Studio 54 -- the Era, the Madness, the Decadence

"EVEN IF WE win, we lose," wrote Andrew Bacevich in The Washington Post.

     This quote caused a stir in D.C.if nowhere else. It was reprinted in The Week along with the following:

  "Since 1980, American troops have invaded, occupied, or bombed 14 Muslim countries -- and almost every time, whether or not we achieved our initial aims, the interventions have created more problems than they have solved. These 'fool's errands' tend to start the same way: In a bid to maintain stability in the Middle East and protect our oil interests, America's leaders unleash 'a bit of near-term chaos, betting that long-term order will emerge.' 
Alas, because we're so much better at 'regime change' than at 'nation building,' we always leave behind a power vacuum, as in Iraq after Saddam Hussein and Libya after Muammar al-Qaddafi.  Groups like ISIS then see an opportunity to 'supplant the European-imposed post-Ottoman order with something more to their liking' -- and the instability continues. Defeating ISIS wouldn't stop this cycle; another like-minded group would simply step up. No matter how long it lasts, America's war for the ˝Greater Middle East will fail."

• WHEN I HEARD that Jay Leno, an idol of mine for his intelligent fair-mindedness, was coming back to TV and not retiring, I was expecting him to stick with "entertainment." And I was looking forward to it.  But now, as you know, he is going to be talking about his hobby and love affair with things automotive. (The Hollywood Reporter says contracts haven't yet been signed, nor a date set for the debut on CNBC. It is tentatively titled Jay Leno's Garage.)
 If you were slightly disappointed at the news that Jay is leaving "show biz" and celebrities behind, well, don't be.

He isn't really if he follows in the footsteps of one of the longest running shows since 1997. And that is the BBC's hit Top Gear, which has been described as "the most widely watched factual TV program in the world."

        A teenager convinced me to start looking at Britain's Top Gear, although at the time I thought it was crazy.  What? Me and automobiles and racing and motor competitions?  But I started with this enthralling classic and I am constantly going back to watch the earlier versions of it.  Jeremy Clarkson is the "star," with his competitive pals who do outrageous things. They make it all very exciting.  Sometimes they go into the studio and talk with famous guests about the art of driving.  Helen Mirren stands out in my mind as one "biggie" who had something to say about being behind the wheel.

       I know Jay's show will be his own idea and it will be Americanized and different.  But I'm just advising you if you've never seen Top Gear to see it for yourself.   (You will be surprised at what you learn and experience, from Model T's to Lamborghinis.) 

      I don't drive anymore but I loved finding out about The Stig, so mysterious on Top Gear. And I can't wait for Jay Leno to do his own thing.      

•I see my friend, S. Epatha Merkerson has joined the AARP Bulletin parade with a cover story, "Surviving Diabetes."

    If you wonder at her unusual name, here is Epatha's personal quote: " My dad said he had a teacher named Epatha who was influential in keeping him in school. But my mother said it was an old girlfriend of his. So that's why she stuck in the Sharon Epatha. That's what the 'S' stands for. Everyone knows now because some numbskull I went to high school with decided to put it on the Internet." When you see her, you will realize she served as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on "Law and Order" for many, many seasons. (In fact, she is the longest-running African-American character in history of prime time television.)

 She is a giant talent!

•YESTERDAY, we told you about the oncoming, conflicting books about Studio 54. Today we tell you that the 1970s revival is in full force. The ultimate libertine era of the 20th century will be celebrated with a giant tome, titled Seventies Glamour. This is by David Wills who did the splendid Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis, a couple of years ago. The Seventies book is marvelously designed by Stephen Schmidt.

The photos -- everybody from Candy Darling, to Divine to John Travolta, Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Diane von Furstenberg, Diana Ross, and nameless, beautiful decadent others come through in vibrant color.

Ah, the Seventies! Let's get out our platform shoes, put that glitter on our lips, paint on your pants, boys and girls, and shake your groove things.

We can skip the sex and drugs. In the end, excess was not the way to go. But -- who can deny the fun along the way?

•IT IS SO nice to hear that the two movies I most recommended of late have both landed right side up!   

      Guardians of the Galaxy, which sounds a little unlikely for an ancient like me, ended last week doing $2 million and it has been out a long time now.  Figures for what it will do around the world are astronomical.  This is a clever, clever film which you'll fall in love with just like I did. Even if you think you don't like science fiction fantasy.
Gone Girl is a hit too, a big hit for Ben Affleck, The controversy of whether it depicts women badly is ridiculous. There are examples of bad women all through literature and story-telling.  Because Gone Girl examines one of them doesn't mean that all females are like our wily "heroine." 

     More movies: Today, Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf show their Fury in theaters around the country. This World War II saga has already received some excellent reviews. Unlike Brad's turn in Inglorious Basterds there's nothing even remotely amusing about this one. War is hell, period.