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Nick's Columns

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Atalante on Fri Mar 04 2011, 10:48

'Where did you land, the parking lot?' Laughing

What's a barnstormer ???? Eli ? Where is Eli when you need her ? Basketball

Atalante
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Tue Mar 08 2011, 07:35

8th January 1999

All Peachtree, all the time

This town just cannot stop bursting at the seams.

We've been in Atlanta all this week. The NBC affiliate here, WXIA-TV, has a talk show called ''Peachtree Morning'' every weekday from 9 to 10. Of course it's ''Peachtree.'' This is Atlanta.

The host is an attractive young Atlanta native named Carmen Burns. Her co-host has already been hired, but is not yet in the building. He worked at another station in town and isn't free to join her until Feb. 4. On a one-day visit to Atlanta last month, I was a guest on Carmen's show. The producer asked if I would co-host for a week while Carmen awaited her permanent host. My friends at American Movie Classics liked the idea and so did I, so here we are.

Every time Nina and I come to Atlanta, it seems to be a different city. In a way, I suppose it is. Each year its population grows by one good-sized community.

As I drive down Peachtree - of course, Peachtree - Street each morning to go to work, I pass a business that has one of those computerized marquees out front flashing numbers. The figures are supposed to reflect the current population in metropolitan Atlanta. The numbers flash ''3.7 million.'' Can that be right?

The first time I was in this city was 1953. My sister Betty was appearing at a club here. My clear impression at the time was that Cincinnati and Atlanta were about the same size. I'm aware that, to our younger readers, 46 years will seem like an eternity, but it is difficult for me to imagine Margaret Mitchell's Atlanta has more than tripled its metropolitan population in that time.

No, not Margaret Mitchell's Atlanta anymore. Though the tiny author of ''Gone With the Wind'' would undoubtedly approve of her hometown's explosive growth. Her novel always referred to Atlanta as ''brash'' and ''pushy'' and she used those adjectives with affection.

Not everyone here does. Some feel that Atlanta has sacrificed too much for its success. Some have told me there is no vestige of ''old'' Atlanta left. They are probably right, but the point is, by now, moot. Buildings are coming down right and left to make room for new ones. And a surprising number of the new ones are imaginative and attractive architecturally. And big. Oh, very big.

If the buildings and many of the people are new, Atlantans are determined to hold on to some of their traditions, even if it is in name only. The name Peachtree, for example. Wherever I drove, I was on Peachtree.

Out of curiosity, I picked up the telephone book in our hotel room. At random, I selected two adjacent white pages. Here is what they yielded:

Peachtree Road, 12 listings. Peachtree Street, seven listings. Peachtree Corner Circle, Peachtree Memorial Drive, Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Avenue, Peachtree Station Circle, Peachtree Tower and Peachtree Industrial Way. That's two pages. If you visit here and friends tell you to meet them on Peachtree, you'd better ask them to be more specific.

This is the first time I have hosted, or helped to host, a TV talk show in a long time. Some of you may remember I used to do that for a living. It's interesting that the segments scheduled haven't changed much in 25 years, though the technology has. Carmen deftly goes from cooking features to celebrity interviews to boat show remotes. My timing is rusty, but the crew helped and we got through without my embarrassing anyone. I think.

Immediately following one of the programs, a young man walked up to me, stuck out his hand and bid me welcome to Atlanta. He had only been here a short time himself, he said. Then he added, ''I'm Lou Schottelkotte, Al's son.'' A generation fell away when he said that. Channel 9. I was doing a talk show and Al was dominating the news, as he had for 20 years.

Had I met this young man when he was a little boy? Probably. Lou said he loved Atlanta and is doing well. It was good to see him prospering in this unofficial capital of the South.

It is not all that easy to think of Atlanta as a Southern city. Not the way Richmond or Charleston or Savannah are Southern. High tech and high-powered commerce have homogenized Atlanta. Of the 100 or so people I spoke to this week, fewer than half were natives of the city.

There is great excitement here and much optimism. Perhaps there is just a trace of schizophrenia, too. One of our TV guests was an interesting chef, Ray Overton, who has written a number of books. The dish he brought to entice the New South viewers was ''Coca-Cola Kielbasa.'' Pretty good, too.


Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Fri Mar 18 2011, 07:42

The archive wouldn't open for me the last couple of weeks - it has today so I thought I'd post a couple in case it goes AWOL again...

11th January 1999

Politics fizzles as entertainment

Column by Nick Clooney

May I have your attention, please! Here in the deep freeze of winter, for your entertainment, we offer the following: The final playoff games in the NFL; the Super Bowl; the start of a shortened NBA season; the prospect of baseball's spring training; television's second season; assorted feature films; the public trial of the president of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton.

Each of these events must compete for the public interest. The Super Bowl is the clear headliner, because we have no idea how it will turn out. The movies are also unknown quantities. The NBA season won't matter until June. Network television, with some honorable exceptions, seems weary as the cold months stretch out. Spring training can offer only a promise. The trial of the president is a foregone sequel to last month's foreordained impeachment.

Now that the United States, like Rome 2,000 years ago, stands astride the world unchallenged, we, like Rome, are spending more time and treasure on our entertainments. It seems to become as important as our nation, our religion, our work, even our families.

As entertainment, the president's trial has the advantage of being unique in our century. But, as it turns out, the form is archaic, the dialogue is repetitive and the plot entirely predictable. Not a surprise anywhere. Not one charge that had not been known for 10 months. Not one vote that hadn't been counted before the hearings began. Boring. Like the NBA regular season.

So now, in competition with the Super Bowl in which a large part of the population is genuinely interested, our government will trot out exactly the same charges in exactly the same language. It will or will not produce witnesses who have already told a grand jury what they know. Then the Senate will vote to acquit the president. Ho-hum. Apparently, some in Congress seem to believe this will capture and hold the undivided attention of the public. They will express surprise and disappointment in the electorate when it doesn't.

Unlike Congress, Americans can count. There are 55 Republicans in the Senate and 45 who vote Democratic. It takes 67 votes to convict. Is there anyone this side of Mars or Congress who can conceive of a circumstance in which 12 Democrats would vote to remove Bill Clinton from office on these charges?

No surprise. No entertainment. Where is Perry Mason when you need him? He could liven up this proceeding with a little legal sleight-of-hand. A surprise witness. Better yet, a scathing cross-examination. 'Did you, William Jefferson Clinton, willfully steal 17 percent of the gross state product of Arkansas, marry Republican Hillary Rodham to steal GOP policies, illegally dam Whitewater, take by theft all the frequent flier miles from the travel office of the White House, murder Vince Foster, stash the FBI files of every conservative in the nation under Lincoln's bed, seduce every female under the age of 45 in the District of Columbia and, most heinous of all, unlawfully beat the affable George Bush and the blameless Bob Dole? Did you? Speak up man! We have witnesses! Did you do it?'

'Yes! Yes! I can't stand it any more! I confess to the Heritage Foundation, the Wall Street Journal, Pat Buchanan and Kenneth Starr! Take me away!'

Now, that's entertainment. But what will we get? Same old same old. No wonder news ratings are dropping. Politicians have lost the knack of putting on a show.

Dull as it is, the Democrats - no matter what they say publicly - hope that the trial will go on forever. When Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who hears the unrest from the voters, made his bipartisan pitch last week, I thought I caught a hint of a smile from his counterpart, Democrat Tom Daschle. Sen. Lott was still hoping for a quick resolution, while responding - as he must - to the thunder on his right. He knows that the real victim in a protracted trial is the conservative movement.

Our good senators will hold press conferences to tell of their 'Constitutional duty,' their 'burden of decision,' their 'solemn responsibility.' But they will vote their party. Period. In the process, most people believe they will waste an unacceptable amount of the nation's agenda and money. Whom will the people hold responsible? Bill Clinton. Congress. Republicans most of all because they are in charge of Congress and engineered the charges. The GOP insists the trial is about perjury and obstruction of justice. Most believe it is a sex scandal and is no longer amusing.

Politics as entertainment is a dangerous game. Carried too close to the next election, this show may trigger a sea change in 2000 as profound as that of 1994.


Last edited by Merlin on Fri Mar 18 2011, 07:45; edited 1 time in total

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Fri Mar 18 2011, 07:43

13th January 1999

A genuine irony for our times

Column by Nick Clooney

What, in your opinion, is the most misused word in the English language? As a basis for discussion, let me offer the word 'irony.' Perhaps a dozen times a week, we will read or hear 'irony' or 'Ironically,' when what the writer or speaker means is 'coincidentally' or 'strangely' or 'interestingly' or, in fact, no adverb at all.

Now, of course, I propose to introduce what I consider a genuine irony.

In recent weeks, in the race toward impeachment in the House and trial in the Senate, there has been another troubling story brewing simultaneously in Salt Lake City, Utah. At first blush, it would appear that no two entities on the face of the globe have less in common than the center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Democrat president of the United States. And yet they find themselves in the same leaking boat without a paddle and, in large measure, for the same reasons.

As it happens, I know a bit about Salt Lake City and the beautiful state of which it is the capital. Nina and I lived and worked there for two years at the beginning of this decade. I was in news when their first bid for the Winter Olympics failed. I interviewed many of those whose faces we now see in response to recent events. Salt Lake City Mayor Dee Dee Corradini, Gov. Mike Leavitt, Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett.

We were there when, undeterred, Salt Lake City launched its campaign for the next available Winter Games. We were also there when Utah was one of only two states that placed Bill Clinton third among presidential candidates in 1992, behind both George Bush and Ross Perot. It would be difficult to find a region in which Mr. Clinton's candidacy was met with more contempt. He was rejected there to the point of humiliation. Most Utahns to whom I spoke were genuinely puzzled that the rest of the country had voted for him in view of what they believed were his moral lapses.

It is with no joy that friends of that earnest and prosperous state see the unpleasant situation in which its citizens and representatives now find themselves. The truth is, both Salt Lake and Bill Clinton are victims of a time of historical transition. Many respected citizens of Utah stand accused of offering bribes in order to host the Winter Olympics. Scholarships, trips, Browning weapons, money: even, perhaps, the unseemly providing of female companionship for visiting male International Olympic Committee members.

Earlier this week, TV crews traveled to Utah and asked local people what they thought of the uproar. The most striking comments came from a young woman in Park City and two residents of Salt Lake, a distinguished-looking man in a business suit and a well-dressed woman in a mall. All gave variations of this answer: 'Everybody did it. We just got caught.'

That appears to be the prevailing view in Utah and, for that matter, in the rest of the country. Is it true? Did all the nations, all the cities involved in hosting the Olympics do the same things? Atlanta? Los Angeles? Sarajevo? Tokyo? Montreal? Is there evidence?

In fact, it no longer matters. The rules have now changed. The intrinsic hypocrisy of the process, if it exists, will no longer be accepted. From Salt Lake City on, every bid will be scrutinized in a way entirely new. And, unfortunately, the Salt Lake City Olympics will always be tainted with a hint of corruption.

Just like the president Utah rejected with such disdain. Some defenders of Bill Clinton used the same language we heard from Utah. 'Everybody does it. He just got caught.' Is that true? There is no longer any way for us to know, only to speculate. Surely previous presidents were not as reckless and self-indulgent sexually as Mr. Clinton. But, to be fair, none was ever examined under the same pitiless microscope which has been used during his entire presidency.

Any more than previous cities were stripped and searched as Salt Lake City has been.

Two important movements in transition. American politics. Private behavior is no longer private. A voracious public demands full disclosure down to and including grade school indiscretions. The Olympics movement. No longer business as usual. Bids will be monitored; trips, if any, will be spartan.

Perhaps life will be better because of these transitions. Maybe public officials will be increasingly moral. Perhaps the Olympic ideal will, at long last, be realized.

Most of all, maybe we will all stop pointing fingers at others until we are certain our own houses are in order. So that we will not find ourselves victims of an excruciating irony.

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Fri Mar 18 2011, 07:45

14th January 1999

Will honor end an era's poison?

Column by Nick Clooney

The announcement did not draw headlines across the country. A small item on the entertainment page, perhaps. 'Elia Kazan to receive honorary Oscar.' But therein lies a tale.

Elia Kazan is a film and stage director. He is also a writer, but that is grist for another story. He was born in Istanbul when it was still Constantinople. His life has very nearly spanned this American century. He has had every unimaginable success in movies and theater.

I met Mr. Kazan only once. It was in the midst of his trial by fire, though I was too young to know it. All I really recall was his correcting someone at our table as to the pronunciation of his first name. 'Not EE-lee-ya,' he said, 'Eh-LEE-ah.' I have never forgotten.

It was later that I learned that the most intense moments of this productive life were played out in a few hours before a congressional committee in the spring of 1952.

