A companion piece to the movie about surfing legend Rick “Frosty” Hesson’s life.
Hesson’s fearless love of water developed early in 1950s San Francisco; he loved the “motion and speed” of the ocean and the fact that “it was alive.” Tempering this exhilaration was life with a mother plagued by chronic digestive maladies and a frustrated, hard-drinking father overburdened with family financial responsibilities. As a teenager, Hesson expressed an interest in surfing, and soon, prefab board at his side, he began a trial-and-error ocean education at the beach and at school swim meets with a dedicated coach. Adulthood brought increased familial responsibilities and varied roadblocks as he flunked out of college, narrowly avoided the draft, processed his mother’s heart-wrenching suicide and rushed into marriage. At 26, “Frosty” (nicknamed for his whitish blond hair) revisited the surf at Hawaii’s Waimea Bay and, eventually, returned to Northern California’s Half Moon Bay, where the nation’s pro surfers often stay in the winter to be close to the notoriously mammoth “Mavericks” wave swells. Hesson enthusiastically describes his experiences riding the “Mavs” and his intensive mentorship with burgeoning surfer Jay Moriarity, a relationship that began when the boy, a quick learner, was 12. This pairing of wise experience with eager novice dominates the final third of the author’s autobiography. After years of Hesson’s mindful tutelage, Moriarity, at 16, fearlessly braved the risky Mavericks and emerged as prime sports-media fodder. Sadly, his time with the boy ended tragically when Moriarity drowned while free diving. Throughout, the author comes across as a decent man with great wisdom and compassion.
Hesson ably captures the enchantment and inherent dangers of surfing in this distinctive memoir.
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)