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Prince and Broadway in SoHo in New York City.

LEONARD QUART: Hobbling about and Kavanaugh

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By Saturday, Oct 6, 2018 Viewpoints 6

New York — I can’t really do much wandering these days. At best I may hobble and stagger 8 to 10 blocks to shop or go to physical therapy, but my stenosis makes me conscious of every step I take. As a result I am unable to fully observe what occurs around me on the city streets and neighborhoods I pass. Still, old passions — fortunately — don’t disappear that quickly.

Instead of walking I have taken long bus and cab rides, which pass through city neighborhoods I haven’t looked at for awhile. On these rides I try to get outside of my pain, and reaffirm again my desire for looking closely at the city.

Upscale stores on Prince Street.

A cab drive through SoHo streets brings back fond memories of a less moneyed, more bohemian world of the ’70s, when there were many small factories and imaginative restaurants like FOOD flourished on Prince Street. The restaurant, co-owned originally by an artist Gordon Matta-Clark, offered a menu that was simple, healthy and affordable. My wife and I ate there weekly, and brought friends and later our daughter there. It always felt communal and warm.

FOOD is long gone, as well as most of the galleries that dotted those streets. And a first-rate, local breakfast place we went to often — the Cupping Room — now serves mostly tourists and hotel guests, and no longer feels like a neighborhood gathering place. The few times I have stopped to eat there in recent years, it felt alien.

But today’s SoHo filled with high priced designer boutiques like Chanel, Louis VuittonPrada, high end cafes, hotels and luxury buildings built on empty lots is another world — much more sterile and less idiosyncratic than in the years it was an integral part of my life. Still, looking out the cab window I see that the handsome 19thcentury cast-iron fronted buildings, now all whitewashed and often repainted, remain on the old cobblestoned streets. And I know that artists continue to inhabit the lofts among the bankers and hedge fund managers. So, tourist destination that is has become, SoHo maintains some urban virtues.

Newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

If I can’t walk easily, I can still watch television and read the Times, and obsess about Kavanaugh, the chameleon-like Graham and Trump. What is troubling is not Trump’s predictably crass and sadistic behavior, but the support Kavanaugh has aroused from a sizable portion of the public. Clearly, his self-righteous rage and sense of victimhood (a more articulate, smoother version of Trump’s) connects to people who never lived his privileged life. It’s his beer drinker’s machismo, his contempt for women, and his antipathy to liberalism, in all its incarnations, that speaks to them. Sometimes I find the ‘30s novelist John Dos Passos’ words in response to the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti —  “We Stand Defeated America” — the only right ones to describe what we are living through.

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6 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Andy Kueblbeck says:

    I thought the Edge was supposed to be about news and happenings in and around Great Barrington and the southern Berkshires not a “satellite publication of the New York Times and the people who live there or have lived there in the past. I take offence to your stereotyping of beer drinkers as “Machismo” Somehow, I doubt you would have even mentioned this if Kavanaugh said he “liked wine”

  2. Jim Balfanz says:

    Four words describe Brett Kavanaugh – Innocent until proven guilty.

    Thanks to Senators, including Manchin for the following eight words – Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh.

    While President Trump may be what you and your fellow TDSers believe, he discovered very early during the 2016 campaign that he needed to respond as forcefully as he could to the EXTREME measures (and so many lies) being used to take him down. It was he who defeated his opponent in an election that she had rigged for her to win, but which enough Americans recognized and voted to elect the man with the “orange hair.”

    He is the ONLY elected president in the last few presidential elections who is working to keep the SPECIFIC promises he made in order to get elected. He never made generalized “promises” that merely said he would “fundamentally transform America,” leaving that term to people’s imaginations. AND, then “kept” that flimsy promise by working overtime to actually destroy our country from within.

    But, one of the things that President Trump’s supporters LOVE about him is that, unlike the two Bush’s, he hasn’t just sat quietly in the Oval Office while the Left wing (supported by the main street media) blasted him for everything – absolutely everything.

    The majority of Americans are still sensible people, who recognize when the “fix is in” as to a POLITICAL EFFORT to take down an innocent man, destroy his family in the process, all because those politicians know that their days of achieving POLITICALLY motivated results from the Supreme Court versus getting them via the “due process of the appropriate political venues” are beginning to come to an end – as the REAL body that should only call “Balls & Strikes” becomes more comprised of Justices who will actually follow the Constitution.

    Stay tuned, because the effort to actually restore America to its’ Constitutional Principles is just getting started.

  3. John Miller says:

    Kavanaugh’s Calvary, circle the wagons, Fauxcahontas of Massafornia is coming but we will have are Guns and Bibles! Thank you,
    Senator Collins !!

  4. Stephen Cohen says:

    Interesting quote from Dos Passos, one of the most racist anti-immigrant writers of the early 20th century.

    1. Leonard Quart says:

      Dos Passos moved to the Right in the 40s, but the quote comes from his best novel, The Big Money, when he was on the Left. Though he was never dogmatic or sectarian.

  5. Stephen Cohen says:

    Leonard I can’t disagree more. Look at his positions on McCarthy, etc. He was on the left when he wrote “U.S.A.” but his swing right was pronounced and emphatic. He was a strange guy, but a real hater.

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