Saturday, September 27, 2008

An Actor Whose Baby Blues Came in Many Shades of Gray

An Appraisal

The New York Times
September 28, 2008

Melvyn Douglas (left) and Paul Newman in "Hud".

Paul Newman always wore his fame lightly, his beauty too. The beauty may have been more difficult to navigate, when he was young in the 1950’s and still being called the next Marlon Brando, establishing his bona fides at the Actors Studio and on Broadway.

Yet Mr. Newman, who died at his home in Westport, Conn., on Friday, never seemed to resent his good looks, as some men did; instead, he shrugged them off without letting them go. He learned to use that flawless face, so we could see the complexities underneath. And later, when age had extracted its price, he learned to use time too, showing us how beauty could be beaten down and nearly used up.

You see the dangerous side of his beauty in “Hud,” Martin Ritt’s irresistible if disingenuous 1963 drama about a Texas ranching family in which Mr. Newman plays the womanizing son of a cattleman (the Hollywood veteran Melvyn Douglas), who’s hanging onto a fast-fading way of life. The movie traffics in piety: the father refuses to dig for the oil that might change the family’s fortunes because he doesn’t approve of sucking the land dry. Mr. Newman plays the son, Hud, and it’s his job to sneer at the old man’s naïveté and to play the villain, which he does so persuasively that he ends up being the film’s most enduring strength.

A lot of reviewers clucked about Hud and Mr. Newman’s grasping bad-boy ways (the word they used then was materialism), but the camera loves this cowboy Lothario so much — or, rather, the actor playing him — that his father’s high-and-mighty ways don’t stand a chance. Nobody else much does, either: when Hud hits on the family housekeeper (a smoky-voiced, smoking Patricia Neal), he sinks back in her bed and, with his nose deep in a daisy, asks with a leer, “What else you good at?” Rarely has the act of smelling a flower seemed as delectably dirty. It’s no wonder that Pauline Kael, who refused to buy just about anything else this movie was selling, gave Mr. Newman his due.

There are some men, Kael wrote, who “project such a traditional heroic frankness and sweetness that the audience dotes on them, seeks to protect them from harm or pain.” Mr. Newman did that for Kael, enough so that she was inspired to write about her own past and the California town that she “and so many of my friends came out of” — and, here, I think she means girlfriends — “escaping from the swaggering small-town hotshots like Hud.”

What’s striking is that what got Kael going wasn’t the actor or his performance but the man, who, because he seemed to offer up an intangible part of himself, something genuine and real, something we could take home, became a true movie star.

As the convict in "Cool Hand Luke" (1967). "Mr. Newman is excellent," Bosley Crowther wrote in The Times, "at the top of his sometime erratic form in the role of this warped and alienated loner whose destiny it is to lose."

Photo: Warner Brothers

I don’t think Mr. Newman was ever as beautiful as he is in “Hud.” His lean, hard-muscled body seems to slash against the wide-screen landscape, evoking the oil derricks to come, and the black-and-white cinematography turns his famous baby blues an eerie shade of gray. The character would be a heartbreaker if he were interested in breaking hearts instead of making time with the bodies that come with them. That’s supposed to make Hud a mean man, but mostly he seems self-interested. No one is tearing him apart and Mr. Newman doesn’t try to plumb the depths with the role, which makes the character and the performance feel more contemporary than many of the head cases of the previous decade. He finds depths in these shallows.

Early in his career, Mr. Newman was often mistaken for Brando, so much so that he took to signing the other man’s autograph. Both studied at the Actors Studio and jumped to Hollywood, but there’s not much else to connect them beyond our demand for the Next Big Thing. The resemblance seems hard to grasp now, given their trajectories and how differently the two register onscreen: Brando sizzles, while Mr. Newman is as cool as dry ice. And unlike Brando, who at his death was often unkindly remembered for his baroque excesses, Mr. Newman seemed immune, bulletproof. (An exception: his support for Eugene McCarthy, which landed him on Nixon’s enemies list.) He had a talent for evasion.

It was a talent that served him well during the 1960s, the decade in which he picked up the mantle of Hollywood stardom that Brando had shrugged off. Mr. Newman was one of the dominating male screen figures of that decade, appearing in critical and commercial successes like “Cool Hand Luke,” a 1967 prison movie-cum-religious-allegory, and the 1969 western “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” in which he found a partner in charm in Robert Redford. These days, 1969 is more often remembered for another buddy movie, “Easy Rider,” but “Butch Cassidy” may have had more lasting impact on the so-called New Hollywood, which struck gold with two photogenic male leads whose easy, breezy rapport helped transform rebellion into a salable, lucrative package.

Mr. Newman, who signed a contract with Warner Brothers in the 1950s, was a transitional figure between the old Hollywood and the new. Warners foolishly put him in a ludicrous 1954 costume extravaganza called “The Silver Chalice.” He did better as the boxer Rocky Graziano in the 1956 biopic “Somebody Up There Likes Me.” His Lower East Side accent is so thick it could have been served on rye at Katz’s Delicatessen, but he holds the screen with his pretty-boy kisser and an intense, at times wild physical performance that suggests a terrific will behind that impeccable facade. He seems to be hurling himself at the camera, as if desperate to get our attention.

For his portrayal of Fast Eddie Felson in "The Hustler" (1961), Mr. Newman received his second of eight Oscar nominations as best actor in a leading role. He later reprised the role in "The Color of Money" (1986).
Photo: 20th Century Fox

The roles improved, as did the performances, and suddenly he didn’t seem to be trying as hard. He’s silky smooth as a pool shark named Fast Eddie in Robert Rossen’s 1961 high-key drama “The Hustler,” in which Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie and George C. Scott each take turns stealing scenes. At first Mr. Newman seems outclassed by his co-stars — the film asks the actor, a nibbler rather than an outright thief, to do too much big acting. But he’s still awfully good. He seduces and repels by turn, pulling you in so you can watch him peel Fast Eddie’s defenses like layers of dead skin. It’s a wonder there was anything left by the time he revived the character 25 years later in “The Color of Money.”

He won an Oscar in 1987 for best actor for resurrecting Fast Eddie in that Martin Scorsese film, a piteously delayed response from his peers, who dangled six such nominations before giving up the prize. (Hedging its bets, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had tossed Mr. Newman an honorary Oscar the year before.) He’s superb in “The Color of Money,” gracefully navigating its slick surfaces and periodically scratching beneath them, playing a variation on what had by then in movies like “The Drowning Pool” (1975), “Slap Shot” (1977) and “The Verdict” (1982) become a defining Newman type: the guy on the hustle who seems to have nothing much left but keeps his motor running, just in case.

The movies are not kind to older actors and yet Mr. Newman walked away from this merciless business seemingly unscathed. During his second and third acts, he kept his dignity partly by playing men who seemed to have relinquished theirs through vanity or foolishness. Some of them were holding on to decency in an indecent world; others had nearly let it slip through their fingers.

Decency seems to have come easily to Mr. Newman himself, as evidenced by his philanthropic and political endeavors, which never devolved into self-promotion. It was easy to take his intelligence for granted as well as his talent, which survived even the occasional misstep. At the end of “The Drowning Pool,” a woman wistfully tells Mr. Newman, I wish you’d stay a while. I know how she feels.

Forget Cool: Paul Newman Knew How to Play It Smart

By Stephen Hunter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 28, 2008; A01

Paul Newman, who died Friday at 83 of cancer, was a beautiful man who never seemed to notice his own beauty.

He was at his worst when the camera did.

20th Century Fox

In this 1969 file photo, actors Robert Redford, left, as the Sundance Kid and Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy appear in this scene from the film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

But far more often, he was at his best when he was too busy thinking to care about the looks he'd been given. He stood for an American archetype: He was the shrewd guy. Practical, tough, urban. He figured angles, calculated odds, charted courses, deployed distractions, maneuvered brilliantly. He wasn't violent, he wasn't a leader, he wasn't Mr. Cool with the babes, he had limited gifts for comedy and highly articulate, dialogue-driven set pieces. But nobody played shrewd better than Paul Newman. He became great playing shrewd.

