The Hollywood Issue of Vanity Fair features a long story by Josh Karp on Orson Welles’s Quixotic quest to finish The Other Side of the Wind, referred to ever after as his lost masterpiece. A great deal more insider detail on Wind can also be found in the recent UIP release, The Magic World of Orson Welles, James Naremore’s examination of the director’s career and itself a film studies classic.

The Karp article offers the usual hilarious/bizarre anecdotes we expect of any piece of writing on Welles. Like the chair fight with Ernest Hemingway.

It was May 1937 and Welles entered a Manhattan recording studio to narrate a Spanish Civil War documentary whose script had been written by Ernest Hemingway—who happened to be in the sound booth when Orson arrived.

Only 22, Orson was not yet the Orson Welles, but he was on his way as a talented voice actor earning $1,000 a week during the Depression and a Broadway wunderkind who’d had the audacity to stage an all-black Macbeth.

Looking at Hemingway’s script, Welles suggested a few changes, as he recalled to a reporter decades later. Wouldn’t it be better, for instance, to eliminate the line “Here are the faces of men who are close to death,” and simply let those faces speak for themselves?

Hemingway was outraged that anyone would dare tamper with his words and went after Orson, implying that the actor was “some kind of faggot.” Welles responded by hitting Hemingway the best way he knew how. If Papa wanted a faggot, Orson would give him one.

“Mr. Hemingway, how strong you are!” Welles said, camping it up with a swishy lisp. “How big you are!”

Grabbing a chair, Hemingway attacked Orson, who picked up a chair of his own, sparking a cinematic brawl between two of the great creative geniuses of the 20th century, who duked it out while images of war flickered on a screen behind them.

The average person considers a university press a rather humorless concern. Just look at a catalog and you’ll see pages of works by serious scholars, many of whom insist on addressing the kaleidoscope of injustices humans visit upon other humans. While it’s true that our business publishes its share of downers, and that we keep Prozac in the vending machine between the plain M&Ms and the Krackel bars (not that I’d know), the UP community also mixes in books on beauty and those dedicated to its creation.

At UIP, for instance, we love music. In recent times, we have put out fascinating looks at Cantonese Opera, at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, at musics that range from real country to Hawaiian sea shanties. And don’t hold us to the past tense. In the months to come, we’re releasing new books on opera diva Beverly Sills and art music superstar Gordon Mumma, among others.

But does anyone remember fun, you ask? Oh, we remember. Journey below the fold and over the rainbow for Music Trivia Wednesday. Continue reading

toto public domainCall them twisters, call them cyclones, call them (incorrectly) willy willys—tornadoes are as much a part of spring as blossoms on the trees and ants in the kitchen. Roughly 75% of Earth’s tornadoes strike the United States in a given year. Another five percent whip across Canada.

This most North American of disasters continues to fascinate the generations. A tornado played by a nylon stocking plays a pivotal part in a traumatic film pushed on children. Tornado porn built the Weather Channel in the 1990s and convinced millions to watch a film with basically no plot, characters, emotions, or logic not just in theaters, but twice per week on basic cable.

Whether you like your cyclonic storms in fiction, photography, or as cutting-edge science, university presses provide what you need from this amazing and ever-profitable phenomenon. Below we present some of the Essential Tornado Media published by UIP and other presses in the Technicolor world of scholarly publishing. Turn up the weather radio. Scan the dark skies. See if your cat is acting strangely. It’s springtime!

storm seasonThe Storm Season, by William Hauptman
University of Texas Press
Link

The Storm Season tells the story of railroad worker Burl Drennan, who barely survives a twister and makes it his mission to chase storms across Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. Drennan buys a scanner, watches the Weather Channel, learns about drylines and the rain-free base, and even decides to leave the blue-collar grind behind to study meteorology.

Continue reading

tornadoTo pay further homage to the angry gods who make the cumulonimbus their home, we delve into some memorable portrayals of twisters in American pop culture.

