Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bloomberg Names EMPIRE STATE OF MIND by Zack O'Malley Greenberg One of Year's Best Rock Books

Mark Beech writes in a review of several music titles that Zack's book is "one of the year's best rock books."  We agree.

Peter Hessler Wins Sidney Award for "Dr. Don: The life of a small-town druggist"

In today's New York Times David Brooks names Peter Hessler's piece "Dr. Don:  The life of a small-town druggist" one of the best magazine essays of the year, saying: The article is a beautiful description of what it’s like to live in a small town, where everybody knows each other’s sins and virtues. As one resident puts it, “I like to play chess. I moved to a small town and nobody played chess there, but one guy challenged me to checkers. I always thought it was kind of a simple game, but I accepted. And he beat me nine or ten games in a row. That’s sort of like living in a small town. It’s a simple game, but it’s played at a higher level."

The Sidney Awards, named after the public intellectual Sidney Hook, were originally called The Hookie Awards, which Brooks began awarding on Christmas Day, 2004.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

INSTRUMENT by Pat Graham Named Best Cover of Year by Amazon

Amazon's Best Books of the Year were announced yesterday, and the cover of Chronicle's edition of Pat Graham's INSTRUMENT with an introduction by Johnny Marr was named one of the best of the year.  

Pat has an exhibition of the book hanging at Rough Trade East in London until November 15th.  Rough Trade is, hands down, one of the best record/music stories in the UK, and, possibly, the world, in our opinion.

In the mid nineties while living in Washington DC music photographer Pat Graham photographed Ian Mackaye (Fugazi, Dischord Records) and his iconic white Gibson SG. At that point his photo project Instrument was born. Over the next 15 years Graham documented/photographed and interviewed 50 plus musicians about there favourite instrument and the stories that went along with them.

Some of the artists in the book include:

Johnny Marr - The Smiths, Modest Mouse, Cribs, Healers, etc
Bernard Sumner - Joy Division, New Order
Colin Newman - Wire
Alex Kapranos - Franz Ferdinand
Gary and Ryan Jarman - The Cribs
James Cauty - KLF, The Orb
Ian Curtis - Joy Division
Tom Cullinan - Th Faith Healers, Quickspace
Jerry Dammers - The Specials, Special AKA Arkestsra
Justin Vernon - Bon Iver
Hal Blaine - Beach Boys, Phil Spector, etc
Jeff Tweedy - Wilco
Kim Deal - The Pixies
Billy Childish
Kate Nash

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

PDT Named Best Bar in the World

Just in time for the publication of THE PDT COCKTAIL BOOK, the list was compiled by 100 of the top bar professionals in the industry, and votes were received from every continent. The list has bars from 16 countries and regions including France, Spain, Australia, the UK, Ireland, the Middle East, Singapore, and Japan. The Daily News offers it up here. Check out the rest of the list on Drinks International.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gaz Regan says THE PDT COCKTAIL BOOK is "The very best. Bar none"

In today's Ardent Spirits eLetter, Gaz Regan calls the book ...the best book of its kind to hit the shelves in the twenty-first century. The very best. Bar none. 

Paper Magazine has a great interview with Jim today, too--here's an excerpt:

It seems like you wrote your cocktail book with an eye on history.
I started collecting cocktail books right after I started working at Pegu Club. Audrey [Saunders] had a bunch of books at the bar and at that time I'd also met a vintage cookbook collector named Bonnie Slotnick. I realized the history of bartending was in these old books and it was almost like proof that what I chose to do with my life was a really good decision. I tried to infuse the book with what I thought was great about these old books, make it nostalgic without being derivative. Now I'll go into a bar and see a bartender with a 19th century mustache, vintage sailor tattoos, like he's straight out of a Civil War reenactment. My goal was not to be a Civil War reenactor, but show how we're doing things now with a sense of history.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

THE PDT COCKTAIL BOOK Has Landed, and the World Takes Note

The long-awaited PDT COCKTAIL BOOK by Jim Meehan with illustrations by Chris Gall drops today, and along with other sites, Eater has offered up a "First Look" at Jim Meehan's PDT Cocktail Book.  Check it out, and also check out the video.  The New York Times' T Magazine kicked off the advance press with "Booze Cruise" by Stephen Heyman.  FIND. EAT. DRINK. then carried a short Q&A with Jim about the book.  Professor Cocktail (aka David Montgomery) was the first to really review the book, saying:  "The PDT Cocktail Book joins Gary Regan's THE JOY OF MIXOLOGY and Dale DeGroff's THE CRAFT OF THE COCKTAIL as the indispensable monographs on modern cocktails and spirits.  It belongs on every cocktail lover's shelf."

