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Tim Boxer


A Personal FootnotePlayboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America
In Civil Rights Legacy

layboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America
credits Hugh Hefner with opening the floodgates of rampant permissibility and launching an era of sexual liberation. Elizabeth Fraterrigo, assistant professor of history at Loyola University Chicago, devotes all of one sentence to the most crucial contribution Hef made to society. She writes that the Playboy Clubs "provided a setting for black entertainers to cross the color line, helping to get their start performers such as comedian Dick Gregory." Actually, Hef accomplished more than that. By hiring Greg for a one-night stand
Dick Gregory and Tim Boxer at the Chicago Playboy Club, 1961
Dick Gregory and Tim Boxer at the Chicago Playboy Club, 1961
at the Chicago club in 1961, Hef gave me the opportunity to loft Greg into orbit by publicizing his gig in all the local papers. As Greg’s personal aide and publicist, I was able to blast him into overnight success from the launching pad of the Chicago Playboy Club. Black standup comedians were not welcome in the top-tier white supper clubs. My constant, intensive barrage of publicity for Dick Gregory opened the doors of the white showbiz establishment to black standup comedians for the first time in the annals of American culture. This was a significant turning point in the civil rights revolution, little known by the public but acknowledged to me privately by Timmie Rogers, Nipsey Russell and Bill Cosby. (Oxford University Press, 295 pages, $29.95 Amazon.com Price: $25.60)

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And You Thought You KnewThe Zohar
Your Bible From Beginning

, the quintessential document of Jewish mysticism, made its appearance in Aramaic as Sefer HaZohar (Book of Radiance) at the end of the 13th century in Castile, Spain. Traditionally Jews ere discouraged from delving into the secrets of Kabbalah until they’ve reached the age of 40. Being an esoteric interpretation of the Torah, it goes without saying that one must be well versed in the Five Books of Moses.

Funded by the Pritzker Family Philanthropic Fund, an intensive English translation and commentary of The Zohar is in progress by Daniel C. Matt who spent four years on this project in Jerusalem. He served as professor of Jewish spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Thus far Stanford University Press has published five volumes of a projected ten-volume set. It’s taking a long time because, among other reasons, "the Zohar is notoriously obscure—perhaps the most difficult Jewish classic to translate," Matt says.

Raising questions is a time-honored tradition in the Talmud, and the Zohar too thrives in discovery: "This verse has been discussed, but come and see." Without questions there are no discussions.

The initial words of the Bible leads to amazing insight. The English version states, "In the beginning God created..." You understood that the verse is talking about the beginning of the world. Not so. The original Hebrew reads, bereshit bara Elohim, "In the beginning created God…" alluding to a more primal beginning.

The mystics explain that Infinity has ten sefirot (emanations). There is the sefirah of Beginning or Wisdom, and the sefirah of Elohim or Understanding. The opening verse, With beginning it created Elohim, should be understood thus: With Wisdom it (Ein Sof, Infinity) emanated Understanding.

"God, it turns out, is the object of the verse, not the subject! The ultimate divine reality, Ein Sof [Eternity], transcends and explodes our comfortable conception of ‘God.’ The Zohar dares us to confront this reality, as it transforms the familiar story of Creation into divine biography." Does Madonna know this?

Come and see The Zohar, Pritzker Edition, Stanford University Press, 5 volumes thus far, about 500 pages each, $49.95 Amazon.com Price: $32.97)

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Jerusalem In All Its BeautyJerusalem Always

ARELY has a photographer captured the soul of a holy city as Marcelo Bendahan. Born in Spain and now living in Amsterdam, Bendahan spent several months roaming the streets and alleys of Jerusalem to produce Jerusalem Always, an astounding photo album that is a sacred testament to three faiths.

His aim in this lavishly illustrated volume, he says, was not show the tourist sites that you find in guidebooks but to convey the awesome atmosphere of a place where "history rubs shoulders with modernity."

Bendahan’s stunning images are writ large on every page, but there is room for illuminating text contributed by American-born Heidi J. Gleit. She is we’ll versed in her adopted country, having served as Tel Aviv correspondent for the Jerusalem Post and house writer for the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliyah, and currently editor of Eretz, a history/culture magazine of Israel. (Maestro Books, large format, 176 pages, 140 color images, $50.00 Amazon.com Price: $36.50)

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Page Turners

 Hundred Years, A Million Laughs
by 15 Minutes Magazine comedy columnist Barry Dougherty is the authorized history of the Friars Club. As editor of the club’s Epistle magazine, speechwriter for innumerable comedians, author of several books about the Friars, Dougherty is well positioned to unscramble the inside dope on this den of America’s greatest laughmakers. Ever since its founding in 1904, the monastery (as its club house is known on E. 55th Street in Manhattan) has been the home and dining hall of a century’s worth of legendary entertainers. Of course the Friars are known all over the planet for their outrageously lewd roasts. Dougherty recalls all the major roasts with such notables burnt to a comedy crisp: Barbra Streisand, Ed Sullivan, Tom Jones, Don Rickles, Hugh Hefner and many others. I’m chuckling as I’m writing. (Emmis Books, 182 pages, $30)

