Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fascinating for criticism and analysis of the seminal yet more obscure horror/gothic stories, like Melmoth The Wanderer, The Monk and others. It's a print on demand book, so don't expect to find it cheap even if it's a used paperback. Still went ahead and bought volume 2 though, for the analysis of works hard to find anywhere else (Peake, for instance).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

                                          Daniel Handler takes on The Myth of Sisyphus

What is happiness? Does it exist? Is there any meaning to why we are here?  These are some of the answers the characters in Daniel Handler’s new book, We Are Pirates, seem to be seeking. 
Gwen is an overly bright and bored 14 year old with annoying parents (redundant?) who gets caught shoplifting, more out of boredom and nihilism than anything else,  Her giving of a false name, Octavia, goes nowhere, and yes, her parents are called.  Her punishment, or redemption, is to be found volunteering in an old age home reading pirate novels to an Alzheimer’s patient.  She meets up with a like minded rebel without a cause, Amber and they decide to steal a boat in the San Francisco Bay with the elderly man and become pirates themselves, in the grand old style, kids playing life as a video game in a way, in order to find meaning, excitement, and some reason for doing, okay, anything.
Gwen’s father is a familiar character, a middle aged mild mannered dissatisfied man with a droning wife and an attraction to his younger, tippling assistant.  He too, would like more. He is forced into a desperate quest (desperate, but if Gwen should die, could he use her college fund to buy that car?) to get his daughter safely home.

Handler has brilliant one-liners and sudden twisted observations that startle the reader into realizing, that hey, this guy was Lemony Snicket,  but as for the answer as to whether there is a meaning for life here, well, it is left much more open ended than Camus’s final answer.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Steinway Hall Sold

It was with great sorrow that I learned that Steinway Hall on West 57th Street has been sold. The building, graced with paintings of famed composers, has been host to many musicians, famed and not, over the years. Lush and ornate, it was like entering a magical world where music reigned.

Steinway, which owns the building but leases the land, had been losing approximately five million dollars annually to maintain it.  A representative of Steinway stated that they have plans to open another venue in Manhattan, which would be more up-to-date, with soundproof studios. The current building, built in 1925, would be too costly to update for today's needs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rising Russian Poets with Key American Poets

Causia Artium and The Debut Prize Foundation sponsored a lively and energetic poetry reading last night at the Mid-Manhattan Branch of The New York Public Library.  The event was engagingly moderated by David Lehman, a poet himself, and one of the foremost editors, literary critics and anthologists of contemporary American literature.

Poets were presented individually, rising from the audience to take their place at the podium for 12 minute readings.  The American poets included Tina Chang, Heather Christle, and Matthew Yaeger.  The Russian poets were Dina Gatina, Alla Gorbunova, and Lev Oborin.  They were assisted by translator John William Narins, co-founder of Causa Artium and a writer, poet,and literary scholar himself,  who was both accurate and spoke the words as they were meant to be spoken.

From left - Tina Chang, Heather Christle, David Lehman, Matthew Yeager, Alla Gorbunova, Dina Gatina, Lev Oborin
Alla Gorbunova
Tina Chang, Poet Laureate of Brooklyn for 2010, wove her poems as beautifully as the golden threads fairy princesses have been weaving since time immemorial.  Dina Gatina, a Russian artist, illustrator, and poet, took the podium with a darker, more unsettling stream of words.  Heather Christle, the winner of the 2012 Believer Poetry Award presented sprightly, humorous creations which drew much warmth from the audience. Poet Lev Oborin,  a musician and an editor at the Russian Edition of Rolling Stone, painted the room with words both thoughtful and aware.  The evening ended with Matthew Yeager hijacking the stage with the poetic delivery equivalent of a Thompson Sub Machine gun, blasting the audience with words just as powerful. 

The Debut Prize Foundation seeks to bring the newest generation in Russian to readers worldwide.  For more information, go to

Causa Artium is dedicated to expanding  awareness of literary, visual, performance, musical, and other art forms.  For more information on Causa Artium, go to

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Vinyl Experience - A Review of Five Hundred 45s

Many mourn the day the compact disc was born.  Some because of the quality of the music as opposed to  it on vinyl (Neil Young, for one), some because of the shrinking of what used to be great cover art. 

Bands had frequently spent much time seeking the best use of the visual arts to comment (or deliberately not comment) on their music.  The point of the their efforts was to evoke a response in their audience. Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz, visual artists themselves, released the book Five Hundred 45's at The Morrison Hotel in New York to much acclaim.

A study, or happy flip through, of this book brought me back to various places and times, also stirring up remembrances of running out and buying a great many of the singles selected for this volume. It was so much fun to flip through the racks of Sam Goody or the like nabbing 45s that covers struck your eye like a shiny diamond, or evoked an emotion you couldn't quite put your finger on from a band you had never even listened to previously. This book has it all - a shot of The Rolling Stones looking like Choir boys on the cover for We Were Falling In Love, to the debonair Frank Sinatra's A Swingin' Affair, to the stark plain-as-you see-'em stripped down Talking Heads' Love - Building on Fire, to the haunting cover for Scarling's Band Aid Covers The Bullet Hole.


Five Hundred 45s is a wonderful time capsule of a book that I simply fell into, gazing at and reminiscing for hours.

Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz are Award-Winning Creative Directors,Designers,Authors,Curators,Media
Writers,Art Reps and Packagers specializing in music design,branding and 21 pop-culture books.Mr. Drate was a 4 time grammy judge (1989-1992)
on the music packaging committee , co-designed a Grammy Award nominated Album Package (1979) "Talking Heads-Fear of Music" and authored the first visual history book on the 7" Record Sleeve "45 RPM" in 2002.They have music designed for 12 in The Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame and
they both have combined to design for famous musicians such as U2,Lou Reed,The Velvet Underground,Leonard Cohen,John Lennon,The Beach Boys,Billy Squier,Big Daddy Kane,Paul McCartney,Anthrax,Ramones,Talking Heads,The Pretenders,Joan Jett and Bon Jovi.Some Some of Their recent popular pop-culture book titles of their 21 books are "SWAG-Rock Posters of the 90's","Pure Animation","The Art of the Modern Movie Poster," "VFX Artistry","Creating Comics","FIVE HUNDRED 45s" and they have been profiled and interviewed in major media and books.They have won many design awards.

Their famous music design work has been showcased in many venues such as at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC in the "Looking at Music-Side 2" Show-2009,The Brooklyn Museum in the "Who Shot Rock n' Roll" Show-2010 ,The Cooper Hewitt Museum,  in the "Mixed Messages" Show-1996 and "Punk/Post Punk Graphics Show" at The Steve Kasher Gallery,NYCin 2011.

They are Artist Representatives for Joseph Arthur and Xany Rudoff.