Pop Culture
Pop Culture: Articles for the Scripps Howard News Service & "Seen, Heard, Said"

Why the top-365-songs list isn't a stupid idea

Actors sink their teeth into vampire roles

Gregory Corso: My encounter with a Beat legend

Golden Globes: Sleazy and proud of it

In the offing, Clinton continent looms

"NYPD Blue" opener: The misery continues

 New movie genre: Reclusive authors anonymous

"West Wing," "Ally," et al.: Words, words, words

When TV shows outstay their welcome

Film critics dig their own graves with "Angels" review

Great Robert Altman films you never
heard of

Famous folk, next week in the arts, show business briefs

"Time regained": Proust in the multiplex

Glitterati is dead, long live Popfocus

Carl Barks: The man who put the ducks in Duckburg

"Almost Famous": Lester Bangs rises from the dead

Liz Hurley wins in war of words with Jane mag

Douglas poses with Zeta-Jones, and baby-makes three

Weddings that aren't: Douglas, Zeta-Jones, Madonna, Ritchie

The Emmy War: A half-century of coast-to-coast feuding

Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the Iglesias odds

It's raining books by and about Trumps

What's in a mane? Blond woman in the news

Liz Hurley denies dissing ex-beau

Rock Hall of Infamy: Anti-heroes from Elvis to Eminem

Barbra tix bankrupt fans

Laurels for Kathie Lee to rest on

Hillary "In bed" with De Niro, Cruise, Kidman

How "Sopranos," "West Wing" will divvy up awards

This just in: Donald Trump is not a dope

Walter Matthau: A rumpled old dog in the heart of the city

Sampras to take a stroke at wedding bells

Who wants to host "Monday Night Football"?

Queen rewards Tina Brown for demoralizing American readers

How the Korean War cane to TV land 20 years late

Ivanka Trump: From catwalk to commencement line

Lester Bangs: The troublesome punk who wouldn't die

Rags clash over Ted Turner "romance"

With straight face, Trump deems Marla's move "tacky"

"Friends" re-up for another season of top ratings, top money

Madonna in denial, and rightly so

"Suburbia": The continental subdivide

Howard Stern, Sly Stallone in bizarre, apocryphal triangle

Easter video viewing: "Spartacus" to "Harvey"

Billy’s in the news: Bob, Joel in love but not with other

"Charles's Angels" movie: Dispiriting news for old-time fans

Innovative career move for 'NYPD Blue' co-star

Top model: Why I gave oldish rocker husband the heave-ho

Unpleasantville: The awful truth about old-time TV families

Tina Brown held captive in desert by demanding children

Anybody's Oscar: Unusually suspenseful awards show looms

Oscar telecast: Looking for a few good hosts

"Lambs," "Beauty": Oscar's love affair with unacceptable behavior

Brad Pitt, Oscar to be in same room at same time

Letterman bites guest-host bullet: Andrew "Dice" Clay, call your agent

Seinfeld eyes East Hampton manse: Where's the welcome wagon?

"Mod Squad" Immortal dishes couple du jour

Brad Pitt's second thoughts about Oscar

Mike McCurry praises "West Wing": It's not entirely demeaning,,,"

Memo to "Hannibal" producers: Get Najimy while the getting's good

Don't Invite Gwyneth and Oscar to the same party

True or false: Douglas, Zeta-Jones don't even know each other

Ex-Clinton honcho linked to ex-"Cheers" costar

Third party cited in Trump-Knauss breakup

 Gossip queen goes to bat for Talk mag

20th century's No. 1 hit: "Satisfaction" hits the spot

Statement: Spice girl's marital problems insoluble

Charlie Brown, Pogo and me

From Howdy to Charlie Brown, we hate to say goodbye

The Beatle George: While his guitar gently weeps

Jodie Foster's people in mild tiff with CBS

A Peanuts trivia Q&A

Publicist: Boyle still joined at hip

There's video in your future and future in your video

"The future is now": Hit rewind

Whitney Houston presides over confluence of talent

Jim Carrey's flack earns A "D," Cher's A "B-minus"

Geraldo: bye-bye, doghouse

Michael Douglas does nothing much, reporters go wild

Ricky Martin on Menudo: Look back in anger

How to outsmart Halloween crowds at the video store

Tom Cruise puts himself in harm's way, only not really

1800-1900: Steaming towards revolution

1700-1800: Liberty, equality and bloodshed

1600-1700: The earth moves; North America is settled

Trump mulls travel plans, from altar to White House

"Faces of Impressionism" Time machine made of canvas, paint

Major quakes aren't personal unless they happen to you

Brad Pitt gracious about character assassination

Director insists Harrison Ford is not a brainless hulk

Costner, Willis, Douglas. Branagh, Sting_ in that order

Streisand: Color her ready to plug her new album

Julia and Benjamin's rings devoid of significance, flack says

Literary mud wrestling, featuring Geri and The Spice Girls

Urgent news: Ford to replace Gibson on "GMA" eventually

She married a monster from outer space

Never mind Godzilla VS. Mothra, Here's Trump VS. Cronkite

Spurned by Pitt, Redford pays court to Damon

Celebrity coyness is bustin' out all over

"Detroit Rock City": Kiss of death

Talk is cheap? Not with Tina Brown at the helm

The Beats: Remembered, Lionized and Unread

Real estate beat, starring Woody Allen and Donald Trump

Mood Music, or how we learned to stop worrying

Sex in the cinema: From "Last Tango" to "Eyes Wide Shut"

