A helter-skelter travelogue in which London-based journalist Mueller endures blasts of rhetoric from the likes of Bono, various nationalists and pundits, as well as blasts of bombs and bad vibes in all corners of the world.
The title is ironic, referring to a pat Irish reply to lost tourists seeking their way from point A to point B. Mueller, a specialist in point Zs, honors no beaten paths, and though he’s not exactly lost most of the time, he’s not found either. This rollicking innocent-abroad tour of the world opens with a grim meditation on comparative cabbing that will make a cultural relativist wince, but that will please fans of P.J. O’Rourke: “Georgians are the worst drivers in the world, combining the mindless aggression of Lebanese, the terrifying fatalism of Pakistanis, the adolescent machismo of Italians, and the technical competence of baboons.” Ouch. Things are just as bad off the road in various other third-world countries, which is, Mueller observes, why so many people are clamoring to migrate to places such as Sweden and Canada, while so few Swedes and Canadians are clamoring to migrate to Myanmar or Lesotho. Mueller turns up bright spots in such unexpected milieus as Albania and Abkhazia, and he finds high points of many kinds along his travels, with sympathies plainly expressed—if China wants Taiwan, he ventures, then give it the island, after all the Taiwanese migrate to the West. Yet his travels are mostly designed, it seems, to show how the wrong roads taken have led to the regimes in Iraq and Tripoli—and, for that matter, Washington, D.C.—the bloodshed that plagues the globe and the various lunacies that keep people on a Hobbesian rather than Lockean schedule.
Politically savvy and unafraid to be controversial (but not unnecessarily). An eye-opener for students of geopolitics and a useful primer for would-be globetrotters.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)