- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Fiery ballad
"On his 'Prairie Home Companion' radio program [March 1], Garrison Keillor did something truly unusual. … He wrote and performed, along with the guitarist Pat Donohue, a serious ballad about a serious news event that was just nine days in the past.
"Usually, Keillor deals with the news only through satire. But there was no comedy, and no irony, in the grim song he sang this week. The subject was the dance hall fire at West Warwick, R.I., which killed 97 and injured 187 others. …
"His approach was far from the gently elegiac tone of most news coverage. It was accusatory as well as mournful. …
"The victims in Rhode Island may have been killed by men with long hair and rock 'n' roll dreams, but in a larger sense they were destroyed by vanity, ambition, memories of past glory and the blind carelessness that accompanies desperate yearning for success. …
"The people in the room included 'all the beautiful daughters and all the passionate sons' along with 'the poor old musicians who were beautiful once.'
"Great White, the band (which Keillor didn't name) once played in stadiums, shooting its sparks to the sky, 'but the old dance hall ceiling/Was nine feet high.'"
Robert Fulford, writing on "From the ashes of a tragic fire: a classic," March 3 in the National Post
Change agents
"I realized … that socially and culturally things were changing pretty fast in American family life. Gradually, as part of my work, I got interested in divorce and marriage and the whole question of how people choose their mates. The book ['Why There Are No Good Men Left'] looks at the contemporary mating system and why some of the most accomplished women of our day are finding it a struggle to find the right man at the right time in their lives. …
"The book isn't about a social problem. It's about an important set of social changes. The impact of divorce on children … is a social problem. But the reason I write about the romantic plight of the new single woman isn't because society is going to be damaged if she doesn't find the right man on the right time on the right terms.
"It's because college-educated women have been the authors of social change. For example, college-educated Baby Boom women were the focus of huge social interest and concern in the past particularly with respect to their progress in the workplace. This was not because society was going to collapse if Baby Boom women didn't get good careers, but because they were creating social and cultural change. That's what this book is about it's a look at a recent and important set of social changes and the women who are part of it."
Author Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, interviewed by Sage Stossel, in Atlantic Unbound at www.theatlantic.com
Sexist surge
"Have you noticed that male chauvinism is making a comeback? … Hooters is now so mainstream as to be just another link in the chain of familiar eateries. …
"Elsewhere on the cultural landscape can be found the Wonderbra, Howard Stern, 'Joe Millionaire,' Victoria's Secret specials on network TV, Anna Nicole Smith and Lara Croft. …
"It is as if millions of American men … took a look at the lifestyle prescribed by modern feminism and decided, 'No thanks, we'd rather be pigs.'
"Considering that for at least a generation polite opinion has been unanimous in the view that women should not be objectified, this chauvinist revival is astonishing. What caused it?
"Some believe that it is a product of masculinity in crisis. Insecure men, sensing that their position in the world is threatened by a generation of strong women, have reverted to the most offensive and primal versions of manhood."
David Brooks, writing on "The Return of the Pig," in the April issue of the Atlantic Monthly magazine


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