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Congratulations to Will Friedwald (and his editor, Bob Gottlieb--read Larissa MacFarquhar's excellent Fall 1994 Paris Review interview), whose A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS (Pantheon Books) has received The Timothy White Award for Outstanding Musical Biography, which is one of the 43rd Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for outstanding print, broadcast, and new media coverage of music.  This is not Will's first Deems Taylor Award, however:  his SINATRA! The Song is You, the first full-length musical biography of Old Blue Eyes, won the 1996 award for Excellence in Music Criticism, and was hailed by The New York Times Book Review as the "single most important book on Sinatra ever published." . The Awards were established in 1967 to honor the memory of composer / critic / commentator Deems Taylor, who died in 1966 after a distinguished career that included six years as President of ASCAP.

Additional Praise for the book:

Top Five Books of the Year 2010: Friedwald chronicles the Great American Songbook, its creators, and its interpreters—a body of work that stands at the apogee of this nation’s civilization. Quirky, opinionated, shaped by exquisite taste and judgment, this feat of musical and cultural criticism offers an exuberant glimpse into the American character.
—Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic

A perfect holiday gift . . . An authoritative, comprehensive and oft-amusing guidebook that leads readers through the lives and recordings of hundreds of singers, from Louis Armstrong to Hank Williams.
—The Wall Street Journal

Incisive and useful . . . In this mammoth volume, jazz critic Will Friedwald does for jazz and pop vocalists what David Thomson has done so brilliantly in his New Biographical Dictionary of Film. . . . The author also acts as a consumer guide, steering the reader toward particular songs or albums. . . . Vastly entertaining.
—Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post

In this passionately opinionated encyclopedia of the old-school virtuosos of the American songbook, music writer Friedwald celebrates 200-odd performers of jazz and pop standards, from the mid-20th-century titans to latter-day acolytes, with a raft of unjustly obscure singers in between. . . . [Friedwald] accords each a substantial career retrospective, selected discography and wonderfully pithy interpretive essay. His tastes are wide-ranging and idiosyncratic . . . However unconventional, his judgments are usually spot-on . . . Friedwald’s exuberant medley is that rarest of things: music criticism that actually makes you sit up and listen.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

I think Will Friedwald’s Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers will be of real interest to anyone who cares about the music.
—Hugh Hefner, editor-in-chief of Playboy

If there were such a volume as the Great American Songbook, this book should be right next to it on your shelf. It is truly the definitive work on those who sing and swing those songs.
—Alan Bergman, Grammy and Academy Award–winning songwriter

Will Friedwald has created an instant classic reference tome with his Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers, the wealth of information and the breadth of knowledge being quite staggering. It is written without academic posturing but with wit and warmth and accessibility, covering in fascinating detail the careers of everyone from Jolson and Sinatra, of course, to Lee Wiley, Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich; from Armstrong to Doris Day, and everyone in between. It will surely be considered an essential text.
—Peter Bogdanovich

This extensive work is essential and comprehensive. In opinionated, sometimes witty essays, Friedwald sorts out the lives and careers of more than three hundred singers, some of the greatest vocalists of the twentieth century including such giants as Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Bessie Smith. There are also dozens of unexpected inclusions. For example, Martha Raye merits almost seven pages and her entry helps dusts off her historical reputation as not just a zany character but rather an incredibly gifted and complex artist. . . . Friedwald spent ten years researching this magisterial reference book and it is certain to delight and inform anyone with a passion for the iconic music of America.
—Larry Cox, Tucson Citizen

Will writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal, and his previous book, STARDUST MELODIES:  A Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs, was also published by Pantheon.  Dubbed (by Past Times magazine) as "The Poet Laureate of vintage pop music," Friedwald is internationally recognized as the leading authority on jazz singing and "adult" pop music. He is also the author of Tony Bennett's autobiography, THE GOOD LIFE (1998, Pocket Books) and JAZZ SINGING, published in hardcover by Scribner and in paperback by Da Capo Press.

