Entries Tagged 'NONFICTION' ↓

How Not To Get A Record Deal.

I’m absolutely certain I could not have asked two better guests to lead the first module in our GrindXDesign eight-week tele-course.

The conversation takes place this coming Wednesday, August 15, 8 pm ET. It’s called, “How To Get A Record Deal,” and it’s led by Wendy Day, right, and Dan Booth, below.

Why do I think they’re the best choice? Have you ever looked at a modern recording contract?

Wendy has, and so has Dan, both many times. Apparently, what they’ve seen has so terrified them that they’ve decided to warn every human being who may, even accidentally, come across such a labyrinthine, all-encroaching, aggressively one-sided document.

Wendy does this through her activism, as the long-standing founder of the advocacy organization, Rap Coalition. Dan gets it in through his firm, Booth Sweet LLP. He describes himself as an attorney for “people in creative industries”—that probably means you—with a focus on copyright and trademark law.

Most of all, though,  Dan and Wendy both have a passion for right that, in this cynical age, probably strikes evil people as mad corny, but that to me is admirable and desirable. Also, I dig Wendy’s direct, no-nonsense e-book, How To Get A Record Deal: The Knowledge to Succeed, right, so much that I bit the title for GrindXDesign, and malformed it for this post.

(Plus, Wendy was a guest this past Friday, August 10, at 2 pm ET, on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION. If you missed the live show, here’s the link; go to the 32-minute mark if you don’t check out the whole thing. It’ll be in our archives for up to 90 days after the broadcast.)

How not to get a record deal? The best way not to get a record deal is to not take the GrindXDesign telecourse. And HURRY! The early bird price is an awesomely reasonable $77 for the whole eight weeks—less than 10 bucks a session—but it goes up to $97 on Sunday night! Don’t cry to any of us when the industry takes your money, B. When they do, it’s gonna be a lot more than a hundred bucks.

Harvey Pekar, 1939-2010

Harvey Pekar, above, the renowned comics writer whose life’s own banalities formed his narratives, died from prostate cancer, Monday, at the age of 70.

A mainstay and elder of the underground comics movement, Pekar was an oft and early collaborator with artist Robert Crumb. Yet the Ohio native worked as a Veterans Administration hospital file clerk most, if not all, of his adult life.

It was only after retiring in 2001, that his American Splendor series—turned into a 2003 film starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar—brought him mainstream fame and acclamation.

I met Pekar at our WBAI studios on Wall St. in 2006, when he was promoting his latest American Splendor book, Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story, right, with its namesake subject, the contrary blogger and founder of Overheard in New York.

The late Harvey Pekar, and Michael Malice, are the guests today on this rebroadcasted edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, July 16th, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear their ideas by tuning in at 2 pm ET. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

My Goodness: Are Pop Rocks Next On the Airlines’ Restricted Items List?

Here’s a question for travelers in our security-minded era: Should the TSA put Pop Rocks, above—the fizzy, crumbly, kids candy from the ’70s—on its air travel prohibited items list?

I ask because it’s long been known what happens to the human digestive system when you swallow Pop Rocks, then mix it with Coca-Cola, a drink available on every commercial flight: Your stomach explodes!

The effect on the individual is, obviously, catastrophic. As for the craft’s airframe, well, suppose this were to happen while flying over the Pacific, right?

Heh, heh. Of course, it’s nonsense, the idea that these two substances, when combined, detonate. It’s a 30-year-old, urban myth. But, as every parent knows, kids have lots of questions about how our bodies are affected by all kinds of phenomena, and why we work as we do.

Andrea and Julia Ditkoff sure did. For example, they wanted to know:

Why do you get a headache when you eat ice cream too quickly?

What’s that small, dewdrop-shaped thing in the back of your throat?

Why do people hiccup?

…not to mention the query which forms the title of their mother’s book, Why Don’t Your Eyelashes Grow?: Curious Questions Kids Ask About the Human Body, right, by Dr. Beth Ann Ditkoff.

In fact, they came up with all the interrogatives Dr. Ditkoff uses in her text. She thought her daughters’ inquiries were, indeed, provocative, but commonplace. Other children, and other adults, would want to hear the answers, also.

They will: Dr. Ditkoff is the guest today on a repeat edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, June 18, at 2 pm ET.

You can listen to this thoughtful writer / physician’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

When DAM Breaks, the Sound of Palestinian Freedom Gets Unleashed.

Palestinian hip-hop trio DAM, above, wield the power of hip-hop as a force against the Israeli occupation of their homeland—the world’s longest—and their minds as well.

