Monday, June 26, 2006

John Updike: The End of Authorship

This is a response to this earlier editorial:

New York Times
June 25, 2006
The End of Authorship

Booksellers, you are the salt of the book world. You are on the front line where, while the author cowers in his opium den, you encounter — or "interface with," as we say now — the rare and mysterious Americans who are willing to plunk down $25 for a book. Bookstores are lonely forts, spilling light onto the sidewalk. They civilize their neighborhoods. At my mother's side I used to visit the two stores in downtown Reading, Pa., a city then of 100,000, and I still recall their names and locations — the Book Mart, at Sixth Street and Court, and the Berkshire News, on Fifth Street, in front of the trolley stop that would take us home to Shillington.

When I went away to college, I marveled at the wealth of bookstores around Harvard Square. In addition to the Coop and various outlets where impecunious students like myself could buy tattered volumes polluted by someone else's underlinings and marginalia, there were bookstores that catered to the Cambridge bourgeoisie, the professoriate, and those elite students with money and reading time to spare. The Grolier, specializing in modern poetry, occupied a choice niche on Plympton Street, and over on Boylston there was the Mandrake, a more spacious sanctum for books of rare, pellucid and modernist water. In the Mandrake — presided over by a soft-voiced short man, with brushed-back graying hair — there were English books, Faber & Faber and Victor Gollancz, books with purely typographical jackets and cloth-covered boards warping from the damp of their trans-Atlantic passage, and art books, too glossy and expensive even to glance into, and of course New Directions books, modest in format and delicious in their unread content.

After Harvard, I went to Oxford for a year, and browsed for dazed hours in the rambling treasury, on the street called the Broad, of Blackwell's — shelves of Everyman's and Oxford Classics, and the complete works, jacketed in baby-blue paper, of Thomas Aquinas, in Latin and English! Then I came to New York, when Fifth Avenue still seemed lined with bookstores — the baronial Scribner's, with the central staircase and the scrolled ironwork of its balconies, and the Doubleday's a few blocks on, with an ascending spiral staircase visible through plate glass.

Now I live in a village-like corner of a small New England city that holds, mirabile dictu, an independent bookstore, one of the few surviving in the long coastal stretch between Marblehead and Newburyport. But I live, it seems, in a fool's paradise. Last month, The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy article that gleefully envisioned the end of the bookseller, and indeed of the writer. Written by Kevin Kelly, identified as the "senior maverick" at Wired magazine, the article describes a glorious digitalizing of all written knowledge. Google's plan, announced in December 2004, to scan the contents of five major research libraries and make them searchable, according to Kelly, has resurrected the dream of the universal library. "The explosive rise of the Web, going from nothing to everything in one decade," he writes, "has encouraged us to believe in the impossible again. Might the long-heralded great library of all knowledge really be within our grasp?"

Unlike the libraries of old, Kelly continues, "this library would be truly democratic, offering every book to every person." The anarchic nature of the true democracy emerges bit by bit. "Once digitized, books can be unraveled into single pages or be reduced further, into snippets of a page," Kelly writes. "These snippets will be remixed into reordered books and virtual bookshelves. Just as the music audience now juggles and reorders songs into new albums (or 'playlists,' as they are called in iTunes), the universal library will encourage the creation of virtual 'bookshelves' — a collection of texts, some as short as a paragraph, others as long as entire books, that form a library shelf's worth of specialized information. And as with music playlists, once created, these 'bookshelves' will be published and swapped in the public commons. Indeed, some authors will begin to write books to be read as snippets or to be remixed as pages."

The economic repercussions of this paradise of freely flowing snippets are touched on with a beguiling offhandedness, as a matter of course, a matter of an inexorable Marxist unfolding. As the current economic model disappears, Kelly writes, the "basis of wealth" shifts to "relationships, links, connection and sharing." Instead of selling copies of their work, writers and artists can make a living selling "performances, access to the creator, personalization, add-on information, the scarcity of attention (via ads), sponsorship, periodic subscriptions — in short, all the many values that cannot be copied. The cheap copy becomes the 'discovery tool' that markets these other intangible valuables."

This is, as I read it, a pretty grisly scenario. "Performances, access to the creator, personalization," whatever that is — does this not throw us back to the pre-literate societies, where only the present, live person can make an impression and offer, as it were, value? Have not writers, since the onset of the Gutenberg revolution, imagined that they already were, in their written and printed texts, giving an "access to the creator" more pointed, more shapely, more loaded with aesthetic and informational value than an unmediated, unpolished personal conversation? Has the electronic revolution pushed us so far down the path of celebrity as a summum bonum that an author's works, be they one volume or 50, serve primarily as his or her ticket to the lecture platform, or, since even that is somewhat hierarchical and aloof, a series of one-on-one orgies of personal access?

In my first 15 or 20 years of authorship, I was almost never asked to give a speech or an interview. The written work was supposed to speak for itself, and to sell itself, sometimes even without the author's photograph on the back flap. As the author is gradually retired from his old responsibilities of vicarious confrontation and provocation, he has grown in importance as a kind of walking, talking advertisement for the book — a much more pleasant and flattering duty, it may be, than composing the book in solitude. Authors, if I understand present trends, will soon be like surrogate birth mothers, rented wombs in which a seed implanted by high-powered consultants is allowed to ripen and, after nine months, be dropped squalling into the marketplace.

In imagining a huge, virtually infinite wordstream accessed by search engines and populated by teeming, promiscuous word snippets stripped of credited authorship, are we not depriving the written word of its old-fashioned function of, through such inventions as the written alphabet and the printing press, communication from one person to another — of, in short, accountability and intimacy? Yes, there is a ton of information on the Web, but much of it is egregiously inaccurate, unedited, unattributed and juvenile. The electronic marvels that abound around us serve, surprisingly, to inflame what is most informally and noncritically human about us — our computer screens stare back at us with a kind of giant, instant "Aw, shucks," disarming in its modesty, disquieting in its diffidence.

The printed, bound and paid-for book was — still is, for the moment — more exacting, more demanding, of its producer and consumer both. It is the site of an encounter, in silence, of two minds, one following in the other's steps but invited to imagine, to argue, to concur on a level of reflection beyond that of personal encounter, with all its merely social conventions, its merciful padding of blather and mutual forgiveness. Book readers and writers are approaching the condition of holdouts, surly hermits who refuse to come out and play in the electronic sunshine of the post-Gutenberg village. "When books are digitized," Kelly ominously promises, "reading becomes a community activity. . . . The universal library becomes one very, very, very large single text: the world's only book."

Books traditionally have edges: some are rough-cut, some are smooth-cut, and a few, at least at my extravagant publishing house, are even top-stained. In the electronic anthill, where are the edges? The book revolution, which, from the Renaissance on, taught men and women to cherish and cultivate their individuality, threatens to end in a sparkling cloud of snippets.

So, booksellers, defend your lonely forts. Keep your edges dry. Your edges are our edges. For some of us, books are intrinsic to our sense of personal identity.

John Updike's most recent novel is "Terrorist." This essay is adapted from his address to booksellers at the Book Expo convention held last month in Washington.

Six-year-old painting prodigy

A Young Painter Who's Really Skipping Ahead

By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 26, 2006; C01

Marla Olmstead, 6, at the opening of her first show on the West Coast. One of her abstract works is priced at $25,000. (By Jonathan Alcorn For The Washington Post)

ENCINO, Calif It is the late afternoon -- the sugar hours -- of her first solo show on the West Coast, and the abstract expressionist Marla Olmstead is clomping around on the blond wood floors of the storefront art space, clop, clop, clop, in big, pointy high heels.

Anne Kleins. Size eightish. Ink black.

Her publicist, the gallery owners, her family, a documentary filmmaker, several photographers: huddling, indulgent, wary, loving, respectful -- yet all watching.

Around and around the gallery the young artist Olmstead goes. Giggling. Clop. Clop. The workmen are putting the finishing touches on the title cards for the Saturday evening opening. The big canvases, six-footers, the enigmatic fuzzy circle titled "Burning Blue Ball" and the itchy, angry "Mosquito Bite" and the yellow-and-orange slash work called "Zane Dancing."

Top asking price: $25,000.

That figure -- a new kitchen? -- produces a queasy questioning about career paths not chosen. But it does not seem to impress Olmstead one way or another.

She is? Just clomping. Then. Shush. Wait. She is eating a pretzel now. Portent? She has discarded the muse shoes, which are actually her mother's. She is now barefoot. She is making choo-choo sounds. She is bliss? She begins to crawl on her belly. She is a frog. She is hiding under a table.

She is 6 years old.

Why are we -- the adults -- here? Here in Encino, in the baking San Fernando Valley, at a gallery triangulated by a Mr. Kosher grocery store, a White Rabbit adult novelty emporium and a place, seriously, called the Titanic Traffic School? Why does anybody do anything anymore? A network morning talk show host suggested, on camera, before millions, after admitting that she didn't know much about art, that Marla's work reminded her of Jackson Pollock.

Anthony Brunelli, an artist and gallery owner in her home town of Binghamton, N.Y., who sells Marla's work (and therefore has a financial hedge in all this), suggested she might be a "genius." Some prefer the term "child prodigy." Articles in papers in New York, London and Rome reference Kandinsky, Miro and Klee -- and Marla Olmstead.

She began her career when she was not quite 2.

What does a collector get, for the price of a mid-size Mazda? That is a good question. We don't have the answer. Because the real question is: What is art? And more to the point: What is kiddie art? And have they taken over?

Although we had total access, a substantive interview with Marla is not possible. With the assistance of her mother, Laura, we learn that her favorite color is pink (in earlier interviews, Marla had said it was yellow). Her favorite ice cream: strawberry. The artist recently completed kindergarten and is missing her two front teeth.

At one point another adult cornered her and asked about her plastic bracelet.

Q. "Does it glow?"

A. (After a really long pause) "Yes."

Other insights? Although we are no psychology major, Marla Olmstead seems completely normal and was giddy-fun-a-go-go to run around the gallery with her younger brother, Zane, and a couple of other apple-cheeked tots. She looked: happy.

