Books | A Continuous Lean. - Page 2

The Literary Life of a Dunhill Man

Mar 9th, 2011 | Categories: Art, Books, England, Jared Paul Stern | by Jared Paul Stern

Seeing Dunhill’s new ad campaign didn’t make me want to buy luxury goods from London; it made me want a Miller. A Harland Miller. He’s the rather shabby fellow among the three fairly obscure Brits chosen as the brand’s new faces this season, the one trying to hide behind an $1,100 briefcase (below). That must be why I failed to recognize one of my favorite contemporary artists at first, but reading the fine print I found he was one and the same. The talented painter and author first caught my eye when his 2007 monograph International Lonely Guy landed on my desk. What he does best are atmospheric re-interpretations of classic Penguin paperback covers – and I know I’m not the only one around here with a fondness for those.





Punching Out

Mar 2nd, 2011 | Categories: Books | by Michael Williams

During the Super Bowl Chrysler debuted a commercial for its new Chrysler 200 sedan that closed, stoically, with the phrase “Imported from Detroit,” a reference to the 200′s assembly at the Sterling Heights plant in Michigan and a statement that was especially poignant me. The commercial and the closing sentiment really stuck me, not because of my constant made in the USA flag waving, but more because I was just finishing reading the book Punching Out: One Year in a Closing Auto Plant. The story — by Detroit native Paul Clemens — documents the shuttering of the Budd Detroit Automotive Plant, Stamping and Framing Division. Budd, a longtime supplier of the Big Three, was founded in 1912 and was probably most famous for stamping the body parts for the Ford Thunderbird in the 1950s.

At its peak Budd Detroit employed 10,000 people, but by the time Clemens arrived there were only a dozen or so people remaining to help strip the place for its metal and machinery. Basically a flock of factory undertakers arrived to strip it for salvage and then leave it for dead. The plant’s massive and valuable presses — which were some of the largest in the world — were sold, systematically dismantled by a highly skilled group of riggers and then shipped to India, Brazil and Mexico to live on making auto parts in other parts of the world. Ironically, the Budd plant in Detroit was sandwiched between a Chrysler assembly plant and a Chrysler engine factory, but that didn’t stop its main press line from being shipped a few thousand miles to central Mexico to stamp body sides for America-bound Dodge Journeys, for who but Chrysler.





A Thousand Days of JFK

Feb 24th, 2011 | Categories: Books, History, Jared Paul Stern | by Jared Paul Stern

It’s a busy season for Kennedy nostalgia, what with the 50th anniversary of his inauguration, the debut of the JFK Library’s digital archive, and the scrapping of an ill-conceived biopic. Of course some people were looking forward to the flick in the hopes of some stylish scenes, historical accuracy be damned. Amid all the hoopla however it’s been overlooked that a bona fide JFK film just came out – albeit tucked in the back of a book. We’re talking about Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House by Richard Reeves with photos by Cecil W. Stoughton, which comes complete with a DVD of never-before-seen film footage.





A Man With True Grit

Jan 11th, 2011 | Categories: ACL Endorses, Books, Movies | by Michael Williams

Better late than never…
Three word movie review: Go see it.

Charles Portis did something that few of us have the stones to do. He gave up a well paying job as a journalist and left the city to move to a cabin and write the great American novel.

A few months back when I heard the news of the Coen brothers remake of True Grit, it was exciting. Mostly because — unlike the 1969 version starring John Wayne — the new True Grit would very closely follow the original Portis story. In fact, Ethan and Joel Coen instructed Matt Damon not to watch the original film, they told him to read the book. And the book is truly great.

I can identify with what Portis did by giving up his job and life in the city by moving back home (to Arkansas) to follow his true passion. It is at least a feeling I can appreciate. It takes a lot of guts and the fact of the matter, change is almost always difficult.

Both True Grit and Charles Portis’ first novel Norwood both became popular movies. John Wayne ended up winning an Oscar for his role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, which is the same thing I can see happening to Jeff Bridges, who is magnificent in the role. But the real star here is the story. If you haven’t read the book, I suggest you do so. Going to see the new True Grit after having read the book made it all that much more enjoyable. The Coens executed the film perfectly, in my opinion. Even Jason Bourne, er, Matt Damon was surprisingly great. I say surprisingly because, prior to this, I couldn’t see Damon as much of a Western guy. But Matt Damon is terrific, as is the whole cast.

All that said, none of it could come close to being as great as the book. I suggest you own it and read it.





Well Prepped

Sep 7th, 2010 | Categories: Books, Preppy | by Michael Williams

Not sure if you heard, but the follow-up to The Official Preppy Handbook —titled True Prep— is out today. When I first learned of the new book I instinctively cringed. Not to be pessimistic, but I just couldn’t see how anything could be as good as the original. Sort of like Wall Street II; the original is a classic and cannot be recreated. So why even try? Then one day this past spring I got invited to a press luncheon at Michael’s (a fancy N.Y. restaurant favored by media bigwigs) for the upcoming release of True Prep and needless to say I was intrigued. But before I tell you about that let’s talk about the original, The Official Preppy Handbook.





Required Viewing | Restrepo

Jun 28th, 2010 | Categories: Books, Film, Military | by Michael Williams

This past weekend I finished reading Sebastian Junger’s new book War — which along with the accompanying documentary Restrepo (directed by both Junger and photojournalist Tim Hetherington) — documents one U.S. Army platoon’s entire 15 month deployment to Afghanistan’s Korangal valley, one of the most dangerous places in the world. Rather than focusing on the politics of the War in Afghanistan, both War and Restrepo center on the soldiers on the front lines. The book and film are a sobering look at the everyday GIs that are out there in the shit; dividing their mountainous existence between boredom, firefights, reinforcing their post and dealing with the local Afghans. I highly recommend both the book and the film, which each provide a poignant perspective on the war in Afghanistan, and at the same time manage to avoid the pitfalls of the typical modern war documentary. [Restrepo / War]

"Restrepo" film directors Sebastian Junger (left) and Tim Hetherington (right) at the Restrepo outpost in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan.

Misha Pemble is startled by the sound of gunfire during a firefight across the valley with insurgents. Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. June 2008.





Roadside America

Apr 8th, 2010 | Categories: Americana, Books | by Michael Williams

Another book I need to buy from Taschen is Roadside America by John Margolies. Similar in style to Los Angeles, and very obviously my type of vibe, the book covers everything from “main Street signs, movie theaters, gas stations, fast food restaurants, motels, roadside attractions, miniature golf courses, dinosaurs, giant figures and animals, and fantasy coastal resorts.” You know who else would love this book? Mr. Aaron Draplin.

Some great imagery from Roadside America is below. Enjoy.

Thunderbird Restaurant Sign, Mount Carmel, Utah, 1987