Archive | July, 2013

July Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts & Trends

31 Jul


That Tree.markhirsch.7.29.13.bTemperatures in the 90’s and 100’s all over the country. An unbearably hot summer. And one that we may have to get used to because, hey, this could be the new norm…JK Rowling wrote a detective story, The Cuckoo’s Calling, under a pseudonym. And it got good reviews! Whew…My fave author, Daniel Silva, published the next account of his superspy Gabriel Allon’s exploits, The English Girl. When we left Gabriel, he and his Mossad team were solving a murder in the Vatican at the Pope’s request. Oy!…On his Facebook Page called That Tree, photographer Mark Hirsch posts an iPhone photo a day chronicling a year in the life of an oak. Peaceful and majestic doesn’t come close to describing his pics. A tree of life indeed…Showtime is on a roll. Rock ‘n’ roll. Another great doc, Beware of Mr. Baker, displays Ginger Baker’s drum chops as well as his idiosyncrasies…Cyndi Lauper performed her She’s So Unusual album in its entirety in honor of its 30th anniversary. Boy is she on a roll. And having fun…Mick Jagger turned 70. What? Yep. And he still moves like Jagger…And dogs and cats were up for adoption at the 15th annual Broadway Barks benefiting NYC animal shelters and rescue organizations. Thank you big time to Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters and the Broadway community for caring! Buy a Broadway Barks 2014 Calendar to support the cause.


JohnnyCashStamp.7.29.30July in New York means the NY Phil in Central Park. Fireworks ensue…George Lucas, Tony Kushner, Renee Fleming, Herb Alpert, and others were awarded the NEA’s National Medal of Arts. President Obama said, “they create a new space and that becomes a lasting contribution to American life.” An apt description of the arts, Mr. President…Carnegie Hall’s new National Youth Orchestra is now touring the world with Joshua Bell…In Beatles news, Let It Be, the latest Broadway musical of Beatles songs opened… Alvin Ailey made a welcome return to Lincoln Center after an absence there of over ten years…More welcome news from The Met Museum of Art, now open on Mondays! That makes it 7 days of no excuses to miss anything anymore. I will be heading to the Roof Garden. Those splatters of red paint are artist Imran Qureshi’s renderings of shrubbery, angel wings, and birds. Persian ornamental motifs that he describes as “a dialogue with life, with new beginnings and fresh hope starts.”…Back to the NY Phil. Although Maestro Gilbert wore a baseball jersey for the Major League Baseball All-Star charity concert, he was upstaged by Mariah Carey who, well, didn’t. Fur and feather more her thing…Noting his influence from rock and folk to blues and gospel, the US Postal Service honored Johnny Cash with a stamp…When asked by his producer Rick Rubin what he was working on, an ailing Johnny Cash replied, “I’ve been working on using I and me less. Remember? You gave me that comment on the song?” But he wasn’t talking about a song. He was talking about life. A lesson we can all take to heart.


There are people who really rely on Twitter for their news. Y’know what Ezra Klein has to say about that? “I find it a place you go to find, I guess, your barbecued potato chips. A lot of stuff that is kind of interesting, mostly not that good.”…NYC has finally gotten approval for its own domain name: .nyc. You can get it if your primary business residence is in NYC. Watch out Silicon Valley. NYC is on its way to becoming the world’s tech capital…My NY Phil boss, Barbara Haws, is on a mission to fight the Keystone XL pipeline. And in what can only be called the opposite of tech, she carries a sign on her subway trip to and from work every day. Not only effective, she’s inspiring. 


MMM.HumpDay.7.15.13.camel“Uh-oh. Guess what day it is? Guess what day it is.” Who doesn’t love a talking camel? I’ve written lots of posts on Yvette Perry’s Blog. About trends, social media marketing, the latest in music and the performing arts, writing, and more. But no post has been viewed more than this one of Geico’s Happy Camel. I wrote about him because he makes me stop to watch him every time it comes on. And I’m not alone. A memorable ad that makes people smile. Good job…And the Rolling Stone cover of the Boston bomber made lots of headlines. With rock star hair and a guarded direct gaze, it seemed like Rolling Stone was making him into a celebrity. By giving up a coveted piece of rock ‘n’ roll real estate, my question is: Is it still cool to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone?

Soundtrack to this Issue is Hot Fun in the Summertime
from Sly & the Family Stone.