Said Mom: "Marla is very excited. Hopefully, they'll be cookies." (There were.)

And cheese slices, watermelon cubes and meat pieces, and Charles Shaw wine for the adults (Trader Joe's, $1.99 a bottle).

Here's the back story:

Marla's father, Mark, is a manager at the Frito-Lay food processing plant in Binghamton, where Ruffles are made and 700 people are employed. His people -- father, uncle, grandfather -- were painters, amateur and professional. The pros were sign painters.

When Mark's father died, Mark bought some acrylic paint and supplies and started dabbling. Daughter Marla, at that point yet quite 2, reached out for the brushes and wanted to create. Dad indulged, he says, and the toddler impressed him enough that he yielded a canvas.

A friend of the family's hung a few of Marla's paintings in his Binghamton coffee shop. This was August 2003. A patron asked to buy one, and Marla's mom says she came up with a "crazy price" of $250, because she said she did not want to part with any of them and assumed no rational adult would pony up. She was wrong.

Then Binghamton artist Brunelli plugged into the Marla mix and held a gallery show, and the local paper, the Press & Sun-Bulletin, ran a piece (favorite Marla animal: pigs). The New York Times followed up, and her work soon started fetching several thousands of dollars as collectors snapped up the Marlas.

Stuart Simpson, who opened the StuART Gallery in Encino, happened to be in Binghamton on business (he is a contractor-engineer of sound studios). He bought four Marlas. He says he was blown away by her work. "I hear regularly from people: 'My grandkids could do this.' I say give it a shot. Because they can't. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I think most people struggle all their lives to know what they should do. Marla knows what she should do."

Simpson references Monets and Matisses. One of the paintings he bought, called "Bottom Feeder," hangs in his home. Simpson said, "I'll have a glass of wine and look at the painting, and see something in the painting one night, and another night, I see something else."

His wife, Marte, said that "when he told me he had bought the paintings of a 4-year-old, I said: 'Great, they're going in his office, where I don't have to see them.' But when I looked at the Marlas, the size of the paintings, the colors and placement and texture, this is a kid's painting, but it's painting of gift and talent."

Marte Simpson calls Marla "an old soul."

In February 2005, "60 Minutes II" ran a Charlie Rose-anchored segment that raised questions about the Marlas. The producer got the family to agree to install a hidden camera to watch young Olmstead paint a canvas start to finish.

On the video, one can hear her dad saying: "Psst. Paint the red. Paint the red. You're driving me crazy. Paint the red. . . . If you paint, honey, like you were --"

Marla: "Please."

Dad: "This is not the way it should be."

Okay. This doesn't look good. Laura Olmstead explains to us that the hidden-camera scene was not ideal, that her husband said what he said ("It did look like he was coaching her," she says), but Laura swears that the Marla paintings were all painted by Marla, that the parents never laid on a hand on the canvases except to prime them for painting.

"She's not a coachable child," Laura says.

To rebut the skeptics, the couple produced a long-running video of Marla painting "Oceans," and in the 20 minutes we watched at the gallery (along with a handful of guests), the child is doing all the paint splattering, smearing, squirting and brushwork. She selects colors out of a tube, applies them and works the colors together on the canvas, using brushes and spatulas. She is wearing her PJs while she does this, and brother Zane watches.

"Those paintings are all Marla," says Laura.

The proceeds of her work, says Mom, go into a college fund. The couple estimate that the daughter has produced about 90 works, and more than 60 have sold.

Early on during the first night of the show, no paintings have sold. A couple of patrons stand before one of the works, titled "Everyone's House," and wonder aloud:

"Is that a rocket ship?"

"Or a crayon?"

"Or a weird bug?"

Art, they say, it is in the eye of the beholder.

The artist Marla Olmstead, herself, is not saying. She is eating an ice cream cone.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Pete Townshend: Ageing and Lear Jets

Pertaining to the following story:

Pete Townshend's Diary
20 June 2006
Ageing and Lear Jets

The first two shows of the tour – that we regarded as warm-ups – turned out both to be special in their own way. Leeds was a joy from beginning to end. The day began with a charter jet from the new building at Farnborough airport with its extraordinary new reception buildings that rival most public airports. Farnborough has always been the location of an annual Air Show in the UK, and has better resources as a result. The arrival over the Yorkshire hills in beautiful sunshine reminded me how many of my London friends have suddenly decided that this is the place they want to live. Ted Hughes’ Country I now call it: tightly rolling hills (the locals call ‘Dales’) and a dark soil that seems to show even between the greenery and trees.

From the moment Rachel and I arrived at the University Music department I was treated like Prince Charles, and found that the best way to behave was a little as he might. I was greeted by a small reception committee and led into a gallery where Sir Peter Blake was sitting, surrounded by Artist’s Proofs of perfect prints his various highly colourful record and CD sleeves of the past years – including of course Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The room was packed with people, including the three men who as students put on the Who’s show in 1970. From then on to the show itself, in 39 degrees of heat, the fun rolled out. Rachel Fuller did her first In the Attic webcast from the back yard, and it went pretty well – no serious technical hitches. She webcast the first three numbers of our Who set, then got Sir Peter Blake and Andy Kershaw to come on and speak. Andy is a BBC radio music presenter and musicologist – he is especially well known now for his World Music shows, and he was a student at Leeds when we played there in 1970; he went on to do a few years of booking bands there himself.

Lots of signing autographs, having my photo taken, and trying not to catch pneumonia, And we were back in the air. Flying back to London there are very few areas now that are not lit up – Manchester is a huge city, with lights like Los Angeles. I fall into a state of grateful realism: it has been a long time since I have done this kind of intense work.

Brighton was almost as intense, partly because our show was on the same day as the famous London to Brighton Cycle Rally, featuring 25,000 cyclists all requiring vans to collect them when they arrived. It took some of our party five hours to drive a distance that normally takes ninety minutes at the most. The Brighton Centre was the venue, I’d seen great shows there in the ‘80s by Springsteen and the Clash, and was surprised how clean and sedate the place is. I had certainly not been clean and sedate. In The Attic featured Tracey Ullman who had brought her son to check us out. She was seriously funny. Chris Difford guested with his fantastic steel player Melvin. The Who show was tighter and better sounding, but the audience a little subdued – I asked if anyone had travelled by bike so the rest of us could lynch them, but only four brave people put up their hands. I love cycling, falling off and breaking my right wrist on Friday 13 September 1991 was a price I paid for my enthusiasm and my bike-driven adrenalin rushes. After the show I got to greet some old friends, and my son Jose and his buddy Indie came and admired the incredible Thor Infinity American Motorhome we have hired for a Production vehicle from Cheshire Motorhomes.

I began this diary wishing to speak about how doing all this makes me feel old. I don’t mean that it makes me feel too old, or that I am unhappy to be doing it, but in this kind of spotlight there is no way to hide the years. I saw Paul Simon on British TV recently, and he has decided to stop screwing with his hair, and he looked relaxed and content, but also suddenly he looks his age – as a result the wisdom of some of his writing sits with him in a better light. It’s easier to give a man credit for genius when he looks older. Watching MTV this morning, and seeing the Kings of Leon re-running an early song, I find it hard to believe that anyone so young could get a career running. But when the Who played at Leeds in 1970 I was just 24. I was about to release Tommy and try to build a family: the next ten years were to prove the most exhausting and emotionally draining of my life.

In many ways, despite the years I carry, it all seems easier today. Flying home on a Lear jet is an indulgence that no one really deserves, but six hours in the back of a van trying to sleep with amplifiers falling on your head, is not an option any more.

This week I am mixing the Who album.

Geezer Rock and the Music Industry

June 25, 2006
Iron Man Slows, and So Does the Industry


THERE are pockets of the country where a lurching 45-foot black bus festooned with demonic imagery would be an unwelcome sight. This is not one of them. When the Ozzfest 2006 motor coach, a rolling advertisement for Ozzy Osbourne's annual tour of hard-rock and heavy-metal bands, parks outside a shopping mall, a clutch of teenagers gathers outside hoping to score free tickets to the shows.

The bus is ostensibly part of a nationwide beauty contest designed to generate publicity, but judging from its reception here that hardly seems necessary. A woman in her 30's breathlessly dials her cellphone to tell her husband she has seen the bus. "The whole family loves Ozzy," she says. "They all pray to Ozzy." And they, like the multitudes of Mr. Osbourne's fans nationwide, worship at the box office.

Back in 1971 Mr. Osbourne prophetically declared himself the Iron Man. At 57 he finds himself with fans both older than he is and, thanks in part to his recent television stardom, a decade younger than his kids. Now in its 11th year, his tour, which begins again Thursday in Seattle, remains one of rock's biggest juggernauts. Generating almost $20 million a year in ticket sales — in addition to a lucrative mini-industry of souvenirs, merchandise and related CD's and DVD's — Ozzfest ranks among the top-selling tours in the nation.

But this year the Iron Man and his tour are confronting an uncomfortable reality: rust. Mr. Osbourne, who broke more than half a dozen bones in an accident a few years back, plans to play just 10 of this year's 26 dates. "Ozzy needed to take time out," said Sharon Osbourne, his wife and manager. (Mr. Osbourne was in tour rehearsals last week and unavailable for comment, his spokesman said.) "It just becomes like a routine. The thing is, you never want to get like that. He's got to be as excited as everybody else." But it is increasingly unclear how many more years a man of his age can stay with the tour in any capacity. "It's a worry to me," Ms. Osbourne acknowledged.

She's not the only one. The $3-billion-a-year concert industry is worrying right along with her, about Ozzy and all his contemporaries too.

This summer, a remarkable number of the projected best-selling tours are led by people eligible for AARP membership. Tom Petty is 55. Jimmy Buffett is 59. Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend are both 61. Madonna, whose tour is the hottest so far this year, is a youthful 47.

Last year, according to the concert trade journal Pollstar, 6 of the 10 highest-grossing tours starred artists in their late 50's or 60's, among them the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, the Eagles and Elton John. Those six alone accounted for more than $470 million in domestic ticket sales — about 30 percent of the total for the year's 50 biggest tours.