You could see it in his eyes, and he probably didn't care much whether they were blue or not. You'd see them narrow as he lapsed into concentration, then come alive again as they read cues, divined patterns, perceived dynamics, sniffed weaknesses. He figured it out with a gusto he sold to audiences brilliantly, and you -- with him -- enjoyed his triumphant cerebration.

That, after all, was the point of his most successful movie, "The Sting." As con man Henry Gondorff, a Depression-era shark on a mission of vengeance, he was no '30s gunslinger with a Thompson gun packed away for rattatatat later on. He built elaborate schemes of dramatic fraud, almost a producer as much as a grifter, cast roles, staged action, manipulated illusion. He got his vengeance, all right, he and his buddy Johnny Hooker (that laconic, iconic avatar of blond diffidence, Robert Redford), but it was never in a spasm of killing. It was in the gotcha moment, when the hook, so elaborately prepared, was set with a mighty crank in the throat of a brutal gangster.

The same tactical hydraulics had been applied earlier in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," again with Redford and the director George Roy Hill, who seemed to understand Newman's gifts better than most. In the western, Butch and Sundance are Wild West robbers, and while the Kid is a gunhand, Butch again is not drawn to the killing but to the money. He's like the Hollywood exec who said, "It's not the money, it's the money." He just wants to get over on people and things, mostly railroads, and seems grievously offended that they don't share his sense of game. They actually hire a posse of professional manhunters to ride him and the Kid down, and he keeps saying in wonder, "Who are those guys?"

It helped, of course, that he and Redford, another embarrassed beauty, had sublime timing and a genuine, if bluff, hearty, masculine affection for each other. In both of their great popular successes, that male bonding is the core of the appeal, because it's so unstated and unsentimentalized. When they go down at the end of "Butch" in the famous freeze-frame that captures them in time a fraction of a second before 300 Bolivian bullets take them apart, it's almost as if a sort of manhood has died: spontaneous, unaffected, generous, capable of love and loyalty, driven by intelligence, unclouded by doubt or recrimination. What came later would be more problematic.

Newman was born of middle-class parents and grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. Fortune smiled from the start: His father owned a prosperous sporting goods store; his mother was "creative" and encouraged his participation in school drama. But he had a wild side and left his first university. He joined the Navy (it was World War II), and flew as a radioman/gunner on torpedo aircraft. But unlike many, he never made a thing out of it, never pretended to be a hero, never referred to it. In that respect, he was typical of his great generation: It was an obligation, he did it, so what? Now let's get on with life.

After the war, he managed the store for a while -- how un-Paul Newman is that? -- then went to New York to pursue an acting career, where his good looks soon got him noticed.

He rode early television success to his first role, starring in "The Silver Chalice" in 1954. Playing a Greek sculptor named Basil, he spent the picture looking baffled and embarrassed by a thigh-length toga. Paul Newman in a toga? Hollywood, we have a problem.

Warner Brothers

In this 1968 file photo Paul Newman plays a prisoner who becomes a legend to his fellow members of a chain gang in the film "Cool Hand Luke."

The real big break came in 1956, when Robert Wise, with his great eye for talent, picked him to play Rocky Graziano in "Somebody Up There Likes Me." That was the first Paul Newman, of the New Gen Method Acting School, a kind of proto-Brando or post-Dean Dean, almost always (particularly in Tennessee Williams adaptations, which he specialized in -- he got a lot of Southern roles, even if he never quite mastered the accent). He was the sensitive brute, beautiful, muscular, brimming with masculinity if not quite intelligence. (He played Billy the Kid in "The Left Handed Gun" for Arthur Penn as Billy probably was: rather stupid.) In "The Young Philadelphians," they got him into an undershirt to show off the good biceps.

He really hit his stride as he matured and found his lasting persona in a series of "H" pictures most movie buffs remember and adore for their intensity, intelligence and power. These were "Hud," in which he played the amoral son of a noble rancher in modern-day Texas, a great performance not hurt as much as you'd think by the Ohio accent; "Hombre," from an Elmore Leonard novel, as a super-shrewd outcast who finds himself in a stagecoach about to be robbed, and uses his wiles as much as his gun to defend civilization; "Harper," where he was Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer, with the name changed to accommodate the lucky H, another shrewd guy solving a new crime and an old one; and finally the shrewdest of them all (I save the best for last and pass on strict chronology), Robert Rossen's great "The Hustler," about the world of pool sharking. Newman's "Fast Eddie" Felson is all talent and guile, a fast-talking, great-shooting, pool-hustling demon. But he has character issues: hubris disguising doubt disguising fear disguising self-hatred. He is played expertly by another merchant of shrewd, George C. Scott as the malevolent gangster Bert Gordon.

Filmed in black and white by the great James Wong Howe, the movie crackled with the reality of low pool dives, the bitter clash of egos and aspirations, and Jackie Gleason's Zen presence as Minnesota Fats. It was the rare American film that dealt with issues of character instead of plot and for most Baby Boomers remains an icon of drama. Too bad they don't make 'em like that anymore, although they tried when Martin Scorsese directed a later sequel featuring Newman as a mature Fast Eddie. It won Newman his first Oscar in 1987.

But Newman was too protean a personality to be satisfied with just being a movie star. At least four other themes run impressively through his life. He was a lifelong liberal and was one of the first politically active stars, risking his reputation and possibly his livelihood for his beliefs. He campaigned actively for Eugene McCarthy in '68 when that was a hard thing to do, and even till the end of his life, he was a true believer in the classical liberalism of the '60s, with its adoration of the common man, its commitment to racial equality and its hunger for a less-bellicose world stance.

Then there's the driving. A friend who has raced and knows of such things said, "Paul Newman isn't a movie star; he's a world-class racing driver who happens to make his living acting in movies." It was true; discovering the sport in his 40s, he took to it intuitively and developed into a very fine driver. It gave him much pleasure and, in turn, showed the world that stars could be more than pretty boys who let the stuntmen take the risks.

Then there was his charity work. An able chef, Newman decided to market his spaghetti sauce and his salad dressing to the world as "Newman's Own." The foodstuffs were successful from the start, and Newman did something remarkable: He decided to donate all profits to charity. It is reliably reported that he made more than $250 million for charity.

But he was also a family man, remaining married to his second wife, the actress Joanne Woodward, for more than 50 years. He quickly sickened of the Hollywood lifestyle and, since 1960, lived in Connecticut, away from the ugly glitz of the movie town. Handsome, powerful, beloved, he probably could have had any woman in the world; he stayed with the one who brung him . . . that is, who was with him on the rough climb up.

Fifty years a star and 50 years a class act -- how Paul Newman is that?

Actor Paul Newman dies at 83

By Lynn Smith, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
6:37 PM PDT, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman, the legendary movie star and irreverent cultural icon who created a model philanthropy fueled by profits from a salad dressing that became nearly as famous as he was, has died. He was 83.

Newman died Friday at his home near Westport, Conn., after a long battle with cancer, publicist Jeff Sanderson said.

Stunningly handsome, Newman maintained his superstar status while keeping his distance from its corrupting influences through nearly 100 Broadway, television and movie roles. As an actor and director, he evolved into Hollywood's elder statesman, admired off screen for his quiet generosity, unconventional business sense, race car daring, political activism and enduring marriage to actress Joanne Woodward.

Annoyed by the public's fascination with his resemblance to a Roman statue and his Windex-blue eyes, Newman often chose offbeat character roles. In the 1960s, he helped define the American anti-hero and became identified with the charming misfits, cads and con men in film classics such as "The Hustler," "Hud," "Cool Hand Luke" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.""It's a great loss, in so many ways," Martin Scorsese, who directed Newman in "The Color of Money," said in a statement Saturday. "The history of movies without Paul Newman? It's unthinkable. . . . His powerful eloquence, his consummate sense of craft, so consummate that you didn't see any sense of effort up there on the screen, set a new standard."Robert Redford, Newman's "Sundance" co-star, said in a statement, "There is a point where feelings go beyond words. I have lost a real friend. My life -- and this country -- is better for his being in it."

Paul Newman, Glenn Close and Robert Redford at a 2006 Sundance Institute event in New York City.

