As we noted here recently about the rise and fall of Motown, the real issue was money — who earned it, who kept it, who never saw it. Now Barrett Strong, who co-wrote and sang the Detroit label’s first hit in 1959, “Money (That’s What I Want),” tells The New York Times that he never saw a penny of royalties for a song that became a classic and generated millions of dollars for the label. Strong’s story is the story of Motown boiled down to its bitter, ironic essence.
For close to two decades now, the Rona Jaffe Foundation has honored “women writers of exceptional talent in the early stages of their careers” with annual Writers’ Awards worth $30,000 each. This year, the winners are Tiffany Briere (fiction/nonfiction); Ashlee Crews (fiction); Kristen Dombek (nonfiction); Margaree Little (poetry); Kirsten Valdez Quade (fiction); and Jill Sisson Quinn (nonfiction). The winners accepted their awards in a private ceremony on the 19th.
Here’s the perfect example of something you didn’t even know you wanted: Gary Oldman doing a dramatic reading from R. Kelly’s memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me. This performance will surely join the pantheon of great pop culture readings alongside Christopher Walken’s reading of Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” and John Lithgow’s reading of Newt Gingrich’s “florid” and “overwritten” press release.
The hysterical website Old Jews Telling Jokes has been revived from its year-long hibernation, and two of its newest gems are worth viewing: “A Stutter” and “Three German Shepherds.” Meanwhile, the show’s Off-Broadway adaptation is scheduled to open May 20th, and its producer has a great write-up about how the show’s evolved.
You should check out George Saunders’s “Liner Notes” piece about “2776: A Musical Journey Through America’s Past, Present & Future,” which is set to accompany a forthcoming musical-comedy album from Patton Oswalt, Aubrey Plaza, Ira Glass, and Yo La Tengo, among others. If that hasn’t sold you, consider the fact that Saunders’s piece contains this line: “Truth be told, there were a number of regrettable omissions. Beyoncé and Jay Z’s piece ‘Bomber’ had to be left off the album. (‘Driver of this plane, this / B-52 on the way to Nagasaki / Stuff your ears with cotton and / Close those eyes / Me and my man are about to do it all over this / Here bomb’).”
Crosswords in print newspapers are declining alongside print newspapers, but there may yet be a promising future in mobile apps.