Over the past thirty-five years, we had often been asked about the name “Bartleby Press.” Some people do get the obvious reference to “Bartleby the Scrivener” by Herman Melville, first serialized in Putnam’s Monthly Magazine in 1853 and a few years later included in a collection of Melville stories in The Piazza Tales. Of course, not only is the company name a homage of sorts to Melville’s tale, it led to the name of our website BartlebythePublisher.com and this space, “The Reluctant Blog.”
To celebrate our anniversary, we have issued a Commemorative edition of Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street. It includes the exact text as published in the original and is introduced by our Publisher, Jeremy Kay. He not only explains how he chose the name for our publishing enterprise, but reveals a few little-known details about Melville’s up and down literary history.
Order your copy here
As noted in the Washington Post Jim Rose, founder of the Jim Rose Circus and author of Snake Oil: Life’s Calculations, Misdirections, and Manipulations celebrates his birthday on December 21st.
Happy Birthday, Jim
When a spectator at a New York-Tampa game, played at the Met’s Citi Field, expressed his displeasure at a home run by Yankees third baseman, Todd Frazier, with an extended thumb down, it was seen by millions.
The gesture, seen by most people as a sign of disapproval, was soon adopted by the Yankee players to celebrate a hit or other positive play. In this way, it can be seen as a signal of defiance, sort of an “us against the world” sort of sentiment.
Yet as Professor Ori Soltes points out in his latest book, God and the Goalposts: A Brief History of Sports, Religion, Politics, War, and Art, we don’t really know what the gladiator era hand gesture exactly signified:
When a man went down, the amphitheatre resounded with cries of habet, hoc habet!—“He’s had it!” (literally, “He has it!”)—and with cries of mitte! (“Let him go!”; literally, “Send forth/away!”) or ugula! (“Kill [him]!”). A mortally wounded fighter (in other words: already dying) was not killed before the arena audience but was carried from the site to be properly killed away from public view. One fallen, but not yet fatally, would lay down his weapon if he could, and raise his index finger (usually of the left—or in Latin, sinister—hand) to ask for mercy from his opponent, the judge, and/or the crowd. If the spectators approved that he be spared, because
he had fought gallantly enough, they would signify that approval by turning their thumbs: police verso—“with the thumb turned.” But the interesting thing is that we have no clear idea of whether verso—“turned”—means turned up or turned down, so in spite of the evolution of the English phrases “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” to signify approval and disapproval respectively, we cannot with any certainty say which direction the Romans were signifying.
The Yankees players may have inadvertently gotten it right.
It’s been a year since Tom Lodge left us. Every time we listen to a song from the early days of the British Invasion, like those from Georgie Fame or the Zombies, we immediately think of Tom.
Shortly before his death, he wrote to a few of us, imploring us to do what we could keep the remarkable story of Radio Caroline and Tom’s role in it alive.
It was a promise that we gave eagerly. And now, a year later, we re-dedicate ourselves to that task. Today, have another look at Tom Lodge, “The man who launched the British Invasion”
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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
Jacques Haeringer, Proprietor of the internationally-known restaurant, L’Auberge Chez Francois and author of The Chez Francois Cookbook and Two for Tonight will appear on the Today Show, March 29th between 10 and 11 am.
Now in its 4oth year in Great Falls, Virginia, a new Anniversary Edition of the Chez Francois Cookbook is expected to be published this year.
Jacques Haeringer, proprietor and chef of L’Auberge Chez Francois and author of two marvelous cookbooks The Chez Francois Cookbook and Two For Tonight, appears tomorrow, July 11th, noonish, with JC Haywood.
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.
William Tucker, author of EnergyTerrestrial proves once again in this piece in American Spectator that he is the most insightful writer of energy and environmental issues that we have on the scene today.
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.