Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hippies mired in sea of mud

That's the memorable August 17, 1969 headline in the New York Daily News. Referring to Woodstock, of course. You can practically see the the headline writer snickering while he wrote that one. The paper also captioned an accompanying photo with "They Don't Melt"—"they" being those muddy hippies of the headline who battled the elements and—surprise!—didn't melt like chocolate during those late summer days in Bethel, NY. Hard not to laugh at that headline today, but 40 years on it sure works as an eye-catching blog post, no?

As you know, we're counting down to the summer release of Woodstock: The Oral History, 40th Anniversary Edition. From time to time we'll be filling this space with an assortment of Woodstock-related stuff leading up to the book's release. We'll post some videos of classic performances, talk with the man who put together the oral history, and share with you anything else we stumble across, including news on rumored anniversary concert(s) for this summer. All we've heard is that they're considering Brooklyn's Prospect Park for an anniversary blowout. What are you hearing?

For now we'll kick things off with probably the greatest band to play Woodstock (okay, we might be biased): The Who. Looking back, The Who were an odd choice for three days of peace and music. The music part, sure, but the peace part...well, they used to destroy their instruments on stage with a ferocity rarely seen from bands at that time. They're often called one of the (many) forefathers of punk and you can easily imagine Pete Townshend or Keith Moon beating up Crosby, Stills, and Nash, can't you? They could probably take Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young also. Anyway, they were a band on the rise and their Woodstock performance helped catapult them (and their recent concept album, Tommy) into the upper echelon of bands of the era. So crank the volume—or if you're at work maybe plug in your headphones so you won't disturb your cube mates—and enjoy these two clips.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taking on torture

With the argument for legalizing torture taking center stage recently (in between the swine flu coverage, that is), there are no shortages of opinion on it. This polarizing issue has elicited some heated exchanges. Some take direct aim at the CIA over the legalization issue, including Christopher Hitchens, who was famously water-boarded last year. Others ask if the American public is desensitized to the entire issue at this point.

Dustin Ells Howes offers another perspective. In his recent guest column for the Times-Picayune, he asks the question "How effective is torture?" Dustin's piece offers a thoughtful contribution in the debates over torture.
Dustin is the author of Toward a Credible Pacifism: Violence and the Possibilities of Politics (available in October) and contributed to the SUNY Press Blog earlier this year.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Authors mingling, signing, and smiling

We recently attended the American Educational Research Association's annual conference in sunny San Diego. We hosted three celebrations for the following authors and their books: Patrick Finn, Literacy with an Attitude, Second Edition; Alan Singer, New York and Slavery; and Janet Bixby and Judith Pace, Educating Democratic Citizens in Troubled Times.

The celebrations were well attended, with authors signing copies, meeting and greeting people, and, as you can see from the pictures, having an all around good time. Alan Singer and Judith Pace even sent along their thoughts on the signings, so we're including those below. Thanks to all who made these events happen and to those who attended, plus a special thanks to our authors for participating.

The book signing at AERA was a delightful experience. It was well advertised; in fact a few colleagues told me as soon as I arrived at the conference that they'd learned I had a new book published. The wonderful book cover was made into a poster hanging up in the SUNY booth. During the signing I had the opportunity to inscribe copies, catch up with friends who came by, and eat chocolates. Fran Keneston and Anne Valentine, from SUNY Press, were very considerate and took great photos. All in all the event was great publicity and a lot of fun!

— Judith Pace

What is unique, for me, about this book is the way it blends history and approaches to teaching. As a high school teacher and teacher educator I always grapple with understanding the past and finding ways to make it meaningful to my students. At the AERA I gave two papers based on work included in the book New York and Slavery: Time to Teach the Truth. One focused on high school students who organized a walking tour of lower Manhattan were they teach elementary and middle school students about the history of slavery in New York. The other paper focused on student responses to learning about the history of slavery in New York. Since publishing the book I have changed my focus a bit and I am now concentrating on Black abolitionists from New York. At the NY State History conference in June I will present research on their pivotal role in the years leading up to the Civil war.

