You can hardly discuss The Beatles without noting their collective sense of humor, but as far as I know, until now no one’s written a book about it. And if someone did, it couldn’t have been as lushly and cleverly illustrated as The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny).
The oversized hardback, by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, with illustrations by Stacy Innerst, is new from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Innerst is best known around here as a veteran illustrator for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (though on the book’s jacket, he notes that had his boyhood wish come true, he’d now be Ringo).
Here's his double-page spread depicting the four trying to name the band:
In a world where pop stars were still rarely heard offstage, The Beatles’ carefree cheek paved the way for more radical dealings with the press — like Dylan’s, a couple years later — not to mention their own increasingly outspoken politics. (Though none of that, of course, figures in a kids’ book.)
While Fab comes complete with a bibliography, rest assured, parents, that this is a cleaned-up telling focusing on the lads’ light-hearted side — the public giddiness of Beatlemania being the touchstone.
Throughout, Innerst’s richly illustrations capture the band with just a loving touch of caricature and spot-on gestures. (Though it might have been fun to see what he could do with Sgt. Pepper’s silliness and maybe even a bit of psychedelia.)
If you remade A Hard Days’ Night as a children’s book — and in color — it would look a lot like The Beatles Were Fab.
The event, meant to introduce local writers to the community, will be held May 4 at — of course — Bruster’s Ice Cream of Ingomar, 9600 Perry Highway. What goes better with literature than ice cream?
As of last week’s announcement, Sauret said nine other other authors would be tabling at the Saturday-evening event, but more are welcome. While any published local author with a physical book to sell is eligible, Sauret says he is wrapping up the roster this week. There is no tabling fee.
Refreshments will be available (and not just ice cream). A percentage of Bruster’s sales during the event will benefit the Northland Public Library.
Interested authors should contact Marta Greca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sauret is the author of 2012 short-story collection Amidst Traffic.
On April 7, 1968, three days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., residents of Pittsburgh's Hill District peacefully marched through the city, mourning the civil-rights leader's death.
Pittsburgh's nonviolent response came as public reaction to King's assassination was marked by intense riots in dozens of major cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles.
Informed of the potential for the march to become violent, freelance photographer, Charles R. “Chuck” Martin — who then worked as a photographer for United Way — walked across the Sixth Street Bridge, from the North Side, to shoot photos of the rally.
“The only thing anyone was talking about that day was the assassination. It felt like such a significant moment in history and it needed to be documented,” says Martin, now 85.
Armed with a pocket full of film and two cameras around his neck, Martin took more than 120 photos, documenting the peaceful demonstration.
Now, 45 years later, Martin has donated his entire collection negatives and black-and-white photos to the University of Pittsburgh. And tomorrow, Pitt hosts "MLK Jr. Pittsburgh March: Through the Lens of Charles Martin," displaying Martin’s photographs from that day.
The event, held in the Dick Thornburgh Room of the Hillman Library, will feature talks from Michael Dabrishus, Pitt’s assistant University librarian; Laurence Glasco, a Pitt professor of history; and Martin himself.
Pitt Library Communications Manager Crystal McCormick-Ware says few people would otherwise see these photos.
"When we received the collection, we were just ecstatic,” McCormick-Ware said.
Martin says he donated his images to the university’s library because so much of his work was in Allegheny County, and it seemed natural to want to preserve his photos at Pitt.
Twelve of Martin’s photos from the April 7, 1968, march will be on display inside the library, on the ground floor, through summer. Friday’s event runs 10-11 a.m.
Martin says it is important to recognize the events of 1968 in honoring Pittsburgh’s civil-right history.
“One of the last photos in the set is a pair of clenched hands — one black, one white — and the sign for Centre Avenue in the background. How it ought to be.”
Written by Jeff Ihaza
Pittsburgh author Matthew Newton is familiar with the reality of economic decline. Raised at the end of the steel age, Newton has a perspective on the world informed by the unpredictability of local economies.
In 2009, against a backdrop of nationwide economic uncertainty, Newton learned he’d lost his job as an editor of a nonprofit automotive magazine. The news came just as the author and his wife were contemplating a larger family, while vacationing in the Laurel Highlands.
“I think the title is a representation of all of the things surrounded by a good job: the idea of providing for a family that we’re sort of brought up with,” says Newton, who Founded the online journal Annals of Americus and whose work has been published by The Atlantic, Esquire, Forbes and others.
Much like a play, the 17-page book is divided into three parts, walking readers through the experience as through the stages of grief.
