Paul Krassner is a little older and the step has a bit more limp, but the sparkle and the wit are just as sharp as it was in the infamous 60's and 70's, not that he hasn't been busy during the last thirty years. He has written "Murder at the Conspiracy Convention: And Other American Absurdities" (Barricade Books $17.95) with an introduction by George Carlin. It is a collection of Krassner's essays through the years. Both men are inheritors of Jonathan Swift's pointed pen.
Krassner can truly be said to have told truth in the form of humor to power. They have not always laughed. He has had his thumb on the pulse of the Conspiracy Nuts, be it those who suspect that 9/11 was an act to make our country a police state or the New Age Prophets Conference which definitely had a "profit motive". Krassner presents their views he does not sign off on them but each essay has what could be called "a button" to the scene, such as the first essay called "The Sexual Revolution" which takes place in 1966 at an orgy in a San Francisco Theatre which answered all his teen age fantasies and ends with "Eagerly I asked, 'Did I get the part?'".
One of my favorite stories is "the Devil in me". He had moved to Desert Hot Springs where he was asked to dress as the devil at the Chamber of Commerce's annual installation banquet. Dressed in his costume he heard a woman say that she would sell her soul for a massage. He tapped her on the shoulder and told her to "Sign right here". His take on political conventions in "we shall overlap" leads up to the summer of 2000 and the Alternative Conventions. There was the Homeless Convention, the Anarchists Convention, and the People's Convention. Krassner was part of the Shadow Convention which was funded by George Soros' $100,000 with the provision that it take place in both Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Krassner was part of the Rapid Response panel that rebutted the speakers in real time.
Paul Krassner told me that it was like a reunion of old friends from the 60's. He met up with Ram Dass, who was in a wheel chair, Tom Hayden, whose son, Troy, was injured by as rubber bullet. And, of course, Paul gives great credit to the Mother of the Shadow Convention, Arianna Huffington. Speaking of Ram Dass, he includes his essay entitled, "the evolution of just plain ram dass" from the time they met when Ram Dass was Richard Alpert from Boston, in the early years of LSD and his main influence was Gurdjieff. It is a long essay that covers years of true soul searching and spiritual growth.
Krassner portrays the world where your friends became your family. Ken Kesey spoke at the benefit for Paul in 1987 when Paul had surgery without the aid of health insurance. Throughout the years, Kesey had bee n a supporter of Paul's paper "The Realist". It is also a world where he attended the 24th annual Lifestyles Couples Convention in Palm Springs which was for "couples only. Except for me". He had been hired to perform stand-up comedy and he was there alone. I dare you to read this and not laugh. There is a definite sweetness to Krassner and I laughed as he told me about his daughter wanting to write a book with another daughter of this period and they would call it "The Daughters of the American Revolution". Think about how his group of "Merry Pranksters" influenced American culture.
Another of American cultural critics, but in a very serious vein, is Garry Wills, who has written "Why I Am A Catholic" (Houghton Mifflin $26.00).Will is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his "Lincoln At Gettysburg" and other award winning books, including "Papal Sins". Currently Garry is an adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University.
Wills writes, "I am a born Catholic. I have never stopped going to Mass, saying the rosary, studying the Gospels. I have never even considered leaving the church. I would lose my faith in God before losing my faith in it." But, this does not mean that he won't criticize the Vatican and those who reside there.
Wills was brought up in Adrian, Michigan where he was educated by the Dominican sisters and by Sister John Joseph who opened his love of literature and learning and is till his friend today. Wills entered the novitiate, but the priesthood was not for him. The great influence on his life were the books of Gilbert K. Chesterton.
It is difficult for a non-Catholic to write about his disappointment with the Pope. His hopes that the progress made in Vatican II under Pope John XXIII would be strengthened and enlarged by
Pope John Paul II were dashed by the rescinding of many of the modern changes. Garry Wills takes great exception to the many beatifications and to the church's attitude towards theologians who had been rebuked or silenced under Cardinal Tatiana were now being reined in by the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger. Wills writes of the strength from era to era of the power of the conservative group in the Vatican. The opposition to women in the clergy, the demand for unquestioning loyalty of the laity, and the belief that outside the Church there is no salvation.
Wills is a serious man and an intellectual. He writes of the history of the church from the time of Peter and Paul, the role of Constantine and the era before the Papal primacy. The last part of the book is concerned with The Apostles' Creed and his interpretation of each line and thought. We talked about the works of James Carroll, who joins him in many of his themes. I made the comment that if the Church were not going through the present turmoil's that he might find himself being stoned as a heretic. He did not disagree. This is a book to stretch your mind and, it's not so wrong to question authority if it is not just for questioning sake.
It's no secret that I am a big fan of Robert K. Tanenbaum's books on Butch Karp and his family, Marlene, his wife, and Lucy, his genius daughter and his twin sons, Zac and Gian Carlo. Butch, to remind you, is New York chief assistant district attorney. Marlene, who raises training guard dogs, is vacationing on Long Island with the children. She meets Rose Heney and her daughter and son who are there from West Virginia, where her husband, "Red" Heeney is running for president of the West Virginia Coal Mine Union. When Rose, her husband and daughter are murdered in West Virginia, Marlene is asked to come down to West Virginia to defend the mental retard who has been blamed for the murders. Not only Marlene, but Butch is also sent by Washington to sort out the Labor Laws that have been broken.
