OPENING NOTES

George Bush puzzles the foreign press, Isadore Sharp checks in, and Bruce Springsteen issues a denial

September 4 1989

OPENING NOTES

George Bush puzzles the foreign press, Isadore Sharp checks in, and Bruce Springsteen issues a denial

September 4 1989

OPENING NOTES

George Bush puzzles the foreign press, Isadore Sharp checks in, and Bruce Springsteen issues a denial

A STAR SINGS ANOTHER TUNE

For Tipper Gore, it was a lesson in the politics of communication. In 1985, Gore—whose husband, Albert, was an early contender in last year's U.S. presidential primaries—helped to found The Parents' Music Resource Centre, an Arlington, Va.-based organization that is dedicated to drawing public attention to supposedly obscene lyrics in rock music. To that end, the group produced Rising to the Challenge in 1987, a 33minute film that used footage from music videos to illustrate the sexual content of many current rock songs. Last year, officials at the centre edited the film's sound track, adding a statement

that they attributed to rock superstar Bruce Springsteen. In that purported quote, which the officials took from a July, 1988, article in Reader's Digest magazine, Springsteen described the "corrupting" influence of so-called shock rock music and implored teenagers to "toss out the garbage." But, when he learned about the video, Springsteen adamantly denied having made such a statement. Perplexed, officials of Gore's group then asked Digest editors to question Peggy Mann, the writer of the article. She said that she had been given the quote by a researcher at the magazine—who in turn admitted to fabricating the statement. I The result: Reader's Digest fired the £ researcher, and officials of Gore's group recently excised the quote from the sound track—a removal that was music to Springsteen's ears.

A new minister arrives in style

David Peterson shuffled his cabinet on Aug. 2, and newcomer Christine Hart made a splashy debut that caught the Ontario premier’s attention. The 39year-old minister of culture and communications did so at her first cabinet meeting after her appointment, a gathering that took place in Brantford, 100 km southwest of Toronto. The new ministers had not yet received one of their perks of office—the use of a Chevrolet Caprice sedan and driver—and most of them cadged rides from Queen’s Park with senior colleagues. But an official in Hart’s ministry booked a chauffeur-driven Lincoln Continental limousine that rents for at least $75 per hour for his new boss’s journey. Peterson has acknowledged that a mini-scandal involving allegedly improper political contributions was a factor in the shuffle and that it was designed in part to shift

attention from the benefits that politicians can receive in office. As a result, Liberal officials say that Peterson was angered by Hart’s grand arrival in Brantford. Now, the rookie minister could face a bumpy ride getting back into the premier’s good graces.

SNAPSHOTS OF A PROVINCE

To the chagrin of many New Brunswickers, the slogan “The Picture Province” has reappeared on about 10,000 of the province's licence plates. Those words constitute the Confederation of Regions party protest against bilingualism this summer: 50cent stickers to mask the French version of the province's name. Indeed, spokesman Kaye Pyne noted that her party had ordered another 10,000 of the inexpensive licence-plate mottos—setting the party and the provincial government on a collision course over the legality of the stickers.

ARABIAN FANTASY FOR A CANADIAN

For his 70th birthday, U.S. publisher Malcolm Forbes created a $2.3-million fantasy at his Moroccan palace and invited 587 rich and famous guests, including billionaire Donald Trump and Isadore (Issy) Sharp— founder of the Four Seasons hotel chain and the only Canadian-based guest on the list—to his party in Tangiers. Sharp said that the Aug. 19 event at the Palais Mendoub was lifted “right out of 1,001 Arabian Nights. ” Sharp dined in a spacious tent alongside

Forbes’s frequent companion, movie star Elizabeth Taylor, sharing such local delicacies as pigeon pie while 600 belly dancers and acrobats entertained the guests. But during his stay at the nearby Hotel Solazur, the hotel developer noted that the air conditioning did not work and the plumbing was faulty. Still, Sharp stressed that he had been “overwhelmed” by the staffs hospitality. For one hotelier at least, good help is a key element of an Arabian Nights fantasy.

Scotch ads on the rocks

Its creators, New York Citybased admen, say that it has been a huge hit in U.S. test markets. But an eye-catching advertisement for Johnnie Walker scotch has had a rockier reception in Canada. The ad features a rear view of a curvaceous blonde in a tight swimsuit and the invitation to dial a telephone number for “interesting serving suggestions. ” But Toronto city officials recently ordered the removal of that message from 33 bus shelters after commuters complained that the scotch ad degraded women. Cheesecake and liquor made an explosive mixture.

Lessons in geography

The 18 teenagers were far afield—over 10,000 km from home. But when they arrived in Canada on Aug. 10 to play in Winnipeg’s annual Folklorama International Soccer Tournament, the members of the St. Stephen’s soccer team from Budapest discovered that they had another 2,000 km to travel. Team officials had purchased airplane tickets only to Toronto—in the belief that Winnipeg was a short distance away. Instead, the startled players received a quick lesson in Canadian geography: a 30-hour bus ride lay ahead. As a result, the cash-strapped team had to secure a $5,000 loan from a friend in Toronto’s Hungarian community before setting out for Winnipeg. There, the players faced further difficulties, including a severe shortage of hotel rooms in the city and rapidly shrinking cash supplies. To their rescue came the Viscount Gort Hotel, which donated a large room for the weeklong stay. As well, the City of Winnipeg provided a city bus free of charge, and drivers and several contributors, including a local supermarket, supplied food for the players’ meals. The team’s only setback: its 2-1 defeat in the final game of the tournament, at the hands of the Edmonton Strikers. There are limits to the kindness of strangers.

COUNTERATTACK FROM THE STARS

They are notorious for their unabashed—and frequently inaccurate—reporting about the rich and famous. But, in recent weeks, many London-based tabloid newspapers have been smarting from a rash of celebrity lawsuits. U.S. film star Clint Eastwood, for one, recently won an undisclosed settlement from the News of the World. And other stars, including actors Mickey Rourke and Mickey Rooney, are currently threatening legal action against several newspapers. Press baron Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the Sun and Mirror newspapers, is taking the celebrity counterattack seriously: last month, he appointed ombudsmen to handle complaints about press coverage. Better to be safe than sued.

INTERPRETING THE PRESIDENT

Many foreign correspondents in Washington refer to the phenomenon as Bushtalk—George Bush’s habit of expressing himself in colloquialisms and slang. While most North Americans are familiar with the sport images

that Bush fre-

quently employs, many foreign reporters say that it is difficult to translate such baseball meta-

phors as “staying at the plate”— a phrase that Bush used recently to reaffirm his pledge to depose Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. And they shudder when Bush quotes Yogi Berra, the famed catcher who coined such

sayings as “You can observe a lot just by watching.” Said Agence FrancePresse correspondent Pascal Taillandier: “This Yogi Berra is the worst.” But Bush is just getting settled in the

White House, and foreign reporters will have to adjust to him. As Berra also said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”