Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

Happy 77th Birthday, Hunter S. Thompson!

18 Jul

hunter

Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on this day in 1937. (Fun fact: the S. in his name stands for Stockton.) He’s known as the originator of “Gonzo” journalism — a type of journalism where the reporter gets so involved in the story, he ends up part of it! Oh, and he wrote a little book called Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. The film adaptation starred Johnny Depp. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Beat Connection::: Thompson shot to fame in the literary world in 1967 with Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang. Immersing himself with the Hell’s Angels for a year, Thompson wrote about the time Beat Generation icon Neal Cassady got into a verbal fight with police at a Hell’s Angel party at Ken Kesey’s pad in La Honda, California.

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Clip: 10 Amazing Topiaries: Pruning Toward Whimsy

27 Aug

The first time I went to Disney World in Florida, I remember being spectacularly impressed by the topiaries. I was in fifth grade. Oh, sure, the rides were fun, and it was exciting to have costumed Mickey and Minnie sign my autograph book, but I was expecting that. What I wasn’t expecting were the small details Disney took to create an enchanted kingdom. Sometimes the most amazing moments in life come in the tiny, unexpected details.

Yet ironically, to become whimsical works of landscape art, these topiaries couldn’t just grow free and wild. They had to be pruned and grow within strict guidelines.

Read the rest of my article and see 10 amazing topiaries here.

Spoiler: Johnny Depp is included.

David Amram Performs in NYC Twice Next Week!

2 May

Amram

In case you missed it in the comments section last week, David Amram dropped and mentioned he’ll be reading at Literary Manhattan’s 2013 Spring Symposium. David is one of my all-time heroes–exceedingly talented and generous. I never get tired of listening to him play music–and when I say “play,” it really does feel like play, like he’s having a ball going from instrument to instrument, enjoying the craft of making music. He’s also a great storyteller. He has stories about everyone: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Johnny Depp, the list goes on.

Here’s the info for the 2013 Spring Symposium:

May 5, 2013

299 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10017

12 Noon to 3:30PM

$20 suggested donation

 

He didn’t mention it, but he’ll also be playing at Cornelia Street Cafe the following evening. Here are those details:

May 6, 2013

29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY  10014

$20 (includes a drink!)

 

 

Jeff Bridges Interviews Garrett Hedlund, Who Plays Dean Moriarty in “On the Road”

13 Dec

I’ve been connected with so many people these days who are interested in the different writers associated with the Beat Generation. Katie, who is researching Joan Burroughs, turned me on to Interview Magazine‘s feature on Garrett Hedlund, who plays the Dean Moriarty character in the film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

What initially caught my eye was photographer Robbie Fimmano‘s moody portraits of Hedlund. The black-and-white photographs are stunning. I wish I could post them here, but I don’t want to impose on his or the magazine’s copyright, so instead you can check out the online gallery here. He’s looking a bit like Johnny Depp in some of the photographs.

Actor Jeff Bridges, who apparently played his father in Tron (I say apparently because do you really think I watched Tron?), interviewed Hedlund for the magazine, and it starts off kind of cute and silly because they’re calling each other “Dad” and “Son.” Hedlund is from Minnesota and is Swedish, just like my mother, and he talks a little bit about coming from Minnesota in the interview. He also reveals that even though he played Dean Moriarty, the character based on Neal Cassady, in On the Road, he relates more to Sal Paradise. You can read the full interview here.

The film is finally opening in the States on December 21.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

21 Nov

I am so excited to have been tagged by Maria Karamitsos for the The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.  Even though I’m not a mother, I love reading Maria’s blog From the Mommy Files, which is full of humor and light.  She has the gift of storytelling.  Her blog entries read like snippets of a novel-like memoir, with dialogue, reflection, and a strong voice, despite the fact that much of her writing is focused on what could be a very technical topic: molar pregnancy.  Take for instance, her post “The Influence of the Lost Child,” in which she talks to her two adorable little girls—”BooBoo BeDoux” and “Bebs LaRoux”—about the baby she miscarried.  It’s a difficult and heartbreaking subject, yet she injects humor in it through the personalities of her daughters (“it’s tough to be 3, after all!”) as well as tenderness and faith.  I’m really excited about the book she’s writing called Positive About Negative: Adventures in Molar Pregnancy.  Maria also tagged some other Greek authors for the Blog Hop, and it’s great discovering all these writers.