Newman's poker-game look in "The Sting" -- cunning, watchful, removed, amused, confident, alert -- summed up his power as a person and actor, said Stewart Stern, a screenwriter and longtime friend.

"You never see the whole deck. There's always some card somewhere he may or may not play," Stern said. "Maybe he doesn't even have it."

Newman claimed his success came less from natural talent than from hard work, luck and the tenacity of a terrier.

"Acting," he once said, "is really nothing but exploring certain facets of your own personality trying to become someone else." In early films, he said, he tried to make himself fit the character but later aimed "to make the character come to me."

The actor was proudest, friends say, of his later Oscar-nominated roles in "Absence of Malice," "The Verdict" and "Nobody's Fool," in which he dug deep into the complex emotions of ordinary men struggling for dignity, justice or a sense of connection. In 2003, he was nominated for an Oscar for his last feature film appearance, as a conflicted mob boss in "Road to Perdition." Two years later, at 80, he won an Emmy for playing a meddlesome father in "Empire Falls."


Newman never had any qualms about playing the antihero. And he received his third Oscar nomination for this 1963 modern-day western, directed by Martin Ritt, playing the ruthless Hud Bannon, a young man who doesn’t care about anything or anybody. Hud also treats his elderly rancher father (Melvyn Douglas, a supporting actor Oscar winner) and housekeeper (Patricia Neal, who won best actress) like dirt. The only person who seems to idolize Hud is his teenage nephew Lonnie (Brandon De Wilde), but even the young man grows to realize that his uncle is a ruthless heel.

"He's a majestic figure in the world of acting," said director Arthur Penn, who worked with him in his early career. "He did everything and did it well."

Part of a generation of edgy, naturalistic New York actors who changed Hollywood in the '50s and '60s, Newman was often compared with fellow Method actors Marlon Brando and James Dean. Film critic David Ansen once observed that if the trim actor lacked the others' physical or psychic presence, he was more approachable, even when he played a heel.

"Newman," Ansen wrote, "is our great middleweight movie star."

Nominated eight times for Academy Awards in the best-actor category, Newman won only once, for "The Color of Money" (1986), in which he reprised the role of "Fast" Eddie Felson that he originated in 1961's "The Hustler." He also took home honorary Oscars in 1985 for career achievement and in 1993 for his humanitarian efforts. In later years, however, he boycotted awards shows despite continuing Oscar, Emmy and Tony nominations. He claimed he no longer owned a tuxedo.

In real life, Newman was "the quintessence of class, courtly without being old-fashioned," said Victor Navasky, former editor of the Nation, a liberal magazine in which Newman invested and for which he wrote occasional columns. Private and complex, Newman was also a mischievous beer-loving prankster and an idealist who took to the streets to protest the war in Vietnam.

He was thrilled, friends said, when he heard that he had made President Nixon's enemies list.

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”

This seminal 1969 western directed by George Roy Hill and penned by William Goldman marked the first pairing of Newman and Robert Redford. Not only are they both astonishingly beautiful on screen, the two also have an easy comedic rapport as infamous bank robbers, and they exude a tremendously likability and an unbeatable chemistry. The two quickly became friends, and they would often play practical jokes on each other. The film became the highest grossing western at the time in history. It won four Academy Awards and turned Newman into a box office champ.

Married since 1958 to Woodward, his second wife, Newman cultivated a distinctly un-Hollywood lifestyle, shuttling between a homey New York apartment and a renovated farmhouse in woodsy Westport, from which he pursued passions that included cooking and auto racing.

Highly competitive, Newman was drawn to the track, he told reporters, because in racing, unlike acting, the definition of "good" is not a murky matter of opinion. Although he began to race at 47, he was respected by his sport's peers, and his team placed second in the prestigious Le Mans endurance contest in 1979. At 70, he became the oldest driver to place in a professionally sanctioned auto race when his team took third in the 24-hour race at Daytona, Fla. Still racing into his 80s, Newman escaped uninjured from a car fire in 2005 and entered another race a month later.

Since the 1980s, Newman had devoted more time to Newman's Own, a food products company he founded as a lark that grew into one of the nation's largest charitable organizations. The company, which produces all-natural salad dressings, popcorn, sauces and lemonade, has turned over more than $250 million in after-tax profits to hundreds of groups, including his own Hole in the Wall Gang camps (named after the outlaw gang in "Butch Cassidy").

Friends said Newman abhorred what he called "noisy philanthropy." He felt the awards and honors offered him were excessive and once declined a national medal in a letter to President Clinton, calling such recognition "honorrhea."

When people would say, " 'What a mensch you are,' he would always denigrate himself," said friend Alice Trillin. To friends, Newman was open, if vague, about not always having lived an exemplary life. Exceptionally tolerant of others' foibles, he said, "I used to be a fool myself."

A late bloomer

Friends and neighbors in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights might not have foreseen a future as a sex symbol for Paul Leonard Newman, the late-blooming second son of a sporting goods store owner.

Born Jan. 26, 1925, Newman was too short and scrawny to play football or baseball and once said he regularly had "the bejesus kicked out" of him in school. He was encouraged in the arts by an uncle who wrote poetry and by his mother, who taught him to appreciate music and books and shared details of theater shows she had seen.

“The Color of Money”

The seventh time was the charm for Newman, who won his first and only lead actor Academy Award reprising the role he made famous in 1961’s “The Hustler” — pool shark “Fast Eddie” Felson — in Martin Scorsese’s 1986 continuation. Newman seems to be relishing his return to the signature role. This time around, Felson is a liquor salesman who sees a flaky young kid (Tom Cruise) playing pool and decides to coach him in hopes that his quirky behavior will unnerve the big-money pool players. Roger Ebert said about Newman’s performance: “Watching Newman is always interesting in this movie.... In many of Newman’s close-ups in this movie, he shows an enormous power, a concentration and focus of his essence as an actor.” Newman also won the National Board of Review award.

Though he acted in elementary and high school plays to the delight of his family, he said his father, a strict, hard-working former journalist, considered him a lightweight and often treated him as if he were disappointed in him.

"I desperately wanted to show him that somehow, somewhere along the line, I could cut the mustard," Newman told Time magazine in 1982. One of the great agonies of his life, he said, was that his father died in 1950 without seeing his success.

At 18, Newman enlisted in the Navy, hoping to become a pilot in World War II, but he was rejected for being color blind. He spent three years as a radio operator aboard bombers in the Pacific.

Afterward, he enrolled as a 21-year-old freshman at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he spent some of his happiest days, playing second-string football, drinking beer and getting into trouble. After a barroom brawl landed him in jail, he was kicked off the team. He turned to acting.

"I was probably one of the worst college actors at the time," Newman said years later. "I learned my lines by rote and simply said them without spontaneity, without knowing what it meant to act and react."

However, novelist E.L. Doctorow, a Kenyon freshman at the time, recalled that "there was no question about his talent." He said Newman was popular for being the leading actor on campus and for the laundry concession he operated.

"He was always entrepreneurial," Doctorow said.

After graduating with a degree in English, Newman acted in summer and winter stock productions in Wisconsin and Illinois, thinking he might eventually teach speech or drama. By then, he had married Jacqueline Witte, a fellow actor, with whom he had three children: Scott, Susan and Stephanie. Scott died in 1978 of an overdose of drugs and alcohol.

“Nobody’s Fool”

One of the tag lines for this movie was “Aged to perfection.” And at 68, the still-sexy Newman gives a totally engaging turn in this quirky 1994 comedy directed by Robert Benton from the novel by Richard Russo. The role of Sully fits Newman like a comfortable pair of old shoes — he’s a charming, heavy drinker who has skirted responsibility most of his life until his grown son (Dylan Walsh), a college professor whose marriage is breaking up, returns home. Perhaps the sweetest scenes in the movie are between Newman and Jessica Tandy — in one of her last films — who plays his landlady. Newman won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for best actor, as well as receiving Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations.

When his father died in 1950, Newman moved home to run the sporting goods store. A year later, the store was sold and he fled to New Haven, Conn., where he briefly studied drama at Yale University, specializing in directing, before trying his luck in New York.

