LOS ANGELES — It took 20 years, but the group Bruce Springsteen once praised as being almost as good as a lousy garage band is finally calling it quits.

The Rock Bottom Remainders, a contingent that has made it clear with every performance that literary giants like Amy Tan, Stephen King and Scott Turow really did make the right decision when they set aside their musical ambitions to write books, is calling it a career after two Southern California shows later this month.

“We’ve gotten as good as we’re ever going to get,” said lead guitarist and best-selling humorist Dave Barry.

“You can’t get any better,” he said. “Well, you actually can get a lot better. But we can’t get any better. We’re up to almost four chords now, and the Beatles quit at that point, I’m pretty sure.”

Truth be told, the Rock Bottom Remainders were always a lot better than they gave themselves credit for. Especially for a band whose members’ busy writing schedules prevented them from doing more than one or two gigs a year and who rarely had time to rehearse.

They’ve decided to wrap things up in part because of the death last month of the group’s founder, book publicist and lead singer Kathi Goldmark.

“We sort of felt this would be a good time to end it because it just isn’t going to be the same without Kathi,” said Barry during a rare moment of seriousness.

The group’s “Past Our Bedtime Tour” will end with a concert Friday at L.A.’s El Rey Theatre and a private show the next day for the American Library Association’s Anaheim convention.

All profits will go to charity, as has been the case with every Remainders’ concert. They have raised about $2 million.

But despite their musical limitations, the Remainders (named for the industry term for books nobody wants), have shared stages with an impressive list of musicians, including Springsteen, Warren Zevon, Judy Collins, Ronnie Spector and Roger McGuinn.

Former writer for ‘NYPD Blue’ accused of killing own pet

NEW YORK — Police say a former television screenwriter was arrested after punching his poodle in the face so hard that the dog died of a brain injury.

The New York Post reported Sunday that 51-year-old Ted Shuttleworth was arrested Saturday at his home in Queens.

The Post said Shuttleworth punched his dog May 29 because he was angry with the animal. The dog weighed about 4 pounds.

A spokesman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that the 5-year-old dog sustained a traumatic brain injury.

The newspaper reported that Shuttleworth is a former TV writer who once worked for “NYPD Blue.”

Shuttleworth, who now reads scripts and works as an administrative assistant at New York University, could face up to a year in prison.

His wife told the newspaper that the dog’s death was a “horrible accident.”

Radiohead roadie killed when stage collapses

TORONTO — Investigators combed through the wreckage of a Toronto stage Sunday to determine what caused the structure to come crashing down ahead of a Radiohead concert, killing the band’s drum technician and injuring three other people.

The British band said it was devastated over the death of Scott Johnson, 33, of Doncaster, England, who was trapped under the rubble and pronounced dead at the scene.

“We have all been shattered by the loss of Scott Johnson, our friend and colleague. He was a lovely man, always positive, supportive and funny; a highly skilled and valued member of our great road crew,” the band said on its website.

The website had listed the show as sold out, with 40,000 tickets sold. Fans can get refunds at points of purchase.

— From news service reports