- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2005

Real hero

“Everyone who sees … ‘The Aviator’ will come away with a dark impression of the man Howard Hughes sees as his enemy —a plump Alec Baldwin playing Juan Trippe as the suavely conspiratorial head of Pan Am. The film deserves its acclaim because it captures the romantic and visionary spirit of risk-takers like Hughes who propelled America to new heights — but the image of Trippe as the bad guy has to be retrieved before it congeals in the popular imagination. …

“Mass international jet travel was Trippe’s achievement. He deserves a movie of his own. Of course, the film is right that Trippe worked the Washington lobby to try and retain his prewar monopoly of international air services. Hughes, having acquired Trans World Airlines in May 1939, won that one, gaining permission to operate overseas in December 1945.

“But even before he went mad, Hughes never had the early vision that Trippe did. … Trippe was more prescient than anyone, including his new best friend, Charles Lindbergh. Trippe was indeed a political operator, but was also the greatest creative force through four adventurous decades.”

Harold Evans, writing on “Trippe the Light Fantastic,” Feb. 25 in the Wall Street Journal

‘Lifting the veil’

“[Hunter S.] Thompson will rightly be remembered for his astonishing 1967-73 burst of first-person counter-cultural reportage: ‘Hell’s Angels,’ ‘Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas,’ and ‘Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72,’ plus the lesser-known 1962-76 magazine work collected in ‘The Great Shark Hunt.’ Yet for a writer so popular and over-exposed, his singular achievements and dying-breed worldview have been blurred by the perfunctory tales of drug antics, Woody Creek pilgrimages, incoherent lecture gigs, and multiple assault charges. …

“Thompson’s tactic of lifting the veil on the reporting process (especially his own) was expanded in ‘Campaign Trail ‘72,’ that rare national-politics book that doesn’t end up in the Goodwill bin within six months. … For years, I’ve been asking political reporters to tell me their favorite campaign books, and fully half have selected Thompson’s frantic, partisan take on McGovern vs. Nixon.”

Matt Welch, writing on “A High White Note,” Feb. 22 in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Big, fat success

“I was a cocaine user in the ‘70s, and unfortunately, I’m one of those personalities where more is better. More food, more cooking, more cakes. …

“I had a time of about a week, of totally collapsing and staying in bed and being extremely upset that I had gotten fat and unworkable. It was going to take me six months to lose [the weight]. So either I hide … or I go, ‘Here I am!’ That sounded a lot funnier to me. Once I made that decision, it felt like a bad country-western song: Look out, world, my fat’s going to take you by surprise! …

“My agent was like, ‘You don’t want to do this.’ … Turn on the TV. Most of the dads are fat, and their wives are 20 years younger and skinny and cute.”

Kirstie Alley, star of the Showtime comedy series “Fat Actress,” interviewed by Gillian Flynn in the March 4 issue of Entertainment Weekly

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