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My 10 — no, make that 11 — favorite songs by John Lennon…

john-lennon young manBy Donovan Day

 

Here are mine. What are yours? I’m including “John” songs he wrote alone and with the Beatles.

 

10. I am the Walrus — The height of John’s word play and a classic, not only the song but the production by George Martin. When he first heard John play it acoustically, Martin said, “What the fuck am I going to do with that?” He figured it out — big time.

 

9. The ballad of John & Yoko — Has a bouncy quality that made it a hit even in a time when Beatle fans were not so down with Yoko. Did you know that only Paul and John played on the single? George and Ringo were not available and John wanted to get it out quickly.

 

8. Come Together — The opener of Abbey Road, it established immediately that this was a great record and the Beatles were on top of their game. Back then, there were some doubts.

 

7. Please Please Me — Yes, this is a “John” song. Man, what energy those guys had. Even now, the single blasts off in a way many records wish they could. Listen and you get an idea of why the Beatles were so popular way back in the day.

 

6. Instant Karma — This song is the first time I ever heard the word “superstar” but I actually think Andy Warhol came up with the term. Instant Karma’s gonna get you….indeed brother.

 

5. Happy Xmas (War is Over) — My favorite Christmas song with the Harlem Boy’s Choir. It’s just so beautiful and the sentiment — again — perfect even for our times.

 

4. Imagine — Another “perfect” song by John in terms of spreading love and peace.  It was rejected for the Abbey Road LP because it wasn’t quite ready. I love this song but sometimes, I do feel I’ve heard it way too much.

 

3. All you need is love — So simple and yet so right. He wrote it for a worldwide television special and the Beatles played it live in front of 400 million people around the globe. Truly the perfect song for the occasion. John nailed it.

 

3a. Norwegian Wood — Sorry, just had to add this one. How could I not? John was in his Dylan-influenced stage but came up with a gem and this must be one of the first, if not the first, times a sitar was used in rock and roll. It’s part of what gives the song its unique edge but, oh, those Lennon lyrics.

 

2. Across the universe — John himself thought this could stand alone as poetry and I have to agree. A lovely song and melody. I find it haunting and I love Fiona Apple’s version. Ironically, he said he wrote it when he was listening to wife Cynthia prattle on and on.

 

  1. A Day in the Life — Yes, the Beatles masterpiece is also my favorite “John” song. Paul certainly contributed but it began in John’s mind. It does show why the two of them, when they were working together in harmony, were so right for each other.

[If you love John Lennon like I do, please pick up a copy of my new young adult novel on the Beatles — “Get Back, Imagine….Saving John Lennon” I appreciate the support. Peace and Love, DD]

Tales of newspapers past are all the rage….

We can’t help but notice a certain trend developing rapidly in NYC — stories of newspapers past are taking this town by storm.

Of course, we’re attuned to this trend because of our first title “Leaving Story Avenue…” which, in large part, is Paul LaRosa’s memoir about the glory days of The Daily News during the 1970s. Paul likes to say that era — before computers and when reporters (not journalists) still roamed the earth — was the last gasp of the glorious Front Page Era, the days depicted by Humphrey Bogart in “Deadline USA.” With the birth of computers and serious journalists, coming in the wake of the Watergate scandal, newspapers changed. They might be better ‘products’ now but they are nowhere near as fun.

Also focusing on the days of newspaper past are two Broadway plays: “Newsies” — a former movie now turned into a musical by Disney — and “The Columnist” about newspaper columnist Joseph Alsop played by actor John Lithgow. Both are set to open but the word of mouth is good.

What’s going on here? Most likely, it’s part of the “Mad Men” phenomena, a longing for days that seemed simpler (but probably weren’t) when news traveled along traditional lines and not over the internet at the speed of sound. Maybe it’s that but, whatever it is, there’s no doubt that the spotlight is suddenly on the way newspapers were, and if you want to know what they were like in New York in the 1970s, take a look at Paul’s book which continues to get stellar reviews.

