Summer Follies

Article excerpt

The best thing about my summer in the country was that I didn't have a TV and usually got to the market after the tiny clutch of papers had already been snatched up by the local information junkies. So I missed a lot of Really Important News. Gary Condit, who? Most of my friends believe he had "something to do" with Chandra Levy's disappearance, despite the lack of any evidence or motive or even credible scenario for same. This shows how desperately we long for life to be more interesting than it really is, but will somebody please tell me why the people at Buzzflash.com and other hardcore Democratic propagandists want progressives, liberals, Dems--whatever Nation readers are calling themselves these days--to rally to the defense of this slimeball? He doesn't even have a good voting record! (During the Contract With America years he voted with Newt Gingrich 77 percent of the time, and he has been pressed often to switch parties.) Count me out--I used up all my humor and worldliness on Bill and Monica, not to mention their numerous real-life equivalents. My position on sexually predatory politicians, with their interns (and aides and flight attendants), is the same as for the ever-popular aging male professor/bushy-tailed young grad student combo: These people, both the men and the women, are on their own. If half of Congress had to go home in disgrace to Modesto, and half the intern pool learned the hard way that there's more to getting ahead than giving head, why would that be bad?

In sports news, we had the story of Danny Almonte, the 14-year-old 12-year-old who pitched a perfect game for his Bronx Little League team, leading them to a third-place finish in the international championship. Bring on President Bush and Mayor Giuliani, the television cameras and the ticker-tape parade! The unearthing of Danny's true birth certificate, showing he was born in 1987, not 1989, was spun out in the press for days on end, with vast quantities of shocked fake-solicitous moralizing ladled on by every sports commentator in America and then some. Said sports agent Drew Rosenhaus on CNN's TalkBack Live, "If you start cheating and start making excuses for that, you're destroying the American dream here." In quest of baseball glory, Danny's parents lied and exploited him, messed with his head and, it was believed at one point, hadn't even enrolled him in school--all very bad. But what do you expect in our sports-and-entertainment-addled country? As Joyce Purnick pointed out in an acid column in the New York Times, no one makes a fuss about New York City public school kids who, against great odds, win writing competitions or debating championships or excel academically (not even the Board of Education, which had trouble coming up with a list of relevant names)--and then we wonder why so many inner-city kids blow off their education in favor of a "dream" about being a rapper, a movie star, a model, a sports hero. The Bronx is full of teenage Dominican immigrants like Danny, who've dropped out of their awful schools, where they learned nothing, to face bleak futures in the subproletariat, without even a chance at getting their pictures in the paper unless they happen to be run over by a drunken policeman. …