Unflinching look at Harry Belafonte's life as he's lived it, with peeks into why he lived it that way. In the case of civil rights for African America...moreUnflinching look at Harry Belafonte's life as he's lived it, with peeks into why he lived it that way. In the case of civil rights for African Americans (and some Africans) as well as artists having power and controlling their own destinies in an unforgiving entertainment industry, ALL roads lead to AND through Mr. Belafonte. That's not hype or something Belafonte even says in this book. It's just a fact. There is NO reason why Belafonte should go down in history with the current generation as "that cranky old guy who complained about Beyonce and Jay-Z," although that's what I fear has happened. That's everyone's loss. There are now generations of people who have benefited from Belafonte's struggles, sacrifices, and generosity -- the personal and financial, the professional and political. In the book, Belafonte tirelessly recalls the everyday, ordinary people that so many historical figures were, in recounting his friendships and other such encounters with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., both 1960s Kennedy brothers, Paul Robeson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Fidel Castro, and the recently passed Nelson Mandela. Hollywood isn't left out, for he speaks candidly on his relationships with various artists -- ranging from close to rocky to somewhere in between -- with Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando, Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Miriam Makeba, Norman Jewison, Robert Altman, Tony Curtis, Roger Moore, Danny Glover. Along the way he was duped by both Hollywood and Washington insiders; was an unsuccessful target of intimidation from (oh-so-many people!!!) Jackie Gleason in nightclub owner mode to, well, the U.S. and a handful of other African governments; worked against apartheid by promoting disinvestment from South Africa alongside Randall Robinson in TransAfrica; contacted Ken Kragen and made USA for Africa and "We are the World" HAPPEN; and worked for UNICEF alongside Audrey Hepburn. Just like he was in the southern states in the 1960s, he was in Rwanda in the 1990s. AND he made time to sing with the Muppets! Now, you might ask, if accomplishing all this -- and I've yet to mention his successful international recording and concert touring career and forays into film and television as actor AND producer -- meant his relationships with spouses and children back home suffered--? Belafonte admits to the absentee father practice of showering his four kids with gifts, and he didn't let still being married to the current wife interfere with his dating the future one. A complex past of extended family's fortunes and opposite, along with poverty-stricken, abusive parents -- who were not exactly in the USA legally -- may have contributed. Bottom line? Belafonte is a man of substance AND flaws, who has lived his life -- and still is living it! -- on his own terms.(less)
Richly detailed information on the Austerlitz, later Astaire, family. Much was seen and so much was expected of Fred and Adele, as they became stars o...moreRichly detailed information on the Austerlitz, later Astaire, family. Much was seen and so much was expected of Fred and Adele, as they became stars of stage both here in the USA and over in the UK, after starting out in vaudeville as children. A tireless work ethic rests behind Fred's performances looking so effortless, both with Adele and later without her in his films -- when Adele retired upon marriage into European royalty. The book also clears up lazy misperceptions that the pair played awkward love interests in their stage musicals -- Riley's wealth of details on all of their stage productions, American and British, assures you they did not. The pair's bond with George Gershwin is fleshed out, as is the story of their parents meeting, marriage, and later divorce in quiet Nebraska, as their mother eagerly and happily oversaw every step of their career take the three of them further and further away from the staid Midwest and into sparkling high society and Buckingham Palace (Mama Rose has nothing on Mama Astaire). Includes certainly not widely seen photos of Fred and Adele in their shows, along with some of the more detailed rave reviews. An important bridge between nineteenth and twentieth century entertainment history!(less)
Happy birthday to Janet Jackson today, May 16, 2012, who turns fogh-koff!-koff!-years-old :) today!! -- Anywa...moreFinally, mysteries of the ages answered!!
Happy birthday to Janet Jackson today, May 16, 2012, who turns fogh-koff!-koff!-years-old :) today!! -- Anyway, I finished reading her book a few months ago. It came out with very little fanfare early last year. The book is autobiographical without actually being an autobiography. The bookstore that I bought it from was so focused on the self-help aspects of the book, they had all six of their copies in the self-help section -- not a one in the music section (which also explains why they had SIX COPIES; when's the last time you saw a bookstore have six copies of anything??). Anyway, the book does address some longstanding questions -- albeit twenty years too late--! When Janet was on "Fame" and suddenly gained all that weight (and they started putting her in overalls!) and there were rumors that she was pregnant and later gave the baby away for adoption -- good grief! Actually and ironically, everyone was so nervous about Janet becoming pregnant by new-but-later-annulled husband James DeBarge that she started taking birth control pills--a side effect of which was the weight gain (and here I have FELT JANET'S PAIN)! Janet explained that she's written this book for over a decade, in fits and starts. And it kind of reads like that. Also, I suspect the book might have been semi-quashed because Janet does go into her yo-yoing weight through the years and talks about how she lost the weight this last time -- but it's due to a pricey doctor's center, not Nutrisystem...(less)
I very much liked and appreciated the story and its bold, unsparing graphics. I expected there to be more to the ending, but it was a deep, engrossing...moreI very much liked and appreciated the story and its bold, unsparing graphics. I expected there to be more to the ending, but it was a deep, engrossing story. (less)
I read almost all of Wishful Drinking during a hair appointment. I know what you're thinking already -- "Does that mean it's a short book or that you...moreI read almost all of Wishful Drinking during a hair appointment. I know what you're thinking already -- "Does that mean it's a short book or that you have reallllly long hair appointments??" Well, a little bit of BOTH, actually. It *is* a quick read at under 200 pages. But it's a book of a one-woman stage show and therefore it should be short, book-wise. After all, Carrie's not *that* old -- although she has had enough life thrown at her for at least three lifetimes. It's a testament to her fortitude that she is still walking around and breathing and trying to make sense of it all -- or maybe just dumb luck, I dunno. It's a rollercoaster of highs and lows in a uniquely crazy life. (less)