Friedwald has written regularly about music for The Village Voice (since 1984) and also appears frequently in The New York Times. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Entertainment Weekly, Oxford American, New York, Entertainment Weekly, New York Newsday, L. A. Weekly, Mojo, BBC Music Magazine, Stereo Review, Fi(Delity), The New York Observer, Seven Days and numerous music and film journals.
With prolific television and radio experience under his belt, Friedwald has appeared on hundreds of program in both mediums. He has served as a consultant and on-screen commentator on many television documentaries and news programs (including ABC Nightline, The MacNeil-Lehrer Report, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, and A&E Biography's profiles of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Mel Torme). On the radio, he has hosted many of his own regular disc jockey radio shows, and has also served as a commentator / "columnist" on the National Public Radio program Artbeat. He was a frequent guest with Stan Martin and Jonathan Schwartz on WQEW, and was the subject of an hour-long interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. He served as a consultant and interviewee on NPR's massive Ellington project as well as on dozens of installments of Jazz Profiles and other NPR documentary programs. In addition, Friedwald has produced and annotated hundreds of compact disc reissues, including several Grammy-winning packages (out of a total of six Grammy nominations).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Find Out Why Zack O'Malley Greenburg Wrote his Book on Jay-Z, EMPIRE STATE OF MIND

On the Forbes site Zack writes about why he wrote his book without Jay-Z's participation, ending with:  My book aims to answer a simple question: how did Jay-Z rise from Brooklyn’s impoverished housing projects to a position as one of America’s most successful businessmen? The answer should be of interest to anybody interested in music, sports, or business—and to any entrepreneur in search of a blueprint for building something spectacular from the humblest of beginnings. Jay-Z’s story is the American dream in its purest form, and it’s a story I’m honored to tell—even if he didn’t want me to tell it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Owen Laster, Friend and Mentor, and a Truly Great Man

Owen Laster, 1938-2011

Like many others both inside and outside the publishing world, I owe an immeasurable debt to the great Owen Laster for his principled example of how to conduct the business of agenting (and, by extension, the affairs of living in general) with unparalleled honor and equanimity.

Among the guiding lights in the publishing world, Owen was one of the brightest, and certainly the brightest for me.  In the fourteen years since I left William Morris, we had dinner every one or two months, and spoke more often.  He was quick to point out where I was right or wrong, but equally quick to suggest a way out that would work for all parties involved.  His impact on my life was all pervasive, and I will miss him dearly.

Read William Grimes' New York Times obituary for Owen, a post about Owen by Robert Gottlieb on Publishers Lunch, Hillel Italie's AP obituary, Variety's obituary, and a wonderful post by Glenn Plaskin on his web site, "A Spring Lunch with a Legend."

Ed Victor has written a wonderful piece about Owen for Book Brunch, in which he writes:
He was someone of immense strength of character – always his own man, guided by his own sense of rectitude, even if, every now and then, he had to disagree with company policy. Editors and publishers who worked with him knew they could rely on him to be absolutely straight with them. Someone once said, accurately, that it was odd that a Jewish man could be the epitome of the true Christian. But that was true of Owen – he had an internal compass that always pointed to a moral North.

Monday, March 7, 2011

THE ADVENTURES OF UNEMPLOYED MAN by Stonestreet and Golan #1 Graphic Novel in the UK, is Championed by The Observer

Rachel Cooke reviewed Gan and Erich's masterwork in The Observer yesterday, calling it:

a furious, fearless, Swiftian kind of a book that – to slip into comic-strip speak just for a moment – ASTOUNDS with its wit, and AMAZES with its perspicacity. It should be read by everyone: by the forgotten, hardworking heroes of our desperate economy, who must toil increasingly hard merely to keep the wolf from the door, but also by its villains, who caused all the trouble in the first place. This book is so good it might cause a rare outbreak of shame among the ruling classes – which is why, even as I type, I am shoving copies into two envelopes, to be dispatched shortly to George Osborne, care of HM Treasury, and to Gordon Brown, care of his soppy wife (question: are her "diaries" a spoof?). Gaze on it and weep, guys.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Larry McMurtry Hails MM-Personal by Lois Banner and Mark Anderson in The NY Review of Books

In Larry McMurtry's review of three Marilyn books in the March 10th The New York Review of Books, MM -- Personal emerges victorious.

The Telegraph Features MM-Personal by Lois Banner and Mark Anderson

Tim Auld praises Lois Banner and Mark Anderson's MM-Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe, which Abrams will publish this week, in today's Telegraph:

In November 2005 Millington Conroy, a businessman living in Rowland Heights, 40 miles east of Los Angeles, contacted Mark Anderson, a successful magazine photographer, to discuss an unusual commission.

He had in his possession two metal filing-cabinets, one brown, one grey, containing private papers and a collection of furs, jewellery and other assorted memorabilia, all belonging to Marilyn Monroe. Would Anderson be interested in photographing the collection?

The material – about 10,000 documents – had been thought lost for more than 40 years since the death of Monroe on the night of 4 August 1962. Now, here it was, a treasure trove, languishing in a Californian suburb.

