It’s a somewhat discomfiting aspect of our business that when someone of a certain prominence dies, whatever our emotional response, we also kick the marketing machines into gear. This time it’s bothered me more than most, despite the obvious response (which may or may not be a rationalization):…
On police and protests:
"[Jerry] Wilson,” police chief in Washington D.C. in 1969, “believed that an intimidating police presence didn’t prevent confrontation, it invited it. That didn’t mean he didn’t prepare, but he put his riot control teams in buses, then parked the buses close by, but out of sight of protesters. Appearances were important. In general, instead of the usual brute force and reactionary policing that tended to pit cops against citizens—both criminal and otherwise—Wilson believed that cops were more effective when they were welcomed and respected in the neighborhoods they patrolled. ‘The use of violence,’ he told Time in 1970, ‘is not the job of police officers.’”
-From Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces (photo credit Jenna Pope)
Robin Williams’s rise had been meteoric. The product of a privileged upbringing in affluent Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, he’d attended the Julliard School of Drama on scholarship and performed at San Francisco’s Holy City Zoo before migrating to Los Angeles in September 1976. In the comedy capital of America, he had caused an instant sensation. Mitzi Shore was so knocked out by his first Monday night audition at the Sunset Strip Comedy Store that she immediately called the Westwood club and told Argus Hamilton, “I’m coming over right now with this new comic so he can do there what he just did here.”
Williams walked onto the Westwood stage barefoot and dressed in a T-shirt and overalls, placed his hands on his hips just so, and said with a spot-on prissy gayness, “Now a reading from Two Gentlemen of Santa Monica, also known as As You Lick It.” Then he broke into full Shakespearean profundity: “Hark, the moon, like a testicle, hangs low in the sky.” The audience exploded with laughter.
Shore wasted no time in giving Williams the best time slots at both clubs and putting out the word in the business that there was a new kid in town whose act had to be seen to be believed. Soon the lines to see Williams were long, and the buzz was palpable.
From William Knoedelseder’s book I’m Dying Up Here. Photo credit William Knoedelseder.
Fur-kids, cat ladies and dog people
Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship With Dogs and Cats by David Grimm (Public Affairs, $26.99).
Any dog—or cat—lover will attest to our belief that our pets are family. But what sort of status should they have under the law? David Grimm, an editor at Science, looks at the changing status of pets in our culture, including instances of custody battles, court-appointed lawyers, and the question of conferring legal “personhood” on animals (which he ultimately rejects).
Citizen Canine provides an intriguing historical overview of the status of pets in society, as well as the major changes in status in the United States, from early indifference to pets as “useless” animals to their current position as “fur kids” in many families.
In addition to a survey, though, Grimm also looks at the various positions of animal rights activists, animal rescue groups, and they ways in which these positions are playing out in our society.
Whether readers are dog people or cat people—or even, perhaps, rodent or reptile people—this comprehensive look at the position of animals in our lives is a worthwhile read.
The World Cup starts this week! To get in the futbol spirit, author Dave Zirin recommends Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow, which he calls “the most lyrical sports book ever written.” Zirin writes:
In just about 300 pages, [Galeano] attempts nothing less than an exposition of the entire cultural history of soccer. No chapter is more than a few pages; some merit only a paragraph. Yet all are evocative, with words woven to create a mood as thrilling as watching the World Cup in a packed pub.
Stressed? No worries. We have great book suggestions for all types of Dads. Trust us. Dads love us.
David Sax is an expert of food trends and author of Save the Deli and most recently The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy For cupcakes But Fed Up With Fondue. Linda and David talk about how food trends come about, how they spread across the world, and how they come back decades later. Tune in to hear about trends such as Asian BBQ and cupcakes! This program has been sponsored by S. Wallace Edwards & Sons. Today’s music provided by Pamela Royal.
The second salvation
American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church by Alex Beam (Public Affairs, $26.99).
When Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob at a jail in 1844, it might not have qualified as a literal crucifixion, but it took on that mantle figuratively. These days, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) is approaching mainstream; then, it was a disturbing threat to the status quo.
Alex Beam uses a journalist’s precision to make the case that any new religion would have produced that sort of reaction in the U.S. of the time, but that Smith’s new doctrine of polygamy was the final push needed to crystallize persecution of Mormons.
It’s possible to argue—as many historians have—that the LDS were simply the most extreme among many new religious movements of the time (think Adventism and Christian Science, which also have their roots in the period). But he makes a good case for those—also now relatively mainstream—groups also being viewed with suspicion, as well as a good case for the doctrine of polygamy being the match that lit the fuse.
Beam is impartial enough that he’s likely to upset both members of the LDS and their critics, some of whom are only slightly less rabid than the folks in Nauvoo and Carthage; to those of us interested in history, that’s a good indicator of the value of this book.
BookExpo America attendees, come to our two author signings on Friday, May 30th:
- 10 AM: Kwasi Kwarteng (home team: England) signs copies of his book War and Gold: A Five-Hundred-Year History of Empires, Adventures, and Debt
- 3 PM: David Sax (home team: Canada) signs copies of his book The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up With Fondue
Visit us at Booth 1406, where we will declare allegiance to Her Majesty, the Queen!