Murder, mayhem, etc. coexist in this mining town. Tanenbaum has created a new character, Ernest J. Poole, a drunken lawyer, with whom Marlene must work. He knows the score in the town but, in spite of himself he begins to help and like Marlene. Tanenbaum has also written a frightening small town scene where Marlene's body guard dog is threatened with extinction I think this is one of the best Butch Karp stories and I like how Lucy is growing into womanhood, even if she can be a brat to her mother.
Tanenbaum is a man of strong opinions. Certainly, he has rubbed some in the wrong way but he stands by what he says and he has a great deal to say on political subjects. So, I asked Robert Tanenbaum, who is teaching at Boalt Hall School of Law if he had given up any political ambition? He did not say, "No" this time.
Another thriller not to miss is Gregg Andrew Hurwitz's "Do No Harm" (William Morrow $24.95). The story takes place in the emergency center at UCLA Medical Center. A young nurse comes into the center blistered and burning up inside and out from a random attack. Dr. David Spicer, the ER Chief, knows the victim but he doesn't know who or why it has occurred. There is a second attack and Gregg Andrew Hurwitz shows us the mad attacker, Clyde, and why he is crazed enough to do it.
Gregg told me that he likes to show the attacker and the reasons behind the behavior and then let the reader watch to see how the crime will be resolved. Gregg did a great deal of research on ER's and medicine, although he didn't have to go far, since his father is a doctor in San Francisco. A hint to the cause of Clyde's insanity lies in the study he was involved in as a child that Dr. David Spicer's mother had conducted.
Gregg told me that he likes to write
each of his thrillers as stand alone without a continuing character.
He portrays the insanity of the madman on a par with the vengeance
Formerly they were known as Nerds and Elders, today Warren Bennis and his co-author, Robert J. Thomas call them "Geeks & Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders" (Harvard Business School Press $26.95). They define "Geeks" as those under thirty and "Geezers" as those over seventy. The title, which originated from a seminar organized by Richard Saul Wurman, could be considered the comparison of leadership styles of grandparents to grandkids, considering the ages defined.
The Geezers learned to be leaders in World War II, this was their crucible, their defining experience. They came out of the war and used that government genius idea, the G.I. Bill. Bennis calls the period of 1945-54 the era of limits. It was a time of marriage, buying the first house, having children, and finding one's job in the big corporation where one would rise in the ladder of success and with loyalty on both sides. This is he generation that remembered the Depression. One paid one's dues and age and experience counted.
The Geeks, on the other hand, grew up in the era of abundance. College was a given. Intact families were not. Mothers who worked were not the exception. They do have grandiose ideas but, then, in the cases listed they have achieved them. Bennis quotes Harlan Hughes who at 24 is a CEO and co-founder of The Brain Technologies Corporation. At age 6 he was programming computers and he always knew that he wanted to start a software company and that he wanted to try and change the world. Many of the Geeks claim to want to "give back" after making their fortunes. They do not harbor any desire to stay the course at one company, their loyalty is to their peer group and the family.
When asked who their heroes are, the answers ranged from their parents and relatives to Jerry Garcia and Hunter Thompson, to not considered relevant. Where as the Geezers had a long list of political and historical leaders that ranged from FDR and Ghandi to Eleanor Roosevelt and Lao Tzu. The Geeks defined a good leader as one who works with his followers as intimate allies, as opposed to the authority figure of the Geezers generation. I mentioned to Warren when we taped that the Geeks work habits of total involvement in their project resonated as part of Jean Lipman Blumen and Harold Leavitt's book, "Hot Groups". All involved for a goal until it is achieved and then a total drop out. Not unlike film work.
Some of the case histories that are looked at in this book are Sidney Harman and his ability to face a factory revolt, Michael Klein who made and lost and made fortunes in different fields. Muriel Siebert broke the barriers for women on Wall Street. Her book is coming out this fall. Every one of their leaders had the ability to engage others in shared meaning, a distinctive and compelling voice, and a sense of integrity.
Warren went into depth when we talked about those whose leadership could be called into question. I told him that I was surprised that they not only mentioned names and companies but where that individual went wrong. They have included the questions that were asked of the participants. Although this is a business book, the whole family can read it and discuss their opinions from their point of view and age because it provokes discussion .
It was fascinating to read Simon Winchester's book The Map That Changed The World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology" (Harper Collins Perennial $13.95). So who is William Smith? The son of a blacksmith in Oxfordshire he was born March 23, 1769. It was the pound stone the dairy maids used that aroused his curiosity. What were sea fossils doing in the fields of Midland England? Thanks to the canals that the Duke of Bridgewater built to transport coalthat William smith began to study the layers of earth.
For seven years Smith labored over his geological survey of England, walking from one end of England to the other. He finished his map with the help of John Cary, a cartographer and then he was ignored and put into disrepute by a man named George Greenough, who saw to it that William Smith would not be accepted into the Royal Geology society. Smith could not find work, he spent time in the Debtor's Prison and finally left London. A age 60 he was working on the grounds of Hackness House for the Johnston family, they discovered who he was and insisted that he receive his rewards for the geological map of England. In 1831 he was awarded the first Wollaston Medal for being the "father of English geology".