"I was prepared to try it for a year and, if I got nowhere, to go back to Yale and get my degree," he told Lillian and Helen Ross in the book "The Player: A Profile of an Art." "I had no intention of waiting around till I was old and bruised and bitter."

In New York, then the center of live television and the home of the Actors Studio, Newman picked up lessons in Method acting, a technique that stressed naturalism, while he auditioned for parts and sold encyclopedias to support his family. He later attributed everything he knew about acting to the creative community of actors, writers and directors at the studio. Later, he was president and, though it was never made public, financed the institution's operations for seven years when it fell on hard times.

Described as "gorgeous and intense," the young Newman quickly found small parts in television shows, including "You Are There," as well as a role as a rich college graduate in the Broadway production of "Picnic," in which Woodward was an understudy. When he asked to play the lead, a sexy braggart, director Joshua Logan said the actor was unsuitable because he lacked any "sexual threat" -- a challenge Newman met by embarking on a lifelong routine of vigorous workouts to stay in shape.

His marriage deteriorated as he began to attract work and positive reviews while his wife's priorities shifted to the children, according to friends. Newman fell into a period of turmoil in which he and Woodward began an affair.

He was arrested once for running a red light, driving into a bush and leaving the scene of an accident. The breakup of his marriage was drawn out, Stern said, because Newman was so concerned about being fair to his wife and children.His first wife obtained a divorce in Mexico in 1957. A year later, Newman and Woodward married, forming a lasting match that Newman attributed to "correct amounts of lust and respect." The couple had three daughters, Nell, Melissa and Clea.

Paul Newman, a nominee for best actor for his role in "The Hustler," has a wink for his fans as he arrives at the Academy Awards with his wife, Joanne Woodward in 1962.

Despite later rumors that not all was well in their marriage, Stern said they were committed and honored each other's choices in life. Although Woodward once quipped that "a mind is a terrible thing to waste on a Trans Am," Stern said, "they had real reverence for each other's talents and pursuits and idiosyncrasies."

Together they appeared in 11 films, including "The Long Hot Summer," "From the Terrace" and "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge." Newman also directed her in four other films, including the highly respected "Rachel, Rachel," about a schoolteacher whose fears keep her trapped in a small town.

Stern, author of that film's screenplay, said he sometimes observed Newman watching his wife do something that moved him.

"It was the most exposed face of love I've ever looked at," he said. "You couldn't look at it long. It was like opening the wrong door."Hollywood studios recruited Newman in 1954, at a time when the film industry, threatened by live television, hired many of New York's most creative actors, directors and writers. According to Penn, Newman "was emblematic of what was coming, the demand for independence that the next generation brought."

At first, however, Newman, the serious actor, could not avoid beefcake roles because his looks were so devastating. When people saw him, Penn said, they "just fell away."

Newman was particularly humiliated by his first film, "The Silver Chalice," in which he was cast as a toga-clad Greek sculptor with stilted lines. When the film aired for a week in 1963 on television, he took out a black-bordered ad in The Times that said, "Paul Newman apologizes every night this week."

“Absence of Malice”

Newman earned an Oscar nomination for Sydney Pollack’s inspired 1981 drama that examines ethics in journalism. Newman plays Mike Gallagher, the “clean” son of a former Mafia boss who is libeled by an ambitious young Miami newspaper reporter (Sally Field) who writes that he is a suspect in a murder he didn’t commit. At the time of the film’s release, Newman wasn’t shy about talking about his feelings regarding the press: “I would say that 90% of what people read about me in the newspapers is untrue. Ninety percent is garbage ... If nothing’s happening, what do you do? Well, in their case, they make it up.”

Determined not to be just a pretty-boy player for the studio, Newman was among the first actors to buy out his contract with Warner Bros. and later formed his own production companies with colleagues. Newman's penchant for playing a variety of roles reflected "his imagination and his willingness to take a flier," filmmaker John Huston wrote in his memoir, "An Open Book."

The price was a career checkered with miscasting and forgettable roles, including a jazz musician in "Paris Blues," a turn-of-the-century anarchist in "Lady L" and a double agent in "Torn Curtain."

Critics and audiences loved him, however, when he played moody Southerners in films based on Tennessee Williams' plays "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Sweet Bird of Youth." Newman's scheming pool shark in "The Hustler" began a streak of roles that film historians have hailed as capturing the essence of the postwar American man: cool, cynical and confident while the known world of traditional values crumbles around him.

Newman became so popular that he complained later that audiences and critics missed the point in "Hud," a film in which he portrayed the amoral, insolent son of an embattled rancher. Instead of seeing Hud as tragically flawed character who cared only for himself, audiences adored him. He became an anti-hero, especially among teenagers.

Newman struck another nerve in 1967 with "Cool Hand Luke," in which he played a defiant prisoner on a chain gang harassed by sadistic guards. A memorable scene in which Luke wins a bet by eating 50 hard-boiled eggs triggered egg-eating contests at colleges and among soldiers in Vietnam.

In 1969, when he was Hollywood's most popular leading actor, Newman teamed with Redford in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," a movie about two affable bandits who had outlived their time. The highest-grossing Western in motion picture history, the film highlighted the handsome duo's comic timing. Fans loved the pair's jump off a cliff and still associate the song, "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" with Newman's bicycle stunts.

Redford said it was the most fun on a film he had ever had, and the film cemented a lifelong friendship between the two actors.

Paul Newman passes by a display of his pasta sauces on a visit to the Cantisano Foods plant in Fairport, N.Y., in 1994. The plant manufactures his "Newman's Own" sauces and salsas.

Out of Beverly Hills

If Newman hadn't moved his family away from the glamour and materialism of Beverly Hills to Westport in 1962, he told biographer Eric Lax, he might never have taken up the other things that made his life exciting: politics, racing and a home-grown business.

"It is only when you're away from California that you cannot take yourself seriously" as a movie star, he said.

Throughout the '60s, Newman took high-profile stands against the war in Vietnam. In 1968, he campaigned for antiwar candidate Sen. Eugene McCarthy and was a Connecticut delegate to the Democratic National Convention. The next year, he and Woodward joined an antiwar demonstration in front of the American Embassy in London.

Newman knew his actions were not always popular, and he told the New York Times Magazine in 1966, "A person without character has no enemies." Friends said he was delighted in 1973 when he was listed as No. 19 on Nixon's enemies list, claiming it elevated him in the eyes of his children.

Newman argued politics genially, friends said, and openly admired some conservatives. In 1994, he helped his brother Arthur, a staunch Republican, wage a successful campaign for a City Council seat in Rancho Mirage.

In the late '70s, bored with acting, Newman fell into a slump that paved the way for what has been called one of the most successful career transitions in movie history.

Intrigued by racing after making the film "Winning" in 1969, Newman began planning film shoots around his racing schedule. His focus, athleticism and knowledge quickly won over skeptics who were used to dilettante actors hanging around the track, said champion driver Mario Andretti.

"If he would have started earlier, he would have been just as successful as his acting, no question," Andretti said. When Newman formed his own team, the Newman-Haas Hass Indy Car, Andretti raced for him for 12 years.

Reinvigorated, Newman returned to acting, exploring character roles with new and unexpected depth. Critic Pauline Kael called Newman's portrayal of a washed-up ice hockey coach in "Slap Shot," a 1977 comedy, "casual American star-acting at its peak." In the 1980s, he became active in the Actors Studio in New York, contributing funds and serving as president of the board.

“The Road to Perdition”

Newman earned his first supporting actor Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for this 2002 gangster film directed by Sam Mendes.Set in the early 1930s in Chicago, the film revolves around mob enforcer Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks), who works for the big boss, John Rooney (Newman). Rooney is also a surrogate father to Sullivan, much to the chagrin of Rooney’s own conniving son, Connor (Daniel Craig). The scenes between Hanks and Newman, especially when Michael confronts Rooney for siding with his weak-willed son instead of him, are masterfully performed.

In 1981, Newman was nominated for an Oscar for his role in "Absence of Malice," as a businessman libeled by Sally Field's gung-ho young reporter, whose story leads to his friend's suicide.

Another nomination followed for his portrayal of an alcoholic lawyer redeemed by his pursuit of justice in 1982's "The Verdict."

