Indie Rocker Reveals Grave Secret: "Worse Than Suicide, Crack Addiction"

News & Politics

Last week, popular indie rocker David Berman dropped a bombshell on his fans. Two, actually. First he announced that he was disbanding the Silver Jews, the group that he founded in 1989 with college friends who would later go on to form the band Pavement. The 42-year-old front man said he'd even decided to leave the music business altogether. Then, in a separate posting on the message board of his longtime record label, Drag City, he revealed what he described as his "gravest secret," one "worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction."

The skeleton in his closet is his father, lobbyist Richard "Rick" Berman, who wears the nickname "Dr. Evil" with pride. The elder Berman's exploits are so notorious -- and in a field not known for its scruples, that's saying a lot -- that the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington recently devoted an entire website to exposing him. Through his firm, Berman and Company, the one-time labor lawyer presides over a constellation of industry-backed front groups, which specialize in countering activist campaigns targeting smoking, drunk driving, junk food, mercury in fish, and other consumer issues. (The Huffington Post reported on Tuesday that Berman was among those working to undermine the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to unionize.)

Over the years, Rick Berman's line of work has weighed heavily on his son, who tells his fans that the shame of his father's profession made him thirst for justice. (A Drag City spokeswoman confirms that the posts on the label's message board are authentic.)

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