Posts from June 2010
Posted by Carole Stuart on June 04, 2010
Summer has officially started. Memorial Day marked the beginning of escaping from the comfort of your Monday-to-Friday home and travel great distances in lots of traffic to visit your weekend home or the weekend home of a friend. You pack a bathing suit, bring gifts of food or wine or flowers and enjoy yourself only to repeat the journey Sunday afternoon or evening to go back home.
I had a house in Columbia County, upstate New York, for many years. The county became known as “The Unhamptons”—very low key. Now I find myself visiting friends in those Hamptons and even going to Montauk to see my daughter, Jenni, her husband, Brad, and the grandchildren, Dylan, Justin and Jackson. Montauk is referred to as “The End” since it is the very end of the Island. It’s all very pretty, the ocean is spectacular and worth the trip.
BOOK EXPO 2010
As many of you readers of this blog know, book publishing is undergoing a transformation as we in the industry try to figure out what the impact of e-books on actual books will be. Our books, like those of most publishers, are up on electronic devices, and each month, we see an increase in sales of e-books. It’s hardly a blip on our radar, but it’s definitely happening. Nevertheless, the tradition of gathering at a huge convention center to hype this fall’s contenders for bestseller lists, and not-quite-bestsellers, continues.
In the past, it was a three-day event called the American Booksellers Association convention that took place over the Memorial Day weekend. I’ve been doing this long enough to remember when it was held in Washington, D.C., always sultry that time of year. It took place in the garage of the Shoreham Hotel and was a raucous affair. Lyle Stuart, Inc., our company, gave away all kinds of things: orange juice, ice cream, bottles of Scotch whiskey–even money. You didn’t need an invitation to attend the parties that started after the exhibits closed. All that was necessary was to get off the elevator at a random floor, listen for laughter and the tinkling of cocktail glasses, and you headed in that direction.
Boy, have things grown and changed.
This year’s Book Expo America, the convention’s new name, was held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City a two-day, midweek affair—Wednesday and Thursday, May 26th and 27, thus freeing all to enjoy a real Memorial Day weekend holiday.
The convention is a venue to show off new books and has also become a serious opportunity to sell subsidiary rights. That’s where publishers’ rights people make deals with foreign publishers, book clubs, audio companies, etc. that provide other sources of income outside of traditional (bookstore) outlets.
The hyping of Big Fall Books was intense. I haven’t seen as many bound galleys of the hopeful authors and their publishers given away as this year. There were long lines at many booths where authors signed and gave out galleys. “Free” has unparalleled allure, and attendees were taking home their prizes in a variety of creative tote bags.
Barbra Streisand kicked off the convention Tuesday night before the Expo opening. Barbra was interviewed by Gayle King about her book, A PASSION FOR DESIGN (Viking). She drew a big crowd including my niece, Carla Rose, who is in my debt forever for making this happen. Carla, a Streisand groupie, got a seat up front and networked herself into new friendships.
Under “Small World” category, Carla, wearing a Barricade Books badge, sat next to Merrill Kalman who was in New York scouting authors to speak at a luncheon in Phoenix. Merrill asked if she knew Carole Stuart. “She’s my aunt!” Turns out Merrill is close friends with my son-in-law’s mother, also my good friend, Carol Kern, national president of Brandeis National Committee. They are both active in the Phoenix Chapter of the Brandeis National Committee where they host a yearly luncheon that draws top authors who speak and sell lots of their books. All this as a fundraiser for Brandeis.
Merrill visited the Barricade booth, met author Mordechai (Morty) Dzikansky, whose book, TERRORIST COP, The NYPD Jewish Cop Who Traveled the World to Fight Terrorism, comes out this fall. Merrill, coincidentally, had been a NYC cop. She and Morty bonded, and perhaps, he will be a guest at the next luncheon in Phoenix.
The Sunday evening before the convention, Morty presented a two-minute talk about his book at the Jewish Book Council, an impressive and important organization comprised of representatives of the major Jewish book fairs and Jewish community centers around the country. They listen to more than 150 authors over a three-day period and invite some to speak at their venues where lots of books are sold.
Morty talked about how he became an expert in terrorism having witnessed many suicide bombing scenes. He was immediately invited to three Jewish book fairs.
After reading TERRORIST COP, I was riveted with the information about security. The recent failed bombing attempt in New York’s Times Square (where, by the way, I was attending a play) prompted Morty to tell me he was not surprised that the street vendors called attention to the illegally parked car. Police are cycled in and out of the area, but the vendors—they are there on a daily basis year in, year out. “We tell them [the vendors] what to look for.” It certainly worked this time. But, Morty cautioned, “You can expect more of this.”
The book not only relates what our Terrorist Cop witnessed after suicide bombings in Israel, Moscow, Istanbul and Spain, it also offers information about what to do and how to become more alert.
I close this Hot News with an article written by friend Jay Gertzman. June 24 marks the fourth anniversary of Lyle’s death. I thought it timely to reprint this essay that describes Lyle Stuart, not by me but through the eyes of a scholar and admirer. I have not identified any of the names in the article; those who are familiar with them will need no introduction. For those who are not—go to Google!