The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages 1851-2009The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages 1851-2009 is an astounding collection that will have you coming back to these pages time and again to relive historic occasions in your lifetime as well as learn history in the making over the past 150 years. You have selected front pages of the past. But this coffee table book comes with three DVDs containing all 55,000 front pages. A great resource for any history buff or student. (Black Dog & Leventhal, 476 pages, $60.00 Amazon.com Price: $37.80)

The New Book of SoupsThe New Book of Soups is full of mouthwatering illustrations (by ace food photographer Ben Fink) that will inspire your productivity over sizzling pots and pans on your oven. And no wonder. The book is full of recipes for soups of every variety created by the chefs at the famed Culinary Institute of America. They offer more than 160 recipes for broths, purees and stews to suit every mood and menu. The very first chapter starts off with soup basics, covering the main ingredients, thickness, consistency, cooling and storing. (Lebhar-Friedman, 250 pages, $35.00 Amazon.com Price: $23.10)

Legends in the Kitchen: Celebrity Recipes for a CauseLegends in the Kitchen: Celebrity Recipes for a Cause, compiled by Linda F. Radke and Mrs. Howard (Judy) Keel, offers recipes from Larry Hagman, Andy Williams, James Garner, Victoria Principal and many others. Even though she’s Italian, Ruth Buzzi goes nuts over cheese blintzes. Not to be outdone, Stephanie Powers favors pierogie. Debbie Reynolds swears by cheese enchiladas—in the tradition of her mother and grandmother who were from El Paso. In the soup category you’ll savor Burt Reynolds’ beef stew. Betty Ford goes one further: beef stew with walnuts. Andy Williams contributes a chicken soup made with Manischewitz vegetable soup mix. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Motion Picture & TV Fund Foundation. (Five Star Publications, softcover, 148 pages, $17.95 Amazon.com Price: $14.00)


Jack & Walter: The Films of Lemmon & Matthau

Jack & Walter: The Films of Lemmon & Matthau
is a wonderful story by Ben Costello of the last great comedy team of the 20th century. Walter was born in New York to Jewish parents Melas and Rose Matthow. Jack was born John Uhler Lemmon III in an elevator of the hospital in Newton, Mass. Both joined up to make 11 memorable movies, first The Fortune Cookie and last The Odd Couple II. Costello has created a highly readable book, with large pictures on almost every page. (Five Star Publications, hardback, 165 pages, $31.95 Amazon.com Price: $24.28)

The Basic Book of Digital PhotographyThe Basic Book of Digital Photography is your answer if you bought your first camera and are now looking for simple instruction (which you don’t always get from your user’s manual). Tom Grimm and wife Michele Grimm, travel photographers for 30 years, gives a comprehensive guide on shooting and sharing digital pictures. Profusely illustrated, the book covers every aspect of digital imaging, including choosing a camera, composing a picture, using editing software, creating slideshows on your TV, and much more. Valuable set of instructions. (Plume, soft cover, 400 illustrative photos, 528 pages, $24.00 Amazon.com Price: $18.00)

Digital Art RevolutionDigital Art Revolution is an essential guide if you’re at all interested in tweaking your images and creating fine art with Photoshop. Scott Ligon, coordinator of the digital foundation curriculum at the Cleveland Institute of Art and a top digital artist, explains in such simple clear language that’s a joy to jump right into Photoshop and start creating. Ligon gives us the best short introduction to Photoshop I have seen. This is an excellent book from which to learn to make art through photography. It’s a joy and pleasure to study with him. (Watson-Guptill, soft cover, 256 pages, $29.99 Amazon.com Price: $19.79)

College in a NutskullCollege in a Nutskull is LOL from front cover ("Inductive reasoning usually involves electricity" to back cover ("Most people are either straight, gay or thespian"). Professor Anders Henriksson has compiled a bookful of witty (and insane) statements and definitions by college students in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This is an opportunity, he says, to visit a world remarkably different from the reality we think we inhabit. We send our children to college to become smarter than we, and what do they learn? From their exams and term papers: "The Nicene Creed required everyone to be nice to each other. A priori knowledge is things that you have already prioritized. Ontology is the study of onts and their moral meaning. Eggmont Freud discovered sex. Henry V is about a king named Richard III. Pontious Pilot was an official in the Roman air force. President Lincoln was shot in his Ford. The Incas were a group of peaceful vegetarians whose only slight weakness was the off human sacrifice." Get this book to keep up with the next generation of geniuses. (Workman, soft cover, 136 pages, Amazon.com Price: $8.95)


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