EXPEDITIONS: GOLD, SHAMANS, AND GREEN FIRE Elders, Lee
A mortgage banker from Arizona gives it all up to search for treasure in the jungles of Ecuador.
In the late 1960s, when the buttoned-down banking world ceased to capture his imagination, Lee Elders set out looking for adventure. He ended up leading a prospecting expedition into the jungles of Ecuador. Although that expedition ended with his return to the States without the riches he’d hoped, Elders’ career as a modern day explorer was only just beginning. Back in Arizona, he received a letter from Adriano Vintimilla, his partner and friend who had served as translator on the prospecting trip, which suggested Elders return to pursue a new opportunity. Upon Elders' arrival, Vintimilla described his new insight into a longstanding mystery: the last will and testament of Raphael Bollanos Mejia, a Colombian who worked for a quinine harvesting company, used veiled hints and clues to describe the location of a fabulous trove of emeralds, hidden deep in the jungle. These hints had beguiled treasure hunters for decades, but after comparing Mejia’s clues to an old Army map, Vintimilla thought he had a general idea as to where the emeralds might be. Elders and his friend began a long, dangerous search for his treasure, and, more importantly to Elders, adventure. Elders story is a fascinating one, and he tells it well. His prose is immersive, and he peppers the narrative with details of everyday life in Ecuador, including the lives of the native people who still live in the jungle. Raised on an Apache reservation, Elders treats these people with immense reverence and admiration for their lifestyle and beliefs. He is especially respectful of the spiritual world inhabited by the Shuara, who served as his guides as he moved closer and closer to his goal. Throughout, Elders is careful to highlight the differences between his quest for adventure, and others greedy search only for riches, which often leads them to exploit the land and its people.
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)