I asked Simon Winchester why he was so taken with William Smith. It seems that Simon had studied at Oxford in geology and thirty odd years ago his tutor, who is still alive, told him about this man who had been a genius without recognition or respect until late in his life and the story had lived with him. After Simon's great success with "The Professor and the Madman" he was looking for another subject and he remembered his tutor's story. When he called to find out if his tutor was still at Oxford, he spoke to him and told him what he intended to do, the tutor responded that maybe the book would make up for all the hours he had wasted on Simon. Oh, that English humor.
I have just finished visiting the website of Vivian Livingston, the creation of Sherrie Krantz who wrote "The Autobiography of Vivian" a novel by Vivian Livingston as told to Sherrie Krantz (Ballantine Books $11.95). It is absolutely delightful. Vivian and her best friend, Sophie, go to New York City as a result of Vivian entering a song contest. They are smitten with the city and after college graduation they move in with Sophie's cousin in the Village.
Vivian gets work as a waitress while
trying to break into the music business. It also gives her the
time to date which is primarily her maqin interest. We meet the
vicious ex- Mark, the dramatic Patrick and then there is John.
John is Mr. Big, social and sexy. He keeps Vivian as a convenience
until she receives a promotion and is responsible for parties
with stars which now makes her acceptable to be introduced to
his friends. I laughed when I talked with Sherrie that it never
changes being young and single in New York. Even to the men and
their behavior, something in the water? Sherrie is a big, big
talent. She is writing for a certain audience, but she does it
well, funny and believable, and that website, www.Vivianlives.com
is an eye opener from music, cartoon, a mall store with gift
certificates and life imitating art, a contest to spend a weekend
in New York with Vivian.
The death of Chaim Potok is a loss to the literary world. A few years ago I had the honor to talk with him about his book "The Gift of Asher Lev" for my program. At that time I equated Asher's gift as an artist with his gift for words and writing. But, it was his book "The Chosen" that most people associate him with. The West Coast Jewish Theatre is presenting the West Coast Premiere of "The Chosen" which was adapted by Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok on Saturday, September 14th at 7:30pm at the Miles Memorial Playhouse on Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica. It's a way of keeping his book alive.
For Civil War buffs, there are some new books. Ilana D. Miller has written "Reports From America""William Howard Russell and the civil War" (Sutton Publishing $27.95).Russell arrived in New York City in March 1861 as the War Correspondent for "The Times" of London. He dines with President and Mrs. Lincoln. He was convinced the Union was "permanently divided" and that the Union would defeat the Confederacy just on the numbers alone. The Union army had 22 million and the Confederacy had 9 million soldiers with a third of them slaves.
In Russell's dispatches he was not too flattering about New York and its food and inhabitants. He did note something that exists today, "there is no privacy for public men in America". He stayed at the Willards Hotel in Washington where he spent time with Secretary of State Seward. He then went to Baltimore and began his reports from the South where he stayed as a guest on many plantations. He stayed at the Pringle house where they told him that they were not afraid that the slaves would leave, "They are loyal to the family". Russell wrote of the female role in running the plantations with great admiration. He was surprised to find that the south preferred to return to the monarchy and be governed by a prince from the royal family.
Eventually Russell was forced to return to Britain when he could not receive accreditation as a correspondent unless he swore an oath of loyalty to the United States. Russell was being paid back for his unflattering coverage of Bull Run Retreat and Manassas. Russell claimed that it was because "â¦the degraded creatures who have made the very name of a free press odious to honorable men".
Ilana D. Miller was Adjunct Professor of History at Pepperdine University and is the associate Editor of the European Royal History Journal.
On a minute by minute, day by day examination, Noah Andre Trudeau has written "Gettysburg: A History of Courage" (Harper Collins $34.95).It is a brilliant in depth study of this battle. This battle was Lee's invasion of the North in Pennsylvania. Lincoln had replaced his top general, General Hooker with General George Meade with the orders to defeat and destroy Lee. The war went on for two more years.
I was fascinated to learn from Trudeau when we taped about Thaddeus Lowe who initiated the use of hot air balloons for scouting the enemy. The Union had a new generation of breech loading carbine rifles. By July 4th 1863, 51,000 men had been killed. In the way that battles were fought in those days, only one civilian, a woman, was killed in the town of Gettysburg. It was in many ways a comedy of errors with commanders not being where they were supposed to be. Lee did not follow up but retreated and General Meade and his Army of the Potomac were more defensively oriented, so in some ways it was a victory for the Union but in reality a stand-off..
For those who love to strategize, the book is replete with maps and time lines. I did ask Andre Trudeau if with the computer people fight the battle with a different ending. He told me there is a whole group of those who play, "What if?". And although the battle ended by July 4th, Lincoln did not deliver the Gettysburg address until November 19th,1863.
For those who want to know more about the Civil War but do not have the time to read long explanations, there is a great book by Kenneth C. Davis "Don't Know Much About The Civil War: Everything You Need to Know About America's Greatest Conflict but Never Learned (William Morrow $25.00). In brief two sentence paragraphs, Davis gives the answers to questions such as:"What's the difference between a Servand and a Slave?", "What was the Middle Passage?", "What did the Constitution say about slavery?" And that's just the first chapter. Later in the book he writes about the Compromise of 1850 which related to which states would remain slave or free. Did the Civil War begin at Fort Sumter in 1861? Did you know that Lincoln snuck into Washington for his inauguration because he was warned by private detective Alan Pinkerton that there was an assassination plot.
