An often uplifting collection about life’s joys, wonders and quirks, shared by a writer who experienced them all.




A new anthology of the previously published musings of an upstate New York newspaper columnist.

Damsky may not have achieved his goal of becoming a famous actor or a popular singer, but he has worked in show business, advertising, radio and journalism during his full life. The latter vocation inspired this collection of past columns that he wrote mostly for the Boonville (New York) Herald. It consists of slice-of-life stories, often drawn from Damsky’s personal experiences from his childhood to the present day, with a tone similar to those of the late Andy Rooney or Charles Kuralt. Usually, a column begins with a present-day situation that triggers a flashback: a date with Linda Eastman before she became Mrs. Paul McCartney; a phone conversation with Clint Eastwood about an actor Damsky represented; or a foul ball that the author snagged as a child during batting practice at Yankee Stadium. There are many lighthearted moments along the way, such as when a 14-year-old Damsky accidentally drove the family car through closed garage doors. Other recollections are more poignant and serious, including his trip to the Holocaust Museum in Israel; his observations during a visit to communist Cuba in 1957; and his son’s return home after a tour of duty in Iraq (“seeing him come through the entranceway of that giant hangar, I have a newer and clearer understanding of what pride means”). Each column usually imparts a moral lesson or words of wisdom, as in a 2005 column about the recently deceased Rosa Parks: “It’s really quite incredible, for all she did to alter history, was utter only one rather tiny word—‘No.’ ” If there is a running theme, it’s perseverance, as in the story of his attempts to release his own gospel album. The book’s prose style is simple and lively, presented in a conversational tone. Some may not find the G-rated, folksy tone of the stories to their fancy, as there’s nothing cynical or snarky about them. Yet they don’t come across as overly sentimental, either. If anything, they reveal the personality and character of a columnist who always seemed engaged with the world around him.

An often uplifting collection about life’s joys, wonders and quirks, shared by a writer who experienced them all.

Pub Date: May 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692021231

Page Count: 321

Publisher: Barry Damsky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2014

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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