Archive for February, 2008

A Bard of Boxing Passes On

W.C. Heinz, the sports columnist, war correspondent, magazine writer and novelist who was considered one of the finest journalistic stylists of his era, died Wednesday in Bennington, Vt. He was 93.” (New York Times obituary.) Heinz was interviewed in our Boxing Issue in 2005 by writer Jonathan Rendall. Speaking from his home in Vermont, Heinz told STOP SMILING: “I’ve supported myself by writing all my life and I still do. What do I do each day? I get up in the morning and get dressed and then I write.”

Another piece that appeared in the Boxing Issue was a review of the 1981 film Chariots of Fire. (Read the unabridged review here.) The cinematographer of that film, as well as 60 others (including the 1985 Best Picture winner Out of Africa) was David Watkin. Mr. Watkin passed away on February 19th at his home in Brighton, England. He was 82.

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Do The James

If you’re thinking about going dancing in the next few days, you may want to take some tips from the master.

Bonus Beats: Super Lover Cee & Cassanova Rud - Do The James

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William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008)

Author and conservative commentator William F. Buckley has died at 82 in Stamford, Connecticut. National Review, the magazine Buckley founded in 1955, posted this appreciation on their website, noting that Buckley passed away while at work on his syndicated column — far from a surprise, especially when considering this fact highlighted in Buckley’s New York Times obituary: “He also found time to write at least 45 book… The more than 4.5 million words of his 5,600 biweekly newspaper columns, ‘On the Right,’ would fill 45 more medium-sized books.” The Times characterized Buckley as a man who “marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse.”

Buckley’s panache was on display in his long-running television show Firing Line: YouTube offers a trove of clips (and clipboards) from the show, including this culture clash with Noam Chomsky and this zinger for Allen Ginsberg. Also available are several rounds of Buckley’s war of words with Gore Vidal. And for an archive of Buckley in his own words, visit NPR.

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When a Little Goes a Long Way

Apparently less really is more: Learn how a lucky gambler in England earned $1.97 million on a $1 bet. Behold the Supreme Court Justice of few words (”Two years and 144 cases have passed since Justice Clarence Thomas last spoke up at oral arguments”). Track how everyday activities affect your larger carbon footprint at The New Yorker. And peek inside the “doomsday” vault dug deep into the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain, which houses small samples of the world’s seeds in case of a global catastrophe or nuclear attack… And speaking of digging into mountains, if ever there was a story about questionable quests, it’s this one: Treasure hunters claim to find an enormous stash of gold or silver hidden by Nazis.”

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Blue Notes and Beat Junkies

Right around the same time our Jazz Issue hit the stands, our friends over at Blue Note put out Droppin Science: Greatest Samples From the Blue Note Lab. The album features some of the more notable selections from the Blue Note catalog that have been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest, J Dilla, Dr. Dre (shout to Missin Linx) and many more. As a starting point for the sample-hungry, this compilation is terrific, but even for the seasoned jazz lover, these tracks are stellar with or without their sampled history. As an added bonus, veteran west coast DJ and member of the ubiquitous Beat Junkies, J Rocc, did a mix of a bunch of those songs and our friends at Stones Throw just posted it here. We highly recommend listening to both.

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Off-Register Exhibition Hits Chicago

It should come as no surprise: We like printing. We’re kind of obsessed with printed matter old and new, and that’s the world we toil in every day. It’s fitting, then, that we should get excited about Off-Register, a traveling art show devoted to printmaking. The show opens in Chicago this Friday with work from stellar artists like Cody Hudson, Maya Hayuk, Evan Hecox, Geoff McFetridge, Andy Mueller and Todd St. John, to name a few. So if you’re in Chicago this week, come check out the opening on Friday at the AV-Aerie. The exhibition runs through March 15th and hits NYC early this summer. For a full line-up and more info, check the Foundation Gallery site here.

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While Oscar Was Sleeping…

As post-Oscar coverage continues to bottleneck the mass media, some interesting (and decidedly non-Oscar related) footnotes have slipped through the cracks: critic David Thomson applauds the “bold experiment” that led to the establishment of United Artists nearly 90 years ago; Brian De Palma vents to the Independent about why he’s considered “a left-wing wacko traitor who should be horsewhipped.” Bruce Handy writes about the “nocturnal fantasies” of Federico Fellini (pictured here); and the LA Times spares some ink on an obituary for Ben Chapman, “the 6-foot-5 former Tahitian entertainer and ex-Marine [who] played the title character in The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the classic 1954 3-D monster movie.” Alas, it’s not all Juno out there…

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The Caprells - Walk On By

This might be my favorite version of this often-covered classic that I’ve heard. The singers falsetto kills and his spacing of the lyrics is amazing, holding the words for just a little bit too long in certain spots. The echoey repeater background vocals, meandering drums and the dreamy guitar tone make the whole song sound so loose that it might fall apart at any second. What this version lacks, say, from the gloss of Dionne’s version or the massiveness of Isaac’s, it makes up for in sheer rawness. For your weekend wintertime blues.

Audio - The Caprells - Walk On By

- Post by Ben Fasman

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Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922-2008)

The French avant-garde author, pioneer of the “new novel” and screenwriter of such films as Last Year at Marienbad passed away this week. As summarized by Reuters: “Alain Robbe-Grillet became a cult figure among France’s postwar intelligentsia with a genre of novel-writing that rejected conventions such as plot, characterization and emotion. It effectively launched a type of semi-philosophical fiction in which nothing much happens but a vast amount is noticed, imagined or thought.” The Guardian posted this reaction and remembrance. And from AP: “President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office described Robbe-Grillet as ‘equally at ease in the expression of his most intimate fantasies as in the lucid and dispassionate analysis of concepts.’”

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Family Anniversary

In just one short year, L.A.’s Family bookstore has become one of the most exciting shops in the country. The idea of a curated retail store is refreshing these days (insert whiney gripe about the glut of crap being published and the looming shadow of the corporate behemoth bookstores here), and Family is the best that we’ve ever seen. In addition to the books, zines and art they carry, their frequent artist-designed window displays, live music performances and reading series are just a handful of the reasons that they are one of our first stops when we’re in Los Angeles. For their one year anniversary, they’re putting together an art show that would make any gallery owner drool: from videos by Mike Mills to oil paintings by Dave Eggers, photography by Will Oldham, sign painting by Aaron Rose and etchings by Ashley Macomber (and that’s not even close to half of what’s in the show), the fact that they’re collaborating with all these people and the store and its environs do, in fact, have a familial atmosphere would be impressive even if the store had been open for a decade. The fact that they’ve only been open for a year is nothing shy of astounding. As if we needed another reason to love L.A. Full line-up and details here.

(Artwork pictured by Ashley Macomber)

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