- The Washington Times - Monday, January 17, 2005

Air Vegas

“Michael Jordan, a once-famous basketball personage, announced [Jan. 7] that he had teamed up with a Chicago development firm to build a brand-new casino resort about a half-block east of Caesars Palace, just off the Strip, in Las Vegas. There is no place in America demonstrably more homogenized or more corporatized than Vegas. … This is Michael Jordan’s kind of town.

“Jordan’s vast success as a pitchman is misinterpreted as being as revolutionary a development as Elvis’ first appearance at Sun Studios or Jackie Robinson’s first appearance at Ebbets Field, when it actually was soulless and almost completely devoid of any lasting resonance outside of pure consumerism.

“Seriously, how many fewer hamburgers would McDonald’s have sold had the young Michael Jordan taken up the saxophone instead? The man determined early on to be a walking blue-chip portfolio; his choice of conglomerates was of a perfect piece with his entire public life, of which it can be fairly said that Michael Jordan never took any risk that might cost him a dime.”

—Charles P. Pierce, writing on “Citizen Jordan,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

Closet obituaries

“On Dec. 29, 2004, major gay and lesbian news organizations announced that ‘lesbian writer Susan Sontag’ had died. In its obituary of Sontag, the New York Daily News wrote, ‘Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz had been her longtime companion.’

“On Dec. 29, 2004, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times reported Sontag’s death on their front pages, with more stories inside. Yet neither paper mentioned Sontag’s relationships with Leibovitz and other women.

“It seems that editors at … the nation’s most respected (and liberal) newspapers believe that one personal detail cannot be mentioned in even the most complete biographies — being a lesbian. …

“Sontag was, for seven years, the companion of the great American playwright Maria Irene Fornes. … She also had a relationship with the renowned choreographer Lucinda Childs. And, most recently, Sontag lived, on and off, with Leibovitz. …

“[G]iven that obituaries typically cite their subjects’ important relationships, shouldn’t the two best newspapers in the country have reported at least her most recent one, with Leibovitz, as well as her marriage, which ended in 1958?”

Patrick Moore, writing on “Susan Sontag and a Case of Curious Silence,” Jan. 4 in the Los Angeles Times

‘Choose life’

“Today’s radical Islam is a religion of death, a religion that rejoices in slaughter. The radical Christianity known as Puritanism insisted on choosing life. …

“Puritans took to heart these famous words from the Hebrew Bible: ‘I have set before you this day life and death, blessing and curse: therefore, choose life and live, you and your children’ (Deuteronomy 30:19). On board the Arabella, John Winthrop closed his famous meditation of 1630 by citing that verse from Deuteronomy, centering his words on the page for emphasis:

“‘Therefore, let us choose life. …’

“No Saudi fanatic, no Kashmiri fanatic could have written those words. John Winthrop was a founder of this nation; we are his heirs; and we ought to thank God that we have inherited his humanitarian decency along with his radical, God-fearing Americanism.”

David Gelernter, writing on “Americanism — and Its Enemies,” in the January issue of Commentary

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