Jack Garner: JCC book fest features fitting tribute to David Oliver Relin
05:00 AM, Nov 10, 2013
The Jewish Community Center once again offers its impressive annual Lane Dworkin Jewish Book Festival through Nov. 19. In addition to nearly a score of books being sold, discussed, lectured about and generally enjoyed, the festival this year has an important film-related event, a tie-in between Second Suns, the last book of the late Rochester native David Oliver Relin (who co-wrote Three Cups of Tea) and Out of the Darkness, the first-rate documentary based on the book.
The film will be screened and both works will be discussed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the JCC Hart Theatre, 1200 Edgewood Ave., Brighton.
Both works spotlight the humanitarian work of Dr. Geoffrey Tabin and Sanduk Ruit, ophthalmologists who work to restore sight to some of the most isolated and impoverished people in the world through the Himalayan Cataract Project. Tabin will discuss the book and film, along with the movie’s German director, Stefano Levi.
Relin also appears briefly in the film, on a challenging Himalayan hike, researching his work. He says, on film: “I’ve been a writer and a journalist for 25 years. It is the duty of a writer to listen to the stories of the powerless and to tell those stories to the powerful. “
The JCC book fest also will celebrate three local authors with a program next Sunday called Rochester’s Own. Henry Silberstern will discuss Lost Childhood: A Memoir at 10 a.m., Sheila Konar will talk about The Book I Never Wanted to Write: Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease at 11 a.m., and I’ll follow at noon with From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories.
For information and a full schedule, go to rjbf.org.
THE MIGHTY FEAT. Little Feat, my favorite rock band of the ’70s, and one of the best in the years that followed, finally has a worthy biography. Veteran rock journalist Ben Fong-Torres has written Willin’: The Story of Little Feat, a definitive history of a most interesting (and talented) band.
The just-published book (Da Capo Press, $26.99) tells the story of how the band emerged, in effect, from the Frank Zappa circle, under the leadership of colorful lyricist, singer and slide guitarist Lowell George. Though made up mostly of California musicians, Feat soon developed a marvelous groove-oriented music with a decided New Orleans feel, and George’s lyrics were as witty and original as anybody’s out there.
But that’s only the stellar start of the Little Feat story after a few years, the band’s personal interaction got a bit rocky, and George headed off for a solo career. That journey ended soon and tragically with his early death. After several years, the band reunited and have kept the Little Feat flame alive.
Little Feat is a great band and such songs as “Willin’ ” and “Dixie Chicken” belong in the pantheon of great American rock ‘n’ roll. Yet, it remains mostly a cult band. I’m fully in the cult, and I’ve always believed Little Feat has been “too hip for the room.” I’m pleased there is finally a biography worthy of the group.
REMEMBERING JFK. If you are over 60, you surely remember where you were at midday on Nov. 22, 1963. That was, of course, when John F. Kennedy fell to an assassin’s bullet in Dallas. As you might expect, you’ll have several opportunities in the coming days to look back on that momentous and deeply moving occasion. Here are just some of them:
JFK, a new four-hour documentary on the president’s life and times, shown over two nights on PBS’ American Experience at 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday on WXXI-TV (cable channel 11; DT 21.1). This is an in-depth and engrossing film, made as part of the Peabody-winning American Experience Presidents series. If you only watch one JFK-related film or TV special during this 50th anniversary memorial period, this is probably the one.
JFK: One PM Central Standard Time, at 10 p.m. Wednesday on WXXI, is an interesting documentary on the event of the assassination itself, but specifically how it related to our memory and attitude about the late, great CBS newsman, Walter Cronkite.
Parkland now on DVD, a good narrative feature film, very recently in theaters, that details the events that immediately followed Kennedy’s death, in the hospital, among police and Secret Service, and the family of Lee Harvey Oswald. The most intriguing character is Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), whose desire to take a home movie of the Kennedy motorcade turned into one of the most famous and horrific pieces of footage in history.
The JFK Collection, a DVD set of eight films from the History Channel, are documentaries that explore the lives and contributions of the various Kennedys, especially John.
The Day Kennedy Died, a 90-minute DVD of the Smithsonian Channel documentary on the events of Nov. 22, 1963, with narration by Kevin Spacey.