- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Disco divas

"Almost everywhere you looked at the start of the new millennium, 20-somethings were running around in '70s clothes. Oldsters over 30 and youngsters under 20 alike were crowding into dance clubs for 'retro' nights to hear disco music. The 20-year nostalgia cycle has come back around.

"In the '70s, the '50s were revived in movies and TV shows. Now it was the '70s turn. Disco music certainly ranked at the top of any list of the positive legacies of that particular decade. In 2000, those old disco tunes were still as danceable as they had been two decades earlier.

"Dozens of Web sites on the Internet are devoted to disco, connecting enthusiasts to others like themselves throughout the world. Disco is still tremendously popular among gay and straight and every hue of the human rainbow, and vast quantities of disco music are sold each year. It seems safe to say that after two decades of 'just say no' to drugs, unsafe sex, cigarettes and cholesterol a lot of restless people are ready for the 'good times' that disco helped to create and celebrate."

John-Manuel Andriote in his new book, "A Brief History of Disco"

Same-sex scholars

"What does it take to earn a scholarship these days? Academic achievement, community service and, increasingly, a same-sex sexual proclivity.

"Since homosexual college student Matthew Shepard was beaten to death in October 1998, scholarships for homosexuals and their allies have proliferated across the country. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are now available for those 'self-identified' as gay or supportive of homosexuality.

"For example, Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, now accepts applications for the $2,000 Matthew Shepard Scholarship from students who identify themselves as 'other than heterosexual.' In California, Golden Gate University law professor Michael Zamperini is a namesake for a law school scholarship for lesbian and gay students. And the National Gay Pilots Association in 1998 established two $1,500 scholarships for homosexual pilot students because, said the group's executive director Ron Swanda, 'piloting is one of the last strongholds of homophobia.'

"Such four-digit awards, though, are mere pocket change compared with the mammoth scholarships available to homosexual and 'gay supportive' students at Iowa's state universities. At a ceremony last spring, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack announced three such scholarships each worth $25,000 over four years."

Richard Roberts and Sara Eisfeld, writing on "Deviance Pays," in the Dec. 16 issue of World

Two Floridas

"Just a few scattered memories remain from my seventh-grade class trip to Tallahassee… . But what lingers most is my overall impression of the state capital. I lived with my family in South Florida, and most of my neighbors and classmates were transplanted Northeasterners like us. Culturally, Tallahassee didn't just feel like the capital of a different state it felt like the capital of a different universe. I remember wincing at sickly presweetened ice tea and taking note of the ubiquitous Confederate flags, a rarity in our corner of Florida. And I remember that the dozen or so public officials who greeted our group spoke with a Southern drawl as foreign to us as our Brooklynese must have sounded to them.

"Geography had a lot to do with it. Tallahassee is just 20 miles south of the Georgia border; driving to New Orleans, Birmingham, or even Atlanta takes less time than the trek to Miami… . The original Floridians … were former Alabamians, Georgians and Virginians who settled in rural towns like Jacksonville, Ocala and Pensacola. They brought with them a Southern style of life and, naturally, a Southern style of politics."

Jonathan Cohn, writing on "Dixieland," in the Dec. 25 issue of the New Republic

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