You don't have to get hung up on whether you're left, right or center to scan some of the offerings from left field, and there are several worth noting this week.
The July/August Dollars and Sense (What's Left in Economics) has two memorable pieces. "America's New Addiction: How the Gambling Industry Is Seducing the States" by Betsy Reed reports that in 1992 Americans lost $30 billion playing legal games of risk, six times what they spent on movie tickets alone and more than what they spent on books, recorded music, attractions (such as amusement parks) and movie tickets combined. Between 1982 and 1990, Americans expanded their legal gambling nearly twice as quickly as their incomes rose.
In the same issue, Bryan Snyder's "Bad Medicine: Is the 'Cure' for Inflation Worth the Cost?" argues that Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Alan Greenspan has instituted a series of policies designed to nip the current economic recovery in the bud. Mr. Snyder says Mr. Greenspan is responding to moneyed interests.
In the July/August Index on Censorship (The Magazine for Free Speech), Noam Chomsky's "Sweet Land of Liberty" contrasts Washington's firm support of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UD) adopted by the United Nations in 1948 to our social conditions. Mr. Chomsky notes Article 25 of UD, which states the right of "everyone . . . to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services." He also notes Article 23: "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment."
The July/August American Police Beat (The Voice of American Police Officers) features John Burtis' appreciation of Karl Hettinger, the late Los Angeles Police Department officer who was publicly shamed 30 years ago after being kidnapped and being forced to give up his revolver to a perpetrator holding a gun to his partner's head. The perpetrator then executed his partner. Hettinger's story inspired Joseph Wambaugh's best seller and film "The Onion Field."
Hettinger was forced to visit squad rooms and publicly admit blame for his lack of courage at the scene. His experience inspired the controversial "Hettinger Memorandum," whereby officers were admonished never to give up their weapons.
Spy is back, "armed and dangerous," the editors crow, chortling over the satirical magazine's "near death experience" and vowing retribution against those who buried it prematurely.
The magazine looks as sharp as ever. Choice features include one of the magazine's patented guerrilla attacks on celebrity handlers, a semiologist's analysis of "Melrose Place," a Q&A; with an expert on the art of firing executives (titled "You're Doing a Great Job, Now Get Out!") and an attempt to promote a movie version of "Hogan's Heroes" as a logical sequel to "Schindler's List."
A piece worth reading has been belatedly called to my attention. It's in the June/July issue of POZ, a national magazine for people affected by AIDS. Mark Schoofs analyzes People, the major magazine that has done the most, albeit in its characteristically quirky way, to report on the AIDS crisis in this country. Mr. Schoofs says People has published more AIDS articles than Time and more than twice as many cover stories and has "consistently treated people's response to AIDS as 'one of the litmus tests of human decency.' "
Laurence Hooper's "Digital Hollywood," in the latest Rolling Stone, describes how, in "True Lies," Arnold Schwarzenegger can land his Harrier jump jet between the towering buildings of Miami's business district and climb out of the cockpit without a cut. The answer is computer-simulated reality that is similar to the computer-generated dinosaur sequences in "Jurassic Park" and which opens new vistas for Hollywood's action-oriented cinema.
And K. Leander Williams' "Coming Clean" in this month's Down Beat describes altoist Frank Morgan's metamorphosis as a musician since coming off methadone last October.
Jazz lovers know Mr. Morgan, 60, as the highly touted successor to mentor/idol Charlie Parker, who broke under the pressure of that impossible task.