Saturday, April 18, 2020

Henry Grimes, jazz pioneer and subject of "Vanished," 1935-2020

In 1968, a gifted and beloved session musician named Henry Grimes—who’d played with Thelonious Monk and Benny Goodman, who helped pioneer free jazz—strapped his double bass to the roof of a car and drove from New York to San Francisco to find new work. The desert heat cracked his instrument, and he did not have the $500 required to repair it—so instead he sold it for the same amount. 

Then Henry Grimes vanished. 

His family stopped hearing from him. At least twice in print, he was reported dead. But in 2002, a twentysomething fan named Marshall Marrotte put his homegrown detective skills to work and found a Henry Grimes living at a rundown, single-room-occupancy hotel in Los Angeles. Marshall reached out to find that it was indeed the Henry Grimes whose music he loved.

Henry had been getting by on a series of odd jobs. He had not been playing or recording music—he had not even seen a compact disc—but all along he had been creating music…in his head. Word spread. A fellow musician generously donated a double bass. Henry got back to practicing. 

In 2003, at age 68, and after an absence of 35 years, he re-entered the music scene. Later that year, All About Jazz named Henry “Musician of the Year.” And he kept on playing. 

On 4/17/20, Henry Grimes died at 84 from complications due to COVID-19. 

He is one of the subjects of my book Vanished: True Stories of the Missing.

I can’t say I’m a big jazz fan. But I became a big fan of Henry Grimes. RIP to a man whose impact will never vanish.

Monday, April 6, 2020

New book on '70s educational children's TV (including "Schoolhouse Rock!")

In February, the versatile, prolific Vanity Fair writer David Kamp reached out to introduce himself, which delighted me not only because I've done the same with other authors many times. One of the perkiest perks of the job!

He kindly alerted me to his upcoming book, which had notched at least one starred review  and is indeed in my wheelhouse: Sunny Days: The Children's Television Revolution That Changed America, which focuses on now-iconic series such as Sesame Street that launched or came to prominence in the 1970s.

David used my Schoolhouse Rock! interviews as a source, and I was won over all over again when I saw the cheekiness of this excerpt from his bibliography:

Many of us feel we could use more sunny days these days, so I am optimistic that this book will find its eager audience. I wish David all the best with it, and hope our paths cross in person before long.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Batman trivia for kids quarantined in their personal Batcaves

Due to social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), so much of the world is simultaneously experiencing something many authors are used to: staying home all day, day after day.

That can be fun, that can be comforting, and that can be frustrating.

Which is why so many people, including many authors of books for young people, are doing what they can to share daily, fun, meaningful activity

One of my publishers, Charlesbridge, is posting new videos by various authors. Many are mine isn't. 

Mine is a quiz...actually, two quizzes: one for kids who have read my nonfiction book Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, and one for kids who have not.

And there are prizes!

This is your chance to show off your Batman knowledge, your power of deduction/guessing, or both.

The questions:

Answers must be submitted from the form at this link by 4/15/20, but if you're seeing this after that date, you can still test your knowledge.