Mr. Kazan had come to this country when he was 4. His Greek parents settled in New York City. He was attracted to the theater while in college and joined New York's well-known Group Theater in 1932. Three years later he joined the Communist Party.

His decision was not all that unusual. There were thousands of newly minted communists nationwide in those Depression-racked years, all sure their political philosophy was the only way out of the economic collapse they saw all around them.

Subsequent evidence indicates that Mr. Kazan, like nearly all the wide-eyed converts, was not active in the Party after the first year or two. In his case, Mr. Kazan was too busy trying to make a living. He directed a few plays. He got a few acting roles. He was even in a couple of movies in 1940.

But his greatest talent was clearly as a director. In the war years, he struck gold on Broadway. 'The Skin of Our Teeth' in 1942, 'One Touch of Venus' in 1943, 'All My Sons,' 1946, 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' 1947, 'Death of a Salesman,' 1949.

It was unusual for a stage director to find equal success in films, but Mr. Kazan did. His first full-length feature, 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,' 1945, was an unqualified hit. Then there was 'Gentleman's Agreement' in 1947, for which he got the Academy Award as best director. There was 'Pinky,' another social commentary, in 1949.

But there was also the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1950, Mr. Kazan was called to testify. He did not duck the personal question. He told the committee members he had joined the Party, had become disillusioned and had left. But when the U.S. representatives demanded that he inform on other Group Theater members, he refused.

In 1951, Mr. Kazan got his second Oscar for 'A Streetcar Named Desire.' He also began to get unimaginable pressure from studios, conservative columnists, agents, politicians, theater owners and others to reverse his stand. His future was clearly at stake.

Nobody knows anything about anybody. Mr. Kazan later said he had a change of heart. Critics said he caved in to save his career. Whatever the motive, in the spring of 1952, Mr. Kazan returned to the committee and gave them several names of former colleagues he said were communists. Some have claimed that the careers of at least two men were destroyed by his testimony, including that of acclaimed playwright Clifford Odets.

After he talked, the career of Mr. Kazan continued unabated: 'On the Waterfront,' 'East of Eden,' 'Baby Doll,' 'A Face in the Crowd,' 'Splendor in the Grass.' But a growing number of people in the entertainment field voiced disgust at what they saw as Mr. Kazan's treachery. As years went on, some of the major lifetime achievement awards which a filmmaker of Mr. Kazan's stature might expect have been denied him. There has been sometimes ugly, open debate on the matter within respected film groups, including perhaps, the most prestigious of all, the American Film Institute, which has pointedly refused to honor him. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has steered clear of the controversy posed by Mr. Kazan's decision 47 years ago. Until now.

This spring, the Academy will present the director, now nearing his 90th birthday, an Honorary Academy Award to mark his professional achievements. Will that dramatic moment at long last excise the poison loosed on our society by what is now called 'the McCarthy Era?'

It will be interesting to watch the reception Mr. Kazan receives from the film community, for all the world to see, March 21.

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Fri Mar 18 2011, 22:09

Thanks Merlin!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Tue Mar 22 2011, 09:46

21st January 1999

A warm reception in snowy St. Paul

Column by Nick Clooney
For those who might wonder whether or not the upset of their beloved Vikings last Sunday has devastated the citizens of Minnesota, let me report there is no evidence of it. I am in the smaller of the sibling Twin Cities and life seems to be going on as usual.
St. Paul is nothing if not emphatic about its St. Paulness. There is beautiful St. Paul Cathedral at which I am looking through a window on the 11th floor of the Saint Paul Hotel as a gentle snow is falling. The scene is lovely.
The reason for this mid-winter trip to one of winter's acknowledged capitals is, of all things, the Titanic. St. Paul is host to an official - and very impressive - Titanic exhibit organized by RMS Titanic Inc. This is the company that was granted salvage rights to the Titanic by a court back in 1994.
Three other cities in this county and two in Europe have been hosts to the exhibit. The company for which I work, American Movie Classics, is showing a movie here in connection with the event.
We are showing the 1958 production of 'A Night To Remember,' by any measure the most accurate presentation on film of what really happened that April night in 1912. There are no fictional characters, no made-up stories to move the action forward. Every person represented - and there are 200 speaking parts - was actually on the ship and, as far as can be determined from eyewitness accounts, really said and did what we hear and see on the screen. It is quite an achievement.
Incidentally, to explain a semantic difference which will pop up in this narrative, the city of St. Paul often has the 'Saint' part of its name abbreviated. That is never true of the hotel where we are staying. It is always the 'Saint Paul Hotel' and it has quite a story of its own. In 1910, the original structure was put up on the site of another hotel, the Windsor, which had been closed for several years. From the beginning, this was a first-class facility. It had all the amenities of a world-renowned hostelry and was often a center for revelry connected with the famous Winter Carnival. All through the 1930s and '40s, one could hear big-band remotes live from its Casino Ballroom.
The heyday continued through the 1950s and even the turbulent 1960s. But not the 1970s. Over a period of years, the Saint Paul went into steep decline. In the summer of 1979, the grand old hotel was closed and all its furnishings sold at public auction. That should have been the end. The standard punctuation to that kind of story had been the wrecking ball.
Not this time. Local citizens who had the will and the means to save this landmark did so. It was gutted, renovated and reopened in 1982. The Saint Paul remains a center for social and business life in the Twin Cities.
Nina and I were put up by AMC in a spacious two-bedroom suite named for Lucius P. Ordway, the man who built the original Saint Paul Hotel back in the early years of this century.
But this suite has an interesting history of much more recent vintage.
Do you remember the 1993 film comedy 'Grumpy Old Men,' starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Ann-Margret? It was filmed here in and around the Twin Cities. Though hotel officials were too discreet to confirm it, two St. Paul residents who were here at the time told me the following story in nearly identical words:
Mr. Matthau called the Saint Paul to reserve the Ordway Suite. He knew the cast would be here for two to three months and wanted to make sure he had comfortable accommodations. As it turned out, Mr. Lemmon arrived in St. Paul a week earlier than Mr. Matthau. 'Oh, it's all right,' he told the room clerk, 'Walter won't mind. When he gets here, you can find another place for me. In the meantime, put me in the Ordway Suite.' That might have worked out, except that when Mr. Matthau arrived, Mr. Lemmon refused to leave! All of which made Mr. Matthau a Grumpy Old Man, indeed.
We, the AMC visitors to St. Paul, make quite a group. Nina and I are once again surrounded by the beautiful AMC crew. Anne,
Julie, Priscilla and Leigh from the Chicago region; Katrina from sunny California; Jaime from New York. They shepherded us through a TV appearance at Channel 11, visits at two MediaOne Cable systems, two receptions, the screening of the film and dinner at a not-to-be-missed restaurant called Forepaugh's. And the snow fell gently through it all, magically blanketing St. Paul and the Saint Paul, the Cathedral, and the ice-fishers, the lights of Rice Park and the banks of the mighty Mississippi.
These folks really know how to do winter.

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Tue Mar 22 2011, 16:54

I've been to Mpls/St.Paul and it truly is beautiful! They do know how to do winter!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Wed Mar 30 2011, 15:43

Dignity reigned at swearing-in
25th January 1999

It is time for a few brief observations on the passing parade.

Item. Midst the clash, clamor, sound and fury of the events in Washington, Nina and I were privileged to attend an impressive and dignified government function late last week.
Our friend Phil Cummins was sworn in as postmaster of Augusta. Phil is a good man. He was a police officer here for some time. He has been associated with the post office for nearly 14 years.
There were 35 or 40 of us who gathered at lunch time in the work space of our compact post office. On a table were homemade sandwiches and pies and a coconut cake. Phil is a family man and his wife and teen-age daughter were on hand.
The post office official from Cincinnati called the gathering to order. Phil put one hand on the Bible and raised the other. He then took the solemn oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States.
I suppose Phil would tell you he is not unique in his reverence for his country or in the seriousness with which he took that oath. Which is, of course, what made this occasion in Augusta at least as important as the spectacle in Washington.
In that cramped space next to the bags of mail and the ham sandwiches I heard more of the majesty of the United States than I have seen in months of televised hearings and responses. Our nation is alive and well because of people and occasions such as the one in Augusta last week.
Now, Phil, about the increase in the price of stamps ...

Item. Have you taken a trip from the airport since the first of the year? Nina and I were shocked to see a brand new security system that looks a bit like a 1950s juke box. As one longtime employee
told me, ''Welcome to Disco CVG.'' For those who don't travel much, CVG is the designation for the Greater Cincinnati and Don't Forget Northern Kentucky Because We're Sensitive About It International Airport. Wait until you see it. You descend the escalator to head for concourses A, B or C and are confronted with what looks like the entrance to an attractive singles' bar. There is neon-like tubing, quite colorful, through which you now enter. If something triggers suspicion, you are diverted to another, smaller area, that looks a bit like a TV isolation booth.
Don't get me wrong. If this means increased security, I'm all for it. Besides, it looks different from any other airport we have seen, and travelers enjoy diversion.

Item. An update, in answer to some letters, on the project replacing all our floors downstairs. Here
is the update. There is no update. Oh, well, maybe a little update. The workmen are now actually
installing the floor.
However, we are still living on the mezzanine of life. The space in which I am writing is getting more constricted by the day. If my elbow moves two inches outside a rigidly described path as I type, yesterday's mail is knocked off the table.
The fault is not that of the workmen, let me hasten to add. It was we who couldn't make up our minds exactly what to do until all the furniture was gone and most options exhausted. There is some hope the floors will be finished by spring and, if Nina can remember where she put our furniture, she believes it will be back in piece by June. That seems wildly optimistic to me. But hope springs eternal in the exile breast.
Item. Let me say to my friends and relatives who have not had personal contact with me in some
time that I am determined to have all my Christmas cards done by Valentine's Day.
Actually, I thought they were all sent. In fact, I had crowed near and far that all cards were answered before the first of the year. I was proud of that. Pride goeth before a fall. While looking for one of my reference books in the hall and back room upstairs, which have become the library, I knocked over an entire stack of books. What do you suppose I found behind that floor-to-ceiling stack of books? A two-foot stack of Christmas cards, some unopened, all unanswered.

Stubbornness has taken possession of me. Just after I finish Wednesday's column, immediately upon completion of the AMC Magazine column for April, due tomorrow, the very moment I put the final touch on the 154 two-minute essays I write for my movie introductions for March, due Thursday, and the instant I polish off the notes for a speech to be delivered tonight, I will answer every one of those cards.

Look for them. As soon as the floors are finished.


Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Wed Mar 30 2011, 15:45

Most voters have split personality

27th January 1999

Question: Are the members of Congress who tell us they are voting their consciences in the impeachment matter just blowing smoke?
Answer: No.
Question: All right, if they are voting their consciences, how can it come out as a straight party-line vote?
Answer: Because the differences of opinion on the matters now before them are defining differences between the parties.
Conservatives are now and always have been dogmatic on issues large and small. It is part of what makes them conservatives. The conservative virtue is to hold fast to a continuum, to find ways to bring the best of the verities of previous generations into the present and future. To give a nation a sense of its mission.
Liberals or progressives have always tried to seek flexibility rather than rigidity in public policy. The progressive virtue is to embrace positive change and charge into the future armed with the resillence of a brilliant Constitution which allows for political evolution.
The liberal vice, on the other hand, is to accept change willy-nilly, forsaking virtues which have served the Republic well. The conservative vice is to cling to forms over people, symbols over substance.
Americans know all this. That's why the typical voter is both liberal and conservative. Voters are likely to choose, like the old Chinese restaurant menus, two from column A and three from column B.
Ideologues from both parties have never accepted this political discernment among voters. The far right and far left are sincere, honorable and absolutely convinced that one must be 100 percent conservative or 100 percent liberal to enter political heaven. Good people, most of them, but stubborn. Each has a blind spot when it comes to living in a vibrant, open, diverse society.

Let us focus on the matter at hand. Make no mistake. Sex is the flashpoint. If we were still debating Whitewater, the story would be on Page 12. Two paragraph, tops.
Of course, those who hew to a deeply conservative philosophy will vote to impeach, then to convict the president. He had sex with a woman not his wife. Unconscionable. He must go.
Of course, dyed-in-the-wool liberals will vote against impeachment, then vote to acquit. As far as they are concerned, consensual sex is a non-issue.
The rest of us fall between these east-west goalposts. A few politicians of both stripes, with a tinge of arrogance, assume we do not understand the issues. They are wrong. The issues have been debated for a year. We do not have to be history professors to understand the process, its precedents and its consequences.
Last spring, I remember smiling at several liberal members of Congress who were defending the president when conventional wisdom said it was politically risky to do so. If memory serves, one was U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, who said she did not care what fallout there might be in the current conservative atmosphere. She would take her chances.
That was a bit much. Ms. Waters does not have to worry about her congressional seat short of the San Andreas Fault redistricting her into Hawaii. The 35th District of California has been a safe progressive/liberal enclave since Hector was a pup. Augustus Hawkins was there 28 years before Ms. Watkins, who has occupied the seat since 1990. She regularly buries Republican opposition by ratios of seven to one. She can say what she wants with impunity.

