THE PERFECT VEHICLE

WHAT IT IS ABOUT MOTORCYCLES

An entertaining vade mecum for the aspiring Dennis Hopper, Evel Knievel, or Malcolm Forbes of the family. Magazine journalist Pierson sets out to explore the motorcycle mystique, her account ranging from peeks at by now tired icons like the Marlon Brando of The Wild Ones to fresher elements like the nascent French biker culture. (The French, of course, have an elaborate classification system to distinguish true bikers from les sportifs, the sham articles.) She calls the fixation with bikes ``motolust,'' and she admits to being a victim herself, one of the growing number of women who reject the phallic-substitute imagery long associated with ``chicks on bikes'' for what is, all in all, a fun ride in the open air. Pierson takes the reader on wild spins, hitting cross-country races and motocross tournaments up and down the East coast, cataloging the thrills and, especially, the manifold dangers that await, all the little things that can quickly send a biker to the grave: ``wet leaves, gravel, sand, decreasing-radius turns, painted lines, tar patches liquefying in the sun, antifreeze, oil deposits at gas stations or toll booths, metal plates and manhole covers made deadly by rain . . .'' Pierson is often funny, frequently deep, occasionally sharp-edged, and almost always right on the money. She is also fully aware of her minority status within a minority culture—as she notes, only 7 million Americans ride motorcycles, as against 20 million who call themselves bird-watchers—and she does her best to convey the spirit of motorcycling to the countless uninitiated. You don't have to be a two-wheel devotee to appreciate Pierson's work, but it probably helps. Still, even if you don't much care for motorcycles—or your mother wouldn't let you ride one—this engaging treatise (part of which appeared in Harper's) is worth a look. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-393-04064-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more