Flashbacks: The Saddam show, one man’s lonely war against IV AIDS, and chit-chatting with Woody Allen inside his massive Fifth Ave apartment

5 years ago
December 19, 2003 | Chris Wright watched his television with some sympathy as Saddam Hussein was snatched from a hole outside of Tikrit.

“At first, I thought they’d nabbed Nick Nolte for DUI again. But no, the ravaged, bewildered face on my TV screen was that of Saddam Hussein — captured, apparently, by the US Dental Corps. I was shocked. There are two things in this world that I never thought I’d see: the inside of Cameron Diaz’s pants, and the inside of Saddam Hussein’s mouth. Weirdly, watching the so-called Butcher of Baghdad sitting there looking like a hairy carp, I actually felt quite sorry for him, but then that was probably the point — pity being the opposite of fear. Read Full Article

15 years ago
December 17, 1993 | Peter Keough was ready to dub Steven Spielberg one of the great ones after seeing Schindler’s List.

 “For Spielberg, this film is his first reckoning with both those enormities, life and the void, and as such it marks him as one of the world’s great filmmakers. He’s put aside childish things — fantasy, sentimentality, special effects — and confronted the demons and desires that lingered beneath some of the slickest and most successful entertainments in cinema. No longer does he pose salvation in the heavens or evil in the depths. He’s located both in the human heart, and in a historical reality.

“Filmed in stark black and white (the two deviations into color are the strongest and weakest moments in the film), Spielberg examines with unearthly restraint, detachment, pathos, and zeal the ultimate horror, the Holocaust. The result is, with Agnieszka Holland’s Europa Europa and Alain Resnais’s documentary Night and Fog, one of the greatest films made on this subject."

20 years ago
December 16, 1988 | Sean Flynn profiled Jon Parker, an activist waging a lonely, heroic war against IV AIDS.

“In the sticky heat of a late-summer day, Jon Parker would prowl Boston’s seediest streets, the avenues and alleys where the drug culture thrives...

“On shooting-gallery walls...he’d hang his signs, one urging users of intravanous (IV) drugs not to share their works -- needles, cookers, cottons -- the other listing centers for drug treatment and AIDS testing. Then he’d sniff out the addicts...taking his AIDS rap straight to their faces. With an empathy born out of his own teenage addiction, he’d nudge them toward sobriety, telling them they couldn’t keep shooting heroin, especially in the deadly age of AIDS. The killer virus, he’d say, was stalking the addicted community...

“Then he would give them clean needles and syringes.

“He knew passing them out -- or even possessing them without a prescription-- was illegal in Massachusetts. But he thought something more was at stake...

“On August 17 Parker was arrested near Mission Hill for distributing hypodermic needles and syringes. He’s pleading not guilty.

“ ‘If I could be found not guilty,’ he said in a press release, ‘that would be a green light for others to do the same thing I’m doing. There’s still time to save countless lives.’ ”
35 years ago
December 18, 1973 | Janet Maslin shot the shit with Woody Allen in his Fifth Avenue duplex penthouse.

 “ ‘My favorite directors are sorta not American,’ said Woody Allen solemnly... ‘First of all, Bergman.’

“Blank, astonished stare from me.

“ ‘Bergman, Ingmar Bergman? The great thing about Bergman is he’s totally enjoyable, for me, before you even think about it. When I first saw The Magician or The Seventh Seal, I didn’t have the vaguest...knowledge of existential philosophy at all...Then, years later, as I read these philosophers and saw what he was talking about and where he got his was even more enjoyable.’

“...Woody...was sitting quite still in his very nice living room, patiently explaining all of this without benefit of most of the mannerisms he uses when performing -- no ticks, no scratching, no pacing around...The room itself was a Fifth Avenue branch of Antique Heaven, very brown and tasteful and Early American, beautifully decorated by Woody himself (‘there’s nothing to it, if you got time you just go over to Third Avenue and buy stuff’). The sound system played something classical...; the housekeeper tidied discreetly in the kitchen, and the doorman had a vaguely Teutonic air. The place was enormous, a duplex penthouse with a staggering view of Central Park. Only a few jarring touches, like the army jacket on the elegant hall coatrack, the curious scope of his library (Dickens, Albert Speer, Irwin Shaw), the tiny framed photo of Diane Keaton above his desk -- and, of course, Woody himself.”

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