Scratch 'n' Sniff

For the “Shrivelled Up” & the “Stupefied” I have written a serious & proper chorale. This chorale is a sort of bitter preamble, a kind of austere & unfrivolous introduction. I have put into it all I know about Boredom. I dedicate this chorale to those who don’t like me. I withdraw. Image © Simon Miller

A Mammal’s Notebook: The Collected Writings of Erik Satie

Erik Satie

“The first collection of Satie’s writings available in English… A pivotal character in the French avant-gardes from the 1880s to the Dada movement of the 1920s. Dismissed as a bizarre eccentric by most of his contemporaries, Erik Satie is recognized as a key influence on 20th-century music.”

Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Paperback: 192 pages


Long Lonely Highway: A 1950s Elvis Scrapbook

Ger Rijff

Snapshots and press clippings follow the Hound Dog Man from ‘55 to ‘57. Detroit: “An atomic explosion of juvenile emotion hit the Fox Theater last night. It was triggered by Elvis Presley, the singer with the profile of a Greek god and the motions of a Gilda Gray, who is the current sensation of the rock ‘n ‘roll business… The guitar seldom got twanged, because Elvis was too busy flexing his knees and swinging his thighs like a soubrette in the palmy days of burlesque.” Jacksonville: “The teen-age rock ‘n’ roll idol, who was advised before his first show here to ‘keep it clean’ or face court charges, met with local Juvenile Court Judge Marion Gooding after the opening performance and was warned sternly to remove the objectionable hip movements from the act.” Vancouver: “One could call it subsidized sex… It was disgraceful, the whole mess.” Tacoma: “I certainly don’t mean to be vulgar when I wiggle my hips during a song. It’s just my way of expressing my inner emotions.” A fresh look at the first years. GR

Publisher: Popular Culture Ink
Hardback: 200 pages

Look! Listen! Vibrate! SMILE!

Compiled by Domenic Priore

Look! Listen! Vibrate! SMILE! is a book-length monument to the great lost Beach Boys opus Smile assembled by a brilliant pop archaeologist. Encounter the moment when Brian Wilson was walking the razor’s edge between psychedelicized madness and pop perfection through an obsessive free-associative scrapbook of fan-magazine interviews, photos, record company promo materials and other Beach Boyana surrounding the recording of the ill-fated masterpiece. SS

Publisher: Last Gasp
Paperback: 298 pages

Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn

David Hajdu

A provocative biography dutifully illustrating the life of Billy Strayhorn, jazz’s long overlooked musician, composer and visionary. Overshadowed by his lifetime associate “Duke” Ellington (“Ellington referred to Strayhorn with cryptic aesthetic intimacy as ‘our writing and arranging companion’”), he was the force behind many Ellington compositions. Strayhorn easily allowed himself to fall into the background. Now is the time for the mysterious, complex, shy, openly homosexual, always graceful legend to receive his due.
Descriptive and refreshingly lyrical, the text encapsulates with various corrective metaphors the lost truths of the jazz composer who sat back as his peers and community reveled in shame and laughter. Cut short when he was one of jazz’s leading practitioners, Strayhorn left behind an unmatched legacy. His life overlapped and deeply influenced many jazz legends: Horne, Holiday, Hodges, Pettiford, to name but a few. Lush Life is as bittersweet as the tune itself. OAA

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardback: 306 pages

Magic: A Picture History

Milbourne Christopher

“Wonders, Wonders, Wonders,” “Seeming Impossibilities,” “Masters of the Mysterious” and “Twentieth-Century Sorcerers,” in a heavily illustrated history of stage trickery from the pharaohs to television. A brief stop on the Continent for some fire-resisting: “The king of Eighteenth-Century fire eaters at the British fairs was Robert Powell. He ate hot coals ‘as natural as bread,’ licked red-hot tobacco pipes—aflame with brimstone—with his bare tongue, and cooked a cut of mutton using his mouth, filled with red-hot charcoal, as an oven. A spectator pumped a bellows to keep the coals blazing under his tongue… Chabert, the French ‘Incombustible Phenomenon,’ was later to carry the fiery arts to new extremes… With several steaks in hand, he boldly entered a blazing oven. Singing merrily in the inferno, he cooked the steaks and handed them out to be eaten. Then he himself emerged, smiling broadly, with not so much as a single singed hair.” GR

Publisher: Dover
Paperback: 224 pages

Main Street to Miracle Mile: American Roadside Architecture

Chester Liebs

This treatise “established the 20th-century roadside landscape as a subject for serious study.” The author “traces the transformation of commercial development as it has moved from centralized main streets, out along the streetcar lines, to the ‘miracle miles’ and shopping malls of today.” Also “explores the evolution of roadside buildings, from supermarkets and motels to automobile showrooms and drive-in theaters.” GR

