A little contribution to the Bloomsday celebration

Today is Bloomsday where the more literary-minded drunks among us, gather to read passages from James Joyce’s most celebrated novel Ulysses and, well, drink.

The novel is set in one day–June 16, 1904–in the life of the protagonist, Leopold Bloom.

As our contribution to this day, we offer a brief except from Lower than Angels: A Memoir of War and Peace, written by the pseudonymous, W. W. Windstaff. He is writing about his time in Paris in the 20s.

Windstaff’s identity remains one of the great literary mysteries.

“No matter where the Americans came from, you could usually sell them a volume of Joyce. Most were not literary, but had heard it was a “dirty” book. You had to split with a reporter on the Herald who could do the James Joyce signature with a real feel, and even add a personal message. Of course Joyce, if you caught him before he got plastered on white wine, he’d be happy to sign one of the blue-covered books. He sang too, but I couldn’t make any money on that.”

D-Day, June 6, 1944. What Americans heard back home.

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, radios across America came to life with the news everyone had been anticipating. The invasion of Europe had begun. One widely listened-to-broadcast was from the NBC Studios in New York by Robert St. John, the legendary journalist and also our long-time friend.  We are honored to again share the beginning of his D-Day Broadcast that day.

“This is the European Front. Once again being established in fire and blood.” — Robert St. John

Windstaff on The (Not So) Great Gatsby

The much-anticipated release of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby has millions of fans and literature lovers flocking to the theaters this weekend. While we sit back and revisit F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American tale of extravagance and disillusionment in the Roaring Twenties, we remember what W. W. Windstaff had to say about living among the Lost Generation in Paris and his impressions of Fitzgerald’s magnum opus:

“The way I see it, the American expatriates were kidding themselves. They thought they were hard nuts, realists. They were bloody romantics; we all know that crap about ‘the lost generation’ and Scott’s ‘all the sad young men.’ Few really knew life down in the dirt, a lousy job and a noisy family. That’s what’s wrong with Jay Gatsby. Scott never knew a real killer, a gang lord, a mean hard-nosed bootlegger, which Gatsby was supposed to be. A big-shot rackets man. If he were, he’d not have show Daisy silk shirts, he’d have pistol-whipped Tom, her husband, and ended up running New York City. Romantics don’t love Al Capones, nor do real Gatsbys yearn over a lost love. It’s still a fine book, but it’s the dream of a lace curtain Irish poor kid snob, writing about scoring with the quality.”

—W. W. Windstaff, Lower than Angels: A Memoir of War and Peace

The Man Who Launched the British Invasion

We are pleased to announce that our latest video about Tom Lodge, Radio Caroline and Pirate Radio can now be viewed on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxnYkd6DO9s

It’s got some terrific audio clips of Tom on the air during the mid 60s.  If you missed our original video, put out when we released Tom’s book The Ship that Rocked the World: How Radio Caroline Defied the Establishment, Launched the British Invasion and Made the Planet Safe for Rock and Roll, it can also be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPZ0h6q2zSw

Or you can visit www.shipthatrocked.com for even more audio clips, to read the foreword by Steven Van Zandt and more.