 

Another very nice review…

Author Paul LaRosa

This just in from James Broderick, a Ph.D., an associate professor of English and Journalism at New Jersey City University and a former newspaper reporter and editor. Sounds like he knows what he’s talking about…and of course, we must agree. Here is Professor Broderick’s review of author Paul LaRosa’s “Leaving Story Avenue” just posted on bookpleasures.com:

“As traditional newspapers struggle to survive in the brave new digital world, Luddites and old-school print proponents will tell you about everything that we’ll lose as a society if the good old-fashioned daily newspaper disappears from stoops and sidewalks across the country. This list ranges from the reassuringly low-maintenance nature of the product (read it, fold it, leave it on the bus – and if you lose it you’re only out four bits) to the tactile satisfaction of fresh newsprint between your fingers.

As for me, I’m most worried about the loss of stories.

No, not the news and feature stories that fill the newspaper — we should still have plenty of those online. The stories I lament losing are the ones that come from the newsroom itself, a seedy-yet-civically-salubrious sub-culture that sprang up in the early part of the 20th century and, for about 100 years, has fueled innumerable journalistic tales of middling heroism and borderline debauchery. Throughout their existence, newsrooms have been host to some of the most colorful, iconoclastic, and just plain weird members of the professional working class. Most newsrooms teeter precariously between high-minded democratic idealism and low-brow alcohol-fueled cynicism. As any veteran of these literary asylums can attest, there’s no other place like ‘em.

Fortunately, many of those scarred souls who forged their fortune in this Byzantine world have survived mostly unscathed – but with a load of stories to tell. Such is definitely the case with Paul LaRosa, whose breezy memoir of the 1970s New York City newspaper culture, Leaving Story Avenue, captures the sense of adventure behind kitschy tabloid headlines and clichéd phrases such as “Get Me Re-Write!”

LaRosa’s memoir covers more than just his years at the New York Daily News, which he got to know first as a copy boy and then later as an award-winning reporter. Leaving Story Avenue offers ample anecdotes about LaRosa’s upbringing in a Bronx housing project and his quest to survive a Catholic education, all retold in the conversationally alluring style expected from an accomplished feature writer. No mater what the subject, his stories are mostly engaging and finely-spun (brief digressions outside of New York, such as a trip to Yosemite National Park, are amusing but lack the knowing bite of the Gotham-bounded narratives.) It’s his glimpse inside the beating heart of the Daily News that will, I imagine, strike most readers as the high point of the book.

The newspaper world has always made a great subject for the movies and LaRosa’s book makes clear why that’s so. From the copy boys “on the bench” reading Thomas Pynchon novels to impress their higher-ups to the police reporter who wanders into crime scenes pretending to be a detective “from the downtown branch,” LaRosa’s Daily News is filled with enough characters to populate any Preston Sturges screwball comedy. LaRosa is a good reporter: he paints each scene with just enough detail to bring home its humor and its pathos.

Alas, as his book also makes clear, that era of dysfunctional dynamism has all but disappeared. The “modern” newsroom, with its no-smoking policies, sexual-harassment workshops, and computer terminals probably has its stories to tell as well. But it’s just not the same. And while I love reading the news online, and I welcome the convenience of a perpetually updated edition right at my fingertips, I miss the days when those fingertips carried the proof of my encounter, a smudged souvenir of a profession as sullied as the world it covered.”

 

We’re on Netgalley.com now & another terrific review…

We’re continuing to edit and design covers for our future titles but our energies right now are directed to Paul LaRosa’s memoir which will be published April 18th.

Two new pieces of information on that front:

1 –We’ve joined Netgalley.com which provides digital review copies of “Leaving Story Avenue, my journey from the projects to the front page” to reviewers, bloggers, librarians and book-sellers. If you fall into any of those categories or are a professional reader, register at Netgalley.com and request a copy.