By the same token, it was interesting to listen to the eloquent and impassioned speech of Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois. He said he was willing to put his office on the line on this matter of impeachment.
It is proper to take his word for it, as it is to take that of Ms. Waters. But it is also proper to submit Mr. Hyde's assertion to the same scrutiny as hers.
Mr. Hyde represents the Sixth District of Illinois and has done so since 1974. That district has been safely Republican since just after World War II. It is, incidentally, the district where Hillary Rodham grew up. Mr. Hyde routinely defeats Democrats by a two-to-one ratio, election after election. His view on impeachment, abortion, national defense and other issues represents his constituency. He is in no political danger, no matter what he says about William Clinton.
Neither Rep. Waters nor Rep. Hyde could be removed from office without a nuclear explosion or term limits. Neither of which, incidentally, this corner supports.
Those at political risk are the moderates of both parties - those who, like most of us, search for consensus.

And whose consciences are no less engaged than those who shout at us from the safe fringes.

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Mon Apr 18 2011, 06:40

The archive site is odd!! Sometimes the whole site won't open...sometimes individual posts...today a whole year! I was trying to put them in order but I noticed 3 of Nina's in 2000 so I'm going to try and post them...I prefer the family ones personally....

Recalling a holiday disaster

Column by Nina Clooney

Ever since the Pilgrims survived a dreadful East Coast winter thanks to the generosity of local Indians, we've been intermittently celebrating the feast of Thanksgiving.

There have been some times I wished the Pilgrims and Native Americans had simply smiled and shaken hands rather than having that feast.

For instance, I prepared my first Thanksgiving meal when our daughter Ada was about 18 months old and our son George was not quite 6 months old. We lived in Lexington, Ky., and I was filled with the bravado only the truly naive can have. I invited all of Nick's family and all of my family to Thanksgiving dinner. Not only that, I insisted I would do all the cooking for the 23 guests.

Nick's Aunt Rose, who ruled her own home like a queen, called to say, ''Nina, don't do something you'll regret the rest of our life. A man, any man, including my favorite nephew, will take advantage if he isn't taught to respect the limits. Don't go into this like some mess sergeant, able to take on any number of diners at any hour. If you do, he'll bring unexpected guests for dinner, he'll expect you to cook three meals a day, he'll volunteer you to cook for all types of events. Heaven forbid, even the family reunion! Train him early or you're going to be stuck cooking and washing dishes for life.''

Did I heed this excellent advice? I did not.

I arrogantly informed her that I would have not only turkey and dressing, but also ham and leg of lamb, corn pudding, green beans, mashed potatoes, candied yams, cranberry salad, and ''I'm going to fix my grandmother Warren's vinegar pie, too.'' Rose just sighed and hung up.

I was up early on the big day, charging about like a general preparing for battle. By noon, everyone had arrived and was exchanging stories in the living room while I commanded the kitchen. Everything but the turkey was ready. The ham and leg of lamb were on the cutting board. Half an hour went by and the turkey was still not ready. An hour. Two hours. Several people peeked in the kitchen. I smiled and waved them away.

Nick decided he'd take everyone out to the farm where Uncle George had horses in training, certain that would give me some extra time, but somehow Uncle George's big red wire-haired dog didn't make the cut, so he stood by my side at every move.

Why wasn't that turkey ready yet? I fished in the garbage for the plastic cover. If at first you don't succeed, look at the directions. ''Thaw before cooking''. Oh.

All right, no turkey. I put the ham back in to heat it up and was about to do the same thing for the leg of lamb when the phone rang. Good wishes from Rosemary in California. I stayed on the phone longer than I planned. Suddenly I realized old ''Red'' wasn't by my side.

With growing apprehension, I hurried to the kitchen. My worst fear came true. Old Red was in the middle of the floor and half the leg of Lamb was eaten. I screamed and chased him for an irrational 30 seconds, then stopped and checked the oven. The ham was now overdone and shrunken. That was the moment everyone trooped back in from the farm, hungrier than ever.

Bless their hearts, they put all the food on the table. As I cried, they laughed about their vegetarian Thanksgiving. At least I still had all those great desserts, topped by my family recipe of vinegar pie. Nick, of course, had been harassing me about the pie, contorting his face and saying ''yuk!'' We had tasted the other desserts when Nick, with a mischievous look, suggested we call in a neutral arbitrator for the vinegar pie. Ada was in her high chair. He put a little of the pie on a spoon and gave it to her. We all watched with great anticipation. For a moment there was nothing.

Then she shivered, curled her mouth down, spit it out. While everyone howled, she shut her eyes and shivered again. Then she opened her eyes, rubbed her mouth with her hand and shivered again.

I have never baked another vinegar pie. I wish I'd listened to Aunt Rose. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Nina Clooney is subbing for her husband, Nick, whose column will return next Wednesday.

Publication date: 11-22-00


Last edited by Merlin on Mon Apr 18 2011, 06:55; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Mon Apr 18 2011, 06:45

Encounter worthy of chills

Column by Nina Clooney

Talk about close encounters. I think Nick and I had one about 10 years ago. If I'm right, it was more of a close call than a close encounter.

Last week during the marathon election coverage, Nick and I took a break and switched to Bill Kurtis' investigative program on A&E. The show was describing female serial killers.

We weren't watching out of idle curiosity. We believed we had come face-to-face with one of the women they featured. The report said she has been sentenced to death for killing seven men in Florida.

Very early in the 1990s, Nick and I drove to Jacksonville, Fla., to see Nick's Uncle William and Aunt Phyllis. As we headed back, we - for the only time in my memory - had some extra time on our hands, so we drove where the notion took us. We looked for alligators, laughed at cows with white birds sitting on their backs and ate more than our share of junk food.

On one of the interstates - I no longer remember which - we came upon what from the back appeared to be a middle-aged woman walking in the same direction we were driving. She had sort of dirty blond hair, had on a dark windbreaker and dark slacks and carried a large purse over her shoulder. She was just walking, making no attempt to hitchhike or flag down a car.

Almost simultaneously, Nick and I wondered aloud what a lone woman was doing walking on the interstate this far from any town. We hadn't seen a disabled car.

As we neared her, Nick said, ''We can't ignore a woman walking out here all by herself. Let's see if she wants a ride to the next exit. She can get some help there.''

I was uneasy. Heaven only knows what she had in that bag, I thought. But Nick was already slowing down as we passed her. What if she was in distress? A woman alone can be very vulnerable. She didn't look at us as we passed, just stared straight ahead. Nerves? Probably. So I told Nick he was right, we should pick her up.

He brought the car to a stop a short distance in front of her. As she walked up to the car we rolled the window down and called out, ''Do you need a ride?''

She looked into the car very carefully, taking in the empty back seat, then the two of us. Now that I could see her close up, she was younger than I had thought. I still couldn't pinpoint an age because whe was so hard-looking. Her eyes were strange, distrusting, cold like one of those feral cats when you first encounter them.

Again Nick asked her if she needed a ride. She kept looking at us and at the car. By now I was sure this was no timid, frightened woman in danger.

''No. No, I don't need a ride.''

''You sure?''

''Yeah. Somebody's coming to pick me up. I'm OK.''

She stepped back quickly from the car, shook her head at our inquiring look, gave us one last chilling glance, then turned sharply and began walking again.

I remember feeling relieved. We spent much of the rest of that day talking about her and what her real story was. At one point, as Nick now reminds me, I said, ''You don't know what she had in that bag. She might have been a serial killer.''

About a year later, I was watching a news story about a woman who had been arrested in Florida and charged with the murders of seven men. Apparently, there was some association with their deaths and freeways in the state. I missed most of that because there, staring out of the TV set was, I am convinced, the same woman we had offered a ride. A few pounds heavier, but the eyes were the same and unmistakable.

The Bill Kurtis story filled in many gaps for us last week. Her name was Ilene Carol Wuornoss. She walked freeways accepting rides from lone men. She shot them, robbed them and left them in their cars. She said she had been a prostitute, long abused by men.

So much for the time-honored custom of helping a woman in distress. A driver never knows when he or she is having a close encounter with Sister Death.

Nina Clooney is subbing for her husband, Nick, whose column will return Wednesday.

Publication date: 11-24-00

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Mon Apr 18 2011, 06:48

Worn out by workout frenzy

Column by Nina Clooney

There are some days the entire world seems to be exercising. Have you noticed, or have you managed to escape it? Perhaps most of us have finally been convinced that exercise is the real salvation of the human race. Well, why not? For 30 years we've been bombarded by reports on TV and radio, stories in the newspaper and magazines and health newsletters in the mail about its beneficial effects. Doctors tell us, therapists tell us, every talk show has an exercise segment and most newscasts invoke the ''e'' word regularly.

Not to mention celebrities coming at us from all directions with workout videos, everyone from Jane Fonda to Angela Lansbury. They all pump, jump, stretch and dance to show us how it's done and then show off the spectacular results.

Let's not exclude the work-out machine promoters. My personal favorite is for one that you have to have seen on an infomercial. Don't pretend you don't know the one I am talking about, ladies. It has that ''ordinary'', just ''one of the guys,'' but tear-the-skin-off-teeth gorgeous man doing the pitch.

No woman could possibly change the channel as he says, ''Hey, I'm 40 years old, but I'm in the best shape of my life.'' Yes, and anyone else's life, too. He probably has a wife and four children, but I don't want to know about it.

This barrage of exercise enticements finally has penetrated even to our home in Augusta. Nick already had an exercise program he has been doing for 30 years.

It's nothing but the old Army calisthenics series, but he feels it's a ''go anywhere'' workout that he can do in our bedroom or in a hotel room 2,000 miles away. It has served him well.

On the other hand, I have always wanted a place to go to work out. I even got a ''lifetime'' membership in one of the better-known fitness franchises.

Why is it that the hardest part of the workout is making yourself get into the car and go? There always seems to be something more interesing to do, such as scraping 50 years of gunk off of old bricks or cleaning out the furnace ducts.

Anyway, once I get to the actual building, the process of working out is OK. To be honest, I do have a problem with some of the people there. Fine people, I'm sure, but....

Look, I arrive in what I consider perfectly reasonable attire. Baggy pants, baggy shirt and the Easy Spirit sneaks look kind of baggy, too.

There I am in the locker room. I'm getting into my reasonable attire from behind anything that affords a wee bit of cover. Under the fluorescent lights, my 60-year-old skin looks about 100, so I need no audience.

Here's the rub. Next to me are young women with skin so tight and clear they could be mistaken for Barbie dolls.

Nothing baggy about them, including their outfits, which would fit comfortably on a key chain.

The first time I saw a girl in tights and a thong, I seriously considered throwing a towel over her and shouting ''Look out! Moths have mutated and are attacking Spandex! They have eaten most of your body suit!''

Every problem has a solution. I started going to the fitness center in mid-morning when the majority of those in attendance wore baggy pants and shirts like mine. A much more comfortable atmosphere.

Until a recent morning. It is painful to write about it, but forewarned is forearmed. I was doing my program in company with my baggy colleagues, when out of the men's locker room came a man of mature years. Let me see if I can describe his outfit.

A bright red, skin-tight body-suit. Over it, a yellow Spandex thong! At least I think it was a thong, though much was hidden by the overhang of this stomach.

He seemed to be walking toward me, perhaps to initiate a conversation. I smiled and beat a hasty retreat.

Now I've joined Nick and our canine companion Spags in sit-ups. I'm jealous of Spags' svelte figure, but a least she's not wearing a thong.

Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Nina, his wife, occasionally fills in.

Publication date: 08-09-00

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Mon Apr 18 2011, 06:51

There were actually 5 with Nina's name on but 1 wouldn't open....


Premiere's 2 scenes contrast

Column by Nina Clooney

Let me take you to a movie premiere. Last Thursday, I went to the East Coast premiere of our son George Clooney's new movie ''The Perfect Storm.'' As many of you know, it is based on the true story of a swordfishing boat and a horrific confluence of storms in 1991. Gloucester, Mass., was home port for the crew, so that's where the premiere was held.

Nick couldn't come because of work, so I flew alone to Boston where I met George and all the California movie people who had come in for the event. We were headquartered in a lovely hotel on Boston Common. By mid-afternoon, I knew I needed a nap if I was going to get through a late evening.