But keeping those guys on the road gets harder every year, with more canceled performances and more Bengay.

U2, Metallica and Prince, who made it big in the 80's, still seem to be going strong. After them, though, it's a precipitous drop-off to the next tier of younger performers. The Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay and Radiohead are often discussed as successors; the punk veterans Green Day and the dance-rock upstarts the Killers are also sometimes mentioned. None of them, however, can draw mass audiences at premium prices the way the older acts do. All of which has a great many people nervously counting down the years.

"Eventually," said Randy Phillips, chief executive of the concert promoter AEG Live, "we're going to run out of headliners."

Accounting for the shallow talent pool, some industry executives cite the effects of MTV, which lets fans see performers without ever leaving their couch. Others blame a recording industry more focused on disposable hits than long-term career development, or a universe of digital singles that can keep fans from establishing deep connections with an artist over a long career. Whatever the case, John Scher, the New York music promoter and entrepreneur, says that unless the industry's dynamics change, many of the nation's big summer music venues "will be plowed over and be made into housing projects."

MANY fans — and rival concert organizers — attribute Ozzfest's staying power to its mix. A daylong affair featuring 20 bands, it combines established rock acts that have older fans with up-and-coming metal talent that sways a fervent younger audience.

It's designed to serve as its own farm team. Smaller bands play on a second stage, usually in the parking lot. The greenest of them pay as much as $75,000 for this chance, in the hope of someday graduating to the highly lucrative main event. This year's headliner, System of a Down, is receiving about $325,000 per show, according to several people close to the tour.

Charlie Walker, president of the music division of Live Nation (the company that coordinates the tour with Ms. Osbourne), says the strength of the other headliners on this year's tour, including Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold, shows that the system has worked. "The torch has been passed to these younger bands, and they're carrying their weight," he said. But the numbers are already slipping: roughly 431,000 fans purchased tickets last year, down from almost 575,000 in 2001, according to data from Pollstar, and tickets to shows Mr. Osbourne is skipping generally go for less than those he intends to play. As an incentive this year the tour is offering four tickets for the price of three in most markets.

Much of its competition now comes from smaller package tours of metal bands, some of which came up through the Ozzfest ranks.

That's yet another reason many predict a major realignment in the concert industry. As stars able to fill a stadium — or sell $250 premium tickets, as Sir Paul did last year — pass from the scene, the business may coalesce around medium- and small-scale shows.

For bands that would mean more days on the road, and more theaters and clubs than stadiums and arenas. For promoters it would mean relying on smaller individual paydays to make the bottom line. Promoters may also be forced to rely more on tours with ensemble casts. One frequently mentioned example is the Vans Warped Tour, a punk-oriented outing featuring up-and-comers, stalwarts and skateboarding, which has lasted 12 years without any huge star to anchor it. But perhaps as a result that tour can't charge nearly as much as Ozzfest. So bands get paid less and have to play more. "It's very exhausting," said Kris Roe of the Ataris, a rock band that has played the full tour twice. "You just try to adapt."

Many are also pinning hopes not on cross-country tours but on stationary multi-day festivals like the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee; such events are already a tradition in Europe. But would there be enough local interest to stage such events in every market? Even 20 festivals a year might not offset the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales from the classic-rock set, Mr. Scher said.

Bill Silva, a longtime Los Angeles promoter who is an organizer of events at the Hollywood Bowl and other places, said: "It feels to me like a lot of people have their heads in the sand. More people are focused on the fact that they're having a hard time selling tickets this summer than are focused on the fact that they may not have anything to sell tickets to in 10 years."

OZZFEST has tried to prepare for the post-Ozzy era by turning itself into a multifaceted communal affair. Away from the stage fans can wander a vast, circuslike concession area called the Village of the Damned, where they can get a tattoo or body piercing and play carnival games to win CD's. This year, in nine markets, they can also watch fire-breathers, "human oddities" and other sideshow performers. And they can patronize the tour's sponsors, like FYE, the music retailer, and Sony PlayStation.

"It's not about Ozzy anymore," said Josh Grabelle, president of Trustkill Records, an independent metal label and a partner in a competing tour, Sounds of the Underground. "It's about hanging out with your friends, barbecuing and drinking beers."

Organizers are also trying to reach fans where they live. That's where the black Ozzfest bus, bearing the picture of a woman with a bouquet in her hand and a demonic red glow in her eyes, comes in. Eddie Webb, a rock radio D.J., and Dave Moscato, who will be onstage introducing bands once the tour gets under way, are riding it cross-country, soliciting entrants for the first Miss Ozzfest beauty contest. To ensure that they find suitable candidates, the two young men are armed with a binder listing the location of every Hooters restaurant and strip club on their journey. Along the way they are making pit stops at record stores and tattoo shops to hand out posters and encourage potential fans.

"A lot of the bands these kids listen to, you won't hear them on the radio," Mr. Moscato said. "We have to go to the street level to tell kids, 'Ozzfest is transforming, and we have been listening to you.' It's growing with our crowd, rather than forcing it down their throat."

Is it working? On the streets of San Bernardino, a stay-at-home mother with pink hair, a Black Sabbath T-shirt and a car bearing an "Osbourne family" decal seems excited. But other fans have doubts. "Last year was really good," said Wynter Shaw, 22, a fan who posed for the Miss Ozzfest cameras in West Hollywood. "This year I wouldn't pay to see it. Ozzy's not playing all the dates. It seems really commercial to me."

Barbara Molina, 17, a clerk at a Hot Topic store, comes from a multigenerational Ozzfest family. Her aunt and uncle have attended regularly, she says, but this year may be a different story: "I don't know if they're going to go anymore, because Ozzy's not going to be on it." As for herself, Ms. Molina says she can't afford tickets, the cheapest of which run $35 or $40 in big markets. But at least she has her memories: it was at Ozzfest that she got her first tattoo, a handsome Celtic knot on her hip.

UNTIL anyone comes up with a better model, or a new roster of proven performers, the industry's war horses are doing their best to keep going. In part that means reining in old excesses. Even the members of Kiss, who with an average age of 56 are preparing to tour Japan, know better than to rock and roll all night. "They actually go to sleep instead of stay up for three months or drink themselves into a coma," said Doc McGhee, the band's manager. "You just can't do that day in and day out, not as you get older." As it stands, he added, "they definitely take more ibuprofen than cocaine."

Keenly aware of the toll that regular touring can exact on their aging bodies, many established stars have sought ways to retain their energy. Aerosmith has made regular use of a nutritionist, for example. According to contract riders posted on the Smoking Gun Web site, James Taylor, 58, wants his band's hospitality room stocked with packets of Emergen-C powder (lemon or lime, preferably). The Beach Boys, led by Mike Love, 65, require a licensed masseur qualified in either Swedish or Oriental deep-tissue massage. Mr. Osbourne himself has requested an ear, nose and throat specialist to administer a B-12 shot.

Steven Van Zandt, 55, a longtime member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, said he decided decades ago to build a workout regimen into his road life. "We brought all this gym equipment, and when we get to a hotel, we turn one of the hotel rooms into a gym," he said. "You need it more than you did when you were young." Mr. Springsteen, he noted, "has a special diet, you cut down on meat-eating," and sometimes wears kneepads to protect his joints while performing his famous knee slides across the stage.

Mr. Van Zandt said he believes his generation of musicians has more energy, and an "obligation" to perform up to the standards of rock's pioneers. "I saw this coming, 20, 25 years ago, and we talked about it. The sad truth is, when we're gone, it's over."

These efforts don't always work. In March, Aerosmith canceled the latter part of its North American tour when Steven Tyler, 58, had to undergo surgery. (The cause was never disclosed.) And health issues from Keith Richards's head injury to Ron Wood's substance abuse have bedeviled the Rolling Stones' tour this year.

Still, the news isn't all bad. Writing on his blog last week, Pete Townshend, 61, told his fans, "I began this diary wishing to speak about how doing all this makes me feel old." But he continued: "In many ways, despite the years I carry, it all seems easier today. Flying home on a Lear jet is an indulgence that no one really deserves, but six hours in the back of a van trying to sleep with amplifiers falling on your head, is not an option any more."

As for Mr. Osbourne, if he is heading toward retirement, he has his own way of staying young. This year the Iron Man is playing some of his dates on Ozzfest's second stage: out in the parking lot, closer to the most rabid fans.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Saxophonist Donald Myrick's 1993 Obit

Someone asked me about him today. If you remember the sweet alto sax solo from the live version of Earth Wind & Fire's "Reasons," you've heard Myrick. Bad end to a wonderful career. It's a dated story, but indulge me.

The Los Angeles Times (August 15th 1993) ~ By Mathis Chazanov, Staff Writer

Saxophonist Donald Myrick, shot by a police officer when he answered his door with a butane lighter in his hand, was laid to rest at Bethany Baptist Church in West Los Angeles last weekend.

Percussionists tapped out a rhythm on congas and the tambourine. Eight horn men played a swinging fugue. Earth, Wind & Fire vocalist Philip Bailey brought a church full of people to their feet when he unleashed his high-soaring rendition of the hymn "Precious Lord."

It was a jazzman's funeral. But troubling questions about Myrick's life and death hung in the air like the grating notes of an unresolved chord.

"We'll get to the bottom of it," said singer-songwriter Oscar Brown Jr., who let Myrick and his friends rehearse in his Chicago basement more than 30 years ago.

"We'll find out what happened and we'll rectify it," said Brown at the funeral. "But that don't bother Don, because he's gone to join a bigger band."

Myrick, 53 at his death on July 30, had a career that many musicians would envy. He had recorded and toured with English pop star Phil Collins. His solo was featured in Collins' hit song and video "One More Night."

Earlier, he had been with Earth, Wind & Fire, a group that mixed doo-wop vocals, big-band horns, Afro-Latin rhythms and outlandish showmanship and sold millions of records in the 1970s and early '80s.

As his body lay in a casket beneath floral arrangements decorated with black quarter notes and a white dove, mourners spoke of the pure tone and quick musical ear, the generosity and gentleness of the man who was known as Hippmo.

The nickname goes back to childhood days, said Louis Satterfield, a bassist and trombonist who was Myrick's musical partner from college years until the end.

