Seasons readings: New A&E books reviewed

December 28, 2009
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Some thoughts on A&E books that have been on my reading pile this month:

--In "And Party Every Day: The Inside Story of Casablanca Records" (Backbeat Books), Larry Harris doesn't create anything of lasting literary value--and much of the who-was-hired/who-moved-on office details can be skimmed over. But there's an engaging story to tell in the record company he helped create. Part of the fun is seeing how the label inadvertently became the go-to place for disco stars (including The Village People and Donna Summer) while also developing the phenomenons of Kiss and Parliament. No surprise that there was plenty of drugs involved.

--I'm not sure if it can be called "reading," but I enjoyed doing a lot of "flipping through" "The Playbill Broadway Yearbook" (Applause Books), a hefty, fun volume (the fifth in the series). The conceit here is to take a people-driven focus to a season on Broadway. Reviews are nowhere to be found. Instead, a section devoted to each Broadway show features photos of everyone from the lead actors to the ushers and ticket-takers. Scrapbook sections are devoted to the stuff we aren't privy to from our seats in the theaters-- like company superstition, wadrobe malfunctions, company in-jokes, and memorable stage-door encounters. And ancillary events such as Broadway League Softball and the annual Broadway Barks benefit are given their due. Like a high school yearbook, it's clearly designed to get everyone included in it to buy a copy. But I enjoyed it for its sense of all-in-this-together camaraderie. And while I know that such a project would be financially impossible for locals, I can fantasize that an Indianapolis Performing Arts Yearbook would be a treasure for those who put in the hard, rewarding work of making the arts happen here. 

--"The Levon Helm Midnight Ramble" (Backbeat Books) is a wish-you-were-here photo-heavy look at the jam sessions held by the former leader of "The Band." I'll confess I haven't paid much attention to Helm since the landmark concert film "The Last Waltz," but this lovingly compiled book made me want to hear what I've been missing. It's tough to celebrates music with words and pictures but without sound. But photographer Paul LaRaia, with subjects including Allison Krauss and Elvis Costello, pulls it off.

--Sloppy copy editing and text that often feels top-of-the-head first draft mar "Geniuses of the American Musical Theatre: The Composers and Lyricists" (Applause Books) by Herbert Keyser. While the expected stories are in there concerning the like of Stephen Sondheim and Kander and Ebb, this handsomely produced coffee table book does offer insight into such not-to-be-ignored talents as Dorothy Fields, Comden and Green, and Harold Arlen. A clean-up could have made it an essential reference book.

Have you read any of the above? Or devoured other arts and entertainment-related books worth noting?

Your thoughts?

  • Movie book
    Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris was published almost a year ago, but it's excellent.
  • yearbooks and biographies
    I saw some older editions of the Playbill Broadway Yearbook at the Half-Price Books on 86th Street a few weeks ago. They were fascinating and fun...but I spent my money on some theatre textbooks instead. Maybe I'll go back for the yearbooks, if they are still there.

    I agree with you, Lou, that it would be fun to have an Indianapolis arts yearbook. I'll add publishing that to my "What to Do When I Win the Lottery Big" list.

    I think I already mentioned Kristin Chenowith's autobiography, A LITTLE BIT WICKED, here one Monday morning. It came out in April of this year. It is warm and gossipy. (Who knew that she and the creator of the TV show "West Wing" were an item?)

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • oh, wait - WEST 86h Street
    I should have been more specific, just in case any of your readers is planning to dart over to Half Price Books and buy those theatre yearbooks ahead of me. (And it's okay if they do. My personal book budget is tapped out for a while.)

    I meant the Half-Price Books that is on the part of 86th Street that is just down the road from Ocean Japanese Restaurant and across the streeet from Steinmart and the Pancake place and New Age People and so on...NOT the one in the Castleton area, although I have found some treasures at that one, too.

    I mean the HPB where Dylan the Filmmaker is the manager and someone else, whose name escapes me at the moment, is knowledgeable (sp?) about the theatre books and takes pride in keeping the theatre book section organized.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit

Post a comment to this blog

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. Yes sir keep cashing those 300K a year checks direct to IMS, while millions disappear from the teams like Rahal's. Guess there wasn't enough ka- ching going around to keep Sarah Fisher in business without their "merger". LOL._____.Meanwhile back in Realville the series with the "best racing in the world" drew what appeared to be about 5000 live spectators ( and probably 1500 of those Target "freebies", and was beaten in the ratings by a series that reportedly consists of "parades" and aired while most people are still sleeping. That will generate those big ka-chings for sure. :-). But, hey, as long as the Speedway gets the cash who gives a damn about the teams?

  2. Welcome to PETERSON LOAN AGENCY Company (A Personalized Service for All Your Financial Needs) We, Liberal Investment Company Providers offers loan at a very low interest rate of 2%, we offer Personal loans, Debt Consolidation Loan, Venture Capital, Business Loan, Educational Loan, Home Loan, and Loan for any reason and urgent needs!. with a maximum duration of 30 years. Have you been turned down by your bank? Do you have bad credit? Do you have unpaid bills? Are you in debt? Do you need to set up a business? Worry no more as we are here to offer you a low interest loan. Our loan ranges from $5,000-USD (Five Thousand US dollars) to $50, 000,000.00.(Fifty Million US dollars). We also lend in USA DOLLARS EURO and POUNDS ! Fill in this form and forward it to our email: PETERSONLOANAGENCY@GMAIL.COM 1. Your Full names:_______ 2. Contact address:_______ 3. Country Of Residence:______ 4. Loan Amount Required:________ 5. Duration:_____ 6. Gender:_____ 7. Occupation:________ 8. Monthly Income:_______ 9. Date Of Birth:________ 10.Telephone Number:________ 11. Purpose of loan:_________ Yours In Service, MR PERRY, PETERSONLOANAGENCY@GMAIL.COM

  3. If I could actually get the prices...I would do this on my own. We need laws that force provides to publish the costs they will charge. Everyone else gives you the price in advance...except hospitals.

  4. I was under the impression that fencing is not allowed on a front yard and that on a corner, both sides are considered "front" yards, therefore can't be fenced without a variance. Also impedes the visibility for drivers at the intersection. Am I understanding this correctly? Might be why a fence was not included in the plans and a request for a variance will have to be made?.

  5. I was a big fan of Cowards and Carrots, which I got a chance to see at the show. It's currently on Kickstarter, but the designer also put out What's He Building in There last year, which got a fair amount of buzz.