- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

Geezer rock
"The rock concerts that sold the most tickets in the record year of 2002 were put on by performers old enough … to join the AARP. No. 1 was Paul McCartney, age 61. Second, the Rolling Stones, fronted by Mick Jagger, age 60. Then comes Cher, 57. And finally, the two piano men who toured together, Billy Joel, 54, and Elton John, 56. …
"And Elvis Presley scored a No. 1 album, a collection of his 30 No. 1 hits. This was 25 years after his death. This year he would have turned 68.
"Isn't rock 'n' roll supposed to be for teen-agers? … How come all of these rock stars are old geezers? …
"It is true that baby boomers, always a demographic bulge, are now in their 50s. … It is also true that many baby boomers are nevertheless fixated on their faded youth, still listening to the same tunes they listened to in high school and refusing to grow up, even now.
"This Peter Pan syndrome not only prevents their musical tastes from maturing, it keeps them childishly self-centered. … Many aging baby boomers remain trapped in the '60s, to the embarrassment of their children."
Gene Edward Veith, writing on "Rocking-chair rockers," in the Feb. 1 issue of World
'The ancien regime'
"The year I started teaching [at Northwestern University] was 1973. The student revolt was over, at least in its to-the-barricades phase, but the more long-lasting effects had begun to kick in in earnest. A new air of informality had become almost de rigueur. Teachers called students by their first names, and some students returned the favor. Among the faculty, now the objects of routine written evaluations by their students, pedants were out, democrat-activists in. …
"Out of sheer nonconformity, I chose to teach in a jacket and tie. I also decided to call my students by their last names, preceded by Mr. or Miss (later, more hissily, Ms.). These two items set my general tone, which was slightly formal, maintaining a distinct distance between teacher and students. …
"I started teaching just as the ancien regimewas giving way to the regime of the politicizers. The battle between the older guard and the young theorists of race, gender, and class came to be known as the culture wars, but the war was lost almost from the outset. Today, in most English departments, the two-penny Saint-Justes, Dantons, Marats, and real-life Madame Defarges reign without much interference."
Joseph Epstein, writing on "Goodbye, Mr. Chipstein," in the February issue of Commentary
'Quiet' epic
"Graham Greene's 1955 'The Quiet American' is one of the most compact epics ever written. …
"[Director] Phillip Noyce and all of his actors … understand the delicate forcefulness of Greene's prose, and it's there on the screen in their version of 'The Quiet American.' Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine) is a correspondent for the London Times stationed in '50s Saigon during the protracted French Indochina War. His job seems to be an afterthought; his employer picks up on that, too, and tries to drag him back to London. … At almost the same time he realizes he's about to be displaced in his work, he meets an American newcomer by the name of Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser), an idealistic and enthusiastic aid worker with big ideas for solving the problems between the French and the Communists in Vietnam. …
"Greene's novel was amazingly prescient about the increasingly aggressive role the United States would take in Vietnam. … But even in the midst of this extraordinarily intricate political novel, Greene makes us understand that it's our personal motivations chiefly, our acknowledgment of whom we love and why that turn us into political beings."
Stephanie Zacharek, writing on "The Quiet American," in Salon at www.salon.com

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