August 25, 2001
EFFECTIVE TODAY, we're experimenting with a little and (largely) harmless means of passing the collection plate for whatever it
is that brings you to this web address. My hope is to raise enough to hire someone else to do all the grunt work of updating and formatting
things here so I have more time to write Groo.
The way it works is explained over on the Contact/Copyright Info Page but, basically, we'd like
you to buy stuff from Amazon.Com and/or Movies Unlimited and to go to those sites via this
one. That way, we get a buck or two of what you spend there, with nothing extra coming out of your pocket. To that end, we will be
recommending books and CDs and videos and stuff here, as we always have. We just ask that if you're motivated to make a purchase of our
suggestions — or anything from either company — you visit them through our links.
We start with a recommendation of a treasure they sell over at Movies Unlimited...and I assume it's a good seller because I've now
purchased around two dozen copies, which I give away to friends as gifts. In 1963, Norman Jewison produced and directed a one-hour TV special
entitled, The Broadway of Lerner and Loewe.
The show was hosted by Maurice Chevalier, who also performs, and features Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, Stanley Holloway and Robert
Goulet, plus Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Holloway performs "Get Me To The Church" and Andrews sings "Show Me," both from My Fair
Lady, both with the original staging. Where else are you going to see that? Burton does the closing scene to Act One of
Camelot. Goulet sings, "If Ever I Would Leave You" from the same show. In between numbers, all of them discuss appearing on Broadway,
and there's a hilarious sketch (obviously written by Lerner, though the show has no writer credit) with a young Charles Nelson Reilly and Frances
Sternhagen about all the industry pundits who predicted that My Fair Lady would flop.
The whole thing is a rare gem. It's presently available for $14.24 in a black-and-white VHS version called "Lerner and Loewe
Special." I've heard tell that a color version exists somewhere but I've never seen it and, anyway, you won't want to wait. (You also
won't want to buy just one thing there, since the postage fees encourage multiple purchases.) Anyway, if any of the above sounds good to you,
you'll love it...and I love being able to plug something with a clear conscience.
here to order one.
IN 1958, Mad Magazine ran a piece that suggested its readers write to J. Edgar Hoover and ask for their membership cards
in a spurious draft-dodging society. 'Twas just a joke but Mr. Hoover, who was then the head of the F.B.I., had about as much sense of humor
as...well, as you'd expect the head of the F.B.I. to have. Agents were dispatched to the offices of Mad to investigate and intimidate,
and a muckraking website called The Smoking Gun has recently obtained and posted the file
on this effort. You can read it here and it makes just about
as much sense as the one we posted here about Groucho Marx.
ABSENT A CONFESSION that he'd killed Chandra Levy and dumped her body into the gloppeta-gloppeta machine*, I thought Gary Condit
did about as bad as humanly possible in his interview with Connie Chung the other night. No, I take that back: He actually managed to do worse
in the interview he did right after that with a local reporter in his home town of Modesto. I caught it on my satellite dish...and he not only
looked even sleazier, he made his performance with Ms. Chung look worse, because he kept robotically repeating the same answers he gave there, over
and over, draining every last droplet of sincerity from them.
It was like a game we used to play in improv workshops where you're given two lines of dialogue and, no matter how the scene plays out,
you have to answer with one or the other. In Condit's case, they were "Out of respect for the wishes of the Levy family, I'm not going to get
into that" and "I've been married for 34 years and I'm not a perfect man." Since not one of the questions asked could have been a surprise to
the guy, you'd think he'd at least have planned some different ways to not say anything.
I have relatively little interest in Mr. Condit and, while it would be nice to see Ms. Levy turn up alive and well, I have no more
interest in her than I do in any of the hundreds of men and women who manage to vanish each year in this country without the media going on Red
Alert. The law enforcement officials who are charged with searching for Chandra Levy must feel trapped between the proverbial rock and hard
place: They are incessantly hectored for not doing more to find her, but they know there's no acceptable answer to the question of why they're doing
more to find her than they do to find anyone else.
What does interest me, sort of, about all this is how gleefully irresponsible the media has become in all this. Bogus reports of
other affairs...oddities in the Condit household...reports of phone calls that actually didn't take place? Doesn't matter. Condit,
they've decided, is guilty of something; if he didn't break the law, he's at least a hypocritical wife-cheater...so he and his family are fair
game and accuracy is not required, especially during Sweeps Week. Early on, I had a faint hope that he'd turn out to be the Richard Jewell of
Public Figures but there's no way that's gonna happen, no matter how this thing plays out.
What also interests me is this: Gary Condit is not some schmuck who got caught cheating on his wife. He's a seasoned politician
schmuck who got caught cheating on his wife. He's experienced at evading dangerous questions and double-talking his way past topics he'd rather
not address. People are upset because they think he's weaseling past all the hard queries...but that's in the Job Description we've come to
define for elected officials in this country.
We expect politicians to lie and evade and then, if they're people we like, we forgive evasive answers and fibbing as some necessity of
elected office. How many people do you know who were upset about all three of the following: Bill Clinton's "I never had sex with that
woman," George Bush's "I was not in those Iran-Contra meetings" and Ronald Reagan's "We did not trade arms for hostages"? Most folks expressed
outrage about one or two of those...but when it's their guy caught mutilating the truth, they rationalize or change the subject or say "The other guy
did worse" or mutter, "Out of respect for the wishes of the Levy family, I'm not going to get into that."
Mr. Condit is being no less candid than most politicians in America if you ask them a question that they know will cost them
votes. If he really thinks he can survive and win re-election, it's probably because he knows that, in the end, honesty garners little reward
at the ballot box. I don't think it'll work this time...but, sad to say, it usually does.
(P.S.: For the funniest comment so far on it all, check out what Joshua Micah Marshall had to say by clicking here.)
*An obscure reference to a joke in the Jack Lemmon film, How To Murder Your Wife — which, now that I think of it, you can
purchase from Movies Unlimited by clicking here. No, we're not going to let this
new commercial thing affect us. No, sir...
Click here to read the previous NEWS FROM ME