— Alan Singer

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Judging a book by its cover

One of our favorite things about reading other people's blogs is finding out about the blogs they're reading—and then reading them regularly ourselves. That's how we found the Book Cover Archive and it's blogging cousin, the Book Cover Archive Blog. The archives are loaded with gorgeous graphic design for those looking to get lost in cover art nirvana. The blog ruminates on all things book covers—including creating cover art for an e-book that would fit the proportions of the iPhone. Very interesting, especially the parts about using RGB vs. CMYK color and making black the dominant color so the cover could actually become a part of the iPhone front...if you're into that sort of stuff. Which we are.

So poke around both of their sites and you'll learn plenty, including who designed the cover for The Yiddish Policemen's Union and where to hit the motherload of NASA images for your next book on the space agency. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

'tis Shakespeare's Birthday

This Thursday William Shakespeare will turn 445 years young. Why not celebrate his birthday by talking like you're a character in one of his plays? That's what Mayor Daly is proposing Chicagoans do on "Talk Like Shakespeare Day"—check it out at Chicagoist. For those of you in the Windy City—and everywhere else, really, because who doesn't want an excuse to talk like Shakespeare?—start practicing where to insert your "haths" and "thous" forthwith.

This is also a great time to rediscover The Sonnets, a novel by Lennard J. Davis. In it, Davis looks at what would happen if Shakespeare found himself living in modern-day Manhattan. Our protagonist, Will Marlowe, is a Columbia University English professor teaching a class on Shakespeare. Things start to get interesting when he realizes that his life is beginning to parallel the Bard's sonnets. If you're looking for a satirical take on Shakespeare, academia, and the urban jungle, then this is the book for you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Keeping up with our authors

Here's the latest on some SUNY author events taking place around New York later this week...

Eve Pell will be especially busy later this week. On Thursday evening she'll be reading from We Used to Own the Bronx from 5:30–7:00 at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. Then Eve heads down to Sleepy Hollow for a Friday night reading at Kendal on Hudson, from 7:30–9:30. After that she'll jet back up state to Troy's Market Block Books for a Saturday afternoon reading, from 2:00–4:00.

Eve will also be interviewed on Friday morning from 10:00–10:30 on WAMC Northeast Public Radio. You can listen live or at the station archives on their website.

Also on Friday night, Margaret Wooster will be reading from and signing copies of Living Waters, from 7:00–9:00 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Niagara Falls, New York.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for other upcoming events (and Eve and Margaret both have more on the horizon). For more details (and directions) on these and other events, check out our events calendar. Make it a daily habit; you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring into...Fall?

So we're finally enjoying some consistently mild and sunny spring weather in Albany, and that can only mean one thing here at the Press...time to start focusing on the upcoming fall '09 titles. Yup, we're working hard on the fall catalog, which should drop by the first week of May. After that, we'll be working on getting the deluxe, interactive online edition uploaded to our website for your viewing pleasure as well.

So think spring...but also keep an eye out for information on our books for the upcoming fall season, including Robert Moss's novel, The Firekeeper, Richard Selzer's "lost" novel, Knife Song Korea, and a book on that little concert they put together down in Woodstock all those years ago. We hear it was a big deal.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Origins of The Firekeeper

Robert Moss has posted an essay on his blog about the inception of his novel, The Firekeeper: A Narrative of the New York Frontier.

The Firekeeper is an epic adventure based on the extraordinary historical story of Sir William Johnson and also Robert's dreams of a Mohawk "woman of power" who lived three centuries ago.

On his blog, Robert explores his personal reasons for writing the book and shows how it is not only the story of a native people’s struggle for survival, but also an examination of how "dreaming can bring the soul back home."

A new edition of The Firekeeper will be published by SUNY Press in trade paperback in July.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Celebrating Vera and the Ambassador

SUNY Press was pleased to welcome Vera and Donald Blinken to Albany last week. Friday at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, the Blinkens discusssed their recently published memoir, Vera and the Ambassador, describing their experiences with the U.S. diplomatic effort in Hungary during the Clinton Administration. Watch the video here.

On Saturday the Blinkens spoke at the University at Albany as part of the weekend-long celebration of the 60th anniversary of the SUNY system. It was a homecoming of sorts for Donald: before serving as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary he was Chair of the SUNY Board of Trustees. Donald and Vera were kind enough to sign books for those in attendance before and after the luncheon. It was a wonderful day filled with goodwill and generosity—thank you, Vera and Donald, for visiting and for giving so freely of your time.