Overweight as a child, the youngster was called "Hippmo-potamus," but as Myrick matured into a master of blues, jazz and pop music, the name came to mean that he was "mo' hip," Satterfield said.

After playing with a college group called The Jazzmen, Myrick started his professional career with the Pharaohs, the house band at the old Regal Theater in Chicago. There he backed entertainers from Louis Armstrong to Smokey Robinson.

Fueled by the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s, the Pharaohs and their families followed a clean-living regimen of vegetarianism and black consciousness, but they did not shrink from the good things of life.

"We all were driving Mercedes-Benzes, and most people didn't know what kind of car it was in those days," Satterfield said.

Heeding the call of Maurice White, who played with them in The Jazzmen, the two moved to Southern California to form the core of Earth, Wind & Fire's horn section.

Later, they toured the world with Collins as the Phenix Horns. Myrick also played with Anita Baker, Bobby Blue Bland, Stanley Turrentine, Grover Washington Jr., Carlos Santana, Nancy Wilson, Diana Ross and others.

A picture on display at the funeral showed him shaking hands with Princess Diana.

"He was getting ready to do an album," Satterfield said. "He was going through some changes but he was coming out of all that. His music was more powerful than all of that. The only weapon he ever had was a weapon of peace -- the saxophone."

Separated from his wife of 26 years, diagnosed with leukemia and at loose ends professionally, Myrick was fatally shot by Santa Monica police when they served a search warrant at his small apartment in the Palms area of Los Angeles.

The search team was on the trail of a dial-for-drugs ring that operated out of two addresses on the Westside, Sgt. Gary Gallinot said. Alerted by informants, they put both places under surveillance.

A friend who was with Myrick in his final days said that the musician was not involved in the drug trade. But Gallinot said that detectives identified his apartment as a place where couriers would pick up rock cocaine for delivery to customers who placed their orders by telephone.

With two officers posted at a sliding-glass back door leading to a patio, four officers were at the front when Officer Gary Barbaro knocked and demanded entry at 6:10 a.m.

Opening the door with a key supplied by the management of the Oakwood apartment complex, Barbaro caught sight of Myrick, who authorities say was holding a black metal object that turned out to be a butane lighter.

"We're just as perplexed as to why he'd come to the door with something like that," Gallinot said.

Gallinot said Barbaro feared for his life and fired a bullet that hit Myrick in the chest. The musician died at a hospital a short time later.

A woman who was in the apartment was arrested on drug charges. Also arrested was a man police say headed the alleged cocaine operation, and two alleged drug couriers.

According to court documents, the search of Myrick's apartment turned up what was described as cocaine paraphernalia -- a Brillo pad, a metal plate, a heavy-duty razor blade, a fingernail tool, a cotton ball and part of a cigarette -- in a night stand.

There was also an electronic scale, a stack of plastic sandwich bags and a vial of inositol, a sugar-like vitamin. Inositol is often used to cut cocaine for retail sale, Gallinot said.

The seven-inch butane lighter, also known as a pencil torch, is the type commonly used to heat cocaine, he said.

Gallinot said it resembles a firearm known as a pencil gun, which was recently featured on television and in police training bulletins.

Police said they found crack pipes, a bag of marijuana and two pieces of crack cocaine at the apartment on Santa Monica Boulevard.

The operation relied on phone pagers and rental cars obtained by bribing a car rental clerk with cocaine, court documents said. The dealer would frequently change addresses but stay in touch with his customers by using the telephone company's call-forwarding service, according to the documents.

But Myrick's friends who attended his funeral were still at a loss over his death and questioned the officer's action.

"To be shot down like a common criminal, it's ridiculous," said Larry Dunn, the former keyboard player and musical director for Earth, Wind & Fire. "Most of the people here are still in shock."

Myrick's survivors include his wife, Barbara; three daughters, Shirika, Shani and Lauren; his mother, Antoinette Myrick; a sister, Shirley Wade, and a brother, Vernon Myrick. If you're reading this, you've probably already heard Myrick's work, but in the event you stumbled onto this page and can't remember Myrick's solos, here's the live versions of "Reasons" by Earth Wind and Fire from their Gratitude album. Skip the ad, and listen to Philip Bailey's amazing voice, or if you are pressed for time jump to the 4:00 mark and soon Myrick will come in and kill a vamp with soul:

Friday, June 23, 2006

Stone Age Bling

New York Times
June 23, 2006
Old Shells Suggest Early Human Adornment

Archaeologists say they have found evidence that in one respect people were behaving like thoroughly modern humans as early as 100,000 years ago: they were apparently decorating themselves with a kind of status-defining jewelry — the earliest known shell necklaces.

If this interpretation is correct, it means that human self-adornment, considered a manifestation of symbolic thinking, was practiced at least 25,000 years earlier than previously thought.

An international team of archaeologists, writing today in the journal Science, reported its analysis of small shells with distinctive perforations that appeared to have been strung together as ornamental beads. Chemical study showed that the two shells from the Skhul rock shelter in Israel were more than 100,000 years old, and the single shell from Oued Djebbana, in Algeria, was about 90,000 years old.

Three shells may not be much to go on, the archaeologists conceded. But they emphasized that the shells were from the same genus of marine snail and were worked in the same manner as those from the Blombos Cave, near Cape Town in South Africa, which were reported two years ago as the earliest jewelry, dated at 75,000 years ago.

The Blombos find was hotly contested because of a lack of corroborating evidence from other sites.

The archaeologists also pointed out that the Israeli and Algerian sites were so far from the seashore that the shells were most likely brought there intentionally for beadworking. A study of modern shells of similar snails, they noted, determined that the chances that the holes occurred naturally were extremely small.

In the journal report, the research team led by Marian Vanhaeren of University College London and Francesco d'Errico of the National Center for Scientific Research in Talence, France, concluded, "These beads support the hypothesis that a long-lasting and widespread beadworking tradition existed in Africa and the Levant well before the arrival of anatomically modern humans in Europe."

The hypothesis challenges the traditional view that modern Homo sapiens underwent a significant behavioral change about 50,000 years ago, possibly the result of some genetic modification that afforded a greater capability for symbolic thinking and creativity in arts and crafts. The change might have prompted human migrations into Europe from Africa. In Europe it underlay the burst of creativity that began about 40,000 years ago and has been glimpsed in human figurines, musical instruments and cave paintings.

Jewelry was probably one of the earliest ways people conveyed aspects of their social and cultural identities, Dr. Vanhaeren said.

Alison S. Brooks, an anthropologist at George Washington University who was not involved in the research, called the findings exciting.

"It shows that human behavior emerges slowly over a long period of time," Dr. Brooks said. "Not that there was no creative revolution 40,000 years ago, but it was a florescence that stems from much earlier developments in Africa."

In a separate journal article, Richard G. Klein, a paleoanthropologist at Stanford who backs the late, abrupt creative-explosion school, was quoted as saying the shell evidence "seems weak" and the interpretation remained "debatable."

Aymara time metaphors

Indians see past, future in reverse, study says
By Bruce Lieberman

June 22, 2006

The future is in front of us, and the past is behind.

It's an idea so ingrained in human thinking that most people don't think twice about it. Scientists, too, have long believed that everyone perceives the passage of time this way.

But the reverse is true for the Aymara Indians in the mountains of northern Chile. For the first time, researchers have documented a culture that uses words and gestures to describe how the past stands before an individual and the future lies behind – unseen.

The discovery is described in the current issue of Cognitive Science. It suggests that the metaphors people use to describe abstractions – even everyday abstractions like time – are at least partly determined by culture, said University of California San Diego researcher Rafael Núñez, who co-authored the study with University of California Berkeley professor Eve Sweetser.

Aymara is spoken in the Andean highlands of western Bolivia, southeastern Peru and northern Chile.

Over an 18-month period, Núñez and Sweetser taped about 20 hours of conversations with 30 Aymara adults from northern Chile. A majority of the volunteers were bilingual speakers of Aymara and Spanish.

Aymara speakers use the word nayra – which means “eye,” “front” or “sight” – to refer to the past. They use qhipa – which means “back” or “behind” – to refer to the future.

But Núñez and Sweetser did not draw any strong conclusions without looking at how those words were reinforced by gestures.

The Aymara subjects, particularly the elderly who didn't have mastery of Spanish, thumbed or waved over their shoulders when speaking about the future. And they swept their hands or arms in front of them while speaking of the past – closer to their bodies for events in the recent past and wider gestures for events in the distant past.

“It was quite striking when people were starting to point . . . in directions that seemed totally unnatural to us,” Núñez said. “We're talking about non-technical, everyday notions of chronology here.”

Researchers still need to study how the Aymara's view of time influences day-to-day life, as well as their concept of progress, prediction and organizing society for future generations, Núñez said.

He and Sweetser do know that the Aymara have a profound respect for their ancestors, tradition and history. These Indians also place great significance on whether an event has been witnessed by the speaker.

For example, the phrase “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” is incomplete in the Aymara language. The speaker must elaborate on how he or she knows that fact, either through attribution or other evidence.

This may explain why the Aymara metaphorically place the past before them because past events are knowable. And the future? Aymara elders see little point in speculating about events that haven't occurred.

David McNeill, a linguist who studies gestures as a component of language, described the Aymara study as a landmark.

“I consider the Núñez-Sweetser paper very important, because it forces us to consider the interaction of (physical gestures) and culture in the creation of basic beliefs about the world,” McNeill said.

The study shows that understanding the complexities and subtleties of language – and how gestures enrich and reveal meaning – is vital for people trying to relate to other cultures, he and other scientists said.

“It's really important to understand the conceptual systems of peoples around the world,” said George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at Berkeley. “There's a dominant view in this culture that . . . everybody thinks in pretty much the same way, and that therefore you don't have to take into account different world views.”

Núñez said he planned to explore whether other South American groups used similar metaphors to describe the past and present.

“I have a gut feeling there may be other languages in the Amerindian family that also share the same thing in one way or another,” he said.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Six Flags "Ethnic Hairstyle" Ban

This actually reminds me of Cuba. What does that say?

