James Egan (editor)
John Waters: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi)
University Press of Mississippi publishes an incredible series of books dedicated to interviews with iconic filmmakers, from Buster Keaton and Frank Capra to François Truffaut and Martin Scorsese. You can add John Waters to that impressive list, and, these pieces—culled from the likes of The Evening Sun, Interview, Film Comment, and Artforum between 1965 and 2010—function collectively as an entertaining autobiography. Waters quips and dishes with the best of them, but he also exudes an intellectual bravado that's rare and refreshing. Whether he's discussing Hairspray's PG rating or a retrospective of his artwork at New York's New Museum, he isn't afraid of being the smartest or the most gracious guy in the room. Although he shies away from personal revelations, Waters generously answers any query related to his work, its transgressive nature, and the cultural forces that have shaped it. Be it 1965 or 2005, he revels in the showbiz niche he created for himself and notes, "I was happy then, I'm happy now." And what's the biggest difference? "I pay more for clothes now to look homeless," he says.
Changing Lives (Norton)
When BSO music director Marin Alsop established OrchKids in 2008, I was surprised to learn the school music program was inspired by a Venezuelan curriculum called El Sistema. Ordinarily, we don't look south of the border for education solutions, and most of us wouldn't associate South America with classical music. But Alsop is no ordinary director, and, as this book makes clear, El Sistema is no ordinary education initiative. Founded 36 years ago by musician/educator José Antonio Abreu, it uses music education to foster social and academic improvement and, ultimately, lead children out of poverty. Tunstall takes us to Venezuela, interviews Abreu and his disciples, and tells various success stories, including that of Gustavo Dudamel, who came out of El Sistema to lead the Los Angeles Philharmonic. There's even a chapter ("Faces of El Sistema USA") that focuses on OrchKids and the BSO. Although the book sometimes reads like an extended testimonial, it's hard not to get caught up in Tunstall's enthusiasm and believe that, as crazy as it sounds, classical music just might save the world—or, at least, a small part of West Baltimore.
Issue # 17 (Esopus Foundation)
Esopus editor and Carroll County native Tod Lippy continues performing miracles in print. The latest installment of his sumptuous publication includes three artist projects, two posters, a CD of original music, a card game, and art reviews written by museum guards. Esopus raises the bar—and raises it pretty damn high—for all arts and cultural magazines.