Formed in 1998 by brothers Suhell and Tamer Nafar, center and right (friend Mahmoud Jreri, left, was added later), they initially sought to make party records that would earn them cool points with peers and the ladies. Then it was still “just for fun,” says Tamer. They completed a six-track EP titled Stop Selling Drugs, the first time any Palestinian had ever recorded rap music.

What politicized them, however, was the Second Intifada of 2000…and the music of 2Pac. As Tamer poignantly told me, for my March 2008 piece in VIBE, “Straight Outta Palestine,”

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Enraptured in the Harmonies of Winters’ Bittersweet Song.

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Cellist Stephanie Winters describes the sound of her 2004 debut album, Through the Storm, rereleased in an expanded version last year, as “beautiful sadness.”

In Portuguese the word is saudade—a sadness that makes one want to live again. In a spiritual sense this recording is my “blues”. I do not use that word to describe a musical style, but to suggest the transcendent honesty which musical expression enables.

seatedbywindow-lowIndeed, Winters, right, through often bottomless multitracking, saturates the newly added “Mercy Street,” made famous by Peter Gabriel; her vision of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman”; or Thomas Dorsey’s renowned gospel standard, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” with a somber cry. The whole work breathes deep mood, yet not melancholy. In a way, it feels like a film, a wordless one, perhaps, telling a story of love found, made, lost, and unforgotten.

Winters has performed and recorded with Richie Havens, Enya, Corrine Bailey Rae, Anne Murray, Paula Cole, and the O’Jays, among many others.

Stephanie Winters is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 23, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear her ideas and music by tuning in at 2 pm ET. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Wish You Were Here.

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The disappearing landscape is an issue in all communities, and the question of how to preserve the visual character of towns, cities and rural areas is always pressing.

This is even the case in Havana, Cuba’s capital and largest city, where political and economic isolation have compelled Cubans to retain the use of structures longer than many urban centers might.

Yet Havana is, indeed, changing. It’s a turn that Cathryn Griffith, in her new book, Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage, covers through an unusual technique of matching early 20th century postacards, bought primarily through the internet, to modern-day views, like these of Cuba’s famed Centro Gallago, above. Through this unusual technique, Griffith not only documents the historical form of the island’s architectural heritage, but creates a template for how communities may, perhaps, preserve that tradition in any place.

Cathryn Griffith is a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 16, at 2 pm ET.

screen31But first we’ll speak with Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker. Pennoyer is the principal partner of Peter Pennoyer Architects and chairman of the Institute for Classical Architecture and Classical America. Walker holds a degree in historic preservation from Columbia University, and has co-authored three books with Pennoyer. Their newest, The Architecture of Grosvenor Atterbury, tells the story the late 19th / early 20th century architect whose classical forms, resistant to modernist trends developing in Europe and other places, led to some of the most beautiful structures of his era. Many are well-preserved, even now, and commissions like these stone barns for the Rockefeller family, right, or his design of New York City’s Forest Hills Gardens, continue to delight and inspire.

You can hear Peter Pennoyer’s, Anne Walker’s, and Cathryn Griffith’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm ET. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

How I’d Like To Fly the Friendly Skies.

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This week, Miramar, FL-based Spirit Airlines announced that, beginning in August, passengers would be charged up to $45 per bag, not to check luggage, but to carry it onto the plane.

Their foul money grab puts a cherry on top of what airline passengers have known, seemingly, for a generation: Unless you’re rollin’ solo, above, flying is the pits.

Not from outside the plane, however. It’s in that world, where flying’s grace and beauty is palpable, that aerial photographer Erik Hildebrandt reigns.

erikHildebrandt, right, has released over half a dozen books of his work through his own company, Cleared Hot Media, Inc. (The title is a military expression meaning one has permission to engage a target.) These include Anytime, Baby: Hail and Farewell to the U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat and his Front Row Center: Inside the Great American Air Show series, now up to four volumes.

Erik Hildebrandt is the guest today on this rebroadcast from my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 9, at 2 pm ET. During our talk, we discussed the process of making pictures, how airplanes are built, the notion of warfare and the reasons for it, and more.

As well, in a few weeks, in a never-before-aired, upcoming piece, I’ll talk to him about his work as a self-publisher, that being an increasingly meaningful preoccupation in this era of media independence.

You can learn more about his work by visiting his Vulture’s Row web site, or by tuning in today at 2 pm ET. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Kaiku: The Sensual Sound of Cold Finland’s Hot Heart.

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finlandmapNew York-based vocalists Jaana Kantola and Paula Jaakkola, above, record as Kaiku (“echo”), mostly singing in Finnish, the vowel-rich tongue of their icy, Northern European homeland, right. (Fully 25% of Finland rests within the Arctic Circle. In winter, at the country’s most boreal point, the cold season lasts seven months, void of sunrises for 51 days.)

