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Thirty Years Ago

Dear Jonathan Saville:

I have read all your reviews since you began writing for the Reader, and I have hated them all. But the one in the January 26 issue on the Carter Centre Stage’s production of Chekhov’s The Seagull is the worst ever.

First of all, you are so horribly petty. All of those nit-picking complaints about the way some of the actors fail to pronounce their consonants. It doesn’t offend me one bit if American actors in a play about gentry life in old Russia say “Whozzat?” or “I wanneda say” or “I muz’ go” or “awready.” Sylvester Stallone talked juz’ like dat in Rocky and he awmost won the Academy Award.

“TAKE A LETTER,” A Disgruntled Reader, January 26, 1978

Twenty-Five Years Ago

You tell me why, what, keeps my stub-toed Frye boot from kicking, jabbing the open-toed lavender sandals, nylon-encased toes; what stays the hand from grabbing the gray-suit lapels, from turning that wood-laminate table over; what keeps the mouth, tongue from yowling, screaming, howling; what holds a person back from breaking out, breaking up, breaking loose. Those paper cups of coffee with Cremora stirred lazily in; those paper plates holding blobs of beefed-up broths of Beast, gelatinizing and spiked with Viceroy butts, looking like a half-crown of thorns: they would have slipped, slid right onto the endlessly same vinyl-tiled floor

“MANANIMAL,” Judith Moore, January 27, 1983

Twenty Years Ago

Last November 10 the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego opened its Command Museum.

All these objects are real and undoubtedly authentic — but strangely mute when they might be screaming. Seeing these soldierly accoutrements is like seeing a skydiver’s parachute or a fireman’s water hose or a taxidermist’s prize-winning collection — the essence of the matter lies elsewhere, far away.

CITY LIGHTS: “ESSENCE OF WAR,” Mani Mir, January 28, 1988

Fifteen Years Ago

He and his beautiful live-in girlfriend, Brandi McClain, were the skateboarding couple: they starred in skating videos together, they worked as models together, they even appeared together in a Tom Petty video. Gator gave tips to beginners in Sports Illustrated for Kids. There was a Gator clothing line, Gator skateboards, Gator videos. “I had it all,” he says today, sitting in his prison cell.

Despite all he had, on March 20, 1991, Gator beat 21-year-old Jessica Bergsten over the head with a steering-wheel lock called the Club and raped her for nearly three hours. Then he strangled her in a surfboard bag and buried her naked in the desert 100 miles away.

“DUDE AMPS OUT,” Cory Johnson, January 28, 1993

Ten Years Ago

Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr takes the first snap, completes a short pass to the flat as he wires Tripp and has her record more conversations with Lewinsky. The play goes for an 18-yard gain. Now, Starr hands off for a reverse as he convinces Newsweek to hold the Lewinsky story for a week. Starr returns to the huddle, gathers his offensive line — 12 FBI agents and 6 special prosecutors — and blocks Lewinsky in a Virginia hotel room for 10 hours. Starr is on the Clinton 1-yard line.

Starr’s touchdown pass is inches too long as Lewinsky refuses to lure Vernon Jordan Jr. and Clinton into incriminating conversations.

SPORTING BOX: “STARR 35, CLINTON 1,” Patrick Daugherty, January 29, 1998

Five Years Ago

Since 1988, I have been a strict vegetarian. A bowl of miso soup, a chunk of tofu, and a plate of steamed broccoli over brown rice were my idea of a perfect meal. I drank only herbal teas or decaffeinated coffee; I used brown sugar or honey for sweetener. Why? Because, daily, great tracts of rain forest were being destroyed so that cattle meant to become McDonald’s hamburgers might graze.…

“PIGS’ INNARDS, PIGS’ KNUCKLES, AND PIGS’ CURLY TAILS,” Jangchup Phelgyal, January 23, 2003

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