RimlerF15Harold Arlen wrote the soundtrack to long nighttime walks on wet streets, to the staring contests we hold with memory out of the windows of our lonely room, to the melancholy poets of heartache who compose their verse around impatient shouts of “last call.” Anyone who dares to love or dream receives an invitation to Arlen’s world. But the invitation remains written in invisible ink, its words emerging only on the evening when The Someone in your life slams the door for the final time, or during that stormy afternoon when you gaze past the sepia-soaked Kansas plains and half-ask, half-plead, “Why can’t I?” and get no answer.

Dylan called Arlen’s pocket universe a “bittersweet, lonely world.” On the nights when one of us sits in Lonelyville (Population: You), Arlen’s songs make us feel better by making us feel even worse.

In The Man That Got Away: The Life and Songs of Harold Arlen, Walter Rimler tells the story behind Judy Garland’s interpretation of an Arlen/Ira Gershwin collaboration that may have gotten you through a tough time or two:

Hours passed before Ira had its opening lines, “The night is bitter / The stars have lost their glitter / The winds grow colder / And suddenly you’re older.” Half a day was spent on “Good riddance, goodbye”—the first three words and five notes of the bridge. For Arlen, bridges were occasions to explore unusual musical territory, and this time he was particularly adventurous. At “fools will be fools,” the melody and harmony seem to lose each other, making it necessary for the singer to thread her way through a sequence of unfriendly, almost atonal chords.

At the end of the song, in the coda, Arlen returns—we don’t know if it was intentionally—to Leonore’s “It sounds like Gershwin” remark and goes ahead and writes like George, pitting the edgy “the night is bitter” music against a fresh and expansive setting of the title phrase—just as Gershwin had joined a nervous countermelody to the famous slow theme of the Rhapsody in Blue.

Arlen knew it was a powerhouse song and thought Ira’s lyric “glorious.” But Ira wanted to wait a while before letting Judy hear it. It isn’t clear why he felt this way. Maybe he was worried that her judgment would be clouded by their close friendship. He was godfather to her and Vincente Minnelli’s daughter Liza, and it was to the Gershwin home that she repaired during the fights that led to the breakup of that marriage. But Harold had no doubt about the song and was eager to play it for her. He told Ira he was going to take a few days off and relax in Palm Springs—knowing that Judy was there with Sid Luft and scriptwriter Moss Hart. Ira knew this, too, and asked Harold not to go there to play them the song. Harold said he had no such intention, that he just needed rest, and drove the hundred miles to the Tamarisk Country Club, found Judy and Sid on the golf course, and walked it with them.

“About the middle of the round,” he recalled, “I started to whistle very softly. I don’t know what tempted me. She was about twenty yards away—it was kind of a tease and I couldn’t stand it. I love Ira and I love Judy, and well, I whistled the main phrase of ‘The Man That Got Away.’” That was all it took. Judy asked him what he was whistling, he gave her a coy “I don’t know,” and she, certain it was a song for the movie, stopped the golf game and took him to the piano in the clubhouse, where he got what he’d come for: a happy moment. Judy loved the song, as did Sid Luft, Moss Hart, and Hart’s wife Kitty Carlisle. They all went “went wild with joy,” as Arlen later recalled.

revell carrPirates. They have a bad reputation. The robbing. The kidnapping. The walking of planks.

But how about the positive things pirates have done? The contributions to fashion. The government-sanctioned predatory actions against the nefarious Spanish. The unwavering support of a rum industry that made Colonial America such a raging success.

And, of course, the singing. In honor of tomorrow’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, the University of Illinois Press alerts fans in the Champaign-Urbana area that nationally known chanteyeuse Chris Madon will lead the Urbana Sea Chantey Singers in a storytelling and singing celebration of eyepatches and Jolly Rogerses. It’s a free show starting at 3 p.m. on September 19 at the Champaign Public Library Main Branch (200 E. Green Street). The library promises a pirate activity, as well.