Washington Post
At Six Flags, the Don'ts of Dos
Employees Say Their Ethnic Hairstyles Are Challenged as 'Extreme,' and They've Complained to ACLU

By Avis Thomas-Lester
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 17, 2006; B01

It's right there, under "Extreme Hairstyles," in the 2006 seasonal handbook for Six Flags America employees: no dreadlocks, tails, partially shaved heads "or any hairstyle that detracts or takes away from Six Flags theming."

Braids "must be in neat, even rows and without beads or other ornaments," the amusement park handbook advises.

That prompted Tim Bivins, 18, who has worked at Six Flags America in Largo for two years, to cut several inches off his hair this spring and pay $50 to have it braided into cornrows. Not good enough, he was told. Cut the braids shorter or go home.

Shannon Boyd, 17, bought a wig to cover the locks she sports under her Tweety Bird costume. Not appropriate, she was told, because the wig wasn't her natural hair color.

Jonathan DeLeon, who had been growing his fanny-length hair since he was 7, was hired in March to portray Sylvester and Daffy Duck. A few weeks later, however, he was told that he would have to cut his three-foot-plus-long braids. His mother whacked off more than two feet, but it wasn't enough, park officials said.

"They told me I had to cut them even shorter or go home," said DeLeon, 17, of Largo. "They said they wanted an all-American thing. That's what they said to all the black people. I had already cut it a lot, so I just left."

Femi Manners and her 16-year-old son, Shakir, agreed that he would not change his hair: short cornrows with a small design braided in. Instead, she contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, which is investigating complaints from more than a dozen black employees of Six Flags America.

The complaint is the latest in recent years alleging that private companies or government agencies are violating civil rights with restrictions on ethnic and Africa-inspired hairstyles and beards.

"This is culturally very, very insensitive and possibly discrimination," said King Downing, coordinator of the ACLU's national campaign against racial profiling. "The question is, how long do we have to keep going around and around with this when it comes to people of African descent and the natural style of the hair that they wear?"

In the 1980s, a Marriott reservations clerk in downtown Washington sued successfully to keep her cornrows. Five years ago, District firefighters sought to wear longer hair or beards for religious reasons. Now, the fight has come to Prince George's, a predominantly black, middle-class county where many people consider such hairstyles a point of ethnic pride and few consider them "extreme."

"Many of the people who go to Six Flags have locks and twists and Afros," said Demetrius Hall, 16, of Suitland, a Muslim who said he will not cut his hair, for religious reasons. "Black people are not offended by those hairstyles."

Wendy Goldberg, national spokeswoman for Six Flags, said the policy has been in place for years. "I understand they don't want to conform, that this is a matter of heritage and pride," she said. "But you can apply the question of heritage and culture and not conforming to piercing, shaved heads and tattoos."

Walt Disney Co. also holds its employees to a grooming policy that limits some ethnic hairstyles, agreeing only six years ago to allow mustaches and three years ago to let men wear short cornrow braids.

"The hair has to be clean, natural and polished," said Jacob DiPietre, park spokesman for Walt Disney World. "I don't think dreadlocks are allowed."

Linda Jones, who edits a newsletter called Nappy News for people who wear ethnic hairstyles, said "it is very telling" that theme parks forbid such styles for employees.

"Why not point out mohawk or mullet [styles], too?" Jones asked. "They only specify dreadlocks, and who is more likely to wear those styles? Are they saying that styles that aren't in keeping with the European aesthetic are not professional?"

Critics of these Afrocentric styles, she said, include some African Americans. At Hampton University in Virginia, for example, male students in the master's in business administration program with hairstyles deemed "extreme" are restricted from certain activities, such as meeting with visiting corporate executives.

Sid Credle, Business School dean at the historically black university, said the policy was set in 2000 by a group of students. He said the policy was not discriminatory, simply pragmatic: For business students, "drawing attention to themselves as being different" is a negative.

The recent dust-up at Six Flags America probably resulted, said Goldberg, the national spokeswoman, from the effort by the new general manager, Terry Prather, to enforce the policy since he came on board in February. The Largo park was taken over last year by Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, and its new management has pledged to tighten up operations at the park -- and make it more "family friendly."

Prather, who is black, said that allowing employees to wear hairstyles that violate the park's policy would lead to customer service problems. He said he has dealt with the ethnic hairstyles of his children, ages 23 to 33. "I totally understand it," he said. "I live with it."

He denied that the policy was antiquated or discriminatory, although he understands why some employees might be upset.

Prather and Goldberg said exceptions are made for employees with a religious or medical reason for not cutting their hair. But Hall, who wears a character costume all day, said he was ordered to change his long, straight hair despite his views as a Muslim.

"They first told me to pin it up, but when I did, they told me I couldn't wear it pinned up," he said. "They are still telling me sometimes that I have to cut it. I've got three supervisors who are all white, and they're the ones who tell me about cutting my hair."

Dianna Johnston, assistant legal council for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said questions about hair fall under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race or national origin.

"The law is not crystal clear on these grooming issues . . . ," she said. "If the employer only singles out a particular ethnic style and lets people wear other hairstyles, you might have a claim of race or ethnic discrimination."

But Johnston said the courts have not recognized an employee being harmed unless a dismissal or other adverse action occurs.

ACLU of Maryland spokeswoman Meredith Curtis said her organization is interviewing Six Flags workers, but she declined to discuss details until the inquiry is concluded.

Bivins, who just graduated from Largo High School, worked at Six Flags for two years sporting his plaits along with his colorful uniform, running rides and working as a costumed character until he was told to change his hairstyle. After having his hair cut and braided, he was sent home April 22 and told not to return until his hair was even shorter. He has not gone back.

Boyd said she learned of her supervisor's concerns one day after her mother dropped her off. "They said I couldn't come into the park until my hair was braided down or cut," said Boyd, of Waldorf, who had worn locks the previous year. "My mom ended up braiding it for me in the parking lot."

Supervisors called her style "unprofessional and inappropriate," she said. So for the next two weeks she wore a wig. "Then they told me I couldn't wear the wig, which was kind of sandy-colored, because it wasn't my natural hair color."

Now she simply wears her locks, which she said is a reflection of her heritage and pride.

"It's a cultural offense," Boyd said of the park's policy. "They say dreadlocks are an extreme hairstyle, and that's not true. That is the biggest misconceptions of African Americans now -- with our hair. Whenever they talk about our hair, the styles and texture, it's always something negative.

"They are telling me I have to change something about me. They are telling me I have to change what I am. I won't do that."
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Study: Blacks Hear Better Than Whites

New York Times
June 15, 2006
Study: Blacks Hear Better Than Whites

Filed at 11:17 p.m. ET

ATLANTA (AP) -- Black adults hear better than white adults, a government study found. The study also found that women hear better than men, and that overall, hearing in the United States is about the same as it was 35 years ago, despite the advent of ear-blasting devices such as the Walkman and the iPod.

Previous research reached similar findings about racial and sex differences, but the new study by scientists with the federal National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was the largest national sample to report such a finding, experts in acoustics said.

The racial difference may be related to melanin, a skin pigment. Some scientists believe black people's larger amounts of melanin protect them from noise-induced hearing loss as the years go by, study researcher William Murphy said. Scientists suspect melanin plays a role in how the body removes harmful chemical compounds caused by damage to the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear.

Genetics or the amount of noise exposure may explain the difference between women and men, said Elliott Berger, an Indianapolis-based hearing protection expert.

''Boys have typically done noisier activities,'' Berger said.

The conclusion that the nation's overall hearing has not changed since the early 1970s seems to contradict other recent research finding that modern teenagers do not hear as well as children did in the age before mobile listening devices, Berger said.

''You'd think society is noisier now -- iPods are ubiquitous,'' Murphy said.

The study, reported at a scientific conference last week, looked at more than 5,000 people who had hearing tests from 1999 through 2004 as part of a comprehensive, annual federal health survey that includes physical examinations.

The 10- to 20-minute hearing test involves wearing headphones and pressing a button when a tone is heard. Both frequency and loudness, or decibels, are measured.

People who can hear higher-frequency tones are better at differentiating certain sounds, such as ''list'' versus ''lisp,'' Murphy said.

On average, the 1,077 non-Hispanic blacks in the study could hear higher tones at 15 to 22 decibels, the study found. The 1,245 Mexican Americans could hear high-end tones at 16 to 25 decibels, on average. The 2,518 non-Hispanic whites could hear high-end tones at 21 to 32 decibels, on average, Murphy said.

Women on average were more sensitive to higher frequency tones. They could heard higher tones at 11 to 22 decibels, compared with 19 to 32 decibels for men.

Overall, the results were mostly the same as in hearing tests done from 1971 to 1975, Murphy said.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Marines Corps investigates song about killing civilians

Marines Corps investigates song about killing civilians
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A music video posted on the Internet that tells a tale about a U.S. Marine killing members of an Iraqi family is being condemned by an Islamic group and investigated by the Marine Corps.

The four-minute song, "Hadji Girl," appears to be sung by a Marine in front of a cheering audience. The lyrics talk about the Marine gunning down members of an Iraqi woman's family after they confront him with automatic weapons.

Lt. Col. Scott Fazekas, a spokesman for the Marines, said Tuesday that the Marines were aware of the video. Fazekas said officials don't know the identity of the singer or whether he is in the military.

The song was "inappropriate and contrary to the high standards expected of all Marines," Fazekas said. He said Marine officers are looking in to the matter.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that in light of recent allegations of atrocities committed by Marines in Haditha and other towns in Iraq, the video should be investigated by the Pentagon and Congress.

"The inappropriate actions of a few individuals should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of all American military personnel," said Awad.

The video was posted anonymously on the Web site, but was removed. It is still available on CAIR's web site, A hadji is a pilgrim who journeys to Mecca. CAIR said the word has often been used as a disparaging term by U.S. troops in Iraq.

"The video is not reflective of the tremendous sacrifices and dedication demonstrated, on a daily basis, by tens of thousands of Marines who have assisted the Iraqi people in gaining their freedom," Fazekas said. "We agree with the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations that the inappropriate actions of a few individuals should not tarnish the reputation of all American military personnel."

