Jerry Adler

Stories by Jerry Adler

  • The Unauthorized Dead Sea Scrolls

    For nearly 2,000 years, the manuscripts known as the Dead Sea scrolls lay buried in the Judean desert, concealing a treasure trove of information about the origins of Christianity and modern Judaism. Since the discovery of the first parchment in 1947, hundreds of manuscripts have been unearthed, reassembled from crumbling fragments, deciphered, translated and published. But hundreds more remain unpublished and virtually unknown except to a tiny coterie of editors who control the archive at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. Since 1960, the rate of publication has slowed greatly. The editors say they need more time to ensure that their work is accurate. Those who are shut out of the process, like Martin Abegg, a graduate student at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, have a different view: "It really comes down to scholarly greed and jealousy-'I've got it and you can't see it'." ...
  • When Worlds Collide

    From East Hampton to Westhampton, one question dominated America's literary establishment last week, and it had nothing to do with the Supreme Court decision on the Masson-Malcolm libel suit. From the Grill Room of The Four Seasons to the Pool Room of The Four Seasons, agents, editors and writers suddenly put aside their rivalries and, with mouths still bloody from one another's backs, united to shout with one voice: Who does this Jacob Weisberg think he is, anyway?The simple answer is that Weisberg is a 26-year-old senior editor (i.e., writer) at The New Republic, author of a cover story several weeks ago on what's wrong with American book publishers. None of his observations was especially novel, and some, such as the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of an industry willing to publish Joan Rivers's memoirs, were beyond dispute. But in making his main point - that book editors, whose rewards come primarily from signing big-name writers, increasingly neglect the humble task of...
  • Drums, Sweat And Tears

    Men: construction workers, college professors, computer salesmen. In the suffocating dark of a tepee, squatting on naked haunches by a mound of sizzling rocks, they re-enact the sacred rituals of the Sioux and Chippewa, purifying their souls in the glandular fellowship of sweat. Men: media consultants, marketing consultants, media-marketing consultants. With hands cramped from long hours at their keyboards, they smack in happy abandon the goatskin heads of their drums, raise their voices in supplication to west African tribal gods more accustomed to requests for rain than the inchoate emotional demands of middle-class Americans. Men: Jungian therapists, substance-abuse counselors, Unitarian ministers. Mustaches quivering with freshly aroused grief, they evoke the agony of drunken fathers, of emasculating bosses, of a culture that insists on portraying them as idiots who would sneeze them selves to death if their wives didn't come up with the right antihistamine. Yes, men. What...
  • Heeding The Call Of The Drums

    It's Wednesday evening, and Bruce Silverman is calling the Sons of Orpheus men's group and drumming troupe to their sacred space, a whitewashed loft alongside an expressway in Emeryville, Calif. He sets up a steady thump on one of the six large congas at the far end of the room, and men begin to appear, as if the drum itself and not the clock had summoned them from offices, campuses and construction sites all over the San Francisco area. Other drums join in. The beat grows louder; it picks up speed, turns into a rushing river of sound that divides into streams and strands into which men toss the bright plinks of bells and chimes. Thirty or 40 men line the room now; they dance, they chant, they invoke the Spirit of Deep Masculinity, the West African god they call Hepwa. The six mighty congas fill the air with their rhythmic thunderclaps of percussion, demonstrating at least one elemental truth about men: they like to make noise. ...
  • A Chair For All Reasons

    Feel the need to show off your collection? (Of course you have one--it's what you filled all those empty liquor cartons with the last time you moved.) Want to impress your friends with your terrific design sense? Then you should plan a design party. Here's what to do: type. up your invitations on an Olivetti Valentine portable typewriter, which slips into its red plastic bucket case as smoothly as a ten dollar bill into a maitre d's palm. The epitome of manual-typewriter design, it makes an arrestingly primitive object considering it's only about 20 years old. Now, decorate your drawing room with allegorical female figures representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Set your table with Angle dinnerware, designed in 1984 by JeanPierre Cailleres, evidently as an ironic commentary on the bourgeois convention that plates should be round. (His are equilateral triangles.) Have plenty of Sonderbar armchairs on hand, so your friends can sit on curved panels of perforated sheet metal,...
  • A Barrel Full Of Trouble

    Another alcohol success story: Robert M.'s mother drank throughout her pregnancy, but he is not even slightly deformed. At 4, he was drinking watered wine with his meals, but it didn't keep him out of Stanford. Today, at the age of 77, he sits down to a three-course lunch (escolar in parchment with ginger-lime butter; grilled rack of lamb with potato and leek gratin; apple tart), each with its correct wine, and then goes about his duties as chairman of a multimillion-dollar family-owned company: the Robert Mondavi Winery. ...
  • Fighting The Pack Mentality

