In this book, a writer recounts a farmer’s 15-month legal battle with the federal government.
For 40 years, 86-year-old C.P. Mincey put out a net for the purposes of catching fish in Garden City Beach, South Carolina. In 2013, while pulling in the net with his grandson, David Lane, the farmer discovered a dead dolphin caught in it. On the same day, his home was visited by two representatives of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and a federal agent from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to investigate the dolphin’s death. Mincey was later charged with a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. He was bewildered—he firmly believed he had broken no laws, and had taken every reasonable precaution to avoid inadvertently ensnaring a dolphin. In addition, hundreds of dolphins, killed by a rampant virus, had washed ashore on the East Coast in the last year, raising serious questions about the farmer’s culpability. Nevertheless, he was formally charged and hit with an inexplicably onerous fine: $6,500. Mincey was furious, and hired his son-in-law, LaFon LeGette, a veteran attorney, to represent him at a federal hearing. Walker (Alaska Highway Flight Log, 2017, etc.) follows the 15-month legal clash in granular detail, a remarkably scrupulous display of journalistic rigor. In cases like these, it’s exceedingly rare for the government to lose. The crux of the author’s account is governmental abuse of power. As LeGette contends in his closing argument: “No matter the ruling of this Court, the Government will never be able to change the fact that it has abused the rights of a law-abiding citizen and purposely sought to damage his good name in an attempt to convict him of a crime he did not commit.” But the chief virtue of Walker’s reportage doubles as its principal vice—the microscopically presented details can be overwhelming. And while LeGette’s performance is impressive, the courtroom action is generally less than dramatic—the case hinges on technicalities like the lawfulness of the government’s seizure of property and the dolphin’s cause of death.
An intelligent study of governmental overreach hampered by legal minutiae.
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)
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").