When Newman finally won an Oscar in 1986 for "The Color of Money," it was neither his nor director Scorsese's best effort and was seen by some observers as compensation for having been overlooked in "The Hustler."

Wanting to avoid another public defeat, Newman stayed home for the ceremony. Later, he said of the win: "It's like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. She finally relents and you say, 'I'm terribly sorry, I'm tired.' "His real-life role as a model Hollywood philanthropist began just before Christmas 1980 when he and his friend A.E. Hotchner made a batch of salad dressing in a bathtub to bottle for friends.

Newman was as much a perfectionist about his cooking as his art, friends said. "He knew the exact amount of fat that goes into the perfect hamburger," Stern said. "In his salads, he sliced the celery the exact width."

In restaurants, Newman was known to ask for olive oil, vinegar, chopped celery, salt, pepper and mustard to make his own dressing. On one occasion, when waiters at the legendary Beverly Hills restaurant Chasen's wouldn't comply, he took the salad into the men's room and washed their dressing off. "They brought the stuff he wanted, and he made the dressing," Stern said.

Newman told reporters he never imagined the dressing would be sold nationally, but after the Christmas leftovers were given to gourmet shops, the lark became a challenge.

When it became clear the dressing could make a profitable business, especially with his face on the label, Newman decided to give back some of what luck and the world had given him.

"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing -- 'Let's just do this and give it all away,' " his daughter Nell told the New York Times in 1998.

Newman and Hotchner wrote witty labels to go with the company's motto: "Shameless exploitation in pursuit of the common good," which later became the name of their book that describes their adventures in business.

The company grew to produce many products, including popcorn, salsas, pasta sauces, marinades and Woodward's "Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade."

“The Sting”

Newman’s post-“Butch” films were pretty tepid. Thankfully, he teamed with Redford and director Hill for this delectable 1973 caper film, which won a slew of Academy Awards, including best film, director and screenplay. The two play con men in the 1930s who pull the ultimate scam to take down a ruthless gangster (Robert Shaw), who had caused the death of their friend.

In 2006, he opened Dressing Room: A Homegrown Restaurant to benefit the Westport Country Playhouse, one of Newman and Woodward's favorite projects.

As a result of his business success, Newman donated more than $250 million to 1,000 groups, including the Scott Newman Center devoted to anti-drug education and several Hole in the Wall Gang camps, designed for children with life-threatening diseases, with locations in France, Ireland and Israel as well as the U.S. Every summer, Newman stayed at the original camp in Ashford, Conn., where he told ghost stories and staged shows with other celebrities for children who knew him only as the face on the lemonade carton.

"If I leave a legacy," he said in 2006, "it will be the camps."

This year, he turned up at a meeting of parents and children at the first camp and reportedly said: "I wanted to acknowledge luck. The beneficence of it in many lives and the brutality of it in the lives of others, especially children, who might not have a lifetime to make up for it."

Rather than hiring grant officers, friends say, Newman and Hotchner choose the charities themselves in a casual way. Newman once wrote a check on the spot for someone who knocked on his door saying the local fire department needed a new fire engine, said Navasky, the Nation magazine editor.

Despite his fears that actors risk corruption by placing a "premium on appearance," Newman valued keeping himself fit. He did push ups and ran up and down stairs until he was 80. He soaked his face in ice water or would swim in a cold lake when he could.

Newman played sexy senior roles into his 70s with films such as "Twilight" and moved on to cantankerous father parts in "Message in a Bottle" and the TV film "Empire Falls." He was nominated for a Tony as the stage manager in a Broadway revival of "Our Town" and an Emmy for a taped TV version.

After "Road to Perdition," he did voice work for the animated film "Cars" in 2006.

Newman didn't hide his disappointment that filmmaking had abandoned the "theater of the mind" for the "theater of the senses." He lamented that skyrocketing costs had increased the pressure on actors, writers and producers who could no longer afford to make mistakes and be part of a "growing-up process."

In 1997, he hinted he was struggling, explaining to National Public Radio's Daniel Zwerdling that "sometimes you begin to lose your center. . . . You become a collection of the successful mannerisms of the characters you play. . . . What you try to do is get rid of those successful mannerisms, get back to what you are at the core of your own personality."

From left, Paul Newman, Carl Haas and Graham Rahal at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2008. Newman and Haas were racing team owners, and Rahal their driver.

In 2007, Newman announced his decision to retire, saying he'd lost confidence in his abilities, that acting was "pretty much a closed book for me."

Besides Doc Hudson, the animated Hornet voiced by Newman in the film "Cars," he called the role of Sully in 1994's "Nobody's Fool" the closest he had come to playing himself. Critics called Sully a "classic Newman type" -- an aging version of a witty loner who keeps friends and family at a distance to protect himself. A bond with his fearful little grandson opens up the possibility of becoming more involved with an estranged son and the rest of the community.

"The most Paul moment," Stern said, "is when he sees the crazy lady down the street and offers his arm and walks her back home as if she were a queen. That's how I'll always remember Paul: dignifying other people."

In addition to his wife of 50 years, Newman is survived by daughters Susan, Stephanie, Nell, Melissa and Clea; two grandchildren; and his brother Arthur.

His family suggests donations in his name to the Assn. of Hole in the Wall Camps.


Paul Newman wielded his beauty like a craftsman


By Carina Chocano, Los Angeles Times Movie Critic
September 28, 2008

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”
Though Tennessee Williams’ hit play had to be watered down — eliminating any references to homosexuality — for the big screen, this 1958 adaptation, written and directed by Richard Brooks, is solid, exceptional entertainment. Particularly striking are Newman, as the formerly athletic and now unapologetic drunkard Brick, and Elizabeth Taylor as his beautiful, frustrated wife, Maggie. Their volatile scenes together are passionate, angry and erotic. Newman received his first Oscar nomination for lead actor for his work in this film; Taylor received her second.

Paul Newman, that pure and concentrated essence of classic movie stardom, reinvented himself a couple of times in the span of his long career, until he ended up playing the kind of guy he might have become had he never left his native Shaker Heights, Ohio: an ultra-conservative, cold-fish Midwestern lawyer, married for decades to the same woman (see his performance in the Merchant-Ivory jewel box "Mr. And Mrs. Bridge," from 1990).

But he'll be best remembered for playing the polar opposite, a recurring persona he took up and reprised from 1958 through 1969, the nonconformist ne'er-do-well, idolized by criminals and women who knew better, reviled by authority and tradition.

A quick survey of the characters Newman inhabited during that time reveals several recurring traits. There's the matter of his alarming beauty, which was almost always treated as a complicating factor in his characters' lives. An otherworldly Adonis, he could have simply gone the tuxedo route, but he had a fondness for playing rough-and-tumble losers, drunks, failures and outcasts. His rebel nonconformists were often nonconformist in pointless, self-serving, usually self-destructive ways that he refused to romanticize.

“The Hustler”
Newman may have won his lead actor Oscar for playing pool hustler “Fast Eddie” Felson in “The Color of Money,” the 1986 sequel to this 1961 classic, but he really should have won the Academy Award for his exhilarating, audacious turn as the young pool shark in this uncompromising drama based on Walter Tevis’ novel, co-adapted and directed by Robert Rossen. Newman’s scenes with his girlfriend, the alcoholic Sarah (Piper Laurie), and the ultimate pool hustler Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) are remarkable in their power and simplicity. Newman won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for best actor.

Remarkably, he was almost never paired with the great beauties of his time, appearing instead opposite actresses of lesser looks than his. Piper Laurie, Patricia Neal, even Joanne Woodward -- whom he would eventually marry and remain with for life -- played characters in thrall to his charm and charisma, usually to their detriment. The most beautiful actress he was ever cast opposite also happened to play the character he rebuffed most cruelly: Elizabeth Taylor's sex-starved Maggie, longing hopelessly for passion from his closeted gay Brick in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

It's not the sort of thing you see much at the movies anymore -- the examination of the male bombshell, a character as irresistible as he is casually destructive to himself and others. It's hard to imagine a modern-day movie star putting his sex appeal to such complicated, fascinating use. Even when Newman's characters liked women, he wasn't very good to them. In "Hud," he tried to rape his housekeeper. In "The Hustler," he took up with a disabled alcoholic who, for a while, supported him. In "Sweet Bird of Youth," he hustled rich older women for money and an entree into show business, repeatedly abandoning the girl he loved to pursue his dream of stardom. In "Cool Hand Luke," where the only woman in sight was his mother, he broke her heart.

