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

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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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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