Saturday, February 24, 2007

Arianna Vs Hillary

Hillary may not be a saint, but Arianna Huffington's continual over-the-top criticisms of her are peculiar. Arianna, remember, wanted to be a power in politics. She married that rich fellow Huffington in hopes of getting him elected governor, so she could (I suspect) be the power behind the throne. She's envious of Hillary. And Hillary would make a good President. (As would Barack and Edwards and Richardson.) Arianna is brilliant and formidable, but her enmity toward Hillary is embarrassing.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Judge Judy

Sometimes the TV at my gym is on her program—and God, I loathe her. Nazi-like. Intimidates and bullies and interrupts the witnesses—makes them confess to “lying.” Insists she is capable of telling whether someone is lying or not. Tells a woman, repeatedly, to wipe the smirk off her face. The woman was just smiling nervously.
I saw a film of an authentic Nazi trial. The witnesses were terrified, the judge shouting at them. The judges were Judge Judys.
She’s popular for the same reason that those right-wing horrors on radio and TV are popular. They are angry, they oversimplify things—and they appeal to the angry, simple-minded Americans. Coulter, for example.
Someone should start a Web site: Shut the hell up, Judy.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

the week away


Films I’ve seen recently: The Departed was gripping, well acted, but full of holes. All the Children, a Chinese movie, had wonderful performances and a very affecting story, but was nevertheless crude. Life With Father, from 1947, was silly in some places—and Father himself close to being obnoxious. Why wasn’t Myrna Loy in the Irene Dunne role, alongside Wm Powell? So people would see that it wasn’t a Thin Man movie?

Donald Ogden Stewart wrote the screenplay for Life With Father—a well-known writer. His son worked with me at a Ginzburg magazine years ago. Sunny disposition; not competitive, the way we other young men were. But he took a long time deciding which word to use in a “service” article; someone predicted that he wouldn’t last long, and he didn’t.

Arizona: Oh, a week of warm weather in the midst of a NJ winter is so agreeable! Singers from the Santa Fe Opera Company were surprisingly good, especially the dazzling soprano; the Rembrandt exhibit at the Phoenix Museum had few Rembrandts.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Word for Mitt Romney

He's changed his mind. He is now against civil unions for gays. Although he is their friend and wouldn't mind if they voted for him.

He's also changed his mind on freedom of choice. He's decided that choice winds up giving people a low regard for human life.

It's just a coincidence, of course, that now that he's running for President he wants the conservative vote.

There's a mot juste for Mr. Romney.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nader Again

If Hillary is the nominee, Nader now says, he may run again.
Tragedy returns as farce.
So Nader can help McCain – re-surgent -- win? Anti-freedom-of-choice McCain?
Or does Nader want to threaten Democrats, so perhaps they will nominate Edwards or Obama or Richardson? Didn’t Edwards vote for the war, too?
Or does Nader simply want attention? It seems to be a foible of many of us older people: We’re desperate to leave our mark, to be noticed. (I check my name in Google almost every day.)
Remember when Nader ran against Bush and Gore? At one point, he crowed that Gore was actually mentioning him!
Ralph, I’m noticing you.
Shut the fuck up.
And get lost.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

I loved it when I first saw it. Almost perfect. But I didn't like the ending--the little girl doing a burlesque bit. Would her grandfather had allowed her to be embarrassed like that?

On second viewing: a bit thin. But the characters held up. The angry wife. The extreme teenager. The immature Proust scholar. The uninhibited grandfather. I knew the film was going to be unusual when Arkin says, at the beginning of the movie, Fucking chicken for dinner again?

An alternate ending: The family members run off with the Little Miss Sunshine trophy!
I laughed. But...I guess I have to agree. It was funny, but it was also theft.

The villains in the movie were two women: a hospital official, a contest official. The contest official gave an especially fine performance. I really hated her!

Goldwater Case

Sued by Barry Goldwater

The lawyer, Stanley S. Arkin, for the editor who procured the infamous O.J. Simpson book, Judith Regan, was my lawyer in the Goldwater case. Goldwater had sued Ralph Ginzburg, Fact magazine, and me for libel.

Harris Steinberg was Ralph's lawyer. Urbane, smart. In his summation to the jury, he threw two cents down. "I don't want you to award Mr. Goldwater two cents!" Hoping (he told us) that they would award him two cents. The magazine had run a cartoon of Goldwater looking at his private parts, reflecting the article's assertion that he had doubts about his masculinity. Steinberg interpreted this as: was Goldwater circumcized or not? An interpretation that startled ME.

