A comedian presents a series of drawings and cartoons, most of which “are comedy. But some are serious. Or just weird.”
Friedlander has been performing stand-up comedy since he was 19, but he is best known for his roles in American Splendor and on 30 Rock, in which he delivered a hilarious performance as oddball TV writer Frank Rossitano. The eccentricity and offbeat humor of that role are amply reflected in this short book, which features crudely drawn cartoons on a variety of subjects (jokes about genitalia and scenes from New York City both feature prominently). Most of the pieces are a single page, though some provide a brief story—e.g., the adventures of “Gentrification Man,” a “superhero for the rich and overprivileged who “stand[s] up for the rights of corporations.” The style and tone of these cartoons contain echoes of the Far Side, the drawings of Demetri Martin (particularly his 2011 book, This Is a Book), and some of the rougher pieces at The Oatmeal, but most of Friedlander’s cartoons are not as darkly clever as the Far Side or as laugh-out-loud funny as Martin’s. There are a few highlights, however: a panel showing two buildings, one labeled “Yoga” and the other “50 Dollar Cupcakes,” with the caption “Where to Meet Women in Manhattan”; “Novice Shopping Cart Thief,” with a picture of a man walking down the sidewalk carrying a shopping cart above his head; and “Goth Crayon Box,” a drawing of a large box of crayons with just one black crayon in it. Unfortunately, these are few and far between in a book that seems like a partial draft or a home sketchbook that will eventually become part of a more substantial work.
A more-misses-than-hits collection that will likely find a home in bathroom-reading bins.
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)