Temple University Press’s Annual Holiday Give and Get

This week in North Philly Notes, the staff at Temple University Press suggests the Temple University Press books they would give along with some non-Temple University Press titles they hope to receive and read this holiday season. 

We wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!

Mary Rose Muccie, Director

Give: This year I’d give friends and family a subscription to the Press journal Kalfou, which publishes articles on racial and ethnic studies and social justice that are especially relevant these days. For example, recent articles addressed racialized juvenile incarceration, the role of murals as “monument[s] to blackness,” the ethnic and social makeup of “essential” workers during the pandemic, and the global racial and gender health inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19. 

Get:  At this point my bookshelves and devices are full of books I haven’t gotten to yet, which is what’s held me back from buying the 800+-page The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. But if someone were to give it to me, it would go at the top of my long to-be-read list.

Karen Baker, Associate Director and Financial Manager

Give: I would give Real Philly History, Real Fast, by Jim Murphy, because my son-in-law is very interested in exploring Philadelphia and this book would be a great guide for him.

Get: I would like to receive Will, by Will Smith, because he is a Philly guy and I think his story would be very interesting.

Ann-Marie Anderson, Marketing Director

Give: Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic’s edited collection Critical Race Theory, our doorstopper reader on the subject. There is so much fear and misunderstanding associated with teaching critical race theory (CRT) in our schools that it has become the flashpoint in the culture. This massive volume with over 800 pages and a large array of voices and topics provides much understanding of what CRT is and what it is not.  

Get: I hope to get Bryant Terry’s Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora. It’s my kind of cookbook with not only recipes and beautiful art, but history, poetry, and a musical playlist curated by the author!! 

Aaron Javsicas, Editor-in-Chief

Give: We have a bounty of attractive and engrossing trade titles this year, but I’m going with Barksdale Maynard’s Artists of Wyeth Country. This project has personal resonance for me in part because I spent a lot of time in the Brandywine Valley as a kid, and I have very fond memories of it—visiting our close family friends who live there, and taking many long walks through what I now know is Wyeth country. Maynard’s book embraces this locale just as the Wyeth family and their local artistic kin have for generations. It’s a unique project, part family biography and part tour guide, and I know so many people who have a special affinity for these artists, their work, and this place. It’s a pretty perfect gift. 

Get: The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. This book promises to upend core understandings about the past, who we are, and how we arrived at this civilizational point. I’ll read it in hopes it can also upend some of our darker conventional wisdom about the apparently rather dismal present and future. Fingers crossed. Rest in peace, David Graeber.

Ryan Mulligan, Editor

Give: The Evolution of a Cricket Fan, by Samir Chopra. I don’t know much about cricket, but this isn’t just a book about the game—it’s about tracing your growth and change and sense of belonging through your relationship with sports fandom. 

Get: Intimacies: A Novel, by Katie Kitamura. Maybe it’s just professional interest, but I’ve been intrigued lately by books that break conventional storytelling structures and grammars. Hopefully, it will leave me more open-minded and helpful when my authors need help delivering their message in unconventional ways.

Shaun Vigil, Editor

Give: Rachel Schreiber’s Elaine Black Yoneda offers a deeply researched and narratively engaging view into Elaine Black Yoneda’s singular life. On a personal note, it was the first title I signed since joining the Press, which makes it all the more special to see in print!

Get: After another long year, what I’m asking after is a book that can allow me the space to pop in and out of it any time I need a good laugh. While I’ve ready many of its entries over the years, John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order hasn’t ever found its way to my bookshelf. I’m hoping that this holiday season changes that.

Will Forrest, Editorial Assistant and Rights and Contracts Manager
Give: The Italian Legacy in Philadelphia, edited by Andrea Canepari and Judith Goode. I may be biased as an Italian living in the Philadelphia area, but this is a beautiful and fascinating book on an important part of the city’s cultural heritage.

Get: A few years ago a new edition of Life? Or Theatre?, a gorgeous and incredibly powerful artwork/memoir/proto-graphic novel was published. Charlotte Solomon was a brilliant German Jewish artist who lived a fascinating life, witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, and was ultimately killed in the Holocaust. It’s one of the most incredible literary works I’ve ever read and I’d love to have this new edition with newly discovered paintings and new essays.

Kate Nichols, Art Manager

Gave: I already gave Ray Didinger’s Finished Business to a family member at Thanksgiving. He is a forever Philadelphia sports fan—the range of essays are perfect for him.

