Sunday, October 26, 2008

Corso: The Last Beat

One of our clients is Gus Reininger, the writer and director of a new film that will be submitted to the Sundance Film Festival this year. It's the story of "Beat" poet, Gregory Corso, who went from a New York street kid to a maximum security prison to poet in residence at Harvard. We saw the film this week and it's inspiring and fascinating. I'm including an article from the Chicago Chronicle. Watch for this one!

Alumnus Resurrects ‘On-The-Road’ Journey of Lesser-Known Beat Poet
By Josh Schonwald

Gus Reininger said he blames Doc Films for “subverting” him. Reininger (A.B.,’73) quit a successful career as a globe-trotting investment bankerbecause, he said, “I learned in talking with film types in New York that, thanks to Doc, I know more about film-making than film-school grads.” The economics major’s Doc-derived film knowledge paid off, when he impressed Miami Vice director Michael Mann and NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff with a seemingly unusual pitch: “Let’s do a version of Rainer Maria Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz about the Chicago mob.”

Reininger, perhaps best known for the fruit of the Fassbinder pitch, the late-1980s NBC drama Crime Story, is returning to the place where he became a cinephile to get feedback on his latest project—a decade-in-the-making examination of the life of the Beat poet Gregory Corso, who along with fellow writers Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, changed social and literary history.

A free, private screening of Reininger’s “Corso—The Last Beat” will begin at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, in the Max Palevsky Cinema. After the screening, Reininger will answer questions from the audience. The film will not be publicly released until December 2009, after it has toured international film festivals. For Reininger, previewing “The Last Beat” at his alma mater is a natural move. “This is not a film for baby boomers to relive their glory days. It’s for young people. It’s to introduce the icons of the Beat era to a generation that may not know them. I want to show young people how the Beats changed American society, paved the way for youth culture, the sexual revolution, even hip hop.”

Though best known as co-creator of the cop-mob drama Crime Story, Reininger has nurtured a long interest in the poetry of Corso. His interest started when a priest at his Jesuit high school in Cincinnati named Corso as a “good Catholic writer.” Though this was, Reininger would soon conclude, a highly unusual characterization of Corso, the tip spurred Reininger’s interest in the Beats. “Corso was my first beat,” recalled Reininger, “then there was Ginsburg, Kerouac, which led to (Bob) Dylan.”

It wasn’t until the ’90s, though, that Reininger became interested in the Corso project. He appreciated the contributions of all the Beats, but Corso, the least-known figure, was his favorite. “He was the ancient poet,” he said. “He had this great preoccupation with ancient Greece.” Corso’s poetry, for Reininger, provoked flashbacks to his undergraduate days as a student of Herman Sinaiko, Professor in Humanities and the College.

It wasn’t easy persuading Corso to participate in the project, but after successfully answering a series of questions from the erudite Corso (such as “What is the first book ever written?” “Who is Gilgamesh’s best friend?”), Reininger earned his confidence.

Reininger calls the project more than just a film. “It’s a bit of a resurrection,” he said. Unlike Ginsberg and Burroughs, Corso sold his papers contemporaneously. As a result, they were scattered all around the United States, Italy and France.“Any Ph.D. student who might find Corso a great dissertation topic, as he’s so under curated, would have a very difficult financial time traveling to so many libraries,” said Reininger. “Hence, there’s been a dearth of serious scholarship.”

With a research grant, Reininger and his collaborators hired a librarian to travel to 30 universities to find Corso’s papers and letters. A bibliography was constructed. The first product of the “The Corso Project” was a book titled, An Accidental Biography—the Letters of Gregory Corso. The project also assisted author Deborah Baker in her book, Blue Hand, The Beats in India. The project has recovered unpublished manuscripts, artifacts and photos, and has completed more than 300 hours of interviews.

But ultimately, Reininger’s chief objective is beyond scholarship. He is eager to introduce young people to the Beats, the role they have had on the current zeitgeist, and he hopes to introduce the world to the story of the most uncelebrated member of the group. “Corso overcame abandonment, a life in the streets as a child of the Depression,” said Reininger. “He read his way through maximum security prison, ended up as a poet in residence at Harvard, and ultimately met Alan Ginsberg and started the Beat movement. It’s a story of human triumph.”

Earlier screenings of “The Last Beat” with youth audiences at Harvard and Yale universities have been positive. “It’s hard to describe what it’s like to see students reach for a tissue when they see this story,” said Reininger. “It’s an enormously gratifying project.”

For more information on "Corso: The Last Beat", please visit

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What To Do In a Bad Economy

Yes, the economy is in bad shape. The economy goes through cycles and we're in a down one at the moment. It happens every 15-20 years and it's pretty unavoidable.

Of course, this could be the big one - the Roman Empire ended, didn't it? It's highly unlikely, but possible. If that's the case, there's nothing you can do. It will either come back over the next year or two or die. But one thing all the pundits seem to agree on is that it will get worse before it gets better. Big businesses will tighten their budgets, followed by the medium size guys and finally the small businesses will have the wind knocked out of them as everyone slows down.

So what's the best thing to do? Start a business!

You've got to be kidding, right? I'm not, and I have good reasons.

1. Less Competition

Right now people are struggling just to maintain the status quo. If they have jobs, they're bending over backwards to keep them. If they don't, they're praying their unemployment insurance will last as long as they will need it. Only the most confident are aware that this market is perfect for starting a new business. That means a clearer field for those who believe in themselves.

2. The Guys Who Think It's Easy Quit Early

Starting and running a business is hard work. The hours are long, the learning curve steep and profit uncertain. The rewards are also great, but those who go into business thinking it will be easy to make tons of money get out when times get tough. Again, less competition for those that stick with it.

3. Seedlings Grow Slowly But They Grow Steadily

Your new business will likely grow slowly, no matter what the economy. It takes time to develop a customer base, gain their confidence and build a reputation. If you start now, put your infrastructure in place and create systems that work, you'll be in exactly the right spot to grow rapidly when things turn around.

4. A Great Team Is Just Waiting To Be Found

When there are layoffs in the big companies, more talented players are searching for a place to land. This is a great time to put together a team of dedicated people who want to work and are glad to have a place to do it.

5. Think Worldwide

A weak economy means that you have suddenly become a worldwide commodity. Rather than outsourcing to other countries, they can now utilize American ingenuity for less cost. If you make it easy for them to find you and concentrate on building international business relationships through on-line networking groups and organizations, it's easier than ever to compete on a worldwide level.

6. Sell Luxury, Beauty & Ease

Okay, in this economy people may put off buying that new car or moving to a bigger home. Those big ticket items may be postponed. But people still want to indulge as their circumstances allow. So now, it's a pedicure instead of a weekend at the spa, an ice cream cone instead of that expensive night out. Maybe they have their house cleaned once a month instead of once a week. Maybe they call a decorator to move their furniture around instead of buying new. Use whatever you have to appeal to their pocketbooks and their desires.

The economy is in bad shape. Celebrate! Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Don’t spend hours lamenting and ruminating. If you have ever thought about starting a business, do it. Be smart, talk to business people you know, find professionals to help you, but do it. There has never been a better time.