During my deposition, I said that Time, Newsweek, and possibly US News had run statements that Goldwater had had a nervous breakdown. Goldwater's laqwyer said to me, you know that that is false, don't you? I stuck to my guns.

Rosemary Latimore--bless Rosemary, the saintly Rosemary, the unfailing Rosemary--the next day came in with citations from Time, Newsweek, and US News that Goldwater had had nervous breakdowns.

I passed them along to Steinberg while he was questioning someone. He interrupted his questioning to read those citations into the record.

Later, he said to us, joyfully, that those citations had badly shaken and depressed the Goldwater lawyers.

In my own testimony, I'm told, Goldwater paid special attention when I said that FDR was mentally exhausted at one point, which helped explain why he had made unwise concessions to the Soviet Union at Yalta. And my lawyer told me that someone -- a journalist, I think -- had said, about me, he really knows his onions.

During my testimony, I saw that one juror was asleep. A juror next to him gave me an amused look.

I testified that I had phoned Erik Erikson, the psychoanalyst ("Young Man Luther"), about Goldwater. Erikson had generally agreed with I suggested-- Goldwater was trying to show what a man he was -- but warned me that there were cultural and local influences at work.

The judge in the case--Tyler, appointed by Republicans--said to me, Do you recall this Erikson's middle name?

I interpreted that to mean: You're making up the name, aren't you?

HOMBERGER! I replied angrily.

(How could anyone invent a name like that?)

I was worried about the case--would I have to work for Goldwater the rest of my life? Paying off $2 million? And I felt a little guilty, too. I was working in St. Louis at the time, for a social-sciences magazine published by Washington University.

The trial: Every once in a while, someone said something truthful. As brief and shocking as a lightning flash.

I got Goldwater and Ginzburg to autograph a copy of the magazine--but lent it to a friend, and never saw it again.

The jury awarded Goldwater $75,000 against Ralph and the magazine, and $1 against all three of us. Arkin paid my 0.33 cents.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

George S. Kaufman

Frank Munsey entered his newspaper's newsroom and saw George S. Kaufman, who was working as a drama critic.

"Who hired that Jew?"

Kaufman wound up at the NYTimes.

Friday, February 02, 2007

An Outrageous Movie

"Thank You for Smoking" winds up with the contemptible, amoral tobacco-lobbyist carrying the day. Asked if he would let his son take up smoking at age, he says that if his son wanted to, he would buy him a pack.

We are supposed to admire him for this answer?

And if his son wanted to kill himself, he would have brought him a knife?


The lobbyist uses tricky, sleazy arguments to defend the tobacco industry. Doesn't eating cheese kill people, too, by raising their cholesterol levels? I wonder: Is anyone who watches this film stupid enough to see that any link between cheese and death is tenuous, while the link between smoking tobacco and death is powerful?

I see a connection between the philosophy of selfishness and do-whatedver-you-like in order to pay the mortgage, advocated in this film, and the conscience-less administration in Washington.

Why didn't you serve in Vietnam, Mr. Cheney?
I had better things to do.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Jeff Page

He's retiring from the Bergen Record.

I met him years ago, when both of us worked for Ralph Ginzburg. Was it Moneysworth we were writing for?

Very handsome young man. Blond. Open and easy-going. He did good work, too, researching stories. His predecessors had been losers.

I came in one day. "I fired Jeff," Ralph said. I was shocked. "You didn't like his work, right?"

I was immediately depressed. Now I had more work to do.

I guess that was one of Ralph's motivations: Get me to do more work. Also, a need for variety and change in his life--he fired people left and right. There was actually an office pool on how long a new hiree would last!

(One person who worked as a secretary for us: a woman who became famous as a comedienne. I'll insert her name when I remember it.) (Lily Tomlin.)

Anyway, years later I applied for a job at the Bergen Record--having worked there before. Jeff Page was already working there--and kept insisting that I had fired him! But I think I finally persuaded him that I had had nothing to do with it.

A memory:

Jeff told me (when we worked for Ginzburg) that he had been walking in NYC when a young man came up to him and said, "Are you Jeff Page?" Yes, he said. The man then screamed and ran away. Page was upset and disturbed. I told him: A friend had seen him, and prompted his own friend to do that--as a joke.

Jeff was grateful for my explanation.

But when I reminded him of it years later, he didn't remember.

He wasn't as good-looking during his second incarnation in my life, but he was still an easy-going, affable person.