When I saw the 1949 film of The Great Gatsby, the only other person in the screening room was Edmund Wilson(whom I didn’t know). Afterward, as he left, a smiling Paramount publicity man asked him how he had liked the picture. “Not very much, I’m afraid,” said Wilson,and kept walking to the elevator.
As someone who has long believed that there is something morally repellant about living in a country that prides itself on being the greatest democracy in the world but where the top one-tenth of one percent of the people "earn" as much money per year collectively as the entire bottom fifty percent of working people, I would like to offer a modest proposal that might "level the playing field," as the popular saying has it, and thus provide a foundation for a democracy worthy of the name.
Mia Farrow, a really terrific actress with a sharp mind and a deep spirit, is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. One of the places in the world where children's lives are most imperiled is Darfur, which she has visited on study missions. She knows as much as anyone about the situation in Sudan, except possibly the killers themselves: 400,000 murdered, many of them children. Millions are desperate refugees, hungry, sick, hopeless. She is embarked on a crusade to persuade money managers, mutual funds and pension investors to disinvest from corporations that prop up the Khartoum regime.
SINCE THE 1960S, WHEN Michael McClure imagined Billy the Kid humping Jean Harlow in The Beard and Barbara Garson had Lyndon Johnson whacking Jack Kennedy in MacBird, it has grown obvious that actual people, often still among us, have become the grist of American playwriting. In one recent week alone, a musical opened by Michael John LaChiusa called First Lady Suite, featuring Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, and Mamie Eisenhower, along with a semi-fictional comedy by A.R. Gurney called Mrs. Farnsworth, about a Vassar woman who may or may not have been impregnated by George W.
Now that a New York judge has mercifully told Woody Allen and Mia Farrow to put a cork in it, one may seize the blessed silence to ask why so many people are upset and enraged by this story. I mean upset and enraged at more than Woody's appalling behavior with his ex-girlfriend's adoptive Korean daughter, Soon-Yi. I think it has to do in part with people being angry at themselves for having assumed that the Woody of the movies was the same as Woody off-screen, the Woody of Elaine's, the clarinet, and the Knicks games.