Literary Review en Dudeness Is <span>Dudeness Is</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>April 10, 2019 - 08:15</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/literary" hreflang="en">Literary Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/779" hreflang="en">essay</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-center"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="812" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-04/star-dude.png?itok=UYf9CE0h" title="star-dude.png" typeof="foaf:Image" width="665" /></article><figcaption>Photo Credit: d. Bindi</figcaption></figure><p>"My dad's a cooler dude than your dad!" bragged my ten-year-old daughter Mina to one of her friends on her phone.</p> <p>Wot? I'm a dad and a dude? Hey, that's pretty cool. I still play music, but I thought Quincy Jones was "the dude." After all, he did release an album in the '80s called <em>The Dude</em>. But where did my daughter pick this "dude" tag up? From my wife? (Doubtful, she might not have married me if she believed I was a dude.) Probably from the Scooby Doo cartoons we watch together. Or from her older brother and his crazed sidewalk skateboard pals in our 'hood. Or maybe she caught <em>The Big Lebowski</em> at her one of her friend's apartments.</p> <p>In the end it didn't matter, 'cuz I suddenly became obsessed with defining what makes a guy a dude. And more importantly, did I possess any of the dude DNA? </p> <p>Fast forward...</p> <p>"Hey, dude!" I grimaced, turned, and saw two tanned, healthy young men in their late teens in baggy, neon surf gear fist-punch each other and continue their conversation. I shuddered and continued reading my morning paper in some nondescript restaurant in Venice Beach. I was on the West Coast for my friend's wedding and a little business, away from the comfort and sanity of my family and home in New York City. Five days into my excursion had left me weak for good deli and something other than surfer lingo.</p> <p>This dude thing had reached critical mass. Dudes everywhere were chasing me. Even on the radio as David Bowie's early '70s anthem, "All the Young Dudes" blasted from my rental car's speakers.</p> <p>Malibu, Huntington, the Valley, and San Diego -- the entire Pacific Coast was crawling with them. From Sunset Strip to the Santa Monica Pier, I couldn't travel anywhere without hearing that word.</p> <p>I decided to query my waitress about this dude thing; after all, she'd been talking to the two surfers.</p> <p>Much to my dismay she said she didn't know much about it, but volunteered that her friend Buddy "probably-definitely qualified as an expert dood."</p> <p>Buddy!?! Now there was a name I could appreciate. Love to meet the folks that decided that was a proper given name for a dude child. Come on. Nonetheless, if I were going to hack free this albatross clinging around my neck I'd have to confront the enemy, regardless of the consequences.</p> <p>I assumed that by polling people I'd reach a coherent working definition. And, perhaps in some delusional manner, determine if I fit the dude criteria for dude-dom.</p> <p>Over the next couple of weeks I randomly put forth the question -- "What is a dude?" -- to countless folks everywhere. From Los Angeles to Ohio to New York, I left them to ponder.</p> <p>Once I settled back in New York, I would collect the data and hopefully piece things together. (And keep in mind this was without any government subsidized art program backing me.)</p> <p>Much to my amazement, as I started to assemble this mythical character I discovered all sorts of shared qualities. And more often that not, these qualities were universals. So much so that the West Coast surfer had more in common with the East Coast Harlem tough guy than either would care to acknowledge.</p> <p>If you asked the average person on the street to bridge such seemingly opposites, it's doubtful they could find any common bonding material. Yet there existed essential elements that were easily interchangeable between characters as diverse as the Silver Surfer and/or Shaft.</p> <p>For starters, all dudes emanate a particular sensibility, lifestyle, and attitude. They neither wallow in squalor nor swim in ostentatiousness. And most importantly, they always remain righteously true to themselves first. Moreover, when possible, they seek out the truth, whether commandeering a woman to her full feminine sensuality or shooting the perfect game of billiards with their peers.</p> <p>I examined my past. Did I encounter any such beings while growing up in Ohio?</p> <p>Maybe they were the characters we referred to in school as "cool."</p> <p>If that was the case, I remember one of my classmates in elementary school definitely fit the profile. His name was Jeff Thompson. And come to think of it, he did possess a certain something, although I'd bet our teacher felt he was a troublemaker. But I don't ever recall him actually causing trouble. (He never started any wastepaper basket fires, but he did boast of masturbating at a prepubescent age.) He just seemed bigger than life.</p> <p>It is possible that dudes, in the purest sense, represent the essence of individuality. They don't copy anyone else. They don't dress like anyone else. They don't sound like anyone else. They exist within all dimensions of popular culture without being too trendy or too stylish. Just look at James Bond and all the leading men he's endured. While the Scotsman Sean Connery (image above) remains the quintessential dude amongst the Bond actors, Daniel Craig (trailer below) has breathed a much-needed dudeness into the contemporary 007 legacy. (Check out Sir Connery in Goldfinger!)</p> <p>A real dude lives on the cutting edge, taking his life in new directions daily while the rest of us just try to keep up with his predestined course. Again, who else but 007 could single-handedly save the world defeating evil in the catacombs of Rome and, in the next moment, sit with the Queen looking unhassled, relaxed, and fabulous.