 Buddha, stay. Good dog.
 “…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” (Buddha)


Tree pic: Mark Hirsch, FacebookPage/ThatTree
President Obama NEA quote: The White House
Imran Qureshi quote: Metropolitan Museum
Barbara Haws: Moyers & Company
Johnny Cash quote: Rick Rubin Interview/The Daily Beast
Ezra Klein’s Twitter quote: The Atlantic
NYC domain: Betabeat
Camel pic: FacebookPage/Geico
Johnny Cash stamp: Frank Bez/USPS
Sly & The Family Stone pic:

How Do You Write a Song, James Taylor?

31 Jul

Forty-two years ago today, James Taylor’s You’ve Got A Friend by Carole King sat atop the Billboard Top 100 chart, his only #1 single.

He talked to Charlie Rose about his songwriting process:

“It’s just very satisfactory…It’s like a puzzle fits together somehow.”

“The most delightful thing that happens to me is when the pieces fall together and it makes a song…”

“Writing music is a lot like listening to music or appreciating music with just a little bit of an extra something to it.”WWW.JT.7.31.13WWW.JT.7.31.13.young

Quotes: CBS This Morning
Pic (current): Associated Press
Pic (1971):

Fab Four Finale: Let It Be, Already

28 Jul

To end this week of Beatles posts, here are a few more top stories about them that were in the news this week.

Beatles Musical Redux Redux
Beatles.Let_it_be_broadwayFirst there was Beatlemania. Then Rain. Now Let It Be. A Broadway musical of Beatles songs opened this week, kind of a tribute concert, kind of a history. But there’s a snag. This production was sued for being the same as the last production. And yep, money is at the center of it. Will they work it out?

Beatles White Album in the News
As Beatles memorabilia goes, this is a goodie! The first copy of The White Album that was pressed to vinyl will be on auction, copy number A0000001. In the possession of Beatles fan David Mincks since 1989, it was a promotional item that was given out to about two dozen record company execs and to the Beatles. If you’re interested, the opening bid is set at $10,000. That sure is a lot of ob la di ob la da.

Lennon + McCartney = Nilsson
The eternal question (well, at least to some of us!), if you mix John Lennon with Paul McCartney what do you get? Easy. Harry Nilsson, of course. Now there’s even a new book that backs up what we’ve always known. In Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter (Oxford University Press July 2013), Alyn Shipton tells his story in this first full-length biography. Lennon and McCartney called this inscrutable musician simply the Beatles’ “favorite group.”


The cast of Let It Be pic: courtesy of Let It Be

Beatles Prove God Exists?

24 Jul

“For me the Beatles are proof
of the existence of God.”

Rick Rubin co-founded Def Jam records and has produced LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, Aerosmith,  Public Enemy, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series, Justin Timberlake, Metallica, AC/DC, Adele, Kanye West, Neil Diamond, and more.

BeatlesThe first great song or sound that he remembers hearing was … “The Beatles, Rock ’n’ Roll Music, the Chuck Berry cover. I was probably 4, and I can remember feeling electrified. That was the first real rock ’n’ roll I’d ever heard.” And about the Beatles … “It transcends everything. It’s much bigger than four kids from Liverpool. For me the Beatles are proof of the existence of God. It’s so good and so far beyond everyone else that it’s not them.”



Interview by Andrew Romano: Newsweek June 26, 2013

Beatles Bio Had Groovy Art

23 Jul

Cover of the original edition of Hunter Davies’ biography of The Beatles, 1968


Source: A Dandy in Aspic

Rowling, Rolling Stone, and the Role of Beethoven

19 Jul

Some Friday faves for you.

So there’s this well-reviewed thriller, The Cuckoo’s Calling, modest sales, debut author, name of Robert Galbraith. Turns out this very well written and very well paced novel is by J.K. Rowling. And now sales are going through the roof. But wait, there’s more. Rowling is disappointed about the leak of her pseudonym. She enjoyed the anonymity. Well, she can say goodbye to that.

Hard to miss the brouhaha built up this week surrounding the cover of the Rolling Stone. See, you have to phrase it that way, the cover of the Rolling Stone. Because there’s a song out there that makes it impossible not to refer to it that way. Anyway. Glamorizing terrorism or savvy marketing or good journalism, here’s my take.