The singer is shown playing a guitar and singing about meeting an Iraqi woman and then being confronted by her brother and father, who have guns. The lyrics describe the Marine pulling the woman's little sister in front of him and watching blood spray from her head.

He then sings about blowing the father and brother "to eternity."

Defense officials are investigating allegations that U.S. Marines massacred as many as two dozen unarmed civilians in Haditha last November. Another probe is under way into charges that U.S. troops pulled an unarmed Iraqi man from his home in Hamandiya in late April and shot him to death without provocation.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

A Ringtone Exclusivley for the Young

June 12, 2006
A Ring Tone Meant to Fall on Deaf Ears

In that old battle of the wills between young people and their keepers, the young have found a new weapon that could change the balance of power on the cellphone front: a ring tone that many adults cannot hear.

In settings where cellphone use is forbidden — in class, for example — it is perfect for signaling the arrival of a text message without being detected by an elder of the species.

"When I heard about it I didn't believe it at first," said Donna Lewis, a technology teacher at the Trinity School in Manhattan. "But one of the kids gave me a copy, and I sent it to a colleague. She played it for her first graders. All of them could hear it, and neither she nor I could."

The technology, which relies on the fact that most adults gradually lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, was developed in Britain but has only recently spread to America — by Internet, of course.

Recently, in classes at Trinity and elsewhere, some students have begun testing the boundaries of their new technology. One place was Michelle Musorofiti's freshman honors math class at Roslyn High School on Long Island.

At Roslyn, as at most schools, cellphones must be turned off during class. But one morning last week, a high-pitched ring tone went off that set teeth on edge for anyone who could hear it. To the students' surprise, that group included their teacher.

"Whose cellphone is that?" Miss Musorofiti demanded, demonstrating that at 28, her ears had not lost their sensitivity to strangely annoying, high-pitched, though virtually inaudible tones.

"You can hear that?" one of them asked.

"Adults are not supposed to be able to hear that," said another, according to the teacher's account.

She had indeed heard that, Miss Musorofiti said, adding, "Now turn it off."

The cellphone ring tone that she heard was the offshoot of an invention called the Mosquito, developed last year by a Welsh security company to annoy teenagers and gratify adults, not the other way around.

It was marketed as an ultrasonic teenager repellent, an ear-splitting 17-kilohertz buzzer designed to help shopkeepers disperse young people loitering in front of their stores while leaving adults unaffected.

The principle behind it is a biological reality that hearing experts refer to as presbycusis, or aging ear. While Miss Musorofiti is not likely to have it, most adults over 40 or 50 seem to have some symptoms, scientists say.

While most human communication takes place in a frequency range between 200 and 8,000 hertz (a hertz being the scientific unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second), most adults' ability to hear frequencies higher than that begins to deteriorate in early middle age.

"It's the most common sensory abnormality in the world," said Dr. Rick A. Friedman, an ear surgeon and research scientist at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles.

But in a bit of techno-jujitsu, someone — a person unknown at this time, but probably not someone with presbycusis — realized that the Mosquito, which uses this common adult abnormality to adults' advantage, could be turned against them.

The Mosquito noise was reinvented as a ring tone.

"Our high-frequency buzzer was copied. It is not exactly what we developed, but it's a pretty good imitation," said Simon Morris, marketing director for Compound Security, the company behind the Mosquito. "You've got to give the kids credit for ingenuity."

British newspapers described the first use of the high-frequency ring tone last month in some schools in Wales, where Compound Security's Mosquito device was introduced as a "yob-buster," a reference to the hooligans it was meant to disperse.

Since then, Mr. Morris said his company has received so much attention — none of it profit-making because the ring tone was in effect pirated — that he and his partner, Howard Stapleton, the inventor, decided to start selling a ring tone of their own. It is called Mosquitotone, and it is now advertised as "the authentic Mosquito ring tone."

David Herzka, a Roslyn High School freshman, said he researched the British phenomenon a few weeks ago on the Web, and managed to upload a version of the high-pitched sound into his cellphone.

He transferred the ring tone to the cellphones of two of his friends at a birthday party on June 3. Two days later, he said, about five students at school were using it, and by Tuesday the number was a couple of dozen.

"I just made it for my friends. I don't use a cellphone during class at school," he said.

How, David was asked, did he think this new device would alter the balance of power between adults and teenagers? Or did he suppose it was a passing fad?

"Well, probably it is," said David, who added after a moment's thought, "And if not, I guess the school will just have to hire a lot of young teachers."

Kate Hammer and Nate Schweber contributed reporting for this article.

Composer Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006)

New York Times
June 13, 2006
Gyorgy Ligeti, Central-European Composer of Bleakness and Humor, Dies at 83

Gyorgy Ligeti, the Central European composer whose music was among the most innovative of the last half of the 20th century — sometimes eerie, sometimes humorous usually fantastical and always polished — died yesterday in Vienna. He was 83.

His family confirmed his death but declined to divulge the cause, saying only that he had been ill for several years.

Mr. Ligeti produced much of his pioneering music against the backdrop of a Europe in turmoil. Born into a Hungarian-Jewish family, he survived the Holocaust but lost his father and brother in it. With the war's end he felt Soviet repression and fled when liberal revolution was smashed.

Mr. Ligeti became widely known when extracts from his work appeared on the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick's movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" in 1968 and caught the public's fancy. The works — the Requiem, for voices and orchestra; "Lux Aeterna," for unaccompanied chorus; and "Atmospheres," for orchestra — are characterized by dense texture and very slow change. They were used in the film to suggest the desolation of the moon and the discovery there of a mysterious monolith. The music was not the film's well-known fanfare, composed by Richard Strauss, but it won Mr. Ligeti a worldwide audience.

The moon music was indicative of only one of his expressive modes, however. After fleeing Hungary in 1956, he also showed himself to be a master of a fast, mechanical and comic sort of music. Between these two poles — the "Clocks and Clouds," to quote the title of a later work, alluding to an essay by the philosopher Karl Popper — he created works of exuberant variety and range.

During the late 1950's and 60's, he was close to leaders of the European avant-garde like Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. He had always been more skeptical than others in that circle, but he still felt adrift when the rule of modernism began to break down in the 1970's. His initial response was a comic opera, "The Great Macabre," his most ambitious work, which was first produced in Sweden in 1978.

He had difficulty in regaining his creative direction after that, but the appearance in 1985 of his first six Etudes for piano signaled a return to vitality. The pieces were prompted in part by the wild, irregular rhythms and processes of Conlon Nancarrow's player-piano studies, and in part by Mr. Ligeti's ability to find new stimulation in recorded music from around the world, including that of Afro-Caribbean dance bands and Indonesian percussion orchestras. From all these sources he distilled his unique late compositions.

Fastidious and self-critical, Mr. Ligeti demanded high standards from those around him. But where he felt sympathy, he could be open, warm and generous. He knew his worth, but he did not make that a barrier between himself and life or let it dampen his curiosity.

"I am in a prison," he once explained. "One wall is the avant-garde, the other is the past. I want to escape."

Gyorgy Sandor Ligeti (pronounced JURGE SHAN-dor LIG-ih-tee) was born on May 28, 1923. His family lived near Cluj (Kolozsvar to Hungarians), the principal city of Transylvania. The region was part of Romania then, and is now again, but in 1940 it was granted by fascist Germany to its ally Hungary.

The annexation seemed to have had little effect on the young composer at first. Between 1941 and 1943 he studied with two of the more important Hungarian composers of the post-Bartok generation, Ferenc Farkas in Cluj and Pal Kadosa in Budapest. He also wrote the earliest pieces he was later to publish, a pair of movements for piano duet.

But in 1943 his education was halted when he was drafted into a military labor corps to support the front-line Axis troops. Mr. Ligeti considered the conscription a lucky break, because it exempted him, as it did other Jews in the service, from deportation to concentration camps, a fate that befell his mother, father and brother. Only his mother returned.

In September 1945, Mr. Ligeti enrolled in the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, where he studied with Farkas again and with two other eminent members of the same generation, Sandor Veress and Pal Jardanyi. Life in the new socialist Hungary was propitious for a young idealist, and Mr. Ligeti was able to extend his creative horizons. But in 1949, when he graduated, the country fell under the grip of Stalinism. Only music that was optimistic and close to folk song had a hope of being published or performed.

Mr. Ligeti supplied works of this type, chiefly songs and choruses, while also taking a teaching position at the Liszt academy. The more radical works he was writing at the same time, like "Musica Ricercata" for piano (1951-3) or his First String Quartet (1953-4), had to be kept private.

Later, Mr. Ligeti spoke disparagingly of himself during this period as the "prehistoric Ligeti," emphasizing the lack of information in Hungary about artistic movements in the West, the moratorium in his country on modernism (even Bartok's modernism), and the compulsion to be upbeat and nationalist.

He left Budapest with his wife, Vera, a Hungarian psychiatrist, in December 1956, after the Russians had sent in tanks to crush the more liberal government of Imre Nagy. His destination was Cologne, where Mr. Stockhausen had arranged a stipend for him at the electronic music studio of West German Radio. At the age of 33, he was starting anew. The first works he produced in the West were electronic.

In 1959 he moved to Vienna, eventually became an Austrian citizen, and began "Atmospheres," whose first performance, in 1961, made his professional reputation. Though other composers, including Mr. Stockhausen, had begun to think in slow-moving sounds and tangled webs, Mr. Ligeti's orchestral mastery was unrivaled.

His sense of humor was also unusual. After "Atmospheres" came "Adventures" (1962) and "New Adventures" (1962-5), miniature operas for three singers who express themselves without words but very concretely, by means of musical gestures from a nonsensical phonetic text.

Crazy and comic, these works are also touching. The singers, deprived of language, bravely go on trying to communicate their fears, joys and jealousies. And in the sighs, moans and excited outbursts of Mr. Ligeti's music, they do so effectively.

In the Requiem (1963-5), he responded to the subject of death as both ominous certainty and black joke. The Requiem, with its depictions of damnation and pleas to avoid it, shows how much he had learned as a musician in Western Europe, and how much he had learned as a man who had lost his family in German concentration camps and had suffered severe creative strictures at the hands of Nazi occupiers and their Soviet successors.

