In this debut guide, a longtime swamp master explores nature, life, and himself.
The author spent years living in the Great Okefenokee Swamp, an enormous 430,000-acre, black-water kingdom in southeastern Georgia, where he felt at home among the region’s bears, alligators, whitetail deer, and innumerable snakes. It was in the Okefenokee that he learned the ways of these and other animals and gradually became “swampwise,” attuned to the rhythms of nature and wary of the allurements of modern society and technology. This book attempts to distill the lessons of that life. Okefenokee Joe accomplishes this mainly through his empathy with the other species with whom he shared so much time and so many memories. “If the plants and creatures of the natural world could speak, each and every one of them would ask of the human race the same thing!” he writes. “Stop the waste, the destruction, and the pollution all across the earth!” The author intersperses his observations about that untamed realm with intriguing bits of his own autobiography, including his experiences working in the Okefenokee Swamp Park and his eventual decision to strike out on his own in his new persona. He traveled all over the Southeast, as he puts it, “sharing my message of our responsibility to, and the understanding of, the natural world around us,” which deserves “our utmost respect, deep love, and genuine appreciation!” And although such high aims are admirable, the book’s most memorable stretches involve the author’s anecdotes about his experiences working with the wild animals of the Okefenokee. He came to be an informal field expert on the behavior of black bears and the nature of snakes (poisonous and otherwise), among other subjects. His understanding of all these creatures was instrumental in forming what he refers to as “The Golden Rule of Nature”: “If You Don’t Need It, Leave It!”—a decree he watched all the animals just instinctively obey. The effect of these stories is the warm feeling of hearing a gifted raconteur’s best bits.
An anecdotal and highly enjoyable visit with a local folk legend.
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)