I was sound asleep when Amy Cohen, George's right-hand person, called to wake me. The digital clock said 5:39 p.m., not a.m.

When I got to the lobby, George was telling a group of people that this would be the first time he would have seen the family members of the Andrea Gail's crew since the filming last fall. He was obviously anxious about their reaction. He hoped they would believe he had been respectful in his portrayal of Captain Billy Tyne.

At this point Amy and Mary Cameron from Warner Brothers public relations came in with a limo driver in tow. George said, ''It's Showtime'' and the limo driver took my arm, saying, ''Hang on, there's a crowd outside.'' He ushered me quickly into the car, but George stopped briefly for photos and autographs.

We then sped through Boston to the sirens of a police escort - a first for me. I was uneasy as the motorcycle officers cut off traffic so we could get through. Boston's notorious traffic was as dense as I had heard and, at a few minutes past 7, some of those folks were still trying to get home. I hoped they didn't know who we were.

After we reached Gloucester, we sped into a shopping center. The premiere was being held in a seven-screen multiplex with ''The Perfect Storm'' on all seven screens. Every theater was packed and there were thousands of people in the parking lot.

This was another first for me. I could feel the crowd as well as hear it. They were shouting my son's name in a rhythmic chant. It was an inside glimpse at what I'd heard about the reaction to rock and movie stars. They were, in this case, all good-natured and had signs greeting George. I was led inside, but George went straight to the barricades to shake hands, pose for pictures and sign autographs.

Nick and I had seen the huge water tank, the replica of the Andrea Gail, the helicopters, even the mockup of the Crow's Nest bar on the sound stage in California. I had read Sebastian Junger's book. I thought I knew what to expect. I didn't. For the next hour and a half I was riveted to my seat.

Producer-director Wolfgang Peterson brought his son. I could see the profile of Wolfgang's face as he watched the movie. He smiled occasionally. Parts he was particularly proud of? I don't know. Co-star Mark Wahlberg and his family sat behind us. They are from the Boston area and are charming. Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman were there.

After the film, Roberta Tyne, Captain Billy Tyne's sister, came over and told me how much she liked the way George captured her brother. She was on the brink of tears and when I took her hand I could feel her shaking. After nine years the loss was still fresh. Later, she and George talked to Billy's two children. The movie had brought that 1991 day back as if it were yesterday. The consensus? Roberta said, ''They stayed true to the story. This was not a movie we didn't recognize.''

On the way back George was quiet for a moment. Then he told me how hard it was to see Billy's children crying. I knew what he meant.

In fact, as he had left the theater it was a bit hard to reconcile the boisterous crowd, the posing, the autographs and all the rest with what he had just seen inside. Two different moods, two different realities - George dealt with them both with an ease I found remarkable.

My own reality came hours later. Nick called me from his radio show at 7 o'clock and asked for a report. I checked the digital clock. Yep. this time it was a.m. Time to get back to reality.

Nina Clooney is filling in today for husband Nick Clooney, who usually writes for The Post Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Publication date: 07-07-00

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Katiedot on Mon Apr 18 2011, 08:56

Thanks for posting these, Merlin. I like the family ones best too, for obvious reasons.

The one with the serial killer is downright scary.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Tue Apr 19 2011, 03:22

Love ya Merlin for posting these! Thanks! Yeah, I didn't care for the serial killer one too much. I'm a real chicken and have NEVER picked up a hitcher.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun May 22 2011, 11:26

Dr. Ross, you're leaving in style

Column by Nick Clooney

Here is Question One, asked daily of my wife, my daughter and me through the months of January and February. Did we know how it was going to end? Here is the answer, definitively, to Question One.

No.

For those who have been living in a cave for several months, the question relates to our son George and his departure Thursday night from the uniquely successful television drama, 'ER.'

Could we have known how it would end beforehand? Of course. But we didn't want to. We wanted to find out the same time you did. We're fans, too. Besides, it would have been out of character for us to ask George or anyone else on the staff of 'ER' to give us an inside scoop. That is professional information and we don't do that.

Some friends and relatives have trouble understanding this. We never intercede with George or our sister Rosemary on professional matters. We refuse to speak for them. We don't even aske them for autographed photos except on the rarest occasions, nor auction items, personal appearances, phone interviews or any other events relating to their profession.

Candidly, some close friends and relatives have trouble with our position on this. They would not have the same trouble if they were we.

So we didn't ask about the ending of the show.

But now that George is no longer a part of 'ER,' it is possible for the first time for me to comment on the program.

Well do I remember the first time Nina and I heard of it. I had just left television news and had joined the company for which I now work, American Movie Classics cable channel. That was June of 1994. At the time, our son was a new member of the cast of an NBC program called 'Sisters.' Though never a ratings success, 'Sisters' was influential because of its predominantly female audience, dear to advertisers' hearts. George created a memorable character on the series.

It was in May of 1994 that George and I had a phone conversation I will never forget. 'Pop,' George said to me, 'I have the best of all worlds. I am probably the best-known unknown actor in this town. I am paid well, but I don't have to put up with all the crap.' Little did he or I know how soon that would change.

After I had been with AMC for a month, they sent me to California to introduce me at the Television Critics Association convention in Los Angeles. George had told Nina and me about a new script and a great new show. He was to be part of it. This was July 1994. He brought a rough-cut tape of the two-hour pilot episode to our hotel room. No music. No sound effects. When the show was over, Nina and I couldn't contain ourselves. We stood up, marched around the room, yelled, laughed. It was the best pilot and the best show either of us had ever seen. And because of the great words and George's brilliantly thought-out characterization, our son was the catalyst for the entire concept. We already knew what the whole nation would learn two months later. This was a historic blockbuster.

Inevitably, some people, even some critics in his home town, didn't get it. They thought, for instance, 'Chicago Hope,' an excellent program in the traditional soap opera mode, was better. If anyone can call a subjective opinion wrong, those critics were astoundingly wrong.

I don't have the resources to thoroughly research this subject, but in ratings books I have going back to 1959, with only a few years missing, there has never been a TV success story like 'ER' in some specific particulars. At the moment network TV was declared dead, 1994, 'ER' came along with ratings numbers that matched and surpassed those of the 'golden era.' Except for the extraordinary circumstance of the 'Seinfeld' goodbye ballyhoo last year, 'ER' has dominated TV from its inception. When live episodes are presented, it routinely outstrips its competition by three or four full ratings points. I have never seen a number one program regularly top its competition by 15 to 20 percent.

It is done with great writing, unprecedented and unsung ensemble work, brilliant direction and a no-nonsense, unsentimental attitude which, somehow, presents a very human face. Our son has been proud to be a part of 'ER.' It was never a stepping stone, always a destination. A dream role. He fulfilled his original contract to the letter. The role he created will be remembered as long as television has a place in our national memory. The show will continue to succeed as long as it holds course.

And Nina and I are proud of our son, grateful to those who gave him a chance to prove what a fine actor he is. We bid farewell to Dr. Ross with the same twinge many of you do.

On the other hand, we can't wait for the next surprise George has in store for us all.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Publication date: 02-18-99

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun May 22 2011, 11:28

Sinatra's films tell many stories

Column by Nick Clooney

'Well, how should I describe you in my introduction? As a film expert?'

Usually, I get to ask the questions. This time, however, it was the turn of Wesley Howe. He is from Nashville, Tennessee, and is producing a radio special on Frank Sinatra's films.

'Ah, um, I'm not comfortable with "expert.' I'm a "fan,' maybe even a "buff' of certain era films. But Leonard Maltin is an "expert' and I certainly don't have his encyclopedic knowledge of movies,' I stammered.

'But you do know more than the average person,' persisted Mr. Howe.

'Unless that average person happens to be my age. Those who grew up in the 1940s were immersed in movies and radio the way the next generation was immersed in TV and the current one immersed in multi-media. We knew those movies in our bones and most of us had a passing knowledge of the people who made the movies, too.'

Mr. Howe did not seem completely satisfied with my answer, but he plunged into the interview anyway. To tell the truth, I was a bit uneasy about how much I would remember of Frank Sinatra's movies. I had seen all of them when they first came out and had spent a couple of hours that morning refreshing my memory on titles and dates to prepare for the interview.

That review jogged my brain cells. 1943, 'Higher and Higher,' Frank's first acting role. My sisters Rosemary and Betty, full-fledged bobby-soxers, aged 15 and 12, hauled me to the theater to see their beloved Frank. I like the one they took me to the next year a lot better. It was 'Step Lively' and it was a funny story, a remake of the Marx Brothers comedy 'Room Service.' And pretty Gloria DeHaven was in it and Frank got to kiss her.

'Anchors Aweigh' in 1945 was terrific. Frank sang 'I Fall in Love Too Easily' and Gene Kelly danced with Jerry, the cartoon mouse. A year or two later, Frank sang 'Time After Time' in 'It Happened in Brooklyn' with Kathryn Grayson.

I had a strong memory of Frank as a priest at this period and it turned out to be 'Miracle of the Bells' with Fred McMurray. Then, Frank's joke movie, 'The Kissing Bandit' in 1948. No one ever let him forget that one. But for my money, both his 1949 musicals were home runs. 'Take Me Out To The Ball Game' and the one everybody loves, 'On The Town,' both with Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin, and the second one with Cincinnati's Vera-Ellen.

Howard Hughes was responsible for a real turkey. He didn't like Frank. They made a bad movie in 1948, gave Frank third billing, then held it until 1951. It was a low point for Frank, Jane Russell and Groucho Marx. 'Double Dynamite.' This, in fact, was Frank's 'down' period. His records weren't selling and his movies weren't hits. He was good in 1952's 'Meet Danny Wilson,' but nobody cared.

Then the famous turnaround. Both he and his new wife Ava Gardner campaigned for Frank to get the dramatic role of Maggio in 'From Here to Eternity.' Nobody wanted him. Eli Wallach was signed for the part. Actually, none of the stars was the first choice. The studio wanted John Derek for the Montgomery Clift part, Edmond O'Brien for Burt Lancaster and Joan Crawford for Deborah Kerr. The four second choices made one of Hollywood's greatest films and Frank got the Academy Award that would change his life forever.

Five films in 1955, including 'The Man With the Golden Arm' for which Frank got another Oscar nomination. Four in 1956, including a pairing with Bing Crosby in 'High Society.' Three films in 1957, including 'Pal Joey.' There's a good backstage story with that one. Frank now had more than enough clout for top billing. But he insisted Rita Hayworth's name be listed above his. Though her star was descending, Frank told the studio Rita had earned it.

Let me tell you about two more films of his. 'Suddenly' in 1954 was the story of an obsessed sniper out to assasinate the president of the United States. One of Frank's best performances. Eight years later, 1962, Frank was intrigued by another assasination story, 'The Manchurian Candidate.' His friend, President John Kennedy, also liked the novel. The studio didn't want to make it, so Frank called his friend and President Kennedy called the studio chief. The picture was made and was a hit.

We all know what happened the next year, November 1963, Dallas. Frank was told by a police questioner that Lee Harvey Oswald claimed he had seen 'Suddenly' on TV several days before the shooting. Frank immediately demanded that both 'Suddenly' and Manchurian Candidate' be withdrawn from distribution. Neither was seen for more than 20 years. And the next time 'Suddenly' was seen, it was in the lame 'colorized' version and 'Ole Blue Eyes' had brown eyes!

Neither fans nor experts could swallow that, Mr. Howe.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Publication date: 03-01-99

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun May 22 2011, 11:29

Old radio shows still sound fresh

Column by Nick Clooney

There's an interesting book which came out last year called 'Raised on Radio,' by Gerald Nachman. I'm about halfway through it. Mr. Nachman is describing a form of entertainment which has disappeared in this country as if the earth had opened and swallowed it.

Americans who are baby-boomer-age or younger know nothing about the heyday of radio except a few phrases which survive in the language. 'The Shadow knows.' 'The Lone Ranger rides again!' 'Who was that masked man?' He comes on like 'Gangbusters.' 'Meanwhile, back at the ranch.' 'Say goodnight, Gracie.' The only stars of radio we remember are those who also made it big in television or the movies. Bob Hope, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bing Crosby, Jack Webb, Orson Welles and a dozen or two more. The others are forgotten.

Yet, just a wink of time ago - one lifetime - these talented people ruled the airwaves, were stars who filled theaters and auditoriums coast to coast, made piles of money, sold mountains of products and rivaled Hollywood for the attention and affection of the American people.

My guess is that not one person in 50 would be able to identify any of the following: Charles Flynn, Jim and Mary Jordan, Brace Beemer or Ezra Stone. The odds might not go down much even if we used their radio names 'Jack Armstrong,' 'Fibber McGee and Molly,' 'The Lone Ranger' or 'Henry Aldrich.'

