The Girl from Ipanema, a breakthrough song that popularized bossa nova to the world, turns 50 this month. The song continues to live on through its numerous versions, including newer updates by Diana Krall and Amy Winehouse.
Indeed, the song is ranked as the second most recorded song ever, behind the Beatles Yesterday. But one version stands out as the best known and serves as an inspiration to amateur shower singers everywhere.
Stan Getz, the American jazz saxophonist, was recording an album in New York with pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim, who wrote the music for the song, and guitarist Joao Gilberto, who played the song with Jobim in its August 1962 debut in Brazil. When the three decided to try an English version of Ipanema, they turned to Gilbertos wife, Astrud, who was the only one among the Brazilians who knew English well. Not a professional singer, she is flat on some notes, occasionally emphasizes the wrong word and didnt perform a perfect translation.
But, as Thomas Vinciguerra wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, combined with her tentative delivery, Mr. Getzs breathy sax and Mr. Jobims gentle piano, the errors make the result ever so slightly foreign – just out of reach, like the girl herself, and thus irresistible.
Released at the onslaught of Beatlemania, Ipanema wasnt exactly the last gasp for easy listening records, but it came to symbolize the genre. Indeed, near the conclusion of The Blues Brothers, characters portrayed by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd are forced to listen to a Muzak version of the song as they ride the elevator in Chicago City Hall, chased by police, the armed forces and a host of other uniformed officers.
Jobims family sued Helô Pinheiro – who, as a 17-year-old, inspired the song – for copyright infringement for naming her boutique Garota de Ipanema. But she won in court – after all, she was The Girl from Ipanema.
Surbeck lauded for Re-Entry Court
Allen County residents have received a reminder of just how highly regarded the local Re-Entry Court is among the nations judiciary.
The National Center for State Courts named Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck, who started and still presides over the innovative court, the winner of the William H. Rehnquist Award. Named after the former chief justice, the annual award goes to a single judge in the nation for taking innovative steps to address community issues.
Convicted criminals often have few resources upon their release from prison, and that leads many back into a life of crime. Convicts coming back to Allen County through the Re-Entry Court are released a few months early but must submit to electronic monitoring and regular court appearances. The court works in conjunction with Community Corrections to provide training in job skills and finding work as well as counseling for those with substance abuse or mental health issues. As a result, the recidivism rate for felons who went through the program is about half of those who did not.
A judge since 1988, Surbeck started the program in 2001. One of the nations very first such courts, it became a model for other counties and states and has received ample praise. For example, in 2007, the Community Capacity Development Office of the U.S. Department of Justice wrote that the court has made a remarkable impact on the areas recidivism rate, and it has done so by leveraging existing resources without requiring grant funds. The key to this programs success has been a combination of close supervision and adequate preparation of the inmates during the re-entry period.
Surbeck was one of three local judges honored as The Journal Gazettes Citizens of the Year in 2002. He will receive the Rehnquist award in November from Chief Justice John Roberts.
Sales tax research has point of view
A new report from the Tax Foundation points to California and Indiana for the nations highest state sales tax rates. Californias rate is 7.25 percent; Indianas rate is 7 percent.
As part of a property tax overhaul, Indianas tax rate increased by 17 percent on April 1, 2008. When states are ranked for combined state and local sales tax rates, Indiana drops to 20th overall because it has no local sales taxes. The Tax Foundation weighs tax rates by population to compute an average local tax rate.
Tennessee has the highest combined rate, at 9.43 percent, but shoppers there enjoyed a tax break this month. Its annual sales tax holiday on the first weekend in August exempted all clothing and school supply items priced at $100 or less and all computers priced at $1,500 or less. The exemption is available to everyone.
The Tax Foundation describes itself as a nonpartisan tax research group, but it has received financial support from the conservative Koch family foundations. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, just named as Gov. Mitt Romneys running mate, is a recent recipient of the Tax Foundations distinguished service award.