I’m tempted therefore to write about my memoir about being Greek American, but since my book on Jack Kerouac is coming out first my answers to the Blog Hop questions are about that book.

What is the working title of your book?  Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

Where did the idea come from for the book?  Paul Maher Jr. had written a book entitled Jack Kerouac’s American Journey: The Real-Life Odyssey of “On the Road” for the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Kerouac’s seminal work.  I had read this book one summer and some months later began reading Paul’s blog.  We began talking and decided to revise and expand his book because we knew that a film adaptation of On the Road was coming out and we wanted to provide a resource for those interested in finding out more about this famous novel.  It was important to us that the book had a strong narrative, contextual information, and new research because we wanted both the teenager turned on from the film and the literary scholar who’s read every book by Kerouac to enjoy it and find value in it.

What genre does your book fall under?  It’s literary criticism and biography.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Isn’t that the million dollar question?  There’s been a lot of talk over the years about who should play Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty in the film adaptation of On the Road.  Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell, Marlon Brando, you name it, they’ve been associated with it.  I almost never go to the movies and don’t really know the young actors of today well enough to say who would be age appropriate to cast.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt?  Zac Efron?  These actors are too old to play the roles now but if I were casting the film back when I first read On the Road as a teenager, this is who I’d pick:

  • Sal Paradise — Johnny Depp and Ethan Hawke would be excellent choices for Sal Paradise, particularly because they both have a deep appreciation for literature.  Depp is a known Kerouac fan and just started his own publishing imprint, and Hawke is a published author.
  • Dean Moriarty — Woody Harrelson would make a great Dean Moriarty.  He can play both earnest and wild so well!  Matthew McConaughey would be great as Dean too.
  • Carlo Marx — I loved James Franco’s portrayal of Allen Ginsberg in Howl, but if I had to select someone else I might go with Adam Goldberg.
  • Old Bull Lee — The choice of Viggo Mortensen as Old Bull Lee for the Walter Salles film is brilliant, but again if I had to choose someone else maybe I’d with Ewan McGregor.
  • Marylou — Drew Barrymore would be so much fun to watch as Marylou.  Do you remember her in Mad Love and Boys on the SideAlmost Famous hadn’t been made yet when I was a teenager but Kate Hudson (think Penny Lane) would be my runner-up pick.

 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  Burning Furiously Beautiful tells the true story of  Jack Kerouac travels on the road and how it took him years, not weeks, to write On the Road.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  We decided to self-publish Burning Furiously Beautiful.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  The first draft, so to speak, had already been written and published as Jack Kerouac’s American Journey.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  There have been so many biographies of Kerouac written over the years, and each offers its own perspective.  Burning Furiously Beautiful uses Kerouac’s journals and letters, as well as archival material from other people who knew Kerouac during the time he was on the road and writing On the Road, to tell a the specific story of the making of a novel that continues to generate interest today.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?  Obviously, Paul Maher Jr. inspired Burning Furiously Beautiful as it was his original idea.  I, however, had been researching and writing about Kerouac since I was an undergrad many years prior to this and brought my own knowledge and skills to the project.  I was very much inspired by the fact that the film adaptation is soon to be released here in the States.  There’s a whole new generation coming to Kerouac’s literature, which is immensely exciting to me.  Reading Kerouac when I was in high school opened up so many possibilities for me as a reader and writer.  I hope that the film will pique people’s interest so that they’ll go back and read Kerouac’s books for themselves—not just On the Road  but his other great works as well—and that they’ll watch Pull My Daisy, the film that Kerouac himself spontaneously narrated.  Burning Furiously Beautiful is important because it contextualizes On the Road and provides a fascinating look at Kerouac’s life and writing process.  This is critical because there’s so much myth surrounding Kerouac and the 1950s.  I became engrossed in odd little details like the fact that the Kerouac’s didn’t have a phone and took their calls at the store below their apartment in Queens.  It’s so different than today when it seems like every middle schooler has a cell phone.  If Cassady could’ve just called Kerouac up on his iphone, he might not have written the infamous Joan Anderson letter that spurred on Kerouac’s writing style.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  Burning Furiously Beautiful is a great book for an aspiring writer, regardless of whether or not you like Kerouac’s writing style.  It’s a portrait of a young writer and details how his writing voice developed (his first book has a much different style), what his writing routine was, the editing process (yes, there was one!), what his relationship with other writers and editors was like (imagine lots of parties), and the many false starts he had in writing his book.  We even talk about book signings, contracts, and press interviews.  Sometimes I’ve felt frustrated with various writing projects of mine, but realizing that Kerouac, who purported to have written On the Road in only three weeks, went through some of the same struggles and took years to find success makes me realize that it’s all part of the writing process.

