Flashbacks: Press under fire, pro-wrestling as a window onto the Zeitgeist, and the Boston-based followers of a Kid Guru

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5 years ago
March 28, 2003 | Dan Kennedy talked to UVA professor Larry Sabato about the drawbacks of embedded reporting during the Iraq War.

" 'I suppose the embedding is useful overall, and has resulted in on-the-spot coverage of hard news,’ says...Sabato...‘But embedding has also resulted in a loss of the big picture during a good bit of the coverage, with loads of soft, human-interest coverage that actually tells the viewers nothing of importance. Seeing a TV reporter riding in the back of a dust-covered jeep with his gas mask on makes for great video. But when he tells us, as one did, ‘We’re on the move, but I can’t say where we are or where we’re heading or what we’re going to do when we get there,’ what’s the point? To prove there are soldiers on the ground moving toward Baghdad? I think we knew that.’ ” Read Full Article



10 years ago
March 27, 1998 | Dan Tobin analyzed the bad guys of pro wrestling, concluding the sport to be “a window onto the Zeitgeist.”

“...wrestling villainy is an excellent indicator of what makes average Americans nervous. During the Cold War, Russians were the worst bad guys, and a tag team called the Bolsheviks would sing the National Hymn of the Soviet Union before matches. The Iron Sheik was similarly hated for his Iranian patriotism. Then the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Sheik turned 50. So the WWF sought new bad guys. Its search for a villain has produced the following:


Accountants: Out of the depths of the 1991 recession crawled Irwin R. Schyster (a/k/a IRS), who announced before his matches how many months were left until taxes were due. He lasted well into the Republican revolution.


Fat people/the Japanese: In the early '90s, Yokozuna weighed in at 589 pounds and defeated Hulk Hogan by distracting him with Eastern fireworks. He was managed by Mr. Fuji, who spoke broken English and threw salt in the eyes of opponents.


Gays: In the past few years, Goldust's look has evolved from two-bit drag to a more sophisticated S&M getup. But the message is still the same: Smear the queer...


Dentists: Dr. Isaac Yankem embodied everyone's fear of drills, Novocain, and gingivitis. Or something like that.


Canadians: The Mountie...was a notorious cheater. And Calgary native Bret "the Hitman" Hart taunted Americans for being bad hockey players. Ouch, Bret. Hit us where it hurts.” Read Full Article



20 years ago
March 25, 1988 | Kathy McAfee reported on the Boston-based followers of 15-year old Guru Maharaj-ji.

“The Divine Light Mission of 15-year-old Guru Maharaj-ji may be the fastest growing religion in the west...


“In Boston, there are more than 400 initiates with local headquarters in a sky-blue mansion off Route Two in Concord. The headquarters is actually an ashram, a sort of co-ed monastery...

“The Concord ashram is filled with altars, mass-produced Indian artifacts and photographs of Guru Maharaju-ji.

“Ashram activities are coordinated by a general secretary, who is a man, and the cooking is done entirely by the ‘house’s mother’ and her female assistant. This job, I was told, can be held by a male only in an emergency. ‘As G’rooma Rajee says, ‘How can a mother be a man’? ‘

“Every resident is supposed to be completely celibate. ‘You see, the ashram works just like a family, and there have to be incest taboos. If there are all these other trips going on, all these little intrigues, it’s not going to hold together.’ "

25 years ago
March 29, 1983 | Joyce Millman reviewed Bette Midler’s gaudy sold-out performances in Boston.

“Bette Midler flaunts her bazooms the way Barbara Streisand flaunts her schnoz. For both entertainers, these fruits of nature’s generosity are a stamp of authenticity—physical assurances that, yes, these grand stars are as humanly imperfect as we schleps across the footlights. A week ago, during her five sold-out performances of ‘De Tour’ at the Opera House, Midler was as adorable blowzy as she’d been when she first jiggled her way to fame...nearly bouncing her Jane Russell-sized breasts out of her trashy-but-flashy push-‘em-up brassiere (‘Yes they are fabulous aren’t they?’) Near the end of the first act, Midler and her backing trio, the Harlettes, performed a sublimely vulgar tune called ‘Great Big Knockers’ while holding balloon mammaries in front of their chests; Midler, of course, toted pink ones so huge that they bowled her over, one sailing into the wings while she used the other for a slippery prop in a deliciously unladylike fan dance.”

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