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November 26, 2009

Books on Detroit

Friend this Michael Jackman fellow on Facebook, he'll point you at some good stuff, including his own writings. Click through for longer descriptions. Metro Times - Arts: Detroit gets booked
For a city that's shrinking, Detroit sure gets a lot of play on the bookshelves. From appealing photographic books to auto histories to poetry anthologies, there's plenty of paper to stuff a stocking with this year.... Up the Rouge! (Wayne State, $34.95), for instance. Former Freep journo and active Detroit blogger Joel Thurtell tells of his 2005 canoe journey up the Rouge River. What at first appears to be a stunt quickly develops into an investigation of how the river's environmental quality is ignored. Newscast for the Masses: The History of Detroit Television News (Wayne State, $24.95), follows the story of local news from its beginnings with WWJ-TV through to the golden age of Bill Bonds and beyond. The Corvette Factories: Building America's Sports Car (Motorbooks, $40) How Chevrolet built an American legend, churning out the classic sports car.
Storied Independent Automakers: Nash, Hudson and American Motors (Wayne State, $24.95), scholar Charles K. Hyde chronicles the history of the longest-surviving independent and the men who led it, lavishly illustrated with 100 photographs. Maxwell Motor and the Making of the Chrysler Corporation (Wayne State, $34.95). One of the leading companies in the early pack of Detroit auto producers, Maxwell Motor is now mostly forgotten. From Autos to Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, $60), David Gartman argues that Ford's mass production techniques helped inspire the clean lines of modernist architects. Greg Grandin's Fordlandia (Metropolitan Books, $27.50) chronicles Henry Ford's ill-advised attempt to realize a homespun American workers' town in the middle of the Brazilian rain forest. A Motor City Year (Wayne State, $39.95). In it, photographer John Sobczak encapsulates a year in 365 photographs of the Detroit area, including open-air fairs, sporting events, churches and more. Detroit: The Black Bottom Community. In this photo history, Jeremy Williams tells the story of the near-eastside neighborhood that thrived when African-Americans could find few other places to live in the segregated city, resulting in a quarter of town that was politically potent, at least until urban renewal and freeway building reduced its main street to a service drive.

Continue reading "Books on Detroit" »

November 24, 2009

What Do You Get for the Guy Who Already Has a Wool-Cashmere Jersey Mockneck Sweater?

Jason Polan--a frequent contributor to Poor Mojo's Almanac(k) and the...

November 22, 2009

Lord Byron, patron saint of ass-kicking

Lord Byron: The eXile’s Patron Saint - By John Dolan - The eXiled This is a fascinating article that compares (somewhat) life in modern, moralistic, fear-gripped, post-9/11 America to life in early 19th-century, moralistic, fear-gripped, post-French Revolution England. This is done as a call for a new Byron to step up and kick ass.
. . . Byron mentioned the slaughter of 1798, attacking the PM, Castlereagh, for “dabbling [his] sleek young hands in Erin’s gore” and, as Pope would have recommended, delivering an extra kick to his enemy’s corpse in this epitaph: “Posterity will never survey a nobler grave than this: here lie the bones of Castlereagh: stop, traveler, and piss.” That’s the formula Byron worked out for beating the Victorians: keep it low and funny, never flinch, and never stop kicking as hard as you can. He knew that the Victorians, like our Bush-leaguers, could not bear the notion of a world populated by grownups who fucked and laughed. So, at every possible opportunity, Byron counterposed his world to theirs: sexy where the Lakers were determinedly pre-pubescent, Continental where they were fiercely insular, facetious where they were hopelessly earnest. Like our hick commissars, Wordsworth and his boys lived in the shadow of a great fire: the French Revolution. And like our hicks, they got it totally wrong. Instead of realizing that no heads ever deserved to roll more than those lopped by the so-called Terror, these pig-ignorant xenophobes developed a sudden case of compassion for the basketheads and started the deploring industry which is still going strong. Like Byron, they showed their allegiances in their choice of real estate.

November 21, 2009

The Stephen King review of the new Raymond Carver biography is absolutely brutal

Raymond Carver’s Life and Stories - Review - NYTimes.com Here is a sample, but please read the whole thing. The bits about how his editor mangled (or improved) his work are shocking. Fun fact: Did you know that once during an alcohol-fueled rage Carver opened his wife's jugular with a broken wine bottle?
And until mid-1977, Raymond Carver was out of control. While teaching at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he and John Cheever became drinking buddies. “He and I did nothing but drink,” Carver said of the fall semester of 1973. “I don’t think either of us ever took the covers off our typewriters.” Because Cheever had no car, Carver provided transportation on their twice-weekly booze runs. They liked to arrive at the liquor store just as the clerk was unlocking for the day. Cheever noted in his journal that Carver was “a very kind man.” He was also an irresponsible boozehound who habitually ran out on the check in restaurants, even though he must have known it was the waitress who had to pay the bill for such dine-and-dash customers. His wife, after all, often waited tables to support him.