</p> <p>A true dude is free of ego and all of the destructive elements associated with it. He would never say, "Hey, baby, look at me, am I not the most dynamic fella you've ever encountered?" He doesn't have to announce his own self-worth. Those around him will usually do it for him.</p> <p>A real dude doesn't aspire to anything except being at ease with himself. Whether he's feeding ducks in a pond or strolling in a summer rainstorm without an umbrella, nothing is too banal about experiencing the simple side of life.</p> <p>As stated, he is a guy who embodies many desirable qualities. Many folks view him as dangerous, aloof, coy, cute, clever, charming, tough, handsome, endearing, righteous, free, timeless, spiritual, and true.</p> <p>He is not necessarily the most handsome or the most spiritual, but rather the perfect blend of all these qualities. He may be a hero to some and provoke envy in others. And this depends on the individual's perception.</p> <p>Who else but a dude would even attempt surfing a thirty-foot wave and pull it off and ride it all the way to the shore?</p> <p>He doesn't hide behind his clothes. He's got his own style. Check out any cool urban movie, like Shaft or Superfly, to highlight this point. Do you honestly think that rapper Snoop Dogg would have graced Starsky &amp; Hutch without some serious cuts? Or that Curtis Mayfield would've wasted his time writing the theme song for anything less then a perfect dude-heavy flick like Superfly? Ditto for Isaac Hayes and the very righteous Shaft.</p> <p>Anything a true dude wears merely adds to his totality, whether he's chillin' in his tattered old button-fly denims at a BBQ during the day or playing baccarat in his tailor-made tux in Monaco at midnight.</p> <p>A real dude is not without emotion, though many people may be fooled by his leather-tough shell. But once you get beyond his veil of 'tude, you'll find a soft side underneath.</p> <p>He could be cheering for his favorite baseball team on Saturday and crying over the beauty of his sister's newborn baby on Sunday. Moreover, it's not the silly vibe of Ashton Kutcher in <em>Dude, Where's My Car? </em>It's the cool "abide" of Jeff Bridges in the Coen Brothers' epic dude paean <em>The Big Lebowski</em>.</p> <p>So there I was, left with a much broader understanding of what a dude was, is, and probably will always be.</p> <p>Did I possess any of that stuff? Since I've never surfed, this prevented me from drawing any relevance from the beach scene. And I've never been known as a tough street guy, even though as a kid I played two-hand touch football in the street in Akron, Ohio.</p> <p>Yet, I always felt I could be engaging, even when people feigned interest in my opinion. And most of my closest male friends agreed that all guys were "dudish" from time to time. So I guess I could be, too.</p> <p>Maybe all you needed to do was borrow a little -- "Bond, James Bond" -- from time to time. You know, you've been milling about some boring social function when your gaze meets some femme fatale trapped in some mindless chatter with some oafish chap. You imagine yourself offering her an expensive glass of champagne from a bottle you've hidden in the kitchen from the rest of the party. It's got to be better than the designer drink this affable clown offered her. Now if you only had the balls to approach her, maybe you could fulfill your fantasy.</p> <p>Nonetheless, my observations lead me to one universal conclusion:</p> <p>He represents the quintessential man -- a total Utopian state of malehood. Moreover, he is the apex of perfection in man; perfection that no man will ever reach. And he always abides by being truly comfortable with himself in each and every situation in his life.</p> <p>If Adam was the first dude, does that make Jesus the perfect dude?</p> <p>Country dude Kris Kristofferson thought so and even wrote a very dude-worthy song about him called "Jesus Was a Capricorn." Besides, who would argue with Kris, as he's still one of coolest older dudes on the planet.</p> <p>But what about Or Krishna? Or Buddha? Or Muhammad? Or Ghandi? </p> <p>Or your favorite teacher? </p> <p>And what about Dads? Can they be dudes, too?</p> <p>Sure. Just ask my daughter.</p> <p>As for dudettes? Well, that's another story. Best check with my wife.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3841&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="AfC0M5_LuSKB0XFcaqv3ukIzLOAo2Mg0lQ0wtvOXQts"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 10 Apr 2019 12:15:13 +0000 Dusty Wright 3841 at Happy Halloween 2018! <span>Happy Halloween 2018!</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>October 30, 2018 - 20:56</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/literary" hreflang="en">Literary Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/614" hreflang="en">short story</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="1600" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-04/tree-legend.png?itok=kEcoOKIW" title="tree-legend.png" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Photo credit: Dusty Wright</figcaption></figure><p><em>The Legend of The Sassafras Monster</em></p> <p>Native Americans -- like many indigenous cultures -- believe in the spirits of nature and so the natural world inspires them. It would come to pass that many, if not most of their myths and legends would been passed down and ingested by "white" settlers who decided it was easier to conquer "Native Americans" then co-exist in their natural world. And with any myth or legend, sometimes the facts get twisted and  turned into something that the original story teller, or witness as it may have been, never intended to share with