- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2000

Rock family values

"Liv [Tyler] was the literal byproduct of sex, drugs and rock and roll. But, luckily for her, her fate was in the hands of an improbably conscientious bunch of pleasure seekers.
"It's become one of the great music-industry yarns [model] Bebe [Buell's] getting pregnant at 21 by [Aerosmith lead singer Steven] Tyler, who, as a peripatetic, drug-taking metalhead superstar, was unavailable for the 'Father Knows Best' role.
"So Bebe's old boyfriend, responsible rocker Todd Rundgren, became Dad, performing all the relevant duties, from cutting the cord to paying for private school… .
"Rundgren stepped in, posing as Liv's biological father. Shortly after Liv was born, Buell took her to visit Tyler. 'He saw her; he met her. What could he say? He burst into tears. But the deal had been made.' …
"[H]er father's joy will always be a little tainted. 'I didn't get a chance to change her diapers, and I will cry inside for that for the rest of my life,' Tyler says. 'I've come to grips with it, but my insides know exactly what happened.' "
Lucy Kaylin, writing on "All You Need Is Liv," in the August issue of GQ

Star power

"Sir Alec Guinness was a singular paradox of pop culture: a household name without a persona. Even if he hadn't played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977's 'Star Wars' and, in so doing, become a Gandalf for a generation weaned on (and reliant on) pop mythology he would be revered for a gallery of exquisitely crafted performances that are by turns deeply comic and intensely profound, and that give no glimmer whatsoever of the man behind them… .
"He went dramatic with 1957's 'The Bridge on the River Kwai,' for which he won a Best Actor Academy Award … but despite being knighted in 1959 … Guinness slowly sloped into a career rut from which only 'Star Wars' rescued him.
"Ah, 'Star Wars.' Guinness' two-and-a-half percent of the grosses made him a millionaire many times over, yet the actor came to detest the way the movie 'led to a worldwide taste for a fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities.' …
"To the dismay of the man and the delight of millions, the Force was always with him."
Ty Burr, writing on "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Star," in the Aug. 18 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Social satirist

"For so long, [Tom Wolfe] was the man, the emperor, the renovator … of documentary journalism; he was our pundit, our diagnostician, our sui generis social gadfly.
"In essay after essay, book after book, he took on the wild excursions of American culture, everything from drag racing to the psychedelic adventurings of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, from the [Mercury] astronauts to the anomalous party-circuit coupling of ultraliberals like Leonard Bernstein and members of the militant Black Panthers.
"Along the way, he coined many of the tags 'radical chic,' 'the Me Decade' through which we grasped the strangeness of our rapidly mutating world. Later came rants against modern architecture and modern art, as well as his too-big-by-half but still enormously successful novels, 'The Bonfire of the Vanities' and 'A Man in Full.'
"The man had an eye for the intricate codes of social expression, the cipher systems of caste… .
"All signs are that much of the fond bemusement has ebbed away and been replaced by spleen and indignation… .
"Wolfe may have outlived his moment as a satirist. He was at his best a few decades back, when the culture was in its most conspicuous throes of transition from the heyday of the counterculture through the Reagan '80s."
Sven Birkerts, writing on "Tom Wolfe," in the September issue of Esquire

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