You-review-it Monday

November 2, 2008
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For me, the weekend included catching up with shows at the Phoenix and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It also involved stealing moments to read, flipping between David Wild's goofy new "He Is...I Say: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neil Diamond" and Rick Wartzman's "Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath.'"

There was also sadness, hearing of the deaths of writers Studs Terkel and William Wharton.

Terkel, more than any other writer, gave me an appreciation of the struggles and triumphs of ordinary people--people I recognized from down the street and from across the dinner table. Through "Working" and "American Dreams: Lost and Found," he not only introduced readers to scores of people who otherwise would not have had a voice, he also taught this writer the value of stepping back and allowing your subjects to be heard. He was the journalist as listener and I value the few seconds I spent in his presence as he autographed "My American Century" for me, a fan and admirer.  (He also co-hosted an outstanding, smart, fun TV interview show years ago with Calvin Trillin. Anyone remember it?)

William Wharton was more mysterious--and one of those writers I always felt I should read more from. I never did get around to "Birdy" or "Dad," even though they were on my shelf for years, but I did get caught up in "A Midnight Clear." It was one non-fiction book, though, that stayed with me. While working as a magazine editor in Philadelphia, one of my proudest acts was scoring an excerpt from Wharton's bold and unforgettable "Ever After: A Father's Story" and sharing it with readers who might otherwise not have encountered it. Telling about the death of his daughter and her family and the legal mess that followed, Wharton opened up his heart and soul in that book, humbly leaving other would-be revelatory writers far, far behind.

So have you read either of these writers? Any thoughts?

And, back to my original point, did you get out and do anything interesting on the A&E front this weekend? Did you catch Gregory Hancock's Dance Theatre's "Oh My Goth!", do the Necronomicon with the cast of "Evil Dead: The Musical," partake in the Day of the Dead celebration at the Indianapolis Art Center, enjoy free pre-Pacer-game entertainment with Blues Traveller (right) or catch some spririting Spirit & Place Festival events?

What was on your weekend arts agenda?
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  • I caught the pre-game Blue Traveller show, and I really enjoyed it. I also thought the game was great too--I was lucky to have seats 2 rows behind the Pacers bench!

    The night before (Halloween) I saw Ensemble 48 at White River Park, where they improvised a score to Nosferatu. I had never seen the movie before, and I'm glad I got to finally. I really enjoyed Ensemble 48, as I did the last time I heard them. The atmosphere was really great that night, as well. It was cool but not too cold, and there were some campfires going with people making hot cider and chili, and cooking some smores. It was a great way to spend a beautiful fall evening!
  • I saw Macbeth at the IRT yesterday but the highlight of my weekend was seeing a preview of Slumdog Millionaire at Keystone Art Cinema. It was fantastic and I plan to see it again when it is released.
  • I highly recommend both
  • ...as I was saying, I highly recommend both 'Dad' and 'Birdy' by Wharton. It's been awhile since I read either, but they've always stuck with me. I am saddened to hear that he died.

    America has lost a national treasure with the passing of Studs Terkel. His book Working will always be one of my favorites.

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