anyone else for fear that the myth or story would become true. Such was the "myth of the Sassafras Monster." But I digress... one must first understand that this story starts with nature and in particular a tree -- the sassafras albidum also called Ague Tree. A species of Sassafras tree native to eastern North America, from southern Maine and southern Ontario west to Iowa, and south to central Florida and eastern Texas. It occurs throughout the eastern deciduous forest habitat type, at altitudes of sea level up to 1,500 m. It's aromatic leaf, bark and root are used as a flavoring, used in traditional home medicine, and as a tea. It was once used to flavor root beer, too. And for certain Native American tribe, it was part of their sacred rituals. It was believed that essence of sassafras could bring health and wellness and offer safe passage during certain "manhood" rituals. And this is where my "monster" story begins.</p> <p>I grew up in Northeast Ohio and heard about the Sassafras "monster" from my Grandfather Mac, my mom's father. He had heard about the "monster" from his grandfather who had fought alongside some of the Chippewa during the Civil War. One of the Chippewa braves had heard about a strange ritual from his father who was a member of the tribe where the legend began.</p> <p>Grandpa Mac told my brother David and I the story one dark and stormy Halloween eve. I had just turned thirteen and my younger sibling was ten.</p> <p>The year was 1777, a year removed from 1776 and the new Americans "declaration of independence" from their British tormentors; it was the first year of nationhood. The country was giddy with the future. But what of our Native American brothers and sisters? How would it impact their daily lives, their rituals, their journey? What would become of their freedoms?</p> <p>It was late spring during the month of May. Outside a small village in Ohio, on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, a river very much needed by the Chippewa (Ojibwe) tribe for their livelihood. It was not only their fresh water supply, but it was bountiful with fish and fowl. It also served as part of a young brave's rite-of-passage manhood ritual. For example, in many Native American cultures, the transition is often ceremonial, featuring some feat of bravery or strength against pain, such as success in a first hunt, or surviving painful tattooing or piercing. But the Chippewa's "Vision Quest" / Right of Passage was something that could provoke fear even from the older braves that had endured the ritual many decades previous. Just as important as the quest, the young Native American boys were forbidden to share their "journey" with any of the other boys about their experience for the rest of their lives. Only the elders were permitted to discuss things with them.</p> <p>During the typical vision quest, a young boy fasts, prays, and seeks his spirit helper which usually presents itself as an animal, and which becomes the young boy's lifelong aide and guide. In some places, vision quests are supervised by, or discussed afterwards, with elders. Many tribes would include local terrain -- hidden caves, small islands in the middle of lakes, remote wooded areas removed from their tribe's camp -- as part of the vision quest. The Chippewas favored a certain tree indigenous to the region of their river and water camps. The mighty sassafras. It was that genus of tree that was included in their "brave" ritual. Legend has it that a young brave-to-be was strapped to the trunk of the largest sassafras tree found many, many miles from their camp. And <i>only</i> on a "new" moon night. The darkest night of the lunar cycle.</p> <p>In the early dawn light of one of the darkest days of a late spring day in May a young Chippewa boy known as Broken Tooth from the Sandy Lake Chippewa tribe and son of Biauswah, the chief of the Sandy Lake <a href="">Chippewa</a>, was summoned before his people. Today he would begin his journey into adulthood and the beginning of his quest to become a "brave." He was led from the camp by a "guide" --  Ahmik  (aka Beaver) -- with only a few meager provisions for their two-day long journey into the thickest and darkest region of a heavy forest far from the safety of their encampment. That thick forest could spook even the bravest Chippewa as many believed that the "lost" ghosts of their ancestors and spirit beasts haunted that forest.</p> <p>When the young brave was far enough away from their teepees, his "guide" would locate the biggest sassafras tree he could find and at dusk lash the young pre-teenager to the trunk of the tree. He would be left alone for the entire evening, left alone to summon his spirit animal for protection from the ghosts and real life predators (bears, mountain lions, etc.) roaming the forest. A fire was built to help illuminate the area and to keep any feral beasts away. Moreover, the fire also helped the nearby guide navigate the darkness of the forest if he needed to "assist" the young brave-in-training especially if he heard a cry for help.<b> </b>Rare that a guide was ever summoned as that could have been construed as a sign of weakness during a rite of passage.</p> <p>But on this particular vision quest, only an hour from daybreak, a faint cry from Broken Tooth was heard by his guide Ahmik. Startled, Ahmik cautiously made his way towards the "tree" in case a bear might be lurking nearby. Imagine his shock when he arrived at the tree just as dawn was starting to rise and Broken Tooth was not there. Yet the twine that had lashed Broken Tooth to the trunk of that massive tree remained tight and unbound. It was if the young teen had been swallowed whole by the sassafras for nourishment. The tree's knotted face looked down on the brave as though it was smiling at him; holding some dark satisfying secret.