Two easy steps to looking exactly like Ricky Martin

Close encounters of the Muppet kind

Upcoming Brad Pitt movie not garbage, insiders say

Kathie Lee's eyewear excites Islanders' ire

Back to the future, continued

"Wild Wild West": Buck Rogers in the 19th century

Sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein: Fun, Fun, Fun

An expert's verdict:" Austin Powers" is pretty neat

Click here for pointless celebrity gossip

P. Dempsey Tabler of the jungle: The many faces of Tarzan

Kirk Douglas' Ex tells all about Errol Flynn fling

New twist in TV programming: Ax profitable shows

Private jet fees spell the end for another celebrity union

Killer serials: "Flash," "Buck" and a boy named George Lucas

Top nonfiction books: A message from two old men

Celebrity Dream dreams: Monica, Donald, Barbara, Georgette

Two divas, publicist form bizarre show-biz triangle

Johnny Cash tribute: Ring of fire, ring of friends

Streisand employee really upset about rumors

Grande Dame Eyes MGM Grand Gig

Secretive celebs? Not by a long shot

NBC honcho bristles at notion that Brokaw is not a saint

Barbara Walters not keen on daily dose of Monica

"Seen, Heard, Said"

David Letterman, Donald Trump, Eddie Murphy, Elton John

Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Maj, Ronald Ferguson, Fergie, Miranda Richardson, Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Axl Rose, Stephanie Seymour

April 26, 2000

'Suburbia': The continental subdivide

By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service

SUBURBIA, by Bill Owens (Fotofolio, $29.95)

At first, everything looks very bare - bare to the point of transparency.

The flat lawns, the empty sidewalks and driveways, the vast skies above the rooftops, the few human beings in their jeans and shirts and shifts - the scenes depicted in Bill Owens' "Suburbia," a book of photos first released in 1973 and now available in a new edition, are almost painfully familiar to anyone who has ever lived in or visited a typical postwar housing development.

The more you look, though, the less bare the scenes become. From somewhere - maybe from the cities, farms and small towns the people left behind, or from their secret thoughts, or from the extended families that are conspicuous by their complete absence (not an uncle, an aunt, a grandpa or grandma in sight) - life dribbles in past the frames of the pictures and fills the images with poignancy, humor, and love.

The book's re-release, complete with a few words of introduction by David Halberstam, coincides with a new interest in suburban life occasioned by the film "American Beauty" and our culture's ongoing effort to make sense of this brave new postwar lifestyle.

Owens, a photojournalist, found himself in the late '60s and early '70s living with his wife in a Northern California community that had plopped into existence only recently. In his spare time he assiduously documented the life he saw.

Elliptically, he underlines each image with a sentence or two of commentary that seems to have been uttered by the subjects themselves.

"My husband, Pat, has a theory about watering our newly seeded lawn," says a caption below a pleasant looking woman in pedal pushers holding a baby in one arm and hosing her new lawn with the other. "The water has to trinkle from heaven and fall like tender little rain drops ... otherwise the lawn won't grow properly."

All around her is wet dirt. In the background are stark brown fences, empty yards, and then a hazy expanse of hills and fields.

Is the woman's husband some kind of demanding nut? Maybe he's actually a poetic soul much preoccupied with the lawn's well­being. Either way, she's clearly humoring him.

As the images fill up with story, you may start to feel protective of the people in the pictures. They seem all too well set up for the jibes of city people and snobs, whose first reaction, perhaps, will be to look askance at these clueless tract yokels and their spartan surroundings.

"We've been married two months," says a caption beneath a man and woman about 30 sitting on a divan, "and everything we own is in this room."

What they own are the divan, a coffee table holding a plate of goodies and a couple of coffee cups, end tables stacked with magazines, a floor lamp - and some kind of rug or tapestry on the wall depicting a windjammer approaching island shoals where fishermen angle in choppy waters beneath a squadron of sea birds.

It’s the sheerest kitsch, you think. But the more you look at the photo, the further the windjammer and the fishermen advance into the foreground. After all, this is where the young couple came from - a migration of people across seas to virgin lands, colonies, developing cities, wars, and finally housing subdivisions.

"This is our second annual Fourth of July block party," says a caption under a panoramic photo of neighbors barbecuing on a cul-de-sac under a declining late-afternoon sun. "This year thirty-three families came for beer, barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad, green salad, macaroni salad, and watermelon. After eating and drinking we staged our parade and fireworks."

Everyone in the neighborhood seems to have come out for the affair, because on the surrounding streets not a soul stirs. It's like a bittersweet gathering of survivors after a neutron bomb has been dropped.

And maybe survival is what the book is all about - people who have survived the death of an old world of cities, small towns and farms and are making their way as best they can through a new world of new houses, new lawns, and new families.

Roger Anderson is arts and entertainment editor at Scripps Howard News Service.

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