FF.Beethoven5.dogAbout that Da-da-da-DAAHH thing. You know those first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth? How we know, we can feel, we anticipate the rest? That’s because our brain’s transmitters are bustling. A professor of neuroscience explains why that’s such a great thing for music lovers. Oh, and about the pic of Beethoven the Dog…sorry about the mix-up.


Is it Still Cool to be on the Cover of the Rolling Stone?

18 Jul

Rolling Stone is in the business to make money. They need to sell ads and get people to buy their magazines. And they know that provocative magazine covers sell. Founded in 1967 in San Francisco by Jann Wenner, it has been on the forefront of music and journalism for almost a half-century. They want to maintain their relevance, their importance in the national conversation. They want to be the voice and ultimate source for all things cool and relevant. That their reputation as a major marketer of mainstream entertainment may now transcend their bonafides as a publisher of cutting edge cultural critique makes  us wonder: Have their early days of music, peace, and love been replaced with music, peace, and money?

A treasured coveted piece of rock ‘n’ roll real estate. That’s how cool it is to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone. There’s even a song about it, the great Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s The Cover of the Rolling Stone. No other words have ever expressed better what that achievement really means:

Oh, we’re big rock singers. We got golden fingers. And we’re loved everywhere we go…We take all kinds of pills To give us all kind of thrills, But the thrill we’ve never known Is the thrill that’ll getcha When you get your picture On the cover of the Rolling Stone…Rolling Stone…Wanna see my picture on the cover. Rolling Stone… Wanna buy five copies for my Mother. Rolling Stone…Wanna see my smiling face On the cover of the Rolling Stone… But our minds won’t really get blown Like the blow that’ll getcha When you get your picture On the cover of the Rolling Stone.

What are we to make of the Rolling Stone August 2013 issue with the Boston bomber on the cover? Is it glamorizing terrorism as many think? The article inside written by Janet Reitman is a thoughtful account of who he was before his act and its devastating aftermath. In 1970, Charles Manson was on the cover. And the article won them a National Magazine Award. Is he getting “rock star” treatment? The cover of the September 1981 issue had a beautiful and still dead Jim Morrison. With an allure founded on a bad boy reputation of drinking, drugs, arrests, and riots. But he left us a legacy of evocative music that still has meaning.

We see rock star hair and a guarded direct gaze. What has he left us? Not anything good. His legacy is one of terror and victims. Is Rolling Stone making him a celebrity? They certainly have a controversial cover that may sell lots of issues. It’s getting a lot of media coverage. And it certainly has a lot of people talking. The question is: Is it still cool to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone?



The Cover of the Rolling Stone lyrics: Shel Silverstein

Stephen King on Harry Potter

17 Jul

“Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity …”

Admirable goals all. And ones this young yet noble wizard takes on. They are all virtues that we Muggles, er, humans struggle to attain. Stephen King knew halfway through the Harry Potter books that J.K. Rowling wasn’t just writing for children. These were stories written for everyone.

HarryPotter.OrderOfThePhoenix.7.17.13He fell in love with the series because it was, just as a lavish dinner experience, “carefully prepared, beautifully cooked, and lovingly served out.” He recognized right away a kindred spirit in Rowling, a spinner of tales, a writer of the highest aspirations, indeed one who considers the words as important as the narrative itself. And framed within her remarkable fable, she delivers this profound inspiring message to boot.


Quote: Fanpop Facebook Page
Dinner quote: Stephen King article, August 10, 2007
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book cover pic: J.K. Rowling Official Website

Geico’s Happy Camel on Hump Day

15 Jul

There is a TV commercial out now that always makes me smile. And it makes me happy. It’s Geico’s happy camel on Wednesday, aka Hump Day.

MMM.HumpDay.7.15.13.camel“Uh-oh. Guess what day it is? Guess what day it is.” Who doesn’t love a talking camel? And it really looks like he’s talking! “Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike…” I smile as soon as this comes on. And I stop and watch it. Every time. Wow! That’s one happy camel.

Can a commercial have such a happy effect? This one sure does. It’s one in a series that is all about making you happy. It’s Geico’s “Happier Than” campaign and the brand message? Thanks to the extra money you’ll save by switching to Geico car insurance, you will be happy, too.

A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.”

