MUNICIPAL BONDAGE

ONE MAN'S ANXIETY-PRODUCING ADVENTURES IN THE BIG CITY

The journalistic equivalent of a performance artist, Alford dreams up antic minidramas in which he can play at least a supporting role, stages them, and then reviews the results. On the evidence of the compilation at hand, the Manhattan-based freelancer (Mademoiselle, Spy, Vanity Fair, etc.) will do almost anything for a quiet laugh. Here, for example, he reports on close encounters with a clutter consultant, nude housecleaners (one man, one woman—at different times), modeling agencies, and the staff at upscale auction houses to which he had consigned bogus heirlooms. Included as well are droll accounts of the author's unavailing attempts to secure part-time employment at Macy's and to pass a dog-grooming test (with an uncooperative cocker spaniel in tow), plus his four- day stint as a volunteer chauffeur for the governor of Colorado during the 1992 Democratic convention in N.Y.C. If Alford occasionally misses the mark—with, say, nominal exposÇs of a profit-making enterprise ostensibly devoted to advancing the laggard cause of poetry or a Caribbean resort catering to licentious singles—his offbeat consumer guides are dead-on. Along the way, he rates the Big Apple's bed-and-breakfast accommodations, self-improvement videos, and the trendy experience of eating in the Plaza Hotel's kitchen in preference to its dining room. Among the set-piece essays is a series of bizarre interrogatories that address apocryphal issues (e.g., ``What If the Brontâ Sisters Had Been a Heavy-Metal Band?'') and offer a wealth of possible consequences (``1848 [they] lock manager, Mrs. Rochester, in attic''). These one-liner sideshows are an acquired taste, but at his best—which can be good indeed—Alford offers genuinely rueful takes on comic aspects of the urban experience.

Pub Date: March 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-41509-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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