David Rothenberg on Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

Fortune in My EyesRubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer who was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1967 and spent almost two decades in jail before being exonerated, died on Sunday in Toronto. He was 76.

David Rothenberg writes about meeting Carter at Rahway State Prison in his book, Fortune in My Eyes: A Memoir of Broadway Glamour, Social Justice, and Political Passion, published by Applause Books.

Here is an excerpt.

* * * * * * *

My visits to the Rahway penitentiary, beginning with my appearances on the inmate radio program, evolved. The prison officials had placed a moratorium on the number of visits afforded me, so—using their prison-acquired inmate wiles—several of the men created a class, which enabled me to return weekly as a teacher. Most of the guys in the class were doing heavy time. Several had been released from Trenton State Prison’s death row after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1972 that declared the death penalty to be unconstitutional…I would arrive on Saturday morning and read the class a page-one story from the morning edition of the New York Times. I would then ask for the students’ reactions to the article. At first the men balked, suggesting that this was not a class. As the teacher, they argued, I should give them my interpretation of the story. I insisted that their opinion of the news event was as valid as mine.

Tommy [Trantino] then challenged me: “Why are you the teacher?”

My answer satisfied them: “I’m the teacher because I’m getting you to think about what is happening in the world, and your personal assessment of a story demands that you think.” In fact, that was my goal. Most of the guys admitted that they were school dropouts and had hated and been intimidated by the classroom and the teachers, who tortured and embarrassed them. If I could create a classroom environment that was nurturing, they might be motivated to take advantage of some of the more traditional and formal classes being offered in the institution, and even aspire to a GED or a college course that might be available. If my class accomplished anything, it was that a few of the men, on their own, did go on to explore other educational opportunities. A few even contacted me upon their release from prison.

There was an intense man, Rubin, always sitting in the front row. Cocoa-skinned, bald, and with glasses, he listened intently but rarely spoke. In the many classes I have taught, I have always looked for that eager face, someone who is soaking up everything even if they are not asking questions. Rubin was particularly responsive when guests would join me. Judge Bruce Wright visited several times—canceling his treasured Saturday morning tennis games to travel with me to Rahway—and fascinated the students with his candor about the courts and racism in our society.

One day after class, Rubin asked if I could call his agent. “Rubin, why do you have an agent?” That seemed an appropriate question to pose to a man situated in a prison. “Of course I will call your agent, but what kind of an agent is this?”

He told me he was writing a book, and I figured, why not? Everyone in here has a story to tell. I asked him to write down her name, address, and phone number, and by the way, “Rubin, what is your full name?”

He said, “Rubin Carter.”

I looked at him for a long minute and asked, “Are you the Rubin Carter called Hurricane?”

“That’s me.”

I never asked last names in the class, nor did I take attendance. It was all voluntary. I had had no idea that the attentive young man in front of me was a former boxing champion.

In 1999, when the movie The Hurricane was released, with Denzel Washington giving a deeply moving and memorable performance in the title role, I had heard that Rubin was going to be in New York City for some promotional interviews for the film. He had long since been cleared and released after several courtroom dramas. I called the film’s publicity department and introduced myself as a host of a weekly radio program on WBAI in Manhattan. I requested an interview with Carter. “Of course,” the condescending and impatient publicist said, “everyone does. We have him scheduled with PBS, GMA”—and some other initials were thrown in.

I listened respectfully and said, “Rubin and I go way back. Why not just ask him and let him make the decision?” The impatient rep conceded to my logic.

Ten minutes later the call came: “Rubin is anxious to appear on your radio program.”

He arrived at the studio on Saturday morning looking like a million dollars, in a nifty suit with a professorial look. I told him that I appreciated his joining me, and he said, “David, you were there when no one else was. We can’t forget where we came from. By the way, you were taller then.”

“No, Rubin, I was standing up and you were sitting down. Now it’s the reverse.”

He was living in Canada, working with the Innocence Project and delivering inspiring lectures. He and Tommy Trantino had bonded in Rahway, and theirs was a dramatic demonstration that black and white guys could work together to give inmates a united voice. Because both men were charismatic and had respect from other prisoners, they were able to create some alterations in the traditional apartheid of the joint they were in.

Both Rubin and Tommy rejoined the human race in spite of prison’s attempt to dehumanize them.

 

 

The Zombie Film excerpt

Here is an excerpt from The Zombie Film by Alain SIlver and James Ursini!  Take A Closer Look here!

The Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate Zombies (and the Movies About Them)

by Linda Brookover

10. They’re ugly. Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body notwith- standing (was Jennifer really a zombie, after all), taken as a horde or as individuals with their swollen tongues, yellow eyes, skin that suggests much too long a stay in a tanning bed/grave, and sunken (or missing) cheekbones…I’ll grant that “R” in Warm Bodies has a certain je ne sais quoi; but he gets de-zombified. Before that was someone actually considering sex with a zombie. Deadgirl may turn on some desperate jocks but, seriously, guys, could you really imagine getting it on with the lovely pictured below? These hideous creatures give the Frankenstein’s monster and just about any ghoul that ever haunted the screen a shuffle for their money.

Screen shot 2014-04-01 at 1.22.13 PM

 

9. Speaking of that: They can’t dance. Yes, yes, I’ve seen the “Thriller” video and that is the exception that proves the observation. Sure boyfriends may have come back from the cemetery to attend the prom, but they were still geeks with no sense of rhythm.

8. They’re undead and uncouth. They have no sense of personal space and constantly seek to violate that of whomever they encounter without compunction, such as bashing their heads through car windows. As for table manners, well, if you have seen just one of these movies, enough said.

7. They’re not very romantic—in the literal rather than the literary sense, but actually not in that sense either. Even in the misbegotten comedies that involve teen couples, they are simply never huggable. Can you imagine a zombie date, a zombie valentine, or, perish the thought, zombie sex? Even the most hardcore necrophile would have to be repulsed.

6. Despite no sex, they breed faster than rabbits. Sure you could argue that it is not actual breeding, but what else would you call it? It starts with just one zombie moving into the neighborhood, and before you know it the kids next door are inviting themselves to lunch…off your flesh.

5. They have no fashion sense. They look like they slept in their clothes. Even if they never spent time in a coffin but went right from ordinary life to zombiefied after being bitten, their previously unremarkable wardrobe is suddenly very shabby and somehow still looks like it was worn inside a freshly dug grave: it’s dirty, shredded, and bloodstained. If vampires rep- resent the height of movie monster fashion, zombies without question are the nadir.

4. They look like they smell bad. One can only presume that from the reactions and occasional com- ments of those who encounter them, so thank heaven Smell- O-Vision no longer exists. I mean Scent of a Mystery was one thing, can you really imagine Scent of a Zombie. Eew!

3. They’re pathetic. Okay, there may be the occasional zombie for whom the word “hope- less” has some emotional heft, who is capable of experiencing some angst, as in Warm Bodies or Zombie Honeymoon or Deadheads; but 99% could never strike a tragic pose or express anything other than a ravenous hunger. Except for a coup de grâce, nothing can be done to help them as they overrun the environment. Perhaps the real reason people like to watch them on screen is to feel better about themselves.

2. They tried to kill Brad Pitt, probably the only person that could get me to pay hard- earned money to see a zombie movie. It’s one thing to threaten the unknown (at the time, and probably still) low-budget performers in Night of the Living Dead and hey, would you really have cared if they managed to devour Jesse Eisenberg (his attitude was a tad conde- scending) in Zombieland; but hands off Brad.

And the Number 1 reason to hate movie zombies:

You can show me all the Zombie Strippers you want, like the one above and I’m sorry but They’re boring. Conversation is limited to the occasional grunt or perhaps a rattle in their throat like a reverse hiccup, often accompanied by the clacking sound of their deformed teeth biting together in anticipation of finding your neck. If the “dissedents” in Juan of the Dead really had a political agenda, it might be something more than a biting satire about biting people. Tragically some of these post-persons were probably lively conversational- ists when still were still breathing, but now.

Happy Birthday, Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono turns 81 today! Below is a New York Times magazine article celebrating the enigmatic life and art of the avant-garde activist, excerpted from Lisa Carver’s book, Reaching Out with No Hands: Reconsidering Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono is not pretty, she is not easy, her paintings aren’t recognizable, her voice is not melodious, her films are without plot and her Happenings make no sense. One of her paintings you are told to sleep on. One of her paintings you are told to burn. One of her paintings isn’t a painting at all — it’s you going outside and looking at the sky. Most of her stuff is not even there. This is why I love her. This is why we need her. We have too much stuff already. It clutters our view, inward and outward.

We need more impossible in our culture. Go out and capture moonlight on water in a bucket, she commands. Her art is instructions for tasks impossible to complete. We already have a billion lovely things and a million amazing artists who have honed their talent and have lorded it above us. People who have achieved the highest of the possible. People wearing their roles as artist or writer or filmmaker or spokesman as a suit of armor or as an invisibility cloak or as an intimidatingly, unacquirably tasteful outfit.

