Monday, August 16, 2004

A Little of the Old In and Out

In: Atoosa Rubenstein, darly pretty editrix. Jeff Bercovici of WWD writes of our favorite editor:

"Atoosa Rubenstein has always been a little, well, different.

"As founding editor of Cosmogirl, she turned that quality to her advantage, offering herself as a role model to quirky teens who were interested in standing out, not fitting in. Now, one year after becoming editor in chief of Seventeen, Rubenstein is once again seeking success by going against the grain. In a category that has become ever more segmented into distinct editorial and demographic niches, Rubenstein?s heavily revamped Seventeen is trying to position itself as the go-to resource for teenagers of every race, region and social clique. 'It is everything to all girls, and there is no reason, if you?re strategic, you can?t be that,' said Rubenstein.

Right on; Read on.

Out: Did Rick James OD? According to that significant cultural artifact The National Enquirer:

"'Rick was high for an entire week straight prior to his death,' the friend disclosed.

"'On Tuesday and Wednesday he'd received four separate drug deliveries -- cocaine for snorting and crystal meth to smoke.

"'The last time I saw him on Thursday, he was suffering from coughing fits so bad that he was gasping for air.

"'It's terribly sad. When I said goodbye I had the same feeling I always had leaving him -- it might be the last time I'd ever see him alive.'"

The whole sad story is here.

In: Elizabeth Hurley's new panties. According to British Vogue:

"Elizabeth Hurley has joined fellow models Elle Macpherson and Caprice by venturing into the world of underwear design, creating her own range of lingerie featuring every woman's dream - an 'invisible' pair of knickers and bra. The 39-year-old hopes to emulate the success of Elle Macpherson's Intimates and Kylie Minogue's Love Kylie ranges, after being encouraged by her boyfriend Arun Nayar. A source close to Hurley told the Daily Mail: 'Elizabeth has been trying to keep this very hush-hush but she's incredibly excited about it. She's been thinking about a new business venture for a while. She knows that as she's approaching 40 her modelling days will not last for ever and she wants something lucrative to fall back on. It was Arun who suggested that she launch her own clothing empire. She's always had a great eye for design and Liz said herself if Elle and Kylie can do it, then so can she.' Hurley plans to start with a bikini and swimwear range but the friend said: 'The sky is the limit and she's hoping one day to have her own clothing empire. She has come up with some really clever designs such as invisible lingerie that you can't see under tiny tight-fitting clothes.' Hurley has overseen the designs, which will be launched at the end of the year."

No word yet on whetheror not Hurley has developed a stealth technology that would allow said panties to oscillate wildly in the immediate vicinity of billionaires with heart problems and no next of kin. Charmed, I'm sure.

Out: Parisanship. By now we are all aware of the particularly intense partisanship on The Hill at this time, as a result, in part, by the ultraconservative governance of this nation by a President who was elected -- just barely -- without the popular vote, and, thus, without a proper mandate for radical reform, one which he coveted, one which might revenge his father's loss in '92. The prudent course of action in weighing the consequences of the tenuous election of 2000 would have been to govern the nation center-right, and, if re-elected with a substantial margin, to tack the ship of state farther Right (wing). No one would have faulted Bush for this.

The 9/11 happened, throwing all traditional political behavior topsy turvy. "The rules have changed," said the Editorials from the OP Ed sections of the editorial pages.

K-Street is now divided down the middle, of course, as Log Cabin Republicans, pro-preemption human rights advocates, neoconservatives, stem cell research advocates (some scientists, some swing state pro-scientific advancement types), former Naderites, Air America types and conservatives all rally to their respective sides, many of them traditionally alien.

Whatever happened to taking the best of both sides? As a typical Gemini (don't hold it against me), I have to say, I truly believe both sides have their pluses.

Frankly, I have some respect the conservative search for wisdom, with it's masculine virtue. I truly do. Liberals just cannot wrap their minds around the idea that public schools are a governed by community consensus, and that if anyone actually learns from them, anything of value beyond "a smattering of economics" or "woodwork," or "sex ed," or, "integrated math (a tasteless pudding made by a committee of chefs with PhD's in something called 'Math Education;)," it is probably by accident. Okay, that was a great oversimplification of reality, but you get the point. The liberal theory of education is that there are no ultimate truths, life is like a tumultuous wave, contingent, and, therefore, education ought to be tailored to help the learner navigate his or her surfboard -- with compassion; there are no permanent things.

