Corrections or additions?
This article was prepared for the August 8, 2001 edition of U.S. 1
Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Between The Lines
U.S. 1 doesn’t often get into the party business, but
once a year we make an exception to toast the contributors to our
annual Summer Fiction issue. The writers — who contributed poems
and short stories — have all been invited. Now we turn to you
— the readers.
Please join us after work on Tuesday, August 14, at Micawber Books
at 114 Nassau Street in downtown Princeton. We will be there from
5 to 7:30 and you are welcome to join us for all or part of the
We will have refreshments, introductions of the writers, and some
Some readers may be especially interested in Micawber Books itself.
As the New York Times reported on July 23, in a feature story about
the novelist Larry McMurtry and his burgeoning second hand bookstore
in a tiny Texas town, second hand books are a dwindling portion of
the book market. People come from far and wide to check out McMurtry’s
huge store, called Booked Up, in Archer City, population 1,748, which
happens to be his hometown.
Our readers need travel no further than Nassau Street to check out
one of the few remaining troves of used books. Micawber has an entire
side of its store devoted to them. Browse through the books and enjoy
the party. After all, what’s a party for writers without readers?
We hope to see you there.
To the Editor: 2 Views of Gershwin
It is not my practice to respond to reviewers of my
work. However, when a reviewer plays fast and loose with the facts
(U.S. 1 review of "George Gershwin Alone" at the Helen Hayes
Theater in New York, July 11), I am left with no choice but to correct
Lawrence Stewart, chief archivist for the Gershwin Estate, former
professor of English at Cal State Northridge, but more importantly,
Ira Gershwin’s private assistant and archivist for 16 years, talked
about a great sense of proprietorship among New Yorkers of George
Gershwin. He also said that every student should see this production
and that I "portray exactly the way Ira saw George through his
The brash singing — the very forward, and sometimes too-staccato
piano playing — the conceited, but heart warming self-indulgence
are all part of that. You do not know how I sing or play, just how
I imagine George to have sung or played.
But most importantly, the facts of George Gershwin’s life are reported
in so many books — from Lawrence Stewart to Robert Kimball, from
Gregory Suriano to Ed Jablonski, from Joan Peyser to E. Gilbert —
Abram Chasens, Charles Schwartz, not to mention the old timers that
were interviewed as well as all the documents available at the
archive at the library of congress.
Although there are a number of discrepancies in the material —
the story of how "Swanee" came to be a hit, is not one of
them. "Swanee" was performed at the Capitol theater —
with some 70 girls with electric lights in their shoes in a big
number. It didn’t go over too well. When George went up to Harlem
to a party that Jolson was hosting, and was at — it was actually
to a brothel — he played the tune. More to the point, the script
never refers to George playing the tune at a "swank penthouse
party," which is how you report that I tell the story. The actual
text is "it was in Harlem in a dingy joint with booze and women,
let’s just say it wasn’t in a school for girls." Those same words
have been used at over 500 performances, so how did you come up with
a "penthouse party?"
Ultimately, thank you for at least reporting that the audience gave
the performance a standing ovation. They always do. A critic’s view
of the quality of a performance remains his or her own, however it
is unacceptable to attribute error to a playwright when such error
simply does not exist.
Mr. Felder has implied that I played fast and loose
with the facts in my review of his solo performance as "George
Gershwin Alone." While I might argue that he, indeed, was the
one playing fast and loose with some of the greatest popular music
ever written, I would respectfully like to respond to the portion
of the play that appears to be most in contention.
The question is where Gershwin’s tune "Swanee" was first heard
by Al Jolson. In his letter, Felder quotes from his text: "it
was in Harlem in a dingy joint with booze and women (Bessie Bloodgood,
proprietress), let’s just say it wasn’t in a school for girls."
This line, which I admittedly missed, evidently comes from "The
Memory of All That" by Joan Peyser, a writer whose decidedly
slant and biographical data has been questioned by the Gershwin
My apology to Mr. Felder for questioning his source right or wrong.
Two sources I have at my elbow — "George Gershwin" (Alan
Kendall), and "The Gershwins" (Robert Kimball, Alfred Simon),
only make reference to "a party" (no location); a third source
"The Gershwin Years" (Edward Jablonsky, Lawrence D. Stewart)
says the party was at Sylvia Joslyn’s. Neither anyone I know nor any
of the researchers at the Library of Congress could find out anything
about the elusive Ms. Joslyn. And a fourth source —
a biography by Michael Freedland — says about the night Jolson
heard "Swanee:" "Like all of Al’s parties, it was to be
an evening of his singing. Guests brought other guests and those
brought more strangers."
"There were so many unknown faces that it was impossible to tell
who had been invited and who was gate-crashing." Perhaps I was
in error in recalling it as "a penthouse," but does this sound
like a brothel?
A fifth source, and one that only I can personally verify, is from
my Dad (who died at the age of 100 two years ago), who played theater
organs in New York movie palaces during the heyday of stage and screen
shows in New York. His recollection went like this: Jolson was
in his own musical, "Sinbad," at the Wintergarden Theater,
directly across the street from the Capitol Theater where
was featured in the show. Jolson (who was spotted at the theater)
heard the song there and requested it be played again at his party
and that the relatively unknown composer be brought along too. This
was the story among musicians at the time. As one investigates
it is easy to find even more conflicting stories. All in all, the
song is here to stay while Mr. Felder’s show has closed.
We wanted to clarify a couple of references made to
our company in the article ("Venture $s for Telecoms," July
18). First, the company’s name is Netilla Networks, not Netilla
And, second, we were identified as a provider of "virtual private
networking," which we are not. We are a networking services
that enables secure remote access to office networks from any Web
browser. With our Netilla Virtual Office service, the Web becomes
a secure "extension cord" to an office network, allowing a
business user at an off-site location to use any Web browser for
remote access to shared software.
The distinction is an important one for businesses seeking a
solution for remote access. Unlike a VPN, our service requires no
special software or hardware on the remote PCs used to access the
network. Adding to its affordability, particularly for small and
businesses, is the fact that it is a subscription service.
Available nationwide through a network of Netilla-certified systems
integrators, Netilla Virtual Office service has already proven itself
beneficial for businesses in such areas as health care, insurance,
publishing, design and architecture. For more information, find us
Netilla Networks Inc.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.