I tag:

Emily Timbol

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

Larry Shallenberger 

Michael D. Bobo

Check them out!  They’re each really different from each other.

Evening of David Amram’s Chamber Music and Readings from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

21 Aug
This promises to be an unforgettable evening:
An Evening of David Amram’s Chamber Music
and Readings From Jack Kerouac’s On The Road with music
Friday, September 7, 8:00 pm

 

Symphony Space, Peter Jay Sharp Theatre
2537 Broadway @ 95th

 

A tribute concert to celebrate the chamber music of composer David Amram
as a part of the New York Chamber Music Festival

On Friday September 7 at 8 pm, the acclaimed New York Piano Quartet, internationally renowned flutist Carol Wincenc, violinist and former MET Orchestra concert master Elmira Darvarova, eminent cellist Wendy Sutter, New York Philharmonichornist Howard Wall, Metropolitan Opera principal percussionist Greg Zuber, actor John Ventimiglia (of the The Sopranos), famed pianists Tomoko Kanamaru and Hsin-Chiao Liao, talented young musicians from the award-winning ensemble Face the Music with artistic director Jenny Undercofler, the much talked about David Amram Quartet and multi-instrumentalist David Amram himself, will gather at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Symphony Space to celebrate the chamber music of one of the most significant American composers of all times — the indefatigable David Amram, as part of the 2012 New York Chamber Music Festival.

This celebration of David Amram’s chamber music includes a wide variety of the composer’s works which represent his prolific career spanning many decades. Works include the 1960 Violin Sonata, the 1979 piano quartet Portraits, the 1977 Native American Portraits, the 1982 Blues and Variations for Monk, the 1993 Theme and Variations on Red River Valley, the Andante movement from the Concerto for Flute Giants of the Night (commissioned and premiered in 2002 by Sir James Galway), its chamber music version presented at this concert by flutist Carol Wincenc in its New York premiere, and the very recently written 2012 Cancion de Verano (Summer Song), also performed in its New York premiere, by the acclaimed young musicians ensemble Face The Music.  Several of these works are inspired by David Amram’s legendary collaboration with Jack Kerouac, whose iconic work On the Road has its own presence at the September 7 concert, with 5 readings, performed by actor John Ventimiglia (of The Sopranos) and David Amram’s daughter Adira Amram.
Program
Violin Sonata (1960)
Elmira Darvarova (violin) and Tomoko Kanamaru (piano)
Theme and Variations on Red River Valley (1993)
Carol Wincenc (flute) with the members of the Face the Music ensemble
Andante from Giants of the Night* (2002)
Carol Wincenc, flute and Hsin-Chiao Liao (piano)
*New York premiere of the chamber version
Portraits (1979)
Members of the New York Piano Quartet with Wendy Sutter (guest cellist)
Intermission
Cancion de Verano (Summer Song)* (2012)
Members of the Face the Music ensemble
*New York premiere
Blues and Variations for Monk (1982)
Howard Wall (horn)
5 Readings from “On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac (2011)
John Ventimiglia and Adira Amram with the David Amram Quartet
Native American Portraits (1977)
Elmira Darvarova (violin), Greg Zuber (percussion), David Amram (percussion), Tomoko Kanamaru (piano)
*
Tickets: $20 in advance (Symphony Space Members, Students, Seniors $15; Day of Performance $25) at symphonyspace.org or call their Box Office at 212-864-5400

