Plug for Chester Himes

So there’s a new biography out there. And I certainly agree with the basic conclusion of it. I discovered Himes by accident because, strangely enough, he apparently had a huge fan in Missoula, MT who sold all his ’60s paperbacks to a local used store. I started out in the summer after I graduated from college with For Love of Immabelle and had to pick the shards of my brain off the ceiling. I resolved to read everything I could find by Himes and I have. My only mild disappointment was his autobio, The Third Generation, which seemed too careful and cleaned-up to me. (Well, Pinktoes has long porno-mechanical stretches mixed in with wonders.)

 

Snopes Down the Slope

Place is in a real pickle now. I suspect they will get the donations to survive for the nonce, but such a shaky foundation is not good. I’m not as upset as I once would have been, not least because I thought the elan never came back after Barbara Mikkelson departed. Now we find out her ex, Dave M., got his start spreading false information as well as debunking it. Yich.

The Air Is Still and the Light Is Cool #21

New York Art Quartet, S/T, (ESP 2009 reissue of 1965 LP)

Maybe more obvious than other “Air Is Still” selections, but I love this record more every time I play it and it wrapped me up the first time I played it (on vinyl) when I was beginning to understand free jazz after moving to Cambridge in 1977.

Here’s the basic scoop.

Rudd (and Tchicai) dominate, not only because they wrote all the material — except Amiri Baraka’s precise, lacerating addition of his own “Black Dada Nihilismus” (feels utterly up-to-this-moment) — but because the trombonist and the alto sax player share an approach/understanding of free jazz that makes it no enemy of the lyrical, the playful, the song-like. But unbounded as any improvisations. This really is a prime choice to play for those who say they don’t like/understand “free jazz.”

R.I.P. “Fabulous” Flo Steinberg

Charming selection of images with this obit. Always under-credited. I think she was right to quit over the $5 raise issue and that it was a sad testament to the difficulty women face(d?) is the comic book world that she fail to score on her own.

(To be fair, the 1975 timing on Big Apple Comics — I own a copy and “fabulous” is the only word for it — was unfortunate. Underground Comix were going into a death spiral.)

D’OH!/Hooray Combo

D’oh: I do so have an older Jean Shepard anthology. It was just buried in the back CD stacks and I had forgotten about it. (I only looked in the obvious places. Yes, I’ve got too many separate storage areas.) This happens rarely, but makes me feel like a mad hoarder with a faulty memory.

Hooray!: The two collections overlap so little I’m plenty glad to keep both of them.