“Brendan Jay Sullivan is one of the most engaging, authentic, and all-around interesting people I know. What his story lacks in pretentious B.S. it makes up for in affability, comedy, and charm. ” (Justin Taylor, author of Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever)

“The nicest guy in nightlife.” (Time Out New York)

A touching memoir. (New York Post)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: It Books (August 27, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062125583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062125583
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,175,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I might not quite qualify as a Little Monster, I do find Lady Gaga's music enjoyable and when I read an article about this book, I decided to get a copy. It is the story of Brendan Jay Sullivan, a man trying to make ends meet as a bartender and DJ while hoping for success as a writer. He met a young woman, Stefani Germanotta, who called herself Lady Gaga and had great musical ambitions. Sullivan notes the young Gaga's sharpness: "If you thought she was a bit dumb, it was probably because she thought you were not that bright and didn't try to say anything over your head." A friendship developed as they dealt with artistic and romantic struggles. Sullivan had just experienced a bad breakup and Gaga had a boyfriend who seemed insensitive to her dreams. Still, Gaga began to gain an audience on New York's Lower East Side and Sullivan had the opportunity to act as her DJ. There is a very nice scene when Gaga returned to New York after working in Los Angeles. Sullivan rode her around on a shopping trip on his Vespa and it was then, while they were at a deli, a major music industry figure called, expressing interest and suddenly, Gaga kept getting more calls. Sullivan recalls: "Less than an hour earlier the most excited surprise in her life had been a Vespa ride. Strangely, that still excited her just as much as getting informed that all her dreams were scheduled to come true." Sullivan served as her DJ at an industry event in Miami and was an extra in her first video. However, Sullivan knew that Lady Gaga was about to launch into the stratosphere and their friendship would soon grow distant. Their mutual realization of this, on the eve of a television special, is very bittersweet. Rivington Was Ours should appeal to Gaga fans interested in a look at the singer just before she found stardom. Sullivan writes very well and the book is a good meditation on dreams and success and the ups and downs of achieving them.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just finished Rivington Was Ours by Brendan Jay Sullivan. What a great book! Sullivan, a DJ on the Lower East Side met a young Stefani Germanotta who was working hard and fighting to make her dream come true.
This is the story of not just Gaga, but Brendan and life in New York as well. With incredible writing that transports you right to Rivington street, you see what is was like in the early days from someone who was there. You see not only the professional but personal struggles of both Brendan and Gaga as they navigate relationships. You feel as though you are sitting in St. Jerome’s or Pianos as Stefani Germanotta begins her rise to fame; while at the same time, she is a young woman desperately seeking the love of a “Guy” (Luc Carl) who is possessive, jealous, and doesn’t love her anywhere near as much as she loves him.
Through it all, this book is about the friendship of two people, one who would become an international icon and the other, who wants nothing more that to see his friend succeed.
If you’re a casual Gaga fan, you’ll learn a lot about Stefani Germanotta, who you probably don’t know much about. If you’re a deeply devoted “monster” like me who is a living encyclopedia of all things Gaga,this book will definitely add a richer context. I promise, even you will never view her music the same way again!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Actually, I just got the book today!! I took it out of the package, started reading, and couldn't put it down!! I haven't finished it yet but read enough to give a review!! Great Book!! Very well written!! Entertaining and insightful. Puts the reader right there on the Lower East Side along with the characters in the book!! The book is not about Lady Gaga. She is a friend of the author's and one of the characters in the book. I'm in my 60's and had heard of Lady Gaga but knew nothing of her music and life. Then I saw her mesmerizing 2015 Oscars Tribute to The Sound Of Music!! Out of curiosity, I decided to watched some of her song videos and interviews. I learned that she is an intelligent, funny, sweet, caring girl with a beautiful voice who really knows how to put on a show!! Honestly, I am now a Fan of Gaga!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I initially balked at the nearly ten dollar price tag. Usually I'm a " Top 100 Free" kind of reader.

But as a Gaga fan (I won't call myself a little monster), I was tempted. The positive reviews swayed my decision to buy.

I must say, the author is a good writer. Evocative, descriptive. The other reviews are accurate in their adoration for the author's style.

As a Gaga fan, it's fascinating how she swoops in and out and of out of the author's memories. This is not a book about Gaga; she just happens to be one of the cast of characters in the author's circle, which is immensely interesting. You get to see a side of her you haven't previously experienced. You get an angle of her character that is not evident in other biographies, or her early interviews, or any other source I've found on the internet. The author's dislike of Gaga's boyfriend, to whom he has assigned a pseudonym, is highly entertaining.

Even if you don't care about Gaga, this book is worth reading. It's sort of like (well written) beatnik memoir of a microcosm of semi-modern NYC.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a smartly-written book that really makes you feel like you're hanging out with the author and his friend Lady Gaga in the days just before she hit the big time. In spite of all the juicy and meaty details he reveals about Gaga, I don't think anyone will be sued over this book, because he paints her as a truly nice, determined, smart and talented person. Sullivan's brilliant writing style is that of an edgy, funny novelist, even though the story is clearly non-fiction. My only criticism is that he used too many similes, which at times felt forced. (You remember the simile from high school English class, right? It's a comparison, usually using the word "like." Like an apartment overrun with roaches, Sullivan's book was infested with similes.) On the whole, this was a book I couldn't put down, not only because of the compelling story of the rise of Lady Gaga but because of the author's highly entertaining, edgy and conceptual writing style.
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