</p> <p>Broken Tooth's body was never found, ever. Not a trace. Ahmik was convinced that the sassafras had indeed consumed Broken Tooth. And that his soul was damned to haunt that forest for eternity! In fact, that tree was never used for any Chippewa rituals ever again. And before the year was out most of his tribe fell victim to a smallpox outbreak that would wipe them out. The few who survived were convinced that a Broken Tooth Sassafras curse caused their demise.</p> <p>For my tough-as-nails grandfather Mac that "tale" provoked a rising curiosity and a need to test his own mettle, try his hand at self-exiled bravery. It was a hot summer morning in August 1913, a new moon loomed after dusk. He convinced some of his young teenage friends to go camping at an old hunter's camp near Chippewa Lake in northeast Ohio. It was a magical place that his father had brought him to a few years before to go deer hunting. On the hike out to the camping site he shared the "Broken Tooth" story with his cocky pre-pubescent friends. They were in no mood for make-believe, but they still remained intrigued by the promise of testing their "manhood." One in particular, the toughest of the lot -- Colin O'Hurley -- taunted the group that it was all a myth and that my grandfather was looking to prank them. But Grandfather Mac remained steadfast and threw it back at Colin, stating that he was "probably too chicken to be lashed to a mighty sassafras tree on this moonless night." The other boys joined in and dared Colin to take the "sassafras" challenge. If he was indeed the toughest amongst them, he would certainly let them tie him to a sassafras in the middle of the woods. Colin laughed them off, stating it would be easy-peasy.</p> <p>After finally arriving at the old cabin the boys quickly set up their temporary camp -- built a fire, spread out their sleeping bags, smoked some cigarettes, ate some beans from a can, and started teasing Colin about tying him up. Mac pulled out some clothing line rope from his rumsack and smiled menacingly at Colin. As there was still a few hours of summer daylight, Mac suggested they hike a few miles down from the cabin near an old abandoned stone quarry tucked away in a wooded area. He was certain the quarry would be lined by a few dozen sassafras trees! The boys pressed Colin until he finally agreed.</p> <p>They couldn't wait to tie up the cocky Colin and leave him to "satisfy the hunger of the sassafras monster." They built a fire for their friend, teased him some more about wetting himself in the middle of the night, lashed him to the tree, and left their friend all alone in the fading dusk light.</p> <p>They laughed and joked all the way back to the cabin, certain that Colin would be taught a lesson, knock his ego down a few pegs...</p> <p>In the wee hours of dawn the boys awoke in the cabin, quickly got dressed, and set off to "rescue" Colin. But a pea soup-thick fog had descended over the wooded region and it hindered their ability to travel with speed and ease. From their approaching vantage they could barely make out which sassafras tree that had been used. Pressing on they finally spotted that beastly tree. But they could not make out if the ropes still entwined their brave comrade. As they stumbled forward they yelped for Colin, announcing their arrival. Suddenly some faint moaning could be heard and the noise stopped the boys cold in their tracks. They cautiously moved towards tree. A few weak embers glowed in the remaining ashes of the fire that had built the night before.</p> <p>As they circled towards the front of the tree, they stopped dead in their tracks...</p> <p>The ropes clung tightly to the trunk of the sassafras tree yet their beloved comrade was gone! They were stunned. They started screaming for him. But Mac was frozen. His mind racing. Could it be true? Was Colin swallowed by that hideous tree?</p> <p>They searched that quarry and surrounding forest for most of the day calling out for their "brave" friend, praying he might be hiding from them. That he had somehow pulled the most amazing prank of all. When it became apparent that he could not be found the boys returned to their cabin and nervously agreed that they would have to summon help. They quickly packed and hiked to the local sheriff's office. Thinking it was all a hoax the sherif was slow to respond to their search and rescue request. But ultimately search parties were deployed and once the local authorities realized that their friend was indeed missing a call was put into the local FBI field office to investigate Colin's disappearance. Mac and his friends were all subjected to heavy interrogation, too. But the boys never deviated from their story. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, but alas no clues to Colin's disappearance were ever uncovered.</p> <p>A year later Colin's parents held an empty casket service for their missing son. The boys were devastated.</p> <p>Colin's case remains unsolved to this day. In the end everyone who'd gone camping on that tragic night believed that the "sassafras monster" must have swallowed their friend and that his restless spirit still haunts the forest around Chippewa Lake.</p> <p>Regardless of the veracity of the myth, I shudder every time a new moon descends upon the land. And I never venture into a forest were a sassafras tree might be looming. Especially on a new moon night!</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3788&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="8-Q4o7quWFtOjKrm1Z5tnOFQYf5_QQwyIxBdjGtkNH4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 31 Oct 2018 00:56:30 +0000 Dusty Wright 3788 at Class Distinction <span>Class Distinction</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>December 16, 2017 - 02:09</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/literary" hreflang="en">Literary Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/761" hreflang="en">science fiction</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity align-center"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2018/2018-06/dispossessed.jpg?itok=Na_Xh5rT" width="430" height="648" alt="Thumbnail" title="dispossessed.