Bay Area Arts – Memoir Traces Economic
Professors’ Rags to Riches Story
BOOK SIGNING: CRISES and COMPASSION by John Letiche – Book Signing March 29, 6:30 pm, 2430 Bancroft Ave., Berkeley
Bay Area and Berkeley’s own John M. Letiche started life as Ianik Letichevsky, a citizen of the newly constituted Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The son of a brilliant but dictatorial father and a loving, cultivated mother, he went on to a remarkable career as an accomplished scholar, professor of economics, and adviser to governments.
Letiche, now in his nineties, provides an intriguing look at the changes that have occurred during his lifetime. Following his Kiev childhood and formative years in Depression-era Montreal, he completed a doctorate at the University of Chicago and took up a Rockefeller fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. As a technical advisor to the Economic Commission for Africa he conducted trade talks with both gifted and corrupt heads of state in sub-Saharan Africa, and later shared a working White House dinner with an infamous American president.
His half-century-long teaching career at Berkeley included a front row seat for the Free Speech Movement and the most documented student revolt in popular history. Told with humour, insight, and humility, Crises and Compassion moves nimbly among weighty events and meaningful personal history, showing how “civility in intellectual exchange” came to be the guiding principle of a life of monumental experiences (Amazon)
BAY AREA ARTS – BERKELEY BOOKS – from Anti-Semitic Russia
to Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement
Crisis & Compassion – From Russia to the Golden Gate 5.0 out of 5 stars Comment by Jeremy Kinsman, February 11, 2011
“Dr. Jack Letiche’s twentieth century journey instructs, entertains, and inspires the reader who will finish the book better off on any account, but above all for the time spent with the life and mind of a great thinker and global citizen.” (Jeremy Kinsman, Canadian Ambassador or High Commissioner in Moscow, Rome, London, and Brussels, and Regents’ Lecturer 2009-10, University of California, Berkeley )
5.0 out of 5 stars More than Economics – Professor’s Memoir A Real Life Rags to Riches Adventure, March 19, 2011 By Burt Kaufman
“What a read! What a Life – and it seems a long way from over for renown Berkeley Economics Professor John Letiche! Now in his early 90s, Letiche has written his fourteenth book, his fascinating memoir recounting an almost unbelievable journey from a childhood in Russia, rife with anti-semitism, to adviser to world leaders.
The book reads almost like an adventure story in its real life drama, including a serendipitous marriage proposal, an eye-opening meeting with President Nixon and, later, historic conferences with the Council on Foreign Relations. One might expect a book written by an economics professor to be very technical but this book, written sans ghostwriter, is easily readable for all ages and education levels. Letiche has a very colorful, yet concise writing style.
This is less a tome on economics than a real life story one must read to appreciate. It might even affect your own life.
Crisis & Compassion – From Russia to the Golden Gate From Anti-semitic Russia to the Golden Gate and more motiviational stories – Read Professor Letiche’s account of the Berkeley Free Speech Movment – available thru Amazon and Berkley bookstores , Berkeley books
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Bay Area arts – From Anti-Semitic Russia to World Advisor
Oakland’s Hidden Treasure – The
Alley’s Piano Bar with Rod Dibble
When one passes by the Alley on Grand Ave in Oakland, CA you hardly notice the place. It’s always looked kind of dingy from the outside. Come to think of of it, it’s pretty dingy-looking on the inside, too,but the good kind of dingy. SEE FULL VIDEO BELOW
As a kid growing up in Oakland , the Alley was all but ignored as a place for older folks, with a bohemian bent- weirdos back then . Over the years the neighbor hood changed -especially the parallel-running Lakeshore Ave, where perhaps only 1 or two original businesses remain out of the 50 or so… Grand isn’t much differrent. But, somehow, The Alley has survived. Lots of down years and population changes as Oakland has gone from all white to a largely minority city. Original owners have passed on and most of the original followers. However, the daughter of the original owners still runs the place, we are told, which probably explains, in part, how the Alley has stood the test of time. Kudos to her.
But through it all , there’s one constant – Rod Dibble at the Piano, now going on 50 years.
PIANO BARS – DIBBBLE STILL TICKLIN’ THEM 50 YEARS LATER
Dibble began his stint in 1963 . And, it’s as if time has stood still since then. While the crowd may have changed, the place hasn’t and , of course, Dibble’s still there, and he says he doesn’t play any music after 1963. If that’s not time warp , what is? But, we love it. In today’s fast-paced world of quickening technology , media hype and disfunctional or non-existent families its kind of nice to see a that a place like the Alley – and it’s current family of regulars – can still exist in 2910.
If there’s another place like this in America that hasn’t changed a lick, with a veteran piano player of 50 years, I’d like to see it. And there well may be one or two somewhere .However, piano bars, themselves , are pretty rare these days, having been replaced by automated Kareoke .
We say there’s nothing like the real thing, and , apparently, so do a lot of others, as seen by a resurgence at the Alley in recent years, with the current crowd of mostly 20-somethings. However, this recent night we were there we witnessed a number of spirited seniors , like Frank, as animated in his singing as any of other younger folk , who gather at the 9 or 10 seats around the grand piano and take turns singing into the nicraphones. Frank ended ever classic song with a high-pitched last note; so what if it was off-key. That’s what makes this place so special. It’s all off key by today’s standards. And that’s good.
There’s a book of hundreds of songs, with lyrics to choose from. It was refreshing to hear song after song from the great American song book, when melody and lyrics seemed to have more to do with music. Each song told a story – take Route 66 for example – and the unique singer behind the mike. No generics as you get at a Karaoke bar. Only real personality here. And Dibble, now in his late 70s but still with a youthful spark, is able to tackle most every song but, again, it’s gotta behind pre-1963. He still sings, too, and in a whiskey-inspired voice one might expect for a guy who has spent thousands of nights singing, playing and, yes -drinking the night away at the Alley.
I try to get to the Alley now as often as possible as I’m afraid this fun can’t last forever. Dibble’s doing great but he won’t be there forever. And , one must wonder, how the alley has escaped the fire inspectors , with all the old business cards, flyers and paper lining the walls and ceiling, much of which has probably been there the whole time .
So, if you live anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s worth a trip to see this place. Even if you live in another state, its work a trip to spend a weekend with Rod and the gang… Pick a weekend night or two when you’re sure to see Dibble at the ivories — there’s a new young upstart singing weeknights – and a full host of singers at the piano bar; this place makes Cheers pale. I will go in and sit in the back corner and just take in the whole atmosphere. Talk about time standing still. I love this place – and to think we would have nothing to do with the place as kids in the 60s and 70s…
If you know of any special vintage piano bars that might possibly rival the Alley please comment…
VIDEOS : Top Video from 2009 features Dibble going solo, Bottom Video gives a more real ‘vibe’ of the Alley experience…