Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fred Blosser; Indys battle for survival

Ed, this may be an item of interest to the readers of the blog. I know some are fans of this particular artist. One of this year's great pop culture events occurred Saturday night but received scant notice in the media, aside from an article and a review in the NY Times. Ennio Morricone played a concert of his film music at Radio City Music Hall, his first ever in the U.S. I drove up from Virginia and discovered that my reserved seat could hardly have been better -- eight rows from the stage, in direct line with Maestro Morricone, and an unobstructed view.

Consider, this is a man whose scores I've enjoyed for almost 40 years, ever since I saw THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY at age 17 at my (now long-gone) neighborhood movie theater. The centerpiece of Saturday night's concert was a suite of themes from three of Morricone's spaghetti western collaborations with Sergio Leone -- the main theme from THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY; "The Ecstasy of Gold" from the same movie (this is the surging tune that plays as Eli Wallach delirously runs round and round the cemetery, looking for the grave where the gold is buried); the theme from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST; and the theme from A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE.

Of interest to crime movie fans, Morricone also conducted three tunes from ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, the theme from THE UNTOUCHABLES, and the theme from THE SICILIAN CLAN (another longtime favorite from the time that I saw the 1970 Henri Veneuil movie during my college days).

Yesterday's New York Times ran a middling review that made some valid points. The concert was relatively short, a little over two hours, including three encores that repeated "The Ecstasy of Gold" and two other tunes that the orchestra and chorus had already performed. The producers missed a chance to add another dimension by not using a multi-media format in which relevant movie clips would have been projected onto a back screen. As a matter of personal taste, I would have discarded some of the music in the playlist and substituted the themes from THE BIG GUNDOWN, FACE TO FACE, "The Wild Bunch" and "Jack Beauregard" from MY NAME IS NOBODY, "The Man with a Harmonica" from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, the theme from THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (which ran on TCM the other night), the theme from THE BURGLARS, and the theme from FIVE-MAN ARMY.

But those are minor quibbles when one considers that this man is one of the great popular composers of the past 40 years, who with his friend Leone created movies that continue to have a profound influence on film culture. To see him in person, conducting music that reverberates in this country's vast collective unconscious, was grand. Nine out of ten people in the country may not know his name, but I betcha if they hear the opening notes of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," they can identify the tune. Given his age (78), seeing him perform in public was probably an opportunity that I'll never have again.

My only regret was that I didn't plan ahead a bit better. After the concert ended and the crowd began to file out, I looked back and noticed that Morricone was standing on one side of the stage, speaking to some folks below. By the time I made my way through the crowd, he had gone backstage. I hung around for a few minutes, suspecting that with some persistence and polite wheedling, I might have a chance of talking my way backstage to shake hands with the Maestro, at least. But the hour was late, time was growing short, and my wife was waiting elsewhere, so I gave up the idea. But I'll be watching this year's Academy Awards telecast to see Morricone honored with a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award.

Fred Blosser

COLUMN ONE Copright 2007 Los Angeles Times
Bookshops' latest sad plot twist
By David Streitfeld, Times Staff Writer
February 7, 2007

Turning the page
click to enlarge

'Technology is here to stay, but I firmly believe that we will still have better things to do than sit in front of a computer.'
— Lewis Buzbee, author of “The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop”
San Francisco — FIVE years ago, Gary Frank decided to sell his bookstore here.

The Booksmith had built a fine reputation over a quarter of a century, thanks to an impressive series of author appearances and a high-traffic location in the old hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury.

Yet hardly anyone expressed interest. Frank was disappointed but not surprised.

"Maybe they saw the future," he said.

A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, open since 1982 near City Hall, sought a buyer, couldn't find one, and closed last summer. Cody's Books shut its flagship Berkeley store after a half-century run. Black Oak Books closed one of its stores and is considering shutting the other two if a buyer can't be found. Numerous small new and secondhand stores have fallen with little fanfare.

The casualties are nationwide. Coliseum Books and Murder Ink in Manhattan shut down in recent weeks. Micawber Books in Princeton, N.J., couldn't make it. Dutton's 2-year-old outpost in Beverly Hills has closed, and the original Dutton's in Brentwood will be forced to shrink or relocate if the landlord carries through with plans to redevelop the site.

Rising rents and competition from the chains have imperiled independents for years, but San Francisco used to think it was immune. Cody's and other Bay Area stores helped spark the Beat movement, encouraged the counterculture, fueled the initial protests against the Vietnam War. In a region that sees itself as smart and civilized, bookshops were things to be cherished.

No longer, apparently. The stores that are still in business feel compelled to underline that fact.

"Rare but Not Extinct," one proclaimed in a holiday ad. Another, announcing a special sale in a leaflet, felt the need to emphasize, "We're not going out of business."

WHAT'S undermining the stores is a massive shift in buying habits brought about by the Internet. Ordering from, Frank said, has almost become the generic term for book buying.

Technology changes behavior, which reshapes the physical landscape. The era of repertory movie houses playing "Casablanca" and "High Noon" ended with the VCR. The telephone booth was replaced by the beeper, which was made obsolete by the cellphone. And the newspaper is under siege by the Internet's ability to recombine and distribute news without leaving ink on your hands.

"The bookstore as we know it is in dire straits," said Lewis Buzbee, a novelist who spent many years working in the local shops.

for the rest of the article long on here:f,0,5410850.story?coll=la-home-business

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure Morricone was ever better than with his second western score, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. I'm sure very few others by anyone have been comparable, almost none I've heard better.