Monthly Archives: February 2005

Birthday Present

February 18, 1947.

Gian-Carlo Menotti’s opera The Telephone premieres on Broadway.

And I am born.

1947 was an interesting year. Great Britain granted independence to India and Pakistan. Andre Gide won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. The CIA was established. The so-called “Truman Doctrine” was declared allegedly in order to “aid Greece and Turkey against Communist rebels and Soviet expansionism.” The “House UnAmerican Activities Committee” began hearings into alleged “communist influence” in Hollywood, leading to “unfriendly witness” Alvah Bessie having his credit removed as screenwriter of Ruthless — shot in ’47 but released the following year. It was just the beginning of a culture-wide purge.

Meanwhile in 1947 chief HUAC stoolie Elia Kazan won the Oscar for Gentleman’s Agreement , the first major Hollywood film about anti-semitism — produced by the sole goyish studio 20th Century Fox.

But my favorite films of that year are Desert Fury and Good News

Others of note born February 18 include Matt Dillon, Molly Ringwald, Jack Palance and Duncan Black.

(The less said about John Travolta, Cybill Shepherd, and Yoko Ono the better.)

Bill got me a marvelously obscure William Klein film on DVD. Jay got me Barbarella — whose costume designer, Paco Rabanne was also born on the 18th.

My most baroque birthday gift, however, came from the ineffable Joan Walsh, recently ascended to the presumed editorial cyberheights of Salon:

“It’s been all positive — except for my friends over at Atrios, who have been trying to decide who’s more loathsome, me or Judith Miller. So I’m in good company. But anyway, one of the reasons that they hate me is that I attacked some of them for outing Andrew Sullivan a few years ago, when his online profile was uncovered and it lead to it becoming public what he might be doing in his private life. I thought that was off limits. But this is a totally different story. This is a person who has lied from the very beginning. Once you start pulling the threads, you tell the story of what you uncover. And that’s what we’ve done. I’m proud of it.”

I’m proud too Joan.

Enjoy the new gig.

And go Cheney yourself!