Newswire

Newswire

  • Turning Shakespearean Tricks

    You may not be sure exactly how you feel when My Own Private Idaho ends, but you'll sure as hell know you haven't seen another cookie-cutter movie. Gus Van Sant doesn't play it safe, and the success of his 1989 cult hit "Drugstore Cowboy" has only emboldened him to further push the outside of the envelope. Some of the risks he takes are cockeyed magic, and some are so daffy maybe nobody could have pulled them off. But his third feature--the last in an informal trilogy of the streets that began with "Mala Noche" in 1986--leaves absolutely no doubt that Van Sant is the freshest new voice working in American movies. ...
  • Biosphere Ii: Science Or Showmanship?

    It's a good bet that when God created Biosphere I (Earth, that is), there were no sombreros full of raw vegetables or giant vats of guacamole to feed the assembled onlookers. Nor were Timothy Leary, Steve Guttenberg or "Cheers" stars John Ratzenberger and Woody Harrelson present to lend celebrity cachet. But all those and more--a fire juggler, an Indian chanter and costumed dancers on stilts--were on hand last week to fete the opening, or rather the closing, of Biosphere II, a gigantic terrarium rising Jules Verne-like from the Arizona desert. It was a fitting extravaganza for an audacious project that aims to recreate Earth itself, complete with a desert, rain forest, savanna, ocean and farm, all within 2.75 steel-and-glass enclosed acres. The next morning, as the door was sealed, locking in four men, four women and 3,800 species of plants, animals and insects for two years of isolation, Texas billionaire Ed Bass, the project's chief financier, exhorted the crew to "fly your...
  • The Pain Of The Last Taboo

    My name is Roseanne and I am an incest survivor. That is the nasty little secret that has taken all my energy and all my courage to keep." More than 1,000 survivors of childhood sexual trauma crowded into Denver's Montview Presbyterian Church to listen to the shaky, tearful testimony that echoed thousands of anonymous confessions in therapy sessions around the country. As anyone with a TV set now knows, this speaker was anything but anonymous. She was Roseanne Arnold, formerly Roseanne Barr, the TV celebrity who had just adopted her husband's name in a rejection of her allegedly abusive family. ...
  • The '60S Democrats

    As a college student in 1968, Bill Clinton would recite solemnly, to close friends, inspirational passages he had memorized from the Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Paul Tsongas says his "formative experience" was his Peace Corps duty in Ethiopia. Bob Kerrey discovered his ambivalence toward government in 1969, when he was a wounded Vietnam War hero convalescing in a naval hospital. Tom Harkin's politics were honed by Vietnam, too, as a pilot and then as a congressional aide who opposed the war. Jerry Brown visited Mississippi in 1962, eager to see the civil-rights movement. And when Doug Wilder entered the Virginia state Senate in 1969, his maiden speech was pure '60s: a protest against Jim Crow lyrics in the state song. ...
  • Greenspan's Dilemma: How Low Can You Go?

    Alan Greenspan and the other folks running the Federal Reserve Board have a problem. At a meeting last week in the White House, George Bush made it clear that it's become his problem, too. Nobody wants to borrow the money that Greenspan and his fellow central bankers are creating, and the still modest economic recovery could fizzle before Christmas. ...
  • A Voice From The Past

    So I'm out there for four millenniums, freezing my tush in the dark, and now all I get is speculation. "He was going for food" "He was going for water." "He was going to the Bronze Age deli for a pastrami on rye. "These fancy scientists should just wait for the record. ...
  • Below The Belt

    Frontier justice is alive and well. State District Judge Michael McSpadden of Houston has endorsed a proposal to castrate violent criminals. The respected judge was responding to a plan by a local physician who says castration would be a quick, inexpensive way to deter criminal behavior. Of more than 200 people who called McSpadden's office after his announcement, only two opposed the measure; eight said he should be president.
  • Rediscovering America