Never at a loss to inform, UIP also publishes a book on sea chanteys and the men who yo-ho-ho them. James Revell Carr‘s Hawaiian Music in Motion studies how the music of the islands found a way aboard seagoing vessels and eventually spread around the world to make loping rhythms, falsetto yodels, and driving ukuleles indelible parts of American popular music.

No mere landlubber, Carr also spreads the music via slack key guitar and button accordion as he and a wily crew o’ mates tour land and sea alike. In fact, UIP hosts streaming audio of Carr singing classic chanteys like “The Sailor Loves His Bottle-O” and “The King of the Cannibal Islands.”


HofstraF13George Hamilton IV departed the world two years ago today. Unrelated to the actor and tanning phenomenon of the same name, IV, as he was sometimes called, ambled out of North Carolina in his college years to become a teen idol sensation. Later, he went into country music, filling the Sixties charts with hits and, like all of us at the time, turning to folk music for a while. Rather than mosey into retirement when the hits dried up, Hamilton toured the world representing country and western, with noteworthy trips beyond the Iron Curtain to undermine the Hank Williams-less scourge of communism.

Hamilton met up early on with Patsy Cline, subject of the UIP book Sweet Dreams, and the two became big sister-little brother, with Hamilton usually on the short end of that playful relationship. As he recounts in Sweet Dreams:

She walked up to me and said something like, “I’m Patsy Cline. Who are you?” When I said, “George Hamilton IV,” her response (with a hearty laugh) was “the Fourth? What kind of country singer are you?” When I assured her I was a country singer, she replied, “Where are your cowboy boots?” I said, “I ain’t got none—I’m from North Carolina!” Patsy stood there, grinnin’ from ear to ear, and said, “Who do you think you are, Hoss?—the Pat Boone of country music?” (She used to call me “Mr. Goody 2 Shoes,” as well.)

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Meet the UI Press is a recurring feature that delves into issues affecting academic publishing, writing, education, and related topics. Today, industry advice columnist The Bolshevik answers your questions.

bolshevikDear Bolshevik,
During a recent symposium I attended, one of the participants suggested that one might gain a more enthusiastic readership by dropping bon mots of humor into scholarly articles and books. The audience hooted him into silence but I have to admit the idea made sense to me. Any advice on how I can make laffs work as I face the publish-versus-perish dialectic? —Signed, Stand Up Adjunct

Stand Up: A story, if I may. Back in the youthful days of the revolution, one comrade made a very similar suggestion. As he said, the working class had no patience, or time, for theory-choked critiques and thundering manifestos. Better to enlist the tools of the capitalist—pies in the face, hanging from water towers, walking into rakes—to capture the hearts and minds of toilers everywhere. The Party formed a committee to study the issue, and a committee to advise the committee, and then seven sub-committees, one of which consisted entirely of dancing bears. Following years of debate and occasional shootings, the Party concluded that humor indeed had its place in revolutionary agitprop. But since revolutionaries are in general about as funny as a turnip smoothie with a toenail in it, the idea never caught on.

The modern university, thankfully, offers more fertile ground for humor, as clever people from many fields—only some of them Marxists—make up its ranks. To save you the committee-centric rigmarole illustrated above, I have dug out my copy of the Party’s 1923 pamphlet Comrade Splatzky Commits a Boner.  It advises revolutionaries to salt their literature with certain words guaranteed to provide laughter, the better to lower the defenses of the reader and render them ripe for indoctrination. Imagine how much better your scholarly monograph will sound when it includes words like: underwear, booger, eggplant, rough-rider, loo, the piles, diphthong, gob, monkeyshines, rube, and flautist. Good luck.

Dear Bolshevik,
Recently I read a story about a new software package that monitors students’ faces as they take tests, in order to find out if they’re cheating. Rutgers installed the thing even though (1) it had only been patented a few weeks earlier; (2) they had made no effort to protect the privacy of the students. Do you think the Soviet Union would still be around if they had this kind of equipment? Signed, Spies Like Them

Dear Spies: It is stories like this that make me more certain the Soviet Experiment began 100 years too early. As you suppose, international communism would have fared far better against the capitalist West with this kind of social control machinery at its disposal. Though I question whether the software would’ve run on our kerosene-powered computers.


