"I grew up three or four blocks from here," said Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis, speaking at Barnes & Noble Greenwich Village on Wednesday. He was there for a reading of his book "In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work" (Hal Leonard). The book contains 39 interviews, mostly from the world of music, many of them with stars such as Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash. He opened his reading with the line, "When I grew up in Greenwich Village in the '50s and early '60s, the neighborhood was not the bohemian theme park that it is today." He later mentioned that John Lennon and Yoko Ono once lived in a basement apartment on Bank Street.
Mr. DeCurtis began reading from an interview with Martin Scorsese, who also grew up downtown and drew upon his own experience in making the movie "Mean Streets. "He also read from an interview with Keith Richards which appeared in Rolling Stone in October 1988. Mr. DeCurtis said the interview was like listening to "someone complaining about their lover." The Rolling Stones guitarist had thought Mick Jagger had a "Peter Pan complex" and a "siege mentality." The audience laughed when Mr. DeCurtis told of Mr. Jagger's response: "I don't care to comment on Keith's problems."
Mr. DeCurtis next read from an interview with George Harrison, the former Beatles member who drove in his black Ferrari 275 GTB to pick up Mr. DeCurtis at the train station in Henley-on-Thames for their interview that appeared in Rolling Stone in November 1987. "You look like the only person here who might be from New York," Harrison said to Mr. DeCurtis when he arrived.
In the interview, Harrison discussed the benefit concert for Bangladesh in 1971, in which a reclusive Bob Dylan did not commit to participating until the moment he walked on stage. Harrison told how he kept a list of the evening's performers glued to his guitar. The slot for Mr. Dylan read "Bob?"
Mr. DeCurtis next read from his 1987 interview with Paul McCartney. The Beatles singer described being misunderstood in the press when, after John Lennon's murder, he was regarded as flippant for responding, "It's a drag."
Asked about the most difficult interviewees, he mentioned a testy exchange with musician Van Morrison. At one point in the interview, Mr. Morrison bristled at a question about his vocal style. Mr. DeCurtis said he later felt an overly defensive Mr. Morrison misunderstood the question to suggest, "Your lyrics aren't important. You're just a singer."
Sometimes, one can do fine work without an interview. Mr. DeCurtis won a Grammy Award for his essay accompanying Eric Clapton's box set "Crossroads." The audience laughed when Mr. DeCurtis said that there wasn't an interview for the essay because Mr. Clapton chose to do a Michelob commercial instead.
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MEETING MAHER A standing-room only crowd came out Tuesday to Barnes & Noble Union Square for Bill Maher's "New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer" (Rodale Books). The light clapping became louder as the words "Bill Maher is in the house" were heard over the loudspeaker. The author and host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" came up the escalator raising his arm in mock triumph and then waved a "get out of here" gesture, smiling all the while.
Mr. Maher took many questions. At one point, he described Islam as a young religion "acting out" like a teenager. He joked that classmates.com had located Osama bin Laden.
The Knickerbocker learned that the audio version of "New Rules" was selling better than most audio versions of best sellers. Given the popularity of Jon Stewart, maybe politics has become more like stand-up comedy these days.
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VESCOVO'S VIEW Matthew Vescovo, author of the illustrated "Instructoart" book called "The Life and Death of Bling Bling" (Jorge Pinto Books) entertained the audience the other day at Barnes & Noble in Chelsea by showing short videos, including a re-enactment of the "Elevator Fake-Out." This contemporary situation, caused by the need to be liked and a simultaneous hatred of waiting, consists of being inside an elevator and appearing to reach for the "Open Door" button as someone approaches, yet willfully missing it.
Asked about his influences, Mr. Vescovo mentioned Andy Warhol, who "showed us art in everyday things," and Gary Larson, whose influence can be seen in many of Mr. Vescovo's illustrations, such as one in which a woman is stooping and beckoning a cat to come to her from a short distance of ten feet or less. The rest of the picture shows all the convoluted routes the cat is considering to get there.
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DOWNTOWN BENEFIT A crowd gathered Wednesday night at West Lounge on 11th and West streets for the launch of Health Equity Project, an all-volunteer nonprofit that helps marginalized people living with AIDS. Some of the board of directors shared New York University connections across different departments: Travis Sherer (Physician Associate studies), Kate Meyer (African studies, history, and journalism), and Caitlin Chandler (history and comparative literature).
The Knickerbocker talked with two of the raffle prizewinners: Sherley Desulme won a $50 gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma. Ali Wood, a singer, won dinner for two at Valdino West on Hudson Street.