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>The concept of ownership -- items, people, ideas -- is the heart of master storyteller Ursula Le Guinn’s 1975 masterwork <em>The Dispossessed</em>. Winner of the Nebula and Hugo awards, the highest lliterary awards for science fiction writers, this story transcends that genre’s boundaries. It is a story of a man Shevek, a physicist/anarchist, from the arid and socialistic planet Anarres who creates The Principle of Simultaneity -- instantaneous communication -- something that will revolutionize interstellar communication between all worlds. This is a tome about philosophical and ideological differences and how one views what is truly the best utopian society or how two neighboring planets occupied by anarchists and capitalists view/exploit Shevek's discovery.</p> <p>The book's narrative timeline is non-linear, so one may feel compelled to reread certain passages or chapters, but once you understand the author's intention and cadence the rewards of the narrative will unfurl in perfect order. In fact, I reread the opening chapter several times to unlock a deeper understanding of the protagonist's predicament. <!--break-->When Shevek travels to the sister planet of Urras hoping to share his discovery, away from the grips of jealous and fearful colleagues, he comes to understand that utopian ideas and political systems all must deal with "ego" for better or worse. Jealousy is also an issue when ego takes over. And power most always corrupts, even in the most benevolent societies. Moreover, enslavement can be both physical and spiritual, and material possessions can just as easily enslave a society as political despots. </p> <p>Buy and read this book and her other classic novels <em>The Lathe of Heaven</em> and <em>The Left Hand of Darkness</em>. You will be handsomely rewarded.</p> </div> <section> </section> Sat, 16 Dec 2017 07:09:59 +0000 Dusty Wright 3652 at Walk on the Wilder Side <span>Walk on the Wilder Side</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>September 13, 2017 - 07:37</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/literary" hreflang="en">Literary Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/768" hreflang="en">non-fiction</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div> <p> </p> <p><em>Lou Reed: A Life</em></p> </div> <div>Anthony DeCurtis (Little, Brown and Company)</div> <div> </div> <p>Lou Reed has to be one of the most audacious and iconic rockers to have committed his dark muses to his music and poetry. And writer/professor Anthony DeCurtis's new must-read bio of Mr. Reed perfectly captures the ethos of this misanthropic rocker. Let's be clear, Lou's outrageous life story is truly stranger than fiction. But then again, so are many of our most celebrated artists, especially those who not only create but also live on the edge/fringe of society, pushing their artistic vision on, for the most part, a rather pedestrian audience.</p> <p>From Lou's humble middle-class upbringing on Long Island that included his life altering electro-shock treatments to his dying breath, his life was filled with passion and for pushing people, fans and critics alike, to explore the darker side of life; to if not to "walk on the wild side," at least explore it. Make no mistake, Lou's work was groundbreaking. His art-rock band The Velvet Underground remains one of the most influential bands ever. The music is timeless, the subject matter startling and disturbing; it's easy to understand why many consider them the true originators of the entire alt-rock genre.</p> <!--break--> <p>Mr. DeCurtis was one of the few critics that Lou actually respected. To his credit, he's dug deep. He's interviewed Lou's childhood friends, past lovers and wives, former managers, many of the musicians he played with, <em>et al</em>. In doing so, he exposes how Lou operated -- how he created his music, how he lived his life, who he deeply loved, and how he maintained his artistic vision until his final days. Most Lou fans know of his relationship with his Syracuse University mentor and creative writing professor Delmore Schwartz, but who knew that Lou had pet dachshunds? That he loved doo wop music. Or that he was a hopeless romantic and, even at his worst social behaviour, longed to maintain a sense of "home" life with a "wife" when he wasn't on stage. I didni't know that Lou's cherished transsexual lover Rachel was referred to as "Lou's babysitter" by those close to him.</p> <p>Long Island lawyer Alan Hyman, one of his oldest friends and the drummer in his college band L.A. and the Eldorados, states, "One of the things about my relationship with him is that he liked to shock me. He really liked to say provocative things and see what my reaction would be." That would certainly define Lou for the rest of his days. Five decades earlier, songs such as "Heroin," "Waiting for My Man," or "Walk on the Wild Side" were obviousily shocking when they were released. And yet five decades later, those lyrics and music can still produce strong reactions. In fact, few rock bands today are this bold and dynamic. In today's sanitized PC culture, one would have to look at rap music to witness such brutal honesty. </p> <p>Lou Reed had a very "rich" life, and Mr. DeCurtis shares just how remarkably rich it was.</p> </div> <section> </section> Wed, 13 Sep 2017 11:37:10 +0000 Dusty Wright 3623 at Wicked Wilson! <span>Wicked Wilson!