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Music Reviews and Features
Dion Dimucci

Lester Bangs in Buffalo

Lester Bangs in "Almost Famous"

The Cure In Concert

Peal Jam In Concert

History of Warner Brothers Music

Creolina's Cajun/Creole

People's Bar-B-Que and Soul Food


Nearly identical to the version published in The Miami Herald on 6/21/04.

Books take different angles on integrating work with life.


Some of us work for just the paycheck. To others, a salary is almost a fringe benefit; our compensation is more than money. It's not just merging-and-acquiring multimillionaires who live for their next deal. Or artists and other creative types - or even book reviewers. There are plenty of people who could make more money doing one thing but found a comfort level (or groove) doing something else. It's pretty common, in fact. Few young people go to college expecting to be sales reps or parts managers, but the world needs 'em and they can often make a nice living doing these things.

But the challenge of making sure that what one does is meaningful and rewarding on and off the job remains. Integrating one's work with the rest of their life is a good idea, especially in this time-impoverished era. Here are several recent books that approach the subject from different angles.

The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works. Ricardo Semler. Portfolio.256 pages.

Ricardo Semler is a Brazilian entrepreneur and visiting scholar at Harvard. Based on this book, he's probably someone you'd want to work for. His approach to management appears loosey-goosey and laissez-faire, but as a means of empowering employees, it's a clever way to get the most from them. Semler is big on flex time, open management, and other enlightened approaches that may appear to be counter-intuitive for maximum productivity and profits. But he's crazy like a fox, since his style of doing business leaves little room for the incompetent, lazy or corrupt to hide.

His style of writing is playful and irreverent, but one discerns that beneath his roguish persona is a person quite serious about work, life and getting the most from each. Fun book, but could be helpful for managers who need justification for loosening the reins.

Leave the Office Earlier: The Productivity Pro Shows You How to Do More in Less Time...and Feel Great About It. Broadway Books 256 pages.

Laura Stack is an efficiency expert, so her approach is to direct the reader to examine and assess behaviors with the goal of reducing unnecessary and extraneous actions. Experience indicates, however, that those who need this book the most may approach it with the best of intentions, but assuming they finish it, and it doesn't wind up buried under a pile of papers and folders on the floor, they probably won't act on its instructions. Same as it ever was.


Fire Your Boss. Stephen M. Pollan with Mark Levine; HarperResource. 288 pages.

Pollan's book is more inspirational than procedural, with anecdotes and asides to amplify his assertions. The thrust of his message is that one must take an active, rather than passive role in life and that you must do what you like, or even love, rather than just work for the money. Fortunately, the message isn't conveyed in an overly preachy or paternalistic manner, so it's not too tough to take. In fact, Pollan's wisdom may trigger a few revelations and self-examination, but like the other books, subsequent action on the part of the reader remains an open question.

The One Who Is Not Busy: Connecting With Work in a Deeply Satisfying Way. Darlene Cohen. Gibbs Smith Publishers. 144 pages.

Zen philosophy makes a lot of sense in a world where logic and empiricism often seem beside the point. Darlene Cohen's slim volume offers soothing advice to those who are constantly pressured from within and without to keep busy and productive. (That's all of us, right?)

It's mainly a matter of focus, according to Cohen, so she offers gentle advice and exercises to align the mind with the matters at hand. The desired result, she says, is "to live seamlessly." It's an admirable goal, though not easily achieved. Perhaps, that's where the Zen comes in...


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