2 — Overnight, we’ve received yet another terrific review of the memoir from Carolyn Howard-Johnson, an instructor at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers Program and a reviewer for Myshelf.com who gave the book a 5 out of 5 rating. Here’s what she had to say about LaRosa’s soon-to-be-published memoir (on sale April 18th):

I was hooked from the first chapter of Leaving Story Avenue by Paul LaRosa. The chapter is a very nearly a poem about newsrooms in the days before computers. Linotype machines/molten lead/brittle old men/pneumatic tubes/composing room floor/sweat-soaked air. I mean, do people even know what pneumatic tubes are these days? That I have a few memories to add to his (I was a writer for a daily paper the decade before LaRosa), I’ll settle for this…excitement. This description of humanity. This love of free press.

This first chapter only leads the reader to wondering what brought this kid (the book is LaRosa’s own story) into a newsroom, why he deserved that first promotion from copyboy to cub reporter. From then on in, it’s a project in the Bronx (years before they became tough—and some years during). It’s Catholic schools (which happen to be mirrored by others, as it happens) in the days of knuckle-rapping. It’s the days when parents left kids to their own devices, their own choices—so when they succeeded they could stick their thumbs in their armpits and let out a loud cock-a-doodle-doo. It’s youth in its exuberance and stupidity (Holden Caulfield anyone?). And, yep, it’s New York. Then. The roots of what we love now. Diversity.

 Here is a book from an indie publisher. It’s a slim book to make them proud. Nothing fancy, mind you. But honest. And one that points to an even more important future for small publishers and authors with ideas of their own.It’s a memoir most anyone will love.

The wave is building….

Author Paul LaRosa

We’ve been especially busy this past month getting ready for the launch of Paul LaRosa’s memoir “Leaving Story Avenue, my journey from the projects to the front page.” The book has great early buzz for which we are thankful.

Ken Auletta, the great author and writer at The New Yorker provided this splendid blurb:

Paul LaRosa has written a poignant and funny memoir that stretches in an unstraight line from mean Bronx streets to the newsroom of the Daily News. Along the way, in snappy prose, he sprinkles wisdom about New York, the pull of peers and of family, the ambition and pride that propels a working class kid to succeed, and a portrait of the zany New York Daily News newsroom that is one part exhilaration, and one part Front Page. At the end, readers will come to miss the engaging, self-deprecating author whose book reads as breezily as a delicious tabloid newspaper.

We also got a very nice stamp of approval from Theresa Weir, author of the terrific memoir “The Orchard” as well as a host of other bestselling novels. Here’s what she had to say about Paul’s book:

Nostalgic, warm, and compelling…I could hear the clack of typewriter keys as I read Paul LaRosa’s Leaving Story Avenue. 

Love it. Thank you Ken and Theresa. We’re getting the word out, sending galleys and PDF’s of the book to reviewers and magazines. If you’re a reviewer and would like a copy, please email us. The publicity wave is just beginning. Keep watching this space for more, including the official launch reading and more.

Best,

Mike Berger
Publisher

 

Emily Books — very interesting….

Of course, it’s a time of great experimentation in book publishing and one of these test tube babies that has definitely caught our eye is Emily Books.

Emily Books is the brainchild of writer Emily Gould and her friend Ruth Curry. The two women have created a hybrid book club/independent publishing house of sorts that features one book a month followed by an actual real-life meeting to discuss the book and, in the case of November’s selection, a party. Since everyone lives in New York, this is the epicenter of all the activity.

The way it’s set up, you can buy the featured book each month (and there is only one featured book each month) or a yearly subscription for $159.99 which guarantees that the 12 featured selections will appear in your email box every month. All the books are e-books, btw.

We like this approach and have brought the second book “Inferno” (A Poet’s Novel) by Eileen Myles to check it out. We intend to go to the book club/reading by the author and perhaps even the book party and will report back. Emily Gould has caught some flack for her Gawker past but we really liked her book of essays “And The Heart Says Whatever.”

