In 1973, fresh out of grad school and after an unhappy spell in law school, unable to find a job teaching in American community colleges, I found two job postings on a UCLA international job bulletin board. One was to teach English at a brand new university in Constantine, Algeria. The other was a teaching post at a University in Shiraz, Iran.
What grabbed me about the University of Constantine was the gorgeous futurist architecture of the great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who has recently celebrated his 104th birthday. He once beautifully stated:
“I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves……the curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of a beloved woman.”
Who could resist this? Plus, I’d lived in Paris before and spoke French. So I applied. Read More →
George Whitman just died at the ripe old age of 98. He took over the famous Left Bank bookstore, Shakespeare & Co., after the the original owner, Sylvia Beach, left it at the onset of World War II. She ran it as a publishing company that famously published James Joyce’s revolutionary novel Ulysses in 1922. The book was banned in the U.S., no American publisher would publish it. It was considered obscene. But what is considered obscene in America is often considered great literature or art in Paris. George Whitman took over the book store part after she left and ran it pretty much until he was in his 90s and infirm; his daughter then took over.
I got to know George Whitman while in Paris in 1970 and a student at the Sorbonne. Read More →
The other day I was reading the latest issue of Absolute Sound, an audiophile publication that recently published a piece about Henry Rollins called “Henry Rollins: I Am an Audiophile!” I wrote a blogpost about that on my KCRW Rhythm Planet column (http://blogs.kcrw.com/rhythmplanet/henry-rollins-i-am-an-audiophile/). In the new ish there was an article about classic lp’s that have never been reissued/need to get reissued. One of those lp’s was an album by one of my favorite jazz pianists, Paul Bley: it was issued on the Dutch label Fontana Records in 1966 and was titled “Blood”. Now I was sure, as I approached the “B” section of my vinyl library, that I didn’t have this lp or if I did it must have been sold, loaned out, or otherwise gone. (I sold my vinyl collection in 1976 to Rhino Records to help pay for long distance phone bills occasioned by my breakup with my French girlfriend. What a waste!). Read More →