“Cool Hand Luke”
Newman gives one of his most personable performances — he received his fourth Oscar nomination — in this 1967 drama as the free-spirited Luke Jackson, a convict who more than meets his match when he is sent to work on a chain-gang. As Luke, Newman gets to play it all in this gripping drama, including high comedy in the egg-eating contest scene and high emotions in the scene in which he learns of his mother’s death. It’s a lovely performance, which was overshadowed at the time by George Kennedy’s Academy Award-winning turn as the leader of the chain gang who becomes friends with Luke.

And yet the Paul Newman anti-hero, a rake if ever there was one, was irresistible to men and women alike. (What is "Cool Hand Luke" if not a polyamorous bromance writ large?) His early characters were at once vulpine and preyed upon; twice, in separate films, he uttered a variation of the line, "Everyone wants a piece of me."

Newman was savvy enough to know when to start moving away from the roles that used his beauty as a basis for his characters. And that intelligence and grounded self-awareness shines through in all of his performances. The slow Newman grin, the same one that charms George Kennedy in "Cool Hand Luke," made it clear that Newman was always aware of the effect he had on others, and when and how to modulate it for maximum impact. His characters' vanity -- physical and otherwise -- got them into worlds of trouble, but Newman's complete lack of it came across clearly in the roles he chose and the life he lived.

Friday, September 26, 2008


New York Post
Posted: 4:08 am
September 25, 2008

FACING a postconvention fall in the polls, John McCain once again reshaped the dimensions of the race by suspending his campaign and calling for postponement of Friday's debate.

This bold move could have an impact on the race akin to McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Defensively, McCain had to act to stop the fall in his poll numbers.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., walks through the Capitol after leaving the office of House Republican Leader, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Offensively, he has placed himself at the epicenter of the only issue on the national agenda - proactive action to stop a total international financial collapse.

Obama's response to McCain's initiative is lame. As with his initial reaction to Sarah Palin, Obama has miscalculated. While he tries to spin McCain's move as a mere response to his initiative, it was the Republican who first issued the call for a suspension of the campaigns.

Both McCain and Obama will now go to Washington. McCain on his own initiative. Obama as a result of the president's call for an economic summit.

But it is McCain who will play the proactive role. Obama will come to Washington, but will keep one foot outside the Beltway.

Even though the president has called both candidates to Washington to save the country, Obama continues to campaign. Politics as usual.

He doesn't want to cancel the debate. He would debate while the markets burn.

McCain is going to work while Obama is phoning it in.

Oddly, McCain and Obama agree on the bailout package. But it is only McCain who can pass the bill. Only McCain can deliver the administration and the Republicans.

McCain will be at the center of the process, managing it through to success while Obama lingers on the outskirts, irrelevant and uninvolved.

McCain will pass Barack Obama's bill (which parallels his own proposals), and will get the credit for it.

There are compelling reasons why McCain may be saving his campaign by this bold move.

McCain's entry into the legislative foray personalizes the economy issue.

As long as McCain stayed away from Washington, it was the Democrats against the Republicans. Polls give the Democrats the edge. But voters trust McCain personally more than they trust Obama to manage his way out of a crisis.

By showing up in Washington, McCain makes the issue personal, not partisan.

And the rescue legislation will pass. Washington has no alternative but to act. And it probably will work. The markets will calm down. The bailout legislation will have done it.

Including the Democratic amendments, it will become a fairly popular piece of legislation and it will have been McCain's bill. Obama can claim authorship, but it will have been McCain who will have brought the Administration into line.

Once the bill is passed, McCain will have the credentials to go on the offensive and warn of the impact of Obama's tax increases on the recovery.

Had McCain not acted, Republican opposition to big government might have doomed the economy and destroyed Republican hopes.

By going to Washington, McCain makes it imperative that the Republicans pass the legislation. His presence makes it an issue of party survival in a way that lame duck Bush could never do.

As Woody Allen said "half of life is just showing up."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Greed, Or Incentives?

The Libertarian

By Richard Epstein
09.23.08, 12:01 AM ET

It had been my devout wish to write a set of disinterested columns about labor markets to illustrate the power of the presumption against state regulation of voluntary agreements. But the financial meltdown of the past week has rudely interrupted my plan to pillory the minimum wage.

Instead, I shall turn on a dime to address two connected questions: How did we get to that sorry state where great institutions topple, and what should be done?

On both questions, our bipartisan consensus is holding true to form. In a system that is chock-full of heavy regulation, they instantly blame the current collapse on the excesses of the free market, for which a still heavier dose of regulation supplies some supposed cure. That indictment contains few particulars. It typically rests on a populist broadside whose centerpiece is greed on Wall Street, but never on Main Street--where there are more voters.

This prior is all wrong. Greed is a constant of human nature. Financial meltdowns are not a constant of economic political life. It takes, therefore, an understanding of the overall incentive structure to explain why selfish economic behavior produces great progress on some occasions and financial ruination on others.

On this question, your stalwart libertarian is persona non grata in respectable company. If voluntary markets normally align private incentives with social welfare, then always look first for a government intervention that knocks those incentives off line. It’s not hard to find some culprits.

One bad move has government legislators and courts intervening to slow down mortgage foreclosures because it is socially unacceptable for people to lose their homes. Unpleasant yes, but unacceptable no. Start with this assumption: Individual tenants can be evicted at the termination of their lease. Only the ardent defenders of rent control (which has ruined New York City real estate markets) find this outcome is unacceptable. Everyone else rolls with the punches.

So what is the difference between the evicted tenant and the foreclosed owner? Only this: The owner has put a down payment on the house. But so what? Foreclosed homeowners typically made only small down payments, or even none at all. Treat their mortgage payments as lease payments, and bump up their amount a bit by dividing the down payment over the number of months before foreclosure. Not much of a financial difference between the tenant and the owner.

Yet once regulators slow down foreclosures, other potential homeowners are denied opportunities to purchase housing they can afford. The housing stock cannot recirculate. Banks that acquired this mortgage paper see their portfolios nosedive. That dicey paper, as William Isaac noted in last week’s Wall Street Journal, drives the entire economy over the edge by strict government regulations that require all financial institutions to “mark-to-market” the various instruments in their portfolio.

Unfortunately, there is no working market to mark this paper down to. To meet their bond covenants and their capital requirements, these firms have to sell their paper at distress prices that don’t reflect the upbeat fact that the anticipated income streams from this paper might well keep the firm afloat.

One bad regulatory turn leads to another, and lo, the bailouts come thick and fast. At the nth hour, wise heads often rightly conclude that some desperate measure has to be taken to prevent the financial disintegration brought on by, well, prior government regulation. Those bailouts, of course, come from the hides of taxpayers who borrowed prudently. The entire system subsidizes destructive behavior, which means that we will get more destructive behavior in the future. We might as well sell flood insurance at bargain prices in Galveston, Texas, and New Orleans.

The moral of this story is that bad regulation metastasizes. Short term heroics are no substitute for dispassionate deregulation, which won’t happen so long as our political leaders are fixated on greed. Taking steps to prevent financial meltdowns is more likely to hasten their unwelcome arrival, so says the libertarian.

- Richard Epstein writes a weekly column for He is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and a professor of law at the University of Chicago.

Two Ex-Yankees Conspicuous by Their Absence

[I don't necessarily agree with everything written in Rhoden's piece but he is one of the few to address the issue. I had little problem with letting Clemens stay at home and watch the whole thing on TV and I don't believe that Joe Torre "single-handedly resuscitated" the Yankees. However, Torre is one of the all-time Yankee greats and he should have been given his due...he certainly earned it.- jtf]

Sports of The Times
September 24, 2008

Like millions of viewers, I was intrigued by the pageantry of the Yankees’ final game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday — a monument to history and self-indulgence.