</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>May 15, 2017 - 11:27</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/literary" hreflang="en">Literary Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/112" hreflang="en">book review</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/430" hreflang="en">Tony Fletcher</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/431" hreflang="en">Wilson Pickett</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src=";start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <div><em>In the Midnight Hour: The Life &amp; Soul of Wilson Pickett </em>(Oxford University Press)</div> <div>Tony Fletcher</div> <div> </div> <p>The art of writing bios is no easy feat, but for British-born/NY-based scribe <a href="" target="_blank">Tony Fletcher</a>, well, he makes it seem all so easy even though his research is exhaustive. His bios on R.E.M (<em>Remarks Remade - The Story of R.E.M.</em>), Keith Moon (<em>Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon</em>), The Smiths (<em>A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths, </em>to name but a few, are must-reads. His latest on the turbulent life of R&amp;B legend Wilson Pickett -- <em>In the Midnight Hour: The Life &amp; Soul of Wilson Pickett</em> -- may be his best yet. </p> <!--break--> <p>For the charismatic '60s crossover icon "Wicked" Wilson Pickett, Fletcher pulls no punches with interviews with his family, business partners, musicians, etc., to shed light on his troubled legacy. Amazingly, this is the first-ever bio on the R&amp;B maverick who had some 50 Billboard charting songs, including well-known hits like "Mustang Sally," "In the Midnight Hour," "Land of 1000 Dances," "634-5789," and "Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You." The book lays bare in detail Wilson's troubled soul and how he let his over-consumption of life, all the good and bad, leech into his own personal life causing stress and strife for all who entered his orbit. </p> <p>The book also serves as a social commentary -- civil rights movement, the rise and crossover of R&amp;B music -- of a certain era and for those of us who remember that time period it comes as no surprise. And if you're a guitarist, what a treat to learn about all the amazing musicians who played on his records. Greats like Steve Cropper, Reggie Young, Duane Allman(!), Bobby Womack (who co-wrote songs with him), the very funky Dennis Coffey (wah-wah on The Temptations' "Psychedelic Shack," et al.); even NYC-based guitar hero Marc Ribot, a Tom Waits staple, toured with him in the '80s. But towards the end of his life, the Rock 'n' Roll Hal of Famer would succumb to the demons that fueled his life, spend time in jail, find religion (again), and suffer health problems. Pickett would eventually succumb to a heart attack in early January 2006 at the age of 64. Thankfully, Mr. Fletcher has documented his numerous conquests as well as his failures in this most-excellent bio. </p> <p>Check Tony's <a href="" target="_blank">website</a> for upcoming readings/events and new offerings. </p> </div> <section> </section> Mon, 15 May 2017 15:27:46 +0000 Dusty Wright 3573 at The Street Writing Man <span>The Street Writing Man</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/460" lang="" about="/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>March 5, 2016 - 11:35</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/literary" hreflang="en">Literary Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Tony Warren 8th July 1936-1st March 2016</p> <blockquote> <p>"The first <em>Coronation Street</em> writing team contained some of the biggest homophobes I've ever met. I remember getting on my feet in a story conference and saying: 'Gentlemen, I have sat here for two-and-a-half hours and listened to three poof jokes, a storyline dismissed as poofy, and an actor described as 'useless as he's a poof'. As a matter of fact, he isn't! but I would like to point out that I am, and without a poof none of you would be in work today.'"</p> </blockquote> <p>So reflected the writer and television dramatist Tony Warren on his early uphill, but routine struggle with homophobia of late 1950s Britain. It was a brave and brazen stance given that homosexuality was still illegal. He also stated later that "the outsider sees more, hears more, and has to remember more to survive" and that in those days if you were gay you needed to be three times better than your competitors in order to succeed.</p> <!--break--> <p>Tony Warren was by nature both homosexual and an observer in a world that sought to exclude, persecute and ridicule him and his kind. I saw him once in the 1990s address the crowds in Sackville Park Manchester during the gay Mardi Gras. With genuine emotion in his voice he stated that in 1964 'If I even dared to hold the hand of a friend I would have been arrested and now here I am looking out at thousands of you doing just that.' He hadn't changed but the world around him certainly had.</p> <p>Innovators are all too quickly absorbed into the mainstream they once challenged. It is hard to believe how ground breaking his proposal for a television drama set in a small street bookended by a public house and a corner shop actually was. Britain in the '50s had been staunchly middle class, a drawing room or stately home tableau dominated the stage and burgeoning medium of television. Warren wasn't an angry young man, but his position from the margins made him a determined one. By the sheer force of his drive and personality, this child actor turned knitting pattern model turned children's dramatist, succeeded in getting the provisionally titled <em>Florizel Street</em> commissioned and the set built in the winter of 1960, for the thirteen episodes he had penned. It became <em>Coronation Street</em> the longest running soap opera in the world, fifty six years and counting, and a blueprint influence on countless generations of actors and writers. It broke the mould but created a larger &amp; more realistic one.