Even other artists can’t figure out Ono or accept her as legit, nor can she obey the club rules. Her stuff is all wrong. She tells you to spend a whole year coughing. Listen to a two-minute song of recorded silence, music lovers. As for you, the most imperialist and arms-profiteering superpower in the history of the world, give peace a chance.

There are two schools of art. One is what is made beautiful by the artist; the other is to make way for the viewer to see or feel what is already beautiful.

The first is to make something ornate and unreachably special with skills. The viewer or listener is awed, their belief regarding the order of things is confirmed and they are reminded by this unachievable beauty of their own powerlessness. And I do love that kind of art, the beautiful kind.

The other way to make art is to tear down what’s between us and nature, us and eternity, us and the realization that everything is already perfect. In this experience of art, the viewer or listener loses respect for the current order or arrangement of civilization and thus becomes powerful, like King Kong, and outside civilization, like God — or simply like the shuffling janitor who is pleased with his own work and sleeps well.

I always admired the Japanese use of negative space in decorating and the unspoken in conversations (or so I gather from old films). Ono uses the negative positively. She is a classically trained operatic student who uses silence or screeches in her singing; a recipient of coveted gallery showings who hangs unpainted canvases with requests for you to pound holes in them or to walk on them. She was the first woman admitted to the philosophy program at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, and could travel the world discoursing multisyllabically, yet instead she tries lying in bed and not lifting a finger to cure a war.

It takes an enormous lack of ego to not put your imprint on everything you do, to notemploy your learning and position. To stand back, to hold back, to keep your mouth shut. To yell with your silence, when you know you very well could make soothing and welcomed sounds at the drop of a hat. She could sing; she knows how. And being a Beatles wife could have been a magic charm — but she wasn’t interested. It takes willpower to overpower the will to power. To be accepted, to be thought nice, is traditionally woman’s power. That is something Ono doesn’t need.

To continue reading, go to NYTimes.com!

Reaching Out with No Hands

John Lennon once described her as “the world’s most famous unknown artist: everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does.” Many people are aware of her art, and her music has always split crowds, from her caterwauling earliest work to her later dance numbers, but how many people have looked at Yoko Ono’s decades-spanning career and varied work in total and asked the simple question, “Is it any good?”

From her earliest work with the Fluxus group and especially her relationship with John Cage, through her enigmatic pop happenings (where she met John Lennon), her experimental films, cryptic books, conceptual art, and her long recording career that has vacillated between avant-garde noise and proto-new wave, earning the admiration of other artists while generally confusing the public at large who often sees her only in the role of the widow Lennon,Reaching Out with No Hands is the first serious, critical, wide-ranging look at Yoko Ono the artist and musician.

A must-read for art and music fans interested in going beyond the stereotyped observations of Yoko as a Lennon hanger-on or inconsequential avant noisemaker.

Love, Peace, and Soul

To start off Black History Month, check out our new book on everything Soul Train: Love, Peace, and Soulby Ericka Blount Danois. She’ll be speaking on February 10th at the Chicago Public Library, February 11th at the Museum of Broadcasting in Chicago, and February 15th and the Reginald F. Lewis Library in Baltimore. Don’t miss out!

Love, Peace, and Soul tells the story of the television phenomenon known as Soul Train, a show created in the land of bell bottoms, afros, and soul power; a show that became the touchstone of the Baby Boomer generation. Don Cornelius, host and owner of the show, was one of the coolest cats on television. With his platform shoes, wide neckties, and mellifluous voice, he showed the world just how corny American Bandstand was in comparison. In 2012, fans were shocked to hear one of the most powerful men in the music and television business took his own life.

Love, Peace, and Soul is a celebratory, behind-the-scenes collection of anecdotes, stories, and reflections, from the people who were there, about the host, the show, and the power of black music and dance on television.

Music and television connoisseurs will enjoy the history of not just Soul Train, but of other shows, including Shindig!Don Kirshner’s Rock ConcertHullabalooAmerican Bandstand, and Graffiti Rock. Entrepreneurs will be interested in Cornelius’ humble beginnings with the local version of the show in Chicago, created with his own money. Fans will delight in the lively images and the quirky details. The first mass market book on Soul Train since Cornelius’s passing, this volume has something for everyone. Includes afterword by Gary Harris.

