The Bright Side

Allen and Stein

The Bright Side

Allen and Stein

The Bright Side
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Sept. 17 1998 1:08 PM

Allen and Stein

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Hi, Jodie.

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What's in the daily news?
I'll tell you what's in the daily news.
Story about a man who bought his wife a small ruby
With what otherwise would have been his union dues.
That's what's in the daily news.
 

(Guys and Dolls , Frank Loesser)

Before I answer your plea for the good news, let me say this. I don't think the tape of Clinton's testimony should be played on TV. If it is played, I won't watch it. I don't watch the Jerry Springer show. Why should I watch the Kenneth Starr show? I'm not trying to protect Clinton. I think we already know all we need to know about him.

Also, I don't want to hear about the sexual experiences of thirty years ago. I think we should have a moratorium on such revelations or confessions except where felonious behavior is involved.

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Now for the bright side.

This was too late for the early editions of the papers in Washington, but Sammy Sosa hit his 63rd homer last night. Hallelujah.

Did you read the long story in the Wall Street Journal about the rise of culture in America? The number of symphony orchestras in America, the number of people attending operas, the listeners to good music stations, the purchasers of serious books, and so on have enormously increased in the past ten or twenty years. The story is not unmixed. There is still a large audience for schlock, and the schlock is getting schlockier. We may be becoming two nations--one kulturni and one ni-kulturni. But still, the part that appreciates high culture is increasing. That appreciation will, in my opinion, do more for the American spirit, for its sense of well-being, for its happiness, than another 1000 points on the Dow, or raising the rate of growth of GDP from 2.5 percent to 3 percent.

The other evening I was feeling sick of all this sordor. (Is there a word "sordor"? There should be. It expresses a sordid environment better that "sordidness".) So I resumed reading To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf) that had been interrupted a few days before. I was transported to a different world. It was not a fairy-tale world, a goody-goody world, but was a world of sensitive perceptions described by a genius. Then I lay down and put on a tape of the ballet "Giselle", with Nureyev, which I had watched many times before. For a moment I thought, "Gee, that's the old story. Prince Albrecht, Bill, has wronged and misled the peasant girl Giselle, Monica." But I quickly got over that and was uplifted by the beauty of the dance and the music

So, there are more things on earth than in your daily papers, Jodie.

Jodie T. Allen is Slate's Washington, D.C., editor. Herbert Stein, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He is a member of the board of contributors at the Wall Street Journal.