- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2000

Skynyrd tribute

"The band [in the new movie 'Almost Famous'] was all the ones I wrote about. The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, the Allman Brothers, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. [Singer] Ronnie Van Zant from Skynyrd singled me out from a lot of press buzzing around in 1973. For some reason he loved my writing and tried to sponsor my stuff. He actually was the first guy that I knew really well who died, and I could never write about him afterwards. I was supposed to do his obit and I couldn't. I was shattered. I couldn't even listen to Skynyrd for 20 years after [the 1977 plane crash that killed Van Zant and two other band members]. Writing this movie helped me pay tribute to the guys who took care of me."

Cameron Crowe, former rock critic and writer/director of "Almost Famous," interviewed in the Sept. 22 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Puritan politics

"As descendants of the 17th-century Puritans who landed in Massachusetts Bay with the idea that they had regained the states of grace lost to Satan by corrupt and inattentive Europeans, we choose to believe that America is as innocent as Eden. Foreigners commit crimes against humanity; Americans make well-intentioned mistakes… . The fault is never one of motive, and our hearts are always pure… .

"The [convention] program in both Philadelphia and Los Angeles could as easily have served the purposes of a nursery school Christmas pageant or a Girl Scout jamboree. Both conventions enforced strict rules of cleanliness, the Democrats forbidding a fund-raising event at the Playboy Mansion, the Republicans staging depositions in favor of domestic bliss, and during the month of August the wisdom vouchsafed to the voting republic under the heading of politics consisted mostly of home videos showing each of the four candidates to be a loving husband, dutiful father, faithful friend. None of them the kind of man who would cheat an orphan or kick a dog… .

Their success as politicians followed from their trotting along behind the leashes of other people's money, and if they knew nothing else, they knew how to stomach humiliation and swallow insult with a frozen smile. And yet here they were in the band music and the television light, testimonials to the rewards of corporate servitude, talking about honor, trust, courage, and, best and most wonderful of all, dignity."

Lewis H. Lapham, writing on "Caesar's Wives," in the October issue of Harper's

'Real reality' TV

"Fasten your seat belts: Here comes 'Queer as Folk,' the TV show that makes 'Sex in the City' look like a Saturday-morning cartoon. Arriving this fall on Showtime, the two-hour-15-minute pilot features the most outrageous language you've ever heard, some of the most compelling characters you've ever met and American TV's first explicit lovemaking scene between a 29-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy.

"Actually, there are two of those scenes in the show's first two hours, punctuated by a visit to the hospital to meet the 29-year-old's newborn son, who has just emerged from the womb of a lesbian who has been inseminated with his sperm. In the maternity ward, the 29-year-old boasts of his conquest of the 17-year-old, provoking this response from the mother's lesbian lover: 'So, you've both had an infant tonight!' …

"In the words of Showtime CEO Matt Blank, 'This is real reality television.'

"Of course, gay characters are hardly a novelty in American sitcoms; last season, there were 16 of them in prime time, according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. But no one has ever seen gay characters quite like these, characters just as real and nuanced and hedonistic as many of their real-life counterparts."

Charles Kaiser, writing on "The Queerest Show on Earth," in the Sept. 18 issue of New York

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