- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 3, 2002

Excu-uuuuuuu-se him
"Steve Martin laid the groundwork for a new comedic direction. 'It was about 1972 and I looked around, and I thought, every comedian is political, every joke is related to politics or war and everybody looks the same,' Martin has said. 'I thought it was time for a change. So I went in my own natural direction. I went to a kind of absurdity. It's almost like someone had to act stupid for everyone else. I was dying for their sins of seriousness.'
"By the time Steve Martin first hosted ['Saturday Night Live] in October 1976, he had been doing this kind of act for the better part of a decade. He was an old hand at wringing laughs out of such material by being even more obviously silly. His act was a parade of ridiculous poses, silly accents and pretenses of suavity, but he did it in a self-effacing way: his pose of superiority only revealed his character to be an idiot. Martin built a career and an entire genre of late-twentieth-century humor around an attitude and an act that meant absolutely nothing and was absolutely hysterical.
"With the rise of Steve Martin, an element of the underground humor of the 1960s and '70s based on dreary, postwar existentialist philosophy was, for the first time, hot-wired directly into the mind of the mainstream public."
Michael Long, writing on "Letterman's Last Laugh," in the fall issue of American Outlook

Multicultural rape
"[On Aug. 15], in Sydney, the pack leader of a group of Lebanese Muslim gang-rapists was sentenced to 55 years in jail. After September 11, Americans were advised to ask themselves, 'Why do they hate us?' Now Australians need to ask themselves, 'Why do they rape us?'
"Five days before September 11, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported that 65 percent of the country's rapes were committed by 'non-Western' immigrants a category which, in Norway, is almost wholly Muslim. A professor at the University of Oslo explained that one reason for the disproportionate Muslim share of the rape market was that in their native lands 'rape is scarcely punished' because it is generally believed that 'it is women who are responsible for rape.'
"So Muslim immigrants to Norway should be made aware that things are a little different in Scandinavia? Not at all! Rather, the professor insisted, 'Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes' because their manner of dress would be regarded by Muslim men as inappropriate. 'Norwegian women must realize that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it.' Or to modify Queen Victoria's wedding-night advice to her daughter: Lie back and think of Yemen."
Mark Steyn, writing on "Multiculturalists Are the Real Racists," in the Aug. 22 issue of The National Post

Deadhead blues
"There is nothing like a Grateful Dead Concert," the old bumper stickers read. After attending my first 10 Dead shows, I soon realized this wasn't true: Every Dead concert is pretty much like every other Dead concert. Not in terms of the set lists, which famously varied, or the particular architecture of band leader Jerry Garcia's frequently transcendent guitar work. No, it was that ineffable Dead "vibe" that always struck me as rote it felt more habitual than blissful. What bugged me was the a priori assumption among Deadheads that Dead shows were always magic and that the magic could be routinely summoned on a nightly basis. It couldn't, not by a long shot. And that's coming from a fan.
"'A Long Strange Trip' the exhaustive authorized Dead bio written by Dennis McNally, a Ph.D. in American history and the band's publicist for the past 18 years debunks the few remaining preconceived notions about the band's hippie benevolence that Deadheads have carried around. Despite the book's "Great Men" breathlessness, this is a sad, sorry tragedy the chronicle of a personality cult so toxic it destroyed the very thing it venerated. Blame it on the Deadheads."
Marc Weingarten, writing on "How Deadheads Ruined the Grateful Dead," Friday in Slate.

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