- The Washington Times - Friday, November 22, 2002

Entertain us
"If Kurt Cobain had looked less like a rent boy on the Lido and more like, say, Howdy Doody, would he be alive and well today? On the other hand, if Cobain hadn't found an outlet and an audience for his hostility by performing in the band Nirvana, would he have turned the shotgun he used to kill himself in 1994 on the rest of us instead?
"Such questions are inescapable after reading even a sampling of Cobain's notebooks, published this month by Riverhead Books as 'Journals.' Grotesque fantasies of homosexual rape and homicidal rage fairly leap off the pages, suggesting that the anti-establishment icon from a remote Washington State logging community was tortured by a lot more than the hot spotlight of commercial success. Yet we haven't heard a peep from reverential reviewers about such things. Why do you think that is?
"Over some 280 pages he has nice things to say about only a couple of people, and expresses sustained admiration for only one Jimmy Carter, remembering only that he 'liked peanuts' but somehow seemed to be a 'good, honest, smart man.'
"Who knows. If Elvis is still out there somehow, perhaps the spirit of Kurt Cobain has found a happy haunt in Oslo. On the other hand, he might be railing against a mainstream media that promotes him as a cultural icon even as it launders his act before going to press."
Nancy DeWolf Smith, writing on "Kurt, We Hardly Knew Ye," Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal

Rousseau's vision
"Jean-Jacques Rousseau, writing in the 18th century, influenced the growth of 'child-centered' education as much as any historical figure. Known more as a political philosopher than educationist, Rousseau nonetheless was instrumental in promoting the Romantic vision of schooling, the notion that 'children can and should learn all things naturally,' exploring the world around them through their innate curiosity, relying on their senses more than books or other artificial devices.
"In 'Emile,' Rousseau made the case for a pedagogy based on experiential learning guided by the interests of the child, where the tutor was to 'do nothing.' (Rousseau, indeed, did nothing in his own parenting, abandoning all five of his children while they were infants.)
"Rousseau was neither the first nor the last educational theorist to advance the ideas based on virtually no hard empirical evidence."
J. Martin Rochester, from his new book "Class Warfare: Besieged Schools, Bewildered Parents, Betrayed Kids and the Attack on Excellence"

Rock lifestyle
"When John Philips, the Mamas and the Papas' Irving Berlin, expired, those members of the 1960s youth generation who had remained hooked on his music felt an understandable pang, though they were well into middle age. This popinjay from the pontification period of rock 'n' roll had died at age 65 nine and a half years short of the average life expectancy for a white male.
"Rock's greatest performers frequently have died young, usually horribly, and after acquiring large numbers of bad habits and fishy associates. Phillips had developed addictions to various drugs, among them heroin and cocaine. His heroin addiction was so severe that it caused circulatory problems that almost led to the amputation of his hands.
"A cradle-to-grave cigarette smoker would have enjoyed a healthier life than Phillips and would have easily outlived such other victims of the rock lifestyle as Keith Moon of the Who, dead at age 31; Jim Morrison of the Doors, dead at 27; and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, dead at 27. The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, despite his group's irony-layered name, made it to age 50."
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., writing on "Rock & Roll, R.I.P.," in the September/October issue of the American Spectator

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