Sunday read: The caretaker of Manuel’s Tavern

Brian Maloof, left, offers a few words before Fr. John Azar gives a blessing over the Tavern. Photo by Todd Leopold.

I first met Brian Maloof about 15 years ago, not long after he took over management of Manuel’s Tavern, founded by his father in 1956.

I was immediately struck by Brian’s friendliness. A former paramedic, he’d taken on the family business thanks to the aging of his father, the bar’s namesake, and his uncle Robert, as well as the health troubles of his brother Tommy.

Tommy had made a few changes — if I recall, it was he who decided to upgrade the quality of dishes Manuel’s offered, naturally bringing down a hail of protest from some regulars who thought their bar was getting too big for its britches — but it was Brian who had to maintain its reputation as Atlanta’s living room.

It has been a tall order, but Brian has fulfilled it wonderfully.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a big story about Brian as Manuel’s approaches its 60th anniversary, August 6, and its grand re-opening the same day. (The story is behind a paywall, but non-subscribers are allowed four freebies, so take advantage.)

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Not the top 100 songs of the 1960s

I’m disappointed in Paste.

I like Paste. I think it does some fine pop culture coverage, and I look forward to its lists of the best albums of the year or best singles of the month so I can fool myself into thinking I’m keeping up with music.

But the publication had a surprising misstep Friday when it published a list of the top 100 songs of the 1960s.

Now, this is a subject that will start bar fights among aged baby boomers and oldies-playing DJs. (I’m not so sure about millennials; they can fight over the best Weezer song, which is, of course, “Island in the Sun.”) Hell, the original “Book of Rock Lists,” which came out in 1981, had a Top 40 best-of ranking for every year of the rock era — requiring that the songs actually made the Billboard Top 40 — and still managed to leave out some essentials. (In my humble opinion, of course.)

So I was curious to see what Paste, which very much tries to combine revisionism with the tried and true, was going to come up with. The answer: Not just the tried and true, but an unsurprising tried and true with bizarre additions.

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My favorite albums: ‘Utopia Parkway’

Image from Atlantic Records.

I’ve always been a sucker for albums that aim for the pop-rock ideal: “Rubber Soul”/”Revolver”-era Beatles.

I’d put the Bangles’ “All Over the Place” in that group, along with Sam Phillips’ “Martinis & Bikinis” (which actually steals a riff from “If I Needed Someone”) and, of course, the long-lost Wonders album, “That Thing You Do!”

OK, there was no Wonders record. The band broke up not long after the “That Thing You Do!” single topped out at No. 2, and though Jimmy Mattingly’s Heardsmen had some success, the band would be completely lost to the ages if not for the 1996 Tom Hanks documentary.

Actually, there was no Wonders (or Oneders, as their hardcore fans call them), but when Hanks needed a title cut for his soundtrack album — a song that would have been a Top Five hit in 1964 — he put out the call for submissions. The winner was by a 28-year-old songwriter named Adam Schlesinger, who has turned out to be a terrific talent both on his own (he’s composed songs for several movies, TV shows and other musicians) and with the band he formed with his college friend, Chris Collingwood: Fountains of Wayne.

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Jack Davis, 1924-2016

Image from

Jack Davis, one of the cornerstones of Mad magazine’s “Usual Gang of Idiots,” died Wednesday. He was 91.

Davis was an incredibly vivid, amazingly versatile artist. His ties with Mad parent EC Publications, headed by the irrepressible William M. Gaines, predated Mad’s founding: Davis was one of the primary artists for EC’s horror comics. His work had an energy to it that belied its origins as ink on paper.

I wasn’t initially a Jack Davis fan. When I started reading Mad as a 10-year-old in 1975, I was a Mort Drucker boy.

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Even the media hates the media

Image from Flickr.

New York magazine has a terrific cover package this week: “The Case Against the Media. By the Media.”

The magazine talked to more than 100 journalists about the problems with modern journalism, leaving a small window at the end for what’s promising. (Essentially, even with all the financial problems of the industry, the Internet has expanded access.)

