New York Times Interview of the Week
The always reliable Deborah Solomon interviewed folk singer and activist Arlo Guthrie in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine. The one (very long) hit wonder and son of Woody Guthrie made some noteworthy observations. (Has there ever been an interview with Arlo that didn’t mention his legendary father? The man’s dead more than 40 years.)
Goaded by Solomon into an unnecessary defense of Woodstock, Guthrie said, “We’re still talking about it. How many other events from 1969 are we still talking about?” Gee, I dunno, Arlo. A week ago we celebrated the human race stepping foot on that big rock a quarter million miles away that we always look at and write goofy songs about. That was in 1969. The Stonewall riots in New York ushered in the gay rights movement, and Charles Manson’s followers murdered actress Sharon Tate and others in a bid to usher in a race war. Ted Kennedy had a driving mishap on Chappaquiddick Island that got a bit of press coverage, too.
It’s entirely possible that my sarcasm detector needs calibrating, and that Guthrie was demonstrating a sly wit that sailed clear over my head. Fair enough; it’s Monday after all. But then he describes his conversion to the Republican party:
I became a registered Republican about five or six years ago because to have a successful democracy you have to have at least two parties, and one of them was failing miserably. We had enough good Democrats. We needed a few more good Republicans. We needed a loyal opposition.
What kind of fatuous f***waddery is this? If you’re determined to make your father spin in his grave, your father who traveled with migrant workers and lived through the Great Depression and was not a poseur, then you’re going to have to do better than reducing political philosophy to a specious even-handedness more suited to choosing sides in a pick-up basketball game.
There are already enough people who believe the earth is round, so maybe more people should join the flat-earth society. There hasn’t been much research lately proving that cigarettes are not linked to emphysema and cancer. Maybe we should dedicate more resources to that. Here’s an idea: There aren’t nearly enough intelligent people denying the existence of the holocaust these days. It’s always important to represent both sides of any argument to have a successful debate, right? Go for it, Arlo. I’m sure your father would be proud.