In Part 1, titled “Permanent Vacation,” Newton charts the emotions of an increasingly familiar American experience with a precision that comes only from having lived it.
Newton often recalls the feeling of worthlessness associated with being fired over the phone. From there, he rebuilds. Part II, “Burn it Down,” brings readers into the awkwardness of collecting personal goods from a former workplace, with Newton’s inner monologue describing his racing thoughts in those moments.
The digital book is being distributed through the popular blog Thought Catalog, which Newton once edited for. It is also available in the Amazon Kindle bookstore.
In a literary landscape nearly as uncertain as the 2009 job market, Newton finds the emerging digital market a perfect ground for innovative work. He draws a parallel between the growing popularity of eBooks and the independent music scene, the content in both cases being in the hands of its creators.
“No one really knows what to expect out of all this yet,” Newton says.
By publishing his relatively short work digitally, Newton seeks in essence to creatie a market for works that might be too long for a typical magazine feature but too short for a traditional print book.
“I really had a concentrated burst of information. The first few drafts were longer and definitely had more expletives, but the finished product just sort of fit in this format,” Newton says.
As for the “death” of Newton’s job, the writer is currently working as an editor for a nonprofit that publishes academic journals. He continues to contribute work to Thought Catalog and is working on a nonfiction collection that depicts life in the suburbs called No Place for Disgrace.
Much like Death of a Good Job, Newton’s current project is influenced by personal experience. He lives in the suburb of Churchill with his wife and two sons.
Pretty gutsy of playwright Young Jean Lee to title this 2012 show as she did. On the one hand, you risk scaring away people afraid of the word “feminism,” or at least those who fear a harangue of some kind. On the other — given the kind of show it actually is — you risk ticking off people who expect a harangue of some kind.
Because whatever else it is, the world-touring Untitled Feminist Show — here courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum’s Off the Wall series — isn’t what you’d expect. While it shares elements with some of Lee’s earlier work, it’s consistently fresh and unpredictable, starting with the fact that the six female performers are stark naked the whole one-hour show.
And so the show’s form and function were largely one: The women’s simple acts on stage were the point, but that point was made with plenty of craft. Lee drew her cast (four of whose original six members performed here) from the worlds of dance, cabaret and burlesque. Each had her own considerable stage presence. Most also moved really well — especially important because the show has no dialogue (needless to say, another first for Lee).
The six women gave us a series of vignettes including: a childlike group frolic blended with a Grimm’s fairy tale; Malinda Ray Allen’s winsome pop-concert parody (with lyrics consisting entirely of “la-la”’s); and Amelia Zirin-Brown (a.k.a. Lady Rizo) pantomiming sex acts which gradually escalate to cheerful absurdity. (Think braided male progenitive organs.)
Other highlights included a bravura slow-motion fight sequence with two combatants and four onlookers taking sides — and the fight’s loser (Desiree Burch) encoring with an erotic dance. A few other set pieces, like a sort of dance to spring with pink parasols, felt like simple tributes to the joy of movement.
The show’s revue format, with a fair amount of direct-to-audience address by individual performers, was familiar from Lee’s The Shipment, a potent exploration of racism her company performed here last year.
Off the Wall has invited Lee most every year for the past several seasons. When she and her collaborators are firing on all cylinders, it’s easy to see why.
This stage bio of African-American singer Roland Hayes isn’t a play in the standard sense. It’s more a succession of imagined scenes from his groundbreaking life, from childhood in rural Alabama poverty to stardom on world concert stages in the early 20th century.
Of course there’s plenty of music too, with the powerful voices of Jubilant Sykes (as Hayes) and Kecia Lewis (as his mother) booming out everything from vintage spirituals to German art song. Many scenes in fact feel built around the songs they lead up to.
This isn’t a heady evening at the theater. Playwright Daniel Beaty has arranged the scenes chronologically, with some flash-forwards to tie things together. And it’s all built around a few simple conflicts: Hayes’ desire to sing; his mother’s resistance to that career choice; and society’s resistance to a classically trained black vocalist. (Hayes was born in 1887; and we thought Marian Anderson, born 10 years later, in Philadelphia, had it tough — because, of course, she did.)
But the whites who kept Hayes down are represented in this show by a single character — a brutal Southern cop. The other seven roles played by actor and piano accompanist Tom Frey are all sympathetic. If more genteel influential persons ever barred the singer’s way — and they must have — we never get a concrete sense of it. Worse, despite some lyrical writing, Beatty never offers much insight into Hayes. He’s simply someone driven to sing and who hates segregation, both qualities you could have guessed going in.