</p> <p>What made it all the more unusual, apart from it's suburban setting, was it's instantly recognisable population of strong, eccentric and at times terrifying women. There was Ena Sharples, the sharp old battle axe played by the redoubtable Violet Carson in a hairnet, and with a face like a very angry bag of spanners who frequently clashed with the glamorously common Elsie Tanner, who being no better than she ought to be and having a shining heart of pure but vulnerable brass. They in their turn experienced the withering wrath of Annie Walker, the haughty landlady of the pub who harboured hotel-like aspirations, but was riddled with all the insecurities of her desire to reach beyond her social confinement. She was wonderfully realised by Doris Speed, a fright in real life, the typical drag dragon woman with a penchant for leopard print. These actresses are now long dead, but they inhabit the collective memory as the archetypes the so brilliantly represented, a testament to Warren's insight, and eye for detail and pathos.</p> <p>A child of wartime, Warren was brought up by a regiment of women abandoned by husbands who'd enlisted. From his viewpoint under the table he'd listen to these ordinary viragos discuss their worries and their woes, absorbing their mannerisms and gestures. He once told me he'd based Mrs Sharples on his grandmother who was a fierce lady because she hadn't been born beautiful, and there-in lay the grit of her character and the seed for a dramatic pearl. Warren adored women, he felt comfortable with them which is precisely why his creations rang true, but with great success came immense pressure. He found it difficult relinquishing his creation to a committee of script writers, and drink and drugs became the crutches that would ultimately fail him, and when they did he fled to a hippy commune in San Francisco, only cropping up in sensationalised tabloid reports in the English press for the depth of his drunken downfall. It seemed that this talented architect of tragedy and amusement was lazily scripting his own chaotic demise, but the against all the odds of negative expectations, he got sober, and amazingly maintained it for the rest of his life.</p> <p>By the 1990s he was back at Granada Television as a consultant to <em>Coronation Street</em> and in that decade penned four hugely successful novels. His next project was to be his autobiography, a warts and all confection that would detail his affair with Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager, and feature walk on parts from Noel Coward, Burt Bacharach, and Sir John Betjeman, the poet laureate who in his final years of dotage regarded the soap opera characters as real people bemoaning to Tony his sadness at the trials and tribulations Hilda Ogden was having with her work-shy husband Stan. Alas the warts proved too taxing, he found the process of excavating the details of his often painfully eventful life distressing and the project begun with his usual boyish gusto, was quickly abandoned.</p> <p>I was with him the night he met the singer Morrissey at a Waterstones book-store event for Michael Bracewell's <em>Englands Dreaming</em>. At one point I could see him scrutinizing Bracewell in his rather quizzical way. The object of his gaze was wearing an old dress shirt which in it's day would have had the cuffs restrained by links, but on this evening they were distractingly flapping around the wrists of their languid, gesturing wearer, which was no doubt the desired impression. Tony leant across and whispered: "What's the score with Michael Bracewell?" and after my expression of uncertainty, he sniffed as an aside "Only a bi-sexual could dress that badly!" He was more forgiving and kindly about his encounter with Morrissey, a major <em>Coronation Street</em> devotee, observing that he's been surprisingly down to earth and nothing like he'd imagined.</p> <p>Tony Warren was made an MBE in 1994, and his life was dramatized by the BBC in the play <em>The Road To Coronation Street</em> to mark fifty years of the series. In 2008 he was the recipient of an honorary degree from Manchester Metropolitan University for his achievements in television and creative writing. He even had a building named after him in Media City. He lived long enough to be thus venerated, but would have disputed any attempt to apply the term venerable. A witty, modest man who viewed the world with a sense of bemused resignation, he became a part of the mainstream, still observing it astutely from the wings.</p> </div> <section> </section> Sat, 05 Mar 2016 16:35:54 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3384 at The Castle of Quibbling <span>The Castle of Quibbling</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>November 10, 2005 - 13:43</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/literary" hreflang="en">Literary Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/612" hreflang="en">fiction</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> </p> <p><img align="left" alt="fortress.jpg" height="225" src="/sites/default/files/images/fortress.jpg" style="float:left" width="150" />I have found the task of reading Jonathan Lethem's wonderful coming-of-age novel <i>The Fortress of Solitude</i> a love/hate thing. I've taken my sweet ol' time (it was released two years ago), and while I loathe taking as long as I have, I've enjoyed the journey. Truly a journey of growth and maturity for white boy Dylan Ebdus, the protagonist, and his African-American friend Mingus Rude, two motherless boys left afloat in the tough neighborhood of Dean Street in Brooklyn.