Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tributes to Levon Helm

I love the amount of coverage that’s been devoted to Levon Helm’s death. First up, KARK Channel 4 (a Central Arkansas NBC affiliate) notes:

Flags will be lowered across the state Friday in honor of Arkansas native and celebrated musician Levon Helm…

Then there’s the A.P. reporter Mary Esch covered the wake, which included the following quote from Al Caron:

He was an icon, but also the guy next door…

Crickett Rumley on Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell

Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell

When a mutual friend told me about Young Adult novelist Crickett Rumley‘s 2011 book, Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell, I immediately decided I had to email interview the author. Here’s the official scoop on the book: “Expelled from thirteen boarding schools in the past five years, seventeen-year-old Jane Fontaine Ventouras is returning to her Southern roots, and the small town of Bienville, Alabama, where ladies always wear pearls, nothing says hospitality like sweet tea and pimento cheese sandwiches, and competing in the annual Magnolia Maid Pageant is every girl’s dream.

“But Jane is what you might call an anti-belle, more fishnets and tattoos than sugar and spice. The last thing on her mind is joining the Magnolia Maid brigade and parading around town in a dress so big she can’t fit through a door. So when she finds herself up to her ears in ruffles and etiquette lessons, she’s got one mission: ESCAPE.”

This interview was conducted in late 2011. My thanks to Rumley for her time and humor.

Tim O’Shea: When did you first realize you derived creative satisfaction from writing teen comedy?

Crickett Rumley: Being a teenager is one of the most terrifying states of existence on earth. At least it was for me. On some level, everybody feels awkward and is searching for who they are, whether they are the most popular girl in school or the computer geek who hides in the corner and only comes out to answer calculus questions. Under those conditions, emotions run at full velocity – the highs are stratospheric, the lows are deeper than the sea. Everything means everything. So I’ve always felt that period in a character’s life is ripe for story-picking.

Continue reading Crickett Rumley on Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell

Paying Tribute to Levon Helm As He Enters Final Cancer Stages

Today, Levon Helm’s daughter and wife (Amy and Sandy) posted the following message on his website:

Dear Friends,
Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration… he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage…

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.

To celebrate him as he is still with us, I share a couple of things.

Continue reading Paying Tribute to Levon Helm As He Enters Final Cancer Stages

Um OK: Salinger & the 1940 Census

As recently noted by the New Yorker blog, Jen Carlson over at the Gothamist has discovered that (partially inspired by the release of personal details of 1940 Census) some folks have cobbled together small details about a pre-recluse J.D. Salinger. An odd way to go, but still interesting to check out on some level.

I am more intrigued by the potential for generic, non-celebrity research:

“Kate Stober at the NYPL tells us it’s ‘more than just a research tool, we’ll be helping New Yorkers create a social history map of buildings and neighborhoods in the five boroughs. When you find an address, the tool pins it to both a 1940 map and a contemporary map, so you can see how the area has changed.’ “

Jeremy Newberger on Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie

When I found out that the folks over at Ironbound Films had made Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie, a documentary about one of the most unique television hosts from the 1980s, I was intrigued. Then when I learned the documentary was going to have its world premiere this month at the Tribeca Film Festival, I was fortunate enough to email interview one of the three creative forces (and directors) from Ironbound, Jeremy Newberger.

Tim O’Shea: Was it hard to track down folks that had worked on the production of his show, or are many of them still active in the industry today?

Jeremy Newberger: Finding the producers of “The Morton Downey Jr. Show” was easy. Getting them to overlook twenty years of repressed rage and therapy bills was a little trickier. Most of them are still in production on everything from theSPEED Network to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Show creator Bob Pittman is now CEO of a little company called Clear Channel.

Continue reading Jeremy Newberger on Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie

She Committed Suicide & She Was Talented: Make a Sylvia Plath Comparison?

Last week, Slate’s Heather Murphy wrote a piece examining the Francesca Woodman Retrospective at the Guggenheim.

I love photography, I love any examination of it in the mainstream. Woodman was a photographer who happened to take her life at the age of 22. A tragic loss–and a career ended far too young, admittedly.

But I winced when I saw the headline “Is Francesca Woodman the Sylvia Plath of Photography?” I am trying to find another word, but the word that keeps popping in my head is “offended”. Just because you are talented and recognized for a talent in public (two elements which Plath and Woodman share) does not mean that the choice of suicide makes Woodman the Plath of her chosen art. The comparison is not only lazy, it insults both creative talents.