Newswire

Newswire

  • His Saddest Song

    He has been part, it seems, of almost every imaginable supergroup, from Cream to Blind Faith to AA. But when Eric Clapton went to Los Angeles last summer to score the movie "Rush," he was as humble as the Eric Clapton of the Yardbirds, a guitar genius who couldn't be coaxed to sing. Clapton watched a rough cut of the movie, the story of two undercover cops who become addicted to substances with which he himself has had a nodding acquaintance. He made notes about where the music might go. And then he asked Lili Fini Zanuck, the director, if he might borrow a tape. Three days later when Zanuck came to work the tape was back on her desk. "What I heard," Zanuck says, "was Eric sitting in his hotel room and saying,'If you don't like this, I've got plenty more.' Then he began playing 'Tears In Heaven'." ...
  • Spook Story

    to Washington for help in supervising the KGB. A team of consultants from the American Security Council Foundation, a pro-defense group, has been in Moscow for the past three months explaining how Congress controls the CIA. A Russian delegation will travel to Washington this spring. But the Russians seem to be having trouble with the over-sight concept. One consultant was startled when a Russian legislator asked him how Congress gets the CIA to disclose the size of its budget. It's simple, explained the consultant. Congress approves the money for the CIA budget in the first place.
  • A New Woody--Lost In The Fog

    is Woody Allen's first mystery movie. The mystery: what caused this total breakdown of a unique artist? Possible solution: Allen's well-known influences became dybbuks and took possession of him, turning him into a puppet gone batty with eclecticism. Every few minutes this film upchucks another reference: Bergman, Brecht, Kafka, Fritz Lang--it's as if Allen made his movie not with a script but a library card. Allen plays a schnook named Kleinman (Kafka's K, Woodyfied) who's suspected of being a psycho strangler. On the lam, he splashes into a stewful of refugees from every German expressionist film ever made: a circus girl (Mia Farrow), a clown (John Malkovich), a mad scientist (Donald Pleasance), a metaphysical magician (Kenneth Mars), a hive of philosophical hookers (Jodie Foster, Lily Tomlin, Kathy Bates). Never has such an all-star cast seemed like a no-star cast. (Madonna is reduced to a cleavage and a double-entendre.) Shot on a fogbound set meant to be a nameless European...
  • Hey, Have I Got An Alloy For You!

    There are all sorts of kosher products, from soda to pickles. But kosher steel? As meshuga as it sounds, steelmakers like U.S. Steel are moving to get some of their products certified as kosher (or halal for Muslims). ...
  • A Safety Net Full Of Holes

    It seemed like a good idea at the time. In a speech on March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan described his vision of "intercept[ing] and destroy[ing] strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil ... an effort which holds the promise of changing the course of human history." Nicknamed "Star Wars," the defense shield would replace the terror of mutually assured destruction (MAD) with the promise of demolishing any missiles coming America's way. From the start, though, many physicists and military officers warned that Star Wars was technologically impossible. Now, $30 billion later, there's evidence that the Strategic Defense Initiative Office (SDIO), as the Star Wars command is known, saw the flaws all along--and knowingly masked the program's failures and overstated its progress just to keep the money rolling in. ...
  • Catalunya, Here I Come

    A funny thing happened to Robert Hughes on the way to writing a book about Barcelona's modernista movement--the Catalan art nouveau architecture of Antoni Gaudi and his peers. Hughes got so deeply caught up in the roots of the city's history that he dug back nearly 2,000 years. The result is Barcelona (575 pages. Knopf $27.50), an epic about Spain's least Spanish city, with its own language--Catalan--and its own unique culture. Even in the hands of such an elegant and trenchant writer, the undergrowth of dense detail may nearly defeat many general readers. But a long historic look was probably inevitable: the periods of greatest cultural flourishing in Barcelona's history are also the moments of the greatest struggle for Catalan identity and autonomy. Barcelona is not the Spain of the flamenco and the bullring: the Catalonians were hardheaded, hardworking farmers, merchants, craftsmen and manufacturers, often conservative and deeply Roman Catholic. Hughes traces the history of...
  • The Legacy Of A 'Fighting Jew'

