Compelling chronicle of California youth gangs, by Los Angeles Times staffer Sipchen. In 1990, over 600 people were killed in gang-related homicides in L.A. County alone. Here, Sipchen expertly reveals the gang world through the day-to-day life of Kevin Glass (``Baby Insane'') and the work of detective Patrick Birse (``the Buddha''), who persuaded Glass to turn informer. Glass grew up in a San Diego ghetto known as the `` `Hood,'' turf ruled by the all-black gang of the Neighborhood Crips. By age 11, Glass was smoking pot daily with his `` 'cuz's'' and for kicks stealing cars to lead the cops on high-speed chases. At 14, he was sentenced to three years in youth prison for 23 counts of armed robbery. Back in the 'Hood at 17, Glass and the Neighborhood Crips improved their technique. Stoned on PCP, they stole high- speed cars, carried police scanners, and—armed with automatic pistols, assault rifles, and hunting knives—descended on affluent areas of San Diego, robbing at random, sometimes ramming through storefronts for loads of fancy running suits. Glass, by now a crack addict, was nabbed by his parole officer and jailed pending a hearing when Birse sought him out. Besides his Buddha- like belly and mellow disposition, Birse had a singular talent for creating and working informers. With a promise that Glass wouldn't be reimprisoned, he got the young hoodlum to testify against the Neighborhood Crips. Throughout, Sipchen follows in depth the life and fate of every 'cuz in the 'Hood, as well as that of the Buddha, who worked only the most dangerous cases; and he offers such colorful details as the police name for drive-by shootings: ``AVANHI''—``Asshole vs. Asshole, No Human Involved.'' Superbly written and fresh: Along with LÇon Bing's Do or Die (1991), the clearest view to date of the exploding street-gang phenomena.
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").