- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

Drumbeat for divorce

“When Hollywood started the mass drumbeat for easy divorce, their message was simple: ‘Marriage is about happiness, and so if you are not happy, you are in a bad marriage. Bad marriages waste lives and hurt children, and so it’s better to divorce your spouse and seek a good marriage, because then you’ll be happy. And if you are happy then your very resilient children (who are really your pals) will be happy too. Because they want nothing more than your happiness.’ …

“That about sums it up. For how many decades have we seen movies involving divorced parents where the son or daughter is a wisecracking, well-adjusted kid who acts more like your best buddy at the office? More likely than not, the child is comforting the adult. Since we adults go to these movies, it’s not surprising that the plots are rooted in the notion that parental ‘happiness’ is at the center of everything.

“Of course, children have not been entirely forgotten. Part of this devastating cultural message is that your newly found ‘happy marriage’ (however many you go through to find it) will set an example to your children that they, too, can be happy if only they can find the ideal person. There are only two problems with this: no spouse is ideal, and marriage is not really about happiness.”

— Bob Just, writing on “Son of divorce,” March 12 in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Gracious gesture

“For those who never had the chance to see Bobby Short in person, he will probably be best remembered for his cameo performance in ‘Hannah and Her Sisters.’ Woody Allen’s character drags his coke-snorting date to the Cafe Carlyle. And there is Bobby Short, the urbane antidote to nihilism, singing Cole Porter’s ‘I’m in Love Again.’ …

“Mr. Short lived an American life that was in perfect harmony with the songs he sang, one in which any man, every man, can be an aristocrat if he just takes the trouble to gain some sophistication. …

“In ‘Hannah and Her Sisters,’ Woody Allen’s punk-addled date just doesn’t get it. On the sidewalk outside the Carlyle, Mr. Allen berates her: ‘You don’t deserve Cole Porter.’ One suspects that Bobby Short would have disagreed. With his elegant egalitarianism, Mr. Short treated everyone as though they deserved Cole Porter. And that was the most gracious gesture of all.”

— Eric Felten, writing on “A Jazz Aristocrat,” Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal

Blues roots

“Blind Willie Johnson, he had a song called ‘Dark Was the Night — Cold Was the Ground,’ and it’s this plaintive, droning guitar melody that he just hums along to. It’s not connected to any time or genre or anything. It all felt very ancient and lonely. I hear that, and it started the ball rolling. It got me into Delta blues, and that got me into folk music and country music, mountain music, Appalachian folk ballads, the Carter Family, Harry Smith, and all that stuff. That was a big turning point. It was when I was a teenager. You definitely had to stumble off the path to find that. They didn’t have CD reissues or anything like that. …

“You had to find somebody who had the [old records], which I did, luckily. I used to get a lot of records from the library because I didn’t have a lot of money to buy records. I’d maybe buy one or two records every two months, month and a half.”

— Beck, interviewed by Mark Healy, in the April issue of Gentleman’s Quarterly

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