Davis includes the songs of the Civil War, from both sides, and what he calls "Civil War Voices" sections that quotes from letters. And it was thanks to the need to finance the war that Congress passed the Internal Revenue Tax on June 30th 1864. And for his reelection Lincoln was said " portray the Democrats as disloyal and pray for victories". There is a wonderful section at the end entitled, "What ever became of ?" So that one reads of Joshua L. Chamberlain, one of the heroes of Gettysburg, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, and was given the honor of commanding the troops that formally accepted the surrender of the Confederate Army, returning to Maine where he became president of Bowdoin College. Or Samuel Langhorne Clemens(Mark Twain) who had been with the Missouri Volunteers and later published Ulysses Grant's memors, not to mention writing "Tom Sawyer", etc.
In a book of fiction Jill Marie Landis has written "Magnolia Creek" (Ballentine Books $19.95). In Southern Kentucky,Sara Collier has returned from Ohio with her baby daughter, Lissybeth. Sara had married Dr. Dru Talbot the night before he left to join his Confederacy regiment. She was living with his sister when the Union overtook the town. Dru was reported killed in battle. Sara, swept off her feet by a Union officer and dubbed a "traitor" by the town, goes off with him to Ohio. He never marries her. He deserts her and she is left with his bastard child. In true romance story telling, the very next day that Sara has returned, so does Dru who was still alive. Will he ever forgive Sara? Will the town stop calling her a traitor? And what will happen to Jamie, the returned slave and Dru's sister?
Screenplay writing and how to sell it ,like cook books, has endless answers. Kathie Fong Yoneda has written "The Script-Selling Game: A Hollywood Insider's Look at Getting Your Script sold and Produced" (Michael Wiese Prod.$14.95). The book will help the writer understand the process of who is reading your script and what are they looking for. Yoneda suggests that it doesn't hurt to enter script writing contests, you might just win, which will attract the interest of an agent. It is important to understand the budget needs, and as an example she cites Lorenzo Semple who changed "Six Days of the Condor" to "Three".
Can you give an "Elevator pitch"? That is tell the story in 30 seconds if you were in an elevator with Barry Diller. In the office, if you get in there, have a backup pitch. Why, if they seem bored, switch to the other story. It's advisable to learn the vocabulary so you don't ask, "What did he mean ?" by "pay-or-play", etc. Networking helps and, she advises, that any agent, you sign with, should be affiliated with WGA. Kathy is currently under contract to Paramount TV in their Longform Division. Diana Birchall, a story analyst at Warner Bros., has written the story of her grand mother, "Onoto Watana :The Story of Winnifred Eaton" (University of Illinois Press ) Winnifred was born August 21, 1875 in Montreal, Canada. Her mother was Chinese and her father English, they had married in Shanghai.
Winnifred was one of fourteen children. She was determined to become rich and famous. But she found her fame by becoming a Japanese writer of romance. By 1902 she wrote her third novel, "The Winning of Wistaria" dressed in kimona on the cover and under the name of Onota Watana". She married, had three children, and went to Hollywood as a script writer with Carl Laemmle as her mentor at Universal Studios. Winnifred was a founder and first president of the Canadian Writers Association in Calgary. When she stopped being Japanese, she wrote a western , "Cattle". The story of how she won her estranged husband back at age fifty-six could be out of her books. Diana who is the daughter of Winnifred's son, the poet Paul Eaton Reeve, met her grandmother only once when she was three. It was her cousin, Tim, who urged her to write this book. The book is a volume in the series "The Asian American Experience".
Oops! It was an unconscious mistake that was continued by the computer. The name should have been Norman CORWIN not Norman Cousins. It was "Norman Corwin's Letters" (Barricade Books $29.95) that I wrote about last week and which I enjoyed. For some reason, the name came out incorrectly, though later in my copy it was Corwin. But, the computer knew only that there was a mistake and it corrected for the first name. When I saw the printed column I understood why Norman Corwin told me of the letter on page 429 in which he wrote, "People frequently confused us because, apparently, to them the names sounded alike, and I occasionally would get mail intended for him". There was no confusion, just dumb typing fingers. So, my apologies, Norman Corwin, thank you for being so gracious and I look forward to our taping.
Family reunions in New York City can be enriched by using travel books. Traveling with a twelve year old boy can be enhanced by Randi Millman-Brown's "Fun Places To Go with Children In New York (Chronicle Books $11.95). The book gives just enough history of the place, guaranteed not to bore, with the hours and fees for entrances and the age appropriate interest. The American Museum of Natural History and Hayden Planetarium and, now, the magnificent Rose Center for Earth and Space were highlights for all ages. It was an orderly crowd of school children and adults who waited their turn to enter the Lefrak Imax Theatre to see "Kilimanjaro".
The newly restored Grand CentralStation, as seen in "Eyewitness Travel Guides New York" (DK Publishing $24.95) is a joy to behold, and, it will give those who love trains a chance to travel on one, even if it is only from the Scarsdale Station. It was convenient to stay at the Grand Hiatt which connects to Grand Central and, in case of storms which we experienced last week, saves relatives from pouring rain. On an economic level which, when traveling with five, can cross your mind, it may be more economical to splurge for the Concierge Floor with its complimentary breakfast, all day fruit bowl and high tea food which can suffice for an early theatre dinner, as well as free local calls.