The American Stradivarius

Today marks the opening of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art “Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C.F. Martin” exhibit. The exhibit runs through December 7th. To find out more, click here to view the video and the article from BBC, How Martin Guitars Became an ‘American Stratavarius’.

Inventing the American Guitar

Inventing the American Guitar is the first book to describe the early history of American guitar design in detail. It tells the story of how a European instrument was transformed into one with all of the design and construction features that define the iconic American flat-top guitar. This transformation happened within a mere 20 years, a remarkably brief period.

The person who dominates this history is C. F. Martin Sr., America’s first major guitar maker and the founder of the Martin Guitar Company, which continues to produce outstanding flat-top guitars today. After emigrating from his native Saxony to New York in 1833, Martin quickly established a guitar making business, producing instruments modeled after those of his mentor, Johann Stauffer of Vienna. By the time he moved his family and business to rural Pennsylvania in 1839, Martin had absorbed and integrated the influence of Spanish guitars he had seen and heard in New York. In Pennsylvania, he evolved further, inventing a uniquely American guitar that was fully developed before the outbreak of the Civil War.

Inventing the American Guitar traces Martin’s evolution as a craftsman and entrepreneur and explores the influences and experiments that led to his creation of the American guitar that is recognized and played around the world today.

Buck Owens

Guest Author: In Buck ‘Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens, Randy Poe helped Buck Owens posthumously tell his story. Below is excerpt from an interview with Randy Poe. To keep reading, go to Music Tomes.

Music Tomes: In the intro to the book you talk about meeting with Buck’s family about doing a biography and then being presented with the idea of turning it into an autobiography. First of all, what made you want to do a biography of Buck Owens?

Randy Poe: I wanted to do a book on Buck because I felt he was a phenomenal country artist who was incredibly under-rated, if not forgotten to a certain extent. It was much the same reason I wrote Skydog: The Duane Allman Story. Buck and Duane are both extremely important figures in American music, and up to this point very little has been written about either of them. In fact, Skydog was the first book ever written about Duane Allman, even though he’d passed away over thirty years before my book came out. So, I like to write about musicians who I feel deserve more attention than they’ve gotten, and to me, Buck Owens definitely qualifies as one of those.

MT: What kind of complications are there in creating the autobiography of someone who is no longer around to answer new questions or clarify anything?

RP: You bring up an excellent point. I can’t tell you the number of times I regretted not having the opportunity to ask Buck follow-up questions. On the tapes I was working with, he told so many great stories about his life. But, since he was just sitting alone talking into a cassette recorder, there was nobody there with him to get him back on track if he changed stories in mid-stream, or if he didn’t finish a sentence. Luckily, Buck’s office had kept literally thousands of newspaper and magazine articles that quoted Buck, so many times I was able to find him telling the same stories in greater detail than he’d told them on the tapes. Like I said at the beginning of the book, writing this thing was like trying to put together the most complicated jigsaw puzzle ever created.

To read the rest of the interview, go here!

Buck ‘Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens is the life story of a country music legend. Born in Texas and raised in Arizona, Buck eventually found his way to Bakersfield, California. Unlike the vast majority of country singers, songwriters, and musicians who made their fortunes working and living in Nashville, the often rebellious and always independent Owens chose to create his own brand of country music some 2,000 miles away from Music City – racking up a remarkable twenty-one number one hits along the way. In the process he helped give birth to a new country sound and did more than any other individual to establish Bakersfield as a country music center.

In the latter half of the 1990s, Buck began working on his autobiography. Over the next few years, he talked into the microphone of a cassette tape machine for nearly one hundred hours, recording the story of his life.

With his near-photographic memory, Buck recalled everything from his early days wearing hand-me-down clothes in Texas to his glory years as the biggest country star of the 1960s; from his legendary Carnegie Hall concert to his multiple failed marriages; from his hilarious exploits on the road to the tragic loss of his musical partner and best friend, Don Rich; from his days as the host of a local TV show in Tacoma, Washington, to his co-hosting the network television show Hee Haw; and from his comeback hit, “Streets of Bakersfield,” to his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In these pages, Buck also shows his astute business acumen, having been among the first country artists to create his own music publishing company. He also tells of negotiating the return of all of his Capitol master recordings, his acquisition of numerous radio stations, and of his conceiving and building the Crystal Palace, one of the most venerated musical venues in the country.

Buck ‘Em! is the fascinating story of the life of country superstar Buck Owens – from the back roads of Texas to the streets of Bakersfield.

Bob Elliot Interview

Radio legend Joe Franklin interviews radio legend Bob Elliot, one of the two subjects in David Pollock’s Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons. Enjoy!

