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Haverford Fall 2012 : Page 24

mixed media B OOKS Q&A: Gregory Spatz ’86 Award-winning writer, fiddler and bluegrass musician Gregory Spatz ’86 is the author of the new novel Inukshuk (Bellevue Literary Press), which probes fraught, and modern, family bonds through the story of a father and his teenage son who gets lost in his historical obsession with the tragic and ill-fated Victorian-era Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin. Spatz is based in Spokane, Wash., where he teaches in the MFA program at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. Cheryl Sternman Rule ’92 inquired about his newest work. Cheryl Sternman Rule: How did you first become interested in Sir John Franklin’s expedition? And how, specifically, were you able to research an event so shrouded in mystery? Gregory Spatz: My inspiration has Unfair to Genius: The Strange and Litigious Career of Ira B. Arnstein GARY A. ROSEN ’81 roots in my family connection to Sir John Franklin. He was my great-grandmother’s uncle or great-uncle. We’re not totally sure which. So I grew up hearing about Franklin, and I knew it was a topic I’d eventually get to. Once I started all the research, reading books of the era by Franklin, Elisha Kent Kane, Jane Franklin, Admiral McClintock, as well as books about the expedition itself and attempts to understand what had happened, I realized I was going to have to find my own personal angle. I also felt queasy about the ways in which historical fiction tends to dress things up and pre-tend to know much more than it can know. History itself is kind of a story or narrative we agree to believe in and tell each other. And historical fiction is just a very polished and authoritative seem-ing version of that. It’s a seductive narrative angle to take, but not one that ultimately felt right to me. So I devised this other way of getting at the historical material: I gave the historical stuff to Thomas [the son], and let him work his teenage imagination on it, fully knowing of his own artifice in doing so. Drafting the historical stuff through the filter of his vision was fun and liberating. CSR: It’s a dark novel in many ways, yes? GS: It was always the darker E threads of the Sir John Franklin story that excited and inspired me—the mystery and suffering and incredible deprivation, and literal darkness, of course, 24 hours a day in winter. I just found all of that fascinating. And scurvy is such a fantastic literary device/metaphor—both in the way that it disfigures characters and the way it causes old wounds to open, old broken bones to unmend. CSR: Why set the novel in Canada? continued on page 27 very plaintiff who has ever brought a case for music copyright infringement owes something to Ira B. Arnstein. A mildly successful composer at the turn of the 20th century, he spent 30 years suing the big names of popular music, obsessed by the belief they were stealing his songs. Though he never won a case, some of the decisions rendered helped cre-ate the foundations of copyright law. In particular, Arnstein’s suit against composer Cole Porter has made it harder for judges to subjectively dismiss cases before they get to a jury. In his entertaining book Unfair to Genius (Oxford University Press), Gary A. Rosen ’81 uses Arnstein’s tor-tured saga to explore the evolu-tion of copyright law along with the history of popular music production and promotion from Tin Pan Alley to the begin-ning of rock’n’roll. One of the central recurring characters of that tale, it turns out, is a fellow Ford named Sigmund Spaeth, Class of 1905 . Spaeth made a name for himself starting in the 1930s as “The Tune Detective,” illustrat-ing, on the piano, the melodic connections between great works of classical music and hit tunes of the time. A tireless showman, he appeared on the radio and on stage, and wrote dozens of books on musical subjects. “Spaeth was an expert witness in four of Arnstein’s tri-als,” says Rosen, who has prac-ticed intellectual property law for 25 years. “And he was a defendant in another case in which Arnstein accused him of libel.” By the 1950s, audiences had lost interest in Spaeth’s spiel. His books are little read and he’s not taken seriously by music 24 HaverfordMagazine SPATZ PHOTO: BRETT HALL JONES

Mixed Media

BOOKS

Q&A: Gregory Spatz '86

Award-winning writer, fiddler and bluegrass musician Gregory Spatz '86 is the author of the new novel Inukshuk (Bellevue Literary Press), which probes fraught, and modern, family bonds through the story of a father and his teenage son who gets lost in his historical obsession with the tragic and ill-fated Victorian-era Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin. Spatz is based in Spokane, Wash., where he teaches in the MFA program at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. Cheryl Sternman Rule '92 inquired about his newest work.

Cheryl Sternman Rule: How did you first become interested in Sir John Franklin's expedition? And how, specifically, were you able to research an event so shrouded in mystery?

Gregory Spatz:My inspiration has roots in my family connection to Sir John Franklin. He was my great-grandmother's uncle or great-uncle. We're not totally sure which. So I grew up hearing about Franklin, and I knew it was a topic I'd eventually get to. Once I started all the research, reading books of the era by Franklin, Elisha Kent Kane, Jane Franklin, Admiral McClintock, as well as books about the expedition itself and attempts to understand what had happened, I realized I was going to have to find my own personal angle.

