- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

Disco democracy

“Whenever any of my allegedly liberal music-nerd friends tells me how much they hate disco, I always like to ask, mischievously, ‘So are you a racist, a homophobe, or both?’ Because to wholly dismiss disco as a genre — and whether or not it brings you pleasure to listen to it is another question entirely — is to denigrate what’s possibly the most democratic form of popular music ever conceived. … [T]o trash it without even attempting to grapple with where it came from and what it means amounts to an insidious form of bigotry. …

“Disco was, and is, often considered music for ‘sissies’ — the sort of thing that any red-blooded straight American male should be ashamed to like. …

“The hustle … came from the Latino sections of the Bronx, and even gang members would get dressed up and go dancing at night, competing in contests (sometimes even in gay clubs) as well as, of course, striving to outdo one another. …

“There is intelligence (and, yes, musicianship) at the heart of many of the biggest disco hits. But they also existed to give pleasure. … Maybe the point of dancing is not necessarily to lose yourself to the music but to find yourself in it.”

Stephanie Zacharek, writing on “Disco Inferno,” Wednesday in Salon at www.salon.com

Hayek’s tradition

“In the 20th century, the Austrian [economist] Friedrich Hayek attempted to defend the rationality of tradition. … Hayek wanted to provide a reason for respecting traditions that went beyond acceptance of them merely on account of their Burkean venerability. A tradition’s very oldness — its survivals through the vicissitudes of centuries and adaptability to so many social and historical ‘environments’ — was for him prima facie evidence that it was ‘fit’ to survive. …

“[T]o use his exact words from ‘The Constitution of Liberty’: ‘Our habits and skills, our emotional attitudes, our tools, our institutions — all are in this sense adaptations to past experience, which have grown up by selective elimination of less suitable conduct.’”

Lee Harris, writing on “The Future of Tradition,” in the June-July issue of Policy Review

Parabola of the myth’

“A piece of history long appropriated by the dream life, Deep Throat was reclaimed by reality. … When W. Mark Felt stepped forward to reveal that he was the most famous anonymous source in modern history, he not only ended a 30-year Beltway parlor game — he also replaced our movie-made image of a chain-smoking Hal Holbrook, hiding in the shadows of a parking garage in a soulless city. Now out of those shadows, Deep Throat begins his slow exit from pop consciousness, the glamour of those late-night rendezvous diminished as the big-screen cipher acquires a human, bureaucratic face.

“Lest we forget, it wasn’t until the movie version of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s ‘All the President’s Men’ was released in 1976 that the popular image of Deep Throat — an indistinct whisperer given to spy-game skullduggery and cryptic hints — really took hold in the collective memory. Felt’s revelation brings the parabola of the myth back to its origins in the realm of facts.”

Elbert Ventura, writing on “Seeing Things,” Thursday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

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