Tag Archives: Rolling Stone Magazine

Remembering Greg Katz

Gregory Katz — a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, noted raconteur, lover of music and baseball and cigars, and longtime (though sometimes part-time) Westporter — died yesterday in London.

He was 67 years old. He had been ill with cancer for several months, and contracted COVID-19.

Greg Katz, in the Staples High School 1971 yearbook.

He made his first headlines not as a writer, but as an athlete. In 1970 Katz — a Staples High School junior, an excellent catcher and the proud possessor of a head of shoulder length, curly hair — petitioned the Staples Governing Board to remove dress code restrictions on athletes. He called them “arbitrary standards of appearance,” which exacerbated social divisions at the school.

After an intense debate, the measure passed 11-6. Katz was free to try out for the team coached by  Brian Kelley, an ex-Marine who still looked the part.

After the University of Vermont, traveling throughout Latin America and writing for the Provincetown Advocate, Katz was in New York City in December 1980.

John Lennon was shot inside the Dakota. Katz’s parents — who owned a home across from what is now Joey’s By the Shore (Elvira’s), where Katz grew up — also had an apartment there.

Katz was the only journalist who could enter the building. He interviewed, among others, the doorman who was witnessed the murder. His story ran in Rolling Stone magazine — the famous edition with Annie Liebovitz’s photo of a naked Lennon and Yoko Ono on the cover.

After writing for USA Today and serving as Latin America bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News (and earning a share of the 1994 Pulitzer for international reporting, with a 14-part series on violence against women around the world) as well as Europe and Middle East bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle, he joined the Associated Press in London. In 2013 he was named acting bureau chief. He also appeared frequently on the BBC’s “Dateline London.”

He wrote about popes, politics, refugees and Queen Elizabeth. But he returned to Westport every summer, spending many weeks in a house he and his wife Bea Sennewald owned on Saugatuck Shores, with their daughter Sophia.

Katz loved those summers. He learned to sail at Longshore, and owned a kayak that he often paddled to Cockenoe.

Greg Katz (Photo/Bill Armstrong)

He went to as many baseball games as he could, too. (Of course, he loved covering the Yankees-Red Sox game in London last year.)

He and Bea hosted friends from everywhere, including some of the most noted journalists on the planet. He spent many happy hours on his deck, watching the water and nature.

Neighbor Bill Armstrong said, “His one great fear was that he’d be enjoying his Westport summer — but would get the dreaded call that Her Majesty The Queen had passed away. Greg would then have to rush back to London and spend weeks covering the state funeral and the coronation of Charles.”

Several times a summer, I joined him for breakfast at the Sherwood Diner. He asked about Westport; in turn, he’d chat about his work, covering the latest crisis in the Mideast or Parliament. He was not dropping names; he was describing his life, and what he loved (and hated) about it.

Greg Katz (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The AP’s story on his death quotes Anne-Marie O’Connor, a London-based journalist and author, who covered Haiti and Cuba with Katz in the 1990s. She said, “in addition to being a wonderfully curious reporter, Greg could be riotously funny, and his sense of humor elevated the esprit de corps of his colleagues on the road.”

Ian Phillips, AP’s international news director, described him as a “suave, waistcoat-wearing, straw boater-wearing, gravelly-voice gent … an American abroad but my God how he assimilated! … He managed to capture so much about British society in his writing — the nuance, the singularity, the humor, the tradition.”

He was “a bon vivant” with an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz and baseball, added Richard Boudreaux, of the Wall Street Journal. “He could recite the starting lineup of just about any Yankees team going back to the late 1950s, when he was only a kid.”

Greg never lost that “kid” spirit. He had it on the Staples baseball team, and at Woodstock. He had it wherever he wrote, around the globe.

And of course right here by the water, in his home town of Westport.

(For the AP obituary of Greg Katz, click here. For an “06880” story on Greg Katz’s coverage of Brexit, click here.)

Greg Katz

Rolling Stone: Andrea Dutton Is Saving The World

Rolling Stone recently profiled “25 People Shaping the Future in Tech, Science, Medicine, Activism and More.”

They’re the “inventors, entrepreneurs and disrupters who are changing (and maybe saving) the world one brilliant idea at a time.”

One is Westport’s own Andrea Dutton.

The 1991 Staples High School grad — now an assistant professor of geology at the University of Florida — is addressing “one of the most important scientific questions of our time, one upon which millions of lives, and trillions of dollars in real estate and other investments, depend: As our planet continues to heat up, how fast will sea levels rise in the coming decades?”

Andrea Dutton with a fossilized coral reef in the Florida Keys. (Photo/Joshua Bright for Redux)

Dutton studies West Antarctica, which contains enough ice to raise seas by 10 feet. “If West Antarctica is unstable,” she says, “that could be a very big problem for coastal cities in the future.”

Rolling Stone notes:

Dutton is not the only scientist interested in this question. But she has pursued it with a kind of urgency that belies her cool manner, traveling the world to seek out well-preserved fossilized coral outcroppings that help her learn the story rising water can tell about the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate. To Dutton, coral fossils can be read like tree rings, and dating how fast the corals grew on top of each other can reveal not just how high the water rose in the past, but how fast.

Her research involved “a startling amount of physics, from ice-sheet dynamics to glacial rebound of the North American continent.”

The magazine adds this portrait of the former Westport/current world changer:

Dutton is a single mom with 2 young kids. Her Facebook page is full of pictures of their soccer games and stories like the frog that accidentally got puréed in her garbage disposal. “I’m a scientist, and I love my work,” she says. “But I’m not just doing this because I love science. I’m doing this because I care about the future, and the kind of world we’re leaving to our kids.”