I also felt queasy about the ways in which historical fiction tends to dress things up and pretend to know much more than it can know. History itself is kind of a story or narrative we agree to believe in and tell each other. And historical fiction is just a very polished and authoritative seeming version of that. It's a seductive narrative angle to take, but not one that ultimately felt right to me. So I devised this other way of getting at the historical material: I gave the historical stuff to Thomas [the son], and let him work his teenage imagination on it, fully knowing of his own artifice in doing so. Drafting the historical stuff through the filter of his vision was fun and liberating.

CSR: It's a dark novel in many ways, yes?

GS: It was always the darker threads of the Sir John Franklin story that excited and inspired me-the mystery and suffering and incredible deprivation, and literal darkness, of course, 24 hours a day in winter. I just found all of that fascinating. And scurvy is such a fantastic literary device/metaphor-both in the way that it disfigures characters and the way it causes old wounds to open, old broken bones to unmend.

CSR: Why set the novel in Canada?

GS: A few reasons. One, Franklin is much more present in the contemporary consciousness for Canadians than for Americans. Right now, for instance, he's in the headlines because of renewed efforts to find the lost sunken ships. This is a regular preoccupation for Canadians because in some ways Franklin is "theirs."

I also felt that I needed the Canadian setting to show, in scene, the effects of climate change and tar sand extraction. I travel a lot through this part of Canada, and it's been staggering to see how the urban areas there have just quadrupled overnight and how full-fledged towns have popped up in the middle of nowhere. I wanted to set the novel on the edge of these significant social/environmental changes and to link them with the Franklin expedition to show how that Victorian impulse to conquer, control and dominate the land still affects us today.

CSR: The novel touches, thematically, on our fear of abandonment, our quest for love, and the extent to which some people go in order to protect themselves from the former (abandonment) and attain the latter (love). Do these themes figure prominently in your prior works as well?

GS: Those are themes I've been drawn to write about again and again. In this case I wanted to create an internal quest for connection and love which mirrored/ reflected the Franklin quest for a passage through the ice. My overarching concern throughout the book is desire for connection- internal and external.

CSR: Did you feel empathy for the character of Jane (Thomas' mother and John's estranged wife), who abandons her family?

GS: I do feel empathy for Jane. But I also wanted her to embody some of the most puzzling and off-putting traits of Sir John Franklin and Lady Jane Franklin. Based on what I read, both Sir John and Lady Jane were incredibly career-oriented and driven people. Jane especially was a real powerhouse character and has been written about both as a kind of manipulative virago and as an epically tragic and lovelorn romantic heroine. I transposed the tragic and lovelorn characterizations for her onto my modernday John character, and gave the more ambitious, driven aspects to my modern-day Jane. What I hope makes Jane more sympathetic in my story is that her motivations are all humanistic and altruistic. She's kind of an environmental crusader-that doesn't help her family feel any better about the abandonment, but .…

I'm really interested in this kind of hyper-focused drive which, as far as I can tell, is necessary to accomplishing big things-socially, artistically, etc.-but which comes at a price to the people who are close to you. Jane gives me a chance to kind of explore the effects of that kind of myopia.

Cheryl Sternman Rule '92 is the author of Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables (2012). She lives and writes in San Jose, California.

Unfair to Genius: The Strange and Litigious Career of Ira B. Arnstein

GARY A. ROSEN '81

Every plaintiff who has ever brought a case for music copyright infringement owes something to Ira B. Arnstein. A mildly successful composer at the turn of the 20th century, he spent 30 years suing the big names of popular music, obsessed by the belief they were stealing his songs. Though he never won a case, some of the decisions rendered helped create the foundations of copyright law. In particular, Arnstein's suit against composer Cole Porter has made it harder for judges to subjectively dismiss cases before they get to a jury.

In his entertaining book Unfair to Genius (Oxford University Press), Gary A. Rosen '81 uses Arnstein's tortured saga to explore the evolution of copyright law along with the history of popular music production and promotion from Tin Pan Alley to the beginning of rock'n'roll. One of the central recurring characters of that tale, it turns out, is a fellow Ford named Sigmund Spaeth, Class of 1905.

Spaeth made a name for himself starting in the 1930s as "The Tune Detective," illustrating, on the piano, the melodic connections between great works of classical music and hit tunes of the time. A tireless showman, he appeared on the radio and on stage, and wrote dozens of books on musical subjects. "Spaeth was an expert witness in four of Arnstein's trials," says Rosen, who has practiced intellectual property law for 25 years. "And he was a defendant in another case in which Arnstein accused him of libel."