1. Tornado episode of WKRP in Cincinnati
The beloved series often forayed into dramedy, and does so in this episode as severe weather threatens the radio station. One of the comedic highlights: Les Nesman using a Cold War-era civil defense file to warn listeners about approaching twisters. In a classic bit of improv, he substitutes “godless tornadoes” for “godless communists.” Continue reading

BealF11Amy C. Beal’s Carla Bley is an in-depth look at a the innovative jazz icon know for, among other things, her involvement in the Free Jazz movement.

As Amy Beal writes in her American Composers series profile of the composer, pianist, and band leader, Bley has exhibited an staggering variety in her work. Over her career, which began at age 17, Carla Bley has been a boundary pusher when it comes to jazz. She has collaborated with be bop masters and rock musicians.

The National Endowment of the Arts has honored Bley by naming her a 2015 Jazz Master.

The NEA will recognize Bley and the other 2015 Jazz Masters at an awards ceremony and concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Monday.

The concert will be streamed live on arts.gov and jalc.org/live.

FinkS14The International Labor History Association (ILHA) has announced that Workers in Hard Times, edited by Leon Fink, Joseph McCartin, and Joan Sangster has been awarded as the ILHA Book of the Year for 2014.

In announcing the awards, the ILHA editor Ronald C. Kent stated:

The volume, represents a cogent contribution to labor history with lessons drawn from past and present worker struggles….particularly revealing are essays by Gaetan Heroux and Bryan Palmer on Toronto labor; David Montgomery on workers’ responses to depressions; Melanie Nolan on worker resistance in the antipodean state; and Lu Zhang on recent Chinese auto worker strikes.

Past award-wining authors include Mildred Beik, Joel Beinin, Carolyn Brown, Dana Frank, James Green, Darryl Holter, Tera Hunter, Peter Linebaugh, Zachary Lockman, Elizabeth Perry, and Marcus Rediker. Books recognized contribute new and engaging research on labor history matters.

 

Weeks in the making, the UIP Book Cover Tournament comes to an end today. It was an interesting final, with Cinderella story Ring Shout, Wheel About taking on powerhouse favorite Chicago Architecture. Do you believe in upsets? A near-record turnout deemed Ring Shout, Wheel About the Best Book Cover in the stable of recent UIP books. Congratulations to the winning cover and all of you bettors who cleaned up. For the entire tournament breakdown, click the image below.

bracket finalists

mcbriartyChicago is a city of bridges. Second only to Amsterdam in the number of drawbridges, the city is connected–and in some cased divided–by the engineering that channels foot, wheeled and marine traffic across the waterways.

Patrick McBriarty, author of Chicago River Bridges, traces the story of those bridges from the first wood footbridge (built by a tavern owner in 1832) to the fantastic marvels of steel, concrete, and machinery of today.

“Chicago is here because of the river,” McBriarty tells Phil Ponce of the public television program Chicago Tonight. “[The river] acted as a harbor and a major waterway connecting the east and west coast making Chicago a center and jumping off point for western expansion and trade.”

As the city grew around the river the communities needed to unite across the waterways. And the bridges built for the people of Chicago led the way with innovations that would influence the style and mechanics of bridges worldwide.

“As Chicago developed, so did the bridges,” McBriarty says.

PowersF14Shawn Powers and Michael Jablonski are the authors of The Real Cyber War:  The Political Economy of Internet Freedom.

Q: When the phrase “cyber war” is used, is the rhetoric designed to describe the internet as a theater of war: a place where hackers attack people and institutions?

Shawn Powers & Michael Jabolonski: John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt proposed the term “cyber war” in 1993 as a reference to the extension of military strategy and conflict into the realm of electronic networks, or more simply, the use of the internet for various forms of covert, forceful attack. Thus, it is often associated with “hackers,” and conjures images of computer-based attacks on parts of a nation’s critical infrastructure, corporations and political institutions. While cybercriminals may be he most visible soldiers in this conflict, from our perspective, they are secondary.