The arrogance of some book publishers…

Cover of Vanity Fair book that is a compilation of 20 articles about Rupert Murdoch

The New York Times had a very good article on Monday about the way news organizations are re-purposing their material to create instant e-books that might eventually compete with ‘real’ books that are in the works on the same subject.

One example given was the phone-hacking scandal enveloping Rupert Murdoch’s empire. Vanity Fair has already released an e-book that compiles 20 exhaustive articles its staff produced on Murdoch and Co. The price is $3.99, good for the reader and extra money for Vanity Fair and its staff.

In the article, Stephen Rubin, the president and publisher of Henry Holt and Company said yes but the book his publishing house has in the works is different because it is going to be “the definitive book for all time” about Rupert Murdoch. Right. But by the time it comes out will anyone want to read it? It brings to mind the 1992 book by Richard Ben Cramer “What It Takes” that was about the 1988 presidential campaign.

Highly praised book but no one cared. It was too late and did not sell much.

I believe Rubin is guilty of arrogance but are a couple of others quoted in the article, most notably Pamela McCarthy, a deputy editor at The New Yorker Magazine, who are just as guilty. McCarthy argues that part of the problem with e-books is that they are hard to find online. Here’s her exact quote: “I think one of the challenges for everybody is letting people know the material is there,” Ms. McCarthy said. “The e-book stores are tremendously deep, and what’s there is not at all apparent on the surface. It’s not like walking into a bookstore and seeing what’s on the front table.”

I laughed out loud when I read that quote. Tell it to all those authors whose books are NEVER on the front table in a bookstore and here I’m talking about the majority of authors. But someone who works for The New Yorker would never realize that — her authors are probably always on the front table.

For most authors, having a book online is better than having it in a traditional bookstore. Online, that book is always available, always will have some editorial copy to go with it, and there will be a host of recommendations, good or bad. Compare that to a typical book by a not-very-famous author who is lucky is a bookstore carries a few of his books if any at all. Not to mention that the book will likely be buried deep within the store where no one will happen upon it.

So let the wars begin. The casualty will most likely be large booksellers while independents likely will remain and become reinvigorated. The other winners will be authors whose books are available online in unlimited supplies to anyone who wants to buy them. And the author does not have to pray that the publisher will pay those upfront costs to a bookstore to get a few measly copies sandwiched between James Patterson and Stephen King and that’s only if he is extremely lucky.

M. Berger


Welcome

Welcome to Park Slope Publishing, a new publishing company based in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a neighborhood filled with writers and editors and home to New York’s literati.


Park Slope Publishing is proud to be part of the publishing revolution, one that embraces the e-readers as the wave of the future. Not only do they provide instant gratification (download a book in a minute), but they are environmentally friendly. However, we also will publish original trade paperbacks, and plan to be available in as many independent bookstores as will have us.

 

Our publishing house – founded by me and various silent partners – is a different kind of publisher.  I’ve worked on the fringes of the publishing industry for years. I’ve liked much of what I’ve seen but, in some cases, I thought I could do better, so here I go.

 

If I had to describe what Park Slope Publishing stands for, I would say it is a publisher that thinks more like a reader than a publisher. A publisher thinks about his profit; a reader thinks about story, plot and narrative – all that good stuff.

 

I love many types of books but not all and, for the moment, my instincts will prevail on what we publish. We hope to grow but never to lose sight of what we enjoy reading. If we stick to that credo, we believe our books will succeed.

 

We are thrilled to announce that our first book – a compelling memoir by an award-winning journalist – will be published in April 2012.  We’re very excited that this author decided to go with Park Slope Publishing instead of one of the bigger houses vying for his manuscript. We’ll have much more news about this as the pub date approaches.
Thank you for visiting our site and please tell as many Facebook fans, tweeps and real-life friends as you can.

 

M. Berger, publisher

 

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