07 August 2009

Why I REALLY liked "Odysseus: A Life" by Charles Rowan Beye

...because in what other book by a bonafide classicist would you find this simile (in describing Menelaus' indifference to Helen as anything but "an adornment, a prop to his ego):

"...He probably saw her as no more than a mindless cat that gets out, goes up a tree, and can't get down. Helen had been retrieved to sit once again there in Sparta purring on a plump pillow next to her proud, contented owner. Or like those blondes in the photographs from the 1930s and '40s taken at the Mocambo or El Morocco that show a table of partygoers, fat older men, with big pinky rings, cigars, shrewd, hard eyes, satisfied, sensual devouring lips, seated next to one of those blondes, smiling shining-eyed, twenty-year-old chorus girls, invited to 'liven things up'" (74).

Another book I wish I'd written...especially because that passage reminds me of Frank Sinatra's 9/21/50 recording "Meet Me the Copa":

On 52nd Street they now have burlesque
(Nota bene: pronounced "burle-que" here for the rhyme)
or you can climb the Empire State to see the view
but all that stuff's for squares is my advice to you
Meet me at the Copa tonight.

Now some of you may like to go to movie shows
or walk along 5th Avenue to view the clothes,
but here's the place that's famous for Durante's nose,
Meet me at the Copa tonight!

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