 

David Amram has conducted more than seventy-five of the world’s great orchestras, composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber works, written two operas and, early in his career, wrote and conducted many scores for theater and films, including Splendor in the Grass and The  Manchurian Candidate. Since being appointed by Leonard Bernstein as the first composer in residence with the New York Philharmonic in 1966, he has become one of the most acclaimed composers of his generation, listed by BMI as one of the 20 Most Performed Composers of Concert Music in the United States since 1974. The Boston Globe has hailed him, “The Renaissance Man of American Music.”
For twenty-nine seasons, Amram was the Music Director, Conductor and Narrator of Young People’s, Family and Free Summer Parks concerts for the Brooklyn Philharmonic at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; and for seventeen seasons, Amram was the Musical Director and Conductor of the International Jewish Arts Festival, conducting members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.  In addition to conducting, he has also performed with symphony orchestras as a soloist on instruments from all over the world, combining jazz, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Native American and folk music alongside the European classics.
Today, Amram continues to perform as a guest conductor and soloist while continuing a remarkable pace of composing. Recently acclaimed new works include Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie; Three Songs: A Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; and Giants of the Night, a flute concerto commissioned and premiered by Sir James Galway.  A Little Rebellion: Thomas Jefferson, a piece for narrator and orchestra, was premiered at the Kennedy Center with Amram conducting;  and Kokopeli, A Symphony in Three Movements, had its world premiere with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, also with Amram conducting.
A pioneer player of jazz French horn, he is also a virtuoso on piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from 25 countries, as well as an inventive, funny improvisational lyricist.  He has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Jack Kerouac, Leopold Stokowski, Langston Hughes, Dustin Hoffman, Willie Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Elia Kazan, Eugene Ormandy, Arthur Miller, Bob Dylan, Alan Ginsberg, Charles Mingus, Lionel Hampton, Paddy Chayevsky,  Johnny Depp, Archibald MacLeish, Pete Seeger, Tito Puente and Joseph Papp.
A documentary feature film, David Amram: The First 80 Years, is currently being shown at major music and film festivals throughout the United States and internationally. Directed by Lawrence Kraman, the film includes the New York premier of his Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie and highlights of his comic opera 12th Night.  Amram is also featured in Andrew Zuckerman’s book and new feature film documentary Wisdom: The Greatest Gift One Generation Can Give To Another, as one of the world’s 50 Elder Thinkers and Doers;  and his instructional video, Origins of Symphonic Instruments, released by Educational Video, is shown in over 6,000 schools throughout the United States and Canada.
On Sept 7th, 2012, the 4th Annual New York Chamber Music Festival presents an entire evening of Amram’s chamber music compositions at Symphony Space in Manhattan; and on September 21st and 22nd, Amram conducts the Colorado Symphony in Denver for a program which will include a live recording of his Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie.
For further information of Amram’s activities, access his webpage.
If you haven’t visited the appearances section in a while, you may have missed this news:
September 3, 2012.  8:30pm.  Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Cornelia St.).  New York, NY.  Stephanie will be reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as David Amram plays, just like the first jazz-poetry readings Amram and Kerouac did in 1957. Amram & Co. includes David Amram, Kevin Twigg, John de Witt, and Adam Amram.  $10 cover, plus $10 minimum.
See you there!