Unbelievably hilarious resumé of ex-Washington (4 terms) mayor Marion Barry’s career:
Getting reelected mayor after being videotaped smoking crack should make him a shoo-in for the Politicians’ Hall of Fame.
Eugene Robinson uses the occasion to give F. Scott Fitzgerald a poke. It seems times have changed since he wrote:
“There are no second acts in American lives” is one of the few truly dumb things F. Scott Fitzgerald ever wrote. Everybody in America gets an Act II, and even an Act III — look at how Arnold Schwarzenegger went from bodybuilder to movie star to governor.
LIVED IN D.C. IN BARRY’S HEYDAY. LOVED HIM THEN,,,LOVE HIM NOW. NO WORST THAN THE OTHER CROOKS, PERVERTS,STUPID-ASSES THAT CURRENTLY RUN THINGS IN D.C. LONG LIVE BARRY!!!!!!!!!
You misunderstand Fitzgerald. He does not think that Americans don’t re-invent themselves (after all, he wrote Gatsby). What he means is that the American’s life, unilke the European’s, does not feature a culmination, does not come to fruition. Americans live many acts, but each one is a first act, ignoring everything that came before.
I think your reading of Fitzgerald is much better, Regina.
A continuum of life is much better.
With the start and stop careers and reinventing yourself, it is ever more so.
Thanks for your insight.
Nice one Regina, you blew the crap out of this thread ;)
I always understood Fitzgerald quote to mean that once the curtain drops, it does not rise again. In Schwarzenegger’s case, his curtain has never come down. Robinson misses this nuance completely. the point is, stretch your act as long as possible, never let the curtain drop. If anything, he offers an example in Schwarzenegger of someone acutely aware if this paradigm, and not anathema to it.
I like your interpretation Jeff.
My own interpretation of Fitzgerald is that America is a disposable culture and once you’ve made your big mistake there is scant way back. That doesn’t seem to be as true of contemporary America. What’s strange is there is little predicting who gets a second chance and who doesn’t, i.e. Gary Hart and John Edwards don’t. But John McCain does.
It seems that the forces of darkness get as many mistakes as they like. Those who would like to make the world a better place put one foot wrong and they are thrown out of public life forever.
How does that apply to Bill Clinton? Does it make him the exception or one of the forces of darkness?
Sorry folks, but Fitzgerald was writing at a time when the classic structure for a Broadway play was one of three acts. What he meant was that American lives tend to go from Act One to Act Three, from exposition straight to dénouement.
Of course,FitzJohn above gets it right, while it seems 99% of persons get it wrong, considering that it’s always quoted in the context of someone or another’s re-emergence on the scene after going into an eclipse. Fitzgerald did NOT mean there are no second chances in American life–but that American liveS tend not to have middle acts, when the fruits of our early labors can be appreciated, before going into the inevitable decline of old age. Cheers to FitzJohn for explaining the true sense and intention of FSF’s statement accurately and pithily!!! :)