One can not visit New York City without visiting Ground Zero. For a preparation to viewing or remembering the book by the Editors of "New York", "September 11,2001 A Record of Tragedy, Heroism, and Hope" (Abrams $19.95) is invaluable.
On a lighter note, New York restaurants are featuring $20.02 lunches, last year was $20.01, and for super size and tasting steaks and a historical look at sports figures, Gallagher's on West 52nd Street fits the bill. As did going to Off-off Broadway on West 21st Street of "We Said Out Loud", an original musical about teen-agers and performed by teens at the Developing Artists Theatre Company. This was seeing the book "Break A Leg" (Workman Publications) come alive.
For an insider's look at travel, I talked with Peter Greenberg, whose new book is "The Travel Detective Flight Crew Confidential" (Villard $15.95). Peter not only got his information from "People Who Fly for a Living Reveal Insider Secrets and Hidden Values in Cities and Airports Around the World" but he names over three hundred at the back of the book. Since Peter never travels with luggage, he sends it ahead, so it is never lost, he recommends taking the Express Bus from JFK. He tells the reader about the Flea market at Columbus Avenue on Sundays where one can find bargains on designer stuff, etc,
As Peter said all airline staffs are underpaid so they can tell you where to buy second hand stuff, where to eat that is cheap and abundant, usually ethnic, and where the best bars are. Those places probably won't be after this book which most travelers will follow. Such as, though most people think of Hong Kong for pearls, he says that Beijing 's Hongqiao Market, aka the Pearl Market is the place but be prepared to bargain. And who would have thought that in Beijing there is a Mongolian type restaurant, A Fun Ti, that ends the night with dancing on the tables?
Peter admonished me when I mentioned booking airline tickets and hotels on the internet. He insisted that one does that after talking to a human. Then and only then, does one go on line and compare prices. He claims that trying to cancel an on-line booking is the worst.
It doesn't matter what city you're going to, it will be mentioned in this book and will include "City Tips". And Peter says this is the time to go on a cruise. The buys are there since all the cruise lines have added large ships and they have rooms to fill at almost any price. Bon Voyage!
David Ebershoff's novel "Pasadena" (Random House $24.95) is a shoo-in for book clubs to read. It is colorful, it is historical and it contains unforgettable characters. David, who is a publishing director of the Modern Library in New York, is from Pasadena. But his Pasadena begins in a part of Orange Coast which he calls Baden-Baden-By-The Sea, think Carlsbad, where Linda Stamp was born in 1903 to Dieter Stumpf and his Mexican wife. Dieter had been awarded the land after the Civil War for making tin cups for the Union Army. During the First World War, he went over seas selling to both the Allies and the Germans. It is here that he meets Bruder, think Heathcliff, with whom he makes a deal to give him his daughter Linda, in exchange for Bruder's silence.
Bruder falls in love with Linda and she with him; but neither will reveal their feelings. By this point in the book, the reader is hooked on the story and the events that transpire that one doesn't stop to question. Linda will marry the Willis Poore, the rich heir to Ranch Pasadena, who also had ceded his land to Bruder when they were overseas. Okay, it's fiction and romantic, but it is well written. David told me that his great influence was the Bronte sisters and their books. So, enter the orange groves and wind swept shores and revel in another time.
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It's the time of year. Be it baseball, Curt Smith has edited a beautiful book "What Baseball Means To Me" "A Celebration Of Our National Pastime" (Warner Books $34.95) with over one hundred essays by such diverse persons as Dave Barry, George W. Bush to the late Ted Williams. It is a glorious coffee table book to gladden the heart of any one who's father took them to see their first game at Fenway Park in Boston. All hail, the great Red Sox!
For George W., it was the day his Uncle buck took him to see Willie Mays play, as well as the day he saw Nolan ryan achieve his 5,000 strikeout. He ends by saying, "After all, baseball is a team sport."
Clive Cussler writes of being rejected at age ten by his grammar school team, which sent him to his father and a college age neighbor to work with him. Finally, on the day that his team was to play the class above them, Clive was sitting on the bench, the score was nothing to nothing, the first baseman was knocked flat and broke a rib. The captain looked around and said, "Okay, Cussler, Go play right field. You should be all right. Nobody ever hits 'em out there". Clive not only caught one out there, he hit a single and a triple. "And the little blonde girl who ignored me before the game? Her name was Joy, and she became the first girl I ever kissed". And, the college age neighbor, his name was Ralph Kiner.
Michael Dukakis shares my love of the Red Sox. Doris Kearns Goodwin writes of switching her intense devotion from the Brooklyn Dodgers to her new love, the Boston Red Sox. Hal Linden grew up near Yankee Stadium, but he writes that he was a Dodger fan living in Queens which he calls a "life threatening situation" for a kid. Dan LeBatard, who is a Miami Herald spors columnist, writes a three page blank verse poem to answer the question, "What does this sport mean to me?" As for Ted Williams, like DiMaggio, he was meant for the sport and the sport was meant for him. Ted would get to school early so he would have first dibs on the bat and ball and just wait for the kids to play.
John Branca, who hosted a book party for Curt Smith, writes that his uncle, Ralph, pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1944-1953. His first dreams involved becoming a major league baseball star. It was the beginning of his baseball card collection which later was stolen. This did not stop him from becoming a baseball collector, including bidding and winning his uncle's uniform at an auction. Today, Branca is an attorney who represents Rock and Roll musicians.