Get: I am hoping to get Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. All the Light We Cannot See is one of my all-time favorite books.

Ashley Petrucci, Senior Production Editor

Give: Stephen Feldman’s Pack the Court! because it’s very relevant to our current political climate and provides information as to why court packing might or might not happen.

Get: I have several books borrowed from the public library through Libby that I plan to read, including For Whom the Bell TollsAmericanah, and 1Q84 that I hope to get time to read!

Annie Johnson, Assistant Director for Open Publishing Initiatives and Scholarly Communications

Give: The Battles of Germantown, by David. W. Young. Although Young’s focus is on one particular neighborhood in Philadelphia, the lessons he has drawn from his own experience are applicable to public historians everywhere.

Get: The Filing Cabinet: A Vertical History of Information by Craig Robinson, which argues that filing is a distinct mode of information labor that emerged at the turn of the twentieth century and became critical to the development of corporate capitalism.

Gary Kramer, Publicity Manager

Give: Walking in Cities, edited by Evrick Brown and Timothy Shortell, may be a good book to inspire readers to see the urban world around them anew.

Get: I’m keen to read Solid Ivory, filmmaker James Ivory’s memoir, edited by Peter Cameron.

Listen UP! The Temple University Press Podcast

This week in North Philly Notes, we announce the new Temple University Press podcast, which features an interview with Ray Didinger about his memoir, Finished Business: My Fifty Years of Headlines, Heroes, and Heartaches.

The Temple University Press Podcast is where you can hear about all the books you’ll want to read next.

Click here to listen

The Temple University Press Podcast is available wherever you find your podcasts, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Overcast, among other outlets.


About this episode

For our inaugural podcast, we asked Temple University podcast host and producer Sam Cohn to interview Ray Didinger, a man who has become synonymous with Philadelphia sports. He recently published his memoir, Finished Business, which opens immediately following the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII victory. It is a moment that felt like the entire city of Philadelphia was hoisting the Lombardi trophy in unison. Ray’s writing poetically weaves through his life as a storyteller, capturing his enthusiasm for sports and his affection for Philadelphia fans.

Didinger began rooting for the Eagles as a kid, hanging out in his grandfather’s bar in Southwest Philadelphia. He spent his summers at the team’s training camp in Hershey, PA. It was there he met his idol, flanker Tommy McDonald. He would later write a play, Tommy and Me, about their friendship and his efforts to see McDonald enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Didinger has been covering the Eagles as a newspaper columnist or TV analyst since 1970, working for the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Daily News before transitioning to work at NFL Films, Comcast SportsNet, and WIP Sports Radio. With his memoir, he looks back on his career.


Fini
shed Business is available through the Temple University Press website, and your favorite booksellers, both online and local.

Another chance to see Tommy and Me

Tommy and Me, the autobiographical play by Ray Didinger, author of One Last Read and the forthcoming Eagles Encyclopedia: Champions Edition, is getting an encore production at the Media Theater August 8-26. This week in North Philly Notes, we re-post the author/playwright’s blog entry, slightly tweaked from what published last summer after the original production ended its run.

I didn’t know it was possible to have an experience that is both exhilarating and painful. But that’s what I was feeling when Tommy and Me, my first—and probably last—stage play, had its final performance at the Fringe Arts theatre.

It was exhilarating because the sellout crowd sent the play off with a standing ovation and afterwards people stayed around to say how much they enjoyed it. The story flashes back to the 1950s and ’60s and the career of Eagles great Tommy McDonald and dozens of people came up to me to relate their own memories of Franklin Field. Some still carried the ticket stubs in their wallets. Three bucks for a seat in the end zone. Yes, it was a long time ago.

TommyandMe SetThe painful part was walking back into the empty theatre and seeing the crew dismantle the set. During the two-week run I virtually lived in that theatre. It became my world and each night when the lights went down and the actors took the stage, I was transported back to my boyhood when I was the freckle-faced fan who wanted nothing more than to carry Tommy McDonald’s helmet as he walked to the practice field. It brought a lump to my throat every night. But on Sunday, seeing it stripped down and silent, reminded me it was, indeed, over.

I knew this night was coming. I knew there would be that moment when I had to let go and Tommy and Me would become a memory, but it did not lessen the sense of loss. We sat at the bar for a long time—the cast, the crew, the whole Theatre Exile team—and talked about the play and how it grew into something larger than we first imagined. All 12 performances were sell outs and each show ended with a standing ovation that seemed to grow louder each night. Tom Teti, the veteran actor who played Tommy McDonald, said, “This was a rare one.” The others at the bar nodded in agreement.

