My mother’s study was a mystical place. Every bit of wall that didn’t have a window held shelves of books. Volumes of literature, collections of poetry, mythology, geography, fiction and non-fiction, French, German, English and Hebrew. In one corner, a shelf held the books she used when she taught a course called “Man and His Demons.”
”Sesame Street” is rather like the cradle of short attention span theater’s “civilization.” Thirty seconds of this, one minute of that, bada-bing, bada-boom, and out. Shows like “Sesame Street” pioneered this scattershot approach, cultivating the hasty mind-set of today’s young adults. But to their credit, they had first-rate intentions, moral lessons, albeit in the one-two punch style, and they delivered the Muppets. What the Children’s Television Workshop left in their wake, however, is a generation whose concentration is geared to brevity and scan-deep content. Enter MTV. Even the target audience thinks its stuff is patronizing and brainless.
…tenure to the once-upon-a-time hippies whose mission it was to discredit and bash “the establishment.” (Yes, that Academy, not the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which wakes up once a year to congratulate itself.)
There’s a new video game on the market. Teens and preteens downdload it for free from the Internet. The game involves solving math problems. But these are not the sort of math problems you come across in a textbook: instead, they revolve around the high finance of drug trafficking.
Internet communication has driven a telephone-oriented society to write. This is good news, when you think of all the written communication being turned out by a new generation. But with that new generation has come another language, catchy –and not-so-catchy– acronyms intended to make e-mails and IMs more succinct, more to the point. So much for the art and discipline of writing. Good-bye, grammar. Gone is the respect for a well-turned phrase.
We all know that adolescence is best faced — according to the adolescent– without adults listening in. Trouble is, we do listen in. So, in defense, teenagers understandably develop a language of their own.
“Getting Away With Murder, European Style” (January 22) elicited many responses. Invariably, they were from survivors, child survivors or their heirs. These are people who would be better off talking to the Wailing Wall than pleading with financial agencies that still keep a tight grip on Jewish assets seized during the years of the Third Reich.
During my childhood, there was the North Pole, and there was the South Pole. There was the pole that heroic firemen slid down to race to their big, red trucks. There was pole-vaulting too, a spirited sport that dared immortal feeling young men and women to defy gravity and launch themselves high in the air.
As the world knows (except of course for Iran), the Nazis destroyed European Jewry. En route they appropriated Jewish owned businesses, bank accounts, art, real estate, gold wedding bands, clothing…the right to live.
Quack remedies aren’t new. During the nineteenth century, such sure-cures grew to a multi-million dollar industry. Lydia Pinkham’s vegetable compound, Nevada Ned Oliver’s Kickapoo Indian Medicine, name the ailment, there was a phony remedy for it.
Alumni mail. It ranges from requests please send that holiday donation, you know it’s the right thing to do…after all, by now you’ve paid off your college loan and your kids are…in college. So you’re used to writing checks. Besides, if you don’t your name won’t be in the annual gift list (naturally listed by how much you gave). Sometimes I get a calendar, a directory of anyone you knew and didn’t know…to the most dreaded publication delivered to my home: Class notes.
Actor Alan Rickman recently came up with a brain-child. He called it My Name Is RachelCorrie, and his play immediately seized public attention in his homeland of Britain. He is now attempting to do the same thing at The Minetta Lane Theater in New York.
A couple of weeks ago, Columbia University College Republicans hosted what was to be a speech by Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minuteman Project. I figured trouble was in the air; this is, after all, my Alma Mater, a place that has lately shown a complete disdain for the First Amendment.
I recently ran across the writings of Don Marquis. The celebrated columnist started in the early 20th century and wrote until his death in 1937. His greatest fame came from his creations named archy and mehitabel: the former, a lyrical cockroach who addressed him as “boss,” the latter, a salty feline with a hyper-sexy history. Both had lived previous lives. archy was a verse libre bard; “expression,” he writes, “is the need of my soul.” Mehitabel’s earlier incarnations included a series of history’s great femme fatales, including Cleopatra.
What’s the really, really hot news? National budgets? Oncoming elections? War? Please. When the Emmys are gearing up, when the fashion issue of the New York Times hits the stands, when Angelina wears a different pair of shades, that’s when the presses work overtime.
My 14-year old daughter and I are having dinner. In-between bites, I suddenly look at her and say, “You never got a summer reading list.” We’re moving from the ‘burbs, and she’s about to start a new high school in Manhattan.