    In a speech at a West Bank settlement in 1975, Menachem Begin described a new kind of human being. " The fighting Jew," he said, "loves books, loves liberty and hates war. But he is prepared to fight for liberty." Two years later, after losing eight consecutive elections, Begin's hard-line conservatives finally overwhelmed their adversaries. The fighting Jews took power. When Begin died of heart trouble early last week at the age of 78, after more than eight years of hermitic retirement, they were still in control. His dour successor, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, promised to "continue the struggle" for the right of the Jewish people to retain "our entire homeland, from the sea to the river." ...
  • Ungagged

    George Bush may have averted a midcampaign fracas over abortion. After the Supreme Court last year upheld Reagan-era regulations barring doctors in federally funded family-planning clinics from counseling patients about abortion, the White House called for new rules based on the court's decision. As a sop to pro-choice activists and doctors, the new regulations, due later this month, will permit doctors in those clinics to refer women who want to end their pregnancies to facilities that perform abortions. But in a nod to pro-lifers, nurses won't be allowed to discuss abortion. Prolifers, who lobbied hard for a gag on both doctors and nurses, say they will accept the compromise regs.
  • 'Whatever It Takes'

    Jesse Jackson was rapping away the other day, cataloging the shortcomings of the candidates, listing all the downtrodden constituencies that are not being sufficiently loved. When his litany reached "our forsaken farmers," the 1992 campaign reached the level of cabaret. ...
  • An American In Paris

    Some might call it culture schlock. "Formidable," the Moulin Rouge revue, features a horse, topless dancers, jugglers, three crocodiles and La Toya Jackson, who rides a flying carpet above the Paris nightclub audience. Jackson sings " The Locomotion!' and, in phonetically learned French (she doesn't know the lingo), the Edith Piaf classics "La Vie en Rose" and "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien." No wonder: for a year's engagement, Michael's sister (who, yes, stays clothed throughout) is reportedly receiving $5 million. For all that, she could invest in a new number, " Puttin' on Berlitz."
  • A Breach Of Contract

    Thriller writers make a deal with their readers. In return for a willing suspension of disbelief, the author sets off on a merry, roller-coaster plot, dropping hints, feinting at shadows, setting off surprises, all with the promise of a reasonable explanation at the end. In his last book, "The Firm, "John Grisham upheld his end of the bargain, with a hugely successful tale of a young lawyer from Harvard who makes the mistake of joining a Memphis law firm secretly controlled by the Mafia. Comes now Grisham's new book, "The Pelican Brief," another of the catch-me-if-you-can genre. This time, it's a brilliant and attractive female law student who's staying one step ahead of the FBI, the CIA and a politically well-connected tycoon who has his own stable of killers. (And there are some fiendish lawyers to hiss at, too!) Grisham keeps the pages turning but, in the end, badly breaches the thrillermeister-reader contract.After a shadowy killer assassinates two Supreme Court justices, the...
  • The Face Of A Massacre

    Azerbaijan was a charnel house again last week: a place of mourning refugees and dozens of mangled corpses dragged to a makeshift morgue behind a mosque. They were men, women and children of Khojaly, an Azerbaijani village In the war-torn enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh overrun by Armenian forces on Feb. 25-26. Many were killed at close range while trying to flee; some had their fun mutilated, others were scalped. Azerbaijanis retaliated quickly, shooting down an Armenian helicopter with 40 people aboard. Troops of #is former Soviet army were perhaps the last safeguard against civil war-and they were withdrawing from the region.
  • 'Where's The Rest Of Them'

    Maybe it will all change any day now, but this year's election dog that didn't bark is foreign policy. Only fitfully or derivatively (Japan-bashing, foreign aid-bashing) do some of the candidates talk about it at all. Why? There are several reasons, but when you inspect them you find that they are all pretty feeble excuses for failing to discuss a subject that cries out for a role in our calculations about who should be president. ...
  • Corroded Values

    Shabby chic is one thing. Now environmentally correct San Francisco trendies have taken the recession look to an extreme. Old, rusted furniture (the kind you left in the garage to rot) is the hottest thing in fashionable, EC interior design. The artsy Zonal shop sells pitted chairs, bed frames and candlesticks scavenged from junkyards. Upscale Fillamento features furniture rusted by artists and coated with sealant to protect the finish (not to mention one's rear end). But rusty doesn't mean cheap: some corroded items go for up to $4,000.
  • The Rich Get...