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University
Paperback: 260 pages

The Mainland Luau: How To Capture the Flavor of Hawaii in Your Own Backyard

Patricia L. Fry

“With Hawaiian friend Ethel Eddy, Ms. Fry has hosted many large luaus. Here she combines her experiences with those of others to present this informative, easy-to-follow guide to the backyard luau:
• Scrumptious Island Recipes
• Fresh Flower Leis
• Hawaiian Language Skills
• 8 Methods of Roasting a Whole Pig
• Tropical Decorations
• Island Custom Savvy”

Publisher: Matilija
Paperback: 76 pages

Manhole Covers

Mimi Melnick

Coffee-table tome for street- and sewer- life aficionados. “They lie underfoot, embellished and gleaming,” cast-iron lids on a dark world where “liquids such as beer, milk, ice cream or orange juice flow unseen down secret avenues.” They’re waffled, starred, sunburst, checkered and grooved. “Part history of material culture, part exercise in obsessive photographic cataloguing, part crypto-Pop artist’s book. There’s a crisp and even elegant matter-of-factness to their writing and their pictures, a spare functionalist precision.” Photographed directly from above, a hefty collection of metal presented in lustrous black and white, the pictures aesthetically satisfy “a certain organicist longing for closed forms.” GR

Publisher: MIT
Hardback: 252 pages

The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic

Barnaby Conrad III

If any single cocktail ever deserved its own art book, it’s the martini. It is a symbol of power, elegance, sophistication, nostalgia and civilization itself. All manner of writers have had things to say about the martini. Among those included in this book are: Dorothy Parker, Ogden Nash, Luis Buñuel, Robert Benchley, Noel Coward and Ian Fleming. Whether it appears in advertising illustrations, the world of fine art or as a motif in cinema, the martini is a sexy and nearly universal symbol of class. (The author’s father owned the El Matador bar in San Francisco, a swank place with a “who’s who” clientele which spawned its own history book. One ascertains that the author properly reveres his subject and knows something, firsthand, of the martini’s heyday.)
The book begins with various theories of the martini’s origin. There follows a brief history of gin and Prohibition. The martini’s role is explored in literature, politics and film. There follows an assessment of the relative popularity of the martini through the decades. Then, of course, comes the dissertation on mixing the perfect martini. The illustrations are lavish and copious. If one were unable to read and had to guess what this book was about, from the pictorial evidence one would surmise it described an elegant world full of beautiful silver-and-glass containers peopled by a very sophisticated race of impeccably dressed beings. Bottoms up! SA

Publisher: Chronicle
Hardback: 132 pages

Miles: The Autobiography

Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe

The autobiography of one of the most important and influential musicians in the world. With an uncensored candor and a stellar wit, Miles recounts the major events of his life: his upbringing in East St. Louis where, still a teenager, he first saw Dizzy and Bird and made up his mind to become a musician; his journey to New York ostensibly to study at Juilliard but in fact to apprentice himself to Charlie Parker (a musical education at once intense, tragic and uproarious—Miles’ recounting of a cab ride they once took together is hilarious); his pioneering of “cool jazz”; his later forays into electric funk. Looking back over a lifetime of musical experimentation, Miles recalls his work with numerous jazz giants, most notably Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Trane and especially (despite an impatience toward white people bordering on bigotry) Gil Evans. Maddening, mercurial, irreverent and extremely funny, the book is punctuated with uncomfortable details—rampant promiscuity, failed marriages, recurring drug addictions—anyone else would have understandably played down or excluded altogether. It’s a credit to Quincy Troupe that he was able to capture and sustain Miles’ uniquely vernacular tone throughout—the reader has the sense of listening to a man spin out the story of his extraordinary life in unsparing detail. Read the book, heed the music. MDG

Publisher: Touchstone
Paperback: 446 pages

Mind and Society Fads

Frank Hoffman, Ph.D., MLS, and William G. Bailey, M.A.

Ever wondered where the self-affirmation “Every day in every way, I am getting better and better” came from? Find out in this Cliff Notes-like guide to social phenomena. There isn’t deep analysis here, but enough information to allow one to bluff at dinner parties. However, one of the biggest flaws of a book like this (and those of self-proclaimed answer men, such as Cecil Adams) is that they are only as good as their sources. Lack of information and cultural bias can give short shrift to unconventional beliefs. TC

Publisher: Haworth
Paperback: 285 pages