The author, not all of whose opinions I share, did bring up a point that had not occurred to me. He quoted a biographer of Mary Pickford who claimed that 'silent films are the only art form to be invented, developed and abandoned by the same generation.' Mr. Nachman argues that 'surely radio also qualifies for this unhappy distinction.'

It does. Radio rose to dominance in the 1920s, then succumbed to television in the early 1950s, a bare 30 years in the sunlight. Television has already outstripped it as far as longevity is concerned, just as rock 'n' roll has covered a longer span than swing did.

Part of the reason is sheer numbers. Radio and swing were the products of a population less than half the current size, so as it aged there were fewer people to bring the best of radio and swing forward into the 1950s, 1960s and so on. The huge baby-boom generation, on the other hand, has enough clout in pure numbers to keep early TV, Elvis and 'classic' rock 'n' roll viable well into the next century.

A quick disclaimer aimed at my friends who work in radio now. They don't have to tell me that there are 10 times the number of radio stations and more total listeners now than there were in the 1930s and 1940s. I know that. I spent 18 years in the 'post-golden-era' of radio and made all the same arguments myself. What I'm referring to here is the period when radio was the only broadcast medium, supported major networks with block programming of comedies, dramas and variety shows, as TV does today.

Let me emphasize that this is no blind effort to claim more for that time than it has coming. Some of the shows were terrible. Perhaps most of them were. Like television now.

However, when it was good, there was nothing like it before or since. For that reason, it is surprising to me that a place has never been found for that kind of radio on our entertainment menu. Not as nostalgia. As a topical, vital way to enjoy ourselves.

There are a few companies which sell old radio shows on tape. In the last couple of years I've bought and listened to scores of them, mostly on long driving trips. Some of the drama, comedies, soaps, kid shows, cop shows and others are thin and of interest only as as museum pieces.

But let me tell you, my friends, some of them are so funny that I had to pull over to the side of the road because Nina and I were laughing so hard, and some dramas and information shows were so engrossing that hundreds of miles disappeared like melting snow as we listened.

Even if you don't know that Gertrude Berg was 'Molly Goldberg' or Goodman and Jane Ace were 'Easy Aces,' or Artie Auerbach was 'Mr. Kitzle' or Kenny Delmar was 'Senator Claghorn,' even if you never heard of Fred Allen and are only dimly aware that Jack Benny was cheap, just listen for an hour and it is my bet you'll be astounded at how fresh, relevant, innovative and funny these artists were and are.

They're forgotten now, almost as if they had never existed. But they owned our airwaves and our hearts for three crucial decades. Their talent may have been specific to a moment and a medium gone like smoke rings. But in their moment and in their medium, they were giants.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Publication date: 03-17-99

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun May 22 2011, 11:31

Stan's stand reels in tourists

Column by Nick Clooney

'I'm Stan, the Stand Man.'

His weathered face collapses in a smile. He has used the phrase a thousand times. It has never missed with the tourists.

We are the tourists, Nina and I. The stand is a small, battered table 2 feet high. On it are baskets of papaya, lemons that look like small oranges and coconuts in various stages of development. Stan the Stand Man expertly cuts a piece of coconut for us to sample.

The road is one-and-a-half lanes wide and is burdened with no identifying number. All around Stan's house, which has seen much wear and tear, soar the giant trees of a tropical rain forest.

We are in the northwest corner of Hawaii's big island. On our afternoon drive we have paused at villages with names such as Kawaihe, Mahukona, Hawi and Kapaau.

In the 50 miles or so of our journey, the terrain has gone from the moonscape of lava fields to sea cliffs plunging hundreds of feet into an angry surf to a South Seas jungle. Each vista has the power to take the breath away.

The landscape an equal power to lend dignity to modest homes like Stan's. His unpainted three-room frame with a tin roof and a washing machine on the porch is surrounded by the same riot of pink, white and red flowers that graces the luxurious hotel where Nina and I are staying.

Let me tell you about the Waikoloa Village Hilton. It is, by all odds, the most opulent digs in which we have parked our much-traveled luggage. Right on the blue Pacific, it is really a complex of lodgings so extensive that it has a tram and several mahogany-hulled boats to get you from one tower to the next. It looks like a fantasy movie set. There is a lagoon for swimming and another in which, by reservation, guests can commune with dolphins.

Most of the customers are young families, and they are cosmopolitan. I have heard four languages in a three-minute tram ride. Japan's economic downturn is not in evidence here.

Past the sandy lagoons are raw, rocky, black beaches where lava once came to cool itself after its 2,500-degree journey from the center of the earth.

Monday night Nina and I landed on this island after a journey that had begun in Augusta, Ky., nearly 18 hours earlier. The final five hours and 18 minutes were over the darkening Pacific. We were chasing the sun, but we couldn't quite catch up.

When our 757 began its descent, we noticed something peculiar.

Night landings are often beautiful because the bright lights of the city stretch as far as the eye can see. But we were descending into pitch blackness. Was it a thick cloud cover? No. No clouds. No lights, either.

The first thing I saw, when we were no more than 200 feet from the ground, was lines of breakers coming ashore. Seconds later, we were on the Kailuna-Rona runway, taxiing to a charming airport where we climbed down the portable stairs from our plane to be greeted by fragrant, soft Hawaiian night air. We walked through a thatched terminal and were told that, as soon as we cleared the area, the airport would close down for the night.

A group of us tries to vacation together each year. We had to skip 1998, but our sister and brother-in-law, Rosemary and Dante, as well as longtime friends Allen and Linda Sviridoff and Jackie Rose are with us again. This time we are joined by Ann Rutherford Dozier. Yes, that Ann Rutherford. Those who remember the wonderful Andy Hardy films will know that tonight we're having dinner with Polly Benedict.

We are right here in Hawaii, on the island that is bigger than the rest of the state put together, including famous Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the rest. Not only that, this island keeps growing every time Lilauea Volcano erupts - which, since the 1980s, has been just about every year.

Tomorrow, our plan is to get a closer look at that volcano, as well as two good-sized mountains, the nation's largest ranch, the beach where Captain Cook died trying to break up a fight and a village where Mark Twain planted a monkeypod tree in 1866. In other words, we're going to circle the island.

On this trial run, Stan sells us some coconuts and a papaya.

'From Kentucky, huh? Never been there, but in honor of Kentucky the papaya is just 75 cents.'

On the way back through Hawi, we see a sign in the window of a small grocery: 'Papaya, three for a dollar.'

Stan the Stand Man had added a cover charge for the rain forest.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Publication date: 04-08-99

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun May 22 2011, 11:32


Prepare to watch Matt's star rise

Column by Nick Clooney

If a traveler is lucky, a vacation may turn out to be more than a succession of new sights and sounds. He or she might also find a new friend. That's what happened on our two-week stay in the Hawaiian Islands. We got to know a young musician with the colorful name Matt Catingub.

Let me tell you about him.

My sister Rosemary gave three performances on this trip. The first was on the big island of Hawaii, where Rosemary sang with a five-piece group at the Kahilu Theater in the small community of Waimea near Hawaii's west coast.

The 400-seat theater is very attractive, well run and has long hosted an ambitious schedule of concerts. Still, Nina and I couldn't help wondering where the audience would come from. The tickets were not expensive and the only real city is Hilo all the way over on the other side of the island. Not to worry. A well-dressed, and obviously well-heeled crowd showed up from somewhere and gave Rosemary an enthusiastic reception.

Matt Catingub led that five-piece group and played piano for Rosemary. That is not easy to do. The show is complicated, with subtle tempo and key changes that have been developed by Rosemary and her musical director, John Oddo, over a period of years. Matt handled it all with impressive technical skill and rare sensitivity. That was our first eye-opener.

Matt Catingub, two years shy of his 40th birthday, is the principal Pops conductor for the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. He is just completing his first full season in that position. Rosemary's next two performances were under his baton at the Pops on Oahu. Mr. Catingub is, however, also a formidable arranger, performer, saxophonist and singer. He makes records for Concord Jazz, the same label that has been home to Rosemary for her last 23 albums.

Nina and I and our traveling companions were in the audience at the 2,300-seat Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu last Friday and Saturday. As soon as Matt came on stage and picked up his baton, we began to understand the range of this young man's talent. He had integrated a big band into his full Pops orchestra for this event, much as our own Erich Kunzel has often done over the years. Matt had personally arranged the entire first hour of the concert, a salute to 'traditional pop' music.

In a tour-de-force, he also played piano, saxophone and sang in a husky, jazz-oriented voice. The jazz orientation was no surprise. His mother was the excellent singer Mavis Rivers, who recorded for Capitol back in the 1950s and '60s.

Matt has an engaging smile, a pony-tail and easy-going manner with the audience. The laid-back demeanor is belied by the prodigious work ethic apparent in his concerts. More important than the pure tonnage of his output is its quality. He opened the program with a brief salute to Bing Crosby, starting with 'Swell Party,' which most of us call, 'Well, Didja Ever?' It was an inspired choice for an opener. He followed that with an arrangement of Bing's Oscar-winning 'Swinging on a Star,' which was treated almost as a fantasia, ending with a big band wallop.

By the time he was through with us, we knew we were in the immediate vicinity of a major-league talent. As they used to say in the old days, Matt Catingub is 'the goods.' His only problem may be that he does so many things well, audiences might have trouble zeroing in on which talent they most admire.

Matt's next project for Concord Jazz is an album called 'Hawaiian Swing.' Some in music might consider that an oxymoron. Nothing is more specific to its place on a map than the liquid melodies of these enchanted islands. They fit the swaying palms and the soft nights and the advancing surf perfectly. Still, nothing is farther from swing.

Except to Matt. He has taken traditional Hawaiian melodies - so well known they have even penetrated our Midwestern fastnesses in Cincinnati - and given them solid big band arrangements that will shock hula dancers from Hilo to Honolulu. He will call his swing band 'Big Kahuna and the Copa Cat Pack.'

Mr. Catingub does not see the world in quite the same way the rest of us do.

After Rosemary's Saturday concert, we all adjourned to a small watering spot in the beautiful Halekulani Hotel. One of Matt's colleagues, a good bassist and singer named Bruce Hamada, had spent the evening on the concert stage, then hurried to his real job, playing in the intimate confines of this nightclub. Matt sat and talked with us, but not for long. He was soon up there with Bruce, playing piano and singing.

Matt and his wife Vickie - just as vivacious and engaging as he - live in Southern California. For most families, it would be enough to live in a place called Oak Hills, or Oakport, Oakmont, or even Twin Oaks. I was not surprised to learn that Matt lives in Thousand Oaks.

Soon, even that won't be enough.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Publication date: 04-21-99

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun May 22 2011, 11:33

He won't give up that typewriter

Column by Nick Clooney

One of the great, freeing experiences in growing old is that people no longer think of the stupid things you do as stupid. They are, instead, ''eccentric.'' It appears that your humble servant is now officially ''eccentric.''

We can attribute my descent - or ascent - to eccentricity to an inanimate object. About which, more later.

Those who follow the comings and goings of this thrice-weekly correspondent know that I am on the road a lot. To make the initial point, it will be necessary to check the briefest outline of our itinerary in the New Year.

Jan. 2, flight from Los Angeles to Cincinnati; Jan. 3, drove to Atlanta; Jan. 8, drove back to Augusta; Jan. 10, drove to New York; Jan. 16, drove back to Augusta; Jan. 19, a flight to St. Paul, Minn.; Jan. 21, flight back to Cincinnati; Feb. 2, drove to New York; Feb. 8, drove back to Augusta; Feb. 12, flight to New York; Feb. 13, flight from New York to Cleveland, drove to Akron; Feb. 14, drove from Akron to Augusta; Feb. 17, flight to Atlanta; Feb. 19, flight back to Cincinnati; Feb. 27, flight to New York.

March 2, flight back to Cincinnati; March 7, drove to New York; March 11, drove back to Augusta; March 15, flight to New York; March 16, flight back to Cincinnati; March 18, flight to New York; March 19, flight back to Cincinnati; March 22, drove to Lexington and back; March 25, flight to New York; March 27, flight back to Cincinnati; March 30, flight to Atlanta, drove to Macon.

April 1, drove to Atlanta, flight back to Cincinnati; April 1, drove to Frankfort and back; April 5, flight to Hawaii; April 12, flight to Oahu; April 18, flight to New York; April 24, flight to Cincinnati; April 26, drove to Louisville; April 27, drove back to Augusta; April 28, flight to Portland, Ore.; drove to Bend; April 30, drove back to Portland; flight to Cincinnati, May 2; flight to New York; May 7, flight back to Cincinnati; May 9, drove to New York, where I am now writing to you.

