Archive for June, 2009

Sammy SoWHAT?

Big surprise, that Sammy Sosa juiced up. Geez, who KNEW?!?! But has anyone noticed that it’s now 2009? So why are we just NOW getting results from 2006. What the dilley-o?

History in the Making: Obama in Cairo

Obama ReutersHe does it every time, our president. He takes whatever troublesome bull is before him by the horns and refuses to let go. I caught the first half of his Cairo speech today, awed by its forthright magnificence and sheer ballsiness. Rachel Maddow has been going on about he grabbed the third rail, tallying eight third rails  in this single speech. I need to catch the rest of it.

The line that resonated strongly with me was this gem: “But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors.  There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.  As the Holy Koran tells us, ‘Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.’  [Applause.]  That is what I will try to do today –– to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.” That admonishment tracks beautifully to us as individuals and how we can be in our own relationships with others, no matter how cursory or intimate or global.

As I was listening  (while ironing my ensemble for the day, if you must know), the thought prickled at me that this could very well be President Obama’s Nixon-in-China watershed moment. Set aside the bold statements about Israel and Iran and extremists, etc.; it was his mastery of nuance and utter comfort in gray areas that also impressed me. He is blessed with an uncanny ability to weigh both sides (or even multiple sides) of an issue and then carve out the true line between.

I keep reverting to the utilitarian slangy metaphor “He blew me away”; unlike the president, I’m at a loss in devising a more eloquent translation of that particular sentiment. Bottom line: I  love our president and his audacity –– it’s our great hope. But remember, each of us can go there ourselves. “So come on, people, now / smile on each other / everybody get together, got to love one another right now” (Okay, I have NO idea where that came from — wait, I mean, I know the song, but I wasn’t expecting that to pop up, but it does sort of fit!).

May God’s peace be upon us, each and every one!

#17: Book Expo 2009: The Big Man & Steven Tyler Show

Big Man at BEANow that Book Expo America is behind us, I’m still trying to figure out what it all meant. The keynote session on May 28 sums it up: appearances by  joint keynote with Steven Tyler and Clarence Clemons, refereed by Chuck Klosterman. As much as I love Aerosmith, I had to wonder if Tyler wasn’t going to be just another variation of James Frey –– after all, being one of the Toxic Twins probably didn’t exactly enhance his memory! But I really wanted to see the Big Man.

First off, it didn’t exactly pack the event hall; maybe 300 or 400 people. Jerome Kramer of Publishing Perspectives and I  entertained ourselves while waiting for the show to start (it was around 30 minutes late) by speculating on how much “work” Tyler has had done and trying to wade through the workmanlike text of the Big Man blad.  The Big Man appeared with his co-author, Don Reo, rather than Tyler, which did make sense. Despite a few lame questions from CK (namely, variations on “Are celebrities in real life the way we think they are?”) and rather dull chatter from Reo, the session took a magical turn when Clarence brought out his sax and deconstructed the solo in “Jungleland.” He explained that he and Bruce spent 16 hours just getting the first intro right, then he played it, after issuing a disclaimer that he’d never played it before without the band. VERY cool! When Chuck asked if it bothered him that Bruce had so much input, Clarence replied, “He’s the boss, and he’s a genius!”

Tyler & Hudson at BEAThen CC and Reo departed and the circus really started. Tyler strutted out accompanied by a 1970s hippie throwback formerly known as one of the Hudson Brothers (Mark) and currently known as Kate’s uncle. Why the Hudson brother, I wondered. Was he the co-author? No, he was the sidekick. At one point, the Hudson brother mentioned that he was there to prompt Steven and keep him on task, not that it helped; he was almost as goofy as Tyler. He danced verbal circles around Chuck (who trotted out another variation of his aforementioned celebrities question) and was quite entertaining, although if you read the transcript, he probably didn’t make all that much sense (there was some bizarre mention of raccoon hunting).

After lots of non sequiturs and some mention of Tyler deciding that last year, after the death of his mother, it was time to write his book, the Hudson brother piped up to say that the main reason he was there was to remind Steven that they had to leave in five minutes to catch a plane. That prompted Chuck to ask the question of the night: When would the book be out? Tyler replied that he didn’t know because HE HADN’T WRITTEN THE DANG BOOK YET! With that, the show was over and he worked the crowd as they exited the stage.

Jerome and I feared that this was an omen for BEA: a keynote featuring an author who hasn’t yet written a book! Turns out, yep, it was!

For more, see this New York magazine piece and this LA Times article.

And yes, this counts as one of my firsts: It’s the first time I attended a Book Expo keynote, the first time I’ve seen Steven Tyler (not to mention a Hudson Brother), and the first for even the Big Man, that wonderful “Jungleland” sax solo!

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