With this book, Curt Smith has been able to extract memories from the heart of each of the writers. Pose the question, "What did baseball mean to you?" and watch the memories pore out with some laughs and tears.
Herb Rosenthal, who has writes a humor column for Tennis West, and still plays tennis "if his elbow and knees permit" has written a very funny book, "The Lighter Side of Tennis" (Libra Books $12.95). Herb covers the really life shattering questions, "Whose turn is it to supply the balls?" and "What is the score?" which includes the age old question, "You really saw that ball out?" Playing through the pain can involve a torn hang nail to tennis elbow to a mild heart attack.
Build your own tennis court and be prepared not only for all the problems of building a house and for running a restaurant with toilet privileges, Rosenthal goes into the fine points of winning doubles, improving your strokes and his suggestions for programming the new tennis channel.
And there is the "Test Your Tennis IQ" which is a multiple answer quiz, with answers to pick such as the key to hitting an effective smash on the lob is to "Call 'Yours' to your partner" and you know it's time to give up tennis when your doctor tells you that you have only twenty minutes to live. Tell a tennis player that someone died while playing tennis and the response is, "He or she would have wanted to go that way".
Judge James Zagel has dropped the title, "Judge" from the cover of his first book of fiction, "Money to Burn" (Putnam $24.95), although he is still a United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois, appointed by President Ronald Reagan. His book will send shivers through the heart of the Federal Reserve Bank. Unlike Enron, his character, Judge Paul Devine, with malice towards the chief of that Federal Bank, decides, plans, and succeeds in robbing the bank of 78 million dollars.
Judge Paul Devine is a Federal District Court judge in Chicago, whose wife, Ellen, has died. She was a corporate attorney whose integrity was challenged by Redding Prindiville, who now is chief of the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago. Judge Devine has a case of Charity Scott, an African-America and a high ranking guard at the bank, and her husband, Trimble Young, a white electrician ,at the bank, who have been threatened with firing for being married. The judge, on review, gives an opinion that the bank keep them on but they will have no contact while on the job.
Paul Devine's best friend from Catholic school, Dave Brody, has for gone upward mobility for the thrill he gets from being a paramedic and an arson fraud perpetrator on the side for cold cash. Paul and Dave share a love of jazz as well as a history of friendship. When Paul decides to rob the bank, he enlists Charity, Trimble and Dave as co-conspirators.
How he plans it, how they practice, and how they execute it, would have sufficed for a fascinating plot; but James Zagel adds to the book by telling the reader of cases the Judge is hearing in court. One of the cases involves a conman, named Bill Serena, who has conned a woman, Lois Kreutz, of her home and savings to the point she commits suicide during the trial. Serena has been caught by a detective, Tony Plymouth, a man of Gypsy heritage. He becomes Judge Devine's nemesis.
When I talked with Judge Zagel, he made
a point to tell me that Paul Devine is definitely not his "alter
ego". He also made a point to tell me that the idea for
the book came from a friend as an idea for a film. Zagel told
me that he found he could say a great deal more in a book than
in a script. His use of court cases gives an extra dimension
to the story. And, although no one is supposed to escape justice,
there are many forms of punishment. We did talk about fact that
Devine is an excellent judge at the same time he is a criminal.
What drives a man to jeopardize his reputation and life by such
an act? James Zagel does not try to analyze his character. Even
if the reader wants to know what makes the character tick. Meanwhile,
the reader may get a chance to figure it out a second time as
there is another book in the works. The hint maybe the comments
on the IRS.
On the surface they seemed to have every thing, and below the surface they did have everything. It's almost fifty years later and anne Bernays and Justin Kaplan have co-authored "back then" subtitled Two Lives in 1950's New York" (Wm Morrow $25.95).
Anne Bernays was the daughter of Edward Bernays, the man who developed and gave public relations a significant role in American industry. He was the double nephew of Sigmund Freud". Brother and sister, Sigmund and Anna Freud married Martha Bernays and Eli Bernays. Her mother, Doris Fleischman, worked in her father's public relations office. Every day she went to work at 10:30 wearing a hat to the office. The family lived before the war at the Sherry-Netherlands Hotel on the entire 29th floor. In 1939 they moved to 817 Fifth Avenue. Her parents prided themselves as not being anything but secular Jews and her biggest problem with Justin was that his family had Russian roots.
Anne attended Wellesley for one year where she found the parietal rules distasteful and through school connections transferred to Barnard. New York was hers as only it can be for the daughter of rich successful parents. If I sound envious, who wouldn't be? Marlene Dietrich, Bennett Cerf, Edward G. Robinson, etc. were every day visitors to her home. She got a job, a boyfriend whom her parents disapproved, and her psychiatrist. She was an upscale, German Jewish Marjorie Morningstar.
Justin writes every other chapter from his point of view and his life. By the time he was twelve, both his parents had died and he was living with his older brother, Georgia, his parents' housekeeper, and an aunt. Justin came from an Orthodox Jewish family. He attended Harvard and, eventually, came back to New York City to work at Time magazine. He has his romances, as does Anne with the writer, Anatole Broyard. She is more explicit about hers.