By the 1950s, audiences had lost interest in Spaeth's spiel. His books are little read and he's not taken seriously by music Scholars today, says Rosen. "But he certainly played a positive role during his lifetime, to lasting effect. Ironically, his legacy is not so much his efforts to popularize classical music as it is his efforts to 'classicize' popular music. He was an early proponent of jazz-helping to make it socially acceptable outside of a few urban centers- and was instrumental in introducing great American songbook standards (of Berlin, Gershwin, Kern, Porter, etc.) into primary school music textbooks in the early 1940s."

While Rosen focuses on an earlier era in Unfair to Genius, there are plenty of connections to today, he says. Back then it was radio that was the "disruptive technology," leading to a restructuring of the music business and big leaps forward in the diversity and sound of popular music. "Radio helped lead to the demise of the Tin Pan Alley publishers, who had dominated popular music before the 1920s, by decimating the market for sheet music and providing the public with music for free," Rosen says. "There are strong parallels to what we have seen over the past 10 or 15 years as the internet has threatened to make record companies obsolete. Not only have radio and the internet made fundamental changes in the way the public consumes music, each opened up channels for many more songwriters and musicians to reach a broad public." -Eils Lotozo

MORE ALUMNI TITLES

Alan Armstrong '61: Racing the Moon (Random House) A childhood fascination with space exploration inspired this fourth children's book by Armstrong, a Newbery Honor winner for Whittington. The story, which takes place in 1947, follows 11-year-old Alexis Hart as she strives to learn more about the world beyond the stars.

Nicholson Baker '80: The Way the World Works: Essays (Simon & Schuster) This collection of witty, thought-provoking essays by the novelist known for The Mezzanine, Vox and The Fermata ranges over such subjects as kite strings, airplane wings, video games, Wikipedia and lawn mowing. "Each essay is a lamp," wrote one reviewer. "Gathered together they are solar in their radiance."

Richard Hardack '85: Not Altogether Human: Pantheism and the Dark Nature of the American Renaissance (University of Massachusetts Press) Hardack reevaluates Emersonian transcendentalism and pantheism in the context of 19th-century concerns about individual and national racial identity.

Michael Klein '90: Trapped in the Family Business: A Practical Guide to Uncovering and Managing This Hidden Dilemma (MK Insights) In his practical and frank guide, Klein offers insight into how individuals get trapped in their family businesses, why they don't (or can't) leave and what they can do about it.

Bruce Lincoln '70: Gods and Demons, Priests and Scholars: Critical Explorations in the History of Religions (The University of Chicago Press) A professor at the University of Chicago and a leading scholar of the history of religions, Lincoln examines the failings of uncritical and nonhistorical approaches to the study of religions.

Gordon McClellan '93: Don't Give the Dog Sugar With His Tea! (Splashing Cow Books

McClellan, a Presbyterian minister in Vermont, began working with illustrators to turn the bedtime stories he wrote for his children into "fun, engaging and occasionally laugh-outloud picture books about topics that matter in the lives of children today." His first effort (the start of a planned series) chronicles the misadventures of a dog who has had too much sugar.

Carl H. Nightingale '81: Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities (The University of Chicago Press) Nightingale, an associate professor of urban and world history at SUNY Buffalo, examines the history of segregation, tracing it from its roots in ancient civilizations, to European colonialism, and on through aggressive segregation movements of the twentieth century.

Anne Sherman '88, John Brothers: Building Nonprofit Capacity: A Guide to Managing Change Through Organizational Lifecycles (Jossey-Bass) Sherman, with her co-author, uses the concept of the lifecycle as a model to explore organizational growth and change.

Stephen Thiermann '39: Always Loving: A Life in Five Worlds Unknown (lulu.com) Thiermann chronicles his richly rewarding 58-year marriage, and the couple's eventful life journey together serving with Quaker organizations in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

FILM

Jonathan Miller '01 was the cinematographer on the independent feature film Gimme the Loot, which won the Narrative Grand Jury Prize at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in March. Written and directed by Adam Leon, the film also screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May and has been picked up for theatrical distribution by IFC/Sundance Selects. The film, which tells the story of two teenage graffiti artists in the Bronx who embark on a bold caper, has already gotten several rave reviews in trade publications. The Hollywood Reporter called Gimme the Loot "a scrappy, funny, warmly observed delight from start to finish" and credited Miller's cinematography for adding "to the overall texture, authenticity and energy." Variety said: "Jonathan Miller's dynamic lensing mirrors the characters' natural charisma."

According to Miller, the Haverford alumni network was in full effect at SXSW. "I ran into Ben Hickernell '00 (See next item.) At the opening filmmaker party and invited him to our premiere," says Miller. (Hickernell's feature film Lebanon, Pa. Screened at the festival in 2010.) "He liked the movie, came to our film party and then was asked to moderate the Q&A the next day at our second screening." -E.L. More information: gimmethelootmovie. Com

Hollywood comes to Haverford!

