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Book Review: “Burning Down The Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall” by Tim Mohr

burning down the haus punk rock revolution and the fall of the berlin wall tim mohr

Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall by Tim Mohr was released on September 11, 2018. I’m not into punk rock, but my friend Jim Breslin is and he had posted on Facebook that this was a good book, so I thought I’d take the plunge and bought a used copy on Amazon.com

From the Introduction:

“The craze surrounding the Beatles – as well as demonstrations and a near-riot by hundreds of kids in Leipzig in October 1965 after authorities there banned almost all the local Beat bands – elicited commentary directly from head of state Walter Ulbricht during a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party: 

‘I am of the opinion, comrades, that we should put an end to the monotony of the Yeah Yeah Yeah and whatever else it’s called. Must we really copy every piece of garbage that comes from the West?'”

And so it began, a crackdown on music in the Eastern Bloc. But that wouldn’t stop the kids in East Germany, where everything about their lives was controlled by the government, including their schooling, housing and professions. 

In 1977, Britta Bergmann saw a picture of the Sex Pistols from pictures in a magazine that had been given to her sister by someone who had visited West Germany. Immediately, she could relate to someone…anything! She began changing her look and attitude to punk. As time passed, she would find other punks (they stood out!) and they would form bands denouncing the government and their own personal lack of freedom.

This book is amazing. It tells the story of the creation of punk rockers in East Germany and their fight for freedom…freedom of speech and freedom to live their lives the way they wanted (it was against the law not to work in East German). It tells the story of the harassment and abuse by not only the Stasi, but by the ordinary people who would tell them Hitler should have killed them. And how Stasi snitches would infiltrate their illegal bands and organizations and report back (only government licensed bands could play in public). For over 12 years they fought with lyrics, with protests and their bodies when they would be arrested, interrogated, beaten and locked up. 

This is the book that they should have as required reading for high school students. If you want to know what was really going on before the fall of the Berlin Wall, this book will not only tell you through the eyes of the punk rock movement, but also through the environmental and peace movements that would eventually join them in fighting for change. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Maharishi and Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru” by Susan Shumsky

On September 3rd, I received an email asking if I’d be interesting in being part of a Blog Tour for a new book. The subject line of the email was “NEW BOOK: The Beatles’ India – sex scandals & mental breakdowns (Inside Story)”. As a publicist who works with authors, a book that was released seven months earlier is not considered a new book…but what the hell. Also, I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Susan Shumsky, last week at the Beatles’ White Album Symposium at Monmouth University in New Jersey. I introduced myself and told her I would be reviewing her book. We had a brief conversation, I attended one of her talks and then said our goodbyes at the end of the seminar.

Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru by Susan Shumsky was released on February 13, 2018.  It’s a 300+ page book about the author’s experience with the same Maharishi that the Beatles spent time with in 1968. The book is very well written and an easy read. Of course, you may get tripped up on all the Hindu terminology, but not enough to distract too much from her personal story of following and living at the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and practicing transcendental meditation for over 20 years.

Now for the more personal side of this review…and strictly my opinion: There are many times throughout Susan’s story that the word ‘cult’ would come to my mind. Even the author herself brings up the topic along the way, but easily finds ways of dismissing it at times. It can become almost disturbing to the reader and I still haven’t come to terms with her justification of some of the things that she brings to light about the Maharishi’s organization. Even after being kicked out of the TM organization, she still supports the Maharishi to the very end.

But was John Lennon correct when he called the Maharishi a fraud? Well, this is also left open to interpretation. Ms. Shumsky spends several chapters in the middle of her book discussing the Beatles involvement and visit to India to meet with Maharishi at his ashram. She draws the stories from other sources since she wasn’t there to obtain any first hand knowledge. She also draws upon stories from people she knows who were there. In a court of law, a lot of this would all be considered hearsay. My thought is to take what she says, along with any other sources you may have read and develop your own opinion. Or…maybe not, because in the end, does any of it really matter? I think it’s up to the reader to decide what’s right for them when it comes to their personal religious beliefs and not be influenced by celebrity endorsements…or condemnations. Even Susan says in her book that you have to find the right guru for you, so you’ll either find her story about TM impressive or disturbing.

