Scanning today's headlines is enough to make anyone's head spin, and for once, I'm not talking about the current administration or the ongoing crisis in the Catholic Church.
Just wrap your mind around this: John McCain and Neil Simon died the same weekend, a half century after the release of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and the start of the disastrous Democratic National Convention in Chicago. When the latter two things took place, McCain was a POW in Vietnam and Simon had multiple plays on Broadway at the same time.
I spent the majority of the day on a train (see "Notes from the Empty Nest" post below) and did a deep dive into those four topics. Here are some of the memorable quotes from the day.
• “He served his country, and not always right — made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors — but served his country, and, I hope we could add, honorably."
— Arizona Sen. John McCain, in a CNN interview in which he was asked how he would like to be remembered.
• “Mr. Simon ruled Broadway when Broadway was still worth ruling. From 1965 to 1980, his plays and musicals racked up more than 9,000 performances, a record not even remotely touched by any other playwright of the era. In 1966 alone, he had four Broadway shows running simultaneously.”
— Charles Isherwood in the New York Times story announcing Neil Simon’s death at age 91.
• “Chicago 1968 is the political equivalent of Woodstock or Stonewall — a discrete moment that embodies the questions and forces of an entire age. It’s also a reminder that life is almost always more complicated than we tend to remember, given that the Democratic Party, often thought to tend to the radical in the postwar era, was in many ways the target of the protests.’
— Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Jon Meacham, on the 1968 Democratic National Convention, in a fascinating story in the Boston Globe.
• “The pain in “Hey Jude” resonated in 1968, in a world reeling from wars, riots and assassinations. And it’s why it sounds timely in the summer of 2018, as our world keeps getting colder. After 50 years, “Hey Jude” remains a source of sustenance in difficult times.”
— Rolling Stone columnist Rob Sheffield, on The Beatles’ biggest hit.