“Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” — Pat Robertson
A SUMMER NIGHT DREAM OF SMOKES, DAMES, AND JAZZ
I figure my first brush with sophistication came on a summer night in, oh, 1966, when I was ten.
The windows would be open throughout my family’s Natchez Avenue bungalow. If the wind were blowing just right, I’d be able to hear the clatter of a distant el train on the Lake Street line.
My father would be comatose in his recliner, his toes covered by his half rolled-off socks, an occasional snort emanating from his open mouth. Ma was already in bed. It’d be about 12:45am or so, and I’d be laying on the living room floor on my belly, craning my neck to see the TV screen, free as a bird.
In those summer vacation days, no matter how late I’d get to bed, I’d be sure to be able to wake up the next morning before the sun even climbed over the trees on Nagle Avenue, a block to the east. But I still had more TV watching to do. “Night Beat,” the WGN-TV late news show sandwiched between the 10:30 movie and the Late Show would be on.
The old anchor, Carl Greyson, would sign off and then the strains of the most adult music I ever was happy to hear would come on, the intro to that late, late movie. See, WGN would run a fairly recent movie at 10:30, something not too moth-eaten, like “Marty.” Then, after Night Beat’s house fires, shootings, and obligatory clips of Mayor Daley (the first) butchering the English language, there’d be a really old movie, often a hard-boiled detective feature from the ’40s.
For some odd reason, “The Dark Corner” sticks in my mind. Made in 1946, it starred Lucille Ball as a private eye’s hot tomato secretary who insists on helping her boss with his cases because, natch, she’s in love with him. It opens with shots of the big city, probably New York, but at that age I didn’t know the difference between The Loop and Broadway; so I dreamed of growing up and having my own office in some downtown Wabash Avenue building, where I could smoke, banter with pretty dames, and occasionally pull out my shoulder-holstered pistol just to see if it was still loaded.
Lucille Ball’s Got It For The Boss In “The Dark Corner”
That image gets mixed up with the intro strains of the Late Show, a jazzy thing, very subtle and smooth. A sax and a piano, mainly. In my dream it’d be playing repeatedly throughout my day in that office after I’d grown up.
It was Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.”
That was sophistication. That’s what I had to look forward to as I reached manhood.
IT AIN’T MY FAULT
For a while there, nobody screamed hard-boiled Chicago like David Mamet. The author of many plays including “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” “American Buffalo,” “The Water Engine,” “Speed-the-Plow,” and “Oleanna,” he copped a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1984 for “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
Mamet’s dialogue was the thing. Loud, profane, often (too often, some have groused) obscene, it was the dialogue of men without the company of women, men who say the word fuck again and again simply because it sounds as good as it feels to blurt out. His characters are known to converse (or, more accurately, orate past each other) in something that has come to be known as “Mamet-speak.”
The only consideration of morality in Mamet’s plays is his obvious assurance that no one is moral, merely exigent. The whole gang of office brutes in Glengarry is as likable as a pack of stray dogs.
The Original Broadway Cast
In recent years, Mamet’s stage output has fallen off and he’s turned his attention to TV commercials and cop shows. He also has decided that this holy land needs straightening out because it’s become immoral — remember, he would know immorality or the lack of it. He released a book in 2011 entitled “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture.”
The book documents the handbasket-to-hell America has become, mainly because liberal Hollywood stars are actually press agents for some nefarious cabal, or something.
I tried to read “The Secret Knowledge” but I couldn’t get past the first three pages. It’s as hysterical as a Glenn Beck book without any of the charm. When your prose is less seductive than that of a borderline lunatic, your worldview is grim indeed. This comes as no surprise from a man for whom the effort of smiling appears agonizing.
Mamet this year got back on Broadway with a new play called “The Anarchist.” He lined up Patti Lupone and Debra Winger to play a radical leftist convict and a nebulous corrections department nabob, respectively. The two parry for a little more than an hour over right and wrong and those who managed to stay awake through the closing curtain reported it to be less than riveting. One reviewer called it “a short, brittle, stripped-down debate-club exercise on a stopwatch.”
And that was among the less crushing pans of the production. Accordingly, “The Anarchist” is closing after a little more than a month of performances, including 17 previews.
And how soon will Mamet begin blaming the critics for the show’s demise (which would be like blaming a restaurant patron for suffering food poisoning)?
But isn’t that the way with the Right? Radicalized Republicans, Me Party-ists, Libertarians, and other such creatures crow about self-reliance and responsibility every chance they get but the moment they screw up they point fingers in 360º sweeps.
I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Mamet asks for a federal bailout now.
THAT DIRTY WORD AGAIN
Mamet, like so many in the Nouveau Droit is made itchy by feminists. For instance, he battered Gloria Steinem for applying feminist criticisms to the idolatry of Marilyn Monroe. Steinem wrote that Monroe was essentially forced to play the infant and Mamet responded that Marilyn was the second coming of Madame Curie.
Mary Elizabeth Williams writes in Salon that female celebs from Katy Perry and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to Marissa Meyer and Melissa Leo are climbing all over each other trying to proclaim to the world that they’re not feminists.
I suppose it makes sense that Perry, for one, a woman who relies upon the size of her breasts for much of her fortune, would be less than Susan B.-ish about things. But why are so many other accomplished women willing to eschew the tag, feminist?
A Different Kind of “Firework”
Is it merely ego? As in, I did it all on my own and I never needed Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem to fight any battles for me. It reminds me of the righteous indignation of newly-muscled baseball players after they’re accused of using performance-enhancing drugs; hey, I’m good — I don’t need no stinkin’ drugs.
Yes, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were good. That didn’t mean they didn’t think they needed a pick-me-up now and again. Same with the female CEO of Yahoo!. Marissa Meyer is talented, sure, but she is standing on the shoulders of giants.
And wouldn’t it be the coup de grace for Ashley Judd to oust jowly, humorless, and philosophically flatulent Mitch McConnell from Washington?
Out With The Old, In With The New?
Not only would the Republicans have to rethink their stance toward Latinos, but toward women as well.
According to a number of sources, the former actress is doing her due diligence in preparing for a possible US Senate run from Kentucky.