Shaw raises important questions about balancing pleasure and responsibility in modern society but defeats his own purpose with superficial analysis and smug prose. The Pleasure Police, according to the rather vague defintion offered by the Los Angeles Times media critic, have ``narrow minds, unbending wills, [and] dictatorial ways'' and, to promote their crabbed vision, would dictate most aspects of our personal lives. The fascinating irony raised by Shaw is that these ``new Puritans . . . are increasingly trying to leech all joy from our daily lives'' at the very time when, for many, living has never been better. Much of Shaw's discussion is thoughtful and informative, such as his history of the movements in opposition to smoking and alcohol. Unfortunately, the book's strengths are overwhelmed by its failings. With rare exception, Shaw's writing is unrelentingly smarmy and trite. Describing a new fat substitute which may cause gas, Shaw states, ``Trading fat for farts will be the odor—er, order—of the day.'' Similarly, Shaw's frequent references to his sex life, his family, his hobbies, and his preferences are cloying and self-important. Moreover, Shaw's analysis is often distressingly shallow. Due to their ruinous effects, he opposes legalization of hard drugs. Yet, despite equally dire consequences, with regard to alcohol, Shaw counsels only education and moderation. And it is typical of Shaw's lack of definition that we remain unsure as to who these ``pleasure police'' really are. Furthermore, Shaw, despite his stated dislike of intolerant proselytizing, indulges in it frequently. He is amazed that his compromises and standards regarding private pleasures have not been universally embraced. With no overriding theory to help us reach a useful balance between striving for fun and accepting responsibility, this thesis devolves into a superficial, rambling, cocktail party monologue.
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)