On most of these trips my wife Nina has been with me. That does not make me eccentric. On many of them, our dog Spags has come along. That makes me only mildly eccentric. But on every one of them, my typewriter has been in my hand. That makes me a certifiable, card-carrying eccentric.

Typewriter. The word even looks quaint these days on the written page. Not laptop. Not word processor. Not computer in any of its diverse and miraculous forms. Just typewriter.

On my travels most have no idea what it is. As I stow it in the overhead compartment of the airplane, younger passengers look puzzled. ''Is that something new?'' some ask. ''It's sort of big. Must have a lot of functions.'' Nope. Just one. It types. ''Types? What do you mean?'' Just types. Produces one hard copy, but only if I roll sheets of paper into it. ''But where is it stored? Where's the disk?'' No disk. Just double-spaced pages of typing paper. Three. Sometimes four.

Actually, I think of myself as rather advanced. This is an electric typewriter and even has the erase thing if I remember to put in that extra ribbon. Not all that long ago, I still had a Royal manual until I had problems getting it repaired. Now I buy electrics at Sears. They take a beating very well on the road and when I finally break them irreparably or lose them, I buy another one. They are inexpensive and efficient.

Besides, I am glorying in the contemptuous glances I get from middle-aged business travelers in expensive dark suits and monogrammed shirts. Each is connected to every corner of the Internet and, after dismissing me with a look, remains glued to his or her tiny terminal screens for the entire flight.

On the other hand, I am connected to nothing and bury my nose in an Agatha Christie mystery or look out the window at the wonders below.

As long as there is an electric outlet and a facsimile machine at my destination, I'll be able to tap out my columns and send them from locations near and far. On the rare occasions the typewriter wasn't available, my pen was. In the meantime, my battered machine and I will continue to travel skyways, byways and highways. And continue to encounter folks like the 30ish man in Kennedy Airport a few weeks back. ''Hey, pop. Isn't that a typewriter? I haven't seen once since grade school. Tell, do you also have a fountain pen and a vacuum tube radio?''

Actually, yes.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Publication date: 05-12-99

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Katiedot on Sun May 22 2011, 12:44

Haha! I wonder how long it took them to convince him to use a laptop?

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun May 22 2011, 12:50

10 years LOL

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sun May 22 2011, 18:55

Oh Merlin, thank you!!! I got my major Nick fix all in one morning!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun May 22 2011, 19:00

You're welcome ....thought I'd get a few while the site was working...what did you say to George to make him look so shocked!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sun May 22 2011, 19:02

That I was pregnant!!!!!!!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun May 22 2011, 19:10

Ha ha....I bet he was out of the door in 2 minutes flat...

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sun May 22 2011, 19:12

Merlin, I had to give him mouth-to-mouth with the CPR!!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Jun 23 2011, 11:14

1999 - 2nd One

Letters send '99 off to good start

Column by Nick Clooney

Let's begin the first full week of the new year by having you write the column. Here is a sampling of your letters.

A batch of mail on the 'Best Friends' no-kill animal shelter we visited in southern Utah. 'We would like to find out more about them.' -Mrs. Juanita Raynes of Newport. 'The animals would thank you if they could, Nick.' -Mrs. Martha Morgan Hoess of Cincinnati. 'I thought (Best Friends) sounded too good to be true.' -Sandy Brown of Glencoe. 'Do you have an address?' -Mrs. June Russell of Lebanon. Yes, I do. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah 84741-5001. This is apparently the largest no-kill animal shelter, but not the only one. I'm told there are now as many as 200 of them across the country.

Many letters on an Olivia de Havilland personal appearance in Cincinnati several years back. I remembered introducing her at a dinner, but could not recall the date. Everyone who responded, including Ginny O'Connor, Nell Stone and Frank Bondash, all of Cincinnati, and our own librarian at The Post, Bob Hahn, pointed to a speaking engagement by Miss de Havilland on April 3, 1979, at Western Woods Cinema. That must have been it, though I could have sworn it was a banquet celebrating the French contribution to American culture. Memory plays tricks again. Thanks for the help.

Several responses to my encounter with what appeared to be a privately owned blimp paralleling our course as Nina and I drove through the Florida Keys. Ray Martin of Cincinnati was particularly helpful and included a number of interesting articles on the subject. 'To this day,' he wrote, 'it is common practice to follow highways, seacoast and railroad tracks as a kind of visual navigational aid. During the 1930s, pilots following railroad tracks were said to be flying "The Iron Beam.' . . . It's only a guess, but it is possible the ship in question belonged to the DEA or immigration service and was on patrol.' Makes sense to me.

More mail arrived on our 'Bays' quiz after I wrapped up the answer column but before it was published. Among them, one more reader got every answer correct: June C. Brady of Cincinnati.

On the column dealing with the remarkable Inventors Hall of Fame induction ceremony last September in Akron, there were several more letters. One came from Richard Maulsby, the director of the Office of Public Affairs, United States Department of Commerce, Patent and Trademark Office. 'The United States Patent and Trademark Office paid for this year's production. . . . We are proud to be part of this outstanding event and share your hope that word of mouth will kick in and make the ceremony a popular annual television event. For starters, we have re-upped to fund the show for the next three years.' I can only tell you it was the best combination of information and entertainment Nina and I have seen in years.

The event also engendered a wonderful letter from Eileen Murphy of Cincinnati. She and her husband had attended the baptism of their grandson, Henry Clark Timken, then joined others to watch his great-great-great grandfather, Henry Timken, the inventor of the tapered roller bearing, be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mrs. Murphy wrote, 'We are collecting some items to place in a time capsule which will be placed in a rocking horse for little Henry. My husband and I spend a part of our summers in Perthshire, Scotland... and last summer met an ex-professor who makes beautiful rocking horses. He assures us that the rocking horse will last for 200 years . . . so when it finally falls apart, your column and other remnants of our history will be revealed.'

On the virtues - or drawbacks - of youthful memorizing of such things as poetry, great speeches, passages from plays or books, most who wrote that the exercise was eventually beneficial. Columnist Regina Villiers of Madeira: 'It was an important part of my education and I would be a poorer person without it. . . . I had a wonderful English teacher who required us to memorize Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. . . . I can still quote from "Hamlet' and "A Tale of Two Cities.' She gave me gifts that will stay with me until I die.'

Still more mail on Michigan's Upper Peninsula and my brief visit there. Two correspondents gently corrected my note that Sault Ste. Marie was known locally as 'The Sue.' Trudy Salo of Sharonville and Norman Thomas of Cincinnati, both U.P. natives, let me know it was 'The Soo,' not 'The Sue.' Hope the correction renews my U.P. pass.

Many provocative letters on two columns dealing with impeachment. We'll have a collection of excerpts next week.

Thanks for writing.


Publication date: 01-04-99

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Jun 23 2011, 11:24

Will honor end an era's poison?

Column by Nick Clooney

The announcement did not draw headlines across the country. A small item on the entertainment page, perhaps. 'Elia Kazan to receive honorary Oscar.' But therein lies a tale.

Elia Kazan is a film and stage director. He is also a writer, but that is grist for another story. He was born in Istanbul when it was still Constantinople. His life has very nearly spanned this American century. He has had every unimaginable success in movies and theater.

I met Mr. Kazan only once. It was in the midst of his trial by fire, though I was too young to know it. All I really recall was his correcting someone at our table as to the pronunciation of his first name. 'Not EE-lee-ya,' he said, 'Eh-LEE-ah.' I have never forgotten.

It was later that I learned that the most intense moments of this productive life were played out in a few hours before a congressional committee in the spring of 1952.

Mr. Kazan had come to this country when he was 4. His Greek parents settled in New York City. He was attracted to the theater while in college and joined New York's well-known Group Theater in 1932. Three years later he joined the Communist Party.

His decision was not all that unusual. There were thousands of newly minted communists nationwide in those Depression-racked years, all sure their political philosophy was the only way out of the economic collapse they saw all around them.

Subsequent evidence indicates that Mr. Kazan, like nearly all the wide-eyed converts, was not active in the Party after the first year or two. In his case, Mr. Kazan was too busy trying to make a living. He directed a few plays. He got a few acting roles. He was even in a couple of movies in 1940.

But his greatest talent was clearly as a director. In the war years, he struck gold on Broadway. 'The Skin of Our Teeth' in 1942, 'One Touch of Venus' in 1943, 'All My Sons,' 1946, 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' 1947, 'Death of a Salesman,' 1949.

It was unusual for a stage director to find equal success in films, but Mr. Kazan did. His first full-length feature, 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,' 1945, was an unqualified hit. Then there was 'Gentleman's Agreement' in 1947, for which he got the Academy Award as best director. There was 'Pinky,' another social commentary, in 1949.

But there was also the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1950, Mr. Kazan was called to testify. He did not duck the personal question. He told the committee members he had joined the Party, had become disillusioned and had left. But when the U.S. representatives demanded that he inform on other Group Theater members, he refused.

In 1951, Mr. Kazan got his second Oscar for 'A Streetcar Named Desire.' He also began to get unimaginable pressure from studios, conservative columnists, agents, politicians, theater owners and others to reverse his stand. His future was clearly at stake.

Nobody knows anything about anybody. Mr. Kazan later said he had a change of heart. Critics said he caved in to save his career. Whatever the motive, in the spring of 1952, Mr. Kazan returned to the committee and gave them several names of former colleagues he said were communists. Some have claimed that the careers of at least two men were destroyed by his testimony, including that of acclaimed playwright Clifford Odets.

After he talked, the career of Mr. Kazan continued unabated: 'On the Waterfront,' 'East of Eden,' 'Baby Doll,' 'A Face in the Crowd,' 'Splendor in the Grass.' But a growing number of people in the entertainment field voiced disgust at what they saw as Mr. Kazan's treachery. As years went on, some of the major lifetime achievement awards which a filmmaker of Mr. Kazan's stature might expect have been denied him. There has been sometimes ugly, open debate on the matter within respected film groups, including perhaps, the most prestigious of all, the American Film Institute, which has pointedly refused to honor him. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has steered clear of the controversy posed by Mr. Kazan's decision 47 years ago. Until now.

This spring, the Academy will present the director, now nearing his 90th birthday, an Honorary Academy Award to mark his professional achievements. Will that dramatic moment at long last excise the poison loosed on our society by what is now called 'the McCarthy Era?'

It will be interesting to watch the reception Mr. Kazan receives from the film community, for all the world to see, March 21.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Publication date: 01-14-99

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Jun 23 2011, 11:28

Caring cabbie teaches lesson

Column by Nick Clooney

Let me tell you a New York story. Some will find it hard to believe, but it is true.

First we will have to agree on a few facts about New York cab drivers. Even readers who have never been to Manhattan know all about its cab drivers. Their reputation pre-dates even the internal combustion engine. There were hair-raising stories about incorrigible drivers and their horse-drawn vehicles even in 19th-century literature.

In the middle years of this century, the stereotype we saw in the movies and heard on radio comedy shows was specific. He would be from Brooklyn or the Bronx. He would have a funny accent. He would be brusque to the point of rudeness. He would drive recklessly. He would be something of a philosopher. His wisecracks would be punch lines for a thousand comedy sketches.

And you could never find a cab if it was raining or at rush hour.

There have been changes in recent years. For one thing, you are just as likely to find a cabbie who speaks English in Tokyo or Paris as in New York. In fact, for a time Nina and I made a game of listing the countries represented by the drivers in the city. A notebook from the early 1990s lists Guatemala, Pakistan, Iran, Chile, Vietnam, El Salvador, Russia, Yemen, Sudan, Honduras and India.

And you still can't get a cab when it rains or at rush hour. On our most recent trip to New York, Nina and I spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about cab drivers. We had a pretty good reason, we thought. On Wednesday night, we finished our work for American Movie Classics at Radio City Music Hall at 5 p.m., right at rush hour.

A weather front was moving through. Rain was changing to snow. The wind was gusting mightily. We hailed cab after cab. Most were full and ones that were not didn't stop. The upshot was that we walked 28 blocks to our hotel, fuming all the way.

Friday night, we decided to attend a special movie showing. A 1998 film starring our son George, 'Out of Sight,' had just been named 'Best Picture of the Year' by the prestigious National Society of Film Critics. It had gotten the same honor from another critics' group and was on the 'Ten Best' list of at least 30 publications, including Newsweek and People magazines. As a result, a theater in Manhattan brought it back for a limited two-week run and Nina and I decided to go see it again.

The doorman at our hotel hailed a cab and Nina and I piled in. I gave the driver the theater address. There was no response, not even a grunt.

I looked at Nina and rolled my eyes. 'Here we go again,' I thought. The driver's hair was long and straggly. He was uncommunicative. The only time he spoke was at the end of the ride.