Susan Shumsky does a great job of opening the readers eyes to the making (and life) of a guru by someone who was actually there to witness it. She tells both the good and bad. The stories of her experiences are heartwarming, funny, disturbing and told with a lot of strength. Yes, I would highly recommend that you read this book if you’re a true Beatles fans or just someone considering TM or just wants a first hand experience of what it’s like inside the ashram. It’s a book that can create a lot of discussions about gurus, religion and God. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

***For more information on Susan Shumsky, go to www.DivineRevelations.org

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Book Review: “Flower Power Fatality” by Sally Carpenter

Flower Power Fatality Psychodelic Spy Mystery Sally CarpenterFlower Power Fatality: A Psychedelic Spy Mystery is the third book I’ve read by Sally Carpenter and reviewed on this blog. Sandy writes the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series of mysteries and now she’s branched out with a new series. She’s a huge Beatles fan and whenever possible, she’ll mention them in her books. In fact, her first novel, The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper is about a mysterious murder at a Beatles convention.

Flower Power Fatality is based in 1967. The lead character Noelle McNabb finds herself knee deep in helping to solve the mysterious murder of a man who knocks at her door on a cold rainy night and falls to her floor from a gunshot wound when she answers. It isn’t long before a secret spy organization shows up looking for information about the dead man that she doesn’t have. Or does she?

I love the way Sally can write a great story that’s so easy to sit back and relax to. These are the books that are true beach books or books for when you just need to escape into another world. There’s not a lot of gore, swearing, sex or nudity. Just simply good writing in a whodunit. Throughout this book, she names some of the chapters after Beatles songs and at least twice, the Beatles are mentioned, whether it’s Noelle putting their album on her turntable to chill out to or some other small incident. No matter where you go, there’s always room for more Beatles. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Klaus Voormann – It Started in Hamburg” by Klaus Voormann

I took several hours away from reading a 900+ page book about the Beatles to read something new that showed up in my mailbox. Klaus Voormann It Started in HamburgIn April (in conjunction with Klaus Voormann’s 80th birthday), a pre-order for the Exclusive Signed Edition of Klaus Voormann – It Started in Hamburg became available, so I placed my order. Over this past weekend, it finally arrived! This book is only available through Klaus’ website. It’s listed for €39 ($45.19 or £34.49) + shipping. There’s also the Limited Deluxe Edition with a special contribution by Ringo but it’ll cost you €480,00, and well, most of us can’t afford one of the just 80 copies, so we’ll move on. This book was released on June 11, 2018.

It Started in Hamburg is what is commonly referred to as a ‘turnaround book’. One cover is in English and continues on in English as you turn the pages, but if you flip the book over, the cover is in German and you can read the same book in German. The book is a softcover that is a little over 8″ x 10″ and 224 pages long (only 113 pages for either German or English side). Also, being the Beatles freaks that I am, I’m going to save the packaging the book came in because it’s obvious from the signature on the declaration form, that Klaus himself mailed it.

This book is filled with over 200+ images of Klaus’ artwork. And though I would have preferred to have read about his life’s work in chronological order (he presents it in categories), the story is none the less very impressive. He’s done so much more than I ever imagined, including the producing of the song “DaDaDa” by Trio.

As I said earlier, this book is a turnaround book, but what makes it even more interesting is that after your done reading it in your preferred language is that when you turn the book over, even though the text is the same (but in a different language), the pictures are all different from the flip side. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Old Beatles News: On The Skids

Last week, I got wrapped up scanning old newspapers online trying to research a topic about The Beatles for some future use. I don’t know what I’ll do with the information I’ve collected on the topic I chose, but it’s now stashed away in a folder should I ever need it.  

While perusing, I came across this wickedly funny article that appeared in the Editorial section of The Post Star in Glen Falls, NY on September 10, 1964. I clipped it and saved it to share with you all…

It’s kind of hard to imagine that anyone in the U.S. hadn’t heard the Beatles music by September 10th of that year considering that The Beatles had already made two visits to America and had toured 25 cities from February 9-16 and August 19-September 20. And let’s not forget that they had already appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show four times. From 1962-63, The Ed Sullivan Show averaged over 12 million viewers and over 14 million in from 1963-64 (there were just 51 million TVs in the U.S.).