Anne and Justin meet and marry. They have parties to which Jean Stein brings William Faulkner. Justin works for Simon & Schuster publishing company, Anne works for Discovery magazine and Pocket Books. They have a daughter, Susanna. Some where something must have clicked because in 1959 they leave New York to live in Cambridge where Justin will write his first book on Mark Twain which won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography. When I talked with Anne and Justin, or Joe as she calls him, I asked if they were planning to write a sequel? They said that they felt that each had covered the later years in their other books. This book is extraordinary in that it is written in such an ordinary voice; yet it covers in a sociological way, the role of women, the entrance of contraceptives and the beginning of the sexual revolution. Currently, they still live in Cambridge, Anne has written eight novels and is teaching creative writing at the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard.
Lisa Jewell became a writer on a bet. She lost her job in London and when asked what she really wanted to do, she answered that she wanted to write. At which point she was offered a bet. Her first two books were best sellers and I am sure that this one, "One Hit Wonder" (Dutton $23.95) will be one also. From the stunning legs on the cover one would think this book did not have too much substance. It does.
Ana Willis has lived in the shadow of her eleven years older half sister, Bee Bearhorn, who had a hit record in 1985 "Groovin for London" and then vanished from the music scene. Bee has died and Ana has come to London to tie up her apartment and at the same time find out what Bee was really like. Jewell writes a believable London and the inhabitants of the music world. She creates an unforgettable character in Lol, Bee's old friend who takes Ana under her wing and makes her over into a a beautiful young woman who will fall in love and be loved by Flint, a devil may care character. And then there is the secret that Bee was keeping. This is really a good book that belies its cover.
It's that time of year when college tuitions loom larger than ever. There for look to "The Scholarship Book 2003" (Prentice Hall Press $30.00) with a CD included in the book. This is The Complete Guide to Private-Sector Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Loans for the Undergraduate. I know every penny helps but hats off to the Flinn Foundation in Arizona who give $40,000 to students who have been accepted at Universities in Arizona.
There are also scholarships to college prep schools like Hebron Academy in Maine. It's amazing to read the over 4,000 sources for money, who gave them and what the criteria is for the recipients.
They didn't call them scholarships in renaissance Italy, but there was a rich patron who paid for the art. Luke Syson and Dora Thornton have co-authored "Objects of Virtue" "Art in Renaissance Italy" (J.Paul Getty Museum $50.00). The Medici family was the Getty of its day. And there is cross collateralization as there is a photo of a terracotta model for a silver ewer that is from the Gilbert Collection in London. That, of course, is the late Sir Arthur Gilbert of Los Angeles. It is the art of the goldsmith who can carry out the designs of the artist.
Follow the art of the glass blower and
the art of coloring the glass to imitate jewel tones. The works
of maiolica is said to surpass the ancients And as today, those
of wealth to make their point, art objects had to be visible
and visitable in the home, possessions of objects demonstrated
possession of virtues. The Sforza dukes of Milan conducted ceremonial
tours for ambassadors to their treasury in the 1490s where guests
were greeted by the sight of hundreds of coins strewn on the
carpets and of gold medals depicting their hosts, worth 10,000
Dora Levy Mossanen merges exotic and erotic with a strong touch of adventure in her novel "Harem" (Scribner $14.00), which takes place in Iran when it was still known as Persia. Living in the Jewish Quarter, Rebekah is ten years old when she hears her mother discussing the terms of Rebekah's marriage. She hears the voice of a gentleman. But that is not the voice of the man to whom she is married. Her mother has arranged her marriage to the wealthy but odious Jacob the Fatherless who has promised that he will not touch her until she reaches puberty. He lied.
Rebekah produces a daughter, Gold Dust, not the expected son. Jacob the Fatherless, who maintains a kiln of red hot heat in the center of the house, takes a poker and brands Rebekah in the center of her breasts to punish her for not giving him a male heir. This wound creates a scar that will appear to be a third eye to the men Rebekah will know after Jacob the Fatherless' death.
When Rebekah can not find Jacob the Fatherless' hidden gold, she turns to prostitution to support Gold Dust and herself. When Gold Dust is old enough for marriage, Rebekah tries to arrange a marriage with Rouh'Allah's son,Ebrahim. He rejects her offer;but she recognizes the voice as the one she heard as a ten year old. Dora Levi Mossanen ties up all the circumstantial meetings that occur in the story so that Rouh'Allah will return later in the story.
Rebekah realizes that her daughter will not be accepted in good Jewish homes, turns her attention to the Harem of the Shah. Gold Dust will become a member of the harem. Lo and behold, the chief eunuch, Narcissus, was once her young lover before he was sold and castrated by the slave traders. He arranges for Gold Dust to be brought, trained and prepared for the Shah. In the training, the author reclaims the era of sexual activity of "everything but", the "but" of her virginity is only for the Shah.
Gold Dust, like the Shah's other wives, produces a daughter, Raven. But Raven is unlike any other of his offspring. She is an Albino. After the first shock, Gold Dust convinces him that she is God's gift to him with her purity and that she will be the son he never had. So for three generations, each mother does what she thinks will be best for her daughter. Fill in with palace intrigue and army battles in the field and one finishes the book hoping that there is a sequel in the works.
When I talked with Dora, she told me that she was born in Israel. Her family was from Iran. They took her back to Iran when she was a youngster at which point she had to go to a special school to learn to speak Farsi. With the events in Iran threatening the Jewish population, she and her family immigrated to the United States. In Los Angeles, as an author, she joins the celebrated group who have had the guidance of John Rechy at University of Southern California. John is an incredible teacher, he brings out the best in his students without putting himself in their works.
