Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cinderella and Bridezilla

There’s a scene in the new movie Sex and the City, the reunion of the four stars of the popular HBO TV series, in which Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) reads “Cinderella” to the adopted Chinese daughter of her friend Charlotte. Closing the book, Carrie tells the little girl that sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way it does in "Cinderella." Unmoved by Auntie Carrie’s bid for realism, the little girl pipes up, "Again!”

Tell the fairy tale again.

That’s kind of what Sex and the City, the movie, does to its female viewers: tells them "Again!" the fairy tale about the handsome, wealthy prince who rescues the unmarried Manhattan maidens from the doom of spinsterhood.

There’s plenty to object to about the movie: its embarrassing attempt to revive the rampant, thoughtless consumerism it portrayed in the ‘90s – closets full of of Manolo Blahnik shoes, Louis Vuitton handbags, endless Cosmopolitans at chic Manhattan clubs, and now, a Vivienne Westwood wedding gown and a prewar Fifth Avenue penthouse bought with the flick of a checkbook.

It may have been a fun fantasy to imagine that Carrie, who when the series began was a sex columnist for an alternative weekly newspaper, could actually afford all that stuff, including the spacious Manhattan apartment — because as we know, freelancers for alternative weeklies really rake in the dough. (In one episode, Carrie calculates that she spent $40,000 that year on shoes.) But there’s something grotesquely anachronistic about this lusty bacchanalia in 2008, in the climate of foreclosures, food shortages and widespread economic suffering.

The movie’s idea of social consciousness is to have Carrie bestow some of her inexplicable largesse on Louise, played by the adorable Jennifer Hudson, a young black woman Carrie hires as her ultra-efficient personal assistant. Louise, who hails from St. Louis, is so poor she actually has to live with roommates and, unlike the privileged Carrie, has to rent her designer handbags. In gratitude for Louise’s selfless service in organizing her website and her life, Carrie buys Louise a costly Louis Vuitton handbag. “No more rentals!” The racial condescension of this subplot is hard to miss.

Although it indulged in some absurd ideas of glamour, The Sex and the City TV series also had some wryly observed writing about male-female mating behaviors. I remember fondly an episode about a bedmate of Miranda’s who insisted on jumping into the shower immediately after sex (he was Catholic and thought sex was dirty). Or the priceless episode in which Samantha, the sex maniac, found herself falling in love with a man who was, shall we say, inadequately endowed. She finally admitted, during a counseling session with him, that she wasn’t satisfied by his member. After he stormed out, she confided in the woman therapist, “I need a really big dick.” “I hear that!” the therapist chimed in. So funny, and so real.

There’s very little of this kind of realism in the movie version of SATC, which instead partakes of the Cinderella myth that marriage and childbearing are magical formulas for female happiness. Carrie, now a successful authoress, is comfortably involved with the formerly elusive financier Mr. Big (Chris Noth), whose real name, we find out, is just plain John James Preston. After years of his being called only “Big” by Carrie and her friends, it’s a little dispiriting to hear her call him something as prosaic as “John.” But a john he is, in a way. He seems to have little to do in life except spend money on the materialistic and increasingly charmless Carrie, whom he previously spurned many times. He buys her a huge Manhattan penthouse, where they will both live after they are married. He sweetens the deal by having a closet, big enough to house a foreclosed family of five, custom-built to enshrine her ridiculous shoe collection. If that ain’t love, what is? He even completes the Cinderella fantasy by getting on his knees and placing a turquoise Manolo shoe on her delicate pied, caressing her shin like Prince Charming with a foot fetish.

The ditzy, well-meaning Park Avenue princess Charlotte (Kristin Davis, as beautiful as ever) has little to do in the movie, having already found her prince, the bald, plain-faced but utterly devoted Harry (Evan Handler, a good actor underused here), and in the face of infertility, adopted that darling Chinese girl. The men are, in fact, all characterized by one thing: utter devotion. Samantha (Kim Cattrall, as usual better than the material written for her) is stuck out in L.A. with her handsome young beau Smith (Jason Lewis), who is utterly devoted to her, though she’s restless and lusting after the sexy stud who lives next door. Happiness, for Samantha, means not being in a relationship. Steve (David Eigenberg), the dorky husband of corporate lawyer Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), is mad for her, though she's kept him out of her bed for months (maybe that annoying speech impediment has something to do with it). He admits to a onetime sexual indiscretion, which nearly ends their marriage, though by movie's end all is forgiven, and presumably poor Miranda, who has escaped back to the paradise of Manhattan, will have to return to the hated borough of Brooklyn.

