Diverting mix of crime reports, cop talk, Chicago politics, and gyrations of a young Chicago Tribune reporter trying to fit in with new colleagues and still ``make a difference.'' After a sudden transfer to the police reporters' office (known as the ``Cop Shop''), Blau found an antique atmosphere, with one detective chain-smoking Larks and snoozing as ashes fell on his wide lapels. At the time, popular Harold Washington was Chicago's mayor, and he had appointed another African-American, LeRoy Brown, as police chief (though Brown seemed to boast no outstanding achievements). The author's first big case kicked off when he asked Brown why Chicago, as was generally believed, didn't have the major crack problem that other cities did. Blau was told that, by gang agreement, Chicago was by-passed so the gangs would have a peaceful transshipment area for their wares. But as soon as Blau went into the poor neighborhoods, the real story was in his face: drive-by shootings; fortresses in public houses; thousand-pound shipments of crack-cocaine; a building protected by 12 dealer-cops; six different hands with illicit product reaching into his car window: ``Word up! Shit be killah!'' The nonproblem, it seems, was a conspiracy between the police department, the local paper, and apparently, the middle class, who happily swallowed canards as long as they didn't have to think about them. Blau follows up this revelation with many tales of individual fate (including his own acceptance in the Cop Shop), displaying an active mind and a yen for the occasionally heavy cognitive workout. An agile report that outclasses Mitch Gelman's comparable Crime Scene (1992).
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)