Lyle Stuart: Between
George Seldes and I. F. Stone
Lyle Stuart, who died on June 24, 2006, at age 83, was as independent and progressive a journalist as America has produced. Stuart worked for Variety for a period in the late 1940s, but left disillusioned by the trade paper’s connections with insiders in Hollywood and its too-friendly relations with key advertisers. From that point on, Lyle Stuart became a maverick in the tradition of George Seldes. As a young book publisher (Lyle Stuart Inc. began in 1956), he dared publish a book by Fidel Castro, (HISTORY WILL ABSOLVE ME). He issued early exposés of the power of the DuPont family (THE DUPONT DYNASTY), of the FBI (INSIDE THE FBI) and its domestic spying. He published Ferdinand Lundberg’s study of the intractable gulf between the wealth of the “super rich” and the resources of the rest of the population (THE RICH AND THE SUPER-RICH) that became an international bestseller. He published pioneer sex therapist Albert Ellis (SEX WITHOUT GUILT) and best-selling THE SENSUOUS WOMAN, one of the first examples of the mainstreaming of sexually explicit material. In 1959, he proudly reissued Dalton Trumbo's classic antiwar novel, JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN, with an introduction by the blacklisted author.
During this period of the 1950s and ’60s, he published a monthly newspaper, Exposé (renamed The Independent), a “press newsletter” (George Seldes’ term) that filled the gap between Seldes’ newsletter, In Fact, and I. F. Stone’s Weekly. Paul Krassner wrote a regular column titled “Freedom of Wit” for The Independent plus feature stories and later became managing editor. In 1958 while working in Lyle’s office he started The Realist.
SStandard histories of American radical periodicals hardly mention Lyle Stuart’s work—an injustice, as well as a blunder.
When Stuart, his first wife Mary Louise and writer Joe Whalen established their monthly Exposé in late 1951, it would not make anyone rich. In fact, Lyle never drew a salary from the paper. Aware from their own print media experience of the imbalance that corporate advertisers had created in print media, Whalen and the Stuarts were determined that Exposé would feature stories major newspapers would not touch due to fear of advertisers’ cancellations or pressure groups’ influence on subscribers or newsstand purchasers. Advertisements do exist in Exposé, mostly for books, but the editors never solicited them. Its founders determined never to reveal a confidential source, and so that no filaments of private wealth (even so-called “philanthropy”) ever entangled them, never to request a donation.
The second issue was the turning point. It contained eight articles by Stuart on Walter Winchell, the preeminent gossip columnist of the Hearst newspaper chain. A liberal under FDR, Winchell had become an ardent commie hunter; prominent people were so afraid of him that they crossed the street to avoid coming under his gaze. His innuendos could kill reputations, and his personal truculence was deeply resented. In October 1951, he became embroiled in a nasty contretemps with dancer Josephine Baker about her claim that she, as a black woman, had received poor service in The Stork Club. Winchell was mentioned in her complaint to the NAACP; she accused him of blatantly snubbing her. As Neal Gabler’s book, WINCHELL GOSSIP, POWER, AND THE CULTURE OF CELEBRITY, shows, it was the club’s owner, Sherman Billingsley, not Winchell, who was discriminating against Baker. Winchell could have avoided the “pub-lousity” that followed by apologizing or downplaying the NAACP criticism, but that was not his manner. He wrote many self-justifying columns, ruining his reputation as a supporter of African-American causes.
Knowing the potential of a Winchell exposé with smoke from The Stork Club firestorm still in the air, Stuart quickly re-edited his November Exposé and had the staff hand-distribute copies to Times Square newsstands. He had been disappointed with the way the distributor failed to get his first issue displayed and now offered dealers “twice the usual commission,” as Gabler reports, for displaying copies of the second issue. Within an hour, he received calls for more. Eventually, 91,000 copies were sold.
Exposé had a few regular and very important columnists. One specialized in Jim Crow atrocities, another in money management and another in current newspaper policies. In 1956, Paul Krassner began doing satirical essays on his generation’s eccentricities, and Albert Ellis had a monthly essay on how Americans might liberate their sexual desires from taboos. Other publishers had considered Ellis’ sex-related essays too offensive to religious authorities to publish. Lyle Stuart Inc. later published them in book form. There were, in addition, a few top-flight writers whose work Stuart championed. One was Paul Blanchard, whose books on the power of the Catholic hierarchy to censor popular entertainment made him one of Lyle’s favorite advocates for First Amendment issues. Another was Drew Pearson, fearless investigator of Washington power brokers.
In the 1950s and ’60s, Lyle attacked hypocrisy and political spin wherever he found it, fearing nothing. When he attacked the Anti-Defamation League for inflating the threat of anti-Semitic hate groups, his printer was forced by community pressure to refuse to do further business with him, and the mayor of North Bergen, New Jersey, had him removed from the board of directors of the Bergen County library. As a powerful supporter of racial equality, Stuart deplored the ADL’s failure to censure forcefully the lack of justice given Southern blacks. Further, he was irate when the organization gave Kate Smith, a singer on record as having anti-Semitic views, an award.
Typical targets of Lyle’s investigations were: television networks, for abandoning their responsibility to inform people about national and international affairs because major advertisers wanted programming with which they could integrate their products; Boys Town, for quietly discriminating on the basis of applicants’ race and religion; the West German armed forces for employing former Nazi sympathizers; Eisenhower, for allowing the consumer protection laws to be weakened; the Army, for requesting a loyalty oath including a list of hundreds of suspected subversive organizations that the inductee was to swear he had not joined; the March of Dimes, for obscuring the impending dangers of various killer diseases; abortion laws, for condemning poor women to dangerous medical procedures while wealthy ones had easy access; prison regulations against sex in prison, for institutionalizing homosexuality and nurturing shame, violence, and recidivism.
Exposé and The Independent were at the center of independent journalism for 18 years. To hell with Kate Smith. God bless Lyle Stuart, even though he lived and died an avowed atheist.
Jay A Gertzman
This is a summary of an article titled “Expose / The Independent,” published in Cult Magazines A to Z, ed. Earl Kemp and Luis Ortiz, (NY: Nonstop Press, 2009), pp.67-72.
Until next time,
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