    Congressional studies show that the richest 1 percent of American taxpayers-about 660,000 families-pulled down 60 percent of all after-tax income gains in the 1980s. But despite a lot of populist rhetoric, congressional Democrats lack the guts to tax away much of the largesse: the families had a total of $506 billion of income in 1989 but a bill in the House Ways and Means Committee would raise only about $7 billion in additional taxes from-the group, and a Senate bill would raise even less. "In the present political climate," says a senior congressional aide, "there just isn't the stomach to do more. To get big money to reduce our $200 billion structural deficits you've got to tax you, me and people we hang around with."
  • Tsongas....And The Cancer Question

    Paul Tsongas discovered the lump in his groin on Sept. 29, 1983. It was a discovery that changed his life, and one that makes him unique .today-for Tsongas, as far as anyone knows, is the first cancer survivor to run for president. The lump was eventually diagnosed as a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a relatively rare cancer of the immune system. The diagnosis led Tsongas, then a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, to an intimate acquaintance with pain and suffering and to a dramatic encounter with the power and skill of modem medicine. His robust health more than eight years later is a point-blank refutation of the prejudice against cancer survivors in all walks of life. But his medical history is still a factor in judging his fitness for office. ...
  • The West Is Best

    Misery taught the Russian people to make grief a carnival, the novelist Maxim Gorky once wrote, but even he would be surprised to see his homeland today. Expressions of self-contempt fill the air. Moscow's Center for the Study of Public Opinion asked Russians recently which emotion they associated with their country's history; the most popular answer was "shame." More than 50 percent of the population believe the history of the Soviet Union consisted largely of "seizures and crimes." In a Times Mirror poll last September, Russians were the least patriotic out of 13 countries surveyed: only 60 percent of Russians called themselves very patriotic, compared with 88 percent of Americans. Writing in the English-language Moscow Magazine, rock-music promoter Artyom Troitsky suggested a metaphor for Russia: "A huge and hopelessly drunk oaf, wallowing helplessly in the mud." ...
  • 'I'm On The List!'

    Teenage mall-crawlers have a new symbol: fake plastic backstage passes like those worn by insiders at, say, Metallica gigs. A company called Icons has been selling scads of ersatz passes for stars like Hammer, Motley Crue and that nutty "Beverly Hills 90210" bunch. There's also a Malcolm X version. The craze has intensified because Wayne and Garth sport backstage passes in "Wayne's World."
  • Forster Revisited

    For 30 years the team of James Ivory, Ismail Merchant and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala have enjoyed a singular, civilized collaboration outside the Hollywood mainstream. This unlikely trio-an American director who grew up in Klamath Falls, Ore., a Muslim Indian producer from Bombay and a German-born Jewish screenwriter who fled to England in 1939 and lived in New Delhi for 24 years with her Indian husband-seem equally at home on three continents. But they all work out of Manhattan, where each has an apartment in the same building on East 52nd Street. ...
  • Let The 1,000-Mile Walk Begin

    When King Fahd ascended to the throne a decade ago, one of the first things he promised his subjects was greater political freedom. He built a domed marble hall in Riyadh for a royal council to advise the House of Saud. But the assembly hall stood empty while the king wavered between conservative clerics demanding strict Islamic policies and a growing number of Western-educated Saudis in search of reform. Eventually he realized that both sides have at least one goal in common: a bigger say in Saudi Arabia's political life. Last week Fahd granted their wish with a hesitant first step toward modernizing the world's most powerful oil-producing nation. ...