Friday, November 30, 2012

War of the Words: A True Tale of Newsprint and Murder by Simon Read, reviewed by BL Kennedy







Union Square Press
New York, NY
309 pgs
$24.95
ISBN: 39277-69779-0





An approaching steamer, with its new so of other places and much-needed goods, generated plenty of excitement when it landed in San Francisco in 1854. On the decks, passengers lined the railings to gaze upon the young city and its undeveloped backdrop of rolling hills. Incoming vessels dropped anchor off North Beach, and the passengers were rowed in shore as crowds of people blackened Telegraph Hill and witnessed the influx of San Francisco’s new denizens.

You know, its really hard to write a book review about a book that chronicles this history of a newspaper. And that is precisely what ‘War of Words’ is about. We have everything here: we have the history of newsprint, we have intrigue and murder, all of which culminates in the birth of the San Francisco Chronicle. This book is a history of one of the Northwest’s coast most prominent periodicals. So for all those budding journalists and all those historians, librarians, and geeks for the written word, buy this book. It is indispensable and beautifully written.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

RED CLAY by Freddie Hubbard, classic album review by Chuck Joy





          I love many musics. Some musics, like Hindu music, seem exotic. Some musics, like European, seem dense. Some musics, I was there near their beginning, like rock. Some musics were there near the beginning of me, like jazz. I believe I was conceived to the music of a big band record playing on a phonograph.

          I became aware of Freddie Hubbard music in 1970, with Red Clay, toward the early middle of Freddie Hubbard’s brilliant career. In those years I was a regular to the jazz clubs of Manhattan, especially the Village Vanguard. I would step under the awning and down those stairs to that vivid room, with John or Jane or Dennis visiting from Erie. We were all very advanced what with the drinking age 18. We could down at least the required number of whiskey-and-waters before finding the D train for the long ride north.

          In those years Freddie Hubbard began recording for Creed Taylor, Hubbard one of a number of genius players turning out beautiful records like Red Clay. In those years I found instrumental music perfect for typing. I’d drop Red Clay with a stack of other records, Equinox, Maiden Voyage, Follow Your Heart, on the player next to my desk while I worked to turn a hand-written draft into a darn good college paper. I wish I could retrieve even one of the papers typed to that music.

          I have the album, Red Clay. I believe Red Clay to be available as a CD, with bonus tracks, and of course you can sample Freddie Hubbard right now, even with video. Go ahead. I can wait. We can listen together.

          Red Clay opens with Red Clay, side 1, track 1. That’s Hubbard, on trumpet. That electric piano? Herbie Hancock. Ron Carter, bass. Lenny White, drums. Some albums start strong, like Red Clay, the opening trumpet solo very strong, yet temperate, with a touch of blues, Hancock’s keyboard lead congruent, and articulate, a sax next, Joe Henderson, coming from that same groove, getting ecstatic, the trumpet screaming along. A melodic bass lead, only a few bars of drums, then the return of the theme, end. I’ve written a poem as tribute to this song, Red Clay.

          Track 2, Delphia. Starts as a ballad, smooth like the sky above Manhattan, picks up gospel speed, drifts back, picks up, Fred and Herb sharing the lead, especially the gospel parts, a couple of choir boys after church robes flying as they run down the court, passing the basketball. End side 1.

          Side 2, Suite Sioux. Another gospel blues beauty, tinged with bebop. Freddie just blows, chorus after chorus, through a tempo change or two, Lenny White picking up before Joe Henderson steps up, Hancock backing them up, Carter plunking away, his paws like a cat’s, a blue cat, a blue cat in a black hat, Hancock carrying a lead, then a way bigger solo from drummer Lenny White, Fred and Herb bringing us home with a reprise of the complex opening statement.

          Last track, The Intrepid Fox. Fasten your seatbelt, we’re taking a ride, West Side Highway, this fox is loose in the city, maybe New Jersey, poor New Jersey, streetlights flashing on the concrete of the Turnpike, industrial sites with big cranes out there in the darkness, a thrilling future in East Orange or Newark, ladies in cotton dresses, a table groaning with chicken wings and bowls of pasta. Freddie, Joe, and Herbie take their last turns on stage. Album sides are short.


Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Top of Form
Bottom of Form

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code by Amy Kiste Nyberg, reviewed by BL Kennedy




University of Mississippi Press
Jackson, Mississippi
206 pgs
$18.00
ISBN: 0-87805-975-X

The comic code seal of approval bears the message “Approved by the comics code authority” and first appeared on the covers of comic books in the mid-1950s. The comics code is a sets regulatory guidelines primarily concerned with sex, violence, and language drawn up by publishers and enforced by the “code authority”, a euphemism for the censor employed by the publishers. Comic books passing the pre-publication review process are entitled to carry the seal of approval. This study of the origins and history of the comics code examines how and why such a code came into being and the code’s significance both historically and to comic book publishing today.


It’s no secret that I am a comic book geek. That’s right, you’re reading it right, I said that B.L Kennedy is a comic book geek. You see, comic books were my introduction to reading. If not for Superman, Batman, and the Spirit, I would be the book reviewer I am today.

Therefore, it is my pleasure to introduce this incredible title Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code. You see, kids it goes like this. In the Beginning, comic book writers and artists let their imaginations go wild. This culminated in lawsuit after lawsuit by concerned parents, which lead to a famous psychiatrist whose name will not be mentioned here, who concluded that comic books were a detriment to the American Youth. Believe it or not, this actually went as far as congress. Then, the Supreme Court, resulting in that square white box that you see on most comic books which says seal of approval. This battle to create a comic book code went on until 1959 or 1960, when it was solidified that all comic books should carry this seal of approval.

Of course, there were comic book companies that did not go with this jive. Bill Gaines, for example, did not agree to the code, and his E.C. publications did not bear the seal. As a result, original copies of E.C. Comic books, which would also include Mad Magazine, disappeared from the marketplace. To find original copies of any E.C. comics today is a very costly pursuit. So there, you have a brief history of what this book is about. Basically, it is the invention and implication of censorship in comic books.

Amy Kiste Nyberg has written a very informative book about a very important, but little chronicled, part of American history. I highly recommend this book on several levels. For example, psychologists will find it a very interesting text to use a tool with some clients. Sociologists will find it important to learn about an American subculture and its censorship. So, do I recommend this book? Hell yes. It has something for everybody.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Love


Avi, me and Sunny, my daughter at a family reunion last January.

Sam, me, Anna, my daughter and Issac, my grandson, at the same event.










Myself with Sister Grandmother, Dani, and our new grandson, Dylan Alexander Brown.














Brady Bunch montage of Dylan made by Sunny.


















Sunny's Vegan Thanksgiving video:



My words of Thansgiving with the beautiful music of Ken Clinger.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Chronicle of the Pharaoh’s Daughter: Poems of Love Loss and Rebirth




by Davina Rhine
IUniverse
Bloomington, IN
169 pgs
$16.95
ISBN: 978-1-4759-2817-4 

Reviewed by BL Kennedy










Ball and Chain


It’s your turn to cry
and fade away
in the sea of shame
that you slept in,
and sworn I had been

Wave of rage awaken me
Left shaken by a hurricane
that tore our house down

As I stood by you,
I didn’t know that she had
tried to fill my place

Look at the tears messin’ up
the pages I’m writing on.
Look at what you have done
to your best friend.

I have never encountered the works of poet Davina Rhine until about one month ago, and I owe that discovery to the great holy media of Facebook. You see, I wound up adding her as a friend. And one thing lead to another, I discovered she was a writer. And so I asked if she had any books. And she said yes. Its title is The Chronicle of the Pharaoh’s Daughter: Poems of Love Loss and Rebirth.

I remember the day the mailman put it in my hands. I immediately opened the package to find the copy of Miss Rhine’s book, and I have to admit, upon first glance, I had some problems. Not with the writing, mind you, but with the layout. There was just something about the Table of Contents that just didn’t set well with my eyes. I know that sounds lame, but I have to be honest here.

Now to the poetry. The book is broken into seven distinct sections, each with its own very beautiful poetry. I must admit, that Ms. Rhine is a unique and very talented young writer. I enjoyed The Chronicle of the Pharaoh’s Daughter: Poems of Love Loss and Rebirth very much. I highly recommend it to any lover of good writing. These are poems that will stay in your head and heart for a very long time.

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