Besides surveying its composer's past, the score includes something new: the pristine pleasure of simple intervals occurring within a complex context. Mr. Ligeti was then able to recover something of the sound of the Romantic orchestra in "Lontano" (1967), and gradually to elaborate a new harmonic-melodic language that was, as he liked to say, neither tonal nor atonal.

In 1971 he made a visit to San Francisco, where he was impressed by the music of Harry Partch, whose unconventional tunings began to have an effect on his harmony. He was also drawn to the work of Steve Reich and Terry Riley, to whom he paid musical homage in the middle part of his triptych "Monument — Self Portrait — Movement" for two pianos (1976).

In 1973 he took a teaching post at the Hamburg Music Academy and remained in Hamburg until a few years ago while always wishing, he said in an interview, that he were somewhere else. During those years his wife remained in Vienna with their son, Lukas, later himself a composer. Both survive him.

Mr. Ligeti's first big project in Hamburg was "The Great Macabre," whose subject was again death and the end of the world. Again, too, the subject was treated both as an awesome calamity and as a trick played on humanity. The opera had its premiere in Stockholm, where the composer and his music had found an eager audience since the 1960's. It was later produced in a revised version at the 1997 Salzburg Festival.

After "The Great Macabre," the Horn Trio of 1980 turned out to be a false trail in leading back to more conventional kinds of phrasing and form. Mr. Ligeti found a new path for himself in his first book of Etudes for piano (1985), which opened the door into a style of extreme virtuosity, both creative and re-creative, and for which in 1986 he received the Grawemeyer Award (at $150,000 the largest prize in classical music). Complex rhythms and dazzling speeds combined to produce music of wonder and wit, and he went on to write a second book of Etudes (1988-94) and begin a third.

Meanwhile he explored the implications of his new style on a broader scale in concertos for piano (1985-8), violin (1989-93) and horn (1998-2001). A second opera, on the Alice books of Lewis Carroll, was long contemplated but not seriously begun. His last new work was his 18th Etude, "Canon" (2001). Soon after writing it, he returned to his wife's home in Vienna, where his health slowly worsened.

Mr. Ligeti's late works, fast and busy, are very unlike the music of "2001," but not so far from the compositions he had produced as a young man in Hungary. He was returning to what had always interested him: the scales and rhythms of Central European folk music, if now within a style of much greater sophistication. Long into his exile, what obsessed him was the notion of home.

As a man who grew up in Hungary under German and Soviet tyrannies, when home was exactly where you did not want to be, who moved to Western Europe after the Russians extinguished Hungarian independence, and who had been footloose ever since, Mr. Ligeti had no simple notion of where he belonged, and this feeling informed his work.

One movement in his Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano from 1982, for example, is composed, as he put it, of "an imaginary, synthetic folklore of Latin-American and Balkan elements"; another recalls "the Gypsy music which affected me so strongly as a child."

What, Mr. Ligeti asked himself, is being expressed here: "Nostalgia for a homeland that no longer exists?" And there he put his finger on something: home is not just a place, but also a time.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Dancer sues; claims firing because breasts grew

Body Suit
She Grew in Her Career as a Dancer, Maybe Too Much. Cue the Lawyers.

By Sarah Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 12, 2006; C01


Alice Alyse is quite plainly a bombshell, a knockout: She's slim, leggy and gorgeous, with long, dark hair and a great set of cheekbones.

Also, she's stacked.

And that, she says, is why she's out of a job.

Alyse claims that her generous breast size got her fired from the cast of "Movin' Out," the Broadway show choreographed by Twyla Tharp to songs by Billy Joel. Alyse was an ensemble dancer in the national tour until her bra size "naturally increased" from a C cup to a D, according to her lawsuit against the production company. The growth spurt happened while she was on leave last year with an injured big toe; the 29-year-old says she neither gained weight nor got implants. When she returned to the show, she needed new bras sewn into her costumes, and for this, she alleges in her 42-page complaint, she was sexually harassed, verbally abused and wrongfully dismissed.

Let's leave aside, for the moment, questions about what other factors might have been behind Alyse's dismissal (which we can't really answer, because the show's management won't tell us its side) and whether a woman can continue to develop well past puberty. Musical theater is an entertainment outlet that routinely depicts women as sexpots, curvy dimwits and window dressing -- so if you believe Alyse's account, the hypocrisy is evident. Allegedly getting fired for the prudish-sounding sin of busting out of one's costume is even more surprising given that Tharp's all-dance spectacular bumps and grinds from start to finish. With Joel's rock-and-roll framing a Vietnam-era loss-of-innocence tale, the show rides on an orgy of go-go.

But the dance world doesn't necessarily view such firing decisions as hypocritical; they are merely business as usual. The Body Police enforce specifications that have nothing to do with the ability to perform. Some women have resorted to breast reduction to conform with the slim standards of ballet. Anastasia Volochkova, a leading ballerina at Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet, made headlines two years ago over a similar issue, when she was fired for being too fat (at a reported weight of 110 pounds). She sued for damages and was unsuccessful, though she did get her job back.

Alyse is fighting back with a $100 million lawsuit that names Tharp, the production stage manager and the show's producers among the defendants (though not Joel). And if the dollar amount weren't attention-getting enough, Alyse has hired onetime Washington gadfly Larry Klayman, a notoriously combative attorney who, judging from his record, relishes a scandal. Klayman, founder of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, became famous for suing the Clinton administration over numerous alleged coverups and conspiracies. More recently, he has taken on top Republicans, including Vice President Cheney, over his secretive energy task force.

Klayman, 54, who moved here a few years ago to run (unsuccessfully) for the U.S. Senate, now works in private practice and has focused his attention on Alyse's case. The dancer met him in a restaurant when she was out with a friend; she was on leave from "Movin' Out" with her injury, living with her mother. Later, Alyse says, when problems collecting workers' compensation got in the way of scheduling surgery, she called Klayman.

Alyse, a classically trained ballerina who left the San Francisco Ballet to try her luck in other forms of theater, calls her attorney "a blessing from God" -- the man who she believes will help her win justice for a wrong that she says baffles her to this day.

"I lost my job for reasons that weren't my dancing," she says. "When they hired me I wasn't flat-chested. I mean, a C means -- ya got boobs."

The producers have filed motions to dismiss the case or proceed through arbitration. Though none of them would comment for this article, Joel has weighed in. Shortly after Alyse filed suit in March, he told the New York Daily News: "Under no circumstances would I ever have anyone fired for having breasts that were too large."

To which Klayman replies: He'll have to be deposed, since "he's insinuating he was involved in hiring and firing decisions."

The real targets are "Movin' Out's" deep-pocket backers, among them veteran Broadway producer Emanuel Azenberg and owners James and Scott Nederlander and Clear Channel Entertainment. Going up against them is just like fighting the White House, Klayman says. "They're powerful. And their arrogance is unlike anything in Washington."

Asked whether it isn't also arrogant to demand $100 million as payback for Alyse losing her $130,000-a-year job (yes, Broadway jobs are considerably plummier than the average dance gig), Klayman says: "The only way you prevent this from happening again is to hit them in their pocketbook. A hundred million dollars from these owners is like a quarter in our pocket."

For Klayman, whose hourly rate tops out at $600, the case is something of a populist crusade. He declined to discuss his fee arrangement, but says, "I've never written a complaint that detailed in my whole life." (It's on the Web at In the suit, he reconstructs the alleged comments of production stage manager Eric Sprosty when he first saw Alyse outside the wardrobe fitting room after she returned to the show. Such as: "We hired you at a size C and now you're a [expletive] D! . . . You need to lose those boobs now!"

(Through an attorney, Sprosty declined to comment.)

"He was screaming at me and I was apologizing," Alyse says of her run-in with Sprosty, her forehead crinkling at the thought. "I was being apologetic that I had boobs . I thought, 'I'm going to lose my job -- and I'm still skinny!' "
Appearance Is All

"It's a virtue to have bigger breasts on Broadway, in my expert opinion," Klayman observes one balmy evening, over dinner with Alyse at a seaside restaurant called Bongos. It certainly seems to be a virtue to have them in Miami: The city is awash in well-endowed women wearing tight-fitting tank tops and cleavage-baring camisoles.

Yet big breasts cannot truly be said to be a virtue for a dancer, unless her routine includes thigh-high boots and a pole. The Ziegfeldian hourglass shape has flattened out over time. On current stages, in the view of many directors and choreographers, a B cup might be just sexy enough, while a D may be too much. From ballet companies to Broadway, the preferred look is slender, long-stemmed and minimally jiggly. Especially when we're talking about fitting into a group, whether a kick line or the corps de ballet.

God forbid anyone should stick out. Prevailing theater wisdom warns that an ensemble dancer must not distract, and in many shows, that means buxom chorines no longer need apply. A D cup, according to Roberta Stiehm, a musical theater veteran, could commit the major no-no of pulling focus.

"I want to stick up for this girl," said Stiehm, a Maryland ballet and Pilates teacher who had featured roles in "Cats" and "A Chorus Line." "But I have to tell you, what if Pamela Anderson were a great dancer? You couldn't use her.

"You should be able to say, 'I don't care how big your breasts are, you should be in this show because you're a fabulous dancer,' " Stiehm said. "But in reality, there is a look that has to be maintained to fit in with the whole cast."

Maintaining the look is especially key in a Broadway show, where casting can be highly restrictive. A Broadway show sells only one image and auditions are famous for their cruel specificity -- if the part calls for a woman who's 5 feet 8, those an inch off the mark need not try out.

Showbiz jobs hang on a director's whim. In a perfect world, variations in body type would be no more remarkable than eye color. Yet as much as popular culture prizes a womanly figure, as much as breasts are objectified and magnified in magazines, on TV and in Hollywood, the dance field sees too much flesh as a flaw. Alyse is up against more than just the folks behind "Movin' Out" -- she is battling an industry-wide prejudice.