For jazz and contemporary music lovers, James Gavin has written "Deep In A Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker" (Knopf $26.95). Chet Baker was a natural musician who scorned disciplined music training. He was the epitome of the young man with a horn. He was also the young man with an appetite for women and drugs.
The family left Oklahoma for San Diego where his father could get work. In 1946 Chet left school at seventeen to join the army. He was stationed in Berlin where he played in the army dance band. He heard the music of Stan Kenton, who was changing the sounds of jazz. Chet was especially intrigued by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker and their group who were playing something that was called bepob where they played the melody but used dissonant chords and tricky rhythms. "Their whole lifestyle, which included the reckless use of hard drugs, mocked every value - money, security, planning for the future - that obsessed America in the wake of World War II."
Chet gets out of the army, goes back to Redondo High school where he plays in the band. He graduates and starts Junior College but his time is spent driving from Hermosa Beach to the Showtime, a San Fernando Valley night club. Chet rejoins the army, to his regret. After much effort he gets his release. Two people enter his life, one is Charley Parker for whom he played the trumpet at the Tiffany and William Claxton, the photographer, who captured Chet playing the trumpet. It is his photograph that made Chet Baker the poster boy for jazz.
Baker began singing and brought to life the song, 'My Funny Valentine". According to Gavin, he had a laidback, unemotional delivery which gave a new meaning to the songs he sang. But more than music, more than his women and wives, was his love for heroine. It became all consuming. He was arrested and stood trial in Italy. He was convicted and went to prison. The photos in the book portray the degradation and self destruction that took place in his body, career and on his face. The photo of him that stares at you on the back cover as opposed to that on the front says it all. He died in Amsterdam in 1988 and was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. James Gavin, who has written with the grace and ease of a novelist, has already won the ASCAP's Deems Taylor Award, is sure to find himself the recipient again. This book joins other books, such as Floyd Levin's "Classic Jazz" and Quincey Troup's "Miles and Me" for those who love jazz.
Breathes there a soul, who loves the ocean and who loves to paint, who does not say, "Some dayâ¦". If that day has not come, then fantasize with a beautiful book called "Studios By The Sea" (Abrams $49.95) with photographs by Jonathan Becker and text by Bob Colacello. The book is about the artists of Long Island's East End. And there they are: from Larry Rivers in his studio with the sculpture of legs and his sketches on his walls in Southampton; Eric Freeman in Water Mill; George Condo and his family in Bridgehampton and Chuck Close in Bridgehampton; the sculptor John Chamberlain in his studio in Shelter Island, Billy Sullivan and Klaus Kertner in East Hampton; William Rayner who has a view of the Atlantic Ocean and Georgica Pond from his studio; dead but not forgotten are thestudios of Willem de Kooning as he left it and Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner's home as they left it.
It's at Montauk, the last point before the Atlantic where one feels that power of nature. Here one finds the houses of Edward Albee, Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel who has a twenty foot diving platform into his pool outside his studio window, and right at the tip is world traveler, Peter Beard. Bob Colacello's text adds enormously to the book.
Writing Andy Warhol, don't miss reading Mary Woronov's novel "Niagra". She has become an excellent writer and novelist. It is the story of Molly, whose mother is Chinese and who met and married Molly's father in Vietnam, in order to come to America. Molly feels the outsider because of being half-Chinese. She has a half brother Kenny, whom she adores and with whom she has sex. What she doesn't realize at that age is that Kenny is really gay. Kenny is obsessed with joining the legion of men who have gone over Niagra Falls in a barrel. There is a myth of the Indian princess who sacrificed herself by going over the falls and every year the high school celebrates by reenacting the myth. The year that Molly is chosen, Kenny appears to go over the falls and his body is not found.
Devastated by his loss, Molly marries
Bobby, the high school football hero who had grown from being
"Fat Bobby" to the hero. They move to Orange County
where he has an uncle who hires him as a car salesman. Molly
is not a happy camper, especially when she goes back to Buffalo
for her father's funeral and sees a man whom she is sure is Kenny.
Later when she visits her mother in Florida she is shocked to
see Kenny in drag. Her mother,who had been a successful gambler
can no longer remember the cards as she falls ill with Alzheimer's.
When we taped Mary told me that much of this is based on her
own experiences with her mother. Mary will be lecturing at MOCA
about her time with Andy Warhol and the Chelsea girls.
He is very excited about the use of Banaba for anti-obesity. I asked him about the side or down side for this. He claims that there are none. Tests so far have shown that it lowers blood sugar. Earl Mindell has been an advocate for vitamins, non-processed foods and as the sub-title says, "Cut the Carbs and lose the Fat" for many, many years.
He writes about arthritis and the connection with the food known as "Nightshade" food which may cause irritation to the lining of the intestines. One way to find out what is causing the arthritis is by elimination of one food at a time. A good food to eat for prevention is ginger.
And one of the best methods of detoxifying
is to go on a fast with plenty of water. Of course this should
never be done without a doctor's approval. Mindell suggests that
it is better to go on a fruit juice fast. There are several charts
in the book but the one to keep in mind is the Glucose Index
and the foods listed. But take your hat off to what he calls,
"The lowly legume" and why we should include more of
it in our diet. Along with the food and vitamins, he promotes
exercise for well-being.