“Allard also sees his — and other children’s books — as a relief from television: ‘Students are being completely perverted by TV. They cannot think of anything they haven’t seen already; their minds don’t function independently anymore.’ Lots of kids write in with ideas for the Stupids books, but generally they are terrible. ‘I don’t think children have much imagination,’ he says. ‘The one exception was a little boy who thought it would be a good idea if the Stupids cooked their dinner over a toilet.’ An idea that fit nicely into the world according to Allard.”

Western retreat | 30 years ago | August 31, 1976 | Stephen Schiff claimed the anti-western was taking the place of the American western.
“The fascination of our own era with the demise of others has found frequent expression in a relatively new genre that has virtually replaced the western: the anti-western. Perhaps our simultaneous longing for and mistrust of heroes are reflected in these tales of cowpokes and desperados who wake up to discover themselves anachronisms. At any rate, such characters have dotted ’70s films from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to this summer’s Missouri Breaks. Now we have The Shootist, Don Siegel’s flawed but moving chronicle about what happens to a gunslinger after he rides off into the sunset. And, indeed, the picture is about the sunset itself. It’s among the best of its breed since Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, and while that film raised the question of what happens to Old Westerners as the New West dawns, The Shootist, perhaps, whispers a final word on the subject.

“Its hero, J.B. Books, is ‘all tuckered out’ when he rides into Carson City, Nevada, in 1901. The world’s most famous shootist (as gunfighters were often called), the last of a proud line, has come to have confirmed a doctor’s opinion that he is dying of cancer. The role seems made to order for John Wayne, the ultimate Hollywood cowpuncher, a man who has defeated cancer and has watched the slow death of America’s interest in the old western, in its (and his) rugged code.”

Black list | 35 years ago | August 31, 1971 | Debbie Elliott noted the limited opportunities in the dance world available to African Americans.
“ ‘So why should we come out on stage stomping ‘juba-juba’ all the time?’, Billy Wilson asked as he mulled over the lack of opportunities for a black dancer who wants to get out of the neat cubbyholes of Afro-primitive or Afro-jazz he’s been boxed into. ‘Hell, we can be just as classically (ballet) disciplined as anybody else.’…

“In the most sophisticated corners of the dance world the white man still has a stranglehold on classical dance. Billy noted that the ‘juba-juba’ syndrome had reared its head recently in a statement the New York City’s artistic director, George Balanchine, had made to Vogue. As part of a long list of attributes he deemed necessary for girls to be accepted into his company he specified: ‘their skin should be pale — you know, the color when you first peel an apple.’ Now whether Balanchine was lost, as he often is, in rapt contemplation of his own personal esthetic of ultimate images (perhaps ‘burnished ebony’ would be an acceptable, if shockingly novel, substitute) or whether he was candidly admitting a racist attitude is unclear. But the statement is unacceptable. Billy and one of the girls in the company had written a letter of rebuttal to the editors of Vogue, which will probably be published since Vogue thinks black dancers and black anger are just as chic as lily-white dancers and Balanchine’s smug conclusions.”

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