- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2002

Southern patriotism

"I went in search of Dixie, and discovered that I could find only traces of it. It is not so much the God-obsessed South I was looking for as the South of the Lost Cause. And that South, for better and worse, seems truly lost.

"New Orleans was a particular revelation. Our motel in the garden district, close to downtown, was within walking distance of two featured museums: one devoted to D-Day in World War II, the other to the Confederacy. The D-Day museum, only a few years old, is state of the art. Then, just down the street, there is the Confederate museum. It is neglected and forlorn, a museum of a museum

"The South had its elements of nobility, but its cause was morally indefensible at the core. And the North, whatever its own flaws, had in its vision of a Union dedicated to freedom and equality a cause very much worth defending.

"I returned from my trip with the sense that most Southerners now intuitively understand all that which is why they today cultivate not a lost cause but a sturdy American patriotism. Our friend new to Alabama from Connecticut happily reports that the concerts she attends begin with the national anthem. (That didn't happen up North.) It seems that the South, so long accustomed to whistling Dixie, has found a new song."

James Nuechterlein, writing on "Dixie, U.S.A.," in the August-September issue of First Things

Julia vs. Martha

"On the issue of Martha Stewart versus Julia Child, the world is clearly divided into two camps. Perhaps you love Martha her freakishly neat ways, her ability to strangle the warmth out of homemaking, the artificially manufactured twinkle in her eye. Or perhaps you love Julia the hooting voice, the happily sloppy technique, her naughty humor. For those who are wavering between the two, the path to righteousness was made clear this week, when Ms. Robotic Perfectpants was sued for allegedly trading on some insider stock tips and Julia had her kitchen enshrined at the Smithsonian Institution.

"Where Julia is a food revolutionary who tore down the barriers between home chef and fine dining, Martha has put them back up, turning what is homey and accessible quilts, cakes and flowers into works of insanely fussed-over art. Julia was the original mother of the cooking show, and she took obscure, unhelpful cookbook writing to wonderfully clear, approachable and zesty heights. Martha has followed in Julia's footsteps with a TV gig and numerous cookbooks, but where is the warmth, the genuine eye-popping pleasure in beauty and food?"

Noy Thrupkaew, writing on "She's No Martha," Aug. 23 in the American Prospect Online at www.prospect.org

Bourgeois Britney

"[Social theorist Theodor] Adorno regard[ed] music from a Marxist point of view: Culture is the superstructure built on the foundation of economics, and inevitably it reflects the injustice and alienation of society under capitalism.

"For Adorno, popular music is anti-music, a product shoved down the throats of passive consumers by a culture industry devoted to profit. It is not just a substitute for good music but a drug, a poison: 'Regressive, too, is the role which contemporary mass music plays in the psychological household of its victims. They are not merely turned away from more important music, but they are confirmed in their neurotic stupidity.'

"Enjoying jazz is a form of false consciousness: 'The illusion of a social preference for light music as against serious is based on that passivity of the masses which makes the consumption of light music contradict the objective interest of those who consume it.' Writing in the 1930s and 1940s, he comes up with an analysis of 'plugging' the selling of hit songs that uncannily describes the Britney Spears phenomenon."

Adam Kirsch, writing on "Thinking Hard, Listening Deeply," in the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times

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