PLOT SUMMARY OF THE WEEK

"To acquire the cleverly named Book of Secrets, Ben plots to kidnap the current president (Bruce Greenwood) and blah, blah, blah purple monkey dishwasher..." --MATT ZOLLER SEITZ on National Treasure: Book of Secrets, NYTimes, 12/21/07 … [Read more...]

“Rudy Should Play More Chopin”

TR: It sounds like you studied with both Serkin and Horsz at the same time? Was that typical, or did you take master classes from one or how did that work? It seems curious to me that MH was such cool as a teacher, through his playing I naturally assumed that he was effusive and passionate, and very forthcoming. It's so interesting how those qualities break down in different people. I think of Serkin is RIGOROUS, even though the stuff I admire most about his playing can be his tenderness... but of course, that's in the contrast. With MH I … [Read more...]

Greatest Minds of My Generation

For my money, the two heros of I'M NOT THERE are David Cross, in wickedly inspired casting as Allen Ginsberg, and Al Kooper, who oversaw the BLONDE ON BLONDE sessions to make the score a delight to hear on those large theatrical speakers. Otherwise, Haynes's movie is about as avant-garde as a game of checkers, too literal by half, and you feel embarrassed for Heath Ledger. If you don't know its sources, make an effort to see Pennebaker's DON'T LOOK BACK and Scorsese's NO DIRECTION HOME. … [Read more...]

Mieczyslaw Horszowski

I recently corresponded with an old piano teacher about a pianist who's an inside figure, although there are still plenty of his recordings in print. More to come... TR: You list Mieczyslaw Horszowski in your bio, wasn't he at Curtis? I've admired his warm tone for years and years, and wish there were more hours in the day to dig into his extensive recordings. I got to hear him live at Sanders Theatre, Harvard, long long time ago, probably early 1990s, and he was only 145 then, and he lived to be 189 right? So you worked with him when he was … [Read more...]

Various Goldbergs

ASSIGNMENT EDITOR: fifty-two years ago, a Canadian nobody named Glenn Gould made his big splash with a Goldberg Variations, which was not only left-field repertoire but virile, robust Bach playing that turned a lot of ears and launched an eccentric career. It was the kind of record you knew growing up because your parents had it lying around, it was one of those cultural imperatives that epitomized an era when a pianist could actually make a splash (and didn't United Artists steal the cover design for Hard Day's Night?) This year, Simone … [Read more...]

From Moptops to Longhair

Dear Tim My own next project is going to be a biography of Professor Longhair. Having spent fifteen years writing about four of the most famous people on earth, I long for a subject about which virtually every prospective reader doesn't already have a set of preconceptions and opinions. Here again I plan to situate the simple narrative of Longhair's life (as well as his rather spectacular posthumous career) in the social and cultural context of New Orleans and the U.S. in the decades after World War Two. On some level, this will be a book … [Read more...]

Astrid Kirchherr Photos

This book finally compiles many of the images put out by Genesis in the 1990s, with candids from Harrison and Starr's apartment during the shooting of Hard Day's Night, the HDN set with Richard Lester and Pattie Boyd, and a fascinating trip to Liverpool where the Cavern is overrun by beat-bands such as The Undertakers. The Archers, pre-teen lads shot outside Ringo's home, look for all the world like the Fabs as they might have been, in a Liverpool barely changed since the war. The fatalism etched in the faces of Beatle parents tells a story of … [Read more...]

E Streeters continuing saga

Dear Tim, I too have blown hot and cold with Max Weinberg - though mostly cold I'd have to say. And I would say the same about Springsteen himself. Come to think of it, this has been an ongoing thirty-year issue for me. When Springsteen first arrived on the scene in the 1970s as John Hammond's next anointed golden boy, I was unimpressed. After all, Dylan had come out with Blood On The Tracks, which struck me with the force of revelation, because the lyric-writing on that record - beginning with the astonishing opening track - raised the … [Read more...]

The E Street Trio

Dear Jonathan Gould, Yeah I was wondering if that was it: being a drummer you didn't want to come on TOO strong with Ringo... that's okay, it's subtextual, and I gushed a lot in my book. Every drummer I've ever talked to gushes about RIngo, at least the good ones do. I think he's a better drummer than Harrison is a guitarist myself, but then I'm a piano-playing composer, so any drummer with a shred of restraint floats my boat. Except for Keith Moon, who's like a keyboardist on the drums (he wants to save the world). I don't know the Duke … [Read more...]

VERBAL TICS EAT LIVING FLESH

EDITORIAL TICS Why do we have editors? To save us all from those annoying TICS that infect language like ants on birthday cake. Couple years back there was an INFLUENZA of sentences that tried to sound, well, hip, by injecting "well"s into the most obvious places to INFORMALIZE the, well, "tone" of the piece. It always came off, well, forced and made the writing seem intractably unhip as could be, but EVERYBODY was guilty of it. STOP THE MADNESS. You want "um" with that? These days you can't get through a news interview without hearing "...at … [Read more...]