'Is that it?' he mumbled, indicating the theater. 'Oh, you speak English,' I replied, hoping the sarcasm was not lost on him. I paid the fare, hesitated for a moment about the tip, then recalled my own rule. Many people make their living from tips. Their base salary wouldn't support them. Rude or not, maybe he had a family to take care of. I gave him the tip.

We found our seats and before the film started, Nina and I were grousing about the driver. When the movie was over, after we talked about how good everybody had been in the movie, we took up our complaining again as I hailed another cab. This driver, by contrast, was personable, talkative, pleasant. As we went into the lobby of our hotel, I was comparing the two cabbies, much to the detriment of the first.

Our friends at the hotel greeted us. We have been staying there for years and know the staff well. After saying good night, we headed for the elevator.

'Oh, Mr. Clooney,' the room clerk called, 'you didn't lose a pair of glasses, did you?'

Instinctively, I reached into my topcoat pocket. Gone. I hadn't even noticed. The only pair I had with me.

'Could these be it?' She held up the familiar tan case.

'Where did you find them?' I asked.

'We didn't find them,' said the doorman. 'A cabbie came up to me out front. He said somebody left them in his cab. He was pretty sure he picked the fellow up here. Took him to a movie on Second Avenue.'

'Did you give him a tip?'

'He wouldn't take one. Wouldn't give me his medallion number so somebody could send him a tip either. Said the fellow and his wife seemed like nice people. Then he left. Scruffy looking guy.'

Yeah, he was. That's the trouble with New York cab drivers. You just can't trust them to confirm your prejudices.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Publication date: 01-20-99

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Jun 23 2011, 11:32

More brushes with the famous

Column by Nick Clooney

Now we'll have some fun. Here are a few more ''brushes with the famous.''

This is a letter from Gorden Sewell of Cincinnati. ''In June 1946, I was discharged from the U.S. Navy. Came home to Cincinnati and found out that my mother, father and brother were moving to Denver, Colorado. On August 4th, we left for Denver. In 1947, I met a man on a golf course who owned a chain of jewelry stores. He asked if I would help with his golf game. I did and he offered me money, which I refused. (Later), he asked if I would be his partner in a member-guest tourney at the famous Broadmoor Hotel and Golf Club in Colorado Springs. Needless to say, I was both thrilled and nervous. Our playing partners were three-star general 'Rosie' O'Donnel and a Mr. Goldberg, head of a national Jewish newspaper.

''After golf, we were having dinner when actor James Stewart and his wife walked in and the general invited them to our table for a drink. We were all introduced. My heart was pounding by this time. James Stewart and his wife were wonderful people. Very down-to-earth. This day was one of the highlights of my life.''

Frances Munnell of Owensville also had an interesting encounter. ''It must have been 1951 when 'Porgy and Bess' came to the Taft Theatre. Cab Calloway played 'Sportin' Life.' . . . It was a thrilling performance and my husband and I were so exhilarated that we couldn't think of going home, so we decided to window-shop even though it was a bitter cold, clear winter night. We made the circuit - over Fourth to Race and back over Fifth. That's where we ran into (Cab Calloway), and told him how much we had enjoyed the show. . . . He was gracious and chatted for a minute or two. . . . He was so handsome in a long black great coat with a beaver collar and a black beret. What a thrill it was.''

Mary Baldwin of Cincinnati had two episodes to tell us about. ''The first one is I got to shake hands with Andy Williams at a homecoming event they had for him in Cheviot. . . . I didn't wash my hand for days. That was a big thrill for me as I love his singing.

''The second time was when I was behind Cesar Romero at a Kroger store in the Western Hills area where I live. I think he was doing a play at Beef 'n' Boards. . . . When the girl at the register realized who he was, she almost fainted. He turned around to me and said, 'I didn't think I would be noticed' and winked. I was pretty shaken up myself.''

Clara M. (Margie) Franklin has had a number of occasions to meet famous people over the years. Here's one of them. ''Quite a few years ago a friend and I went to Maketewah Country Club to see Bob Hope play golf along with Jack Nicklaus and Glen Campbell.

''It rained. It poured. All day long. It was impossible to play golf. So they turned on the loudspeaker and let the people hear Bob and his friends. No one left. We all stood in a rain that made umbrellas useless. Bob Hope finally realized we were enjoying ourselves and did not intend to leave. We all heard him say, 'If they can do that, we can go outside and hit a few golf balls.'

''Mr. Hope started signing autographs. He looked at me and said, 'Put your arm up.' I did a double-take. He repeated his request and up went my left arm, which he then used (as a brace) to sign his autographs. Nice man.''

Julia Rose Hirsch of Cincinnati: ''My brush with some famous came by letter. Johnny Vander Meer and I shared our fame on June 11th, 1938. My husband and I were married and of course Johnny pitched (one of his two consecutive no-hitters). He took over the spotlight at our wedding. This poor little bride took second place.

''Fifty years later we celebrated our golden wedding anniversary. Who comes back to Cincy and makes headlines? Johnny Vander Meer!

''In jest I designed a card for him telling him my story. He replied with a handwritten letter, congratulating us and thanking me for my card. Among other things in the letter, he referred to Ladies Day at Crosley Field. He said (Ernie) Lombardi and (Bucky) Walters would look up at the stands and say, 'Well, another night for pork and beans at home. All the women are here today.' He was truly a great man.''

Jean Smith of Covington has met many celebrities. ''Did I ever tell you that Walt and I went to . . . the World's Fair on our honeymoon? While at the Fair, we met Cary Grant walking along. We talked to him and he was so gracious . . .

''Then, while I was secretary at Kroger Company . . . I met Lloyd Bridges. We had quite a chat about our families. He was a charming man.''

Keep those ''brushes'' coming.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Publication date: 01-29-99

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Jun 23 2011, 11:34

Murray's jibes spurred city on

Column by Nick Clooney

These days I find myself in downtown Cincinnati only five or six times a month, not every day, as was the case for 20 years or more. In some ways, this might give me a better perspective on the changes there, both good and bad. Perhaps that is why when I stopped recently at the Tyler Davidson Fountain, I thought of Jim Murray.

Cincinnatians of long tenure and long memory will not be at all surprised at the combination of civic centerpiece and columnist. The most identifiable icon of our community and the irritatingly effective burr under our saddle.

There are some, I am sure, who have little interest in sports and do not know who Jim Murray was. For my money, he was one of the two best sportswriters who every lived, sharing the title with Red Smith.

Now to the point. I have long believed that Jim Murray was responsible for the first post-war renaissance of downtown Cincinnati. He did it with his acid-drenched and hilariously funny typewriter just as the decade of the 1960s dawned.

Jim Murray wrote his column for the Los Angeles Times. It was widely syndicated. He came to town to cover the World Series of 1961, which the Reds lost to the Yankees in five games. He took a look at our downtown, our riverfront, our cultural scene and described it for the nation in terms that made the Genius of Waters blush. It was a mortal shock to all of us. We didn't know that the city we loved, so long on the cutting edge, had become a backwater.

Mr. Murray told us so and we were not amused. There was outrage that even today has not cooled in some quarters, though Jim and his typewriter are now still.

It is my clear impression that the stupendous combination of efforts through the 1960s to make Cincinnati the bellwether downtown in all America stemmed in part from Jim Murray's diatribes in the national press. Time after time as Fountain Square was moved and burnished and downtown businesses energized, Mr. Murray's name and quotes were invoked.

It was like posting the visiting team's boasts on the locker room door of the home team. We had become complacent, all right, but we did not want some Los Angeles writer poking fun at us. It stung. It also galvanized.

In spite of his relentless needling of Cincinnati, Mr. Murray was a hero of mine. When I worked in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, I met him at one of those chicken and peas benefits. His sight was failing badly at the time. He was gracious, but, as often happens when we meet heroes, neither of us had much to say.

When his wife died, he wrote one of the most poignant pieces I've ever read. I sent a note. I didn't expect a reply, but I got one. Two years later. Hand-written. He had personally answered each expression of sympathy he got. A debt of honor.

My friend Jerry Hellard, a Lexingtonian transplanted to L.A. about whom I have written in this space, shares my enthusiasm for Mr. Murray. Last week, he sent me the posthumous Murray book of columns, 'Last of the Best.' It is encouraging to old guys such as I to see that Mr. Murray's talent was intact right up to his very last day.

In the book's introduction, the editors put him up to his old trick of baiting Cincinnati. It was an excerpt from a column he wrote when the ramps from the Interstate to Riverfront were being built. He found, over the summer, the building process tiresome and the detours interminable. He decided that the delays occurred because 'it was Kentucky's turn to use the cement mixer.'

Oh, he knew just what buttons to push, all right. But he undeniably provided one of the catalysts that woke us up. For a while.

A decade or so later we lost our way again. Cities about which we had long been patronizing caught up with, then passed, us. Cleveland. Indianapolis. Some demagogues on our City Council successfully pursued the pop slogan of 'neighborhoods' and pointedly ignored 5th and Vine, oblivious to the fact that a city which cuts of its head also destroys its arms and legs. Our planning experts lionized office space and froze out small businesses, forgetting that downtown must be a neighborhood, too, or it becomes instead a collection of sterile and dangerous concrete canyons.

I had my new Jim Murray book with me on my most recent downtown foray late last week. He would like what I saw. Distinct signs of life.

It appears that, these days, Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky each has its own cement mixer.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Publication date: 02-01-99

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Jun 23 2011, 11:35

Dogs take bite out of scandal

Column by Nick Clooney

Spags, here.

It has been a long time since you heard from me. Not my fault. I am pained to tell you there is an anti-canine bias in the news business. Every column I write gets rejected just because I have no interest in Topic A. I had this piece on canine zero population growth. You'd have talked about it for weeks. There was this piece about the St. Bernard who adopted the orphan Chihuahua. Tear your heart out. Not one paragraph got in.

All right. You want scandal, I'll give you scandal. This one is going to turn the political world on its head. Oh, they'll print this one, all right.

Here is something you don't know. We canines have what you, I suppose, would say was a sort of newsletter. We call it Dog-Ear. It isn't written, of course. You know what we dogs use newspapers for. It's all word-of-muzzle. But, believe me, we hear things that would freeze your tail in mid-wag. If you had one.

Example. Everybody knows that the president has a dog named Buddy. Let me tell you the scandal-meter on Dog-Ear has pinned the needle since Buddy came to the White House. To tell you the truth, he's what we call a blabber-muzzle.

I can tell you something else. The special prosecutor also has an animal companion. He revealed it during the grand jury proceeding he actually attended. However, I cannot tell the name or even the species of his animal friend without the president's lawyer suing me for leaking grand jury testimony. Let me just say the Starrs' best friend walks gracefully on four legs, as all animals were intended to.

Anyway, here's what Buddy said in Dog-Ear: 'Suppose, just suppose, that Mr. Clinton is secretly a right-wing conservative. Imagine for a moment that he is a part of a vast, right-wing conspiracy. That his duty was to infiltrate Democrat politics, ingratiate himself with the party and work to become president. He had political talent. If he should make it, he had two assignments. In his first term he was to do whatever he could to screw up national health insurance so much that it wouldn't be on the political agenda for decades to come. Next, if was lucky enough to get a second term after trashing the first one, he was to do something so breathtakingly stupid, preferably a sexual indiscretion, that he would disgrace his party and undermine its presidential aspirations well into the next century.'

I'm not claiming Buddy has it right, mind you. He's no Dragho in the brain department. Oh, I forgot you wouldn't know Dragho. He was Einstein's dog. Did you think Albert went from math dropout to science genius on his own? Please. Anyway, the important part of the story is the other half. Three weeks ago, Dog-Ear had the following report from the Animal Companion of the Special Prosecutor, Not Allowed To Be Named. Here's the translation:

'Suppose, just suppose, that sometime after the 1992 election, just as Mr. Clinton was stumbling through the universal health care issue, sending his wife out and turning off potential allies with his awkward super HMO plan, the smart guys in the Democratic Party caught on. They had planted an agent, too, and the moment had come to launch a counter-conspiracy. Their agent? The special prosecutor. His job was to be so over-the-top in the investigation that he would alienate the people. He did the best he could, but he didn't have much to work with. Just corruption. Who cared? He subpoenaed everyone but the pope, but made no headway. The only thing that mattered to humans in the 1990s was sex. He knew that. So did the president. So this is where their purposes ironically merged.

'The president, secret agent for the right, launched a sordid affair with exactly the kind of young woman who would blab about it. The special prosecutor, agent for the left, was ecstatic. He knew that the people who elected the president already knew he had the sexual morals of an alley cat. All the prosecutor had to do was hammer at the story self-righteously. He might even get lucky enough to have naive members of Congress actually try to impeach. The voters would be furious at anyone who belabored the obvious. He could make the president the most popular man this side of John Elway.'