David McGraw- 1952-2011

Bartleby Press lost a member of its extended family when David McGraw died this week. You can read his obituary here in the Washington Post. He was only 59.
Dave kept our books and prepared our taxes for years. But I’m pretty sure that his heart wasn’t really into accounting. At least when I knew him.
This is not to say that Dave was not interested in numbers. He most certainly was. He loved gambling for instance. It might be more accurate to say that he loved the science of gambling. The odds and the strategy of various games of chance fascinated him. He taught me (not well) that management of the bet was crucial. I can only hope that I can soon go out and win a bundle of cash in his memory.
Dave could always be counted on to help in a pinch. More than once I called upon him in some emergency. Sometimes it required real hard physical labor, the sort that folks our age shouldn’t have to do anymore. But he was there. And in all the various crises that came up over the years, he was a steadying influence to everyone here. Even our disagreements were fairly calmly resolved.
Once, he helped us cart almost 100 boxes of books to a hotel near BWI, so that Sully Erna, the frontman for the band Godsmack could sign copies of his memoir, then just being published. The mostly young crew working here then was excited to meet the musician. Dave was excited too. He wanted to discuss Sully’s participation in the World Series of Poker.
Dave enjoyed betting sports too, even though I don’t know if he did it regularly. Here too, it was the play, not the money that seemed to thrill him.
But nothing could distract Dave from his love of his favorite teams the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins. He followed them during the season and off. Every move, every rumor caught his eye.
One other team deserves mention: the Wimbledon team in one English soccer league or another. Though the internet he was able to not only follow and even watch sometimes, but become a accepted member of their fan community. He would on occasion share some of the communications from over there.
I have to admit that nobody in our office cared at all about the comings and goings of a soccer team in the UK, but he so enjoyed the telling it was well worth listening.
And then there was politics. Dave followed the political world intensely. He was a big fan of Rush Limbaugh and other well-known radio hosts, daily followed conservative political blogs and other sites. I think he even attended a Tea Party rally or two and counted himself a supporter of Sarah Palin. He cared passionately about the direction of our country. And he was smart about it as well. I’ve often thought that if you were running for political office, David McGraw would be a good person to advise you.
In recent years, we didn’t hang out much. I can’t remember the last time we sat down and had a beer. But I’m realizing in the past few days what a fixture Dave was in our lives and how very much we are going to miss him.
–Jeremy Kay

Imagine John Lennon as a Tea Party Activist

Imagine John Lennon as a Tea Party Activist

Thirty-one years after his death, John Lennon’s political leanings are still the
subject of some speculation. What exactly were his political views?

In an interview featured in the documentary Beatles Stories, Lennon’s personal
assistant Fred Seaman suggested that the former Beatle had become quite
conservative in the late 70s and was even a fan of Ronald Reagan.

Some, including his publicist Elliot Mintz, claim that Lennon’s views remained
unchanged even in later life.

Today, the legacy of Lennon’s political principles is most closely associated
with the belief in the possibility of an end to war and world peace. However, a
little-known 1966 interview, revealed in the book, The Ship that Rocked the
World, suggests that had Lennon lived, he might have been a fervent backer of
the Tea Party.

Lennon’s thinking was made clear in the course of the conversation between the
Beatles and Tom Lodge, top DJ of the pirate radio ship Radio Caroline. The
mostly zany impromptu meeting took place in London in March of that year.

Asked if he had ideas about how he would change Britain, Lennon said he would
“like to change it a lot.”

“In what way?” Lodge asked.
“Well, the tax problem,” Lennon replied.
And what would he do about taxes, Lodge wanted to know. “I’d reduce it
drastically.”

If he were a member of the government, did he mean?
Lennon didn’t care. “If I was anybody, I’d reduce it…drastically.”
George Harrison, who is known as the main writer, along with Lennon, of the song
“Taxman,” piped in to share his thoughts as well, albeit tongue-in-cheek. “Give
the pop stars a fairer share of the country’s wealth,” he said.

“Complaining about taxes was not an unusual thing to hear from British pop stars
at that time,” Tom Lodge says today. “They were all young and most came from
poor backgrounds. Suddenly they had a lot of money that could be taxed.” Lodge
should know. As the top DJ on Radio Caroline from 1964-67, he is widely credited
for helping make stars out of many young musicians.

But Lennon was more outspoken than most – and more direct. “They can’t take the
taxes down because they haven’t got enough money. And they’ll never have enough
money while they’re buying all that crap”So if they pay off a few of the bloody
debts, then maybe they’d be able to cut the tax down a little.”

Sure sounds like someone who might have supported the Tea Party movement.

To listen to John Lennon from 1966, go to www.shipthatrocked.com/audio/lennon_on_taxes.mp3
To learn more about Radio Caroline, Tom Lodge, and the true story of Pirate
Radio, visit www.ShipThatRocked.com

D-Day, June 6, 1944. What Americans heard back home.

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, radios across America came to life with the news everyone had been anticipating. The invasion of Europe had begun. One widely listened-to-broadcast was from the NBC Studios in New York by Robert St. John, the legendary journalist and also our long-time friend.  We are honored to again share the beginning of his D-Day Broadcast that day.

“This is the European Front. Once again being established in fire and blood.” — Robert St. John