OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS February 12 1996

OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS February 12 1996

OPENING NOTES

The hunt for ‘Anonymous’

It is the political book of the season in Washington-but no one is claiming credit for it. Insiders are marveffing at the intimate portrait that the newly released Primary Colors provides of Bill Clinton's crisisprone 1992 presidential campaign. But the author is "Anonymous," and the capital's rumor mill is working overtime with specula tion about his or her true identity~ Written in novel form-with the candidate, a smoothtalking, libidinous southern governor, iden tified as Jack Stanton, and his strong-willed, competent wife as Susan-the book never theless rings unerringly true to reporters and pols who were close to that campaign. It is narrated by a Stanton aide, Henry Burton, a character closely modelled on George Stephanopoulos, now the senior White

House press adviser, who insists he had nothing to do with the book.

The publisher, Random House, is no help. Only the author, the book’s agent and a witness to the publishing contract supposedly know the secret, and they are not talking. As the finger of suspicion turns, campaign insiders are lining up on talk shows to deny authorship. Larry King devoted an hour to the speculation on CNN. A Washington bookstore owner is trying to gather as many of the suspects as possible for “a publication party for Anonymous.” Clinton himself said he plans to read the book, adding that he, too, would like to know who wrote it. “I must say, I admire the publisher and the author,” he said. “It’s the only secret I’ve seen kept in Washington in three years.”

Smoking out who will pay their taxes

Nova Scotia finance minister Bernie Boudreau seems to have stuck in his thumb and pulled out a tax plum. In November, Boudreau eliminated the retail sales tax on cigarettes, transferring an equivalent levy to cigarette wholesalers. Early estimates indicate that the move will help the province recover an additional $15 million a year. Why the increase from what is essentially a ing change? Glenn Hynes, Nova Scotia’s tax commissioner, says simply that the community of 60 easy-to-audit wholesalers is more scrupulous about remitting the than the retailers were. “Compliance,” says Hines. “That’s the short answer.”

Saskatchewan’s talent takes over

It is just a dot on the map, but it has produced two of Canada’s top stage talents. The mythic-sounding town of Indian Head, Sask., population 1,900, located 40 km east of Regina, is home to respected playwright Maureen Hunter (Footprints on the Moon, Transit of Venus) and renowned actor Eric Peterson. They knew each other as youngsters—Peterson, now 49, was a good friend of Hunter’s older brother, Gregg, who died of an aneurysm when he was 22. Now, the writer and performer are being reunited. Peterson has the starring role in Hunter’s new play, Atlantis, which opens this week at Winnipeg’s Manitoba Theatre Centre and travels to Theatre Calgary on March 15. He plays a troubled Canadian who becomes involved

with a Greek woman (Stavroula Logothettis) on the island of Santorini. “Eric always had a place in my heart,” says Hunter, 48, “because of his friendship with my brother. I’ve been writing plays for 12 years, and I’ve always had this dream that one day I would create one that would be right for Eric.”

As for Peterson, best known for playing Leon on the CBC series Street Legal, he says it was a “thrill” when Hunter, whom he has seen intermittently over the years, sent him a draft of Atlantis. “It was a wonderful script,” he says. “I couldn’t refuse her offer to be in it How could you, when you’re from a small town like Indian Head, and you manage to become a professional actor, and someone from the same place asks you to be in her play?”

Where classes are a (bump and) grind

It is not like most continuing education

courses. There are no desks or graduation

ceremonies. And students are certainly not

expected to wear much of a uniform. Still,

if they learn well they can go on to jobs pay-

ing upwards of $50,000 a year. The sub-

ject matter? Stripping—or the fine art of “exotic dancing,” as those in the industry prefer to call it. “There is more to dancing than a girl getting on stage and taking her clothes off to music,” says David Parr, owner of the Paramount strip club in New Westminster, B.C., which provides the classes at no cost.

Parr’s payback comes from the fact that most of the women become performers in his club— though some take the classes just for the fun of it. Half a dozen at a time learn not just how to move and work with a pole, but

also hair and make-up techniques and how

to market themselves. “The women who

take this course walk away with a lot more

knowledge than just how to walk fluidly in

four-inch heels,” says Parr, who adds with

a laugh, “not that that isn’t important, too.”

Far apart, but sometimes strikingly similar

University students in Canada and Russia are worlds apart in terms of geography, history and language. But recent studies, fact, indicate that the similarities between the two groups may be as striking as the differences. University of Toronto sociology professor Marilyn McBride,'who taught Russia’s University of Nizhni Novgorod from 1993 to 1995, worked with fellow sociologists at the two institutions to poll 820 students about their aspirations, attitudes and pastimes. For instance, the researchers found that nearly identical numbers of students at both schools (66 per cent at U of 67 at Nizhni Novgorod) say that it is permissible to break the law in some circumstances. They had different ideas about how best to spend their spare time, but the most striking difference was in their attitudes towards their nation. While 87 per cent of the U of T students said that Canada was the best country in which to live, only 44 per cent of the Nizhni Novgorod students selected Russia.

SOME OTHER SURVEY FINDINGS: Toronto Novgorod Preferred ways to pass free time: Watching TV_38% 27% Lying down and doing nothing 17 11 Going out with friends to hang out 28 1 Reading classical literature 2 17 Conditions for a successful life: Rewarding job 75% 80% Being a highly skilled professional 34 70 Fun and amusement 43 17 Reasons to protest: When the strong hurt the weak and defenceless 57% 47% Lowbrow behavior 2 34 Racism 53 14

BARBARA WICKENS