HickeyF12When you get down to it, a lot of wars deserve the moniker “the forgotten war.” Of late, and in the U.S., it most often shows up in association with the Korean War.

But think of all the others, assuming you’ve heard of them in the first place. The War of Jenkins’ Ear. The Dutch Revolt. The Anglo-Zanzibar War, all thirty-eight minutes of it.

More to the point, think of the War of 1812. Fought from Quebec to the Illinois Country, from Spanish Florida to eastern Maine, the War of 1812 was to most people either (1) that war where the British put down their tea cups long enough to torch the White House (if you’re American) or (2) an unwelcome distraction from dealing with Napoleon Bonaparte (if you’re British). Such is the war’s obscurity that it’s appearances in pop culture consist of a few poems and “The Battle of New Orleans, ” a novelty song that was the Number One Billboard hit of the year 1959 (if you’re American). By the way, the highlight of the song is the moment when Andrew Jackson uses an alligator as a cannon.

Here at UI Press, we believe its time to learn more about this epic chapter in America’s history. The best way to achieve that goal is to buy Donald R. Hickey’s classic The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Awarded a Best Book citation by the American Military Institute, and a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, The War of 1812 paints a full picture of all you could want to know: the Great Lakes sea battles, the shaky Anglo-Native American alliance, Dolley Madison’s heroism, even the fortunes made by smart or lucky privateers.

Don’t feel you can commit to Hickey’s flowing, poetic 480 pages? No problem. UIP also offers the eminently readable, even-fits-in-a-small-bathroom The War of 1812: A Short History. All the highlights. All the essential information. All the clear-eyed analysis. But, in manageable blocks of prose guaranteed to make you forget you’re even reading a history book.

Need an example? Let’s go to tape. After burning Washington in retribution for American troops setting fire to York (present-day Toronto), the British turned to attack Baltimore. On September 13, 1814, British ships began to shell Fort McHenry, at the mouth of Baltimore Harbor.

The bombardment of Fort McHenry was witnessed by Francis Scott Key, who was on board a truce ship under the guns of the main British fleet eight or nine miles away at the mouth of the Patapsco. Key had gone to the British fleet to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes, a civilian the British had seized. By the time that Key arrived, the British had already decided to release Beanes, but the Americans were not permitted to leave until the assault on Fort McHenry was over.

Key paced all night watching the bombardment of the fort from afar. When he saw the British squadron returning downriver on the morning of September 14, he knew the fort had survived. This was confirmed shortly thereafter when he saw (probably through a spyglass) the fort’s huge flag (which was thirty by forty-two feet) run up to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.” Key was so moved that he wrote a song that could be sung to the tune of a British drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” Initially entitled “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” it was later re-titled “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (“The bombs bursting in air” were British mortar shells that exploded over the fort, and “the rockets’ red glare” were Congreve rockets fired at the fort.) Key’s tune became a hit, and in 1931 Congress proclaimed it the national anthem.

As for the huge Fort McHenry flag, it remained in the family of Major George Armistead, the commander of the fort during the bombardment, for the rest of the century. The family periodically cut off patches to give away as souvenirs but donated the flag to the Smithsonian Institution in the twentieth century. Thus, a campaign in the Chesapeake that had been marked by the burning of the public buildings in Washington and the ignominious surrender of Alexandria ended with the successful defense of Baltimore, and in the process produced two powerful symbols, a song and a flag, that resonated through the nation’s history.

What a pleasant excerpt. That’s an entire section of the book. Really. Great, isn’t it? It’s simple. Give Donald R. Hickey the equivalent of one hundred exhaustively-researched, beautifully written blog posts, and he’ll give you The War of 1812.

havigurstF01Today marks an auspicious day in music history: the first recorded performance of Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susannah,” the earliest hit song in U.S. history. Foster’s smash debuted in a Pittsburgh saloon. Soon, Jebediah Americus Kasem, great-great-grandfather of Casey, played it on his Top Forty Hoedown, carried live via the telegraph machine; and in a flash, the sheet music to “Oh! Susannah” found its way into every American piano bench.