But if your stereotype of Scandinavia is frigid weather; clean, efficient municipalities; socialized medicine; and people whose dispositions are as nippy as the climate, Kaiku’s new, self-produced album, Usva, may send you for a delightfully ecstatic loop.

l_a92d0c320d5c4781b7835b4bd5dd1f2fUsva—the word means “mist,” evoking the hazy confusion of unrequited love—layers lush soundscapes that more evoke a warm Mediterranean sun than a distant, gray, Nordic light.

Artfully blending accordion, cello, piano, and bass on compositions like “Stay Your Hand,” “Illusions,” and the title track, Jaakola and Kantola, above, consider their ardent, ”organic sound,” not some Culture Day demo but, “a mixture of rhythmic world music and traditional Finnish songs.” “Sure we come from Finland,” Kantola notes, “but our music is more like via Finland.”

Jaana Kantola and Paula Jaakkola are the guests today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 2, at 2 pm ET.

Further, if you’re in New York City next week, Kaiku will be playing, Wednesday, April 7th, 8 pm, at Fat Baby (112 Rivington Street; corner of Essex).

You can hear these thoughtful artists’ ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

“No Hell Below Us, Above Us, Only Sky.”

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Reportedly, John Lennon was actually not an atheist, as many think, but instead a person strongly against organized religion. However, the opening lyrics to his 1971 classic, “Imagine,” above, have often been cited as a straightforward summary of the nontheistic conceit. The lyrics urge human beings to conceive a world in which our species ha rid itself of the divisiveness faith often seems to drive, coming together in peace, instead, through mutually shared need, common destiny, and brotherhood.

34367Is such a reality possible, however, without the deference that a belief in God, arguably, compels? In his new book, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, Harvard humanist chaplain Greg M. Epstein, right, takes the position that such an atheistic vision can be a reality.

With a focus on the positive, he highlights humanity’s potential for goodness and the ways in which Humanists lead lives of purpose and compassion. Humanism can offer the sense of community we want and often need in good times and bad, as we celebrate marriages and the birth of our children, and as we care for those who are elderly or sick. In short, Humanism teaches us that we can lead good and moral lives without supernaturalism, without higher powers…without God.

Greg M. Epstein the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 26, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear his ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Tammy Wynette’s Wail of Woe.

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Even in country songcraft, where beers are consistently diluted with tears, the late Tammy Wynette, above, had a penchant for melancholy–like a rural Mary J. Blige–that was both supreme and legendary.

As was her voice. Describing a stage performance of her hit recording, “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” biographer Jimmy McDonough notes,

31When she gets to the chorus, Wynette [right] belts out the words with the force of an air-raid siren, yet barely bats an eyelash. There’s zero body language—the drama’s all in the voice. She doesn’t act out the song or punch her fist in the air; in fact, she barely moves an inch. Tammy the statue. Until a Tinseltown choreographer teaches her some questionable dance steps in the mid-eighties, Wynette will remain frozen onstage. The anti-style of Tammy’s wax-figure performances absolutely mystified Dolly Parton. “I could not believe that all of that voice and all that sound was comin’ out of a person standin’ totally still. I’d think, ‘How is she doin’ that?’ It seems like you’d have to lean into your body or bow down into it or somethin’ to get all of that out. I’ve never seen anything like it to this day. I was in awe of her. I thought she had one of the greatest voices of all time.”

06Virginia Wynette Pugh (1942-1998) did have one of the the most sonorous instruments in the history of popular music. Her classic, “Stand By Your Man,” below, may be the best known example of her gift. Yet she lived a life of drama that exceeded even her most poignant records. She was married five times, including a tempestuous relationship with country superstar George Jones, right; suffered almost continuous, acute discomfort from nearly thirty surgeries; was addicted to painkillers; and died at the age of 55, reportedly looking years older.

1000071158lIn his book on her life, Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen, writer Jimmy McDonough, right, who has also profiled rock legend Neil Young and filmmaker Russ Meyer, plumbs the depths of her artistry, her sadness, and her demons.

Few recording artists achieve the kind of success Tammy Wynette did. In total, she had more than twenty number one hits, several of which she’d co-written. Tammy was the first country artist to go platinum, and her total sales now loom somewhere past the thirty-million mark. If there is one person who her musicians and producers compare her to, it is Elvis. … Tammy sings of cheating husbands, suffering wives, kids’ lives wrecked by divorce. The down and dirty stuff that grinds us all down on a daily basis. If you’re a woman, she could be singing your life. If you are a man, she might be compelling for darker reasons. Wynette sings of love in a rather disturbing fashion. Her music ain’t for sissies.

Jimmy McDonough is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 19, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear his ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

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