An existential guide, though not despairing; these small urban essays are both illuminating place studies and highly...

BIKING THROUGH THE 'HOODS

EXPLORING FIFTY AMERICAN CITIES BY BICYCLE

Pinsky explores a wide swath of the United States from an unlikely venue—the saddle of a bike—and comes back with gold.

An avid cyclist, Pinsky had grown weary of the bucolic and went looking for a new biking experience. He wound up in Philadelphia and discovered that the city’s kaleidoscopic variety energized him: the people, land use, landscape, architecture, street art; it was all there and, on a bike, it was all very close, heightening his sensory awareness. Pinsky tenders these urban vignettes in a voice inflected with curiosity, polychromatic but blissfully even in tone, thoughtful and considerate of the reader. He’s not writing to strut his stuff, be it literary (though he writes with deceptive ease) or physical accomplishment, but to inform and inspire. He is appealingly unheroic—these are not mighty slogs but shortish hops done on a shoestring: his budget is $100 per trip, and he’s accustomed to Super 8 motels and Subway sandwiches. Yet if found in a less-than-savory neighborhood, with safety beckoning to the right, he’s apt to turn left: “There’s a whole lot more I have to see here,” he says. He has done his homework, bracing himself with the history of the cities he tours, but he allows serendipity to fashion his routes. And he gets around, to all four corners of the country and into all manner of neighborhood, from seedy to tony, industrial to commercial to residential. He is open to their atmosphere—if Cleveland wasn’t pretty, “the city had a certain compelling presence about it”—and compassionate without pulling punches: “there was only sandy dirt covering the yards and no sidewalks, giving many of these areas a third-world look.” He closes with a ride around his home streets of Washington, D.C., and it is a lovely example of what might be called deep riding: being familiar, he probes the area’s most exquisitely remote and unexpected offerings.

An existential guide, though not despairing; these small urban essays are both illuminating place studies and highly motivational to get pedaling.

Pub Date: May 18, 2010

ISBN: 978-0615369556

Page Count: 254

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2011

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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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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

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