In his UIP classic Ohio: A History, Walter Havighurst gives us the background on a song that was the “You Light Up My Life” of the nineteenth century:

On the Cincinnati riverfront in the spring of 1848 a new bookkeeper began work in a shipping office. His name was Stephen Collins Foster. Outside his window, carts rumbled on the pavement, passengers thronged the wharf boat, and a parade of big white streamers lined the levee. In the chill wind, tatters of smoke blew from the tall chimneys. But the river led to the languid, fragrant Southland.

Stephen Foster had melodies in his mind. Forgetting bills of lading, he began to write:

I come from Alabama
Wid my banjo on my knee
I’m gwan to Louisiana
My true love for to see
Oh! Susannah, do not cry for me
I come from Alabama
Wid a banjo on my knee

From the river a whistle sounded, and he saw the handsome new stern-wheeler Telegraph backing off from the landing. The young clerk dipped his quill again:

I jumped aboard de Telegraph
And trabbled down de ribber

The song crossed the plains and mountains. It rounded Cape Horn in square-riggers and climbed the mountains of Panama on muleback. It livened the streets of San Francisco, the road to Hangtown, and the trail to Grizzly Flats.

After six years the Telegraph was beached and broken, but it went on voyaging in Stephen Foster’s song. In 1853 in Delhi, India, and American traveler heard British officers sing of jumping on the Telegraph and heading down the river.

Once rare wonders of the world targeted by giant apes, skyscrapers have become an indelible aspect of the urban experience. Their majesty inspires local pride, their beauty elicits amazement, and their daring/obnoxious designs spark debate. No city is more identified with its skyline than Chicago. From the years following the Great Fire, the City That Works built towers meant to cast shadows on the gates of Valhalla itself.

Featuring over 100 photos and illustrations, Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934 reveals how burned out ruins on a drained swamp became a glittering monument to human vision, human labor, and better building materials. The Wrigley Building. Tribune Tower. The Stock Exchange. Could Chicago be Chicago without them? Thomas Leslie reveals the daily struggles, technical breakthroughs, and negotiations that produced these magnificent buildings. He also considers how the city’s infamous political climate contributed to its architecture.

RegaladoF12Baseball had been a popular pastime in Japanese American communities for years prior to World War Two. When the incarceration of people of Japanese descent finally ended, players and fans returned to their leagues, particularly in California and Hawaii. Japan, having already adopted the game before the war, embraced it anew. San Francisco Giants pitcher Masanori Murakami became the first Japan-born player to make the big leagues. The twenty year old debuted fifty-one years ago today, on September 1, 1964.

In Nikkei BaseballSamuel O. Regalado tells the story of the Japanese American pioneer who helped facilitate Murakami’s time with the Giants. Tsueno “Cappy” Harada’s involvement with the game went back to his childhood in Santa Maria, California. His play brought attention from the St. Louis Cardinals. Then the war began.

Like many other Nisei, Harada enlisted in the military and was assigned to the army intelligence division in the Pacific Theater, where he saw some action and was twice wounded. Harada remained with the forces occupying Japan, and General Douglas MacArthur, who was in charge of the occupation, handed him the task of initiating sports programs. Harada’s position made him an instrumental figure in Japanese baseball fortunes. In step with the kengakudan of his heritage, the Santa Maria native, along with Lefty O’Doul, the popular manager of the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals, arranged several baseball goodwill tours, one of which included celebrities like Joe DiMaggio and his wife, the actress Marilyn Monroe.

By the 1960s and no longer in the military, he remained active in baseball circles. In 1964 Harada helped engineer the signing of Japan’s first entry into the Major League, pitcher Masanori Murakami, who joined the San Francisco Giants later that season. One year later, the minor league Lodi Crushers of the California League hired Harada as its general manager, the first Japanese American to be named to such a post.