Alison Crosby trained as a ballet dancer, winning scholarships to prestigious academies such as the School of American Ballet, the New York City Ballet's training ground. But with a generous breast size on a petite 5-foot-3-inch frame that tended toward softness rather than leanness, she was never offered a job with a classical company. She once considered breast-reduction surgery as a way to land a contract.

"Sometimes I'd look at myself in the mirror and push my breasts out of the way to see what a difference that would make, what would that do to the balance of my body," Crosby said. "Would that mean I'd be awarded a job?"

Crosby turned to modern dance, a realm that she found less restrictive in terms of physique. For nearly 20 years, she has danced with several small Washington area companies. She says that as much as she loves dancing, she could not accept surgically altering her body for it. But, she says, a dancer friend with similar proportions did go under the knife -- and ended up with a successful New York dance career. Meeting up with her recently caused Crosby to question her own decision years ago: "I was envious."

Some choreographers are more apt than others to welcome the terrific dancer who deviates from the norm. Bob Fosse "loved to take all body types, even though he's famous for the long-legged American beauty," said Ann Reinking, the famed Fosse exemplar, Broadway star and choreographer. Among his favorites were exquisite movers like Barbara Sharma, whom Reinking described as "a beautiful little dumpling," and Louise Quick, who was "round and voluptuous . . . like a series of circles."

Absent Fosse's unconventional tastes, matching the standard, generic body type -- slim, long legs, with moderate bounce upstairs -- makes being a dancer that much harder, Reinking said. You've got to have the talent and the right physique. "But that's why you're in it," she said. "We were all in an audience one day and saw a beautifully slender, tall woman and that's what we bought in to. It was our choice."
'A Shock to Me'

Alice Alyse grew up in Milwaukee as Alice Lewitzke, the only child of a Nicaraguan mother and a father from Wisconsin of German heritage. She started dance lessons as a toddler. Her parents divorced when she was 11, and she moved with her mother to Coral Gables, Fla.

She attracted attention early on for her dancing, winning numerous talent shows and competitions. Offered scholarships to study at schools affiliated with major companies across the country, she accepted one at the Joffrey Ballet School. She joined Miami City Ballet when she was 16 and the San Francisco Ballet at 19, where she performed in classical ballets as well as in contemporary works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. It was after leaving ballet that she changed her last name to the softer-sounding Alyse.

Alyse says she has faced the size issue throughout her dance career, though she was not quite as curvy when she was a ballet dancer. Costume fittings were always crucial, she says, so that her bodice provided adequate coverage. Beyond that, she says, her breasts had never been much of a liability.

Choreographer Mark Morris cast Alyse in two ballets he created for the San Francisco Ballet. One of today's most acclaimed and sought-after dance makers, he is unusually open-minded about body types and the variously sized members of his own modern-dance company reflect that. In a recent phone interview he raved about Alyse, saying she appealed to him because she was "gorgeous and elegant and tall" with "a fabulous legato," referring to a smooth, unbroken style of dancing.

Asked if he remembered her as curvaceous, he said, with typical bluntness: "Sure. She's stacked."

American culture is hopelessly confused about women's bodies, Morris continued. Big breasts are idolized in mass media "and yet it's naughty to look at them. . . . In our silly culture they're treated like primary sex characteristics. They're like genitals, almost."

Alyse says that when she joined the cast of "Movin' Out," she was happy to see that there were other dancers with noticeable breasts. So why, she is asked, did hers become an issue?

"No idea," she says. "I can't answer that."

Klayman, who is always hovering within earshot during the interviews, interjects: "You do have an idea why. There are a number of different reasons; it was discrimination. Sexual discrimination, national origin discrimination."

As to why her body suddenly blossomed, Alyse chalks it up to her genes.

"My mom developed later in life," she says. "She continuously developed. It could be that when I was off, my hormones kind of took over."

Of several medical groups approached about this issue, only one doctor would speculate as to what happened. Angelo Cuzalina, a cosmetic surgeon specializing in breast augmentation at Tulsa Surgical Arts, said that once Alyse became injured and stopped dancing, her muscle mass may have decreased while her fatty mass increased, "and that fat could go to her breasts." He added that he had never actually encountered such a case.

When she realized she had to buy bigger bras, "it was kind of a shock to me, and I was a little embarrassed," says Alyse. "I think that was my ballet background. You're self-conscious about that area."
Sending a Message

If Alyse is still shy about her body, she doesn't show it. She dresses in a way that shows off her figure: no baggy T-shirts, no minimizing her chest with hunched-over shoulders. (Her Web site includes cheesecake photos of her wearing a nightie and black stockings.) She comes across as warm and vividly expressive, embracing both Klayman and a visitor with quick kisses.

The next day is postcard-perfect, with a turquoise sky and brilliant sun. Alyse shows up for lunch on a hotel terrace overlooking the brilliant green waters of Biscayne Bay, ensconced between her mother and Klayman, who's decked out like Don Johnson in a sport coat and white slacks.

Alyse is wearing a pale blue camisole stretched tight over her curves, with blue teardrop earrings to match, and a short, filmy black skirt. Her 5-foot-7 height is accentuated by her pulled-up ballerina posture and wedge-heeled sandals. Under any other circumstances, she'd have a to-die-for figure, but she is given to self-criticism.

At such times, Alyse turns to her mother, who is herself amply equipped, for reassurance. "They put in your head that you have big breasts, which you don't," says Moryns Lewitzke, considering her daughter's chest with pursed lips and shaking her head. "I don't think you do . . .

"She's used to being a ballerina. Now she thinks, 'I got big boobs.' . . . She says that every day: 'Am I going to get big like you?' "

Alyse rolls her eyes and looks away. Mom adds with a shrug: "I say, give thanks to God. A lot of women have to pay for the big breasts."

Asked to sum up her own feelings about her body, Alyse is speechless. "Umm," she says, looking uncertain. Klayman has momentarily left the table; she glances at his empty seat as if willing him to materialize and help her out. She says nothing.

"I'll answer for her," says her mother. "She hasn't come to realize yet that she has a great body. . . . She hasn't realized yet: To hell with everybody."

This is, however, exactly what Alyse is trying to say with her lawsuit. She says she is hoping to shatter the mold of the quiet, submissive dancer who shuts up about what happens backstage: "The way they treated me is, I'm nothing. I don't matter. If I'm standing up, it's kind of like for everybody."
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Composer Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006)

'Space Odyssey' composer Ligeti dies

By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer 53 minutes ago

Composer Gyorgy Ligeti, who survived the Holocaust and fled Hungary after the 1956 revolution, then won acclaim for his opera "Le Grand Macabre" and his work on the soundtrack for "2001: A Space Odyssey," died Monday. He was 83.

Ligeti, celebrated as one of the world's leading 20th century musical pioneers, died in Vienna after a long illness, said Christiane Krauscheid, a spokeswoman for his publisher, Germany-based Schott Music. Details were unavailable, but Austrian media said he spent the last three years in a wheelchair.

Ligeti (pronounced lig'-ih-tee) was born in 1923 to Hungarian parents in the predominantly ethnic Hungarian part of Romania's Transylvania region. His father and brother later were murdered by the Nazis. He took Austrian citizenship in 1967 after fleeing his ex-communist homeland.

He began studying music under Ferenc Farkas at the conservatory in Cluj, Romania, in 1941, and continued his studies in Budapest. But in 1943, he was arrested as a Jew and sentenced to forced labor for the rest of World War II.

"My life in the Nazi era and under communist rule was full of risks, and I believe I still reflect this feeling," he once told the Austria Press Agency in an interview.

After the war, Ligeti resumed his studies with Farkas and Sandor Veress at Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy. After graduation in 1949, he did research on Romanian folk music and then returned to the academy as an instructor in harmony, counterpoint and formal analysis.

Ligeti attracted wide atttention for "Macabre," which he wrote in 1978.

Ligeti's early work was heavily censored by Hungary's repressive regime, but his arrival in Vienna in 1956 opened up new possibilities. In the Austrian capital, he met key players in Western Europe's avant-garde music movement such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Gottfried Michael Koenig and Herbert Eimert, who invited him to join an electronic music studio at West Germany's state radio in Cologne in 1957.

He won early critical acclaim for his 1958 electronic composition "Artikulation" and the orchestral "Apparitions." He gained notoriety for a technique he called "micropolyphony," which wove together musical color and texture in ways that transcended the traditional borders of melody, harmony and rhythm.

Ligeti spoke at least six languages, including his native Hungarian, German, French, and English, said Stephen Ferguson, who worked as his assistant and editor at Schott Music from 1992-96.

"He was one of the few avant-garde composers who found his way into the modern program," Ferguson said. "He was fascinated by patterns, but at the same time created wonderful atmospheres, such as in the music used in '2001: A Space Odyssey,' or in 'Clocks and Clouds.'

"He reintroduced techniques of polyphony out of the tradition of Bach and Palestrina with a playful and innovative sense of sound. He developed a new sound — cluster sound — which fascinated director Stanley Kubrick and propelled Ligeti to the top of the great composers of the second half of the 20th century."

Excerpts of his "Atmospheres," a requiem and 1966's "Lux Aeterna" were used on the bestselling soundtrack for Kubrick's "Space Odyssey." Although the music was not the film's well-known fanfare, which was composed by Richard Strauss, it won Ligeti a global audience.

Kubrick returned to Ligeti in 1999, using the composer's Musica Ricercata II (Mesto, rigido e cerimoniale), as the theme for what turned out to be his final film, "Eyes Wide Shut."

Ligeti, who for a time also lived in Germany and San Francisco and was a visiting professor at the Stockholm Academy of Music for many years, was known for striking a playful note with his music, epitomized by a piece he wrote for 100 metronomes.

Sir Simon Rattle was a fan of Ligeti and led many performances of his works during his tenure at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra before taking over the Berlin Philharmonic.

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel hailed Ligeti on Monday as "the greatest Austrian in the 20th century music world," and the city of Vienna said it would offer a special grave site in honor of its adopted composer.

Ligeti is survived by his wife, Vera, and a son, Lukas, a percussionist who lives in New York. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.


Associated Press writer Melissa Eddy in Berlin contributed to this story.