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.
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)
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").