For the month of September 2015, to coincide with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History annual meeting September 23-27 in Atlanta, we have lowered the eBook list price of three titles in the University of Illinois Press catalog to $2.99.

Cover for Schlabach: Along the Streets of Bronzeville: Black Chicago's Literary Landscape. Click for larger imageAlong the Streets of Bronzeville: Black Chicago’s Literary Landscape by Elizabeth Schroeder Schlabach
Poverty stricken, segregated, and bursting at the seams with migrants, Bronzeville was the community that provided inspiration, training, and work for an entire generation of diversely talented African American authors and artists who came of age during the years between the two world wars. In this significant recovery project, Elizabeth Schlabach investigates the institutions and streetscapes of Black Chicago that fueled an entire literary and artistic movement. She argues that African American authors and artists—such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, painter Archibald Motley, and many others—viewed and presented black reality from a specific geographic vantage point: the view along the streets of Bronzeville. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for armfield: Eugene Kinckle Jones: The National Urban League and Black Social Work, 1910-1940. Click for larger imageEugene Kinckle Jones: The National Urban League and Black Social Work, 1910-1940 by Felix L. Armfield
A leading African American intellectual of the early twentieth century, Eugene Kinckle Jones (1885–1954) was instrumental in professionalizing black social work in America. In his role as executive secretary of the National Urban League, Jones worked closely with social reformers who advocated on behalf of African Americans and against racial discrimination in the United States. Coinciding with the Great Migration of African Americans to northern urban centers in the early twentieth century, Jones’s activities on behalf of the Urban League included campaigning for equal hiring practices, advocating for the inclusion of black workers in labor unions, and promoting the importance of vocational training and social work for members of the black community. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for DOLINAR: The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers. Click for larger image
The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers Edited by Brian Dolinar
Headed by Harlem Renaissance poet Arna Bontemps and white proletarian writer Jack Conroy, The Negro in Illinois employed major black writers living in Chicago during the 1930s, including Richard Wright, Margaret Walker, Katherine Dunham, Fenton Johnson, Frank Yerby, and Richard Durham. The authors chronicled the African American experience in Illinois from the beginnings of slavery to Lincoln’s emancipation and the Great Migration. After the project was canceled in 1942, most of the writings went unpublished for more than half a century—until now. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for GILL: Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women's Activism in the Beauty Industry. Click for larger imageBeauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry by Tiffany M. Gill
Looking through the lens of black business history, Beauty Shop Politics shows how black beauticians in the Jim Crow era parlayed their economic independence and access to a public community space into platforms for activism. Tiffany M. Gill argues that the beauty industry played a crucial role in the creation of the modern black female identity and that the seemingly frivolous space of a beauty salon actually has stimulated social, political, and economic change. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

During the American version of the 1997 Labor Day weekend, shocking news interrupted the barbeques. Princess Diana had died in a Paris car crash. One of the world’s most visible women, Diana replaced everything in the news for days, and her death remains for many one of the “I-remember-what-I-was-doing-when-I-heard” moments that dot our lives. Indeed, Princess Diana’s death unleashed an international outpouring of grief, love, and press attention virtually unprecedented in history.

What narrative of white femininity transformed Diana into a signifier of both national and global popularity? What ideologies transform her into an idealized woman of the millennium? Why would a similar idealization not have appeared around a non-white, non-Western, or immigrant woman?

Raka Shome investigates. In Diana and Beyond, Shome explores how images of white femininity in popular culture intersect with issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and transnationality in the performance of Anglo national modernities.

Digging into the media and cultural artifacts that circulated in the wake of Diana’s death, Shome investigates  issues surrounding motherhood and the production of national masculinities, global humanitarianism, the intersection of fashion and white femininity, and spiritual and national modernity. The result is a fearless and fascinating explanation of the late princess’s never-ending renaissance and ongoing cultural relevance.