Still, as Michelle Pilecki points out in her review of the show for CP, the skilled and tireless three-member cast are quite enjoyable. And Hayes’ amazing story — he died in 1942 — is too little known. If nothing else, Sykes’ performance makes sure you won’t forget it.
There are four more performances of Breath & Imagination: 8 p.m. tonight, 5:30 and 9 p.m. tomorrow, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
A new contest invites you to submit cultural images converted into digital Andy Warhol-style screen prints via The Warhol D.I.Y. POP App.
New York-based translation and marketing agency Acclaro and The Andy Warhol Museum present the social-media contest, called “POP Your Culture with The Warhol D.I.Y. Pop App.”
Submissions should be entered online on the Acclaro Facebook page. The contest launched March 21, and the deadline is midnight on March 31 (that's Sunday).
The DIY Pop App is available for smart phones that allow users to make any image as iconic as Warhol’s famed Campbell’s Soup Cans.
Here's a sample work.
The contest will have four winners, with the top three selected by Nicholas Chambers, the Milton Fine curator of art at The Warhol. The fourth winner will be selected by votes from the masses on Facebook.
The grand prize is a trip for two to Pittsburgh including a private tour of the current museum exhibition, Regarding Warhol. Second- and third-place winners willl receive gift certificates to The Warhol Store in the amounts of $300 and $200 respectively that are also valid online.
The fourth winner, selected by likes on Facebook, will have their submitted image set as The Warhol Facebook and Twitter profiles for a day, exposing their work to more than 550,000 combined followers.
In the way of many solo shows, Kim El’s new work is a tour de force.
In this full-length autobiographical play, the local performer and playwright portrays eight characters, only two of whom are explicitly versions of herself. And she’s a strong enough performer and storyteller that the more didactic aspects of the show seldom seem too heavy-handed.
There’s plenty of humor, too. If El’s portrayal of her grandmother coming to terms with a naked Barbie isn’t alone worth the price of admission, it’s close.
And if the show’s heart is El’s struggle with clinical depression, there’s much more to it than that. Particularly engaging is the protagonist's evolving relationship with the Hill District’s projects — from the downscale place she dpesn’t want to live as a kid but had to when her parents broke up, to the neighborhood she ardently defends as a college student when a clueless Duquesne University student advisor puts it down.
Here’s Michelle Pilecki’s review for CP.
There are three more performances of Straightening Combs this weekend, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets are $15-25.
Performer Ben Sota’s troupe — now 10 years old! — is doing a cute little show called “Cake” as its first Pittsburgh performance in a bit. It’s performed for free, outdoors in Market Square, Downtown, through Sunday.
Sota (as the dad) does some nice juggling and other tricks; Erin Carey some fine trapeze work (that’s her pictured, and bundled up); and Becca Bernard (as the birthday girl) and Bob Shryock contribute clowning and other talents, plus audience—participation hijinks. Cream pies are also involved.
The half-hour show had it first performance at noon today. I caught the 5 p.m. performance; the audience was just a couple dozen but appreciative (even if the applause was somewhat muffled by mittens).
“Cake” is on courtesy of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. There are six more performances, at noon, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow, and 2, 5 and 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Three years ago, J.J. Hensley had neither run a serious distance race nor thought about writing a book. But one challenge followed the other, and his debut novel, Resolve (The Permanent Press), is available now for pre-order on Kindle, with a hardback edition due tomorrow.
That’s what you call hitting the wall.
Hensley, who grew up in Huntington, W.V., is himself a former cop and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service. He moved to the Pittsburgh area in 2006 to work for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The resident of Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs took up distance running and in 2010 completed his first half-marathon.
Right around that time, he also took his wife’s suggestion and turned his love of mysteries and thrillers (by the likes of James Grady, John Virdon and Vince Flynn) into his own writing habit.
“I started typing away,” he says simply. “It actually came fairly naturally to me.”
Building his own thriller around a distance race seemed natural, too. “You have a lot of time to think [during a race],” says Hensley, 38. “You’re running two-plus hours sometimes.” Moreover, he adds, “Each mile almost has its own story.”
Hensley’s sense of plotting and suspense, and his way with a short, snappy sentence, caught the eye (through his agent) of The Permanent Press, a long-running and rather prestigious indie publisher based in Sag Harbor, N.Y. The award-winning press, which has been featured in The New York Times, has published works that went on to win honors like the American Book Award.
Resolve is available in its Kindle incarnation tomorrow, and will shortly have other e-book and audio-book versions, says Hensley.