- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The great writer-director-actor Harold Ramis has an interesting interview in this month’s edition of the literary magazine the Believer. Lots to chew on - Ramis is a smart dude - including the requisite movie talk and reminiscences of working in a psych ward and theater improv with Abbie Hoffman; at one point he even drops a “War and Peace” bomb.

One thing, though: Ramis is still a little drunk on Sixties Kool Aid. He says of the early days of Chicago’s Second City troupe, which he would join: “The theater was formed during the great national nap of the Eisenhower years, when things were so placid. But after Kennedy’s death, everything went crazy. The ‘60s were like a wave, and we were riding the crest of that wave.”

Yup, even after more than a half-century of historical hindsight, the ‘50s, that supposed slough of despond, still get a bum rap. George F. Will had it right in his 1993 review of David Halberstam’s exhaustive “The Fifties.”

Wrote Will:

[T]he book gets into high gear with his deft sketches of captains of commerce such as Harley Ear, Detroit’s ‘Cellini of Chrome,’ who loved jets and sharks and gave tailfins just as Ike was giving the Interstate Highway System to Americans who suddenly were never far from Ray Kroc’s multiplications of the McDonald brothers’ San Bernardino hamburger stand.

When Americans drove away from the homes they bought for $7,990 from William Levitt - he was finishing 36 a day on Long Island - they could stay at the Holiday Inns that Kemmons Wilson was building, a new room every 15 minutes. A ‘quiet’ decade? More like a roaring one.

Compare the consequentiality of the ‘50s to that of the ‘90s. It’s arguable that the latter, with their technological triumphalism and fat-and-happy ignorance of the trouble heading to the shores of the West, were the real “national nap.”

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