How about that? Conspiracies battling muzzle to muzzle. Dog-Ears says the prosecutor's weekend threat to indict the president was a master stroke and put his conspiracy ahead by two full points. But stay tuned. The president still has almost two years to win.

Is there anything to all of this? Well, dogs don't know how to lie. That's what sets us apart from humans.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Publication date: 02-03-99

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Jun 23 2011, 11:37

Let's determine bests of century

Column by Nick Clooney

Get out your pencil or fire up your computer. You and I are about to launch a project. It will take up the whole year and will require your serious assistance, but there will be plenty of lead time.

At long last, we are going to have to take this ''end of the century/end of the millennium'' thing seriously. In only the past six weeks, I have been asked to compile my ''10 best movies of one century'' list by a TV station in Chicago and a magazine in Los Angeles, my ''news story of the century'' by a newspaper in Los Angeles, my ''news story of the century'' by a newspaper in Florida, my ''10 best sports movies of the century'' and ''athlete of the century'' by a news service, a contribution to ''Frank Sinatra, Singer of the Century'' by a radio network and various and sundry other ''best ofs.''

Heck, if I'm going to do all that work, why not do it right here and get you to help me? You and I can put together our ''best'' list and take the whole year to do it. I've already spent the better part of a week just putting categories together. Here's the list and the reasons for structuring it the way I have. At the end of the year, whether you approve of my decisions or not, we should have a very interesting ''top 10'' of the most influential people of the past hundred years, at least in the view of those of us in the Ohio Valley. Of course, none of this works if a substantial number of you don't get in on it, so spread the word.

First rule: This century has seen, in my view, the triumph of the philosophy of the individual over the philosophy of collectivism. So this list will celebrate individuals. One name for each category. In today's column, I will give you all 10 headings. I won't do that again until December. Instead, we'll concentrate on separate categories, month by month. In the past 100 years, who was the greatest . . .

1. Political Leader? From anywhere in the world, 1900 to 1999.

2. Writer? Novelist, playwright, journalist, biographer, historian, screenwriter. Anyone who wrote in any language.

3. Composer? Classical, pop, jazz, any kind of music.

4. Religious leader or philosopher? Any who have lifted us above the moment. (Don't let the word ''leader'' in any of these disciplines mislead you. It is not meant in an authoritarian sense. A person may lead effectively from near obscurity.)

5. Artist? This will have to encompass the whole range of graphic and performing arts. Painters, sculptors, singers, actors, dancers, directors, musical performers, conductors, all who have shared their priceless gifts with us.

6. Military leader? This has been a century of war, which has colored every other activity. Who best practiced this important - and dark - science?

7. Scientists? We must include the field of medicine, which makes this among the broadest and most interesting groups.

8. Business leader? We must add to this list inventors, although by no means all inventors do their work for monetary gain.

9. Athlete? I thought long about including this category, considering what others must be excluded to accommodate it. But there is no denying the broad influence athletes have wielded in our century. Which individual athlete affected us most and, in this, as in other categories, can we shed the myopia of our own decade to take a wider, century-long view?

10. American? Numbers one through nine are open to the world. But this has been the first of the American centuries. What American had the most important impact on this astonishing country since 1900?

You will notice that I did not have listings such as ''greatest African-American'' and so forth. Those would have been obligatory a few years ago. The patronizing is no longer required. There are enough giants of both genders and every race to hold their own in each category.

Now that I have given you the entire list, I want you to forget nine of them. Concentrate instead on number one, ''Political Leader.'' Who was the single most important political leader of the 20th century? Think about it. Send me your choice. I will publish the results the first week in March. Remember, only political leaders this time, please. We'll take other categories in succession month by month, culminating in ''Greatest American'' the first week in December. Then we'll list our entire top 10 next New Year's Eve, Friday, Dec. 31.

Here we go. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Publication date: 02-05-99

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Jun 23 2011, 11:39

Swing reflected our tense times

Column by Nick Clooney

'Dear Mr. Clooney. Swing and swing dancing are big again. You write about the big bands every now and then. Our teacher is a swing freak and assigned us to write about it. Since you are the expert, please tell me when it started and when it ended and when they decided to call it swing. If you print this, don't use my name. We're supposed to go to the library. Sign me "Swing Thing.' '

Go the the library, Swing Thing. I'm not an expert on any subject. That's why I got into news, so I could talk to experts and ask them questions. But I can tell you this much: Nothing is as clear-cut as you wish. Big bands came in slowly, by fits and starts, and went out the same way.

There were always bands, of course, playing all kinds of music, but if you look at the various 'charts' listing the most popular songs and recordings of this century, the bands that featured the music evolving from 'ragtime' and 'jazz' started to assert themselves in the 1920s. They didn't dominate, by any means. It was still the era of the individual performer or vocal groups. But we begin to see contemporary instrumental hits with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and others as early as World War I. Mr. Whiteman had the popular band field pretty much to himself with regard to major hits all through the 1920s.

But by 1929, we begin to see other names of bandleaders whose songs hit the top. Duke Ellington, Guy Lombardo, Cab Calloway, Ted Weems and a few more. In addition, dozens of new bands began producing songs that, while not reaching number one, were making an impact with the audience.

By 1934, of the 20 songs that became number one, 16 of them featured big bands. For the first time, we see the name Benny Goodman. The next year, it was the turn of the Dorsey Brothers, as well as Glen Gray and Jimmy Lunceford. Now big bands ruled the charts.

This is not to say the big bands ever totally shut out solo vocalists. No one could shut out Bing Crosby. He was a one-man phenomenon through this entire era, bucking the tide and carrying the flag for singers as superstars. He paved the way for the army of vocalists who took over the business in the 1950s. But in the 1930s and 1940s he was clearly the exception. In the swing era, band singers got second or third billing, behind the leader and, perhaps, a featured instrumentalist.

Let's see where things stood in 1940. These were the number one songs: January, 'All The Things You Are,' Tommy Dorsey; February, 'Careless,' Glenn Miller; March, 'In The Mood,' Glenn Miller; April, 'Darn That Dream,' Benny Goodman; May, 'Tuxedo Junction,' Glenn Miller; July, 'Make Believe Island,' Mitch Ayres; August, 'I'll Never Smile Again,' Tommy Dorsey; September, 'The Breeze and I,' Jimmy Dorsey; October, Bing Crosby broke the big band choke-hold with 'Only Forever'; November, 'Blueberry Hill,' Glenn Miller; December, 'Frenesi,' Artie Shaw. You get the picture. Big bands criss-crossed the country on one-nighters. They sold records and sheet music. They were on the radio day and night. They were in the movies. Kids danced to them in ballrooms and even in theater aisles.

Big bands were the soundtrack of the Great Depression and World War II, the two major events of the century. It is difficult to exaggerate how pervasive the sound was. It touched every segment of society and all ages. The times were so intense that the sound seared itself into our national psyche.

Which may be why it didn't last very long. The times were too life-and-death, too specific. It may also be why the memory of that sound is so stubborn, even to those who were not alive then. In spite of the rock revolution, swing remains a constant in our literature, films, our sense of ourselves.

Why did they call it 'swing'? No one is sure. The word 'swing' in reference to jaunty music goes back at least as far as Revolutionary War days. Some have said that Duke Ellington's 1932 hit 'It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing' gave the era its name.

When did it end? With the finish of World War II, though we didn't know it. Some bands flourished for a decade or so, but the era of the vocalist took over, itself eclipsed by rock 'n' roll a decade later. There were a few last, defiant echoes. I remember a Jimmy Dorsey hit, 'So Rare,' in 1957, when that swing icon seemed to be saying, 'You want a screeching sax, I'll give you a screeching sax!'

Swing soared across the American firmament, so bright that its image remains indelible when much else fades with the waning century.

Hope you get a passing grade, 'Swing Thing.'

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Publication date: 02-08-99

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Jun 23 2011, 11:41

Boors tarnish a special night

Column by Nick Clooney

Do you behave yourself when you are out in public, as your parents taught you to do? Or have you become a crass boor? Are you sure of the answer?

Nina and I always ask ourselves that question whenever we have the misfortune to encounter people rude enough to be a distraction to others in restaurants, theaters, clubs or arenas.

We have given up on professional football. We will never again attend an NFL game. Rude, abrasive, aggressive and profane people are the norm there. Major League Baseball has not yet entirely succumbed. You might actually be able to take your family to a game without having your wife and children subjected to locker-room language and imagery.

We have better luck in restaurants, nightclubs and cabarets, oddly enough. The maturity level is higher. Not in age. In attitude. For the most part, people are there to enjoy the evening rather than to call attention to themselves.

Last Saturday, Nina and I had a rare night out on our own in New York. We went to the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel on West 44th Street. Yes, that Algonquin Hotel, where the famous Round Table was home to the wit and intellect of some of the nation's brightest people. The Round Table is empty now, as is much of the wit it symbolized. But the Oak Room is alive and well. It is a cabaret these days. Intimate. Room for fewer than 100. Nina and I heard Johnny Pizzarelli was performing there and we were eager to see him.

Johnny is a marvelous young singer and guitarist who is keeping alive the great pop standards of the middle years of this century and melding them with the best of the rock 'n' rollers. It was the late show, starting at 11:30, and it was packed. Johnny was joined by his brother Marty on bass and Ray Kennedy on piano. Those who love classic American pop music already know that Johnny is the son of legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, who is a friend of ours and has often appeared with my sister Rosemary. The show was wonderful, the audience responsive, the food exceptional, the service impeccable.

If, however, a grain of sand is required to make a pearl of an evening, we had the grain of sand. Two of them.

Nina and I were seated by the manager of the room at a wonderful table near the microscopic stage. Moments later, another couple was seated at an equally good table to our right. Nina and I could not help but remark to one another how attractive the couple was. Young, blond, athletic-looking, altogether handsome, both of them. The proximity of the tables left us little choice but to eavesdrop, so we learned the two were brother and sister. Out, as we were, for an evening's entertainment.

They had not been seated for more than three minutes when the young woman called the captain over and asked for another table. She was seated at one of the six best tables in the room, but said she thought she might be too close to the loudspeakers. She and her brother were promptly moved to the table immediately to our left. She settled in, putting her bulky coat virtually in my lap. It was with mild satisfaction that I noted her new table wobbled a bit.

She asked for seltzer water. The waiter brought it. She sent it back. She didn't want ice. Noticing that I was crowding her coat, she had a waiter take it to the coat check which she had passed, just as the rest of us had, on her way in. When the waiter returned, she sent him back to find out if her scarf was safely in her sleeve.

She was told the kitchen was about to close. She said she wanted something to eat and requested a menu. She ordered chicken, but specified it be well-done. The waiter returned with the chicken, in a first presentation, suitably brown on the outside. 'I said well-done,' she told the waiter severely. 'That is well-done, Miss.' 'No it is not. I won't eat it. Take it back.' 'Of course, Miss, we will do our best to prepare it as you wish.' 'And this seltzer water is flat. Take it back, too.'

It is amazing how a litany of carping can make unattractive even the loveliest athletic-looking blonde. Good face. Good figure. Bad attitude. Quite homely, after all. When the chicken was brought back, she continued to complain. Neighboring tables tried to ignore the loud whining. When the show started, it was the brother's turn. He talked loudly during the songs, stage-whispered his comments between numbers and, all-in-all, made a jackass of himself.

They looked like nice people. Do you suppose they knew they were rude, obnoxious, self-indulgent boors? More important, have any of the rest of us fallen into that category without realizing it?

I'll think hard about it if you will.

Freelance columnist Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Publication date: 02-10-99

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Atalante on Thu Jun 23 2011, 12:01

I would have put some pepper in the second chicken !!! lol!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by sandwiches on Thu Jun 23 2011, 16:28

I bet the kitchen staff spit in her food.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Tulips on Tue Jan 26 2016, 22:39

Link to web archive with several years if Nick's columns.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by it's me on Tue Jan 26 2016, 23:02

Thank you !!! Thumbs up!Thumbs up!Thumbs up!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Katiedot on Thu Jan 28 2016, 18:35

Many thanks!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Fri Jan 29 2016, 07:20

Loved his columns...wish he would write an online blog...

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Katiedot on Fri Jan 29 2016, 20:43

He'd be fantastic at that! Maybe we should ask him?

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Fri Jan 29 2016, 21:30

I did send him an email years ago when he said he was finishing at the paper suggesting he start a column on line...no reply

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Katiedot on Fri Jan 29 2016, 21:34

I'd guess that writing a weekly column is stressful and maybe not something he'd want to commit to again?

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Re: Nick's Columns

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