But as always, Carrie is the centerpiece. She and Big get engaged, which sends Carrie into a whirlwind of narcissistic consumption. It’s the old Father of the Bride trope, in which a planned modest wedding gets swollen into a massively indulgent, expensive affair. Carrie’s editor at Vogue, played by Candace Bergen, offers her a photo spread as a “40-year-old bride,” and so Carrie gets to go all glamour-poo in a series of designer gowns, one of which the designer presents to her as a gift (she is sooo lucky!). Big, already uncomfortable about embarking on what will be his third marriage, gets cold feet and leaves bridezilla Carrie standing, with a bird in her hair, at the altar, in this case in the New York Public Library, which as far as we know, used to be a place for books.

Of course Carrie’s devoted friends are there to pick up the pieces after the Big hurt, and also to accompany her on the non-refundable Mexican honeymoon, which gives screenwriter Michael Patrick King the opportunity to indulge in tasteless Montezuma’s Revenge humor (“Charlotte Poughkeepsie’d in her pants!”) This is just one of many vulgar moments in the script, the others involving a female purse dog owned by Samantha that inexplicably humps designer throw pillows, and such witless putdowns as "I curse the day you were born!", “Shut up, scumbag!” and Samantha's likening of Miranda's shamefully unwaxed bikini line to "the National Forest."

King, the writer, director and producer who admirably stewarded the TV series, is completely at sea with the feature-film format. The movie runs out of steam a third of the way into its two-hour-plus running time, and never quite recovers its energy. It's too bad, because these actresses and actors are good at what they do, and if you were a fan of the series, there is pleasure and comfort in seeing their familiar faces.

If a man leaves you at the altar, it’s a reliable indication that your relationship with him will not work out, ever. And yet, reader, she marries him. A better ending would have had Carrie accepting and enjoying her post-40 singleness; after all, being single is what has defined her through the series, and in her mythical books. But, just as the filmmakers believe their female audience needs to see the Sex and the City girls, even in middle age, strutting about in outlandish clothes, clubbing, drinking bottomless cocktails and swooning at fashion shows, they also believe that women need, and absolutely must have, that damned fairytale ending.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Not Fade Away

One afternoon at his office at Stanford University, neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky noticed that his student assistant listened to an unusually diverse mix of music — Sonic Youth, Woody Herman, Gregorian chants. Sapolsky wondered why he, at age 40, still clung to the music he liked in college.

He conducted a study that concluded that there is a “window of opportunity” to develop tastes in things like music, food and fashion, and that this window closes as we age. The window for music, Sapolsky determined, closes at 35. He discussed these conclusions in
The New Yorker and on NPR, giving reassurance to the graying crowd whose tastes remained frozen in the Big Band or Beatles eras.

But sociological studies beg to be contradicted. Consider as counter-argument
Young at Heart, an inspiring documentary by British director Stephen Walker. The film’s subject is Young at Heart, a Northampton, Massachusetts chorus composed of senior citizens, average age 81, who are known for their enthusiastic performances of songs by the Clash, Sonic Youth, Coldplay, Radiohead, the Ramones, David Bowie, Talking Heads, James Brown and other artists far afield from the music of their youth.

The choristers admit that their preferences are in other genres. Walker asks what music they like, and they reply “classical” “opera” or “musicals.” When chorus director Bob Cilman, a relative youngster at 53, introduces a new song at rehearsal, the singers sometimes register their distaste by putting their fingers in their ears. Cilman has the strange idea to have the oldsters sing Sonic Youth’s blistering “Schizophrenia.” Walker asks, “Do you think they will like it?” “No,” Cilman says knowingly, but he pushes on anyway. Gradually, the singers warm to the song and perform it beautifully in the concert that climaxes the film.

The chorus evolved from a group of seniors performing vaudeville tunes at a senior meal center in 1982. Branching out with Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy,” the group eventually grew into a phenomenon under Cilman’s demanding tutelage (“He chews nails and spits rust,” says one chorus member). The group is enormously popular in its hometown, where its concerts sell out, and has even toured Europe. The singers are uncommonly dedicated, rarely missing a rehearsal even while suffering massive health problems.

Walker’s affectionate portrait follows the group through rehearsals for a big concert in Northampton. Among those we meet are Joe, 76, and Dora, 83, who rehearse a duet of James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” featuring a zesty “Whoo!” by Dora. The duet is problematic; Joe can get the rhythm but forgets the words, and Dora has the words but can’t get the rhythm. “This is gonna be excellent,” Cilman quips, “but it may not be until the year 2009.” By concert time, the number more or less comes together. The singers also struggle with Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can,” which features the word “can” 71 times. “Them words are too hard to put together!” Dora complains, but ultimately they bring down the house with the New Orleans number.

The most surprising revelation is not that the oldsters sing rock and punk music, but that they sing it so well; what they lack in vocal strength they more than compensate for with seasoned intelligence. Performing the choreographed numbers onstage and in the movie’s entertaining music videos, they are surprisingly dynamic. The oldest member, 92-year-old British Blitz survivor Eileen Hall, gives an authoritative spoken-word delivery of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” She can’t recall the name of the group who recorded the song (“Er…Crash?”), and yet her marvelous performance would surely have pleased Joe Strummer.

The film is moving without being too sentimental. Inevitably in a group of old people, there will be health issues, and during the course of the filming two members die. Their friends grieve abundantly and soldier on, performing in tribute to their fallen comrades. Their energy and endurance carry a potent message, nowhere more evident than when the chorus performs at a local prison, where the inmates are visibly moved, some to tears, by the elders’ triumphant rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.”

Originally published in the Cleveland Free Times.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Soldiers of Misfortune

Rescued from oblivion, a feature I wrote in 2006 that wasn't published, because the movie in question was never released. I interviewed the movie's producer, who went ballistic when I suggested that maybe the timing wasn't right for a flag-waver about the Iraq war.

Of all the people responsible for making a movie, the producer may be the most important, but the least understood. What does a producer do, anyway?

He or she is the one who controls the movie’s budget and all its personnel, and who is ultimately responsible for its commercial success or failure.

Irwin Winkler, 75, is one of Hollywood’s most durable producers. He started his career in the late ’60s with the influential Depression-set drama
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) and the student-protest film The Strawberry Statement (1970), and went on to earn 12 Academy Awards and 45 nominations, for films including Raging Bull, The Right Stuff and Goodfellas. He also produced a long list of other noteworthy dramas, including Comes a Horseman, True Confessions, Music Box, The Net and Life as a House, the latter two of which he also directed, and the Hollywood blacklisting drama Guilty by Suspicion, which he wrote and directed.

He’s also the man who brought
Rocky to the screen in 1976, a longshot project by a then-unknown Sylvester Stallone, which Winkler and his partner at the time, Robert Chartoff, believed in so strongly they mortgaged their homes to finance it. He has produced all of Rocky’s progeny as well, including the recently released Rocky Balboa.

Winkler specializes in serious drama, often with a strong message. “I like to make dramas where you see what happens to people, and how they react to circumstances,” he explains in a phone interview from L.A.

In his nearly four decades in the business, Winkler has always found it challenging to get studios interested in making serious films. “There’s always been that sense that audiences want to be entertained and see comedies and dramas that don’t have too heavy a message,” he says. “And I’ve always fought that.”

His latest movie,
Home of the Brave, which he also directed and whose story he helped write, focuses on the experiences of soldiers returning home from the Iraq war, and their difficulties readjusting to civilian life.

The inspiration for the movie came one day when Winkler was at an airport, watching a group of combat-dressed soldiers arrive from a flight. “People stood around the airport cheering and applauding,” he recalls. “I said to myself, I wonder what happens to these people when they get home and the cheering stops and the parties are over, and they have to go back to their jobs in real life.”

Home of the Brave earnestly highlights an issue that will become more visible as the war grinds on, claiming the lives and limbs of more and more Americans and Iraqis. The script is flecked with realistic touches, the result of extensive interviews Winkler and screenwriter Mark Friedman conducted with Iraq veterans as part of their background research.

The movie opens with some harrowing battle scenes (filmed in Morocco), and follows four veterans as they return home to Spokane, Washington. Samuel L. Jackson stars as Will Marsh, a surgeon who returns after two tours of Iraq duty unprepared for the psychological fallout from having witnessed so much bloodshed. He argues with his teenage son, who opposes the war; lashes out at his patient wife; and palliates his sorrow with booze before finally agreeing to get counseling. The other returning soldiers are Vanessa (Jessica Biel), who loses her hand to a roadside bomb and has trouble adjusting to her disability; Tommy (Brian Presley), who struggles to find a sense of purpose after his best friend dies in his arms on the battlefield; and Jamal (rapper-actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), who is so frustrated by VA red tape and his girlfriend’s rejection that he turns to violent crime.

While its theme is reminiscent of
The Best Years of Our Lives, the 1946 melodrama about returning World War II veterans, Home of the Brave is about an ongoing military morass more akin to Vietnam than to “the good war.” Is Winkler concerned about how the movie will be received, given the public’s growing cynicism about Iraq?

He bristles at the suggestion. “Do you perceive this movie as being pro-war?” he asks, his voice rising. “This is a movie that shows how unpopular war can be with those who are fighting it — it gets ’em killed! I went out of my way to show this whole combat scene in the beginning so that we see what a hell of a situation these people are in.”

The movie mostly avoids the politics of the war, except for the arguments between Marsh and his son. “Why don’t you read a newspaper?” the son shouts. “I don’t have to, I was there!” Dad retorts, sounding disturbingly like the reality-averse commander in chief. The movie doesn’t question the basic rightness of the Iraq adventure, and none of the soldiers expresses the view that he was “used and lied to by my government,” as I heard one Iraq veteran say recently. One character actually decides to reenlist.

Home of the Brave delivers on its intention to pay tribute to the young men and women who risk their lives to fight other men’s wars, and who return home maimed, emotionally scarred, or in coffins. It isn't the strong statement movie that will someday be made about this war, but it is an earnest attempt to tell the story of the universal soldier, the one who fights and dies in every war. Because in that one very tragic sense, all wars are, and always will be, the same.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Deconstructing Woody

"I'm basically a low-culture person," says Woody Allen, telling a flock of assembled film critics that he's not the intellectual people think he is. It is the same point he has been making in interviews for years.

"I'm not saying I'm an insensitive Neanderthal," he explains. "But basically, I'm the guy who's watching the playoffs and drinking a Beck's. I'm not at the opera. I've gotten a lot of mileage out of people thinking I'm an intellectual."

The usually publicity-shy Allen has agreed to talk to reporters as part of a New York City press junket for
Small Time Crooks, his 30th movie. The 64-year-old filmmaker has reasons to mistrust the media, which have recently called him things far worse than an intellectual. In 1992, he weathered accusations of child molestation during an acrimonious custody battle with Mia Farrow, and endured the tabloidization of his romance with Farrow's adopted daughter Soon-Yi (now 28 and married to Allen). If he's uncomfortable facing this press inquisition, though, he doesn't show it.

The movie, which stars Allen, Tracey Ullman, Hugh Grant and Elaine May, is a return to the jokey burlesque of Allen's 1969 directorial debut,
Take the Money and Run, from which it borrows its theme: bungling thief fails to pull off the big heist of his dreams. In Small Time Crooks, the crime comedy takes a sharp turn, becoming a farce about nouveau riche vulgarity. Allen's character, Ray, an ex-con, and his wife, Frenchy (Ullman), strike it rich when the bakery they've opened as a front for a robbery becomes a successful corporation, thrusting the tacky couple into high society. Hosting a fancy dinner party, Frenchy serves what she calls "croo-dites." Ray tells Polish jokes. Wearing canary-yellow slacks and grumbling irritably at his wife, Ray could be Take the Money's Virgil Starkwell as a cranky golden-ager.

"There are very few characters I can play," Allen explains. "I can play myself. I'm not really an actor. One thing I
can play is a lowlife. I can also play, like, a college teacher. But nothing in between."Small Time Crooks is about the efforts of a lower-class couple to acquire a patina of high culture, and that, in a sense, is what Woody Allen did in his own life. His Brooklyn childhood, he says, was a sort of cultural desert. "My parents never took me to the theater or to a museum," the former Allan Konigsberg recalls. "And there was no music at all. I educated myself.

Part of his motivation was girls. "In high school, there were certain women who would have
no patience with you if you had not read certain books. But I was basically a street kid. I played ball. I looked studios -- the black glasses -- but that's not me.

"I graduated with a 72 average; I think 65 was the minimum. I got thrown out of college my first year."

Even his fabled admiration for Ingmar Bergman had its roots in adolescent sexual yearning. He saw his first Bergman film at 18 because he'd heard there was a naked lady in it.

If fans have mistaken a beer-drinking, Knicks-watching
shlub for an intellectual, it's understandable: Allen's movies are studded with references to Kafka, Freud and Tolstoy, and his filmography includes homages to Berman and Fellini. But beneath it all, he insists, beats the heart of a comedy writer. During his nightclub days, audiences assumed, based on his bookish appearance, that he was an academic type, and the persona stuck. When he wrote jokes, he says, it seemed funny to drop names like "Kierkegaard."

"I learned to utilize the intellectual patois," he says. "It's just a skill. People think of me more seriously than I really am. I mean, I've done about 30 films, and about 27 have been just out-and-out comic films. I've done, like, three serious films in my life, and a few semi-serious films. Because this is really what I am after all the pretension falls away. This is what falls under my fingers easiest."

Allen recently signed a three-movie deal with DreamWorks, which is distributing
Crooks. He'll do limited interviews and will talk to film students at seeral colleges, but he balks at tasteless publicity, and won't plug his movies on television.

"Why won't you do talk shows?" one reporter at the junket prods.

"Allen winces. "It's not
nice for me to be the one to tell you how good my film is. You should say if you like it. For me to show a clip and have David Letterman or Jay Leno say that it's great -- I feel funny doing that. I feel shy to do that. It's a hard thing for me to do, to go on national television to promote my film."

Another junketeer takes it upon himself to offer career advice to Woody Allen, suggesting that he'd make a great talk-show guest. "You're very quick on your feet," suggests the young reporter, who was probably born decades after Woody started his career. "And you'd certainly be better than almost anybody out there."

"I've done talk shows many times, and I've hosted them," Allen replies patiently. "It's not a difficult thing to do, but I have a hard know, when the film comes out, if the film is good, the audience will find its way."
Small Time Crooks was filmed swiftly, its release following Allen's period jazz drama Sweet and Lowdown by less than a year. The experience of working with Ullman, Grant, and veteran comedienne Elaine May was so enjoyable it makes Allen feel a little guilty. "I'm familiar with a no-pain, no gain philosophy -- that if I'm not suffering and working hard and reshooting, that I'm not going to get anything out of it."

Allen says he doesn't intentionally alternate serious and comic films. "There is no strategy. It's a constant fight for survival. You want to have an idea that stimulates you. This kind of film," he reflects, "is easy for me. What's very hard for me is serious film. The relationships become more complicated.

"But a film like this -- I could do two of these films a year."

Originally published in the Cleveland Free Times.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Take His Advice -- Or Don't

“There are days when I feel like a trumped-up Dear Abby,” says Randy Cohen, better known to readers of the New York Times Magazine as the author of “The Ethicist,” the weekly column that dispenses erudite, sometimes acidly funny advice to readers who write in for solutions to their everyday moral quandaries.
The questions range from the relatively trivial (Should I have asked if the bike I bought on the street for $75 was stolen?) to the disturbingly serious (I am innocent of the crime for which I am serving a life sentence, but to be granted parole, I must show remorse. Should I lie?).
Cohen’s thoughtful, measured replies are often spiked with delightful, well-aimed barbs. Addressing the matter of the undoubtedly stolen bike, Cohen ends his response thusly: “Incidentally, that three-card monte? A poor way to invest your aged mother’s life savings. Magic beans indeed!”

The ethicist has already endured a full day of phone interviews to promote his new book, The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Tell Right from Wrong in Everyday Situations (Doubleday), an entertaining collection of Ethicist columns surrounded by essays, second thoughts, counter-arguments by “guest ethicists” like novelist Dave Eggers, editor and sex columnist Dan Savage, and the author’s own mom. But Cohen, who calls himself an “accidental ethicist,” is talkative and self-effacing, in contrast to the stern personage you imagine pens the column, perhaps with quill in hand. That image is inspired by Cohen’s pithy replies (“I try to write vigorously,” he explains), and the Christopher Niemann illustration that heads the column, a dour, pointy-chinned icon Cohen calls “the Betty Crocker of the column.”
“My job is to make a case,” Cohen says. His Times columns are short, only 600 words including the question. “I’m obliged to give a clear answer, to say, ‘You should do this.’ It’s a weird feeling to have to state your views unequivocally.”
Cohen began writing the column in 1999, when editors at the Times approached him with the idea of an ethics column written by an ordinary person, not by some dreary pundit or professor. Cohen qualifies as “ordinary” only by virtue of having no professional credentials as an ethicist. “I wish I had been a philosophy major,” he laments, though he allows that ethics isn't all that arcane. “Ethics is the rational determination of right conduct. It isn’t physics.”
Ordinary people, though, tend not to have backgrounds in television comedy writing, which Cohen did. In 1984, he was writing freelance humor articles and heard that David Letterman was looking for a few good writers. Although Letterman’s show had been on the air for two years, Cohen was one of the few people in America who had never seen it. “It was on really late,” he says, “and I went to bed early.” He set his alarm clock one night, woke up to watch the show, and wrote a spec script. “It wasn’t very good,” he says. Even so, a week later he was offered the job. “I was dumbstruck. It was more timing than anything."
It had to be more than that. In seven years with Letterman — “I did 950 shows” — he earned three Emmys. Why did he leave? He repeats: “I did 950 shows.” It was, he says, “a lovely place to work,” and marvels about the efficiency of the Letterman staff. “They knew how to get you anything you needed. You need a monkey? They’d ask: Do you want a rhesus monkey? Do you want the monkey to be funny?”
But even a glamorous job with a “damn fine paycheck” can get to be a grind. “The writers on the show are relatively powerless,” he reveals. “Ninety percent of what you write isn’t used. It’s gone. The waste is devastating. It’s not like some loss to humanity, but still, it took some getting used to. Dave did terrific stuff, but it ought not be your life’s work.”
After quitting the Letterman show, Cohen sank into despair. “It was a strange and weird transition. I hadn’t much in the way of a plan.” He wrote a play and some TV pilots that didn’t sell. He was co-executive producer of Michael Moore’s cable show TV Nation. Although he admires Moore’s work, Cohen says he quit “for the same reason most people leave [Moore’s] employ — because he’s a truly horrible man.”
He wrote the “News Quiz” column for the online magazine Slate and published a short-story collection which, he says, “went out of print with unbelievable swiftness. It was so demoralizing.”
Maybe because of that experience, Cohen has a “feeling of onrushing doom” about the new book. “Your hopes are raised so high, and there’s the feeling that you might fail in front of your friends. But, it keeps you from getting stuck up.”
Cohen’s relationship with the Times is freelance — he writes in his apartment overlooking Central Park — and the editors don’t interfere with his work, though he’s heard that more than once, an editor was “apoplectic” about something he wrote.” “To their great credit, they never said anything to me. It’s a great place to work — it’s the New York Times!” he marvels, as if astonished by his own good fortune.
It is something of a burden, though, this taking on of other people’s burdens. Consider the doomed advice columnist in Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts, who develops a Christ complex and is shot to death by a cripple whose whose wife has sought refuge in his arms.
“The hardest part," Cohen says, "is trying to say something that’s not embarrassing. I always wish I had written it better.”
The second hardest thing: the deluge of e-mails every week telling him how badly he fumbled a question. “I’m not pleased with the letters that start, ‘Dear Sir, I am appalled,’ and go on to attack my character. I’ve had to toughen up,” he says, sounding not very tough at all.
Cohen worries a lot, but not about whether his advice will lead some poor reader astray. “I take great comfort that people will utterly ignore my advice,” he says. “And they should.”

-- From March 27, 2002, Cleveland Free Times