Picture_r688x459Once we left the theatre that night last year we would go in different directions. I would return to talking about the Eagles on WIP Sports Radio and Comcast Sports Net.

Eagles;Champions_smBut for a little while longer, we were sharing the bond that was Tommy and Me, the play I wrote about my boyhood hero and our unlikely 40-year journey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I had never written a play before and when I started I wasn’t at all sure it would ever be produced. But thanks to Joe Canuso, who believed in the project, and Bruce Graham, the superb Philadelphia playwright who helped in its development, we were able to bring Tommy and Me to life. To sit in the theatre each evening and hear the audience laugh, sometimes cry, boo any reference to the Dallas Cowboys and ultimately applaud at the final curtain was a thrill unlike anything I had experienced before. I know I’ll never forget it.

Each night ended with the cast returning to the stage to answer questions from the audience. The very first night, a woman stood up and said: “I’m not an Eagles fan. I don’t even like sports…” I thought, “Where is this going?” Then she said, “But this story really touched me.” Several theatre critics [reviews below] made the same point: it isn’t a football story. It is a story about a boy, his hero and dreams coming true. It is a story I always wanted to tell and that’s why it was so hard to let go.

Read the DC Metro‘s review. 

Read the Broad Street Review‘s review

Read Philly.com‘s review

Read NewsWork‘s review

Read Philadelphia Magazine‘s review 

 

 

Fly, E-A-G-L-E-S, Fly

This week in North Philly Notes, we continue the celebration of the Eagles and Ray Didinger, author of The New Eagles Encyclopedia.

Ray Didinger, longtime and beloved sportswriter, was remarkably composed when he visited Temple University Press’ offices in the week leading up to Super Bowl LII. But after the Eagles beat the Patriots in the big game, Didinger, who bleeds green, broke down on camera. Check out this video from NBC Sports’ Post Game Live, which shows Didinger getting emotional.

There is another video, “Philadelphia…This is your moment!” which also features Didinger.

The New Eagles Encyclopedia_smDidinger’s reaction to the Eagles win was also covered in this column by Rob Tornoe that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on February 5.

 

By Rob Tornoe

NFL Hall of Fame writer and analyst Ray Didinger is generally known for his calm and level-headed analysis of the Eagles on NBC Sports Philadelphia and SportsRadio 94.1 WIP (unless your name is Chip Kelly).

But early Monday morning, after the Eagles stunning 41-33 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, the normally stoic Didinger got emotional when Eagles Postgame Livehost Michael Barkann introduced a guest on set — Didinger’s son, David.

David, who works for NFL Films, embraced his father live on air to celebrate the Eagles first Super Bowl win in an emotional moment that reflects the strong generational bond Birds fans have with their team.

“That scene is being repeated in Philadelphia thousands and thousands and thousands of times,” said former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell.

“It’s [for] everybody that didn’t have a chance that see this. My grandparents, my mom’s parents, my Uncle Kevin,” David Didinger noted as his father fought back tears. “I’ve waited 44 year and I swear I’d never thought I’d see this day.

Of course, Ray Didinger has waited longer for this moment than his son. The Eagles last championship came in 1960, when Didinger was just 13 years old. As he attempted to dry his eyes, he pointed out that he’s lived in the same house for 30 years, and during that time he’s had pigeons, hawks and even cats climbing on the garage.

On Saturday, Didinger’s wife told him when she woke up, there was an eagle sitting on the garage.

“I don’t believe in mysticism… She said to me ‘That’s either got to be the spirit of your father or your mother.’ And I truly believe that,” an emotional Didinger said. “To be able to share this with my son is beyond special.”

Last week, Didinger reflected on his family’s love of the Eagles, and tried to sum up what it would feel like if the Birds managed to knock off the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.

“My parents and my grandparents,” Didinger told Angelo Cataldi on the WIP Morning Show last week. “They’re all gone. But the last time they won this thing in 1960 we were all together in the east stands at Franklin Field watching it happen. If the confetti starts falling on Nick Foles on Sunday night, the first people I’m going to think about are my parents and grandparents. I think that’s true across the city.

“Family is so tied in to what people feel about this team, that everybody is going to feel exactly the same thing, ‘I wish grandpa was here. I was Uncle Bill was here. I wish they could all share in this,’ ” Didinger said. “Or, if they are still here, they’re all gonna share in it together.”

 

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