    Is PBS still PC? Or is it politically incorrect even to attempt to be fair to a white European male accused of abetting rape, pillage, enslavement, mass murder and environmental devastation? Not to mention swiping the glory from America's true discoverer, who, of course, was the fifth-century Chinese sailor Hui-Shen. But enough, for the moment, of revisionist tempests. PBS's seven-hour "Columbus and the Age of Discovery," which runs for four straight nights beginning next Sunday, is definitely MV (Must Viewing). Hoping to repeat the ratings of last year's "The Civil War," as well as steal a jump on the Columbus quincentenary hoopla, public TV has produced the kind of epic documentary the networks long ago abandoned. It's got mammoth sweep, probing intelligence and, wonder of video wonders, supreme irony. Try to name another prime-time drama whose protagonist ends up glorified and vilified for a deed he neither intended nor comprehended. ...
  • An Epidemic Of Scarlett Fever

    With Scarlett's impassioned vow to win Rhett back after he abandons her on page 1,035, Margaret Mitchell always insisted her "Gone With the Wind" had reached its "natural and proper ending." But Mitchell's heirs (she was run over by a drunk driver in 1949) knew a sequel would be in the wind before long. The 1936 book's copyright-and their control over the property and its profits--would expire in 2011, they fretted, leaving the field wide open for sleazy exploiters, or--God's nightgown! --even Yankees. So, four years ago they chose Alexandra Ripley, 57, a Southerner born and bred, to write GWTW II. It was a labor even longer and more painful than Melanie's, with the 823-page manuscript requiring the emergency services of a book doctor. Last week, amid a blitz of hype, "Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone With the Wind"' was finally delivered to stores in 40 countries, in 18 languages (including Chinese, Japanese, Swedish and Finno-Ugric). The good news is, believe it...
  • A Pox On Populists

    Do you love "the people" so darn much you can hardly stand it? Are you ticked off that "the interests" are conspiring to hijack government of, by and for you-know-who? Do you think it is high time the grasping few quit grinding the faces of the many? If so, you are a populist. Populism is all the rage now, at least among the few who are courting the many. The few are presidential candidates. ...
  • Tale Of The Crypt

    Ferdinand Marcos is not resting in peace. Or so says the manager of Honolulu's Valley of the Temple cemetery, who has told Imelda Marcos that her husband's remains may have to be removed. The cemetery wants to make $22,500 worth of improvements in the casket wiring that keeps Ferdinand cool and dehumidified. He now lies in a temporary, aboveground plywood crypt. Imelda told a press conference she hopes to fly her husband's body to Manila on Friday. But first those who overthrew him must agree.
  • Is It Bad For The Jews?

    On one level, 1991 should be a great year in Jewish history. Iraq, which threatened the very existence of Israel, was defanged. Soviet communism, which sanctioned anti-Semitism, collapsed. In the United States, historic barriers to Jews in polities and business continue to fall. If someone had predicted earlier this century that the presidents of Princeton, Dartmouth and Harvard would one day be named Shapiro, Freedman and Rudenstine (the latter was born half Jewish), he would have been laughed out of town. ...
  • Will Bush's Plan Work?

    Part bluff, part bargaining and part brinkmanship, the 28-year history of nuclear arms-control agreements between the superpowers has been a frustrating and mostly ineffectual exercise in bean counting in the shadow of apocalypse. Since 1963, when John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev signed the first nuclear test-ban treaty, the diplomats, weapons experts and strategists who constitute the high priesthood of the nuclear age have struggled to contain the upward spiral of doomsday technology-while ordinary mortals the world over crossed their fingers and hoped for breakthroughs in vain. Last week, in a 20-minute speech that was long on promise but hazy on some crucial concepts, George Bush took a bold step toward breaking this tradition of glacial, tortuous, crablike progress. And while it may be years before the president's gamble pays off, the arcane process of mutual de-escalation will probably never be the same. ...
  • Mad As Hell In Rhode Island

    The 300 protesters in Warwick, R.I., last week weren't the usual crowd of social activists. Sporting gray hair and plastic rain hats, some were retired teachers with more background in lunch lines than picket lines. But their zeal in taking on Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun would have done Abbie Hoffman proud. Outside a gubernatorial fund-raiser at a local hotel, the victims of the state's much-publicized credit-union crisis chanted and wielded umbrellas as if they were spears. Carrying signs reading FREE MY FUNDS and RUN AGAIN BRUCE--THIS TIME FOR THE STATE LINE, they decried the governor's handling of the scandal and demanded that their deposits, which have been in jeopardy for more than nine months, be returned immediately. ...
  • Can We Trust The Russians To Go Along?

