- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Aging rockers
"Aerosmith Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Joey Kramer, Brad Whitford, and Tom Hamilton were sexy, bluesy guys from my home state of New Hampshire. They seemed sad, rowdy, and courteous at the same time. Now I'm 32, and the past has gone it went by like dusk to dawn but Aerosmith is still here.
"The other night, MTV premiered 'MTV Icon: Aerosmith,' the channel's tribute concert to the jokers who tried and failed to be the American Rolling Stones or, no, the country's one funky, blues-rock garage band with stamina or, let's face it, the aging derivative jerks in eyeliner who ride the nostalgia train and consent to appear on MTV as 'icons.'
"Of course, you can't underestimate the music industry's swelling capacity for gaudy self-congratulation. Through the device of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the music business, with MTV still firmly at its center, has canonized more saints than John Paul II.
"It's also democratized rock fame. The assumptions behind 'Behind the Music' (VH1) and dozens of shows are evidence of the widespread belief that anyone who has had even a run-in with rock fame has a story worth telling. And maybe it's true. Rock stardom may be like the Congo: If you've been there, no matter what happened, we want to hear about it."
Virginia Heffernan, writing on "Sweet Emotion," Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

Breaking up is
"[W]ith the passage of the first no-fault divorce law, in 1969, in California [t]he imperative to keep a strained marriage afloat 'for the sake of the children' became an imperative to end a strained marriage for the sake of adults and, it was blithely assumed, for the greater happiness of the children involved.
"This liberating, '70s view was reflected in books with titles such as 'The Courage to Divorce' and 'Creative Divorce: New Opportunities for Personal Growth.' In 'The Future of Marriage,' the sociologist Jessie Barnard went so far as to declare that a woman had to be 'slightly ill mentally' in order to suffer the indignities of a traditional marriage.
"Divorce has very little to recommend it. Aside from the disorienting upheaval in a familiar if not necessarily blissful way of life, a divorce, especially if it involves children, often leaves bloodshed in its wake.
"In the end, I don't think there is any way of getting around the failure that divorce represents; and, however confused our sense of direction, our children want the old, linear plot line. Despite our wish to suspend narrow judgments of what constitutes a normal family, children are inherently conservative."
Daphne Merkin, writing on "Can This Divorce Be Saved?" in the April 29 issue of the New Yorker

Declining legacy
"A recent Gallup Poll has confirmed what many suspected would be the case: Bill Clinton's retrospective presidential approval rating has plummeted to 51 percent, far below the average of his second term. There is no reason to believe that his fall in public esteem has yet reached bottom.
"Only two other presidents since 1960 have experienced declining approval ratings after leaving office (Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon). To the contrary, most presidents see their approval ratings rise after they leave office, as mistakes and partisan battles recede into the past.
"This news has undoubtedly caused enormous consternation for Mr. Clinton and his entourage, who were veritably obsessed with advancing his 'legacy.' Perhaps the first lesson in all of this is that there may be an inverse relationship between the attention a president lavishes on promoting his historical reputation and the reputation he actually achieves."
Andrew E. Busch, writing on "The Incredible Shrinking Ex-President," an April editorial from the Ashbrook Center at www.ashbrook.org

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