Tag Archives: Salon

Eric Burns Remembers 1920

Like Sam Cooke more than 50 years ago, most Americans today don’t know much about history.

Eric Burns does.

Eric Burns

Eric Burns

The longtime Westporter — an award-winning media analyst and former NBC News correspondent– has just written a new book: 1920: The Year That Made the Decade Roar.

The few folks still alive then probably don’t remember much about that year. The rest of us probably wouldn’t peg it as any different from, say, 1919 or 1921.

But Burns does. In a recent interview with Salon, he explained:

 1920 was the year of the first terrorist attack on U.S. soil. It was the only year in which there have been 2 amendments to the Constitution (Prohibition and the women’s vote). For the entire year, we had a female president— not elected, obviously; she was the de facto president, not the president de jure— because of Woodrow Wilson’s stroke. Isn’t it ironic that for the entire year of 1920, the year women got the vote, there was a woman running the country?

1920 was also the year of Charles Ponzi (cue the Bernie Madoff comparisons); debates over “homeland security” (following the alleged terrorism by anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti), and immense changes in art and literature.

In fact, according to the Salon writer who interviewed Burns:

The America of the 1920s, especially during the very first year of the decade, really was eerily similar to America today! The country was recovering from a war of choice that not only led to results far less inspiring than originally promised, but caused a toxic level of division and rancor within the body politic; the economy was turbulent, with new technologies and social norms wrenching an agricultural society ever-more toward the cities; immigration was changing the very face of the average citizen, often in a way American nativists could not stand; and terrorism was forcing a political culture built on dual loyalties to liberty and safety to engage in a precarious rebalancing.

There’s much more — and Burns will talk about it all at the Westport Library this Thursday (May 21, 7:30 p.m.).

Attendance is free for anyone 95 years or older. And everyone else, too.

1920 book - Eric Burns

Westport: Toff Or Not?

Hello I Must Be Going” — the film written by Staples alum Sarah Koskoff and filmed last summer in Westport, which premiered to a couple of sellout crowds last week at Sundance — has garnered pretty good reviews.

Sarah Koskoff

Salon, for example, says that although the movie starring Melanie Lynskey and Blythe Danner might be “too subtle (and too similar to several other low-key indie romcoms) to make a big splash,” it features “lovely performances and really builds strength as it goes along.”

That’s not what caught our eye, though. It was this paragraph — one worth reading through to the end:

The problem with “Hello I Must Be Going” is that Sarah Koskoff’s screenplay starts out so modestly: You think it’s just going to be a female early-midlife-crisis movie, or an older-woman/younger-guy love story, and, heck, it is both of those things. But to my taste, as the movie goes along it becomes much richer and funnier than that summary suggests, painting a satirical but sympathetic portrait of upper-crust family life in Westport, Conn., a rather toff and beachy New York suburb.

Note to Salon: “Toff” is a noun, not an adjective. Merriam-Webster calls a toff a “dandy or swell.”

Dictionary.com says a toff is “a stylishly dressed, fashionable person, especially one who is or wants to be considered a member of the upper class.”

And this, verbatim from the always-reliable Urban Dictionary:

Wearer of only Ralph Lauren polo shirts, usualy worn inside with loafers and torn up jeans half down their trousers, with 3day old boxers on underneath

Listen to songs like ‘Roxanne by Sting’ or the Top Gun soundtrack.

As for “beachy”:  well, yeah, we’ll cop to that.

Click below for a YouTube interview with director (and husband of Sarah Koskoff) Todd Louiso: