Flashback

The Great American Saloon Series

The Metaphysical Martini

By From the November 1981 issue

Editor's Note: As John Podhoretz describes him, Werner J. Dannhauser, the former Commentary editor and Cornell professor who died on Saturday at age 84, was a rarity—a deeply serious intellectual and life-loving party animal. We were honored to publish him many time during the Reagan years, and perhaps nowhere so perfectly as in this “unforgettable, unimprovable” (as a knowing friend calls it) tribute to the martini. Who can ever drink one and not think of him?

I HAVE NEVER met a martini I did not like. Under no circumstances would I assert that any martini is as good as any other; my mind may be soaked, but not in rampant egalitarianism. I am willing to argue, however, that while the best martini demands to be called "perfect," the worst is nevertheless passable, and far better than no martini at all.

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Feature

It’s the Best Time of the Year

By From the December 1995 issue

From our December 1995 issue.

This time last year, I hap­pened to be in the town of Santa Claus, Indiana, char­tered on Christmas Eve, 1852. I drove down Candy Cane Lane, hung a right on Rudolph Drive, then swung left on Mistletoe Circle, a pleasant journey only slightly marred by the fact that all these agreeable thoroughfares are part of the exclusive Christmas Lake development. You have to go through an armed security gate to get in. As an image of the beleaguered American Christmas, it’s hard to beat: defen­sive, ring-fenced, and largely seen as the pre­serve of middle-class whites.

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Movie Takes

The Exorcist and The Sting

By From the June - September 1974 issue

WHILE I WAS waiting in a long, cold line to get into The Exorcist, a girl who was with a group of people behind me detached herself from the group and went to sit on a stone stoop.

"Hey, I hope you freeze your tail off," one of her friends said.

"Hey, I hope you get a hemorrhoid," one of her male friends said.

When I got inside the theater and The Exorcist started, the dialogue did not get any better. But the movie was terribly scary.

The Exorcist is a movie which is so bad that one must stand back and watch the full scope of the retreat on which it has led modern moviemaking to fully understand its significance.

Such story as there is concerns the devil's taking up residence in a human body. And not just any old body. The devil enters the body and soul of a lovely, not-yet nubile twelve-year-old girl. She is the daughter of a movie star who is temporarily living in Washington, D.C., in a mansion in Georgetown.

(Why the devil, who could presumably go anywhere, should go to Washington is never explained, which is just as well.)

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Feature

Dames at Sea

By From the August 1996 issue

"Human males operating in groups -- talking, planning strategies, devising traps, improving weapons, sharing the spoils -- became the most successful biological phenomenon on earth. In the process, the male-grouping became an essential evolutionary element in human nature. Group loyalties and powerful bonds of attachment went beyond mere cultural influences... A misguided but vociferous minority is campaigning to conceal human gender differences and to obscure the evolutionary truth about our species."
—anthropologist Desmond Morris in his foreword to the 1984 edition of Lionel Tiger's
Men in Groups.

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Feature

The Year in Review

By From the December 1987 issue

It was another bad year for liberals, as what had once been called "the New Right" consolidated its domination of American politics. The new tone was perhaps best typified on May 2, when President Patrick Buchanan laid a wreath on the tomb of Senator Joseph McCarthy on the fiftieth anniversary of the once-despised Wisconsin senator's death. "We must rededicate ourselves to his ideals," the President said, "and see to it that never again is a patriotic public servant hounded to an early grave."

Other highlights of 2007:

January:
• President Buchanan explained that his decision to drop a hydrogen bomb on the city of Hiroshima was largely symbolic. "Santayana said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it," he told a crowded press conference. "Those who are tempted to use sharp trading practices against this country cannot choose between Santayana and sayonara." He also listed ten more cities, including Tokyo, Mexico City, and Stockholm, as targets for future blasts.

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Feature

Counting the Costs of Clintonism

By From the November 1998 issue

The debacle of this president's administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
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