The worry over the Rolling Stones was a little premature, I think. It was in July 1964 that the Rolling Stones scored their first #1 song in the U.K. (It’s All Over Now), but they wouldn’t make it to #1 in the U.S.  until 11 months later. In June of 1965, that the Stones hit number one with Satisfaction on the U.S. charts. And truth be told, the Stones were from the upper-crust of London, while the clean cut Beatles heralded from the lower-middle class of Liverpool. Obviously, you couldn’t judge a bad boy musician by the length of his hair…just look at Beethoven or Liszt!

And let’s not even get into trying to compare The Kinks to the Fab Four! I’m just not even going to try to go there…

Anyway…enjoy the article! I hope you get a couple of laughs out of it. I know I did.

Until next time…

 

 

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The Beatles in Atlantic City

Once again, I was off daytripping. This time we were in Atlantic City to meet up with author and Beatles expert Sandi Anne Borowsky and her husband Mark. They were in town to see Ringo in concert at the Borgata last night, so we spent a little time with them having lunch, gambling, smoking cigars (the husbands!), talking and seeing Ringo’s art show.

While waiting to meet the Borowky’s on the boardwalk outside the old convention center, I shot the video above to give everyone a sense of what it looks like live from the boardwalk. Once again, I tried to get inside to shoot some pictures, but was turned away. Believe me when I say that Sandi and I both tried our best to get them to turn on the lights and let us go in!

Atlantic City Convention Center

The old Atlantic City Convention Center opened in 1929

According to Wikipedia, this building is referred to as “Boardwalk Hall”, but according to the tickets for the Beatles concert there on August 30, 1964, it’s called Atlantic City Convention Hall, so we Beatles fans will have to just agree to disagree on the name (there is a new convention center a mile away that was built in the 1990’s so it’s almost a moot point now). Interestingly, Wikipedia also says the hall has a capacity of 14,770 for concerts, but the Beatles Bible says they played before 18,000 that night. *shrug*

After meeting up and having lunch, we headed over to the Borgata to see Ringo Starr’s Art show. It wasn’t as large as I had hoped it would be, but it was very busy. If you spent $6000 or more, you would get to go to a Meet & Greet with Ringo, but since this blog doesn’t pull in that much, I took a pass. The show travels with Ringo while he’s on tour and is run by Scott Segalbaum, who (when he’s not traveling with Ringo) is traveling with his own Rock Art Show and famous Yellow Submarine and Beatles cartoon illustrator Ron Campbell.

Ringo's Rock Art Show at the Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey June 2018

Ringo's Rock Art Show at the Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

The Borgata also do a great job of decorating their lobby and had Beatles music piped in to boot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now…here comes the sad part – rumor has it that after we left the art show and the Borgata, Ringo came down to the art show! So much for having to spend $6000! Oh well…the story of my life.

Until next time…

 

 

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The Beatles in Rome

Life gets very hectic in my world these days and isn’t allowing me a lot of time for reading or reviewing. One reason is because I was in Rome last weekend! Here’s a clip of me trying to tell you all about the Teatro Adriano and it’s Beatles link.

The Teatro Adriano was built in 1898 and as I state in the video, the Beatles played four shows there…two on June 27 and 28, 1965. The shows were at 4:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and the setlist was the same 12 songs they had been performing throughout their European tour (Twist And Shout, She’s A Woman, I’m A Loser, Can’t Buy Me Love, Baby’s In Black, I Wanna Be Your Man, A Hard Day’s Night, Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby, Rock And Roll Music, I Feel Fine, Ticket To Ride and Long Tall Sally).

I wasn’t able to get inside the theater, but did get a fuzzy picture of the lobby through the glass doors. It’s now a multiplex movie theater, but I still would have loved to see the inside.

I did visit a bookstore while in Rome looking for any new and interesting Beatles books, but all I found was the usual suspects or books in Italian and unfortunately, I don’t speak Italiano! I wish I had more to report, but even though the Beatles are loved around the world, they weren’t the main focus of our trip…but we did hear several cover versions of their songs while sitting in restaurants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time….

 

 

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