It was the commission of a lifetime, the largest undocumented Monroe archive in existence. Yes, of course Anderson was interested, and, with the help of the biographer and Monroe aficionado Lois Banner, he set about creating a record of the archive's contents, which is now to be published for the first time as a book.

Peter Hessler's COUNTRY DRIVING hits The New York Times Print Paperback Bestseller List!

Peter's third book in his "China Trilogy" debuts on the Times Paperback Nonfiction list at #20 today.  Read Alida Becker's NYTBR review "Red Highways" from a year ago, and Book Review editor Dwight Garner's Books of the Times daily review, "Feeling at Sea on the Roads of New China."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

April Bloomfield's John Dory Oyster Bar Gets Two Stars from Sifton in The New York Times

Agency friend April Bloomfield receives her second set of stars for the reincarnated The John Dory Oyster Bar (check out Frank Bruni's two star review of its first incarnation). Despite the challenges of getting a seat at times, he suggests:  Hurry up and eat, why don’t they? For the food at the John Dory is incredibly good.

A few pull quotes:

...a lobster bisque of great depths of flavor and a kedgeree that might have pleased Kipling, the restaurant’s pleasures rise and tumble like waves against the shore.

...Ms. Bloomfield is cooking well enough to hold her own against any seafood-centric kitchen in the city.

Her food can be astonishing. Take a dish the menu tartly calls chorizo stuffed squid with smoked tomato. (There was a similar item on the menu of the old John Dory.) Ms. Bloomfield buys whole Rhode Island squid and stuffs it with paella rice she cooks with chorizo, red pepper, onion and saffron. For vinaigrette she smokes her own tomatoes and tosses them with sherry vinegar, salt, olive oil and a bit of palm sugar. A cook sears the squid just long enough to heat the rice through and give its body a faint crust, then places it on a soft bed of tiny white beans cooked in crème fraîche, with a cloak of those smoked tomatoes and a hat of cilantro. It costs $15. It is among the best things you can eat in New York City. (In the $4-and-under division, even counting some Chinatown dumplings, it would be difficult to top Ms. Bloomfield’s toast slathered in a paste of anchovies, parsley and olive oil.)

Her escarole salad is a warm, crunchy, cool salad for the celestial, a Caesar meant for emperors.

But the John Dory shows she is also capable of great gentleness, of cooking that is barely more than a curator’s brief.

(Martin Schoeller's photograph
for the New Yorker profile)
The agency's favorite dish? The Oyster Pan Roast, held over from the original restaurant’s menu, combines oysters and their liquor, reduced vermouth, cream and tarragon, into a kind of ambrosia. The toast spread with sea urchin that appears with this is sublime and appears obvious, as if the sea produced butter and everyone knew it. The dish is fabulous.   And it is the kind of dish that we dream of having for lunch on such a day as today, looking out over a snowbound Madison Square from our office.

A fabulous review, all in all.  Great New York restaurants have always been difficult to get into, and those issues pass with time, usually.  So, congratulations, April--and Ken Friedman, her awesomely complementary partner. And we're really looking forward to devouring A GIRL AND HER PIG, which Dan Halpern at Ecco will publish in a few seasons.  It is a wicked good thing for the hard work and talents of our friends to be well portrayed, and Lauren Collins did that very well, too, in her New Yorker profile, "Burger Queen:  April Bloomfield's gastropub revolution," back in November.

Just to be clear:  April is not a client of the agency, though we love her dearly...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Liz Smith Praises MM-Personal by Lois Banner with photographs by Mark Anderson, and Gets It Right...

Writing about MM-Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe by Lois Banner and photos by Mark Anderson, which Abrams will publish in March, the doyenne of gossip writes:

...the overall vibe of the book is wrenching, because it clarifies Monroe’s humanity, her working life, her normal day-to-day existence. She didn’t lurch around every single moment in a drug-induced coma. She had a vital — if troubled —existence. She wrote to her stepchildren by Arthur Miller (in the voice of the family dog, Hugo) and she wrote to Isadore Miller, even after she had divorced his son, Arthur.

While Lois Banner's introduction to the book revises the previous understanding of Monroe, Lois's upcoming definitive biography of her, tentatively titled AN UNCOMMON WOMAN: Marilyn Monroe as an American Icon of Passion and Power, will be published by Bloomsbury here and in the UK simultaneously to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Monroe's death in August 2012.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Read About Zak Pelaccio's Temple in Saveur

In the chef's edition of the Saveur 100, Zak writes:

I live in New York City, a series of islands more focused on its dynamic urban landscape than on communing with the rivers and sea. Perhaps due to this conditioning as a New Yorker, I am awed by how other coastal cities emphasize their aqueous boundaries.