STRAIGHT UP OR ON THE ROCKS

A CULTURAL HISTORY OF AMERICAN DRINK

New York Times reporter Grimes's preface characterizes the cocktail as a quintessentially American invention that expresses our fluent, nontraditional, fun-centered culture, and that fits our role as the world's supplier of idle amusement and cheap thrills. His ensuing history of the cocktail is in the same spirit. Between an opening tribute to the ultimate cocktail—the martini (in which Grimes notes various affected variations on the ostentatious rejection of vermouth in the ritual of its preparation)—and a concluding observation on the current, yuppie- driven dominance of vodka (a development that has turned the cocktail into ``nothing more than a goosed-up fruit drink'' but that has also brought back the martini in a ``purer'' form), Grimes looks at American drinking habits from the Mayflower's passage on. (Typically, he cites that ship's impressive stores of beer without considering beer-drinking in historical context or distinguishing it from the imbibing of hard liquor.) Along the way, the author entertains with a parade of passing potables from the hot-rum juleps with which early Americans began their days to such ephemeral inventions as the Timber Doodle that Charles Dickens encountered on his 1840 US tour, the Blue Blazer that mixers actually set on fire and fanned into spectacular flames, and the silly Slippery Nipple that marked that Cocktail Age's decline. Grimes sings the praises of the elegant 19th-century saloon and its professional bartenders, and he mourns the degeneration of the art wrought by Prohibition, the Depression, WW II, and postwar commercial developments that led to liquor companies, not local bartenders, inventing new mixed drinks. Unlike last year's entertaining and scholarly analysis from German historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch (Tastes of Paradise), 1992, this is a facile, frothy mix that goes down smoothly and proves diverting enough. (Twenty line drawings.)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-76724-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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