When Ben Hickernell '00 needed a place to stand in for student dorms in his latest directorial effort, he knew exactly where to shoot: back at his old College stomping grounds. The Haverford College Apartments are just one of the local landmarks (including the nearby Shipley School) that viewers will recognize when they watch Backwards, an indie sports romance in the vein of Bend It Like Beckhamthat opened in select theaters across the country in late September. The film stars Sarah Megan Thomas (who also wrote the script), alongside Dawson's Creek's James Van Der Beek, and tells the story of an aging competitive rower who grapples with her life choices after not achieving her Olympic dreams. In addition to Van Der Beek, another of the movie's stars is the city of Philadelphia and its rowing scene. Hickernell even got permission to shoot at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, the oldest and largest high school rowing competition, which is held each year on the Schuylkill River. -Rebecca Raber

MUSIC

Lots of musicians wear other hats, but few wear quite so many as Erik Lamberth '88. The father of five is a pediatrician in private practice in Bucks County, Pa., and an active medical researcher who chairs the Institutional Review Board at Grand View Hospital, and yet he still somehow found the time to release his second album, Three Guitars, which he wrote and recorded entirely on his own. (Additionally, some younger alums may recognize Lamberth from their classroom; he was a visiting assistant professor in the biology department in the early aughts.)

"Balance is always tricky, especially with work, family and music," says the former biology major, whose college band, Roadrunner, opened for Living Colour when they played on campus. "I guess not watching TV frees up a lot of time!"

Lamberth's latest CD is evenly split between jazz and blues compositions, and though the titular instrument is the album's star, he also plays bass, keyboard and tenor saxophone on its songs. In fact, that last instrument was actually Lamberth's first. Though he took up guitar at 15 and later studied it at the Berklee College of Music, he first played sax in his elementary school band, and later brought his instrument with him to Haverford, where played it in the Jazz Ensemble before insinuating his guitar into the group.

"One day, I showed up to rehearsal with my guitar, not my sax," remembers Lamberth. "I got a lot of strange looks. I mean, I didn't even have music for the guitar! So I looked over the piano player's shoulder the whole rehearsal, and afterwards they said, 'Yeah, you can be the guitarist.' "

Though Three Guitars was only released in May, Lamberth is already hard at work on his next album. Recording is under way on an emotive, jazz-focused collection with a full band-the Erik Lamberth Quartet-and Seattle producer Cyrus Rhodes. A spring 2013 release is planned. -R. R. For more information on his music and a calendar of shows: eriklamberth.com

THEATER

Though he doesn't live in Wisconsin, Dan Kazemi '04 has made a nice home for himself at the acclaimed Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Based in Philadelphia, Kazemi has served as musical director for four shows at the Rep: Cabaret, Next to Normal, Always… Patsy Cline and, most recently, Stephen Sondheim's Assassins. This last, which closed in early October, was an especially demanding undertaking, not just because Sondheim's music is notoriously knotty, but also because it fell to Kazemi to adapt the score's 13-piece orchestration for the production's eight musicians.

"Assassins is quite a challenging score, and is expertly woven from the fabric of distinctly American music, from Copland to Sousa to '70s pop ballads to American musical theater to Civil War-era folk music," Kazemi says. "There are a lot of sounds to capture effectively.[But] I think any project that poses a challenge appeals to me."

The former music major (who minored in theater at Bryn Mawr) was up to the challenge. Assassinswas Kazemi's second time working with a Sondheim score-the first was when he had a role in a Bi-Co production of Into the Woods-and the show received positive reviews that specifically called out the fantastic music.

The role of musical director fits him especially well, because it allows Kazemi, who is also a composer, conductor, pianist and actor, to flex many different muscles. "I get to oversee how music interacts and melds with the moment, within the actor's work and within the greater context of the piece. I get to approach the piece as a composer, arranger and orchestrator, and tailor it to the specific iteration of the show I'm working on. I get to help shape and train singing actors to be able to connect to the work and deliver the technical side of it accurately and effectively. I also get to perform from time to time as a musician [and] actor. All of this ends up being rather rewarding."

Kazemi's partnership with the Rep continues with its latest show, Blues in the Night, which runs through Dec. 23. And the theater recently named him an associate artist, meaning that he is a floating member of, and ambassador for, the company. Kazemi is also working on a musical of his own, The Tapioca Miracle, which he hopes to mount sometime next year. (Larry Kaye '83 co-wrote the musical's book with playwright Eric Coble.)

Read the full article at http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/article/Mixed+Media/1234601/133780/article.html.

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