Roger Clemens and Joe Torre

The Yankees trotted out player after player, representing generation after generation: Julia Ruth Stevens (Babe Ruth’s daughter), Yogi Berra, Willie Randolph home again, sliding safely into second. Bernie Williams made his first appearance since being pushed out of pinstripes.

The big question was whether the Yankees were going to be honest and courageous. Did they have faith that the depth and the breadth of their highly acclaimed history was more powerful than the alleged trespasses of one individual? Would the Bombers bring out one final special guest? Would they bring out the Rocket, Roger Clemens?

Nope. No Clemens.

We all looked and listened, but on Sunday night, it was as if Clemens were dead to the organization. When the Yankees played a video celebrating the team’s greatest players at every position, Clemens was nowhere to be seen.

But there were Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi, admitted drug cheats — not alleged, not rumored — basking in the glow of closing night.

Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, was as much a part of Yankees lore as any player who limped, trotted or slid onto the field Sunday night. Yes, he was a mercenary. But the Yankees built championships on the shoulders of high-priced mercenaries. And when it comes to the explosion of performance-enhancing drugs, baseball’s win-at-all-costs mantra is as responsible as the players themselves.

This is not about being a fan of Roger Clemens’s or about even liking him; this is about holding an organization’s feet to the fire when it attempts to rearrange history. Even its own.

Incredibly, there was also no meaningful mention of Joe Torre, who managed the Yankees to four World Series championships and 12 consecutive trips to the postseason. The Yankees’ director of media relations, Jason Zillo, pointed out to reporters that many great Yankees had not been mentioned. “There was absolutely no slight intended,” he said, “and perhaps, looking back, they should have been mentioned.”

Clemens, according to The New York Post, was watching the Stadium event on a television back in Texas; he was almost certainly seething and cursing, How could they not bring me back?

The Yankees wrap themselves so tightly in history, yet they let a whiff of history escape. I call it hypocrisy. The Yankees, I’m sure, call it good taste.

Clemens is up to his eyeballs in a steroids investigation, although nothing has been proved. Perhaps the Yankees wanted to spare Clemens the embarrassment of being booed. Let’s accept that explanation for the sake of argument (although, knowing fans as I do, Clemens might very well have received an ovation). What’s the excuse for ignoring Torre, who single-handedly resuscitated the Yankees?

Forget a mention; they should have unveiled a bust of Torre in Monument Park.

Contrast the Yankees’ handling of a controversial and potentially fallen superstar with the way the San Francisco Giants treated Barry Bonds, the man baseball would like to cast, and cast away, as the face of the steroids era.

Last month, as part of the Giants’ celebration of 50 years in the Bay Area, the team hosted a reunion of its outfielders.

“There was never a conversation about not inviting Barry,” said Larry Baer, the executive vice president for the Giants, in a telephone interview Tuesday. “From Day 1, we had every intention of inviting Barry.”

Bonds accepted the invitation, attended the celebration and received a rousing ovation. He spent the first three innings of the game in the broadcast booth. Bonds, on his own, attended a statue dedication ceremony the Giants held for Orlando Cepeda on Sept. 6.

Max Morse/Getty Images

The Giants did not hesitate to invite Barry Bonds to a team celebration on Aug. 9, and he happily attended.

Baer said that Bonds could eventually fulfill the role of team ambassador that his godfather, Willie Mays, has played for the Giants since 1996.

“His actions suggested that that is how he would like to be viewed,” Baer said. Obviously, the outcome of Bonds’s coming perjury trial will affect his relationship with the Giants’ organization, although Baer said he could not predict how.

Bonds ended his brief address to the fans during last month’s reunion by saying, “I haven’t retired.” That came as news, I’m sure, to the Major League Baseball establishment, which has successfully kept Bonds out of baseball.

There are those in baseball who do not want Bonds to add to what they feel are tainted statistics and will do whatever they can to keep him out.

At the same time, it’s O.K. to allow Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi to add to their statistics.
The Yankees’ decision to ignore Clemens was hypocritical. Ignoring Torre was sheer pettiness.

“In sports, unfortunately, you’re going to have some not-so-good endings with great players,” Baer said. “That’s the nature of the beast. That doesn’t mean down the line you can’t have rapprochement.”

Now that they have been eliminated from playoff contention, the Yankees have only one more opportunity for redemption.

In November, when the Stadium officially closes, the organization, for its own sake, ought to acknowledge Clemens and Torre.

No sense in bringing an old curse into the new stadium.


Bailout Blues

By David Warren
The Ottawa Citizen
September 25, 2008

I trust no reader will take me as a financial maven -- indeed the whizbangs in question are out of favour at the moment -- but I did once edit a business magazine in the Third World, and learned some of the jargon.

Indulge me a moment longer, and I will tell you the magazine was Business in Thailand (not quite a threat to Forbes or Fortune, or even Euromoney -- my bedside reading at the time, though it hasn't been through the decades since).

In this job I developed a tremendous admiration for (overseas) Chinese business practices. I thought these men (and women: some matriarchs, too) the purest and best of capitalists. I met several "CEOs" of surprisingly large trading firms, founded on such romantic commodities as vegetable oil seed.

What did I admire? First, the modesty of these people. No matter how wealthy and powerful, each was incapable of forgetting, for example, the Swatow noodle shop from which he rose. I met, for instance, a man who commanded a substantial fleet of cargo ships. He worked in the tropical heat, under an oil-dripping ceiling fan -- in a singlet, at an ancient splintered school desk. He had always used that for his table, and saw no need to replace it. It had brought him very good luck, after all. Its small surface area was further reduced by an abacus.

Second, such a man could be counted on. His yea meant yea, his nay meant nay, and his handshake bound him better than any contract enforceable in law. In the ethical world he inhabited, a single default was the end of his reputation, and thus the end of his livelihood. No second chances.

Third, I will mention the competitive zeal. Without spreadsheets, without quarterly reports, with no more than accurate inventories and current prices juggling in his head, he could deliver huge volumes of product to a buyer, "just in time," at profit margins sometimes less than one per cent. And get and stay rich doing this.

Sad to say, I am speaking of business methods that are almost extinct, even in East Asia (although the memory of them remains a fine influence today). More happily, I am able to remember big businessmen who did not give themselves airs, who did not cultivate the vanity and "charisma" we have come to associate with high-profile public traders and moneylenders.
Moreover, I think -- indeed, I know -- that behind the façade of every successful businessman is this man in a singlet, ignoring the heat of the day. "Raw capitalism," let us call it, is an honest dealing with the materials of the world.

It is the kind of sweaty laborious capitalism that supplies us with clothing, shelter, food and drink. I am therefore suspicious of most "free market" talk; of every attempt to reformulate immortal "raw capitalism" as a fashionable ideology or creed.

Any reader who has followed me for some time will guess that I am appalled by the (purported) $700 billion bailout that U.S. President George W. Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have organized, yet cannot reasonably oppose it at a moment when the markets are close to a true meltdown. I am further appalled by the spectacle of the Democrats in the U.S. Congress, exploiting the emergency to affix massive quantities of poorly disguised pork to the blunderbuss bill.

And finally, appalled by the media and chattering heads calling the whole mess a "crisis of capitalism" when the plain facts show the opposite. The whole "subprime mortgage" instrument was invented by bankers specifically to assuage heavy-handed Congressional demands to swell the number of minority and low-income homeowners, 20 years ago. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were already bloated quasi-government bureaucracies, dangerously freed from many conventional market disciplines. And among the chief beneficiaries of the current bailout are the most extravagant contributors to the Democrat Party.

As one of my more knowing correspondents put it: "Wall Street loves money but hates free markets, because free markets distribute economic benefits to those who earn them, rather than to those best able to seize them."

The capitalist investment bankers stand accused, rightly, of having invented brilliant kiting schemes -- ultimately to deliver credit to customers who hadn't earned it. Their "greed" is irrelevant -- everyone is trying to make money. The point is that the schemes themselves were basically unsound. The lesson is that when home ownership is considered a "right" instead of a privilege, it is not only the housing market that goes bottom up.

