As the wife and I drove down 192 on our way to the Osceola Library System's Fall Into Reading Book Festival early Saturday morning, we passed a familiar sounding road. My wife pointed out that it's the road that leads to Paul Newman's "Hole in the Wall Camp." We did our usual back-and-forth about how cool the guy is.
A few hours later as we sat eating lunch, we heard that Paul Newman had died.
Every few months, a famous actor dies and we mourn. It's easy to see why. Movies play a key role in our memories. But Paul Newman was much, much more than an actor. His philanthropic works ensure that he'll remain a beloved figured long after his passing. His celebrity won't die with the last People magazine feature. It'll continue on in all the good works that he sponsored through his Newman's Own and other charitable works.
In Sunday's New York Times, a close friend remembered Newman as a good neighbor.
And now onto the Playlist ...
City of Refuge. Tom Piazza.
We had friends who were relocated to New Orleans a couple of years back. They had hoped to move back to the Northeast and were slightly disappointed to be going to New Orleans just a couple of years after Katrina.
But they've found the city to be a wonderfully diverse and cultural place. And they love it.
On the other hand, I can remember a few people who warned me about the crime as I prepared for business trips there. Their disdain for New Orleans was clear.
Piazza, author of Why New Orleans Matters, clearly understands this love-hate relationship with his adopted city. And he tackles it in City of Refuge, which follows a black family in the Lower Ninth Ward and a middle-class white family living Uptown. We follow their lives before Hurricane Katrina, as the storm approaches and in the aftermath through places like Houston, Oxford, rural Missouri, New York and Chicago. The Donaldsons decide to evacuate, finding themselves stuck in traffic before finally making their way to relatives in Chicago. SJ Williams and his family try to stick it out in the Lower 9th. The families take some real punches from Katrina. They survive, yet the face the question -- What now?
Piazza captures the grittiness, diversity and originality of New Orleans, as well as the fear and worry that enrapts you when you know a storm is coming directly to your town.
To find out more about Piazza and why he wrote the book,
visit Harper Collins' site.
The Great Schlep.
Are you young? Are you Jewish? And do you want to make sure that Barak Obama wins this critical election? Sarah Silverman wants you to schlep on down to your grandparents in Florida and convince them to vote for the guy with the scary name. After all, Florida could be the key to the election. Just ask Al Gore. Or Pat Buchanan. (And make sure you get yourself an Obamica like Arjewtino is wearing on his latest post.)
Are you excited about the debate this Thursday? I'm not. I think the media will set the bar so low for Gov. Palin that as long as she doesn't mispronounce any names, she'll come out a winner. Is she prepared to be vice president? Absolutely not. But she's not dumb.
Then again, if you're a Palin supporter and you wish you were Track's bro -- head on over to the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. And if you don't get a response, don't worry, Sarah will "check it out and get back to ya."
The Uglysuit. The Uglysuit.
This young Oklahoma City band plays a mix of piano-based pop with a tendency to sometimes be a bit too dramatic. Their longest song ... And We Became Sunshine carries a consistent shimmery wave for all 7:19. The shortest song -- the 1:19 piano-only Elliot Travels -- sounds like it could be an intro to a Runt-era Todd Rundgren song. In between, Uglysuit succeeds most when it just lets loose as it does on the album closers Happy Yellow Rainbow and Let it Be Known. They've earned comparison to their fellow Okies -- The Flaming Lips. I don't see it at all. Though this album, though sometimes inconsistent, is not a bad start to a career.
I subconsciously found myself listening to three albums this past week that had a year in the title of one of their songs.
1972. Josh Rouse.
This 2003 throwback to the early 70s is all about the vibe. It's impossible to listen to the album and not feel "groovy." There's the bounce of Love Vibration or Slaveship and the heartfelt Under Your Charms and Sparrows Over Birmingham. It's solid throughout, but kicks off just right with the title track -- She was feeling 1972/Grooving to a Carole King tune/Is it too late baby?/Is it too late?
What was going on in 1972? You'll find out in our weekly
The Stooges. The Stooges.
Boy, what it must have felt like to hear this roar out of your hi-fi speakers back in 1969. All sweat and snarling. Fuzz box guitar that seemed so simple, yet carried a power that took it beyond its garage rock predecessors. It was punk before there was punk.
Rock N Roll. Ryan Adams.
In retrospect, it's easy now to see why this album, so full of rock cliches, received less than critical praise when it was released. But after a trio of albums that played more to the singer-songerwriter angst, it was good to see Adams rock out. And boy did he. It's still fun to hear the roar of songs like This Is It (a nod to his New York rivals The Strokes) and Note to Self: Don't Die and 1974.
And finally, visit the Princeton Record Exchange Blog where you'll find me rating Led Zeppelin's catalog -- and you may be surprised at my Top 5 list.
And read this short San Francisco Chronicle article to see who gets named in the same breath as R.L. Stine and J.K. Rowling.
Foot Challis Pallin