(For the full Rolling Stone story, click here. Hat tip: Sandee Cole)

Rolling Stone/Staples Music Connection Continues

This morning, “06880” highlighted Pussy Mannequin. In case you missed that story — or skipped it entirely — the hook was that Rolling Stone magazine named that band’s “Romantic” album the 3rd best of 2016 (sandwiched between David Bowie and Leonard Cohen).

Oh yeah: Half of the band — Marisa Dabice and Thanasi Paul — are 2005 Staples High School grads.

Turns out it’s not the only Westport group Rolling Stone is jazzed about. Charly Bliss just made their “Favorite Songs Right Now” page.

Charly Bliss — that’s the band’s name — includes Eva Hendricks, her brother Sam Hendricks, and Dan Shure. All are recent Staples alums.

The song that’s cited is called (unfortunately) “Turd.” The magazine describes it (helpfully) as “a great punk-rock banger about getting catcalled (‘In your dreams, turd!’).

But before you quickly scramble away from this page, know this about “Turd”: All proceeds go to Planned Parenthood.

Go figure.

(To learn more about Charly Bliss, click here. Hat tips: David Roth and Pam Barkentin Ehrenburg.)

Nile Rodgers: Booked For The Hall Of Fame

Two years ago, Nile Rodgers — the longtime Westporter/musician/ producer/ composer/arranger — received a great honor: He was the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” star.

Now he’s booked on an even bigger stage. On April 7, he’ll receive the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Award for Musical Excellence.

He’ll be in good company for the Brooklyn ceremony. Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey and Yes are fellow honorees.

Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers

Make no mistake. Our neighbor is an impressive addition to the roster of the Rock Hall’s Music Excellence honorees — a list that includes Leon Russell, the E Street Band and Ringo Starr.

Rodgers has performed or produced for everyone from Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”) to Duran Duran, David Bowie, Madonna and Britney Spears. In 2014 — the same year he gave a rousing performance at the library — he earned Grammys for Record of the Year and Album of the Year (for Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”).

He’s also an influential guitarist with Chic (“Le Freak”). But for the 11th time, his famed band has not made the Hall of Fame cut.

NIle Rodgers with Chic ("Le Freak") -- back in the day.

Nile Rodgers with Chic — back in the day.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Westport’s latest rock legend called the announcement — he’s in, the group’s out — “bittersweet.” Click here for the full Q-and-A, all about his Chic years and after.

Then — when you’re finished reading — let’s dance!

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

 

 

“You Have No Idea What It’s Like To Be A Girl”

Most “Principal’s Notes,” in most PTA newsletters, are snorers.

Congratulations to the debate team; info on tickets to the spring concert; thanks to the women who mailed out the current issue — that sort of thing.

That’s not John Dodig’s style.

The Staples High School principal regularly tackles tough topics. Cheating. Drinking. Parental double standards — that sort of thing.

The current issue of For the Wreckord contains a particularly powerful piece. This time, Dodig takes on sexting. He was inspired (or depressed) by a story in Rolling Stone

Dodig wrote:

At the ripe old age of 69, I have seen a lot of change in America. I remember seeing “whites only” water fountains and bathrooms on a trip to Florida when I was 11 years old, and feeling uncomfortable at the sight.

I lived through the battles against the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, the fight for women’s rights, racial equality, gay rights and more. I remember an ashtray in every home, and driving in my parents’ car so thick with smoke that I couldn’t see past the front seat. Now ashtrays are gone from everyone’s homes, and teenagers often have designated drivers thanks to the work of SADD, MADD, and mandatory health classes in public schools.

Sexting 1So much has changed for the better. Yet many of our girls still feel the need to please boys by behaving in ways that even they find shocking when they see themselves in compromising positions on display somewhere on the internet.

The last paragraph and the last line of Burleigh’s article are emotionally devastating to the reader, as the mother of a child who committed suicide over sexting describes her daughter’s last days. Mom shared the messages her daughter sent to one of the boys, who was sharing naked photos of her with his friends. The messages show her pleading with Joe to delete the pictures. Among her last words were, “You have no idea what it’s like to be a girl.”

I have a wonderful and successful adult daughter, but lived through years of drama that made her parents’ lives difficult at times. Still, I admit I do not know what it is like to be a girl. Having lived with thousands of teenagers of both sexes for 43 years in public schools, I do know that not much has changed as to what many girls perceive is how they must behave to be accepted by their peer group.

Sexting 2Our girls now play varsity sports, win science and math competitions, and understand that they can be whatever they choose to be as adults. They know it, but perhaps don’t believe it enough to prevent them from being drawn in to the pull of pleasing boys in order to fit in, be accepted, or validate their existence as a female. We have a lot more work to do.

This is a tough topic to bring up at the dinner table, but it is a discussion that must be had somewhere. If your children are reluctant to talk about it, don’t give up.

Soon we will celebrate Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for, not the least of which is the fact that we live in Westport. We have, so far, escaped a tragedy like the one experienced in Greenwich not long ago.

I would love to be thankful at some point in the future for having helped to change the minds of high school students at Staples, so that not one of our girls would ever have to say: “You have no idea what it’s like to be a girl.”

Other than body parts, there should be no difference in the self-image of every young person, male or female. They should all be proud of who they are, simply because they exist. They are ours and we love them all.

Happy Thanksgiving !

(Click here to read the full Rolling Stone story about sexting.)