Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Trampling Out the Vintage

I attended an event at Heyday Books on Sunday and was treated to an unusually interesting couple of hours. About fifty of us squeezed into Malcolm Margolin's parlor to hear Frank Bardacke talk about his new book, Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers (Verso).

I know a little bit about the UFW from Randy Shaw's book, several documentary films, and my research on Carey McWilliams. But Frank's presentation offered a different and valuable take on the organization and its history. Most of it assorted well with what I thought I knew, but Frank grounded that story differently--and very convincingly. I was impressed with his ability to move from big picture stuff to illustrative detail and back again. And he made it look easy, which is even tougher.

I've known about Frank for a while now. He's featured in a film I always show in my California Culture class called Berkeley in the Sixties. (In fact, I showed it last night.) But I also interviewed him on the telephone for my Ramparts book. This was the first time we've met in person, and I was impressed with him and his presentation, which was personable and forthright. (In his introduction, Jeff Lustig noted that Frank is probably the only person to be kicked out of both Harvard and the UFW.)

As it turned out, I also met Saul Landau at the event. I interviewed him for the Ramparts book but had never met him in person. Saul is another guy with an amazing story, which I'll save for another post. Anne Weills, Bob Scheer's ex and another important figure in the Ramparts story, was also in the house.

Congratulations to Frank and thanks to Malcolm for hosting the event.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Grateful Dead: Captains of Industry

I had the pleasure of meeting Barry Barnes at the American Culture Association meeting in San Antonio this year. Fanatical readers of this blog will recall that I attended a dozen or so academic panels devoted to the Grateful Dead, and Barry was one of the speakers. He's a business professor, and he has a new book out: Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead. Check out the Boston Globe article here.

This book wasn't an easy road for Barry. After he presented his book idea at a previous meeting, two marketing guys rushed out a similar title, Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. That book received some attention at the Atlantic and elsewhere. But Barry's good standing in the Deadhead community helped him land a deal at Grand Central Publishing, a very respectable division of the Hachette Book Group that's helping him get the word out. Kudos to Barry!