- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2007

Old and irrelevant

“Andy Williams didn’t play at Woodstock. He was 41 that summer.

“Ray Charles, then 38, wasn’t invited either.

“And at age 52, Dean Martin certainly wasn’t.

“So what were John Bon Jovi at 45, Madonna at 48, and Pink Floyd’s David Jon Gilmour, 61, doing headlining a rock concert? None of them has had a hit within a decade of the ‘Live Earth’ concert. …

“One reason ‘Live Earth’ was dead last in the TV ratings is the music was irrelevant to the target audience. In fact, music itself is rather irrelevant, what with video games and YouTube getting more action. There is a reason MTV shows so few videos: Nobody watches them.

“The other reason is that Woodstock was not organized by Hubert Humphrey, the immediate past vice president of the United States at the time.”

Don Surber of the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, writing on “Dean Martin didn’t play Woodstock,” Tuesday at http://blogs.dailymail.com/ donsurber

Happily human

“If mood control meant obliterating our self-consciousness and making us into contented chimps, maybe it would be possible. But most or all of us, in our pride, would not consent to such treatment. …

“We want to be happy, but not to be too happily or mindlessly content. We want our happiness to be human, and we know that human happiness is both more intense and less pure than animal contentment. We want to be alienated enough to be creative and productive. We know that we do not want to live without any art and music at all, and a flat-souled technician is no audience for Shakespeare or Mozart or Johnny Cash or even John Lennon’s incoherent imaginings.

“If we got too happy in the present through virtual technology, then we would languish as consumers of real technology, and our progress toward ever greater wealth, power, security and freedom would slow to a crawl. Our free market would lose the psychological foundation of the dynamism that fuels its progress.”

Peter Augustine Lawler, from the new book “The Future of Conservatism: Conflicts and Consensus in the Post-Reagan Era,” edited by Charles W. Dunn

Papal popularity

“With donations to the church from around the world almost doubling and pilgrims pouring into Rome in ever-greater numbers, Vatican watchers are beginning to reassess the two-year-old pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and noting a positive ‘Ratzinger effect.’

“The move [to revive the Latin Tridentine Mass] … is regarded as yet another sign of Benedict’s conservative attachment to tradition and doctrine. …

“The Vatican denies this, however, and points instead to the huge appeal of the Latin Mass — and Gregorian chant — not only for disaffected right-wing Catholics, but also for many ordinary believers who value ‘the sheer beauty’ of the ancient liturgy. ‘This is a pope who — contrary to conventional wisdom — is in tune with the faithful,’ one Vatican source said. …

“Record numbers attend Benedict’s weekly audiences, and 7 million people a year now visit St Peter’s, a rise of 20 percent. Similar increases are recorded for pilgrimages to Catholic shrines at Assisi, Lourdes, Fatima in Portugal and Madonna di Guadalupe in Mexico. ‘This is a Ratzinger phenomenon,’ ” reported La Repubblica.

Richard Owen, writing on “The Ratzinger Effect,” July 7 in the Times of London