Several quotes caught my eye. First, from David Simon:

The problem for journalism is: Our actual problems are bigger, more complicated, more sprawling and complex, than good guys and bad guys. I don’t take any issue with the press attending to conflict. That’s Job One, actually. But the simplicity of the narrative is incredibly debilitating.

Also, from David Auerbach:

When the media says, Why are we getting so much criticism and abuse? Well, it’s because you are constantly kicking the hornet’s nest to get clicks. You’re publishing stuff purely for the sake of provoking your readers.

And Tucker Carlson:

The real problem with journalism is groupthink. My father was a journalist — he never graduated from high school, he joined the Marines as a 17-year-old and then went to work at the L.A. Times. It was not a profession; it was a trade, and you had a whole diverse field of people entering it.

Lots of food for thought, and well worth reading.

Review: ‘Bonk’ and ‘Gulp’ by Mary Roach

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary CanalGulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



A little Mary Roach goes a long way.

I say this both approvingly and reluctantly. Approvingly because she’s obviously an author who does her homework, and therefore there are amazing little tidbits sprinkled among her digs into space travel (“Packing for Mars”), sex (“Bonk”) and digestion (“Gulp”). Reluctantly because she loves her little footnotes a little too much, and even though I appreciate her humor, some situations call for a wry aside, not a full-scale joke.

I read “Packing for Mars” several years ago and loved it (I interviewed her for this story, though her quotes didn’t make it), and I’d read a couple of her articles as well, so I figured I’d take the dive into some of her other work.

My choices, “Bonk” and “Gulp,” were made unscientifically: They were the two books by her available at my local library the day I visited. So they’re the ones that came home with me.

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Manuel’s Tavern update: A blessing for the bar

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And on Monday, the bar was blessed.

About 50 people — Maloof family members, local residents, even a few reporters — came to Manuel’s Tavern Monday for a blessing over the establishment. (The ashes of founding brother Robert Maloof were also present.)

Manager Brian Maloof had put out an invitation on Facebook but didn’t expect such a turnout.

“I am blown away by the attendance,” he told the crowd. “I really thought it was just going to be a few employees, a couple of hardcore customers and my immediate family. I am moved to tears.”

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Sunday read: Donald Trump’s voice

Image from CNN.

I went back and forth on today’s official Sunday read.

For awhile, the leading candidate was Laurie Penny’s profile of conservative troll Milo Yiannopoulos and how his nihilist worldview has become the norm among a certain subset of conservatives — some provocateurs, others dead serious — many of whom were early backers of Donald Trump. The piece features guest appearances from Dutch reactionary leader Geert Wilders and “Stop Islamization of America” co-founder Pamela Geller, and you should read it anyway.

But the Sunday read I’m going with is a Politico profile of Stephen Miller, the man who wrote Trump’s RNC acceptance speech — the one that my friend Harry Siegel called “midnight in America.”

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Roger Ailes, inventor of the world

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Two bits about Roger Ailes — “Mike Douglas Show” producer, political consultant, Rush Limbaugh impresario, CNBC president, Fox News founder, now wilderness resident:

“Richard Nixon had been a guest on the show in the fall of 1967. While waiting to go on, he fell into conversation with Roger Ailes.

” ‘It’s a shame a man has to use gimmicks like this to get elected,’ Nixon said.

” ‘Television is not a gimmick,’ Ailes said.

“Richard Nixon liked that kind of thinking. He told Len Garment to hire the man.”

— Joe McGinniss, “The Selling of the President 1968”

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5 authors I wish were around to cover Donald Trump

Image from the Huffington Post.

In 2000, George W. Bush gave a speech at the Al Smith Dinner in New York and paid honor to William F. Buckley.

“Bill wrote a book at Yale,” he said. “I read one.”

If you believe Karl Rove, Bush was being unfair to himself. Allegedly, Rove and Bush had ongoing reading battles, belying W’s reputation for anti-intellectualism, if not necessarily depth.

But Bush’s reading, or lack of it, pales in comparison with Donald “J.” Trump, who may not have even read the books he wrote — nor much else. (Barely even the Bible.)

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