</p> <p>Hailed by critics here and abroad, Mr. Lethem constructed a very tight, wonderfully colorful narrative about life in New York in the '70s. But I must take issue with a rock 'n' roll reference that is not entirely accurate. And for a novel with so many important pop culture references -- from Marvel comic books to the birth of hip-hop -- his editors should have caught this glaring <i>faux pas</i>.<!--break--></p> <p>Perhaps they're young and don't appreciate the subtle shades of gray in pop music. Now before you start whining that I'm being harsh, consider the task of the main protagonist in the book. If the narrator were sloppy and na<i>i</i>ve, all would be forgiven, but he isn't. He inhabits his music and his pop culture. Lethem does as well. I've delighted in his use of lyrics, songs, and real band references throughout.</p> <p>There's a wonderful reference to one of my favorite young unsigned NYC bands from that time period, Miller Miller Miller &amp; Sloan, a hip, funky, white-boy rock stew that featured three Miller brothers and a Sloan. I often wondered if they opened an accounting firm. And that makes the novel all the more enjoyable from both nostalgia and ego-tripping perspectives for me, cuz I grew up in the '60s/'70s and fed on much of same pop culture that Dylan Ebdus ingests in the novel.</p> <blockquote> <p>"<i>Once it arrived it was obvious, had a common name already known: punk. Or New Wave. They were related strands: Sex Pistols, Talking Heads, Cheap Trick."</i></p> </blockquote> <p>I don't know about you, but I never considered Cheap Trick a New Wave band, certainly not Punk. Moreover, I never thought Dire Straits were a New Wave band either, although they both released albums around the same time. They were both rock 'n' roll bands.</p> <p>Talking Heads were New Wave. They even went to art school (RISD) though that's not the entire reason for their New Wave stance. Devo were New Wave. Ditto for Pere Ubu and Joy Division. These were bands that reinterpreted rock music. Cheap Trick wore their rock references proudly on their sleeves and they became FM fodder over the course of the next few years because of it.</p> <p>Cheap Trick was America's answer to early Brit Pop with tons of Beatles and Who references. Tom Peterssen and guitarist Rick Nielsen had been in the band Fuse together since the late '60s. They were rock 'n' rollers, nothing Punk nor New Wave about it.</p> <p>Go ahead and do a "New Wave and Cheap Trick" Google search and see the results for yourself. Most often you'll find reviews of The New Pornographers, an alt-pop band that many of the critics on this site love. But regardless of this tiny misstep in the book, if you've yet to discover it, you'll certainly enjoy <i>Fortress</i>. Now I just need to finish it without incident and I will have accomplished a major feat (see my previous piece, <i>Redwalls and Rice</i>).</p> </div> <section> <a id="comment-18"></a> <article data-comment-user-id="101" class="js-comment"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1557076779"></mark> <div> <h3><a href="/comment/18#comment-18" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">Where are us now?</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Hi -- This be Dan from MMM&amp;S, my cousin sent me this link. Thanks for getting Blake's name right ("Sloan" without the e -- I should correct Jon, but he's been such a fan, I don't have the heart...) Satisfy your musical curiosity -- two Millers were involved (Mike heads it up, Dan did the strings &amp; horns):</p> <p></p> <p>For those who may care: Barney led up Astro Chicken, they made some great records. Now he runs Company X Media in NYC.</p> <p> Dan stated a software company (</p> <p>Blake programs computers in LA.</p> <p>Mike owns a computer (Mac, duh!). </p> <p>Mom is remarried, for those who remember. P.O.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=18&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="jVhirhDd91eC6XV9WsQl4PLehFgKsOgX9j8i4FgvScs"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/index.php/user/101"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/index.php/user/101"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/extra_small/public/default_images/avatar.png?itok=RF-fAyOX" width="50" height="50" alt="Generic Profile Avatar Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> <p>Submitted by <a title="View user profile." href="/user/101" lang="" about="/user/101" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">danbmil999</a> on January 7, 2006 - 03:58</p> </footer> </article> <div class="indented"><a id="comment-19"></a> <article data-comment-user-id="2" class="js-comment"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1136890577"></mark> <div> <h3><a href="/comment/19#comment-19" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">NSO</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Dan,</p> <p>Thanks for the update. Let CC know when you're playing again and we'll come down and cheer you on. And probably throw up a review, too.</p> <p>Dusty</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=19&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="pFM0YP_kPDKouK2EtUL6FOjpmw7K7wAbolYISDNrUb4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/users/dusty-wright"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/users/dusty-wright"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/extra_small/public/pictures/picture-2.jpg?itok=e7V8nRsu" width="50" height="50" alt="Dusty Wright" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> <p>Submitted by <a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a> on January 10, 2006 - 05:56</p> <p class="visually-hidden">In reply to <a href="/comment/18#comment-18" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">Where are us now?</a> by <a title="View user profile." href="/user/101" lang="" about="/user/101" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">danbmil999</a></p> </footer> </article> </div> </section> Thu, 10 Nov 2005 18:43:26 +0000 Dusty Wright 117 at