The great advertising guru, David Ogilvy, said that. And it applies to Geico’s advertising strategy. Geico started out during the Great Depression providing auto insurance to federal employees. It is now the third-largest U.S. auto insurer. How did they get there? They built their brand identity with name recognition and got noticed in a very competitive category. They made their message stick in the consumer’s mind with a compelling message coupled with a whimsical and entertaining approach. By appealing to consumers this way, Geico is standing out in a cluttered marketplace.

The Martin Agency says about its ads, “People can now accept more complex brands with multiple, distinct narratives highlighting various aspects of the brand.” The gecko, the cavemen, the whee! pig. And now the camel. Making all these characters human and likeable while maintaining the brand messaging has been key to their approach.

Another one that makes me smile and happy has Eddie Money happily running a travel agency where he gives his customers, yep, two tickets to Paradise. “I’ve got two tickets to Paradise. Pack your bags we’ll leave tonight.” C’mon, how cool is that?

Applying humor for a product that doesn’t inherently make one laugh (hello, car insurance)? And making it memorable, too? Isn’t that what good advertising is supposed to be? This ad sure is memorable. And not only do you remember it, it makes you smile when you do.


Camel pic: Geico Facebook Page
The Martin Agency quote: The Financial Brand

It’s Friday. Here’s What Happened This Week

12 Jul

Happy Friday and here are 5 articles to ponder. Enjoy!

Dustin Hoffman makes a deeply emotional declaration on our perception of beauty.
FF.dustin-hoffman-tootsie-epiphany.7.12.13“If I met myself at a party I would never talk to that character.” Playing Dorothy in Tootsie made him realize that he had been brainwashed into only engaging with attractive women. This great and peerless actor sheds a few tears at this epiphany and we love him even more.


The Academy Awards will present a concert of Oscar-nominated songs.
FF.Oscar.7.12.13Three days before the next Oscar show, a special concert on February 27, 2014 at UCLA will feature the songs and film scores that will be up for an Oscar. The Academy stated, “A symphony orchestra of L.A. studio musicians will perform a suite from each score … it is our hope that either the original artists or the songwriters will perform their own songs live.” This Oscar first could become an annual event. More music? Sounds great!


Two movies with the same name. Oh, and they’re practically a century apart. So why is there a problem?
FF.the-butler.7.12.13A new film coming out next month, The Butler, based on a true story, stars Forest Whitaker as a butler who served in the White House from Eisenhower to Reagan. And what a cast. It includes Liev Schreiber, Terrence Howard, Mariah Carey, James Marsden, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Robin Williams, Melissa Leo, John Cusack, and Vanessa Redgrave. Wow. So what’s the problem? There was an old, very old, short silent film from 1916 that was also called The Butler. And now there’s a battle over the use of that title. Although it seems crazy, it’s also complicated. And probably has to do with … yep, money.


White House presented the National Medal of Arts this week to some pretty terrific artists.
FF.TonyKushner.7.12.13.bPresenting the award to George Lucas, Tony Kushner, Renee Fleming, Herb Alpert, Allen Toussaint, the Washington Performing Arts Society, and the other recipients, President Obama said, “We celebrate people like our honorees here today not just because of their talent, but because they create something new. They create a new space and that becomes a lasting contribution to American life.” The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which manages the award, recognized Tony Kushner (see pic) for his “contributions to American theater and film … his scripts have moved audiences worldwide, marrying humor to fury, history to fantasy, and the philosophical to the personal.”  Musician and record label founder, Herb Alpert, “is also a philanthropist who shares the power of arts education with young people across our country.” And George Lucas, “by combining the art of storytelling with boundless imagination and cutting-edge techniques, Mr. Lucas has transported us to new worlds and created some of the most beloved and iconic films of all time.”


There’s a new American orchestra of student musicians. Their mission? To brave different parts of the world each year and boldly be America’s youth ambassador.
FF.NYO-USA.7.12.13The new National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) is made up of 120 musicians 16 to 19 years old. Founded by Carnegie Hall and its Weill Music Institute, NYO played its first concert this week at Purchase with Joshua Bell and Maestro Valery Gergiev. Next stops are the Kennedy Center, the Proms in London, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg. Sure sounds like mission possible.


Dustin Hoffman pic: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty
Oscar heads pic:
The Butler pic: The Harvey Weinstein Company
White House pic: Ralph Alswang
NSO-USA pic: Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute

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