Public schools exist to train the next generation of servants, the possibility that a public school might teach, say, that sepia-dark Homeric Greek, or an advanced study of the Lincoln-Douglas debates on slavery in civics class, or the African St. Augustine's Confessions (too religious, not politically correct) or classical mechanics (the astronomy of Ptolemy or Newton -- difficult, to be sure, but not impossible to navigate), or Elizabethan poetry is absurd as, well, that won't get you a job, and, besides, it's all by dead white men who offered a truth for their time, but, with contingency, we need an education for this new historical moment. There is an almost congential aversion among public schools to teach via first sources. I will not entertain the possibility that a lot of useless hacks at the Board of Eds and publishing Houses across the country would be out of work if their mishmash textbooks didn't receive lucrative publishing contracts to dilute the wisdom of The Great Authors. They knew what they were saying.

Public school trains kids to get jobs, to survive, this is considered a necessity -- it is anathema to discuss public education without mentioning jobs; private schools teach kids to be free thinkers, granted, of course, many have a tidy inheritance coming to them, but that is not the point, they are educated to be educated, to be active participants in our democratic experiement, to advance learning, to be wise, not simply educated to get a nifty tech job. A liberally educated individual would not only be bright enough to get that job, but also, to crave after lifelong learning, search for justice in the world, in politics, in daily life.

And, of course, you get what you pay for.

And the teachers unions in public schools are mostly out for pay raises. And any political dialogue on the subject usually degenerates into chat of "repairing buildings," or "putting cops in schools," or, my favorite, "installing metal detectors," and "testing." Ever wonder why pols -- from liberals like Bill Clinton (Chelsea went to Sidwell Friends) and Mark Greene to conservatives to Bill Buckley (Christo went to Portsmouth Abbey) and Taki (son went to Le Rosey)-- send their kids to private schools?

At least conservatives aren't hypocrites on the matter.

Conservatives have strong curriculum proposals, because they believe in ultimate truths.

But, of course, when this search for wisdom ("ultimate truths"), or, at least, the belief that they actually exist -- as opposed to liberals -- degenerates, disintegrates, you get gasbags and moral scolds, like the schoolmarm from Missouri, who believes that all liberals are addicted to "porn and filth." But, in the end, this evangelical moralizing stems from resentment at the sophisticated fast life of those same "Godless, immoral liberals." (The schoolmarm may not make as much money, have as much sex, or have as much fun, but -- by God -- she knows in her heart that Jesus loves her)

Now: lest everyone on the left abandon me, thinking me a fascist (I can see the comments coming), I started out at The Nation, and I also respect, quite frankly, deeply: the liberal yearning for worldly sophistication. The fragrance of existence is intoxicating, large beyond all measure, and everything is possible in nature's experiment, perhaps, even, everything is permitted: progress is infinite, says the liberals, with characteristic grace, charm, wit, freedom and beauty.

Visit the Upper West Side, the world's capitol of liberalism and you can see -- especially in summer -- just how existentially beautiful it is to be a liberal. There are ethnic restaurants everywhere (as opposed to the frosty Upper East Side, where ethnic diversity is limited to ethnic servants going in the service entrances; there is a barrenness of diversity in conservative bastions, like Sewanee, Tennessee; Charleston, South Carolina; and Idaho, Montana and South Dakota). A liberal neighborhood means lots of kinetic energy on a Friday night -- snap, crackle and pop, lots of kids, liberals love kids and youth just as conservatives respect and worship senectitude.

Lots of large and happy dogs with bandanas frolic in lefty climes, and a sort of air of Buddhist detatchment and "accepting," like, say, the one in Northampton, Massachusetts, or Burlington, Vermont, or even Denver, Colorado is predominant.

There is no ultimate truth, just the existentialist surfer reality with improvisation and love. And travel to strange and mysterious cultures and partake of their particular "realities". Naive, yes, but pretty, and, of course, sophisticated. Liberals are far more sophisticated than conservatives, socially, intellectually and in every which way. I'd much rather party with lefties.

In my life I try to take the good from both sides of the political spectrum and call each on on their bullshit ... when I'm not blogging about trite but fun celebrity gossip, that is. So, let's not be soooo conservative, or sooo lefty. And, please, stop emailing me with calling me a commie or a fascist. I just told you I can, in true Gemini fashion -- which I am -- see merit to both sides of the aisle. Basta!

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