    On Thursday Mikhail Gorbachev received an unexpected cable from Washington. Then on Friday afternoon the phone rang in his Kremlin office. A frequent caller-George Bush-was on the line. Gorbachev was "astounded" by the message, according to senior U.S. officials. Bush was proposing sweeping cuts in U.S. nuclear forces and asking Gorbachev to match them. After the initial surprise had worn off, Gorbachev was prepared to think about doing just that. "I can say without any exaggeration that our assessment of these proposals is very positive," he said on national television. "[They] hold a lot of promise of serious steps toward a nuclear-free world." Russian President Boris Yeltsin was even more effusive: "Yeltsin... spoke in favor of identical huge cuts on the Soviet Union's side," the Russian Information Agency reported. ...
  • New Kids On The Range

    As worn by male country singers from Hank to Haggard, the cowboy hat was a simple, if paradoxical, fashion statement: it said you were one more rugged individualist. But in the video-conscious Nashville of the '90s, it's become a totem, a talisman, and one more damn thing to worry about. Is it in? Out? So far out it's in? Bottom line: should one or should one not? The very word hat now has a bothersome resonance for those post Ricky Skaggs, post George Strait, post Randy Travis neotraditionalists who dominate today's Nashville sound. "Hat acts," they're called, increasingly to their chagrin. Even the ones who think fussing over clothes is unmanly. Even the ones who don't wear hats. ...
  • Hail Felons Well Met

    That great American tradition--capitalizing on notoriety--was in full glory again last week. Dennis Levine, the former investment banker who accumulated about $12 million from illegal insider trades and unleashed a wave of Wall Street prosecutions, was out promoting his new tell-all book. There he was on "60 Minutes." There he was on CNN. There he was in USA Today. There he was in the Chicago Tribune. Levine's repeated message was that while he had shed 67 pounds serving 17 months in prison, he had gained a lot in contrition. The public could expect to be skeptical, especially after "60 Minutes" soured the party by suggesting Levine was still enmeshed in a con game. And Wall Street, which wants the scandal to vanish, viewed Levine's return with apoplexy. "A pathological liar," a former colleague sputtered. ...
  • Wildlife

    The Massachusetts fisheries and wildlife department, for moose abuse. Recently a 700-pound moose showed up in a Natick backyard. The unusual visitor to the Boston suburb attracted a throng of children who watched the real-life Bullwinkle munch grass. Then, as the kids looked on, officials showed up and killed the moose with a shotgun. They defended the shooting as "a matter of public safety." Gov. William Weld has questioned the decision to kill, rather than tranquilize, the moose.
  • More Than You Want To Hear

    Coughing, poorly tuned guitars, boring chitchat: they're all part of the new CD anthology craze. Stars denote quality of material perhaps better left out: Only the most strong-willed Streisand scholars will want to rehear the insufferably cute demo record, cut when she was a teen, that's in her new collection. The gaudy pink box has to go, too.Who would dare tell the Mudman how to play the blues? Answer: record-company owner Phil Chess, twice interrupts say, "Hey, c'mon guys, let's take it from the top, OK?"In his "Star Time" set, complains that "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" has "a lot of words"--not that anyone has ever understood more than eight of them.On his "Bootleg Series" collection, the young singer struggles through a partial, waltz-time version of "Like a Rolling Stone" before announcing, "My voice is gone."
  • The Not So Golden Years

    Rubinstein is adjunct research professor of mass communications at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. ...