    It is the largest uniformed force in the nation, and in some ways the most exclusive. You can be female and a soldier in the United States Army; you can be an atheist and a police officer; you can be a homosexual and an Episcopal priest. But can't be any of those things and be a Boy Scout. ...
  • God, Men And Bonding At Yale

    It is a welcome sign of the success of the women's movement that most of the remaining bastions of male privilege in America probably aren't worth storming in the first place. ...
  • The War Within

    Like most wars, Operation Desert Storm was begun in a noble spirit of common purpose and national unity. But within a week it was mired in domestic politics and rivalries. The antiwar movement, as it geared up for last Saturday's mammoth protest in Washington, dropped some of its high-minded claims to be acting more in sorrow than in anger, threatening to "take back the government for the people" in next year's election. Police in San Francisco began agitating for the right to wear flag patches on their uniforms, warning demonstrators what kind of justice to expect. And on a visit to Fort Bragg, a man introduced generously as a "former soldier"--former National Guardsman Dan Quayle--denounced protestors with a vigor that reminded The New York Times of another vice president who made a name for himself as a scourge of dissent: Spiro Agnew. ...
  • The Killing Of A Gory Novel

    The presses were set to roll last week on brat-pack novelist Bret Easton Ellis's third book, "American Psycho." Ellis, 26, had pocketed his $300,000 advance from Simon & Schuster, and review copies were ready to go. The word of mouth was already out--and that was its problem. Some S&S staffers were appalled by Ellis's amorality tale of the Investment Banker from Hell--repulsive snob, obsessive fop and compulsive killer. They were revolted by the gory dismemberings and vivid sexual perversities sprinkled through its 366 pages. Spy magazine excerpted an account of the protagonist in the act of fellatio with a victim's severed head--prompting Richard Snyder, chairman of Simon & Schuster, to sit down and read the galleys admittedly for the first time. A few days later the house announced it would halt publication. "'American Psycho'," Snyder said, "is not a book that Simon & Schuster is willing to publish." ...
  • An Experience Of Captivity

    Water trickles among the trees, seeking with its unerring instinct for declivity the drains and sumps hidden in the forest floor. Water in its heaviness pools in the lichen-lined hollows, or, crystalline, falls as snow on refrigerated rocks. Then the path spirals between walls of green water, into the cool darkness sidelit by the pale glow of light passing through its translucent, bubble-flecked depths. ...
  • More Oil On The Waters

    From the radio room five decks above, the blast felt like "sort of a bump . . . a vibration," the captain later recalled. Then the room went dark and the corridor outside began to fill with smoke. "I looked forward and saw bright flames coming from the pump room top. Flames were licking up right over the bridge." The captain, C. M. Mahidhara, ran to his quarters, where his wife and two children were asleep. "Get out! Get out!" he screamed. Mahidhara radioed a nearby workboat to stand by for rescue. Thirty-seven people--including the captain's family--were taken off the oil tanker Mega Borg that night. The bodies of two crewmen were found near the wreckage of the pump-room hatch cover, which had been blown more than 100 yards along the deck. Two other crewmen were presumed to have died in the weeklong fire that reduced the 886-foot ship to a smoldering hulk--a disaster that demonstrated again that the transportation of large quantities of oil remains one of the riskiest enterprises...
  • Home Brew: Happening Hops

    It's the last culinary frontier, the long sought answer to what you drink with spaghetti from your home pasta maker and smoked chicken breasts from your home smoker. It's simpler than roasting your own coffee, cheaper than buying a vineyard and less hassle than moonshine. It's what Yuppies would drink on Fourth of July picnics, if they went to Fourth of July picnics. It's home brew, the beer you make yourself. ...
  • sally-ride-cover-story-embed

    Sally Ride: Ready for Liftoff

    Sally Ride died Monday at the age of 61. Read Newsweek’s 1983 cover story about the trailblazing astronaut.
  • Is Man a Subtle Accident?

    The missing link between man and the apes, whose absence has comforted religious fundamentalists since the days of Darwin, is merely the most glamorous of a whoIe hierarchy of phantom creatures. In the fossil record, missing links are the rule: the story of life is as disjointed as a silent newsreel, in which species succeed one another as abruptly as Balkan prime ministers. The more scientists have searched for the transitional forms between species, the more they have been frustrated. Paleontologist Patricia Kelley has traced a burrowing mollusk--Anadara staminea--over 2 million years of the Miocene Epoch, during which time the position of one muscle gradually shifted by 1.5 millimeters. Abruptly, A. staminea disappears, to be succeeded by the closely related species A. chesapeakKensa--in which the muscle has suddenly shifted by 1.5 millimeters in the opposite direction. What kind of evolution is this, which seems to stand on its head the notion of gradual progress from primitive...

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