The Real Cyber War argues that publicized hacks, from the alleged North Korean attack on Sony, to China’s infamous heist of Google’s intellectual property, represent a small element of a broader on-going state-centered battle for information resources. Of course, this real cyber war between states is not new; it is as old as the systematic transfer of information across borders. From the invention of the postal service, to the laying of international telegraph and telephone wires, to the rise of international broadcasting, to the modern day roll out of internet and mobile infrastructure, states have been preoccupied with how to leverage information systems for political, economic, and social power.

We suggest a broader conceptualization of cyber war as the utilization of digital networks for geopolitical purposes, including covert attacks against another state’s electronic systems, but also, and more importantly, the variety of ways the internet is used to further a state’s economic and military agendas. In addition to covert attacks, the internet, and the rules that govern it, shape political opinions, consumer habits, cultural mores and values. Unlike revolutionary communication technologies before it, the internet has the potential to be truly global, interoperable and interactive, thus magnifying its significance.

Despite so much popular attention to these issues, until now, scholarly literature failed to offer a systematic and comparative approach to analyzing the political economy of internet policies. Such an approach makes clear that efforts to create a singular, universal internet built upon Western legal, political and social preferences alongside a “freedom to connect” is driven primarily by economic and geopolitical motivations rather than the humanitarian and democratic ideals that typically accompany related policy discourse. This ubiquitous connectivity movement, led by the US government with the support of many powerful private sector and non-government actors, has rich historical roots and is deeply intertwined with broader efforts to structure global society in ways that favor Western cultures, economies, and governments. Thus, debates over the rules and norms guiding emerging internet policies have emerged as critical sites for geopolitical contest between major international actors, the results of which will shape 21st century statecraft and conflict. Continue reading

In observance of The Great One’s birthday, an excerpt from Francis Ford Coppola, by Jeff Menne, a recent book in UIP’s Contemporary Film Director’s Series. Here Menne describes how Coppola’s early film The Rain People affected his working method and the structure of his film production company, American Zoetrope.

menne

Coppola and the small crew traveled in a motorcade of station wagons and microbuses; the most innovative vehicle—dubbed “Silverfish,” though the editor Barry Malkin taped a sign on it reading, “The Magical Mystery Tour”—was a fully rigged production facility on wheels (with mixing boards installed within). “Radio communication between the vans was essential,” Peter Cowie writes, “as usually the next night’s destination was not fixed.”

Their nomadism let them slip Hollywood unions, but it added the diplomatic task of getting shooting permission in the random municipalities. Hence, once they left New York, George Lucas relates, “[E]verybody had to get a haircut and shave their beards off” so that, as incognito hippies, they could “get the cooperation of the various cities and towns that [they’d] go through in order to be able to shoot.”

In part this caravan lifestyle placed them at a remove—“We were isolated and on our own,” Robert Duvall recalls—so that they would be allowed to create a business culture of their own that they could then transplant to San Francisco, the final destination not for the movie alone but for American Zoetrope, the firm being germinated by the movie. That was the final term, after all, and the movie was but a means for it. Making The Rain People, by every account, was fun for all involved. “Those of us who went along,” Coppola notes, “including Jimmy Caan and Bobby Duvall, still talk about the cookouts in the back of the sound trailer.”

The pleasure, though, was professional pleasure. The cinematographer, Bill Butler, impressive as his credits are (Jaws, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Grease), still counts The Rain People as one of his best jobs. The challenge of having only a “minimum number of lights” was considerable, he recalls, but Coppola “gives you a lot of freedom. He lets your creativity work for him.” Like Preston Tucker, one might say. Coppola would call this his “creative management.” It forced one to be inventive, Butler says, and Coppola “loves that particular kind of inventiveness anyway.” Butler continues, “I don’t believe I’ve pulled off more special things for anyone than I have for him.”