This is a lesson no one wants to learn, so it will take time to sink in. But any attentive reader of the Wall Street Journal can know today, what his neighbours may never even hear tomorrow: that this market crack-up, like every other, came not from observing the basic principles of capitalism, but from trying to deny them in the face of nature.

© Ottawa Citizen

CAIR Files FEC Complaint over "Obsession"

By Robert Spencer
Thursday, September 25, 2008

Despite the fact that the film Obsession contains no political content and was made well before the 2008 election cycle began, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, those paragons of Islamic moderation and honesty, would now have you believe that the national distribution of the DVD was an Israeli plot to elect John McCain. And they’ve filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging just that.

According to MarketWire, “the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging the FEC to investigate whether the Clarion Fund, a non-profit organization that distributed DVDs containing ‘Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,’ is really a front for an Israel-based group seeking to help Sen. John McCain win the U.S. presidential election.”

This is a very revealing action for CAIR to take. It reveals in particular two key aspects of CAIR’s mindset:

1. It shows that CAIR is fully aware that the jihad against Israel is an integral part of the global jihad, and is not just a struggle to recover Palestinian “stolen land.” Thus a film that reveals the nature and goals of that global jihad -- Obsession -- benefits Israel.

2. It also shows that CAIR believes that John McCain will fight against the global jihad in a way that Barack Obama will not -- and that it believes therefore the distribution of an anti-jihad film, which in a sane world would be welcomed by both the Left and the Right since the global jihad wishes to destroy and remake the West utterly, must be some partisan plot.

It further shows CAIR yet again on the wrong side of the jihad, as they are again and again. The Flying Imams threaten the ability of airline passengers to report suspicious behavior without getting harassed legally, and CAIR is right there. Sami Al-Arian for years bamboozles the Left into thinking he is a gallant freedom fighter for the Palestinians without the shadow of a hint of support for terrorism, and CAIR backs him all the way. The Patriot Act? CAIR was against it -- and not just the legitimately questionable parts, either. Has CAIR ever sponsored a single anti-terror initiative that would actually make it easier for law enforcement to identify and apprehend jihad terrorists? Nope.

Yet this shady group still enjoys mainstream media support, and is routinely depicted as a neutral “civil rights” organization.

“American voters,” said CAIR’s cofounder and executive director Nihad Awad, “deserve to know whether they are the targets of a multi-million-dollar campaign funded and directed by a foreign group seeking to whip up anti-Muslim hysteria as a way to influence the outcome of our presidential election.”

American voters also deserve to know whether they are the targets of a campaign, multimillion-dollar or no, funded and directed by Islamic supremacists to mislead and deceive them about Islamic jihad terrorism as a way to influence the outcome of our presidential election, and to influence much more besides.

Recently the stalwart Egyptian blogger who calls himself Sandmonkey interviewed Mohammed Habib, who, he says, “is slated to become the next Supreme Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Toward the end of the interview Sandmonkey asks Habib an uncomfortable question about the Brotherhood’s relationship with the Council on American Islamic Relations, and you can practically see Habib squirm right on the printed page. “Ehh, this is a sensitive subject, and it’s kind of problematic, especially after 9/11,” he says.

Why is it a “sensitive subject”? Why is it “kind of problematic”? Partly because the Muslim Brotherhood is on record as wanting to do more, much more, in the United States than simply “spread a positive image of Islam along with its values, culture, history and teachings.” The Brotherhood is engaged, in its own words, in “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Is CAIR engaged in this effort? Is it trying to sabotage and destroy Western civilization so that “Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions” here in the U.S.? Is it working in tandem with other Brotherhood entities to accomplish this?

And above all: why isn’t there a single reporter in the entire United States who will ask Nihad Awad or Ibrahim Hooper or Ahmed Rehab or Corey Saylor or anyone at CAIR these questions – especially in the context of this spurious FEC complaint?

- Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His next book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is coming this November from Regnery Publishing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


By Ann Coulter
September 24, 2008

On MSNBC this week, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter tried to connect John McCain to the current financial disaster, saying: "If you remember the Keating Five scandal that (McCain) was a part of. ... He's really getting a free ride on the fact that he was in the middle of the last great financial scandal in our country."

McCain was "in the middle of" the Keating Five case in the sense that he was "exonerated." The lawyer for the Senate Ethics Committee wanted McCain removed from the investigation altogether, but, as The New York Times reported: "Sen. McCain was the only Republican embroiled in the affair, and Democrats on the panel would not release him."

So John McCain has been held hostage by both the Viet Cong and the Democrats.

Alter couldn't be expected to know that: As usual, he was lifting material directly from Kausfiles. What is unusual was that he was stealing a random thought sent in by Kausfiles' mother, who, the day before, had e-mailed: "It's time to bring up the Keating Five. Let McCain explain that scandal away."

The Senate Ethics Committee lawyer who investigated McCain already had explained that scandal away -- repeatedly. It was celebrated lawyer Robert Bennett, most famous for defending a certain horny hick president a few years ago.

In February this year, on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes," Bennett said, for the eight billionth time:

"First, I should tell your listeners I'm a registered Democrat, so I'm not on (McCain's) side of a lot of issues. But I investigated John McCain for a year and a half, at least, when I was special counsel to the Senate Ethics Committee in the Keating Five. ... And if there is one thing I am absolutely confident of, it is John McCain is an honest man. I recommended to the Senate Ethics Committee that he be cut out of the case, that there was no evidence against him."

It's bad enough for Alter to be constantly ripping off Kausfiles. Now he's so devoid of his own ideas, he's ripping off the idle musings of Kausfiles' mother.

Even if McCain had been implicated in the Keating Five scandal -- and he wasn't -- that would still have absolutely nothing to do with the subprime mortgage crisis currently roiling the financial markets. This crisis was caused by political correctness being forced on the mortgage lending industry in the Clinton era.

Before the Democrats' affirmative action lending policies became an embarrassment, the Los Angeles Times reported that, starting in 1992, a majority-Democratic Congress "mandated that Fannie and Freddie increase their purchases of mortgages for low-income and medium-income borrowers. Operating under that requirement, Fannie Mae, in particular, has been aggressive and creative in stimulating minority gains."

Under Clinton, the entire federal government put massive pressure on banks to grant more mortgages to the poor and minorities. Clinton's secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo, investigated Fannie Mae for racial discrimination and proposed that 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio be made up of loans to low- to moderate-income borrowers by the year 2001.

Instead of looking at "outdated criteria," such as the mortgage applicant's credit history and ability to make a down payment, banks were encouraged to consider nontraditional measures of credit-worthiness, such as having a good jump shot or having a missing child named "Caylee."

Threatening lawsuits, Clinton's Federal Reserve demanded that banks treat welfare payments and unemployment benefits as valid income sources to qualify for a mortgage. That isn't a joke -- it's a fact.

When Democrats controlled both the executive and legislative branches, political correctness was given a veto over sound business practices.

In 1999, liberals were bragging about extending affirmative action to the financial sector. Los Angeles Times reporter Ron Brownstein hailed the Clinton administration's affirmative action lending policies as one of the "hidden success stories" of the Clinton administration, saying that "black and Latino homeownership has surged to the highest level ever recorded."

Meanwhile, economists were screaming from the rooftops that the Democrats were forcing mortgage lenders to issue loans that would fail the moment the housing market slowed and deadbeat borrowers couldn't get out of their loans by selling their houses.

A decade later, the housing bubble burst and, as predicted, food-stamp-backed mortgages collapsed. Democrats set an affirmative action time-bomb and now it's gone off.

In Bush's first year in office, the White House chief economist, N. Gregory Mankiw, warned that the government's "implicit subsidy" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, combined with loans to unqualified borrowers, was creating a huge risk for the entire financial system.

Rep. Barney Frank denounced Mankiw, saying he had no "concern about housing." How dare you oppose suicidal loans to people who can't repay them! The New York Times reported that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were "under heavy assault by the Republicans," but these entities still had "important political allies" in the Democrats.

Now, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, middle-class taxpayers are going to be forced to bail out the Democrats' two most important constituent groups: rich Wall Street bankers and welfare recipients.

Political correctness had already ruined education, sports, science and entertainment. But it took a Democratic president with a Democratic congress for political correctness to wreck the financial industry.