 

By the established comedy conventions of their era, Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding were true game changers. Never playing to the balcony, Bob and Ray instead entertained each other. Because they believed in their nuanced characters and absurd premises, their audience did, too. Their parodies – broadcasting about broadcasting – existed in their own special universe. A complete absence of show-biz slickness set them apart from the very institution they were mocking, yet were still a part of. They resisted being called comedians and never considered themselves “an act.”

Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons traces the origins and development of the pair’s unique sensibility that defined their dozens of local and network radio and TV series, later motion picture roles, Carnegie Hall performances, and hit Broadway show Bob and Ray – The Two and Only.

Together for 43 years (longer than Laurel and Hardy, Burns and Allen, Abbott and Costello, and Martin and Lewis), the twosome deflected all intrusions into the personalities behind their many masks and the dynamics of their relationship, and rarely elaborated on their career trajectory or methodology. Now, with the full cooperation of Bob Elliott and of Ray Goulding’s widow, Liz, together with insights from numerous colleagues, their craft and the culture that made them so relevant is explored in depth.

Scott Yanow Podcast

Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. Scott Yanow talks about his book, The Great Jazz Guitarists, with Mark Lynch of “Inquiry” on WICN Radio. Enjoy!

>>>>LISTEN HERE<<<<

The Great Jazz Guitarists

The prolific Scott Yanow has outdone even himself with this book, the most comprehensive guide to jazz guitarists ever published. With hundreds of dossiers and discographies on every major (and not so major) jazz guitar player of note, arranged in encyclopedia fashion, this is the final stop on anyone’s tour of six-string wizards working the swinging side of the street.

From Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian to Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin and even Les Paul to Jeff Beck and beyond (not to mention Wes and Barney and everyone in between), The Great Jazz Guitarists hits every note, never sharp or flat, and always with the combination of edge, sensitivity and awe-inspiring depth of knowledge that has made author Yanow one of the most widely read and respected critics and historians in jazz history.

KISS FAQ

Dale Sherman, the author of KISS FAQ, can now be seen in these excerpts from a Japanese Documentary Special about KISS. Enjoy!

SONG TO SOUL CLIP ONE

SONG TO SOUL CLIP TWO

SONG TO SOUL CLIP THREE

 

KISS FAQ

Since 1973, KISS has recorded over 20 studio albums; been recognized as an innovator in rock presentations; witnessed a firestorm of rumors and controversies; remained a thorn in critics’ sides; and continues to surprise its massive fan-following, the KISS Army, with various career twists and turns. Moreover, many television shows, movies, toys and even comics have kept KISS a bigger-than-life name in entertainment for decades.

Yet with all that has been written over the years, there are subjects that fans have never put to rest when it comes to the “hottest band in the land”: What were the most significant concerts? Why did Phantom of the Park turn out that way? What were the best – and worst – album covers? How did the comics come about? And what the heck is a deuce?

These subjects and more appear in KISS FAQ – showcasing the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.

 

Leonard Slatkin receives Deems Taylor Award

Already the recipient of numerous musical awards throughout his illustrious career on the podium, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre National de Lyon Music Director Leonard Slatkin now must make room on his mantel for a literary award.

On Nov. 14, ASCAP will be honor Maestro Slatkin with a Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award for his first book, Conducting Business: Unveiling the Mystery Behind the Maestro, published by Amadeus Press.

Drawing on his own experience on and off the podium, Slatkin brings us into the world of the baton, telling tales of some of the most fascinating figures in recent musical history, including Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, and Frank Sinatra. He takes readers to the world’s great concert halls, orchestras, and opera pits, as well as to soundstages in Hollywood.

Along the way, Slatkin recounts his controversial appearance at the Metropolitan Opera, his creation and direction of summer music festivals, and a shattering concert experience that took place four days after 9/11.  Life in the recording studio and on the road, as well as health issues confronting the conductor, provide an insider’s glimpse into the private world of these public figures.

Covering everything from learning how to read music to standing in front of an orchestra for the first time, what to wear, and how to deal with the media, Conducting Business provides a unique look at a unique profession.

Established in 1967, the ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor Awards honor the memory of the composer, critic, and commentator, who died in 1966. Taylor was President of ASCAP for six years.

Upon learning of the honor, Slatkin said, “Deems Taylor was an important voice in American music. He was highly regarded, both as a commentator and as a composer. Receiving this honor in his name in most humbling.”

More information about Conducting Business can be found at conductingbusiness.halleonardbooks.com.